Wednesday, March 22, 2017

California TORNADO!!

Okay, who tilted the earth causing all this nonsense we are experiencing in California??  We went from drought with forecasts of El Nino rains that never happened, to it raining so hard we got more rain than ever before in the history of California.  That wasn't a problem for me because I was in Arizona most of the time.

Next thing I know the dams are overflowing and ready to break, flooding two small towns East of me.  When I finally returned home, it was sunny and in the 80's ... downright HOT!

Yesterday as I was sitting on the couch minding my own business, an alert came over my phone.  Tornado warning in the town 45 minutes North of me.  That's CRAZY!!  NO WAY!!  We don't HAVE tornados in California!!  I checked my weather app.  There were big red triangles everywhere.

Next thing I know, I get another TORNADO WARNING for MY LITTLE TOWN!!  You've got to be kidding!!  I looked out the back door as the thunder rolled on for over a minute before the rain came down in sheets.  This was a little scary looking.  You don't SEE this stuff in California!  I mean look ... there's blue sky!
Of course I grabbed my camera and ran out into the rain to take some pictures.  It looked like I could reach up and touch the clouds they were so close to the ground.  I checked my phone several times looking for the telltale swirling.  The alarm went off again  WARNING, WARNING, DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!    The winds began to pick up ferociously. 
Then there was silence.  That was a little unsettling!  Pretty soon it began again with a vengeance.  It never did swirl or hit the ground as far as I know.  Unlike Florida's hurricanes where they know way in advance, or tornados in Kansas where you have lots of warning, there was about 5 minutes warning here.  California isn't set for for THIS kind of weather!!  After an inch of rain fell in about 30 minutes, the clouds disappeared and the sky turned blue.  Wow .... just WOW!!
Here's a couple of images I think I forgot to show you.  It looks like there's a fire in the distance, but it's just the sun setting in Quartzsite.
This one from Indio looked like we were in a big giant's mouth, just before going down the hatch.  Remember, photographers see things differently!!
Last night was Magic Kingdom night, which of course didn't really go well, but that's not news since something seems to happen every time.  It's too long a story to add to tornado weather ... I'll tell you about it tomorrow!!

Today I'm going to the store for Instant Pot materials!!  I'm on a roll with this new appliance!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It's Not All Fun And Games

Why is it that on days there is nothing going on, time slows to a snails pace.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Since retiring, I've found it's not all fun and games after all.  Had I gotten married and had children, I would probably have a house full, keeping me occupied enough not to have these days where I check out the refrigerator twenty times.   No motivation equals couch potato.

Unfortunately, that marriage thing didn't work out so well for me, so sometimes I find myself floundering around wondering what I should or COULD do.  Yesterday was another one of THOSE days.  With no one to talk to except my puppies and Jonathan, I have a tendency to go stir crazy!!

I'm still working on my Halloween quilt.  In fact, I only have three squares to go before I spend hours staring at the wall trying to decide if I want borders in between each row.  It's funny how I thought I was so decisive all my life, and now it's even hard to decide what's for lunch!  I'm taking at least two days to complete each remaining square so I don't have to think about making that "border" decision.
Dinner on the other hand, was a snap.  This instant pot is the best appliance I think I've ever purchased.  Too bad there isn't a really good cookbook out there.  It seems all the recipes come from bloggers and stay-at-home Mom's, meaning you have to print them out from the internet.  I take screen shots of the ones posted on Facebook, but of course it takes me thirty minutes to scan through all of them and pick one.

Yesterday it was chicken cacciatore, since I had these boneless thighs that needed to be cooked.  I think this pot is going to save a LOT of cemetery space!!
I set the pot on sauté and browned the chicken.  I didn't wait long enough because it didn't really brown and stuck nicely to the bottom, in spite of the oil.  I'll try to do better next time.  Then I sautéed the onions and garlic, dumped in a can of tomatoes, some apple cider vinegar and a slew of spices.  It didn't look very impressive.
Next I covered it with the chicken, cut up mushrooms, a load of carrots because I'm on a diet and one can of broth (I should have only used 3/4 cup like it said).  Carrots were NOT in the recipe.  I set it on high pressure for 8 minutes.  It probably took 8-9 minutes to reach pressure, whereupon the little valve closed.  After 8 minutes and lots of beeping, I let it sit for 5 minutes before releasing the steam (don't do this underneath your cupboards .. it will totally ruin the wood).  

Total time including prep ... 30 minutes.  I stirred in a small can of olives just for a little more Italian flavor.  Time for a taste test.  It tasted like I cooked it all day long.  I don't know why this method works so well, but I'm 2 for 2.  It was DELICIOUS!!  Can you imagine this at an RV Rally?  No more worrying about getting back to the rig to prepare your potluck dish!!  I admit the unit is a little larger than a toaster, but I'm definitely finding a place for it, even if it rides on the passenger seat.
It rained most of the night ... I know because the downspout at the corner of my bedroom dripped all night like steel ball bearings hitting a tin roof.  I kid you not!!  Today I'll check to see if something is partially blocking the hole and causing that.  If not, I'm plugging it up completely!!!

Rain is forecast for the rest of this week.  No big downpours, just a nice rain, which suits me fine.  It's Magic Kingdom night, so today should go by a little faster.  I'm sure getting out and about will improve my mood.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's A Love Hate Relationship

With the new age of electronics comes the frustration of things not working.  Back in the OLD days of dinosaurs, your phone never quit unless you didn't pay the bill.  There were no long conversations on the wall phone that I couldn't reach unless I stood on a chair ... you said your piece and hung up because three other people on your party line might need THEIR phone.
Then came the hardy black phone that sat on the corner of Dad's desk.  Randolph 2-8624 was our number for as long as I can remember.  At least by this time we didn't have a party line.  It never broke down ... it ALWAYS worked, even when the kitty laid on the desk and it fell to the floor.  

There was no "mailbox" to leave messages unless you bought a phone recorder and attached it to the phone.  Remember the good old days??
Finally the era of bag phones came about.  Anyone remember those?  I had a big bag that sat on the console of my truck, plugged in to the cigarette lighter for power, which kept the phone charged.  Attached with a short cord, you didn't go further than the driver's seat.  Reception wasn't always the best, but if you needed to contact someone (like my lost truck driver delivering 25 tons of gravel to the wrong address) USUALLY you could reach them.
Eventually the bag phones morphed into the hand held, you-don't-need-to-keep-it-plugged-in phones, except all night long so it would charge up.  I'm pretty sure I still have several of these in my kitchen drawers.  We were uptown, right??  NOW you could leave messages.  It might have been frustrating with all the weird buttons to push, since every model and type of phone was different, but once you got it down, you were in like Flynn.  Mobile communication ... how cool was that!!  I was in LOVE with my phone!
Then we moved into the modern age, so to speak, of cell phones that can do everything!  Somewhere along the way they became extremely complicated, which means Frustrating with a capital F.  I've never had so much trouble with a phone in my life.  I think I'm going into the HATE mode.  

Never before did you have to UPDATE your phone.  The day I bought my phone, it needed to be updated.  I've actually had all the iPhones versions that have come out in the past because now they don't last worth a darn.  All these new electronic marvels have made me want to throw them in the trash on MANY occasions.  

Such was the case when I ran the updates for the APPS on my phone.  It told me Facebook wouldn't load because it was over 100 mb.  I needed to connect to WiFi.  I figured that was just AT&T's way of telling me not to use my Unlimited Plan ... use my Verizon WiFi instead.  Aha!!  AT&T can't fool me!!  I'm using THEIR data.  I progressed a little further into HATE.
After at least 20 tries, I was getting nowhere.  Now I couldn't use the app at all.  RATS!!  I was just getting recipes for my Instant Pot.  I moved past HATE into RANT!!

It's a good thing there wasn't much traffic as I headed North for dress shopping.  It happens there is an Apple store in the same mall.  I'll just stop in and use their WiFi.  It STILL didn't work, so I put in my name for some help.  The only problem they found was I had not updated my phone.  Of course not, because sometimes that ends up in an even bigger disaster and you lose EVERYTHING!!

At least if it did die, I was in a good place to get it fixed.  They updated my phone while I held my breath.  Still no Facebook.  He tried to delete the app and reinstall it.  It wouldn't delete.  He disappeared in the back and returned with a simple solution.  Here it is for those of you who have iPhones and can't get an app to load.  You actually have to LOG OUT of (in my case) iTunes, you know, the store where you buy those apps.  When you log in and it's operational, you STAY logged in forever, unless you have problems.  Once you  LOG OUT and log back in, everything resets itself and it works find.  Facebook reappeared and loaded in a flash.

It still took me 30 minutes to move from RANT back to HATE before finally returning to LIKE.  It's a love hate relationship I have with my phone.  Trouble is, if I didn't have it, I would feel totally cut off and disconnected from the world.  I've become so attached to my phone, I almost go into a state of panic if I even forget to take it to the grocery store.    I might miss an important call!!  Yeah, right!!

So it's back to embroidery, with my not-so-trusty phone at hand.  I've got twelve dinner trays to fill and six Instant Pot recipes to try out.  Here's hoping my cemetery doesn't need to expand past it's already wide borders.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Very First Time!!

My diet motivation has been FOUND.  It's funny that all this time I didn't FEEL like I had gained a lot of weight since I quit running three years ago.  So I buy one size bigger shirts ... no big deal.  Well yesterday I got the shock of my life ... it really IS a big deal, BIG being the operative word.  I drove to the big city 45 minutes away to find suitable shoes for the semi-formal dress.

I found a great pair on sale at Macys.  Yay for me!!  Unfortunately when I got home, they didn't really match AT ALL.  That will be a story for another day.  My big mistake ... BIG MISTAKE ... was to wander over to the dress section and just LOOK.  Immediately I found several to try on that I might like better than the one at home.

As I squeezed myself into the first one, I dared to look in the mirror.  I almost fainted from the shock. I looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy and Michelin Man stuffed in the same purple dress.  I'll try a bigger size, which of course they did not have.  There were lots of models to choose from however, so I picked up a few more of the next size up to try.

Hmmmm no zipper on this one.  I rather hate those pull over kind.  You ladies know, they mess up your hair, but I squeezed into it anyway.  Well at least now it was just the Pillsbury Doughboy in there.  This would be a NO also.  Getting it off however, would be a major undertaking.  I reached back as far as possible and couldn't get it to move.  I tried another angle of attack.  About the time I got it up to my shoulders, I began to have a claustrophobic panic attack ... I couldn't get my arms free.

Good GRIEF!!  I'm stuck in a too small dress in the dressing room.  How embarrassing!!  Luckily my struggling finally resulted in a little relief and I was able to rip it off over my head, destroying what was left of my nice hairdo.  Maybe I should go up one more size.  I'm devastated!!

At long last I found a nice black sheath that covered up the Doughboy, but was two inches two big around the top.  I gave up in a moment of depression like I've never felt.  How could I have put on so much weight and not realized it ... or maybe not WANTED to realize it.  At any rate, my diet motivation was found in that dressing room, in spite of just having purchased an Instant Pot.

So here's my beauty in person, with a couple cups of Mongolian Beef inside, cooking away.  It's amazing these electric pressure cookers.  It's so quiet you don't even know it's cooking.  I kept leaning over to make sure I heard something from inside.

My old stove top pressure cooker makes loud hissing noises like it's going to explode before you turn the heat down.  Then it keeps on with a clanking rattle until you shut off the heat.

This IP is so quiet you don't even know it's cooking.  I'm not sure how this will work out with me cutting all the recipes in half.  After all, I don't need enough to feed eight people.  We shall see .....
So for my VERY FIRST TIME, I made this wonderful Mongolian Beef.  I turned the pot on, sautéed the beef on what else, the sauté feature, then dumped in garlic and all the sauce makings.  Though it said to cook it for 12 minutes, I only set it for 8 since my meat was pretty tender in the first place.  

When done, it beeps at you, then starts counting UP the time before releasing the pressure, a simple matter of turning a valve.  You CAN cook the rice at the same time by setting another pan in the pot on a trivet OVER the beef.  Since my trivet hasn't come in the mail yet, I just cooked it on the stove, making a lovely gooey mess where it boiled over.  

Now I realize this isn't the most appetizing image you've ever seen, but believe me, this was the BEST Mongolian Beef I've ever eaten.  I mean to tell you I could have downed the ENTIRE pot, except the Doughboy image recently seared into my brain held me in check.  I have a feeling this Instant Pot is going to constantly put my resolve to the test.
I'm happy to report I actually am down THREE pounds ... if I can just keep it up.  Getting stuck in a dress in the dressing room at Macy's is almost as good as trying on bathing suits ... which I absolutely REFUSE to do.  That would be enough to make me lock myself in my house forever ... with my Instant Pot!!

In the meantime, I'm off to run a couple of miles ... or maybe just jog one mile out and walk back home.   I'm giving it a try anyway ... three days a week.  Please chastise me if I slack off ... the Doughboy needs to lose at least one dress size!!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


What the heck is THAT?  I know my fingers are a little stiff, but I don't type THAT bad!!  It must be a secret code ... and in fact, it is!!  I'll get to that in a bit.

Yesterday's breakfast was delicious with a capital D.  I took my leftover slice of corned beef, along with a smidgen of potato, and cooked up some corned beef hash in a cast iron skillet.  It was beyond good.  My egg frying skills aren't the best, especially in a not-so-well-seasoned skillet, but at least the yolk didn't break.  This was breakfast and lunch for me ... you know, that darn diet and all.
My second challenge of the day was to find a dress for the Elks Installation dinner.  It's semi-formal, meaning I require a dress, something you don't put on one leg at a time.  I've told you about the shopping in this town, so don't laugh when I tell you the only dress store is Dress Barn.  Yup ... I'm shopping for a dress in a barn.

You won't believe that the first two I tried on actually fit as well as could be expected.  Since the prices were right, I bought them both.  I cut the tags off before looking at where they were made.  I don't want to know.  If one lasts through the six hour event, I'll be happy.  Now to find shoes ... an even harder task than finding the dress.

When I got home, there was a surprise on my doorstep.  THIS is what all those funny letters are about.  It's another fad hitting the country, an immigrant from Canada.  IP stands for Instant Pot.  It's a pressure cooker that does just about everything else in your kitchen but eat the food.  I figure to give it a try.

I have a HUGE pressure cooker ... two in fact ... one I use for canning and one I use when I need lots of pasta, only because it's the biggest pot in the cupboard.  I haven't used it as a pressure cooker in at least 15 years.  

This contraption however, I think I can use every day.  It's the smaller 5 quart model, since I don't cook for 10.  What's amazing is everything this CAN do.  You can pressure cook anything, including soups and stews, you can sauté, you can steam rice and vegetables, you can do a combination of both, you can slow cook, you can bake cakes and cheesecakes, and believe it or not, you can make your own yogurt.  
The NPR and QPR are terms for releasing the pressure when the food is done.  As you can imagine, when under pressure you cannot open the lid.  NPR is natural pressure relief ... letting the cooker cool down naturally until the pressure releases.  QPR is QUICK pressure relief ... turning the knob and letting the pressure release immediately.  You don't want to do the quick release with meat I can tell you for sure.  It will seize up instantly and you will be eating something akin to a football.

While waiting for it's arrival, I joined the Instant Pot Facebook group.  There are thousands of posts every day about failures and successes.  I thought maybe those successes would rub off on me for when I started using my IP.   They also post recipes ... a BIG plus.

Unfortunately, my phone had tons of updates which I told it to do this morning, and now Facebook won't load.  It said it was too big to download with my phone, I needed WiFi.  Good old Facebook loads two thirds of the way and stops.  I've done it six times now and am getting really frustrated.  If anyone knows how to get that App to download, please let me know!!

Today, in the exciting life of a retired cowgirl, I will try to find some shoes suitable for the dress.  I tried on every pair of cowboy boots, and none work well with the navy blue old lady dress I purchased.   When I get all dolled up, I'll post a picture .... maybe.  In the meantime, I'm going for broke ... Mongolian Beef in my new pot!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

For those with Irish descendants, thank you for corned beef and cabbage.  I almost forgot about it yesterday as I was cleaning up a storm in my sewing room.   I know it was a day early, but the Elks had a big feed and it was WONDERFUL!!
In all the running around I did the day before, I picked up more shelving units.  I did so well in the first round of construction, I should have known these wouldn't be that easy.  That top nine square unit was HEAVY!!  I thought it was just a little wobbly and for once I was right.  Two of the screws had gone into thin air instead of the board.   

Luckily St. Patrick's Day bled over a little early and I was able to turn the unit sideways and fix it easily.  The empty space on the left was filled with a six unit square and I was in business ... almost.  I had to secure them both to the wall.  We have earthquakes in California.  Not here where I live, but you can never be too careful. 

THAT part was a nightmare!!  Where's a man when you need him?  The bottom unit was the pits, trying to screw UP.  I finally changed the drill bit ... four times to be exact ... and drilled a pilot hole.  Of course the screw dropped to the floor BEHIND the cabinets, requiring tweezers and a large magnet.
In between all the runs for tools, Cooper discovered a new toy and wouldn't leave me alone.  Remember the old Beanie Babies?  This was the Eskimo.  I took it away from him once and placed it on a high shelf.  He sat and barked until my head exploded, so he got it back.  A short time later, when he was totally distracted by a Beggin Strip, I hid it in the laundry room.  I'm a BAD mom!!
With all the shelves loaded up and the three lamps stashed in the spare bedroom, it's actually beginning to look like a sewing room.  That means it's time to start the embroidery machine, since St. Patrick saw fit to let me find the cord.
It wasn't long however, before I headed off to the Elks Lodge for some of the best corned beef I've had in a VERY long time.  Mostly because mine never gets tender.   Salt also seems to be a factor.

I didn't wear any green in the hopes I would get pinched ... you know, being a single gal and all, but it didn't happen.  Huge plates were served, filled to the brim with corned beef, boiled new potatoes, carrots and cabbage, topped with a slice of bread the size of the plate.  I brought half of mine home.  Corned beef hash for breakfast ... YUM!!  

My diet is still somewhat in tack and I've lost two pounds.  Hopefully I can keep it up.  There's a big dinner dance in two weeks, for which I have NOTHING in the closet that fits.  It's a formal affair, meaning no boots allowed.  If I can find a dress, I'll go ... maybe.  It's not that I don't have a dress ... I have three gorgeous long ones in the closet, never been worn.  I wasn't a bridesmaid, I just kept three dresses in case there was a function.   That was fifteen pounds ago.

So get your Saint Patrick's Day green on and have a little green beer.  Which reminds me ... one year I made green potato salad for a potluck at work.  Hardly anyone ate it.  Your eyes said YUM, but your brain said NO WAY!!  It was hilarious to watch people try it.   Just add a little food coloring to the mayo dressing and watch the fun.

I hope you have a great food and fun filled day.  HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Here, There and Everywhere

I was all over the map yesterday, at least in my little corner of the world.  I spent a couple of hours .. you guessed it .. unloading more stuff from the rig.  It's still not all out, but at least it's out on the couch, the bed, the floor, the counters.  Even though I THINK I have two of everything, it appear's I'm mistaken.

First my GPS watch battery went dead ... cord was in the rig.  Then my phone cord said (after four months) that it wasn't made for this phone and refused to work, requiring a trip to the rig to get the only remaining iPhone cord.  Then there was the cord for my embroidery machine.

I already brought all that stuff in, as you can tell my the horrible mess on my cutting table.  I set up the machine, but alas ... where's the cord?  That precipitated FOUR trips to the motorhome.  I went through every box and bag in the house, then every cupboard in the rig, including moving the slides out to access under the bed, FOUR times!!!  NOTHING!  St Anthony ... WHERE ARE YOU??

By the end of the hour, I was screaming St Anthony, St Anthony .. please come around.  Something's been lost and can't be found.  It works every time.  Four trips back and forth later and I finally found the cord inside the little compartment attached to the machine.  Who in the world put it THERE!!  Yeah, I know, there's only one person who lives here.
My first stop was Home Depot to purchase the rest of the required shelving since I measured right and bought wrong.  When I'm done, there will be another set stacked on top of these.  Won't THAT be fun putting all those shelves together!!  Don't worry, they actually give you brackets so you can screw them to the wall.  I'm getting a couple extra just because I don't want them falling on my head.
Next up I went to Miranda's to collect my money for the furniture and what should I see but MY FURNITURE!!  That was pretty weird!!  I forgot to mention, they also took the five foot tall bird cage that used to be Jonathan's home.  It's been in the garage for years!  He's getting up in age, and a three foot fall from the perch (which happens occasionally) would be a BAD thing.  

I dropped off my taxes at the Merced Office, who will send it up to Stockton for preparation.  I'm really NOT looking forward to that since I have no deductions any more.  

After a quick haircut, I went back home to stare at the fridge.  There is a "formal" dinner coming up at the Elks which I always decline.  Levis and boots aren't exactly considered formal wear.  After trying on everything in my closet, my only solution is to diet like crazy for two weeks.  That is exceedingly hard for me ... I LOVE food!!

What about those prepared meals I was ordering?  You might want to finish your breakfast before reading the rest of this.  

My favorite was the carne asada with rice.  I ate the first one.  Upon eating the second one, I discovered a long black hair on my plate.  I'm pretty sure it wasn't mine.  The next time I ate one I found a long black hair on my fork.  I double checked the color of my hair, just to be sure.  Nope ... not mine.  I nuked the heck out of it, investigated every single piece of rice with a clean fork and ate the rest.

For the piece de resistance ... I was dumb enough to try the last container ... and yes ... found ANOTHER long black hair.  That was it.  I threw all of them in the trash and called the guy.  He really didn't seem to be very concerned.  I reminded him of the need to wear hairnets when preparing food.  Oh he says ... we do ... but the people who cut up the meat for us do NOT!!  

Okay then ... thank you very much.  I won't be ordering any more.  I've decided to make my own. Although they may not be quite as tasty, at least I won't be pulling long black hairs from my mouth.  HOW DISGUSTING!!

That's another reason I ordered the Instant Pot.  Apparently it's the Canadian version of a pressure cooker with lots of other possibilities ... like cheesecake (not diet friendly) and yogurt.  I have a pressure cooker ... I used to cook with it all the time in the "old days".  I don't use it now because eight quarts of food is just a little too much for one person.

Today I will continue to clean and put away.  Hopefully getting the shelving up will help a lot towards that end.  Maybe I'll even do a little embroidery since St Anthony found my power cord!!