Slow Morning

It's been a sluggish morning today...can't blame the weather. I didn't sleep well last night. Throughout our travels, I've had nights when I lie awake for hours...not every night, but some nights. I've looked for a pattern to this, but really can find none. Who knows? Fortunately, I don't have any place to be today, and so I can afford to move slowly.

As I write this, Mike is down playing volleyball. It was always his intention to play volleyball since we've arrived in the park. Today is the first time. As for me, I haven't taken part in any group activities, except to stroll down to the Farmer's Market on Tuesdays for some strawberries. We were talking about this lack of motivation recently and we came to a conclusion that I've shared with some of you: We needed a vacation from our vacation. Our trip has been wonderful, but we've been on the go almost daily since leaving home last September. It's been a nice respite to be here doing almost nothing at all...aside from meeting up with good friends and drinking wine. Nobody will accuse us of being too active.

Speaking of the Farmer's Market...you might have noticed that yesterday was Tuesday, and so I high-tailed it down to the market to pick up some strawberries. Just take a look at these beauties.

After the last batch, I had a powerful yen for some strawberry shortcake (because, you know, we're dieting and everything), and so I was wishing I'd picked up another basket. And so yesterday, I righted this terrible wrong.

For us to have strawberry shortcake, I have to cut the seeds off Mike's berries. It really isn't that hard, especially with these nice big berries. I just cut the tip off, which makes them sort of cube shaped, and then I shave the sides off. The centers go into a bowl for Mike. The tips and sides go into a bowl for me. And, of course, I eat a fair amount of raw berries as I'm doing this. It's important to keep your strength up, you know.

Now here's where the (ahem) superiority of Oregon berries really shows itself. (And I've said time and again that we Oregonians are very snooty about our Oregon berries, so this shouldn't surprise you.) The centers of Oregon berries are red. The centers of California berries tend to be white, and so they're not as pretty when I cut the sides off of them.

Once I've done that, I just add a little sugar and let them macerate for a couple of hours. These berries are very sweet, and so they didn't require much sugar. Then, when we're ready for dessert, I make the little shortcakes off the Bisquick box. This time around, I made shortcakes for two. The Bisquick recipe makes six shortcakes, and so I wanted to cut it into a third of the regular recipe. It was a little tricky, so I'll share with you the measurements I came up with.

Bisquick Shortcakes for Two

2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons Bisquick Baking Mix
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter (melted)
2 1/2 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Mix ingredients until dough forms.

3. Divide in half (approximately) and drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.

4. Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.

5. Apply heaping pile of prepared strawberries. Add an enormous dollop of whipped cream (strawberries should remain visible). Devour with wild abandon.

Ooooooooh...aaaaaaaaaaahhh. Yes, it was delicious. But don't think we're not sticking to our diet. We had this menu item from the Cooking Light Diet, and so it's all good. These are the Chicken Verde Enchiladas.

They were very good, and ease of preparation is always appreciated when cooking in an RV. I liked them because the filling could be prepared all in one pan, and then it was simple enough to roll them up and bake them. Each enchilada has 200 calories. The diet allotted us two per person. Mike gets to eat a little more since the calorie count is set up for my body. As a man, he gets a little extra, and there is some left over for lunch.

As for my morning, I finished stitching in the remainder of the house, and now my hoop is full.

Now I've moved east a little, and I'm closing in on a finish for this one.

The rest of the day is expected to be as laid back as it has been thus far. I'll get out for a walk, and I'll probably do some more stitching. Otherwise...nothing...oh yes, except for kitty snuggling. That's on the agenda every day.


Wine and Conversation

We had a really nice afternoon with our friends Debi and Jim yesterday. Debi and I were in high school band together. We haven't stayed in touch so much over the years, but met up again at a reunion a few years back. We had so much fun catching up and getting reacquainted after decades with no contact, and now we're staying in regular communication. Debi and Jim are members at the two wineries we visited yesterday, which meant there were a few perks involved.

As I've mentioned before, we are members at a few wineries back home. Oregon wineries and tasting rooms are very nice, but they do not match the size and opulence of the wineries here in Temecula. We stopped first at Robert Renzoni Vineyards.

Look at this beautiful tasting room. On the left side was a small restaurant.

We stopped off inside the tasting room and chose a glass of wine. We took that outside to the restaurant and ordered lunch, which was delicious. Mike had a meatball sandwich, and I had a vegetarian sandwich. Both were so good, we might have to go back again just for the sandwiches! Yum.

Inside the tasting room was a gift shop. I always enjoy the funny signs.

This was on a baby's onesie:

We spent most of the afternoon there, but then drove down the road just about a mile to Leoness Cellars. And this was lovely. Off in the distance in the next image is someone's private residence. It's a shame how some people are forced to live, isn't it?

Off to its left, one can see the top of Palomar Observatory.

Here, we tasted more wines and then spent the remainder of the afternoon gabbing in their members' lounge, which was very comfortable. The weather was perfect.

There were more funny signs inside the tasting room. I liked this one.

Probably I needed this book, but I just thumbed through it a little bit. I couldn't say I disagreed with anything I read there.

Back outside, I liked the juxtaposition of this old tractor with the private residence in the background.

We said our good-byes to Debi and Jim for spending such a nice afternoon with us, and then headed back to the Three Cats Ranch RV.


It's never a good sign when they're showing so much interest in something like this. As it turns out, it was nothing more sinister than a toy mouse. We do get real mice in the trailer from time to time, however, and so one can never be too careful.

Yesterday morning I finished up the first hooping of the Heart & Home block.

Now I've moved northwest, and that's where I'll start this morning.

Mike was expecting delivery of his rear tire shock absorbers, and he was planning to put those on today. He received a FedEx notifcation that they were delivered late in the day yesterday, but not here. So, hm. They may be down at the RV park office. Fingers crossed. If that's the case, he'll put those on, and I'll just hang out. Grocery shopping is on the agenda as well.


Blooming Trees

The sun came out yesterday. It looks as if today will be nice as well. Sadie hopped up on the back of the chair and soaked it in. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...

A little later Smitty joined her on Mike's lap. Mike and Smitty have a "bromance" going.

It was chilly, but after breakfast, I engaged in my morning stitching session and then got out for a walk. The trees have been budding out, and their flowers are beginning to open. Most are too high for me to photograph, but this one was cooperative.

There were other things as well. I think this is oleander.

These next two are dianthus, or Sweet Williams.

This one I don't recognize. Maybe one of you will.

And you might think we're still in Texas looking at this one.

This one is aloe vera, but it's mostly bloomed out.

They're very pretty when they bloom. Here's one I swiped off the internet.

Here's a funny little cactus. It looks like it's wearing a turban

Most of the yard art has already been photographed, but there are a few I've missed. These are on the front of someone's motorhome.

I've walked by this one and done a double-take several times. I keep thinking that's a real squirrel inside the feeder.

Yesterday was the first time I noticed this.

It reminded me of a previous visit to Death Valley when we drove past Tea Kettle Junction to get out to the Racetrack.

Okay, now this here...in March...it's very tempting to knock on the door of this motorhome and demand immediate removal of their Christmas decorations. Possibly I should call the police. What do you think?

When I got back to the RV, Mike and Smitty were out for a walk. Smitty heard something under this hedge.

Hey...you in there! I'm coming for you and your children.

I can hear you in there. There is no escape! Resistance is Furtile!

Hm...maybe it's over here.

Maybe if I just reach in here.

Maybe if I use both hands...

As you might guess, this was good for hours of fun. We went out a second time later in the afternoon and did it all again. I heard it too...there really is something there. It's probably a lizard. To be continued.

With so many RV's having left already, there's less activity outside, and he's been more comfortable going out. We took him out a few evenings ago and he marked off some territory. Possibly having staked a claim to some of the real estate, he's feeling more bold. Just the same, we make sure Rocky next door is inside before we venture out.

Today we're heading off to another Temecula winery to meet up with some friends from high school. Social butterflies we are.


Getting My Irish Up

If you doubted I'd be doing any sewing yesterday, I can hardly blame you. I've been all talk and no sew for days. It was another gray day here in Hemet, and so it seemed like a good way to pass the time on St. Patrick's Day. The sun came out later in the day, and we got out for a walk after dinner.

As for sewing, I started the most recent blackwork piece. This is block five of nine for the Heart & Home stitchery.

There's still a long way to go.

And then I decided to get out my greens and put together a little table topper for St. Patrick's Day. Originally, I thought I might do the March Mini from the postcard pack I picked up from Temecula Quilt Co., but then I decided to do something else. Here are my green fabrics. These are the ones I picked up at JoAnn the other day, plus a few more scraps that have been traveling along.

Of course, I enlisted the support of my two helper cats...oh...well, maybe not.



Okay, well, no worries. It's a pretty easy pattern. I found this free little mini quilt on Canoe Ridge Creations blog. You can find the link to the free pattern right here. Before I go on, however, I should warn you that there is an error in the pattern. I'll explain below.

It's quick and simple to make. You start with four rail fence blocks.

And you sew those together the same way you'd sew together half-square triangles. Mark a line from corner to corner on two of them. Then put them right sides together, stitch on each side of the line. Cut on the line and voila! Four scrappy blocks from HST's. Clever, no?

And even though you have four, you're only going to use three. I picked the three I liked best.

Now here's where things got confusing. The pattern tells you to cut that background block to 6-1/2 inches square and the green stem is from a rectangle cut 1-1/2 x 8 inches. Then you cut the square in half corner to corner and sew the stem down the middle, then trim to 6 inches square. The problem is that you can't cut that to 6 inches square without having about a half inch cut off each corner of the stem. It doesn't work. And let me tell you...I puzzled over this for about 15 minutes before figuring out what to do about it.

Instead, cut your background square to 6 inches and your stem to 1-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches.

With the longer stem (and smaller square), you can cut the final product to a 6 inch square. I've written to the designer to advise her, but as of this writing, I haven't heard back. Possibly by the time you read this, she will have made the correction.

After that, things went much more smoothly. Sew your blocks together with sashings.

Then add a border.

That's as far as the pattern takes you. It ends up at 16.5 inches square (unfinished). I wanted mine a little larger for a table topper, and so I added a flange using 3/4-inch strips.

After that, I was ready to add the final borders. By then, my helper cat was ready to work. Impeccable timing, Buddy.

So I added a 3-inch border all around, and my table topper was finished. It measures 21.5 inches square. Cute, huh?

I'll use that green shamrock fabric for the back.

It still needs quilting and binding, but I'll wait until I get home for that. It's a little late to use it for this year anyway. Also, I think I have a perfect green stripe at home to use for the binding. I'm calling this piece "Lucky Charm."

Later on, I tried a new recipe. For dinner, I wanted something Irish, but lighter than corned beef and so I made this Irish Potato Soup.

It isn't on our diet, but it uses no milk, and so it didn't stray too far. We picked up a loaf of Irish Soda Bread at the grocery store the other day and served it up with that. This turned out to be really good. It takes some time to cook and steam the vegetables (potatoes, onions, and leeks) down until they're soft enough to puree. For that, I use a stick blender. If you don't have a stick blender, you're working way too hard. It's one of the most useful tools in my kitchen. The Irish soda bread was a perfect accompaniment.

And after that, we got out for a walk. The weather has been less than ideal over the past week. If the forecast is accurate, we can expect more of the same into next week. Nevertheless, it has made for some dramatic skies and beautiful sunsets. Last night's sky was full of clouds and the sunset seemed to fill the sky in all directions. When we got out for our walk, I snapped this image.

Day is done.

There's nothing on today's agenda. My step goal has suffered the last few days, and so I'll make a concerted effort to get in my steps today. Aside from that...nothing. It'll be another relaxing day.

We're talking more about our trip home, and w've been following the "bloom report" at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve about 120 miles northwest of where we are now. You might remember we paid a visit to the reserve last year on our trip home from Pahrump. It was later in the year when we visited last time, and so the poppies had already bloomed themselves out. It's looking good for a bloom this year just about the time we head for home. Finger's crossed for good timing, and we might just head out that way as one final stop before we turn the wagons north.