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Monday, December 5, 2016

Crock Pot Cooking

Many years ago in another life I used a crock pot and everything I made in that crock pot tasted the same.  And every recipe I found used cream of something soup or onion soup mix—bleh!  I still have a crock pot—it sits on a shelf in the Montana downstairs pantry gathering dust—I bring it out for parties to keep food warm.

So along comes Judy from the Patchwork Times—she lives in the country, has chickens, raises a HUGE garden, feeds the two of them fabulous meals and raves about the Instant Pot—a seven function machine—slow cooker, pressure cooker, yogurt maker, rice cooker, saute/browning, steamer and warmer.  Judy felt the same way I did about the original crockpots, cream of something soups and onion soup mixes.  She was so determined to make this work—in summer time, Judy is in her garden from early morning to late evening.  She wanted a way to have dinner on the table when her husband Vince comes home from work.  So Judy ordered the book, 365 Slow Cooker Suppers by Stephanie O’Dea. 

I have had the Instant Pot in my Amazon “saved for later” cart for I bet at least one year if not longer—I just couldn’t hit the buy button at $129.  I was glancing through the Amazon “deal of the day” during last week’s cyber selling blitz when I noticed the Instant Pot—at $68!!!!  I hit the buy button so fast the computer was smoking!!  And I also ordered a used copy of the cookbook.

Well, Sunday we enjoyed our first meal from the cookbook/Instant Pot.  We eat our large meal of the day around 1pm and if you were going to cook a roast in the old style crockpot, you would have to get up mighty early to get that roast cooked by 1pm!  Not with the Instant Pot—it has a delay timer allowing me to put the pot out in the garage (I don’t like to smell food cooking during the night Smile) and set the timer to start cooking at 4am.  The roast and vegetables were outstanding—delicious and not one can of cream of something was used.  The entire cookbook has fabulous recipes using mostly ingredients I have on hand—I’m trying another recipe for tomorrow—Beef and Green Chile Stew. 

Michael has worked on the countertops all day long—we are nearing completion and then I will post photos.  I had a HOA board meeting this morning and went to Wickenburg this afternoon—there went my day! 

Life is good!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mittry Lake Near Yuma

Thursday morning we left Kofa Ko-op RV Park and headed for North Ranch stopping in Salome to have a bite of lunch.  I guess we are just going to the wrong places to eat—our choices in the Wickenburg area are limited—and I am so tired of paying good money for icky food.  While in Arkansas we ate at a fabulous restaurant in Hot Springs—Rolondo’s.  The food was fantastic, beautifully presented, portions were perfect and four of us ate for $50 including tip!  In Salome, Michael had OK food, mine was awful—how do you mess up chicken strips??? and it cost the two of us $25 to eat.  I guess that’s why we eat at home most of the time.

Tuesday while still in Yuma and waiting for my crowns to be ready we took a drive—out to Mittry Lake.  It’s always  pleasant to see so much water in the desert.  There are lots of boondocking spots along the lake but Barbara from Me and My Dog talked about mosquitoes and other flying bugs—might not be so great to camp there??




It didn’t take us long to unload the motorhome as we tried so hard not to take as much as we usually do.  And on that note—I found out some people read my blog carefully—very carefully.  In the Friday blog written before we left on Sunday I said, “we are staying at the Escapees Park with full hookups so I can use my washer/dryer.”  Upon arriving at the park and being handed the proverbial list of rules we noted “you may not use washer/dryers in your RVs.”  So, I didn’t use my washer/dryer, not a big deal except to someone with too much time on their hands!

Monday morning before I left for Mexico the park manager appeared at our door asking if I was using my washer/dryer.  He asked me three times and each time I said, “no, I am not.”  In the course of this conversation he said something about someone “reading it on the internet.” 

After he left I grabbed my iPad, retrieved the blog in question and noted the sentence I had written about using the washer/dryer.  I was upset—I walked over to the office and using the iPad showed the office managers what I had said in the blog.  I told them, “I read the rules and I haven’t been using my onboard washer/dryer.”  Their comment was, “most people don’t read the rules.”  Well—we do and we also pick up after our dog! 

The park’s septic system which services the RV lots cannot handle the use of washer/dryers.  The park’s laundromat is serviced by a totally separate septic system—I understand totally.  But, really—no one likes a tattle-tale! Winking smile

DSC_4144Date palms and lettuce.

We enjoyed a great happy hour at Jim and Ellie’s last night visiting with friends and getting to meet some new folks—classmates of Jim’s from Amarillo, TX—who have purchased property in North Ranch. 

Today Michael has started work on the counter top backsplash and I put up the outside Christmas lights.  Our ATVing buddies headed out early this morning for a ride—we elected to stay home and as cool and windy as it’s been today—I am thinking we made the right choice. 

Life is good

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dental Work Finished

In the past when we’ve had dental work done in Mexico in either Nogales or Los Algodones, we’ve had long, long waits to see the dentist.  It seemed the offices told all us Americans to be there at the same time—we asked some of the people in the waiting room and yep, their appointment was at the same time as ours.  Didn’t happen with the Rubio Group—and admittedly so, it is early in the season—all the offices will get busier I am sure.  But Dr. Rafel saw me exactly on time Monday and a bit early today.

Michael went with me today leaving the howling pooch at home wearing her new collar—and we think it worked.  She did not do the sharp screeching she usually does when she sees our vehicles upon our return home.

IMG_5713Exit #166 heading east on I-8 will take you to Mexico.  Pass the casino on your right and cross over the big water canal

IMG_5717Right in front of this “last U turn” sign is the right turn into the parking lot lanes.

IMG_5720Proceed to the parking lot booths and hand the guy $6 to park all day.

IMG_5722Find a place to park—this time of year there were lots of empty spaces.  Look for the little building which houses an ATM and the walkway into Mexico is just to the left of the ATM house.


See the smoke in the background—huge grass/brush fire alongside I-8.  Walk down the walkway into Mexico with the rest of the Americans heading to find low cost dental work/prescription meds/eyeglasses/booze.

IMG_5726There will be lots of Mexican men asking if they can help you, direct you to a dentist, etc.—just politely say, “no, gracias” or simply say “no, thank you.”  Many of the larger dental groups will send a car to the border crossing—the Rubio Group will do so.  Our instructions were to walk into the Purple Pharmacia and ask someone to call Dr. Rubio’s office for a pickup—we walked instead using the map the office provided.  We have never felt unsafe/threatened in Los Algodones—I’ve been several times by myself without Michael and am perfectly comfortable.  The Rubio Group office is about three blocks from the border. 

If you are lost and unsure of where to go, simply ask one of those Mexican men talked about in the above paragraph to help—many will walk you to the office for a gratuity. 

Today Dr. Rafel of the Rubio Group seated my permanent crowns and did some surface filling of three teeth I had brushed too hard, removing the enamel.  I was in and out of the office in less than a hour.  We made another stop at the Purple Pharmacia—for meds they were out of on Monday and walked to the border to be pleasantly surprised—the line was again non-existent.  We’ve been to Algodones in March and one day waited THREE hours to cross back into the US—that’s the longest we’ve ever waited.  Again, same questions from the border agent and we were on our way.


Dental work accomplished—life is good!

IMG_5727As we were walking to the dentist office, Michael noticed this sign—see the “we support Escapees RV Club” sign? Smile

Monday, November 28, 2016

We Are In Yuma

Sunday morning the wind blew us to Yuma.  It was an easy travel day—just under 200 miles on secondary roads avoiding all the crazy folks returning home after the long Thanksgiving weekend.  We are staying at the Kofa Ko-op Escapees Park out in the country south of Yuma.  The Escapees organization has nineteen RV parks across the nation—some of the parks lease lots, others such as North Ranch have deeded lots.  This park in Yuma has leased lots which if unoccupied by the lessee can be rented to folks like us. 

The Kofa Ko-op Park is quiet, friendly and has a seven acre completely fenced dog park—very sandy but at least there is room to let Emmi run.  Each lot is separated by nice brick fencing and our lot backs to the dog park—convenient!

Today was the day—off to Los Algodones, Mexico for my dental consultation at Rubio Dental Clinic.  I saw Dr. Rafel and was pleased with his demeanor and skill plus he was really easy on the eyes! Winking smileI received a detailed estimate/plan from my dentist in Billings, MT which I gave to Dr. Rafel.  He then examined my teeth and took one x-ray.  His recommendation was to do two of the three crowns recommended by the Billings dentist.  Dr. Rafel thought the one large filling was fine and suggested doing nothing until the tooth bothered me. 

He started the crown process today and the permanent crowns will be ready Wednesday.  He will finish all the work Wednesday afternoon.  Now—the estimate from the Billings, MT dentist for two crowns and three fillings was $3300.  The quote from Dr. Rafel—$1300.  Dr. Rafel is using the same material for making the crowns as they would have used in the US. 

IMG_1013Modern, clean office with free wifi! 

I entered Mexico at 9:40am, walked to the clinic, completed paperwork and was seated in the chair being examined right at 10am.  The dentist examined me, gave the front office my estimate—I agreed and was back in the chair in less than 15 minutes with the work started.  After leaving the dental office I stopped at the Purple Pharmacia to obtain prescription meds without the prescription and was then on my way to stand in line to exit Mexico—except there was no line, maybe 20 people and it progressed quickly.  The border agent asked me, “what are you bringing out?” and I answered, “meds” and he said, “have a good day.” 

IMG_1014Purple Pharmacia/purple Christmas decorations!

It’s simply amazing the difference in price of Mexican meds versus US meds.  I use a anti-viral cream when I develop a cold sore—that cream in the US costs $30 for a tiny, tiny tube—in Mexico, $0.95!!!!  And it works just as well as the expensive US version!  Meloxicam, a long acting non-steriodal anti-inflammatory medication costs about $40/30 pills in the US.  In Mexico it is just over $5!! 

So, I go back on Wednesday to get the permanent crowns and the fillings—my exit from Mexico will most likely take much longer as it will be much later in the day when I leave.

Michael and Emmi held down the fort at the RV park.  When I got back we took a drive, visited Harbor Freight and the mall then found a Dairy Queen.

A good day—life is good.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Wonderful Thanksgiving

When you can’t be with family the next best thing is friends who have become like family.  Our North Ranch group of friends is family—Larry and Geri, Tom and Sandy, Joe and Kathy.  Larry’s cousin Greg and his wife Roselyn joined us yesterday too and we had a fabulous afternoon.  Way, way too much food as usual and just the right of amount of conversation and laughter.  Another great Thanksgiving.

Today was “start getting ready to head to Yuma” day—we played musical vehicles moving trailers, trucks and finally the motorhome.  We both started packing—I am trying really hard not to load so much stuff which will then have to be unloaded when we come home.  There are grocery stores in Yuma and restaurants!  And, we are staying at the Escapees park with full hookups so I can use my washer/dryer—no reason to take the entire closet!

I’ve had dental work done in Mexico several times but this time I will try to take photos and post a detailed blog about the experience.  I am seeing a new to me dentist but one used by friends Mike and Eileen. 

A short blog—I hear a piece of pumpkin pie calling my name!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Eve

Tuesday we spent the day finishing up the kitchen counter top project—at least finished as much as we could so Thanksgiving dinner could be cooked and served.  Michael installed the sink while I grouted the marble tile he had installed while I was in Arkansas.  When the cowboy plumbs the air has a tendency to turn blue but this time everything went according to plan—no cursing.  The water at North Ranch is too chlorinated and he installed an extra cold water filter under the sink—a very good thing—I’m not fond of chlorinated coffee!  We still need to install the back splash but that will have to wait until after Thanksgiving and after our trip to Yuma for dental work. 
Today we made a trip to the grocery store—at 11am every checkout counter was open and the store was hopping.  Lunch was at our favorite Mexican food spot and then we headed home to the pooch.  The pooch is now wearing her Good Life No Bark Collar thanks to IdahoRV—it’s NOT a shock collar.  It has three modes—vibration/audible to only her/audible to Emmi and us.  Last season I ordered a shock collar.  The one and only time Emmi wore the collar was a supreme disaster and we returned the thing to Amazon.  She remembers that awful shock collar and when she got her first vibration yesterday while wearing the new vibration collar it was an instantaneous recall—she was afraid she was going to be shocked.  She is a smart dog—she barks at her ball or at someone coming to the door when not wearing the collar.  But when wearing the collar there was no howling when we went to the grocery store and out to lunch.  Could it be this easy????
DSC_4079Come on Mom, you are lagging behind!
We are so thankful for our families and friends—we wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.  We have friends coming for a late lunch—my mouth is watering all ready!

Flowergirl—yes, Chuck is the one who tried to die on us this past summer—he spent three months and one week in one hospital or another.  He is doing well—back to the humorous, joke cracking self we all love so much!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Birthday Mom

Family, friends, shopping, eating, talking, laughter and a successful surprise birthday party—all packed into a long weekend—priceless!  I flew to Arkansas on Thursday afternoon—my nephew Trenton works in Little Rock and was off work just in time to retrieve me at the airport. 

Friday morning we—Mom, my sister Ann and I—piled into my niece’s vehicle and headed out for a day of shopping and lunch.  We visited Hot Springs National Park where the leaves still have lots of color left--


DSCN3504DSCN3506Niki and me being silly!  Lunch was simply fantastic at a Latino restaurant—Rolando’s--and for dessert we visited a place with an appropriate name—Fat Bottomed Girl Cupcake Place—yep, those cupcakes were to die for and would most certainly give you a fat bottom! Winking smile

Back over in our neck of the woods I attended a school basketball game—the first in a long, long time!  My great-niece Elizabeth who is 14 plays on her school team—saw folks I knew and enjoyed the game—they won!

DSCN3540Elizabeth is in the white uniform in the middle of the three blue clad girls—the one with the long ponytail.

Saturday, Mom’s actual birthday we spent the day visiting with her and trying not to spill the beans about the surprise party planned for Sunday.  The entire family—14 of us—gathered for a wonderful dinner that evening. 

Sunday—well, did we pull off the surprise??  She never had a clue until she walked into the church hall Sunday afternoon.  It was a special afternoon visiting with friends and family—Mom looked beautiful and was so excited!  We served different flavors of pound cakes made by my sister and my sister-in-law—more chances for a fat bottom!!Winking smile It was just a super special day and I am so blessed to have the family I do!

The rest of these photos were taken by my sister-in-law Vicky who has a photography business—Candid Captures.

Barnes'-002My brother and his family with Mom and Chuck.

Danny and Ann-002My sister Ann, her husband Danny with Mom and Chuck

Ross Ann and me-002Mom’s three childrenNiki Elizabeth and Leah-002Granddaughter Niki and great-granddaughters Elizabeth and Leah with Mom and Chuck.

It was a jam packed weekend and I enjoyed every minute of it except that 3am wake up for my 5:50am flight this morning—UGH!  There was a happy husband and pooch waiting to see me.  Geri was kind enough to have made supper for us—homemade chicken noodle soup—even the noodles were homemade—YUM!  It’s a little cool and damp in Arizona—it rained a significant amount while I was gone.