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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Backyard Fire Pit and Going Camping!

The Wisconsin snows have melted, again, and we have some sunshine and temps up in the 50-60 range during the day, but we have been down to freezing at night.  Not time yet to start planting flowers or moving my coleus plants outdoors.  Some brave tulips have sprouted up and are starting to bloom!

Alongside our home is a whole row of red and yellow brightly colored tulips that come up year after year.  Some areas are thinning out a bit, with gaps in the rows. I am going to have to remember to plant some more in the fall to add to the bounty next spring.

Steve had trimmed a few of the branches for me on the lilac and bridal wreath bushes, and we also chipped in with a few neighbors on having our lawns "rolled" for the lumps and bumps in the terrain.  Now it will be much smoother for lawn mowing.

We also installed the two grave markers for Ducky and Duke in the backyard.  Sigh.  I miss that goofy collie Ducky with the sense of humor and clumsy manners... and that sweet boy Duke would kissy kiss injured birds on the beak, and play with frizzbee until he could barely walk to bring it back, again and again. Both of their collars and tags are hanging around the little doggie statue.

No matter how many pets we have over the years,
each one takes up a special spot in our hearts.

It has been cold and windy all last week, but it finally warmed up enough to finish the fire ring installation. Steve got a hunk of landscape fabric to go underneath the fire-ring and circle of stones.  So he got out the shovel and took up the sod all around.

Soon it was all put together.  Now we are going to put in a layer of sand and gravel in the center for the fire to burn on.  The landscape mesh is to keep the weeds from growing up through the cracks. Can't wait till it warms up and we can sit out with our first campfire in the backyard.  Thanks again Jesse and Heather for such a nice present!

Speaking of campfires, we are going to start packing up the motorhome today to GO CAMPING!!!  

Steve and I serve as the Camphost Coordinators for High Cliff State Park.  Our camphosts are scheduled to take one month stints at a time, and are all set up for the spring, summer and fall already.  But....  the folks for May called and said they are having a family medical issue for the first week or so of May.  We said don't worry about it, we will cover it.  We will toss our stuff in the motorhome tonight and head out there tomorrow, I think. The April hosts had to leave a few days early, so our site is empty and waiting for us.  I enjoy hosting at the park, and it's good for the dogs for extra socialization too. 

Loading up the rig and getting it de-winterized and ready to camp in is always an exciting thing.  We went out to the rig last night where it is parked in our backyard. I started making lists of things to be packed and stowed away, plus all the clean linens and towels since our vacation had to be put away too.  We load up the rig with clothing for the summer and leave it in there, and also the dry goods we keep on hand go into all the cabinets.  When we want to go camping, all we have to do it throw in the cold foods, the dogs, the computer and away we go!



Steve finished altering the cabinet piece I wrote about in the last blog.  Colaw's RV Salvage got back to us and said the glass doors on their motorhomes in the salvage yard are gone. I seriously doubt it because there are about 10 rigs out in their boneyard that have them in that we saw 2 months ago. I think someone is just too lazy to go out to their huge junkyard and look for such a small priced item. ARGGHHH  It's in Missouri near Joplin, and next time we are through that area, we will go look ourselves for one. So in the meantime we will make up a new door, perhaps from a discarded entertainment center for the hinges and latch?  We will see.

Steve also installed his newest present from his birthday....  its a small table on an arm that clamps to the side of the anti-gravity reclining chairs.  I already have one on mine, and he mentioned he would like one for his.  I had to order it from RV Upgrades  for $15.98 plus shipping.  

These tables are so nice because the thing stays level, no matter what position your chair is in.  Plus, the cup area is recessed and less chance of dumping over your glass, cup or can!  (there are even little sections to allow for a coffee cup handle too) 

Ok, I will wind up this blog post with stuff for my crafty readers:

Saturday night the local coffee shop has a Crafty Night for us to come and hang out and work on whatever we are working on.  It's Terra Verde Coffee House located a block away from our home in Chilton.  Some folks bring card making stamping projects, some knitting, some jewelry making etc. 

We all bring a little something to munch on... veggies/dip, sweets, chips, and a couple bottles of wine to pass around too.  The coffee house is closed to regular customers during this time, so we can bring in whatever we want and enjoy the "girl time" !

 I FINALLY finished this second pair of Crocodile Booties.  Don't ask me for a pair, I am DONE with crocheting them. The novelty wore off fast, and they are a pain in butt to work on! 
Once I finished them, I took out my standard sock knitting two pairs on one large circular needle. 

Time to get moving here.
I was ill the last few days, 
so now that I am feeling better,
I have a motorhome to load up! 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Motorhome Modification, Custom Campfire Pit, and Ballerina!

Finally... a post for my RVing folks who follow this blog!   Since we came home from vacation 4 weeks ago, my posts have been lacking in RV stuff.  Sooo this one's for you!

Our motorhome has three nice dark acrylic? glass? doors across the front of the motorhome.  Inside each one is all of the surround sound system control deck, booster and amplifier for the sound system.  Plus other electronics: dvd player, vcr player, dvd storage, our fans and some other doo-dads.  They are major storage areas for us and all our "stuff".  We even mounted a clock with velcro to one of the doors, so it can removed to adjust time or change out the battery.

The far left part is a bit of a challenge.  Many Safari motorhome owners will call that cabinet that encloses the tv as a "headbanger"  or some other %*$@))&!! word.  Because it suspends down lower into the cockpit area, it is easy to knock your head against it when getting up from your seat.

We long ago stopped using the big CRT televison overhead as a main tv.  Instead, we mounted a slim LED flatscreen to a bracket suspending it from under the cabinets on the passenger side of the rig. It uses less power, and weighs less and has a much better/larger picture too.  So we are happy with this change, and can see the tv better from the loveseat on the opposite side.
(I LOVE Andy Griffith and Mayberry... 
playing dvds from a collectors set from daughter Heather) 

Well, then why keep the big CRT tube type tv, you ask? Because it doubles as a back up camera screen for the built in camera system in the motorhome.  About the only time we use it to flick it on to see if the Tracker is hooked up properly and turning corners correctly behind us as we tow.

One fine day, Steveio's brain was a-working on this head-banging matter. After he had banged his head again, of course. He decided that if we order a nice small 7" monitor screen we can eliminate that tv.  Then he started thinking even more.... what about removing the cabinet, cutting it off at the top, and installing it back into place now flush with the others?  The front and underside surfaces are finished like the rest of the cabinets.  They are all solid wood, nothing paper particle board garbage like in our old Coachmen. These are western alder wood and such lovely pieces of cabinetry we don't want to wreck them or try to replace that one unit on the left.

Great thinking.... lots of work, but great thinking!   And since when did Steveio shirk from work???

He had the big tv out in no time, that was the "easy part"....  now we looked behind to realize that a whole slew of wires for all the electronics were not just behind the cabinet... noooo.. they were through a hole IN the wall of the side of the cabinet leading into the other cabinet.  We would have to unhook each and every one before we can remove the cabinet.  I am talking about TWENTY different wires that had to be unhooked!

We photographed all the wire connections for the surround-sound, booster, amplfier and camera/tv systems, and I carefully labelled each one before disconnecting them. Let's just hope we get each one hooked back up correctly when this job is done?

Now Steve could carefully unscrew all the mountings to get this piece of cabinetry out of that section of the motorhome ceiling.  Whew... it worked!

This is what it looks like behind there. 
All of those wires need to be fed back through that tiny hole
 to the right when the cabinet goes back into place after it's alteration.   
(See what I meant about the wires???)

The motorhome looks a little funny right now, but soon he will get the cabinet cut down along the top edges and mount it back into the space, with the bottom edge running along the same level as the rest of the cabinets. 

I contacted Colaw's RV Salvage in Carthage, MO to see if they have one more door the same as our others.  Not sure if they are acrylic or glass. It would be a lot easier to just order one from them than having a new one made.  Trying to match the same color and sheen as the other panels, and also the hinges, hinge covers and latch would be more difficult. These doors are 20 years old ya know. 

I hope they find one, and get back to me. I am sure we saw some on our trek through the RV Boneyard 2 months ago when we were there.... 

Today we ordered the new little 12V 7" monitor from Amazon and went through a link on our RVfriends Keven and Ruth's blog site http://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/  so they get a little kickback for ordering from Amazon via their site.  This can be mounted on the dash between the two consoles in the center and swivel for either of us to monitor what is going on in the back....
I would imagine Steve will get the cabinet cut down to size and mounted back in before that even arrives in the mail, eh? 

Since we are at a standstill with that project, here is the next one... It is kinda camping related because it involves a CAMPFIRE!   

Our wonderful son-in-law Jesse is a computer programmer designer engineer for metal cutting... (I am not sure of his actual title but I think that is close enough). He is very talented.

This is a beautiful galvanized steel fire ring!  
He made it for us for a Christmas present for our backyard. 
Now the snow has melted so it's time to set it up. 

Here are all three scenes that go around the ring:

He can do just about any design you want... 
let him know what you would like to have made! 
He can be reached via facebook
 Jesse Wade Facebook Page to place an order.

We went to the local home-improvement place to buy some stones to go around the edges... and we will later put down a bottom layer tarp for weed control and some layers of gravel and sand inside of the ring.  For now we wanted to get the stones arranged and plan it out to see if we bought enough. 

 Three stones of each leftover that we can return to the store later. 

The ring sure looks nice and we can enjoy some backyard campfires.


Thursday night our oldest granddaughter, Allegra, had a Dance Recital.  Of course all of us proud grandparents were there to cheer her on and enjoy the performance.  Even her little brother Mason was happy to see his big sister up on the stage! 

Here is a little Utube video clip to enjoy:

Afterwards we posed for photos with the little ballerina girl

and then we went out for ICE CREAM! 
and a little silliness....

Not sure yet what other projects we will be doing around the house this weekend. Stay tuned, ya never know what kind of stuff we are up to, eh? 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

We Are Through With Restaurant Food for a While!!

I am thinking we are through with restaurant food a while.  Not because it was bad, but because we have had WAYYY too much--- a complete overload!

My sister Shmoo (Linda) and her husband Fuzz (Mike) and his brotherinlaw Dave own a bar and grill in the U.P. of Michigan.  It's called Fuzz and Dave's Mid City Bar and Grill    The name Shmoo is from the Lil' Abner cartoon.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shmoo

Because they cook and serve food in their bar, they were invited by their food supplier to come to Green Bay for a huge "Food Show" on Wednesday.  Since they come all the way from Caspian, MI they travelled down the night before, after they were done with work.  We met up at The Texas Roadhouse in Green Bay for dinner with them for:
(restaurant meal number ONE) 

We enjoyed mar-gar-EEE-tas!  Each drink has an iridescent plastic test tube of tequila shots set in each glass called "Kickers"  What a surprise!

Steve ordered half a baked chicken and I had garlic shrimp,
Fuzz had a rib eye steak and Shmoo had sirloin &shrimp---- yummmm

We ate wayyyy too much of course, but it was so good and we left with full bellies for us to wander on back to our house and them to their hotel for the night. With promises of seeing each other in the morning, we went home to sleep off the restaurant food as it was quite late.  I think a walk would have been better for us, but it was after 10:30 and Steveio had to work early in the morning.

Arggghhh I woke up and felt just as full as the night before!  Steve left for work after getting a BIRTHDAY KISS  from me... Yes.. Wednesday is Steveio's birthday!!!!  He is one year older but also one year better!

I let the doggers out to the potty yard one last time before locking them back in the house for the day.  I hopped in the car and drove up to Green Bay.  I met up with Shmoo and Fuzz at their hotel and we headed over to the Shopko Hall Expo Center for the food.... this entry scene just BOGGLED THE MIND:

This array of fresh vegetables and fruit was just "too much" 
and I have NO idea why they displayed all of this in such a humungous manner????  
It was later torn down and donated to a food pantry.

Each vegetable was perfect in size, shape and color,
even the potatoes were polished or oiled up to a sheen?
What was the point? 

 The colors were eye dazzling and the fruit was amazing too. 

We were registered and I was their guest so I got a name tag too.  The general public is not allowed in, just restaurant and bar owners that serve food and have accounts through the main wholesaler, Reinhart Foods.  The folks displaying today are all the vendors who offer their foods to be ordered through the wholesaler, not direct sales.  So it really wasn't a "sales pitch" at each booth, more of a "taste pitch" and "hope your next order with Reinhart you will remember our food and add us to your order" type of offering. 

The first stop around the expo hall was also the most interesting.  It was booth of all the commercial cooking supplies, utensils, gadgets and tools. These items could be bought on site and carried home, or left till later or ordered/delivered with your normal food order. We browsed for a while, and then decided to come back there later to pick up the things they needed for their bar's little kitchen. I really enjoyed seeing some top quality kitchen stuff at really wonderful prices, many lower than what you find in any cooking gadget store or retail outlet.

There were six aisles with food vendors up both sides of the aisle.. so that is TWELVE rows of food to learn about, sample, mark your order books and perhaps get some non-perishable take-home samples.  Everyone had their "best of their best" food cooked up and prepared for sampling.

So many things to try... the best cuts of meats, the freshest fish and shrimp, the newest flavors, ideas, spices and sauces to sample.  The folks manning each booth seemed knowledgeable and there wasn't any high pressure sales because technically they weren't "selling"  they were giving the restaurant and bar owners the opportunity to taste the products that they already have available.

I tell you, with probably 70-80 different booths, each with multiple deep fryers, nesco roasters, sterno stoves, heat lamps and baked foods on display, it got VERY HOT in there in a short time.  Whew....

This guy on the left had "fish n chips on a stick" it was like a fishstick patty on a stick, and coated with tiny lumps of hashbrown cubes and then deep fried.  It was a "take and go" meal!   The guy with the crazy pizza hat was actually selling the individual items to go on pizzas so restaurants can buy the ready-made supplies and do their "own custom pizzas" instead of pre-made ones.  Hmmmmm

As we wandered around, sampling, testing and talking, 
we had a bit of silliness too! 

One especially friendly vendor was selling relishes, condiments and items for bar drinks like in bloody mary's etc.  We told him we were the Pickling Sisters and Pickles Queens of the Iron County Fair!  Haha... so he gave us some of his big dill pickles on a stick to munch on!

Any of you readers from up in Iron River will remember the little unique store called "The Pickle Barrel" and how you got to dip in the big huge barrel and pull out a pickle like this to chomp on.  This sure brought back memories!

The array of dipping and cooking sauces was amazing.. but the BEST booth was the Sweet Baby Ray's for BBQing! Yummm it's our favorite!  They have now come out with Sweet N Sour Baby Rays, and were already all out of the samples in the first hour of the show.  We know it's available in stores, but in much smaller sized bottles.   Even these huge sized bottles don't last long in our family, for all the amount of this we use when cooking while camping!

As the day wore on, we were wearing out!  We took a break for a while, and a nice vendor near the sitting area was giving out bottles of water to drink.  With all of the salty deep fried foods we had sampled so far, we needed it!   I think we were beginning to smell like french fries! 

All throughout the day, they had drawings for door prizes, and we were listening to the announcements as we strolled around through the last two rows of food. Nope, we didn't win anything.  But we were so full to the point of bursting that I was thinking a nice long nap was in order.  Haha..... 

Finally about 3:30 we left and went outside. In Wisconsin, today had bitter cold, blasting winds, snow flurries and FREEZING outside.  At first it felt kinda good after the heat and odors of inside.  We noticed as we walked through the cold to the parking lot, we could smell the scents of frying oils, fish, and grilling meats on our clothes, hair and skin!  The cold temp magnifies the odors even more so. Ewwww! 

I consider this day as  
(restaurant meal number TWO)  !!!!

I slugged my way back to my car to drive back down to Chilton.  Steve was going to be home from work soon, so I wanted to get back, get his presents wrapped up and let the dogs out.  The dogs had been locked in the house for 8 hours and that is the longest we have ever left Binney so far since we got her 4 months ago.  Finney is good for that long, but we weren't sure on Binney.  Got home and all was just fine and dandy!  Whew!   

Was the day over yet??? Nope.. we still had to celebrate Steve's birthday!!!!  Plus my sister and her husband have never seen our house yet.  They came down about 5 pm to join up with us.  We gave them grand tour of our home.  Little Binney is not happy with people coming in and disrupting her "routine" and "order" of her home.  I swear she is OCD and doesn't think things should be in different places, or people in her place.  She definitely has PSTD from her previous life, so anything that has changed is bothersome to her.  When people come in, she hides in her "safe spot" on the couch, wedged as tight as she can into the corner cushions. 

My sister is very loving and gentle, and knows dogs.  We placed Binney into her arms... with soothing coos of her voice which is close to mine, Binney relaxed and cuddled in safe and sound. Ahhh her world was okay.  

After seeing our house and putting the dog down, it was time to head out to celebrate Steveio's birthday!  Our favorite mexican restaurant is El Camino in Kiel, WI about 10 miles south.  Soooo this is ---- yup, you got it---- 
(restaurant meal number THREE) 

We do eat here about once a month, and know what we like the best... of course we have to have the margarEEEtas before the meal comes.  Steve had the steak fajitas that come a-sizzling and a-crackling to the table on a cast iron pan. 

I order the same thing EVERY time, and know even if I only eat a little, I can take the rest home with me.  It's a seafood chimichanga without the brown sauce on top.  Also I forgo the beans, which gives me extra rice.  This meal is good for three more lunches at home, each with 1/2 a chimi reheated and some rice too.

Fuzz had a beef burrito and taco
 and sister Schmoo had a taco salad. 
in the middle we had a HUGE mound of guacamole to share! 
 Yup.... Holey Guacamole! 

If that wasn't enough, now it was Steveio's birthday treat!   They bought out a big plate of sopapillas which are deep fried pastry triangles, rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They are drizzled with thin lines of honey and chocolate sauce.  In the middle is a big mound of "fried" ice cream!  They roll a ball of vanilla ice cream in cinnamon and sugar and freeze it hard. Then it is taken out and stuck under the broiler quick to caramelize the coating without melting the ice cream. Complete with whipped topping and candle!  They all sang Happy Birthday to my Steveio!

(he shared some of his treat with all of us) 

Okay... we left fully full to the fullest, and carrying our "take out containers" for additional meals for the rest of this week. Whew! 

Shmoo and Fuzz were on their way back to the hotel, and we waddled on home to our doggies.  Little Finnegan was happy to see us, but Binney kept looking around for "those peoplez" who were in her house!  She kept going around from room to room until she was satisfied that they were not in her space.  Once we got ready for bed, her "routine" returned to normal and she came willingly to have her teeth brushed and ready to crawl into her bed alongside of Finnegan.  Her world was "right" again.  

Soooo it's Thursday.  Guess what I had for lunch???  You got it, leftover guacamole, chips, half a seafood chimichanga and some rice! 
(restaurant meal number FOUR) 

Tonight is our oldest granddaughter's dance recital up in Green Bay. We are looking forward to going and see her shine on the stage.  Then... guess what?  We are going going to a RESTAURANT for ice cream after the performance!  LOL   
You got it... 
(restaurant meal number FIVE!!!!!!!!)