October 26, 2014

Halloween Through The Years

My childhood memories:

I can still remember my mom making my sister, Suzie, and I matching Halloween costumes.  She labored for weeks.  First deciding on a pattern.  Then picking fabric, thread and notions. I was maybe 6 or 7.  We were dressed as regal princesses, if my memory serves me well.  That was a very long time ago...  I know she took a photo and I hope she still has it.  It would be great to look at her old photos one day.

It was usually Dad who walked the neighborhood with us.  Mom would stay home and pass candy out to the kids who rang our doorbell.  I remember one time we had already finished our rounds with Dad.  And Mom had run out of candy.  There was a group at the door and she took some of OUR candy and passed it out.  How could she do that?!

Blue Lady
As a teenager, I didn't go out and ring doorbells anymore.  I was the candy passer-outer.  I didn't get invites to parties and I was fine with that.  We were still new in the neighborhood and most of the kids had lived there a long time and had grown up together.  I was the new one in town.

One of my first jobs was at the local drugstore, Longs Drugs.  I worked in the photo department.  Remember when photos were on film and had to be developed?  Our store celebrated the holiday like most other retail establishments: staff could wear a costume if they chose to.  One Halloween I dressed as "Blue Lady".  No, it wasn't the fad at the time.  I was just dressed in everything blue: pants, shirt, hat, hair, jewelry, makeup...

My adulthood memories:


The favorite TV and movie cartoon when Alex was 5 years old was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  He was so excited when Ron and I made him his very own turtle shell.  It took us a good two or three weeks to make it.  The shell was made from plaster of paris and newspaper.  Then it was painted.  We made both a front and a back shell.  I made elbow and knee pads, a mask, a belt and the sash that wrapped around both shells using my sewing machine.  He had so much fun wearing his costume.  Ron took him around the neighborhood while I passed out candy.  Jessica was just 1 1/2, too young for trick or treating.

Fairy Wizard

Jessica was 3 1/2 when she too got to wear a home-made costume.  I saw this idea in one the parenting magazines I subscribed to at the time.  The skirt, cape and hat were cut from a sheet.  The stars were cut from various other fabrics and simply sewn on at the tips.  The end of the hat is a piece of tulle.  This year we went trick or treating with two other families.  I got to walk with them.  Fun times!

What a treat for Ron and I to be able to make a costume for each of our kiddos. 

My most recent memories:

Ron and I are empty nesters but that doesn't mean we don't enjoy children dressing up, ringing our doorbell and giving them a sweet treat to enjoy.  We don't decorate our house, so here are a few photos of the houses in the neighborhood.

What are some of your favorite memories from years past or years recent?  Do you decorate your house?  I hope your Halloween isn't too scary or full of miniature zombies... LOL   

October 17, 2014

It's Coming Along For The Ride

Ron and I are trying to become more health conscience.  I've written a little about our healthy lifestyle changes here and here.

We both go to the gym 4-5 times per week.  In fact, we just got back a little while ago.  I was working on some AB exercises.  Ron was walking on the treadmill and then working with free weights to build his arms.

Another aspect to good healthy habits is eating well.  It's definitely easier said than done.  Practice makes perfect, right?  We try to limit our eating out.  We cut out fast food such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and the like years ago.  I honestly can't remember the last time I stepped into one of those places, except to use the restroom on a long drive.  We do enjoy a tasty pizza or burgers every now and then though.

Breakfast is simple.  We each enjoy a protein shake plus coffee for Ron, tea for me.  Our shakes are more like smoothies with frozen fruit and greek yogurt added.  The only equipment necessary is our Ninja mixer.  It came with a batter bowl and blender.  We primarily use the individual cups but I did have an occasion to use the bowl and it performed great.  Our Ninja will have a place in the RV. 

We bring our lunch to work with us most days.  Lunch is typically a meat and cheese sandwich plus a piece of fruit.  I know that lunch meat isn't the best choice, but it sure is easy.  We'll have a mid afternoon snack around 3:30 or 4 so that we aren't absolutely starving by dinner time.  It also helps with giving us more energy for our gym visits.

Dinner is my absolute favorite meal of the day!  I love to cook, but I don't always have time during the week.  It used to be kids' homework projects, scout meetings and PTA that kept me busy after work.  Now it's reading & writing blogs, boot camp and going to the gym.

So yesterday I looked through my cookbooks and found one that had been hiding...  I read through the tips at the beginning of the book and it said I could use frozen meat.  I didn't know that before.  The tip recommended adding at least a cup of warm water before placing the meat in the stoneware and to add some cooking time.

This morning before work I had a brilliant idea.  I knew I had some frozen chicken, and a jar of Tuscan Simmering Sauce that would make a tasty dinner cooked in the crock pot.  It was so simple!  I warmed water in the microwave and put it in first.  Then I added the frozen chicken breasts.  I then layered zucchini, red potatoes, baby carrots and broccoli.  Lastly I dumped the sauce over the top.  Doesn't that look delicious?  The only real work I had to do was cut one zucchini and three red potatoes.

Our crock pot has four cooking time settings.  I can set it to cook for 4 or 6 hours on HIGH.  I can also set it for 8 or 10 hours on LOW.  When the cooking time has finished it automatically turns on the warmer.  Just be sure to keep the lid on the entire time your food is cooking.

When Ron and I came home from the gym it smelled so good in the house!  Dinner was almost done.  All that was left was to cook some brown rice.
dinner is served!

Ron and I both enjoyed our dinner!  Our crock pot is 5 quarts.  Although a smaller size is available, we like that it makes plenty of food for leftovers.  I read some of the recipes in the cook book.  I like how I can also easily get recipes on-line any time I want.  I found recipes ranging from meatloaf to clams florentine.  There are even dessert recipes.  I think I might have to make 'homestyle apple brown betty' this weekend.  You can sure bet the crock pot will be coming along for the ride!!

Have you ever cooked in a crock pot?  What is your favorite recipe?  What other items would you consider a kitchen necessity?  


October 13, 2014

Toy Haulers and New Friends

What a great weekend!

The CA RV Show was everything we hoped it would be.  There was plenty of toy haulers to look at and compare, we got to meet full time RVer's Jason and Nikki Wynn of Gone With The Wynns and we also met and enjoyed dinner with Bill and Jodee Gravel of On The Road Abode!

I wrote a post about our 'most wanted' toy hauler about a month ago here.  The Voltage dealership brought out quite a few models for us to look at including the big brother to the 3600 model we're interested in purchasing.  The 3800 model has the same interior as the 3600.  The difference is that the garage is 2' longer.  We are contemplating buying a small car such as a Smart Car or Mini Cooper to putter around towns in while traveling.  Having the extra 2' in the garage means that is totally possible, even with our tools and such that we'll need for work.

Here are a few photos I snapped of the rig:

Ron sits in the dinette seating area.  We plan to use this table for dining instead of the garage table.  With our work, the garage will probably be too dirty to eat in.  We also like that there is a door separating the two areas. 

 The kitchen is spacious!  There is plenty of cupboard space for storing dishes, pots and pans and of course food.  The four door refrigerator works on both electricity and propane.  There is a microwave, oven and 3 burner stove top.  The sink comes with covers including an added butcher block top.

The entertainment center is located just inside the front door.  It includes a large screen TV, stereo system and a fireplace.  It bet it will be nice to turn on the fireplace and read a book on a cool afternoon.  The couch seats include a heater system too.  No more cold bums for the Kipps!  

The master bedroom has a queen sized bed with storage underneath.  There are plenty of places to keep clothes organized including his and hers closets and 5 drawers.  We even have space for smaller items in the overhead cabinets and bed side tables.

The master bathroom is roomy, has plenty of counter space and there are four cabinets for storing small and bigger items.  The bowl sink saves room under the counter too.  The shower is corner style but still large enough to use comfortably.  There is a smaller half bath in the garage for washing up before coming in after work. 

The living area is well planned out.  The dinette and couch are on a slide.  The edge of the kitchen counter features a drop down extension.  This will certainly come in handy when prepping a meal.  The overhead loft is an added sleeping area.  We plan to use it for larger storage bins. 

A bonus is the back ramp which doubles as a patio.  The patio includes short side walls with a step ladder (not shown) and an awning.  I can see this is going to be a favorite area to relax when we're on the road! 

Jason & Nikki Wynn, Rene' & Ron

Each year, the RV Show invites celebrities to hold seminars and talk about all things RV.  This year Jason and Nikki were here to show off the Fleetwood Excursion which they call home.  They greeted the public near the entrance, answered questions and took many photos with their fans.  We had a chance to talk with Jason while Nikki was busy with other people.  We talked about our business plans once we get on the road.  He seemed genuinely interested in how we're hoping to earn a living.  Perhaps we'll meet up again once we're on the road.      

Bill, Ron, Rene' and Jodee
Jodee and I have been RVillage friends for a couple of months now but have never met face to face.  We follow each others blogs.  We're also friends on Facebook.  I knew she lived in the So-Cal area.  Jodee said she and her husband Bill planned to visit the RV Show to look at their dream RV, a Tiffin Allegro 33aa.  I knew it would be a great chance to meet and get to know each other a bit better.  We met for lunch at the show and then later for dinner in nearby Claremont. 

I did a search for restaurants in the area and discovered Eureka would fit the bill.  They serve a variety of food including burgers, salads, chicken and fish.  They have many different beers on tap too.  We all ordered something different and we each liked our food greatly.  I'm not a beer fan but Bill, Jodee and Ron enjoyed their choice.  We were lucky enough to sit outside on the patio dining area.  The heat of the day had worn off and the slight breeze felt good after walking around at the show.   

We talked about the RV show, our children, how we met our significant others, our plans for the future and on and on.  The time went by quickly and soon our food was gone and it was time to head our separate ways.  I know we will see each other again.  We all had a good time and shared some laughs.  I'm looking forward to keeping in touch and visiting when we can. 

Note: Click on any of the photos for a larger image plus thumbnails at the bottom. 

October 9, 2014

Waiting For Fall

Leaves are turning shades of red and orange.  The days are getting shorter.  The offerings in the produce aisle of the grocery store are changing.  Faux spider webs and gravestones decorate the front yards of neighboring houses.  The signs of fall are all around me, except for a few.
our side yard is in full color right now

Mother Nature is a tricky gal!  She wants us to believe it's the fall season.  The calendar clearly says October.  Yet, the temperature doesn't scream, "It's Fall".  Today's expected high is 95 degrees.  We have been in the 90's for the past week and probably will still be in the upper 80's and lower 90's for the following week.  Really?!  I thought fall included cooler temperatures...

I, for one, am definitely ready for some rain.  I know I live in Sunny California, but we're in drought conditions here.  We need the rain.

Quote from Wikipedia about the wildfires:  By mid-May, fire officials said they had already dealt with 1,400 wildfires in California in 2014 - twice the normal amount for that time of year - and a spokesman for CAL FIRE described the conditions as "unprecedented." By October 9, the total number of wildfires had increased to 5,066, and at least 631,027 acres (255,368 ha) of land had been burned.

 but our backyard is just too green for October

 It seems most of the country is showing signs of fall and even a touch of winter.  So, I have a question for Mother Nature.  When is Fall really going to arrive to California? 

      We're still waiting...