Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A wonderful Christmas day!

Location, at Home, CA

We had a wonderful Christmas day yesterday!

Our niece Chelsea invited us to her house to spend the day. Clyda and I supply the BBQ'ed turkey and a ham and they supply the remainder of the meal. Her husband Steve does the cooking and a really great job it is.

I cooked the turkey on Christmas eve about mid-day. I keep an old Weber BBQ kettle around just for that. Here are some photos of the process.

 I light the charcoal with an electric starter. No fumes from starter fluid that way.

I put my charcoal in groups of five briquets, ready to add five to a side every 30 minutes.

Aluminum pan ready to put under the bird with 1/2 inch of water in it to add moisture and catch those all important drippings for gravy.

Rosemary ready to be add to the grill when I add charcoal. It adds flavor to the smoke.

I use a rack to hold the turkey up-right. No real need for the chains for a smaller bird. The pan is only used to carry the bird to the grill.

I add a quartered onion to the cavity and some sprigs of rosemary.

I baste the outside with a mixture of chopped rosemary, olive oil, and pepper.

Briquets are ready and I have added 5 new briquets to each side.
Five more will be added to each side every 30 minutes. I do this by sliding the lid sideways and dropping the briquets through the hole provided in the grill. The lid is never removed to retain the heat during cooking.

Turkey is on the rack over the drip pan ready to cook. It will cook for 11-13 minutes per lb.
In this case a 13 lb turkey will cook for 3 hours and reach an internal temperature measured in the thigh with a thermometer of 170 degrees.

Three hours later. Perfectly done! The gravy is to die for!

I am limited to a 12-13 pound turkey by the size of the BBQ. I don't want the turkey to touch the lid. I have been doing turkeys to perfection this way for years.

I also have a lot of rosemary as I have two hedges built from the Tuscan Blue variety. It comes in handy at Thanksgiving or Christmas time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Baby, its cold!

Location, at Home, CA

Dang! It’s cold outside!

It really was cold when I walked at 7 AM this morning. There was very little frost because of the low humidity but I did notice a pickup truck with some leftover rain water in the bed with a skim of ice on the water.

As I got to the back stretch of my walk I heard the wind machines in the lemon and orange orchards running. It sounds like a squadron of helicopters being warmed up for a flight.

Even with the low temps, we can’t complain too much. We have no snow and the temps do moderate during the day. It is warm in the sun but very cool in the shade. Usually these cold spells dissipate after a few days and we go back to our normal temperatures with lows in the 40’s and highs in the 60’s.

I think the majority of the Christmas shopping is done around here except for last minute things. Clyda is making tamales tomorrow and has the pork filing cooking in a slow cooker, the prepared masa ready, and the corn husks ready to soak. She has a steamer with a basket in it to do the proper cooking which takes an hour.

Along with the good comes some bad as in, the wash machine has issues with the spin cycle, the dryer timer won’t go all the way to off by itself. The buzzer sounds when the cloths are dry but the drum keeps turning. I tried to start the lawn mower this afternoon (a job Craig usually does) but no go. It is just plain wore out I guess. I foresee some cash out lays in the New Year.

We had some legal work done today and one of the requirements was a networth statement. Doing one forces you to take a hard look at what your assets are and what they are worth. It can be a real eye opener.

I have been slowly looking at what needs to go in the RV for my upcoming trip after the New Year. As I think of things I put them in and mark them off on a check sheet I keep. Without that check sheet I would be lost. 

I really need to wash the rig but it is too cold to do an adequate job at this time. Maybe next week. Ha-ha. I looked into having it done while in Las Vegas but the mobile units there want $125 and up to do the job. Besides, I doubt if the RV park will allow it.

 The stockings are hung by the chimney with care!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Updating the blog.

Location, at Home, CA

I am way behind in my blogging as usual lately.

We spent a long weekend in Walnut Creek with Cindy and Gary over Thanksgiving. They invite us every year and we are grateful for that.

The ladies shopped on “Black Friday” while the guys watched football. On Saturday we drove to Oakland and took the ferry to Fisherman’s Wharf where we took a boat tour of the bay which included passing under both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Oakland Bay Bridge. The weather was perfect for a boat ride.

Cindy, Gary, Clyda, and I on boat tour of San Francisco Bay.
Under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Crowds on Pier 39

On Sunday we drove to Napa and sampled champagne at Mumm Cellars and walked around St Helena. Again the weather was perfect. We drove home on Monday without all the traffic hassles of a holiday weekend to contend with.

Champagne tasting at Mumm Cellars.

We made a quick trip to Houston over the weekend of December 1st to celebrate our anniversary with the grandkids. They weren’t able to be here for our actual celebration in October and we felt it was important that they celebrate with us.

We all went to dinner on Saturday evening which turned out to be just great. We were so pleased to have Matthew and Ivy, Tim and Diane, and Bill and Marilyn (Diane’s parents) all enjoy the great meal. We felt it was important for Matthew and Ivy to celebrate with two sets of grandparents who have both celebrated 50 years of marriage.

After dinner with family in Houston.

Both our flights going and coming from Houston were fine. Both were on regional jets but not uncomfortable. We did have a few hours wait in Los Angeles on the way home but spent the time reading and people watching.

We spent a day with our niece Chelsea and the twins. I can’t call them babies anymore as they will be 2 years old in a few days and are perpetual moving bodies. A couple of hours chasing them and we are wore out.

Braedon and his apple.

I am starting to get things together for our upcoming trip in January. The trailer badly needs a good washing. Maybe tomorrow I can start on that.

I’m afraid that Christmas this year will be mostly an on-line thing. Easier to do than real shopping anyway.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's raining!

Location, at Home, CA

It’s raining here in Sunny Southern California!

Overnight there is 1.3 inches in our rain gauge. The timing is perfect as I had spread mulch over all the flower beds and fruit trees earlier this week. A neighbor down the street had 2 dump trucks of mulch dropped in his driveway which was way more than he could use. A “Free Mulch” sign on the pile caught my attention so I persuaded Craig and a friend to help me load a pickup bed full.

I could have used a little more but the neighbors also saw the sign and the pile rapidly disappeared.

I went to lunch yesterday with a couple of friends. It was good Mexican food but too much as usual. I had a plate of Tacos Baja with battered fish in the tacos with a chipotle slaw, a small salad, and rice. Very good! The food lines were long all during the lunch hour. Clyda had gone out to lunch also so neither of us wanted dinner last night. We had popcorn later instead.

I have had an electrical problem in the kitchen dating from the remodel in 2005. If a vacuum cleaner is plugged into a certain outlet and the refrigerator is running, the GFCI outlet pops and the refrigerator stops working. I looked back at my original wiring diagram and wondered why I ever wired it that way. I guess it seemed logical at the time.
 This is the junction box I need to get to. I took this photo during construction just for times like this.

This morning I checked the wiring again and determined that I can fix it but it requires a trip to the attic to move a wire from one point over to a junction box. This sounds easy but in reality is not as the attic has a layer of loose insulation covering this area. I need to first find the wire and then determine if the junction box has room for another wire in it. I don’t want to do this while it is raining as I need to get out my ladder, gather all my tools, etc. Just an excuse I guess.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A wonderful cruise.

Location, at Home, CA

We had way too much fun on our cruise to Hawaii!

We were greeted in our cabin by a bottle of champagne on ice, two red roses, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries, and a gift card for a free photo and frame. We also had a gift card from Mark and Candi for a bottle of wine.

It really was fun and relaxing with almost 5 days at sea before stopping for the day at Hilo on the big island. While there we took a tour to the top of Mauna Kea by special 4 x4 vans equipped to make the almost 14,00 foot ascent. We stopped for an hour at 9,000 feet at the visitor center to get acclimated to the altitude before driving to the top.

I’m glad I never tried this in a rental car as several rentals had problems with the climb on this day. A tow costs $1200 according to our tour guide.

It was COLD and WINDY at the top. Fortunately we had taken jackets just for this trip.

There a dozen or so observatories at the top, most hidden in valleys so they are unseen from below. The workers live down at the 9,000 foot level but many of the observations are done from sites around the world linked by the internet to the observatories.

The buildings are kept cool to the nightly expected temperature so no condensation forms when the observing window is opened. We did go into the Keck observatory but didn’t remain long as it was very cold in the building.

Our total time at the top was less than an hour and we were glad to get back into the van and drop back down to the visitor center for a lunch provided by the tour operator.

This tour took most of the day and only 20 people from the ship or 2 van loads made the trip.

Our second stop was at Honolulu where we took a tour to the North end of the island. Even though we had done this route on our own before, we had never done it with a tour. A delicious lunch of shrimp was served as part of the tour. Clyda had coconut shrimp and I had ginger shrimp. I was the only one in the whole bus load that ordered ginger shrimp and it was good.

We made several stops including one at Sunset Beach to see the big waves and green sea turtles. A final stop was to the Dole Pineapple Plantation where we had pineapple and vanilla ice cream swirls.

Our next port was Kauai which Clyda and I had been to in February with friends. We took a local trolley to a shopping center and walked to the Marriott Hotel and lay on the beach in the morning. We returned to the ship for lunch.

Our final stop was Maui where the ship anchored off Lahaina and we tendered in for a few hours of t-shirt buying. Again, we had been here before so nothing was really new to us.

 A single Banyon tree which covers a large area at the water front in Lahaina.

From Maui we sailed for home with again 5 days of relaxation to look forward to.

I have only hit the high spots here as our days were filled with events on the ship while at sea. We attended lectures, saw movies, ate, read, listened to music, ate, played in the casino a little, ate, saw Broadway type shows, laid around the pool ate, you get the picture.

On our first morning at home I lamented to Clyda that we had to make our own bed again. It is easy to get spoiled.