TRIP ROUTE MAPPING

Recently I got a new2me laptop to replace the other laptop (the one that the dog keeps knocking on the floor) because it is falling apart. It is being relegated to use as a “Netflix” player. So I have been slowly moving things over. I had to download my obsolete MS Streets&Trips 2013 again. I’ve bought this program in the past but MS decided it wasn’t worth their time and stopped producing it and stopped supporting it. I got my copy (free) from thepiratebay org https://thepiratebay.org/torrent/8313321/Microsoft_Streets_and_Trips_2013_(x86_and_x64)_-_DVD_(English). It downloads as an ISO which is too big for any of the CDs that I have on hand. I used the information that I found online to mount the ISO onto my hard drive. I found that information here: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/odsupport/2011/04/19/how-to-extract-the-contents-from-an-iso-file-without-burning-the-iso-to-disc/ and used the free Pismo File Mount Audit Package http://pismotec.com/download/ .

I have been downloading all the POIs starting with the last updated of the free Streets 2013 POI Mega file for RV’s & Truckers from http://www.laptopgpsworld.com, modified it to suit me (I cut/deleted all the POI categories that I have no need for) and supplement the Mega file with updated free POIs from the POI-factory http://www.poi-factory.com. I down load the POIs as a .CSV file. Then I import it from my downloads using the import wizard in Streets & Trips. I have found that I need to change the first two columns to “Longitude” and Latitude”

To Import CSV Files In Streets & Trips 2013:

Open the program to the map you want. I open it and start out with the original Mega file. I saved that as “Lorna’s US POIs 2017” which becomes my master map. Next I cut/delete all the Categories that I do not want (I have no interest in keeping the various membership campgrounds so they get cut). I simply right click on the category I do not want and a window pops up where I choose either CUT or DELETE. Once I have the Mega file trimmed down to my choices, I save it again. Then I find all the POI files I want on POI-Factory and download the CVS version of the files. Then I am ready to import the data into the map I saved. With the map open I then select

DATA – IMPORT DATA WIZARD

Highlight the CSV file I want to open from my downloads list (or where ever I saved the downloaded file to) then click OPEN

The wizard will say “Choose the character that separates your fields” It needs to “look right” so the columns should be fairly tight together. I have found that choosing COMMA generally works.

Next I choose the DATA TYPE from the drop down menu at the top of the columns. The first column should be LONGITUDE, the second should be LATITUDE. The other column(s) should be Other Data, Name and/or Address. Then click on FINISH. This will have the files mapped by latitude and longitude rather than street addresses. Mapping by street address results in a lot of “unmapped” files (locations that the addresses don’t match up so the program doesn’t know where to locate them on the map). Whereas by using the GPS coordinates, there shouldn’t be any unmapped files.

To change the symbol for all POI pushpins (location) in a set (I like all the campgrounds to have the same symbol unless it’s a Passport America campground – I can also change an individual pin’s symbol as well)

Change the symbol for all pushpins in a set

On the map legend, click the name of the pushpin set that you want to change.

On the DATA menu, click DATA SET PROPERTIES.

On the GENERAL tab, click the SYMBOL arrow.

Click the symbol you want. Use the scroll bar on the right side of the menu to view a complete list of symbols.

Click OK.

I can also change the Name there as well. Additional information can be added to the Information box (right click on a push pin to bring up menu, click on “Show Information”). It’s easier for me to type up what I want the box to say in Notepad and then copy/paste into the information box. I can also include a website there too. I always do these additional information changes in my master map so I’m not having to copy/paste the same information over and over.

I also delete the categories that have been updated from POI-Factory (like the Passport America, Cracker Barrels and Wal-Marts).

That’s how I set up Streets & Trips 2013.

I though I might let others know how I map out a route so they might get an idea or two to use.

I use Streets&Trips to map out my basic route on the computer. I tend to hang to the US highways rather than the interstates. The POIs on Streets&Trips come in very handy for working out potential stops along the way. I like to keep the daily run to about 150 – 250 miles a day. It’s kinda flexible. I try to have three stops per day set up. Early stop for when making bad time for whatever reason, Planned stop which can be in a campground or in a parking lot and then there is my Last or Backup stop for making very good time and it’s too early to stop at the Planned stop OR if we can’t stay at the Planned for various reason. If I get a bad feeling about a place, I do not stay. Also if I drive a long distance one day, I tend to not want to drive a long distance the following day. I can schedule how long I will be at a stop in either hours & minutes or in nights. That helps me to know where I will be in how many days.

I use it to do a preliminary trip mapping and then I fine tune my route using the internet (check on campground prices and other information) and a fairly current issue of “The Next Exit”. I tend to buy the Next Exit book every two or three years so I know roughly what is at the exits. I do this because even if I’m not driving ON the interstate, I’m usually crossing over an interstate or two (at least in the eastern US – not so much in the west) and my completed route goes into a paper atlas. When I buy a new atlas, I get a specific size (I need to have the map pages 8X11), I rip it apart (neatly) and slip the pages into sheet protectors that goes into a large loose leaf notebook. I use wet erase overhead projector markers to trace my route out with on the plastic sheet protectors. Later I can use a damp paper towel to wipe off the marker and it’s ready for a new trip.

Back to S&T – I first open up my map (the one I saved under my name). Then I “hide” most of the POI categories. I keep open the Passport America campground POIs (because I use them), the Cracker Barrel POIs (we eat breakfast and supper there) and the Wal-Mart/Sam’s Clubs (because I prefer to stay in a Sam’s Club parking lot when traveling over other parking lots).

Then I do an automatic route by typing in my starting point and my destination (ROUTEROUTEADD AS START and ADD AS END or type the address into the search bar and right click on the resulting pushpin to pull up a little menu). Then I go online and look up the campgrounds along the way. I shift and adjust the route using way points. What I really like about the computer is that it shows the mileage. So while I shift my route around, it continuously updates the mileage and I can easily determine where I want to stop at.

Once I get my route and stops all locked down, I save it for the last time. Then I copy the route and stops into the Atlas. When I stop each night, I check to see what needs to be adjusted on the route thru Streets&Trips, then I make the changes in the Atlas. This is what has been working for me.

Bathroom Faucet Upgrade

Finally got tired of the bathroom sink faucet’s drooling. No other way to describe it. When the faucet was turned on, it would slightly drool, not leak, along the backside of the faucet head and onto the countertop making a puddle behind the faucet. Not matter how well I cleaned and tightened the threads in the faucet screen, it would still drool. Even when I used Teflon tape on the threads, it still drooled. Add the hard water that we endure in NM and it meant a real mess.Plus I could never get into the tiny space between the sink bowl and the faucet base to clean it out.

While I was at Home Depot this morning buying stuff for another project, I wandered down the faucet aisle and decided to pick up a new faucet. Now was as good a time as any.  I had today off. So after I had lunch, I turned off the water pump and took the old faucet out and replaced it with the new faucet. It’s an easy job and it looks so much better.

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I really like that the faucet arm swings. This will make it easier to rinse the sink out. Also, the faucet arm can be pushed out of the way as needed.

The faucet I bought was a Glacier Bay Laundry Faucet “Aragon” (Home Depot SKU 780-445 $19.98). It has the same spread as a standard vanity sink faucet and bar sink faucet.

On to my next project….

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‘Tis The Season…

We recently had our first real extended below freezing cold spell of the season. It lasted about 3-4 days. The bus stayed toasty warm which was great considering both my daughter & I had colds at the time.

The interior storm windows worked as hoped for. I still need to build 3 or 4 more for the salon. Maybe the cold weather will get me motivated to do so. The heat tape kept the water flowing. I was extra careful to make sure all the metal elbows and connections in the PEX lines were touched by the heat tape. Also we have added a couple of long wire shelves in the bus in an effort to find better places to put things. We put one up in the salon over the daybed. I think I need to add one above the front windshield. One wire shelf is above the windows in the bedroom. That one meant that we had to relocate the TV. Still need to buy one more shelf for above the headboard. We also bought a tall tool chest with locking drawers (the kind to stack another tool chest on top of). I’ve got my beads, clay and paper for the printer in it. The printer is sitting on top of it. We need to get one for Tace’s art supplies (maybe two). I think we are finally getting a handle on our storage problem. Lifting the bed up high enough to slide 5 gallon buckets under it has really helped.

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Ruby Lee spends most of her time in the heated bed. She seems to prefer to sleep under the covers. Like last year, she seems to feel the cold a lot. Pretty much what I expected from a skinny greyhound. So we are keeping the bus pretty warm. We have an electric heater in the bedroom (Tace’s parabolic heater) and I moved the electric heater in the salon to the entry. On my bus, I have a stock heater that is literally in the entry stairwell. It’s not used (and I don’t know if it even works). It runs off of the engine coolant. I used some of the skinny little bungee cords and strapped the little electric Patton Milkhouse heater to the grates of the bus heater. It seems to be heating the salon more evenly and not as much cold air seems to be coming off the entry door. I need to get that thing skinned over with PVC “wood” and add a layer of plexi over the glass. For now it’s covered with Reflectix. Once the outside temps drop below 45F, the fireplace is turned on. I’m so very glad I added the blower to the fireplace. It really makes a big difference.

We decided that this winter was going to have a lot of cold spells which was going to require us to run the fireplace. So we had the local LP distributor drop off a big tank and fill it. Cost us $50 to have it set (they had a special going on) and they let us fill it 50% (60 gallons) which is their minimum fill. The big tank is hooked into one of the unused shut off valves on the regulated LP manifold. We had gotten three of the 20lb LP tanks filled the same day we went in to the rent the big tank. We didn’t know when they would be out to set the tank since a bad freeze was expected and we had no intention of being without LP. But they were out the next day to set the tank and fill it. So I have the three 20lb tanks full to use on the bathroom heater as well as a back up to the big tank. If the big tank empties, they will charge a lot of money to “pressure test” the lines before they will fill the tank again. We’ll just make sure we call them before it runs out (10%) and, if need be, run the smaller tanks. I’ve had the bigger tanks before and I know to keep an eye on them. We just have to set aside enough money to fill the tank.

Tace estimated that the 60 gallons will last about 10 weeks. I figure it will depend on how cold it gets and how much we run the fireplace. The fireplace uses the most LP of all the LP appliances. Tace really likes having the fireplace on because it makes it so cozy and homey. She has yet to toast a marshmallow in the fireplace. Yes, you can once you remove the grill cover, and no, it does not “taste” like propane. How do I know this? Because I HAD to toast a marshmallow when the fireplace was first installed.

Thanksgiving was nice. We both had to work different shifts on Thanksgiving Day. But we had the middle part of the day off. I had bought a box of frozen stuffed chicken breasts a few weeks back. We had those for our dinner. I also made a batch of my homemade cranberry relish. It was nice and tart. It’s just fresh cranberries, unflavoured gelatin, water and a little (very little) sugar. I have enough cranberries to do it again for Yule.

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Homemade Low Sugar Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

Tace and I splurged for Yule and decorated the mantle for the holidays. Spent a whopping $30. The stockings we hung are really socks (and on sale). We saw them in K-Mart and thought they looked more like Christmas stockings than actual socks. I added a beaded loop (not shown in the pics) so they would hang off the stocking hangers (50% at Hobby Lobby). We picked up a short cheapie greenery garland and a short string of lights for cheaper than buying a pre-lit greenery garland. I just doubled the greenery garland which made it much fuller looking and wound the lights into the garland. I had some seashells, both gathered and bought, that I stuck into the garland. We also bought a 6 pack of battery operated LED tea lights. I stuck a scallop shell on each of those to hide the tea light “flame”. I will probably make beaded tea light covers for next year.  We decided to not put the tree up this year. The wire shelf we put up over the daybed extends from the wall I hung the tree on last year to the back of the driver’s seat. So that did away with the place I had to hang the tree. I need to figure out another spot for the tree. I just have to do a few other things before I find a place for the tree. Next year I’ll probably put the tree up.

 

First Freeze Of The Fall

The overnight low was 26F. It dropped below freezing around 8PM and didn’t get above 32F until around 2AM. I’m guessing this was when the cold front rolled in. It was 34F this morning when the dog decided she needed to go out to pee & poo. Bus was fairly warm. I don’t typically keep it warm overnight but I forgot to turn the space heater in the front off last night. I typically keep the bus between 50F & 65F overnight. Tace likes to leave the space heater in the bedroom on fairly high plus crank her side of the bed up. The dog gets cold (not much fur to keep her warm) so keeping the bedroom warm overnight will be a given. Nothing froze overnight. So I’m guessing I’m good until I can get the rigid insulation bought to make the boxes. I’ve decided to rethink using the waterbed heating pad on the holding tanks. Tace & I did our grocery shopping yesterday and had to stop in Wal-Mart to buy canned diced potatoes (for Stoup). While there Tace saw some little tiny (250 watt) space heaters and mentioned that she had used them in the past as they heated very well for places like under the sink and such. They were only $10. I think I will get two to place inside each of the tank boxes, once I get them built, to keep that area warmed up. I can put them on a couple of those Easy Heat thermostat plugs so no power goes to them until temps drop to 38F (I have one and it turns off the power at 50F so I kept the thermostat inside the box with the heater). It would be a lot cheaper than a waterbed heater pad. And I am cheap. I have used space heaters and incandescent light bulbs to keep RV plumbing warm before. A small space heater works well and tends to have a fan to move the air around so there are no cold spots to worry about. Been trying to decide if I should leave the pipe cable in place or remove it. I don’t have to remove it. I will probably leave it in place and just not use it unless temps are going to be really cold. It can get really cold here in NM. I think this is going to be a colder winter than what I have experienced out here (longer freezes). I don’t really want to unhook all the stuff anyway. My insulated boxes will have to be built in stages. First the insulation, then the road cover, then the access doors. Plus I still need to add another fresh tank because the washing machine empties the 30 gallon fresh tank faster it than takes to refill. So before I add the road cover, I need to buy the Super Struts to rehang the existing fresh tank (I want to relocate it by a couple of feet) plus add the second tank. The way I have the tanks hung, I can slide bins with the hoses and connections in with the tanks once it is covered (and why I need the access doors).
 
Unless I come up with something different before I get started on this idea. You know, when it comes to conversions, I see a lot of the interior/exterior “eye candy” pics online but what I don’t see a whole lot of is things like the underside storage. I’m beginning to think folks don’t mess with that part much. Only thing I have seen for storage of “stuff” is someone who hung 2-expensive-2-me under mount tool boxes on the bottom of their bus. The tool boxes hang down too much for my tastes and are far too shallow (I have about 30″ from sidewall to the frame beam and most of these under mount tool boxes are only 18″ deep). It’s like when I was trying to figure out how to do the LP tanks. Other than a welded setup (I can’t weld), there was pretty much nothing that I could look at and adjust to make a storage space to hold all my tanks (all 8 of them… currently). Lots of pics of the interior, the part I didn’t need help with. But the Super Strut setup I finally came up with seems to be working well and I have adapted it to use with the waste tanks. I know that there are folks out there who think I am stupid for going that route (I know this because they called me stupid online… and that was one of the nicer names) but I can’t weld and once all the parts are threaded together they seem pretty strong and sturdy. Will it hold up to a slung tire? Probably not but then a lot of things won’t. I see enough RVs roll into the parks with damage to the bays from a slung tire to think otherwise. But my LP tanks and generator held up just fine to driving off road thru the brush, rocks and cacti when I had to turn the bus around on a dirt road. The generator (hangs off the Super Struts) has gone off road twice… so far. I do know that when we slung a tire on the Class C, it tore the wheel well all up. But the wheel well was simply a plywood box screwed and caulked to the plywood floor deck. While I would have preferred that the LP tanks hang in the middle of the bus, it just wasn’t gonna work out. So they are behind the rear wheels, along with the generator. And they all hang and inch or so below the side skirting. Luckily a school bus has a high road clearance. Once I got everything all tightened up (with a bit of EU6000 on the nuts to prevent them from loosening up on their own) it was all surprisingly rigid.

At any rate, I am happy with my Super Strut setups. They are easily attached to the underside of the floor (I have “L” brackets that run full width side-2-side that already have a hole to put a bolt thru on the far ends) with minimal drilling. The various holes that the 1/2″ threaded rods go thru allow the struts to be adjusted fairly easily. The struts will hold a lot of weight. And they are easily cut with a hack saw and a sharp blade. They do dull the blades pretty quickly. The “weak” part of the deal seems to be the threaded rod. Although the 1/2″ rod doesn’t seem to want to bend much, particularly with them only being 18″ and 24″ long (they are screwed in to where they touch the bottom side of the bus floor on the LP lockers).

I have found that since I collected all my plumbing lines to where they run crosswise on the bus in only a couple of places, I cannot put a single pipe insulation tube on the section. I think that using a section of PVC pipe gutter will be what I end up using. They are “U” shaped so I can line them with insulation scraps and pop them into place and secure with a zip tie or really short screw. I will have to do a little measuring to see how it will work out. I really did not think I would be going thru another NM winter. Oh well. Just need to get prepared for it.

 

I am an RVDer!

There seems to be an ongoing trend amongst the RV groups. Words that I used to use have come to mean other things. Most of the these words were used mostly within the RVing community or had a different meaning within the RVing community than in the general population.

Camping was done in a tent, a travel trailer or motorhome. Now you can only camp while in a tent. You are not allowed to call it “camping” if you are in a trailer (they are no longer called “campers”) or motorhome. I’m surprised that campgrounds are still called campgrounds. Give them time and they will come up with another name for them.

Boondocking is one that the meaning has changed greatly. Way back in the early 1980’s the word meant any time a self-contained trailer or motorhome (recreational vehicle) stayed any where, for any length of time, without using any hookups (no water, no sewer and no electrical). This term applied in campgrounds, in parking lots, paved or unpaved, in someone’s back yard, any where.

Now the word means something different. You have to not only be self-contained, but you must also be XX number of miles from any other living (or possibly dead) person. You cannot be on pavement. I’m not sure about gravel. There’s a whole convoluted definition that applies now. I was informed that because the “newer definition” is on the internet, it’s the correct one. So I came up with my own word for the type of practice that I used to call boondocking. I call it “freedom parking” and put my definition on the internet.

My Official Definition of Freedom Parking as of 05/18/2013 4:24PM MST: “Freedom Parking” is any time that one parks their Residential Vehicle in a place and they remain self contained and do not hook up to any utilities and/or do not use any facilities. This can be in any no facility campground, the side of any road, any paved parking lot, any store parking lot, any rest area, shoreline of any water (lake, creek, river, ocean, bay, reservoir), any vacant land either public or private. (http://freedomparking.webs.com/)

I’ve noticed that the term “RVer” have been redefined to mean something other than “a person who is in a Recreational Vehicle” (long or short term). Now you have to “RV” in certain kinds of “RV”s. Some folks don’t think any kind of home built or converted recreational vehicle can be called an “RV”. I always thought that “RVing” was more a frame of mind rather than actually being in a travel trailer or motorhome. I am in an RV park where there are a lot of people who are living in travel trailers and motorhomes because their jobs demand that they work far from home. Although some really have no home any more. I really don’t consider them to be RVers and I don’t think they think of themselves as RVers. For them, the RV is simply a better choice than staying in motels and hotels.

And then there is the time frame. For some you can’t “RV” (be in your RV) for more than XX number of days. Not continuously but scattered out over the course of a year. Others think, for “fulltiming”, that you simply have to be on the move all the time and never stop for more than a week at a time. That is a very expensive way to stay in a park. Private parks offer a much cheaper monthly rate as opposed to the more expensive nightly or weekly rates. But when you stay for the “long term” (6 months or more) you become the dreaded “semi-permanent” or “permanent” RVer who the park reviewers think should not be allowed in the parks. But isn’t a “snowbird” considered a “semi-permanent RVer” when they stay for 6 months or longer in a park waiting out the winter?

I also find it interesting that the RVers of today seem to have never had to work. They seem to have a deep seated dislike to those in the RV parks that do still have a job and live in their trailers and motorhomes while they work at jobs that are outside the parks. I remember when “camping or “RVing” was a cheap way of vacationing. Now only the well-to-do are allowed to “RV”. I read the park reviews and am just amazed at the derision heaped on those of us who live in RV parks for months or years at a time.

I no longer fit the new description of RVer as it has changed rather than me changing. I’m not too sure I want to be an “RVer” by today’s standards. I have stopped posting on RV forums because the rabid intolerance of the current RVers for those who are different from them is disturbing. Most of these “groups” are very intolerant of anyone who is different than they are. I have discovered that I am pretty much avoiding various “groups”.

So I live 24/7/365 (366 in a leap year) in a self-converted Residential (built from residential components for long term living) Vehicle. I have decided that I am an Residential Vehicle Dweller…. or an RVDer!

PS. A friend read this and commented that it got her to thinking about what to call herself since, like me, she feels that the description of RVer does not really apply to her. She came up with “Mobile Dweller” or “MD”! I like that one too!

A Title?

Coming up with a title for my posts is hard for me. What am I going to title it? “Yet another boring post in an uneventful life?” This is what has been happening since my last post in August.

I got a job at Sam’s Club. It paid pretty good but I needed a larger paycheck (more hours) and, as a cashier, I was expected to get two basic ($45) memberships up graded to the Plus ($100) membership per day. That wasn’t really a problem. I’ve got the Plus membership and I really like the points that I accumulate. We used points to get a refrigerator at a great price. I just think I save far more money with the Plus membership and we get in much earlier in the morning. It pays off for me. I also had to get two credit card sign ups per day as well. Now that is where I have a problem. I do not think a cashier should be pushing a credit card at the register. It makes me uneasy to be pressuring people into making that kind of decision in just a few minutes. It’s bad financial decision making. While I do think that there are a lot of pluses to the Sam’s Credit Card (if you are considering a credit card) just asking every person who walks up is not a good idea. I do like the idea that one could get back 3% on RV park site rent (for me that would be $14.25 per month). At the end of a year, that would add up. But as someone who has been burned, badly, by credit cards when we hit a down turn in income, I am uneasy about pushing credit on anyone. I also didn’t like that they refunded my personal, recently renewed, Sam’s Club card and made me get an “Associate” Sam’s Club card (they take the money to pay for the card out of each of my paychecks… didn’t like that either). So I quit Sam’s Club. But not before I had another job in place.

Now both Tace & I are cashiering at the K-Mart about 1 mile from where we are parked at. I had accepted the job while I was still working at Sam’s. My last week at Sam’s Club was only 17 hours. So I did my interviews, drug testing, was offered a job and accepted. I gave SC notice before starting my last day. I don’t feel bad about that. SC had basically said I would be getting over 24 hours per week. I wasn’t. They did not hold up their end of the deal. I also did not think I was doing them right because I was having trouble pushing the credit. Other than that, it was an okay place to work for. I’m getting less per hour but already got more hours in my first week than I did at SC. It is working out to where I got more money coming in. And, unlike at Sam’s Club, I can buy clearance merchandise. K-Mart has some fantastic sale and clearance prices. Plus they have brought back the old Bluelight Specials. We both signed up for the free “Shop Your Way Rewards” program during the hiring process. And we are able to get an overall discount on any of our purchases at K-Mart and Sears. Plus Sears has a “Family & Friends” sales event once a year. I may be taking advantage of that to replace the washing machine in the bus. It hasn’t run right since it froze the last time.

Tace was getting temp work thru the temp agency. She was working out at the fairgrounds getting ready for the fair to start. The bad thing is she was doing heavy manual labour and then started working at K-Mart. So she has been running ragged this week. Friday was her last day at the temp job. With both of us working we should be able to pay our bills and save some so we can leave again. It’s just going to be tight for a little while until we get evened back out. But I have the rent for the up coming month sitting in my checking account. And we got the money for the wi-fi and insurance. Just not much else. Plus Tace goes to her week-long Lavu convention that is required if she still wants to do the Lavu Point of Sale thing when we leave here. The convention was paid for a long time ago and there are no refunds as it is mandatory for the sales reps to attend. So we still have that in the future. And no, I have not tried getting the bus cranked up. Between job hunting and actually finding a job, I have not been inclined to crawl under the bus to look at it. I think I need to buy a gizmo a friend linked to that will get the air out of the fuel lines. That would require having a little extra money first. Even if I get the engine cranked, we have to stay here until we get enough money saved up to leave. At best after Christmas, at worst a year. We are not making any solid plans right now. Our only goals right now are to get to where we are able to pay our bills and get the bus ready for another freezing winter. And get my cellphone back working… or get a new phone. I can’t remember if I was having problems with this phone or a previous one.

Ruby Lee has been making new friends who come and go. One of the park workers has an American Bull Terrier rescue that they believe was fought (it’s big here in NM). He has a bad leg but that is getting stronger since he plays with Ruby. And they play rough. He’s a bit older than her and they believe he was cooped up in a cage long-term. He is gaining stamina. They just love each other so much. They kiss each other all over their faces every time they see each other. It’s kinda funny watching them. She isn’t happy about Tace & I being gone (at work) and leaving her. But I think she is getting used to it.

I have come up with a couple of new recipes. We liked them. They are definitely “make again”s. I still need to make a little adjustment on the Pressure Cooked Apricot Pork as it was a tad too sweet for us. But we have been cutting back on sugar so much that what some folks think is not too sweet we think is terribly sweet. So I bought some dried apricots and apricot nectar from Dollar Tree to make my own apricot puree to use in the dish. I also have an Apricot Fruit Braid that uses a cream cheese pastry and apricot puree. I used to use baby food but have found that the apricot baby food available here is a mixed fruit as opposed to pure apricot puree. And I have yet to find apricot puree in a jar like I used to back East. I guess it’s just one of those things that aren’t sold out here. But I found a simple recipe for apricot puree. I dumped the extra sugar they added (why the extra sugar?) and included it at the bottom of the Apricot Pork recipe. So here’s the recipes if you want to try one of them too. They will also be added to the recipe page here as well. No pics since they were eaten too fast. Next time I make these recipes, I will try to remember to take pictures to add. BTW, I use kitchen shears to cut up the stew meat. It is faster for me than using a knife.

Brasher Pork
Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut up 3 pounds pork stew meat into small bite sized pieces. Dust generously with Cajun seasoning blend. Set aside. Dice 2 large yellow onions,. In a 1/3×4″ deep steam table pan, saute the onions in coconut oil for 20 minutes. Spread one third of the meat over the onions. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Remove lid, stir to mix the steamed meat, onions and juices together. Spread another third of the meat over the cooked meat-onion mixture, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, mix together and spread the remaining third of the meat over the mixture, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Once all the meat is cooked, add 1 teaspoon garlic powder and then stir well to mix up. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, dissolve 3 tablespoons cornstarch in 1/2 cup cold water. Add to the meat-onion mixture to thicken the sauce up. Served on sub rolls with a couple sliced of Muenster cheese. Also tasted good with the sliced Gouda cheese.

Notes on the Leftovers: This froze well for me. I thawed it over night in the refrigerator. I heated up the pork mixture and served it over rice with steamed broccoli florets.

Town & Country Brussels Sprouts
Trim and clean 2 pounds fresh Brussels spouts. Split sprouts in half. If large sprouts, then quarter them. Set aside. Dissolve 1 teaspoon chicken base (Better Than Bouillon or similar chicken base) in 1/2 cup hot water. Coarsely chop 1 large yellow onion and add to a 1/3×4″ deep steam table pan. Slice 1 pound smoked sausage into bite sized slices. Add to the onions and cook, stirring often, over medium high heat until the sausage releases fat and the onions are lightly golden. Add the Brussels sprouts over the sausage mixture. Sprinkle 1 cup dried cranberries (Craisens) over the sprouts. Add the water and cover. Steam over medium to medium high heat, stirring often to prevent burning, until sprouts are tender. Remove lid and continue cooking off the liquid in the pan until reduced. Stir before serving to mix the pan juices with the mixture. Could serve over rice or egg noodles.

Notes: We ate this with no rice or noodles. Just ladled it onto a plate and sucked it down. It was tasty. And filling. And mostly gone. We were stuffed and happy. The dried cranberries added a nice touch to the dish. They did soften a little but still had that nice chew to them. Dried cranberries seem to pair up well with Brussels sprouts.

Pressure Cooked Apricot Pork
Cut 1-1/2 lbs boneless pork stew into bite sized pieces . Salt and pepper to taste. Brown in olive oil in pressure cooker. Remove meat from pan. Pour off drippings and excess fat. Do not remove fond (browned bits) on bottom of the pan. Deglaze with 1/4 cup white wine. Stir in 1/4 cup my homemade low sugar ketchup, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup faux Soy Vey teriyaki sauce, 1/4 cup apricot puree (Simply Fruit). Return meat to pot. Stir to coat with the sauce. Close cover securely; place pressure regulator on vent pipe. Bring cooker to full pressure over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 15 minutes. The pressure regulator should maintain a slow steady low hissing sound or a rocking motion, depending on the style of weight used; adjust heat if needed to maintain pressure.

Notes: We had this over steamed broccoli. Would be good with brown rice and the steamed broccoli. The Simply Fruit was a tad too sweet for our taste. I think I need to try making my own puree with no additional sugar added. I think dried apricots are plenty sweet on their own. Below is the apricot puree recipe I will try for the next batch.

Apricot Puree – No Sugar Added
1 1/4 cups apricot nectar
1 6-ounce package dried apricots
Stir all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until mixture simmers. Cover and cook until apricots soften, about 6 minutes; cool. Transfer mixture to processor and puree until almost smooth (some apricot bits will remain). Refrigerate. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead.)

 

Stuff Happens

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It’s looking like my daughter & I will be staying in Roswell for a while. We need to save up money, again, to leave, again. We think we will be staying put for about a year. So we get jobs, again. I am trying to get a job with a Temp agency. Putting in everywhere. Most places take online applications. Tace is doing the same. We will get a job, hopefully next week. This will give us time to do a little work on the bus and a little work on the jeeps. Plus thin down more of our stuff. We are staying in the RV park that David & I were living in. Monthly rates are good although being increased next month, close enough to town that we aren’t driving long distances for everything. There is a nice little fenced dog park that Ruby Lee enjoys and requires a trip to daily. She gets a real work out with her K9-Kannon. She is really fond of grass. We have found that we can leave Ruby Lee alone in the bus without her going nuts and trashing the whole place. I believe she will be okay when left alone. I think I need to frost the bedroom windows because she sometimes pulls the curtain down to look out. Tace is sold on the convenience of having a Sam’s Club only 15 minutes away. Not quite what we had planned but stuff happens and sometimes you have to adjust your plans. So our goal is to leave before it gets hot again. Meanwhile, I bought spikes and washers to nail the grass carpet to the ground so I don’t have to pick it up all the time due to the wind.