Adventures of purchasing a new RV

My husband Donny and me enjoy being outdoors and getting away from the house for a little relaxation and down time.   We used to own an used 29 foot bumper pull travel trailer. We sold it and said in a few years we would purchase another new RV.   During that time we started taking trips with friends to ride our Polaris Rzr 1000XP.   The accomodations at the one park we went too were less then desirable so we started our search for a toy hauler RV to travel with our RZR and go camping.

Sometimes purchasing a RV is worst then an automobile.   We spend three to four weekends visiting numerous RV dealerships in and around the Houston area.  We had a specific budget what we could afford and the RZR has to fit in the toy hauler to Donny’s liking.   Most dealerships we visited the sales personnel was very helpful and answered all our questions but we always stated we were just looking and would be ready to purchase within 30 days.   Only one instance where we encountered a salesman who was a bully and really just didn’t want to make the sale.

One night while surfing the internet, I came across a deal on a Heartland Torque T29 in Navasota, TX at T&S Enterprise RV’s.   I contacted the sales personnel via email to see if the unit I found was still for sale. The next morning I received an email that the unit I inquired about had been sold but they had a 2016 model that just arrived on their lot that morning.   After several emails, we made plans to drive to Navasota which was about 2 hour drive from the house to check out the toy hauler. We arrived to meet Tex and Tim, the salesmen at T&S RV’s, they had the unit we want to view all setup with electricity hooked up and all the utilities working on it. We really like the unit, but were hestitate about the RZR fitting in the toy hauler garage.   Tex showed us an email of a prior customer’s RZR fitting in the trailer.   So about some discussion we decided to make the purchase. We had been pre-approved by our credit union so we headed home to finalize all the paperwork.

toy-hauler

The next day Saturday we headed to the credit union for sign off on all documents and take the draft letter to the RV dealer and pickup our new RV.   We took our 2005 Dodge 2500 Ram Pickup truck to pull our new thirty-four foot RV Toy Hauler home.   This trailer was five feet longer then our old RV so it was an adjustment for Donny in driving it home.

We were anxious to plan a weekend to go and try our new trailer. We booked a RV site at Northshore RV Resort on Lake Livingston. Our friends Steve and Cindy joined us for the weekend. Thank goodness they were there, Steve helped us a lot on setting up the trailer. We had forgotten a lot of things that go into setting up your trailer. I think that will be another blog post soon.

Below are several highlights to remember when shopping for a new RV.

  1. Establish your budget before going to look at RV’s
  2. Do as much research as you can online on layouts, trailer styles and amentities.
  3. If you shop for RVs in the summer, be prepared to go inside some very hot trailers to look at the inside.
  4. Take a tape measure if you have an UTV/ATV/golf cart or motorcycle you will be hauling. If you aren’t looking for a toy hauler, you can omit this step.
  5. Figure into the cost of your new RV for full coverage insurance.
  6. Haggle on the price and see how much you can get off MSRP.
  7. Finalize paperwork for purchase of RV.
  8. Another cost will be trailer hitches or fifth wheel hitches that you will need to tow your trailer’s with safely.
  9. Plan a local trip camping to get become familiar how to setup your trailer and all it has to offer.
  10. Finally sit back and enjoy spending time in your RV.

We purchased a 2016 Heartland Torque TQ T29. We took a short weekend trip to Lake Livingston with good friends of our Steve and Cindy Griffin.   Had to remember numerous steps in setting up trailer. Steve was a great help to Donny and we enjoyed our little trip to try out our new camper.

truck-and-toy-hauler

Do you own a travel trailer, 5th wheel, pop-up camper or motorhome? Or thinking about purchasing one soon?

Leftover Chicken – Part 1 … Cheesy Chicken Cornbread Chili

Chicken is pretty much a staple around our house.  It is easy and versatile to cook with.  Whether you enjoy grilling, baking, stir-fry or making soup, there is always a great recipe for chicken.   I will usually buy a few ten-pound bag of legs and thighs, and boneless breasts when they are on sale.  We have a large freezer, and I put it to good use.  At least one bag of the legs and thighs will be boiled to be able to have broth on hand for soup and cooked chicken ready for quick meals.  I like to cook enough so we have leftovers for lunch and/or dinner the next day.

Last week I did a few different things with chicken breasts.  One of them was Cheesy Chicken Cornbread Chili.  I saw a recipe for Cornbread Chili and decided to adapt it and use the chicken and other ingredients I had on hand.

******************************************************
Cheesy Chicken Cornbread Chili

Ingredients:

1 lb cooked chicken breast – cut into small cubes or shreddedcornbread-chili-in-pot

1 cup grated cheese

2 tsp (or so) Chili powder

1 tsp (or so) Garlic powder
Salt and pepper (to taste)

cornbread-chli-preparation

1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies and onion

1 can ranch style bean

1 box (8.5 oz) cornbread mix (milk and egg needed

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the cornbread mix according to package directions cornbread-chili-in-oven
    and set aside.
  3. Combine all other ingredients (except the cheese) into a pot and bring to a boil.  If you feel you need a little more liquid, add about 1/2 cup of water.  You want some liquid but not too much
  4. Pour the chili mixture into an 8″ x 8″ pan.
  5. Layer the cheese on top of the chili.cornbread-chili-in-pyrex
  6. Pour the cornbread mix evenly over all the ingredients.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cornbread is cooked completed.  Use a toothpick to test.
  8. Serve hot and enjoy!!     

cornbread-chili-in-bowlcornbread-chili-more-cornbread

******************************************************

This turned out great, and my husband, who is not a huge cornbread fan, loved it.

Do you make casseroles?  Post a picture of your favorites on our Living and Loving our Lives Facebook page.  If you try this one, let me know how it turns out in the comments below.

 

Newsletter Subscriber Contest Winner

And the contest winner is….

Our Newsletter Subscriber Contest winner is ……  Kim S.!  Congratulations!  An email is on the way to you with details on how to receive the Amazon Gift Card.

We want to thank everyone who took part and signed up for our LLOL newsletter.  As we post more content we will be sending out a periodic newsletter to let you know about the latest posts and happenings.

Have a blessed week!

LLOL,

Kathryn & Patricia

No Spending Weekend Challenge

Have you ever challenged your spouse and yourself to a “No Spending” weekend? My husband Donny and I do this several times a year just to keep ourselves in check on spending and unnecessary purchases. Would you be willing to participate in a “No Spending” weekend?

The rules or boundaries we set up start at midnight on Friday and go until midnight Sunday. This means no spending on unnecessary purchases such as trips to the grocery store, eating out, and online purchases. If we do a “No Spending” weekend, I will usually go grocery shopping on Friday night and purchase all the food we need to cook at home all weekend. I’ll also go and fill the Tundra up with gas and get the cash we need for weekly church donations.

The first time I participated in this event, it was extremely hard because there are so many temptations out there such as online shopping, drive-thru eating or stopping at Walmart. What affected us most was eating out. Weekends were the time we were lazier and it was quicker just to go to a drive-thru or go pick up take-out food for dinner. “No Spending” weekend requires a plan and discipline.

There are always exceptions to the rules such as medical emergencies, “Murphy” visits such as flat tires or car issues, and family emergencies.

Who wants to participate with Donny and I and partake in a “No Spending” weekend? Post in the comments if you want to participate. Please subscribe to our email and I will send you a helpful “No Spending” weekend cheat sheet to provide encouragement and success.

At the end of the weekend, take the time to reflect on what you did to not make any purchases and which purchases you postponed. If it was a significant amount of money, take the money and put in savings.

After my weekends, I would save anywhere from $150 to $250. Do this once a quarter and you can save up to $1,000. This money could be your emergency fund, a weekend family getaway, Christmas gift fund, or a donation to charity.

What do you have to lose? Join me and let’s do a “No Spending” weekend for October 15th and 16th! Take action and come back to www.livingandlovingourlives.com and tell me how it went with your successes and weaknesses.

 

LLOL,

Patricia

 

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Preparing for Atlantic Hurricane Season

The Atlantic Hurricane season started on June 1st and does not end until November 30th. If you live in the coastal area along the Atlantic coast it is a good idea to make preparations for the tropical season.

Have you completed your preparations and have supplies on hand for 3-5 days after the storm passes your area? Do you have evacuation plans and know your routes to leave if hurricane gains strength and puts you in harm’s way? Do you have means to protect your home and property from winds, flooding rains and storm surge? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself and answer to be fully prepared for the 2016 season.

There are numerous sources on the internet that can help you with making preparations that are best for your family. A good resource is www.redcross.com that I use for a checklist on things to do. Beginning in June I begin purchasing batteries for flashlights and lanterns to use during power outages from hurricane force winds that knock out electricity. Next on my list is keeping a stockpile of bottled water. Normally I will purchase 4-6 cases of water and when a storm is forecasted to impact our area I want to have at least 10-12 cases of water on hand to drink and use. Make sure you have enough can goods on hand including canned meat to prepare after the storm and you have no electricity. I buy canned ham and peanut butter and jelly are other staples that we keep on hand in our hurricane supplies.

I purchase extra toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags and cleaning supplies to use for clean-up after the storm. I keep non-perishable snacks on hand too. My husband is a generator mechanic and he usually is called out to work before the storm passes and works long hours until all power is restored to the area so I have snacks on hand for him to take with him to eat while he is working.

Extra extension cords, tape, and gas with gas cans are important if you will be running a generator after the storm. Please follow all safety rules when storing gas to use. I cannot stress this enough. If you have a Yeti-type cooler, purchase ice and keep it on-hand for longer than a normal cooler. This is important if it gets hot after the storm and there is a lot of clean up to do. Nothing like having a cold bottle of water to stay cool and quench the thirst.

Personally, I will tell you that preparation before the season gets active is imperative.  Nine years ago we were hit by Hurricane Ike. Donny, Chasity and I were without power for 17 days. We learned to cook a lot of food using a charcoal grill and ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had purchased my supplies early that year to be ready for the season but still purchased more supplies when Hurricane Ike was in our direct path. We survived on a small generator that kept the freezer and refrigerator running during the day and at night ran the window unit a/c.

If you can’t purchase your supplies early in the season, at least make a list of what you need and purchase when the storm is forecasted to impact your area. Do not rely on anyone to come and help you. Make plans to take care of your family and you for at least 3-5 days. This will allow officials to access the damage and begin making repairs. Also, as during Hurricane Ike, there were pods opened up for folks to get water, ice and MRE’s. Sometimes the wait in lines for these supplies was hours long.  Be prepared and make sure to take care of the elderly and your pets.

Here is a list of websites for tropical weather preparedness.

https://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/plan/

https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes

http://www.tdi.texas.gov/pubs/consumer/cb086.pdf

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness

 

LLOL,

Patricia

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though it’s waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (Psalm 46:1-3)

 

 

Sausage and Cheese Grits Recipe

I am a southern girl – born and raised in Texas.  Growing up, one staple in our household was grits.  My mother didn’t get too adventurous with it – we ate it for breakfast with eggs.  But, I loved grits and always looked forward to eating it.  My mother and grandmother always made a perfect bowl of grits – adding a little salt to the boiling water and when it was done scooping a huge helping onto our plate.  With just the right amount of butter placed in the middle, melting quickly into that steaming, savory pile of grits sitting next to a beautifully fried egg along with sausage or bacon – it was something hard to resist!

When I married my husband, I found out he did not like grits!  Oh, the horror!!  His family is from up North, so I couldn’t really hold it against him.  So, if I wanted grits, I would have to eat it by myself.  I could never order grits at a restaurant because they don’t prepare them correctly.  Usually, they don’t add any salt and that makes all the difference in the world.  Adding the salt afterward just isn’t the same.  A few years ago, we went to a local restaurant for dinner and they had grits on the menu as a side dish – I was intrigued, especially when I saw it was mixed with andouille sausage and cheese.  I had to try it and I am glad I did.  It was wonderful.  The next week, I made some at home for breakfast and even my non-grit loving husband said it was good.

I thought I would share my recipe for Sausage and Cheese Grits with you today.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Be adventurous – try it with different sausages or meats, spice it up – make it your own!

Sausage and Cheese Grits

1/4 cup cooked breakfast sausage

1 cup water

1/4 cup grits

pinch of salt (you don't need much since you are adding sausage and cheese)

dash of pepper (more or less to taste - use red pepper or other if you like a little kick!)

grated cheese

Place the cooked breakfast sausage in a small pot.  Add one cup of water.  Add your salt and pepper.  Bring this to a boil.  Remove the pot from the burner and add the grits while stirring.  This is important, otherwise, the grits may not cook correctly and will be lumpy - yuck!!  Turn your burner OFF and place the pot back on the burner and cover it with a lid.  Turn on a timer for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, stir the grits. Put the grits on your plate, or in a bowl, and add the cheese. EAT AND ENJOY!!

Sausage and Cheese Grits

If you have something that your family loves to eat, share it with us in the comments below.

LLOL,

Kathryn

 

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”  Psalms 34:8

Best Five Laundry Tips

What is the one chore that all of us do that just never seems to get completed? For me, it is doing laundry. I will do one load every day just to keep dirty clothes getting out of hand. Laundry is a three step process for me which includes gathering and sorting, washing and drying and finally folding and putting away. Sometimes the last step does not get completed and clothes are worn straight from the laundry basket. Does this happen at your house?

The following is my list of my 5 best laundry tips that I use to see my laundry basket empty and all clothes cleaned and put away.

1. Every day I pick up all dirty clothes throughout the house and put in a laundry basket together. This will keep things looking less cluttered and more organized. My laundry consists of all the clothes just what my husband Donny and I wear, but add workout clothes and my husband’s work clothes, it can get overwhelming at times for me. My husband has a habit of leaving his clothes where he takes them off so I just make it a point a gathering all the clothes every evening.

2. Sorting laundry, yes this is still a necessity and needs to be done to ensure that clothes are properly washed and not accidently damaged. I separate light colors and dark colors with our clothing. I separate out Donny’s work clothes because he is a generator mechanic and his clothes are always dirty with grease, grime, and diesel. Last but not least is bath towels, wash clothes and kitchen towels. These are washed together because all my towels are dark colors and I have no white towels.

3. Laundry detergent and stain remover, these items are very important to ensure clothes are clean and stay clean. Take the time to pre-treat stains and use extra detergent for heavy soiled items. I use less detergent for dress clothes. I have used homemade laundry detergent and purchased detergent, I have front loader machines so lately I have been using purchased detergent for washing. I have found that some detergents are very strong and have cause my skin to become irritated. Here is my personal laundry detergent recipe.

Patricia’s Laundry Detergent recipe   

1 Fel-Naptha soap bar – grated

1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (yellow box) – not baking soda or detergent

4 cups of warm to hot tap water

½ cup of Borax

½ cup Blue Dawn Dishwashing soap

2-3 drops of lavender essential oil (optional)

As stated above, grate the bar of Fels-Naptha soap or Ivory soap. Place grated soap with water in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Stirring constantly until it is dissolved. Take a 5-gallon plastic bucket that is clean and fill with 2 ½ gallons of hot tap water.   Add melted soap, washing soda, borax, Dawn dishwashing soap and essential oils. Mix well with a wooden rod for at least 50 stirs. Then cover laundry detergent and let sit overnight.   In the morning you will get a liquefied detergent. I use ¼ to ½ cup in a load of laundry.

4. My next tip is an important one and it is removing the clothes from the washer when the cycles have completed immediately and put in the dryer or hang outside. If you don’t, your clothes will become stagnant in the washer and start having an odor. I have had to wash the same load several times when I leave them overnight or even all day. The extra cost of laundry detergent, water and electricity are not financially sound. The best thing is to set your complete chime as loud and long as you can to notify you the washer is finished. Also, keep a mental note of when the timer will go off and check. Put clothes in dryer immediately.

5. This is the most difficult tip for me to achieve but I have been working on this in 2016 and have been successful at it. That goal is folding and putting away all the laundry as soon as it is finished drying in the dryer. I have a small table in my utility room with a small hanging rack where I fold my clothes and separate to be either put in drawers or hung up in the closet. I keep extra hangers so I can immediately do this step. Once all laundry is folded, I take to the appropriate room and put away.

RealityHanging folded

 

 

 

 

After completing these five steps I have the satisfaction of knowing my laundry is all completed and all our clothes are clean and put away.

What is your process for handling laundry? Please share your tips in our comment section.

LLOL,
Patricia

Psalm 51:7

7 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.

Volunteering With Angels of Destiny

Volunteering is an important part of my life.  Over the years I have volunteered with different organizations and groups.  For the past few years, I have worked with Angels of Destiny.  Angels of Destiny makes ribbon angels to give to people facing life-threatening illnesses.  Some of the angels are mailed to people across the country and others are delivered in person to hospitals and cancer centers.

I met the founder, Linda, over twelve years ago at an event with a motorcycle ministry with our church.  At that time Linda made ceramic angels and painted them by hand.  A few of our ladies at church volunteered at one of her work days and painted angels.  At that time she lived in another town, but would come deliver the angels to patients in the Houston Medical Center.  Linda moved closer to Houston a few years ago which gave me the opportunity to volunteer more often with her.

I had to get out of my comfort zone when I started volunteering with Angels of Destiny on a more regular basis.  Linda sent a message to me one day letting me know that the person who went with her to the children’s hospitals was not able to go.  This person would dress up as a princess and hand out angels to the children.  She asked if I would consider taking her place.  Without really thinking about it, I said yes.  At that time, I was in between jobs and had time to spare.  I had to find an outfit suitable for a princess.  It was not close to Halloween and costumes were not readily available, so I got a hold of a friend who I knew had a pink dress that would be perfect.  Well, the rest, as they say, is history.  Each time we went to the children’s hospitals in Houston and Galveston, I would dress up and hand out angels.  One time, we went to another hospital and I didn’t have time to change, so the adults got a visit from a princess that day!  Even though I don’t dress up as a princess anymore, I still enjoy the visits.

Our group has made several different kinds of angels over the years.  From ceramic angels, cardboard box angels, pillow angels and now ribbon angels.  We get together a few times during the year and have work days to make the angels.  We have people who live in other cities and states who make angels and send them to us.  There is a video we posted on YouTube showing how to make the ribbon angels.  Local children’s groups get together and make cards for Christmas and Valentine’s Day for us to hand out.  Also, during Christmastime, we go “caroling” through the hospitals.  We definitely make a joyful noise, but everyone enjoys it.  It is great to see the nurses and doctors enjoying the songs along with the patients joining in and singing along.

We have met many wonderful people during our visits.  Young children facing cancer treatments; a teenager living in a hotel with his mother, hundreds of miles away from most of their family waiting on a phone call to receive a heart transplant; middle-aged women battling breast cancer; men and women who served in the military; retired priests; severe burn victims from other countries; average, everyday people not knowing what tomorrow may bring; and the list could go on and on.  They all had something in common, a strong will to overcome the obstacles they faced.  We have been blessed to meet them and hear their stories.

I wanted to tell this story to not to brag about what I do, but to encourage you to consider becoming a volunteer if you don’t already.  In this day and age that seems to be centered around self, it is refreshing to see people doing good for others.  There are countless ways and places to volunteer.  Local and national organizations, churches, shelters, civic groups, schools, libraries, youth athletic groups, and many others could not do what they do without volunteers.  Visit the Angels of Destiny website to learn more about what we do – I encourage you to join us!

Do you volunteer?  Let us know what you do in the comments below.

LLOL,

Kathryn

 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.”  Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

Running for Cardio Workout

While on vacation several weeks ago, I enjoyed a relaxing time at Galveston beach. Great times with my husband and friends Kathryn and Roger. We rented a two‑story house which was on stilts, therefore we were walking up three flights of stairs every time we went outside. This is leading up to my realization that you have to do cardio daily to obtain weight loss.

During the five days we were at the house, I walked up and down those stairs at least 5–10 times a day. The first two days, I was so sore and exhausted. But by the time we left, I was speeding up and down the stairs and feeling stronger. I know my trainer, Chase, will be glad that I am finally getting that if I want to lose weight, I need to do three or more days of cardio for at least 30 to 45 minutes, along with working out twice a week with him lifting weights and doing some cardio.

Running on the treadmill at the gym
Running on the treadmill at the gym

My husband Donny and I have decided we want to start running, which is the best cardio I can think of when you do it on a daily basis. We are both beginners in the running department and want to start off slow and easy to build up our strength and endurance. We live just down the street from a racetrack that has a large parking lot we’ll use to walk and start our running program. Starting on Monday, we will be doing 1 minute of walking and 30 seconds of slow jogging for 1.10 miles, which is one lap around the racetrack. Each week, we will add more running and less walking and we hope by the end of November, we will be able to do 3.30 miles in a reasonable time. Our goal is to participate in a local 5K event and run, jog, and walk the event.

Our trainer is working with us to strengthen our leg muscles to enable us to be better runners in the long-term. I will be periodically updating here on the blog our successes and failures in running to add more cardio to our exercise program and assist us with achieving our weight‑loss goals.

Running is one of those things either you like it or you don’t. I don’t mind running but my trainer is helping me strengthen my legs and knees so they don’t hurt. We started this week on the treadmill at the gym because running in the 100 plus degree heat will not work for us. Donny is running up to seven minutes now and I am doing three to four minutes at a time.

We are going to continue to add more running to our cardio every week until we can run over three miles and then participate in a local 5K. Continue to follow my blog posts as I update our progress.

LLOL,

Patricia

1 Corinthians 9:26-27

“Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”