Nov 182016
 

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Her name is Matia — a darling little Ranger Tug boat that I am in no doubt, thoroughly smitten over.  I’ve been wishing for a little tug boat for the longest while (even when we had our last boat) and my tug dream came true late this summer when hubby bought it for me.  For US.

Matia was built in Kent, Washington at the Ranger Tug factory and came home to the San Juan Islands with us.   HOME is here now (we’ve uprooted from Eastern Washington and are selling off some of our property.  Anyone interested in a cute little slice of Heaven in the charming town of Roslyn? Comes with two 30 amp plugins, a historic cabin, fruit trees galore (plum, apple and cherry that bear the sweetest fruit perfect for pies or just plain pickin’ off the branches and savoring the flavor while you stroll around the property).  A golden, sun flecked pasture is your view with the sweetest horses as neighbors – let me know if you know anyone interested.  I’m kind of hoping it won’t sell.  Don’t tell the hubby :)

We’ve been looking in the islands for another slice of Heaven and by golly,  I think we’ve found it!  Keep your fingers crossed for the Bennett’s because if this happens then our Silver Girl will have a new home, situated waterfront along the Salish Sea with views of the strait where orcas and humpback whales come to play and bald eagles soar high above.  Did I mention there is also a beach with the most amazing tide pools (according to our {hopefully} new neighbor who happens to be the nicest fellow) and a boat ramp too? And a nice big patch for a garden (a garden) . . . and, and, I could go on I tell ya.  I’m very hopeful the seller accepts our offer *fingers crossed*  But what shall be, shall be (I shall remain very hopeful!)

Now back to Matia, Hubby and I fondly named her after the island Matia, which just happens to be one of our favorite islands in the San Juan archipelagos.  She’s one of the smallest islands and boasts some of the dreamiest hiking trails that reward with breathtaking views.  It’s a glorious place that holds blissful memories for hubby and I — we can hardly wait until we visit again.

There are so many things I adore about our boat and the galley is tops on my list.  I do only have one little electric burner, which is fine and dandy — but the situation is as such — when we’re under way cruising up and over the waves out on the Salish Sea, or settled in for the night on the hook — that little electric burner won’t turn on due to the huge power draw it requires (we must be plugged into shore power or have a generator on board).  So underneath that electric burner is a place to pour denatured alcohol into and cook over that.  I’ve tried it and well, lets just say I’ve decided that we needed a bigger, beefier cook top.  Enter the Dickinson Sea-B-Que.  Thanks to my friend Laura who runs the fabulous travel (airplane, airstream & boat!) site, Riveted, she told me that the Dickinson grills are by far, the best and can I just say?  I couldn’t agree more.  Thank you Laura! Not only does the Sea-B-Que look stunningly gorgeous mounted on the railing, it’s a powerful workhorse that comes with porcelain grates that will get sooooooo hot you’ll be able to sear anything beautifully!

Thus far I have prepared on the Sea-B-Que, endless pots of coffee, cast iron skillet eggs, toasted raisin bread with melty butter, roasted veggies, Cajun grilled salmon and even boiled about five big pots of fresh caught Dungeness crab.  This grill has been my savior and has completely updated my galley.  Also, compared to the other marine grills out on the market, the Sea-B-Que will never flame out.  It’s very true and you’ve just heard it from me.  I was skeptical but while we were on the hook in Blind Bay (in between Shaw and Orcas), it was W I N D Y !  You could hear the wind angrily whipping around the grill and the flame still blazing away inside powerful and strong like a raging lion that would not give up. I was so impressed it didn’t flame out!  Compared to the previous two grills we’ve had on our past two boats, there is no comparison.  None.  It was quite disheartening because it’s no fun when you’re enjoying life out on the water when you go to check on dinner that should be cooking up nice and hot on the grill to only discover it’s been sitting there getting COLD because the flame, flamed out.  What?!  I’ve been there way to many times, thankfully never again.

Our experience buying Matia with Ranger Tugs has been such a pleasure and believe me, we’re experienced boaters who have been around the block or two regarding boat purchases.  This experience with Ranger was such a breath of fresh sea air!  They care about their customers, just like our friends Nick and Karen at Airstream of Spokane care about their customers.  They really, really give a darn.  They even have an online forum similar to Airstream where boat owners can discuss anything boating and Ranger Tug related.  I want to really thank Andrew for his patience while hubby and I tried to figure out which boat would be ours, and Kenny for his incredible patience with me and always being there and also a huge thank you to Glen who got us up to speed on piloting the boat to the San Juans.  Thank you sweet fellas !!

I also want to say I’m so sorry for not being around here as much this summer (your sweet emails of concern warmed my heart).  For me this summer was a whirlwind – it passed so quickly!  My garden at home did rather well, plenty of beautiful red sweet tomatoes but my poor tomatillo plant, what happened I still wonder?  Hundreds of fruits on that little bush but they never grew into “fruit.”  It’s like they remained so tiny in their papery shells and eventually just fell off.  Zucchinis, collard greens, lemon cucumbers (lemon cucumbers!), and Chinese eggplants all did well.  It’s been a bit of a withdrawl process weaning off the fresh veggies.  But so it is.  

A side note:  A bit of an exciting experience happened, Airstream flew out to film/photograph/interview me in my silver girl over the summer!  I can’t say too much about what’s to come, but it was a day I will never forget.  I felt like a queen :)  Can’t wait to share with you more as it all unfolds.

Wherever you are tonight, I hope you’re snug as bugs in rugs — Autumn is upon us — a new season for new beginnings.  What a beautiful life it is and continues to be ♥  

Warm hugs to you,

Monica XOXO

Sep 132016
 

2016 Best Food Blog // Seattle A-List via J5MM.com

Thank you to the sweet person out there who nominated J5MM on Seattle’s A-List site for “Best Food Blog.”  I’m beyond flattered for the nomination (it’s my first nomination for anything, ever ♥ )  and it makes me glad that someone thinks I am worthy of this very special title.  Would be nice!

So if you will, please vote for me friends :)  It would mean a great deal to me, hubby, B and I am quite certain even Oliver :)

Please Vote Here: 2016 Best Food Blog

Sir Oliver Bennett // Canine Wanderlust ♥

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Recipe:  Skillet Paella

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Recipe: Crab Boil by the Sea

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Recipe:  Layered Hot Crab Dip

{ THANK YOU FOR VOTING FOR ME & J5MM }

With gratitude,
Monica xx

Jul 292016
 

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It’s here at the Emery Bay Campground in Montana where we get little peeks at the peaks of Glacier National Park that is seemingly just around the bend.  We’re inching closer, but not quite close enough which warrants a stay at this sleepy lakeside campground.  Tomorrow morning we head out early, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the days new adventure that will take us into GNP ♥

But while we’re here we walk around and absorb our surroundings.  Tall pine trees towering above rustle in the wind as we stroll alongside the curvy roads.  I spy many bear safe food storage containers which puts me on alert.  I’ve never had an encounter with a bear, nor do I ever wish to.  But I’ve head stories such as the time we visited the Fishing Bridge Campground in Yellowstone National Park and upon checking in, the ranger gave us the low down and on the do’s and dont’s of bear safety.  One being keep all scented items inside the trailer and away from doors as well as being sure to close up all the windows at night.  The story that followed was of a family that were staying in their small trailer at that very campground.  Someone left a bag of trash inside the trailer, by the front door that was meant to be taken out in the morning.  Fast forward to 2 am when they awoke to some serious rocking and shaking of their trailer.  They huddled together in fear of the unknown as the father went to investigate.  Through the window with flashlight shining he spied a huge grizzly bear trying to claw his or her way in to get to the bag of trash.  I never did ask how the bear was scared away or if he/she was even that, but in the morning light the devastation of the trailer came to be seen.  Major damage as you can imagine from a powerful animal with amazingly sharp claws (I would imagine, even sharper now).  **shudder**

As we continue on our walk we reach the lake which greets us with sweeping views and little peek-a-boos of Glacier National Park.  I stand for a moment and exhale.  I remember I am on an almost three week holiday from work in corporate America and suddenly a sense of huge relief washes over me.  No deadlines.  No pressing appointments.  No stress.  I can’t help but smile :)

B blows bubbles and I try and photograph them.  He laughs when they pop right before I get the shot.  Little stinker.   But I did get one and it’s kind of neat because if you look closely, you can see the campsite reflection in it.  But you reaaaaaaly have to look.

We roast marshmallows and just chill at our camp.  Hubby studies the map.  Oh and by the way, have you looked at a real map lately?  Like a real paper, old school map?  I must say, after studying maps on line and trying to figure out which route to take and where, it is so refreshing to be able to sit down and see it all on paper, right in front of you.  Talk about getting the “big picture,” — I’ve realized I’ve really missed maps!  Same goes with my daily planner.  I’ve tried to use my iphone and on line calender to keep me organized but in the end, nothing can, for me at least, compare to the good old pen to paper daily planner.  My own daily planner, designed my way using the Bullet journaling style.  I am sorry I haven’t learned about that sooner!  I am finally at planner peace in my life and it’s taken 44 years, ha!

I do turn on my kindle and begin reading though and soon after, B follows suit.  I look up for a moment and smile.  It’s nice to be outside with the ones you love, all doing your own things.

We fall asleep that night under a bright blanket of stars and I dream about tomorrow and what’s to come.

Here’s to the open road and trips with the ones you love ♥

~ Monica XO

Jun 192016
 

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Road Trip Along Idaho's Hwy 12 (25 of 25)

Just a little bit about Idaho’s Hwy 12 between Syringa and Lolo Pass:

River front camping for DAYS.  “Keep your eyes peeled for those dirt road pull off’s, you’ll find yourself some real nice spots,” a fellow told me at the gas station when I was inquiring about places to camp.  I will put my hand over my heart and swear to you, this is beautiful country and one of the most pristine places we have ever camped.  I still shake my head in disbelief that a place like this exists.

Catch and release fishing to your hearts content in the rivers and nearby lakes and 99.9% of the time, you have the place to yourself.  At least this was our experience, last summer in August.

Exploring the Selway River Road took us deep into the backcountry where we fished, hiked and swam in the refreshing cool river.  Nearby forest fires created a rather smoky atmosphere, but that was to be expected in mid August I was told (we learned a lot about forest fires during this trip of ours — wait till you see my pictures I took when we visited Glacier National Park).  Also, if you enjoy mushroom hunting, put this place on your radar — the ranger told us you can find ginormous mushrooms from morels to oysters and many other varieties depending on the time of year of course.

Hot springs in their natural state – no man made formations here.  It was glorious alternating soaks between the hot therapeutic waters and the cool icy river.

In a nutshell, our trip was nothing short of glorious, how could it not have been?  Campsite after campsite, one after another, all river front, all private and all breathtaking.  I miss my morning cups of coffee strolling the rivers edge and watching hubby fish.

I also made a successful breakfast pizza on that trip.  Successful for me in a big way because the crust was grain and gluten free and hubby and B didn’t even notice!  All I heard was, “Wow, this is really good!”  I’ve been following a ketogenic (keto for short) way of eating now for a while and I have been slowly trying to convert the boys without their knowledge.  It’s kind of working. So with the success of this pizza, well, it made my day.

For the pizza crust I used Julian’s Bakery Paleo Pizza Crust Mix.  I pressed the crust into my cast iron skillet and par baked it at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes.  I then added the toppings, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, cooked and crumbled bacon with four cracked eggs on top.  A sprinkle of salt and a good turn of pepper and into the oven at 425 degrees it went for about 15 minutes.  If you like your eggs on the runny side — I would start watching the pizza around minute 10.

Thank you for being here and more importantly:  HAPPY FATHERS DAY XOXO

Warmly,
Monica

PS:   here is a handy brochure explaining all there is to do along this beautiful stretch of road.  We are convinced that planning road trips along scenic byways are some of the best road trips to be had.

Jun 132016
 

Fabulous Finds For Your RV via J5MM.com // Monica Bennett #GoRVing

 

  1. I adore this American flag tote.  I can see it full of goodies from the market or even as a picnic basket too, plus it’s so cute and just in time for the 4th of July.
  2. I’m so tempted to buy this bed for Oliver, it would look so cute on board the Airstream especially with him on it :)
  3. Check out these two folding red director chairs, and at a great price too!  They also come in a blue stripe version.
  4. Get your outdoor summer game fun on with this adorable ring toss set.  Who wants to play?
  5. This would make a beautiful gift for the Dominoes enthusiast – made of wood and so very attractive.
  6. If you follow me along here on J5MM you know my obsession with trays and how convenient they are to have while RVing, but look at this one I found, I think I may have to add it to my collection — would even be cute hung up as a wall decoration.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this latest installment of Fab Finds Tuesday — Here’s to a fun summer ahead :)

Monica XO

May 282016
 

Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (1 of 14)Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (2 of 14)Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (3 of 14) Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (4 of 14) Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (5 of 14)Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (6 of 14) Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (7 of 14) Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (8 of 14) Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (9 of 14) Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (10 of 14) Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (11 of 14) Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (12 of 14)
Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (13 of 14)

Last August we took a splendid road trip that lead us through Washington, Idaho and finally Montana.  Towing the Airstream through the contrasting landscapes was like a massive lesson in geology.  Hwy 12 is just one of many of Idaho’s “Scenic Byways,” and I here to tell you first and foremost that this particular stretch of highway took my breath away.  I highly encourage you to come and visit and if you follow my future posts covering this trip of ours, you will see why.

We began the first leg of our trip in Syringa, Idaho which is home to the River Dance Lodge, owned by ROW Adventures.  ROW invited us to come out and experience some outdoor adventures the Lodge offers up such as fly fishing, white water rafting, guided hikes and more.  We had plans to camp on-site as they have two dry camping spots, but since the outdoor temperature was a ridiculous 107 degrees, we opted to camp down the road at the River Junction RV Park that offered up full hookups and with full hookups, we would have A/C (our generator can’t handle running the A/C sadly).

Plans with ROW were a day of guided fly fishing and another day of white water rafting, neither of which did pan out because the rivers were too low for either adventure.  But we did experience a fun tubing and float trip.  It was my first time ever tubing down a cool rushing river and I can tell you, it was the bee’s knees especially considering how scorching hot it was outside.  It was also B’s first time commandeering his very own kayak and the boy had a ridiculously fun time.  So all’s well that ends well.  Thank you ROW Adventures for inviting us out :)

Since it was SO. HOT. I did not cook, at all.  We literally survived on cherries that we picked up from a fellow selling them roadside and goodness, they were the sweetest cherries we’ve ever had.  We also enjoyed tartines, which is just a fancy way of saying, “open faced sandwiches,” :)  Super easy way to eat when you absolutely can not bear to even think about turning on the stove — I still can’t get over how hot it was that summer!  I also realized last summer why the new Airstreams now come with two A/C units.  It took FOREVER to cool down our Airstream in that heat and even then, when it was 107 degrees outside, we could only get down to around 80 degrees inside.

I also feel terrible that it has taken me so long to finally begin writing about this trip!  So much has been happening in our lives.  Hubby has had two operations on his hip this past year.  You see, I have never mentioned this before, at least I don’t think . . . but he suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and because of his disease, he is prone to falling and when you have a hip replacement, the first thing the doctor tells you is, DO NOT FALL WHATEVER YOU DO.  It does not matter how careful a person is — if they are prone to falling, they WILL fall, eventually.  And he did.  And it was the scariest day of my life because I was upstairs and he was downstairs and I heard him fall and I heard him cry out and I tried to run to him so fast, but I couldn’t (B was at his baseball game, thankfully!).  I felt like I was wearing a pair of cement galoshes — I absolutely could not move quick enough to get to him.  When I finally did get to him, he was on the floor in his office, writhing in pain and I was standing over him DO YOU WANT ME TO CALL 911?! — he thought for a moment (and I knew he was thinking about the health insurance’s required co-pay of $500 for ambulance/ER services, because he likes to pinch his pennies) and finally he said YES.  and then I couldn’t remember how to dial 911!  Imagine, I just sat there starring at my phone in shock.  But I eventually did remember and the ambulance did come, and another ambulance came and even a fire truck!  But here we are NOW 12 months later and he is healed up, thank goodness.  In other news, he had an appointment with a neurosurgeon to see if he would be an ideal candidate for deep brain stimulation surgery and he IS.  He absolutely IS!  I was under the impression this surgery only treats people who have uncontrollable shaking (which he does not) but that is just not the case.  It also helps eliminate other symptoms of PD.  In hubby’s case, the man is just SLOW AS MOLASSES.  Forgive me if that sounds a little harsh, but it’s true.  That is his only symptom.  He is slow and gets “stuck.”  Turns out, this surgery will be 100% effective in treating him.  So we are incredibly happy!  B told me the other day, “Mommy, I can’t imagine how daddy is going to be.” (because B was only three years old when hubby was diagnosed, he is now 12), I told him, “Honey, he will be the same daddy, only speedier.” :)

Speaking of B, the boy has straight A’s in school and we are so proud of him.  I still can’t believe that sixth grade will be over for him.  It seems the older I get, the faster time goes.  It’s a little scary!

Oh and at home we are finally finished with the upstairs flooring project.  We went from 16 year old carpet to hickory hardwood floors and I am very pleased with the outcome.  We had to haul 16 years worth of “stuff” from the upstairs to the downstairs and believe me when I tell you, that was quite the job!  I thought twice about hauling all that stuff back upstairs so we ended up giving most of it away to our local Buy Nothing Project.  Have you heard of that?  It’s a generous online community where members get together on Facebook and “gift” items they no longer need!  I learned about this after bumping into my neighbor while we were both walking our pooches and she enlightened me.  I could hardly wait to get home and sign up.

For example, do you see my grand baby’s new red “rock and sleep” in my office below?  I was gifted that from a sweet mom in my neighborhood who no longer needed it!  I literally picked it up this morning.

Now the only thing missing in this picture is a baby!  Lucky me — I am going to see her and my daughter tomorrow.

Can’t wait!

~ Monica XO

Idaho Highway 12 Road Trip via J5MM.com (14 of 14)

One of my favorite pics of hubby (and Oliver) ❤

my sweet hubby

May 262016
 

Airstream Kitchen - Easy Skillet Paella for GoRVing via J5MM.com Airstream Kitchen - Easy Skillet Paella for GoRVing via J5MM.com Airstream Kitchen - Easy Skillet Paella for GoRVing via J5MM.com Airstream Kitchen - Easy Skillet Paella for GoRVing via J5MM.com Airstream Kitchen - Easy Skillet Paella for GoRVing via J5MM.com Airstream Kitchen - Easy Skillet Paella for GoRVing via J5MM.com Airstream Kitchen - Easy Skillet Paella for GoRVing via J5MM.com Airstream Kitchen - Easy Skillet Paella for GoRVing via J5MM.com

Savory . . . velvety . . . rich . . . are just some of the words that come to mind when describing this simple seafood paella recipe I made for Go RVing.   If you’d like the recipe please visit Go RVing’s recipe blog here.

Oh and some exciting news — Go RVing is compiling their favorite RV Summer recipes in one (free) cookbook, and they need your help! Share a few of your favorites using the hashtag ‪#‎RVCookbook‬ on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for a chance to be featured!

Bon Appetit!

~ Monica XO

Airstream Kitchen - Easy Skillet Paella for GoRVing via J5MM.com