Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August means visitors in San Diego

August is usually a busy month at our house; friends and relatives stay with us for the beach and for music events. This past week we had Hans’ cousins, the Mohr family, in from Seattle. Luckily the weather finally cooperated and they were able to enjoy the beach, plus we enjoyed a terrific family get together in Poway, as well as a nice dinner out at Proper Gastropub.

The Mohr’s left on Friday and Frankie and the Pool Boys arrived Friday afternoon. (BIG Thanks to the Mohr’s for readying the house for the next guests--you rock!!) Frankie and the Pool Boys is a five member surf band on a California tour. They played Friday night at the Soda Bar, along with Secret Samurai and the Space Cossacks. Great show! Loud venue! Late night for this early bird! :p

Before they headed off to the Surf Guitar 101 convention in Los Angeles on Saturday we filled them up with some healthy muffins and fruit. I’d like to share the recipe for these muffins because they were exactly what I was hoping for: reasonably healthy, fruity and not too sweet.

Blueberries have been fat and juicy this summer and I was imagining them as hot, gooey pockets of moistness in carrot muffins. I found inspiration on 101 Cookbooks, an excellent vegetarian blog; Heidi’s carrot cake recipe was the perfect starting point and didn’t take much adapting to come up with what I had in mind.

Here is my take on Carrot Blueberry Muffins. This recipe probably would have made about 15 muffins but I only had one 12 slot muffin tin and I poured the remainder of the batter into a mini loaf pan. Also, I replaced the chopped pecans with some ground pecans I had on hand. These were wonderful served warm.

Carrot Blueberry Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup finely chopped pecans
4 ounces unsalted butter, heated until just melted
½ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
3 ripe bananas (about 1 ¼ cups) mashed well
1 ½ cups grated carrots (about 3 medium)
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs, lightly whisked
¾ cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a regular size muffin pan and a mini loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the pecans and set aside.

Stir the cranberries into the melted butter.

In a separate bowl combine the bananas and carrots. Stir in the cranberry butter mixture. Whisk in the yogurt and eggs. Add the flour mixture and stir just until everything comes together. Gently stir in blueberries. Spoon into prepared muffin tin. Any leftover batter can be poured into the mini loaf pan. Bake muffins for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick tests clean. Bake the mini loaf for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick tests clean.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not the Status Quo

The reactions you get when telling people you are considering doing something outside the norm are interesting. This lifestyle change we are working towards includes both early retirement and fulltime RVing…two things that just don’t make sense to many people.

Early retirement entails taking a leap of faith. Faith that you have saved enough money to get you through the rest of your life…quite possibly another 40 or more years. Faith that you will get beyond the butterflies in your stomach and go for it…knowing that the freedom that lies ahead is exactly what your soul craves.

When you go to work every day and find yourself all tensed up, frustrated and stressed out fulfilling someone else’s needs you begin to wonder, what’s the point? If I can afford to remove the greatest source of stress from my life, what’s stopping me? I know that life will always have stressors, some quite challenging, but I’d prefer they relate directly to my life, instead of in support of some anonymous company. Selfish? Perhaps. But like I said before, if I can afford to change my circumstances, why the heck not?!?! Hans’ view may be a bit different than mine, but it is similar.

Hans and I have scrutinized our financial situation to death. Hans is eligible for a pension at age 55 that we could live on, simply, for the rest of our lives. Our house is paid off and is worth a nice bundle and we don’t want to be landlords. So we sell the house…big influx of cash right there…and gain the catalyst for this next phase of our lives. We’ve worked hard to save a sizeable amount of cash, plus we have several 401k-type plans, and eventually, Social Security.

Ultimately, good financial habits and being lucky in San Diego real estate will allow us to make this leap of faith into early retirement.

As for fulltime RVing, you’d have to have a bit of wanderlust in you to understand that desire. Many people we’ve talked to think we’re crazy to give up a nice house in a great neighborhood in San Diego. San Diego is, after all, known to have possibly the best climate in the US. But when you’ve got a bit of wanderlust in your blood and you feel like you’ve explored every corner within a hundred miles of this city, you begin to wonder what the heck you’re going to do with your time when you’ve retired.

Then you realize that this house is not a house you want to grow old in. And that you really are more comfortable in cooler climates. But most of all you think of all the places you want to explore in depth…the green, wet rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, the surreal landscapes of Utah, the North West coast, the wide open spaces and gorgeous mountains of Montana and Wyoming, the regional food experiences…the list goes on and on and you know there are places you haven’t even thought of left to discover.

But who wants to explore these places from nondescript hotel rooms, paying for meals out all the time, with your kitty shacking up with your friends? Not us! As fulltime RVers, we’ll have our home with us everywhere we go, our beloved cat right by our side. I’ll still be able to cook, something that’s important to me, and that will save us a lot of money and be a lot healthier. We’ll be able to change our location on a whim, following our little wanderlust-filled heart’s desire.

I am sure life on the road won’t be without its challenges. But what in life is not?