Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Low Budget Operation

Even though we are making progress on the tiny house, this low budget operation is taking too long. For every board we nail up I can see two more needed which means more time and more money.
The floor is done and the walls are going up. After I get all the studs in, then it's time for the ceiling joists, then the top floor decking and then the roof rafters.
I normally have everything drawn out and designed but this is a design build, one board at a time kinda thing.

Just as I feared, the weather has turned and I really need to get this in the dry before winter. I can't let all this raw wood sit through too many rain and snow storms or it will ruin. But with just me and my dad doing the work, the wife as the gopher, and the occasional family hand here and there, plus add in the limited funds, the short days and cooking chili, it's going to be tough.
I can't work on it tonight due to a freeze coming. I need to spend the evening making sure the trailer can get through it okay, but for the rest of the week I plan to do a little every night.

Speaking of cooking chili, last weekend we cooked in Irving TX and being ranked 11th in the world I guess I grew a chip on my shoulder. I went in there thinking I was something and I had this one in the bank. There was no way I could not win this cook off. Ha, I got close to last place, didn't even make it off the first round. Talk about knocking me down a rung or two.
 But look who came all the way up from Texas A&M to cook with mom and dad. Jessie surprised us Friday night and decided to make the four hour drive for us to see her pretty face and to spend the day cooking with us.
So in the end it did not matter to much that my chili sucked last weekend, I had Jessie there.
  
This Saturday we will be in Denton. Maybe this time I will go in there with a different attitude.


I will let you know what happens,
Jerry

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We Made It Back

I would not call sleeping in a tent for five days in the middle of the South Texas desert a vacation, but it was close enough.

Candy and I traveled the eleven hours to the World Championship CASI Chili Cook Off in Terlingua Texas. It is one of the most hostile places on earth, but is has it's own kind of beautiful as well.
 
It was an honor to be there. We struggled for the past two years to get good enough to have the privilege to enter through these gates.
 I know of some really great chili cooks that have been cooking for over thirty years that would love to walk across that stage. From what they say, only the worlds best elite chili cooks ever get called up there. I have not paid my dues long enough to earn it and I knew that.

We left on Tuesday and arrived at the ranch noon on Wednesday. Thursday we drove around Big Bend National Park and saw some really great sights. On Friday we cooked Wings, Beans and Salsa and did not place in any one.
Saturday was the big day for chili. This is what we all came here to do. I knew being first time cooks Candy and I did not have a chance. Fifteen ex world champs were here and many, many cooks I have never been able to beat over the past years. They only call the first twenty spots.
 Well how about that, I placed 11th and Candy won 10th in the world championship. I never would have ever imagined we would have walked across that stage.
They say we were tied for 10th and they had to do a taste off. They also said we were the first husband and wife team to ever do this. We won so many things and with her being in the top ten, she gets extra perks for the year.
One of them is, Candy is automatically qualified to cook there again next year. Me, I still have to chase points to be invited back.  

I really didn't plan to return next year being my only goal was to be invited and to cook with such great folks, but now I have to.  The shock of it all did not wear off for several hours. Neither Candy nor I can remember walking across the stage, everything was a blur.

Do you know how long we have wanted chairs, real chili chairs? Now we both have the chairs everyone wants and cooks for all year long.

This weekend we will be cooking in Irving then next weekend we will be in Denton.

Thanks to everyone for sticking with us and supporting Candy and I through the chili year. We raised a lot of money for charity, had a great time and met a lot of great people. If you are wanting to get involved either by cooking or sponsoring our team just let me know.
Thanks again,

I got a lot more to tell, Later
Jerry

Monday, October 20, 2014

Phase 1, Part 1 - It's A Start

We decided not to cook this weekend and work on the house. I am glad I did because next weekend we will be spending it getting ready to travel to the World Championship Chili Cookoff for a week.














We got the floor between the buildings framed in and along with that I decided to frame in the front porch, that way it's all tied together. At $5.00 a piece, I only had enough in the budget for 1/2 of the deck boards for the porch.
The next part is three weekends away. Then I will put the plywood down for the floor and finish the front porch and maybe start on the walls.  

Like I said, it's a start.
Jerry

Monday, October 13, 2014

Time To Get Busy

We finally got our buildings moved in and set in place.
 The one on the left (12X24)was my wood shop and the other one (10X16) was my garden shed. Now the one on the left will be my kitchen and living room and the one on the right will be my bedroom. The space in between (10X16) will be the bathroom, pantry and will have a loft for the craft/sewing room.

The first step is to build the middle section. It's hard to do with all the chili cooking but I think this is a little more important at the moment. After I get back for the World Championship at the end of the month I intend to get this done quickly.




This weekend the Chili Trail was up and down. Saturday I got 6th place and Candy got 13th. Sunday Candy got 7th place and I got 11th. I do not like two day cookoffs and will probably wont do them again. It's just to exhausting and it takes up your whole weekend. Other than that the weather was perfect and I could not ask for a better cooking partner.

Today marks another milestone. My oldest daughter Jessie turned 22 years old. She called me this
morning talking about how old she feels and believe me I understand. I think she is taking not being 21 anymore a little hard, for me it 30. I tried hanging on to my twenties as long as I could, but in the end no matter how hard I tried, time marched on.
So here's to you old maid, Happy birthday, we love you and keep living the dream.
Here is some old man advise from me just for you on your birthday Jessie, "You will never achieve greatness if you ask for permission first"
Go get'em sweetheart.Whoop!
 


 It's been a while since I posted a picture of my little Grand baby. She is four months old now and just as happy and loving as a baby can be.
You know it's funny, how it does not matter how big, bad and mean you think you are, when your granddaughter smiles and laughs at you, you turn into a big ol' softy.




That's it for now,
Jerry

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's A Chili Thing, You Wouldn't Understand

The weather could not have been any better.
Saturday morning it was 43 degrees, the windows of the camper were open, the fan on high. She was cold, I was in heaven.

This is chili weather, nobody argued that. The first weekend of the new chili year and it was our
cookoff. Candy and I have been preparing, promoting and working this cookoff for a year now. I have traveled to many cookoffs talking this one up in hopes of a huge blowout.
At one point I had commitments from about forty cooks. I would travel out of my way to their cookoffs with the agreement they come cook at mine. As the week progressed the cooks started dropping off. One excuse after another was told to me. After a while they started repeating themselves.
We had just enough cooks to make it official, fifteen. We only raised $240.00 for the charity. To say I am a little bitter and disappointed is an understatement. It would have cost me way less money and time if I would have just handed the charity the money out of my pocket and went on with my business.
The major problem was, there were twenty two cookoffs within a four hour area and from what I read they all just had fifteen or so cooks. At least all the charities got funded a little.
Candy ended up with 2nd place, Jessie came all the way up from college station to take 4th and I came in at 5th. Not a bad way to start off the chili year.

So here is the question?
Why is it that nobody wants to do this? I mean it's hard to find new chili cooks. I have not found any hobby as enjoyable as doing this. Is it just that easy to dump a bucket of ice water on your head and write out a twenty dollar check?  Send it, forget it, look what I did on Face Book everybody kind of thing?
Is it a time thing because if I can find the time I know anyone can. Is it the fear of failure and you don't want to know how your chili really measures up? Or is it a simple money issue where twenty bucks to enter a cookoff is too much to give to charity?
These are the questions I will never get an answer to. I invite all my friends on Face Book to come out and cook with me almost every time. I seldom get a response and very few likes, but I will post a movie about a guy falling down and get 300 likes, several reposts and several comments. It's really funny when the folks that tell me they don't have the money will post later that night how much they spent at the bar.

Maybe it's just a small select group of people trying to do good by cooking chili and it's not anybody else's thing. All because I enjoy the crap out of it doesn't mean anyone else has to right? But then, does anyone even have a "thing" anymore or are we so wrapped up in our own little worlds and our small circle of friends that we really don't care what's outside of the box?  

I got more to tell, Later
Jerry

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Quick Two Weeks

Wow! It has been two weeks and I haven't posted one thing. It sure went by quick.

Here is a quick recap of what we have been up to.

We made the trip to College Station for my oldest daughter Jessie's Ring Ceremony.
She got the Gold!!!!
When the girls were Senors in High School they all wanted a big High School Ring. We all know the High School Class ring is just for High School so I bought all them a cheap Walmart Class Ring. You really couldn't tell the difference between it and one of those high dollar rings everyone else was wearing. I told each of them when they graduate from college I will buy the real deal because it will stay with them for the rest of their lives. So Jessie was the first to call my bluff on it and I had to dig deep, but she has got the gold now, it's the real deal. I am so happy I was able to do it and I was even more proud when I slid it on her hand. I was going to write a long sappy post about her and that ring, but it would not do justice to the way I feel. My girls are the best thing my wife and I have and will ever do. Graduation is set for August.

It was my honor to perform the wedding ceremony for my Nephew and his now wife last weekend. After three attempts, with the wedding being pushed back for one reason or another, they finally tied the knot.
I think I was more nervous than they were because I did not have the time to prepare. I wrote the ceremony on Monday and did not have the time to go over it until the day of.
Just so happens I had my Chili Hat in the truck and my Nephew said he wanted me to wear it, so I did.
Everything went off without a hitch. I am happy for them and wish them the best of luck. 

Other than that, last week we made several hand crafted decorations for a friend of mines soon to be grand son's baby shower. We made cup cake holders out of real trees and some other little wood crafts. We also made some trophies for an upcoming chili cook off in two weeks out of horse shoes. I don't know why I don't have pictures of any of it.

And this week we are getting ready for the new chili year by holding our own Chili Cook Off this weekend so preparations for that are underway as we speak.
I need all the support I can get on this so if anyone is around Gainesville TX and would like to cook, we would like for you and need for you to be there. Come on, you know you want to.


Really, other than that it's just the same old boring routine looking for something else to do.

See ya at the cook off,
Jerry

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Going Out In Style

Last weekend we did a two day cook off in the little town of St. Jo
This was our last cook off of the Chili year and what a way to finish.

Our year runs from October 1st to September 30th. In that year you can cook at as many cook offs as you want, its all for charity and points. The only way to get invited to the World Championship is to get the points of your required state within that year. In my case Texas is 12 points. You get these points by placing. 1st place is 4 points, 2nd place is 3 points and 3rd place is 2 points. 4th through 10th gets 1 point. Some folks get their points right off the bat and not cook again all year. Me and Candy got ours a few months back but continued to cook because after all, it is for charity. I ended up with 24 points and Candy had 20.

Saturday I thought I had the winning Chili but I didn't even walk, I just made final table. Candy on the other hand walked up and received her 5th place trophy. I actually got a little frustrated for some reason.
Sunday, our last cook off of the year, me and Candy took it home. I won 1st place and she won 2nd.
We also won 2nd in show. Now that's how you finish a chili year right there.

Three weekends from now we start all over again. This time we only have about 18 cook offs scheduled and not the 30 we did this year.

While in St. Jo a fellow Modern Day Redneck reader came by and talked. We shared some good information and made plans to follow up with one another.
It is always good to meet fellow bloggers and people who have the same mentality as you do. You can learn from one another. In this case he is a lot more advanced in the solar configurations than I am so I am looking forward in getting some ideas on how he is did his house. 
To you my new friend, thanks for coming out and it was a pleasure to meet you.

This weekend I will be in College Station for my daughter's ring ceremony. She said it is almost as big as graduating. I can't wait.

Talk to ya later,
Jerry

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's About Time

Finally, I think summer is over.
Three days ago it was 101 degrees and today it's only going to be a high of 73. Also a little rain came in with the cold front so it's twice as good.

Tonight we are loading up for a weekend of Chili cooking in St Jo Texas. This will be our third year to go and the first time for a two day. We will be staying in the truck tent because it's too much trouble to break down the camper. If we were not living it, then we would take it.
I have never had any luck at this cook off. The wife has made top 10 two times but not me, not even in beans. Then again, this will be the first time I have cooked this recipe up there so we will see.
A big group of folks will be staying for day two and I know this will be too much fun.

Tiny House update.
After much deliberation and redesign, we decided to make it a little bigger, two feet wider to be exact. By doing this it will cut down on the crap pieces of lumber by utilizing the complete board and give us 32 more square feet. I think this will put us out of the "Tiny House" category and into the "Small House" one.
They say (and I don't know who they are) a tiny house is anything under 500 square feet.  We are now up to 560 square feet.
We also had to make our house pad a little bigger for it to set on. That meant bringing in more dirt and building the pad up. We will still need more dirt hauled in later to even out the edges and make it where it's a gentle slop up to the house and not a step up.
There has even been talk about adding a widow's walk to the middle section, but I don't know about that yet.
The buildings should be moved in next week so we can get them in place and get started. I can't wait to get out of the camper.


See ya next week with a picture of my first place trophy,
Jerry

Monday, September 8, 2014

Chugging Along

Even though things are quiet in my neck of the woods we are still chugging along.

It's been hot, too hot to really get excited about much. I have seen hotter Texas summers, but when it's hovering right at the century mark every day it's still too hot for me.

A couple weekends ago we moved the camper up to the land and are back living in it. It is a lot better than the RV Park by far. Out here it's quiet, away from town and most importantly away from people. Call me a hermit all you want but I sleep better now than I have in years. The Grand Baby is only three miles away now so we get to see her more along with my other two girls.
I guess I can sum it up by  saying "so far so good."
In two weeks we will be moving our buildings over and getting started on the tiny house. I will be using my shop (12 X 24) and my garden shed (10 x 16) to make it. The bathroom and laundry room will go go between the buildings. I think it will work out, it looks good on paper so to speak.

Last weekend was the Oklahoma State Chili Championship up in Durant. We did not take the camper
but still had a great time cooking with our chili family. Out of 93 cooks I took 9th and Candy took 5th. Both of us being in the top 10 in Oklahoma is saying something right there.
We had no intention on cooking chili Sunday. We were just going to hang around and have fun but we were talked into it. Sunday had 46 cooks and we did not even make final table. My excuse is that we had to borrow from other cooks, different spices and different recipes because we did not bring our own award winning supply. It was for a good cause so it really does not matter. We have our points so were are good.



What else........tap.......tap.......tap....., Hmmmmmmmmmm

Oh, last weekend was mine and Candy's 24th anniversary. Yup, 24 years. She wanted to go somewhere so I took her to a chili cook off. I'm such a romantic hu.  

Well I guess that's is for now,
See ya down the road.
Jerry

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dreams Do Come True

We all have our ideas and dreams for our children. Some work out and others, not so much.
After a certain time in the child's life we can no longer control the dreams and goals we had for them. I think it's around the time they start to have future ideas of their own is when the path between yours and theirs starts to split off and go in different directions. Even with that we still try and persuade them to see it our way and to go the direction we had planned for them from the beginning. After all, we know whats best right?

I struggled with this the most. I had a plan for each one of my girls and they were going to do it come hell or high water. I almost lost one of my girls last year because of my stubbornness on this. She had her dreams and I had mine for her. The main problem was, they were no where near each other.
I dealt with it, moved on and saw it was not worth driving away a loved one just because it's not how I planned it. It never really was about who she was marring or anything of the sorts, it was all about the timing of it, he was just an excuse I guess. She needed to get her education first before starting a family, that was all. Why make yourself climb over a mountain when there is a tunnel already built for you to go through? (I know the many answers to this, I'm just making a point)
Even some of my own family has held it against me for my actions in this matter and I'm sure for other reasons as well. They don't have a dog in this fight.
     
Even though the paths of my girls my not go in the exact direction I had planned, I guess the fact of all those years with me pounding it in their heads might have done some good. In the back of their minds they all know I'm right and they also know all I want is the best for each of them, even if it's on their own terms.
Next to having all my girls with a college degree, one of my biggest dreams was to have all three of my girls going to college. That in it's self is monumental. College is not for everybody and that was an idea I would not except until here recently. As it is, dreams do come true sometimes.
   
Jessie, my oldest, left for her senior year at Texas A&M Saturday. It was a bitter-sweet moment I guess. I hated to see her go or course, but knowing this is her last year and then she will be back up here to start her career and life makes it better. This time next year I will have a College Graduate. We will be going down September 19th for her ring ceremony and from what I hear it will be one of the best days of her life. I am wondering if I should wear a suit and tie.

Hannah starts back to college this month. She had to take a semester off due to my grand baby needing to be born. I know it will hard for her because I did it. I had three young girls, two jobs and took night courses. Her mountain is a little harder to climb now, but knowing her, that's how she likes it. The harder the challenge the better the reward. I am very proud of her for continuing this journey. The scenery is prettier at the top of the mountain anyway.  

This semester will be Kylee's first in college. I know she is in for a shock about how much time and work this is going to take. I feel she thinks this is going to be as easy as high school, but she will learn, we all did. I hope she stays excited and continues to the end. I am waiting until I hear the words, "Holy crap dad, we have to write so many papers!" I know it's coming, they all say it.

I may be done with their raising, but I'm not done being their daddy. I am really liking the fact I can be more of a friend and adviser now than a strict parent. They all still need their shoulders turned in the right direction from time to time, but I guess I even need it every once and a while myself.

Thanks for your ear,
Jerry
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tiny House Progress

Next weekend we will be moving our trailer to the place where we are building our Tiny House.

First we had to get electricity, got that. Then we had to run the water, got that done Friday night. Then
we had to install a septic system, done Saturday and Sunday.

It looked like a war zone for most of the week, but all the ditches are now back filled, cleaned up and smoothed out.  Close to 300 feet of waterline, and 200 feet of sewer line with septic tanks were installed. We also put in a load a base for a little driveway and a pad for the camper to sit on. Plus I wired in the 30AMP plug for the camper to finish it off.
Next Saturday we will be moving the camper up here and hooking it up for the duration and get out of that RV Park.



 All that extra dirt we had from the ditches, we started making the pad for the Tiny House to sit on. Hopefully in September we will be able to move the buildings over here and get started on the build.
This is already running way over budget. I am 3,000 into a 10,000 dollar budget and we don't even have a house yet.





Much thanks to my dad for helping me out on this with his time and equipment. If it wasn't for him we would still be three weeks out.
  

That's all I got for now,
Jerry  

Monday, August 4, 2014

It Was A Long Way

We drove 5.5 hours to cook chili, now that is dedication.

Out of the 36 cooks, 20 or so were form the Great State of Texas, and Texas took home the first place trophy again this year. Among the 36 were 5 world champions and almost all of the top ten ranked cooks in the world. So saying that, me and Candy did not place, but had a great time. We did make final table and that was good enough for me, this time. All monies were donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.
We will defiantly put this one on the books for next year.     

We met some really great folks and cooked side by side with chili legends. We also had the privilege to meet a wonderful young couple from England who were traveling across the US from Chicago to LA on Old RT66. They were stopping at any place that looked interesting. They took pictures of the big Texan (me) and we talk about issues from American culture to Politics.
When we were through talking all the guy said was "Wow, who would have guessed we would have had such a deep conversation with a couple from Texas, in Missouri at a Chili Cookoff ."
I wish them the best of luck in their travels and hopefully we will meet again down the road.

I even had a news guy come by and stick a microphone in my face and ask me my opinion about the issues in the Middle East. Really? At a Chili Cookoff?
So I gave him just that. About thirty seconds of my views and he simply turned the mic off and walked away. I guess my Conservative views were not worth reporting to the liberal media.

This coming weekend we will be in East Texas cooking for another great cause. It's getting too hot for me but someone has to do it.

See ya down the road.
Jerry