Monday, May 31, 2010

Local Living ~ first trip to the farmers market

I was crazy excited to see that our farmers market was going to be open when we got home from vacation. I stopped in with my grocery list first thing Saturday morning and got as many things as I could from local vendors for this weeks menu. The season is just getting started, so things are limited... but I felt great getting back to my local living lifestyle.

I LOVE living as local as possible. I try very hard to maintain a average of 80% local or used.... but don't get me wrong, I am VERY grateful for California. All those endless fields of crops like spinach, artichokes, and strawberries have treated us well in the months we could not grow anything but asparagus up here in the temperate North, so I am grateful. At the same time though, I strongly believe that if you CAN get it local, you SHOULD get it local. I think that the biggest issue with global buying is that we buy things from South America, that we could be getting from our own backyard.

This weeks list: Leaf lettuce (just waiting for our crop to get bigger in the garden, talk about local! Less than 30 ft would be about as local as you could get. :) ), a big loaf of 7 grain bread, some peppered beef jerky (free range and organic), new carrots, sweet peas, and pears and cherries from just on the other side of the mountains.

The season is off to a great start. Now only if it would STOP raining!



Saturday, May 29, 2010

All about food ~ In-N-Out

I have a new confession... I really enjoy In-N-Out Burgers. I have never had a fast food hamburger that I liked before. Honestly. I have tried bites of every nasty thing my husband gets, and I think they are all gross, without thinking of the trees they cut down, or the horrible life of the cow. In-N-Out was a new experience for me.

For those of you who have never been to California, let me tell you... this place isn't your average fast food chain. There have been no so-called 'improvements' to their food over the past 40 years. They have 6 things on their menu: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double Double, Fries, Soda, and Shake. That is it. Their fries are made from potatoes (grown in California) that they put through a machine that cuts them right in front of you. They are then transferred to hot veggie oil, drained, lightly salted and put into your basket. That is it. Just about everything is that simple. They have to get their food fresh and semi-local because they don't have freezers on the premises at all. And best of all, their employees START at $11/hr. I consider it to be in the top two fast food chains ever... right up there with Burgerville, a local OR company that has amazing seasonal food and awesome veggie burgers.

The more I learned about the company and practices, the more I was ok with eating there. And that was good, because my husband was more excited when we saw the first In-N-Out than he was about taking the kids to Legoland! LOL!



Friday, May 28, 2010

How not to save a squirrel

My daughter is an animal advocate. Which is awesome. But lately we have had very active hunting kitties (not with the bunnies, thank goodness!). They kill and bring us things daily. Birds, rats, voles, mice... you name it, they have tried to kill it.

A few mornings back, I heard a sound in the back yard like a really angry squirrel. That anger then turned into obviously fighting for it's life, and I thought (from my bed, because it was 6am) "Wow... that sucks. Samson finally got a squirrel."

The next sound I heard was hysterical screaming outside. Not squirrel screaming... child screaming. I (of course) FLEW out of my bed, tossing a robe on between the bedroom and the backdoor and went tearing out of the house... to find my daughter, holding a bloody finger and (still)screaming hysterically.

Once I was able to get her calmed down, I found out that she, too, had heard the angry and then scared squirrel, and decided to see if she could free it from the cat. Samson was fine with her taking it from him. (Most of his prizes end up being for us anyhow...) The squirrel however, was NOT ok with being taken from a killers mouth right into a giant monster's hands. Like at all.

Biting for it's life, the squirrel finally got away and darted up the closest tree, leaving my daughter bleeding on the ground... and, in the words of my traumatized daughter "Didn't even turn around to say thank you!!"

(Just in case anyone is worried about infection or rabies, squirrels do not carry rabies. I checked with the CDC and here is the referral link.)


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trip recap 5 of 5 ~ The Pacific Coast and the Redwoods

At the start of this trip I decided that I needed to collect wildflowers from every stop. Rest areas, potty breaks and even stopping on the side of the road just to stretch our legs led to a new examination of the flora around the road to see if I could add anything new. I never did stop where I could get a California Poppy... which ends up being a good thing because I heard it is illegal to pick them! The things you learn!

The Red Woods and Pacific Coast was our final destination before taking the long drive home. We spent from San Fransisco, CA to Tillamook, OR on the Highway that runs along the coast (Hwy 101) basically stopping when we felt like it. It took three days to get up the coast, driving about 6 hours each day.
These big trees are nearly impossible to capture in pictures. They were incredible! I have seen them many times, but my kids have not been here in years (Logan never) and so they were in awe of the majesty of the huge trees.

We had many amazing stops along the coast. We stopped at this wild animal park where the kids got to pet big horn sheep, skunks, opossums, and even a baby leopard.

It was a really neat experience, except that now Logan thinks that petting the big cats at the zoo his normal... and wants to do it at ours too. Um... yeah. Not going to happen bud. ;)

Here is a slideshow of some of our Pacific Coast adventures (most were free... the sea lions pictured here were just AFTER the $12 per person sea lion caves and we were closer.)



Our new friends

Meet our newest additions to our suburban homestead, Sophie and Ariel! They are our new baby rabbits.

We thought at first that they would be terrified of the cats, but as we got them settled, Alex allowed the cats to come check them out, and Ariel seemed as interested in the cats as they were of her!

I think they will be a fantastic addition to our growing homestead. Not sure if we will be in time to get chickens this year, or if it will have to wait until next Spring... but chickens are the next step!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Crafty Crafty ~ Making a Lei from backyard flowers

We have left the Continental Pacific States and are going out into the ocean to visit Hawaii and Alaska this next week... in homeschool lessons that is! No more vacation for me.

Over the last few days we have listened to lots of Hawaiian music (Pandora is a great resource), played games about how to pronounce Hawaiian names, found out what our names would be in Hawaiian, and drawn a map of on the patio and jumped from island to island.

Leis have become a universal symbol for Hawaiian hospitality and I thought that it would be fun to make some leis during our study.
I borrowed some Lei Needles from a friend and we have been stringing leis all morning out of our backyard flowers. It wasn't hard, but there were a few pointers that I have learned today, which I wish I knew this morning:
  • Do not use elastic thread! Flowers are heavier than they seem and it makes the flowers all dump to the front center when you use stretchy thread.
  • Pick flowers with thick, but not woody, stems. We used Yellow Chain Tree flowers and Rhododendron blossoms.
  • You do not need a Lei needle. But it is good to have a thin long needle. A doll needle would work fine if you are using thick twine, but if you are using thread, it is better to use a long thin needle so the hole made is not drastically bigger than the thread used.
  • Keep the stems on and put the needle right through the stem. This will seem as though you are breaking the flowers and it takes some careful hands... so make sure to be by your kids to help with this part.
  • If you need spacers, then use straws, cut into 1 - 2 inch lengths and place them between the flowers.

Tie together, wear, and enjoy!




Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spontaneous Gratitude for home

I love that I am home. I missed it. I also have felt overwhelmed since being home with the shear amount of stuff there is to do. My washer has broken yet again... which is horribly frustrating as we have had the repair man out twice and he keeps saying it's fixed. It isn't. They are taking it back and replacing things now. But I don't have a clothes washer, and I have tons of vacation laundry.

So I am trying to concentrate on the things I am grateful for, instead of being frustrated. It seemed like a good time for some Spontaneous Gratitude.

Today I am grateful for:

Beautiful blooming flowers.

Pairs of souring raptors doing love dances and the crows that try to chase them away from their nesting territories.

Endless possibilities of bounty for this season.

And the bounty I am already getting that puts food on our table.



Trip recap 4 of 5 ~ Monterey, CA

To attempt to talk about all of the amazing things that we got to see in Monterey would take way more space than I have. We took my mom out to the aquarium and we figured out that it would be the same price to buy her a membership than to pay for all 6 of us to go in separately, so as another little birthday gift, we did that... and now she can go as much as she wants for the next year. :)

The animals were incredible. But I think my favorite was the jelly fish walls. What an amazing experience! Jelly fish are amazing to me... and being able to see this many, up close and personal, (without being afraid for your life) is rather fantastic. I could have been there all week long.

We ended up going back to Monterey for our anniversary while the kids stayed the night with my mom. It was a blissful trip that included a candlelit dinner on the pier watching otter, seals, and pelicans play in the ocean, while eating a complimentary piece of double chocolate raspberry truffle cake with hot tea. Talk about celebration!

For the next day, we walked along the pier and the ocean shore just taking in the scenery and constantly whipping out my camera to take pictures of all the amazing wild animal babies along the way:

I now completely understand why the houses along this beautiful shore are multimillion dollar homes. Most are modest actually, but to be able to live next to this rich amount of nature is an invaluable gift as far as I am concerned. When we left the shore, I had filled an 8 gig CF card with photos and felt completely relaxed and wonderfully celebrated.



Friday, May 21, 2010

Trip recap 3 of 5 ~ San Jose, CA

We got in late and then forgot some baggage on the airport bus that took us to our van when we got to San Fransisco, so it took us quite a while to get from the airport to where my mom lives in San Jose. We crashed almost as soon as we got there. The next morning, we woke to the sounds of my mom's city chickens and a very loud Mocking Bird outside our window. I went out first thing to get pictures of the flowers in my moms beautiful English garden.

We hadn't seen my mom for 5 years, but the kids and I communicate with her quite a bit so they kind of knew their way around and were very comfortable with her dog Ali.

While we were there, we celebrated my mom's 65th birthday and I made her a gift to go with her beautiful gardens:

It was a wonderful visit!



Trip Recap 2 of 5 ~ San Diego, CA

After flying with the kids, all of which did really well, we landed in sunny San Diego, CA. We spent four fun filled days, including Mother's Day down in the sun... which really wasn't warm! The highest it got was 76* while we were there... and one day it was even a chilly 58*. But luckily, that wasn't the day we planned on going to Logan's dream theme park... Legoland.

Over the next few days we visited the Aquatic Experience at SeaLife (which is next door to Legoland):

Alex in a shark egg casing:

Then the San Diego zoo:

It was a beautiful trip and we headed back to the northern part of the state with about 4 gigs worth of pictures of the beauty of Southern CA.

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