Monday, February 28, 2011


I confess, I weigh a little more than I'd like.  I jiggle in a lot of places I'd rather not.  And Bug has this annoying habit of poking my fat.  I'd call it baby weight, but since the "baby" is now 3, I think that ship has sailed.  It's more like, chocolate cake, candy, and cooking from the Pioneer Woman's cooking blog (today's chicken fried steak recipe looks amazing!).  Active farm folk, we are not.

I've spent the last year or so giving great though to what I should do with these few extra pounds and really pondering how I would get rid of them.  I didn't want to do anything rash like exercising or God forbid, stop eating chocolaty goodness. Oh, I knew exercise would have to come into play at some point mind you, I just didn't want it to be me riding a stationary bike to no where.  Or squish my fat into a bathing suit.  I wanted whatever I did to be fun as well as hidden in the comfort of my own home.  So, a few weeks ago, I started out slowly and warmed my Nintendo Wii back up and re-weighed myself with my Wii Fit so I'd know exactly how jiggly I was.  I even did some of the exercises one day.  You're proud of me, aren't you?  You should be!  I was sore for a week after that one 15 minute work out! However, since I never actually got to day two of my workout, I figured I needed something with a bit more fun value.

Then I introduced myself to Just Dance 2 for the Wii.  I brought it home one Saturday afternoon, and when Glamour Girl managed to pull her lazy bones out of bed, we put it in.  The first dance we did was a duet - meaning we both got to dance at the same time.  I have never laughed so hard in my entire life!  We both did.  We laughed, we danced, we laughed some more and an hour later she had to go spend time with her Grandmother and I spent another 1/2 hour dancing solo.  I was officially hooked.

This really looked like it was going to be the answer to my jiggly prayers.  There's only one catch.  Everyone else seems to have caught Dance Fever!

Even my rhythm challenged LW got into the act.  I'd like to point out here, that only LW is actually "playing".  She's playing the game solo and is the only one with a Wii controller in her hand.

The game is just so addictive, that GG couldn't help but get into the fun.  And Bunny was soon to follow.

If that wasn't enough to convince me that this was a game meant for us, here's a short video (Thank you H!) taken by my friend of Bunny and her guy friend G, getting down with their funky selves.

I haven't laughed this much in a long time. They aren't very coordinated, but man did they have fun trying!

If I can ever get to play, I think this just might be what me and my jiggly body need!

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Private Eyes Are Watching You

This road might look familiar.  At the end of it is one of my favorite falling down houses on property that was once owned by my Great Uncle T. 

You might remember me telling you that this is a bit off the beaten path.  You have to leave regular roads and travel on a dirt road through to the other side of a state park to reach this bit of private property.

And even way out here, we have the neighborhood watch.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Friday, February 18, 2011

America: Falling Down

I'm 36 years old, married for the second time and mother/stepmother to four amazing kids.  I went to and graduated from, a State University and have a full time job.  I also do contract work for friends and family when they need me to.  I'm a member (albiet not a very good one this year) of the DAR and am going to be the PTA President of Bunny's school next year.  I pay my bills, keep the family organized and running smoothly, and I even clean bathrooms.  In a lot of ways though, I'm still a lot like a little kid.  I'm still trying to figure out what I want to "be" when I grow up.

For a while I wanted to be a painter.  In high school, I learned to oil paint and man did I love it.  And I wasn't too bad if I do say so myself.  Later, in college I took a watercolor class and loved the challenge it represented.  I haven't painted in years though.  Too busy I guess and I recognize I lack the passion for it.  I liked it, but I don't love it.

I've dabbled with the idea of homeschooling my kids and the rewards and challenges that would go along with that.  I haven't followed through of course, in part because our family needs my working income, but also because I doubt I have the patience to be a very effective teacher.  Even for my own kids.  Patience is something that I struggle with daily and fail at more often than not.  I keep trying though!

For as long as I remember, I've wanted to be a writer.  A fiction writer specifically. In college, I briefly courted the idea of becoming an editor.  I'm not sure why I strayed from that.  I guess because while I am definitely left brained in my approach to most things (organized, systematic and consistent), I have enough right brain influence that whatever I do in life has to have some measure of creativity.  And reading other people's creative outlets just didn't seem like enough to feed my own creative needs.

Obviously, photographer is one of my dream jobs.  And this one might even be achievable one day when I've taken about a million more photos and really defined my take on the craft. Until then, I take as many photos as I can of things that I find interesting.  I love that I've found a way to blend a story with my photos in this blog. It gives me a purpose to my photos (which keeps my left brain happy) and an excuse to take a million more and share the stories behind them (happy right brain).

Which brings me to these old homes that are in the area around the farm.  They've been around as long as I can remember making treks to the farm, and after being given some background on a few of them from the Awesome Uncle K, I know that several of them have been around a lot longer than I imagined.

I always wondered about these buildings.  Someone built a home for his family ages ago.   They lived there, loved there, probably laughed and cried.  Babies were likely born in those buildings and given the time period, some probably died there too.

This house is on an old dirt road we called "tunnel road" as kids since the tree branches grew up over the road making a tunnel effect. We would take this road home late at night from church revivals (if we were good in church) and we would watch the stars occasionally peak in at us from behind the branches.  The road probably has a proper name, but I didn't bother looking for it.  It will always be tunnel road as far as I'm concerned.

This is one of my favorites and always has been.  This is just a hop, skip and a jump (one street and a regular house lot) from a big lake that's in the area.

The front porch - or what's left of it - faces the rising sun and the lake.  What an amazing view they would have had each morning.

I imagine that it was a great location once upon a long time ago.  Water with plenty of fishing nearby, woods all around to hunt in before development really set in.  I would love to be able to go back in time and see what this house was like when it was originally built.

This has also been one of my favorites for a long time.  Unlike the other houses that sit just off of roads that are still used regularly, this one sits on a piece of property my Great Uncle T used to own on the other side of a state forest.

This is a view of the house from only partway down the dirt road you have to take to get there.  There's actually two pieces of property down this way.  The house and the land at the end to the left used to be Great Uncle T's.  It was sold out of the family a while ago.  The land at the end to the right belongs to my Uncle S. - my mom's oldest brother. 

The Amazing Uncle K, told me this used to be a regular stop for the local stage coach.  Now it mostly houses an assortment of critters and hay.

This all of course, leads me to my latest "when I grow up" job.  I want to tour the country - maybe even the world - taking pictures of these old falling down homes.  I want to talk to the locals to find out the histories of each of the homes, and when I have enough, I want to publish a coffee table book with my photos and those stories.  I'll call it, America: Falling Down.  I claim all copyrights to this idea and the title.  Don't steal my idea or I'll.. well, I'll cry and then you'll feel bad. Honest, you will!  I don't think it will make the best seller list or anything, but it sure would be fun.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Come on Baby, Lets Do The Twist!

Did I mention before that in exchange for keeping her on our phone plan, LW comes over a few times a week to play with the little kids.  When we started this about 4 years ago, it was a good way for LW to keep her phone and yet still have to do something to be responsible for it.  And, it was a way for me to keep LW active in Bunny, and later Bug's, lives.  With a 17 and 19 year age gap to Bug and Bunny respectively, and with LW not living at home anymore, it was important to me for them to get to see her as much as they could now.  Who knows where her life will lead her as she grows into adulthood, and while we have her in the same city, at the same time, I wanted to nurture their bond as much as I could.

In theory, it was her job to come over and "wear them out" for an hour.  Originally it was to tire them out so they'd take their naps.  Now it's to get them out of The Hubs and My collective hair for a bit during the day.  Most of the time, since Bunny is now in full day Kinder, LW just spends an hour with Bug.  Sometimes though, she'll come a little later in the day and take the both out.  A good deal of the time "out" is simply in our back yard either kicking a ball around, or playing chase or generally being loud and energetic.  Very rarely she takes them to the park.  Unfortunately for The Tweedles, she seems to have an aversion to the park.  A lot of the time though, she takes them out to a local canyon where they can hike around and play in the small stream that runs through it.  Does anyone remember the movie A River Runs Through It?  Oh Brad.. you are a dream. If you've never seen the movie, go rent it.  Go on.  I'll wait.

And all of this is perfect.  Only sometimes, even in So Cal, it rains.  This really limits what LW can do with them.  I mean, The Hubs is usually studying during the day, and I'm working so it's not like they can run around screaming and chasing each other through the house.  Oh yeah, and as a reminder, this is a 1200 sf house, so it's not like we have extra space or a "play room" .  Oh.. how I dream of a playroom.  One specifically on another floor to my office.  One where I can simply shut the door to hide the disaster they can create in mere moments, instead of that disaster taking place in my living room. If we moved to Austin, I bet we'd have a play room.  I love Austin.  I love play rooms. Anyway, today it rained.

So LW, waded into GG's messy room and retrieved... TWISTER.  Inside game? Check.  Learning game? Check.   Does it get any better than this people?  Why didn't I think of this sooner?

LW laid it all out and they took turns being the person to spin the dial and being the person on the mat.  When it was Bug's turn to be spinner he had to figure out what color and what body part LW was suppose to move around.  LW usually helped him out with this.  Sometimes contorting her body to help him figure out what she was suppose to do next, was entertaining  hard.

When it was Bug's turn to be on the mat, he had to figure out which hand/foot was right or left, and which color to put it on. 

Sometimes he needed help just trying to figure out how to stretch and twist his body to get it where he wanted it.  Thank goodness for big sisters.

And my little man really got into this.

He didn't always get the colors, or know his right from his left.

But he sure did laughed a lot.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Say.. Cheese!

On the last day before we left the farm, I gathered up The Old People and Uncle K along with the kids and The Hubs and dragged them outside for some family photos.  I do not have a single picture of my parents in my house.  It's tragic I tell you.  Tragic.  And I was determined to fix this problem.  In fact, I was going to fix it a few months prior when they were out visiting.  I had it all planned out with a trip to the LA Arboretum.  My Old Guy however, wasn't cooperating and got sick again cutting their trip short.  They were not going to evade me or my camera this time!  

The first shots I tried to get of them, failed miserably.  I brought my Old People out first to see if I could get a nice shot of them.  In addition to not loving the rather flat background of fields and trees, I ended up with this shot.  I believe my exact words were "Pretend you like each other."

Ew.  Kids should not see their parents kiss like this.  Ever.  I seriously think I've been scarred for life by this one shot alone.

Then they made up for it and I got this pretty shot of them with their eyes closed.  They look happy.  They look content.  They look exhausted and relieved that my family and I are leaving the next day!  Wait a minute!

Here we go!  This is one I can put on the mantle.  Have I mentioned I love my Old People?  I still didn't love the background though, so I dragged everyone down to the pond to take photos on the dock.

Of course, getting this bunch of ya-hoo's to settle down was nearly impossible. Now, do you see what I have to work with people??  I'm amazed I ever get a good shot!

This shot was obviously completely unposed and I really love how it came out.  Other than the fact that they're sitting close together like they like each other, this could have been a candid.  In fact, I'd wager in some families - you know, the ones who actually enjoy each other's company - it might have happened naturally, instead of me threatening bodily harm for them to pose for me.  Ahh, I wonder what it's like in those families? 

My Old Guy took this really nice shot of The Fam. 

When I tried to get a shot of the kids with the amazing Uncle K, everyone started making bunny ears.  Except for Uncle K who appears to be throwing gang signs.  You know he was born in So. Cal. right?  Uncle K is California gangsta baby!

My Old guy also took this great shot of "The Fam".  I actually really love how this shot came out.  Of course, I wish Bunny's hair was brushed out of her face, and GG wasn't so tall, and that I wasn't standing next to LW who's skinny self is making me look fat.  At least we look like a normal family.

It's not like how we normally act.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Deer in Pig's Clothing

I fully confess, that I've eaten "Bambi's Mom".

However, I want to say for the longest time I didn't really understand that the yummy goodness we had only at the farm was deer meat.  Really.  My little mind couldn't make the leap from "deer meat" at dinner to "Bambi".  It just didn't.  Of course, now that I'm old enough to understand, I wouldn't stop eating it.  And I'm not only converting the Tweedles into loving it, but LW and GG too!

The very first Christmas I took LW and GG (along with The Hubs of course) to the farm was four years ago.  I wanted them to try it because it's another part of my childhood that I wanted to share with all of them.  Deer meat, black eyed peas and fried okra.  Uncle K, always the sweetest man, shared some he had in his freezer with us so we could all try some.  And turns out, I didn't need to do much convincing to get them to like it!   Well, maybe the fried okra wasn't so great, but the rest was dee-lish.

When we went out over this last Christmas, I was bound and determined not only to have deer meat again for The Tweedles to try, but also to have fresh meat.  With my Cousin S on hand to lead the way, we went hunting.  And when I say "we" I use that term VERY loosely. So loosely in fact, I stayed home.  What? It was cold outside!  And dark!  And did I mention it was cold?  The whole week that my Cousin S was at the farm, only The Hubs saw something and due to a problem with his rifle, he wasn't able to shoot at the pretty deers.  We were all a little disappointed when Cousin S finally had to go home (no more so than Cousin S himself!).  But the troops were not to be deterred.  They went out faithfully early every morning (while I stayed snuggled in my very warm bed) and every afternoon. 

Then one night, when we had just gotten used to them coming home empty handed, the boys (The Hubs and LW's boyfriend) came in happy with their success!  I was horribly let down to find out their success was with one of the wild pigs that roam the property, not my long hoped for deer meat.  They had come home to pick up the truck so they could go grab their prize.  A little while later, The Hubs came in from being up at the "shed" where they were cleaning their prize pig, and asked if I'd go up and see it.  I admit, I was reluctant.  I didn't want wild pig, I wanted deer meat.  But I didn't want to dampen their spirits.  I figured I would go up and congratulate them on the kill.  Give them their due as hunters, then go crawl in to bed and pray for the deers to please kindly come out of hiding so I could have deer meat on my trip to the farm.

We walked up behind the house to the shed in the dark.  I held The Hubs hand trying not to fall over in the dark or worse yet, rub up against the hot wire (electric wire used to deter the cows from invading my parents yard). When we finally rounded the corner to the open side of the shed I glanced up with a purely fake smile in place to find.. a .. DEER!  Apparently everyone was in on the joke but poor old me.  Even my Uncle K who was sick and should have been in bed came out to make sure it got cleaned right.  I bounced around in circles I was so happy.  Then I think I might have also punched The Hubs in the stomach and told him not to play with my fragile female emotions like this again.  Maybe.

I was so excited, I forgot to go grab my camera and take photos, but I did remember the next day when it was time to get down to the hard part of business.  Removing the fat and yucky parts from the meat.  Uncle K came over and after we got a table and chairs set up outside (thankfully the weather provided a wonderfully warm day) The Hubs, LW, her boyfriend, GG and the amazing Uncle K got to work.  What? Where was I? I was um.. watching the Tweedles.  And making lunch.  And umm.. I was doing laundry and cleaning and umm. .yeah other stuff.  No I was not trying to get out of working on the deer, why do you ask?

Besides, someone had to photograph the event right?

It all looks very tedious doesn't it?  I'm so glad I had so many other things to do.

Look at all of that beautiful meat.  I can almost smell it cooking and hear it sizzling in the pan.  YUM!

Of course, with all of this tedious work, someone may have gotten a little crazed.  Thankfully it was a passing moment and Uncle K settled right back down into his drudgery work.  (No GG's were harmed in the making of this deer meat).  See that cute boy in the back behind Uncle K?  That's LW's boyfriend.  Everyone wave!  He shot the pretty deer they're cutting up there.  Apparently he's from the mid-west and knows all about how this stuff is done. 

Then we gathered up all the cut up meat into these handy freezer ready paper, taped them up and marked them with what type of meat it was and the date. And when I say we, I mean my Old People.  I needed to photograph it all you see.  We had our fresh dear meat the very next night.  And it was so worth all the hard work we did.  And when I say we, I of course, mean them.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Today, we had the whole family together in one place (I might explain why later.. keep watching) and when we were done doing that thing I'm not ready to tell you about yet, we all decided to go to this new ice cream place that just opened up nearby. All of you SoCal readers take note! So LW, GG, The Tweedles, The Hubs and myself all drove on down.

The place is called Carmela's Ice Cream.   It's a small shop, certainly not a national chain like Baskin Robbins so I wasn't sure what to expect.  We walked into this cute little shop and the first thing I notice is a big chalk board on one wall listing the ice cream flavors.  Pretty straight forward right?  It's an ice cream shop after all.  It was the names on the board that threw me.

Salted Caramel
Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean
Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nib
Mint with Cacao Nib
Cucumber Sorbet

Cardamom?  Really?  Cucumber? Huh?  And what the heck is a Cacao (pronounced kuh-kah-oh) Nib??  We aren't in Baskin Robbins anymore people.  Toto.. where's Auntie Em?  Anyone else see those ruby slippers?  Glenda? Is that you?  I was immediately intrigued and I'm not afraid to admit it, a little nervous.  I think the really nice guy behind the counter could see my trepidation and readily offered up taster spoons of whatever we wanted.

First up, The Hubs got a taster of the Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs.  Cacao Nibs are peeled and crushed cacao beans and taste chocolatey/nutty.  They're super yummy, so don't let the name throw you off.  I tasted a bit off of his spoon and was in dark chocolatey heaven.  The nibs even crunched a bit giving it a fun texture. The Hubs immediately announced he would take THREE scoops of the Dark Chocolate.

This photo stolen from Carmela's website.  Please don't sue me!  I forgot to take photos, I was too busy eating it!

LW got a sample of the Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean.  I tasted a bit off of her spoon and was transformed into a creamy heaven.  It tasted similar to a regular vanilla bean ice cream, but had a warmer flavor mixed in from the brown sugar.  The Hubs then announced he would take THREE scoops of the Dark Chocolate. 

GG then got a sample of the Mint with Cacao Nibs.  Surprisingly, this wasn't green like you would imagine most mint ice creams are.  It was a lovely white with dark nib bits mixed in.  I snagged a taste of this too (are we sensing a trend here?) and wow.  The mint and mix of the chocolatey tasting Cacao Nibs was subtle.  It felt very fresh and light.  Can ice cream feel fresh and light? Why yes, yes it can! The Hubs announced again he would take THREE scoops of the Dark Chocolate.

And finally, I got my very own taster spoon of the salted caramel and I melted away into bliss.  Forget all those chocolatey, minty and vanilla-y heavens, salted caramel is as dreamy as the name implies.  

Another stolen image.  The front is the mint, behind that is the dark chocolate again and behind that I believe is the salted caramel.  YUM!  Again, please don't sue me.

The Hubs, making sure we were done with samples, announced again that he wanted THREE scoops of the Dark Chocolate with Cacoa Nibs.  LW went with the Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean (along with both of The Tweedles).  GG and I both followed the hubs down the Dark Chocolate route but with fewer scoops. All of the ice creams are made using farmer's market produce and clover organic milk on site.  They come in these cute cups (or cones but we got cups) that look like they're probably biodegradable. 

And then, before we left, GG asked for a quick sampling of the Cardamom.  And well, since I had already tried all the others, I tried that one too.  WOW! That's all I have to say.  That, and I announced I would get Cardamom next time!  Then right before we were about to leave, the very nice man behind the counter told us that tomorrow they were going to have Strawberry Buttermilk flavor.  Apparently, every few days they like to mix things up and swap out flavors.  So now I might have to get Cardamom AND Strawberry Buttermilk tomorrow.

I feel like I might not be losing weight any time soon.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

ps.  This is not a paid advertisement.  The only person on their staff that knows me is the very nice man behind the counter who probably only remembers me as the weirdo blond lady who kept stealing her family's taster spoons and drooling.  I just found this place to be too cute and too yummy not to share.  You can check out their website here:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blue Ocean.. Blue Sky

Yesterday, morning, we got up before the sun, packed up ourselves and dropped The Tweedles off at their Nanny's house to head down to San Diego.  We arrived down there to find it sunny and almost 70 degrees.  We met up with our friends who agreed to take us out on their sailboat.

This photo was actually taken a few weeks ago when we were down there for another reason so GG's friend wasn't with us on this trip.

But GG was.  She spent almost the entire trip on the front of the boat lounging around in her purple with white polka dot bikini listening to her ipod, reading her Cosmo magazine and generally ignoring the old folks us.  Not a bad way to spend the Saturday after finals if you ask me.

Our Captain for the day was Tamlin.  He might be in the middle of saying something here, or maybe he was making a smoochie face for the camera.  It's hard to tell with Tamlin.

His lovely wife J joined us as well.  As you can see from the way she's dressed, that although it was sunny and almost 70, with the wind out on the ocean, it was a bit cold.  I personally had three layers including a jacket on, plus I huddled under a blanket most of the trip.  I only brought my hands out to snap these few photos and to drink my chick beer.  Yes, I drink chick beer.

The Hubs also came along and was looking pretty good.  Hey there handsome.  Wanna get married and have babies with me?

We got to see a few of these, which I thought was pretty cool.  They have a light on top, and some of them make little noises to warn boats they're there.

We saw a lot of these.  J named this one Oliver and when The Hubs threw out a chip for him to eat, suddenly about 10 more descended on us.  It was crazy scary like the movie The Birds.  Have you seen that movie?  You should.  Scary.

We saw lots of little sail boats like Tamlin's, but we also saw some beautiful Yachts like this one.  The Hubs called dibs on this for when we win the lotto.  Quite frankly, that's the only way we'd ever be able to afford one of these lovely boats.

We also happened to see this beauty while we were out.  Reminds me of what the ocean must have looked like way back in the day.  We think this might have The America - a replica of first vessel that won the famous America's Cup.  This sails tours as part of the San Diego Maritime Museum.

We mostly sailed out by Loma Point.  This is Loma Point.  It's pretty no?  I wouldn't mind living out there on the edge of nowhere.  Until the hurricanes come.  Or a tsunami.  Or an earthquake that drops the point into the ocean like Atlantis. Then I'd prefer to be in Austin. 

Coincidentally, we were right near a Naval Base too, so we got to see a few of these flying around.  The Hubs took these shots and tells me this is a Black Hawk.  We also saw a submarine under repairs, and some Marine Corp Harriers,  E23 HawkEyes, and P3 Orions.  But that's just a bunch of boy stuff. 

Next time we come back I really want to go on the San Diego Maritime Museum tour of The HMS Surprise. Now THAT is a sailboat.  No offense Tamlin.

Seriously.. Thoughts?