Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This is Yet Another Example of the Late Neoclassic Baroque Period. And, As I Always Say, "If It's Not Baroque, Don't Fix It!"

We are trying to buy a house. In order to do this, we have to first look at a lot of houses. I'm not going to try and pretend this is a chore. I LOVE looking at houses. I love looking through photos of houses online, mapping them on gmaps to see what parks are closest, and looking at virtual tours. The best part is when I can actually physically walk through a house. Nothing inspires my imagination like a floor plan. I know, I'm weird.

This week my wonderful friend, Mandy, arranged for a bunch of us moms to take our kids on a tour or the fire station. The group consisted of four moms who had two boys each, and also me and my daughter. It was comical.

The fireman were super nice and took us on a tour of the dorms, the office, the classroom and then...

The kitchen. The wall you can't see is nothing but shelves and shelves of dishes, cookware, silverware. There is also a pantry. The other wall you can't see has four brand-new, top-of-the-line refrigerators.

I really must spend too much time viewing prospective places to living because this was my first thought went I saw the kitchen; "I'll take it. This is the perfect house."

Of course, it's not a house. It's a fire station. But, come on! A great location next to a park, A nice entryway, six small bedrooms, a huge family room, a dream kitchen and dining room, and a nice (very nice) garage. It's just what I'm looking for! Well, I'm not really looking for a house with six bedrooms, or a gigantic garage, or a kitchen with four refrigerators, but still.

The fireman explained that when you're a fireman and start your shift, you come in, do chores (including sweeping, mopping, taking out the trash...) and if you didn't bring your own dinner, you chip in $5 for one fireman to buy groceries and cook everyone a meal. You sleep in your little dorm, you play in the "family room" with it's huge flat screen, it's easy chairs and it's hundreds of games and DVDs and you occasionally save some lives.

I want to be a fireman. Alas, I'm not sure I'd look in the required uniform.
It's a little terrifying.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hey, We Said No Powers!

Sure, you've played Frisbee before, but have you played by yourself? Throw, run and catch?

With three frisbees at a time?

Doing trick catches?

While hovering several inches off the ground?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

They Will If You Set Up That the Dog is Evil. All You Do is Have to Show Him Doing This

We went for a walk down a very long pier. About halfway down, we spotted this;
I didn't zoom the camera in, nor did I crop this photo. I really did get that close to the bird. I think it would have let me touch it, but I really didn't want to touch it, so I didn't try. That bird wasn't afraid of anything.

After I took the photo, we kept walking down the pier. We saw some dolphins jumping out of the water. We watched them for a bit. When the dolphins went away we turned around and saw that same bird, right there, staring right at us.

We kept walking. At the end of the pier, the bird was waiting. He watched us as we reached the end, then he followed us as we walked around the end, and then proceeded to follow us as we walked back to the start of the pier. Sometimes he flew ahead, other times he walked on the wood rails with us.

It was a little creepy. Is that how he begs for food? Did he want compensation for us taking his picture? Was he a homeless bird that wanted to be our pet? Was he an alien taking the form of a bird sent to protect us from the evil invaders from Dimension Twelve? What in the world makes a seagull do that? I wish he could have lowered his eyebrows and looked around all with shifty eyes, then it would be clear that the seagull was, in fact, evil, and the mystery would be solved.

Everywhere we went, that bird was like this;

(Okay, I cropped that last one for dramatic effect)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Well, What Do You Think of It? Why, It... It's a Very Unusual Cake, Isn't It?

My dad's favorite cake is called "Tunnel of Fudge Cake." My mother has tried to make it for him on his birthday, but it's a tricky cake, and it never turned out quite right.

Three years ago I decided I would try my hand it. Knowing nothing about the cake I looked over the ingredient's list and decided to leave out the nuts, because my dad doesn't like to mix chocolate with nuts. Only after I made the cake did I learn that the nuts are important to the cake chemistry. The cake wasn't horrible, but it wasn't a tunnel of fudge cake either.

The next year I tried again. This time I underestimated how many nuts were needed, and I only put in one cup instead of two. Once again, I learned that the exact amount of nuts is vital. Once again it was edible, but not a tunnel of fudge cake.

My mom and dad flew out to Sunland today and the plan was to celebrate my dad's birthday today so I decided to try the cake again. I bought a bundt pan. I bought nuts in bulk. I bought organic butter and cage-free eggs. I was so ready for this cake! I read and re-read the recipe. I was meticulous about following it to the letter. Everything looked perfect. I poured it onto the pan and slid it into the oven with my finger's crossed. An hour later the cake came out of the oven looking and smelling amazing. As it was cooling I began to clean up the mess I created. I reached for the bag of flour and stopped cold. A startling realization hit me all at once; I forgot to add flour. I blinked and thought it out in my mind. There was no doubt; I forgot to add the two cups of flour. I forgot to add flour. To a cake. What was I thinking?

As you can imagine, the cake was more pudding than cake. I turned it out into a plate (and remember, it came out of a bundt pan, so it's got hole in the middle) and added the birthday candles. It looked awful. it did not resemble a cake. It resembled a lumpy circle of gooey mess.

But, there was no time to make another cake. My dad carried the plate of not-cake over to the hotel where they are staying. As we walked across the parking lot, three older women started cooing at Ash, who charmed them all immediately. We all packed into the elevator and the women noticed the "Happy Birthday!" candles on the lump of not-cake.

"Is it the baby's birthday?" One of the women asked, assuming the not-cake was made out of baby food.
"No." I groaned. "It's his birthday, I just suck at making cakes."
"You make good babies, though." The other woman replied. I laughed. What a wonderful thing for her to say. And then the three women laughed at the not-cake because it truly did look awful.

It tasted good though. In fact, it tasted amazing. If I had left in in the pan, it would have looked a lot better. Had I made it in a non-bundt pan, it would have looked even better. Huh. Have I just invented a delicious, gluten-free dessert? Because it was really, really delicious. I wonder if I could win some sort of cook-off with my new recipe...

And there is always next year for the tunnel of fudge cake.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sir, I Think You Have a Problem With Your Brain Being Missing

Twenty minutes down the highway is a park with an old locomotion train that rides around a railroad park on actual rails and stops at an old fashioned train station. Not knowing lots about trains I can't really give specifics, but it's one of those parks little boys go crazy about.

Saturday that park had a huge Rendezvous and set up teepees and saloons and homesteads and such. People dressed up in civil war uniforms and marched to fifes and drums or dressed up as mountain men and told stories, or dressed up as prospectors and taught people how to pan for gold.

It was great. There were lots of activities and lots to see. Drek turned out to be very successful at prospecting (both in using a pan in using that washboard-looking thing)and I turned out to be a very successful gambler (at a game called Faro played in a saloon). What an honest and hard working couple we would have been.

The very first thing we did was take a ride on the train. We were lucky enough to be on the ride that became a part of the entertainment for the rest of the park. That is to say, we were robbed; A train job.
As out train passed an open field a gang of outlaws stopped the train and demanded the sheriff hand over the army's pay-roll. From the train we watched as a the whole scene unfolded; the sheriff handed over the money, but the outlaws began fighting amongst themselves and ended up shooting each other. Only the leader and the sheriff were left alive and during the shootout the sheriff grabbed a gun and in the end the leader was left with no payroll and no gang. The people on the train cheered as the sheriff climbed back aboard the train with a line like "justice and truth always prevail!" and we continued on to the station.

Later in the day we saw several army men getting on the train so we went to the field where the drama was staged to see what would happen this time. Once again the outlaws (magically resurrected) held up the train and demanded the payroll, but this time they had the army to defend it. The shoot-out was between the army and the outlaws and, of course, all the outlaws were killed while the the army men emerged unscathed. A true miracle.

The best part was when I noticed there was a new edition to the outlaw gang. "Hey, Drek." I said pointing to the new guy. "Isn't that the sheriff?" Indeed it was. He had taken off his badge, but everything else was the same. I guess his speech about truth and justice wasn't enough to resist the lure of a life of crime.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Down Here All the Fish is Happy, As Off to the Waves They Roll

Labor Day was a wonderful day for us. We drove forty minutes to a beach, despite warnings that it would be cold, windy, and the water would be freezing. We got there and met my wonderful friend, Bon, and her son (my baby!) Jord, who is fifteen years old. We also met up with a friend of Bon's who owns a Kayak, which was the reason we were there.

It was, indeed, cold and windy and the water was frigid. Jord was smart enough to wear a wet suit, but Drek and I were shivering in our swim suits. Jord and I went out on the kayak first. and over my swimsuit I had a life jacket to keep me warm (hah). Once I started paddling I warmed up and was grateful for the cool breeze, although I tried hard not to get splashed by the cold water. As it turns out, it was actually the perfect day to go Kayaking. The waves were fairly small and once we got out far enough the water was as smooth as glass. We kayaked down the beach to a group of caves and were stunned to see that the water was so clear we could see the coral and fish below! It was so beautiful! We also got to go into one of the caves and marveled at the pink rocks and the beautiful formation. Once we came out of the cave we noticed we were next to a few seals! Alas, I couldn't take out camera out on the ocean for fear of it meeting its death, so I didn't get any pictures. However, it was still a perfect ocean Kayak trip!

We made it back to shore and maneuvered the kayak onto the beach without tipping over. We climbed out and Drek and Jord took off. Alas, they had a lot more trouble than I did; The seat came loose and they spent a long time trying to figure out how to fix it. Once they got going again they were approached by a policeman on a jet ski who said witnesses had sworn they were fishing. Poor Drek and Jord had to let the kayak be searched before the policeman would let them go. After that, their time was up so they had to come back to shore and Drek never did get to see the caves or the seals.

When he got back to shore we watched the son of the couple that owned the kayak while they went out together. Drek and I played on Frisbee on the beach, had a picnic and took lots of pictures of Ash. We had so much fun!

That night we had a wonderful dinner with Drek's co-workers. We ate out on their deck which is on top of an apartment building so the view was wonderful. We had such a great time with wonderful friends and the most delicious food.

Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Oh You Mean This Gate Key

Drek and I spent Friday night babysitting a passel of children at a friend's house. Among them was our niece, who is almost four. A few days before she had locked herself in the bathroom. Friday night she locked herself in the same bathroom again.

I was very worried and tried to calm her down by sweet talking her to open the door; "It's okay, honey. I'm right here. You need to unlock the door, okay? That way we can get you out and you can come out and we can play a game! Do you want to play a game with me? Great! I want to play a game with you! Just come over to the door. See the handle? Can you turn the knob on the handle? I know you can do it!"

She informed me she couldn't get to the door because there was a spider on the stool. "Do you see a bath toy? Can you squish the tiny spider with a big bath toy?" But she informed she was afraid of spiders. Actually, at that point I was very impressed with her composure. If I was stuck in a small room with a spider, I would be in hysterics.

So I tried a different route. "Can you push the stool over by the bathtub? Great job! I knew you could do it! You are amazing! Now, come stand by the door! Are you by the door! Great! Now touch the handle! Don't worry, you are doing great! We'll get you out in just a little bit!" After about five minutes of sweet talking and gentle coaxing, we were no closer to getting her out. Drek walked over to the door and said in a stern/angry voice "If you don't unlock that door right now you'll be stuck in there forever."

Two seconds later I heard the door click and our niece walked out.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

'Course, That Ain't Exactly Plan A.

I am very lucky that Drek's whole company moved here to Sunland the same time we did. I was a little afraid to move out here to Sunland because I wouldn't know anyone. I planned on spending a lot of time with Bonnies and Jord and Jes, but other than them I really didn't know what I was going to do.

One of Drek's co-workers live a few blocks away from us and his wife and I have become friends since we're in the same ward and are both new to the area. Her name is Jen. She is wonderful. She loves to plan activities for our kids, for just us girls, and for both our families. Anna moved here a few weeks after we did and it is wonderful to have her and her family here.

There are many parks here in Sunland. Jen and I started taking our kids around to a few different ones. While there, we made some new friends who are also SAHMs. Last night Jen planned an girls night out for us. It was so much fun! We ate bananas and strawberries dipped in chocolate, chips and guacamole and crackers and a yummy pesto sauce. We talked about things we wanted to do while we were in Sunland, and then Anna got out her buckets of craft stuff and showed us how to make these cute little fabric flower-hair-things. I made two for Ash and they turned out so cute! I'm very proud of my crafty self. A new friend from the parks came over and told us about all the great free and cheap stuff to do in the area for children. She's lived here for four years so she's like our guide.

As I drove home from our little party, I felt so energized. I loved having the girl's night out, but more than that, I had so much to look forward to! We have all these activities planned. Activities we can do on weekends and activities for the kids that we can do while the boys are working.

I love that I've not even been here two months and already have a little group to party with. Hooray!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

You Have an Appealing Coiffure. What is Your Grooming Regimen? You're Asking Me What I do With My Hair?

I've been asked by several different people what to clarify the whole "giving up shampoo" thing. I decided to blog about it, since I don't really know I didn't just do that in the first place.

My routine for my hair was to wash it with Suave shampoo and conditioner once a day. Since my hair is long and thick, I went through those bottles really fast. I bought new bottles every one to two week. That worked for a few years, but last year I noticed my hair was damaged. VERY damaged. And I had flakes, split ends, and all around damaged hair. But why? I don’t blow-dry. I don’t use a curling iron or a straightener, I just shampoo, condition, dry with towel, spray in detangler, brush and go. Why was my hair so damaged?

So I tried using different products. The only one that seems to help the damage is Pureology, and those are insanely expensive. It would cost me around $50 a month just for shampoo and conditioner. And it wouldn’t solve my flake problem.
The product that works for my flake problem is the Neutrogena stuff that comes in a green bottle…I can’t remember what it’s called. It costs me about $20 a month. It does not solve my damage problem.

So I turned to the Internet. The Internet tells me my problem might lie within commercial hair products. Apparently, my hair has been stripped of all it needs to be healthy. That’s what commercial shampoo does. It’s a detergent and it strips your hair of what it needs. Conditioner is designed to put artificial good stuff back in your hair. It’s not as good as the original good stuff so you have to wash your hair more often, and therefore strip your hair more often, and in some cases your hair just ends up stripped-out. I think this is what happened to my hair. Not only that, but after reading more, I discovered that some of the chemicals in your shampoo are really toxic! Every time you shower, you are poisoning yourself. All the products I was using was cruelly and pointlessly tested on animals, and every time I bough new bottles I was contributing to the landfills.

So! I made my own shampoo. I looked at several recipes and came up with my own. I was warned that there was a fourteen to thirty day "transitions" in which your hair is all oily and gross, because it needs to learn to regulate itself, but then it's all better.

I didn't really like making my own shampoo. It was fun to make, but when I washed my hair is was a mess and horrible to brush and felt oily and blec. The best way to describe my hair during that time is flat. No volume, no nothing, just flat. It looked like I had gone a day or two without washing it (I was pregnant at the time so I just used that as an excuse).

After thirty days of that I came across the concept of "no poo" which is where you use baking soda as shampoo and vinegar and conditioner. Again, I was warned there is a fourteen to thirty day "transition" where you hair must adjust to regulating its own oils. However, the very first time I did it, My hair was AWESOME! I attribute that to the fact that I had already gone through transition and my hair was already used to regulating its own oils.

It's so easy. Baking soda + water = shampoo and Apple Cider Vinegar + water = conditioner.

I take about 1 tbsp (but really, I just eyeball it. I'm not going to stand in the shower with a measuring spoon)  of baking soda and mix it with one cup water. You can put that into a spray bottle or in a cup, whatever works for you. When I take a shower I wet my hair, then either spray or dump the stuff onto my scalp and massage it into my roots. I really don't worry about the rest of my hair. After a lot of massaging I rinse it out and then use conditioner;

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 2 cups water in a cup. Mix and dump over your hair. I've had a few people telll me they skipped the Apple Cider Vinegar step because they don't like the small. DO NOT skip this step. It's like shampooing your hair and not conditioning it; your hair will be tangled and yucky. If you don't like the small you can add a tsp of honey and vanilla.

The conditioner also works as a detangler to my hair is like silk when I try to comb it. I keep my hair long and it is full, shiny, clean and healthy. It always looks like I just washed it, even though I only wash it maybe twice a week, sometimes only once a week.

My hair is A LOT healthier. A LOT. I love it. No split ends, no damage, no flakes. It grows faster (because of all the massaging) and it looks and feels great.

And now you know. It worked for me, it was the best choice for me, but I can't say it will work for you. This is just my experience.