Monday, September 30, 2013

Fifty Men on a Dead Mans Chest. Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum

We are off on our trip to Hometown for my sister's homecoming! First stop: The beach!

My uncle invited us to a resort right on the beach for the weekend. It is awesome here! They have all sorts of activities you can do throughout the day. Some activities are for kids, some activities are for adults. Once activity caught my eye: Pirate Party! Come party like a pirate, make a pirate hat and search for treasure! Ages 3-12. 

Wahoo! Pirate Party! Ash and Alexa and I attended and were rewarded with an awesome pirate hat-craft and cool pirate snacks (goldfish, apple juice and gold coin chocolates). But the best part was the "search for treasure": hidden around the resort was little treasure chests. Clues to the location of each chest were in riddle form on your "treasure map".  In each chest were certain color beads. Once you found the chest, you take a single bead out of it and add it to a bracelet. Once you collect all the beads, you return to the start to claim your prize. 

I am delighted. This is my kind of game! I am so ready to Amazing-Race-this-up! The person in charge handed out the treasure maps to all the other moms with toddlers and preschoolers. They all started with riddle number one, reading it aloud to their child and asking the children where they think the treasure chest might be. 

I, on the other hand, came up with the winning strategy: grabbing the girls we dashed out of the room. Safely out of earshot of the competition, we started with with the last riddle. I read it aloud before shouting: "The pool! Ash! It's at the pool! Let's go!"  We dashed of on a dead run. Once we got to the pool I let Ash find the treasure chest. We got the bead and added to Ash's bracelet. I read the next clue aloud. "Front Desk! Hurry! We have to go fast!" 

And so on. With two clues left to go we ran into the other mothers and children coming in the other direction. While we had already found eight chests, they were looking for their third. They had stopped to play mini golf after spending several minutes on the playground. Clearly they did not have such a sense of urgency. 

We blasted through the last two riddles and showed up breathless at the start. Ash showed her completed multi-colored bracelet to the startled employee. 

"You are done already?! Wow! That must be some sort of record! I don't think I've ever had anyone finish so fast!" 

Darn right. That's because you've never played with the fierce Pirate K-La before. Or maybe I'm just a little over-competitive. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

And the Last Ee Saw of ol' Bill Turner, He was Sinkin' into the Crushing Black Oblivion of Davy Jones' Locker

Drek has been working a lot of overtime lately. He has a lot of business trips coming up, and since I am also planning a trip back to Hometown to see my sister come home from her mission (!),  Drek decided to take half a day off to spend a little time with the family.

My parents are here visiting us for the September of Birthdays and together we drove down the beach to spend some time on the sand, in the waves, and in a kayak.

I convinced Drek to come with me in the Kayak to take a closer look at the cove and hopefully see some sharks. Drek and I convinced Ash to come with us. We inflated our Kayak, strapped on our Life jackets and off we went!

Drek is not a fan of the ocean. He is not a fan of cold water, either. He says being cold and wet is his description of a terrible time, so Ocean Kayaking isn't really something he seeks out. Ash is terrified of the waves. She'll play in the sand, and this summer she even played a little bit in the tint little waves, but the big crashing waves frightens her. So here we are, trying to take an inflatable kayak out into the big, cold, wet, waves.

Once Ash realized where this boat ride was headed, she tried to bail. This was as ew were launching, so it caused quite the rocking of the boat. Thankfully, Drek and I were still out of the boat, so were were able to stabilize it before she flipped it over. We got her to sit down, than ran it out into the surf. I jumped it and paddled like mad, two waves later Drek jumped it and joined me in trying to keep the kayak pointed towards the waves so we could go over them instead of under them.

A few minutes later we were out on the beautiful ocean rolling on the waves, happy as can be. Both Ash and Drek cheered up quite a bit and we had a pleasant time getting to the cove, looking at the sea lions, spying bright orange fish swimming below us and taking in the sunshine. Sadly, there were no sharks. This time of year is supposed to be the time you can find them by the hundreds. They swim close the the shore and are harmless, so I was really hoping to be able to touch one.  

We had enough and made the return trip. As we started getting closer to the shore, the apprehension returned. Drek said he was just going to jump out and carry Ash to the shore, rather than risk a wave capsizing the boat with them both inside. He had a valid point, since Ash can't swim, and we weren't sure how she would handle being in the water with a life jacket, since she never had before. Besides, if the boat flipped over, who knew if a head would come in contact with something hard, or what the waves would do to a four year old.

"No! We can make it! Besides, the risk is the best part!" I exclaimed gleefully. Drek was not so sure, but since I insisted both he and Ash remain in the boat, he didn't have a lot of options.  He ran over a few instruction as we got closer.

"Keep the kayak straight! Make sure to keep it straight! Once I say, paddle as hard as you can!"

We were close enough to the shore for the rolling waves to turn into a crashing surf. The first wave hit us, but didn't take us anywhere.

"Paddle! Paddle Hard! Keep us straight!" Drek shouted.

 I paddled. Ash held on for dear life.

Suddenly, I saw creatures swimming below us. "Sharks!" I cried out with delight. "Here they are! Look! There are all over!"

"PADDLE!" Drek shouted "Don't get distracted!" I could hear the panic in his voice as another wave crashed into us, nudging us closer to the sand.

I paddled, and we glided gently onto the beach a few waves later. Super easy.

We pulled the boat onto the shore, helped Ash out and I somehow convinced Drek to return to the waves with me, sans kayak, to look for the sharks. I had a blast diving under the waves just before they crashed, while Drek hung back and tried to bob over them, cursing the fact that he didn't take off his T-shirt before it became soaked and freezing. I found a few huge fish but couldn't see any more sharks. Ah, well. I'm pretty sure I touched one with my oar.

I had such a good time I wish Drek could take more days off so we could do it again, although I think Drek might make up a few work assignments to avoid it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

He showed her how olfactory cues could trigger memories, release floods of endorphins and pheromones and caused by logical and psychological reactions that deeply impacted the way people behave and feel. Using the smell of unfiltered cigarettes to evoke fond memories of her grandmother, he opened her eyes and heart through her nose

I've discovered my local grocery store has "testers" of essential oils. You can open any of these testers, smell it, and dab a drop on your finger. Since a drop is all you need with essential oils, I've found this is a fantastic way to try out new oils before I buy them. I try a new every grocery trip.

During my last trip I decided to try Lime. I dabbed a drop on my finger and smelled it. Instantly I was transported back to the house my grandmother (Nanny) lived in several years ago. She had a lime tree in her backyard. Since I couldn't have been more than ten or eleven at the time, I didn't really care about the lime tree, but my nose sure did! I found myself standing right in front of that tree. Happy memories of my Nanny came flooding back. Until that moment, I had no idea I associated the smell of limes with her.

The next day I went out to my own lime tree to check it out. Drek and I only bought and planted the lime tree because it was on sale for such a good price. It was not one of the trees we tried to seek out, nor was it one we planned for. We planted it two years ago, and it has thrived. A few weeks ago I noticed there were actual limes growing on it. Remembering my smell association, I wanted to see if any of the limes were ripe. To my delight, there are dozens of limes growing on my tree. Several are close to ripe, but only two seemed ready to pick. I brought them inside and made a black bean, corn, avocado salad with honey lime dressing. The recipe uses lime juice and lime zest. I t was wonderful to zest and juice my own limes, but even more wonderful that the smell made me think I was making the recipe alongside my Nanny.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

It Gets Better Every Year

September in our family means birthdays! My dad's birthday is first, and once again I attempted to make him his favorite cake: Tunnel of Fudge cake.

This cake requires a lot of eggs and a lot of butter. I think using our farm-fresh eggs from happy chickens really pays off for this cake. Look at the delicious batter:

Lat year, it tuned out great, it just didn't slip out of the pan quite intact. This year, it came our perfect:

Inside you can see the tunnel of fudge: 

Next year I'll cook ir for 5 minutes less. I'm hoping that will make the tunnel a little bigger. After all, it is the best part of the cake!