Vacation 2017

May 25th this family hit the road for yet another vacation adventure!  What is the ideal American Vacation for the family with an 11 and 12 year old?

SoCal Roadtrip

which looks a little like this:

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It was a fun one!

First Day we got going early.  We flew to San Diego and our first stop was the Midway.  We did a San Diego Vay Cay when the kids were babies, but they were on a vay cay to Grandma’s House, so everything was new to them.

 I don’t think they’re ready for the navy, but it’s a pretty cool stop if you’re headed that way.  After that we took the Hornblower Harbor Cruise and then drove around Coronado.

By then we were definitely ready for the hotel We called this the Shortbread mural, for the obvious reason…Image result for girl scout shortbread

We were right on the beach, so we had a lot of fun with that.  

The next day was Day 2 in San DiegoIMG_2263

We took the kids back to some more of our favorites

The Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Old Point Loma Lighthouse, This close-up view of the light room at the top of the Old Point Loma tower reveals the sturdy construction that helped it withstand winter storms. See more lighthouse pictures.which is also

BEAUTIFUL

and has awesome tidepoolsThe Tide Pools,

Cabrillo statue and more sweet hiking

Our last stop in San Diego was a highlight for our whole family.  We got to visit my BFF Missy’s house.  I met her in kindergarten and we graduated from high school together (along with a few other fun kids), but I love catching up with her and her awesome family.  

So, I do have a beef with California, which is that nobody will ever let you use their bathroom.  It made me crazy!  Notice the water bottle that I’m carrying in every photo.  I love to hydrate which eventually leads to bathrooms, I like to go to them!  Every CVS, deli, burger joint, etc…

Image result for no public restroom signif you’re lucky, there’s like a security code  for the doorknob that they might consider giving you.

It’s craziness!  Seriously, I’m not looking to move in!

The noted exception being Missy’s house.  Her daughter took me by the hand to show me where their bathroom was.  She walked me right in, actually opened the toilet lid and showed it off proudly, like a tiny Vanna White.  Image result for vanna white turning letters wheel of fortune It was a crack up.  I think that they’re learning to clean it themselves and feeling pretty pumped about it!

Well that’s the 1st third of the SoCal Roadtrip!  I’ll see if I can’t get the rest up soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nobody Here but us Chickens

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Honestly, the highlight of my Halloween probably falls around 8:30 or 9:00 pm.  You know, that special time when you wave the kids back from the door, frantically shushing as you crawl in stealth mode towards your curtains and pull them closed from your position laying on the floor underneath the windowsill as your husband runs through the house making sure that every light is turned off and there are no visible signs of life.

That’s what we call closing time:)

Then we roll right into today… November 1st, the day when breakfast is coffee and Kit Kats and it’s time for some good…ish housekeeping;)

Preparing a Place

Sunday I slept through church… attended Bedside Baptist….

That’s a little joke I picked up from college friends,

Hhmmm…Image result for thinking starting to wonder if I wasn’t in the cool crowd…

Image result for you're so square baby i don't care memeIt’s hip, right?!
Usually, I make it.  I just remember the mind body connection:  If your mind can move your feet, just have faith that your bedraggled heart may yet wake up, literally smelling the coffee with any luck.

… I’ll save the rest of my profound thoughts on that for a different post, today I’m more wrapped up in,
Why I love cleaning, and how I balance that with choosing what is best.

I’m Martha, fo sho… as in Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, but her sister Martha glared at them while she finished melodramatically unloading the dishwasher.
Sometimes it’s just not easy to choose what is best. I try to be mindful of this as I embrace my gifting for service .

Part of the joy of cleaning for me is in the idea of preparing a place.
In fact , I almost think that Summer is finally catching it’s train, because I prepared a place for Fall.

After the Screened Porch Fall Clean out.  It's not exactly Better Homes and Gardens, but I'll take it.
After the Screened Porch Fall Clean out. It’s not exactly Better Homes and Gardens, but I’ll take it.

With girls heading here to s’more it up at the Van Meters, I kissed the Indian summer goodbye by dragging small plastic pools, squirt guns and the water wiggle hose back to their waiting spot in the storage room.

No more water wiggle hose b-ball or trampoline… no more kids hiding in the bushes with squirt guns and running barefoot to plastic pools to fill them amid shrieks and flying beach balls and no more flavor ice in the freezer, because even the freezer gets to make room… bags of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and lunch ice packs are already moving in.

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I don’t know how many of these Halcyon summers we have left, and I should let that wash over… I guess… as I bustle by inhaling the coming season and letting go of each failed goal of summer.

Even though S’more night was still 90 degrees, I’m glad I did some clearing around the screened porch and patio.  I opened up a place to peck away with Windows 7, a place for Bedside Baptist to meet, for painting and reading… and counting spiders:)

Also, The s’more fire needed a bit of help and the girls needed a place on the dining room wall for post its with their ideas for service projects.

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Retiring our summer reading solved both problems.

Seasons change and we get to make room or let it pile on, but we don’t get to stop it.

Fish Out of Water

Tonight is Salmon Night!

Pretty exciting, considering the fish ban we’ve been on since hub started to suspect that maybe he was developing an allergy to it.

Recently he’s been on a kick to clean up our/his diet to improve our/his healthiness  (we go through these cycles occasionally).

Long story long, he heard a rumor that fish is healthy, so we’re giving it another go, on a trial basis.

Since I have a big salmon in my fridge, this morning I found a recipe:
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/maple-pecan-crusted-salmon/

Here’s Mel’s:  Maple Pecan Salmon

No doubt, mine’s going to look just like that.

Next, I watched the How To Portion (Cut) Salmon Filet  episode of The Savage Kitchen on youtube.

Sadly, the fish wrestling didn’t go quite as smoothly for me as it did for those guys:

IMG_9667
eventually I did win, but it wasn’t pretty

I console myself by remembering that the people on youtube are professionals, who’ve had some practice and probably have better knives than I do.  Also, their fish probably isn’t from Wal Mart’s freezer.  I think my fish didn’t want to come apart easily, because he was bitter about ending up there.

All told, this part was just a bit vile and unwieldy.  I feel bad for Jonah.    Ewwwwwwww…

That salmon was cold, floppy, slippery and hard to handle.  Also, the skin was just so fish-like, which I found a little disconcerting.  It looked nothing like the Filet-o-Fish!

Now that its marinating in the fridge, I feel like it may be a good time to clean the kitchen… before it starts smelling like Long John Silver’s dumpster and maybe take a shower myself.

Meanwhile…

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I do like to label stuff.  You never know when you’ll become distracted and the labels may help archaeologists of the future.

I had to do the pecan toasting twice because I had too much going on the first time around and I forgot to turn off the fire when they reached perfect toastiness… but didn’t realize until they hit cremation:(

Nevertheless, four and a half hours later  IMG_9672 we’re maple pecan crusted and headed to the oven…

and Voilà!

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I’m totally calling this one a win, Hub didn’t get sick and both kids ate it!  Yea!

 

Breakfast on the Death Star

Thanks to a rare combination of insomnia, thoughtful gift giving and leftover buttermilk, I was able to kick breakfast up a notch this morning!

IMG_9545 Huh?

So, on the left, old man Fookwire: Image result for old man fookwire

On the right, a cartoon cat making a snow angel… or 1980’s car window Garfield! lg_15307.jpg Anyway, my kids were thrilled!!

Pancake molds, not as easy as it looks.

The ones that I actually used…

Image result for bad pancake shapes Now do you see it?  Who guessed X-Wing and Millennium Falcon?  If you did get it, don’t get cocky.

If you didn’t, well, you have disappointed me for the last time!!

Kidding:)

The directions don’t specify, but you need to use the force here.  There may be no try, but there’s definitely a learning curve.

check it out:IMG_9548 better, right?!

The freezer is stocked.  What’s that blue thing in the bin with the ice?

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The Dark Side has Lemonade now.

Special Thanks to our family out in Salina.  It took us a while to break out the pancake molds, but they’re pretty fun!

The only downside,

this is what my kitchen looks like now:)

 

 

Hi! May I Host You?!

It’s a great season for entertaining and getting together with friends and family, so don’t be intimidated, just start inviting people!

I happen to be an impeccable hostess and will share all my secret tips to help you knock this out of the park.

For starters, when you see someone in your driveway, start making this…

http://www.melskitchencafe.com/pumpkin-scones-with-ginger-glaze/

If it’s after 2, you could do something else, but honestly, scones work for me all the time and that recipe is a good one for fall through Christmas.

Okay, whoever comes in, give them your vacuum, so that they can suck up cat hair before the cat allergic girl shows up, then get back to frantically throwing the baking together and don’t forget to smile.

If smiling isn’t your natural, default face, just think about warm beaches, your favorite babies or when you found a Target gift card in your stocking, while getting out Christmas stuff.

While your vacuum buddy reprograms your Pandora stations, look for that butter slicing thing that you don’t use often.

If it’s in a box with the play-doh fun factory, just use the mixer on slow.

If the mixer is smoking and/or making sad noises, check for that cute hockey puck that keeps brown sugar from clumping.

If that guy isn’t stuck in your beaters, the problem might just be brown sugar rocks… possibly resulting from never replacing your puck, the last time that you accidentally beatered it.

Okay, if it’s brown sugar rocks, turn it up, Dude!  Yeah, like freedom rock!

Next, put the dough in your floppy cake pan.

By now, you may have to wrestle it back from a friends surprisingly strong baby.

Luckily you’ve been working out.

10 minutes is better than no minutes.

You can cut the scones out easily w/floppy pancake flipper.

You might end up with a few frankenscones, but just remember that the people coming are your friends, and as such, they can’t be all that  discerning.

Now, while your frankenscones are over baking, check on your friends.  By this time, your cat has located the allergic friend and formed a scarf

Shove the unused vacuum in the coat closet and start making coffee.

Don’t look in the mirror, you look great…   you’re doing it!  Good Job!

Good…ish House Keeping

Halloween has come and gone, but this house is looking spookier than ever.

If this is the boat you’re in, Welcome Aboard!
Now, put the plastic pumpkin down, whatever you’re looking for has probably already been inhaled by tiny sugared up pillagers.

So, Post-Weekend/Halloween Home Re-Set…

First, put something in your crock pot.
Whatever you can reach. This is because later, when you need food, cooking will not be possible.
You need a meat product, some liquid and some spices.
Whatever comes out, you can serve over rice later.

Now that that’s going, you plugged it in, right? It’s time to open up a lil’ can of Let’s-Make-This-Dump-Shine-Like-The-Top-of-the-Chrysler-Building!
I like to start with an extra cup of coffee…
you can stir in a Fun Size Milky Way, it’s more fun that way.

Find yourself a timer. How long do you have to throw at this? 20 minutes works for good-ish, 10 minutes is just ish.
Also, I think a sound track helps. I have been using Rusted Root’s Send Me On My Way for dishes, and upbeat Bob Dylan songs for laundry, but you can find what works for you.
You may need to get psyched up first with a classic, like Eye of the Tiger, (visualize your personal cleaning montage) or you could reword the lyrics to Lose Yourself, by Eminem

There are no M & M’s left! Stay with me!

Okay, During house reset, Do not get the phone, more likely than not it’s just Newt Gingrich anyway.
Let it go.

I think we’re ready now, awwyeah!

Grab a plastic Thank You bag. You can keep it on your wrist for unexpected candy wrappers and general refuse [ref-yoos], while you’re doing the run around, i.e. putting things where they go and restoring order to your home. This might take a few songs, so pump up the jam.

Then, get the dishes knocked out, hopefully one song.
Next, put dirty clothes in washer and sort clothes coming out of dryer into baskets dedicated to each member of your household.
Go get your vacuum and use it to pick up any rogue dust bunnies in your high traffic areas.dust_bunnies_02

Check your bathrooms for any unsightly yucky business and vacuum the dusty layer off the back of your toilet.
Finally, look at the awesome work you have done, and see that it is good.

If you’re working full time, are ill or have kids under five in the house with you, this plan can easily be modified;
when you see your husband’s car pull in, get out your vacuum.
Place it somewhere noticeable. This signals productivity, however imperceptible, and that calls for take out.