California State Fair 2016

Today was Kennedy’s Nana’s last day in town after spending the last three weeks with us while Matt was away for training in Texas. The fair trip last year was a bit of a flop because Kennedy was just “a bit too small” for any of the rides, so I was really looking forward to going this year. The plan was that we would get motivated early and head to the fair to avoid the heat, but since my broody teenager got a new computer and played on it until 3:00 AM the night before, he was “too tired” to get up at 11:00 AM; teenagers are jerks, so we left without him. Before entering the fair, we had a few tickets to give away, since Nivek wouldn’t be using them with a friend like we has planned. The funny thing about giving things away is that you really have to convince the person that you aren’t trying to scam them somehow. I pretty much had to throw them at this woman who was waiting in line for tickets, and I’m still not completely sure that she believed they were legit. She seemed grateful, but skeptical.I would have just held on to the tickets and went at a later date, but I bought one of those 4-pack deals and they all have to be used on the same day.

Sidenote: I think the Shopkins characters are super cute, and their stuffed plushes were a common carnival game prize… but I can’t be the only one who thinks the lipstick looks like either a) dog chapstick or b) uncircumcised wiener. ANYHOW… Overall, we had such a great time. Kennedy’s joy was so infectious, it was hard not to feel a bit of wonderment over the whole experience. Until next year.

Naturally Dyed Eggs


A few weeks back I saw a post about dying Easter eggs naturally, and I knew we had to try it. Friday morning we woke up early and headed on a walk through the park to gather various leaves and flowers that we could use to imprint on the eggs. Since this was our first time doing this, we really didn’t have any idea what would work best, so we just gathered a bit of everything.

Once we got back to the house, I pressed the various leaves and flowers throughout a few pages of a book, thinking it would be easier to put the leave on the egg if they were flat and not bulky (theoretically, it did seem to help).

For our dyes we used yellow onion skins, red cabbage leaves, turmeric, beets, and dried hibiscus flowers.

DYE PREPARATION:

To prepare the dyes we put each food into it’s own pot with a decent amount of water (about six cups), two tablespoons of white vinegar, and a teaspoon of Alum powder (except we did not put Alum in with the pot of onion skins because I read somewhere that it smells like ass if you do). Each of the pots were brought up to a boil and then the heat was lowered to let it simmer for about a half hour. We did not measure out any specific amounts, but we did use a bag of yellow onion skins, a few beets and a whole small red cabbage. In retrospect we only used 2 tablespoons of Turmeric and should have used more; the results weren’t as pretty as some others I have seen. Obviously, the more you use, it is likely the more vibrant the colors will be. Once each of the pots simmered awhile, we removed them from heat until they were cool-ish, and transferred the liquid into gallon ziplock containers. In truth, using large mouth pickle jars or something of the like would be much prettier, but I wasn’t about to go buy more jars for some smelly onion water (and thus, no pictures… So, so, sorry).

EGG PREPARATION

While the dyes were cooling, I went ahead and hardboiled my eggs. I opted to buy both some brown and some white eggs to see if this would make a difference in the final result and I was really glad I did (I was not really glad that i had to buy them though, but alas, by chickens are still on strike). Jerks! With the eggs cooking and the dye cooling, I cut up the legs on a pair of nude nylons into 3-4 inch sections, and knotted one end.

Once the hardboiled eggs were cooled from their ice bath, I pulled out my book of flattened leaves and flowers and placed a few on each egg, wrapping the pantyhose around the leaf, and sealing it closed with the rubberband. Helpful tip: Having the eggs still a little damp seemed to help make the leaves stick to the egg, and thus, easier to wrap the nylon around it without making the leaves move. Of course, I didn’t figure this out until I had dried them all off and was on my second to last one. DAH!

For the last part, I placed each of the eggs into the Ziploc bags over night, trying to have a few white and a few brown eggs in each bag. I’m sure you wouldn’t have to wait so long if you didn’t want to, but I was happy I did.

OUTCOME

Red Beets

Yellow Onion Skins

Hibiscus

Turmeric

Red Cabbage

CONCLUSION
I really loved the depth of the red cabbage. If you rubbed the egg a bit, you ended up with that speckled, marbled effect. I broke the white one in the process, so it is not pictured here, but it turned out a much more vibrant blue, and not as deep as these brown eggs were. I also really loved the way the hibiscus looked on the brown eggs. The hibiscus left a thick coating on the eggs that, when rubbed off, left a pale periwinkle blue color. The beets I thought looked awesome and are such a great burnt red color. I was super irritated that the white egg had to be sent into my stomach after being hardboiled, but I had to make sure the eggs were done, right? I liked the way the yellow onion skins turned out as well, but wasn’t impressed by the Turmeric. I think I would give it another try again though, but I’d increase the amount in the water and see if that makes a difference. Overall, i was really happy with how it all came together and would gladly do it again next year. In comparison to the Paas egg kits, it’s a no-brainer.

This Old House – Garden Edition

When we moved into this house, one of the things that we were most excited for was being able to have our own little urban farm. With many hours out in the yard, seven cubic yards of soil, two cubic yards of compost, and a new fence… one of our major yard renovations has been completed. Of course, this fails to account for the many hours of weeding, planting, and pruning, that have also taken place. As of this moment, we have two lemon trees (1 Meyer / 1 regular), two plum trees, two grape vines, one orange tree, one teenage pomegranate tree, and 1 baby espalier apple tree which has 6 apple varieties. I really want to throw a peach and pear tree into the mix, but I know realistically I definitely do not have that sort of space (Do I? hrmmmmm….)

Before:

It’s a bit funny, it is not until really looking at these photos that I realize how much work we have actually done. We aren’t completely done yet, but most of the work left is minor.
As you can see, we had a ton of weeding to do. We removed all of the chicken wire and gates and added fresh compost to the boxes. Simple right?

This was by far the bigger project. Due to the fairly dramatic grade in the soil, Matt and I had to level the area with a butt-ton of soil and create a temporary retaining wall. Of course, this couldn’t be done without first moving the coop temporarily and then back again. SUPER FUN. ANNNNNND…on top of it all, I wanted a new coop. The chickens are still on egg-strike from all the moving, so hopefully we will be forgiven soon. It’s a bit of a slap in the face to buy a new coop and build a fence for your chickens, only to have to go to Trader Joe’s for Easter eggs to dye. Jerks!

Just for perspective, here is a photo taken from the other end of the yard, by the dog run. You can see the fence to the chicken run on the right in the distance.

It feels good to be home.

Home Buying 101

Rule #2: Do NOT make a post on your blog about how bitter you are about not getting a house, until you officially, absolutely, cannot have any chance whatsoever of getting the house.

I guess what I’m saying is, we got the house. The first buyer walked due to a poor roof inspection. While I am not particularly excited about having to have the roof redone, I was able to negotiate the cost of the new roof from the sale price on the house, so not all is lost. We are five fruit trees, two grape vines, eight planter boxes, two dog runs, and one chicken coop closer to the dream.

WE. GOT. THE. HOUSE.

Of course, escrow hasn’t closed yet, so I am really hoping I won’t have to write:

Rule #3: Do NOT make a post on your blog about how bitter you are about not getting a house, and then follow that up with a post about how excited you are to have gotten the house, until sparks fly out of your butt and on to the sold sign on the lawn; we lost the house.

Home buying 101

Rule #1: Do NOT fall in love with a house before you’ve used its bathroom or put your naked cheeks on its kitchen counters.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t updated in a few weeks. I feel like I have had 100 reasons to post, but I just haven’t had the motivation because my every thought has been on home buying, and most recently, home buyers heartbreak.

Man.
It’s rough.

I was SO ready to word-vomit a giant post about this perfect house with room for chickens and bees and a garden and and… and that we would soon being rearranging plans for and staying up way too late moving into, but frankly, we didn’t get it. Ouch. I firmly do not believe in the “everything happens for a reason” ideologies, so right now, it’s Poutsville USA. No one really warns you of this feeling. Once you make an offer on a house, you immediately start imagining your life there. I searched how best to refinish the terrible 90’s Oak cabinets, and the relative cost of hardwood flooring. I also started collecting boxes, deciding which of my furniture would need to be sold on craigslist before moving, and looked into canceling our Christmas trip to North Carolina to allow for more moving time.

Then, a few hour before we expected to receive a counteroffer and/or that they accepted our offer, another offer came in. This meant that the sellers would do a multiple counter offer, asking for highest and best. We resubmitted our offer, 10k higher than before, and waited. The next morning we were notified that they went with the other offer.

GREAT!

But… here are some cute pictures of my daughter from Halloween, so as not to be a complete downer:

Dress | Little Peaches Boutique

King’s Skate Country – Elk Grove, CA

A lot of my childhood was spent rollerskating laps at Chuck E. Cheese in Chico, CA. In fact, the first song that was ever dedicated to me was the Beach Boys “Kokomo” on the slow skate by my 5th grade boyfriend. So, of course, when I saw that King’s Skate Country in Elk Grove offers a tiny tot skate (under 8) on weekends from 10:30am – 1:00 pm, we were all in. I knew that this was probably going to be short lived, and that I would practically have to drag her around the rink (twice, if you must know), but entering these places is like entering a time capsule, and completely worth it. On the other hand, why must every rollerskating rink be left in 1975? I would bet that if someone opened a rink in an area that wasn’t completely seedy, brought it into this century and added beer, many of people would partake. As for now, I think if I wanted to film my own episode of “To Catch a Predator,” I would know exactly where I would start.

Otherwise, I think it went really well. She wasn’t particularly fond of the kangaroo mascot who was doing the hokey pokey with the kids with lights out (I cant make this shit up), but other than that, I think she liked it.

Bodysuit | American Apparel
Shorts | Zara

Sunday Farmer’s Market Flowers

Aside from the fact that I (practically) live spitting distance from the Sacramento Central Farmer’s Market (8th & W), more often than sometimes, Kennedy and I will venture over to the farmer’s market on Sunday mornings with the sole purpose of buying flowers and coming home to arrange them. Because this farmer’s market is pretty busy, and you can expect to get bumped abruptly pretty much around every turn, it definitely does not have the nice, calm, coffee-sipping feel of the smaller markets. While I do really like the broad variety of seasonal produce this farmer’s market offers, we tend to do more swearing than strolling, and just quickly head to the same few booths each time. Luckily, the best flower stand and our favorite fruit stand are on the same far end, so getting in and out quickly has become an art form.

Once we pick out our favorite bunch of flowers (15 dollars fills 2 large or 3 medium vases in our house), we head back home where it is Kennedy’s job to sort them into the vases.

Disclaimer:
This might be the truth. Kinda of. Maybe. Ish. I sort the bundle of flowers into stacks based on type, and hand her the flowers one by one while persuasively suggesting which vase each flower should go in (think: crazy micro-manager boss with the voice of your 90-year-old grandmother). Once she has all of the flowers in the vases, I might use the good ole “Look! Is that a pink elephant?! LOOOOOOOK!” so that I can perform a quick switcheroo, before helping carry them inside.

She is SUCH a great helper.

Shirt | Wren and James
Shorts | Vintage Wranglers
Monster Slippers | Carter’s

A Day with the Friedman’s – Chico, CA

Last weekend, Kennedy and I abandoned ship and headed back down to Chico for a night away. Mcrae’s daughter Lydia is only a few weeks younger than Kennedy and it is interesting to see the personality differences between the girls, even at such a young age. While Lydia is extroverted, cuddly, sturdy, and adventurous, Kennedy tends to pick her people cautiously, look before she leaps, and is overall much more fragile. We throughly enjoyed putting make-up on Lydia, Jeremiah’s awesome Raphael costume, eating burritos from Gordo Burrito, good company, and drinking a few Moscow Mules under the stars once the kids were off to sleep.

Toddler Blanket | Sueno Shop

artBEAST Studio

Yesterday, we finally had the opportunity to take Kennedy to discover artBEAST. ArtBEAST is a drop-in kids exploration studio which allows children (and parents) the opportunity to explore an open studio and various thematic rooms throughout the building. The open studio is on the second floor and has many tables for the kids to explore, without the constrained formality of a class setting. Birdseed for dumping , play-doh for shaping, moon sand for digging, clay for sculpting, a wall of glass for painting, tables for crafting, and numerous easels for painting allow kids to discover each room freely, with out being confined to the one-task class sessions. In addition to the second floor art studio, the basement level provides opportunities for the exploration of music, drama, and make-believe, while the third level has a space for infants, a room for building, and an area for birthdays etc… The backyard space features a great water table, two large sandboxes, and a bakeshop.

The best part, Kennedy absolutely loves it and all proceeds go back into artBEAST or into the Tubman House, a free, 18-month transitional living program for Sacramento’s homeless, parenting youth.

Zampano Tank | Misha Lulu  Shorts | Zara

Around the house

My daughter’s best friend is a tomato, but coming in at a close second, is the Pink Lady. My daughter suffers from a compulsive apple addiction. Each time I think that I have moved the fruit bowl far enough from her grasp, she manages to find one more. Of course, she never finishes one and then moves on to the next in some sort of common sense, sequential order. Most often she will take a few bites from one, set it down, and go find another, only to eventually have both in her hands, alternating each mouthful. If somehow I am able to keep her apple to mouth ratio stable at 1:1, she will eat that apple until what remains resembles a small grape, and then throw it away and pick up another on her way back.

Romper | James Vincent Design