McDowell Estates – Walnut Grove, CA.

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We woke up early and decided that for this Sunday road trip we would stay closer to home. We have been wanting to got to a U-pick farm for quite some time, but it just hasn’t worked out – until now. Double M farms was exactly what we were looking for. Aside from the fact that Matt and I share “M” names and thus could pretend to have had the farm named after us (because of course it was, duh), the U-pick area was big enough to make you feel like you’re not just getting the sad unpicked pears left behind by overzealous u-pickers and small enough to not have to wander for miles to find a pear.

Double M Farms is located on the delta about 30 minutes from Sacramento. When we arrived, the farm was completely quiet. We wondered over to a little shack that was set up with pre-picked fruit, eggs, and other assorted goods and paid 8 dollars for a brown bag to stuff full of pears. There were wagons off to the side that you could use if necessary, but since we were only getting one brown bag full, we opted to carry our own. We headed across the driveway to the picking area and were amazed at how many pears there were. The trees were covered. Seriously, covered. When planning this trip I imagined having to hoist Kennedy up a ladder to be able to have her pick some, but that was not the case. There were plenty of huge pears within reach of her, and that made it all that much better.

Kennedy was a little bit needy and fussy but seemed to really enjoy the whole thing. If you have the chance, check out their website for produce and U-pick availability and pay them a visit. We had a great time and the pears are delicious.

Pear (or Apple) Coffee Cake

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After going to the farm and picking a bag of pears, we decided that we needed to bake something delicious. I’m sure that you could use apples instead of pears for convenience, but the pears worked out really great. The recipe only took about 20 minutes to prepare, and was very simple. Enjoy.

Pear Coffee Cake ———–

INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray / butter
1 tablespoon(ish) of flour to dust the pan

Cake:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups diced skinless pears
½ ripened banana

Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray an 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray or butter; dust with 1 tablespoon flour. Beat ¼ cup butter and ¾ cup brown sugar together with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Beat egg into butter mixture. Add sour cream and vanilla extract to the mixture; beat to integrate. Stir 1 cup flour, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl; add to the butter mixture and beat to combine into a batter. Fold pears into the batter. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Mix ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup flour, 2 tablespoons butter, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon together in a bowl using a fork to achieve a crumbly consistency; sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

That’s it. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with this and Matt has already put in his request for this to be his birthday cake next year.

Lemon and Lavender Buttermilk Cake

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Everyone deserves a homemade cake on their birthday, preferably one that is a bit ugly. When I was a kid, we all got unsightly homemade birthday cakes, it’s just the way that it was. Kennedy’s first birthday cake was no different. The lemon glaze was so good, I doubled what the recipe called for and threw my pride out the window. Do I feel shame?

Hell no.

Kennedy’s First Birthday

Keeping things simple this year, Kennedy’s first birthday was spent next to the rose garden on Capitol Park with a few close friends and family. Actually, we were going to go to McKinley park, but rumor has it that they are having a serious flea problem, and that just killed that idea. I considered sending out invitations and having a moderate celebration at home, but I figure there will be plenty of years for obligating friends and they should be off the hook while they can. It was nice to just sit in the park with people who wanted to celebrate with her, eat some of the Lemon Lavender Cake I made the night before, and open gifts.

The birthday suit: One Shirt | Crown | Moccasins

Helen Putnam Regional Park – Petaluma, CA.

Graffiti

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Knowing it was expected to reach 101 degrees in Sacramento, we left early hoping to beat even the smallest bit of heat, and headed toward Helen Putnam Regional Park in Petaluma, California. Before arriving at the park, we stopped to take a few photos of the awesome graffiti behind the Phoenix theater and pick up some sandwiches at the Tea Room Cafe. Unfortunately, the Tea Room Cafe only serves brunch on Sundays, so, we got back into the car and just headed for the park. When we arrived, it was about 80 degrees and the dogs were eager to get out of the car. We chose this park because it looked a bit different than some of the others we had been to recently. Instead of traipsing through trails filled with trees, it had wide-open fields that flowed into the valley. The hike started out with an uphill climb that edged up to a large pond (small lake?). Henry (Le’ Boston) is part Alligator, so I think this was his favorite part of the whole trip. Huck pretended to like the water to fit in, and we headed out. It wasn’t long before we were all roasting in the noonday sun though. Overall, the trails we not too treacherous, though had we went the opposite way I might be saying otherwise. In the end, we sat at a picnic table and cooled ourselves; I am guessing it was in the high 80’s at this point. We loaded up and stopped for sandwiches (again), but this time at Ray’s Deli , which did not disappoint.

Navajo Harem Pants | Two Little Kings

Amador Flower Farm – Amador, CA.

Flowers

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Today we took a trip to the Amador Flower Farm. If you like lilies, this is definitely the place for you. It took us about an hour to make the drive. We arrived a little after 11:00am and the overall atmosphere was quite beautiful, the weather–ideal. We strolled through the rows of flowers, and noticed that there were thousands of varieties of lilies, but little of any other type of flower. I was really hoping to see a few fields of tulips or wild flowers, seeing I am not a big lily-girl, but that was not the case. After taking some photos and having a quiet lunch in the grass, we decided we would head toward a “family fun farm” that we spotted on the way. Once there, we enjoyed some killer lemonade before heading the rest of the way home. Lovely.

Hidden Falls – Auburn, CA.

Hidden Falls

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We decided that today would be a great day to get the dogs and kids and head for a hike. We waited until 10am, when Kennedy predictably would be sleepy, made some bottles, loaded the canine children, and headed out. Hidden falls is located near Auburn, CA and is about an hour drive from Sacramento. The trek to the falls wasn’t too far (1.25m) and downhill almost the whole way there. The falls themselves were pretty-ish, but not spectacular. I would guess if you made the hike during a non-drought time of year, maybe they would be more exciting. The highlight really was simply playing down in the creek with the other 20+ people dying of heat stroke. Kennedy loved it, and the dogs loved it even more. The way back was much less casual. With Kennedy snoozing in the carrier on my chest and an uphill climb all the way back, I was much less enthusiastic. I will definitely return with Nivek and the family for a longer trek when it’s a little cooler. There are a lot longer trails, and I’m guessing lesser-known and more interesting sights to behold (according to the map), so it’s definitely worthy of a return trip.

Doran Regional Park – Bodega Bay, CA.

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A few nights ago, Matt and I decided that since we only have one day off per-week together, and we rarely are able to escape for a vacation, we need to get out of town as often as possible for day trips with the family. While I have lived in Northern California for most of my life, there are many places nearby that I’ve never been, but have always wanted to see. We are going to try to stay within 2-3 hours of Sacramento, and are excited about all of the little adventures to come.

Yesterday we loaded the dogs and the kids up and headed to Doran Regional Park in Bodega Bay. I haven’t been to Bodega Bay since I was a little kid and it was really refreshing to just get to our feet in the sand. We usually go toward the Mendocino area, but at only a 2-hour drive, Bodega Bay was a decent alternative. We picked up some deli sandwiches at Pelican Plaza Grocery & Deli and wandered the beach for a few hours. The beach itself is nothing remarkable, but the surrounding areas were really beautiful, and allowing dogs on the beach is always a win for us.