The girls and I had an adventure a few weeks ago and went to Legoland to check out the unveiling of the Death Star in their Star Wars Miniland. It was a busy week, so I didn’t decide until last minute to go, so I made it a surprise for the girls. They had no clue where we were trekking off to! It was such a lovely day too! There was pretty much no one at the amusement park, we didn’t have to wait in any lines, and it was great to just be out of the house. Our days are full of to-do lists and making sure all their lessons get done, that it was nice to just chill out and have fun.
Up to this point, the girls were only fans of Clone Wars the cartoon, but have never watched Star Wars. Ben and I have tried to coax them to watching it with us, but they said it looks scary, so they always said no. Well, after this little visit, it excited them about Star Wars, and they told us they were ready to finally watch the movies. We started with Episode I last weekend, and finished up Episode II: Attack of the Clones this past weekend. They are so anxious about how it all plays out because they are so baffled at how Anikin becomes Darth Vader. We tell them “Just wait, you’ll see.” The movie also brings about good conversations about what can happen when you just follow your own desires, without disregard to others; it really can lead down a dark path in real life too.
Ever since I watched a documentary on Netflix about the Salton Sea last year, I’ve been itching to go. Luckily, we pass it on the way to Salvation Mountain, so we made a quick stop there after we did our scavenger hunt. It’s such an interesting place… the smell, the feel of the ground, and just the sight of it. It’s breathtaking, but its vastness is so out of place in the middle of the desert. And I suppose that makes sense, considering it was manmade.
There were so many birds there and True and Brave took off running toward a whole lot of them sitting by the shore to get them flying. Glow didn’t like walking on the rocky, shell-like sand, so I carried her to the shore. On the way back to the car, I told her she needed to walk, but she didn’t want to, so Brave picked her up to carry her the rest of the way. It was so cute! Brave’s such a sweetheart. All the girls are, but Brave has an extra sensitive soul.
If you plan to go to Salvation Mountain, you must stop by Salton Sea (or vice-versa), and then on your way back towards Los Angeles, grab some date shakes at Shields Date Garden. If you have extra time, grab dinner at Native Foods Cafe in Palm Springs and stop by the Ace Hotel to use their photo booth. The photo strip will be a fun souvenir to remember that day. Since we made our trip on Valentine’s Day, after our date shake we picked up sushi and headed home. We still had some surprises to give each other and the kids, so we ran out of time, preventing both Native Foods Cafe and Ace Hotel photo booth stops.
I told Ben he could buy himself a tree for Valentine’s Day. Really though, he would have bought it anyway, silly holiday or not. Well, he wanted a Wax Jambu (water apple), and he found a seller out in Orange County, so we had to make a trip out there to pick it up. By the way, this fruit was one of the many we tried when we were in Singapore, and we loved it so much, we wanted to grow it.
Back to the story… This is on a Sunday afternoon, and usually, we don’t really do much except go to church and finish other house things at home on Sundays, but when the gentleman who had the tree called to confirm he had it, we all quickly loaded in the car and left. This was as spontaneous as we get! Of course, Ben knew that Snow Monster (we first tried it on my birthday) was really close by, so he said earlier in the day, “Wanna go pick up my tree and get ice cream?” Of course, I said yes. I’ll always say yes to ice cream.
We picked up his tree and then we got ice cream. The girls were very happy to get a large taro and mango shaved ice, and I was especially delighted to get a pistachio macaron and Thai tea ice cream all to myself. We all came home quite elated with our Sunday evening adventure.
For Valentine’s Day, Ben and I thought Salvation Mountain would be the perfect destination to celebrate love with our children. I made a scavenger hunt to go with the outing, so when we got there, I took out the pieces of paper that would tell them exactly what to look for. The biggest girls were pretty excited about the game. We handed the Fuji Instax Mini to them and they took turns taking pictures of the things they found on their list. They all had the same things to look for, but when there’s four of them, sometimes it’s best to give them each their own paper to prevent any fighting. Soul and Glow didn’t care too much for the hunt, but True and Brave were into it. While Soul wasn’t into looking for things, she did want to get her turn to use the camera.
Salvation Mountain is pretty amazing. It’s not this ginormous mountain, but the creativity and love that Leonard Knight put into the creation of this place is quite evident. The color, the patterns, the texture… they all create this work of art that draws tons of visitors from all over the place.
It’s in the middle of the dessert, so it can get hot when that sun is beating down on you. There are a few shaded areas, so we would frequently walk through there to give the little ones a reprieve from the heat. The biggest girls said their favorite part was walking up the (narrow) stairs to the top. We were there for almost two hours, and while Ben and I probably would have loved to spend more time there, that was good enough for my four girls. They completed the whole scavenger hunt and they were ready to get on their way to go grab some date shakes.
If you want to do your own scavenger hunt, you can use the printout I created. I printed mine out two-sided, but it’s up to you however you’d like to use it for your scavenger hunt!
Print out: Salavation Mountain Scavenger Hunt
on me: dress, vintage from ms. tips. shoes, swedish hasbeens. on true: dress, c/o schoola. shoes, new balance. on brave: shirt and overalls, c/o schoola. doc martens, shoes.com. pin, lelelerele. on soul: dress, vintage from ms. tips. shoes, new balance. on glow: top, vintage from ms. tips. shorts, vintage. shoes, minnetonka moccasin.
We go to Texas once a year, and (almost) every time, Ben and I sneak away for a day trip to Austin. It usually consists of checking out their local vintage clothing shops to find some shirts for Ben, a walk through Uncommon Objects, lunch with one of Ben’s buddies (this time at South Congress Cafe), and then dinner with just the two of us. This time we also visited Austin City Life (we wanted to check out a local church in case we moved), meandered through some local antique malls, and had dinner at Uchiko.
First off, if you’re ever in Austin, get the crab enchiladas at South Congress Cafe. They were absolutely delicious. While we mostly just go to look at the curiosities at Uncommon Objects, I did get a little wooden cheese box for a project. The highlight of the day though, besides getting some one on one time with Ben, was feasting at Uchiko. Ben’s friend had told us about this place a few years ago, but our first thought, “Sushi?! In Texas?! We live in California, I think we’ll pass.” But man oh man, nothing could prepare us for the amazing culinary experience that awaited us at Uchiko.
We weren’t sure if we wanted to go there for dinner, so we didn’t make reservations (reservations are a must at this place). Last minute, we say, “Why not?!” and head there soon after they opened for dinner. There was an hour+ wait, but the bar was open, and we still would be served the full menu there, so that’s what we opted for. Plus, we got a cozy little spot on the corner, so it felt quite intimate.
The bartenders were so attentive, considering we weren’t at a regular table, it still felt like we had their complete attention when we needed. We weren’t sure what we wanted, but we decided to order a few things from their “sake social” menu (happy hour) and then almost everything from their sushi menu (except one or two). We kind of went to town, and each dish they brought out was absolutely delectable. Ben was feeling intoxicated, and we didn’t even have any alcohol! Seriously. He swore they put drugs in the food or something. Each slice of fish was like butter and there was such creativity in each of the dishes. Things you wouldn’t think to pair together, blended so well, and was like a party in your mouth. Ben and I stuffed ourselves silly! And even though I was as full as can be, I still ordered dessert and ate the whole thing by myself because dessert was just that amazing too. If you ever make it there, get their brussels sprouts and try everything on that sushi menu (and get dessert too)!
It’s a really nice place, and while it’s probably not practical to be ordering sushi there every week (at least not for us), it’s definitely worth the splurge. Plus, Ben and I aren’t ones to go out for date nights weekly or even monthly, so we are okay splurging on special dates like this once in awhile. Sometimes our motto is “Go big or go home,” only sometimes though (like once a year). That motto for sure gets applied to our gardening projects. Anyhow, it’s good to be able to have some time to enjoy each other and treat ourselves out! We loved it so much that we left with a Uchi cookbook and I’m definitely going to try to recreate some of the dishes.
Things are slowly getting back to normal here after Winter Storm Frona threw our plans off a little bit. We took off from San Antonio, Texas for home early morning New Year’s Eve, but an hour out and we hit traffic. No one was moving, then our car died. Oye! Ben and I tried pushing it to the side (it’s 25 degrees F outside), and someone saw and offered to find jumper cables from another car. They came back with jumper cables, and did all the attach here and attach there stuff, and our car started. Phew!
Traffic was still stalled and there didn’t seem to be any police activity going on, so Ben braved the weather and walked up half a mile to figure out what was going on. Turns out, a large truck was crossing the bridge, but since it iced over, started to skid and just stopped. Thus, everyone else behind them just stopped. Once Ben relayed the message to some of the cars ahead of us, things started moving until another truck stopped, so we were stuck again. We were talking to the Fedex guy next to us, and word was that all the roads, not just the bridges, were iced up ahead. After contemplating a few things (and praying together), in the end, we thought it best to turn back around to San Antonio.
Seven and half hours later, we were back at his mom’s house. We were exhausted since we had woken up at 3:30am, so we ate lunch and took a nap. Once we woke up, Ben studied the weather and traffic reports online, and we were glad we made that decision to go back to SA. We left everything in the car because we didn’t want to unpack all the junk we put in, so we lived out of a little bag and one change of clothes. Though we pretty much stayed in our pajamas the whole time.
The following days the weather got worse, so we were happily stuck in San Antonio for a few more days. Ben took care of work stuff, I got through most of my emails, and the girls got more Spanish lessons in with their grandma. Our usual NYE plans were changed, but we were with family safe and sound, so we had lots to be thankful for. Anyway, all that to say, we never made it home until about 1am Sunday morning (We left Texas at 6am Saturday morning), and here we are.
We had a wonderful time in Texas. I was able to get some girl time in with his sister, Ben and I went on a couple dates, I even got alone thrift shopping time, and of course lots of family time with jokes and home movies. I’m still trying to get the house back in working order, as we purge through the toys to make room for the new ones they got, and of course unpack and put away all the clothes.
The pictures above were from Saturday when Frona moved onward, and we were finally able to make it westward. She left Texas looking quite beautiful with the dust of snow and ice, though it was very sad to see the many overturned and stranded vehicles on the side. I think Frona is hitting the east now, so I’m hoping you all there are staying warm and safe!