adventure to salt & straw ice cream

I’ve heard lots of good things about Salt & Straw ice cream and we were all very excited to finally try it when we were out in Venice for our beach day. We got a double scoop of salted malted chocolate chip cookie dough in a cone, and a double scoop of honey lavender and black olive brittle & goat cheese in a cup. We asked for an extra cup to split the ice cream further. Also, True can’t have anyone double dipping into her cone since she’s allergic to nuts. Typically, our go to would be some sort of salted caramel, and while their sea salt with caramel ribbons was delicious, I can something similar at home (see my recipe here), so I opted for something different.

Salt & Straw is runner up to my ultimate favorite ice cream place, A la Minute. I love Salt & Straw’s unique flavors and how you can taste them prior to ordering (you can’t do that at A la Minute since it’s made to order). Their ice cream isn’t as creamy as a small batch ice cream place, but they really do win with their flavors. I absolutely loved the honey lavender one so much and was kinda hoping the girls didn’t like it, so I could have it all to myself. My next goal is to make my lavender ice cream again (see my recipe here), but see if I can bring out more of that honey flavor. We were thoroughly impressed with their ice cream and we will definitely be back to try other flavors.

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adventure to the antelope valley california poppy reserve

Last Monday, pretty much spur of the moment, the girls and I took off midday to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. It was a long drive (2 hours), but I don’t mind driving as long as it isn’t in traffic, and thankfully, there wasn’t. The girls did school in the car, and with music blasting, we made our way to see the fields of poppies. As we neared the poppy reserve, the girls got giddy seeing spurts of poppies here and there. First, it started with small groupings scattered about, then suddenly, happy hills covered with orange appeared (and lots of cars parked on the side of the road). Once we parked and got out, they immediately took off exploring. A friend had told me that you really needed an hour there, but we ended up spending almost 3 hours there. It was Monday of Passion week, so we all sat together and read what happened on Monday together. Then, the girls wanted to play, so I parked myself on the ground and let them play. I watched as they ran up and down little hills (being careful not to step on any poppies), collected tumbleweeds and turned them antlers, and went “rock climbing” on large, smooth rocks they found on the side of a small hill. When it was time to go home, they protested a little because they were having so much fun.

I was enjoying everything so much too that we walked around the fields a bit more, took more pictures, but then that when things started to go south a little. There was a sweet couple who offered to take our picture, and somehow when we all sat down for it, I smashed True’s “deer antlers.” I hadn’t realized it until when we got back to the car because she burst into tears that she didn’t have antlers. Oye! She explained I smashed it when we took the picture. I felt bad, so I was encouraging her to try to find another one. Well, it took awhile until the crying stopped, my temper flared up because the crying wouldn’t stop, and then when all was calm, it took more time to find another pair of antlers. And that’s real life folks! While these pictures show all the fun we had, we also had to deal with fragile hearts and quick tempers, then demonstrate love and forgiveness with each other. Even with the bit of drama at the end of our adventure (and traffic on our way home), I’m so glad we made the trip out to see the superbloom at the California Poppy Reserve. It was definitely well worth it!

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superbloom in walker canyon

There’s a lot of pictures because this superbloom we’ve got going on, deserves a lot of pictures. We headed out to Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore last week and the superbloom was still going strong over there. The girls brought baskets to collect rocks, sticks, and flowers, but once we saw the “don’t pick flowers” sign, well, they just stuck to collecting rocks and sticks. We went midday, so the sun was out in full force as we hiked a couple miles through the canyon. It’s a really easy hike and I saw some ladies hiking in strappy summery sandals, so you don’t have to come decked out in fancy hiking gear. In fact, we all wore spring dresses and some easy hiking shoes. The girls have their Keen footwear (this is the one they have) for when we do easy hiking (they’re great because you can easily throw them in the wash), and I wore some sneakers.

Glow pretty much skipped up the mountain, but skipping is typically her MO. As she was skipping, she yelled out, “I love skipping!” I love when she skips because you can see her joy and happiness in each little hop step. Something about skipping is so carefree. When do we lose the natural inclination to skip? I don’t skip anymore on my own (only when skipping with the girls). It would be an odd sight to see an adult skipping down the sidewalk, but I think there ought to be more of it. I think skipping is an overflow of the heart, and our adult hearts, at least mine is, is bogged down with so many unnecessary things. Glow is a little girl, who knows her mom and dad will take care of her and love her, and all she needs to do is trust them. Hence, she doesn’t have a care in the world and skipping is the overflow from the freedom she experiences. Thinking about it that way reminds me that I have a perfect Father who is in control, sent His Son to die in my place, so I can be free from bondage, and all I need to do is trust Him too. Skipping through life should also be my modus operandi too because of the freedom I have in Christ.

Back to superbloom hunting in Walker Canyon… we saw so many different types of wildflowers. There weren’t as many poppies, but there was still a wide variety here. There’s a sign at the bottom of the hill that list the different wildflowers you will find, so if you take a picture of it before you start your hike, you can refer back to the picture to identify them (if you aren’t already a wildflower expert) as you see them. It was almost like a scavenger hunt to the girls. The only one who wasn’t really into was Soul. The two older girls brought their cameras to document the adventure, so even though they couldn’t pick flowers, they have some superbloom hunting pictures to treasure. We just went a week ago, so I’m thinking there’s still a bunch of wildflowers there, but you better hurry up and visit before they fade away for the season.

on true: dress, homesewn by true! on brave: dress, homesewn (using 2 different thrifted denim dresses). on soul and glow: catimini dresses, c/o childrensalon (see more here). all of them are wearing moxie sandals, c/o keen footwear.

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adventure to venice beach

One of the gifts of homeschooling is that school can be done on the go. I’m a homebody and I think I’m raising homebodies too. We can stay home all week and be perfectly fine with it. Soul cried the other day when I told her we were going hiking, and not because she doesn’t like hiking, but it’s just she prefers staying home. As much as we love the comforts of home, one of the reasons we homeschool is because the world is our classroom. It’s not just learning from books, or being stuck at a desk, but we get the freedom to explore. We can take books on the road and do stuff in the car, but then we get somewhere and collect sticks, make observations, ask questions, etc. We can have a picnic at the beach while I read them a story. Learning wasn’t meant to just be done in a classroom, but everywhere, and all the time.

I’m a trained teacher, so I was used to being stuck in a classroom with 30 students, so I forget to take advantage of having only four, and the ability to go wherever we want (within reason of course). I’m growing in that area. We are getting out more and it’s been so refreshing. The goal has been one adventure day a week and I think that’s good and realistic.

This particular day, I had to go to Venice Beach for a photoshoot to drop off some props I made for it. The call time was 10:30am, and with traffic, it took forever and a day to get there, but we made it worth the drive and spent the day at the beach. The sun played peek-a-boo all day, and while I would get a bit chilly here and there, I don’t think the girls noticed because they were running around, rolling down hills, and burying each other with sand. It was definitely a glorious school day.

On another more serious, I try to be as vigilant as possible with the 4 girls, especially when I’m alone. While the girls were playing, I noticed this older man sort of dressed up, he definitely looked out of place (not beach attire at all), and it looked like he was face timing someone, but instead of the camera turned on him, it seemed like he had the camera turned towards my girls. I kept watching him and the camera seemed to follow the girls, and then when I called them all to stay right next to me, the camera followed. I continued to watch him intently (first, I thought maybe he was showing someone the beach view, I don’t know), and I think he eventually noticed and went away. Something about him immediately raised red flags, so I don’t know for sure what that was, but it was a reminder to never let your guard down and to always be aware of your surroundings.

We won’t let things like this stop of from going on adventures, but it’s a good reminder to always be vigilant. Also, talk to your kids about these things. They know why I called them to me, and so it was helpful that they were immediately obedient when I wanted them right by my side. As their parents, we teach them for their good (even when it doesn’t exactly feel good to them), so in that particular moment, they could see how important it was to be obedient, and as we say, “right away, all the way, with a happy heart.”

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family adventure to the broad museum

We went on a family adventure to The Broad a couple weekends ago. We started viewing all the art downstairs first, and we are glad we did that first because the art was more serious and political downstairs. Once upstairs, everything felt more lighthearted and surreal. As we walked around downstairs, some of the art freaked out the girls and it led to good discussions on how artist use their art to send a message and bring out feelings. They were like, “I can’t just make something because I like it?!” True and Brave are slowly going into the logic and analytical way of thinking, but they’re also very much in the give me all the facts stage. It was interesting to look at the art and have they try to decipher the messages and feelings the artist was trying to convey. Downstairs was filled with a lot of heaviness, and some parts we had them look down as they walked by, but it was good for them to experience art that really produced a strong reaction in them.

Once we went upstairs, everything was definitely more lighthearted and playful. Of course, the girls all loved Jeff Koons’ artwork, and Ben and I loved Jean-Michel Basquiat. The girls enjoyed looking at the art upstairs, and in their words, “There was nothing freaky.” We saved the Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room for last. All of us were excitedly anticipating our turn to go in. I went in first with the two middles, and Ben took the bookends. As small as the room was, it did kind of feel like we were in a galaxy far, far away. There’s something quite mesmerizing (and peaceful) about those hanging lights in a small room of mirrors.

In total, we spent a little over 3 hours at the museum, but we definitely could have spent more time. If you’re in LA, you should definitely stop by for a visit, especially since it’s free. Just be sure to book your tickets ahead of time; tickets are released online on the first of every month. We all loved it so much, so we will most certainly find time to go back again.

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a little foodie date

The girls were off at their grandparents this weekend, so Ben and I had some time to ourselves. We had a memorial to go to Saturday morning, after which, we went on a little foodie date. One of my favorite Instagram food accounts is @HungryHugh and I drool over most of his food posts.

Our first stop was to Project Poke. Ben ordered a bowl and I got the sushi donut; we loved both and the spicy ponzu sauce was the perfect amount of spice. We were impressed with the sushi donut because it’s not a bad value for the price. It’s $5.25 for the donut, and besides the toppings you see in the photo above, it’s also stuffed with spicy tuna inside. I’m definitely going to make my own version of this at home. I will gladly take a sushi donut over a regular donut any day.

I love seafood, so when I saw the lobster fries from Dos Chinos pop up on @Hungryhugh’s feed awhile back, I knew I had to try that sometime. I knew Ben wouldn’t be much of a fan because 1) he doesn’t eat fries, and 2) he doesn’t eat fried food, but like all smart fellas, he wanted to make his wife happy, so he was up to try it. After Project Poke (he got a bowl because he knew he wouldn’t eat much lobster fries), we made our way to downtown Santa Ana. We paid meter and thought 24 minutes was enough to get our lobster fries, eat a little, and take it on the road to go, but 24 minutes was definitely not enough.

It wasn’t a sit down restaurant (more food court style), so we were a bit surprised how long it took to get our lobster. I think we waited for about 35 minutes. Also, prior to that, I had been telling Ben it costs about $20 for the lobster fries, so we had a bit of sticker shock when we got up to order and pay, and found out market value was $37.45 (or $35.47, can’t remember). Of course, we ordered any way since we were already there. After the long wait, and shelling out some pretty pennies, we finally received our lobster fries in all its fried goodness (badness to the dietitian, or he’d correct me and say “low nutrition-ess”). I immediately dove right into it and loved the lobster meat; it was absolutely delicious. The fries were good too, but nothing extraordinary. All the deliciousness was in the lobster meat. Ben was not impressed, but he doesn’t eat fried food, so he’s kind of biased. If you love fried food, fries, and lobster, I think you should definitely try this place. Just call before you head over to find out what market value is. My parents went a month or so ago and the price was in the $20s, so I think that’s why $20 got stuck in my head.

Since the lobster took so long to cook (and then eat), the rest of our plans for the day kind of got ruined. We had planned to go further south to a plant nursery, but it would have been closed by the time we got there. We had a little tiff (he was crankier than me, maybe cause I was high on lobster and oil). Thankfully (a little later), he came to his senses and lovingly apologized, I happily accepted, then all was well again in Bratcher Loveland. That’s marriage for you… sometimes love abounds, and then sometimes bad attitudes get thrown in for good measure and we grow from it. We spent the rest of the day with him working on things in the garden and I was able to do some cleaning while the girls were gone. I loved our little foodie Saturday date, even though we had some cranky hearts involved.

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