the OC fair tradition ’17

July 31, 2017

This was our 11th trip to the OC Fair and we keep going just to take these pictures and use the photo booth. Upon arrival at our usual spot, we were bummed out to see that they switched the booths out into digital booths (bring back film please!). The lady, who takes our photo every year (and I’m facebook friends with now), let us know they’re slowly switching over to digital. They still had some film booths at the fair, but not at our usual spot, so we took our family photo here, and headed to the other ares for the film photo booth. Here are some things I noticed about this newest family photo versus the previous years…

Ben and I are both wearing denim like last year.

Brave has had her hair up 3 years in a row.

They are standing in descending order this year.

This year there are no outfit repeats from the previous year (though you can’t see, but Ben is wearing the same camo shorts like in the previous 4 years).

I’m still always standing to the left of Ben.

The baby, Glow, is always closest to me.

Ben’s hair is really long.

Anything stand out to you regarding this year’s photo? Read last year’s comparison’s here.


lavender festival in highland springs

July 17, 2017

Several weeks ago, Ben and I took Soul and Glow to the Lavender Festival in Highland Springs. True and Brave were already in Texas, so this was part of our two-kid weekend adventure. We had never been before, so we didn’t have any expectations, all I knew was I wanted lavender ice cream and cheesecake (we peeped their menu online prior to going).

We got there first thing on a Sunday morning, and quickly made our way to sign up for the wagon tour (they sell out fast). Even at 10:15am, the next available time for the 4 of us was at 1pm, so that’s what we signed up for. They have plenty of craft booths (each one has a different cost, so bring cash if you plan to do any of these, though I think it would have been better if they included that since we do pay to get in), food vendors, and a really nice lavender marketplace. We opted not to do crafts, we do plenty at home, but we made sure to warch the little puppet show. Soul and Glow really liked the show, and I liked that we sat for 30 minutes under a big, shady tree. It was super hot that day.

Ben attended one of the seminars on culinary lavender (they have various classes all weekend long), while we ate lavender ice cream, cheesecake, and shopped at the marketplace. I bought lavender sugar and honey, and I can’t wait to try them out in recipes. We already made lavender ice cream and it came out amazing. I’d love to make lavender cheesecake (theirs wasn’t so good), lavender lemonade, lavender martini, and more variations of lavender ice cream.

Of course, a trip to the lavender festival wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through the lavender fields. The whole placed smelled wonderful, but the scent was especially potent in the fields. After wandering through the fields, it was time for our wagon tour. It was about 20 minutes long and gave some good history on the farm, but it probably wasn’t worth the pennies. It did take us to the thousand year old oak tree, but if you have the stamina to walk in the heat, your feet could take you there for free. I thought it was going to take you through the fields, but it just drove by the side of the fields we walked through earlier in the day, around the 1,000 year old tree, then back to the beginning. So if you go, read up on the history online and skip the wagon ride.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I’d love to take the whole family next year, or maybe check out their olive festival this fall. Lavender is so pretty and I can’t wait for Ben to put his new lavender knowledge to good use and plant us more lavender plants in our garden.

a day at camp

June 6, 2017

We had plans to join our friends camping for Memorial Day weekend, but the girls had a piano recital on Saturday, so we just made it a day trip on Sunday. Our friends have this gorgeous property with a legit tiny house, which they’ve been fixing up themselves, and it’s such a peaceful place to be (see our previous trip here). There was even a deer that wandered within 15 feet from where everyone’s camp was set up and we were in awe of how glorious that animal is. We all immediately fell silent and stared at the creature. Pretty much all we did that day was eat, play, and relax. And when you camp with them, you’re not eating your regular camp food. Nope, no siree. There was fancy cheese and crackers for the downtime, next we had shrimp ceviche, then carne asade tacos, after came the tripe tacos, and we finished it off with Korean tacos (this was our contribution). They even had menudo for breakfast, but we had just missed it when we arrived. It’s so fun to see this community type of meal in action; everyone is sharing and having a good time.

My girls gravitated to the tree swing (I’m trying to convince Ben to put one inside the house somewhere), but I think their favorite part of the day, especially for the big two, was getting to ride the polaris with their friend. When each girl went off, I had a tiny glimpse of what it will be like when they’re driving and take off with their friends. I’m definitely not in a hurry to get there.

Ben and I wished we could have spent the weekend there, but we are thankful we at least got to head up for the day. It’s always a blast at Chavez Casita and we can’t wait for the next time!



May 31, 2017

“Mirage” by Doug Aitken.

“Monument” by Will Boone.

“Curves and Zig Zags” by Claudia Comte.

“La Fiesta en el Desierto” by Armando Lerma.

“Visible Distance” by Jennifer Bolande.

“Hollow Earth” by Glenn Kaino.

“The Circle of Land and Sky” by Phillip K. Smith III.

“I Am” by Tavares Strachan.

True wants to be an artist when she grows up, so to celebrate her 11th birthday, we took her to visit the Desert X installations, and called her celebration, “True 11 X.” The Coachella Valley did all the work for us, and all we had to do was show up to the exhibits and enjoy it. Ben and I researched the pieces beforehand to determine what we thought was age appropriate (and ones that she would appreciate) and the list above is what we came up with. Her favorite was “The Land of Circle and Sky” because she loved how the mirrors looked like sticks in the ground and reflected the surroundings. My favorite was “Hollow Earth.” It was such an insane optical illusion and I love the re-purposing of an abandoned shack. Our least favorite was “I Am” because when we got there, during the time it said it would be open, the exhibit was closed. We were so bummed. It would have been cool to get an “I am 11!” picture. While we missed out on that one, we still were able to plenty of them, so True was very happy about that.

I made her 11-x sign with silver poster board that I cut out and taped onto dowels. For each exhibition we visited, she had me take a instax picture of her and her 11-x sign. She has a nice collection of photos to remember her 11th birthday. And of course, we are in Palm Springs after all, so we had to go to the Ace to get some birthday photo booth pictures. Our 11 year old was quite delighted with how she rang in another year of life!

Read here to see her breakfast in bed and here for her birthday dress.




adventure to salt & straw ice cream

April 25, 2017

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.

adventure to the antelope valley california poppy reserve

April 19, 2017

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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