Selfish selfish selfish

I have a confession: I’ve been incredibly selfish lately. I can’t remember the last time I blogged (and quite frankly with some of the drudge I’ve been seeing I feel like that’s a dirty word now.
Can I call it musing?
Yes.
Let’s call it that.

We have been up to so much and there’s so much I feel I want to share but at the same time I’m like “eh”.

“It seems like a lot of work” is my battle cry as of late.

We’ve been adventuring, experimenting with new recipes, getting back into our running groove (I kind of resemble a tortoise trudging through peanut butter but still), getting tattoos started and finished, trying new foods, scheming for additional back yard projects, watching one of my two almond trees die, feeling anxiety ridden at family gatherings, antiquing in the middle of nowhere, screaming at the television during the Stanley Cup playoffs (I would tell you who I’m rooting for but that feels confrontational) and I haven’t said a blessed word about any of it.

Just *zip*

Nothing.

I thrive on honesty and I’ve just been so silent that it feels dishonest (please tell me that makes sense). Not that the world needs ANOTHER Caucasian, thirty something, artistic, single mom scribing about her life but still.

I suppose I’m putting in writing that I will be more present. Which again sounds silly because I’m so ensconced in my home life that I can never be accused of not being present, at least with them and no offense that’s where my priorities are haha.

I suppose I’m aspiring to be more present in the world. Not necessarily at social gatherings and such but there’s just so much out there, it’s beautiful and I want to share it.

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“In the garden”. Big Bear, Trains and Flesh Eating Cacti – part III

I love a good arboretum. They’re a wonderfully cared for bit of “nature” in the middle of an urban sprawl. I’ve started creating an unofficial top 5 in the last year (The Spring Preseve in Nevada and The Los Angeles Arboretum topping that list). I purchased a family membership while at the Springs Preserve and was presented with a list of where the membership was accepted in different states.
Win!

So….the flesh eating cacti.

Backstory: When we went to the Los Angeles Arboretum my tough, strapping teenager reached out to idly touch a cactus. It was an overcast breezy day and this particular breed of cacti has long slender segmented branches. I was a few paces ahead trying to keep up with Cohan when I heard a terrified yelp. I spun around and my brave young man was staring horrified at the cactus.

“It moved!”

We looked at him.
Looked at the plant.
Looked toward the placard for any notes that declared:

THIS CACTUS WILL EAT YOUR FACE OFF. DONT EVEN GLANCE AT IT.

So while hiding a smirk I reached out to touch it.
Nothing.
By now Brayden was mumbling how he swears it moved and we finally talked him into trying to touch it again.
He tentatively reached out…

nothing happened.

To this day his younger siblings tease him about man eating plants. “Careful Brayden this one looks dangerous!”

I mention the cacti incident because the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens have a large focus on native plants. So much so that the nursery on location sells the native plants five days a week (I can’t wait to go back for that especially!)

We walked the paths and while it wasn’t my favorite or the most striking of all of the arboretums I’ve ever been to it was a lovely breath of fresh air with the mountains peaking through the trees in the background. Also. Be prepared to hear “squirrel!” If you have children (or child like adults) with you. They’re everywhere and very cute.

From there we went to the Loving Hut. We thoroughly enjoy their food (although admittedly it’s not our “favorite”). They have several locations but please be aware that the menus vary.

Our last stop before the hour drive home was Viva La Vegan. This is one of those store that I wish
A. Had more produce
B. Was closer to our house.
Those are the only “complaints”. Otherwise this place is awesome! It takes all of the guesswork out of grocery shopping in regards to everything from pet food to shoes (Cohan got a fantastic pair of Macbeths). Every time we’re in the area we always make a point to stop in.

It was a wonderful trip but as always there’s no place like home.

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“Don’t be silly you love trains.” Big Bear, Trains and Flesh Eating Cacti – part II

We took a lllooonnngggg time getting going on day 2. Star Trek was on and we were all lazing about enjoying our sprawling hotel stay.

Once we did get moving we were off to the Orange Empire Railway Museum. I have ALWAYS wanted to go but we are rarely ever out in the Perris area. This place is a must for anyone that either gets a kick out of trains, loves history, or has children (of any age) that are/were acquainted with Thomas the train or Polar Express. The whole of the place has such an old timey feel that I’ll have to let the pictures do most of the talking in this post. I’m also fearful of giving anyone who actually “knows” trains an anxiety attack by differentiating the engines by saying “the big steam one”.

We bought the family pass (which saved us $8 instead of buying a separate admission ticket for each of us) and wandered to the large storage building that holds a large collection of trains (some dating back to 1870). You can go through the building and read about the history of each great machine and even go into more than half of them (most still filled with the charming ads that graced their walls once upon a time). We then rode both of the trains that run on the main rail and depart every half hour. My face hurt from smiling as I watched how enchanted the kids were with being “in something so full of history” as Kap had put it.

There’s quite a lot to explore and we could have taken more time there but it was getting a bit warm (and we’re a bunch of wusses in the heat). So we headed back to the hotel with dinner and night swimming on the agenda.

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Big Bear, Trains and Flesh Eating Cacti – part I

I’ll be splitting this last weekends adventure into three parts over the next few days because (theoretically) you could pursue each of these destinations in three separate day trips (if you’re in the Southern California area).

We made our way up to Big Bear located in the San Bernardino mountains, about 100 miles from Los Angeles. Initially I had planned on spending the whole weekend up there.
Cozy.
In a cabin.
Snow falling gracefully outside…

I talked to my long time friend that lives up there year round and he said “Don’t bother. The weather has been awful this year.”

Sadly the snow has been few and far between this season. Which is unfortunate because the local economy thrives on the vacationers that flock up the mountain year round to enjoy the lake or the slopes. But when it’s too cold for the lake and the only snow to be found is man made and on the grounds of the ski resorts…meh. Not the country get away we were hoping for.

So I jumped on Expedia (It’s my go to for travel planning, and no I’m not paid to say that. They actually have no idea I’m talking about them *bwahahaha*). I booked a room in San Bernardino at the foot of the mountain. This also gave me the breathing room to create other plans in the Inland Empire that I had always wanted to do but never got a chance to.
Aaaannnnndddddd it was way cheaper.

We stopped at Lake Arrowhead on the way up because I had always wanted to walk around their little village. I hesitate to write anything “negative” but the whole place was only “ok”. The views of the lake are awesome and the shops we did go into were charming but on the whole I didn’t feel inclined to stay.

One of the upsides of our stop in Lake Arrowhead was an impromptu hair cut for Co. This kid has been wanting to “grow his hair out” for as long as I can remember. We got out of the car and I looked at his sweet face and said “ok kiddo, I know you want to grow your hair out but we need to trim it up, make it all one length while it grows out.” He sighed and I explained I’m still in support of his decision to express himself through his “look” but that he was looking like a ragamuffin. We stopped into Rumors and my initial impression had me asking “is this a place were a child can have their hair done or is it a bit too spa like?”. Seriously, it’s that cute. Furthermore it has some major TARDIS action going on, it’s far bigger on the inside once you walk through and has quite the pretty view of the lake. The gals there were more than accommodating and very sweet about our mob of 5 coming in and crowding up the place. I’m awful with names but I want to say Cohan’s stylist is named Julie (cute, friendly, blonde with a forearm tattoo). Co got exactly what he wanted, she kept the length as much as she could and I got a little boy who didn’t look like a stand in for Oliver Twist. I’ll be honest it’s the best trim I’ve seen on him in a few years.
It’s completely rational to make the trek up the mountain to get my hair done by her too right?

We left Lake Arrowhead and made it to Big Bear. I’m notorious for packing picnics (eating at restaurants gets pricey for all of us). So we sat at Boulder Bay munching happily, watching the ducks and enjoying the crisp weather. The park is very pretty but can get a little busy. I can’t imagine it during a peak season.

We then went to the Big Bear Discovery center . I imagine this place would be fantastic for little ones (we got through it pretty quickly and still enjoyed ourselves thoroughly). The main center has a couple of small exhibits about local wildlife and vegetation and there’s a back portion located outside with a few hands on displays that had us getting creative and laughing.

Next was Juniper Point .The gate wasn’t open so we parked along the road (several other cars were there so we assumed it was ok, I don’t know for sure so please do this at your own risk). We didn’t go down the whole trail because we were meeting our friend at 4:00 so we just wandered and enjoyed being out in the (paved trail) scenery. It’s a gorgeous spot and while it isn’t exactly roughing it it’s a good way to stretch your legs if you have small children in strollers, joint problems or have older people in your party.

We made our way to Sandy’s a sports bar that our friend favors. Don’t let the bikini clad gal on their website fool you, in my experience the establishment is kid friendly, reminding me more of the breweries in NorCal or the old style pubs across the pond. The food is fairly typical bar fare (they do make attempts at vegetarian options, vegans like myself are far more limited, I had the veggie sandwich without mayo or cheese). They have a full bar, tv’s on most of the walls tuned to a wide variety of sporting events, friendly staff and most importantly (to my little mice) a game room. Four pool tables, a handful of arcade games etc etc. more often than not we end up in there for a solid hour after we eat.

We finished our night on the mountain playing Cosmic Golf. A truly treacherous game for people with depth perception problems *shyly raises hand*. It got chilly pretty quick and the course (while 18 holes) is pretty small. Regardless of weather or size that was one of the highlights of our day. The kids were especially excited at the prospect of being outside in the black lights playing mini golf, the novelty of it didn’t wear off for them. A word to the wise. It’s cash only and also score cards don’t exist. There was a review on yelp, one of those cranky reviewers that have oodles of time to just talk trash and get labeled as “elite” that was FURIOUS about the lack of score cards.

It’s cosmic golf, were you expecting to take this PGA serious?

Us less competitive folk? We had a ball.

We made it down the mountain and to our hotel at about 9 pm (and even got upgraded to a full suite because they had overbooked, thank YOU Hilton).

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Big kids, abandoned bunkers and blue skies: White Point Nature Preserve

In an effort to broaden my horizons I’ve tried to become more accepting of any activity near the coast. I love Northern California and it’s dramatic, yet sleepy, coastline. Central California, the way the fog creeps around corners of trees where their roots meet the sand.

But Southern California beaches?
The coast 15 minutes from the place I call home?

Eh.

Truth be told it probably has more to do with the personalities that populate that area of this great state and the lack of conscience when it comes to bulldozing a preserve or wetland to put in more mini mansions or overpriced condos…

I digress.
(It’s not positive to grumble at an entire strip of a county that consists of 4 cities and it’s inhabitants is it?
Apologies. Apologies…)

A friend of ours grew up near Palos Verdes (about 45 minutes from our home so not in the area of my previous rambling rant) but had mentioned how she had never quite explored the trails around the area. She had mentioned two. One of which was quite a bit shorter than our norm but fit everyone’s time constraints

.

White Point Nature Preserve http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/white-point-nature-preserve-palos-verdes-peninsula/. On the website you can find directions for how to get there, the history of the preserve as well as maps and additional pictures and visiting information.

If you’re looking for a hike to get away from civilization and to challenge your mountain legs this hike is not for you.

The houses crowd in around the preserve so you never feel like you’re really in the great outdoors. It’s relatively easy, mostly paved and only about a 2.25 mile loop. This is a great one to take young kids on. We had the big kids with us (our oldest and two of his friends).

Now.
The upsides. The view from the top of the hill had us pretty speechless and reminded me of the untouched central coast and the abandoned bunkers along the backside of the preserve were just eerie enough to have three teenage boys intrigued. The history of the place (detailed on little placards along the way and also narrated for us by our other friend reading from his iPhone) is pretty interesting.

At the bottom of the loop (or beginning, depending on where you started from the parking lot) there’s a small, well run, nature center and native plant garden (a current obsession of mine since I decided to kill our backyard for a water conscious outdoor space). The ranger on duty was well informed, friendly, helpful and knowledgable about the history of the area. The nature center is filled with activities that young children would enjoy as well as some interactive exhibits that adults can appreciate.
Over all we only spent a little over an hour and a half exploring and felt that we had covered everything.

It was a nice trip to somewhere new and it was interesting enough that Id like to take the little ones back sometime.

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Hollywood, wizards and science. “Alchemy sounded like a good idea at the time.”

I’ve lived in California my whole life and there are several things I’ve never done. One of them being the hike up to the Hollywood sign.

A few friends at the office did the hike not too long ago and they said it wasn’t a challenge in the slightest but that it could get crowded.

They weren’t kidding.

We left our house at 8 am and got up there about 9 after meeting up with our friends who were joining us for our adventure today.

And may I say; God bless Super Bowl Sunday! There was NO ONE on the freeway (a superb piece of idea validation from my sister). Regardless the lot at the top was still full (it only has ten spots anyway). The website http://hollywoodsigntrip.com has the best directions and tips for the trail. Check it out and take some notes, trust me you won’t be let down. It’s practically step by step and made my planning incredibly easy.
The hike was only about 5 miles total and honestly the most difficult part was walking up from the car to the trail head.
Irony.
Side note: the houses up there are fantastic. Unpretentious but still striking. The kids and I remarked several times that if all of LA looked like that we’d actually be tempted to move.

From there we went to Muse on 8th http://museon8th.com. We had been here before and I’ll admit we had a far better experience the first time. The cashier was incredibly nice but flustered from being busy so half of our order was wrong. And our friend got her meal 20 minutes after everyone else did and it was the wrong item.

I didn’t correct him out of pity.

They have a fairly decent vegan and vegetarian selection as well as several gluten free options. I really like the place as a whole. If they could get their act together they’d be pretty unstoppable.

It’s only a half mile from Muse to Whimsic Alley http://www.whimsicalley.com so we walked over, enjoying the surprisingly brisk and cloudy day. Whimsic Alley is a favorite of ours (even though some HP guilds in the area have warned us against the owner, please know it’s in the back of my head every time we go). They have a great selection of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who and steam punk merchandise. The little mice love stopping in and have never once not asked for something while we’re there.

Next was the California Science Center http://www.californiasciencecenter.org. I love this place. I love that it’s free, making it accessible to everyone. Parking is $10, cash only but admission is absolutely free. The only downside is that some of the people that go are a bit unmindful of their children. Seriously. I almost got outspokenly catty but refrained *deep breath*.

Now. A few words from the little mice themselves about their favorite moments at the Science Center.

Brayden said his favorite part of the science center was the Kelp forest that’s found on the lower level.

Kap said her favorite part was looking at all of the space models and the interactive exhibits.

Cohans favorite part was touching the star fish.

My favorite part was just enjoying the people (the people that weren’t annoying, and actually watching their children. I’m sorry but I feel I should stress this.) the people that were truly there to experience what the world has to offer, what we’ve discovered as a whole and those sharing it with their children. That was awesome to be a part of.

Notes for next time: get to the Hollywood hike earlier, skip Muse and just spend the extra $10 to eat at Doomies http://m.yelp.com/biz/doomies-home-cookin-hollywood and maybe enjoy the Science Center on a weekday.

All in all an exhausting but incredible day.

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Bouncing, hiking, bowling and cooking (a quiet life adventureday post)

So this post will be short and sweet. Our quiet life adventuredays are always a challenge for me to write about. While I find beauty, frivolity and joyful chaos in our everyday life it’s hard to tell others “no really, you can do the same! You don’t even have to go far!” we didn’t even venture outside of our county this last weekend.
It started at Sky High . Co had requested we go to “an indoor trampoline park” because he got an award at school. Truth be told. It’s pricey. Sky high is not where I wanted to go bbbuuutttt they had a groupon.

So.

Win.

The manager on duty was awesome though and very helpful (cute younger guy with tattoos in his twenties, I provide the description because I didn’t catch his name). Some of our party had arrived late and he was more than accommodating.

The kids had a blast and when the lights went off for the cosmic bounce they were in heaven. There was only one injury and it was one of the adults in our group so (no offense) it was fine. We stayed for about two and a half hours, jumped on the massive trampolines, tried our luck at dunking basketballs and swung into the foam pit. I loved the foam pit. I felt gritty and disgusting after climbing out but I was laughing too hard to care much.
Note for you germaphobes: the requirement is that you have to jump without shoes or socks….I’m super earthy and I had a hard time with that. They do sell socks with grips though. I forked over the $10 for all of us to have some.
Also a note for you fitness buffs. I wore my HRM out of curiosity and I burned 930 calories in 140 minutes. Just keep up with the kids and you’ll get your butt whooped.

 

 

 

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20140123-213307.jpg20140123-213332.jpg20140123-213349.jpg20140123-213341.jpg20140123-213320.jpgNext morning we went hiking at our favorite spot. Santiago Oaks Regional Park. Our friend Eboni met up with us and we went with my mom and dad and got about 4 miles in before the sun started killing us (“it was so chilly when we left the house!”). We come to this park often and the many different trails will offer you different views, sights and challenges. Expect to see horses, snakes, mountain bikers and fellow hikers. It’s not always busy but I recommend getting there early. More and more people have discovered my “fossil hunting” location from my grade school years but I try to forgive them.
You do have to pay for parking but it’s only a few dollars and it goes right back to the park. In other words a good cause.

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Later that night. Bowling.
We go to Linbrook Bowling in Anaheim. My friend Melinda is in town from Maryland, my friend Misty came by and we discovered that Cohan is much better than any of us at bowling. We played three games and had an amazing time 🙂

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The rest of the weekend we spent meal prepping. In other words pre making side dishes for our dinner meal times so I don’t spend a million years cooking after work during the week. On the menu was heirloom roasted tomatoes, asparagus, cauliflower rice, agave roasted Brussels sprouts and Italian kale. Kap helped me get everything chopped, prepped and into Tupperware while we watched the Rifftrax of wizard of oz.

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It was such an amazing, simple, fun and memorable weekend.

                                                                                                           I adore the quiet life.