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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40 days of gratitude day 14

•14 I’m grateful for this.

My children look at him as their protector, confidant and friend.

I have never pressured anyone to take a certain role or to fulfill certain roles yet they way they are with one another (the boys included) is so natural and full of genuine respect and love that I’m often times left thinking:

“this is what true devotion is. It has nothing to do with blood, proximity or names but everything to do with putting someone’s needs above your own and wanting what’s best for someone else, loving them regardless of how difficult life gets.”
The way they look at him is like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Currently posting this while listening to George and Brayden play NHL on Xbox and laughing like imbeciles

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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The easiest DIY ornaments ever

So in my last blog post

I mention trimming our tree with a collection of ornaments we’ve made ourselves (half of them we made ourselves the other half I think I got in a “guaranteed not to shatter” lot on eBay 10 years ago, we tend to break stuff)

Last year I had the bright idea of making ornaments only to discover they don’t fully dry right away see below for those. For this years project skip the paragraph below.

Here are the directions for clay ornaments:
•get air drying modeling clay from Michaels or any craft store.
•cut it out in circles (I used the top of a jar, like making biscuits), use a straw to make a whole in the top and stamp with something Christmas-y
•add hooks (which is another thing I forgot last year)

So we got to add last years project to THIS years tree.

Anyway, our DIY ornament making this year is terrifyingly simple.

•go to your craft store, spend $10-$15 on clear ball ornaments (you can buy glass or plastic, I got plastic because *all together now* “we break stuff”.
•go into your garden, your attic, your junk drawer, your craft box and pull out items or glitter or pictures you would like to see in your ornaments. Take of the top and put above mentioned objects in.
You can even go the extra mile and get spray adhesive, add glitter and shake for sparkly Christmas madness.
•We went the garden way. Kap and I went and chopped some lavender and stuck a long sprig, a short and a medium inside and then popped the top back on.

Boom! Christmas-ed!

Afterword: We had a smidge of condensation on the inside of the ornament the next day but it was dissipated by this morning. I think keeping “living bits” inside it’s a good idea to maybe keep them small and airy.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s not a huge surprise that we love Christmas. Or maybe more accurately my family likes Christmas and I in turn eat, sleep, breathe, hear and feel nothing but the holiday from Thanksgiving night till New Year’s Day.

Background: in the past we have always had a gloriously fake tree. In fact for the last maybe 9 years I had a white tree, white lights, silver tone ornaments and white garland. I was the mom that rearranged the ornaments after the kids “helped” and went to bed.
I know, I know….

this year is different.

This year we decided to change it up and I’m positively smitten.

It started with my friends “nightmare tree” https://pollyannacomplex.wordpress.com/tag/nightmare-before-christmas/ and I have always wanted to go and walk through a forest of pine to choose a Christmas tree.
So this morning we piled into the car and with Christmas carols blaring we headed out to pick and “cut” our own Christmas tree. I say “cut” because actually chopping down your own tree is a liability at most places (which is fine with me. I’m one of those annoying people that think all of the trees have feelings and simultaneously want to take them all home and leave them all to grow 100 feet tall forever and ever). So someone else doing the dirty work while I get to tromp through acres of gorgeous smelling Monterey pine is fine with me.

I decided on Richfield Pines http://richfieldpines.com they seemed far less commercial than other “cut your own” locations (there’s only about three around here), were less expensive ($8 a foot if I recall) and family owned and operated.

Driving up we were immediately greeted with a big smile and given a run down of how everything works. At first glance I was a little disappointed because it didn’t look like the “get lost and find your tree experience”. Then the lovely gal that greeted us said “if you’re up for a little hike there are 6 acres to choose from as well”. Music to my ears! A small hike (it’s more of an uphill stroll for those concerned) and I get to experience that age old accomplishment of picking out my own tree!

Co was IMMEDIATELY enthralled. He must have said “it’s smells SO good!” at least 8 times. Kap kept getting wistfully teary and started picking the sour grass flowers and walking between the branches. Brayden was in charge of the measuring portion, a long pole with the feet marked clearly so you know what you’re getting into. For the hour it took to find our tree we were in heaven.

The trees vary in shape, size, fullness and greenery but they are all the same kind of tree, Monterey Pine. A fact I appreciated considering noble firs don’t exactly grow in California. If you buy a noble fir and it says “fresh cut” be aware it probably isn’t so fresh….

We ended up choosing a tree that we had seen in the VERY beginning but came back to. It has gorgeous shades of green with new and old growth, naturally misshapen and most importantly we all loved it.

Dustin cut it down for us, hauled it and tied it to our car and even helped us pick out some of the boughs they have available for free. He gave us pointers on ways to utilize them and was incredibly helpful and nice (a HUGE plus in my book).

We had the best time and left infinitely more in the holiday spirit and official converts to the cut Christmas tree as well as customers for life at Richfield.

We came home and decorated our tree enjoying the epic scents in our home and hung our DIY ornaments. Instructions for those will be in my next post.

Hope you all are enjoying your holidays as much as we are!

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Farm Sanctuary

Today’s adventure took us about an hour and a half away. Out of Orange County, through Los Angeles and into the hills off highway 14.

We had been wanting to go to the farm sanctuary since a friend of ours started volunteering there about a year ago. Farm Sanctuary’s three focus points are rescue, education and advocacy. http://www.farmsanctuary.org you can learn all about their locations, “meet” some of the animals before you go and see what they’re all about.

The cost is $5 for adults, including children over the age of twelve and $3 for children over the age of three.

Now.
Beware.

Soapbox moment:

I’m going to ask very nicely, if you take your children to a rescue, farm, a zoo, a petting zoo, a pond any place where animals live I ask you to please please please do not permit your little angels to shout the animal “sound” at them or to chase the animals. My children know better and Cohan STILL hollered “gobble gobble!!” At a turkey.
It sounds silly but I explained to him that’s like if someone came into our house, a complete stranger, uninvited and started screaming your name at you “COHAN! COHAN!” He got the idea and didn’t make the mistake again.
I only mention this because the animals at farm sanctuary HAVE been abused and they have been rescued. They already have reasons not to trust humans, don’t give them another reason.
There, my soapbox moment is done.

Moving on! So the tour ended up being an hour and a half to two hours long. You get to visit, touch and enjoy the chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats, sheep, pigs and cattle. The experience is incredible and the kids were thrilled to be so close to animals they only see at state fairs or from the other side of a fence.
On the tour you learn a lot about factory farming. This is hard for some people to hear (they do tone it down when kids are in the group so you’re never confronted with awful imagery or anything) there was a lot that I didn’t even know and even my oldest (a hard core carnivore) left rethinking where his food comes from.

That is one of the upsides (and downsides depending where you stand). If you go to farm sanctuary you will learn about factory farming and what the animals endure while there. Cohan, I think is too young to make the connection and while he sympathized he didn’t walk away rethinking food choices. Kaplan, has had an interest in vegetarianism for awhile now and she knows I support her decisions (but I also don’t force them, it is very much a personal preference) and Brayden, as I mentioned above was pondering where his burgers come from.
Now, I need to say that this was not the point of our excursion there. My reason was so the little mice could experience the farm animals up close and personal and to meet some beings that have overcome great odds and the people that help them.

We didn’t leave feeling bad or upset, quite the opposite. We left feeling happy, supportive and warm and fuzzy from our animal interactions.

I would love to go again and applaud these people and organizations like them that are such advocates for compassion.

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