Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Camping

I know...it isn't even Halloween yet. But we've already celebrated! This is our 4th time going to this event and we're still loving it.
I will say that I think things have changed a bit over the years. I'm not sure if it was because it was all new to us then, but the decorations were the best the first year. I think people (us included) are realizing that it takes A LOT of effort to bring everything, set up and then of course take down. That's the worst part. Not to mention packing it all up, bringing it home and putting it all away again.
But we had a great time. Sometimes it seems like such an effort to get ready to go camping. Especially getting our 5th wheel off and then back onto the side of a hill that we happen to live on. I'm telling you, it's practically insanity. But once we're there....man it is just so nice to get away.

Pete enjoying the first morning sitting in the trailer. 

 Out of focus, but this is Mike, my mom, Megan and my mom's friend Saryia. Megan LOVED Saryia. They were the best of friends all day Friday!

Our campsite and trailer. The parents kept calling our trailer a "dinosaur" because they are all old and actually have money to spare, apparently ;-) and have nice brand new trailers with TV's and slide-outs and such. But we like our dinosaur! A lot! 

Excluding the couple hours we took to trick-or-treat, this kid stayed in front of the pond the entire weekend. He LOVES to fish. Like crazy love. He caught 17 fish total in 2 days! The kid is dedicated. You should have seen all the other little boys come over with their poles and then walk away after 5 minutes when they hadn't caught anything.

Finally time to trick-or-treat Saturday afternoon.  We changed up the costumes almost completely from what they each originally wanted to be. Megan wanted to be a bunny....however, I was starting to be afraid of her looking too much like a certain male magazine bunny.... you know? I just didn't want to go there. So I convinced her to go with this modest mermaid instead. :) Jake ended up being a hunter instead of the green army man. That was easy, we already had everything. He also carried a fake rifle and had a hat and vest on too.

LOL. Oh gosh, his ears.

I took this pic and said, "are you an evil mermaid??" 
"NO!," she said...and then gave me this face: 

Durring trick-or-treating...one set up was making and serving up FREE cotton candy. It was so sweet, we just couldn't eat it. But the few bites were fun on the tongue. 

Every year there's usually a few groups that do a 'group costume'. This year a group did the US Olympic team. Oh my gosh it was funny! As you can see, some guys dressed up as girls etc. They all went as a group with flags and everything through the campground shouting "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!" It was hysterical!

Here are a few collages of some of the campsites. I could have posted WAY more, but ugh....it's just too time consuming! So here's a sample...

Already made reservations for next year!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Things

1. Last Thursday the boys left for a weekend of hunting in Wyoming. Pete was supposed to go with another friend but that guy backed out at the last minute. I HATE the thought of him driving all that way alone, so he decided to take Jake along with him. I kind of hated that too, because I'm a control freak but I'm so glad they went. They had the best time and came back with an antelope. Not sure what we're supposed to do with it, but....
2. Jake was SO excited to go. Pete said he was the best kid. It's a long drive....about 12 hours if you don't stop and Jake did not complain one time. Never asked "are we there yet". He soaked in every bit of his 36 hour trip and loved every minute of it. 
3. Megan and I had a pretty fantastic weekend of our own. I had a photo shoot to do with my cousin and his fiance on Saturday in San Francisco. I'd never been to this location before and really, really needed to get over there before hand. I think that's part of my job as a photographer if someone is hiring me. Right? To be familiar with the location and lighting etc?? So we got up Friday morning and headed over. We spent all day looking at the location my cousin had chosen and then looking for a few other spots as well. Megan didn't complain or whine one bit. Never said she was tired or wanted to go home or that she was bored.  She wasn't the best model for me that day, but that's ok ;-) 

4. Saturday was the photo shoot. We met Jeremy and Marissa at 10 am. I wasn't planning on bringing Meg with me, but with Pete out of town, and I didn't know exactly how long I was going to be gone, I didn't feel right leaving her with a friend/sitter. So off we went again for another full day. And again she couldn't have been a better partner. She was helpful and entertaining and silly and never complained. Although, I think she was a little bored this time since we'd been to all these places the day before. But I couldn't have asked for a better kid.
5. The weather has been crazy around here. I kind of like it though. It went from super hot (90*) a week ago, to Friday I was wearing a sweater, scarf and Uggs, to Saturday....which was some of the best weather I've ever seen in SF....Seriously gorgeous sunny, warm day.  Sunday was cold again and now we're expecting highs in the 80's the rest of the week. October, you kill me!
6. Poor Pete has been working a TON of overtime lately. With the exception of last weekend, he's worked every Saturday for nearly a month. Plus OT during the week too. This week he won't be home till after 9 every night. The extra cash on the paycheck is nice, but I'm not sure it's worth all this time away.
7. Has anyone noticed that Target's Halloween section this year really sucks?  Well at least it does at my Target. I feel like they don't have nearly as much "stuff" as they used to. Like for decorating. They have a bunch of purple and orange lights and a few party things, but no fake tombstones or caskets or mummies....you know stuff like that. I don't really want any of that stuff, but I'm just surprised they don't have it. 
8. Also, I really hate those stupid costumes they sell. The ones they want you to spend $30 bucks on and don't come with any accessories, look really, really cheap and.....well they just look cheap! Especially the ones for boys. Like Star Wars and super heroes... I just can't stand to spend money on them. However, I'm rapidly running out of time. My plan for Green Army Man is dwindling as the days pass quicker and quicker. We leave next Thursday for Halloween camping.
9. I find girl costumes, however, to be really easy every year. There are a multitude of cute and or  ghastly girl costumes. And for some reason they don't look quite as cheap as the boys' do. {although so many of them are so trampy and that scares the crap out of me!} I got Megan bunny ears, a nose and a tail for $5. She already has a cute pink leotard and all I need to do now is find a little tutu or make one myself. EASY!
10. Ten...ten...ten....Why do I alway stumble on ten?? I always think I have SO much I can put into one of these posts and then I get stuck on 10 every time! oh well. Working on editing pics from Saturday and will probably post them here soon. :)

The end.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Go-to Recipies

Oh yes, I'm blogging again! I will admit, having a computer that actually works, makes this task much, much more desirable. So hopefully I can keep this up.
Not too long ago Chrissy posted a few of her family's go-to recipes and I thought about it and figured I should do the same. Especially because there's been a few new things come up lately that are pretty surprising. At least to me, anyway.
Like Chrissy, Pinterest has been very helpful in changing how I cook and what we eat. It seems like there is an endless supply of yummy looking recipes to find there. I really like cooking most of the time and I especially like trying out new things.
Anyway the first recipe is super surprising to me. Because my family LOVES IT. Especially Pete. And if you know him.....it's just weird. The man does not like soups. Or anything soup like. He doesn't like to wait for something to cool down. He doesn't like to have to blow on something. He never finds soup or stew to be satisfying. He says it's like eating a bowl of cereal. So basically, he has no appreciation for comfort food ;-) So When I made this and he said, "This is soooo good." I knew I had a winner. I added sausage and tortellini to a Minestrone recipe to sort of bulk it up a bit, thinking that he might like it better that way. I guess I was right.

Minestrone Soup/Stew--but not really. I don't know what to call it.
Adapted from Minestrone Soup from SkinnyTaste.

1lb Italian sausage
1 small onion diced
2 or 3 carrots diced
2 or 3 stalks of celery diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock (I use the 'intense flavor' organic from Safeway or Trader Joes)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 can cantenelli beans (white beans)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried (or fresh) basil
cheese tortellini or any other kind of pasta you desire
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the sausage in a stock pot and then add in the onion, carrots and celery and cook till veggies are soft. Add in the garlic and cook for just a minute. Then add in the tomatoes, chicken stock, parmesan and spices. Simmer on the stove about 20 minutes.  Add in the beans and pasta and cook until pasta is done and beans are soft but not mushy. (you can also add some zucchini and spinach in at the end as well...it is more traditional in Minestrone)
Serve up warm with crusty bread and extra parm on top.

The next one surprised me as well. I made it one day because I happened to have all the ingredients and I thought....what the heck. Turns out this is seriously one of the most asked for things in my house. Who would have thought Sloppy Joe's would be anyone's favorite meal?? Jake ate four FOUR sandwiches one night. o_O I first posted about Pioneer Woman's Sloppy Joe's here a while back and have since made them many times over.

If you make the sloppy joe's, I recommend making your own buns for them. Seriously. They are SO easy and delicious! You will never buy buns for burgers again! They are the perfect taste and texture and I promise they are easy. And they take hardly any time at all. (they also freeze well)
Perfect  Burger Buns from Annie's Eats

The next thing is again--delicious. Like seriously addicting. The recipe calls for fresh corn off the cob, but I've made it with frozen sweet white corn many times and it works just fine. Also, the recipe calls for Mexican Cojita cheese (i think that's how you spell it) but I use Feta. Don't fear the jalepeno or chili powder in the recipe, it's really not that hot at all. My kids eat it up.
Mexican Corn Salad from Closet Cooking

And one more because we should end in something sweet....
Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake from Two Peas in their Pod
This isn't a go-to yet, but I think it will become one. I just made it last night and it is DE-licious!

The end.
Tell me if you try any of these :)

Monday, October 08, 2012

River Adventures

As I mentioned before, Pete bought a boat. It's not a ski boat or a pontoon or a fishing boat. Well, maybe it is a fishing boat. I don't know. It's a hunting boat. It's a boat made for going in shallow water and mud. It's a boat that when you look at it, just looks like a simple little green boat that still shocks me when I think of the price tag. RIDICULOUS. 
But anyway, regardless of my loathing of the price, we have had a lot of fun on it. The last three weekends in a row, in fact. 
I was paranoid to bring my big camera out on it at first.  But Pete begged me. I think he's beginning to appreciate my photo taking after all ;-) .  I told him that I was really afraid of my camera getting wet. But of course, since he has everything (and I do mean everything) he produced a padded, waterproof (it even floats!) shoulder bag big enough for my camera and lenses. If you ever need anything, just ask Pete. Cuz, he probably has it.
So anyway, here are some pics from our adventures the last two weeks.  I'm not much of a landscape photographer, and I hadn't had my big camera out in a while, so these aren't the best. But memories documented!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Test photo

Just testing to see how this image looks online. Most of you who read here know I just got a new computer.
I know.....after I just whined about it over and over. I was super surprised to be able to get it this early. Turns out Pete had a secret stash and just said "Go get it. Today. Now." So, I did. Before either of us could talk our way out of it or change our minds!  Anyway, I totally love it. No buyers remorse what-so-ever. Still getting used to a few things. This tiny keyboard is weird. And I miss my 10-key on the side. Oh well, it's fine.  Also, I'm having a little trouble getting used to the filing system and iPhoto. It's just way different than how I organized my photo's before.
I also purchased the newest version of Photoshop Elements. (that's version 11) It's pretty much the same as any other version I've used, but I've got to learn the Mac shortcuts now. I'm also using the Organizer that comes with PSE, which I've never used before. I'm kind of wondering if it's redundant to use the PSE organizer AND iPhoto?? I don't know.....I'm sure I'll figure everything out in time.
Anyway, I wanted to post a pic.....if your reading this can you tell me how it looks? White balance ok? It's not overly green or red? Sharpness? Too much? Feel free to be honest, please. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Holy cow it's October. How did that happen?
Leave it to October to bring the highest temps of the year. Yep, the last 3 days have been well over 90* here in Oakland. While everyone else is enjoying pot pies, apple cider and pumpkin spiced lattes; we're just pulling out the shorts. HA! It's not unusual at all, but it's still funny to me. Instead of Fall, the bay area just gets Indian Summer. I'll take it.
The one thing that is slightly annoying about the heat is that this house has no A/C (which is totally fine...it's only hot 2 days a year!) but it also doesn't have good cross breeze...there's no ventilation. So when it heats up, it just stays in the house. No matter how many fans or windows or doors you open. So that isn't fun....but 2 out of 365? Totally do-able!
Since I haven't blogged in a while here's a little run-down of what's been going on:
*We're well into our 2nd month of homeschooling. The first couple weeks were rocky, as always, but we've seemed to have found our groove again and things are going along smoothly. Mostly. I can't believe we've been doing this 3 years already. And I have a 4th and 1st grader. whaaaa??
* We've gone a few field trips. One thing that is great about where we live....there is ALWAYS something going on. And the homeschooling community is pretty big so many museums and parks and rec departments have programs, classes and activities specifically for homeschoolers. It is wonderful! Last week we partook in a homeschool day at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. This is a pretty cool museum and aquarium that would normally cost our family over 100$ to attend. But because we signed up for homeschool day it only cost us $20.00 + parking for me and the 2 kids. (Parking is a little ridiculous in SF, but it's worth it for the cheap ticket price). Yesterday we went to an old time farm in a neighboring city. The farm is run by the city's parks and rec department and set up a great all day event specifically for homeschoolers. We were there from 9-3 yesterday and it only cost $10 a kid! Totally worth it. They had so much fun and learned a lot.
I just saw in the paper today that this Saturday there is a FREE event at a park near by with kids science stuff. I like free. Don't know if we can make it to this one, but still...FREE. Learning opportunities are everywhere it seems.
*Speaking of more learning opportunities, we also recently joined 4H. I was a 4H kid growing up and I knew this was something I wanted my kids to get involved in. 4H is more than just animals and gardening. It's not the FFA. There are plenty of animal projects, but 4H is about developing good citizens, leadership and life skills. They learn public speaking and are required to keep records of all the projects they do each year. The clubs  are completely kid run. There are adult volunteers, but really the kids run the show. And they do an amazing job.You can start 4H when you're 5 now. When I was a kid you had to be 9. Jake has 3 projects this year. He chose: Poultry, Rocket building, and Outdoor Adventures. Since Megs is so young I thought 1 project would probably be good for her. She chose Rabbits. (other projects our club offers: cooking, gardening, photography, art, pigs, dairy goats, bee keeping.....)
We're only a few weeks in, and I can already see that yes, this is going to take up a fair amount of time. But honestly? It's seems better to me than sitting at soccer or baseball practices 5 nights a week and tournaments all weekend. AND the best thing ever....When we got home from our club meeting last night Jake said: "I am SO excited to start my projects! I CAN NOT WAIT to enter something in the fair! Thank you SO MUCH for signing us up, mommy!!" Sounds like a win to me!
*Pete bought a boat. I do not like the boat. (there is a back story to this,but that is for another time) I was not at all excited about the purchase of said boat. BUT I have had fun during my time spent on the boat. Even when Pete tried to trick me into thinking we'd run out of gas 5 miles from where we'd put in...without another boat in sight. So yeah, I don't like the boat. But I don't have to like it, to have fun on it, right?
*I recently retired my desktop computer. I have 3 internet browsers installed on the thing and not one of them works properly...or at all. It's not a virus or anything...it's just the thing is old. So before the blue screen of death appeared, I just copied all my important files and shut it down. I'm now exclusively working on my laptop...which is ok.  I'm currently waiting for the Mac fairy to show up with a dreamy new set up. I may be waiting for a while. :-/
* I have a photo shoot with my cousin next weekend. He recently got engaged and I offered to do engagement pics for them. I am not at all prepared though! It's on location in the city....where I've never been before. I'm hoping to get over there this week and get some test shots. I don't like going into things unprepared....especially photo shoots.
* Halloween camping is coming up! This will be our 4th annual trip! We are getting pretty excited about it already. Have your kids picked their costumes yet? Jake wants to be a green army man....like in Toy Story. And Megan wants to be a bunny.  Guess I better get to work....there's only 23 days left until we go to camp!

Alright, that's it for now. I'm hot and tired and I'm pretty sure there is a nap in my future.....