Sunday, January 26, 2014

Harmony and Cambria

We wanted to go on one final outing for their last day of Christmas break, so Spencer looked up some geocaches by the coast. First we went to the dinky town of Harmony. I've been wanting to take the kids there for awhile. There was one geocache, and Spencer found it right away. Then we walked around the shops.

Obviously, there's not a lot there. But what they have is fun. I told the kids I'd take them to the pottery store if they promised not to touch anything. 

I LOVE this store. I've been going there ever since my parents moved back to California and I visited them every year. The pottery is so fun and unique, and the store is just rustic and cool.

Of course I knew my boys would love this stuff, and they did! The lady working there was super nice and relaxed, which helped us enjoy it even more.

I wanted to show them the tiny church there, but it was locked. However there was a really fun, super tall swing on a nearby tree, and we all took turns swinging on it. I wish I had a tree that tall. I would swing on it all the time.

I love these pictures! They have such great backgrounds, and everyone looks so happy. I was impressed they weren't blurry, since they were all swinging pretty fast.

There were several fun places for pictures around the chapel - probably for wedding photos. They really got into it.

I thought this was a cute picture, except for the binky. So I took it out and tried to get a picture. Ha! That didn't go over well.

Everyone did so well at the pottery shop that we decided we could handle the glass store too. No one was blowing glass at the time - there was a sign that the equipment was being repaired.  But we saw some beautiful art.

We were all getting hungry by this point, so we headed up to Cambria and ate a picnic lunch at the park right next to the beach. Then we drove over to a hike that had 4 geocaches.

We did this hike years ago, but none of the kids remembered it. It's all wooden planks, overlooking the ocean. We walked a couple of miles round trip and found 2 of the 4 geocaches. 

See all those black rocks sticking out of the water? Those are tide pools, and we climbed down to explore them.

There were a bunch of harbor seals around.

Chloe just played with sand in a little puddle the whole time.

I was so proud of Levi! He's been really scared of the ocean recently, but he did totally fine. 

I loved all the herons.

And of course we all love sea anemone. It was hard to leave, but we still had one more geocache to find and a long hike back. It was a great end to our break.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


We currently have cable - it came free for the first month when we signed up for Charter internet. We have managed to find a few shows we like, and one of them is Chopped. It's a cooking competition, and the boys love it. There are 3 rounds (appetizer, main entree and dessert), and they have mystery "basket ingredients" they have to incorporate into each meal. 

Spencer had the idea of having our own Chopped competition, so we did that over Christmas break. The three oldest boys participated, and Dave and I were the judges. We just had 2 rounds: lunch and dessert. The basket ingredients we gave them for lunch were: bacon, sugar snap peas and rice noodles. Plus they could use anything we had in the kitchen. This was Dallin's creation: bacon-wrapped rice noodles, spiced snap peas and a noodle salad. The snap peas were delicious, but I didn't like the bacon bits in the salad - real bacon would have been better.

Tyler made bacon and eggs with fried noodles. The bacon and eggs were cooked and seasoned perfectly, but the noodles were too crunchy. I think we gave them 40 minutes on this round.

Spencer made fried potatoes, onions and bacon over noodles with citrus snap peas. The potatoes were very good, and he had a beautiful presentation with fresh rosemary, but the snap peas were too sweet.

We didn't actually chop anyone, but we kept score for taste, presentation and creativity. We took a bunch of things out of the cupboard for each round. Obviously, this is for the dessert round. The basket ingredients were candy orange slices, pretzel rods and chocolate-filled wafer cookies. They had 30 minutes for the dessert round.

Dallin's dessert: brownie-topped wafer cookies with pretzel crumbs and brownie fudge with orange slices. That one would have worked better if he had longer to bake it. He wanted to cook it in the microwave, but I didn't let him after he severely burned some orange slices and stank up the kitchen. We tried to monitor them without interfering. They made everything completely by themselves.

Tyler went the extra mile and actually made chocolate chip cookies from scratch! He also melted chocolate and dipped the pretzel rods. He planned on making a sauce from the orange slices, but he ran out of time.

Spencer's dessert was delicious! He made a pretzel crust with brownie and chocolate mousse topped with berries, almond slices and softened orange candy pieces. He had a major advantage, though, because he makes dessert every week when we're on our date. Seriously, I didn't want it to be gone - it was that good. He was our Chopped champion! This was such a fun family activity, and the kids keep asking when we can do it again. It was helpful to see which cooking skills we still need to work on, but overall I was very impressed with their creations. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bringing in the New Year

My brother Josh and his family came from Arizona to visit for a few days before New Years. Elizabeth had so much fun playing with Chloe while all the boys ran around wild. On Monday we went to Morro Bay with them. First stop: The Shell Shop

Levi, listening to the ocean. I usually spend the whole time reminding everyone not to touch anything, but I made an exception for this. Plus it made a cute picture.

Kristen and her boys came too. 

I love having them live a little closer so we can see them more often. They're still 10 hours away, but that's better than the other side of the country. 

Then we drove over to the The Elfin Forest to hike and look for geocaches. We love this little grove of trees, but a cranky old lady came and chastised us for climbing such old trees. What better way is there to enjoy trees than to climb them? It's not like we were carving our initial in them. Oh well. 

What a group! 

We're so excited for my two pregnant sisters: Megan is having a boy in April, and Kristen is having a girl in May/June! Plus Dave's sister Christine is due in August. Yay babies!

The next day everyone came to our house for a New Year's Eve party. 

They played Minecraft.

Dave made yummy punch!

Pretty picture of Kristen!

Serving up Martinelli's to toast at midnight/9:00.

We counted down with the East Coast and watched the ball drop.

Happy New Year!

My nephew Jonathan and his girlfriend Alex stopped by. They hosted a party at her house that night too. By the way, he got his mission call to Argentina! He leaves in April.

Then Josh and Megan left to put their kids to bed. Everyone played games until the real midnight.

Some people didn't quite make it...

Then we counted down and watched the ball drop again. It was a fun night!