I have stuff to post, but for now, here are some photos from my California trip. More to come!
Happy New Year, everybody!
Long time no see!
Sorry ‘bout that.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to post more often. So I have determined to post at least one post a week. Not too daunting, eh?
So to start: today in pictures. I (finally!) brought my camera to work, and took some shots while I was there. (And I had a little fun. So don’t mind the hair-product-pictures, o.k.?)
So these start in the morning, and go through the day.
P.S. What do you think of my silver and turquoise nails?
Our last stop was 10 or so days near Charlottesville, Virginia (we were in Nellysford, specifically). This is the city where I was born, and we were able to be there over my 18th birthday, which was quite fun.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
*Important urgent update* I can’t remember everything we did and in what order it was done. We spent some days just chilling, so I will recap the highlights in the order I remember.
The first day (Thursday) we drove by the hospital building where I was born (the hospital has now moved), Dad’s old work building, and Mom and Dad’s old home. We also stopped by the home of some of our previous neighbors, and my first baby sitter. 🙂 We also did the necessary grocery shopping.
Friday was my birthday. I chose to spend it quietly at the rental, and not go anywhere. Dad and the younger children went in to town to get the car looked at, because the brakes were squeaking. (We were staying up on a mountain, which was a *little* rough on the car.) I opted to stay home. I believe I updated my “About” page. I painted my toenails a cute red. And I made some AWESOME grain-free chocolate chip cookies, a recipe that I had gotten from a good friend. They were so good, the batter even was good (one of my tests to see if a recipe will turn out). We made pizza for dinner, and I made this delicious grain-free pizza crust. LOVE it!
It had been a rather warm day, and we had had the windows open most of the afternoon. We also had the front door open, as there was a storm door. When we were just about done with dessert, Mom looked up and said, “Noah, was that you?”
Noah was loading a dish in the kitchen.
“Did you make that noise?”
Noah was peeking around the corner toward the front door. “No, it came from over there.”
Mom sent Drake over to look. Drake took a quick look. “Dad? You need to come over here.”
Dad quickly marched over to the door and slammed it. As the front door was glass, we could still see outside. Dad flicked on the outside light, and it revealed…
A good-sized black bear had smelled the cooking and had come around to see what was going on. He had opened the storm door (yes, you read that right) and was standing on the threshold, ready to come inside, but he hesitated and had turned around, which gave Dad time to shut the door. He stood up on his hind legs and put his paws on the glass. And pushed.
I must confess. I was pretty scared. Yes, my knees were knocking. So before you peg me as being brave, imagine me standing around the corner, knees knocking, asking if *just maybe* we should call the police.
We did call the police, but by the time the police came (they came quite quickly), the bear had left. While we were waiting for them to arrive, Mom noticed that the lights in the van were on. After asking everyone, it was ascertained that no one had left the door open. When the police came, they told us that it was the bear. The bear had opened two doors on our van, and had rifled through the whole thing.
There was dirt and pollen all in the car. On. Every. Chair.
There hadn’t been any food in there, but the bear had helped himself to a few Kleenex boxes, a water bottle, a cup, and the wipe container. He had put a few rips in the back seat of the car.
Sadly, I GOT NO PICTURES of the bear. But I did get photos of some of his damage.
One of the Kleenex boxes
Apparently he liked wipes
He didn’t get the top off 🙂
The next day we went to Monticello, which was quite interesting. It has beautiful views. Given, there are beautiful views EVERYWHERE in Virginia. But Monticello had beautiful views.
Heading to Monticello – Blue Ridge Mountains
A hallway that goes underneath Monticello. Monticello is built on a mountain (Monticello means Little Mountain), and things are built on levels as you go down the mountain. The roof of part of this hallway is the terrace that comes out of Monticello. Off to the right are the old slaves’ quarters (not down the hallway, but off to the right in the picture). It’s a rather interesting set-up. Anyways, down this hall is the wine cellar.
LOVE the blue sky!
Some local grape juice that we purchased. It taste like raisins. Very…interesting. I’d get the purple kind next time. 🙂
The next week Mom took us to Montpelier (Dad was working). Montpelier was my favorite of the three president’s homes that we visited. It was the least recreated, but it is just gorgeous. And the view. Oh the view. (You’ll see it below).
We stopped at a scenic overlook on the way to Montpelier. I believe this is looking toward Charlottesville.
Pansies at the Montpelier Welcome Center
The view from Montpelier’s front porch
If you look very carefully at the horizon, you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains. They are 20 miles away. B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.
Madison’s front door
In the gardens
Drake’s legs were sore, so he went to chill in the shade. Meiling joined him.
On the way home
Mom took Noah, Meiling, and I to Market Street in Charlottesville to walk around. It is blocked off so no cars are there. It is chock full of cute little shops.
Market Street – The Mole Hole was a neat little shop
Mom loves giraffes. 🙂
When my parents lived in Charlottesville, they visited this restaurant often. It was Sylvia’s Pizza then. Now it’s Vita Nova.
We stopped at this little gelato shop. It. Was. AWESOME!!!!
My ice cream. I had a chocolate sorbet and a dulce de leche ice cream. Oh my. The dulce de leche ice cream was SO VERY VERY good. I got one ice cream and one sorbet, so at least I was HALF good. 🙂
On the way home we stopped at a creek that ran along the side of the road, and I played with shutter speed.
On a walk with everyone
You’ve got to LOVE the view
King of the hill 🙂
This *officially* concludes all the posts about our trip. I’m really glad that it’s done now, as I have some exciting things to post! Well, I hope you enjoyed!
Sorry for the long time (for me) without a post. We attended the Family Economics last week, and this week we’ve had a cold going around our home, which I now have.
So, yes, I am sick *again.* (I am starting to think that I just might have a sluggish immune system – I get sick with every cold that goes around, or at least I FEEL like I do!)
Anyways. Back to the subject at hand.
On our trip East, our first stop was Plymouth, MA. We rented a house right on the Cape, which was lovely. The view out of my window was the ocean. I could hear it when I was lying in bed at night. It was lovely.
We arrived there late Sunday evening, unloaded the trailer, and headed to bed. The next day was spent unpacking, grocery shopping, and settling.
The view from my window. Lovely, eh?
Random shot from the car window
Everyone else was having fried chicken for lunch, and I had this – smoked salmon, cultured butter, and rosemary-olive oil cheese (I can’t remember exactly what type of cheese it was). The grocery store we went to had all this awesome food – cultured butter, cheese, and fun meats. You see what floats my boat!
Dad took me down to the beach, which was a 3/10th of a mile down the road. We spent some time walking around, chatting, and I took plenty of photos! Even though it was rather chilly, it was fun. And you can’t get a landlocked Midwesterner that close to the ocean without her getting to the beach!
There was lots of water running and making pretty patterns in the sand
Ocean! Please come home with me!
This one’s from the next day, when we all went down to the beach together
I decided to get up at 5 one morning to take a picture of the sunrise. Meiling insisted that she get up with me. We went downstairs, and sat on the couch to wait. Meiling immediately launched into this whole story about how Noah took this picture of himself blah blah blah blah. I just sat back and told her she had WAY to much energy for 5 o’clock in the morning. In the end, we didn’t get that amazing of a sunrise – it just got gradually lighter.
The next three days we spent with the Heroes, History, and Hope tour. It was wonderful to hear the pilgrim stories and to stand where they had stood. The first day we visited many monuments and sites in Plymouth. Thursday was spent visiting the dock where the Mayflower II would have been (it was undergoing repairs, so we didn’t get to see it) and Plimoth Plantation. Friday we went to the Forefather’s Monument and the pilgrim museum – I can’t remember the exact name.
First Parish Church in Plymouth – this was the original church started by the pilgrims when they arrived in Plymouth. In the 1800s, I believe, this church adopted Unitarianism…
…and then some people separated and started the Church of the Pilgrimage, which is right next door. The Church of the Pilgrimage – this photo and the next.
Pilgrim sarcophagus on Cole’s Hill
The Forefather’s Monument – it was really chilly when we were there, so we only stayed for 20 minutes instead of the two hours we had been hoping to.
We were most of the way through dinner when Drake gave me a sideways look.
“I wonder who could hold water in their mouth longer.”
I finished my last few bites quickly (or at least I tried to), then raised my glass to Drake an took a sip of water.
We both lifted our cups to our lips, and took mouthfuls of water.
And so it started.
I got up and started clearing the table. Since Dad was playing music, I started dancing around (kind of showing off :)). I pulled out a piece of masking tape and wrote on it, “I have a feeling that this is going to end in water coming out of someone’s nose.” I showed it to everyone, then wrapped it across my forehead.
Drake pointed at me, and then did thumbs down. “You’re going DOWN!” I shook my head, then signed the same thing back to him. “No, YOU’RE going down!”
And then Dad put on a song that was in three. I started waltzing around. Drake stared waltzing around on the other side of the room. We both stopped, and then Drake entered the kitchen. He was standing real close to me, and I jumped away from him. I didn’t know what he was doing! I thought he was trying to make me swallow/spit out my water.
Then he stared to waltzing around, and I could tell that he wanted me to waltz with him. So I did.
And that proved to be my downfall.
We had been waltzing for 3 counts when Mom said “Look!” or something like that.
And that’s when I lost it. I started laughing. Not just giggling, like I had been doing off and on the whole time, but really laughing.
I knew, at that moment, that I was done for.
I ran to the bathroom and spat out my water. After coughing, I burst out laughing.
Drake had followed me, and was silently celebrating. He waited a bit longer, then spat out his water.
After talking a bit, I told him, “We’ll have to do that again.” I still thought I could win.
“Don’t get your hopes up.” he replied.
Just another Friday night. 🙂
I have so much to be thankful for.
My life is so full. I sometimes don’t know how to say it, but I am so thankful for so many things.
I think I live the best life, for me.
I am astounded every time I think about all that God has given me, the wretched sinner that I am. Why do I have all these wonderful things, me who deserves them so little?
I am so thankful that I have been saved from my sins. I have been forgiven much. Very much. I am thankful for God’s hand in my life, guiding me and pointing me in the direction He wants me to go – in the way that most pleases Him.
I am so thankful for my family – 5 such awesome people. They make me laugh every day. We have so many great memories together already, and I look forward to many more.
My extended family is wonderful, too. I’m thankful for them in my life. Again, there are so many memories and happy times we’ve spent together. Love you all!
I can’t believe the great friends that God has given to me and my family – you are such a blessing to me! Sometimes I wonder how I got to have these lovely people as friends, and although I can’t figure it out, I am so thankful for all of you!
I am thankful for each day God gives to me. Each day is such a blessing, just to wake up and be. To enjoy so much. Just to live.
I am thankful for all the interests God has blessed me with. Cooking. Cheese making. Soap making. Nutrition. Herbal health care. Midwifery. There are so many, and they make me so excited. 🙂 I can’t help being thankful for them. Basically, I’m thankful that God make me, me.
I am so thankful for all the beautiful things around me. The trees in the pasture across the road. Sunrises. Sunsets. The rosebush outside my window. The creek. The woods. Our lovely property. I look out of our windows so many times and think, “I live on the most beautiful place on earth.” Because it is so special to me, and I know the places.
So this is what I have to say:
Thank you, God.
Thank you for these lovely people.
And thank you for this lovely life.
With so much to be grateful for,
Some loveliness that I spotted the other morning
This year we rented a motor home, and stayed in that. It was quite interesting. Definitely very squishy. It made for more comfortable traveling, I would have to say. We also brought Lucy with. Apparently she got out once while we were at the conference and ran around the church were it was held. Mom had to chase her around and catch her. I missed all this, and appeared right after she was caught. Lucy really liked the motor home. She was looking for it after we got home.
To give a brief synopsis:
Thursday Dad picked up the motor home and we packed it (this is also the day that I did these self portraits).
Friday we drove up to the Faire. On the way, Dad surprised us with a copy of “The Avengers.” I was so excited I started screaming. 😀 We watched that on the way up. We made it there on Friday in time to hear one speaker. The concert by the Wintons was that evening.
Saturday there were some talks in the morning, followed by the town square. The boffer war was at 4:30, and dinner was at 5:30. The dance was started at 7:30.
We stayed for church on Sunday morning, and left shortly after the fellowship meal.
And that’s that.
Here are some of the photos I took. I didn’t take all that many during the conference, but I did take a bunch on the way home. Why shooting through a dirty windshield while flying down a highway at 60 mph is fun I’m not quite sure, but it is. 🙂
Oh, and we also got to see the Wintons perform again! I have the photos to prove it. 😛 I think this makes a total of 4 concerts in 8 days – 1 two Fridays ago, another the following Saturday, and then one this past Friday, and another this past Saturday. I think we can definitely be called groupies. 🙂
Getting packed on Thursday evening – Meiling being funny
Friday – Lucy being her normal absolutely adorable self!
My silly brother. Just got to love him.
Relaxin’, and my view, in a way
I worked on this post on the way up
[Does this need a caption?]
Meiling playing and looking out the window
Hey, look! It’s the Wintons!
Meiling enjoying the concert
Saturday – walking to the park
An impromptu portrait session with two friends, Lily (pictured) and Josh (a fellow photographer) – see my Josh’s much better photographs here (and check out some of his other photos – he has some absolutely amazing ones of the Faire!).
My friend Bethany 😀
Sunday – on the way home, taking only too many pictures. 🙂
Lu, sitting on my lap
Self-portrait – these were so fun!
Now doesn’t this look like I was standing all calm and serene on the edge of this pasture, instead of flying down the highway?
“So away we go, down that forever road.”
The cards I was using to play Solitaire before I hopped up front with Dad
“Life is a highway…
…I want to drive it all night long.”
Crossing the river
“…makes me want to take a back road.”
I love roads. Oh, you could tell? I wonder how you figured that out!
I love the greens in this one
This little blue car was so cute!
I couldn’t believe it, but at the gas station we stopped at, they actually had A DARK CHOCOLATE MOCHA!!!! I haven’t seen one of these since we went to Branson, and I have looked at several gas stations. I am so glad I finally found one. 😛
Meiling using her drink for a microphone
When I first tried water kefir at a friend’s home a few months ago, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I wanted to make it myself. I currently can’t have much dairy, which includes dairy kefir and yogurt. Water kefir would be a lacot-fermented drink that I could have! Although I have made and enjoyed a lacto-fermented berry drink (based on the Raspberry Drink in Nourishing Traditions), it is slightly time consuming, especially if you want to have some all the time. Now water kefir wouldn’t be quite as time consuming, and it doesn’t use nearly as many ingredients (it just has water, Sucanat, and the water kefir grains).
So when, this past Sunday, a friend of mine gave me some water kefir grains, I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to start some water kefir.
So on Monday I started a quart of water kefir. I sat it on the top of the fridge to ferment (this is a nice warm spot, great for such activities). After a day, I strained out the kefir grains and put some frozen mixed berries in the kefir for a second fermentation (this adds some more color and flavor). After another day (or was it 12 hours? I forget), it was ready. The next batch I made I let ferment for two days before doing a second fermentation with berries for 24 hours.
I am quite pleased with the kefir. I have only tried the first batch, but I like it. It actually doesn’t taste like a whole lot. It smells fairly strong, but the smell is (surprisingly) not an accurate representation of the taste. I have not tried the kefir that I fermented for two days (three, if you count the second fermentation), since I am still working on drinking my first batch. I will be trying it in a few days, though.
So I have done a total of two batches of kefir. I started with about a quarter cup of kefir grains (probably since they weren’t packed together, they filled a half-pint jar halfway). Now I have a pint jar more than halfway filled with kefir grains. I discovered this the other day when I was straining my second batch. It really looked like I had more grains than I started with, but when I poured them in the jar, you could really tell how much they had grown! I knew they would grow, but I was quite surprised with how fast they grew. I currently have my little grains resting in the fridge, since I have plenty of kefir right now. I will probably make some more tomorrow.
See the line about halfway up the jar? Everything below that is kefir grains.
Right now it is pouring rain outside. It has been raining off and on all day today. Currently, the sky has dropped 2 inches of rain on us. I am so happy. It’s been so dry this summer that we are glad for any rain that we get. Hang on a minute. We were just upgraded from a tornado watch to a tornado warning. I and my laptop are going to relocate downstairs.
Now we are downstairs. Everything looks pretty calm outside, but we’ll se how crazy things get.
So I have been enjoying the rain today.
In the past few weeks, I have been cooking all kinds of things: Chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, coconut milk ice cream, Arnold Palmer (half lemonade and half sweet tea, a drink that I was introduced to up at my aunt’s home), lots of dinners, and plenty of soups. Oh, and on Tuesday I made grain-free chocolate muffins with chocolate frosting. The cupcake part wasn’t all that good. But the frosting. Oh, the frosting. It was basically melted butter and melted chocolate chips. How much better does it get? Maybe if I made it mocha? 🙂
I know I haven’t posted about any of the food I have been making. Mostly because I have been busy. And because I haven’t taken pictures of any of it. But I will try to post more often now. I should have time and plenty of food! (Tomorrow Meiling and I may make some strawberry coconut milk ice cream, as strawberry is her favorite flavor. She has to continue feeling better, though. She’s getting over a bit of a stomach bug.)
Watching for tornadoes,
P.S. We are no longer under a tornado warning. Just thought you would like to know.
Last night was the Republican Senatorial debate, and we were able to attend! We didn’t know until shortly before hand, but the event was videoed and broadcasted on TV. Broadcasted LIVE! It looked just like the debates always do on TV, but we were in the audience instead of staring at a screen. I was glad that we got to be there. It was interesting to hear the debate in person, especially when things started getting a bit heated. I would have to say that my current favorite is Akin. You can go here to read more about the debate.
After the debate was over, Dad took us to the Fitz’s restaurant for soda and snacks. All my siblings and I chose to get bottomless mugs. I ordered black cherry. It was gooood! Drake polished off his first pint of root beer in about 15 seconds after it arrived. Dad commented that he should have told our server that Drake was going to keep him busy. When we were finished, I had 3 pints, but Drake had finished four.
While Drake was downing root beer (either number 2 or 3), Dad said, “Maybe we should ask what the record is.”
“I could probably beat it,” Drake replied, “Unless it’s some crazy number. But I could still probably beat it.”
We didn’t ask about the record, so he didn’t have to try.
This morning Mom and I went to a Farmers’ and Artists’ Market about a half hour from our home. It was much better than the market we went to last Saturday that didn’t have any fresh produce. This market had about 25-30 stalls, and at least half of them had fresh produce. We purchased some tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and beans. I ate one of the tomatoes for lunch, and it was just perfect. I sliced it up, drizzled it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, sprinkled it with salt (and I put a little cheese on one slice), and gobbled it up. It was sooo dee-lish-us. Mmmm… Don’t you just love summer’s bounty? What is your favorite summer vegetable/fruit? I love tomatoes, and fruit would have to be the amazing peaches we get. We’ll be getting them in a week or so!
At the debate
Meiling with a straw behind her ear (not quite sure where she got the straw, since she had it before our drinks came)
Waiting for soda
My black cherry soda
Our empties (it’s a bit blurry)
On Monday we rented a boat and went on the lake. We mostly did tubing and swimming off the boat, but we also did some driving around.
It was fun. All three of us older children got sunburned. My burns are feeling better, for the most part. As soon as we arrived home on Tuesday, I grabbed the jug of white vinegar and commenced splashing my various burned limbs (actually all of them) with it (excluding my head). I did this outside, so I wouldn’t have a mess to clean up. I then went back inside, saw my dad, and threw my arms apart.
“Want a vinegar hug?” I asked.
It turned out he didn’t. I’m not all that surprised. 🙂
So back to Monday and boating. Drake and I were the first two to go tubing. As we were out there waiting for the boat to get going, I was imploring my brother not to flip the tube (I was getting my usual jitters).
“Don’t flip this thing or I will disown you and never speak to you again!” I informed him in a panicked voice.
He responded, “How do you disown somebody?”
He’s probably pretty used to this.
And he didn’t flip the tube. In fact, he did all he could not to flip the thing, even when I was unknowingly working against him. And here I was next to him, screaming so loud that when we were done, he said he couldn’t hear out of his right ear (the one I was closest to). What a great brother.
(By the way, I like screaming while riding on various things. It’s rather fun. I’m not sure why.)
I enjoyed the boating.
When we got back to the condo we had dinner, and several of us still felt the rocking motion during dinner.
The next day we headed home. On the way home we stopped at a gas station, and that’s when I spotted and purchased the dark chocolate mocha. It was gooooood. 🙂
So that was our vacation, in a nutshell. It was wonderful!
Sunday evening – playing “Dicecapades”
Daddy and Meiling drawing
Some of the dice
Monday – on the boat
Noah and Meiling
Meiling and Daddy driving the boat – Meiling loves to do this
Dad hot doggin’
Meiling relaxing (she wanted to take a nap and told me that she should have brought her blankie)
My lens cap
Dad and Drake jumping together
The view I had of Drake for quite a bit of the day
Drake doing the pencil
Mom found this soda at Kroger not too long ago and was saving it for some special time. It was good!
Tuesday, on the way home – my amazing dark chocolate mocha!