Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Southern California Desert Weekend

Cholla cacti

Hi. So much has happened as of late that it has been a challenge to gather my thoughts and write, yet here I am.

James and I were able to squeeze a childless moment away this past weekend. It has been two years since we have been able to do this and we needed it. Thanks to my parents and sisters for volunteering their time and patience to care for my little angels so we could have some essential time away.

The desert was calling our name so we headed out to Palm Desert for the weekend. We lucked out. Rain was pounding the south land, but skipped the desert area all day Saturday.

First stop, Joshua Tree National Park. We entered from the south off Interstate 10, stopped at the visitor center in Cottonwood Springs, then did a looped hike to Mastodon Peak and the Mastodon Gold Mine.

James goofing around.

Mastodon Gold Mine

We then headed northwest towards Twenty-nine Palms and viewed the Cholla Cactus Garden. The garden is amazing and the cactus looked as if they glowed. Very alien like.

We drove a full loop back to Palm Desert, but before we headed back we veered off to Pioneer Town in Yucca Valley and ate at Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace.

James goofing off again.

Out last stop on Sunday was Hadley's. I have stopped here my entire life and usually it is to get a date shake (Karen, since you asked. :) Not this time. It was freezing out so we bought other goodies for the kids and my sisters.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Shutterfly Holiday Cards

Hello again. Life has been a whirlwind lately so blogging has taken a backseat to life. As you may or may not know I am walking this weekend in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure 3-day and will do my best to walk 60 miles. I cannot wait for the adventure. Until then, I will tell you something about Shutterfly and a little promotion they are doing which is wonderful by the way.

Normally, I have my Christmas cards filled out and mailed at the beginning of December. I cannot guarantee I will make that date this year and too be honest I have only put in a tiny amount of thought to the design. Well, guess what, Shutterfly has sped up the process for me. Currently, they have a promotion for any and all bloggers to write up about their holiday cards and in return I get 50 cards for free!!! This is a deal I cannot pass up and it is perfect since I love sending cards, especially photo cards.

Shutterfly has the best card designs (and many) which are so good that I will have a hard time deciding which ones I like the very best. Let me give you some examples of my favorite Christmas cards.

I like cards with simple designs if my picture tends to be wild or I do not want much distraction from the picture itself. Like this one.

Every year I change my style. One year I go for a look with traditional colors and other years I opt for non-traditional. Here is a very cute retro style card. I also like that this card is a 5.25 x 5.25 flat stationary card.

Look at this cool option. The scrapbooker in me likes this one.

or this one. Sometimes it is hard to pick just one picture.

It is impossible for me to review all the cards available so here are some links to check them out for yourself:

Christmas Cards
holiday cards to
calendars to

Want 50 free cards to send out this season? Go to this link to participate.

'tis the Season!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

so I have been walking alot lately

And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. Last week I walked over 20 miles and this week I am on track to have walked even more. We will know at the end of today. So far, I have walked 4 days and 18.842 miles. I would love to walk at least 8 today. We shall see as it is very hot in these parts.

I walk many miles around my town. We have so many great walking trails and the city really has put a ton of time into creating and maintaining them. In fact, I just noticed the other day brand new signs at all the trail heads. These signs include a map, trail mileage, elevation, GPS coordinates, trail connections, and so much more.

new signs

I am a huge fan of my town. I just love it. Small town feel, best climate, national forest nearby, and beach 2 miles away.

Here are some recent pics from my daily walks.

Blenheim Farms

horses on a trail in the hills


Monday, September 13, 2010

school days, soccer, and sleep

School has started and Julia could not be more thrilled as she has the same teacher she had for kindergarten. We just love her. On her first day of first grade I brought my camera, of course, and had her stand in front of the school sign so I could take pictures. She was acting embarrassed. It has begun. She got over it as soon as she saw many more moms making their kids do the same thing.

this is her embarrassed-her-mom-is-taking-her-picture-look (is that kid laughing or sneezing behind her?)

J and her teacher (second year in a row)

Serena began preschool yesterday. This is her second year and her teacher is one Julia had three years ago and which we truly adore. Serena will have a fun year.

James took these pictures. He really has no idea how to work my camera other than pushing one button and taking the picture. :) Serena has some great poses, though.

The past week and a half has been crazy. The kids are adjusting to their "school" bedtimes. Ever since our road trip we have had the darnedest time trying to get them back on an early to sleep, early to rise schedule and when school starts at 745am you have no choice, but to adapt.

Julia had her first soccer game this weekend. It was great to sit and cheer her on. I told her she has another game next Saturday and she said, "You mean I will have another real live game? And I get to wear my uniform?" I answered, "Yes." Julia, "AWESOME!"

it has become an annual event

My parents, sisters, me, our kids, and James spent three days up at Big Bear Lake in the same house as we have for the past three years. The house sits on the lake, in Grout Bay, near the Fawnskin Marina and "quiet" side of the lake.

One year we visited in October. Last year it was June. This year, Labor Day weekend.

The weather was splendid.

For the first time we had neighbors and luckily for Julia they were her age. She would have spent the entire weekend next door if we or they let her.

Here are some pics from the weekend.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

attacked by gnats

I am officially behind on posting to this blog, but will catch up eventually I am sure.

Several weekends ago Kristi and I went hiking out in the San Mateo Wilderness area of the Cleveland National Forest. Even though it is summer here and it routinely runs over 100 degrees out in the wilderness this day was cool and around 75-80 degrees. Perfect!

The plan was to hike the Bear Canyon Trail to the Morgan Trail and back. Round trip it is about 10 miles.

dead yucca

The hike was pleasant and quiet. We saw no other people on the trail. Most of the trail is a single-track and a steady climb from the side we started.

No snake sightings this time.

We did, however, spot some fresh mountain lion tracks and later when we heard a "large" animal near some oaks we definitely considered a lion (but, most likely a deer or other animal)

And no, we were not bothered by any large animals.

In fact, we were majorly annoyed by gnats.

The last 15 minutes of the first half of the hike, as we walked through a grassy, oak-lined area, the gnats began to harass and attack us in the most annoying way.

Honestly, we were swinging and flailing our arms like there was no tomorrow. This was the same time were heard the "large" animal in the bushes slightly uphill from us. We started to make lots of noise (just in case) and swing our arms like crazy people. Those bugs were in our noses, eyes, ears, you name it.

The gnats left us just before the end of the trail.

We survived, thank goodness. We ate our lunch at the Morgan Trail head and rested a bit.

looking east towards Lake Elsinore. Notice the smog. Yuck.

Then Kristi said the unthinkable. To summarize, she declared she would rather risk her life walking the Ortega Highway than go back through the gnats. So funny.

We are adventurers and taking a chance to get hit by a car is just part of adventure, I guess. :) (This is where Kristi says, "Oh, jeez.")

on the road again

We saw some new things, stopped at a day use area and looked at the California Wildland Firefighter Memorial. Interesting. Never knew it was there.

Next we walked down to El Cariso Village to stop at the Country Store. Lo and behold I ran into an old friend who bought the store. She informed us we were crazy to consider walking the road for the next three miles so her friend gave us a ride back to our car. Thank goodness for good Samaritans.

Then we had ice cream at the candy store to reward ourselves for surviving the gnats and Ortega Highway (not to mention a possible mountain lion.) "Oh, jeez."

It was a good time.