Thursday, October 30, 2014

Autumn Stew.

My favorite meal to make once the weather turns colder is Beef Stew. This recipe is a favorite for 2 reasons: the crockpot does all the work and everyone loves it. My Littles DRINK this stew. I served this dish last night for dinner and Savannah ate 3 bowls full! Ivy couldn't stop saying, "I love the beef! I love the broth!" it was ridiculous. Goo poked at his bowl for awhile then finally made some progress once he realized his antics were completely being ignored, the rest of us too busy restraining ourselves from licking near empty bowls. This stew is so good that at 9:30 last night I got out of bed for a final bowl, it's stupid delicious.
So without further adieu, I give you the recipe.
1 pkg of beef stew meat (I have no idea what weight maybe 1 pound? I go to a butcher and get whichever package looks like "enough" depending on how meaty I want the stew)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup, plus 1 can of water
1 packet onion soup mix
2 T tomato paste
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 potatoes, washed and chopped, skins on (I use both red and Yukon)
1 cup of frozen peas
Turn ON your crockpot, this seems silly to list but you would be surprised at the disappointment that follows once you've returned home from being absent all day, looking forward to a deliciously slow cooked meal only to find you forgot to TURN THE CROCKPOT ON! LOW if you are leaving it all day 6-7 hours. HIGH if you want this stew to cook in 3-4 hours.
Lightly brown the beef in a skillet. Transfer browned beef to the crockpot. Now just layer all the ingredients stirring as you go; both cans of mushroom soup plus one of those cans full of water, the onion soup mix, tomato paste, carrots, potatoes, BUT NOT THE PEAS! Put the lid on and if you can, stir a few times while it all cooks. Peas go in last, 5-10 minutes before serving. Oh I hope you make this, your family will thank you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Block Party.

Every year all the neighbors on 2nd street have a block party. We have heard of the block party in years past and were invited last year but it wasn't until our friend (and resident on 2nd) Tara insisted that we decided to attend. The homes on 2nd street are closer together than just up the road where our acre is and so of course the neighbors on 2nd are all friends and like a close-knit family of homes happily perched overlooking Apple Hill's North country. Our next door neighbors Kevin and Nita introduced us to the family (Bryce and Gertrude) at the top of 2nd street years ago and funnily enough, they introduced us just last night to our neighbor just below our property! So nice to finally meet Susan from the next acre! The music set a good vibe, the local wines tasty, Bryce brought out his antique wood burning stove to provide heat while the fairy lights sparkled. Oh and the food?? The food was the best! People on 2nd know how to cook! Savannah's teacher and other Camino teachers were there and other friends from around our tiny town. It was lovely to be included. I keep falling deeper and deeper in love with this tiny town.

Monday, October 27, 2014

8 At The Lake.

On Friday Tim, Grady and I dropped The Little Girls at school and hit the bike trail for a 10 mile ride from Placerville back up to Camino (that's a 1,266 ft climb in elevation, people!). On the way home, Tim had the best idea: he suggested we call The Potter's and our friend Mike and ask if we could take all their Little Girls with us and ours to the lake for an afternoon adventure. And so we did!
Front: Ivy, Amani, Grady, Tim, Gemma, Wrenna and Savannah.
The Girls were happy and hilariously hyper about this unexpected after school adventure.
And Tim and I skipped rocks (competitively, of course) and watched all the girls play and swim while Goo climbed and crashed from the tops of gnarly tree stumps.
The water was peaceful and the shore, serene. Not another human around. It was the perfect way to kick off a beautiful Autumn weekend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Friday Night Lights.

On Friday night we went to El Dorado High School's Homecoming game. Our friend Kevin teaches leadership at EDH and his classes plan and oversee all the events surrounding Homecoming. Because of Kevin's involvement he invited Savannah and Ivy to join his daughters, Wrenna and Amani, on the field to welcome the home team, bring out the flags and ride in the prince/princess, king/queen parade!
This photo cracks me up! To the right: Homecoming royalty. To the left: Ivy, Savannah, Wrenna and Amani in the cab of the truck. Savannah and Ivy said these two "royals" were kissing the whole time and all The Little Girls were just laughing and screaming, cringing in what Savannah described as "grossness". You should have heard the giggles...
Also, THIS hijacked what was a beautiful day in Apple Hill. Suspect is still at large. Our street was closed for 2 hours with SWAT teams searching house to house. "Shelter In Place" is a phrase I never expected to hear once I answered the reverse 911 call I received. And "Shelter In Place" is intensely nerve-racking. Paranoia takes over. Very unsettling, scary shit.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Around Here.

Over the weekend we worked in the garden and around the acre doing a bit of Autumn cleaning. Savannah invited Wrenna over and we went to visit my Grandparents and took a trip to the library.
I also started rehabbing this antique steamer trunk I purchased early last Spring at a storage sale. I haven't stripped a piece of furniture in a while and I've never worked with a trunk before so I had no idea how to go about this. The bones of this trunk are pretty good and I believe paint and a lot of elbow grease I can give this trunk a new life. There is just one thing that bothers me about it...the smell. From the warping of the wood at the base, I can tell it sat in water at one point and so the mustiness is just...ew.
But now that I have removed a bit of the paper and cleaned up the drawers I can tolerate it more. Next I'll seal it with primer then choose paint. I'll post photos when there is more progress but for now I think the hardest part (scraping the paper) is over.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Let Them Be Little.

I've been served up a bit of nostalgia this week. It all began when Savannah's soccer coach from her Kindergarten year left her team photo at the school for us--she looks so tiny in the photos after all, it was 3 full years ago. Thinking back to that time, everything was new; Savannah started school, Ivy had long days without her best friend at home, The Goo was brand was a lot of change ups but overall a sweet, sweet time.
Homework lately is killing our family time which in turn makes Tim and I cranky and yelly and bitter. After a particularly terrible night like this and the next morning not much better, I felt robbed of happy, playful, Littles time and midway through the day decided to pick up The Little Girls early for a treat. A treat to Savannah and Grady means something sugary, but to Ivy means a new toy or show. I took them to Mill View (which made 2 of the 3 happy) for something sugary and to have playtime at their Little Town.
It took Goo no longer that 10 seconds (or about the time it takes to climb a slide) in Little Town to fall flat on his face in powdery Camino red dirt after a swift shot down what definitely is the fastest and most dangerous slide in Apple Hill.
The Little Girls had fun on the seesaw. More about this in a quick scroll down...
This western style buildings and old timey playground equipment gave My Littles a chance to play in a new space and enjoy a break. Way more fun than going home and doing homework. At the end of our date The Little Girls wanted one more go on the seesaw, I gave them 5 minutes and when time was up, Savannah jumped off in the lowest position sending Ivy straight down, organs deflated like an accordion. The injury screams were a sad end to our fun outing. Both girls felt awful about the seesaw experience, it was a tough lesson to learn. Making memories here, folks. Something to be nostalgic about in a few years.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Wild Woods.

My friend, neighbor and bee partner Krista has had unwelcome company to her Silver Tip Ranch lately. The first night the bear visited he tore down her garden fence, found the chicken tractor and killed 18 meat chickens. Devastating. He came back every night for the next week during which time she moved the alive and injured meat chickens to the barn with the goats and she and I secured the bee hives by strapping them to cinderblocks. Fish and Game dropped this contraption off on Friday night, we all went over for a good look.
We anxiously waited for Krista's early morning text each day this weekend on whether or not they caught the bear but wouldn't you know, he didn't show up. But there are several spots of evidence in the form of huge piles around our neighborhood so...
At this time of year there are typically a few bear sightings or evidence of bear activity simply because of the abundance of fruit on the orchard floors. It seems the concern is intensified this year, perhaps because of the fire (animals driven out of their homes), or maybe because Krista's ranch is a mere 400 yards from our hut.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Goo With A View.

As I scroll through the camera roll on my phone I realize Grady has taken a few sneaky shots. I should have taken him a little more seriously each time he said, "say cheeezzzz". I wasn't aware he knew how to use the proper app or get passed my secret passcode on my phone...hmm...
Anyways, while grocery shopping...
and while having a donut date...
Oh wait! He is getting better...
spoke too soon.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Palm Desert.

We spent a week in Palm Desert at Marriott Shadow Ridge with my brother's family. It was cousin heaven.

The Littles all played Lego, trains, painted, colored and ran around the golf course at dusk.
They were spoiled to have so many Disney shows available at all hours of the day.
Savannah, Ivy, Jackson, Grady and Hank all showed enormous improvement in their swimming skills. Ivy and Jackson in particular were so brave since our trip a year ago.
Tim and Jared golfed a bit throughout the week. One morning they golfed the course outside our condo and Littles ran to meet them as they drew near.
Our friend Andy came to stay and play with us. He made a sweet film of The Littles swimming and made them all happy by running around crazy with them on the course.
Every evening we took a night walk to the activity center to run around on the playground and play inside the VW van in the rec room, this was Grady's favorite time of day.
(thank you for the photos Jared, Jenny and Andy!) 

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Savannah Jane said goodbye to 8 and hello to 9 while we were in Palm Desert. She woke up at 6 fueled with excitement. To keep her from waking up the rest of the family, she and I went for a sunrise run. I wish I had some photos of that hour we spent talking about the day and how much she has grown, it was one of the most precious hours of my life to share in her joy and watch a new day begin. When we got back to the condo she could think of nothing but the pretty packages we brought with us. She spent all morning putting together this Lego set from Grandma and Grandpa.
Jackson made her a sweet card and Auntie Jenny picked her a bouquet of desert flowers.
She opened a card from Auntie Carolyn with some spending money! So she and I went out and did a little shopping to complete her birthday wish list.
We celebrated with cake and singing, I brought the Botting Birthday Hat from home so we could carry on the family tradition.