A couple of weekends ago, my old friend flew west from Cambridge and, after grabbing Root Beer, we headed north to a little town just south of Sequoia National Park called Three Rivers. We went to stay with a mutual friend who has recently published her first novel.
Her writing partner was there – you see, they were preparing to leave to do research on the sequel in Vienna & London. WOW! Sure beats the research I used to do for Froot Loops commercials which entailed finding detailed photos of temples in Angkor Wat for Toucan Sam to explore.
I think I just dated myself. That spot is so old it can’t even be Googled. Great.
Anyway, due to the success of these creative endeavors, spirits were high! Wine was drunk (and so were 4 women), no diapers were changed, nobody was bathed or read to in bed. Everyone was a winner, working hard equalled sure success, the non-writers’ future careers were chosen, global warming was stopped & cancer was cured.
The next morning we did some calisthenics outside in the shade of a [insert name of shade tree that grows in that exact climate here].
Beer made himself at home.
Lynchie’s mysterious writing partner dubbed the weekend “Four B—–s in Three Rivers.” Who could top that?
Saturday morning we were served fresh pomegranate juice. Fresh from frozen that is as it’s not pomegranate season for a few more months but Lynchie picked these from her tree & used a friend’s press and froze it. A refreshing elixir made from my favorite fruit!
Once we got the hair off our tongues Neen and I visited the park. We got a late start and became a bit lost a few times by being flighty & chit chatting instead of paying attention to where we were. I wasted further time by insisting on a large Dagwood sandwich which was only procured by taking a shuttle to Lodgepole.
The vegetarian version of a Dagwood is a lot less impressive. Basically a perfectly fine humus/veggie wrap is what it was.
Getting lost can be nice, actually. We got off one of the shuttles too soon and ended up strolling by Crescent Meadows a few times. Picture yourself walking through tall sequoias when suddenly a vibrant green meadow appears through the trees on your right. Long rays of sunlight streaming down, illuminating the changing bunches of wildflowers. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to have seen a few fairies & elves flitting about from bluebell to bluebell. WOW! If you ever get there in the spring or summer, check out Crescent Meadow!
This guy climbed the steps to Moro Rock (which we also did) and has some nice pix of the most popular areas of the park.
After FINALLY finding our way back from the park, Neen and I met the other duo at a wonderful dinner party. We were late & really hungry from stumbling about the park all day. In addition to EVERYTHING being amazing, gorgeous & tasty, there was a beautiful barley salad which I’d like to try to recreate soon. Nina, what else besides avocado was in there again? How I wish I’d snapped a pic on my phone.
Sunday morning we did our calisthenics again while the dogs patrolled the perimeter.
Dogs at work. Work, dogs, work!
They took a few breaks as the sun heated things up.
Dogs at play. Play, dogs, play!
We were sad to leave but so happy for 2 of the B’s and their well-deserved successes after a LOT of hard work. We were jealous and wished we were going to London & Vienna only without having done any work.
Kaweah Post Office
On the way out we finally got an ice cream at Reimer’s. It was closing in on 100 degrees by then.
You know what would be perfect in this weather?
Alas, I missed a ton of photos this weekend – namely the park as I left my cell in the car. But an ordinary camera really can’t do it justice anyway.
Thank you, Lynchie & Meg for a wonderful weekend! It’s the first time in a while that I’ve been able to start and end a conversation though I definitely can’t vouch for my listening skills.
Incidentally, I’m slowly posting recipes to my new blog “Real Housewife of Santa Monica” and it should go public within the next two weeks. Stay tuned!
Well, Maddie’s 3 and Bea’s 1 but Bea and 1 don’t rhyme. We were really lucky to have my dad and the A’s come celebrate with us!
Maddie told me she wanted a “butterflies & flowers” theme until I was done making 24 chocolate butterflies. Then she told me “I changed my mind. I want DRAGONS!”
She got butterflies.
Thank god my sister in law was there!! She appeared like a magic fairy princess around 6AM to help me with EVERYTHING and then she took photos at the party! I couldn’t have done it without her!
That’s my torso next to the cupcakes. I don’t like it but I DO like the colors of the veggies!
This was a pink & green park party. I spent all day Friday & the wee hours Saturday preparing everything. To be honest, my sister in law, angel, sent from Heaven, also spent the wee hours Saturday. And the later morning hours too. Oh, and she took all these photos as well. THANK YOU, ALLISON!
This is not a cupcake porn page.
Or is it?
Stay tuned for the cupcake HOW TO in the next posting…
Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.
Cucumber/cream cheese sandwiches.
G hauling 3 of the cutest kids in the world around
Andrew & Grampa
Little Sylvie just turned 1 a couple of weeks prior. Happy Bday!
Aston mastered rings and now bowling.
Ava goes vertical!
The place is lousy with babies!
Thomas, Bella & Root Beer. Root Beer, you are NOT a gentleman.
Thanks for the idea, Charlotte!
Coffee filters + paint + a pipe cleaner = a butterfly!
"First you do this, and then you do that. Is anyone listening??"
"Where'd everyone go?"
Maddie did hers one-handed.
Aston, don't leave your cupcake here!
We absolutely LOVED having family there! We loved seeing friends at the party – friends we don’t get to see very often due to busy schedules and that pesky little thing called “work.” And I love baking and planning. But because of all the things I had to leave till the last minute…I was exhausted by the time the party started!
By the time this photo was taken I was too tired to get back up & light the candles on the cake.
The words of my mother in law rang in my head, “I always hated birthday parties.”
Next year G and I will be taking the girls to this place. They recently got a beer/wine license. Phew!
We came home and sat around watching football. (Not me, I wasn’t watching football.) Maddie loves having family around. And so do we.
Patsy, don’t blame Andrew for this:
And thanks to Allison, we got a family shot!
I have crazy eyes here.
Later that night, after a yummy dinner with margs at Gilbert’s, we finally cut the cake! This is an excellent triple layer chocolate cake that I made last fall. This time it was DRY. And I ran out of time to decorate it. But it was the candle ritual that mattered!
The next day we headed to the Natural History Museum.
Andrew & Allison had to leave soon so we finally opened presents. Ready….set…
I thought I’d never finish this posting & I hope you didn’t think you’d never stop reading it! Happy birthday to both our sweet girls!!
Did I mention how many tomatoes I have right now? What’s a person to do with all this bounty? Go to the farmer’s market and buy MORE cherry tomatoes b/c they’re such a good deal! And that’s just what I did.
Now, besides popping them in my mouth and eating one after another, what to do with them? Somebody send me this recipe for Giada De Laruentils’ Pasta Ponza. For some reason I keep calling it Pasta Ponzi but that’s not right. Anyway, I like this recipe because it’s easy, it involves the staple of my kids’ diet: noonels (otherwise known as noodle/pasta) and a ton of cherry tomatoes. Plus, I had all the ingredients handy.
These tomatoes are AMAZING!!! Not the tasteless things I get at Trader Joe’s which are imported etc. These are from a local farm and sooooo sweet & yummy!
Maddie ate some while I prepared them. Bea emptied the drawer of plastic containers & lids all over the floor. Then she leaned against the drawer closing it on her hand. Then she shrieked. When she was done shrieking, she went over & did it again.
- 4 c cherry tomatoes (or grape or whatEV you can get your hands on!)
- olive oil
- 1 lb pasta – the original recipe recommends tubular pasta but I didn’t have it so I used something curly
- 1/2 c breadcrumbs (seasoned Italian)
- 1/4 c capers (rinsed & drained)
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 c Pecorino Romano cheese (grated)
- 1/4 c chopped Italian parsley (I totally forgot this as you can see)
1. Set oven to 375 and grease a baking dish. I used a glass lasagna dish & sprayed with olive oil spray.
2. Cut all tomatoes in half. Try not to eat half of each one while doing that.
These tomatoes are good looking!
3. Toss in a large bowl (you can re-use this bowl at the end – save bowls!!) with the capers, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper. I’m not a stickler for measuring the oil, salt or pepper and you needn’t be either!
I just realized this looks kind of gross with the salted capers. Like hairy little eyeballs. Or something. Note to self: spoon salt to the side in a tidy pile next time.
Stir to coat tomatoes evenly. Much better!
4. Spoon into greased baking pan.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of tomatoes. Drizzle or spray olive oil on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
5. About 15 or 20 minutes into the baking, boil your water for the pasta.
NOTE: I forgot this both times but save 1 or 2 cups of the pasta water before you dump the pasta! You can use this later if your pasta needs it.
Some people can’t wait the 15-20 minutes remaining and have to be fed instant macaroni & cheese PRONTO.
And they’re STILL not happy.
6. Take out your baked tomato mixture.
I probably could’ve used more olive oil drizzled on top of the breadcrumbs.
7. After saving 1-2 c of your hot pasta water, dump your pasta out. Combine in the big bowl you used earlier with the baked tomatoes mixture. Add cheese & stir gently. Add some of that water you saved if your pasta needs it (if you think it’s too dry.) Add parsley if you remember to!
This is SO tasty! Both the kids liked it though not that night. Here’s what they did while we were waiting for the pasta.
and They did enjoy it for lunch the next day. It’s really easy and a lot tastier than jar sauce (though it does make more dishes to clean than jar sauce…) As always, I’d love to hear feedback below if you try this dish!
In the matter of a few months we found out our landlord wanted to sell the house we have been renting, so, rather than look for a new place, pack & move, we bought it, discovered we had TERMITES, cut a pesky avocado tree down before we could get the termite tenting done, exorcised a disgusting, overgrown, rat/possum den of a bird-of-paradise (thanks, Suzanne! NOT a banana tree as we boldly claimed) and then just went crazy and cut the hedges, gave the magnolia a buzz cut and the rest is history – the backyard went from a damp shady den of moist dog doo to the Sahara desert. (A few semi-colons probably would’ve worked nicely in that last passage, eh?)
Jasmin: SEE YA LATER!
Avocado tree: AU REVOIR!
Nasty vermin filled bird of paradise: ADIOS!
Wait a minute? What’s that apartment building back there? I’ve never seen THAT before. D’OH!
There went our privacy & shade. But it’s worth it, right? Now we just need $700+ to remove the sap oozing stump.
But I digress…
In the course of all that we thought it’d be a good idea to go camping during the termite tenting. We didn’t want to go far on account of the backseat passengers and our nerves. So we drove up to Malibu – Pt. Mugu – and camped in our VW on the beach. Doesn’t that sound nice? Beach camping in Malibu? What could possibly go wrong?
Before camping we had to drop LP off at Cat Camp. He was excited about the early morning lake swims, hoisting the flag up the flagpole & archery.
His camp cost more than our camp site. That should’ve told us something.
This sign was posted in the door of the medical lab next door to the camp. Brilliant! I want to put this sign on my front door.
After discreetly tucking the Sit-N-Spin and Bop-It Extreme in my back pocket & getting back into the van, we headed up to the camp site with high hopes and a beach blanket.
Bea put her shades on.
Everyone got comfy in the van.
Our arrival. Looked pretty nice for car camping on side of PCH.
On the second level with the pop top up!
OK. Let’s go outside!
Bea can just sit on this nice blanket with a “toy.”
Maddie pretending to help with something. She is strongest at pretending to help.
Get back on the blanket, BEA!! Don’t eat sand, BEA! Don’t eat rockscigarettebuttsstringsplasticbbsrustybottlecapsfilthyurinesoakedsand, BEA!!!
Phew! At least Maddie is behaving. The wind picked up & blew the chairs over & anything else we had.
At least SOMEBODY stayed on the blanket!
This one’s for you, Lynchie!
The only way to keep Bea from putting everything in her mouth.
It looks nice in a photo in a brand new frame from Target but for how many hours is this really sustainable?
We give up. Let’s sit in the van. All 4 of us + the dog.
How many hours till bedtime?
Oops! That was all us!
One thing I cannot capture is the dusty filthiness of the sand. G advised everyone to wear shoes & socks and he couldn’t have been more correct.
After a sleepless night, we decided to high tail it out of there & possibly even find a better campsite for the second night. Everyone was grumpy.
We packed up
and high-tailed it out of there.
We drove to Ventura and ate at Toppers Pizza. I absolutely LOVED it!! Did I really love it or was I just so happy to be near hot water & soap, pizza and the chocolate chip pizza they claimed as their specialty? I don’t know and I don’t care.
On the way back we decided to take the scenic route through a canyon. It was warm and got warmer & warmer all the while. The girls fell asleep.
I tried to read.
What is an ague?
We kept driving.
We got out to stretch in a swarm of flies. We got right back in and drove right back to our same campsite from the previous night.
What I don’t have pictures of is the amazing cliffside playground/dog park G found high above the Pacific Ocean. Thank garsh, G!! We stayed there till around 7PM. Then it was back to the “beach.”
The Hennums came to town for Memorial Day weekend & somehow talked us into a 3 night camping trip on the Central Coast. Holy cow! This was quite an undertaking but totally worth every bit of effort. Poor G and Tim – talk about outnumbered…
The first night before camping!
This was a pretty little path near our campsite where both Liana & I narrowly avoided stepping on a SNAKE the next day during a run. I don’t like snakes.
Surprisingly, Maddie didn’t like eating marshmallows.
Tiny ridge above our site.
Silly yoga instructors in Cambria
Tim took the Jive out for a little paddle on the flat water.
Girl’s hike (sorry Root Beer)
Siena styled her mom’s hair
We had so much fun & can’t wait to see the Hennums again!