Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baking, Boats, and Blackberry Brambles

Yesterday was my good friend's birthday.  I wondered what kind of gift I could give and figured something edible would probably be best.  I inquired if there was a preference and apple pie was the answer.  So I woke up early and headed to the Walmart Supercenter to see what apple selection I had to pick from.  I was stunned to find that Walmart had no apples at all, I even made a couple trips round the produce section just to make sure.  I quickly went over my options knowing that the day's events were pretty full, and ran over to the freezer section.  I glanced at the frozen options and finally decided on the Claim Jumpers' brand.  I checked out and thought again that home made pie would be oh so much better, and decided I'd give Raleys a try.  I turned down Antelope road and was pleased to find that Raleys did have apples.  My choices were granny smith, gala, or golden delicious, so I gathered some granny smith and gala, checked the time on my phone, then made a beeline for the checkout as I was running behind schedule. 

I got home, unloaded the groceries, put the store bought pie in the freezer, and set to work peeling and coring.  I love that apple peeler corer slicer, it makes the work so much easier.  Apples peeled and in a bowl, I covered it with a towel and then set to mixing the pie crust.  My favorite is the Pampered Chef Perfect Pie Crust recipe.  I rolled out the crust, and decided I needed to try a new way to get it into the pie plate.  The last few times I've tried to just loosen the crust and pick it up didn't work out too nicely.  This time I rolled the crust in the same wax paper that I'd used to roll it out, and then unrolled the crust into the pan.  It worked beautifully.  I then added some sugar, flour, and cinnamon to the apples, mixed, and then added them to the pie plate.  Then I quickly rolled out the top crust, cut some venting slits, and into the oven it went.  I made a couple of calls to adjust the time frame on the pick up of my siblings for our trip to the Aunt and Uncle's house.  Then it was a quick clean up and the waiting game. 

55 or so minutes later the pie came out of the oven and it was pretty. 

Then I hopped in the car, headed towards the arden area and picked up my brother, sister, Kelly and Bella.  We drove down to Pittsburg to spend the afternoon with Aunt Debby and Uncle Tom.  It was fun.  They prepped some food, had the boat all loaded, and after a brief stop for changing and potty breaks, we drove over to the marina in Antioch.  We boarded the boat and headed out to the open water of the delta.  On our way out we saw a huge tanker like ship headed toward the Antioch bridge.  The water was a bit choppy and with so many people on the boat it meant for great splashes as we crested the whitecaps.  We went up and down a couple of the sloughs, and finally beached the boat on a little sandbar area full of blackberry brambles.  We unloaded the chairs, cooler, and toys and set up a little camp area.  We ate some lunch, and then Aunt Debby and I set off on the hunt for blackberries.  We found some, but were not having quite the success we had hoped.  Many of the ripe berries were just out of reach.  That all changed when Uncle Tom brought over a paddle from the raft.  He was able to pull some of the branches with ripe berries closer, and also able to move some of the branches causing problems out of the way.  By the time we finished picking berries we had quite the hat full, literally. 

Then it was time to sit and relax in the shade of the umbrella.  After a little while another boat with quite a few people came to stop at the beach too.  They had a pit bull with them that was wearing a life vest and loved to chase water and sand.  The puppy dog was very entertaining to watch.  It wasn't long before another boat showed up, and then a little while later and two more boats showed up.  It was getting a bit cramped so we packed up the boat and headed back to the marina.  The ride back across the open water was still choppy and this time we all got quite wet.  We made it back to the Aunt and Uncle's house, changed, and then drove back to Sacramento.  I dropped off the passengers, headed to my house, picked up the pie, and then off to Davis I went.  I'd forgotten to pick up some vanilla ice cream during my early morning store run, so on my way into Davis I stopped at Nugget and got some.  You can't have apple pie without it. I arrived and Joseph and I had some pie and ice cream.  I came to conclusion that I like Gravenstein apple pie better, which is all Joseph's fault :) for telling me about the Gravenstein apple which I tried last year while at Apple Hill.  After chatting a while we took a walk around Davis.  There was much joking back and forth.  I learned that I don't qualify as a true girl because I don't own enough pairs of shoes, and given the hypothetical option of choosing between paying the mortgage and buying new shoes, I opt for paying the mortgage.  It was a lot of fun, exploring Davis and there was much laughter.  As we walked down one path I happened to glance to my right and stopped walking.  I had to look again to make sure I'd actually seen what I thought I saw, a large art structure made up of dominoes. We left the path and headed over to take a closer look.  I lived in Davis for two years, and never new about the Dominoes.  I climbed up one of the Dominoes and decided I shouldn't climb over and down to the next one, so I climbed back down the way I came. 

(pictures courtesy of Davis Wiki)
We continued out walk and Joseph introduced me to another statue, this time of a dog riding a tricycle.  The dog's tongue was hanging out of the side of his mouth, and even though it was mostly dark, it appeared the dog had a smile on his face.

(Photo Courtesy of Davis Wiki)
There are apparently so many things to see in Davis that I have not yet explored.  I plan on having many more adventures in Davis in the future.

After I left Joseph's house I made my way over to the Gazebo where I visited for a while with Emily, Bridget, and Jolene.  It was fun.  I hadn't seen the girls for quite some time.  We talked about life, work, school, plans, the usual.  Jolene had just gotten a book from Border's about the 500 craziest crimes of all time, or maybe it was criminals.  It was interesting to hear some of the stories.  Some I knew well from hearing the news, like Columbine, Oklahoma City, and the like.  There was one about an Italian Opera singer which made us all laugh.  As it drew near 11 I decided that I better drive home before I got too tired.  I made it back home, but was very glad that I left when I did, as I was feeling very tired from all the days fun activities. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter, Garage Sales, and Pedicures

What a random assortment of topics according to the subject line of this post, but those are just a few of the fun activities I got to participate in this weekend.  I left work right on time on Friday, no six minute window advantage taken.  I headed directly to the theater on Greenback where my mom and sister were waiting in the theater already.  I called my sister after I parked and she met me at the front to give me my ticket, we got some popcorn, and went to go wait the additional 25 minutes before the show started.  They played a lot of previews, we munched on popcorn, and other goodies.  Then the movie started and there were lots of cheers.  I don't want to spoil the movie for those going to see it so I'll just say, I was not disappointed.  Lots of action, great special effects, and it stuck pretty well to the book.   I enjoyed it a lot and was glad that I got to spend the time with my Mom and Sister.  I got home, and checked some email, played with the kitty, and played word games.  I got a call from my neighbors next door with an invite for breakfast the next morning.  How fun, I was excited.....I love eating at new places.

I woke up earlier than I wanted but headed over to my friends to feed their animals and water their garden.  Then it was back home for some chores and then off for breakfast.  It was a little breakfast diner, with a model train running around the dining area.  We ordered and Jesse and I both opted for waffles with fresh strawberries.  Brandon ate his fruit, played with the straws, watched the train go by, dropped his utensils a few times, and was generally very cute.  Todd got chicken fried steak which looked amazing.  It was a pretty fun place to eat.  They even had a live clarinetist which was pretty cool.  We finished breakfast and headed back home and got sidetracked along the way.  It was garage sale time.  We drove around stopping at various garage sales along our route home.  I eyed several weed eaters but opted not to buy one at this time.  Todd and Jesse came home with some great items.  I entertained Brandon which was great fun.  Then we made it home and I opted for a short nap....sometimes Saturdays are just good nap days. :) 

I did some laundry after my nap then headed over to a nail salon with my good friend Alicia for pedicures.  I don't get them often but they sure are toes are so pretty, and the foot massage was great.  After we headed over to the cheesecake factory for dinner.  The restaurant looked pretty crowded so we opted to go to California Pizza Kitchen instead.  We ordered a chipotle chicken pizza and a BBQ chicken salad to split.   Oh my taste buds and tummy were very very happy.  Then it was off toward home.  I remembered there was supposed to be a game night in Davis so I made arrangements to pick up my friend Nadia and we were going to have some fun.  Unfortunately game night got cancelled so Nadia and I took turns calling people to invite them to the cheap theater for a movie.  It ended up being just three of us, but it was still fun.  The movie Fast Five, was action packed, had some amazing cars, but I could have done without the language.  Why is it that screenwriters feel the need to use profanity.  ugh. It was nice to get home and go to bed.

Today has been pretty restful.  Picked veggies from the garden, loved the kitty, and taught my primary class.  Gotta love Sundays.  I ate corn from my garden today and it was some of the best corn I've ever had.  I think I'll have to plant more to see if I can get a late harvest too.  Next week I think I'll add in some genealogy and see what family members I can find.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 1 biking to work

The alarm went off at 530 this morning and I was sorely tempted to change the alarm to go off in another hour and go back to sleep.  I sat in bed weighing the options, going over a pro and con list (pretty impressive for someone still feeling half asleep), and decided that it was today or never.  I got out of bed, changed into the clothes I'd prepared last night, finished packing the backpack with the change of clothes for work, some snacks, and emergency bike repair stuff.  Then I headed out of the garage on my bicycle.  It was a bit chilly to start, and I began wishing I'd worn long pants instead of shorts.  I pedaled and pedaled and pedaled some more, all the time wondering if I was crazy for deciding to commute by bike.  As the wind rushed over my glasses, my eyes began to water, my arms were cold, and I knew I had to peddle faster to get the blood pumping before I froze. 

I made it to the first stop light (only about 1 mile away) and was mentally kicking myself for not having ridden more consistently in preparation last week.  I was going from zero riding to a 16.4 mile commute round trip.  Not one of my smartest moves.  Never the less I continued onward.  I made it to Cirby and was feeling pretty good.  I made it over the overpass over the freeway, and was starting to feel a little tired but kept pressing onward.  I continued up Cirby to Rocky Ridge, and wondered how sore I'd be at work sitting at my desk all day.  I passed the info sign by Maidu park and the library and read 59 least by this time I'd ridden long enough to be warm.  I pedaled hard to make it up the hill to Douglas.  Stopped in a parking lot to add some air to the back tire, which made pedaling much nicer.  Saw a clock that read 630 and I realized that I was making great time, which would explain why I was feeling quite so tired....I'd been riding harder than my normal commute.  I pedaled the last couple miles up Douglas to the office building and went to freshen up for work. 

As the work day progressed I took lots of opportunities to get up and walk around the office in the hopes that my muscles wouldn't get too tight or sore. Things seemed to be going well, and as the work day came to a close I was feeling alright.  Then it was time for the commute home, which for the most part is downhill.  Nice, except for the fact that the wind was blowing against me most of the ride home.  (can't win).  I made it down douglas, rocky ridge, cirby, and headed toward the overpass again (the eastbound direction is so much steeper than the westbound), I pedaled hard, downshifted a lot, and finally gave in and walked the bike the last 1/3 to the top of the overpass.  Then I got back on and rode down.  I decided that I would try a new way home today to see if it might be faster.  Instead of going through the neighborhood, I went down Whyte all the way to Roseville Road and then headed toward Antelope.  The cars zip down Roseville Road at pretty fast pace, and it can be a bit unnerving.  At one point there was debris in the bike lane and I had to enter the traffic  lane briefly to go around the object.  (talk about risky business).  Luckily I was good and signaled the car behind that I'd be coming into the lane.  I think on any non-windy day Roseville Road might be the faster option, but because it is so open, and unprotected, unless lots of trains are parked on the tracks, the wind whips through like crazy.  I pedaled against some pretty strong wind all the way down Roseville Road.  i was getting a bit tired by this point and was very happy to see Antelope around the bend.  I travelled down Daly, then to Tupelo, then to home.  It was a good adventure.  I'm not sure how sore my legs will be in the morning.  I guess I'll have to wait till I wake up to find out for sure.  If I'm feeling good it will be biking again in the morning.  If I'm sore, then I'll wait a day and bike again on Wednesday.  My goal is to be able to bike every day.  It is a great way to spare the air, and an excellent source of exercise.  Here's to hoping I'm not sore in the morning :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Yesterday I picked up my mom  and we headed down to Pittsburg for my cousin's baby shower.  I was worried the traffic would be bad, but it didn't slow down much till we hit Antioch.  We arrived a bit after the start and were each handed a necklace and informed that we could not say the word baby or we'd lose it.  The house was packed with family and friends.  We even had family in town from Utah visiting so it was nice to catch up and see what they have been up too.  All the Benton siblings were present which due to distance and jobs doesn't often happen so we took some picture opportunities with the five of them together.  There were lots of other photo opportunities as well. There were great snacks, lots of good conversation, and lots of people really anxious to take those necklaces should the word baby escape someones lips.  I hadn't really intended on playing and was content with the one necklace but I just seemed to be around when people said the word.  Before I knew it I had a nice size collection.  The younger kids kept coming over in the hopes of tricking me into saying the word.  They brought a doll and asked what kind of doll it was (of course it was a baby), they tried to ask me what word it was we shouldn't say, they tried just about everything.  It was so cute.  My young cousin Chase was convinced that he was going to win and kept following me around asking if I'd said the "B" word yet.  :)  

Then it was time for my cousin to open her presents and I became scribe.  She got the cutest things for the baby.  I think the funniest gift was one that her husband and daughter were given.  When opened it revealed two sets of ear plugs.  Everyone laughed.  There were lots of cute clothes, blankets, and essentials.  Afterward my cousin brought out some cloth diaper wraps that she'd made.  They were super cute.  Water resistant on the outside, super soft flannel on the inside with leak guard elastic sewn in even.  She has got some talent with that sewing machine.  I'll have to see if I can snag a picture from somewhere to show you what I mean, she could easily sell them to others. 

More snacks, and lots of visiting later the necklace game finally ended and I got to bring home a beautiful little rose plant for my house.  It smells so nice.  It was getting late so we said our goodbyes, got hugs and promises of getting together again soon, and headed home.  It was really nice to visit with family and have such an enjoyable afternoon together.