Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Scooter Experience

You may recall that we came out to California with only our Honda CR-V and a little Rocketa scooter. We sold Mitchell's Tundra because we really didn't think we would need out here. Mitchell has been taking the scooter to work every day and it has worked fabulously. I, however, have been avoiding it. Nay, ignoring it. Let me tell you why...

When Mitchell proudly came home back in October of last year with this scooter, we took it out for a spin. You should know I am extremely against motorcycles and those feelings were confirmed with my first scooter ride. You just feel so exposed. Right as I was getting comfortable with it, we ended our ride back at our apartment. As I was getting off, swinging my leg over the back, my jeans caught on the back rest and starting pulling the scooter over. I tried hopping to get my leg untangled but it was too late. The scooter fell over on me and I hurt the palm of my hand bracing my fall. Ever since then, I have not been too fond of the scooter.

Last night, Mitchell had to get to BSF (bible study) early to volunteer with the kids. Normally, he drops me off at my BSF and then goes late to his. Well, last night that wasn't possible so I had to find another way to get there. I finally faced the scooter. Mitchell re-taught me how to start it (the trickiest part) and I practiced driving it around the block. I don't know what I had been scared of! It was totally easy to drive! I was actually excited to go on my first adventure with it.

Mitchell left for BSF and I killed time for about 30 minutes. When it was time to go, I bundled up, packed up my purse, put on the helmet and went to go start the scooter. I gave it some gas and pressed the starter. It roared to life and lurched forward so I let the gas go completely. It died. I tried starting it again and nothing. Not even the sound of the starter. Shoot, I texted Mitchell to let him know I broke it.

I went inside, sat down to pout and it dawned on me... I wasn't holding the brake when I tried to start it! That is a requirement to get the starter going. So I bundled back up, packed my purse, put on the helmet and went out there and tried to start it again. After about 5 tries, I killed the battery. There wasn't enough juice to start it and after trying several times I had zapped whatever juice was left. Shoot, I texted Mitchell to let him know the scooter was not broken, just dead.

I went inside, pouted a little more and asked God why he didn't want me to go to bible study. Then, I figured if I charged it during the first hour of bible study, I may be able to make it to the second hour. I googled how to hook up the trickle charger because I had never done it before and I didn't want to shock myself. I hooked it up and killed time for another 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes on the charger, I bundled up again, packed my purse and helmet and went to go start it again. It worked! Yay! I scooted away to bible study. I texted Mitchell to let him know that I got it to work. I made it there and back safe and sound. I was so proud of myself! I beat Mitchell home, pulled the scooter on the porch and went inside.

It seems like a happy ending until I tell you that last night, after Mitchell got home, he pulled the scooter in the garage behind the car and put it on the charger. This morning, when I went to leave, I did not know the scooter was behind the car and I definitely backed into it and knocked it over. :( Luckily, neither scooter nor car were damaged but I definitely felt accident prone and drove very, very carefully.

The End!


Our travel plans are finally set and plane tickets have been purchased for our trips back to Texas this summer for weddings! Mitchell is a groomsman in three weddings and they are all within 5 weeks of each other!

Here are our plans:

Topher's wedding: May 19th
We fly in to Houston on Friday the 18th, drive to New Braunfels for the wedding, drive back to Houston on Sunday, Mitchell flies back to Sacramento and I stay in Houston.

Michael's bachelor party:
Mitchell flies back in to Houston on Friday the 25th, goes to Galveston for the weekend for Michael's party and then we both spend the week in Houston.

Michael's wedding: June 2nd
On Friday June 1st, we drive to Austin for Michael and Laura's wedding on the 2nd. On Sunday the 3rd we fly back to Sacramento from Austin.

Alex's wedding: June 16th
We both fly to Dallas on Thursday, June 14th, drive to La Grange for Alex's wedding on the 16th, drive back to Dallas that Sunday and fly back to Sacramento.

Chrissy in Texas: May 18-June 3, June 14-17
Mitchell in Texas: May 18-20, May 25-June 3, June 14-17
# of combined flights: 8
Total cost of all flights: ~$2,100
What we paid: $600 (Sweet! Cheers to frequent flyer miles Mitchell has accrued with work!)

We can't wait to see friends and family again! It will be so nice that each of us get to spend time during the week in Texas and see lots of people! It will be our only trip until Christmas 2012!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Random but awesome!

Sunday after church, Mitchell and I are sitting at home working on things and debating a nap when Mitchell gets a call from our friend, Scott Ellis. Him and our other friend, Kristin Graham are stuck in San Francisco for the night on their way back from East Asia! They wanted to know if we wanted to meet them for dinner! Heck yes!

Mitchell and I hopped in the car at 2:30pm and drove to San Francisco and were there in an hour and a half. We met up with Scott and Kristin and their team and had dinner and Starbucks. The rest of the team was pretty tired from the flights so they went back to the hotel but Kristin and Scott stuck around. It was so great to see them randomly and get to hear about their trip to East Asia and have good conversation with old friends.

Moral of the story: If you are ever stuck in San Francisco, call us and we'll come visit!

Meagan & Hubs visit Cali

My two besties from Houston, Meagan and Hubs, came to visit us last week and we had so much fun! They flew in on Tuesday around lunch time and left early Saturday morning. You know how I mentioned how glorious the weather has been here? Well, it decided to rain the entire week they were here. :( When Mom and Memom visited, the weather was perfect. This time it was not. But Meagan and Hubs were super great at making the most of it!

On Tuesday, as soon as they got in, I took them to lunch downtown with Mitchell at Cafe Bernardo. After lunch we dropped off their stuff at the house and had a little meeting to discuss a change in plans because of the weather. We were supposed to spend Wednesday in Tahoe but I was worried we would not be able to get over the Sierras because of all the snow that was dumping up there. We decided to head down south on Wednesday and go visit the Hearst Castle and spend the night in Monterey, much like I did with Mom and Memom.
Lunch at Cafe Bernardo with Mitchell

So we loaded in the car and decided to drive up into the Sierras on Tuesday afternoon to see some snow and mountains before it got too bad up there. There was no snow. I really don't know how that was possible. Luckily, the little town of Placerville is really cute so we stopped for olive oil tasting and coffee. We drove back to Sacramento, picked Mitchell up from work and made dinner at our house.
 Toast to the start of a great vacation

Wednesday morning, we woke up early, hopped in the car and headed down to central Cali. Once we passed through Paso Robles, we had to stop at a winery and do a quick tasting. We stopped at Aron Hill and really enjoyed all the wines they had to taste. We hopped across the highway and had lunch at Farmhouse 46. Then on the way to Hearst Castle!
In front of Aron Hill Winery

 Aron Hill tasting room

This picture is just too cute!

Beautiful scenery and beautiful skies!

At Hearst Castle, we did the upstairs rooms tour and I like that one more than the downstairs rooms. Side note: I have now been to Hearst Castle twice while some Californians have never been. I think I'm done with that trip for awhile. The weather was beautiful once we got down there though!
 In front of the entrance to Hearst Castle

After touring Hearst Castle, we drove up the coast, battled car sickness and made it to Monterey for the night! The next morning we took off for the 2 hour drive to San Francisco! Once we got there, we headed straight for the Golden Gate bridge. It was raining and quite a let down compared to what it looks like when it's sunny.
Golden Gate Bridge in the rain!

We parked in Ghirardelli Square and walked to Pier 39 to see the sea lions and get lunch. After lunch, we jumped on our double decker bus tour for our hop-on, hop-off tour of San Francisco! Super interesting tour with lots of cool facts. At one of the stops, we got off and walked a few blocks up to take a pic in front of the Painted Ladies. It was raining and we had no umbrellas so that was a quick pic and then back to the bus. We finished the tour and made our way back to Ghirardelli Square and stopped in for some Ghirardelli ice cream. Oh man, it was good!
Ghirardelli Square

Pier 39

The Painted Ladies!

Hubs with her espresso ice cream from Ghirardelli
So excited for Ghirardelli ice cream!

Once we tried to get one more pic with the Golden Gate bridge, we took off for our bed and breakfast in Napa. The B&B in Napa was so perfect (thanks SB & Cody for the recommendation!). We chatted with the lady who owns it for awhile and then walked to downtown Napa for some dinner. We made our way back to the B&B and crashed for the night.

Friday, we woke up and had an amazing breakfast at the B&B before taking off for our tour of Castello di Amorosa. We woke up to rain and it literally rained all day. Oh well, we are still making the most of it! Our tour was awesome. I definitely recommend this one because you get to walk through a castle and go down deep into the ground to see all the barrels. We tasted some great wine, made some purchases, took some pics and then departed for the next winery!
Breakfast at our B&B in Napa

The second winery was Dutch Henry based on the recommendation from the lady at our B&B who had coupons for us (awesome!). I have decided that the experience of the tasting makes the wine. If the tasting room isn't cool, the wine isn't as good. Castello was underground at a fancy bar after touring around learning all about their wine. Dutch Henry was in a barn at a table. Their wine may be fantastic but I didn't enjoy it as much.
Castello di Amorosa castle

Dutch Henry Winery tasting room

We stopped for lunch and a breather and then went to our third winery, Arger Martucci based on the recommendation of the people who sat across from us at lunch. Once again, the wine was good but the tasting room wasn't that neat. We felt like we were sitting in someone's kitchen. But the guy that was there was knowledgable and we learned a lot from him. He even took us into the vineyard for a bit to show us how the vines are just starting to grow again.

Our last winery of the day was Cakebread Cellars. This was probably our favorite tasting because we chatted with the guy who was pouring the wine and with the other people in the tasting room. Plus you get to keep your wine glass and the tasting fee was only $10. The experience of the tasting definitely trumps the taste of the wine.
Outside Cakebread Cellars in front of the vineyard

After learning about the art of winemaking, because it truly is an art, we headed back to Sacramento. That night we went out with Mitchell for tapas at Tapa the World and came home. We were all pretty tired, even Mitchell, so after some funny late night conversation, we all went to sleep.

Early the next morning, we woke up and took Meagan and Hubs to the airport! We were sad to see them go but are so thankful for their time here! I really just wish California would have put it's best foot forward for them and not rained! I guess they'll just have to come back! :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Orange Marmalade

I am sure by now you have heard about the orange trees in our yard and how much I love having them there. A few people have tried fresh squeezed OJ from the oranges in our tree and can attest to how good they are. When mom and Memom were here, they came up with all these fabulous ideas of what I can do with all my oranges. Pretty soon they'll start falling off the tree and rotting unless I can find uses for them!

One of their ideas is orange marmalade (aka jelly). So I decided to make some! Here is my process:

First, I gathered all my supplies. A big pot, oranges, one lemon, pretty much an entire bag of sugar, my mandolin slicer, thermometer, and jars.
After washing the oranges thoroughly, I made 1/8th inch slices with my mandolin slicer. I have heard horror stories of people slicing parts of their fingers with these things so I was very careful. After slicing oranges up, I cooked them. (side note: I'm sore from slicing oranges, lame!)

While the oranges were cooking, I prepared to sterilize the jars. While I was popping off the vacuum sealed lids of my mason jars, one of the sharp lids popped right off into my unsuspecting knuckle. My extreme caution with the mandolin slicer was to no avail, because now I am bleeding badly in two spots on my left hand. While I am running water over my bleeding finger, I am wondering how deep I have cut myself to produce this much blood when I realize I do not feel well. My stomach feels bad, I'm sweating and my eyes are going black. So before I black out in my kitchen, I go sit down in the living room for a bit to calm down while attempting to get the blood in my finger to coagulate. Side note: I have always prided myself on being tough with body issues (blood, vomit, snot, etc) and am very sad I have had such a dramatic reaction to my cut. Anyway, I got those darn jars to sterilizing.
 Because of my accident, I am now behind schedule and it is approaching time to take Mitchell lunch. My jars are boiling, my oranges are still cooking but at this point I have decided I am not that committed to this marmalade coming out well. I shut off the burners and took a lunch break.
I return after lunch and continue cooking my marmalade, reaching the point when I add all the sugar and try to bring it to the right consistency and temperature. Stir, stir, stir.
I check how done the marmalade is by placing a teaspoon on a frozen plate, letting it sit for 30 seconds and then tilting the plate to see how runny it is.
It is ready! So now the canning part! This was tricky and unfortunately there was no one to document this so you only see the final product:
6 cans of orange marmalade! The original idea was to give these as gifts but now that I realize I am not equipped to properly can, I am too scared of giving someone botulism to give any as gifts. So I will just keep these for myself and freeze them.

Can't forget to clean up your sticky mess!
The following day (today), I taste tested the homemade orange marmalade. And...

I don't like it. :( I don't think I've ever had orange marmalade before so I don't have anything to compare to but it just tastes like the rind to me. I'm not sure if it's supposed to taste like that, but if it is, then orange marmalade is gross. If it's not then I can't make it with my oranges because the rind is too strong.

Oh well, I was really only out a bag of sugar so not an expensive waste and if I hadn't cut myself, I probably would have called this a fun experience. On the list of other things to make with my oranges is orange chicken, orange honey spread and orange frosting on chocolate cupcakes. I have high expectations that all of those things will come out much better!

My finger (hurts worse than it looks)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring has sprung!

Thank you Lord that March is here! Spring seems to have sprung over night! We survived February and I am so thankful! Spring came early for Northern California this year, due to a very mild winter and that is totally fine with me! Life is blossoming again! All these pics were taken by me in my neighborhood. Check it out...

 Camelias! There are so many different varieties of them growing right now!
 A redbud tree!
 Tulip tree blooming in my front yard!
 More tulips - so many colors!
 I don't know what this is but I passed a whole field of them growing and it was breathtaking!
Almond trees blooming! It's a terrible pic but these trees are all over Cali!

You could ask my friends here about how amazed I am at all the beautiful things that grow here! Yes, we get pretty flowers in Texas but nothing like what they have here. I was telling Mitchell the other day that it makes sense to me now that you see tulips all over Easter things because in some places of the world, they actually grow and bloom this time of year! If I come across some other pretty flowers, I will post them. I am just in awe of how beautiful God's creation is!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mom & Memom Visit

My mom and grandmother came to visit for 6 days and it was so much fun! It was so nice to have them here because it was a breath of familiarity after 2 months of everything being new and unfamiliar. It was nice to have them "ooh" and "ahh" over everything here and be so pleased with our living situation here in Sac. They had a great time and I got to experience new parts of California with them!

The day they got here, we spent time in Sacramento, walking through my neighborhood in East Sac, driving around the city and spending time at home. Sacramento isn't the exciting part of the visit but it is where we live so it's worth spending some time in.
Welcome to Sacramento!

On Thursday, we drove 5 hours south and visited the Hearst Castle. This was on my Memom's bucket list and it was so worth the drive! This famously rich man built this castle on top of the hills overlooking the ocean in central California in the 1920s. He threw elaborate parties that often included the rich and famous. Now the castle belongs to the state and is a park open for tours. The castle is designed and decorated with inspiration from Europe so you feel like your'e stepping back in time. Super fun!
Hearst Castle pool with the hills behind us

On Friday, we spend the day in San Francisco on the Fisherman's Wharf and on Alcatraz Island. San Fran is a stressful city to drive around in so we just parked and walked for most of the day. Because we were on foot, we didn't see a lot of the city but mom and Memom have been before so we did the things they hadn't done yet... like Alcatraz. It's a 2.5 hour tour so it takes most of your afternoon but it's worth it if you have the time. They take you out to the island that was once a U.S. penitentiary for bad criminals that were violent, rebellious and would try to escape. The island is over a mile from the San Fran shore with cold water and strong currents in between. It was inescapable.
Golden Gate Bridge
About to head to Alcatraz

On Saturday, my husband gave up golfing with a buddy to take us to Napa Valley for our wine tour and tasting. We went to Beringer Winery on a recommendation from a friend and absolutely loved it. I didn't know it would be so educational. Wine making is a science and an art! We felt so fancy tasting our wine! The house outside was beautiful and there was a massive tulip tree that was blooming magnificently. So pretty!
Wine tasting room at Beringer!
Beringer House after wine tasting
In front of the tulip tree at Beringer

The highlights of Sunday were church in the morning, lunch at In-N-Out Burger and watching the Oscars while Mitchell went to go see Act of Valor with a guy friend. Meems needed a slow day because of all the excitement and busy-ness of the previous days.
Yummy lunch after church!
Oscar watching party!

Monday we attempted to go to Lake Tahoe and enjoy lunch overlooking the lake, however we were thwarted by bad weather. It decided to snow up on the mountains and you couldn't pass unless you had chains on your car. Memom lived in Denver for 3 years and was very nervous about continuing on so we snapped some pics and came back down. On the way down we stopped in Placerville and found a cute little store that did olive oil tasting. I didn't know there was so much to making olive oil either!
On the way to Lake Tahoe!

Tuesday morning was nice and slow at our house with coffee and Good Morning America. :) We went downtown and met Mitchell for brunch and then headed to the airport!
Last pic in Sacramento!

We had a super great time! Memom was most definitely our entertainment without meaning to be. She called a seagull a "barking duck" and would often go to bed by 9pm each night. She was such a trooper and kept up with us... as long as she could grab on to your arm as you walk because "when I get to swinging my head from side-to-side, I get a little dizzy". ;) They were both so helpful with getting my home set up for visitors and making it more cozy. Some things just needs a mother's touch!

Photo album on Facebook

We can't wait for more visitors! :D