Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Finding Fall

In our search for Fall in southern California we (meaning I) decided to venture north of Santa Barbara to go apple picking. I found a couple of spots but was not sure what to expect as the websites were ancient and had not been updated in years. We made it a family affair with Uncle E, Auntie Rach, Benji, Goppy and Grandpa Lee. 

First up was Seein' Spots Farm in Solvang. They are really a miniature donkey and rescue animal ranch that also has apple trees for picking.  When we arrived we were told all the apples were already picked since it was an unusually early season. We hung around to explore all the animals.
This turkey was beautiful! He did a lot of gobble gobble gobble sounds.
These ducks are the funniest looking things I have ever seen! They have little fro's on their heads! Very fancy.
The mini donkeys are very calm and friendly. There are brushes you can use to groom them. The girls had a great time.
Gemma might like one as a pet. They are for sale and only cost $1500.
Ben was not so sure. Maybe because his dad wanted to sit him on top of the donkey!
They also had a donkey/zebra called a zonkey. He was behind the electric fence so we will not be getting one of those.
I swear Benji smiles a ton in person. He is just perfecting his serious look for the camera.
Lily took her job very seriously. Grandpa Lee aka Indiana Jones had a good time too.
Alex was trying to pet the piggy while the goat above got jealous and started trying to nibble his head.
After our fun at the animal farm we headed over to Apple Lane Orchards. They too had an early ripening season and it was the last weekend they were going to have picking. There were only granny smith left but they were actually a lot sweeter than the usual granny smith.
Good thing we had our tiny pickers because the apples that were left on the tree were pretty high up and hard to reach. Lily and Gemma earned their worth on this trip.
Ben had a great time too, he could anticipate the home made apple sauce already.
We all had a great time and will try to return again next year and see what other varieties they have.
After we picked our fill we rested in the shade. We may have found Fall activities but we did NOT find Fall weather. It was in the mid 80's!
Then it was time for family photos in front of the sign with our bags of apples. So much for using this one for the Christmas card thanks to Uncle E's photo bomb.
This one is actually decent.
Next family, line 'em up!
I think I like this one the best! Wish our other two cuzzies could be here too. They have some serious apple picking in their neighborhood!
After all our hard work we headed to Los Olivos for lunch. They were having a big festival and the street was closed. They had food, live music, and all kinds of vendors. E and Rach got this cool bench made from a wine barrel. It is perfect for two little munchkins. Lily and Gemma bought these fun bouncing spiders with their own fun money they got in the mail!
We made one last stop at a local winery for some refreshment. Eric and Rach are club members so we all got to taste for free. It was so beautiful out and we relaxed in the shade.
This little spider was weary! He had fun trying to catch the wiggly spider.
We headed back to the beach house and all the littles napped in the car. We made a stop at Padaro grill for pupu's and a pitcher of beer. It felt almost like we were on a family vacation to Hawaii again!

Once home and after dinner we had one more activity to do. Goppy brought a halloween gingerbread house to decorate. We finally learned our lesson through the years and built the structure the night before. Now it was time to decorate.
They took their job very seriously. The candy eating job that is.
I think Lily may have eaten half a can of frosting herself!
The finished product turned out pretty good! It adds another element of spookiness to our home. 

Star Student

We received a letter in the mail last week that Lily had been chosen as one of the students of the month for September. Nothing like getting picked right from the start Lily!!
Parents of the star students are invited to attend the assembly so you can watch your child receive their certificate. Lily had no clue what the assembly was about, let alone that she would be one of the students chosen. These are all the kindergarten stars from the three classes.
 She could not have been more proud or excited. Nor could we! She received a pencil, certificate, a coupon for a free round of mini golf, and certificate for free child's meal at Lazy Dog cafe.
She didn't even realize Gemma and I were at the assembly until the end when we could go up and take pictures and give her a big hug. She was chosen along with two boys from her class. 

Her award was for, "outstanding listening skills and excellent effort in all academic areas." One Kindergartener received an award for neat writing. I thought that was pretty cute. 
Here is the video of the principal Mrs Valentine giving her the award.

That afternoon she came home to find some celebratory balloons and a tiny purple bear she has had her heart set on at the party store forever. It says #1 Mom! She didn't really get what that means. I think she can give it to me for mother's day in May. Her free kids meal coupon was burning a hole in her pocket so we all went out to dinner that night to celebrate. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Avocado Fest

Right after Benji's birthday party we packed up and headed north to the beach house. It was Avocado Festival weekend and with all the heat we couldn't wait to soak up some beach. You see, for all the griping about the lack of Fall weather we decided embrace the best of it and head to the ocean! The wind didn't follow us, it was sublime!

These two didn't waste any time wrecking Granny and Grampy's place. They love the play area and are really into making maps at the beach house. They look forward to all the toys they know are waiting for them.
We took a few minutes to relax then made our way down the street to the festival. It was in full swing and packed. Our two little avocados!
This one LOVES her some avocado. Gemma is the only one in the bunch that doesn't care for them. The rest of us devour them in any and every form.
After fueling up with some Guac we found the kids booths. Now our two little avo's are surfing!
This booth was sponsored by the Howard school in Carp. They had "avocado" playdoh and since mean mom and dad never let them play with playdoh they were hooked!
After their turn at play doh we dragged them to island brewery so we could have a little seasonal brew break. These two were less than impressed as you can see. Even with gold fish as a bribe we didn't last long and had to practically chug down our beers! I had the avocado honey beer. It was good, although I am not sure where the avocado flavor was?
If we were ever going to make it back home and through dinner there needed to be a little final bribery. It had been a very long and busy day. A couple of garden decorations and they were all smiles. Lily went for the purple butterfly and Gemma the blue flying horse. Clearly they don't listen to my suggestions and pick the most obnoxious ones available.
The next morning after at least a little rest, they woke us for some beach time. We managed to get a bit of breakfast then headed out with the dog for a walk on the beach. These pictures make us feel better about the fact that we don't exactly get the fall leaves and apple cider moments.
It was already sunny and glorious. We kept telling ourselves it may not be Hawaii but it sure is close and free!
We were supposed to be walking to the end of the beach and back to get the dog some exercise. These two had other plans. They only wanted to play in the sand and GET IN THE WATER!
Can you blame them? It was calling to them.
First we just dipped our toes in and held up our cover ups.
Who were we kidding? Those things were soaked in two seconds. I guess we are not walking, we are swimming.
It was not too crowded since everyone else was out gearing up for day two of the avo fest.
We managed to drag them away to go back to the condo for our beach gear and drop off the thoroughly wet and sandy dog.
Once back at the beach we got right in and did some boogie boarding. Or as Lily calls it, her surf board.
How did Gemma end up with sand all over every inch of her? She also had some nice red marks all over her cheek from rolling down the stairs. This is not her first experience falling down those stairs. I guess lesson not learned.
But how could you not love that sweet innocent face? Don't be fooled, it is all mischief. I blame the red hair.
We did manage to find a bunch of shells. The girls love the "butterfly" ones that are open but not split apart yet.
See? They are very fragile though. We have to take every one we find.
Back to our surfing. Both girls had a go at it. The water was perfect and it was such a warm and sunny day we were all in the water. Not an every day occasion, the water is usually pretty cold!
Sun, sand, and surf. What more could you ask for? We had to go back to pack up and head home for school and work in the morning. Boo. Isn't it still summer?