Friday, March 14, 2014

Yet another hike...Mountain lions, coyotes, skunks, oh my!

Last weekend we tried out a different hiking trail, this time in East County.  

We didn't start out until fairly late in the day, and it was a deserted trail.  I do not like hiking on a trail alone...for some reason I feel safer when there are others around too.  It must have something to do with strength in numbers.  No matter, we were most definitely alone.  However, along the trail we continued to see footprints from various 4-legged critters, and had a visit from a skunk.  He was on our trail, and was moving very slowly.  We kept our distance at first, but then got tired of walking slow (we had a pace to keep up if we were to be off the mountain by nightfall), so Matt distracted him by throwing a rock.  Not only did that cause him to deviate, but it caused him to turn around!  We promptly realized that he was running toward us, and we proceeded to run away from him.  We ducked into some foliage, armed ourselves with some branches (you know...in case he attacked!), and waited for him to pass.  He did pass, and we quickly realized that we'd just run from a creature whose body was no larger than 12" in length!  We laughed at the absurdity & continued on in the direction we had intended.  

At the end of the trail sat a pretty pool, which probably serves as the watering hole for the wildlife in the area.  It was a nice reward at the end of the trail.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hiking, hiking, hiking...


For the last 4 weekends we've ventured back out in the back country to try our hand at exploring some more of the various hiking trails in San Diego.  
Our first foray was to the top of Cowles Mountain, the tallest peak nearest the city.  It was a tough hike up, but plenty of people were doing it with their dogs in tow, so I figured I could manage.  

The weekend that followed we decided to check out a new space in Ramona, hiking to a pool of snowmelt known as The Devil's Punch Bowl.  The hike was tough, and we headed out way too late in the day. However, our friend Darrin convinced Matt to take the top off of his Jeep for the first time in 7 years!  That was worth the trip, in itself.







Last weekend we decided to hike up Mt. Woodsen, a famous rock-climbing site in Poway.  The incline up is pretty steep (I felt it in my buns for days!), but at the top sits a cool feature, known as "Potato Chip Rock."  This photo shows you how it got its namesake.



This weekend brought a lot of rain to our region, so most of our time was spent indoors.  However, when the rain finally lifted on Sunday afternoon, we decided to explore some "secret stairs" that we recently discovered in La Mesa.  It wasn't a crazy hard hike up, but we did do it twice, which lead a few minutes of heavy breathing.  Either way, we were introduced to a new part of La Mesa, which proved to be a nice little jaunt.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Habitat for Humanity Build

In December Matt began work on a home for Habitat for Humanity on the east side of SD County.  The home is being built for wounded veterans and their families.  At that time he and a few friends of ours worked on the roof of the home.  This weekend we were invited to participate once again, only this time the home was much further along.  We helped by painting and priming the exterior of the home, among other things.  We had a large group of friends with us for this build day, and we all had a lot of fun!










Friday, January 3, 2014

Ringing in the New Year in Chicago



Because we were in Chicago for the holidays, we stuck around until January 2nd so that we could ring in the new year.  We managed to secure a reservation for Stephanie Izzard's hot restaurant, Girl & the Goat for a Monday night.  My parents accompanied us to dinner, and it did not disappoint.  My favorite dish was actually a sauce on some flat-iron steak - known as "goat gravy."  I've found the recipe online, and can't wait to try it.  I bet it'll be great on most anything!  After dinner we met up with an old friend, Jen, and her beau at a RM Champagne Salon around the corner from the restaurant.  It was great to catch up, as we split a nice bottle of prosecco on a cold winter night.

For NYE we drove out to Glen Ellyn so that we could spend the evening with the Bertani family.  I hadn't seen Katharine since Memorial Day weekend, so we arranged the night so that we'd have a decent amount of time together.  We had dinner near their home in downtown Glen Ellyn, and wrapped up the end of the evening with drinks and dessert across the street.  We spent the night, and so were able to see the kids in the morning.  Thanks for a fun evening, guys!



Monday, December 30, 2013

The joy of being an aunt & uncle!

We had the best time with our nieces while we were in Chicago for the holidays.  We decided it'd be better for us to stay put in Chicago this year, and so invited the Webers to visit my parents' house instead.  It was a great decision.  We had a ton of fun - doing arts & crafts, setting up a glow-in-the-dark bath, eating Chicago style pizza, watching movies, playing & training the dog, visiting American Girl Place downtown, and baking in the kitchen.  I hope that we created some unique memories that the girls will hold on to forever, as that was the goal!  Next year we are hopeful that the family will be visiting us in San Diego!

Natalie!
A moment of quiet
Using hammers & nails to build rainsticks!
Hot Chocolate at Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop

Horse & Carriage at Water Tower, downtown Chicago
Hot Chocolate at Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop


Happy girl!
Might as well be twins!
Preparing the dough for cinnamon rolls 

Christmas 2013

This holiday we snuck away from California to visit Chicago for 10 days. We spent Christmas Eve at Blake & Altera's new house, with quite a crowd of family from both sides. Christmas Day was hosted by my cousin, Wendy, and her husband, Pat. 





Following Christmas Day, we drove 5 hours south to St. Louis so that we could visit our family on the farm there.  My aunt and cousins live about 15 minutes outside of downtown, on a 150+ acre farm.  They have a lot of toys and additions to their land, including a full baseball field with backstop, dugouts, and pavilion, all of which is located next to their airplane hanger.  It's always an interesting visit.

Cousins, Doc & Tyler, enjoy a ride in their new 4-wheeler ATV.
Baseball fields beyond
The little peninsula they built in their lake
Multiple kitties abound

One of the main reasons for our visit was to see my 92-year-old Grandpa

Monday, November 18, 2013

Masquerade Gala


A few weeks ago, Matt was invited to attend a Masquerade Gala for the San Diego City Ballet, held at the US Grant historic hotel.  It was a great night, spent with our friends, Darrin & Samantha, and Ian & Lyndsey.  Although we don't get to dress up too often, when we do it's special.  The ballet troupe performed a few numbers for us during dinner, so we did get to sneak a little peak of that.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Progressive Dinner in our new neighborhood



A few months ago I first heard about the concept of a progressive dinner - one in which each course is served to a group of people at different homes along the party route.  When we first moved into our new development I threw the idea out to a few of the ladies, and everyone welcomed it!  We put together our first event, and hope to do them regularly.  It was helpful that we had a theme - ours was Mediterranean - so that everyone made a dish that worked cohesively with the others.  We only had 4 courses, with approximately 45 spent at each home + 15 minutes of "wiggle room" built in, as we didn't have real travel time walking to a house just a few doors down.  Each party brought beverages for themselves, and any host who wanted a particular beverage could have also provided.  My neighbor, Casey, and I co-hosted the appetizer course at their home, complete with several apps and a specialty champagne cocktail.  We later enjoyed salad, a couscous/chicken/hummus platter as entree, and dessert around the bonfire pit at our last house.  It was a great night for everyone, and I'm looking forward to the next!