Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Busy Week & More Cerro Noroeste Photos (non-nuclear blast!)

   Phew! What a week! The monkey has been doing an awesome job with his swim lessons (so hopefully I will finally be off the hook w/his pediatrician at his yearly appt. this year!). I have had a non-official (no quorum) HOA board meeting, PMLC School Advisory Committee, Cub Scout Pack Meeting (so glad I didn't have to plan it!) & tonight, Chamber of Commerce (somehow I'm secretary, but don't own a business!).
   So, after the swim lesson, we took a drive down Cerro Noroeste (that's the road Mil Potrero turns into, & takes you from PMC to Hwy. 166). The above photos are examples of the scenery, but so much more dramatic in person...

   Here are some of those lovely flowers (so nice my photos came out great this time!).

 This is the entry gate to the 20 acres I'll be listing, but had access issues today, so no photos yet!

   The property is somewhere among the rolling hills below and to the right. The views are just incredible, even better than this one from the road. Note the Cuyama Valley farmland in the backround. That is where you drive through to get to Santa Maria & the 101 (lovely drive).
 So, of course I had to take more photos of those lovely wildflowers that look like something Diego Rivera would paint. Could only photograph sections where I could safely pull over, so some of the prettiest spots, you'll have to see for yourself!

I was so hoping that bird was a condor, but nope, way too small!!
Then, it was back to the PMC pool, which has its own lovely views!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Some Yummy Food!

It was my friend's birthday last weekend, & she has a wonderful gourmet son & daughter-in-law that prepared a wonderful 'small bites' menu for a few select guests. Wow!! There were three different takes on a bruschetta. This first one was macerated fresh English peas with mint & a thin slice of cheese...ahhh!
Another was creme fraiche, with apples & prosciutto...Of course I have no photo of my favorite, which was served on toasted pumpernickel. Smoked salmon, thin slice of red onion, & as I recall, cheese & perhaps a little creme fraiche (gobbled down before I could snap photos!).
   They also served their famous 'zucchini cakes' (which I will have to get the recipe for) with 3 dipping sauces (evocative of Indian dipping sauces), chicken on skewers satay style, shrimp on skewers, as well as asparagus, sausage & broccolini. Yummy! We then had red velvet cake & black raspberry ice cream. Poor hub, he missed out!!
   I have been on a pizza kick lately, made some Sunday & Monday nights. Sunday was a garlic/carrot/basil/walnut pesto with bbq chicken, as well as pepperoni f/the boys (mixed some of my pesto in their red sauce). Then, with spur-of-the-moment dinner guests last night, I chose pizza again, this time carrot/basil/garlic/arugula/walnut pesto with slightly sauteed mushrooms and a red sauce bacon pizza! All with mozzarella cheese, of course. No photos this time. I put a ton of dried basil in my homemade dough, which has 2 cups of white flour to about 1 cup of whole wheat. I'll check my past posts to see if I have posted the pizza dough recipe. If I haven't, I will post the recipe...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cerro Noroeste

   This morning, I went to see a lovely 20 acre piece of property I'm going to list off Cerro Noroeste (about 14 miles west ot the Apache Saddle Fire Station). For some strange reason, all of my photos came out looking like they were taken during a nuclear test; all bleached out. This photo is of some of the lovely (gourd?) plants blooming alongside the highway. I'm going to have to go back out there this week to retake my photos.

   The photos look somewhat artsy, after I tried to correct the color, but they don't do justice to the actual property, and the amazing views. I'll post the new photos when I take them, and you'll see what I mean. In person, you see the farmland of the Cuyama Valley, and it is stunning. Should be an interesting comparison...

  This one of the highway has a David Hockney feel to it, in my opinion...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A New Friend in the Garden

   About a week ago, we discovered a friend in our garden; Lumpy (as the monkey has named him) is a toad. We think s/he is a western, or boreal toad. We were very excited, and he likes to go in my little cottage garden. We are hoping Kosmo doesn't eat him. He has a little hole he likes to go in, under the driveway.
   This is what my little cottage garden looked like on July 2...

  ...and this is what it looks like today!! Remember all those snow photos in March???

   Speaking of gardens, here are those two beds I built! The hub helped add some logs to my top tier, but I did all the digging/lifting/building myself! The lower tier has eggplant, strawberry, basil, jalapeno, green pepper, Japanese eggplant and tomato. I am trying to get some corn in on the upper tier.

   I have some strawberry and a lovely heirloom tomato growing in a strawberry pot. I can't wait to try this tomato; it is supposed to be a rose/purple color!

   Kosmo (aka the world's happiest dog) enjoys the grass. He has taken out numerous rodents this summer. What a good doggie!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Angelic Cub Scouts!

   I can't really post their photos, unless I find one from a distance to protect their privacy (no such luck f/my monkey; mwah hah hah). BUT, my Bear den (& our honorary mascot, rockin' sister of a cubbie) worked SO hard picking up trash on Gorman Post Rd. south of Carl's Jr. in Gorman this evening. And let me tell you, some of that trash was GROSS...Animals are so much more couth than people. I just don't get litterbugs...

   The boys wore gloves, & we were careful about raking trash to them, to avoid any creepy crawlies. They also had instructions not to pick up any bottles containing liquid (don't ask). We had to pick a quadrant, as you could just keep going, & going...Picking up trash could potentially be endless otherwise (think Sisyphus). They cleaned up the south end of the dirt lot, and the hillside/frontage across the street.

   These last two photos show how much better the hillside and lot look. We didn't delve too deep into the trees/gully, but you can see how nice & neat that section now looks...Carl's gave them free drinks, and the cubbies certainly earned them! We filled up SEVEN large bags in one hour. I feel disgusting, and will definitely take a second shower before bedtime. So very grateful one of our dads took the bags in his truck, as: A) I had planned to put them in the Esca-glade & take to the dump tomorrow B)Turns out they emitted a disgusting aroma, so I dodged a huge bullet! Yay for nice dads! And bravo, cubbies!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fun Weekend!

Sorry about the bitter tone of my last post! I just get upset when we go to the trouble to plan an activity, and no one shows up. Thank you so much to my friend, K., f/bringing the monkey's buddy!
   So, we actually had a great time, and a great weekend. On Friday, the monkey & I drove to Laetitia Winery (speeding ticket on the 166-rats!) for a free barbecue. It was soooo much fun! Free hot dogs or hamburgers, free wine tastings, and music, all in a lovely outdoor setting. They even served raspberry/Barnwood cabernet ice cream w/little chunks of chocolate in it. Yum! Unfortunately, no photos...Monkey & I saw an old guy ram the back of his minivan into a post; dented the van & broke out his back window. Moderation is the KEY...I only had 3 tastings, although I could have had way more...
   On Saturday, we had the aforementioned storytime/craft. Then, in the early evening, our little family attended the Ridge Route Museum's barbecue. The Ridge Route is our local treasure, a wealth of local area artifacts and history. They had a 3-piece ensemble playing bluegrass tunes (Michelle Nosco on the fiddle).
   The museum supplied burgers and hot dogs, guests supplied the sides. We brought a pasta salad and brownies. It was fun sampling other patrons' dishes, and the owners of The Patch brought yellow watermelon, which you cannot find in stores.
   The monkey was able to practice roping a cow (he did really well, I think he inherited the cowboy gene from me!). Then, he learned how to pan for gold. Of course, now I want to get the cubbies out to Lockwood Creek and go pan for gold!!

   Now, here is an amazing story of fate: out of the blue, the monkey starts telling the prospecting club member about the movies his dad has worked on. The prospector has another hobby: connecting people with their unclaimed money. Turns out, he was looking for a man who worked in set lighting (the hub is a 728 member), & because of  moving around, didn't receive some of his paychecks. Hub looks up the name in his 728 directory, gives the prospector the man's telephone number, and it was the correct guy! The guy is now $10,000 richer! Talk about kismet...
   Now, if you remember, last fall I discovered the joy of harvesting pine nuts. This year, I am determined to gather elderberries for elderberry jam. Well, some nice young ladies had a basket of ripe elderberries to share, that they gathered on the southern end of the old Ridge Route road. In the mountains, our elderberry bushes are in bloom, and the berries won't be ready until August/September.
   If you look at the photo above, you can see what an elderberry bush in bloom looks like (the flowers are reminiscent of Queen Anne's lace, but yellow). AND, look at the clump of berries the monkey is holding: elderberries! They are tiny and very sour, but like cranberries, would be yummy when sweetened with something to balance (an elderberry/peach pie, perhaps?).
   So, I will be on an elderberry quest this fall, but also be on the lookout for bears, who are huge consumers of this wild berry. The Ridge Route museum has a little cookbook that tells how to make elderberry jam!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Should I Stop Offering My Free Storytime/Craft??

   We  had an awesome time at Chatterpillar for my free storytime/craft. Sr. Lead Deputy Jauch brought his beautiful, sweet, retired police dog, Riggs. The kids enjoyed seeing Riggs obey commands, were able to pet him, and received really cool trading cards of the police buddies.

   After the demonstration, I read Officer Buckle and Gloria to the kids, and we made 'Gloria' paperbag puppets. Chatterpillar gave each child a balloon and goodie bag with cool toys. I also gave the children my special, homemade chocolate chip cookies; yum yum.
   So why am I asking if I should stop? Only three children (inc. my son) came. I volunteer a ton in this community. I am:
  • On the Pinon Pines HOA board (f/which the only thing the board receives is grief, lol) & design/write the HOA monthly newsletter
  • A cub scout Bear den leader (which means planning & running the meetings/activities)
  • Somehow on the board of the local Chamber of Commerce
  • Going to be on the SAC for Pine Mtn. Learning Center, & of course already volunteer there
  • Write my monthly "Michi's Magic Bookshelf" column (not paid)
  • Host a monthly free storytime/craft to go with my column. I plan and pay for the activity (although my sweet friend just gave me a bunch of cool foam craft supplies!).
  • In charge of the silent/live auction tables at the upcoming Shelter on the Hill fundraiser
   On top of all this, I try to do a good job as a wife/mom, do all the yardwork on our acreage property, work as a realtor, doing my unpaid desk time (as a realtor, you only get paid if you have a successful sale) every Sunday, except for the rare occasion I take it off. That means, because of my monthly craft, I only get 3 out of 4 Saturdays to spend with my husband & son, as the hub works all week, and next weekend, he will be working 12 days straight. So, when only two kids come to the storytime/craft, it makes me feel like I should just stop offering that, & just do my column, recommending great children's books to the community.
   I hear the local parents complain that there is nothing for kids to do, but here I am spending money I don't have, to offer a fun activity, and basically, no one shows up. I'm thinking I'll just do some special activities occasionally with the Ridge Route, and the new library when it opens, and get my Saturdays back...I have a storytime/craft scheduled in August at Mountain Mercantile, and I'll see what kind of attendance I get. I was planning to do a special event at M&M Peach Farm in September, but I'm now thinking of nixing that idea. What do you all think??