There’s a party going on right here

I have a confession: I love to plan parties. Birthdays, showers, family gatherings – you name, I’m in the mix planning it. Every detail is important from the menu right on down to the decorations. Recently, I got to plan a joint birthday party for our kids. By some blessing (curse?) Avery and Caedon’s birthdays are exactly one month apart. This is not a lot of time to plan two separate parties and in years past, I had gone all out on Avery’s (her’s comes first and she’s two years older) and then found myself throwing something together at the last minute for Caedon. So this year, I decided to combine my efforts into a joint party and the results were pretty neat.

Since the kids have summer birthdays, we’ve pretty much always done a party in my parents back yard – its big, the weather is nice, and its free! And while it’s true that I like to plan parties, I don’t like to plan a bunch of activities, so we brought in a jumpy water slide for the enjoyment of the kids and the relative ease of the adults.

Cousin D getting things started on the water slide

Cousin D getting things started on the water slide

Caedon and D riding the slide

Caedon and D riding the slide

Avery takes aim

Avery takes aim

Since we were hosting for both Avery and Caedon, we went for a primary color sweet treat theme. Invitations, compliments of tiny prints, were sent out and the decorating began. I also went on the hunt for a universally-friendly give away: bug catchers!

Homemade paper banner

Homemade paper banner

Homemade yard signs

Homemade yard signs

And one for Caedon

And one for Caedon

Guest give-aways

Guest give-aways

Food for the party was easy, finger food. I am not a huge fan of pizza, and try to avoid serving it at birthday parties when there are so many other interesting and hassle-free options. We served rainbow fruit kebabs, cucumber and carrot cups with ranch dressing, and mini “turkeys” in a blanket. I don’t have a photo of the blankets because quite honestly, they were the hit of the party and were gone before I new what had happened!

Rainbow fruit kebabs

Rainbow fruit kebabs

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Cucumber & carrot cups with ranch

For dessert, rather than have two separate cakes or have a big to-do trying to decided on one cake Avery and Caedon could both agree on, we decided to host an ice cream bar, featuring three flavors of home-made ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, and fresh peach), along with brownies, hot chocolate sauce, and all the fixings.

Ice cream bar fixings: mini marshmallows, rainbow sprinkles, mini m&ms, mini gummy bears, and chocolate bits

Ice cream bar fixings: mini marshmallows, rainbow sprinkles, mini m&ms, mini gummy bears, and chocolate bits in homemade paper popcorn boxes

Avery's concoction

A little bit of everything is always nice!

Post-ice cream smiles

Post-ice cream smiles

Happy birthday, Avery & Caedon!

We’ve gone to the dogs…

So it’s been quiet here at 2KidsinWineCountry, but it’s not for a lack of things to say. We have just been struggling with the special needs of Duncan, our German Shepherd who you met in my very first post. After eight months, Duncan was still unable to be left alone – ever – and we were starting to feel like prisoners in our own home. Not to mention the nervousness and neurotic antics he would put on if he felt the least bit unsure of his surroundings. In short, it was time for some professional help.

At our lowest point, I was ready to surrender him to a rescue – something I never thought I would consider. I called the Sonoma County Humane Society, a non-euthanizing donor supported safe haven for animals. They were full, as you can imagine. Next, I called the German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California, where I learned that sometimes, even the rescues don’t want to take on a project of great proportions. Then my mom told me about The Green Dog Rescue Project right here in Windsor.

Colleen Combs started the Green Dog Rescue Project to save dogs in shelters from being unnecessarily euthanized and to help dogs thrive by socializing in a pack. Colleen’s passion for saving dogs began twenty years ago after her own dog, Kyshka, was killed while protecting Colleen and her two children from an armed intruder.

Colleen conducted a 3 hour assessment on Duncan where she discovered that his greatest obstacle was his lack of self-esteem and socialization skills. With her help and that of Kings Kastle Day Care, Duncan has begun to look at life a little differently. While out on our daily walks, he no longer barks and lunges at dogs and cats and we are working on being able to leave him a lone for short periods of time. In addition to the socialization, our vet also started Duncan on a low dose of phenobarbital to help alleviate his anxiety. So far, everything seems to be working.

Duncan and the kiddos

Duncan and the kiddos

We have a lot to learn about how to best care for Duncan and try to create a home environment that meets his needs and ours. But I have more hope today that we can achieve such a goal than I did a few weeks ago.

My take on the eggplant

“Mommy, can we have eggplant for dinner?”

Come again? What did you say?

Yes, eggplant is a favorite in our household – specifically, Eggplant Parmesan. The deep earthy flavors of the eggplant sitting in a bed of homemade tomato sauce is always a winner. Serve it with a side of pasta and some veg and dinner is done.

Eggplant Parmesan, pasta, and broccoli

Eggplant Parmesan, pasta, and broccoli

I have tasted many types of Eggplant Parmesan over the years and some have been good, a few have been great, but the majority have been neither. Thick-cut pieces of seedy eggplant fried in a wimpy crust does nothing to whet my appetite. Not to mention the amount of work that goes in to peeling, salting, breading, and frying! Just the thought of all of those steps is enough to put me off of making such a time-consuming dish. So over the years, I have created my ideal version of this family staple. From prep to table, it’s roughly an hour/hour and a half – and that’s including making the sauce, pasta, and veg!

Here’s my secret: I thinly slice the eggplant, then broil it in the oven with a little olive oil to caramelize it – similar to caramelized onions. Set the oven broiler to Hi and let it heat up.  Our little family of four can pretty much devour two eggplant for this dish. Slice the eggplant and lay it out on a cookie sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil. Place under the broiler for about 10 minutes on each side. Once done broiling, set the oven for 350 degrees.

Sliced eggplant with olive oil

Sliced eggplant with olive oil

after broiling

after broiling

While the eggplant is in the broiler, start making your tomato sauce.

all you need to make a fabulous tomato sauce

all you need to make a fabulous tomato sauce

Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large saute pan. Then add chopped onion – about a cup – and let that cook for a few minutes.

onions

chopped onion in olive oil

Next toss in some chopped garlic. We are huge garlic fans, so I add at least three cloves, but feel free to adjust for taste. I like a little heat, so while the garlic is sautéing with the onion, I add a few shakes of crushed red pepper. Let this cook for about a minute more. The pan will smell amazing at this point!

redpepper

garlic and red pepper flakes are added

Then add the tomatoes. If I am using this sauce just for a simple pasta, I can get away with one 28 oz. can and a 14.5oz can. But to make sure I have enough sauce for the pasta and the eggplant, I use two 28 oz. cans of tomatoes. Tonight, I was scraping the bottom of the cupboard and found one can of whole peeled tomatoes and one can of diced tomatoes. Add about 1/2 cup of olive oil, salt (just shy of a teaspoon) and black pepper. Bring to a steady simmer and let cook for about 20-30 minutes.

tomatoes

two 28 oz. cans of tomatoes

The sauce thickens up nicely as it cooks. Once done, blend – I use a hand blender for this step.

blendsauce

use a hand-held blender to puree sauce

Now to assemble the eggplant. I stack my eggplant three-high, since they are pretty thin. Ladle a layer of sauce over the bottom of a baking dish. Layout your first layer of eggplant, top with shaved Parmesan cheese (it is Eggplant Parmesan, after all) and then add another layer of eggplant and top again with Parmesan. Add a final layer of eggplant and dribble a bit more sauce on top of each stack. then add a layer of mozzarella cheese. Pop into the oven for about 30 minutes to rewarm the eggplant and melt the cheese.

Layers of eggplant and Parmesan cheese

Layers of eggplant and Parmesan cheese

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Once the eggplant is in the oven, get your veg going – broccoli always seems like the easy choice, so I put a head into steam and about 1/2 lb. of pasta in to boil. And dinner is served.

the finished product

the finished product

Eggplant Parmesan

  • 2 eggplant, rinsed and sliced thinly
  • olive oil, for broiling
  • Parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella cheese

Set broiler to Hi. spread out eggplant on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Broil 10 minutes on each side until eggplant is a nice caramel color. Work in batches if necessary. Remove eggplant from oven and set temp to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ladle a thin layer of tomato sauce (recipe follows) on the bottom of a baking dish. Layout the first layer of eggplant and top with shaved Parmesan cheese, followed by a second layer of eggplant and Parmesan cheese, and then a final layer of eggplant topped with mozzarella.

Bake in oven for about 30 minutes to rewarm the eggplant and melt the cheese. Serve with a side of pasta and veg.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 28 oz. cans of tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus a tablespoon or two divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in large sautee pan. Add onion and cook 5 minutes. Add garlic – cook 2 minutes – and crushed red pepper, if using, cook about a minute more. Add tomatoes and olive oil, salt and pepper. Bring to a steady simmer and cook about 20-30 minutes. Blend with a hand blender and adjust for seasonings.

I’m a little Darling!

liebster-award

Recently, I was named, among others, as a recipient of the Liebster Blog Award by fellow blogger (and full disclosure here – my father) Michel Augsburger who writes Our House in Provence.  The award – German for Darling – is designed to highlight smaller, less known blogs with fewer than 300 followers – I definitely qualify for that! Although there is no obligation, recipients accept the award with the intention of passing it on or paying it forward to 3-5 other bloggers that they feel are deserving of wider readership. The rules for the Liebster Blog Award are simple enough:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who presented you the award
  2. Give 11 random facts about your self
  3. Answer the 11 questions presented to you when you received the award
  4. Write 11 questions for your nominees
  5. Present the Liebster Blog award to 3-5 other bloggers

Eleven random facts about yours truly…

1. Like my father, I too have dual citizenship in both the United States and Switzerland. When my children are older, they will have the option to apply for Swiss citizenship.

2. I left high school after my junior year and entered directly into a small college outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. When I tried to transfer for my last two years to a university in south-western Michigan, I was told that I couldn’t be accepted because I did not have a high school diploma – despite already completing two years of college. I went back to my high school history teacher to take a summer course of government (the only class I needed to get my diploma) and the following June, I was issued a high school diploma, graduating class of 1998. The next year I received my BA in English from Andrews University, graduating class of 1999.

3. I spent my sophomore year of college attending a small school about an hour outside of London. I fell in love with the history and the culture of England and spent way more time traveling and sightseeing than I ever did studying. And although I have been back to Europe a few times since, I have never made it back to England; it is definitely on my list of places to travel.

4. I took a year off of school between my sophomore and junior years of college to teach in the Marshall Islands as a student missionary. I, along with my very good friend (and sister-in-law through marriage), and three other gals lived on the island of Jeh in the Ailinglaplap Atoll. The island was about 5 miles long and only a 1/2 mile wide at its widest point. We taught elementary and high school students and received quite an education of our own!

5. I decided to go back to school for nursing soon after Avery was born. By the time I had finished my prerequisite classes and was accepted into school, I was pregnant with Caedon. I began school in the spring of 2008, completed my first quarter and then Caedon was born in August. I was back in school by the end of September. Looking back, I’m not sure how I went through nursing school with a toddler and a new-born. But I did and nursing is the best career I could have chosen for me and my family.

nursing class

My nursing class, end of first quarter May 2008

6. I love to read. I can usually be found toting around a book with me where ever I go, just on the off-chance that I might have a moment to read, even if it’s just a few paragraphs. I would rather read than watch TV or shop. Currently, I am reading The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker.

7. I used to be fearless. Nothing used to faze me. I can’t really say that anymore. The clearest example of this is when Avery was 18 months old, we were in Paris for a few days before heading back home after visiting family in the South of France. Alvin had never been to Paris before and wanted to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Avery fell asleep on my shoulder just before our ascent to the top. When we emerged on the top platform of the Eiffel Tower, I was frozen in fear and couldn’t move from the wall. I was terrified of being too close to the edge, of something happening. So after waiting in line for hours to get to the top, we stayed probably less than 10 minutes! This type of irrational fear has never happened to me since, thankfully!

8. I used to be a fairly picky eater. I was good with the basics, but anything even slightly exotic was too much for me (i.e. artichokes, beets, mushrooms, and a myriad of other items I could name). When I was pregnant with Avery, I decided that I didn’t want my children to have the same food issues I did, so I worked very hard to overcome them. I have been fairly successful. Both of my kids are willing to try any number of things. I eat a wide variety of foods, as well (except yogurt – yuk! I need to chew my food, people!)

9. I don’t like wine. There I said it. I live in Sonoma County and I don’t like wine. Sorry – actually, I’m not really even sorry. I’m not that much of a drinker to begin with, but I do like the occasional cocktail – mojitos, margaritas, etc.

10. I love the rain. I love that our winters in Sonoma County are rainy. I love a good thunderstorm with lightening – it’s actually one of the things I miss most about not living in Maryland any longer.

11. I love flowers, fruits, and vegetables. I love the idea of growing them in my garden… unfortunately, I was not blessed with a green thumb, or any green fingers for that matter. I have been able to sprout an avacado seed as well as a few apple seeds, but planting an entire lush, verdant garden and seeing it thrive through the season is beyond me.

Answers to the 11 questions I was asked:

1. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, alive or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why? My top choices would have to be Annie Dillard (and even Bill Bryson, for that matter) because I am in awe at their attention to detail and the little things in life; Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres not only because I would be guaranteed to spend the evening with a stitch in my side, but because I like their honesty; and Christiane Amanpour because I am inspired by the stories she has given voice to over the years.

2. Describe the circumstances under which you met your spouse.  Alvin and I met through mutual friends at university. Although I don’t remember our exact first meeting, I do know that he took so long to ask me out that I finally had to tell him to call me so we could go to dinner.

3. Name your very favorite restaurant; where is it located and what kind of food do they serve? This question is proving more difficult to answer than I had initially thought. As with most of us, I have different favorite restaurants depending on what type of food I’m in the mood for. Of course, my first choice for a hearty, satisfying meal is always Bistro Des Copains, my father’s French bistro in Occidental. When I am in the mood for great Indian, I go for Torch of India in Santa Rosa. The curries are top notch! But for the perfect date night, my go-to restaurant is Willi’s Seafood & Raw. Specializing in small plates meant for sharing, the menu is a mix of East Coast style rolls, Latin American skewers, and wine country classic cooking. Pair that with a great list of seasonal cocktails and your night is made.

4. What is your favorite dinner meal or “comfort food”? Comfort food, for me, is a place, not so much an actual dish. I enjoy a home-cooked meal by my father hands-down over going out to dinner almost any night of the week and especially when I am in the mood for comfort food.

5. Who is your favorite author? I would be lying if I didn’t say that I love Jane Austen. And while Pride & Prejudice is a great book, I love Persuasion. It is such a simple sweet love story and I like to think it was Jane Austen’s attempt to rewrite her own life story. But, as I mentioned above, I love to read and I love finding myself ruminating over a book recently finished several days later. Some other authors I am currently into are Susanna Kearsley, Karin Fossum, and Martin Walker.

6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be? I have been fortunate to live in quite a few different places around the world; I hope to try out  a few more places in the future. But for now, I love living in Sonoma County. The kids go to great schools, Alvin and I each have thriving careers and my family is here as well. My parents live a mile away from us and my sister and her family are about two miles away. We are so fortunate that Avery and Caedon have such a close relationship with their grandparents and their cousins.

7. What is your favorite movie of all time?  Who has just one favorite movie? Again, it depends on my mood… I love the Bourne series, French Kiss, Love Actually, The Shawshank Redemption, Shakespeare in Love, and Roman Holiday. I could go on, but these are the first that come to mind, so I will leave it at that.

8. Tea or coffee? Both. I love a great latte or cappuccino in the morning or before I head off to work. But if I am out to dinner or just relaxing at home, I can often be found with a steaming cup of PG Tips (milk and sugar, please).

9. What is your guilty pleasure? Well that’s an easy one! I love chocolate – milk chocolate – and there is something about Cadbury chocolate. I love Easter for the express reason that I get Cadbury Creme Eggs and Cadbury mini eggs. The rest of the year, I indulge in my guilty pleasure with a bar of Cadbury Fruit and Nut. My parents are kind enough to bring home a few bars of Cailler chocolate from France, as well.

10. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Well, I hate to be confusing, but both. Since I work nights at the hospital, I am a night owl. It doesn’t bother me to stay up all night as long as I can get quality sleep during the day. When I’m not working, I generally am up by 7 a.m. Over the years I have found that if I can have even 10-15 minutes of peace and solitude in the morning before the kids get up, I have a much better day.

11. What would be your dream job? If I were to go back to the very beginning just after finishing grad school, I think I would have liked to try my hand at book publishing. I just didn’t have a good sense of what I wanted to do with my degree at the time. Things have a way of working themselves out, though and I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to go back to school for nursing. I worked very hard to get through nursing school, so the fact that I am working as a nurse in a hospital is pretty close to achieving my dream job. I would like to specialize in a certain area, but am not sure yet what that area is. Since I am baring certain parts of myself on this post, I guess I should come clean and say that I would like to write a novel. I have one rattling around inside, but I just don’t quite know how to put the pieces together yet. Maybe one day…

So drum roll please… I am nominating the following blogs for the Liebster Award: Can You Stay for Dinner?; WINEpiphany; and a blog I stumbled on to recently: My Life in Scotland.

My questions for you:

  1. If you didn’t have to work, how would you spend your time?
  2. What is one thing from your past you wish you could go back and change?
  3. Favorite time of day? Why?
  4. What is the most romantic moment in your life thus far?
  5. What is your theme music – you know, the song that plays in your head when you think you’re doing something epic?
  6. Your perfect day would be spent…
  7. Dog, cat, or other?
  8. If you could learn another language through cultural immersion, what would it be and where would you learn it?
  9. What book are you reading right now?
  10. What is your comfort food?
  11. What is your favorite form of travel, i.e. boat, plane, train, car, etc. and why?

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed.

A brief history of my education in the kitchen

I love cooking…when I know what it is that I want to make, that is. There is nothing worse than knowing that dinner is looming before me, hungry children clambering for one more snack from the cupboard, and I don’t have a clue what to make for dinner. Fortunately, over the years, I have compiled a few go-to recipes that I can throw together in pinch that are guaranteed to be winners with the 4 ft crowd as well as the adults who join them.

Nearly everything I have learned about cooking, I have learned from my father: how to make a great risotto, the best homemade tomato sauce, salad dressings, and the beauty of French comfort food. For those of you that follow my father’s blog, Our House in Provence, you know that he loves to cook and is part owner of a French Bistro (Bistro Des Copains) here in Sonoma County. My mother has contributed to my education in the kitchen as well – mostly by providing me with good, solid Adventist staples: gluten (yes, it can be consumed as an entrée by those of us not suffering from an actual allergy or trying out the latest fad diet); Italian meat-less “meatballs” (why yes, that is a jar of tomato juice masquerading as sauce!); Special K Loaf (trust me, it is special) and a personal family recipe: rice and curry (again, vegetarian).

But I am most grateful for the abundance of cookbooks that my father has introduced me to. It is within these pages that I have found some of my family’s favorite dishes. Which came in handy on a recent Sunday afternoon when I realized it was 4:30 and I hadn’t even thought about dinner. I took a quick look in the fridge and freezer to assess what was on hand, took a quick poll among the eaters in the household and determined that pasta was to be the fare and a cream sauce was to be its adornment.

20130519_171002

I decided to use a recipe for a lemon cream sauce from Michael Bauer‘s The Secrets of Success Cookbook, with a few alterations (initiated by Dad, of course). Originally from Mescolanza, an Italian restaurant in the Richmond District, this recipe found its way into Michael Bauer’s compilation of recipes from some of San Francisco’s best restaurants. Be forewarned: this recipe is not for a light meal or those counting their calories, but it is simple enough to pull together on a weeknight and elegant enough to serve to guests. Without further adieu:

Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

  • 1 lb. pasta
  • Salt for cooking pasta, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream (or a mix of whole milk and heavy cream to lighten the taste)
  • Juice of 3 lemons and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • Freshly  ground white pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until tender but still firm.

20130519_170249

Tortellini as the pasta of choice for the night

Meanwhile, combine the cream, lemon juice and zest, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Add cheese and butter. Stir constantly until sauce thickens, about 5-10 minutes.

Lemon zest

Lemon zest

Lemon juice

Lemon juice

Lemon Cream sauce with the butter and cheese

Lemon Cream sauce with the butter and cheese

Drain the pasta. Transfer to a large serving bowl and pour the sauce over – toss to coat. SEason to taste with white pepper. Serves 6.

Dinner is on!

Dinner is on!

So as you may have noticed in the above picture, I added some frozen peas to give the dish some color and to sneak just a little extra vegetables into those little tummies. I recommend blanching the peas first and then tossing them into the final product just before serving. But since I don’t always practice what I preach, I will tell you that I threw the frozen peas into my sauce as it was in the last stages of cooking. Much easier, but the peas lose some of their vibrant green color.

Enjoy!

*A special thank-you to my little man Caedon for helping me get some of these shots.

It’s tradition…

Every family has traditions; our family has a few I’ll mention here: family breakfast, nightly worship, and Movie Night. Since Avery was about 3 years old, we have gotten together each Saturday night to watch a movie. At first the movies, chosen by Mommy or Daddy, were nostalgic pieces from our own childhood but over time the jaunty strains of “The Bare Necessities” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” have given way to nearly the entire Pixar library, a few Disney princesses (the least annoying ones) and a few newer classics (Charlotte’s Web, anyone?).

Clockwise from Left: The Jungle Book; Mary Poppins; Toy Story 2; Charlotte's Web; Monsters Inc.; Tangled; Finding Nemo; Cars 2; and The Princess and the Frog

Clockwise from Left: The Jungle Book; Mary Poppins; Toy Story 2; Charlotte’s Web; Monsters Inc.; Tangled; Finding Nemo; Cars 2; and The Princess and the Frog

Of course, deciding which movie to watch is not always an easy exercise. Recently, we began taking turns choosing the movie week by week. Avery leans towards the funny and sweet, while Caedon enjoys a little more excitement. But no movie would be complete with out a bowl of fresh hot popcorn and a slice of pizza.

So a few weeks ago we invited the cousins over to spend the afternoon and have Movie Night with us. For this special occasion we opted to make our own pizzas rather than just order out. Fortunately, everyone’s favorite neighborhood pizza joint  – Papa Murphy’s – now offers Mini Murph, a kid’s do-it-yourself pizza kit. The kit comes with a little pizza round already rolled out, pizza sauce and cheese; additional toppings are available.

20130504_174600          20130504_174609         20130504_174619

I pulled out a few extra fixings I had in the fridge and the little ones were soon hard at work creating their masterpieces. Opinions on which toppings would be the most delicious rang out through the kitchen as they worked on their artisan designs.

Avery has all the help she needs

Avery has all the help she needs

Caedon the creative

Caedon the creative

Yes - I am an artist!

Yes – I am an artist!

Then the pizzas went into the oven for 15 minutes and emerged golden brown. The kids settled down, pizza in hand, to watch Winnie the Pooh and his gang fight the Backson. As you can imagine, giggles ensued.

Looks good enough to eat!

Looks good enough to eat!

Enjoying the fruits of their labors

Enjoying the fruits of their labors

Start a fun family tradition that you’re kids will cherish. And for those of you that already have traditions, I’d love to hear them. Until next time…

Another great movie night!

Another great movie night!

Easter Weekend – Part two

So when we left off, Easter was in full swing – and when we awoke Sunday morning, so was the rain. Fortunately, the rain didn’t deter the Easter Bunny from delivering the goods.

DSCN1014   DSCN1015

After a few rounds of egg hunts in the house, we decided to embrace the rain with some good old-fashioned puddle stomping. When the kids were cold, wet, and a little bit worn out, we changed into dry clothes and decided to drive out to Pt. Reyes to see the Lighthouse and just enjoy the countryside.

DSCN1020     DSCN1022

The drive to Point Reyes winds through Petaluma and out toward the coast. The view of rolling green hills is lovely, even in the rain. The kids quickly fell asleep and the hubs and I were able to have a conversation in relative peace – a rarity at times. But to the Lighthouse we go…

Western Petaluma

Western Petaluma

Built in 1870, Point Reyes Lighthouse sits on the Point Reyes Headlands which jut 10 miles out into the sea. The headlands are considered the windiest location on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place on the North American continent. As it was raining, we weren’t expecting much of a view and were pleasantly surprised to find the sun shining by the time we got to Point Reyes Station, a small unincorporated town which serves as the gateway to the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Pt. Reyes Lighthouse

Pt. Reyes Lighthouse

We decided to hang out in Pt. Reyes Station for a bit before we headed to the Lighthouse. After walking down the main drag, poking our heads into shops, the little ones were ready for some hot chocolate. We ambled up to Toby’s outdoor espresso bar and ordered. Of course, it wasn’t until I was ready to pay, card in hand, that I realized it’s a cash-only joint. Thankfully, I was able to get cash out from the local ATM. So the kids got their hot chocolate and split a banana muffin. As it happened, the muffin must have had some sort of nut in it because we were pouring Benadryl down Caedon’s throat 10 minutes later. He recovered and we were once again on our way.

Avery enjoys a cup of cocoa

Avery enjoys a cup of cocoa

Caedon settles into his cocoa

Caedon settles into his cocoa

We then made our way towards the Lighthouse. It was about 4 pm at this point and we knew the gates closed at 5pm so we set out as quickly as the countryside would allow. The road to Point Reyes Lighthouse is banked on both sides by dairy farms, so traveling quickly is not always an option…

Local scenery

Local scenery

For close to 20 miles, we wound are way around cows and dairy farms until we climbed the last hill towards the Lighthouse. We knew we were out of luck to walk down to see the Lighthouse due to time, but the fog became a factor as well. This was our last view of Point Reyes before we turned around to head home:

Foggy Pt. Reyes

Foggy Pt. Reyes

If you have the chance, visit Pt. Reyes Station, Lighthouse and National Seashore. The area is a great place to explore. Maybe just plan a little better than we did!