Thursday, July 31, 2014

Seeds, Seeds and More Seeds

It was time to do something with our sunflowers. 
 The flower heads were drooping to the ground under their own weight and the outer petals  were gone. 
We have never roasted seeds before and as it turned out, it was pretty easy. 
 After cutting the heads of, we ran our fingers over the center to remove the yellow thingies. 

We were left with the naked seeds.

We decided that is was more manageable to remove the seeds if we broke the flower head into smaller pieces. 
At that point, the seeds fell out simply by rubbing our hands over the top.

 Once the seeds were removed, the remaining part resembled honeycomb.
 We ended up with about 16 cups of seeds. 

At this point, we rinsed them and boiled them in saltwater from this recipe
 They were then drained and roasted until dry. 
The roasting took longer than the recipe stated, and I ended up turning the oven off over night and letting the trays dry that way. 
 In the morning, we had about 8 cups of dry, roasted seeds. 

 They are not bad for a first attempt. 
 I erred on the side of lower salt and I should not have. 
Oh well. 
 It was fun and a learning experience.
Pretty cool.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Going Home

 Childhood memories are powerful. 
 Even though we moved from Mount Shasta when I was 4 years old, I have very distinct memories. Part of that is due to the fact that my Grandma lived in a neighboring town until Shaggy was born.  We spent quite a bit of time in the area until I was well into adulthood. 
While our two older kidnicks have visited the area a couple times, it had never been for more than a night or so and Sugar Plum Fairy had been an infant the last was high time to go back.  Travelling from Central California to Northern California always amazes me in the vast length of this state. 
Without stopping, it would take 7 hours from our home to Mt. Shasta and there is another 5-6 hours SOUTH of us before the border. 
So much of the state is agriculture and it is fun to see how the crops vary...sunflowers and rice are two crops evident that we don't grow here

Whenever I see a sign for Willows, I always think of my birthday and my Dad. 
When we lived in Lake County, it seemed that there was ALWAYS a meeting he had to attend in Willows....on my birthday. 
As a little girl, I would wake up on my birthday and there would be a huge sign hanging, wishing me happy birthday from my Daddy.
 Another strong and vivid childhood memory.

We planned a visit in Redding to see a very special man. 
Bob and Allie became dear fronds with my parents when they all lived in Mount Shasta in the 1960's. 
We had not seen Bob since Allie passed away and I was not going to miss this opportunity. 
He is more than just a friend...he is family.
On the drive., we played a couple games that had us hooping and hollering. 
20 Questions is a game we have had for eons and it never fails to amaze us that it usually comes up with the correct answer. 
The second game was one that Shaggy taught us.
The alphabet movie game.  Each player  has to name a movie title that begins with the letter "A"...if a player can not think of one, he/she passes and is out for the remainder of that letter round.  It is hilarious when you have the perfect title and are patiently waiting your turn to scream it out and someone else beats you to the punch.  It is also interesting how AFTER a certain letter is done, how many perfect movie titles pop into your brain.
As we passed over Lake Shasta, it became apparent that the drought in California is widespread.  I remembered seeing the water up to the treeline on many occasions....not so this year. 
 We passed the boat ramp that I remember using with my grandparents and parents.

 The new bridge being built is causing some traffic congestion, but did not hinder us following the truck my daughter wants.

 And traffic congesting in this neck of the woods is so very different than it is elsewhere.

 There has always been a spot on the freeway that makes me feel like I have arrived home. 
It is right near Castle Crags
The trees, the smell, the sense of well being just takes me back...every time. 

 When we arrived in Mt. Shasta, we decided to have dinner before settling into our home away from home. 
We were having such a great day, we did not want to push our luck when the kids got hungry.
Mike and Tony's was always my parents' favorite spot.

  As we walked in, I was immediately taken back...again. 
It looks the felt the same. 
 Even with different owners, it felt right.

  My aunt, who lives in my Grandma's old house favors the other Italian Restaurant in town and we had plans to take them there.
 We would plan our own little family taste test.
After dinner, I hopped in the co-pilot seat and direct Shaggy to my old house and my Dad's office.  They look very much the same. 
It is nice that even after all these years, some things remain unchanged.
 Growing up in the Forest Service, when I did, was a blessing. 
 It really was a big family...that part has changed, but our house still looks like our house.
 (Except the fence...there was none when we lived there)

Once we arrived at our rental, the girls raced upstairs to see their room...
Seriously cute. 
 The zip-line, trampoline, slide, tight rope and swings made this place utter perfection for our youngest. 
 The owners of the home are super kind, helpful and we could not have asked for anything more.  I'll share more of the home later, but if you are interested in staying in this area, I can not recommend it highly enough.

The gardens are lovely with veggies and herbs and trees. 

 This patio area was so perfect for a glass of wine in the evening or a cup of coffee in the morning.  There is wisteria wired above the table to make a beautiful arbor.

 BUT, I was in heaven when I discovered these. 
I felt as though I was indeed being welcomed home.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Mess of College Visits

Last week, we were fortunate to spend a week in one of my most favorite places on earth...
Mt. Shasta. 
I have gobs of thoughts floating in my brain about that and the same number of photos to sort through, but for now, I thought I'd share what we did on a side trip coming home.
We visited more colleges. 
We had not seen any in the northern part of our state and there were several on Lollipop Pop's list.  Sonoma State is a public university that is in a pretty location. 
South of Santa Rosa, just north of the Bay area, it borders California's Wine Country as is evidenced by the names of buildings...Cabernet Village and Tuscany Village are just two examples.
As we worked our way south, we drove though Dominican University
Its campus is spread throughout an old and established neighborhood of 80 acres. 
 It really is lovely.
When we planned our summer vacation, it was decided that other than the home rental, we would play everything else by ear. 
No set plans and no scheduled events.
Now, this goes against my very being. 
As a former travel agent and planner, I have always had hotel reservations made ahead of time. 
 I went with the flow this time and made none. 
As it turned out, every hotel in the Bay area seemed to be filled...except one room at a Travelodge that we happened upon after numerous other stops in search of rooms. 
 We laughed and laughed at each other.
I must say that the comedy that ensued made this one of my favorite nights. 
After breakfast, we surprised Sugar Plum Fairy with a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. 
 She was thrilled, even with the fog.
We were heading to the other side of the bay and thus travelled through the heart of the city. 
 There is some great architecture in this city... Golden Gate Park, apartments, homes and bridges.
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities and am looking forward to visiting again for a longer time.
St Mary's College was our next stop and it was wonderful. 
Visited with an admission lady who answered lots of questions and offered options available.
Our final campus visit was to  Santa Clara University
This campus is on the site of a California Mission.
The grounds are and least for Mamas.

Through all of this college visiting, Sugar Plum Fairy adapts, never complains and makes the most out of everything. 
 She is a trooper.
 When we started looking at campuses, Lollipop Pop did not know what she was looking for. 
 It has been interesting to watch her fine tune her criteria for college. 
She has a definite top 5 list now and it will be exciting to see what happens next.