Sunday, May 31, 2009

We have strawberries!

In our yard we are lucky enough to have wild strawberries. We didn't plant them, but we sure enjoy them. Usually there aren't any ripe until June, but we had a lot of rain this spring and then the last two weeks have been quite warm, and voila! strawberries! The kids love to find the red ones and eat them. They're small and they hide under the leaves so it's like a treasure hunt. Caroline has to be reminded to only eat the red ones, but Jackson searches for the ripe ones and shares them with all of us.
Otherwise we have been working in the yard the last few days. Vinca minor is our ground cover of choice, and I've planted four flats in the last two days. Jackson has been a big help, dumping out my weed bucket, bringing me vinca, helping to shovel, and even carrying shovels and rakes from the front yard to the back. Caroline is a fun and creative age, and able to entertain herself while we work. She does a lot of pretend cooking for all of us: artichokes, ice cream, chicken tacos, watermelon, and anything else we request.
The highlight of the weekend was when Ginya stopped by on Saturday. Becky came up and we all got to sit in the yard and talk while Jack and Caroline played. It is always good to see you Ginya--thanks for coming by!
I love living on the top of Banner Mountain, where we can sit outside in the evenings as it cools down. This is Jack, riding his bike in circles around the deck table as we all enjoy the evening. A final picture of Caroline, sitting in her rocking chair, smiling as she asks me to take her picture.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday: Becky's Birthday

Well I don't know how you like to celebrate birthdays in your family, but in our family we like to have friends over and share a meal. I think we should have been born Italian. Yesterday was Aunt Becky's birthday, and boy did we eat. She had talked to Trace earlier in the day about her favorite foods, and I think he cooked them all. At least it seemed like it halfway through the meal! For those of you who weren't there, enjoy the pictures of the party:
Jackson helping me make the cake. I had to include this picture because it is the first time Jack has been allowed to use a sharp knife, and he was concentrating so hard, and being so careful--good job Jack!
Eating the appetizer Becky requested: roasted garlic, warm Brie, carmelized onions, and a fresh baguette.
Trace, the creator of all the wonderful food, working at the barbeque. I'm pretty sure he cooked for about four hours straight, and maybe more. Thanks babe!
The first course was spinach salad with a warm poached egg on top, bacon, onion, and fresh goat cheese. The egg becomes part of the dressing, if you haven't tried it before. Becky and Tiffany definitely look ready to dig in.
Then we had roasted artichokes with a red pepper aioli in the center.
After that . . . well after that came the big lull. We hadn't even had the main meal yet, but no one was very hungry, since we'd had three courses already. So while Trace barbequed the meat and I worked on the cake, the rest of the guests rested. Some literally . . . I'm pretty sure Andrew fell asleep. Then we gathered around the table again for the finale: grilled air-chilled chicken, T-bone steaks, grilled mixed vegetables, and fresh corn with roasted poblano chiles.
Finally it was time for dessert. It was a modified strawberry shortcake, made with vanilla cake, strawberries, and whipped cream. Yum.
The candles are significant, because if you read the small print, it's a 24 pack. That means that Becky, on her 25th birthday, is a two pack girl. Of candles that is.
Perhaps the funniest moment of the evening came as we were all giving hugs to Becky as she and Tiffany and Tracy gathered their stuff to go home. I looked for Jackson and Caroline to have them say goodbye too, and was I surprised when I saw them on the counter (not more than two feet away--I just wasn't paying attention), putting candles back in the remains of the cake. Any that they accidentally put in upside down they were licking the whip cream off and trying again. I grabbed the video camera and took a quick video of their shenanigans. In case you're wondering, they used all the candles they could find, and the quarter of the cake ended up with 43 candles in it. Who knew you could fit so many in a cake? video
Happy Birthday Becky!

Sunday and Monday: Store Remodel

We normally close the store at three on Sunday, and we did this week too, but we didn't open again until Tuesday morning. This Sunday and Monday we did a thirty hour remodel. We took advantage of the Memorial Day holiday to be closed and change around parts of the store that we couldn't do while we were open. The first thing we did on Sunday night was tear out some cabinets, scrape away all the old carpet and linoleum glue, and then stain the concrete. It turned out great!
Then the next day, Monday, we met Becky at the store, along with Mike, and installed all new cabinets. Here's a series of us all working, along with a few of the finished product. Many thanks to Chuck and Caroline for not only taking our kids for most of the day, but also fixing us a beautiful meal in the evening. Jack and Caroline helped me clean the walls where the stain had splashed up on it. Will helping out. Mike changed out the green hanging lights for red ones, so we don't look like Christmas with both colors. Andrew and Trace putting cabinets and countertops together. Note the green lamp overhead, which disappears in later pictures. The finished product. The espresso machine (which got a new look too, with a spray painted black finish, since the current burgundy didn't go with the red cabinet Trace built) now sits on top of a refrigerator, as it should, so that all milk and cold products are close at hand. To the right is the new blending station, and further right, which somehow I didn't get a picture of, is the new walkway and the new red wall. It matches the front of the espresso cabinet in the third picture down. The pump pot station next to our new grab and go case. The walkway is gone here, which should help traffic flow. Now we don't have to push past customers to get to the office! From the front you can see the self-serve pump pots and the grab and go case. The view as you walk in the sliding door: the black espresso machine and the red cabinets. Oh and do note the red lights in this picture.
So that's the story of the store remodel. It is still a work in progress, so I'm sure there will be more pictures to come, but we're excited about what we've done so far. It's looking good!

Friday and Saturday Nights

I'm going backwards through the last several days, looking at all the pictures and videos I took. These are too cute not to share. First Friday night Jackson and Caroline decided that dinner would be better if they shared a chair and a plate. They were passing the ear of corn back and forth, so we finally combined their two plates and took a video of the result. If you're wondering what they're doing with their green beans, they like edamame so much that they pick the beans out of anything that looks similar. So Jack is finding the beans in the green beans.
video
I also took a few pictures of them sharing their food:

The next few pictures are from Saturday night, when we worked outside all day and decided to go out for a quick bite to eat. Trace and Jackson and Caroline were waiting for me to get ready, sharing a "candy taco" (tortilla with butter, cinnamon and sugar), and it was too cute not to snap a picture. Here they are:

That's my cute family!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Too Busy

Okay, this is not really a post, just an apology for those of you looking for one. We did a thirty hour remodel at the store in the last two days--tore out cabinets, and scraped and stained the concrete on Sunday after we closed, and then took advantage of being closed yesterday to install new cabinets. It's certainly not done, but the big things that we had to do while we were closed got done, so it was a big step. I took a few pictures which I'll post sometime, but today is Miss Becky's birthday, so I have a dessert to make, and some gift shopping to do--again, no time. So there's the quick update and look for more to come, but not today!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Treasures

This afternoon I spent some time weeding in the front yard. I can only manage to do a small amount at a time, so that's what I do: choose a section and work there. That way I have a feeling of satisfaction from getting something done, even if it's disjointed and interrupted a lot. While I was weeding both kids brought me "treasures" (in quotes because it's a treasure if you're a child, and if you can remember being a child, or if it was given to you, which isn't everyone. So a treasure to some.). First Jack brought me a leaf off the rhododendron, and we talked about not pulling leaves off of our plants, but thank you very much for the thought and it is pretty. Then he found a hiding spot under our laurel, which I think would be the ultimate play spot if I was a kid, and kept bringing me leaves, although pointing out that they were on the ground, not from a plant. Caroline was barefoot, and so had more fun on the lawn than under the laurel, so she brought me small sticks, a flower from the vinca, and some rocks she procured from somewhere. I had so many gifts while I was weeding that I finally filled a bucket with them. I love that my kids are generous, and excited about things they find. I took a picture of the bucket of treasures to share:
I also took a picture of Jackson in his hiding spot. I sort of got one of Caroline, although she kept running back at me, so this is the best I got. Yesterday and Tuesday were a bit of a lesson in patience for my kids. Will had brought over some zucchini plants this weekend, and I told Jackson and Caroline that we would plant them. First, however, I needed to make a place for them to grow. It was so hot on Sunday and Monday that I didn't want to dig, so we started our small gardening project on Tuesday. I double-dug a ten by three foot section of the yard, but it was late in the day so I couldn't go to the nursery to buy any dirt. We called Aunt Becky, who assured Jackson that the first step to planting a garden was good dirt. He was very helpful in the digging: first weeding, then picking out roots and rocks, and then breaking up dirt clods. But it was hard to wait until the next day. Finally it was Wednesday, and the nursery was open so that we could buy more plants and finish our soil amendments. We dug and hoed a little more, spread some bumper crop soil, and then we planted our vegetables. I chose the tomatoes with the shortest growing season, so that we have some hope of a harvest, and then I let the kids choose the rest. We bought fourteen seedlings, and three packets of seeds. Tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, watermelon, squash, carrots, and mesclun mix. They had a lot of fun helping me plant, especially Jackson who remembers last year's garden. I took a few pictures:

This is both kids, at the end of the planting, looking utterly exhausted as they sit on the slide and sip their soda. The soda was a special treat and they were pretty excited to have root beer, but they were certainly moving slowly. We did gardening instead of naps, because it was too exciting.
These are our tomato plants, which we're hoping to harvest sometime this summer. I wish I had a picture of Jackson working hard with his shovel, or of both kids planting seeds, but I was using my trowel instead of my camera, so I missed those shots. Instead I have a few pictures of the finished product. For those who know our house, the garden is in the back left of the back yard, by the fig and plum trees, up against the lawn. It's pretty much where we planted tomatoes last year.
This may be a little garden, but so far it's been a lot of fun!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The doings at the Fike household

Oh my, I am sipping red wine, nibbling on dark chocolate, and typing at the computer with the wind chimes singing out front and a breeze making me think it might not quite be summer yet.
Ahhhh.
A moment to appreciate the moment.
If you don't know this about us, we love to have company, to host our friends and family. It's been a lovely day with two friends of Andrew's who came over to help him get the boat running (it did--eventually), and then our friend John came up for dinner also. There's not much better in my world than sitting around chatting after a delicious meal cooked by Trace. Yum.
In other news, my three year old was as sweet as they come today. He's not always that way, especially to his sister. He's all boy, and she, despite having three older brothers, is quite girl-y. This means that we spend a lot of time reminding Jackson that he needs to be gentle with his sister, not wrestling and pushing. Today, however, she was a bit cranky after her nap, and she'd finished the piece of quesedilla I'd made and wanted more. I was working out in the garden, however, and suggested that she share Jackson's granola bar instead. Jack ran off toward the house at this point, as I held Caroline and tried to pull weeds with one hand. A few minutes later he reappeared with a tortilla folded around a piece of cheese. He said: "I made her a quesedilla Mom, but I didn't cook it." It was so sweet, and she wandered happily around the yard eating it. He'd climbed on a stool, opened the fridge--it's a built-in, so it's hard to access--and chosen one tortilla, and then carefully wrapped it around a piece of cheese I'd cut for him earlier. It took a lot of effort, and more than that, it showed a lot of care for his little sister. I love when they're kind to each other!
Most of the time, however, Jackson is all boy, as evidenced by this video:

video

He's created a mud puddle under the hammock by dumping a pail of water there, and he's riding his bike in it, with the goal of making a rooster tail. He has no idea that his back looks like this:I came upon him in the process of refilling his puddle, so I have no idea if it was originally an accidental discovery, or if he'd planned the whole thing. Either is equally likely, knowing Jack. He was truly a happy mess, just as a three year old boy should be!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jack the cook

Jackson saw the parmesan cheese sitting on the counter last night (Trace had been making caesar salad for us) and he decided to grate some for himself. Then he proceeded to share with Trace and Caroline and I. Trace had put out some shrimp with cocktail sauce as we waited for Andrew and Will to get home for dinner, and Jack decided his shrimp would be better with parmesan on it. I was complimenting his creativity as a cook, and he said: "When I am bigger I will cook for people, like dad." I thought that was great, until he added, "I will do the cheese for them." I'm not sure there's much of a career in grating parmesan cheese, but if there is, he'll be good at it! Here's the photographic series of events: Oh and he's wearing his swimsuit because that's what he did all day, played in his kiddie pool.

Grating from up high.

Trying the parmesan on a piece of shrimp dipped in butter--yum!
More serious grating.
Eating the parmesan. When the plate had a light dusting of parmesan on it, he said he was done, because he covered the plate (probably not even enough for a bite). But it tasted so good he kept grating for the next twenty minutes!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Miss Caroline

Miss Caroline, or Carolina, or Carolulu, or lovey, or dada's baby, or love bug or little love . . . whatever you call her (and we're a family of nicknames, so she has a lot), Caroline wanted a video of her posted on our blog. She saw the videos of Jackson riding his bike, and wanted me to take one of her. I can't say there's much to this video--she's just splashing in the pool--but she was excited to see it and to share it with you. The picture following the video was taken after our foray to the farmer's market on Saturday morning, where we bought cherries. I had forgotten since last cherry season how messy cherries are. We really haven't had them in a while, since when I asked Jackson if he liked cherries he said "I don't know what they are Mom." They both loved them.

video

The funny thing about this picture is that with her purple face she doesn't even look like herself. I look at it and think it's someone else's kid. They both ate a lot of fresh cherries and strawberries, with no apparent ill effects. I sort of expected something to happen--it was three baskets of strawberries that were gone by the end of the day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Few More Photos

Since Trace is out of town for a few days, playing in a golf tournament, the kids and I having been having a lot of fun times together. We finished our day with a trip to try out the new Thai place in town (we all liked our meal), and then a walk around Grass Valley, a few minutes at the park, a stop by the grocery store, and then home to bed. For a lot of that time Caroline was wearing her new sunglasses, so I thought we'd share the look: I'm not sure why the lenses are green--it doesn't seem like they'll block much sun--but she loves them. Jack got a pair too, but he is not quite so enamored of his that he needs to wear them all night like his sister. She wore them all through the grocery store, which brought a smile to a lot of faces.
Jack was the cause of a lot of smiles at dinner, though, since we sat in the window and he waved to the people walking by. They both were a joy to take out to dinner, chatting the whole time, but in quiet voices. It's always nice when your kids behave well (and it doesn't always happen, so it makes the good times even more appreciated!), especially in public. We ended our evening with a story for each kid, and Jack wanted a picture of us reading on the couch. This is the best we could do with holding the camera at arm's length:

We're saying good night to the camera, so good night to one and all.