Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmastime is here

The solstice has passed, and the daylight hours will increase again...hooray! The unhovel is getting festive...we are so glad to be back for our first Christmas. Dan and I got our tree at Liberty Christmas Tree Farm the first Saturday in December, after hitting the Mrs. Grossman's sticker factory warehouse sale. (It was awesome.) The Turkish fir is seven feet tall, maybe a bit too big for our little abode...but it was such a lovely tree, we just had to get it.

Our tree
Gus Jr. under the tree

I got Dan a Lego advent calendar, and it has been fun seeing the new piece to assemble each day...

Lego Advent calendar
Advent with Legos

I hosted another Sweet 'n Knit...only four years later! We had many delectable treats and even did some knitting, but I forgot to photograph any of it...peppermint bark, almond toffee, date balls, gingerbread cupcakes and cookies galore! There were also party favors...red and green pom-poms and silly Christmas stickers.

Last weekend the Chous and Los came over for a holiday brunch, and I filled Christmas crackers with chocolates for party favors. We read the silly jokes and put on the crowns, but alas no photos of the silliness. We had gingerbread waffles and baked ginger apple pancake...with bacon and sausage, of course!

Holiday brunch table
Holiday brunch table

Dan and I also visited with Santa! He was at Tom & Jerry's Christmas extravaganza, which I saw for the first time, despite living in the city for nearly ten years. It was quite spectacular.

Tom & Jerry's Christmas extravaganza
Tom & Jerry's


I also managed to make a bonnet for Georgia. Since Arrow just had a bath, I thought the beagle should try it on first.

Arrow in a bonnet
My what big eyes you have

And carolers just stopped outside our house tonight! They sang "Up on the Rooftop" for us, with guitar, bells, and a few woofs. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween scares

Eight bags of Halloween candy was not enough! Dan and I (and Arrow-as-Snoopy) ran out of candy in about an hour...we had over 150 trick-or-treaters in that time! We gave out Halloween stickers, pencils, and erasers after the candy was gone, but I think the kids were disappointed. We want candy!

Ernie & Bert jack o' lanterns
Ernie & Bert

I carved Ernie and Bert pumpkins in the morning. I had a Charlie Brown pumpkin that was carved two weeks earlier at Mary and Marie's autumn party, but alas it was quite moldy when the day arrived.

Charlie Brown pumpkin
Charlie Brown pumpkin

We didn't have any other decorations for our first Halloween back at the unhovel, but we are plotting for next year already! Lots of houses on our block have spiders and ghosts and more, and we want to join in the fun.

In other (scary) news, the chickens are still pecking away in the backyard. This morning a peregrine falcon made a swoop for them, but luckily they were in their enclosed run. It was exciting to see a falcon up close, but also quite scary when it went for the girls.

Goody & Henrietta
Goody, Henrietta & Rosie's chicken butt

Chicken butts
More chicken butts

So now they do not leave their enclosed run unattended!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Backyard pecking

The girls are six weeks old now, and they look like real chickens! They got to explore the backyard this afternoon, pecking and eating rocks and dirt. I fed them a few fronds from the old fennel plants that Dan planted during the hovel days.

Pecking at fennel

Leaning over
Whatcha looking at, Poppy?

Hi Rosie!
Oh, it's Rosie!

Sitting down
Taking a rest

Hopefully there will be eggs in five months!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Urban farming

The chickies are growing so fast! They are three weeks old now, and their feathers are coming in...I like to say they are going through their awkward stage.

Chickies at 3 weeks
Enjoying the sunshine

They are still living in the basement under the heat lamp, but we let them out in the backyard for some fresh air yesterday because it was SO HOT! Dan is going to build a coop for them in the backyard, where they will move to when they are fully-feathered in another five weeks.

For urban farming inspiration, Dan and I visited Ghost Town Farm yesterday, which turned out to be just around the corner from our friend Brian's old house. We had been so close to the vacant lot farm, but never knew it was there! I had read about Novella Carpenter's adventures in pig-raising and her farm in San Francisco magazine, and Dan found out there would be an open house as part of the Eat Real festival. He was particularly interested in seeing the humane chicken slaughter demo, in case one of our chicks turns out to be a rooster (please, no...though there is a 5% chance) or for when the girls are past their laying years. I am not so sure about this plan, but figured it would informative. Dan saw a Cuckoo Maran rooster die, but I looked away during the actual deed. I did watch the feather and innard removal...it was definitely a memorable morning.

Afterward, we walked around the farm and saw the beehives and a giant rabbit almost as big as Arrow. Then we visited the chicken coop, saw some of her hens and...little goats!

Getting closer
Goat on awesome green staircase

Carol & goats
Posing with goats

We also enjoyed delicious peach cobbler and hibiscus tea, and bought a copy of Novella's book Farm City. (I had reserved it at the library but was #97). Dan has already started reading it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Open unhovel

Dan and I opened the unhovel to our friends last weekend...and the occasion called for cupcakes!

Party prep
Getting ready

I made peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate ganache, apple cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting, vanilla bean coconut cupcakes, and flourless Mexican chocolate cupcakes...with my sister's help, thankfully! She had just returned from Africa a few days before, and I put her to work peeling and grating a huge pile of apples (from our box), among other things...thanks Katie!

Peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate ganache
Peanut butter tower

Vanilla bean coconut cupcakes
Vanilla bean coconut

Cookie and cupcakes
Cookie Monster & cuppies

We had a great turnout, and cupcakes were eaten. The chickies were a big hit, and Arrow got some attention too. The kiddos followed her around, and a couple of them even went into her crate! It is toddler-sized, I suppose. I didn't take any photos, but my sister took a few for me, yay! Darcy kept calling Arrow "Harold," tee hee hee...

Darcy & Arrow (aka Harold)
Darcy & Arrow (aka Harold)

Stefan & Arrow
Stefan & Arrow

Our friends brought many pretty flowers.

Flowers at the unhovel
Summer color

We also had ice cream.

Reaching into the freezer for Mitchell's!

And I got to hold baby Nate! It was a good day. Thanks to all our friends for making it so much fun! We are very happy to be back in the city.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Here chicky chicky

Four new residents joined the un-hovel today...we got chickies!!

Settling into their new digs

We got four chicks at Half Moon Bay Feed & Fuel...two Ameraucanas, one Rhode Island Red, and one Buff Orpington. They are three days old. The Rhode Island Red is Henrietta. Jeff came with us to Half Moon Bay and named the Buff Orpington Goody Goody Good Chicken...Goody, for short. The Ameraucanas are yet unnamed...any suggestions?

Chickies around the feeder
Stripeys are Ameraucanas

We are following the instructions from the Sunset chicken blog. Arrow is pretty excited too.

Arrow is excited
Wow, chickens, wow!

Wish us luck!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Outdoor summer fun

Summer is flying by...how can it be August already? Crazy! There are those who do not like the summer fog in the city, but the cool mist does not bother me that much...especially when unbearably sweltering heat covers so much of the state...ugh. But after a week of uninterrupted fog, it is nice to escape to some real summer weather...

Scenic Utah
Scenic hillside in Eden

So I was off to Eden, Utah! Last year my friend Bethany got a vacation place there, and we had talked about having a girls getaway...so we did it this summer! It was perfect. Bethany, her sister Robyn, Diana, and I took the quick flight there, explored Salt Lake City a bit, drove through a canyon, past a reservoir, and there we were...surrounded by gorgeous hills and pretty wildflowers so different from home.

Arid flora
Wildflowers in Eden

We admired the mountain views, went for cooling dips in the pool, watched movies, and lounged about...it was very relaxing. One day we packed a picnic and visited the nearby reservoir, where we swam in the water, read magazines, sunned and napped, and just enjoyed the view.

Water surrounded by mountains

Diana tests the water
Diana tests the water

Big house on reservoir
A big house across the water

I even found a bottle of von Hovel Riesling at the State Liquor Store! I don't usually choose white wine, but I had to get it in honor of the un-hovel. We had it one evening, and it was actually quite nice...bright, crisp and slightly effervescent...apropos in my year of sparkling wines.

Von Hovel
von Hovel

Dusk color at the Cascades
Dusk over the Cascades at Wolf Creek

Our time in Utah ended too quickly, and it was time to return home. I finally saw Salt Lake from the plane...and salt flats...and red salt! (I think.) Then of course the fog welcomed us back.

Red salt
Patriotic aerial salt display

But I didn't stay in the fog long...the next morning Dan and I embarked on a weekend camping adventure with friends. We went to Armstrong Redwoods State Park in Guerneville, where Marie, Mary and Brian had staked out a great spot by Bullfrog Pond. We had lunch in town, walked along the bridge over the Russian River, and took a hike in the afternoon. The view of the forested hills and fog in the distance was lovely.

Fog in the distance
Fog over the hills

Though there were three campstoves between all of us, none were brought...but we managed to have a delicious dinner...as Dan says, food always tastes better outdoors. And he roasted marshmallows over the fire...s'mores just might be the most important part of camping for me! The next morning we picked blackberries, and by nightfall I was enjoying blackberry crumble back in the foggy city. I had been skeptical of camping for just one night since we usually go for a few days, but it was a lot of fun.

Blackberry crumble
Summer crumble yum

Hopefully August will bring sunny days in San Francisco!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer travels: Into Honduras (part 4)

As Dan and I were traveling through Guatemala, we were not sure if we would make it to Honduras because of the political situation...but we met several travelers who had come from there, and they felt that it was completely safe. We also were scheduled to fly home from Roatan, so ultimately we decided to go for it! We took a bus from Rio Dulce to the border, and arrived in Copan Ruinas on a warm afternoon. We were greeted with hammocks and iced tea at Casa de Cafe B&B,...so far, so good! I spent a lot of time lounging in the hammock, reading, and admiring the garden and view of the Guatemalan hills.

Our room at Casa de Cafe B & B
Idyllic Casa de Cafe B&B

View of Guatemala hillside
Guatemalan hills

We ate yummy pupusas at Comedor Mary's and wandered around the cobblestone streets of town. After a delicious breakfast the next morning with Francesca the kitty, we walked to the Mayan ruins site of Copan, where there are many impressive and intricate carvings, and tall trees growing out of the piles of stones. We also saw brilliant scarlet macaws and capybara-like critters at the entrance to the site.

Stela & hieroglyphic staircase
Stela & hieroglyphic staircase

Skull & hieroglyphics
Skulls & glyphs

Dan & large head
Big head

Huge foot at Copan
Big foot

Dan & animal altar
Watch out!

Sleepy carving at Copan
Nap time

After more hammocking and relaxing in the garden, and another tasty breakfast the next morning, we planned to take a morning bus to San Pedro Sula, then catch a plane to the island of Roatan. Not so fast! The bus did not leave because of road closures...due to demonstrations...and it was not clear when the roads would re-open. After some sulking on my part (it was my birthday) and several calls by the B&B owners, we learned an afternoon bus was departing, so we got on it while we had the chance. Unfortunately there were no more flights that day, instead we took another bus to La Ceiba, spent the night, and took the ferry to Roatan the next morning. So we spent a lot more time traveling than I would have liked, and missed a day of fun...but we arrived at our destination safely! A delicious lobster avocado salad lunch at the Lighthouse cheered me up considerably.

View from the Lighthouse
View from the Lighthouse restaurant

It was really hot and humid on the island. After lunch we went snorkeling in Half Moon Bay, where we saw lots of fish, conches, and a hawksbill turtle! I love sea turtles.

Half Moon Bay, Roatan
Half Moon Bay

It was nice to relax and enjoy the view of the Carribean as the sun set outside our room at Luna Beach, especially after all the effort to get there! Then we walked down the beach to the Lobster Pot, where I had grilled shrimp in rum butter sauce for dinner...yum! They also served homemade key lime pie on the house. It was my new favorite restaurant.

Luna Beach Resort
Luna Beach

Sunset our first night on Roatan
Sun setting over Carribean

The next morning we took a water taxi to West Bay, which is a beautiful beach. It was so quiet...very few travelers...and this was during the high season. We went snorkeling in the bay; the coral seemed healthier here than in Half Moon Bay. We saw more fish, and about ten little squid all hanging out in a neat row...so cute! During our lunch on the beach, we saw an impressive display of balance...a woman walking with a cooler on her head!

Glass bottom boat in West Bay
West Bay

West Bay, Roatan
Turquoise & blue

Walking in West Bay
Balancing act

Later in the afternoon we went out with a dive boat and snorkeled some more...the water is much choppier out there! In one spot there was a huge school of fish...seemed like hundreds...it was amazing to be so close to so many. It was also neat to see the divers go overboard and descend into the deep waters. I'm still too scared to dive though!

After watching the sunset from the dock, we returned to the Lobster Pot, where Dan and I treated ourselves to surf 'n turf (steak and lobster!) for our last dinner of the trip. And more key lime pie! The people at the restaurant were so nice. Dan asked to see the menu after discovering they serve breakfast...but then found out the restaurant is closed on Sunday! So we bought a loaf of their delicious coconut bread, and they gave us a jar of homemade mango jam to eat with it! We really enjoyed our time in Honduras, and hope the political situtation is resolved peacefully...and soon. The livelihood of so many people on the island depends on tourism. We were glad we were able to visit, and hope that others can too.

We had a wonderful trip on our first visit to Central America, but it was great to come home to the foggy city by the bay!