Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sierra Safari Zoo

Yesterday, Sean, Ashton and Abbie and I all drove out to the Animal Ark for some hiking fun and to visit the animals. Little did I know that they are closed on Mondays. But fortunately for us, the Sierra Safari Zoo was open instead (7 days a week), so it wasn't a wasted trip after all. They have quite the variety of animals, despite its small size. This little guy was a special treat for us!

There was actually supposed to be a separation between where the public walks and the lemur habitat, but the gate was open and we walked right up to the fence thinking nothing of it. He came right up to us wanting attention, and I pulled one of those, "Do what I say, but not what I do" moments and stuck my fingers through the fence. He was SO soft! His fur was so fine it felt like fluffy silk, but I couldn't quite get him to grasp my finger. Later when we walked by the lemurs, the gate was closed, and I though, "Oh, whoops! Guess I wasn't supposed to be up there..."

There were dozens of peacocks wandering free all over the zoo. White ones, tawny ones, and this one with magnificent plumage. Too bad he wouldn't open up for us!

Ashton went about nuts when we got to the white tiger enclosure. His favorite stuffed animal that he sleeps with every night is a white tiger, and begged me to take a little video of the tiger so we could watch him again at home. Poor guy was panting and pacing back and forth- he needed a turn in the large pen where a lioness was wasting her rotation sleeping. I wonder why his tail is docked?

Next came the eagerly awaited petting zoo! Some of the deer were particularly pushy, begging for food,

Or you know, a shirt...

Here is Sean and Abbie taking their turn petting some other begg-y deer (I did come home with some serious slobbered hay stains on my shorts, as did they):

And this is what I think of as "The Manger Scene"

This llama was a lot softer than he looked, despite the straw stuck in his fur. Ashton wasn't afraid of any of the animals, and even chased some cows and cats (of the domestic variety) around...

My favorite part of the this visit, however, were all the babies! We saw two baby monkeys, two tiny baby baboons, baby bunnies, and most importantly, two caracals and one serval cub (the one looking at my camera) in a playpen in the front office! How cool is that, to come to work, and get to play with the kittens in between customers!?!

The Savannah Cat I would like to get one day is a cross between a domestic cat and a serval, and grows to be as big as a dog. That would turn your head if you saw me running down the street with my cat on a leash, wouldn't it? :)

It was a beautiful sunny day, and a very worthwhile trip. I highly recommend going if you've got a free morning, and some kids. Or not. I took way more pictures than I posted here, but here's a link to my Flickr page if you'd like to see the rest. Enjoy!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fruit Pizza and Whole Wheat Pretzels

I made this fruit pizza last week, and never got around to posting a picture of it. I saw this idea in a kid's cookbook, but totally changed it around to make it healthy and with what I happened to have in my house at the time. I used a basic desert dough recipe from my bread maker's cookbook (but traded the white flour for whole wheat- tasty dough doesn't get much easier than this!), rolled that out, topped it ricotta cheese (which was a bit difficult to spread until I softened it in the microwave for a few seconds), a cinnamon-sugar mix, and then sliced strawberries and bananas. TASTY! It was a little soft in the middle, so I either should have baked it for a few minutes, or prebaked the crust for 10 or 15 minutes. I totally plan on making this again, with different fruits.

This next picture is of the soft whole wheat pretzels the boys and I made today. These turned out fantastic, even if I again modified the recipe and left off the salt. They were pleasantly chewy, but bread-y enough to taste great with a variety of different cheeses, or honey, or any type of spread for that matter. We sure had fun making them- Sean and Ashton were so cute making their "snakes!" I had to help them even out their lopsided ends, fat on one side and pointy on the other. They even managed to to the cross-over X and then fold it over to make a pretzel shape. We brought the remainder over to Grandma and Papa's house, and they were equally enjoyed and devoured there too. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight (Twilight Series, Book 1) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow; how quickly I was sucked into the pages of this book- I only hope I can give it some small amount of justice with a review...

Stephenie Meyer has a true gift for giving her characters emotional depth enough to make you experience their feelings and exuberance with the same intensity they are- you can feel the joy and passion between Bella and Edward when they are together, and their terror when Bella is tracked by the hunter. Yes, this book is full of undying love, but I would not group it in the "romance" category. The emotions run deep enough that even though there is no actual sex involved, it doesn't need to be for the reader to feel Bella and Edward's ardent fervor and adoration for each other. This book is well balanced between love and suspense, and will keep you flipping the pages as fast as you can, only to leave you grasping immediately for "New Moon" after the last page. I don't want to give any spoilers here, but if you are on the fence on whether to read this saga, I want to erase all doubt from you mind- READ IT!

View all my reviews.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sean's New Glasses

Well, Sean is far-sighted. The opposite from what I am. Except he needs to wear them all the time, and I only use mine for driving and the movies, and other far away stuff. After our cooking class and tire-changing this afternoon, we stopped by to pick up Sean's new glasses. Now everyone who has a difficult time telling my identical twins apart will no longer have that problem. Ashton's got perfect vision, so only Sean needed glasses. I think he looks very intelligent with them on~ here is the first (goofy) picture of the two of them together:

What a pair! Ha ha! Pun intended!

Spare Tire

I don't know if you remember, or if I even told you, but about a month and a half ago, I was driving south on 395 when my back right tire on the truck blew out. Luckily, it was a Sunday afternoon so there wasn't too much traffic. I called 911, and they sent out someone to block traffic and wait with me while my dad came. I paid close attention just in case there ever was a next time. Well, that next time came today. Kevin is hiking back down from the summit of Mt. Whitney with Sara probably as I type this, so the boys and I made other plans for my day off. I signed up to take a healthy family cooking class through the Wellness Education Series offered to Washoe County employees. Hey, free lunch, and new recipes? I was surprised there weren't more people there (only about 15, and Sean & Ashton were the only two kids), and it was a very informational class. I didn't learn much because I'm a bit of a health nut already, but I did learn some new recipes for kids, and the cooks were super nice. One of the chefs made the boys their own special sandwich- a piece of bread with peanut butter and a half of a banana, which they gobbled up (surprising since Sean doesn't like PB!). And we got to watch how pinwheels are made. I haven't made those for a long time, but you can make them with just about anything you have laying around the house. I digress here. This isn't about cooking, but about the fact that when we walked back out the the truck an hour later, an electric shock shot ran down my spine when I saw that I had another flat. I immediately though, "Crap. Now what am I going to do? Well, at least I'm at the Sheriff's Station, and there are any number of men who would be more than happy to help me get this changed." Then I decided that, no, I want to try to do this on my own and see if I can remember from watching my dad. I did think about still asking someone to come out and watch me to make sure I did it right (which is probably all they could do anyway), but decided against that too, and that I'd only ask if I got stuck. So, I lowered the spare tire, got the truck up on a jack, popped off the hub cap, loosened the nuts, switched tires, tightened the bolts, whacked the cap back on, lowered the truck, and then put the flat back underneath the truck because the one thing I couldn't do by myself was lift a tire that fits an F350. This is definitely an accomplishment for me! The only thing I wish I would have thought to do was take a picture of my filthy hands when I was through...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Random Photos and Updates.

Picture of the boys that I took this morning- they were so cute together! Ashton is reading to Sean, and that just makes me smile from ear to ear. :)

Of course then I should go on to say that today Kevin took Sean to the eye doctor because I've noticed that when he is having a hard time reading, the book creeps closer and closer to his face and decided it was decided to get him checked out. And yes, he does need glasses! He has 20/50 vision, and Kevin said something about him being both near and far-sighted, plus he has a stigmatism. So, now the boys will be easy for everyone to tell apart since Sean will be wearing glasses from now on! Then Kevin went to get him some glasses, and get this- they are $400! That's almost twice as much as mine were! Good thing our combined insurances covered them. We had the "take immaculate care of your glasses" talk today in the car, and he will be getting that lecture quite frequently from me, I'm afraid. I can't wait to see his new glasses- I guess they have a tarnished gold finished look, and are slender-ish frames, so he will look extra-intelligent. :O) Another week and a half wait on those, then back to the eye doctor next month...

Okay, second random picture- remember those hamburger cupcakes I made for the 4th of July? Well, I had a TON of leftover cupcake pieces that I didn't know what to to with until a co-worker suggested making a trifle cake with them. Fabulous idea! Here's the recipe I used, except I substituted the angel food cake for cupcake pieces, vanilla then chocolate...

And thirdly, here is a link to some photos of Kevin and the boys that were taken last week at the official protest for cutting the Marching Band program at UNR, in which Kevin played, and the boys sat by like angels watching the musicians. (Notice the "N" tattoo on Sean's cheek in the first photo?) This is a photo slide show on the RGJ website, and mostly I'm posting this here because I didn't want to lose the link. UNR has a $31 million dollar shortfall in their budget (the music department isn't the only one to be affected by this!), and 2008-2009 is going to be the last year UNR will march, unless they can figure out some other alternative to come up with that dough...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hamburger Cupcakes

The boys and I tried out a funny new recipe that was posted on Slashfoods (Thanks Turi for sharing this link!) for the 4th of July this year- Hamburger Cupcakes! They really aren't hard; just make your favorite chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, then slice them up, switch middles, add some different colors of buttercream frosting for the lettuce, cheese and ketchup, plus some sesame seeds to make them look realistic, and voi-la! Mini-sliders that cause the funniest double-takes! The boys just BEGGED to make these when they saw the picture of them online, and so they helped me make the cupcake batter. As it turns out, buttercream frosting is a bit of a pain in the keister to make, and I messed it up so bad I had to start over. Three hours later (yes, I made 41 cupcakes like an idiot, not that I needed more than 12), here is the finished product, and I must admit, they did taste as good as they look!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Little Boy Ingenuity

This morning Sean was sitting by the window in the front room reading a book with a glossy cover. I was sitting on the floor stretching, when he said, "It's like a kite!" I looked up to see he had discovered he could control the reflection of the sunlight off the front of his book, and was moving it back and forth and to light up objects in the room: the table, the ceiling, the cat... A "light kite!" How clever of him to think of it in those terms?