Saturday, October 23, 2010


  some of my fondest memories as a child consist of harvesting summer and fall crops.  I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that enjoyed gardening & growing our own food. If it even resembled a garden, I called it a 'patch.'  Strawberries were my favorite.  I even had a little patch of my very own! 

Me, 1980, in a Corn Patch
Adult life for me and my family is very different.  We live in a community of landscaped,  tract homes.  We do have a few citrus trees & a very productive apricot tree, but it doesn't really compare to the luxury of land and soil to grow crops. Sometimes I miss getting dirty planting & excited about blossoms and produce, talking about bees and ladybugs, and rainfall.  There are moments when I would give it all up for a 'patch' for my own children.

Luckily, California is known for its bountiful produce and here are a TON of U-Pick farms around, good ones, if you know where to find them. 
Here are some links to some U-Pick farms and attractions that are TOTALLY worth the effort.


Toms Farms/Pumpkins:

Oak Glen/Apples & Berries:,

Cherry Valley/Cherries:


Santa Barbara/Blueberries:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Roundup of U-Pick-'em Pumpkin Patches


Families can't miss this pumpkin patch off the 10 freeway, just look for the giant inflatable pumpkin. The farm has pumpkins in the patch for picking, or hundreds of shapes and sizes already picked and grouped according to size.

 Also look for arts and crafts, a corn maze, bounce houses, a petting zoo and more.

10133 Ward Way, Mentone
9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

Greenspot has hayrides, train rides, a petting zoo, a hay maze, a jump house and plenty of pumpkins. The farm will also have haunted hayrides for the big kids through the 31st. Check the website for dates and pricing information.

39925 Calle Contento, Temecula
9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily

In addition to the many varieties of squash, gourds, pumpkins and corn stalks, Peltzer Farms has pony rides, a petting zoo, pig races, a corn maze and more.

Riley's Farm & Orchard

12261 S. Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Riley's has pumpkins, raspberries, flowers, pears, strawberries and apples ripe for the picking. The farm also has a variety of daily activities for families such as archery, candle dipping, pie baking and more. Check the website for hours and pricing details.

Reach Jennifer Dean at 951-368-9336, or

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Farm Fresh!

Farmers Markets!  Who doesn't love farm fresh produce?  Check out local California farmers markets!  Fun for the family!  Support your local Farmers & consume farm fresh!

La Quinta Farmers Market

The market in La Quinta will be open every Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Old Town La Quinta. Vendors offering fresh vegetables and fruit (no spray and organic), cut flowers, honey, eggs, nuts, herbs, bread, cheese and plants. The new market day is an expansion of the popular weekly event held in Palm Springs each Saturday.

Redlands Market Night

Thursdays - 6:00 to 9:00 PM. (except Holidays, Thanksgiving, and the week between Christmas and the New Year) Established in 1988, Redlands Market Night has established itself as one of the most successful certified farmers markets in Southern California! Vendors vie to participate in the event that has attracted thousands of weekly visitors since its inception. Visitors are welcomed into an inviting atmosphere complete with lighted trees, brick sidewalks, historic buildings, and great musical entertainment. Crowds are pleasantly surrounded by over 150 food and merchandise booths, not to mention the downtown shopkeepers, every Thursday night.

Santa Barbara Farmers Market
 The Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association is a non-profit mutual benefit corporation that was founded in 1983 to provide California farmers with direct access at landmark locations to market their agricultural products directly to the local community. Our Association of 130 grower members, owned and operated by the members and its board of directors, is committed to helping promote local family farmers, and protecting the environment by sustaining and restoring surrounding greenbelt areas. The SBCFMA continues working diligently to bring the freshest and most nutritious produce our rich local agricultural land has to offer for you and your families.

The markets serve to strengthen the local communities ties and will help to provide weekly events at no cost while enhancing our community's quality of life. Each week the farmers in the marketplace display a colorful bounty of agricultural products grown right in our backyard. Seasonal diversity is available year round rain or shine. Music and entertainment enliven the markets while creating a positive ambiance. Come. Shop. Socialize. Certified - the only way to buy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Indian Summer

Indian Summer has no definition in the desert. It is hot here until it is cold. Then it is glorious.  We are looking forward to getting some fun family time in on our bikes and bike trailers.

It is only 8 miles round trip to our Preschool and home. It takes only 30-45 minutes to complete. We plan on saving some gasoline, burning some calories & enjoying the great outdoors this fall.

Thankfully it is finally cooling off. I was able to bike over to the girls' preschool today and pick them up on my awesome bike with a trailer and baby seat. It is super fun to ride home with them in the back. We talk about the humming birds, butterflies and flowers. We note the different scents we smell: fresh cut grass, bread from the bakery, pizza from the pizza place, and simply the dry desert smell.

It is so great to find an activity for the whole family that is physical, economical, enjoyable, and educational. I highly recommend finding a way to walk, jog or ride for a purpose. To & from school, the corner market, park, or coffee shop.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wellness Wheel

Dimensions of Health & Wellness
 Revisiting this chart periodically is so valuable to me.  I helps me to put things into perspective, and try to improve areas of my life that I mindlessly neglect, which is so easy to do when caring for 3  young children and a home.  Living well is about balance and wholeness.
Each of the "slices" actually consists of two parts.  I like to think of them as the "crust" and the "filling."  The foundation, or the crust, is Health, and Wellness is the goodness inside.
  • Emotional health/Wellness: Dealing & coping with daily circumstances with personal feelings that are positive, optimistic and constructive.  Free from emotional illness & possess emotional wellness
  • Intellectual Health/Wellness: Ability to learn and use information to enhance quality of daily living and optimal functioning.Free from illnesses that invade the brain and affect learning & possesses Intellectual Wellness.
  • Physical Health/Wellness: Fit vs. Unfit. Ability to meet the demands of the days work and use free time effectively. Good Physical Fitness & Motor Skills. Free from illnesses that affect physiological systems of the body
  • Social Health/WellnessInvolved as opposed to lonely.  Ability to interact with others and establish meaningful relationships that are beneficial for all people involved in the interaction Free from illnesses & conditions that limit social interaction such as antisocial tendencies.
  • Spiritual Health/WellnessFulfilled vs. Unfulfilled.  Establishment of a values system and act on the system of beliefs, as well as carry out meaningful life time goals.

The Blue Day Book

The Blue Day Book is a great little book to have around the house.  It has helped me talk with my kids about thinking positive thoughts, and trying to be happy even when things aren't going the way I planned.  It consists of wonderful photos of animals and the frustrating situations that they get themselves into.  My sister-in-law sent it to my husband when he was having a bad week.  So far, I have used it way more than he has.

La Quinta Library
 Staying at home to care for my children has posed a challenge to maintain a healthy intellectual balance.  Sesame Street & Teletubbies just don't cut it, and I seriously no longer have time to read the paper, watch the news, or pick up a magazine or book.  When I really start to feel the need to feed my knowledge & intelligence I head to the library.  I check out literature that I have read and love (Fountain Head, Moby Dick) or go for something that I haven't read but would love to try (Jane Eyre).  Buying books and book clubs aren't in my budget & while I would LOVE to read the hot new titles.  They all come to the library eventually.

Lesley Valentine
February 14, 2010
Palm Springs 1/2 Marathon
 Physical Health is HUGE to me.  I hit the gym almost every week day 1-2 hours.  On off days I find a minimum of 30 minutes of activity for myself around the house, outside, or on the town with the family.  I discovered at a young age that the endorphins that are produced from physical activity help me to function better and be happier, and the physical benefits are an absolute plus.  I often refer to an awesome website, , for tips and up to date information.

Being social is a whole new world these days.  Face to face interaction has sort of gone the way of Facebook.  We just don't do it.  Why should we?  We have the ability to communicate electronically at our fingertips every day.  Waiting for the right time just isn't an issue anymore.  I found that it was something I needed to re-learn once I stopped working.  Co-workers & socializing at work are something that goes hand in hand for me.  When my job began at home, and only at home, I had the difficult task of figuring out how to socialize.  OMG, I had to make friends.  I had never set out with that purpose in my LIFE!  The scariest thing ever for me, but I had great success with sites like

Being raised in a very religious family, I have always had a sense of spirituality.  Finally I had the time and the need to fulfill it!  In the name of setting a good example for my children & raising them with values I set out on the task of finding a good church.  I searched small, intimate congregations near and far with no luck.  None seemed to be a good fit for our family.  FINALLY my husband suggested Southwest Community Church and we attended. The sheer size of the church always scared me a bit, but since he wanted to go too I felt more comfortable.   I was sold after 3 successful services.  It is a great fit for our family.

Though some days are blue no matter how hard you try, it doesn't mean every day has to be!  Try to make every day exciting, delicious, adventurous and enlightening.  Enjoy every moment & savor the "last taste" (what I refer to as the last bite of a delicious dessert or dish).  Soon enough you will be putting a fabulous topping on the dish that is your life.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Activity Adventure

Here are some links to super fun activities for families, moms who aren't afraid to venture out on their own, or groups looking for a good time California Style, anytime of year!  Finding an exciting destination is the best motivation to get active!

A Day at the Beach
Tutti Shafir
There are a TON of things to do in Southern California. Traditionally theme parks, sandy beaches & ocean views come to mind when planning a day trip, weekend, or vacation. Embarking on a new adventure by looking off the beaten path can be interesting and so fun! The wealth of fun opportunities are out there if you only know where to find them. Information is key when traveling with small (or big) kids to maximize fun.  Check out the "Activity" tab for more information and updates on fun locations!

Share your favorite California Style activity!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Skip & Jump into Fall!

We have arrived at our destination. The adventure has been grand. Our bravery and creativity took us places this summer that we could never have imagined! We have the support of our awesome friends and family to thank.
Saying "good-bye" to summer has been sad, but we are glad to see the heat go.
Now that we are back on dry land the journey has begun to find things that will stimulate our family positively through creativity, activity, social interactions, and reflection. We were strong on the high seas, we only hope for the same for this season on the land! Join us as we trek on our new adventure as we "JUMP INTO FALL!"

Friday, August 27, 2010


I wanted to incorporate our adventures, artistically, into something we could keep. During our last trip to the beach, Jack found a piece of drift bamboo and it inspired me. It was partially covered in small barnicles. I thought of the somewhat large collection of shells that we had immediately. When we got home the girls and I got started on a sea shell windchime. Between my skill with the drill & theirs with beading (learned in Coronado with Kate), we designed and created a beautiful and unique seashell windchime. It was a fun family project that everyone contributed to in some way. We will remember this summer forever.


It seems we got a bit lost this summer!! The fun came upon us suddenly like waves crashing over us in a super fun storm...and didn't stop! It was awesome. Friends from near and far shared their time, homes and love with our family & we couldn't be more grateful! The entire time I wished that I could be documenting everything here, but every moment seemed to be filled with fun,food, socializing, and planning for the next exciting event. This summer's adventure has been absolutely phenomenal, we couldn't have asked for more.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Beach

My childhood is filled with wonderful memories of playing at the beach in Oceanside. We swam, we played in sand. Later in life I learned to fish off of the pier there & have spent countless fun times with friends there. We took our entire family there last week. We were going to camp (because I have always wanted to try camping!) but at the last, we opted to stay at a total dive Motel (Beachwood Motel, Oceanside, 210 Surfrider Way, Oceanside, CA 92054) less than a mile from the beach. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but when we were escorted to a room with a kitchenette & I was given a fresh, delicious Babcock Peach as a gift from the owner; I told my husband, "We have to stay." We had a wonderful time & I dreamed of childhood summers when I slept in that motel room.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Let's Share!

Summer is a great opportunity to share. It is a fun time to fire up the barbecues & invite friends to swim, eat, and play. We share our homes & families as we create life long memories!

Setting a good example by sharing the luxury of a home is one way to introduce the concept to a small child. Another way is through this super cute book, Let's Share! (A Mind Your Manners! Story Book). We enjoy reading this book together & the illustrations are so fun! It even has a chart with reward stickers to keep track of sharing moments.
Sharing is so awesome. We can't wait to share our Summer fun!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Toy Boats

Introducing the science of power to a child is a challenge. "Why do it?" you may ask. It only takes a moment each day to introduce a complex concept to a child. Even if the learning result isn't immediately obvious, the seed has been planted and the idea introduced.
This week we are learning about wind. We sailed small toy boats in a kiddie pool. The cute little wooden boats were left over birthday party favors that I had ordered from . I had planned to put a large fan out there to keep the breeze moving the boats, but lucky for us the REAL wind kicked up. We played in the water & talked about the wind. It only lasted but 15 minutes, but the kids were still talking about it when I tucked them in.

Monday, June 14, 2010

International Flags

Sailing was the theme for my son Jack's 2nd birthday. I came up empty handed as I shopped for decor on-line, so we got creative! For the decorations the kiddos helped me construct International Code flags from construction paper. It was so fun & interesting too. Each square flag represents a different letter of the alphabet & the triangular shaped ones represent numbers. It was interesting for me to learn the designs of the different flags and their meanings, and fun to discuss it with the kids. They took an interest in learning their meanings which I thought was very cool. We taped the flags up on twine and strung them around the house. It really lent a summery, nautical air to the atmosphere!

We decided that the International Code flag decor would be very appropriate for ushering in our nautical theme for the summer, so we are leaving them up!
International Code Flag art courtesy of Donna Imgemansom

Sunday, June 13, 2010


We are kicking off "Catch the Wind" week by making construction paper flags. What a more perfect day to do this than Flag day?! We cut some constuction paper stripes & punched out some stars with a star shaped paper cutter, glued them all together.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty & Justice for all.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Great Summer Stay-cation!

"So what exactly are you going to do with the kids this summer?" My husband asked me this question last week while we were discussing the final days of pre-school. I paused for a moment, and didn't answer. We canceled our planned vacation this year (for the third year in a row) because three kids are expensive & this economy just doesn't allow us to do much. I decided at that moment that I was going to do something to create a fun & stimulating environment during the break. In the spirit of Abby Sunderland & all those other adventerous and ambitious youngsters, join us as we "Sail Away!"
artwork courtesy of Tutti Shafir