Friday, May 29, 2015

Mammoth Lakes - hiking and snow play

After a big day on the road through Yosemite National Park and over the Tioga Pass, we finally hit Mammoth Lakes. It was overcast, freezing and kinda miserable that first day - but at bedtime, it started snowing at our resort which was pretty special. Given it was a pretty brief visit to Mammoth (I could easily spend a week hiking here, it's so beautiful) we decided to spend Sunday morning doing a little hike in the valley and the afternoon on the mountain.







The fresh mountain air - that crisp, pine-y smell and the (relative) peace and quiet was so refreshing. Both Mitch and I just love being outdoors and it's something we hope we can keep doing as a family as our boys grow.






After we finally made it back to our car (note: you have to take shuttles into the national park and it's a really slow, painful process), we grabbed our picnic and got on the scenic gondola to head up Mammoth mountain. It might be almost June but a few chair lifts were still open and there were plenty of people skiing. Crazy!






Oh, the snow. We've lived in California for over 3 years but only once visited the snow near Lake Tahoe, back in 2012. It felt SO good to be on top of a mountain again!









More to come... :-)

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Yosemite National Park - a flying visit

Last weekend we decided to make the most of the public holiday and take a last minute road trip through the Sierra Nevadas to pretty Mammoth Lakes. Only a 5 hour drive, it felt like a whole different world - and season. To get to Mammoth, you've got to get over some pretty impressive mountain ranges. The Tioga Pass, through Yosemite National Park, had just opened for the season so we left home bright and early Saturday morning and took a quick lunch break in this busy but beautiful national park before heading through the snow.









Having been here before, we didn't take the time to go hiking or see any of the main sights - it was CRAZY busy because of the long weekend, but soon headed up (up up up) the mountain before reaching the Tioga Pass peak at a little over 9,500 feet. The snow was insane! It's only weeks off summer, but it was snowing pretty heavily and the snow off the side of the road was up to my thighs in spots (I learned that the hard way). Ollie and I braved the below zero temps for some quick snow play before heading over to Mammoth.



I feel like we just had a real winter snow getaway - when it's almost summer. More to come... :-)

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Life lately: camping & concerts

A couple of weekends ago - for Mother's Day in fact, we attempted camping again. Round 2. This time we were a little more prepared - the boys both resembled little Michelin men as I had them bundled up in practically every piece of warm clothing they own for bedtime - and it was most definitely a successful weekend! We had been planning to go to Pinecrest Lake, a spot that looks absolutely gorgeous but this cold May snap meant it was SNOWING there the day we were arriving. Although it seems to be nearly impossible to find last minute camping within a few hours of the bay area, we did manage to get a spot on the pretty Russian River, near Sonoma/Napa area.


The boys both did so well this weekend, and we all had a really lovely time. Ollie sure loved having his friends to play with this time around!




This past weekend our big boy had a spring concert & carnival at his preschool. My mama heart just swells with pride seeing him up on stage (far right)!


He had fun playing games at the little carnival and Austin loved playing on the toys at Ollie's school, although he was a bit of a grump because I wouldn't let him on the crazy jumping castle with the big kids.



This cold snap we've been experiencing the past week or so feels like winter and I'm so over it already (in fact, temperatures here only weeks off summer are COLDER than Brisbane right now. Where it's practically winter. Oh how I miss Aussie weather!). We are ready for warmer temperatures, backyard playdates, splash pad adventures, iceblock weather - bring on summer!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Cake Obsession

It's no secret: I have a terrible sweet tooth. I really don't buy a whole lot of treats though; I love to bake instead. Over the years I feel like I've mastered the basics. I can whip up a bunch of variations of brownies, various flavoured cupcakes, cookies, scones, cheesecake, puddings and so on. I have an ongoing to do list and learn cake decorating has been rating pretty highly on there for a few years, but it's only in recent months that I've really started trying different techniques. Guided by many youtube tutorials (and inspired by a friend here who is a cake decorating / baking guru), here's a few of my first attempts...

This was my first attempt at a petal cake for a friend & friend's son combined b'day cake. Looking back now, it feels so messy but I was pretty happy for my first try!


This cake was followed closely by another friend's birthday cake: a pink ombre swirl frosting with a pink ombre layer cake, perfect for an almost Valentine's birthday!


Austin's smash cake was my next attempt at the petal technique; much more uniform this time.


March was a busy month for birthdays. Austin's smash cake was followed closely by Mitch's birthday, celebrated with a 4 layer chocolate sour cream cake with whipped espresso frosting and chocolate ganache (and whoppers on top. The not-as-good American version of a malteser) that I took into his work. It was decadent!


Austin's birthday cake was simple, much like the Valentine's cake: a 4 layer blue ombre cake with vanilla buttercream blue ombre frosting.


Next I got to have my first ever attempt at fondant. I had never bought, made or even played around fondant before, let alone attempted to cover a cake in it. This was for a friend's daughters birthday, I watched a zillion tutorials (and bought the not so great tasting, but easy pre-made Wilton fondant and coloured it myself) and voila... It wasn't as scary as I was expecting! The cake here was a 4 layer dark chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream.


My absolute favourite cake was last. Another friend's daughter was having a Frozen themed party and I had a go at a doll cake. I always used to admire the dolly varden cake in the Australia Women's Weekly birthday cake book (all Aussie children of the 80's will know what I'm talking about) and so I was very excited to give it a go! I just used 3 round cakes and topped with a bundt. The best (or worst) part - the cake sang let it go :-)


In American tradition, some cupcakes accompanied the cake: vanilla cupcakes with a frozen themed buttercream frosting and handmade edible snowflakes. I rolled out gumpaste paper thin and used a Martha Stewart snowflake punch (greasing it regularly so they didn't stick) to get the shape. Once they dried, I sprayed with an edible pearl mist.


Any suggestions on what to try next? Oliver's birthday isn't until August and I am keen to try something new in the meantime!

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