Packards Coffee Shop and Dudley’s Famous Bakery

I am putting these two businesses together in a post because I didn’t take enough pictures at either place! I will be sure to take more pictures when we go back, since I think both of these places will be a regular stop for us when we are in the area.

Packards Coffee Shop is a small coffee shop in Ramona, CA. The main reason we wanted to stop there? The big blue box in the front!

Josh took this picture during a job in the area
We were just passing through, so I wasn’t able to try their crepes. I think the next time we are there, I will definitely have to order some! You can take a look at their menu on their Facebook page.

Josh and I picked up some iced Vietnamese coffee, said hi to the 11th Doctor, and took a few pics of the kids with the Tardis out front. The coffee was refreshing as an iced drink and very strong! Just the way we like it.

The folks in the shop were really nice! I’d definitely stop in there again. Packards is located at 680 Main Street, Ramona, CA 92065.


Another stop we made was Dudley’s Famous Bakery in Santa Ysabel. It is in the same marketplace as Julian Pie Company off of Highway 78.

Usually, we stop at the Julian Pie Company to get some apple pie and a dozen cider donuts to take home. This time, we stopped in at Dudley’s to eat lunch. When you walk in, there is a little gift shop to the right (my kids were immediately drawn to the rocks). The deli and shop area were straight ahead, with restaurant booths along the wall. We ordered our sandwiches at a small counter and then sat down to wait for our order. Our family of 7 took up two booths! While we were waiting for the food, I couldn’t help noticing the multiple racks of bread set up nearby, or the stacks of boxed apple pies on the table right by us! The sandwiches were really yummy, but it was the bread selection to take home that floored me. There were so many different kinds! I wish I had taken a picture of all of them in their neat rows. There were also sweets like three different kinds of streusel and cinnamon pull-apart bread. We ended up taking home this…


Really good pie by the way, but I missed the cinnamon ice cream.

We took home these too. There was a promotion to buy 4 loaves get 1 free. I’m kind of a bread fanatic so I couldn’t resist.


Dudley’s bread is sold in a lot of the grocery stores in our area, but I don’t think all the kinds we saw are available at every grocery store.  The rosemary and olive oil bread disappeared quickly as did the Hawaiian sweet bread. The bread in the bottom right corner is Pecan Maple and that was really, really good as a french toast! I froze the Russian Pumpernickel, which reminds me… I should probably go get that out!

Dudley’s bread can be found in about 70 locations in California. The particular location we went to is at 30250 Highway 78, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070.


Lego Mindstorms: Wack3m Robot

Update: Lego May have taken down the Lego mindstorms robot gallery so the programs are no longer available there.

For the longest time, I could not figure out where the programming for the robots on the Lego Mindstorms website were! I feel very silly now, but in case there is anyone else out there who could easily find the build instructions on the website but did not know where to download that particular robot’s program, here is how to find the programs for the “official” Lego Mindstorms robots.


To access the programs for the Mindstorms robots, download the EV3 Programming software under the Downloads tab. I tried using the app for accessing the programs, but I did not see a way to look at the “extra” robots on the app, only the 5 that come with the Mindstorms kit.


Once you have downloaded the software and opened it, the screen will look something like this. On the screen are the 5 starter robots. If you look at the 3 tabs near the bottom of the screen, one tab says MORE ROBOTS. Click that to change the options at the bottom of the screen.


It was like a revelation once I clicked that MORE ROBOTS tab. Two of the robots we had built were there: the PRINT3R bot and EV3D4. For this build, we went with the WACK3M bot. It’s an arcade-style bot that lets you play whack-a-mole.


Once you click on WACK3M, the screen changes to the Mindstorms programming environment. This particular build had onscreen instructions for actually building the robot and even let you run a few short programs to test your robot in the middle of your build, just to make sure you have each part running correctly.


In the above pic, Thias is building one  of the units for the WACK3M bot using the Mindstorms software. Usually, he builds them using the iPad, but I think this way might have been quite a bit easier.


In the upper right corner, you click the arrows to take you through each page of instructions.


Once you are done with your build, you can look at the programming. This one was working as is of course, so my kids went straight to playing.



The two-tired “wand” Thias is holding acts as your hammer for the game. All my kids loved the hammer and kept using it NOT as a hammer for the game.


Here is a pic of the completed bot. This was a pretty smooth build and my boys had few issues with it. They weren’t quite as fascinated with it as they were with the MindCub3r bot though. They did like that it told them their scores related to their reaction times.

All my kids were able to play with this bot though, so that made it a good build for multiple ages to try. They were all so crowded around it that I never got a good video of it working!



Planting an Apple Tree

Ever since we moved into our house, Lynn has wanted me to plant an apple tree.  I have always been recalcitrant because I didn’t think that apples would grow in our part of San Diego County.  It is warm here year round with little of the cool hours that apples typically need to grow.

A few months ago we went to the City Farmers Nursery in San Diego.  I saw that they had a few types of apples for sale, and even some apple trees with fruit hanging on them as examples that apples can grow in San Diego.  I did some research and I think that the Anna apple tree is that best type for us to grow.  Annas need few chill hours, and are self fertile.  These characteristics make this an excellent tree for a half acre suburban San Diego lot.

As usual planting a tree took me much longer then I hoped.  Our dirt is heavy with clay, so I had to use my jackhammer just to make a 2.5 – 3 foot deep hole.  I didn’t just want to put the clay back into the hole around the tree, so I had to come up with a way make the dirt better.  I have been reading about hugelkultur, which is a way of using branches and wood to build up mounds for planting.  Over time the wood rots and provides nutrients for the plants.  Building these mounds isn’t ideal in a suburban lot, but I hoped to simulate it by filling my hole with old wood.  I have a lot of it laying around from getting our ash tree cut down, so I layered some of that wood in the hole. I used compost to fill in the cracks between the wood, and then used compost and peat moss to build up a mound around the root ball of the tree.  By building up where I planted the tree a little I will be able to put in several inches of wood chips for when I water the tree.

I really don’t know what to expect from this tree.  I know that citrus grows well here with little to know effort needed once the tree is established.  I don’t think I have ever seen an apple tree growing around where we live, so I will be truly curious to see what I get out of this little tree.


Saturday in the Garden: Fall Planting 

On Saturday I decided it was time to get the fall planting done. I was thinking of waiting because we are have Santa Anna winds forecast for the next couple of days.  Santa Annas bring hot dry weather.  Today’s high was 100 F, and the humidity went as low as 3%.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a few degrees hotter.  I didn’t want to shock my fall plants to much, but I also didn’t want to wait to long and have the plants not grow in time.

First, I needed to rehab my large raised bed.  Last year when I built it, I didn’t do a good job with filling the bed with soil.  I used some large chunks of wood as filler at the bottom of the bed, but didn’t pack dirt around them well enough.  So I ended up with quite a bit of caving in and cracking in my dirt.  I also used to much compost and the plants didn’t end up growing well in parts of the bed.

I am attempting to use as many of the principles of square foot gardening as I can.  In this gardening method the raised beds are filled with “Mel’s Mix“, which is 1/3rd each of vermiculite, peat moss, and compost.  This is an expensive mix to make, but the vermiculite and peat moss should last a long time and not need much replacement.  As much as I would like to make my soil mix exactly as listed, I live in one of the most expensive parts of the USA and have a large family.  So, sometimes I have to budget and just do the best I can.  I think it is best to aim high, but not allow high standards to keep you from trying to do something.  Do the best you can with what you have.

Vermiculite isn’t the easiest thing to find.  I found out that the large home improvement stores in my area do not carry it.  The prices I saw online were not horrible, but the cost of shipping was prohibitive.  I ended up finding a local nursery called City Farmer’s Nursery that has many supplies for organic gardening along with local plants.  I bought 2 2 cubic foot bags of vermiculite for 29.99 each.

I ended up putting 4 cubic feet of vermiculite, 4.5 cubic feet of peat moss, and a large amount of compost into my 13 foot by 4 foot garden bed.  I also reran my ropes that mark the 1 foot boxes in the beds.

Then I planted the seedlings I had already started along with many seeds and some garlic.  I also planted in one of my smaller raised beds, but didn’t get to do anything other then add some compost to that one.

I planted to many things to link them all, or even mention them.  I am trying a few new plants this year that I hope will grow well.  Mostly I planted leafy plants, but did do some broccoli and cauliflowers.  I will probably do individual posts and reviews of some of the plants that I grow as the fall goes on.  I also like to put pictures of the plants I grow on Instagram and sometimes Facebook.



Patch the Pirate visits The Lighthouse

This past week, Patch the Pirate visited our church and led our children’s choir in a concert on Sunday night. It was a great time! I grew up listening to Patch the Pirate on cassette tapes, so this was nostalgic for me.

My kids actually haven’t listened to many of the Patch the Pirate stories that I had growing up, but they do know most of the songs.  Our brilliant Juniors choir leader, Mrs. Lanett Grant, gave us a CD of all the songs that the children were supposed to know for the concert, and my kids loved it. I think we are going to need to find a way to get some of the stories on CD for car rides now!

I only have one video that I have to share in this post. My middle child, Ian, has a fun personality, and he is very good at making people laugh. We never know what he is going to do when he is onstage!  In this song, Ian was having trouble with telling his left from his right!

I apologize for the very bumpy video that quite possibly will make you seasick! I was laughing so hard that I was crying and was having a very hard time holding on to the video camera! Note to self for next time: Bring a tripod!