Flashback Friday: Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossoms

Living in Washington, D.C. when Josh was stationed there from 2003 to 2008 was not always easy, but there were two events that I loved, and we tried our best to experience annually: Cherry blossom time in the spring and Christmas at the White House in December.

Since it is cherry blossom time in Washington, D.C. now (article linked here about how peak bloom was March 25), I thought I would post about it. It’s been 9 years now since we moved back to SoCal after living in D.C., but I imagine that it is still much the same and still beautiful during cherry blossom time.

The following pictures are all from either April 2006 or April 2008.

Two-year-old Corran at the Washington Monument. This boy is now taller than I am! At this age, Corran was very interested in space shuttles and rockets, so to him the Washington Monument was a “rocketship stuck in the ground.”

Cherry tree with washington monument

Cherry tree by the Washington Monument – April 2006

cherry blossoms

It is magical to walk under these trees. Yes, there were crowds everywhere, but somehow, it didn’t matter very much. We were all there to experience beauty.

These, of course, are not cherry blossoms! These are tulips at the Floral Library run by the National Park Service. The Floral Library was always a must-see when we were at the Tidal Basin for the cherry blossoms. It is a lovely photo opportunity and a wonderful place to take your children.

cherry blossoms with the jefferson memorial

Jefferson Memorial with cherry blossoms in foreground

A close-up of the cherry blossoms.

When you visit D.C., be prepared to walk, and walk, and walk some more! We went to this area numerous times when we lived there and still did not get to everything that there is to see!

-Lynn

The White House in spring

Compost Bin Voucher Program – San Diego County, California

This post will be geographically specific to our location, but maybe for those of you outside our area, there is a compost bin rebate or voucher program available as well. I will say that this program was not very easy to find, and this is why we decided to post about it.

Josh has been wanting to buy a real compost bin for a while. He tried to use a compost heap, but that didn’t work out. We looked at some compost bins and tumblers online, but we were a bit put off by how expensive they were!

I had seen something about a voucher program in a Dixieline ad, and I showed it to Josh. It wasn’t very clear how it worked, so he decided to go to the Dixieline by our house and see if they even had compost bins there. He didn’t find any. So I decided to do more digging online and realized that there was an application you had to fill out online first before you could buy the compost bin at the discount price.

The voucher application link differs depending on where you live in San Diego County. We are in an unincorporated area, so I went to the San Diego County website.

Click here to go to the Compost Bin Voucher Application for San Diego County

All we had to do was fill out the application so they could verify if we qualified and wait for an e-mail that gave us the voucher for $40 off a compost bin. You could get $40 off vouchers for up to 2 of each type: the classic compost bin and the can of worms compost bin (which I am assuming is for vermicomposting). There are only two Dixieline locations where you can redeem the vouchers for the County of San Diego, the Escondido location and the Rancho San Diego location.

Here are a few other links for those in the City of San Diego, La Mesa, and Del Mar.

Click here to go to the Compost Bin Voucher Application for the City of San Diego

There are 3 options for residents of the City of San Diego. Please note that the voucher redemption locations for the City of San Diego are different than those for San Diego County.

Click here for more information about the Compost Bin Voucher Application for the City of La Mesa

La Mesa has a different method of application and receipt of the voucher. You either mail in or drop off the application, and your voucher is mailed to you in 2-4 weeks.

Click here for more information about the Compost Bin Voucher Application for the City of Del Mar

Those are the only 3 other cities I found in a quick Google search. There may be more opportunities that I just did not see.

Our final cost was around $100 for two of the classic soil saver compost bins. Hopefully, in about two months, we will have good dirt for Josh’s garden beds.

Josh will be taking over the post from here, since he is the one who went to pick up the compost bins. I just took care of the online application for him.

-Lynn


We live closest to the Rancho San Diego Dixieline, so that is the one I got the compost bins from.  As Lynn said, I didn’t see any regular compost bins the first time I went to the Dixieline.  At that time they did have a couple of the worm compost bins.  I would imagine they don’t sell as many of those since people don’t usually want to deal with worms.  When I went to the store on Saturday there were probably about 8 of the compost bins, some of which had come from a different store in El Cajon.  If you don’t live close to either the Rancho San Diego or Escondido store, you may want to call ahead to verify they have the bins you want.

The cashiers in the store are unable to give you the discount.  You have to go to what I believe is called the Pro Center usually located near the middle of the store.  This is the place where you also order wood and other large products.  This is typically a slower desk because they are working through special or large orders.  Make sure you give yourself a few extra minutes in the store in case someone is ahead of you at check out.

– Joshua

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Donut Frosting

Yes, it is yet another Bundt Cake post! I promise that my next baking post will be about something different (Macarons.. are those different?). I know that I said in my Key Lime-Mint Bundt Cake post that I wasn’t too thrilled with this cake, but it could be that I just wasn’t in the mood for chocolate that day. The important thing about this recipe is that my family loved it, and it was gone in two days. I usually know that a recipe is good if it doesn’t last very long at my house. In this case, I let my kids eat this cake for breakfast… I know, this cake isn’t for breakfast, Lynn, what are you thinking!? Here’s my reasoning: We eat those huge chocolate muffins from Costco… eating chocolate cake for breakfast isn’t any different, right?

I am not a fan of cereal in general. I do love Quaker Oatmeal Squares, but it is so rarely on sale that we don’t always have it around.  The day after I made this cake, I just didn’t want cereal… So let them eat cake it is! Don’t let my kids tell you about the time they had candy for dinner (Josh was deployed…) or the time they had ice cream for dinner (hmm… that also might have been when Josh was deployed). But you know what? They still talk about those “dinners!” It’s funny what kids remember.

Today’s cake comes courtesy of Corran, my oldest, who requests chocolate in almost everything I bake, like the cinnamon rolls I made today. Sorry, Corran, I didn’t put chocolate in the cinnamon rolls.

Here are the recipes I used:

The Best Chocolate Bundt Cake at Inquiring Chef

Chocolate Glaze That Hardens

This time I dusted my bundt pan with cocoa powder instead of flour. This worked a lot better than I thought it would. You will see why I say this in a few pictures.

The chocolate cake batter was very liquid-y (is that a word?). I think I’ve gotten too used to the sponge cakes I’ve been making lately; they have such a thick batter.  The pictures of the batter at the recipe site don’t look quite as runny as my batter does, so maybe I did something wrong. It still baked up fine though.

The cake finished up huge! I’m so so glad it didn’t overflow onto the bottom of my oven. I might need to get out my old, beat-up bundt pan the next time I make this. I think that one has a 12-cup capacity.

It is not obvious from the above picture… but see the cooling rack? The cake was supposed to be on the cooling rack for this picture. But when I flipped the rack and the pan over, I wasn’t expecting the cake to fall out so fast and it landed on the worktable instead. So the cocoa powder worked great. I’m glad the cake didn’t land on the floor! And that it stayed mostly in one piece. What you don’t see in this picture: Children rushing into the kitchen to eat chocolate cake crumbs off the worktable. Um.. Kids, if you wait until after dinner, you can have a whole slice…

I think the chocolate glaze I used for this cake is supposed to be the fast version of a boiled chocolate icing. It worked great and hardened perfectly. If I ever make donuts (which my kids have requested numerous times), I will use this icing on them! The donuts, not the kids.

I globbedy-gooked the icing onto the cake, and I let my kids pick the completely unnecessary sprinkles to go on this cake. And of course, they chose chocolate!

I actually remembered to take a picture of a slice this time! I think the cake could have used a few more minutes in the oven, but at least it wasn’t totally underbaked. It was definitely moist and definitely chocolatey. And definitely got eaten up like lightning.

-Lynn

San Diego Comic-Con Open Registration is Coming…

I’m not sure if I posted about our results from San Diego Comic-Con Returning Registration, but here is the gist: Currently, Josh and I do not have passes for the same days at Comic-Con, which kind of defeats the purpose of us going. You know, together time and geeking out about all the things at the same time.

Yesterday, we got our e-mails about Open Registration. This year, it will be on April 8th at 9 AM. That day is going to be busy for us (birthday party for our twin nephews at 10 AM then our oldest is in a band concert at 6 PM), but hopefully, either Josh can get Friday and Saturday passes, or I can at least get just a Thursday pass.

I will say this though. Even if we don’t get to actually attend Comic-Con, I’m pretty sure that we will be be downtown at least one of those days. For three years, we just went downtown during Comic-Con with our kids and there were so many things to do outside the convention center that it really didn’t matter that we didn’t have passes.  In fact, I’m hoping to write a post about that: Things to Do Outside Comic-Con when You Can’t Actually Go to Comic-Con.  And it is a surprisingly long list!

-Lynn