The New Geek Homestead

We have exciting news to share but we still need to work on the post for it. Hopefully, in the next few days!

In the meantime, I’m able to get back into baking, which makes me happy.

Today, I made this Potato Bread Recipe using the dough cycle of my bread maker for the first rise. Then, I followed the rest of the recipe using two loaf pans. I think I might need to buy some bread flour because these loaves are pillowy soft from all-purpose flour, which she mentions in the recipe. I’m still happy with how these turned out though and am very glad they didn’t collapse, which happened to me yesterday with my bread maker!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

-Lynn

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Homesteading Without a Homestead

More than a month ago, we put our home on the market. It received a lot of interest, we accepted an offer, and we headed into escrow.

On April 10th, Josh’s term job here in California ended and he started a new job in Arizona. The kids and I moved in with my parents. I really don’t think we would have been able to sell our house as quickly without their help.

On April 30th, escrow closed on our house and the kids and I said goodbye to our house and our pets. It was raining, which seemed fitting. The kids seemed to take it a lot easier than I did but that’s the thing about kids; they’re resilient and a lot tougher than we think.

Our home has been good to us and we will miss it as well as the land, the fruit trees, our chickens, our two resident cats (who are great at catching gophers), and Josh’s garden.

We are not sure what the future holds for us now. That uncertainty is why we had to sell our house. But we know that God is in control and that He will work in His own time. In the meantime, the kids and I are living with family in California while Josh is in Arizona working and preparing to find us another home. And we continue to Homestead as much as we can without a homestead.

-Lynn

Wildflowers in the Desert: Borrego Springs, California – March 8, 2019

We have posted about the wildflowers in the desert before, but since this is possibly our last trip to see them for a while, we wanted to write about them again. It’s interesting to see the differences from year to year.

You can read about our previous trips in Borrego Springs, California: Wildflowers 2017 and Borrego Springs, California – Wildflowers.

Most of our trips to the desert include side trips. This year’s side trips were to Packard’s Coffee Shop in Ramona, CA, Dudley’s Famous Bakery in Santa Ysabel, CA, and Culp Valley Cultural Preserve right outside Borrego Springs.

We love Packard’s but we live so far away that we only make it there about once a year. The big blue box in the front is the reason we first visited because Josh and I are Doctor Who fans. We have never tried their crepes or baked goods, but we always buy some of their coffee. They are really great about updating their Facebook page with the baked goods they are offering for the day or week.

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Packard’s TARDIS is a Little Free Library. I think this is such a great idea!
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The front porch at Packard’s.

 

Dudley’s Famous Bakery was our next stop where we picked up five loaves of bread. With the size of our family though, five loaves of bread doesn’t last very long!

 

That is a LOT of bread. We bought four loaves and got one free. We were hoping the strudels were included in that but sadly, they were not. I had to tell my oldest son to go put the raspberry strudel back. I regretted that later, because I don’t think strudel is something I will ever attempt to make.

Our next stop was Culp Valley Cultural Preserve. We didn’t actually hike anywhere here but it was an interesting place to stop. It was neat to watch the shadows of the clouds move across the landscape. It was very windy here!

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We like to stop at the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association Desert Nature Center near Christmas Circle to pick up a wildflower map before we head out to the fields.  The staff there are very knowledgeable and very helpful. They also have a nice gift shop. My rock hound son has picked up a few books about rocks, gems, and minerals there. For this trip, we purchased a wildflower guide and a guide to the sky art metal sculptures around town. The wildflower maps are always free and are invaluable to figuring out where is best to go.

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Usually, we head out to Henderson Canyon Road to find wildflowers but this year our main stop was Coyote Canyon. I think we were early enough in the day that it wasn’t too difficult to park close to the dirt road that would take us to the fields. For this trip, we walked east from Di Giorgio Road. The most prevalent wildflowers were desert sunflowers, sand verbena, and dune evening primrose. The colors were amazing.

We also stopped at a few fields east of Borrego Springs. Josh took pictures out there since I stayed in the van with our baby. I also was a bit of a wimp and didn’t feel like dealing with the wind.

 

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I think this might be my favorite picture that I took of the wildflowers.
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Desert Lilies
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Desert Chicory over Popcorn flowers
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Popcorn flowers have fuzzy stems. We saw a few of these plants here and there that had not bloomed yet.
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Chuparosa. This was taken by Josh with his iPhone. 
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Brown-eyed evening Primrose
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Dune Evening Primrose
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I think this is probably Dune evening primrose also. It’s just light pink instead of white.
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Sand verbena. There is so much of this blooming that you can see them from very far away.
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I think this is another brown-eyed evening primrose.

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Another type of blue heliotrope or phacelia. I love blue and purple flowers!
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A type of blue heliotrope or phacelia. I thought it might be canterbury bells at first but the way the flowers are clustered doesn’t look right.

While walking around by Coyote Canyon, we found a dry wash. Three of my boys were fascinated by the way the mud had dried in layers and broken with some of the edges curling up.  One of them even told me, “Mommy, this is much more fun that the flowers!” Doesn’t that just sound like a boy? I’m glad that they found something out on our walk that was interesting to them. They even wanted to take some of the layers home with us. Sorry, boys, you can’t bring any dirt home with you.

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We hiked out to this weather station and then headed back to the van. There were also some cryptic signs in this area with the words “Viking Block” and then a number. Josh looked them up and found out that they were in relation to a program for environmental protection.

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Of course, we had to visit our old friends, the scorpion and the grasshopper. We also drove by the serpent. The kids love seeing the metal sculptures. Hopefully, it will not be the last time we get to visit Borrego Springs.

Lego Weekend Build: Carousel

My last post was about the Booster Bricks subscription we bought our kids for Christmas. It is not just a box of random Legos though. The box includes challenges as well as an online Facebook group to participate in: weekly challenges, builds, and games.

This past weekend’s challenge was to build a Lego Carousel. Two of my boys, Matthias and Ian, worked pretty hard on it so I thought I’d post about it here.

For Christmas, we also bought our kids one of the largest Technic sets currently available: The Bucket Wheel Excavator. At almost 4,000 pieces, this is a huge set. We have to confess that we bought it mostly for the pieces. My boys used some of those pieces in their Carousel, which is why it looks a bit skeletal.

Matthias and Ian used a medium motor to power the Carousel. The gear assembly is pretty simple. The circular yellow pieces form a large gear.

You can see the gear and motor assembly inside the walls in the picture above. The switch is located outside the walls.

The Carousel sits on the small gear attached to the motor as well as 3 flagpole pieces that help keep the Carousel level but still allow it to rotate.

I was really proud of my boys for keeping at this build. They had no instructions and only a little bit of help from Josh. He helped them figure out how to downgear the motor so the Carousel wouldn’t spin too fast.

Here is a quick video of their Carousel in motion!

They didn’t mess with the design element too much but that is ok with me. I’m more interested in their learning the mechanics of it. Design can come later!

-Lynn

Lego Booster Bricks Box subscription

For our kids’ Christmas present, we bought them a 6 month subscription to a Box of Legos that is delivered once a month, usually near the end of the month. Lego Booster Bricks is opening their monthly service to new subscribers tomorrow so I thought I’d do a quick post about it.

Here is a link to their website and an opportunity to join their waitlist:

Booster Bricks info and waitlist

I will summarize the subscription here though if you’d rather get a quick overview and information from personal experience.

What is it? Booster Bricks is a monthly subscription to a Lego membership that includes a monthly box of Legos.

How many pieces are in the box? The box comes with around 250 pieces. Keep in mind that these are not usually new Legos. They are cleaned and sanitized though so they look almost new. The fact that the Legos aren’t new also means a chance of receiving rare Lego pieces that are difficult to find. You also receive at least one minifigure and minifigure accessories.

How much does it cost? You can choose a monthly subscription for $25.95/ month plus $7.45/shipping and handling, a six month subscription for $22.95/month plus $7.45/shipping and handling, or a twelve month subscription for $19.95/month plus $7.45/shipping and handling. We decided on the six month subscription to see how we liked it.

That seems like a lot of money for a box of Legos! Is it worth it? The interesting part of this Lego subscription is not just the box of Legos! The box also comes with building challenges for your kids. You can take pictures of their creations and enter them in a random drawing for even more Lego prizes. You also have access to Occasional Flash Deals through the Booster Bricks Club Facebook group as well as daily and weekly Lego build challenges and various contests with Lego prizes. We haven’t won anything yet but it is fun to enter the contests! You choose how much or how little you want to be involved.

Josh and I like that this is not a subscription to a Lego set but to a set of random pieces. This means our kids build using their imaginations instead of a manual of instructions. Both ways of building are fun though!

I am not sure yet if we will be renewing our subscription but most likely we will! We plan on posting more about our Booster Brick builds and boxes but I wanted to publish this before their opening tomorrow in case anyone wants to try it out!

Booster Bricks information

-Lynn

Where Have We Been?

It has been a loooong time since we’ve posted! I think our last post was Josh’s blog about Johnny Sacks cabin from our Solar Eclipse trip in August.

So what happened to us? Quite a few things have turned our household upside-down since August.

Number One: I started homeschooling our kids in September 2017 for the current school year. I was using a different approach than our 2016-2017 school year, which basically means I had no idea what I was doing! I made the switch from a streaming video-based curriculum to a literature-based curriculum called Sonlight.  Since the new curriculum meant sitting down with my kids and actually teaching, which is definitely not a bad thing, I had no time for my baking. This is why I haven’t posted any baking posts in 7 months.

Number Two: We had a baby! Gavin Joshua was born December 28, 2017. He’s made our lives a little bit crazier since he was born, but we can’t imagine our family without him. Being a family of 8 isn’t that much different from being a family of 7, but it did mean having to buy a larger vehicle. We went all out and bought a 12-passenger Ford Transit. It makes me feel like I’m driving a bus but there are definitely less arguments about personal space amongst our kids!

Having a new baby also means very little baking (or even cooking). I was able to bake scones this past weekend and three weeks before that, my last bake was a batch of brownies! Josh has actually been taking care of most of the cooking. I firmly believe that his being able to be home for the past six weeks is the main reason I haven’t gone totally mad yet.

Now that life isn’t quite as crazy as it has been, we want to get back into posting to The Geek Homestead. We can’t guarantee that we will post regularly, but we will do our best to write interesting posts.  Thank you so much to those of you who take the time to read this! We also look forward to getting back to reading our community’s blogs.

A very much belated Happy New Year to everyone!

 

San Diego County Fair 2017: Where The West is Fun

Last year, I didn’t have a chance to write about the San Diego County Fair itself. So this year, I decided to take as many pictures as I could while we were there and write about our favorite parts! I will try to write about the Zucchini Race in a separate post. Hopefully, I will get to it!

Because we were “exhibitors,” we were able to enter through a different gate that had no line to get into the fair. That alone is one of the big pluses of entering the Zucchini Race every year!

After checking in at the agricultural building with the boys’ zucchini cars, we walked around to look at all the different displays located in the area.

We always seem to come to the fair during chicken week. So those were the small animals on display this year.

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I’m afraid these displays of chickens are what got us started on eventually wanting a chicken coop!

This is the hydroponics display. It is different every year. But it is always beautifully set up.

After the races at 11 AM, we head out into the main part of the fair. We always gravitate away from the all the rides and carnival games… but there is one thing you just cannot avoid: Fair Food!

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Somehow, we always end up at Chicken Charlie’s. This year’s interesting offering: A Krispy Kreme fried chicken ice cream sandwich…

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The menu at Chicken Charlie’s!

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Meet the Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger. It doesn’t sound like it should taste good but it does! It tasted so good that the kids ate it all up and didn’t leave any for Josh! It is kind of expensive ($10.99 for one), which is why we only bought one and all seven of us shared it.

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The fair special for our sides: french fried onion rings, fried zucchini, and chicken tenders. Lots more of the fried zucchini than anything else… and only Josh and I liked it. Silly kids don’t like their veggies even when they’re deep fried!

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One of many ice cream vendors at the fair. The signage here is always a little bit overwhelming!

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I still remember coming to the fair with my parents and my brother when I was a teenager, and getting frozen cheesecake dipped in chocolate on a stick. I should have gotten one just for old times’ sake. But Corran and I really wanted funnel cake instead. The rest of the family got ice cream.

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Our favorite part of the fair: The Garden Show! Josh likes to walk through here and get ideas for our yard.

Since this year’s theme was the Old West, the displays weren’t quite as vibrant as in past years. I still loved them anyway.

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I love this part of the garden show! It is called the Children’s Garden, and we take our kids here every year. They have different activities for kids about eating healthy, and learning about fruits and vegetables. They even get to go home with a small plant. Last year, we came home with a few tomato plants and they gave us so many yummy cherry tomatoes! This year, the kids came home with bell pepper plants and beefsteak tomato plants.

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The kids digging for gold nuggets so that they can each bring home a plant! Gwen LOVED this activity. She has always enjoyed playing in the dirt. There were also craft activities on the other side of the garden, like coloring and making a ladybug out of egg carton pieces.

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I love to walk around and look at all the plants on display in the children’s garden. There are fruit trees, berry bushes, and all sorts of raised beds full of edible plants.

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I had to take a picture of this flower rainbow. Just lovely.

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One of the many peaceful displays at the garden show. So inviting!

 

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My kids loved this model railroad display. It must have taken a lot of time and effort to set this up!

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Another annual visit to the Gem and Mineral Show in Mission Tower. Every year we come here to look at rocks. This is Matthias’ favorite place. He has always been our family rock hound.

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They have these grab bags for sale every year too! The kids always enjoy opening up their bags when we get home to see what interesting rocks or fossils they received. Two of my kids also got a free polished rock from the vendor. Gwen held tight to hers for the rest of our day.

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I had to take a picture of these small animal carvings! They really are very tiny!

Our next stop was the home and hobby building, which is right next door to Mission Tower. We had never actually been in here before, but I’m glad we were able to this year! It is full of collections of different objects: rockets, disneyland pins, quilts, matchbooks, Star Trek memorabilia, even fake plastic food. If you can collect it, it was probably here! The baked goods competition was also here (my secret reason for wanting to come take a look). I am considering entering next year.

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This was a fun collection! Packing Peanuts!
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This right here is one of the reasons we come to the fair. You happen upon these jewels of activities that you just were not expecting! Each of my kids was able to make a marble out of polymer clay and take it home to bake it until it was hardened. They were so enamored with the process of making these that we had a hard time keeping them away from their clay marbles once they were done designing them. Josh and I are considering having this as a little hobby for the kids.
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Say Bye to Ian!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our trip to the fair. I know that there are no pictures of the rides, but they would have been quite expensive for all the kids to ride everything (although some years we have gone on the rides and they are a lot of fun too!). Usually for our family, the fair is a place to learn and still have fun!

-Lynn