Patches

Coyote sighting!

There’s a coyote in our neighborhood who has been openly lurking about in the middle of the day. I’ve seen him four days in a row, but not yesterday. He seems to be minding his own business. He sees me and the dogs but just keeps trotting by. One day I passed him on a foot path that traversed my path and there he was just sitting under a bush, munching on a rabbit. He narrowed his gaze, his ears stood straight up but he made no move towards me or away from me. I fumbled for my phone but ended up getting only a fuzzy shot because I didn’t have the patience to stand there still long enough. I have a feeling I will keep getting chances though.

I’m going to name him Patches. I like to name the neighborhood squirrels, Chippy so it seems appropriate that our neighborhood coyote is named Patches. He has patchy fur on his back. I’m not sure if it’s his natural coloring or if he has battle wounds from fights. He seems healthy enough. He doesn’t seem to be super skinny or act sick. I was talking to some neighbors who were also out when I’ve seen him and everyone seems to be in agreement that he’s really nothing to be afraid of. After all, we do live right next to a nature preserve that is probably his home.

We’re thinking Patches is lurking about because we have new neighbors next door who don’t understand the trash system. They are students going to the local college. Apparently some rich parents bought their daughter a huge big house and she is renting it out to many roommates. We really have no clue just that people are constantly getting dropped off with big suitcases via Lyft or Uber and they don’t speak English. We don’t see them out in the day but their trash on trash day is piled high in their trashcan and over-flowing in flimsy white trash bags stashed around the base of their trash can. Of course this never ends well. Animals (like Patches) come in the night and tear the bags open and strew the trash all over our street and into our front yard. I don’t need to get up in arms about it, the rest of the neighbors have already reported them to the to home owners association. I’m sure the matter will be rectified with an extra-size trash can soon.

But in the meantime we have a new friend, Patches.

The Great 12th Birthday Bake Off

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It happened! Joon’s 12th Birthday Bake Off! It was just as crazy and fun as you can imagine.

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We had two teams of four girls each. Joon has been really into baking for a while and it turns out her friends are too. Who knew? I guess The Great British Baking Show has a big influence on a lot of us.  I had wanted to rent out a professional kitchen but that turned out to be very expensive (insurance was involved)  so we held the party at Payam’s mom’s house instead which worked out great because she has a large kitchen, two ovens and it was super fun for her to be right in the middle of all the activity.

A lot of things could have gone wrong but… they didn’t!

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It was a flurry of activity. All the girls got along famously.  Of course there were a few tense moments but nothing like the messes I’ve gotten myself into while baking over the years. These girls are pros.

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The parents were the judges and occasional helpers but we pretty much stayed out of the fray and tried to be fair to both teams. That was a little tricker than you’d think. I had to stop myself multiple times from wanting to help clean-up or influence their decisions… “Are you sure you want to mix sweetened condensed milk with strawberries and water to create a glaze?…” I bit my tongue.

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It was a crazy mess, naturally. But soooo much fun!

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I am really thankful to Payam’s family and how willing they are host my crazy whims. So far, so good!

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The last part of the competition was clean-up. A very important part. The floors were a bit sticky but for the most part they did a great job.

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The red team made a vanilla sponge cake with lemon filling and lemon frosting. It was my personal favorite but then I love tart things.

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The black team made a strawberry vanilla sponge cake with strawberry filling and strawberry frosting. It was delicious!

It was hard to pick a winner but in the end the black team scored just a smidge more points, which was awesome for the birthday girl. We gave them spray-painted golden spatula trophys as a prize. I think they could care less about the trophys it was very much more about the process than the end result. In fact, I think all the girls had tasted so much cake and frosting along the way they were sick of it by the end and didn’t even want to try a piece.

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We opened gifts and called it the best party ever!

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Happy Birthday Joon! You inspire the best kind of fun!

Here’s an eleven minute video of the whole thing if you want to see more. :) I apologize in advance for my laugh.