Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On vacation... see you next year!

As you well know it's been chaotic here, I've been slowing down on my poor blog. I'm hoping that next week I'll be able to fill these pages with wonderful content for everyone to read. I won't have an internet connection and I haven't been able to sit down for more than 10 minutes this month! So this is adieu until the next year.

Unless the world comes to an end...
Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season!

-The Bako Depot

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

7 days...

7 days until the actual ripping tournament begins. What is going on at the Bako Depot? Chaos. The kids grabbed the empty wrapping paper rolls and are beating each other to death as I write this. They put stickers on foam shapes and I punched a hole in them and tied string on them for the neighbor's Christmas presents. I don't know why I'm the "giving" kind of person who never receives anything. As for the kids ornaments, I've never been very artistic and what kid doesn't like stickers?

We leave Friday to go to the in-laws and still, I feel like the Grinch. I do have to admit, I've listened to much more Christmas music this year compared to ever. There's a wrapped Christmas present sitting on the counter that has no label. I can't figure out who it goes to (because I thought I had wrapped it) and when looking around on the package, I saw that it was my present from my husband written in sharpie.

7 rooms to clean before we leave,
6 days to keep the kids entertained (luckily I'll have partial help from hubby's grandma)
5 crappy looking kids ornaments to give to the neighbors
4 books to return to the library
3 days until we leave
2 highly energetic and not listening kids
1 frustrated and depressed mom stressing until the end of the world or year

I'm already grinding my teeth worrying about next year. My daughter will be starting school and I'm hoping to have a Charlie Brown themed Christmas next year. Small tree, limited decorations, and few presents. That's if we all survive this Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What now?

Christmas is in 8 days. 8 days of listening to Christmas music, watching those rerun Christmas movies, and hearing those deafening bells at every store entrance. What am I doing? Absolutely nothing. All the presents are wrapped, my house is filthy, no one is packed, and here recently, I'm booking photography sessions because I'm offering a free session to build my portfolio.

This year we didn't decorate the house. Why? Because why pull everything out to decorate the house for that one materialistic day that we won't even be here? There's no snowflakes anywhere to be seen, no children listening, and mostly, I just plainly don't care this year.

I'm worried. Like so many other parents, my daughter is going to be five next year and I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do. Yes, I have hobbies, although none of them are real money makers. Yesterday and today I sunk into a really bad state of depression. If only I had gotten a better college degree I wouldn't be in this foul and negative state of mind right now.

Business, as I have found out numerous times, does absolutely nothing without marketing. So any idea I have, I can't just show it to one or two people, it has to be hundreds. So I thought, why not start a blog? Eventually I'll have readers and maybe some company will want to advertise. I'll set my goal at $2,000 per month. My only problem is there's not many garden, cooking, or biography-type companies wanting to advertise on a small unknown blog. Heck, I probably aren't even writing any sense.

Everyone has been telling me "to follow God's chosen path". Seriously? I'm not an atheist, but I think God would have said, don't get married or have kids. I seriously want to do something with my life. I never wanted kids or marriage in the first place, so now I'm stuck with it and am trying to find a way to promote myself. I hate depending on hubby for absolutely everything. My new goal is to find a job or something that will put my husband to shame.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Top 10 Reasons to Love Bakersfield

When you move to a new city, you more than likely dread it. That's how I felt when I first moved here. I was new to California, had no friends or family around, and had the hardest time finding a house. After living here almost four years and finding out we may move yet again, I've come to love my crazy Bako family and the small city itself. These aren't in any order, but they are my top ten reasons for loving it here in Bakersfield, California and Kern County.

10. Free admission on certain days for the city and county museums. Some museums don't even charge admission. Crazy, huh?

9. Melting pot. Although Bako is considered one of the "armpits of Cali", the citizens are demographically diverse. You can find white, wealthy, Hispanic, African descent, middle class, Indian, rednecks, Asian, and several other cultures. It's great to expose the kids to different people and backgrounds. Makes a great geography lesson at home. So when people talk about the small dot on the map called Bakersfield, it's NOT 95% Hispanic population. Should I include all the ufo sightings we have? Seriously.

8. Speed limits. Where else can you drive 55mph down a major road in a city? Last time I drove through Omaha, Sacramento, Vegas, and LA, most of them have to drive 35-45 in town. The only thing about the 55 mph is people here don't know how to drive when the roads are *gasp* wet.

7. With our great melting pot in the greater Bako area, comes food. Almost in every corner of the city, you'll find awesome breweries, restaurants, and bakeries. We don't eat at many franchises, so when I see a Sequoia Sandwich or Lengthwise Brewery, I know it's going to be yummy.

6. Speaking of food, farmer's markets are abundant in the city. For a city of 300,000 (last time I saw the population sign), there's 5 farmer's markets available. Ours, on Brimhall, is the closest on Saturdays. There's also one on Sundays at Ming and Haggin Oaks. We live in a farming community, why wouldn't you take advantage of that

5. Like I said, Bakersfield has around 300,000 last time I looked at the sign. There's probably more than that now, but whatever. There's also a mixture of cultural backgrounds and with that, it usually creates a diverse community. Not here. People are friendly and will usually help you with anything they can. The city's motto is "Life as it should be." So Bako has tons of people with a small city atmosphere.

4. Trying to find a place to live is a breeze here. Since it's one of the armpits, house prices are much lower than other cities (Sac, Fran, LA). Right now there's actually a housing shortage and they are having to develop more housing communities. Even the older houses are scarce to come by.

3. Bakersfield: NorCal or SoCal? We're actually CenCal. According to NorCal residents, we live in SoCal and vice versa for SoCal residents. Do they even know where Bako is? "Yeah, I drove through" doesn't count. It's great living in Bako. You're five hours from anything. 1 hour from the mountains, 3 hours from the coast, 4 hours to Sac, 5 to Fran, 5 to Tahoe, 2-3 from LA (depends on Grapevine and traffic), and 5 (with no traffic) to San Diego. Oh and don't forget Vegas... a mere 5 hours away. Talk about the perfect location!

2. The summers are 100+ degrees outside. I don't know how pregnant women make it through the summers here. Luckily, the city and NOR have installed sprayparks- an alternative to large swimming pools. Kids of all ages can run through large sprinkler heads to beat the heat. I'm not sure about the hours, but they are typically open before Memorial Day and are open until September or October (depending on the weather). It's great for toddlers and those of us who don't swim.

1. Another family favorite is the San Joaquin Valley library system. I use Beale Memorial for my book needs. They have a great selection and if you need a book from another library in the system, they can get it for you! I can't tell you how many different books I've checked out. The Beale Memorial is the largest library in Kern County. They have 4 levels of books, a section for audio-visual, a computer lab, reference, and much, much more. There's no reason to educate yourself through the library. Anything you want to learn is at the library. The best part of the library is storytime. I take the kids to the preschool storytime where the librarian reads 4-5 stories with rhymes and songs in between. Then afterwards is craft time. It's a simple creation made out of basic items. Best of all-it's free! A big thank you to the library for providing mommy one hour of almost freedom.

I'm going to put in another great thing about Bakersfield: year round gardening. It's the perfect climate to grow lettuces, broccoli, carrots, and many other veggies right in your own backyard. You can grow tomatoes and summer type produce if you throw a plastic sheet over your garden. It makes me wonder why Bakersfield doesn't have more vegetable gardeners when the city is in a zone 8b and 9! Not only does it help the environment, but also the grocery bill. Too bad there aren't any tax credits/incentives for gardening...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Homemade Grenadine

A lady at the Farmer's Market was selling bags of pomegranates for $5. So I grabbed a bag! I couldn't pass it up. There were 6-7 in each bag, so I figured I would make pomegranate juice, marinade (since we were eating chicken at the time), and put the fruit on our salads.

The first night, I peeled the pomegranate to put the seeds on our salad. The salad was very tasty, but I really hated chewing and swallowing the actual seed part. That idea was out.

I knew Christmas was coming up and I didn't know what to get the friends and family. We don't have a huge budget for Christmas since we have to spend at least $100 on our Secret Santa (thanks MIL- I don't have a job)!  For hubby's co-workers, family friends, and neighbors, I decided to Googled what I could do with all those leftover pomegranates. Homemade Grenadine! Sorry the pictures aren't that great. They were taken with my sad little Android (never buy an Android).

Bag of pomegranates

Slice open the top. Then quarter it. This will prevent the seeds from bursting open. Cut along the inside skin.

Place in a bowl of water and discard the skins.

Some seeds will float. They are still good. Just watch out for and discard old brown seeds.

Place in blender.

Blend just enough to get the seeds out of the membranes. If you blend too much, you will blend the hard seeds into the juice.

I don't have a cheesecloth, so I used a rubber band to hold a rag onto the top of a glass measuring cup. Make sure you're rag is thin to let most of the juice go through.

Squeeze the juice through the rag with a spoon like above. Discard the seeds.

Heat 2 cups pomegranate juice with 1 3/4 cups sugar. You can add more sugar to make sweeter.

Let cool, store or jar, and viola! Homemade Grenadine
I can't find the actual blog I used to make this, but here is a similar blog:

Let me know your results. Another website for this is allrecipes (no pictures though)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New Plant-Based Cookbooks

Cookbooks. You don't really need them, but they sure are handy to have. I have two. Sad, I know. Most people I know have ten or more. Time to get some more cookbooks. Before buying anything, I wanted to make sure the recipes were good. So I headed to the Beale library (great library system). They have almost every book you can think of and after looking online for books, I decided to check out three particular books. Notice I check out books. Not e-books. There's a major difference between the two (anyone can publish an e-book, not everyone can publish an actual book).

"Forks Over Knives" by Del Sroufe: I had to wait after 40+ people to get it, but once I did, I cooked a few of the recipes and I have to say: yes! This book is a must buy. It doesn't have every plant based recipe known to man, but it's much better than it's competitors I found. This is my number one buy.

"Skinny Bitch" by Kim Barnouin had very few good recipes. At first she describes why people should eat healthier, but instead of using vegetable oil or canola oil, she uses other various oils such as olive and grapeseed. Doesn't help if you are trying to stay away from all forms of oil. I am steering clear of this book.

"Happy Herbivore" by Lindsay Nixon. Seriously? She had a lot of specialty items such as agave nectar. What the heck is that? I know its a sweetener, but I don't think its something I can grow in my backyard. She also uses kelp powder and (whole wheat) bread in her recipes. This is my number 2 cookbook choice. I just wouldn't use those recipes with the specialty items. I should have got a picture of this book to show you, but you can look it up on

I'm trying to grow our own produce so cookbooks using oil and kelp powder make no sense to me. There are a few recipes I can use out of the "Happy Herbivore", but "Forks Over Knives" has been the best cookbook so far.

Since trying these recipes, we (as a family) feel better, have less trash, and are able to figure out what's for dinner quicker. There's no waiting to defrost meat or leaking bags in the fridge of meat juice. Happy, healthy Bako Depot residents! Great way to treat yourself and lose that weight!

I am not advertising this books for any money. I'm just excited these cookbooks follow my new eating/cooking guidelines.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December Garden

 Bakersfield December Garden

Strawberries doing great!
All the gardening websites and books say that Bakersfield is in a zone 8b and 9, a prime area for winter gardens. No wonder it's known for carrots and other winter vegetation. Living in the midwest for 15+ years, there was no such thing as winter gardening. It was a blanket of snow. However, Bakersfield is quite the opposite. Thank God!

What's up with my garden though? I've been waiting anxiously for the past few months to pull the tomato plants and peppers out of the ground. Yet, they keep blooming and producing! The tomatillos have more blooms now than they did in July and the tomato plants? Holy Moses! There's at least 5 good sized green tomatoes on it! Granted, the birds and a yucky tomato worm ate most of our precious tomatoes this year. Plus an ant invasion in the garden this summer. I'm still looking for a homemade ant repellent. Maybe I will have to plant some companion plants to deter those pesky pests.
Purple Broccoli under plastic sheeting

We are well into December. Everything should be withered, brown, and dead. The only thing I have covered are my spices and purple broccoli. The strawberries under my DIY greenhouse are doing really well too. I just can't believe it's December and the garden is still growing. It makes me wonder why the people of Bako don't have a winter garden? It's so easy! All you have to do is throw a plastic sheet over your garden (when there's a chance of frost). No hoop house required. Just make sure the plastic doesn't flatten your plant so prop the plastic sheeting propped up.

In the future I want to build a greenhouse and that brings me to another point: why aren't there any tax credits/incentives to build a vegetable greenhouse? It reduces the carbon footprint and here in the valley and we need anything and everything to reduce the filthy smog.

Here's to stocking our fridge and pantry throughout the year- no matter how cold it gets.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bako Depot Up and Running Again

I haven't been posting as I should have since Thanksgiving and I apologize. I've been busy experiencing life! I've tried new recipes, went metal detecting in the desert, tried a few new recipes, and cannot wait to share them with you! I also put a lot of thought into what I want to do when the kids start school (next year). I will still have my son the majority of the time, but my 4 year old should be in half day kindergarten. I dearly want to homeschool them, but my patience is extremely low when it comes to kids.

What do I want to do with my life? Not go back to work. I've worked in a restaurant, office, retail, and a winery. I didn't mind the winery so much, but it was too few hours plus everyone overcrowded the small wine bar practically throwing wine glasses at you.

The ultimate goal is to grow all our own food. Basically homesteading without the livestock. I hope in the future we can save enough money to build a greenhouse. Of course, that would be a dream! I'm not a huge fan of hoop houses, but I'll just have to improvise until then. Since the hubby and I are on board with eating better, we've decided a little meat is okay. We decided we would eat a little meat when traveling since they're not many plant based options out there. I brainstormed a plant-based fast food joint, but as hubby pointed out, there's not many plant based consumers in Bakersfield here.

I also want to write a book. Whether its an e or regular book, it doesn't matter. Why didn't I start this at age 16? I have no idea. I've penned a few story ideas, so whether I can make it to the end, it largely depends on the family.

Ideally I would love to make $2,000 per month from home, but realistically, that ain't gonna happen. I'd be lucky to earn $100 in a year.

I listed baby clothes and my clothes that just don't fit anymore on eBay. I had a few viewers, but no bites. Last time I listed clothes on eBay, they sold like hotcakes. Maybe it's just because it's the holiday season? Who knows.

Things have been busy around here. However, with Christmas in less than a month, things will move even faster. I had my preschoolers watch a Netflix documentary about African children hoping it would make my children grateful for what they have/own. The result: still yelling, fighting, and screaming over the stupidest things.

Hoping to get back on the blog bandwagon before the last holiday of the year.