Travel: Calico Ghost Town

calicoghosttownOn our way to Las Vegas this summer and before our stop at Red Rocks, we got to stop at this super fun and well-preserved little town called the Calico Ghost Town.  This quaint little place is full of original Gold Rush era buildings, surrounded by well-designed newer buildings which blend in so well.

Another bonus of this little town’s location is the geology of the surrounding area.  The rock formations are incredible.  My kids always love seeing the mountains that look just like Radiator Springs.  It is off Route 66 after-all.  You’ll feel like Mater could totally drive by at any second.

One of our favorite buildings was the school-house.  Faith had a fun time picturing the way Laura and Mary (from “Little House on the Prairie”) would have gone to school.  So interesting that a whole public school class of today wouldn’t fit in the schoolhouse.  SO crazy.

The little shops had your typical “Old West” souvenirs like wooden rubber band guns, local rocks and gems, harmonicas, and Route 66 patches.  The “Saloon” had lots of fun options, including some very cute bottles of natural cream soda.  The food wasn’t bad…for being in the middle of nowhere. However, the restaurants there will never be in Sunset Magazine for “Top 10 food stops on Route 66″.  Just sayin’.

I highly recommend this Route 66 stopover!  It’s in the middle of nowhere, but where else were you gonna hang out for a bit anyway…the car?  A gas station?  You won’t regret this little stop. Do it!

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New Headshots from LimeLife Photography!

Limelife Photography_Bonnie-4I’m so thrilled that Becky of LimeLife Photography offered to take new headshots of me!  I would never have sought someone out to do this because I don’t, by nature, take a lot of pictures of myself.  However, recently, I’ve been asked to do a lot of interviews for different blogs and companies so I really do need to have some more recent photos. Becky did a great job working with this girl who’s more comfortable behind the camera! ;)

LimeLife Photography is an amazing husband and wife duo based here in San Diego.  They are adorable, funny, and know how to do their job right.  Be sure to check out a sampling of their work here.  The holidays are approaching, so if you are in need of a great Christmas card photographer, call them!  I’ve also seen them travel into the LA area for weddings and special events!

Thanks, Becky!

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Giant Meatballs and How to Make Zucchini “Pasta”

agoldenafternoon.comThe day my boys fell in love with giant meatballs was at one of our favorite restaurants here in San Diego, Cucina Urbana.  My middle guy, Jack, ordered it at a bargain price of $6.50 and it was served in a little cast iron skillet.  He was in love after the first bite.  He kept asking me to make a giant meatball at home so finally I said yes!  Please forgive my inability to make a meatball like like anything more than a ball of meat in this picture – kinda hard to avoid when the meatballs are gigantic.

We added zucchini “pasta” and haven’t looked back.  We haven’t been eating pasta very much for the last few years since we realized pasta tends to be a hunger-zapper, leaving less room for nutritious foods – like zucchini!  I let my kids have it every once in a while when my husband is out-of-town. Although, it’s usually rice or quinoa pasta. ;)

We all fell in love with this dish.

Giant Meatballs

(based on the Scottos’ Meatball Recipe)

2 slices of bread

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 pounds of ground chicken or turkey

1 white onion, minced

3 tablespoons garlic, minced

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

2 eggs

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional) plus more for garnish at the end.

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400.  Soak the bread in the milk and blend with a fork.  Combine the remaining ingredients.  Shape the meatballs the size of a baseball.  Place them on a baking dish and cook for 35-45 minutes or until cooked through. Cooking time will depend on the oven.

(eliminate bread, milk, and cheese for Paleo…try not to cry while doing so!)

While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the…

Zucchini Pasta

4 large zucchini, julienned lengthwise with a mandolin

6 cloves of garlic, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

oil for pan

Parsley for color, optional

“Slice” the zucchini using a mandolin.  Holding the zucchini with the side on the mandolin, use the julienne blade to make the “pasta” shape.  If you are using organic zucchini, like me, the pieces of “pasta” will not be as long and flowing as you might see in other recipes for this dish.

After the zucchini is cut, saute it in a pan with the rest of the ingredients, just until cooked through (where you can easily break a piece with your fork but it’s not mushy ;)).  This will take 15ish minutes.

Fresh “almost raw” Tomato Sauce

5 large heirloom tomatoes

6 cloves of garlic, roasted (my fave) or store-bought paste is best for a mellow flavor or 1 teaspoon of garlic powder if you are short on time.

1 tablespoon fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, and/or chives)

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, optional

salt and pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth, leaving as much texture as you’d like.  Heat in a saucepan, just until warm and season again, if needed.  It will not taste exactly like jarred tomato sauce because the tomatoes are raw and not cooked for hours, but it’s sooo much better for you!

To make this whole dish, plate individually right before you sit down to eat.  place the “pasta” on the bottom with tongs, turning the tongs as you place it on the plate to create a perfect little nest for the meatball.  Add the giant meatball, then the sauce, and the Parmesan cheese if you prefer.

Enjoy this healthy meal because you won’t have the weight of all of that pasta dragging you down and your kids will still get to eat “pasta”.  Also, I apologize for the excessive use of quotation marks but I don’t want anybody disappointed when they come to this post for pasta and instead they find “pasta”! ;)

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How To Watch Downton Abbey Season 4 in the U.S.!

*So happy to report that it WORKED and you are now able to view previous episodes for up to one month.  Information and links below!!!!*

Hi Downton Abbey Fans!

I know everyone is excited about the new season starting September 22, 2013 at 9pm in the UK! After last years disappointing season, I know we are all anxious for a bit of happiness, right?  Hopefully, nobody will die this season.  That would be amazing. What do you think will happen?!

If you started following my posts last year for Season 3 from this post, thanks so much for sticking around with me this last year! I have received MANY requests and dare I say a plea or two to share if and HOW I plan on sharing Season 4.  Last season, I did no more than provide a place where you could find all of the links in one place.  The videos are not hosted by my blog and I have no control over them.

I have no ethical issue watching this show through legal internet means.  People in the UK are able to watch the shows after they air in the same way that we can watch them on PBS here in the U.S. after they air.  Because of the internet, the rules change in a big way.  The way I view it, people in the UK are watching them legally online, therefore I should be able to, even if an ocean away.  I, personally, pay for all of my music and movies legally and never attempt to break the law.  I see the attempt to keep this out of our hands, a way to make more money and put pretend barriers up for the U.S. from the UK. What?  Craziness.

ANYWAY, you guys really just want to know how to watch, right?

**PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be patient with each option.  Not every option will work for every person simply because of your specific computer/setup.  Try each option more than once until you find one that works!**

How to watch in the U.S. (5 options!):

OPTION 1: This option includes any extra videos and behind the scenes option on ITV!

*Update* I changed the information below to a step-by-step process once I watched the first episode all the way through!

Here’s what you need to do to get Downton Abbey to play on your PC:

1. Download Tunnel Bear here. You will need to pay the $4.99/month to get enough data for the season.  No biggie in the long run! Tunnel Bear is a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which changing your IP address to reflect that of someone in the UK.

2. Confirm Tunnel Bear by e-mail.

3. Once you are signed in to Tunnel Bear, turn the knob you see to “on”.  It will say “connected”.

4. Now, set the country option to “United Kingdom”.  Your computer will now be compatible with the region showing Downton Abbey.

5. Go to

You’ll need a postal code to access the ITV player on the website.  Use any of the ones on this list.  If one doesn’t work, try another.

6.  To watch the shows already aired Season 4 episodes, go to the ITV website’s Downton Abbey page:

To watch the show live as it airs in the UK at 1pm Pacific Standard Time, go here to watch the live streaming ITV player:

6. Make sure you turn Tunnel Bear to “off” when not watching Downton as you want your computer to know which country it is really in. :)

7.  Hopefully, you’re smiling and watching Downton!  If not, “like” and check my facebook page here for loads of questions answered, as well as the comments below.


1. Download this firefox add-on Media Hint here (great success and safe!!) or this VPN from here to give you a UK IP address to access UK shows instantly.

2. Go back and follow steps 5-7


Watch by clicking below in the questionably legal way click here from Watch TV Series:



downton abbey episode 3




downton abbey episode 7



Option 4:

Some previous links are available from the ITV website but you obviously have to have the ability to watch the player using options 1 or 2 above. ;)

Option 5:  Download this ITV player automator here.  I tried it and it worked.

In the meantime…


Support your local PBS station here in the U.S. who provides shows like Downton.

Share your favorite characters and scenes in the comments below!! What’s going to happen?!

Amazon has all three previous seasons on Instant Video so catch up on Season 1, Season 2, and Season 3 here.

Watch the trailer for Season 4 here as well as a behind-the-scenes teaser here.

Check out some fun posts like this one from Downton Abbey Addicts, listing all of the new characters this season.

If you decide to wait for the U.S. air date, have fun waiting until:

January 5th, 2014 !!! Crazy!

For more of my own Downton Abbey-era blog posts, read below!  See you back soon!  Sorry for the excessive exclamation marks. I’m excited.

Click on the above image  to like my FACEBOOK PAGE so you can get the updates for NEW episodes!!

Also, check out my other Downton Abbey related  posts:

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Protein Bon Bons


This recipe is definitely my most requested one.  I think the cute “bon bon” with coconut sprinkles draws people in, the deliciousness keeps the love going,  and the bonus health points keep people hooked.

As a parent, we are always trying to find healthy snack for our kids.  I posted on Instagram the other day (here) about the subject. I know we all get lazy sometimes and try not to think about what we are letting our kids munch on.  I mean, we have 3 meals to focus on, right?  Every few months, I reevaluate what I’m feeding the kids during snack-time.  All of those “little meals” can really add up.  But wait…the snack packages they eat from say “organic” and “whole grain”, That’s healthy right?  Even cute little organic cheddar bunnies can be disguised as healthy foods.  If we are really honest with ourselves, our kids need as many real and pronounceable foods in their bodies as possible.  Snack time will never look perfect, but I want to keep trying to improve what I put in their little tummies.  These bon bons are a great way to make protein-rich snacks for your kiddos that have completely recognizable ingredients.

Sidenote: I am not a “professional” on the subject of nutrition but I do have the ability to read information and reason.  It is a terrible rumor about town that the fat in nuts is unhealthy.  This is totally and completely not true.  If your family is consuming a healthy diet of lean meats, veggies, fruit, and grains, there should be no reason that nut fats are bad for you.  For the unhealthy eater, they are still not bad, they will merely add completely unnecessary calories to that particular person’s body. Learn to interpret information yourself so you can make good choices, ya know?

Enjoy making these…we try to throw some together every week!



Protein Bon Bons

2 16 oz. containers unsalted and unsweetened peanut butter (almond butter for Paleo/Whole 30 :))

4 cups raisins

1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for garnish

1 1/2 cups raw honey

1 cup flaxseed meal

1/2 cup almond meal

*optional: cocoa nibs

Mix all of the ingredients together.  Form bon bons into any size.  I love putting mine in mini cupcake liners so that the kids can handle them more easily (read: make less mess).  Sprinkle the bon bons with coconut.  Refrigerate until you are ready to eat them.

Note: This recipe will vary based on the kind of peanut butter you use.  I use the Whole Foods Organic Everyday value smooth unsalted peanut butter.  Some peanut butter are more liquidy like the pre-stirred kind so you can always add more raisins and more coconut or either kind of meal.  If your peanut butter is the no-stir kind, just leave out a bit of the meals or coconut.  You’ll find your own balance and add less or more honey depending on how sweet you like it.  Substituting almond butter for peanut butter means a thicker batter so be sure to add a little less of the dry ingredients!


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