Sunday, September 24, 2006

I am still alive!

Wow, it's been a while. I've been distracted lately, but I'll make an effort to update a little more often here.

Last week we took a vacation to a beach house in the Laguna hills. It's a very affluent area and we're extremely lucky to be able to rent a beautiful house in the gated community of Three Arch Bay every year. For those who are unaware, gated communities are absolutely beautiful, like posh estates with guards at the gates that supposedly lower crime within the area. Of course, you pay for this service, and I have seen tags of $2,000,000 for houses where we rent. They're beautiful, but not THAT beautiful, and the one we rent is only a one storey, two bedroom house at that. But still, the clean and tidy appearance of the community and the two minute walk to the private beach makes it a beautiful place to vacation and get some time away.

On a slight tangent, many of you are probably now aware of the e-coli spinach scare in California and indeed, across the US. It's not a huge deal, any risk can be eliminated by cooking the spinach to 160F, but still the concern is how it happened in the first place.

We're a little short on money, and yet are able to buy extremely high quality and organic meat and vegetables through our local farmer's markets. There's a new one that just opened at the end of our street that we walk to on Sundays (when we're awake in time!), a large permanent one that's twenty minutes away and more than I can count on both hands within a ten mile radius. With California's varied climate between the north and south of the state, we have access to a wide range of fresh produce.

That, and one of our local 99¢ stores has expanded their occasional fresh produce samples into a permanent fixture, and while the choice and quality can be variable, being able to buy vegetables and fruit on such a small budget is a godsend on tight months.

99¢ and dollar stores are a new, fascinating concept for me. Sure, we had pound stores in England, but they generally sold the same old crap. There are three in the local area that we frequent; one has foodstuffs and fresh produce, and even alcohol (their wine section is nothing to write home about, but it's cheap for cooking with!), another has selections of craft supplies, silk flowers, vases and crockery, and the other has tupperware, clothes and cleaning supplies. If we're lucky, we can get around half of our monthly shopping at these stores along, stocking up on meat and more exotic ingredients at the chain supermarkets and ethnic stores.

And I always thought Southern California was an expensive place to live!

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