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Life in the California Desert

These last few months of summer, during our first hot summer living in the Southern California desert, have been scourging hot.  Before moving here, I never thought Mother Nature could turn so hot and angered in one specific area.  But guess what, she is a lady of many means and chose to bless the area with blistering hot heat (not sure what this area did to her previously).  Thankfully the area does not have humidity, less than 20% on average, so it could technically be much worse.  Many of times Genki Husband and I have mentioned if the temperatures were well into 100F/38C+, with added humidity of the east coast, it would be pretty much unbearable.  So things here in the desert aren’t as bad as one thinks.

One aspect of desert life I have grown to understand is the darkened construction of the residential houses.  At first coming to the area, the houses seemed very dark and cold inside (it was still winter).  This is a deep contrast to the housing right on the coastal line, light and airy with no air conditioning most of the time.  Being raised on the east coast, one begins to learn the benefits of getting as much sunlight in a house as possible (especially in cold seasons).  So the houses on the east coast are filled with sunshine contrasted with the darkened living areas of the SoCal desert.  Just something to think about before coming to the area, the desert is unlike any other living area.  One has to reconfigure ones mind to how living should be conducted before enjoying the lifestyle out here.

Big changes have occurred this last half year after moving to SoCal from Indiana, changes that have taken me away from blogging.  First off, Genki Husband now works double the amount of hours and has a commute of at least 40 minutes one-way.  This takes him away from home most of the day and evening.  So dinner can be a bit tricky creating meals, as he does not have a set work schedule.  Secondly, farmers markets in the area are obsolete, as far as we have seen and heard.  There is one in our city however it contains a 2-3 “farmers” selling mostly overpriced produce and the rest is restaurants selling prepared meals like a carnival.  Not really a vegans dream come true, we are still on the search for better farmers markets in the area.  Finally, the heat has stopped us from exercising outside and inside.  When it is over 100F/38C, it is just too dangerous to sweat outside (minus in the pool which is my daily workout).  We are now thinking a gym membership is necessary next summer to assure we are as healthy as possible.  All of these things combined, I have not been driven to cook, workout and/or blog of exciting things happening in my life.

Sometimes when one moves to a new area, one has to go through a process of adjustment.  This is exactly the process I have been working through – a process that can not be rushed when lifestyles have changed so drastically.  Thankfully I have kept myself busy and I can share with you today a few of those things going on in my life through photos.  There are millions of photos I have been holding back on all of you, not anymore.  So Enjoy!
Santa Clarita Bushfires 2016If you live in the states, you most likely have already heard of the bushfires in California.  We live near Santa Clarita, so the view of the mountains was not visible for weeks.  If you can tell, there is a mountain in this photo, behind all the smoke.  Thankfully we were never evacuated however we were all urged not to go outside as the air was not clean.

California Santa Clarita Fires 2016Some days were worse than others, in the photo above it was 1/2 a day of no sunshine as the smoke was “clouding” the view.  It was spooky to say the least.

California Bushfires 2016 leftover ashesDaily it was my duty to clean up the mess leftover the previous day.  This is a pile of ashes all around our patio carpet.  Everything was covered every day, our pool filter worked overtime too.  We were fine cleaning the ashes daily though, as long as we were blessed with the safety from the fires.

weights from walmartAs I was not able to workout in the open air, we decided to purchase some weights to lift at home.  There are a few gyms in our local area, Genki Husband and I have not decided if we wish to join or simply work around the weather.  Our weights were found at Walmart of all places, at a great price.  We were thinking of buying from a local physical fitness store, however, there is only one in our area and it is a national chain in the mall so the prices were not as reasonable.  If you want to boost your home gym, try out Walmart, the weights are around $1 per pound (double other places).

My home gymMy home gym at the moment – exciting right?  This is my basic setup however I have been thinking of taking our spare “man cave” and making it into a workout area too.  Ironically our house here in California is the largest we have ever lived in and since we don’t want to purchase new furniture until we purchase another house, we have a lot of free space.  So that means I might be able to convince Genki Husband to give room to a home gym. No basements here in California.

My Workout Buddy CatMy workout buddy – the only problem of a home gym.  When I am working out on the yoga mat I usually have my workout buddy under my belly or behind my feet.  Does anyone else have this issue?  Getting out a yoga mat is like the call of all hands on deck in my household, both cat and dog.  I wouldn’t have it any other way though.

Hydration during workDoes anyone else work like this?  Somehow I always have tons of liquids ready to drink.  Genki Husband teases I have a small bladder but it could be I am just well hydrated…

my favorite low calorie snackSpeaking of addictions lately, my favorite snack- sugar snap peas.  These are looking a bit rough but taste just as good.  1 cup of these are around 25 cal/kcal so I end up eating the entire bag in one sitting most of the time.  No guilt though, veggies are freebies right?

My favorite vegan Japanese mealAnother addiction lately, fell in love with rice balls when I lived in Japan.  These are sold in just about any grocery store and/or convenience store.  Most have animal products in them but there are a few available for vegans.  Umeboshi (梅干し) is something I love to eat however have not captured how to make them.  If you know, please let me know!

Knitting addictGenki Husband works very long hours so to pass the time I am knitting this lapghan for my niece for Christmas.  This is an annual tradition, only normally I crocheted them something fun and special.  This last Christmas as we were driving across the nation, I taught myself to knit.  So, I wanted to test my skills and make a full lapghan for my niece.  She is getting a bit older so the design is a bit more traditional with just cables, however she is in love with this bright neon green color.  So there is something a bit fun while still being a sophisticated teen.  It’s hard letting go of their youthful years, I asked if she would like a Hello Kitty one but I was regrettably turned down.  🙂

California morning walksFor a little fresh air from knitting, the pup and I have been talking walks in the morning when possible.  We live in an area that has issues with an abundance of coyotes, so we try to wait until the sun is at least popping up before going out.  We are thankful to have this inspiring view every morning though as we walk.  It’s very uplifting to get fresh air and watch the sun rise in the morning.

California summer flowersThese are normal flowers we see all over in the summer here.  Any idea of what it is?

Genki PupIf we are not walking or hiding in the house from the heat, Genki Pup and I enjoy the strong summer breeze at night sitting in the grassy backyard.  She doesn’t care much for the grass here, as it is what we call crabgrass on the east coast but she does adore sitting on something soft in exchange.  She has always been a bit pampered though, so sitting on grass has never been here thing 100%.

Genki Cat Enjoying the summer backyard

Genki Cat even enjoys a little time outside.  Normally she’s strictly an indoor cat, she enjoys her time outside with supervision at all times.  Before you ask why she’s only indoors, I saw too many cats get injured while working as a veterinary technician so we don’t let any cat roam freely.  Cats today are not the same species as when roaming naturally years ago, they are bred to be indoors only.  We use the PetSafe brand of Come with Me Kitty harness, highly suggested.  It’s available online and in most pet stores.

Pool Workouts in CaliforniaMy workouts have consisted of this gorgeous geometric view.  As mentioned above, we have no gym membership yet, as we are waiting to see if we need one or not, so I have been doing a double duty of cooling down and working out.  Normally it’s the other way around but if I can do it both at once, I am all game.  Thankfully we have a large backyard with a pool so I am taking full advantage of it while the water is warm.

California Summer Sunsets 2016

Our view of the sun setting, a gorgeous view with all the ash sediments in the air due to the bushfires.  Our location is surrounded by gorgeous mountain lines, the sun descends behind them before setting fully but thankfully we get a view nonetheless.  This is our view from our family living room, not bad while enjoying the evening with Genki Husband.

What has been your highlight of summer so far?