Moon Rocks Field Trip

Entering Moon Rocks

The best part of home schooling is the field trips! A couple of days ago, we met up with a bunch of home school friends and drove out to Moon Rocks, the popular name for the Hungry Valley Recreation Area. It’s a large open area with a variety of roads and trails in the high desert terrain. Moon Rocks gets its name from the large granite formation rising up in the desert. Granite is a common igneous rock that cooled from magma deep underground at a slow enough rate for crystals to form, big enough to be seen without a microscope. This doesn’t feel anything like the granite your kitchen counter is made of. It’s porous and rough, making it easy to climb, and easy to cut and scrape climbers. Long pants, climbing gloves, closed toe shoes, a hat and water are the bare essentials. It’s a popular place to climb, explore and ride all types of off road vehicles. Entrance and camping is free, but there are no services, water or shade so it’s basically, bring your own everything!

Painted Moon Rocks
Painted Moon Rocks

These concentric rings of reddish-brown to yellowish-brown are iron-oxide staining. They are called “liesegang bands” and show the path of water infiltrating the rocks. As it oxidizes the iron contained in the darker minerals makes the rocks look painted.

Driving directions:

From Reno, NV take Pyramid Hwy (445) north through Spanish Springs. You’ll pass the Shoe Tree on the right. According to, shoe trees may be the greatest embodiment of the American Spirit you can find on the highway (free of admission charge, anyway). A shoe tree starts with one dreamer, tossing his or her old footwear into a tree. It usually ends there, unseen and neglected by others. But on rare occasions, that first pair of shoes triggers a shoe tossing cascade. Soon, teens, moms, dads and grandparents are permanently inscribing messages of love, greetings and life accomplishments and tossing their old sneakers into the tree.

Shoe Tree
Shoe Tree

Continue north on 445 8 miles past Spanish Springs to Winnemucca Ranch Rd. You’ll see a sign for the Horse Motel on the left.

Horse Motel
Horse Motel

Turn Left on Winnemucca Ranch Rd. and follow 5 miles until the road becomes a dirt road. Follow one more mile to the entrance on the left.

Sign to Moon Rocks
Entrance Sign to Moon Rocks

Moon Rocks will be 1/2 to 1 mile on your right hand side. Parking is wide open. Just watch out for loose sand.

Exploring Moon Rocks
Exploring Moon Rocks

Moon Rocks is a natural, free play land for all ages. The parents and kids all enjoyed climbing and exploring. My son and I found piles of bullet casings, which was like finding a treasure for him. Yes, Nevada is the wild west so you never know what you’ll find.

Bullet Casings
Bullet Casings

Another parent caught a lizard! One of the kids relentlessly cuddled it and had it tamed in no time. She was hoping to keep the blue bellied lizard as her new pet.

Lizard Belly at Moon Rocks
Western Fence Lizard

Her mom was saying no, but I have a feeling they now are the proud owners of a lizard that can live up to 5 years:)

Moon Rocks Lizard
Tamed Lizard

Those who didn’t wear gloves and long pants suffered cuts and scrapes. Thankfully, one of the parents had a first aid kit.


Nurse to the Rescue
Nursing wounds at Moon Rocks

A group of successful climbers conquered this craggy rock formation.

Defeating Moon Rocks
Defeating Moon Rocks

Besides climbing and exploring, we were sure to take a look around at the spectacular views as we made our way through the rocks.

View from Moon Rocks
View from Moon Rocks

If you’re looking for a fun, free place to take your kids, this is the place. You should have seen the looks on these kids’ faces when we pulled up to the parking area. Once out of the car, they all took off running as if the rocks were calling to them. We once went during a holiday weekend last spring and it was even better (if you don’t mind crowds). There were hundreds of campers! As we climbed around the rocks, we watched ATVs, dune buggies and trucks ride all over the rocks. It was like a free show.

Moon Rocks
Rounded Moon Rocks

If you live in the Reno, NV area or are just visiting, be sure to visit Moon Rocks. If you’re heading up to Pyramid Lake, this is a fun stop. The trip back to town has incredible views of Mt. Rose.

Mt. Rose






























Crispy Mediterranean Potatoes (Vegan and GF)

Crispy Mediterranean Potatoes Vegan and GF

Potato, potahto – these potatoes are epic! My family recently had the good fortune to attend the most spectacular potluck Easter dinner. There were 20-30 people and everyone brought at least 2 dishes. One attendee is a caterer, one previously owned a Greek restaurant and the others are excellent cooks in their own right. So besides being a wonderful holiday event with family, friends and food, I had the most delicious dishes, including the best roasted potatoes I’ve ever eaten (vegan and GF, by the way) and after chatting with the chef, learned about the key ingredient – Greek seasoning. I’ve cooked with Cajun, Italian and Indian spices before, but I’ve never even heard of Greek seasoning.

The next week, I did some research to find out what exactly is in Greek seasoning. Some brands contain MSG and salt, and I knew I wanted to steer clear of those. So I scouted several grocery stores before finding Salt Free All Purpose Greek Seasoning (also MSG free) and this delicious recipe was born! Now I’m working on creating more recipes with this new spice mix.


Crispy Mediterranean Potatoes
Recipe type: Vegan
Cuisine: Greek
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 ½ lb. baby dutch yellow potatoes or baby red potatoes, halved or in thirds if large
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons Greek spice mix, salt and MSG free
  • 2 tablespoons Himalayan pink salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with 1 inch of water: season with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and spread on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over potatoes and mix in the pan.
  4. Sprinkle Greek spice mix and 1 tablespoon salt over the potatoes.
  5. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the edges are crispy.


Forget fries, mashed potatoes and baked potatoes! These Crispy Mediterranean Potatoes will make the perfect side dish for gyros (vegan recipe on its way!), or anything else you’d eat potatoes with. This recipe is so quick and easy to make, it will definitely be my go to potato recipe. The prep time is probably closer to 5 minutes, but I rounded up to 10 to give you plenty of time to wash and chop the potatoes.  I’ve had lots of roasted potatoes, but these are the best – hands down! Amazing that something so simple can taste so delicious. Let me know what you think.

Coconut Curry Cauliflower Kale Soup (Vegan and GF)

Coconut Curry Cauliflower Kale Soup Vegan and GF

Soup of just about any kind is my favorite meal. It’s the perfect all-in-one meal that’s usually quick and easy to make. Experiencing northwest winters these past three years, I have explored many soup recipes and made them my own. This recipe is definitely one of my favorites. It’s light, healthful, full of exotic flavors and would really be good any time of year. Roasting the riced cauliflower is key to giving it a kind of nutty flavor. Preparing vegan food on a daily basis, these are ingredients I always have on hand so deciding to make this last minute is a no-brainer. As you can see, there are only 4 veggies in this soup and most of the other ingredients are spices. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Coconut Curry Cauliflower Kale Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
This recipe is vegan and gluten free. I like to simmer my soups for at least an hour to let the flavors come together. If you're in a hurry, 20 minutes should be long enough to cook the vegetables.
  • 3 cups riced cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper (less if you don’t like it spicy)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 cups kale leaves, stems removed and chopped small
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped small
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Add more salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Spread the riced cauliflower in a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons oil then sprinkle with curry powder, turmeric, garlic powder, cumin paprika and salt. Gentle mix the ingredients with spatula and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the onion, carrots and kale.
  4. Sauté onion and garlic with 1 tablespoon oil in a large stock pot over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Add broth, coconut milk, cauliflower rice, red chili pepper and black pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil then simmer for 45-60 minutes.
  7. Add more salt and pepper to taste.


As with most soups, this one tastes even better left over. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Let me know what you think.

5 Awesome Sites to Buy and Sell Used Textbooks

5 Awesome Sites to Buy and Sell Used Books

Since college students spend as much as $1,200 on books and supplies annually, these discounts can make a big dent. We first discovered used textbook sites when buying textbooks for our sons in middle school to keep at home so they wouldn’t have to carry 50 lbs. of books around in their backpacks every day. This has become very useful because they no longer forget to bring the right books home to get their homework done. I hope you’ll find this list of used textbook sites as useful as we have. sells black and white paperback versions of textbooks (so-called international editions) discounted 80% and upward. They offer free shipping as well.

Thousands of independent booksellers list their new and used textbooks on The sellers ship straight to the buyers. Competition between the sellers on their marketplace ensures prices remain cheaper than elsewhere. They sell rare and collectible books as well. buys and sells new and used textbooks. They’ve got textbooks of all types, for all types of students with savings up to 90% off. With over 10 Million books in stock, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. All of their textbooks are hand-inspected and 100% certified. They offer easy 30-day returns as well. Shipping is free with purchases of $25 and over.

When selling books on, you can lock in your quote for 30 days, print a free UPS label to ship your books to them and get paid via PayPal or check.

They offer eTextbooks as well so you’ll have instant access to your book, all online textbooks are stored in the cloud and can be read online or off. They are accessable from your laptop, tablet or smartphone. You can also print pages and share notes. sells new and used textbooks. They offer book rentals with flexible rental periods with free return shipping.

You can save up to 90% on used textbooks they have available. Returns of used books are accepted within 14 days of the date you receive your order. At the end of the semester, you can sell your gently used textbooks back to them and earn cash.

They have a huge selection of new textbooks available that are listed for up to 30% off their sticker price. Free shipping is also offered on all new textbook orders over $25. sells and rents used current textbooks. You can save up to 90% on used textbooks with 21 day risk free returns. They also offer an online tutoring service where students can easily choose the time that’s convenient for them and the exact amount of time needed.

When renting a textbook from, you may decide to keep it. That’s okay! Just contact them to work out the details. Returning rentals is free. Just send back your books in any box with their prepaid shipping label. You are also free to highlight in their rental textbooks, just don’t write in them.

When buying used books from, you’ll get instant quotes, free shipping and make top dollar on your textbooks as soon as they receive your books. sells new, used and eTextbooks. They rent books as well. You can save as much as 90% off when you buy textbooks and up to 70% off when you rent textbooks. Sell your used textbooks to them and make some cash.

Where do you buy and sell your used textbooks?

Best Vegan Alfredo Sauce with Gluten Free Pasta

Vegan Alfredo Sauce with Gluten Free Pasta

Changing to a plant based diet can be challenging. The most difficult food for me to give up was cheese. Within the first week, I poured over several books and found a couple of recipes that saved me. Since then, I’ve tried several other Alfredo sauces that didn’t come close to resembling the Alfredo sauce I knew and loved in my pre-vegan days. Through trial and error I’ve learned what ingredients work best together and have created what I think is the best vegan Alfredo sauce!


One of the most wonderful aspects of eating a plant based diet is, that although I feel full after eating a big meal, I’ve never felt disgustingly full or sick afterward. Traditional Alfredo sauce is known as “heart attack on a platter” and pretty much has made me feel like I could have a heart attack after eating a big plate full. This sauce is dairy and oil free and not heavy at all.

Thick, creamy sauce

This Alfredo sauce is so good, it’s “company worthy” as my mom would say. My dairy-loving family gives it two big thumbs up! Just look how creamy the sauce turns out.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family and I do!


Vegan Alfredo Sauce with Gluten Free Pasta
Recipe type: Main Dish - Vegan
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 large servings
  • 1 medium-large yellow onion chopped
  • 1-1 ½ cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan fine pink salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves – use less if they are large
  • ½ cup raw cashews – soaked for 4 hours, drained and rinsed
  • ½ a lemon or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (this gives the cheesy flavor so don’t skimp
  • 1 Package of your favorite gluten free pasta (or zoodles if you prefer)
  1. Start boiling water for the pasta following the directions on the package.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté the onion with enough broth to cover it over medium heat. Cook until the broth evaporates.
  3. Blend all ingredients except pasta in a high-powered blender adding broth until the sauce reaches a smooth, thick consistency. The sauce will get warm in the blender.
  4. Strain pasta and serve. Pour the sauce over the pasta.
*If you are trying to avoid pasta or processed foods altogether, serve over spiralized zucchini, steamed broccoli or your favorite sautéed vegetables. *If you prefer pasta and want to add to the dish, I sometimes add sautéed mushrooms, spinach, garlic powder, turmeric and salt or sautéed asparagus. If you aren’t vegan, you can add bacon and peas to make it carbonara. *If you didn’t plan ahead and soak the cashews, you can either boil water then soak the nuts for 15 minutes or put them in a microwave safe dish, cover them with water and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Microwaving is not popular in the vegan diet, but if you don’t mind using microwaves, this is a time saver.

Animal Ark Field Trip

Spectacular View from Animal Ark Reno NV

Homeschool field trips are always an adventure and this one was no different. My youngest son, Chase, is home schooled here in Reno, NV. The NNHS (Northern Nevada Home School) group is very active. The parents plan several field trips and get togethers every week that we can pick and choose from. Check out their site at for more info. The other day we went on a field trip to the Animal Ark – a non-profit wildlife sanctuary and education center. They provide a safe haven for injured, abandoned and otherwise non-releasable wildlife. It’s located in north Reno about 30-45 minutes from town. You can check them out at

Mountain Lion in a Tree at Animal Ark

Living in Reno, there’s always a chance of running into a mountain lion while hiking or just while walking your dogs around the neighborhood. I never knew they could climb trees! They are the most deadly animals in Northern Nevada and seeing this made them seem even more terrifying than I already thought they were. Hearing that the reason he was in the tree was because he was scared because a school bus had just pulled into the parking lot did make me feel a little bit better. Glad to know there’s SOMETHING mountain lions are afraid of.

Healthiest Raccoon Ever!

On a lighter note, their resident raccoon was very playful and put on a great show for us. This was his famous raccoon yoga pose. He started by standing on his hind legs, bending at the waste and putting his head through his legs. As you can see, his feet never left the ground. He was just as comfortable as could be just grabbing the fence above and hanging out. Quite the character!

White Fox

This little guy was so adorable. We all wanted to take him home. According to Animal Ark, he was sold on Craigslist twice before being surrendered to them. Several of the animals who now call Animal Ark their home started out as family pets. Apparently, fox are terrible pets. You can’t house train them and they chew EVERYTHING!


When we arrived at the jaguar enclosure, he was just relaxing and calmly watching us. This photo of the jaguar was taken just minutes after he rushed the glass viewing booth in attack mode with mouth wide open. We were told there’s an Animal Ark trainer he’s not particularly fond of and she happened to walk by while we were there. That was probably his big thrill for the day – and ours too.

Canada Lynx

To me the lynx is such an exotic, mysterious animal. It’s face looks like one of the characters in Cats the musical with it’s tiny, pointed ears and beard. The lynx’s body seems too big for it’s head. The feet alone are just enormous compared with other cats the same size. The tail is naturally bobbed. I don’t remember what this animal’s background is but seeing him made the trip. There is another Lynx at Animal Ark as well that is bigger than this one, but he is shy and stayed in the back of his enclosure, where this one walked right by us several times.


Animal Ark has four wolves. There is an older, one-eyed male whose sister died just around the time three baby wolves were sent to them. There are twins (this is one of them) and a black one named Shadow. The twins are submissive to the older male, so they alternate days in the large enclosure. Then the one-eyed male and Shadow take their turn together since they seem to get along. Wolves don’t live in the wild in Nevada. Although the state has been tracking one lone wolf that recently has entered through either California or Oregon.


Something Nevada does have plenty of are coyotes. In fact, the day after we visited Animal Ark, we saw one sauntering through our neighborhood in the middle of the day. They usually come around at night and we can hear them howling. As you can see, the wolf and the coyote look very similar.

There were several other types of animals such as bears, cheeta, owls, hawks, a vulture, turtles, etc. This is just a sample of what you’ll see if you visit. Spring is a great time to visit Animal Ark. The weather is cool/cold, all of the animals are out and about and there are no bad odors like their might be during the warmer times of year. If you decide to go, picnic lunches are recommended since there isn’t a restaurant for miles. Wear good walking shoes because you’ll be walking a lot on gravel paths. For those unable to walk, they have golf carts available for a donation.