Monday, November 29, 2010

Shopping ... Christmas ... Cars ... Trees

Can you tell that I don't really know how to use herbs in my cooking?
I really need a class. The things are drying naturally outside in the "breeze". Snow has slid in through the screen over the weekend ... and now the wind is back again. Yuck.

We did enjoy some Black Friday shopping. Anna, Tia and I went out early in the morning on Friday. It felt like I did more shopping over the weekend than I've done in the entire year. Have to say that I joined the rest of the country in "shopping sales for myself". I was pumped to find this little goodie on sale at Target. My pictures are now safely stored on an external hard drive that should have enough room to store photos for me until I've reached about 100 years old. My computer is still limping on it's last leg ... no Cyber Monday shopping. 

Daylight is getting shorter every day. Today my window to the world at work got frosted stripes over it. I could have nearly cried. I love those big sheets of glass. It's from there that I watch the sunlight moving across the parking lot at work. I can tell what the weather is doing outside at just a glance. Not anymore. Now I'll really have to work at seeing it. Or lay on the floor. I might just do that!

It's dark by 4:30 pm and all I know is that I go to work in the dark. Another 22 days until Winter Solstice ... and then the light of summer is around the corner. Days like today (dark and gusting 75 mph winds) make me wonder what on earth I'm doing living here. Come the quickly increasing days of sunlight in our world, and increasing heat in yours, I'll remember why I'm here. For the moment.

We ended our weekend with a most frustrating game of Scrabble. Ever played one of those? They go on forever and don't seem to get any better. You could just cry with relief when they're over? That kind.

Monday is nearly over. Thank goodness.
** The truck to the shop today for something vital that cost a pretty penny.
** The solitary key to one vehicle went missing over the weekend and it (the car, not the key) got towed home today. Read that as Open Checkbook Wider ... Again.
** I need a massage in the worst way. I hunch over in the cold and pretty soon my hunched over back muscles feel like they're squeezing my lungs. I just need a massage. It has pretty much moved from the want category to the need category.
** Dentist appointment tomorrow for Tia ... which means I'm also off of work.
** Laundry pile is heaped and unfolded at last glance. Don't really want to glance right now. Have a hunch that it didn't miraculously fold itself since Last Glance.

On a bright Monday note, I must share a blog for you to read. The Christmas tree saga. We still don't have one this year. For the first many years of our married life, we had a real live tree. Growing up in Northern Minnesota, it was just not tolerable to have a fake tree, even if I was living in the desert. Then a family died in Chicago one Christmas from a Christmas tree that caught fire. That was it. I promptly moved to a fake tree. Sure was cheaper and it felt a lot safer with a houseful of littles.

Now we're in the land of trees gone wild. The first several years we were here, we actually ran to the Feed Barn in Palmer and bought a tree. Don't ask. Silly. It was more of a time thing. Tia and I were not going to cut down a tree somewhere. This roughing it only goes so far. Last year ... it was a fun Charlie Brown Tree from our yard. This year it will be the same. Should have done it over the weekend before the hurricane blew in.

I ramble. So, first we have Carol's saga. The family Christmas tree meets mouse tragedy. It could be interesting trying to find a tree to cut down in the metro Phoenix area, but at least there are the tree lots. All. Over. The. Place. (Just don't try finding a tree on Christmas Eve.) While we mourn the family Christmas tree ... it's probably time for a new one anyway. Happy Shopping Carol!

Then there is the other end of the earth. I never really thought about how you get a tree in tundra country. What do you do when there isn't a tree growing anywhere?! I found out what one family does. Check this out! I was quite impressed. I'll probably never pack my luggage for travel again without thinking of tarps and Christmas trees.

Off to set the alarm!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving ... with so much to be thankful for.

It has been a crazy past 3 days. Crazy, I tell you.
Thanksgiving, though, was nicely quiet.
Not quiet in the way of not busy.
We spent most of our day with just our immediate household.
Plenty of food ....

enough to feed the hungry young men who live here ...   

and love stuffing ... along with the mother who loves her white dishes.

Turkey that still isn't all gone 2 days later. 

China and linen ... aahh. My favorites. Complete with the dying art of starch.

A fresh coat of new snow dusting the earth and making our world so beautiful. 

So much heat going on in the kitchen that the window next to the front door
even had the nerve to fog up!
Haven't had that happen since Brock took a shower as a much younger kid
and the kitchen window would fog the moment he opened the bathroom door! 

Wonderful naps to settle turkey. Some longer than others.
Mine was especially long.  

Alyx worked on Thanksgiving. We waited until she got here shortly before 4pm to
try and get a family photo.
It is now dark by 4:30 pm and getting photos proved to be a bit difficult.
We did it.
I'm not thrilled, but they will have to do.
No acceptable "family" photo because I didn't want flash used.
Maybe on Christmas?
Regardless, these three are some of my precious ones I'm so thankful for.

Then on to an evening of company and visiting.
An evening of reading the newspaper ads and deciding where we were going
to shop bright and early on Friday morning.
One thing was for certain.

Now it is Saturday evening. We're just home from an evening of out for pizza and then fireworks in Palmer. A bit chilly, but not bad at 22 degrees. The fireworks were spectacular, followed by some nice hot chocolate and visiting at Kevin & Renae's.
 I am thankful that tomorrow is Sunday and I don't have to do anything.
I need a day of rest.

I think I also need a piece of pie.
Catch you later!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Family Skating Day!

Got up this morning and couldn't quite believe it.
Hearing rain at 25 degrees the end of November is not a good thing.
The trees sure look gorgeous being crusted with ice.

The vehicles .. not so much.
Took Tia to the bus stop this morning, waited 20 minutes for the bus, gave up and came home. Called the school to let them know that the bus hadn't shown up and she said they didn't know where it was either!
Anna to school ... and back home again 4 hours later.
Then off to Walmart. Thank goodness we went when we did.
Our vehicles were all wrapped in ice.
Note that the window is down to child safety level in this photo. The rest was just a sheet of ice.
I've added new foot wear ... ice cleats. Today I decided that I love the things.
They keep you standing upright!

Then there are the other people in our household who are too stubborn to put those things on. He was finally sold on borrowing them later in the day.
Maybe the Olympic Ice Skating Team coming up?!
I missed taking a picture of the back flip. (He's still complaining about that one!)

They were getting quite creative in their movements.

Walmart list included things like sand and ice melter stuff.

We may need more than Walmart sells. It is bad. That is not just wet.
It is a skating rink.

Later in the afternoon, Jari decides to head for the post office and bank in Palmer.
We have a hill (the one I always walk up to take fun mountain pictures) that we drive up to get out to the main road.
Let's say, ideally, we drive up that thing.
Not this afternoon.
Mind you, the truck tires are nearly as slick as the road itself.
After a near dive sideways down into the trees,
a run down to the house for sand bags to get out ...
the truck eventually made it back into the yard.

The help was enjoying a bit of free skate.

While they were out helping people get unstuck and skating their way home with a stop here and there to bonk a noggin ... I was hiding in the basement between snapping a photo here and there.
I got so much done today (my 4th day off in a row!) that I am just pumped.
I must say that I even unrolled a roll of Christmas wrapping paper today .... and wrapped my first gift. I had so much fun putting it all together. I'm getting excited!!

Being home also means a person gets to make dinner.
Gets to make dinner.
Never thought I'd say that!
We had a slice of pizza at Wally & Lisa's the other week that was absolutely delicious and I've been craving it ever since.
I don't make pizza.
Frans, when he lived with us, would ask "are you buying it or making it?" when I would say dinner was pizza. I've never been a pizza making pro.
Tonite it was scrumptious.
Chicken and tomato pizza with a sauce of sour cream, bbq sauce and ranch dressing.
Next time I'm adding spinach. Tia says she wants sea weed.

An evening of more Christmasy stuff going on in my basement nook.
Several games of Monopoly Deal that I failed to win.
The driveway has been graveled and should be navigable in the morning.
I still don't have a turkey. Couldn't get to the grocery store today.
I do have green bean casserole and stuffing. We'll be just fine!

By the way, Anchorage shopping was a success.
I found a few things.
I found out where I can't find the things I was looking for.
All in all ... it was progress!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I can't believe it.

I get to go to Anchorage.
I said it.
I can't believe it.

Hubby is flying home tonite.
An airport run at a decent hour.

While Michael's is still open.
While JoAnn's is still open.
While Kohl's is still open.

I get to go.

Incidentally, it might be a whole lot better than what I've been doing today.
I logged onto Facebook last evening and started playing a game.
I'm hooked.
It's bad.
Now I'm even trying to up Tia's score for her.
We're sharing an office chair to get it done.

I'm better off at Michael's.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday ... the real start of the weekend.

The marathon at work yesterday turned into quite a delightful day.
Much better than any of us had anticipated ...
thanks to all the wonderful folks I work with. (ibuprofen grin inserted)

Came home last night and finished my current book. Yippee! That's an entire book this week. My goal is to still digest another one before Tuesday morning.

While I'm reading by the warmth of roaring fire blazes, my hubby is sending me pictures that look like this. This would be Class 3 weather on the North Slope. I can't imagine what a Class 4 looks like. There are vehicles in that picture. Really, there are.
Maybe ... maybe ... maybe ... he'll be home early tomorrow nite.

Last night I set out berries to thaw. I had made some raspberry freezer jam with fresh berries when I picked them, but had frozen most of everything for later when I had a day to play. Today was going to be the day. Out of the freezer and out on the counter to thaw overnite. 

Online to find recipes. I do love cooks[dot]com. Google seems to direct me there most frequently when I'm searching for the things I search for. Recipes printed and ready for early morning work with rosehips, currants and raspberries.

After a 5:15 a.m. wake up, a drop off at the bus for Tia (who finally got to go to school today!) and an "I still don't feel good" from Anna (who promptly went back to sleep), I started in on the stewing, juicing and hot water bathing of jellies.

This would be called progress. Horrifying progress, but progress nonetheless. I really do love my dishwasher. (And if you don't know what those bottles are on the window sill ... I equally love my Young Living Essential Oils.)

Steaming and sugary syrup heading for jars.

I did take a minute to admire the sunshine. I kept stoking the wood stove until I realized that I had the kitchen window open and stoking the stove was rather pointless. The sun was shining on my walls inside. It has obviously been cloudy on the weekends, or I've been very unobservant because today I just enjoyed it. Soon, it will be gone from these walls and then we'll wait for it to reappear. My dear hubby will send me a text picture the day it hits the wall and I'm at work. He's so awesome.

Prior to my last batch of jelly, I finally said ....

and took a nap. A good one. I always set the alarm on my phone for 30 minutes. That is it. Then up and at 'em. Today I woke enough to reset it for another 30 minutes ... and then hit snooze at least once. I must have needed it.

I did get up in time to get Tia from the bus. If you've been to visit here, the bus drops her off on Palmer Wasilla Highway. She walks from there. Not bad at all on a day like today. Even though the temp was hovering in the mid teens, the sun was shining and the wind wasn't howling. The roads are clear and not iced over like a hocky rink. Those days are going to be nasty and let's hope dad is home to meet the bus. Today ... I was here ... and lucky enough to do it myself. I really should have walked up there, but I didn't.

The jelly making day is done.
26 half pint jars are sealed, labeled and tucked away.
Well ... all but 4 of them. They look like they will be ice cream topping.
A bit on the runny side. Trying to decide if I should try again. Do I get another box of pectin and redo the canning ... or use it on ice cream?

I got a request from Alyx last night for a Christmas gift. I like the request.
It'll take a little bit of work, but it will be fun to do.
That's next on the list.

She moved out last night. The original plan was to move out on Saturday after work. Instead she moved everything last night. She really needs to start a moving company. She's downright efficient!
She didn't go far. Several miles down the road.
Close enough to pop in and do laundry.
Close enough to snag some ramen noodles if she needs to.
Close enough to just come hang out.
Far enough to be on her own and start the next phase of her life.
She's ready. She'll do just fine ...
and she'll love it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The world is calm ... and chilly

The winds have stopped.
Thank goodness.
We discharge all patients from our department by wheelchair to their vehicle.
It was a bit chilly and blustery for a few days there.
Now, it'll be just downright refreshing at 10F this morning ... with no wind.

Fire starters dipped in wax are wonderful things. They burn nicely and keep on burning for quite a while. Perhaps it helps that I hauled in nice dry wood the other day, whatever the cause .. I'm thankful. We also need a larger wood stove. We have several heat sources. The fire burning is not a necessity, unless I really want to protect the electric bill. It sure feels cozy ....

enough to cuddle up with a blanket and a book or two while the blaze roars.
Our library here always has a shelf of books for sale. They must be overstocked books, but I appreciate them there. I'm not a book buyer. I utilize the library on a regular basis, but am thrilled when I find a few good books on the "garage sale" table. My nose has been buried in books this week ... anytime it can be.

We still have sick kids and I'm ready to scream.
Tia and Brock would love to scream as well ... they can't.
The PA on Monday was quite certain they didn't have strep and didn't want to swab them. Aargh.
Last night we started antibiotics in this house.
I have tried everything else I could possibly think of in our cupboards, everything in our Young Living oils, nothing is working.
Time for the big guns.
Let's hope by tonite they are feeling better.
One day of school this week would be a good thing.

Jari is up in the land of cold weather and sometimes frightening weather conditions.
Talked to him last night and after yesterday he has a whole new respect for
winter snow conditions.
Conditions where snow drifts are 4 feet deep.
A place where a convoy of vehicles must travel together.
A winter where regular trucks are attached in a line by tow strap to the semi in front of them or they'll not make it to their camp.
Where the wind chill yesterday was -21.

This would be my Friday today.
Looking forward to a 4 day weekend.
Followed very soon by another 4 day weekend.
But first this "Friday". I'll need my ibuprofen, my running shoes, lots of java.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


with gusts up to 65 mph are in the forecast for today. It already feels like it out there this dark and early morning.

Why did I want chickens? I need to go out there this morning and freshen water and throw feed.
It. Is. Dark.
The wind may blow me sideways. And, no, I haven't lost any weight. It's that strong.

It may be a blessing that Tia is still sick today. She needs to walk from the bus. She wouldn't be walking. She'd be slip sliding. Add a string and she'd probably make a terrific kite in all this.
Sick kids.
 I left work early yesterday and brought Brock & Tia to the doctor. Strep is going around and I was thinking that they should probably be looked at by someone other than me. He doesn't think they have it. Just a virus that is taking a while to make it through their systems. We'll just keep passing out stuff from Mom's drug and oil cabinet. Maybe another several days and they'll both be up to par.

Jari & I took a trip to Anchorage on Saturday. A trip I call it. For me, it really is. We made it Eagle River (about the halfway mark) and realized that his badges were at home. Turned around to come get them. While on the exit, Tia called from Hillukkas. "Mom, I don't feel good. Can you come get me?" As long as we were playing the Around the World Game, we picked her up and brought her home. Several hours later we tried for Anchorage again. We did manage a trip to Costco and an absolutely delicious slab of steak. That is it. No other shopping like I had envisioned. Another day I guess. We spent the night in Anchorage and I dropped him at the airport at 4 a.m. Home to take a nap, get Anna to work and then start a wee bit of cooking and baking for an afternoon of singing at our house with the songleaders and organists.

Tuesday morning already? I had better hit it. If I park my rig so the lights are shining in the appropriate direction, I might just get those chickens fed and watered before I leave for work. Might even get a basket of wood hauled in. There has to be a better system for wood gathering than the one we presently have. We have an idea in that department, but it all takes time and money.

Dinner tonite. Maybe pancakes. If they are really lucky. I just loaded the dishwasher this morning. They may not even get pancakes if I have chicken feeding duty.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Do we have a visitor?

About 6 weeks ago we added chickens to our yard. Hoping for better luck this time around ... so far, so good. (Don't mind the fact that the temp hasn't even dipped into the teens yet for more than a few days.)

Jari built his dream chicken coop. Dream might be pushing it, but he built one he had been wanting to build. It is relatively small and will be portable. Move from one spot in the yard to the next come summer.

At some point we are hoping to see eggs. That is the main goal. The even bigger goal would be keeping the birds alive long enough to have a possibility of seeing eggs.

In the meantime, the coop leaves us shaking our heads quite frequently. Before the days starting getting much shorter we just had a heat lamp in there for the feathered friends. Now they have several lights. One a timer to give them 12 hours of daylight and stimulate that marvelous egg production. Every day the heat lamp would be off. Yes. Off. He would go down and turn the bulb 3 turns and on it would magically work again. Every. Day. A new heat lamp resides in the chicken coop and it is working fine. My question was this. How on earth does a light bulb unscrew itself every day?!

Yesterday the washer and wing nut were both gone off the top of the feeder. Both. Gone. We really don't think our feathered friends are that good!

Either someone really doesn't like our poor birds or maybe the wood we used to make the coop with was from some other worldly inhabited place. I don't have a clue. It is just downright strange. Or there is always another possibility. We just have the smartest chickens ever.

Thank goodness we are no strangers to the strange.


It is Friday morning again. Another Friday. I really like this one.

Yesterday was my lovely day off for the week ... a great way to spend Veterans Day.
Kids were off school and able to sleep in. As for me ...

* The alarm still rang at 5:15 for a 6:30 staff meeting
* Day Off School = Dentist and off we went for 10:00. I think I could really like the
   dentist. I sat in the waiting room for 2 hours and read my book. I should go again ...
   just to read. I didn't have to pay them anything yesterday. Therein lies the reason for
   my joy. Had they told me what I owed them instead of say "we'll just send you a bill",
   my mood may have taken a dive.
* Target. Tia is a teeth grinder. Yuck. The sound is horrific. I did it for years myself
   and wore a mouth guard. Our insurance doesn't cover them so off to Target to buy
   one that you can form fit yourself. Will see if it helps.
* Anna did all the driving ... and I only grabbed on to a grab bar once. Just kidding.
   The roads have been blown clear by the beautiful wind and she did just fine.
*  In the past week when the whipping wind was feeling downright cold, I had visions
    of a move to Tahiti flitting through my head.
*  Grabbed my egg cartons, my dryer lint and my dental floss ... and started filling a
    bag for dipping fire starters.
*  I think I managed 2 loads of laundry.
*  Sweet and sour meatballs for dinner. Not. The pineapple was gone. That's what you
    get when you don't look in the cupboard first and someone likes pineapple around
    here. Maybe next time. The meatballs were good. They just ended up with gravy and
    potatoes instead.
*  The camera ... my boys are using it. They have their orders. It must be back in my
    hands by Saturday morning. I need it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Out with the old ...

and usher in the new.

The rush of fishing season is over. Now any fishing done around around here is done after a spot of travel to another place. The chair has moved outside. I really do want to change this into something new. It has major structural issues that I need help with tho'. Maybe on one of my long weekends I can take a whack at it. In the meantime ... we'll pretend it is summer, that there are no mosquitos, that I'm sitting on the unscreened cabin porch ... and sipping my coffee with a good book.

Out with the leftover lumber. The second window in the photo is the new bedroom. I never did get any photos up here ... will have to try again at some time. The old is out and the child is in his new digs. Still need to finish a bit of trim, add closet stuff and a closet door. He loves his new space so much that he's thrilled to make his bed in the morning.

Out with the lawn mowing and in with ... what??!!! They should really be snow machine tracks. Car tracks? (You certainly can't tell that I have a teenage son can you?)

Out with the summertime activity of lazy days of trampoline jumping. Last year we leaned it against a tree. Bad idea. The legs are bent at most intersting angles now. It still works ... it just seems a bit scary sometimes. Along with the trampoline out ... the lawn mowing goes as well.

Unless you take a real close look. This is just wrong. Don't you think that the green of grass should be an out with the old before the in with the new of snow appears?!

Not in our world.

Monday, November 8, 2010

In case you wondered.

5:15 a.m. feels just the same whether the clocks have changed back an hour or not.
Now if someone could figure out how to get one extra hour of sleep every night, I'd be most grateful.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sometimes I wonder if I'm being humored.

I learned about fire starters using dryer lint. So, of course, I had to try. I didn't do it quite like the instructions I just found on the internet. If you click on the word instructions, you'll find a slightly different variation. One that would be great for camping. The way I made them the first time around wasn't waterproof.

Gather dryer lint. That stuff never ends ...

then you grab the egg cartons. Unless you have some egg producing chickens, those don't ever end either! Stuff the egg carton full of lint. 

The next step I did differently. I didn't have parafin wax but had plenty of old candles that could be used. I melted the wax and then poured it over the egg cartons filled with lint. Let them sit until the wax had hardened and then cut them apart. I filled mine without dipping them into the melted wax. I didn't need them to stay dry while camping. I needed them to start the fire in the living room ... where we hope it is stays dry!

I thought I had a picture of a finished one for you. They weren't nearly as pretty as the ones I just found online ... but they worked very well.

Unless the troops are humoring me.
The basket is empty next to the wood stove.
The trash downstairs next to the dryer is full of lint.
I'm going to start storing empty egg cartons in the laundry room.
An in sight in mind kind of thing.

Fun project for kids to do with you in preparation for camping,
or even if you spend your life keeping warm with a roaring fire.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Projects are so much fun!

It has been received ... so now I can share.
Becky (my next younger sibling) and her husband, Wayne, celebrated their 25th Wedding Anniversary on August 24th.
Seems like only a blink or two ago that I was standing in that full church ...
witnessing them repeat their vows.
In the search for a gift that would be fun and meaningful,
I came up with this one.
First the card.
Using colors that reminded me of the day with plenty of silver thrown in.

I was the lucky recipient of Mom's china when they moved to a retirement community a few years back. I love that china. It just reminds me of so many special days in my life. Along with the set of china came dessert dishes rimmed in ... what else but silver?
We tend to be a bit sentimental so I passed it along.

I started attaching tags.
Some computer printed and covered with vellum ...
all attached with silver ribbons.

A family heirloom that I know will be used at her table.
As my Anna says ... "Becky always likes to do dessert in nice dishes".

A small reminder of the day with stitching around the edge.

Photos from their engagement days, wedding shower and the wedding.

I still haven't managed to connect with her on the telephone.
A few texts back and forth between my days at work and her days at work.
Maybe sometime before the next anniversary day rolls around we'll have time
for a chat on the phone.

It sure was fun!