Saturday, October 30

10 Things About Me

This is part of a four part series of posts you can look for in the next few weeks. I thought it would be kind of fun to just make a list of 10 things you may or may not know about each of the four of us. It made sense to start with myself, so here it goes!

  1. I love to stay home. Not just being a stay-at-home mom, but really staying home. I'm fine only going to town once or twice a month.
  2. I love being a mom, even though it's hard sometimes !
  3. I'm learning that I love fall...even pumpkin pie, which I despised as a kid.
  4. I've also learned to like squash and olives. But I still detest raisins.
  5. I enjoy taking pictures and wish I was better at it. I'm working on it.
  6. 6 years ago I never would have said this, but now there's a part of me that wants to homeschool my kids.
  7. I hate to wear fingernail polish. I know it sounds weird, but I can feel it. My fingernails feel like they're suffocating!
  8. I enjoy making gifts. If I give you something I've made, I've been thinking about you the whole time I've been working on it.
  9. I'd love to work from home if I could figure out some marketable skill I have.
  10. I loved cloth diapering my kids. It was a decision I was proud of. And although it sounds strange, I miss seeing them drying on the line.
Feel free to share 10 (or even 5!) things about you in the comments section!

Friday, October 29

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
Inspired by SouleMama.



Wednesday, October 27

Finished!


Lookie what I finished! It will be on its way to someone special soon...hopefully that someone will send us a picture of it when it reaches its destination, so I'll have a picture to share when I reveal the identity of that someone! So Someone...when you get it, please take a picture! :-)

Seafood

I'm not sure if it's who we are as parents, our kids' curiosity and enthusiasm, or where we live, but the girls have sure gotten an education in the cleaning and preparation of seafood this past year!

We've cleaned salmon on the dining room table in May:
In June we learned to shuck and clean clams:

September brought oysters to shuck:

And in October we learned to peel shrimp:

Lots of learning goin' on here at in 804! And lots of eatin' too! :-)

Monday, October 25

Jack-O-Lanterns!

Friday night was jack-o-lantern night in Whittier! A group of us met in one of the basement community rooms, shared a potluck dinner, spread out the black plastic and went for it! It went something like this:

Carve a little...

Play with pumpkin guts a little...

Carve a little...

Play with pumpkin guts a little:

Carve a little:

Play with pumpkin guts a little:

Carve a little...

Play with pumpkin guts a little...

By the end of the night, Stacy had helped Austin become proficient in pumpkin gut playing and we had made quite a mess! And had lots of fun, too!

Friday, October 22

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
Inspired by SouleMama.

Wednesday, October 20

A Weekend in Talkeetna

Denali from the Talkeetna cutoff road

This past weekend I packed the girls and I up in the car and headed north to Talkeetna to visit a friend of ours and her son who relocated from Whittier at the end of the summer. It's a 3 hour drive, so I was a little nervous about tackling it alone with the girls but we all survived. It took us about 4 hours each way and we stopped once each way to eat and stretch our legs. I also planned the drive during naptime, so they were asleep for a portion of each way...very helpful!

Sunshine Lake
leaves in ice from Sunshine Lake

Talkeetna is a lovely area. My friend Michelle lives across the street from Sunshine Lake, so we walked over there on Saturday morning and also ventured out to the Wild Woods Park and the West Rib Pub and Grill for dinner. The West Rib gets 5 stars from me...very helpful and thoughful waitstaff, great food, and reasonable prices. A rarity in this state!




Our days were filled with running, jumping, climbing, laughing kids (ages 2, 3, and 4) and leisurely cups of coffee. It was really a fantastic way to spend a weekend...relaxing with friends in a beautiful setting with happy kids. What more could you ask for?

Monday, October 18

A Photo Day

Th weekend before last was beautiful...quite windy on Saturday, but on Sunday we had sunny and clear weather until about dinner time. We headed over to Girdwood in the morning for brunch and the park with some friends...it was fantastic! I took some fun pictures of the kids at the park, but my fingers were itching for some landscapes, too. Luckily Scott was happy to indulge me, so after we got the kids down for a nap I headed out for an afternoon in Portage Valley, walking and snapping pictures.




It was such a lovely way to spend an afternoon. No plans, no agenda, just stopping when I wanted to and enjoying the sunshine. I explored a few trails that I look forward to taking the girls on next spring and summer...it's very flat out there and there are lots of little loops that would be very doable for kids.


There was one trail I took that I'd be sure to avoid during salmon spawning, however. You could barely take 10 steps on the path without stepping on fish carcasses! It seems like the trail is also a feeding bear super highway along that particular creek. Not someplace I want to be with little kids!

Friday, October 15

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
Inspired by SouleMama.


Wednesday, October 13

We'll all live in a yellow submarine...

All summer and into the fall, the girls have been very interested (borderline obsessed!) with the ocean. It's been very fun, since we live right on the water and have had opportunities to see and experience so much. Our door looks like an ocean right now, complete with fingerpainted water and kiddo colored ocean creatures placed at the correct depths. We've read lots of books about the ocean this summer and for a 3 and a 4 year old they have a surprisingly good understanding of which creatures live here in our "cold ocean" and which ones live in other "warm oceans". They both love the Alaska Sealife Center...I can only imagine how much fun they'd have at the Newport Aquarium!

So I guess it shouldn't have come as a big surprise that after learning what a submarine is, that Kelsey would propose that we all live on one! After all...one can only be satisfied with the idea of "scooper diving" (scuba diving) for so long! She desperately wants to see the sea floor so the idea of living in a submarine has great appeal to her. Then I made the mistake of singing "Yellow Submarine" to her...yeah, real bright, huh? :-)

Monday, October 11

Magic Treehouse

A while back I decided that I wanted to try reading an early chapter book to the girls. After some thought I decided on the Magic Treehouse series. I'm sure there are other great places to start, but I'm out of touch with the beginner chapter book scene, so I went for something tried and true in my experience. We started on Friday night and finished it last night.

It's going really well! Kelsey in particular is really into it. The chapters are just the right length for her attention span and pictures are spaced a good intervals for her. Stacy likes it too, but being 3 she'd prefer a few more pictures. I have to be a very animated reader to hold her attention.

After this I think we'll read another one or two from this series and then branch out a bit. I guess I'd better peruse the juvenile literature section a bit on our next trip to the library!

Saturday, October 9

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
Inspired by SouleMama.


Friday, October 8

Reflective Change

It was fun while it lasted, but today marks the end of the "This Week's Recipe" feature on Fridays.

When I sit down and think about the purpose of this blog, it's threefold. I blog to share what's going on in our lives with our family in friends in other parts of the country, and on a personal level I blog as a way of being a reflective parent. Sitting down and writing about our life forces me to think about what we're doing and why, and often makes me appreciate the little moments that much more. The third purpose of this blog is to preserve. I want to preserve some photos and snapshots of our life as we go along...I think it will be fun (and poignant!) to look back at this some day and I hope the girls will enjoy it, too.

With that in mind, I decided to scrap the weekly recipes in favor of the {this moment} photos, my favorite part of the blog right now. I still plan to blog Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the occasional weekend post, too.

Don't worry...cooking is something I love and I'll continue to try new recipes and share my new favorites with you. It just won't be quite so regular and the posts will look a little different.

So, here's to sharing, reflecting, and preserving! And growing, both my children and me!

This Week's Recipe--Spaghetti Squash

This is so simple that it's not really even a recipe!

image from Kraftfoods.com

It was really feeling like fall around here, so instead of making a pumpkin pie (so far I've resisted that urge!) I went for another type of squash. I really, really want some acorn squash but Wal-Mart's produce selection isn't that diverse. Hopefully I can find one at Carrs or Fred Meyer soon!

The Recipe
There's a printable version available from Kraft here. It's also in their latest issue of Food & Family.

Ingredients1 large spaghetti squash (about 3 lbs)
1/2 c. grated mozzarella
2T grated Parmesan
2 diced plum tomatoes (I used one can diced tomatoes, drained)
1/4 c fresh sliced parsley (I used a little bit of dried oregano and basil, about 1/4t each)

Method

Prick the squash with a fork and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Turn squash and microwave 5 minutes more. Let squash rest for 5 minutes, then cut open and remove seeds. Scrape squash with a fork to create strands. I chose to removed my squash strands to a bowl since I knew I didn't want to eat half a squash!

Stir in mozzarella, tomatoes, and seasonings. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan.
The Verdict
I knew better than to feed this to my family. Come on...they're great eaters, but still! :-) Actually both of my kids asked for a bite and I gladly shared. They both replied with something like, "I like it Mom, but I don't want any more.". We've been working on being polite when you don't like food, so I'm not sure if it was honesty or politeness, but either way I was happy with their response.

This one really hit the spot! I loved it and I got to eat squash...squash and fall, they just go together!

Wednesday, October 6

Progress

Slowly...

...but surely...


...it's getting there!

What We Did Over Summer Vacation

Remember the list of things I wanted to do this summer? Well as I mentioned Monday it's officially fall, so here's what we got 'crossed off' the list!

1. Visit Palmer and the Colony House Museum. Maybe even during Colony Days!
2. Ride somewhere on the Alaska Railroad.
3. Ride somewhere on the Alaska Marine Highway.
4. Visit the city of Kenai.
5. Visit the city of Homer.
6. Visit Soldotna.
7. Go to the Alaska State Fair.
8. Spend a few hours at the Anchorage Saturday Market.
9. Take a glacier cruise (maybe with these folks or these folks).
10. Take the kids to Seward to the Alaska Sealife Center.

Sooo...5 of out of 10 doesn't seem so great. Until you think about all of the other things we did that I hadn't even heard of when I was making the list!

Here are a few:
So all in all, it was a fantastic summer! Many thanks to my fantastic hubby and all of our guests for tolerating us dragging you all over the Kenai Peninsula. And potential visitors next year, take note...we're planning to explore the parts of Alaska north of Anchorage next summer. Study up! ;-)

Monday, October 4

Fall

Fall arrived here shortly after the calendar heralded her arrival. We had been enjoying the most wonderful Indian Summer, then woke up to fall a week ago last Friday (yeah, I'm running a little behind with the posting, I know!). She'd been hinting for awhile, but on Friday it was clear that she had come to stay! The girls crunched in the leaves in Valdez, the morning air was crisp and we hunted up mittens. Saturday afternoon was the most perfect of fall days. Clear, crisp, cool and sunny. We donned light jackets and headed up a local trail, Horsetail Falls. We picked berries as we walked.


The girls ran in the alpine meadow, climbed trees (those stunted Alaskan trees make good climbing!) and bounced on branches.


We came home and I fought off the urge to make pumpkin pie! It was a picture-perfect afternoon. One that I've filed away in my mind's dictionary right under fall. Whenever I think of fall, I'll think of that day. And a particular fall in Prindle as a pre-teen...leaves piled high and still young enough to play in them! Soup on a dark rainy evening...also in my mind's dictionary.

On Sunday it was cold and windy, snow entered our forecast (although it didn't show up!) and we put the snow tires on the car. On Monday it was so windy I had to hold Stacy to keep her from being snatched by a 45mph gust of wind and on Tuesday the rain arrived. And it was *cold*! Soon the cold of Tuesday will feel warm and we'll be all winter-acclimated, but for now it feels cold and brings on longings of hot tea on the couch in a blanket and fuzzy socks with a book. Me with the book, not the fuzzy socks.

Anyway...for now I've resisted making that pumpkin pie. But who knows for how long!

Sunday, October 3

{this moment}

An extra one this week...because I couldn't choose just one!

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Inspired by SouleMama.


Saturday, October 2

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
Inspired by SouleMama.




Friday, October 1

This Week's Recipe--Hawaiian Sweet Bread

Have you ever had this?

Me, too! And it's yummy, isn't it! But not available in Whittier. And besides, as you've probably noticed already, I'd rather make it than buy it!

The Recipe
So I looked around a bit on the good 'ole world wide web and settled on trying this recipe. (For some reason her blog displays weirdly for me in Firefox, but fine in IE so keep that in mind.)

Hawaiian Sweet Bread
(based on this recipe)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
1/4 cup water, warm
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup boiled potatoes, mashed (* see note)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup milk, warm
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, very soft
4-5 cups ap flour

In a large bowl, preferably the bowl of an electric mixer, conbine yeast, warm water, 1 tablespoon of sugar and the mashed potatoes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add remaining sugar, lemon juice, milk, salt, eggs and 2 cups of flour, mixing very thoroughly with the paddle attachment of your mixer. Switch to dough hook. Add 1 1/2 cups more flour and butter, cut into chunks. Mix on low speed until smooth, then add remaining flour a few tablespoons at a time until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and clings to the dough hook. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 more minutes to ensure smoothness. Place bdough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, 2-3 hours in a warm place.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface.
Divide dough in half. The dough can be shaped into two loaves as desired: two round loaves, two oblong loaves, two clover loaves (made with balls of dough) or shaped into rectangles and place in two, lightly greased loaf pans. Place free form loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover dough with a clean dish towel and let rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden. Loaves will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. The best way to check for doneness is to insert an instant -read thermometer (like a meat thermometer) into the bottom of the loaf a few inches. The temperature will read 200F when the bread is done.

Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
Store in an airtight container or ziploc bag.
Makes 2 loaves.

*Note: Instant potato flakes make a great substitute for mashed potatoes. Use about 1/3 cup potato flakes with 1/2 cup hot water and let it cool slightly before adding to the yeast.

The Results
I've made this twice now. The first time I followed the recipe exactly and had a few troubles. The first issue was that my dough needed a bit more flour, so it didn't have quite enough to support itself as it rose. As a result it sort of flopped over the edges of the pan. It's designed to be a very moist, sticky dough to produce a moist loaf, but my first time around I baked it in my Pyrex loaf pans and it stuck like crazy, even after my liberal application of cooking spray. Since then I've made it into dinner rolls that I baked on parchment--much better! If you're making a loaf, I'd recommend using a non-stick pan and lots of spray!

I took the dinner rolls to a potluck and didn't bring any home, so I assume they were well liked! Scott wished the texture was more like King's, but without the odd ingredients of store bought I doubt I'll achieve that! I loved the slices warmed with butter...mmmm!