April 30, 2010

Friday Favorites

1.  It is my short week at work.
(I know I list this every two weeks but it really makes me happy each time it comes around!)
2.  We have been able to get a ton done on the house this week.  We are both super tired but excited for another weekend of home labor and progress.
3.  The crock pot saved the day again this week and not only did we have lots of leftovers for me to serve after work and before house work each night but it was also a great meal that we don't mind having over and over.
4.  We reached another HUGE financial milestone this week.  It is super fun to see all the hard work and plans slowly paying off.
*On Friday's I'll list things that stood out to me during the week. Things I can look back on and see as high points through out the year. I would also love to hear what stood out as favorites to you in your week.*

Ahh, Spring

 The other day was just below 50 degrees but it sure was sunny.  Sunny enough to finally start hanging my laundry outside once again.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats the smell of fresh clean sheets right off the outside clothes line!  I can finally say it, Spring has Sprung.  Now all we need is some leaves and blossoms to help support that statement.

April 29, 2010

What I Did for Earth Day

I finally did it.  Last week I created a compost bucket.  I know you are wondering just why it took so long and all I can say is that we wanted to build a crib type compost area.  A permanent area in the yard and with the yard still constantly under adjustment we haven't been sure as to where to create it. 
 Well I had the idea the other day of just making a container compost area.  After a little Internet search I found out just how to do it with an extra plastic garbage can that we had gotten for free years ago from Ace Hardware.
First I drilled holes in the bottom and a bunch of holes up the sides for plenty of air flow. 
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I then added several inches of dried leaves and grasses.
Once the bottom was sufficiently covered, I watered that all down. 
Next I added some kitchen scraps I had saved and I also read that you can add the items from your vacuum cleaner.  Since we have wool carpets with natural fibers, that sounded like a great idea to me. 
Then I set my new compost bucket in the sun.  Ever few weeks I will go turn what is in there but for now it is hard at work with no effort from me.  I love setting aside organics as I cook or any dinner scraps that would otherwise just end up in the trash.  As an extra bonus, by next summer we just might have enough compost to add it to our very own garden.  So until the day when we have a set area for composting, I am very pleased my my mobile compost bin!

April 28, 2010

Building A Wall

This past weekend was beautiful.  On Friday night we called in our burn permit and was able to burn all of the brush from all of the clearing that Josh had done.  It was three hours of adding brush to the flames but we were so thankful to get it all done in one evening!  The next day was so sunny that we just had to be outside. 
 Josh started on this project that he has been wanting to do for two years.
 He used railroad ties that were left over from our driveway support wall and the garden to build a wall around our center tree that separates the house and parking area.
 It is an odd shaped area that required a lot of cutting, measuring and fitting to make it all work.
 Josh had been saving an old chainsaw bar and two blades for this specific occasion since the railroad ties dull chains very fast.
I didn't end up getting a picture of the final area, I will take one when we fill it with more dirt and add flowers, but it came along great.  What a difference it makes in the yard to have an established wall around the tree.  Now all we have to do is wait for road restrictions to be lifted so we can have dirt delivered for the garden and areas like this.

April 27, 2010

Happy BIrthday Hillary

Today is my Big Sister's Birthday.
Happy Birthday Hillary.
Enjoy your special day!!

No Need for TV, National Geographic In Our Yard

Progress, can you see the different in this picture verses the ones I posted yesterday?  Besides there being less snow, Josh had done an amazing job at cutting and clearing most of the trees from the future garage area.
Next up:  The large trees that Josh needed my help for.
Because they were leaning towards the shed and our power line Josh tied a rope to the tree.  Then as he cuts, I pull the rope in the direction we want it to fall.  Just so you know we do this in a perfectly safe manner!!
After cutting down all three big trees we had plans to limb them and clear most of the brush.
But instead we received some much welcomed visitors.
So we took some time out to stop and "visit", or in our case, just watch.
As this momma moose and her 2 year old enjoyed some of the fresh, small branch tips.
After about a 1/2 hour Josh suggested we run them off to get work done but I just couldn't.  So we went inside and let them enjoy their feast.  They hung out in our yard for 4 hours that night munching away.  I just loved it!

April 26, 2010

Looking Ahead

I often have people ask me just what Josh and I will do with our time once the house is done.  I smile and think, what do usual people do with their time when they don't have a house to build?  And on top of that, there is still a ton to do with the house and Josh's sights are now set to the yard.  You see in a few years when the house IS done, it will be time to build a garage.  So with plans for another delivery of 10 cords of wood this summer we looked to where we could put that wood and what needed to change in our yard.  Josh decided that if he cleared the trees for the future garage we could use that area this summer to work with cutting up the firewood.  The other day, this is what the area beyond our parking area looked like.
That was soon to all change.
Slowly Josh started cutting down all of the small, and most of the larger, trees.
He piled a bunch of the new brush on top of some older brush.
That night we had ourselves a little fire.
It is good to do this time of year while there was at least a little snow on the ground to help keep hot spots around the fire cooled off.
One day of clearing and burning done.

Many more to come...

April 23, 2010

Friday Favorites

1. After a hard weekend it has been a super healthy week!
2.  The sunshine each day that melts more snow
3.  Dreams of summer that involve siding the house, the garden, hiking, cookouts, and so much more to come.

*On Friday's I'll list things that stood out to me during the week. Things I can look back on and see as high points through out the year. I would also love to hear what stood out as favorites to you in your week.*

Another Chance

I seem to have a bad track record for having my Pampered Chef stoneware break in my oven.  Earlier this winter I sent in pieces from one of my pizza stones and my bar pan (similar to a cookie sheet).  This is what showed up at my office the other day.
A whole lot of boxes and packing for the two small boxes on the counter top.
As I actually read the instructions to each piece this time I noted that it does say, "DO NOT BROIL WITH THIS STONEWARE."  Humm, maybe reading the instructions would have helped me out, seeing how I broke both pieces at two separate times by broiling steaks on them you would think I would have figured it out myself.  Sometimes things just come slower, opps.  Thanks Pampered Chef for giving me another chance!

April 22, 2010

Watching Things Grow

The other day I started seeds.  For me, this was a first.  When I went to the store for dirt, don't you hate how we have to buy dirt, I ended up walking away with this greenhouse/pellet tray instead.  An old farmer friend of mine had taught me about the benefits of the pellets a few years ago, and although pricey for the tray, I can reuse the entire system each year with just new filler pellets.  I was ready to give it a try.
Since it is mid-April, and we don't plant in the ground here until the last week of May or first of June, I didn't want to start too much.  I just decided to start with broccoli and cucumbers. 
Cucumbers don't really grow well up here, it is just too cold.  So I figured I could start this way with a $1 spent for seeds instead of trying a few plants that I have to buy starters for $3-$5 per plant.  I made a chart since I didn't use the entire tray and covered it up.  The whole tray system makes a little greenhouse and so the water stays inside and keeps the plants happy.  I then expected to wait the 8 days for germination.  You can imagine my surprise when on the 5th day I peeked and saw this:
Not only had the plants poked out but man they were growing.  The water condensation on the tray's lid prevented me from seeing what was going on.  Happily I opened the tray up after just 4 1/2 days to let the plants get the full effect of the sun .

Last night while making dinner I looked over and saw Zeke checking out the plants.  A little concerned I ran over since rabbits and fresh growth don't go so well together.  What was I thinking?  Zeke looked at me completely frustrated and hopped away from the completely fine plants as if to say, "I am just putting my scent on it, you know I don't eat green things."  Of course, what could I have been thinking?

April 21, 2010

A Great Treat That We Will Just Call Dinner

A co-worker of mine is a Vegan. 
I am not a Vegan.
But when you can't have dairy or eggs, it is often best for to look at recipes that are vegan.
Well, the other day she mentioned that her son wanted pancakes but since she didn't have eggs she used a banana instead.  That night I was looking in the pantry for dinner and found this Gluten Free Pancake mix my mother-in-law had given me ages ago.  I haven't used it since it calls for eggs, and honestly the egg replacer stuff is terrible.  I am happy to announce that the banana trick worked great!!
Plus they tasted amazing. 
Two years without pancakes is a very long time folks.  But these are my new favorite, especially topped with some homemade cinnamon syrup.  A dinner treat that should in all reality be called dessert!

April 20, 2010

Home

What a weekend it was.  Lots of the unexpected.
But as the smoke cleared we were thankful to just be home. 
More updates on lots of happenings tomorrow.

April 16, 2010

Friday Favorites

1.  Getting Zeke once again, so good to all be home together.
2.  It is my short week at work
3.  I love that I am a little tan from our trip, not really tan as in most people would notice but not stark white as before.  Makes me happy even if my tan arms are under wool long underwear and a wool sweater today.
4.  Plans for cooking a big Turkey dinner today and an evening with friends.

*On Friday's I'll list things that stood out to me during the week. Things I can look back on and see as high points through out the year. I would also love to hear what stood out as favorites to you in your week.*

Some Last Snapshots From Our Trip

The following pictures wrap up my posts about our Davis Reunion trip, just a few last images to share with you that don't really have enough to say for a post of their own.
Watching my parents dance together and being so very happy, priceless.
More towel animals.  I just loved coming back to our room each night after dinner.  Always a surprise.
The joy Gigi had at looking at herself in the mirror.  The picture of her looking at the camera didn't have a 10th of this joy.  How much fun it is to be 5 and wearing a beautiful hat, even in pajamas.
A picture of most of us, 9 out of 10 isn't bad.  This family did know how to scatter on the boat.  What a great 5 days, now we just had to deal with the 2 hour wait to get through customs.
Since I have lived in Alaska for going on 7 years now I have learned how impossible it is to travel everywhere to see all those you want to see.  So when Alaska airlines booked us with a 5 hour layover in Chicago I called my good friend, and college roommate Lauren who lives a hour south of Chicago to see what she was doing on a random day in April.  Thankfully she was free and she and her husband picked us up at the airport for an afternoon of fun.  Josh was able to meet Lauren and Joel and we were both able to meet her two amazing daughters.  5 years has been too long since we have been able to get together and those few hours together was like a breath of fresh air.  Thanks for making the drive Lauren, it was so much fun to get to catch up over lunch, it went too fast!

April 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

"...it's a hostile environment, and it's trying to kill you.  The outside temperature goes from a -450 degrees to a +300 degrees.  An you are sitting in a flying Thermos bottle."
~Walter M. Schirra
(One of my favorite quotes from our day at NASA.  Walter describing what it is like to try and reenter the earth's atmosphere from space.)

Extending the Vacation

After the cruise ended my parents dropped Josh and me off at the Houston Airport, not to fly home but to pick up our rental car.  We had decided that while we were already in Houston we might as well make a little extension to our vacation.  Josh enjoyed taking a woodworking class at a wood store, we checked out REI for sales on winter clothing and we really enjoyed running by a Whole Foods. 
While there Josh had this amazing Roast Beef and avocado sandwich made.  He was very pleased.  I picked up some soup and was very happy to find some vegan chocolate pudding, pudding made with rice milk.  What a fun treat.
We ate our snacks on our drive to the Lyndon B. Johnson NASA Space Center.
While there we took tours of the mission center, the training center, learned about different space missions and the effect all of it has had on technology and research.
The astronauts that are in space right now are rock stars.
I tried to be a rock star astronaut but all I did was mess up my hair with a helmet too heavy to hold up.  Oh well, maybe someday I can be a rock star without gravity.
While in the research/training room we saw the space pods that will take astronauts to the moon in the next many years, but after the news reports I was hearing yesterday from the President's visit to NASA in Florida it might be many more years then was originally thought.  Any views on that??

Overall it was a super fun day.  I love space and learning all about what NASA is up to was really fun.  What a great mini-vacation extension.

April 14, 2010

One of the Seven Wonders

The day that our boat stopped in Progresso, Mexico Josh and I decided to go on a shore excursion to the Chichen Itza Ruins.  The largest Mayan Ruins and one of the 7 modern wonders of the world.
While there we learned about the Mayan Culture and saw the largest ball court ever found
We learned of the wondrous glory it was to win a game, the captain of the winning team would loose his head.  Humm, I am ok with just a paycheck from my job.
We saw the carvings on the walls and the stories those told.
We learned how the Mayans were mainly intellectuals until a new tribe joined their group and changed the focus to one of sacrifices.
We also saw a few descendants of the Mayan tribe that live in the area.  When we saw their size, the massiveness of the Ruins became even more amazing.
What a day it was, oh so super hot, but beautiful and breath taking to think of it all.
We also saw some of the local wildlife.  No cages for these iguanas.  Our guide said they tasted just like chicken and were super good in tacos.  We will just take his word for it.
One of the last stops we made was to the observatory that the Mayans had built.  That was my favorite part.
Oh, how I wish I could just go back and see their world for just one day.  To learn all they knew and see how they could follow the stars and create their calendars so precisely.  As long as I could stay away from the sacrificing I think it would be a great experience!