August 31, 2012

Friday Garden Update - The Unusual

All is going well in the garden these days.  Things are growing great but they are really getting close to the end as we move away from summer and enter into fall.   The fall weather brings more rain, cooler nights and cloudy days that don't really help the garden grow bigger but keeps what we have still producing.  
I ventured out to pick produce the other day and after a few rows of bean plants realized that my little man's growth makes it near impossible to do all of the green beans.  Luckily mother and Josh were on hand to pick up the slack.  They took over the green bean search while I worked on the bigger plants that don't require as much bending.  How thankful I am that at 38 1/2 weeks pregnant I am still working in the garden.  After all the trouble I had in the spring, I never have taken a day for granted that I am still as active as I am, even if my activity isn't fast.
 I am happy to finally get to share some pictures of our fun romanesco on the blog.  I was so excited to plant this variety of cauliflower this year and have had a lot of people ask just what exactly romanesco is.
 This plant tastes very similar to regular cauliflower but its redeeming quality how fun it looks.  I have been very busy in the kitchen with preserving the cauliflower and broccoli my garden is producing.  We are busy eating side shoots of broccoli but for the most part the majority of those plants harvested have been blanched and put in the freezer.  Not so with my romanesco.  I figure since the reason I even grew such a fun plant was for the way it looks, it would be a shame to cut it up and blanch it.  So instead I leave the heads completely intact, steam them and then place them on the table for dinner in one piece.  We then just cut them in 1/2 or 1/3rds and have a large chunk on our plates.  It feels so fancy to eat such a pretty vegetable with our meals.
And in addition to the unusual parts of our garden, we have the common, but no less wonderful, portions,  as well.  Usually we wait to harvest our carrots until late in the fall but our store bought ones ran our the other day.  I figured I might as well be thinning the large clusters of our homegrown supply instead of going out and buying more.  These little gems are so sweet and tender.  I am thankful we will have a large harvest for later on down the road.  But as the nights get cooler and cooler I realize it won't be too much longer.  

August 30, 2012

Unrestricted Fun

The other day, after our walk at Creamer's field, we all stopped at a local custard shop for a snack.  Well, it really isn't a custard shop as much as a man selling homemade custard out of a RV.  Like I spoke about earlier this week, it is really one of our local gems.
In addition to custard, we all were able to have fun in the playground that the custard man built.  After spending a better part of the afternoon in a stroller, the girls thought this time to just run, unrestricted, among playground toys was just the best thing ever.
Josh and I thought it would be fun to see how our family of four would fit on the see-saw.  Abigail and Josh on one end with BK Jr. and me on the other.  
Come to find out I was left in the air most of the time, so little miss Caroline came to help me out.  With the scales balanced a little more I found this great fun.  Anything that lets me sit and keeps the pressure off of my legs is really perfect for me at this point in my pregnancy.  I wonder if our custard man would let me come hang out on his see-saw every day?
After eating custard and filling themselves full of rides down the slides, the little girls found this treasure. The seats were the perfect size for their little bodies and Heather was so good at helping them spin and spin and spin.  They had so much fun laughing and we had so much fun laughing at them when they tried to walk after getting out.  Good thing this toy was surrounded by grass instead of gravel as the girls could not stay upright after all the spinning.  I love looking at these pictures because when I do I feel the sun, taste the custard and remember the complete and relaxed joy we all felt at the end of this spontaneous and fun day.

August 29, 2012

A View from the Double Wide

A few weeks ago I posted the first picture of our brand new double stroller.  This great gift is amazing and Abigail now asks for a walk every day, even if I am not up for it.   With her doll Anna next to her, Abigail and I head out each day to enjoy her new, smoother ride.
 But last week when Heather and Caroline were visiting us, there was no room for Anna at all.  Instead Abigail got the chance to have a friend sit next to her as they experienced adventures.  
 One such adventure we went on was to Creamer's Field to watch the Sandhill Cranes.  These beautiful birds come through our local field every spring and fall as they migrate from Texas up to the North Slope of Alaska and back.
 We laughed at poor Josh who was stuck pushing two little girls in a stroller behind two very pregnant, and slowly walking Mamas.  But even with the slower than normal pace, no one in our party seemed to mind as we walked among the fields.
 The sun was out, the grass tall, the birds were beautiful and we were enjoying the feeling of being relaxed.
 Since even the best strollers can feel restrictive after awhile, we spent part of our day letting the girls run in the fields not full of birds.  
 Picking raspberries and flowers, running here and there, playing ring around the rosie (which caused this mama to "fall down" and not easily get back up), and just enjoying each other in the Indian summer sunshine was the order of the day.
 It is sad to see these beautiful birds come to our field in the fall since it always means that winter is not far behind. 
 But even with this knowledge, on such a warm and sunny day it is easy to just enjoy what part of summer we still have left.

August 28, 2012

Makeover

We here have been using cloth diapers each day for the past 20 months.  They have worked great for us and I am thankful that we decided to go down this route two years ago.  The world of cloth diapers is huge, folks.  There are so many different brands and opinions out there that just stepping into that world can be super scary.  Luckily, when I started this venture I tried two different types of diapers and found one I loved, easy choice.  
But as I get ready to start cloth diapering two babies I took a look at Abigail's diapers and realized they needed a little help.  The diapers themselves are in great shape.  You can't tell that they have been keeping my daughter clean and dry for close to two years except for the velcro tab.  
Like disposable diapers, these cloth diapers use velcro to close the diaper around Abigail's waist.  No pins needed.  Recently when she is running around playing she will stop, hold her waist and say in a very concerned voice, "Diaper?"  When I check, I realize the velcro has loosened and the poor girl has a diaper hanging off.  Luckily for me about a third of Abigail's diapers don't have velcro, just snaps that don't wear out, and thus I only had to repair 2/3's of our diaper supply.  I was working on this project when my guests were in town and found I didn't want to spend a long time away from them sewing.  Thus I often found Abigail in need of a diaper change and instead of a quick switch, I was letting her run for a few minutes while I quickly sewed new tabs on the diapers that were need of being fixed.  The part of the job that took the longest was seam ripping out all of the tabs so that new ones could be sewn into place.  With all 12, felt like 40, of her diapers having new velcro, I am feeling good about going into the upcoming months of two babes in these colorful diapers.  We all know the quantity of laundry is going to be increasing so it is good to know that they will hold up that much longer.
 But diapers aren't the only items I have been sewing these days.  After I changed out the nursery curtains from being edged in pink to being edged in orange, I realized that the rocking chair was in need of a change too.  So using the last of the orange fabric, I am glad I had picked up a lot, I recovered the chair cushion and the foot stool.  I switched out the quilt on the back of the rocker to one a friend made for Abigail that has a ton of orange in it as well. The nursery is now complete.  
Abigail hasn't minded the switch and the loss of the pink in her room as all.  As long as the chair is comfortable, a book is handy and her mama is nearby to cuddle and read to her, I think the color of the nursery could really be anything.  Yet, even with her indifference, I find myself pleased.  This room where I spend so many hours nursing, rocking, soothing and playing is set.  A mama's peace of mind is definitely worth the effort.


August 27, 2012

Permafrost of the North

You know how last week I talked about the local gems that each town has.  Well, this post is about another one of our local treasures.  Since I live in the far north, something we deal with a lot up here is permafrost.  Permafrost is a patch of ice underground that doesn't defrost for at least two years, even in the summer.
 Permafrost makes for an interesting study for engineering since all roads and buildings are effected as well as biology and geology.  Therefore, the corp of engineers built a permafrost tunnel.  This tunnel is kept at 20 degrees all the time and is used for research.  I was able to go in the tunnel years ago with my geology class but that is the only time.  You see the tunnel has never been open to the public, well, that is until last week.
 So Heather and I took our little girls and headed to this grand opening.  They loved all of the displays of mammoths and ice crystals.  Permafrost is a wonderful preserver of fossils and ancient life.  
 That is what the mammoth and fossil displays taught us about.  No mammoths have been found in our local permafrost tunnel but they have been found in areas of permafrost in Alaska as well as northern Canada.
 After we spent some time looking at all of the displays we bundled up and got ready to go into the tunnel.  Abigail didn't think it was very fun to have to bundle up in all of her winter gear when it was 70 degrees outside.  Well, come to find out our girls didn't have to bundle up as it wasn't until we had waited a hour for our turn to go into the tunnel that we were told the girls were too little to go on the tour.
 But we were already there and it was such a good chance to experience this area of research.  So I stayed out with the girls and Heather with her friend Jen went on the tour.  Like I had said, I went in the tunnel years ago and since I live here I figured I might have another chance in the future.
 And let me tell you, I think the girls had more fun playing in this pile of dirt then they ever would have in the tunnel anyway.  
The reminder of great things underground in the geology of our earth makes any day great.  Abigail and I had so much fun getting to have that knowledge shown to us once again and with that, we went home happy.  I have to admit, I am looking forward to the day when Abigail and her brother are old enough that we can all go in the tunnel and I can show them the wonders in the ice that is thousands of years old.  Hope they hold another open house for the permafrost tunnel then!

August 24, 2012

Friday Garden Update - Joy of Vegetables

The other day mother and I stopped by the Fairbanks Farmer's Market.  It was so fun to walk among all of the booths and say, nope I don't really need any of that, my garden at home has it all.
During Heather's visit the garden has been at peak ripeness and we have enjoyed time together picking all of the goodness.  What a bounty we have to fill our garden basket almost every night.  This night Heather is holding broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, peas and regular cucumbers.  Oh my!
The thing with gardening is that you can't just go out to the garden, pick the produce and then be done. All of that great produce must be processed so it doesn't get limp or go bad.  Usually the processing portion of the garden work is done alone in the evenings but with Heather here the work was shared.
And as we snapped peas, cut up green beans, shredded zucchini and blanched broccoli we talked.  Amazing how fast the job goes when shared with a friend and how it suddenly doesn't feel like work at all.

August 23, 2012

Things of Value

Sometimes when we live in an area we fail to really enjoy the "touristy" aspects of our own towns.  I find I have seen a lot of Fairbanks in the 10 years I have lived here but some things have been missed.  Earlier this summer I was sick and my mother took Abigail a few miles north of our home to check out one of Fairbanks's unique sites.  When they came back and told me all about their adventures I begged them to take me with them some day soon.
 This small treasure of a spot is the Felix Pedro monument.  A monument to the man who first discovered gold in Fairbanks.  My mother's blog explains the history of this discovery much more, check it out here.  I just thought it would be fun to show you pictures from the day I got to go.
 With a picnic packed and a blanket ready we headed north to visit Felix.  Since I was the new one to the site Abigail got to feel all grown up as she showed me just where to go and all the information about Felix.
 But Felix wasn't the only things that caught our attention.  This afternoon picnic was one to study flower, bugs, birds and enjoy the summer sunshine.
 After lunch we headed across the street to see the very stream where Felix found his gold and struck it rich.  Just a simple little stream, amazing that something so non-descript could change so many lives and also be the start of the town I now call home.  Such a great analogy for life, don't over look those things that seem small, they might be the ones that hold the treasures.
It didn't take long before standing on the edge of the stream just wasn't enough for Abigail.  My girl needed to experience this adventure to the fullest and that meant being in Felix's famous stream.  Yes, Felix might have struck it rich on yellow gold here but on this day I didn't feel the need to get a gold pan.  The things of great value to me were already with me when it was time to say good-bye.  

August 22, 2012

A Day Among The Flowers

This past week and a half has been super busy and so very fun around our little home.  My friend Heather and her daughter, Caroline, have been visiting.  While they were here we have been having so much fun going out and doing fun things and also just enjoying the day to days of being home together.
 The other day was super sunny, warm and the botanical gardens in town were calling to us.  We packed up a lunch and headed out in the afternoon for some fun.  
 The girls had so much fun experiencing a picnic.  Caroline loved the food and Abigail loved running around instead of eating.  Humm, unless I force her I have so much trouble getting my girl to eat sometimes.  Add the temptation of no highchair and the beautiful lawn to run in and well, Abigail ate a few snacks about two hours later when she was finally tired enough to slow down for food.
 And what wonderful things the garden has to offer.  The entire place is divided into different areas to visit.  There are the herbs, vegetables, fruits, the area of flowers used for dyes and in-between all of it is the wonderful aroma and sights of beautiful flowers.  
 Abigail and Caroline enjoyed taking it all in, running from place to place and reading all of the plaques set aside in memory of those who were being honored.  It was so fun for them to share this experience with a friend.
 Through the gardens runs a stream and the girls took some time to sit beside the waters and take it all in.  Abigail enjoyed the flowers but let me tell you, she LOVED the rocks.  What a fun little girl she is.
 The water the flows into that stream all originates at the top of the hill that the garden is on.  The first portion of the water flows down an old trough that is a kiddie sized version of a gold miner's trench.  Well, this is where we spent the majority of our time.  The girls found that if they threw rocks into the trench the water was flowing fast enough to wash them down to the stream.  For almost a hour these girls laughed as they ran around gathering small rocks to throw in the water.  What a perfect activity for a hot summer day!
 In the children's garden there is a small play house and Abigail had fun rearranging the small table and chairs inside.  She invited her grandma to visit inside among the tight quarters but they both agreed that a visit through the window was a little more comfortable for both.
As the afternoon wore on our girls started to tire out.  What a fun time this was for us Mamas' and the Grandma as our girls cuddled close on some of the many benches around the gardens.  We adults marveled at all that was growing but also how much had already reached their peak and was settling into the fall that is soon to come.  How is it that the special, sunny, memorable days of summer just go by so very fast?  I am so happy to have the memory of this day with those that I love.

August 21, 2012

Anticipation

Today marks the 37th week of my pregnancy with our little BK Jr.  This week has been one where I feel very large, sluggish and just over all 37 weeks pregnant.  But as I think about our little man I feel at such peace.  I have no idea when he will arrive but that is ok.  Everyone seems to have a vote, my friend Heather wants it to be tomorrow, my Mother-in-law thinks September 2nd, Josh thinks 3 weeks from now is too soon and well those who see me around town just raise their eye brows and comment that oh my, I am getting very big these days.
Abigail loves to come to me, rest her hands on my belly and kiss her baby "brudder".  Our little man is very big (in baby terms) and doesn't roll any more.  He has about maxed out his space capacity within me.  Instead of tumbles I just feel him stretching and pulling at the tight quarters I am providing.  Who knows, this boy could be here any day or I might be celebrating fall solstice next month even larger than I am today.  Whenever I start to feel a little too uncomfortable I just remind myself that our little guy is easier to take care of inside than out.  His full day food buffet, sleep schedule and fussiness doesn't stop me from my work or keep anyone awake just yet.  But I will admit, it will be nice when I can move like a normal person again.

August 20, 2012

Just a Few Extras


Last week I showed you pictures of the great fence that Josh built in the basement.  This fence is around the wood stove and Josh's future, small and modified, woodworking space.  But there was one main area of the fence missing.
The gate was missing, which was just fine for when Josh's mom was visiting.  But we had another guest who was soon to arrive, a very little guest.  It was very important that the gate was up before our little guest arrived.  So Josh worked the other day on framing up our new gate and putting it in place.  With our guests set to arrive there was no time for primer and paint but that can always come later.
In addition to the gate, Josh finished the woodworking top for the edge of the fence.  This top is where he will work with smaller woodworking tools this winter.  Josh knew with our guests that it was important to secure this top to the fence so that there would be no accident where this could fall off.  
The last step was the cleaning of the basement.  Josh vacuumed and then mopped the floors before we laid out few small area rugs.  This newly painted and renovated basement is our new guest room for a few weeks.  With my mother in the main guest room for the house we are so excited to have this space for our guests to enjoy.  So for now the work on the basement is at a stand still, we do have guests to enjoy after all!!

August 17, 2012

Broccoli Harvest

I mentioned last week that things in the garden are ripe for harvest and I wasn't kidding.  While some things are still plugging away towards fall, such as our winter squash and carrots, others are ready.  Our romanesco and cauliflower plants are doing great but haven't quite reached cutting yet, but what has is our broccoli.
I have a system when it comes to the broccoli.  Since it all needs blanched, I cut the heads, bring them in and chop them up and then blanch them in large batches.  It is a big process every few nights since I am able to cut between 5 to 10 heads of broccoli each time.  Yet I find it better to just do it all at once instead of taking the time to blanch just a little at a time.
After the broccoli is blanched it is ready to be bagged up and put in the freezer for the months ahead.  My mother moans a little at this since she just loves fresh broccoli and wants to eat it all now.  But with the big heads cut off, the plants are now busy growing side shoots.  Those I find are great for picking fresh for dinners as the rest of the summer moves a long.  Such a broccoli compromise we have had to come to terms with, who would have guessed.

August 16, 2012

A Sunny Summer Day

The other day it was hot and sunny here in Fairbanks, something we all love.  
 So to celebrate this great summer weather we grabbed the frisbees and headed out to the local frisbee golf course.
 Josh's mom loves to play frisbee golf and so we try to play whenever she visits.  The perfect weather while she was here helped us keep up with that tradition.
 We have several courses in town but the one we visit most frequently is used as cross country ski trails in the winter.  We love this since the course doesn't have any car traffic, has wide and open fairways, and when we play early in the afternoon on a Friday there really aren't that many people we have to worry about bumping into.  These features are all great for the little running legs of a toddler and the joy of my mother-in-law's dog who could run without her lease.
 Up and down the hills and fairways can make someone tired, especially if that person has such little legs.  Thus the find of a perfect sitting rock at the beginning of hole 3 was quite a treasure.  Left up to her I think Abigail would have just hung out here if we had let her while we continued our game.
 But finally we convinced her to get up and keep trotting along.  Josh has been working a lot of hours at his job and at home recently so time to just hang out with her Dada made Abigail so very happy.  In-between each frisbee throw, Josh would enjoy some special time with Abigail and it made them both so happy as the afternoon rolled on.
When playing golf, Josh always wears in Ergo carrier just incase Abigail gets too tired to keep going.  Well, this time Abigail made it all 9 holes (with a little ride on our shoulders now and again).  Before we know it we will be able to play all 18 holes.  With BK Jr. joining us next year it might not be too soon but I know it will be before long.  As for this sunny day, this pregnant mama didn't even actually play.  But I did enjoy the walk, viewing my family's interactions, the chance to take a bunch of pictures, and the sun on my face.  What a great summer afternoon to remember.  

Tree Disaster of 2017

We had quite the tree drama this year.  After years and years of real trees from the woods I was done with the needles.  DONE.  Last year A...