Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a year filled with peace, love and happiness.
We will be spending the evening watching the torch light parade, and fire works at the resort (just a few blocks walk).   Hundreds of folks skiing down the mountain with red torch lights.  So beautiful.  We have had such an amazing year, and I am just certain that this next year will be that and more.  Wishing you all the same.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


About 10 years ago my husband and I walked into a real estate office in Homer, Alaska for "fun".  We were teaching in the bush and spent the summer in Homer.  I said "Hey let's go to the real estate office and look at property for fun."  It was to be a game of sorts because we knew we could not afford land.

Two weeks later we were the proud owners of 9 acres.  We realized that fun was more fun than we thought because we could afford land.  Two years in the bush meant that we had saved enough money to get an affordable loan.
I call it our Ed McMann land because it is just so beautiful.  We got a great deal because we were the second purchasers.  It was one of the few parcels that was not slash from downed spruce that had been ravaged by the spruce bark beetle infestation.  We paid the land off in full about 3 years ago and this is where our yurt sits.

It is filled with wildflowers in the spring and summer.  Rose, lupine, wild arnica, angelica so many different species.  We evan have low bush blueberries!  Lots of plants to harvest.  The Sand Hill Cranes nest on the land, the moose browse on it, and there were brown bear sightings last year (did not like hearing that). 

We have decided to finally build on the land.  It is part of our retirement plan.  If we build it now, and rent it out (ouch someone else living in my dream) we can maybe have it paid off by the time we retire.  Big dreamy thoughts of possibilities occupying my brain.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Cold Chronicles

Sunday night we had a power outage.  It turned into a 11.5 hour power outage.  We spent the evening with candles and headlamps.  The little guy had a blast.  We burned a lot of wood, but managed to stay warm huddled around the stove.  My hubby slept downstairs to man the fire so that we could keep a little warmth in the home.  What a good guy.  We were lucky that the weather was "warm" a balmy 20℉, not the 0℉ it has been.

We have been walking a lot.  Our son does not nap well inside so we often take him out for a 2 hour stroller walk, which is great for keeping us in shape.  My husband is a little more excited than I am when the temperature is low.
He will actually jog in any temperature.  He came home the other day with an ice horn coming off of his beard.  Kind of like a reverse unicorn.  He was covered in ice from head to toe.  Me on the other hand, no running warm or cold.  I need to be well padded.  I often laugh because there is no femine feeling when you are wearing so many layers.
We ran into a young girl running her dogs down by the airport on our last walk.
There is nothing better than a clear day surrounded by mountains.  These are the days that I could never leave Alaska.  

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays

It is -6℉.  Yesterday it was 0℉, and despite the cold it is just beautiful.  We have been busy, busy, busy creating, trying to stay warm, and socializing.

Perhaps it is the green smoothies I have been drinking for the past week, or being off work for 2 weeks, or this moose who has been finding comfort in our backyard, whatever it is I feel inspired.  
I hope you find inspiration in your holidays.
The mountains have been shining.  I will return next week.  Until then, Happy Holidays!!!!  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bring on the Daylight

As I mentioned before the Solstice is my favorite day because I know that we have turned the corner and are heading towards more light. Even though at first it only increases by minutes, each minute is a celebration.

Last night I went to a Burning Woman Lunar Eclipse Gathering at my neighbors.
My very artistic neighbor created this beauty of a woman. She waxed the legs (kind of funny), and wrapped her ankles in matches.
And when the lunar eclipse first came into view we lit her on fire.
It was perfect timing as my toes had started to turn into ice blocks.
We each put in 3 intentions, something to release, something to bring in , and something for the earth.  Such a magical way to celebrate the return of light and the beautiful moon.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Green Smoothies

When you live in a small house you just can't fit in too many appliances.  We were gifted a hand held blender about 10 years ago when we lived in a much, much smaller house (15X19), and we have used it to death.  We then bought a succession of inexpensive small choppers to make healthy homemade food for our son when he had his unrepaired cleft palate.  One by one they broke as cheap ($10) models do.

I have wanted to make green smoothies for my family for awhile now, but our hand held chopper left our smoothies with larger chunks.  My hubby was always gracious and swallowed (chewed) them down.  He also will eat my "backpacker" bread. Which is any bread that fails and becomes a hockey puck.  What a good guy.  I on the other hand just can not embrace a chunky smoothie.  Who can embrace that oxymoron?

So we welcome into our home a nused blender.  Nused being new to us, lovingly used by another.  My friend up the road just bought herself a Vitamix (green with envy) and so she brought us her Oster blender. Funny, first real blender at our ripe old age, but we are indeed thanful.

My friend also lent me the book The Green Smoothie Diet by Robyn Openshaw.  I need to carve out some time to read it, but the first chapter has gotten my attention.  Robyn is known as the  Green Smooties Girl and you can read her blog here.

The blender works way better than our hand held blender and breaks the ingredients down to a smaller chunk, but I have not reached smooth yet.  I have to strain the smaller chunks out of the little guy's smoothie or he rejects it.  So what he has is a healthy homemade veggie/fruit juice.  Todays smoothie included

Bok Choy
Red Cale
Apple Juice

Two thumbs from all three of us.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This Moment

This moment} - A Friday 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. An idea from Soulmama.
Chop, chop, split, split, this moment and every moment.  It has been hovering around 0℉.  That is cold.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Moose and Trains

Yesterday there was a moose browsing on the willow trees in our yard.  Awhile later I heard a dog barking so I opened my front door and there he was.  He trudged out to the street once the dogs left him.  My neighbor was skiing down the road and called to me to call our other neighbor up the road because she was about to ski down the road towards the moose.  Kind of like whisper down the lane now isn't it.
Yeah the little guy is not so little anymore.
I set up his new train for him to wake up to this morning.  Oh so exciting!  December birthday's are challenging.  I like the idea of a 1 gift birthday.   I hope to always make this day special and to not have it blend into all the other holidays.
I do love this time of year.  I have to admit the Solstice is my favorite day of the year.  Welcoming back the sun can never come to soon for me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kazakhstan 101 continued

I am feeling so sentimental as my son approaches his 3rd birthday.  I have been going through old photos of our trip to his birthland and find myself thinking.... I want to go back.... right now.

Kazakhstan has amazing outdoor and indoor markets where you can buy just about anything.  This is where we would buy our nuts.  I know folks say watch what you eat when you travel, and we did.  We watched it go right in our mouth.  Aside from an inititial stomach flu, we survived and were healthy.  Compared to Alaska food was very inexpensive.
This is where we spent 3 months visiting our son.  We entered that door no less 100 times.  He first came to this baby house when he was 26 days old and stayed until he became our son at 19 months.
We took a 28 hour train ride to Southern Kazakshtan and went backcountry camping in Jabagely which is an amazing place.  Each train stop has local folks selling steaming hot meals.  And yes... we ate those too, straight from someone's house.  A no-no in the travelling books, but who can resist homemade dumplings?
We saw wild tulips which was one of my goals because Tulips actually originated in Kazakhstan not Holland.  They were so big and magical.
We ate lunch beside this wild apple tree in full bloom, and drank from the stream beside it, because as the book says Apples are From Kazakhstan.

We went backcountry camping in land where we only saw herdsman.  We saw a tornado form and felt a strange energy before it happened as if something were about to go wrong.  We ran from said tornado.

The people of Kazakhstan were so nice and inviting towards us.  Like this big man in a little car.  Jonathan and I found ourselves hitchhiking a lot.  Well, before we gained custody of our son anyway.
Kazakhstan has beautiful old structures like the Yasaui Mausoleum. The mausoleum was built in the 15 century by Temir.  He is somewhat of a cultural hero, but in the west he is looked at negatively more of an Attila the Hun.  There was a small mausoleum there for centuries that was a pilgrimage site for Sufi Muslims. It was neglected under the Soviets like most religious monuments, but after independence the Kazaks arranged a lot of international financing primarily from Turkey to fix it up.  While visiting the Mausoleum we were invited to attend a Surfi changing session.  We of course had to go, how could we miss an opportunity for such a cultural experience.  

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Completed Quilt #1, Kazakhstan 101

Oh joy, joy, joy!  I finished quilt #1 in time for Christmas.  It is going in the mail today sent with love.
I learned how to do the binding last night.  So glad I chose to do strip quilts for the first two quilts.  I hope to make major progress on my log cabin quilt over the holiday.

Last week we had an assessment for our toddler.  The woman assessing asked us, what are some things that are positive about him.  I started by saying, "His tempermant is perfect.  He is happy."  I then looked over at him and said..... "well really everything is wonderful about him."  My wonderful little man will be 3 next week.  In a little over a year he has learned so much, grown at least 2 years developmentally and continues to make me smile on a daily basis.

In honor of our son, who is just so amazing I am going to give you a tour of Kazakhstan, his country of birth, for the next few posts.

Kazakhstan is ranked as the ninth largest country in the world.  I find that to be incredible as we have had very few encounters with people who have any knowledge of this enormous country.  It is actually the world's largest landlocked country.  Kazakhstan declared itself and independent country on December 16, 1991.  It is said to be the home of the first domesticated horse, and thousands of year ago scientists say the first apple as we know them today appeared in the Tien Shen Mountains.

The Kazakhstan flag is fairly artistic.  The blue color stands for the "great sky" in which they lived under.  The center is a  a golden sun with 32 rays above a golden steppe eagle in flight. These two symbols stand for the freedom and high ideals of the Kazakh people.  Along the left edge is traditional Kazakh ornamentation.  Originally the edge design was in red, but it was switched to yellow so the flag would have only two colors.

The president of Kazakhstan is Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev.  Dmitrii loved looking at his president's picture in the baby house.  He would calm down when we would bring him up to it.  By the way, that hat, I called it the muffin man hat, was not our choice.  This was one of his outfits in the baby house.  He had lots of fun hats on during our months visiting him.

If this Kazkahstan 101 peaks your interest, I highly recommend the book Apples are From Kazakhstan.  Our library had it, yours might too.

If at any time you find yourself curious about adoption we have an adoption blog that is password protected that I would gladly share with you.  It tells of our time before, during (4 months in country) and a bit after.

To be continued.........

Thursday, December 2, 2010


This morning our homeschool group met at a families house to make healthy holiday treats to sell at a local bazaar.  Although I am the homeschool coordinator I was more of a student today.  The families in our group are very health aware.  The father of one of the families chose the recipes for the treats we made which were RAW and so super yummy.  Raw food is a new topic for me.  Our family eats healthy, but we do not focus on raw foods.  After tasting raw chocolate chip (not really chocolate chip) cookies cooked in the dehydrator and gluten free brownies I am hooked!!

It is 0 degrees.  That just seems wrong!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quilting and Creative Space

Our 720 sq. ft. is feeling very tight right now.  I was cleaning our bedroom/office/ creative space today and found the Aug.-Sept. issue of Where Women Create.  The beautiful photos in this publication must leave my house at once.  It is not because I don't enjoy the inspiring photos.  Don't get me wrong,  I love looking and learning about the creative women that grace the pages, but it leaves me feeling very crowded.  At this present moment, the space that we have is what we have, and dreaming too much about a larger space with a creative space is just not healthy.

Do you want this issue?  It is really eye candy at its best.  If so just leave me a note with your address and I will gladly mail it to you.

The hum of my sewing machine has been music to my ears lately.  Here is my latest quilt for my sister and brother in love.   The little guy is fascinated with the swirls and stars.  The connections that toddlers make between objects and real world, star patterns and stars in the sky is magical

I am going to attempt my first stitch in the ditch pattern on this quilt. The hour drive to purchase a waking foot for my machine is delaying progress a bit.  Sigh... advantages and disadvantages to living an hour away from the store.

My son's new beginning quilt is back from my ever so generous artist friend who quilted it for me.  All I need to do is add the border.  I am just in love with it.
I have been enjoying reading about all the creative endeavors of other bloggers.  The cooking, sewing, felting, ..... is just so inspiring.  Hoping to make a blogs I read link soon.  Soon is the key word.  Happy creating.

Friday, November 26, 2010

This Moment

{This moment} - A Friday 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. An idea from Soulmama.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Designer Trainers

I believe that living a natural life is about doing what you can, and not feeling so bad when a way of life does not fit yours.  I  swore that I would be a cloth diaper gal when we I became a mother.  We came home from Kazakhtan with our son and one of the first things I did was purchase cloth diapers.  The experience was interesting on many levels.  My son's legs are fairly lean. For some reason his cloth diapers tended to leak especially at night.  It was not from not changing him enough.  I think his bladder must be close to a 50 gallon barrel because I am not sure where all the urine came from.  I was working full time, daddy was home, and well, he just never go the hang of keeping up with the diapers. We tried for a few months, then did a hybrid of cloth and disposable, and then we just had to let it go.  I made peace with the fact that between working full time, all the medical that was needed when we returned with our son, and the leaking it was just not a good fit.

Now it is potty training time.  I went yesterday and purchased some cloth training diapers.  I am going to try again.  Who knew that there was a fashion industry around diaper patterns.
Last night.... well, again same problem.  I watched like a hawk, and the first pee of the night was a pajama soaker.  Does anyone have any insight on the cloth diaper use.  Is it possible that my son's Kazak. legs are just not as plump as these American made diapers require?

We are a sheet of ice here in AK.  School was cancelled for the past 3 days because the roads are so bad.  I braved the storm and made it to Anchorage for the little guy's appts.  

Thank you again my delightful cleats.  You make my world a better place.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

360° Of Bliss

I stepped out on our deck yesterday and looked around.  I sometimes forget just how beautiful it is here in our little town.  It was a crisp and somewhat clear day.   I took a 360 ° view with my camera.  Here is what surrounds our 720 sq. ft. house.

A small creek runs next to our house.  It is just about frozen right now, and when it thaws we go into working mode, digging a path for the runoff, and punching a hole so the water that flows on top of the ice actually goes through the culvert instead of in our crawl space.  We actually shovel a luge type path through our back field to connect with the creek.  It helps us not flood and the folks on the street behind us benefit as well.  Time to get strong!

This is the green space that lies next to our house.  If you look carefully trough the frozen trees you will see mountains.  Moose love to eat the willows in this field.
This is the view from our front steps.  Mountains, trees, a dirt road, and of course houses.

This is the view from the back deck.  This is the ski resort that is a few blocks from our house, and a really big, not too pretty blue house that is a rental that sits on the edge of our back field.  We are pretty low on snow right now, but the resort is making lots.  We are close enough to the hill that most mornings there is a dusting on our car from the snow makers.
Inside is a warm fire.  Notice the chain saw "warming" behind the fireplace, and the chain saw bag to the right of the child fence.  Some things I will never get used to, like having such a small house,  and no garage, causing our home to look like a garage at times.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ice Cleats

Ice cleats are an important part of every woman's (and man) life here in Alaska.  Between my husband and I we own about 6 pairs.  I like to have one in my car, one in the child stroller and a few in the house.

My favorite pair of ice cleats are my STABILicers.  They have velcro that straps around your ankle and over the toe. They have never failed me.  Not once.  Not even when my hyper husky would lunge like a maniac at other dogs, or when I put the speed on after seeing a moose up the road.    I highly recommend these.  I would not recommend them for jogging as the sole is a bit stiff, but they are so super sturdy and they work.

Stabilicers Original Ice Cleats

My husbands favorite pair of ice cleats are thesnow ice traction  : Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction SystemKahtoola MICORspikes.
He loves them because he can wear them with his running shoes and jog in the winter when it is super slick.  He has not lost this pair which to me is amazing because he always loses his cleats.  He likes to take them off and hang them on a tree to go hiking and come back for them later.  Weird huh!
Our toddler loves them because the chains rattle.

I also have had some ice cleats that I have not loved.  This ice cleat has a wire similar to a stretched out spring around the webbing on the foot.  I have lost about a 1/2 dozen of these.  They do not stay on your shoe and really do not offer enough traction for me.  Living on an ice sheet for so many months means you just can't mess around.

snow ice traction  : Yaktrax Walkers - Unisex
And then there are the pair I wore today.  They must have fallen off about 5 times so I finally just took them off and hoped my son's Charriot stroller would save me if needed.Due North Everyday Traction Aids at Cabela's
I would go as far as to call these whimpy.

Not sure what compelled me to write about ice cleats, but they are on my mind.  I have a pair that I received from my work that I have not tried yet.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I ❤ Emily Dickinson

There is Another Sky 
by Emily Dickinson
There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

Emily Dickinson rocks my world.  I needed some words to remind me that although the long winter is here, there will be green in just 6 very long months.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lots and Lots of Snow

It snowed Sunday night.  I had no idea that it was coming.
But come it did.  I was shoveling at 7:30am and again at 6pm.  I think we got over a foot overnight and then it snowed all day long.  I woke up sore only to find new snow and have to shovel more.  Hubby shoveled too, but he works in town (hr away) so in order to get out of the driveway I had to motivate my weary muscles.
The ski resort has gotten a total of 100" this year.  So glad I am not shoveling that hill.  The little guy is going to hit the slopes this year which means I need to refresh myself on how to ski.  If you live in a warm climate please send me some sun in a box.