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Monday, December 20, 2010

facebook withdrawls....

I haven't properly been on Facebook since, like Thursday of last week. This is not my doing, but for some reason, it loaded fine Friday morning, but we were in a rush to get Hubby to the airport for work, and when I got home later that afternoon, it wouldn't load properly and I haven't been able to get it to behave itself all weekend. It is hitting me pretty hard.. all my long distance friends are there, some I don't even have proper email or regular mail addresses for. It's the week before Christmas and so much is going on that I want to read about or share with friends and family (not to mention it's about my only means of contact at present with my 2 youngest step daughters..) and it's driving me crazy. I've been trying to get the spare laptop to let me on, but so far, no luck there. I'm about to go drag out the kids' computers (They usually get shuttered when they aren't here) and try them.
Meanwhile, if any of my friends from there are checking in.. I'm not ignoring everyone, I'm just locked out :( hoping I can find my "keys" soon. I know they were doing updates again recently and suspect I might be a "randomly effected account" in some mess up from that.. problem is, I can't even get to the part of their pages to complain about it... sheesh..

otherwise.. Merry Christmas!! Happy New Year!! Happy Holidays in general!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thanksgiving and etc...

I have been meaning to post about Thanksgiving, but other things keep happening and I just haven't gotten around to it yet.
Our clever original plan was for Bailey to host the festivities on Saturday. She and her sisters would be going to their grandparent's for Thursday. The younger girls got in Wednesday evening and their father wasn't going to be home until Friday afternoon, so we were going to have our stuff on Saturday. This also worked well because Saturday was the grand baby's 3rd birthday. Then, of course, things happened and with about a week's notice, we had to move things back to our house and for later in the day. (The father of one of Bailey's friends had passed away and the funeral service was set for the same time Saturday.) So lots of hectic cleaning and moving of stuff occurred here to make enough room for the big group we were expecting to have. We had moved out of our master bedroom the month before so we could get ready for some remodeling, so it was hastily turned into a dining room.
Things eventually turned out quite well. Bailey and I split up the cooking duties, though, with her being at the funeral, I wound up with most of it, which is fine, since usually I do it all. (This is the first year she's been up here.) We had more then enough food and no one went away hungry. Not everyone was able to make it, their grandparents and aunt/uncle and cousins were all out sick, so we only had 8 instead of 14 people there, but it was a fun time. After dinner we had presents for the birthday girl, as well as Christmas presents for the younger step daughters since they won't be here for that. Then everyone went into the living room and played games.
Next year, who know what we will be doing. The younger girls won't be here, but hopefully Bailey will have her own house by then and maybe she'll get to host the day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Prep: Jams

So, as part of my preparation for the holidays this year, this week I am making jam. Had intended to start earlier in the week, but, well, life happened, so I'm really just getting started today. Earlier in the year, I mentioned making Watermelon Jelly/jam. Today, thanks to the miracle of the freezer, I am doing so again. Last August we bought 2 watermelons, intending to eat one and turn the other into jam, well, we wound up eating only about half of one and the rest of it all got pureed and tossed in the freezer. (I did pre-measure it all so I know each bag will do a double batch.)
Today I pulled it all out and am making the jam. Some of it will be distributed in our yearly Christmas Gift baskets, cuz it's just cool enough and different enough to make a great addition, plus it's nice to have that little flavor of summer while buried under the cold and snow here in Alaska.
Tomorrow will likely see the strawberry and mixed fruit batches, but today I wanted to share the Watermelon Recipe I found and liked so much.

First, you will need watermelon puree. Just cube and seed a watermelon, run it thru the blender a bit til it's a nice smooth puree.
For 1 batch:
2 cups watermelon puree
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 1/2 c sugar
1 pkg pectin, dry

Mix the watermelon and the lemon juice. Add pectin + 1/4 c sugar. bring to boil, add remaining sugar and return to boil. boil for about 1 minute then bottle and process as you would any other jam.
I have also seen an almost identical recipe that said to add all the sugar first, bring to boil and then add the pectin. I haven't tried that version, so not sure what difference that might make.

I've gotten the first double batch done. Have to say, it's not quite as good as the batch I made this summer, when the watermelon was fresh. It's been in my freezer since August, though it could have also just been a less flavorful watermelon then the one we used for the first trial batch back in July. Though I have to admit, I didn't really let it cool before trying. 4 more double batches to go.. a batch only makes about 4 half pints though.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Recipe Time: Tomato Bacon Soup

Ok, so Tom came home this hitch and wanted me to try making Tomato Bacon Soup. He'd had something similar up at work and thought it was good and something I should add to the menu rotation if we could figure it out. And with snow now, finally, falling, a nice warming soup is good and would make a change to the usual stews and chilis.
Well, we succeeded and he loves it, so figured I'd better a) get the recipe down while I could remember it and b) share it with the world.

So, here's what went in to it (though I can't be 100% on amounts as I really didn't measure it..)

1 can (large, but not huge family size type) Crushed Tomatoes in juice
1 can (regular) Italian style diced tomatoes (the kind with basil, garlic and oregano)
4 fresh tomatoes chopped, seeds, juice and all
6 green onions
a bit of green bell pepper
a couple sprigs of fresh thyme (cuz I had it, if you don't have it you can use dried)

6 strips of thick cut pork bacon
6 strips turkey bacon

So, put everything except the bacon in a pot and let bubble and boil til it all cooks down nicely. Run that all through the blender to puree it good and smooth.

I then split it into 2 batches (I am on a low salt diet and don't really like pork much, so I did the turkey version for me and pork for him. You are free to do as you want.) and then started frying up the bacon. I chopped it all up into small pieces and fried it til just crisp then added it and the fats to the soup. Stir well. I then let it sit until dinner time (about an hour and a half or so) then reheated to eating temperatures and served with garlic bread. It is good. I would probably add a bit more onion and bell pepper and maybe some mushrooms to it next time, but hubby thinks it's perfect the way it is. This is definitely going to be something we add to the regular monthly menu.

Monday, October 18, 2010

food storage!

Ok, so, I can't remember if I've mentioned this here or not, but, our oven doesn't work. It stopped working properly this past spring. We will eventually get a new one, but, there always seems to be more important things to spend the money on. The stop top works just fine, and I bought a huge toaster oven to tide us over and between that, the electric roaster pan and the crock pots, I've found that, for most things, I don't really need the oven. (Though it's certainly easier to have one, and we will still be getting a new one, eventually, but we're waiting until after the big contract switch with hubby's employment..)
Anyway, so I've been wanting and needing to play around more with the crock pot and also working more on usable food storage recipes. Especially now that it's getting colder, nice hot meals are going to be welcome, and while we're trying to hoard money for various things (riding out any employment pauses between contracts, that new stove, home repairs we've still got to do, and all those adoption costs we've still got to deal with...)I figure now is a good time to use up some of the many food storage items we have in the basement. Always need to rotate that stuff anyway, and even better if you know how to use it. The wheat might be difficult since we still don't have a mill (another thing we're saving for..) but I might be able to come up with something there with enough poking around.. :)

Anyway, my first attempt was making beef stroganoff. The hamburger helper variety is a family favorite, but I wanted to try making my own. I think it could still use a little tweaking, but I've gotten a good starting point worked out. I've tried this with both noodles and rice and it was good with either.
1 can cream of mushroom soup mix it with only half a can of liquid if you want the sauce thicker.
1/2 lb ground beef, ground soy, or tvp. I used ground beef since I had it available, but this would work with any other ground meat or meat substitute. I need to dehydrate some meat one of these days and try it with that. It should work just fine. Use what ever you have and like.
big dollop of sour cream
mix them all together, heat, serve over the noodle or rice. Personally, I think it could use a little more seasoning, but I've always been one who likes lots of herbs, spices, etc.. so I will have to wait and make it when someone else is home for a better take on that.

Today I am making slow cooker stew. I forgot to take the stew meat out of the freezer yesterday, so made a last minute decision to make it a meatless stew and threw in assorted soup beans instead. Really basic stew. Onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots, green beans, the assorted soup beans and lentils, beef broth and a little pepper and Mrs Dash seasoning. I don't use salt if I can avoid it due to issues with my blood pressure so I try to keep as low sodium as I can.. Since this batch is for this week, I also added 2 small bay leaves and a few sprigs of thyme. No one will be here except me this week, so I can get away with it. (Hubby hates thyme...) Might add a few other herbs as it develops through out the day.

Hubby has mentioned that apples are on sale at a good price at one of the local stores, so I might be going out to pick some of those up later today. If this is true, I will likely be making apple sauce later this week, perhaps even making some apple pie filling and doing some more bottling. I've not bottled apple sauce or pie filling before, so that will be a fun new challenge. I've still got to do jams here sometime soon as well. Can't wait to do more watermelon jam and I'll also be doing some mixed fruits, maybe some strawberry and peach as well.. (I can't quite remember what all is down in the freezer waiting at the moment..) I've been waiting for it to get colder before doing the jams, since it's a nice way to heat the house as well. :) But the weather keeps not cooperating and we still haven't had any snow yet. Very disappointing that is.. it will be here soon though.

I did get over 4 dozen pints of pickles done though. (A dozen of those have already been claimed and left the house... the perils of adult children living nearby.. and their friends.. heh..) and did a few small bottles of jalapenos as well. So we should be well and truly pickled for the coming year.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

pre-winter storms...

Well, winter will soon be arriving here in Alaska. How do I know this? The pre-winter storms have started. Thursday night the wind started. Friday we woke up to continued wind (according to reports, 50 mph with gusts of up to 100) and to find that half of one of the trees in the back yard had broken and fallen over. Not much of a surprise for this poor tree. We had tried to support it, but, years before we bought the place, someone had tied it and forgotten. Over the years the wire had cut in as the tree tried to grow around it. It has lost bits in the past, either through winds or though pruning we've done to try to save the tree. We don't know if it will survive the most recent damage. We will try to repair it for the winter and see how it does next year, but this might have been the last straw for it and we might have to cut it down.
As if the winds weren't enough fun, Friday also saw Tom heading back up to work, so no, he didn't have time to deal with the tree, so I will get to do that later this week. (hoping to get the son in law to do most of it, actually...) Then Saturday morning, at 4 AM, I got woken up by an earthquake. Felt pretty big, but, after listening to make sure it didn't wake up the grandbaby who was staying over, I, and everyone else in the state, rolled over and went back to sleep. Turns out it was a 5.4 centered about 89 miles north of here. I know, to those of you use to California quakes, that sounds huge. Up here, they are generally so deep that, while things get shaken up a bit, there's rarely much, if any damage, cept maybe to knickknacks.. I spent most of Saturday cleaning the last of the garden stuff off the back porch. One or two things still to take care of in the yard and things should be ready to go for the winter.
And today I discovered that my bell pepper plant that has been kept in the house with the tomatoes, is infested with spider mites... *sigh* So far it doesn't look like they've spread to any of the other plants and it is now in isolation in an attempt to save it. I've gotten 2 peppers off of it so far this year, and it has several more in development, and, darn it, I want those peppers! This is the first year I've gotten one to actually produce viable fruit and I want em!
Probably the hardest storm was today at Church though. I was running late and arrived just in time to hear someone talking about how important it is to have kids while you're young enough to keep up with them, not when you're older and tired. That kinda stung, but I could deal with it. I know that these people have no clue of the heartache I deal with because of infertility and I know I wasn't their intended audience even if I was in the audience. But then, class was all about the importance of teaching in the home and our roles as mothers. Ok, twist that knife a little more.. I was able to participate without too much problem, but by the end, I was really feeling that, although I know the role and have been granted a small, part time part, I still feel as if someone out there is saying that I'm not worthy enough for a full time gig. And it hurts, it hurts so badly. Tom always jokes and tells me that I didn't need the practice and that I'm one of nature's grandmothers, and I adore the grand daughter, but, darn it, I want to be Mommy! I'm tired of waiting, of finally getting started on adoption paperwork only to have something new pop up to put things on hold again. Why can't my body just work for once!?!
On the way home from Church today, there were tiny little snow flurries. They left no trace and were soon gone.
Yup, winter will be here soon.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

nearly a month...

oops.. has been a busy month and I just never got around to posting much..
The girls have both gone back down to their mom's for the school year. I had a bit of a nasty cold/allergies. Bailey and Caleb went back to Washington for a week for his brother's wedding, so I've got the grand baby for the week again. We've been having fun, watching movies, coloring, play-doh, chasing the dogs, and working on potty training. She's actually doing pretty well with that, though still hasn't managed to poop in the potty yet while she's been here. She has done very well with peeing in the potty (except when she's asleep, of course)
In other news, I'm also working on re arranging the house so we can try to do some minor remodeling over the winter, which involves moving the girls downstairs and moving us into their room so we can tear our bathroom and bedroom apart and get them all fixed up, updated and get proper water rated dry wall up.. (If you remember the mess last February, we're pretty sure the other bathrooms need to be taken care of before they get bad, too..)
Should be an interesting winter.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Crazy week

Well this last week has been a crazy one. Fun, but crazy...
My in-laws were up for the week, both sister-in-laws, a niece and grand nephew. They rented a house for a week, so we didn't have to cram everyone in here, but it was still a very crazy time. We had a lot of fun though, and so did they. They went on a glacier cruise and drove up to Denali National Park, though they didn't see any wild moose or bears, which they were disappointed by. Not sure where all the wildlife was, but they didn't get to see much of it, just some smaller animals or those at the reindeer farm.
I didn't get to go up to Denali with everyone (Well, hubby didn't get to do either, he was at Drill..) because after a little over a year of super high doses of Iron, I started showing signs of iron toxicity. Was not a fun weekend for me, and things cleared up as soon as I stopped taking the iron. I will need to go see my doctor here soon and get everything evaluated to make sure nothing has gone screwy with my liver function now (I asked them about the high dosage several times and they kept telling me not to worry... ) but first I need to get everything settled back down here at home :) and I still have a ton of blueberries and watermelon that I need to make jam and syrup with...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grandbaby gone...

Well, they got back from their road trip to retrieve car and belongings on Saturday afternoon. So grand baby is back in the care of mommy and I am left without a little one to take care of.. It was only a week, but, darn it, I miss having her around. We just got her on a great schedule (her mom hadn't been able to manage that yet, but then, things have been hectic and crazy...) so mom is going to try to keep her on it, she was surprised I managed it so quickly and with so little fussing..
We seriously need a little one around here on a permanent basis. The tax information I had sent off for 3 weeks ago finally showed up, so we should be able to finish up the paperwork for the adoption here soon, though not sure how much time I will have for that this week. Hubby's sisters and niece and nephew will be arriving Tuesday night and be here for a week, so we might be busy, but I'm going to do my best.
I've already been busy this weekend. Made cheese Thursday, blueberry jam yesterday, blueberry syrup today. Thinking of doing another batch of jam tomorrow (have more then enough berries..) and also thinking of doing a batch of watermelon jelly. Plus I need to make more butter, and probably another batch or two of cheese for everyone while they're here. Oh yeah, and it would be nice if I could get the house cleaned up a bit, do some laundry, etc...
busy, busy, busy...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Toddler invasion week!

This week we have the grand daughter here all week. Her dad is up at work on the slope (so is my hubby...) and her mom has gone back down to Washington to get some more of their stuff and their car. So G has been left with us for about a week. Mommy left yesterday, but so far, things are going pretty well. This is the longest she's been away from mommy ever so far, and we're only just past 24 hours.
She went to Church with us this morning and surprised us all by behaving even better then her older aunts did. :) She had lots of fun in Nursery Class, singing songs and playing with other kids her age. She really liked the sit and spin, too, so we might have to see about getting her one :)
We are looking forward to this, though a bit anxious as well. We're hoping there won't be too many melt downs this week, but so far things seem to be going well. We should have lots of fun and I see it as practice. With any luck we will have a little one in the next year or two and will get to go through all of this with him or her, so this is good practice for me as the steps were all older when I came into the picture, and lived too far away to be involved with my nieces at this stage.
Shall see how well we all survive the week! :)
(Just have to keep the "aunties" from cross parenting... heh... they kept trying to get her riled up at Church, the stinkers...)

Friday, July 09, 2010

More crazy kitchen fun...

Thursday afternoon my step daughters all went out and picked some early fireweed blossoms and brought them home. We rinsed them off really well and got all the buggies out then put them in a pot with some water boiled and strained them then my oldest step daughter (she's 23..) made Fireweed Jelly! It was the first time she'd ever made jelly. She watched and helped me make jams a year or two ago while visiting, so this time it was her turn to make (I just hung around and supervised if there were any questions or an extra set of hands were needed...)
It turned out really well. She got 8 tiny little jars to give away and one larger jar and a bit extra for us. We will most assuredly be making more once the flowers have a chance to bloom more. I'd not tried it before, though it's one of those little "Alaskan" treats that all the tourists seek out.. so it's past time for me to have given a try. Quite liked it though will have to get the kids to do all the flower picking as my allergies would make that a very non-fun experience.
So now that we've made butter this week (poured cream into my Bosch mixer and let it go til we had butter...) and jam, I suppose it's time I made bread this weekend to go with it all! lol
I also managed to do the big freezer inventory, which was long overdue. Got that cleaned out, sorted and found some things I'd long since forgotten about. Also found some fruit in there so I'll be making more jams later this summer as well, though that might wait til September when it cools down and I have more time and fewer distractions.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Japanese cooking..

So this past weekend we decided to try some Japanese cooking. Have done a bit of Chinese - stir fry and eggrolls/wontons mostly, but wanted to try something a bit different. So, we got some cookbooks from the library and found a recipe we thought we could try. Sunday night we make Sukiyaki.. and it was soo good. We are totally going to have to make it again. It was pretty easy too. We are definately going to be doing more experimental Japanese cooking.
meanwhile, here's the recipe we used with a few comments.


1-1.5 lb beef, thinly sliced
1 lb mushrooms, button and enokitake
10 oz firm or extra firm tofu, cubed (@ 1 inch size)
1 bunch scallions cut into 2 inch sections, quartered if large
1 can oz shirataki noodles (I couldn't find any so we used mung bean noodles instead)
a bit of oil for cooking.

Other things you can use : pea pods, regular onion, baby bok choy-chopped

For the sauce: You can buy Sukiyake sauce (should be near the soy sauce and such..) or you can make some by combining 1 cup of Soy Sauce with 1.5 cups of water and 3 tbsp of sugar.
If you are making the sauce, combine the ingredients in a saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar.

A cast iron pan would work best if you have one, if not, it's not the end of the world :)

Put a little oil in the bottom of the pan and saute the beef. (I added a little sauce as well to season the beef more...) Once you're done with the beef, remove it and set aside while you saute the veggies. I did each ingredient separately and set all aside til they were all done. For the noodles, prepare as per the package directions to precook them.
Once everything is done, return it all to the pan and pour sauce over all, let simmer for about 10 minutes to heat all through and get the flavor combined.

Serve with warm rice. :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Life.. most exciting when least wanted..

well, life around here just keeps trying to be exciting... not sure I like that.

Back on the 13th, Tom decided to take advantage of a small break in the cold rainy weather and go out for a short, relaxing spin on his motorcycle. about 20 minutes or so later, he called, needing me to hitch up the trailer and come get him. He'd gone off the road, into a ditch, the bike flipped and sent him flying. Luckily he wasn't hurt because he was wearing all his gear. This is especially important because he landed on his head before rolling and bouncing around. How he managed not to break anything we don't know. we're just grateful for it. Bike took most of the hit and even that's not too bad according to the shop guys. Just enough to use up the deductible but not enough to be worth talking to the insurance company. So he will be slowly putting that back together piece by piece.

The girls got here Friday, so house is full again. The 16 yr old is at girls camp all this week though, and her Tom went up last night and all of today to be the "token" priesthood holder for the day. He should be back home in a few hours though.

Sunday morning we woke up to find the basement had flooded again.. no apparent reason this time. We have no idea what is going on. Starting to think the little old man who built the place had some sort of contract where it has to flood at least once a year or something.. But we got it all mopped up fairly quickly, and the girls made muffins for Father's day breakfast, then made dinner that evening.

A week ago my brother announced that they were expecting their 4th child, and about 3 months along, but Sunday they found out that she'd miscarried, so we're all trying to help them deal with that. It's hard. I know enough from my battles with infertility how easy it is for well meaning people to say something that is completely the wrong thing to say because while it may seem "helpful," to the person hearing it it's like twisting the dagger. I've been sending them some links to some miscarriage support pages and articles about how it's ok for them to have all the emotions and pain they are going to have. While most of us in the family have only known about this baby for a week, for them it was years of waiting and hoping and expectation and 3 months of "hey, we're having a baby.." There has been a death in the family even if most of the family doesn't realize it.

Personally, I'm trying to avoid cottonwood fluff.. it's out in full force right now and I hate it.. it is pretty and looks like big fluffy snow.. but it is terrible stuff for allergies.. and I want to be out pottering around in my garden bed, which is doing really well this year, so it's hard. Today I decided to stay indoors and finally go through my pots and pans. I got a new set about a month or two ago but have never had the time to sit and weed out the ones that need to go. Finally got that done today and now there is room, the door actually closes all the way and everything... Even got one of the other cupboards sorted a little and made room on one of the book cases in the living room for a bunch of parenting books I had ordered that came in the mail today. (And I got them for FREE!! Being in the military does have some benefits!)

Speaking of parenting, today, in the mail, we got the paperwork from the agency we're going to try adopting through, so now we've got to sit and go though all of that, dig out all the info they want, do the background checks, etc... and figure out where we'll come up with all the money :) I was starting to print out the requests for copies of our tax records from the IRS, but my printer is out of ink, so will have to wait and do that later. I was just so anxious to get started!

Monday, June 14, 2010


"Hi, uhm, I need you to come pick me up. Bring the trailer,"
Those were words I heard last night. Words I'd hoped to never hear. Hubby went out for a "relaxing ride" last night on his motorcycle. It was a route he's taken many many times. But last night, something different happened. He somehow found himself going off the side of the road and onto a soft shoulder which then dumped him in the ditch. He went flying one direction and his bike went another. Thankfully he was wearing all his gear and he was not seriously injured. He has scraped and bruised, is stiff and sore, but he will be fine.
His bike, however, took a lot of damage. We're going to have it looked at in a few days and find out just how bad. The front end took most of the damage, all the plastic/fiberglass bits are busted up front and the handlebars are mangled a bit. It still moves well, so there's hope :) But the handlebars were pushed back so we couldn't get the keys out, so we disconnected the battery and got it all covered over with a tarp for now. We'll wait and see how bad things are. Hopefully it won't be too bad. We haven't paid this one off yet :) (We had an agreement, he's not allowed to bust em til they're paid for... heh..)
But as much as I'm going to have to tease him about this for a while, I am very grateful that he wasn't injured. He was in a wooded area and could easily have been badly hurt. He wasn't, and that makes the rest of it OK to deal with.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Update on depression

*hugs* and thanks to all my friends who have talked to me about this. Figured I'd go ahead and update how things are going for me.
Most days I'm perfectly fine. I'm pretty much just getting physical symptoms and not too many of the emotional ones. Most days I don't even have too many of those, at least not at any level that interferes with daily life. I know how lucky I am in this. I know that depression can be really rotten and part of me feels I shouldn't even be using the word to describe what I'm dealing with because I'm not really that bad off, and I don't want people to think that depression is a "light" thing.
But until a better term is created, I have to use it. Anyway, as said, most days I'm fine. If I have any "emotional" problems, it's really more along the lines of being overly tired and emotionally "blah," disconnected a little and unmotivated. Mostly though it's physical. I ache, I get tired. I've gotten somewhat use to some pains, since my car accident I usually have pain in my lower back and hips, I've gotten use to that, but on my "bad" days that pain, even at it's worse, isn't much of anything compared to the pain I get in the rest of my body. And the headaches aren't much fun either.
Today started as a good day, but has slowly devolved into a not so good day.. still not bad enough to be a "bad" day, but it really could be better. But, I have many more good days then I have bad days. And, like I said, this is pretty much situational, part of the coping process of dealing with everything that went down last year. It's never easy to come to terms with that fact that you could have died, but I'm getting there, and I am getting better.
But thanks all. It's very nice to know I've got support out there.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Recipe time..

Ok. so some friends are trying to convince one of our other friends to start a recipe blog. This got me thinking that maybe I should post more recipes once in a while. I know I posted some for St Patrick's day but haven't really posted any others. I don't have many fancy summer recipes, but I know that many of us are on tight budgets, and that, often, we are also called upon to provide some sort of meal (usually winds up a casserole) for others once in a while..
So, I figured I'd present one of my casserole recipes. This is one that really, I came up with when faced with a bunch of left over vegetables and pasta in the fridge and no ideas for what to do with them. It's pretty simple and can be adapted to things you have on hand, things your family likes, and the number of people you need to be able to feed.
I started with a large bowl of pre-made macaroni, but you can use pretty much any noodle shape. (We have done this since with spaghetti.)
To this I added a bunch of left over veggies. At that time I believe I had some grilled asparagus, bell peppers, peas, carrots, mushroom, onions. You can use whatever you have, fresh or frozen, this recipe doesn't mind. Use whatever your kids (or husband) will eat :) I also usually add some ground beef or ground turkey, browned and drained if I have it on hand. You can also use the fake-beef soy crumbles. We use those in a lot of things and none of the kids, or hubby notices.
Then comes the can (or two depending on how much you are making) of the cream of whatever soup... You can use mushroom, celery or chicken, doesn't matter, again, it's a matter of personal preference. Mix that up with as much liquid as needed to get to a nice thick consistency, but thin enough to work everything into. Mixes those together, working in a hand full or two of shredded cheese. I use mostly mozzerella, but you can use what you like or have on hand.
Dump this all into a baking dish, spread more cheese on top, add a little pepper or other seasonings to preference, and bake at 350 until everything is warm, the cheese is melted and brown and the whole thing is yummy. Usually only takes about 20 minutes but your oven may vary.
Serve with a salad and maybe some garlic bread and enjoy. It's a great way to use up all the odd and end left over veggies piled up in the back of the fridge at the end of the week.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

I am flabbergasted,....

Truly I am..
We needed to email one of my step-daughter's teachers. She lives with her mom and goes to school in a different state, but she had something come up with the school that would interfere with her summer visit with us, so we wanted some clarification and just needed to send off a quick email for details.
I asked her (16 years old now mind you..) for the address. She texted me back that the address (changed to protect the innocent) was smith.suzzie. That was it, nothing more. I wrote back asking for the rest of the address and she told me there was no more. If I simply put that in, it would get to her.
I have no idea where we went wrong. Do kids these days really not understand how email works?? They use it every day of their lives and don't really have a clue about it???
I have tried to explain to her via text this morning that, yes, that will work for her from within the school's server system, but that for me, from way outside their closed system, that won't work. She isn't getting it. She keeps telling me that it will work. Luckily, I'm smart enough that, now that I have the teacher's name, I can go to her school's website and get the rest of the information, but I foresee a nice long conversation this summer about how email and the internet in general really actually work...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


I've been having a few problems lately so popped over to webMD.. I can cause myself so very much trouble over there.. but, at the same time, it has helped me in the past, so I went again. I've been having minor memory lapses and trouble sleeping and been a bit more clumsy then usual and all and, due to some things I'd been reading and seeing on TV, I was starting to worry I might have some sort of neurological problem..
Scary thought, but, given my family history, not entirely out of the question.. So I wanted to see what they might have to say before I started calling doctors in a panic :)
Based on what I plinked out in the symptom checker, and eliminating the obviously non applicable.. the 2 that stood out as likely candidates were MS (also a real concern, my mom has it, so that could raise my odds..) or Depression.....
Depression is such a big scary word anymore, but one I'd been down before a time or two so I was happy to see it there, and, really, it makes sense. I'm finally getting the chance right now to process all of everything that went on last year. All that stress and fear has finally been released and is screwing with me now. All the fears and stress of Tom's separation during his deployment, even though it was to a "safe" zone. All the stress of having to deal with the reoccurring basement floods, the busted water heater, the broken septic line. The worry over how to pay for everything that kept going wrong. All the stress and fear over all my own health problems last year. The realization that I kept putting off and blocking out, that yes, I really could have died last year if we hadn't caught everything when we did, and even then, it was a close call. Even the happy stress of his homecoming, and the kids coming for Christmas, and the older kids moving home and bringing the grand baby.. All of it has taken a toll and it got put on lay a way.. but now it has all come due and is hitting me like a ton of bricks.
It will pass. Now that I am once again reassured by WebMD that it is most likely just depression and not the end of the world (though if things don't improve in the next month, there may still be panicked calls to doctors..). As mentioned, I've been through this before.. Way back when in college, I had a really bad year. I'd been under a good deal of stress anyway, and then people started dying. A cousin was killed in a car accident, 2 friends each lost their mothers, several other more distant relatives passed away, and one of our dogs died. At some point I just got to where I couldn't deal with it anymore and had to take some time off from school. I tried antidepressants at that time, and really decided that they didn't work for me. I didn't feel any better, I just felt numb. So I didn't take them. I just went on. I worked through the grief, through the pain, and learned how to move on.
I'm better at that now. It may be hard at times, but I will manage, always do :) The fact that my mind has decided that now is the time I can handle this process means that life is pretty much back to what passes for normal around here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


they are bound and determined to drive me crazy...
Last weekend Gobo broke out in a bad case of the itches. He seems to have a bad reaction to bug bites. Not sure if it was mosquitoes or if a bee/wasp got him, but he wasn't doing well. He scratched and chewed himself raw in a few spots. We dealt with it and he is doing much better, though is likely to stay shaved down and in pj's for a while while everything heals up.
This weekend, being a holiday to boot.. Willow decided that it was her turn to have some fun. I gave them some treats to distract them while I went around putting fertilizer spikes out for the veggies. The ones in the garden were fine, but there were a few pots of tomatoes on the back porch. She decided that I must have buried treats for her and dug one of them up and ate it.. I managed to stop her before she got more of them (she thought they were delicious..) and luckily they were organic spikes and non toxic, but I still had to keep an eye on her. She threw up a few hours alter and left some messes over night. All to be expected, and thankful it wasn't much worse. She's all back to trouble making normal now.
Just hoping there will be a nice long break before the next dog related excitement...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why is it always weekends??

I was planning on trying to get a bunch of things done yesterday. It was warm and sunny, there were things I could do in the yard. We have a neighborhood meeting Tuesday night that I need to get paperwork ready for. I was trying to clean my desk and the kitchen. Laundry would have been nice to get done. Gotta start getting things ready for my step daughters to arrive in a month. Lots of things to do...
Nope. Instead we had a crisis. A small, furry crisis.

The big baby of the weekend has been our little 3 year old Pomeranian, Gobo. He was born with several birth defects and has had ongoing problems of one sort or another it seems. Last year he started having all sorts of skin problems and fevers. Vets couldn't figure out what was going on, because he'd always clear up the day before his appointment. We thought we'd figured out that he was having a food allergy, and after a few changes, she seemed to be all clear again. Yesterday something set him off and I discovered that he had chewed a large strip of fur and skin off his back. Not good. So I gave him a good shave and rubbed him down with some ointment and gave him some benedryl (vets had said it would help with the itching and fever) and put then he got all dressed in his little purple pj's to keep him from getting to it.
He was still all jumpy and itchy and the only thing that would calm him down was if I was holding him. So I spent most of yesterday with a little dog pouch strapped to my chest.
This was not the first time, and probably won't be the last time with him. I actually managed to get a few things done, (ok, I got my desk partially cleared and watched a bunch of Doctor Who online while he napped) so I was happy. Even though I didn't get all the things done that I'd really wanted to do, I simply can not feel as though I "wasted" a day being tied to the dog.
He is feeling better today and is currently napping on the other side of the room, though I suspect he will come over soon and want me to pick him up. Now that the swelling and redness have gone down, it looks like this round might have been due to some sort of bug bite or sting, which is much better then the other options for what might have caused it and it should start healing soon, though he will be in the pj's for a while.. (The bare patch is about 1 inch wide and nearly 3 inches long, so gonna have a big, itchy scab for a while..)
And yes, yes, he was named after Gobo Fraggle, though if people ask who are not familiar with our weird Muppet ways, we tell them it was a contraction of "good boy".. it just saves the headaches of trying to explain the entire history of Muppetdom.. and, honestly, that is kinds of how I got the idea for his name.. we couldn't decide which Muppet to name him after and once when I was telling him he was being a "good boy" it got kind of slurred into Gobo and it just kind of went from there.. though he's not much of a brave explorer... unless mommy's there to protect him. lol

Sunday, May 16, 2010


We got home just a little while ago from a 3 day workshop on adoption. I think that we are finally ready to move forward on this. There are a lot of apprehensions and fears, of course, but this workshop really helped work through a lot of those. I've been doing research into this for several years, but every time we thought we were at a place where we could start anything, something would always come up and put plans on hold. First it was our move and changes in Tom's employment, then my car accident, then Tom's deployment... It has been crazy making.. But we had this opportunity to go to this workshop this weekend and we jumped at it. If nothing else it got Tom up to speed.
There are still many things we have to decide and figure out, especially funding (anyone got about $15,000 I can have?? heh) But we will get it all sorted out. Next step will be setting up an interview with the case worker and getting all of our paperwork. That won't be for another month though as Tom will be doing his National Guard training this week (to make up for missing it this weekend for the workshop..) and then goes back up to work at the end of the week.. but, that will give us time to let all the info settle and decide how we want to proceed.
I am starting a separate blog just to cover our adoption journey, though things will likely get mentioned here as well. if anyone cares to follow it from here.
Sadly this weekend also saw a terrible, terrible sickness hit us this weekend, though Tom fared much better then I did - he didn't get all the vomiting, lucky stink.. We are getting better now, but it was not fun. Whatever we had seems to be what Bailey and Gaia had last weekend. We thought it might have been food poisoning for them, but this appears to confirm that it wasn't that... ah well, at least we all survived. Might have made us seem a bit anti social though.. we didn't want to spread this to anyone else if we didn't have to...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

recovery.. is this what normal people feel like?

I don't know why, but lately I've been noticing how different my life is then it use to be. About a year ago (March 2009) I went to see the doctor for some respiratory problems I'd been having. I thought at the time that they were related to the volcano that had gone off earlier, and really only went to seek help after I literally couldn't breath while at the chiropractor's. (Still occasionally go there after 2007's car accident.)
Anyway, when I walked in, they did the usual weight, height, blood pressure thing. And then they sat me down in a bit of a panic and tested for blood oxygen levels, which then seemed to panic them even more and they drew blood to test for iron levels immediately. I left that day with an appointment for more blood work, a prescription for blood pressure meds and some inhalers, and a seriously high dosage of iron.
My blood pressure was somewhere around 240/120.. level 4, super high stroke risk levels. My oxygen levels were bordering on my coming home with an oxygen tank, and apparently somewhere along the way, I've become seriously anemic.
After a summer of lots more testing at several specialists, it was determined that I have an enlarged heart, a murmur (no surprise on that one, my mom has one, too), and severe sleep apnea. The Apnea may be responsible for a lot of the other things that are wrong, so hoping that after a few years, if I'm careful and lucky, I might be allowed to come off some of the meds.
Back then I was sleeping for 10-12 hours a day, or more. I was always tired, never had energy for much of anything. It had all come on gradually, and some of it wasn't noticeable until after the car accident, and that was likely why it wasn't noticed sooner. After the accident there was lots of pain, my weight went up again due to the inability to move much and decline in my diet, and i really thought all of what was going on was a normal part of the whole "hey, your car was accordioned, be happy you weren't" experience of the accident recovery.
But this year, this year I am really seeing a difference. The sleep apnea may have been a problem for me for most of my life, it would explain a lot. Most days now I can get up around 6 in the morning and have no problem going all day til about 11 at night, and even then sometimes I'm just not tired enough to fall asleep right away. True, every once in a while I still feel like a short nap in the afternoon, but those are the rare instance now, not the norm. I have energy, I can do stuff in the morning and still have energy to do stuff in the afternoon and evening as well! This is new territory for me again. I vaguely remember being able to do that years ago, but it all seems so long ago now that I'd forgotten what "normal" was.
It's kind of like when I was in 5th grade and got glasses. I didn't know what it was like to actually see things before then. I thought the blurry, fuzzy world I'd always seen was what the world was like. I didn't know any better. Then I got glasses and the whole world opened up and became new and wondrous. It was great, and so is this.
I am sincerely grateful for this second chance to experience the world with vigor and energy that I've been given. I've always commented on how much of a miracle it was that I wasn't injured more in the accident. As bad and painful as it was (and still is at times) I know that it could have and, based on my x-rays maybe should have been, worse. But that visit to the doctor's last year was just as important. Without it, there is every chance that I wouldn't have made it to be here today, things were that wrong with me. But I am well on the mend now, just need to get the blasted weight back off.. :)

And I'm going to need all this energy. This week my oldest stepdaughter and the 2.5 year old grandbaby moved in with us! (The defacto SIL was already here, he came up and started working while she packed everything up) They will be with us until further notice while they save up to buy a house, and we're so excited to have them here. It will be good practice.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Down with TV.... (ok, not entirely.. just Cable..)

Well, we did it.. we once again are sans cable. (well, ok, Dish..) We went years without it then back in 2007 after my car accident hubby got it so I'd have something to help keep my mind off the pain and all. Was nice while it lasted, I got introduced to some cool shows, and now we are done with it again. When you have over 100 channels and there is maybe 5 shows on worth watching at all in the first place, it's time to dump it.
But there are still things we would like to see from time to time.. (Ok, I will admit it, I love the new Dr Who.. I haven't yet seen this new guy, but I've loved the first 4 seasons and am looking forward to more.. I also Like Eureka.. and Glee, and Bones.. and Castle, cuz, ya know.. my fav Browncoat and all... Sorry V, I'm trying, I really am, I loved the old one, love Morena.. but I really don't much care what happens every week...) Anyway. Where was I?? Oh yes.. so We are no subscribed to Netflix (love it!) and Hulu, between the 2 I can watch pretty much everything I want to.. Ok, some things I have to wait a while for, but I can deal with that. We did have to upgrade out internet service, but it comes out to about what we were paying for Dish.
We do still have over the air stuff, at least a few channels. Hubby's going to reconnect the big roof antenna when he gets home in a few weeks and hopefully that will give us a few more channels (CBS and fox are currently the main missing ones.. I'm missing NCIS right now, and that is sad for me.) And he might just use the excuse to mount a bigger one, in which he can "hide" his HAM radio antenna..
But we are happy, this gives a little more control over what sorts of programs and messages get brought into the house. yay!

and as for the cheese... well, first batch of mozzarella didn't turn out very much like mozzarella.. but it was still pretty good. Made a nice cheese spread. Is one hobby where, at least most of the time, even if things go wrong, you might still end up with something yummy... but main problem seemed to be that my digital thermometer didn't work like it should have.. hubby thinks he might have broke it a few weeks ago.. what he was doing shouldn't have been a problem, but, who knows, so am looking for a new one.. as well as a new dehydrator as that died this last weekend as well.. *sigh* would really like a nice big one like the sell at Cabellas, but there is no way we could afford it and the shipping to get it to Alaska.. hoping I can find a decent one like it up here somewhere.. otherwise it's going to be another cheap one that will likely burn out in a few years again.. wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Ok, so this month I've been working on getting seedlings going for the garden and other things to help us be at least a little self sufficient. seeds are all planted and most have sprouted and are doing well. we built a little greenhouse for our front window so i can get a lot more in there right now. will be building another one this weekend to put on the back porch and will take pictures of the process for that one for you. real simple though. works pretty much like the little ones they sell in the garden section at the local box stores, but much cheaper and sturdier.
Anyway, the other thing I've been working on is learning how to make my own cheese. I've done 2 small batches so far using the simplest recipe I could find online.
Basically it's just 2 cups of milk, 4 teaspoons of vinegar and a little salt. boil the milk, add the vinegar, strain, add the salt and chill.. voila, you have cheese. very basic, fairly bland.. but it's cheese.. so the second batch I did I used malt vinegar and added freshly ground pepper. Better.. am going to be working on several different mix ins and see what we come up with, though most of that will have to wait until hubby and/or the kids get back so I've got someone to eat up all this cheese. :)
Luckily this recipe doesn't make more then half a pound, if that, so it's good for playing with. This weekend or early next week I will be venturing into a more complex recipe and will be attempting mozzarella!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St Patrick's Day

So yesterday was St Patty's day.. It was a great excuse for me to do some really good cooking. In a few places I've mentioned the menu and had a bunch of people asking me for the recipes and/or amazed at how labor intensive it sounded. Here's the secret.. it's not as hard or as impressive as it sounds.. hehehe
it was all really quite simple and pretty easy. So, to show just how easy it is to cook a nice "proper" Irish meal for St Patty's day, I'm posting the whole lot, step by step.

First, a proper Irish Soda Bread... Now, if all you've ever had is the stuff they sell in the stores this time of year, with the raisins and whatnot.. then you've never really had proper soda bread. Your typical Irish peasant didn't have raisins and yeast, and wasn't going to waste good eggs on bread what doesn't need em...
Proper Irish Soda bread is very simple. If you can make baking powder biscuits (heck if you can make the "add water" kind of biscuits) then you can make this.

4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
14 ounces of buttermilk

In a large bowl combine all of your dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. (I do all if this in my mixer. Bosch or Kitchenaid with the dough hook, but wouldn't be too hard to do by hand.) Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead just enough to form a round, flat shape.
You can put this in a round greased cake pan, a large cookie sheet or stone. I have stones, so I use them for just about everything.
Cut a cross on the top of the dough (to let the fairies out)
Bake at 425 for about 45 minutes depending on your oven. It is suggested that the bread be covered for the first 30 minutes, but that is optional.
When the bread is done it will have a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

There are recipes out there that will give you measurements if you absolutely must have them, and there are many variations. Most of my cooking is done freestyle unless measurements are absolutely necessary, so this is what I did for last night's batch. (made about 4-6 servings)

4-5 potatoes, russets are best for this, or another mealy type. do not use waxy ones, they don't mash up proper.
1 bunch Kale
1 large dollop butter
handful of dried green onions
Fresh ground pepper
dash of salt

Ok, peal and chop potatoes into large chunks. I leave about half the peals on, but that is personal preference. Put into a large pot of water with a dash of salt and boil until potatoes are soft.
When potatoes are nearly done, set a second pot to boiling and add kale. You can also steam this if you prefer. DO NOT OVERCOOK. You just want to soften the leaves and get them to turn a nice vibrant green color. Drain kale and remove the large stem from the center of each leaf. Chop kale and set aside.
Drain potatoes and return to pot over low heat. Add dollop of butter and a little milk and/or buttermilk. (I like the extra flavor the buttermilk gives) Mash the potatoes to the consistency you like. Add in a handful of green onions (I used dehydrated cuz I had them - and yes, i did that myself too, again, not hard, and handy up here when you can't always get fresh stuff.. if you have fresh green onions available, use em! just chop finely) and freshly ground black pepper and fold in the kale.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

For this I did use a brisket cut, but feel free to use whatever cut you prefer or is on sale that week. Tough cuts are fine because they will have a long time to cook at low heat which will soften them up.

1 roast
1-2 turnips
6-8 carrots
1/4 onion
1 can low sodium reduced fat beef broth
pepper corns
green onions
bell pepper
garlic *

2 days in advance, place your roast in a large, sealable bowl or large bag along with the broth. I added the green onions and mushrooms to this as well. In my case, both were dried and powdered, but fresh would work just as well. this would also be a good time to add garlic, which I will admit, I completely forgot about this time.
Seal this all up and let marinate in the fridge for about 2 days.

Day of:

Place the roast and all the stuff from the bag into your slow cooker. Clean and chop your turnips and carrots into nice big chunks and add them as well. Add in your onion, bell peppers, more mushrooms if you like. Season with whole peppercorns.
Turn your slow cooker on low and leave for the day. If you haven't got all day you can cook on high. It will still take several hours, but will be worth it.
About an hour or so before it is done, Loosely chop some cabbage and add on top of roast. This doesn't take long to cook.

If you don't have a slow cooker, you can do all of this in a roaster in your oven (though I wouldn't recommend leaving the house for too long with the oven on...)
Just turn your oven down to about 250 and let it do it's thing. Times will vary depending on your oven, piece of meat, etc.

There ya go.. That wasn't too hard now was it? I know.. "Isn't corned beef traditional?" ok, yes it has become so, but a good pot roast with turnips and carrots was just as common, and because of some health concerns, I can't be having with all the vast amounts of salt in a proper corned beef, so this is my compromise.. If members of your household decide they don't like colcannon.. (I only make it when hubby's not home as he can't stand it.. weeds ruining perfectly good potatoes and all..) then skip that and just add some small potatoes (or cut up some large ones) to the roasted veggies.. though in that case I would say that you'd be better off with the waxy type instead of the mealy.. waxy (such as red or gold taties) hold together better for that sort of thing...

there ya go.. next year you can impress all your friends and relatives...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


This is a hard post. Our sweet little Pepe has passed.
Pepe was the first dog that Tom and I got after we were married. I was having a hard time dealing with the initial stages of infertility and desperately wanted a little pommeranian to absorb some of that. Would have settled for another small breed, but I got lucky and we got connected with a breeder who had one she was eager to "offload." Pepe had some problems when we got her, but we didn't care. The woman we got her from was not entirely upfront about her age or her medical condition, and getting her papers after the fact was like pulling teeth. (She had said she'd get us copies of vet records as well, but then later claimed that she never took her to the vet so there were no papers...) Anyway, we picked her up on 18 August 2003. We met her previous owner in a parking lot where she shoved her through her car window to us and told us that if there were any problems just call and she'd keep her in her garage in a cage for the winter. We vowed right then and there that there was no way "Baby," as she was called then, was going back unless there was a large pile of dead bodies over our dead bodies.
We brought her home and got a good look at her. She was scrawny, nearly hairless and covered in sores and raw patches of skin. Once we got the papers (eventually, several months later) we discovered that she was 3 years old, this was a good bit older then we'd been told (under a year) but we didn't care. We knew "Baby" was not her name. She didn't respond to it, had not connection with it, and really, it's a terrible name that everyone uses.. It was not for us and not for her.. So we started getting to know her and looking for a good name that she'd respond to.
But while we were doing that, there were other things to be done. At first, she was very wary of being touched. She would freeze up whenever anyone went to pet her. And she had a severe case of separation anxiety. It took us 6 months to deal with that and get her to understand that we were always coming back and she wouldn't be abandoned. She would bark and howl the entire time we were gone if she was left alone. We video taped it once to confirm. But we did get her comfortable with all of that and she went on to become utterly fearless...
But, back to her name. Because of her hairloss and her coloring, and her gradual diva-ness, she reminded us greatly of Pepe from the muppets. We had tried all sorts of names, trying to find something she would respond to right away. Pepe was the first name she took to, and it suited her perfectly, so she had her name. And she lived up to it.. She would also respond, later, to silly variations on it, but she was our little queen of the universe..
So next step was the Vet... We took her in soon after we got her to have her looked at. She was healthy except for her skin problems which could have been due to a number of things, some could be very bad, some could be easily dealt with. They ran some tests, all of which came back normal and said that they wanted us to try changing her foods as it could be as simple as an allergy, otherwise there were some more tests they'd run, but they wanted to try this first as it was easier and cheaper. Turns out it was a food allergy and once we got her on a simple Fish based diet, she started healing right up and eventually got all fluffy again. It took about a year and a half for her to really look like a "normal" pommie again, but she did.. we have the pictures to prove it!
She would occasionally have other flair ups and loose some of her hair again if she'd get treats or meds that had other animal proteins in them, but we tried to avoid those as much as we could. (which is hard, btw.. she couldn't have any animal protein that wasn't fish based.. and so many dog foods and treats, and don't get me started on the meds... have some component of chicken or beef in them...)
we have so many little stories about her from over the years. She was with us for 6 and a half years, and she was our darling.. she loved yogurt cups (before we knew what her food allergy was anyway, afterwards she wasn't allowed them..) and running off with the feather duster. She would go up to anyone on the street and demand that they fawn over her. She wasn't afraid of wheelchairs or canes or anything, she was perfectly safe around the youngest of children.. if she'd been able to pass the obedience part of the testing we'd have had her licensed as a therapy dog and been doing hospital and nursing home visits. She'd have been perfect and would have loved it to no end. She was the first of the dogs to get a voice.. Tom does it perfectly, slightly high pitched and spoiled, not too bright. She would tell us of her exploits in killing "antelopes" (small bugs) and the time she crawled into Tom's lunchbag trying toget to his sandwich, but couldn't chew through the plastic bag. She once hoarded a whole bag of halloween candy under the computer desk, but again, couldn't get through the plastic, so it was all safe. She loved to be under beds and would somehow manage to surround herself with a fortress of shoes.
She was more then just a dog, she was our baby. We used to joke that someday she'd grow up to be a "real girl," kinda like Pinocchio.

Sunday morning, I'd overslept (stupid daylight savings...) and was running late for church, but before I could worry about that I had to get Pepe's food ready.. She'd lost most of her teeth in the last few months and was now on wet food and was on heart pills as well, so first priority in the mornings is getting her fed and medicated (then worry about getting me fed and medicated..) the last few days she hadn't been eating much and I thought she had a cold or something and we were going to be going to the vet this week anyway, so didn't worry too much about it. Sunday, as I was trying to get her to eat, she appeared to have a small stroke. She seemed to recover a bit, but was still tired and confused. So I heal her for a little bit to help her calm down then put her in her basket to rest. I was concerned, and decided that Church was just going to be a miss that day in case she had another episode. Within the next hour, she was gone.
I have not handled it well. It has hit me very hard and I am still a bit of a mess now two days later. She was my baby and now she's gone.
I've put together a little photo album for her online and am linking to it here hope that works :)
I'm still trying to adjust to the changes in my morning and nightly routines now that I don't have her meds to see to. And the other dogs are still a bit subdued as well, we're all waiting for Pepe to come back. They've all tried out the basket, "her" basket, for short periods of time, but, so far, no one has claimed it yet. We will see if anyone does. It's the same basket Rocky had and passed away in as well a few years ago.
anyway, i'd better get off the computer and go do something before I start getting too maudlin, but i just needed to get this tribute page up while I could. She was loved, spoiled entirely rotten, and will be missed for a very long time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

adventures in unplanned remodeling

Ok, so a few weeks ago, the old dishwasher that came with the house decided it wasn't going to work well anymore and we ordered a new one. It came in and Monday we decided to install it. It was supposed to be fairly simple, though we were afraid of what might be lurking behind the old one. We had previously removed a washer and dryer from the kitchen (and put new ones downstairs in the basement laundry room where they should be..) and had not been pleased with what was found.
We live in what is basically and old farm house, without the farm, in semi-rural Alaska. There are a LOT of wild mice everywhere. It is extremely hard to keep them out of the house, especially since the old guy who built the place did lots of little screwy things and didn't always seal things up properly. We are trying to fix all of these as we go, and have most of the mouse traffic into the house confined to 2 areas, the basement entryway and the garage. We are working on those as well, but they are going to require some structural changes, so meanwhile, we cope as best we can.
Anyway, mice have had access to the house for pretty much it's entire existence back in the early 1980's, and they have made good use of the kitchen and they had been quite active behind the sink and dishwasher area, so we had expected there to be much scrubbing and some flooring issues to be dealt with. What we hadn't planned on was the mold. Luckily we had lots of bleach on hand to douse the wall with and the plastic over the insulation behind the wall had kept it from getting into the studs. We bleached everything good and put in some temporary measures to help prevent this from happening again, but we are going to have to do some serious demo and redo the entire kitchen at some point. And we still have no idea why there was mold behind where the trash compactor was. There was no steam, nothing that should have leaked over there, yet there the mold was, and the wall was falling apart back there, too... so we did some quick repair there.

Then we thought we were done. We started discussing other remodeling projects we wanted to work on next. There is a nice long list, and some of it needs to be done in the next few months if at all possible when my oldest step daughter and her family will be moving in with us for a while. She has a 2 year old so there are some things we would like to see taken care of before she gets here.
Then we open on this evening... Friday night, a little after 8 pm.. Hall bathroom shower. Ya lean against the wall a little while turning and, oh look, the wall just caved in... *sigh*
Little old man had used regular dry wall in the bathroom.. this does not work.. they make stuff for use in there and other moist areas that is waterproof and prevents mold.. he didn't use any of that, and after probably 20+ years (cuz the tile.. ooh.. old pattern, but i actually like it and we had found a way to make it work.. is going to be hard finding something it will work with now.. but I'm really hoping we can save some of the tiles...) anyway, after 20 years, the drywall just had disintegrated back behind the tile and there wasn't really any drywall left.. just mold and bits of cardboard...
so all other projects are on hold again while we take the bathroom apart and repair the mess that is in there... We were actually planning a bathroom remodel.. just not that bathroom.. makes me worry what we will find behind the master bathroom when we do actually get to it...
Please pray that we get through this project without being forced into 3 others.... :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

update.. late as usual...

Ok, so I was looking over posts and realized that I haven't updates this blog in a long while...

Well, Tom did make it home, about a week later. Yay!! They managed to get a plane and make it home safely and he was, in fact, home in time for Thanksgiving. (of which we had 3... dinners...)
And the girls came up for Christmas (another yay!) and we had snow and fun. We took a trip down to Seward the week after Christmas for a few days. That didn't turn out quite as fun as we had hoped, but it was still pretty enjoyable overall.
Tom has gone back to work and looks like he's got pretty stable worked lined up for a good while, so we shouldn't have to worry too much about making sure all the bills get paid and all :)
Today is actually our 7th wedding anniversary. Sadly, he's not home for it (sigh) but then that is becoming pretty common. Ah well, he will be back here in a few weeks and home for Valentine's Day and we will be attending a couple's retreat that weekend, hosted by the military, but, even better, the traveling Star Wars exhibit is going to be at the local museum during that time too (woot!) I know.. I am such a geek-ette... I am so looking forward to the "full scale replica of the Falcon's cockpit...
And in other news, Tom has been inspired that my health problems are finally on the mend enough that we can move forward (at long last!) with ours plans to adopt. So the next few months we will be getting started on that!!! yay!! So, if anyone has any suggestions or info that might be helpful for us up here in Alaska, we'd be very grateful. And if anyone knows of anyone looking to place, we'd love if you'd pass along our information :) we are more then willing to travel if needed.