November 28, 2008


Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We certainly have a lot to be grateful for.

Lo and I had fun making corn husk dolls to represent each of us for the place settings and Dea set up a beautiful table for our feast. We also made a bunch of leaf cut outs and put one thing we are thankful for on each one. I strung them up to look like falling leaves. We broke out the dinning room table and chairs from the shed. We don't have a dinning room-we gave it up so that Lo could have a bedroom. We just eat on the island in the kitchen but for holidays and entertaining use the old dinning room set. I can't wait to get a big-ass "last supper" table for future feasting and entertaining when we build our addition! Later, we dove into the bowels of the basement to bring out all our Holiday decorations and we'll spend the next couple of days decorating the house for Solstice and Christmas.

We didn't do anything too "out there" food wise like in years past. We've been known to do fondues, rack of lamb, and skirt steak. But since Huz won a turkey through work we figured we'd take a shot a smoking it. As beautiful and tender as it looked and as amazing as it smelled, we all just decided we're not turkey people.

Next year we'll try Cornish games hens or perhaps a duckin(minus the tur). The rest of our meal was scrumptious. We all partook of some serious homemade goodness. Dea made the most killer pumpkin cookies(and I'm not a big pumpkin fan).

As a our turkey was finishing up in the smoker around midnight, Huz was making his famous cinnamon rolls for the next morning.

Cinnaomn roll Dracula

This year I made a pie for the first time-apple cranberry and the Huz (a former pastry chef) said it beat his. The ultimate compliment! I also made a rockin stuffing with oysters and gorgonzola. We had the usual cranberry sauce, mashed taters, green beans with hazelnuts, and Huz's fresh baked rosemary bread. And Jazz on the sterio with a chocolaty 1994 Cab.

To work it all off we headed outside for the Annual Neighborhood Thanksgiving Sledding. Our neighbors down the street erect a humongous bonfire and everyone sleds from the top of our road down into the neighbor's driveway, making a sharp turn (hopefully!) at the corner of their garage and proceeding to blast down into the back yard! And someone always drives the Green Machine with 2 long ropes hanging out the back in order to pull a gaggle of sledders up to the top of the road. Good times!

Then, with appetites re-stoked, it's back home for pie and eggnog, a reading of the Thanksgiving story(a good one I got from Lo's school-with more emphasis on the Native Americans) and the start of singing Christmas songs for lullabies.

*Regarding my inquiry into the the truth about the Thanksgiving story, I stumbled upon this one, "Why I Hate Thanksgiving". MUST READ. Your thoughts?

Our future Thanksgivings will also include honoring those Native Americans who perished in genocide, and those who experienced degradation, slavery and displacement.

November 26, 2008

Dea's Pumpkin Cookie Recipe

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned)
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached allpurpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup raisins
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons whipping cream, fresh orange juice or rum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla and mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir into butter mixture until well blended. Add nuts and raisins. Drop by teaspoonful onto parchment covered baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake about 15 minutes, or until golden. Cool.

Cream confectioners' sugar and butter. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. (If icing is too thin, add more confectioners' sugar; if too thick, add more cream, orange juice or rum.) Drizzle SLATHER over cookies!

November 21, 2008

Native American Dice

This is a game the kids love to break out around Thanksgiving, right about the time that we're watching "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving". If you have the DVD, there is a goofy extra called "The Mayflower Voyagers" which tells the story of the Pilgrims' journey to the New World. I've barely touched the surface of the "Pilgrims and Indians" theme with Lo because I'm still not positive that that whole story on which this holiday is based, was the happy tale of unity and compassion that is so prevalently depicted . I read A Peoples History of the United States years ago and was troubled by the section on the Pilgrims. It portrayed them as opportunists who didn't hesitate to use force to take over land occupied by Native Americans. In the past I've looked for further info on this but didn't find much. If anyone is up to speed on the REAL story of Thanksgiving(as well as Columbus), please contact me! I'm not into teaching my children the public school sugar coated version of the truth!
In explaining the Pilgrim story to Lo, I've focused mainly on the Native Americans and how they lived peacefully and prosperously on the land and how they were willing to share with the Pilgrims who were struggling. Beyond that, Thanksgiving, to us, represents just that... A holiday of Giving Thanks for what we have.

This Native American game of dice fits well with the Thanksgiving themes that work for our family's yearly tradition. I discovered the game a few years ago when I spent a summer working with kindergartners at a camp. I brought the idea home to Dea and we made our first "edition" out of popsicle sticks and seashells. Now, years later, it was time to give Lo the chance to make the game and i thought it would be fun to use the more traditional materials. She loved the whole process of gathering sticks outside, stripping them of bark, drying them by the fire, sanding them and so forth. A really great tactile experience as well as a lesson in history, economics and counting! Anyway, I'd love to share this simple but engaging game.

Materials we used:
10 "counting" sticks per player-no more than 8 inches long
Sharpies in various colors
6 walnut shell halves(these will be your dice!)
Modeling beeswax or Sculpy
Seed beads, tiny seeds, pebbles, bits of sea shell

What we did:

We stripped the bark off the sticks and then sanded them to bring out the lighter color of the wood. You can also use a pocket knife to whittle tough bark off or even leave some bark on for interesting patterns. Make sure to sand the ends of the sticks.
We then created designs on the sticks with the sharpies. You can be as creative as you want or go traditional with simple geometric designs such as bands, diagonal lines and dots. We left a few of our sticks natural and just polished them with beeswax polish.

Next, we carefully broke open our walnut shells with a small spreading knife. I hear an oyster shucker works great to get the nut open- leaving both halves in tact! Our method only allowed us to keep one half whole while the other side broke. We also discovered that Lo likes walnuts! Another food to add to Miss Picky's list!

We used a nut pick to dig out the nuts and scrape clean the shell.

I decided to also sand the edges of the shells.

After putting my hands through torture trying to warm up and soften the beeswax(you'd think I'd have no problem being a massage therapist!) we filled the inside of the shells with it to the brim.

Then we decorated the undersides of the shells with our seed beads.

How to play the game:
Each person starts with 10 counting sticks each. The first player tosses the 6 dice. The score depends on how the dice land.
All the flat sides of the shells up or all flat sides down=2 sticks

Half the shells up and half down=1 counting stick

All other combinations=0 sticks

The first player collects the number of sticks indicated from the second player. The second player then repeats the process. The game is over when one player has all the sticks! This game can take quite awhile, as each person's fortune rises and falls unpredictably! If your little ones have a hard time with the length of the game, they can always play with fewer counting sticks.
With the dice Dea made a few years ago, we labeled each counting stick to represent something of traditional Native American value. Some of the valuable items were a horse, a tee-pee, one tanned skin, etc. Since we are Alaskans, we incorporated such Alaska Native items as mukluks, qiviut, snow goggles, a kayak, and a fur. I think this made the game more interesting with another dynamic! It was always a bummer to loose your horse or kayak, but you could live without goggles or qiviut. It was a challenge to get those certain valuables back! Go ahead and add your own ideas to the game, it's fairly open ended with room for imagination! Enjoy!

JIVE turkey!!!! The Queen has gone a-foul!!!

*I posted this on WE'RE NOT THAT STUPID but it is so outrageous and funny I had to post it here, too!!!

Holy Christ All the Mighty, this broad is a spectacular TWIT. After returning to Alaska after the election, Palin made her obligatory stop to the office to briefed on the alarming state of her kingdom since her absence. She then promptly whisked off to warmer climes to hold court poolside over the genuflecting media. She couldn't be bothered to honor our veterans on Veteran's Day. She was MIA for our Education Summit. But she DOES see the value and importance of spending her time pardoning Tom the Turkey at the Triple D Turkey Farm in Wasilla.

Pardoning a fuckin' turkey.

BEHOLD!!! Here's the Queen Palin being interviewed after the pardoning, gabbling like a turkey herself with her hackneyed platitudes-while turkeys are being slaughtered in the background! When asked if that background was alright for the videoing, Palin, who professed during the pardoning to be "Friend to all creatures great and small…” replied,"No worries!" ...What must those poor wolf pups in Heaven be thinking....

I don't think that's coffee in her environmentally unfriendly cup. That's a triple hot toddy, there, fer shur. You BETCHA!

Check out Joe the Slaughterer back there! Hysterical!

WARNING: Video is a bit grizzly

Is it just the quality of the video, or has the skin on The Queen's face fallen? Hint to The Queen: Drag makeup doesn't hide that shit!!! Ever see the end of Death Becomes Her?!?!?

November 17, 2008

NYC- God's cribs

My two regrets about time management while in New York City: Not spending time in Central Park taking advantage of the fall, and not exploring in detail at least one of the cathedrals. Foo-Foo here spent 3 precious hours hunting down an Anthropologie sweater(it was PERFECT) in SOHO that she saw the day before but decided not to buy in case something better came along. When I went back to get it, it was like the store had completely vanished! As a precaution , I even Googled the address before leaving the hotel room but after searching the street I found the address but no store. It was just gone. And I guess there is some "tourist" conspiracy going on between stores in NYC. If someone stops in to ask where another store is located, LIE! Send 'em on a wild goose chase! 10 stores, at least, that I walked into for directions-all with different info. Finding the sweater became an obsession out of spite!!! Again, waisted time...blistered feet and no sweater.

I was deep in the throes of my book, Pillars of the Earth, when my fascination with Gothic architecture came rushing back amid the story's imagery of a cathedral being erected. I had loved Art History in college and this was always an area of intrigue. In addition to the edge-of-your-seat plot, the author's description of the cathedral from ground up was almost implausible to me . I'm not a religious woman but I admire the vision of those who aspired to build a house of worship for the glory of God, thus erecting the most ornate, soaring, and splendid structures.

On our first night in NYC, as Huz and I walked our dinner off in lower Manhattan, we came upon Trinity Church. We were caught up in conversation as we passed and didn't really notice that great spire towering above. I loved the almost spooky look of the Church's facade secured behind it's spiked iron gates and took some pics. As you can see from the lower right photo above, only the bottom portion of the church was lit and the 300+ ft spire was in darkness-I didn't know it was even there. So I was in awe the next morning when we saw the whole of it in daylight!

On another day while shopping Uptown with my parents we passed the front doors of Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Again, caught up in conversation and winding our way through the crowd I didn't even see the outside of the Cathedral until we were by the front steps.The sight through those doors just blew me away. I turned and cut through the mob so that I could go inside for a better look. The nave was breathtaking with it's impossibly high ceiling constructed of vaults of blind arcading. The effect of the converging verticals encouraged the eye with a continuous spatial experience down to the altar at the east end of the building. The vaults, now well lit after a century and a half in darkness, glowed warm and inviting.

We stepped inside for a quick look around. My parents lit some vigil lights while I took some photos. I was already filing away future plans of really spending some time exploring some cathedrals next time we're in the city. And the thought of visiting the really old cathedrals in Ireland and Scotland(the trip on the top of our list) had me yearning to get our addition built so that future summers can hold trips abroad. Once we were outside again I stopped to catch some pics of St. Pat's facade(upper right corner pic). Wacky when juxtaposed with a modern skyscraper! And right down the street was the impressive St. Thomas Church(upper left corner pic). Another amazing and ornate facade. If I only had more TIME!!!

With my old interest in Gothic Architecture rekindled I'll definitely be putting some time into more research throughout the next few months.

November 14, 2008

May I introduce you to...

Those of you who have been around this blog for awhile may remember me mentioning my friend, Nature Lady, the Sewing Master and She of the "O" family. Nature Lady has recently started a blog and I recommend that you check it out!

Some great stories, info and insight from a mother of three (ages 11, 14 and 21), a prolific crafts-woman(Quilting, rubber stamping, fiber art, paper art, knitting and much more)a gardener and Naturalist heading up our local Nature Center, and wife of The Prof, Alaska's official State Climatologist and university Meteorology Professor.

A couple experts:

Time "Sometimes I feel like I never have enough TIME. It seems to be slipping away from me (like in Salvador Dali's Persistence of Memory painting)

Despite my most valiant efforts to "manage" it. But time management is just an illusion -- it marches on, no matter what I do. I certainly cannot control the march of time itself -- all I can hope to do is to wisely use the time that I do have. My problem is that I expect to do way too much...This reminds me of a passage in Antoine St.Exupery's The Little Prince.He meets an inventor with a pill that replaces the need to drink water. He says, "Computations have been made by experts. With these pills, you save fifty-three minutes in every week."The little prince asks him, "What would I do with those fifty-three minutes?" "Anything you like...""As for me," said the little prince to himself, "if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water."

An Old Lady on aging- "I'm getting to be an OL (Old lady), at least that's what I gather from the media. Together with the ads for anti-wrinkle cream and hair dyes, I read an article in this morning's paper that if you're over 40, you're an OL, "you are a faded rose, desiccated fruit. A goner... You don't have an edge.

...Sometimes it seems to me that America, and perhaps the West as a whole, seems to be getting shallower and shallower. While professing that we believe in equality (gender, race, etc), deep down we don't seem to really practice it. In November, this country will elect a new president, and my sincere hope is that the American people can elect a capable & qualified leader, and not be swayed by looks, race, or other superficial things. In November, I will celebrate my birthday with family and friends who accept me as I am!"

Take a stroll over there and say "Hi"!

November 13, 2008

New York City- THE EATS!!!!

Catching the 6 train


Go and check out her hilarious blog!!!!

After tucking our littlest into bed at the O's house Halloween night, Huz and I set off for New York City. Can I just say, despite the excitement of a few days away with just the two of us, it was miserable leaving my kids. Especially Lo because she is so young and it was the first time we'd been apart for more than 2 days. The only other time we've been away from Dea was on our honeymoon-and we spent quite a bit of time talking about how we couldn't wait to come back to Cabo with her next time! I knew Lo was feeling a little scared lying in a different bed in a different house after all that Halloween freakiness, and I felt so guilty. I had to wrestle to keep those thoughts of "what if something happens to us? What if the plane crashes? What if something terrible happens to the kids?" out of my head and try to concentrate on that fact that they would be fine and that Huz and I deserved a few days away together as lovers and spouses in an exciting place. I wasn't able to really relax until we touched down in New York. And when the the plane landed safely back in Alaska a few days later I was surprised at the weight of worry that lifted from me!

Our flights to New York slipped by surprisingly quickly with some snoozing and 3 hours of lively conversation with our seat mate who was interested in our take on Palin. Upon arriving at JFK I was excited to see that fall was still in swing in New York! The weather on our trip was warm enough to not have to wear coats-a treat! That night after, after a 3 hour drive from the airport-which is, what?, 20 miles away?, We settled into our little, funky, breaking-all-the-feng-shui-rules hotel room on Wall St. Hungry and suffering from "airplane stomach" we set off in search of food. Eventually, we found our way back to the 1600's in Lower Manhattan. Stone Street, a cobblestone alley first developed by Dutch colonists and said to be the first paved street in NYC , is nestled in among the mountains of skyscrapers. We were thrilled to see outdoor seating right in the street with restaurants lining both sides! I've always enjoyed eating outside at night in the city !

We picked a pub for burgers. Not the greatest meal, but a fun start of a run in fine dinning! We mostly ate at Italian restaurants- Little Italy within walking distance of our Hotel. Huz's boss and other New York Life execs took the lot of us out to dinner each night at some pretty fabulous places! My Parents also came into town twice to have lunch and Mile's borther joined us for a day as well-what a FUN time!
Here's some links to those fabulous restaurants: Grotta Azzurra, Buona Notte, Delmonico's, Ferrara's, Churrascaria Porcao, and Sparks. The first 2 were my favs. We had our fill of incredible seafood, meat and some fabulous wines. Needless to say, I've been hitting the cardio and weights in earnest this week due to uncomfortably tight jeans! It was worth it, though. How can you not indulge when in New York City?!?

*Starving in Stone Street
Lobster Newburg at Delmonico's
Good wine and company at Porcao

November 10, 2008


4 years old is such a great age to be mystified by the holidays! Lo was really into Halloween this year. She was both intrigued with the costumes, decorations and the "Trick or Treat" ritual and disturbed by some of the images she saw. Halloween is a difficult time of year to remain consistent with the Waldorf philosophy of providing our children with an environment of beauty and safety. Sometimes starting as early as the end of summer, everywhere you go there is the gratuitous explosion of Halloweenism. A simple trip to the grocery can be a scary experience for a small child. Giant mummies that burst to sudden electronic life, laughing skulls with blinking red eyes, werewolves, dismembered hands, frightening canned “Halloween “ noises(Lo totally freaked out every time this commercial with creepy music came on the radio)-enough to implant some pretty scary imagery into a child’s brain and haunt them when the lights are turned out at night. I've tried to keep her sheltered from the onslaught. Lo delighted in the more innocent aspects of trick or treating, the other little kids who were out there before it got too dark, the friendly faced Jack-o-Lanterns, the kind people dolling out candy -and she’s still little enough to enjoy yelling “Trick or Treat” when the doors open-the older kids just stand there…..weird. She was also notably more freaked out about some of the sights and sounds this year. It didn't really seem to phase her in the past.
When Dea was small, we would take her to the Anchorage Halloween Symphony Concert on Halloween night. The symphony would play well known classical pieces to coincide with goofy Halloween skits on stage! Later, the 3 floors making up the concert hall would be set up with tables sponsored by various local business and companies(free advertising and capitalism at it’s finest!)so that the children could trick or treat from table to table. It was a fun but expensive evening. A little cultural exposure and a huge bag of candy to boot. Once, we tried Trick or Treat Town(Pretty much the same deal as the symphony, sans the symphony)…but so did the rest of the town. It took 10 minutes of waiting just to get a piece of candy thrown in her pumpkin at each station. Kids + candy+ “waiting”= TEMPEST.

Since then, we’ve simply enjoyed good ole fashioned Trick or Treating with our friends, the O’s . In Alaska, most people don’t T&T in their own neighborhoods. The houses are too far apart. Instead, there is a mass exodus to the nearest zero lot line neighborhood. We meet up with our friends down in town to storm the rockinist Halloween neighborhood, Eaglewood. Houses built within an arm’s reach of one another are conducive to full heavy pillowcases and plastic pumpkins . You can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time and get a TON of candy. Huz and I always make sure each child pays up the “Parent Tax” in candy before the night is done.

Sadly, this year was the first year that Wolfman O (14) opted out of trick or treating. Dea hung in there with us-it’s easier when you have a little sib. You can experience it all from their perspective and it’s probably not so lame to the peers when you’re T&Ting with your little sis. Nature Lady, Liesel O and her friend joined us.
Another thing about Halloween in Alaska. It’s usually snowing and/ or very cold. You HAVE to wear your snowsuit. So costumes are usually incorporated into said suit. This year Lo was a “Princess Dragon”. She had the perfect costume for an Alaskan Halloween. A fleecy dragon hood and “claw” gloves, a tie on tail, wings and, of course, the tutu. Earlier in the day Dea helped her BFF paint her room and got paint all over herself-actually, I suspect most of it was there due to paint fights and self- adornment – and Voila! An instant costume! Painter!
We lasted for about an hour before everyone got cold and we headed to the O’s warm home for dessert.


Last year's Fairy, Penguin, Skeleton and Cereal Killer.

Who can guess what I was?!!

2006 Ladybug and Padma Patil(Harry Potter)

2005 Mother Earth and Kitty

November 8, 2008

"NEW YORK CITY, the city that never shuts up!" -Ani DiFranco

What a romantic, fulfilling, fun, educational, exciting, emotional(OBAMA!!!)and recharging trip!!!
Here's a few pics from my wanderings about town. When I get the chance, I'll sit down and elaborate with more.

Trinity church

November 4, 2008

Fired up?!?!? READY TO GO!!!!

DIXVILLE NOTCH, NH, population 75, famous for being one of the first places to declare it's results during United States Presidential elections has officially declared their results:


Whoo-hoo!!!!!!! HERE WE GO!!!!

Here in New York City, they're reporting huge lines everywhere. I went on a search for Band aids(ALWAYS the blisters in NYC...) and a powdered donut around 8 AM and got some shots of the suits in line stretching down Wall Street. A very exciting day here already!