Monday, January 31, 2011

...and the crochet headband giveaway winner is...

Erin!  Yay!  That means I can sew the ears on Audrey's sock monkey hat and send that to you as well :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

blogAlaska Part 1: Alaskans don't care if their feet look funny.

I was at a gathering of friends the other night and it occurred to me, while dodging a bazillion pairs of boots in the arctic entryway, that here in Alaska we have some funny looking footwear.  Moreover, I think we're a little bit proud of it. (Although we would never come right out and say it). The old saying goes that you can learn a lot about a man by walking a mile in his shoes, well--here is what Alaskan's footwear says about us:

also goes by 'tuffs, Southest Sneakers, or just rubber boots--like, is there really another kind?
Beloved and owned by almost all Alaskans this homely brown boot comes in a few varieties: steel-toed, regular and insulated or some combination thereof.  They also come in a low-top "sneaker" form.  You will see the densest concentration of this footwear in Southeast Alaska, or anywhere where commercial fishing is an economic staple.  That being said, I see quite a few pairs of these bad-mamajamas hangin' around in Nome. I myself own a pair of the insulated ones, they keep my feet toasty and dry all the way down to about 5 degrees, then I have to switch out for my real winter boots.
When I go to visit my family in Southeast, this is the only pair of "shoes" I pack. Seriously, they go with everything.  And, yes, it is acceptable to wear them with skirts here in Alaska.  You wouldn't get a second glance...Heck, some people even wear them at their weddings.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A word to your mom.

I saw this on another website today, and it made me think of my mom, and all the times one of my siblings or I pulled this crap on her.  I appreciate what she did so much more now that I am on the same path.   I thought I would post it here as a word up to all the awesome, hard-working mamas out there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Four kitchen appliances that have really earned their keep.

If there is one thing I hate in today's world it is planned obsolescence (stuff that is designed to break so you have to replace it more often, contributing to the consumerism frenzy that is the American economy, but that could be a whole other blog post in and of itself).  Unfortunately, many kitchen tools and appliances fall under this category.
The kitchen is really the heart of many homes, ours being no exception, so I have been making it a goal over the last 6 or 7  years to purge said area of health-hazards and junk.  This means switching from plastics to glass, wood or pottery, and from teflon-coated cookware to stainless steel and cast iron. I have also been trying to invest in appliances that withstand the test of time, and regular use. Obviously, it would be impractical (and EXPENSIVE) to do this all at once. We have just replaced one item at a time, as things wear out.

So what about kitchen appliances?  Glass and steel are not always an option in some of these cases. Many kitchen appliances are also very cheaply made, often times validating the old adage, you get what you pay for.   I have four main kitchen appliances that I use on a VERY regular basis, so I need them to hold up.  These are my food processor, dehydratorblender, and juicer.

The first time I really splurged on an appliance was when I bought an Omega Juicer.

Monday, January 24, 2011

MIY monday- crochet headband pattern & BLOG GIVEAWAY!

Hello, my name is Tara, and I am hooked on crochet.  Unfortunately, I also suffer from a lesser-know condition called crochet-D-D (crochet+A.D.D put together, get it?--forgive the terrible pun) This condition requires that every now and then I find a quick and easy project that I can finish in less than a couple of hours.  Therefore, when I saw the cute crocheted headbands my friend Esther has been making, I decided to pick up my hook and make up a simple, easy pattern.  I will include the pattern I made below, for all you crafty blog stalkers out there.

I am also doing the first EVER Making a Good Life BLOG GIVEAWAY!!!  
So here is the deal.  If you are a stalker reader of this blog, and want to win the headband pictured below,  just leave a comment below with your name and tell me why you read this blog.  Next Monday, I will use to select a winner.  It is super easy, almost as easy as making this crocheted headband.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sadie army-crawls for coffee.

Apparently the apple really doesn't fall too far from the proverbial tree. That's mama's girl right there!

Friday, January 21, 2011

the literary baby

Here is how Sadie likes to read eat her books.  It's a four-step process.
find the book you want

pause to ham it up for the camera a bit

check things out from a different angle

and... wait for it... commence eating book. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

my PSA to women everywhere.

     Cover your eyes boys. Don't read this post if you are squeamish about ovaries or vaginas.
Okay ladies.  I think there is a large population of women who HAVE already found and read this book, but if you haven't, you should:
Taking Charge of Your Fertility
The definitive guide to natural birth control, pregnancy achievement, and reproductive health. 
by Toni Weschler
     I read this book a number of years ago, and I couldn't believe all the things that I just had no clue about, (or worse, was misinformed about) concerning my own reproductive system. It answered all the questions I had that were just brushed off by many of the physicians I have seen.
     To know me is to know I have a bit of a feminist side... and where better to begin the journey of self-empowerment than through the understanding of your own body. This book has saved me so much worry and anxiety at times, just knowing what it is that my body is trying to do and why.  I see that the author has now come out with a more youth-friendly version of this material for pre/teenage girls.  Sadie will definitely be getting a copy when she is at that age.  Oh gosh, that is just crazy to think about! Anyhoo--if you are a woman, or a man interested in women's reproductive health, you should definitely read this book.  It is excellent, and sooooooooo informative!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

stop the insanity, please.

With a title like that I could be referencing any number of things in my life at the moment--the hassle of dealing with our insurance company, my attempt at mucking out the pottery studio at NWC, the static electricity in our house... but no. I am talking about a very specific type of insanity.  This:

I have been seriously needing to get into a workout routine.... and you would think that as a stay at home mom I would have tons of time to hit the gym, right? wrong.  Between Loren's crazy work and volunteer schedule, and my starting teaching night classes again this month I just don't see that happening.  For me, working out  on a regular basis is more realistic if I can do it at the same time every day. So I needed something I could do at home, while baby naps, or not.  My sister recommended this to me, and it so happened that some of our friends here in the Nome had a copy they didn't mind lending out.

This program starts with a fitness test, to see where you are at.  I guess I am at level "doing this workout makes me want to throw up and then go lay down on my nice, soft bed." Or, to quote Kung-Fu-Panda, "There is now a level zero."

Of course, now I want to stick it out for the sixty day challenge.  In spite of it totally kicking my butt, it was really pretty funny to jump around the living room for half an hour.  Cash was prancing all around and trying to attack my feet like he does, and Sadie was just staring at me with these big eyes, like..."mom's gone crazy!"  I guess that's why they call it insanity.

p.s. Ana.  I talked to mom tonight and she says you aren't doing yours.  So you better get ON that girl! We can be long-distance work-out buddies.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

six months.

Sadie the six-month-old is all about the snuggles and smiles!
and since we are being alliterative today... lets add sitting (got that in the bag) screeching (kid has a set of pipes like Robert Plant), snatching (anything within reach) and squash, because that is her new favorite food.
Here is what she has been up to this month:
Showing off her new tooths.
 Snuggling with Murry Bear.
(named after the character from Flight of the Concords)
  Thanks aunt Sarah!  Sadie has selected this mild-mannered teddy as her go-to for nap time snuggling.  She stares at him and giggles;  its really pretty hilarious.

Helping dad with the laundry.  (that was ALL folded to start with)

Snuggling with the pups--she likes to pet their fur and and talk to them.
Taking naps with this blankie that Great Grandma Sophie crocheted.

It has just the right number of holes for little fingers and toes to nest in.

Friday, January 14, 2011

librarian extraordiarian.

I wanted to share something about the awesome librarian we have here in Nome.  She is one of the most genuinely wonderful people I have ever met.  I have been thinking about her lately, because right now she is down south getting treated for some pretty serious cancer.

In the scheme of school things, people don't always remember to stop and think about the importance of the librarian, especially in this day and age when everything is going in a digital direction.  The fact of the matter remains, however, that like any good educator the librarian is extremely influential in students' lives.

Our librarian Joy is one of those rare educators who goes above and beyond her job duties, and inspires and touches the lives of our students.  For the last few years she has been working on a literacy campaign that uses high-school athletes as reading role-models for our elementary kids.  In our community, the little-un's really look up to the athletes, so seeing them reading sends an important message.  Joy has graced the walls of our schools with her excellent photography and her classy posters that all put out a simple but very important message: READ.

Well, it appears the word is out. Below is a video that the Nanook boys' basketball team made as a gift to Joy.  It really reflects the love and time she has put into our school and community... you can see that that love is reciprocated:

thank you for the randomness Caleb.

e I love it when someone gets a hold of your camera so when you go to upload your photos this is what you find:
Poor Sadie, she's so confused.

obviously, so is Cash
But in the end its old Toby who always has the last laugh.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

upsidedown apple cider cake...ahhhhmmmmazing.

I made this for Loren's birthday, and it is really delish, so I thought I would post the recipe here. This cake calls for hard apple cider.  I used Hornsby's, but I think any brand would do nicely. Makes one 8x14" cake.

4 tbsp butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
spice of your choice--I used pie spice from here.

thinly slice apples and spread evenly in the bottom of your baking dish.  Sprinkle brown sugar and spice over the apples.  Melt butter and pour over.

2 2/3 c. sifted flour
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. softened butter
1 12oz bottle of hard cider
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients alternating with cider.  When batter is well mixed, spoon evenly over "topping" in the bottom of your 8x14" baking dish.  Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven, cool 5 minutes and then invert cake onto platter of your choice.  It is awesome served warm with a little bit of vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

got me a good man.

Today... we are here to celebrate El Guapo's ...... thirrrrtteee fiiiifth birthday!
(or,  mebey iz Loren's thirrrrteeee seeeeventh... same deeeference!)
Seriously... this guy is in HIGH DEMAND!

There are many things I appreciate about Loren...and since it is his birthday, I'm going to blog about him, cause that's how I roll, yo.

Loren is loyal.  He will stick with you through the good and the bad.  He is also an atrociously optimistic person; he ruins ALL the good pity parties with his unflinchingly corny sense of humor.

Loren is persistent.  If he says he will do something he will... it might take time, but it will be done. He is also very ethical and thorough.

Loren is delightfully geeky--Starwars? Check. LOTR? Check. Star Trek? Check. Battlestar Gallactica? Check and check.  (Win for me, since I am also a geek!)

Even after 10 years, Loren still brings me flowers, for no particular reason... just because he is old fashioned like that.

Loren keeps the freezer full of tasty animals.  Not only is he a good hunter, but he treats his animals, and the land, with respect and gratitude.  I REALLY appreciate that about him.

Loren is good at resolving conflict.  The Connollys hardly ever have to sing the family fight song when he's around.

Loren is a great father.  Every time Sadie sees him her little face just lights up with pure joy.  He is already her hero.

Loren always lets me win at cribbage.  He also makes a mean G&T.

Loren is my best friend.  I look forward to hanging out with him every day; it doesn't matter what we do.  It has been a good ten years so far... and I am hoping we can make a go of it for at least another 40.  I can honestly say that I will be happy to have the chance to grow old and senile with Loren.  We are going to lose everything... our glasses, our dentures,  cell phones, keys, wallets, everything. Well, everything except our love for each other and our family.  And really, what more can anyone ask for in life?
Happy Birthday to the BEST husband I've EVER had!
did I mention that Loren's terrible sense of humor is rubbing off on me?

Monday, January 10, 2011

make-it-yourself MONDAYS

I have decided to declare Mondays here on my blog as a day to compile cool DIY craft ideas, recipes, or anything else along those same lines that I stumble over during the week and seems worth sharing.  As some of these projects get made I am going to start a blog give-away... but give me a few more weeks to get that up and running! 

If you have a blog and care to jump on the M-I-Y Monday bandwagon, leave me a message below, with your blogaddress or link to whatever project you are into, and I will link to your blogs/ideas in next Monday's post.  I figure this is a good way to get the creative wheels a spinnin' and share some great ideas! 

So here we go... 4 Awesome make-it-yourself projects....

I love this Vintage Pillowcase Apron idea!  I am always looking for make-over inspiration for worn and well loved items around the house that are not being used, but are too sentimental to get rid of. Look at the the little bar-towel that is buttoned on--SUPER CUTE!

2.   These Stoneware measuring spoons.  Please indulge me that my next three ideas are pottery.... I will be back in the studio at the end of the month, and I am bouncing out of my chair cant sit still super DUPER excited to play in the clay again. My friend Lindsay had these bright multi-colored ones, and a quick internet search revealed that they are from Anthropologie. No wonder I loved them.  I swear I am on the same pottery wavelength as Anthropologie,  its creepy. Sometimes I make stuff and a friend will be ask if I got it at said over-priced, whimsical retailer, and a quick look on their website will show that they are up to the same thing.  I should probably ask them for a job. I especially love the little shell ones...very sweet.

3. Speaking of spoons, I am also loving this spoon rest idea. I will definitely be playing around with this form in the "Jazz up Your Kitchen"  class I will be teaching.  I love the simplicity of this one.  Also from Anthropologie.

4. This magnetic fabric alphabet.  Awesome idea!  My wee kitchen helper will definitely be getting one of these when she is a little older... so much better than the plastic ones, and more kid-friendly imo.  And two thumbs up for hiding the magnets inside the letters so little fingers can't pry them off and make them a choking/swallowing hazard.


Happy creating to all you crazy crafters out there! 
xxoo Tara

Thursday, January 6, 2011

canned teriyaki muskox (skip this post if you're squeamish)

Loren and our Friend Lieudell went out this weekend and caught some muskox. For those of you who read this blog and are unfamiliar with the creature it looks like this:

This is the first time Loren has got us a muskox.  Usually we get a moose every year, but this year no moose, and the freezer was looking pretty empty and sad (except  for blueberries and breast milk)... so we are extremely grateful for the meat.  The muskox is a pretty amazing animal really; they weather out some of the ugliest winters in world thanks to their super warm coats and dense underfur known as qiviut.  I will be posting more about qiviut later, but back to the topic at hand.

We have been processing the meat from the muskox, and as with any animal we harvest, we try to use every bit of it that we can.  Its a good rule of thumb not to be wasteful in general, but it is also my personal belief that if you treat your animals respectfully and process them with mindfulness it is the best way to show your gratitude to their spirit.

There are parts of any animal that are tough and chewy, especially wild game.  Some of the back meat and lower leg meat is full of sinew and it is pretty hard to cook it into a texture that is palatable.  Some people use this meat for burger, and others just throw it away (this is me judging them).  Personally, I like to use this meat for canning. After 90 minutes in the pressure cooker the sinew breaks down and you are left with delicious, tender meat (sort of the texture of pulled pork--obviously, a different taste).
So today I decided to can up a batch of teriyaki muskox using the hot-pack canning method. To do this you first brown your meat (so its heated through, but mostly raw in the center still) add it to jars with the broth of your choice (I used Yoshida's gourmet, water, raw onion and garlic to season mine) put your tops on, pop into your pressure canner (you should always use a pressure cooker to can meat!) and process at 10lbs. pressure for 90 minutes.

browning the muskox
yoshida's is yummy, but it does contain HFCS (damn you High Fructose Corn Syrup, why are you in everything?)

cooking meat in my house always brings in at least one kitchen helper, sometimes two or three:)

meat in the jars, ready for lids. Be sure to leave 1" head-space at the top so they can seal!

Wipe jar rims, add lids and screw-on bands...arrange in your canner

follow the instructions that come with your pressure cooker for canning meat.
Canned game is awesome--you can just heat it up and serve over rice (YUM!) use it for sandwich fillings, or in pasta, soup, chili, etc.. You can even win big points by sending some in a care package to your carnivorous little brother who goes to school in California where you, "can't bag any rascals, damnit!" Its a little more time consuming up front, but an awesome thing to have in the pantry.
Thank you muskox!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

WORLD PARTY! everyone's coming... bring your green hat.

National Geographic Magazine just ran a fascinating article about Earth's 7 BILLION person population.  What do 7 billion people look like if you squished them all together? I was surprised.  I thought that standing shoulder to shoulder, 7 billion people might fill up the entire state of Alaska, or some other vast geographic expanse, but surprisingly it would only take 500 square miles--an area about the size of Los Angeles.

That being said, if I was throwing a party and inviting everyone in the whole world I wouldn't want to have it in L.A.  We should have it somewhere REALLY cool... like the Hang Son Doong Caves they just discovered in Vietnam. You have probably seen the pictures floating around the internet, but if you haven't you should check them out... they are incredible.  Here are a few photos taken by Carsten Peter:

Of course, we couldn't fit the whole world party in there, but we could take turns.

Seriously though.  Can you imagine all 7 billion of Earth's human inhabitants coming together for a party?
All the cultures, religions, races, languages
All the colors of skin, hair and eyes, all the shapes and sizes
All the hatred, all the love.
All the hopes dreams and fears
All the life experiences and the unfinished plans...

I can barely wrap my head around it.  Even though it is logistically impossible for such a party to exist, I find my imagination kind of wishing it would--just so I could experience the overwhelming humanity of it.  Maybe in 50 years or so we will get it all figured out.  By then there will probably be a couple billion more of us to come to the party.

But for now, happy 2011 citizens of the world. 
"If each man or woman could understand that every other human life is as full of sorrows, or joys, or base temptations, of heartaches and of remorse as his own... how much kinder, how much gentler we would be."
-William Allen White

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

screeching babies and fabric flowers

Today was rough.  Sadie is teething, and miserable.  She screamed a high pitch scream every time I exited a 2-foot radius from her person. She shrieked and fussed when I held her.  She thrashed when she nursed.  To top it off I was summoned for jury duty and told that being a full time care provider for my infant is not an excuse for deferral. Who is going to love and care for this shrieking child if not moi? Bah.  It was so bad, that by 8pm I did what any self-respecting mother would do.  I called my own mom and cried. 

There are a million things that I should have  done around the house today, but instead I needed something theraputic for my soul. So after I folded laundry and Sadie went down for a nap I made some pretties that may or may not end up in a care package for a certain flower-accessory loving sister in Ketchikan.

I love these flower bobby pins.  It is a super easy and fun project that I got from here.  It satisfied my craft bug as well as my pyro tendencies.  Win WIN! I cut up a slinky faux-silk diaper cover (aka polyester) that someone had given Sadie, and used pigment dye  to darken the edges of the petals (although, to be honest, I think a black Sharpie would have worked just as well.)  Some plastic pearl beads complete the look.  Quick and easy-peasy.

Then I finished up this crocheted flower scarf, which has Mamastasia written all over it: 

Finally, I gave Sadie a bath, which made her happy for a little while, then we had a silly photo shoot which made us both feel a little better.  Notice the teething grimace :( 

xxoo Goodnight!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Billy Collins... are you my long lost cousin or something?

Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles

It seems these poets have nothing
up their ample sleeves
they turn over so many cards so early,
telling us before the first line
weather it is wet or dry,
night or day, the season the man is standing in, 
even how much he has had to drink.

Maybe it is autumn and he is looking at a sparrow. 
Maybe it is snowing on a town with a beautiful name.

"Viewing Peonies at the Temple of Good Fortune 
on a Cloudy Afternoon" is one of Sun Tung Po's.
"Dipping Water from the River and Simmering Tea"
is another one, or just
"On a Boat, Awake at Night."

And LuYu takes the simple rice cake with
"In a Boat on a Summer Evening
I Heard the Cry of a Waterbird.
It Was Very Sad and Seemed to be Saying 
My Woman Is Cruel--Moved, I Wrote This Poem"

There is no iron turnstile to push against here
as with headings like "Vortex on a String,"
"The Horn of Neurosis," or whatever.
No confusingly inscribed welcome mat to puzzle over.

Instead, "I walk Out on a Summer Morning 
to the Sound of Birds and a Waterfall"
is a beaded curtain brushing over my shoulders.

And "Ten Days of Spring Rain Have Kept Me Indoors"
is a servant who shows me into the room
where a poet with a thin beard
is sitting on a mat with a jug of wine
whispering something about clouds and cold wind, 
about sickness and loss of friends

How easy he has made it for me to enter here, 
to sit down in a corner;
cross my legs like his, and listen.

Loren gifted me with these two excellent books this Christmas:Nine Horses: PoemsSailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems
and I have been LOVING them.  It is a long time since I have just genuinely enjoyed a book of poetry like this.  Reading Billy Collins is like sitting down to a glass of wine with a long lost friend, the kind you look forward to meeting up with because you know he will be so full of erstwhile adventures, witty, quirky insights and tongue-in-cheek humor. I highly recommend either if you are looking for a good book of poetry to pick up and put down in these quiet winter months.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

and 2011 comes in like a lion.

Holy blizzards... the weather outside is frightful. Lucky for us we have plenty to do inside to keep us busy, like the giant stack of dishes from last year's party.  Cup of black coffee, leftover aloo cauliflower for breakfast, and I am ready to take on the world. Just kidding. I will at least post pictures of Sadie's first Christmas while she naps for all of, mmmm 8 minutes probably.  Arg. The teething sucks--we are on tooth #3 this month and it has made it EXTREMELY difficult to get Sadie to take naps/go to bed. In fact, she was up to ring in the new year with us, as a fussy, cranky wreck. Poor baby.  I guess all she gets for Christmas is her 2+ front teeth.

Alaskan babies choose Pilot Bread.

Discerning Alaskan Babies choose an oakey Chardonnay to go with their Pilot Bread.

Hangin' with my uncle Ray, I mean Gabe
Borrowing uncle Gabe's fedora

Yes, the gifts were fun, but the bags and wrapping paper were even more fun.

Talking with my Great Grandma Sophie

Chewing on Grandma Caroline

Making a Snow Angel... not sure if this is fun.

photo shoot with a booger in my nose:)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Everyone!
loves, Sadie Mai