Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grey's Withdrawal

Anybody else suffering from severe Grey's Anatomy withdrawal? Anyone? Anyone? Well, I ran across this fun bracket this morning where you can vote for your favorite Grey's clips. I'm just slightly embarrassed that I actually puddled up once...and then laughed hysterically once. Or twice. Seriously.

Can September 25th get here any sooner? Please?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Football on the Brain

It's here again. It has a new head coach. A new game plan. But the same crowd of crazed, obsessive fans of which we consider ourselves a proud part . So GO BIG RED. Show us whatchya got.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ribbon Storage

My friend Jeni asked me the other day about how I store my ribbon that I use for cards and scrapbook pages.

I have all my ribbon on plastic embroidery floss bobbins in floss organizers. It is the easiest way I have found to find the color and pattern that I need in a glance. Plus, it looks pretty. (And a special thanks to my sister-in-law who helped me wind all my ribbon on a visit to Great Falls while Tony was deployed. You know, Lena, we're really nerds for enjoying it as much as we did...)

We have a 4 day weekend ahead with daddy excited!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Planning Our Family's Dinners

I have this thing for cookbooks. I love them. I'm the nerd at the Pampered Chef party that buys the cookbooks instead of the cool kitchen gadgets. But I simply HATE to plan menus, make shopping lists and grocery shop. So anything to streamline the process? Hey, I'm all for it. And since the price of groceries continues to rise (and rise), I have committed to only grocery shopping at the commissary. It saves money, but because it is too far away for quick trips, I have to plan well so I'm good to go for the entire week. Since it is finally time to start the change from summer salads and lighter fare to yummy cooler weather dinners, I put together a new 8 week meal menu for our family. I also include shopping lists and the name of the cookbook and page number of each recipe so it's easy to find when I need it. Remember, I have a thing for cookbooks.

Here's how it looks. I laminated each page with Scotch brand Self-Sealing Laminating Pouches so that I can make notes, cross off ingredients I already have on hand, and mark completed recipes with a dry erase marker. I use the same lamination technique for my kids' morning charts). That way I know in a glance what to include on my shopping list. It is a bit of work up front, but I tell you what, this system has saved me so much time overall.

Here is a can click on the picture to view it larger.

My sister April also came up with a cool idea for organizing her family's dinner menu and shopping list. Check it out here. No question we came from the same genetic gene pool.

Do you have a dinner plan that works for your family??

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Road Racin'

Today was my first 5K road race. Ever. I mean, I ran cross country in high school, but that was through the wilds of Alaska, on soft rolling trails, surrounded by beautiful scenery and the occasional moose. So today was a challenge. It was humid. It was hot. And I do, um, (let me think about this for a minute) ALL of my running on my treadmill. Granted, I do run on an incline, but it's different running outside.

But I did it. And I did great. I posted a new personal best by 3 minutes and 35 seconds. And I learned to train at least one day a week outside. But the best thing I learned today is that I have the loudest, cutest, most devoted cheering section. And I finished stronger because they were there cheering me on.

Please pay NO attention to the tall guy that just happens to be finishing the 10K at the exact same time that I am finishing my 5K. He did, after all, start 5 minutes before me...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Kissing Up to Mrs. Young

So, I've been avoiding Target like the plague lately, trying to be good about sticking to our budget. But I did go yesterday and they had loaded the $1 bins with new stuff. CUTE stuff. I like to try and get a simple, little gift for Sam's teacher at the beginning of the school year, and these darling sticky notes and notepads were perfect. I used some paper scraps and made a tag with a cute embossed back to school bus on it (shared with me by the fabulous Jeni) and tied it on with twine. Sam was so excited to take it to his teacher today!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Giveaway Winner!

My. Goodness. Thank you all so much for the fabulous response to our Blogoversary Giveaway. You blew me away with all the kind things you said and the support you offered. I'm still in awe that people actually read and enjoy our blog. The best part? All the lurkers we "converted". Like I said, I really don't mind lurkers, but having blog friends is so much more fun! I'll be by to thank each of you persoanlly for entering our giveaway over the next few days.

Now, for the winner!

It's Kristen, aka momo3!! Congratulations to you! Enjoy the loot...

Also, Kawaii Crafter over at Zakka Life was kind enough to pass along this award to me last weekend, and I wanted to share it with two of my favorite bloggers. Sydney over at Deadlines and Diapers is a recent find. She is a mommy. She is a runner. And she cracks me up. And also Sonja from Wonder Years. Another mommy who takes lovely pictures and has great taste in children's names (we both have a Sam and an Anna...). There you are, ladies. Thanks for brightening my world with your wit and wisdom!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sam's First Day & Anna's Computer

Well, Sam started back to school today in a brand-spankin' new building that still isn't completely tiled...but done enough for school to begin. Sam's class has only 17 kids in it (instead of 24 like last year) and is in an actual classroom (instead of a office-turned-into-a-classroom). He was so excited to be stretching his brain. I'm just happy to be starting a routine again. Yes, my friends, that makes THREE different school in THREE years. Man, how resilient these kids are.

And sensing the quiet this morning, and perhaps a little lonely for her brother, Anna turned on the cute today. I was sitting at the kitchen table making a grocery shopping list and she was tapping away with her fingers on a notebook. Like an actual notebook of paper. I couldn't understand what she was doing until I took a closer look. It's a computer. Notice it even has a Skype camera.

Man, I love these children!

**Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the LAST CHANCE to enter our Blogoversary Giveaway! Sam will be drawing a name first thing Thursday morning...**

Monday, August 18, 2008

Air Show & 2008 Morning Charts

This weekend our family (along with 125,000 other people) enjoyed the perfect weather at Offutt's annual Air Show!

We met up with the Broughs waiting for the shuttle...

...LOVED the fly-over by the stealth B-1 bomber (just try and tell me that it's not the coolest looking thing you've ever seen)...

...and got up close and personal with an A-10 Warthog.

We didn't stay long enough to check out the Thunderbirds who performed in the afternoon, but we did see them flying in formation on their way out of town this morning.

And on a different note entirely, the kids and I made new morning charts in preparation for the start of school tomorrow for Sam (Anna will start in early September). Last years' were such a hit that aside from adding a few new chores, they stayed pretty much the same. We also improved this year's offering by attaching the dry erase pen with sticky Velcro...the pens kept coming untied last year...We hang them from large binder rings on their respective door knobs.

**Remember to enter our Blogoversary Giveaway before Wednesday, August 20th!**

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pasta Spinach Salad

This is maybe my very favorite summer salad recipe...a winner from my mom. It is so yummy with fresh french bread. Of special note, I only used tomatoes from Tony's garden last night for this salad.

Pasta Spinach Salad

6 oz. rigatoni (cooked per directions and cooled)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup sliced green onion
2 Tbsp. sliced black olives
6 cups baby spinach leaves

Toss all ingredients and chill until serving.

**Remember to enter our Blogoversary Giveaway before Wednesday, August 20th!**

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blogoversary Giveaway!

This afternoon I finally finished up the last surprises for my giveaway celebrating the first anniversary of our family blog. Ta-DA!

Here is what the goodie box includes...and they are some of my very favorite things currently.

**friendship wall hanging (made by me)
**Dr. Pepper Lipsmacker
**10 pack of fine point Sharpies, in assorted colors
**box of Alaska Wild Berry Chocolates
**mint Milanos (you guys are lucky these even made it into the box)
**A gender neutral diaper tote to use yourself (if you're lucky enough to still have a little one in diapers) or to give as a gift (also made by me)
**moukaite bracelet I made from some gorgeous beads I picked up in Alaska at my favorite bead store.

Here are the rules:

Leave a comment on this post before 12:00 a.m. CDT Wednesday, August 20th and my impartial son, Sam, will draw randomly for the winner. PLEASE, if you don't have a blog, leave your email address in your comment so that I have a way to contact you if you win.

And for all you lurkers out there, here's the deal. If you have never left a comment on our blog before, here's your chance. Using the good 'ole honor system, let me know in your comment that it is your first time commenting on our blog and you'll get TWO entries. Just a little incentive. But feel no pressure. I don't mind lurkers:-)

Thanks for celebrating with us, and good luck!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bookin' It

When our neighbor came over last night to return our house key, he had a package that the FedEx guy had delivered while we were on vacation. It was this little treasure.

As we got closer to the 1st birthday of our family blog, I started to panic. I mean, there are a lot of precious memories, photos, recipes and kidisms all spun into this neat little package online. But if something ever happened to Blogger? And it lost everything? So I started to research sites that publish blogs into books. I chose Blurb because their publishing options gave me the chance to choose book size and to have as little or as much (and knowing me, I wanted MUCH) control over page layout as I'd like. Lots and lots of options. They also have a little tutorial video that helped getting started a breeze. And the pricing is reasonable. You simply download the software and they upload your blog for you and you work on it at your convenience...the changes you make are saved automatically and when you have your book just how you like it, you "slurp" it up to their site and they send you a published book. The only downside I found, is that for Blogger, they can't access your comments and include them in your fnished book.

Tony is a great sport...he generally humors me, but I rarely see him get truly excited about any of my hare brained schemes. Until last night. He sat in our chair and flipped through the entire book, commenting again and again about how awesome it was. Yeah! Now I won't feel guilty for blogging because ACTUALLY, I'm creating our family history. So there.


I've had a couple of requests for some additional pictures of the inside of our blog book. Here are a few...sorry the pictures are not the best, but it will give you an idea at least.

The original posts for these pages are here and here.

The original posts for these pages are here and here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

We made it home! I will only say that this trip went better than the trip to Alaska, but only marginally. I delight in the fact I won't be traveling with a baby on the airplane for a long, long, long time. It is so nice to be home...if for no other reason than that my toes are finally not frozen anymore. I guess I know now that my thick Alaskan blood has gotten a bit thinner in my years away from home.

Grandma and Grandpa...we were barely through the security check when Anna puddled all up and said she missed you. Thank you for the fun, relaxing trip. We love you so much.

And today is the first anniversary of our family's blog! If I weren't so jet lagged (and still unpacking, doing laundry and dropping off to sleep every time I quit moving) I would post more about the FABULOUS giveaway I have in the works. I may be quiet for the next few days, but I'll be back with a bang soon to explain more...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Portage, the Whittier Tunnel & Tony's Fishing Trip

The day after our trip to Seward, Tony took the kids back down Turnagain Arm to do a little exploring. While on the way, they actually spotted a pod of Beluga whales...something I have only seen 3 or so times in the 18 years I lived in Alaska. If you look closely at the photo, Tony caught two little white whale heads breaking the surface of the Cook Inlet.

After the whale excitement, they made a quick stop at Portage Glacier. That's a big chunk of glacial ice floating in the water behind the kids.

Next, they took the tunnel over to Whittier. The tunnel has existed for years through the Chugach mountain range, but just recently have they expanded it to be accessible to cars. The tunnel is 2.5 miles long and it gets you to Whitter where you could only get there before by boat or train. It's a tiny town of about 400, but apparently Anna & Sam charmed the patrons so well at the cafe they stopped at for fish and chips that they found another lady visiting from Omaha. Go figure.

And finally, Tony and my dad got their favorite fishing trip in again this trip. It's actually a float trip down the lower Kenai River and they fish for trout that have returned with the spawning salmon and grow huge from eating all the salmon roe. They had gorgeous weather and lots of luck...they caught about 50 rainbows from 14"-24" and Tony even caught a 25 pound King Salmon, but couldn't keep it because the season ended August 1st.

This will be my last post from Alaska...catch you all in a few days back in Omaha!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lunch With Scribbit & Dinner at Orso

Before you get all impressed that I got a kind lunch invitation from the fabulous Michelle at Scribbit, let me assure you that there were familial obligations involved. Remember when I shared what a blessing it was to have grown up with family close? Michelle is part of that family...her father and my father are brothers. When we were young, I remember being in awe of her. She'd let my sisters and I sit in her immaculate bedroom and pour over old code sheets she and her friends had made up. She exposed my sisters and I to The Scarlet Pimpernel (but was kind enough to block the screen when people got their heads chopped off), Raiders of the Lost Ark (ditto for the guy and the helicopter blade) and, yes, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. She's seriously amazing. And I'd still love to be just like her when I grow up. Thanks for the yummy lunch and fun visit, Michelle! Can't wait to return the favor. Give Grace a hug for me.

And there is nothing like endless summer evenings and free babysitters (thanks, Mom and Dad)! Tony and I took advantage of both this past week and enjoyed dinner at one of our favorite Anchorage restaurants, Orso. Tony had the King Crab legs and I had the Salmon Duo of Fettuccine. Yum. There is nothing like well prepared FRESH seafood.

When we finished dinner, we walked down to the inlet at the edge of town. I have many favorite things about Anchorage, but Mount Susitna is definitely one of them.

They call her "The Sleeping Lady" because she looks like a woman laying on her back on the middle of the inlet. The valley to the left forms her neck and the low lying clouds look like they are a pillow for her head.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Seward & Exit Glacier

We had quite the day trip today! I'll try and keep it short and sweet, but we had gorgeous weather and I really want to share some great shots of the beautiful Alaska I know and remember.

We started out early this morning and headed about 125 miles down the Kenai Peninsula toward Seward. About a half hour in, we spotted a group of Dall sheep up on the cliffs on the edge of the highway. So we pulled over really quickly and snapped some great photos of the sheep. I also panned out to give you some perspective. Along Turnagain Arm is one of my favorite parts of have literally cliffs on one side and Cook Inlet on the other. Gorgeous.

When we got to Seward, we headed straight for the SeaLife Center and ate lunch on the front lawn that overlooks Resurrection Bay...simply one of the most breathtaking sights around. The sun even broke through the clouds today and made the air nice and warm. We visited all the inside exhibits with our very favorite parts being the seal exhibit, the sea birds, and the salmon display.

On the way home, we stopped at Exit Glacier, right outside of Seward. Tony and I visited it about 10 years ago, but they have a much nicer trail now that goes almost all the way up to the glacier itself.
Don't you love this board they have posted outside the ranger station??
Real cute, until you run across one of these paw prints on the trail...
If you notice, the glacier is really a turquoise blue because of the way the sunlight is absorbed and reflected. It was a great hike (Josh LOVED his first trip in a baby backpack) and we wore the kids out for the long drive home.

This is the view on the hike down from the edge of Exit Glacier. Can you believe that when Secretary of State William Seward bought Alaska in 1867 from the Russian Empire for $7.2 million, the purchase was actually called "Seward's Folly"? Those dummies that called it that got it dead wrong, if you ask me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Breaking Dawn

So I know I'm supposed to be on vacation. Along with relaxing, napping, catching up, that usually signifies extra time surrounded by those you love, playing games, watching movies.

For the last few days, okay really only since Saturday, I have been a horrible house guest. Not to mention a terrible mother. I've been busy. Filling my mind with vampiric nonsense. And loving every minute of it. But I finished Breaking Dawn this morning. And now our vacation is BACK ON, BABY!

Just an example of my mind frame on Saturday afternoon when we got home from the store with my very own copy of the new book. I cuddle up on the couch with a blanket and start to read while my kids play on the dining room table and my mom is bustling about the kitchen. Sam kept coming up to me and wanting to ask me questions and show me things. I turned to him after the third attempt or so and actually said to my dear, sweet child, "Sam. Mommy is reading a very important book about vampires. You need to leave her alone for a little while." I think I actually heard my mom snort from the kitchen. Okay, it sounded pretty stupid when you say it out loud like that.

If you are a member of Good Reads, double click on the Breaking Dawn book cover on my read shelf to the right and it will take you to my very general comments about the book (no spoilers). Can't wait to hear what you thought about it.

Fireweed & A Magic Show

I've been hoping to get some good pictures of the mountains to share, but it has been so overcast that I finally resorted to taking some pictures of fireweed today. Since I grew up here, I have always considered it, well, a weed. But the first summer that Tony and I spent in Alaska after we got married, he absolutely fell in love with fireweed. It has a pretty cool story. We call it fireweed because it is the first regrowth in an area after a forest fire. It grows rampantly along the highways and makes a yummy jam. But the coolest thing about fireweed is that in mid to late summer fireweed begins blooming in the middle of the stalk, with each successive flower blooming just above the one before it. As the last flowers are blooming at the top of the stalk, the earliest blooms seed and turn to cotton. When the fireweed turns to cotton, Alaskans say there are about six weeks until winter begins.

And remember Sam's magic trick? Well, when my dad saw his enthusiasm, he hired a magician to come perform for FHE tonight at the house. We had my cousin Emily and her two kids come as well as great-grandpa and great-grandma. The kids (and adults!) were mystified!