Saturday, May 18, 2019

S'More Season

Today marked the first S'more of the season. Our goal - to enjoy this summer to the fullest - one s'more at a time. I splurged on a bit of popcorn instead of a s'more. I can have no more added sugar until June.  But, before the s'mores there was a day....

Michael left bright and early for Men's breakfast! We tended to the seedlings, worked out, picked up a bit and waited...

When Michael  wasn't home by 11:00 a.m., Stacia and I headed for the store. It turns out Michael had done the same. We coordinated lists and got er done....a bit of groceries, a new kitchen appliance, some pants, birthday gift, and gardening stuff.

Josiah stopped by with the news he has put down an offer on a duplex in Eagle River. Working the plan! 

Michael brought home a fun toy for Gemma and Papa's toy box....

Dino promptly ate the tree...

Jamin joined us and everyone but Stacia and I headed out to play Boccie.

It's become obvious we need to rent a thatcher and do some work on this yard....but we need to haul out a LOT of spruce trees first.

Maria has an air fryer. This was our first time to see one in action.  It was amazing. Freddies had these on sale. Michael nudged me to get the biggest - 6.5L.  The small sizes had held me back.

Air Fried - CRISPY cauliflower

Amazing - the taste of frying without the saturated fat 

Nolan got home from work. 

Stacia made an Irish Cottage Pie and Flatbread for dinner. I made go-withs.  Arielle and Benny visited while we ate. They were waiting for Cory for dinner. 

Cory got home from work. 

We headed outside to play and enjoy the fire. Such a beautiful day! 
Michael, Josiah, Nolan, Jamin 
 Roo jumped at me when I went to feed the chicks. I brought him out to get to know everyone... Someone named him Reuben. The guys were trying to keep him out of the fire and he made a run for it between their legs and into the fire...then out. He is rechristened - Phoenix.

We brought Oreo outside too.  We weren't completely satisfied with our local chick purchase this year. We lost 8 - quite possibly 9 as we don't think the littlest is going to make it. One thing I do LOVE about buying local is we have such a variety of chicks it is easy to tell them apart and name them. They get names as they are not going to be any of the carnivores meals.

Odd crop circle and trampoline

Benny waited for a moment when everyone else was tired of archery.....

Alex told him to bring the arrow back. He did....but then he reached down and slugged Alex right in the nose. Totally unexpected. Unfortunately, all the uncles laughed...and if Benny can make the uncles laugh....

I need to replenish the s'more kit when I go shopping this month.....right along with the fishing kits. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

No Place Like Home

There really is no place like home! And when HOME has turned GREEN while you were away...ah, heavenly.   Here are some shots from our first day at home.

This was all bare when we left

We arrived home at 1:05 a.m. and slept for a few hours.

I discovered it is getting light around 3:30 a.m. these days (and staying dark until midnight or so).  Hello - spring/summer!  Yes, spring/summer does seem to be ONE season this year, though I'll mark it according to the calendar for labeling purposes. I've entered my season of sleeplessness.

We unpacked. We are unsure what to do with the bags full of Krista's things....they will sit here until we can find a spot to store them until she arrives. LOL

There is so much to do  in the spring - that has to wait until the ground thaws. The ground thawed while we were gone and we're aching to get to "projects," but there were things that HAD to be done first.

Our chicks had grown....we gave the brooder a complete cleaning and  let them outside for the first time.  They are so cute at this stage of growth.

We hoped Lucille, our free range hen, would bond with the chicks and we could put her back with the flock this winter with a posse....strength in numbers. Things were going well until she pecked the weakest.  We discovered we definitely have a roo! See him in the middle. The only one with a comb, a tiny wattle, and the start of spurs. We are hoping to socialize him and keep him. It may help with the predators this winter, as well as the spring fever that set in with the hens. 

We deliberately looked for Cochin chicks this year. We loved Rosie, and she weathered the winter well with no comb, feathered legs and feet. She was also bigger than many of our hens. Dumb weasel.  We call this gal, Oreo....because she looks like cookies and cream.

We also have 2 white, 1 gold, 1 black, and 1 or 2 speckled Cochins 

Arielle reports Benny greatly missed his people while we were gone. He would go to the stairs and call and he knocked on the uncles door - looking for SOMEONE. We loved the polo's he made for us. Today, he followed us around - chattering up a storm. He is especially Papa's shadow. At one point, Michael walked over and leaned on the wood stove in our yard (whatever)....Benny followed and took up the same stance at the stove.

The baby bunnies have also grown

Alex tilled the greenhouse again - Michael made some beds for the space

We cleaned out the coop and gave the girls all new shavings and such

This says home - fresh eggs

She didn't want to budge - "I was quite happy with your absence!" 

Benny and I wandered off to inspect the changes in the woods! Wow. Lots of green grass, devils club, fern.......

And about that hammock....Benny climbed aboard with Stacia

We've missed this little one's expressions - below he had just pulled the sides over his face to play peek a boo! 

I tried to wake up our scoby

In the evening I went to church to meet up with the best group of ladies in the valley!  Our team had planned a scavenger hunt and ice cream social. Jennifer did a great job with all the details. Pastor Shannon (the only man in the photo) created the rules and a list of things for us to do. This enabled all of us to participate. He did a fantastic job. The added bonus was if anything WAS out of hand.....HE was the one who sent a group of 20 competitive women to do it. ::wink::  We divided into five teams and took off.....

I loved the opportunity to spend time with Staci and to meet her mom. 

Alas, we were not the winning team.....but next year THESE gals will have to defend their title.  Isn't the trophy fun?
Brittney, Kelly, Donna and Jennifer

It was a perfect day. Sun, chicks, chickens, grandblessing, gardening, and church community. We're home.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Day Spent in the Air

I have woefully neglected the blog. There are many reasons... but I've begun to wonder if I can just commit to posting a photo or two from each day on the days I simply don't have time string words together. It's worth a try.

May 16th began at Krista's in Lynchburg, VA. We arrived with  4 suitcases and no checked carry-ons. Alaska Air has a plan for residents of the state - Club 49. One great benefit is that we can fly on AA with two bags free.

We loaded up with Krista's books and clothes....we had 8 suitcases coming home. When I went to check in, I was offered the opportunity to check 3 found and filled carry-ons too.

On the drive to RDU we planned the drive for Michael to meet Krista at the end of her assignment. They'll swing by Oregon and bring our mom's things up. It's nice to have a plan. 

It was a relief to have the bags checked in at Raleigh-Durham and to be on our way. 

Poor Michael was TIRED. I began to wonder if I'd get him on the plane. ::snort:: 

Not to fear  - we all arrived back in Anchorage. Alex did a great job figuring out how to FIT all the extra bags into our van. We were happy it was parked and waiting for us at the airport.

As the day came to an end, we left the airport and headed back to our home in the valley.

Monday, April 01, 2019

2018 Annual Gherkins Gingerbread Competition

The most anticipated New Year's Eve activity around our home is the Annual Gherkins Gingerbread Competition. This year was no different. What IS different this year, is that I did not get the contest ready for voting the first week in January. I am rectifying my grave familial sin this morning - on April 1st. ::snort::  Cute - Gingerbread Gherkin chained to my laptop until I gt the Gingerbread post done. LOL 
Get me out of the nook - publish the post already! 
The prize of this competition is the right to host   "Gingerbread Gherkin" for 2019. The winners  take photos of his adventures, share him with one another, and I post photos of him on the blog and on our Courageous Joy Facebook page. This Gingerbread Gherkin is ready for fun and cannot understand why he has been cooped up in my nook, instead of living life big with a winning team. He's missed births, job promotions and the Iditarod. ::bowing my head in shame::

Stacia and Nolan served as team captains again this year. Each team was provided the same gingerbread kit, spatulas, bowls, spoons, and $20 to shop for anything else they may want. We did not provide challenge items this year - as each team had built-in toddler challenges.
Bella's 3rd competition 

Gideon's 2nd competition 

Members began taking turns entertaining toddlers

Benny's 2nd competition 
We have noted that most of the contestants friends will vote on Facebook and not on a blog official voting will take place on our Facebook Page - Courageous Joy. The poll is pinned to the TOP of the  Courageous Joy Facebook page; voting ends Friday,  5 April,  at 9:00 p.m. AKST.

To keep everything scrupulously unbiased, we will no longer designate "Girls Team" and "Boys Team" until after a winner is declared. Entries are presented in alphabetical order.

Team A presents "An Iditarod Checkpoint"

Enjoy this Alaska winter landscape, captured in this scene from the Iditarod. Great attention was given to detail, from the rolling terrain, to the trees, to the mountains towering in the distance, to the river flowing through the scene, and the Northern Lights illuminating the way for the mushers. This submission captures the greatest race in the world with maximum clarity. 


Do you see the wildlife challenge to our musher?

Sled (by trees) with dog team - at Aid station 

Mountains, snow, Northern Lights, rivers, sleds.....

Team B presents "Wibbly Wobbly Acres - A family oasis in Alaska"

We made a charming farm nestled in the Alaskan woods. Some of its highlights include a delightful garden, green fields with horses grazing, and a sweet lil red barn complete with a barnyard. The numerous tiny details are sure to delight as they draw you further into this peaceful oasis.


Harvesting hay and horse pasture

Working in the garden - minus the moose! 

Bunnies and pasture in the foreground, barn, chicken, garden in the back 

Chicken coop and hay bales

Go vote now. Voting will end at 9 p.m. on Friday the 5th of April. 

Past year's competitions and winners:
2013 Competition - Men won with their Town square complete with a clock tower.

2014 Competition - Women won with their sweet Chapel; Men's Night Before Christmas disqualified them according to judge Michael.

2015 Competition - Women won with Mad Hatter's Tea Party over the Men's rendition of Santa's Village.

2016  Competition - Women won with their  "Portrait of  2016."

2017 Competition - Men won with "An Alaskan Getaway," over the women's offering of "Snowman's Lodge."