Monday, May 03, 2021

Magical Monday

Monday's mean Michael and I get out TOGETHER for a few hours.  Michael has been busy fixing up the row boat we brought from his childhood home.  Today, we drove up into the mountains behind our house and found a happy place. We have no idea what the name of the lake is...but it was magical. We even got a work out in as we had to lift the boat into the truck, and then down when we arrived, and down a hill to the lake....we drove up 2 weeks ago and it was still frozen, so we thought there may be some ice to deal with.

From Crescent City to Alaska

It was perfect, except for the one fall. LOL  Grandpa was happy with Arielle and Benny and we had a great picnic on the lake. I was skeptical when Michael told me not to bring a picnic blanket but he was a man with a plan. 

Our best picnic spot yet! 

It was so peaceful. We enjoyed our lunch on the water with the ducks and loons. Eagles and seagulls flew over head. Every once in awhile there were sounds from the shooting range, but it wasn't bad this time of day and we had the whole lake to ourselves. 

It was a treat to be able to soak in the beautiful scenery and the peace and quiet. We were able to finish a conversation. ::snort::  We are brainstorming a way to make a dolly for dragging the boat along next time. LOL 

We are able to go out together as Arielle and the boys come to hang out with Grandpa on Mondays. Arielle even re-made his bed, did several loads of laundry and watched a movie with the boys and Grandpa. Benny was quite taken with this very comfortable little boy bed....which is fine as Millie isn't taken with it at all. LOL 

I did my best to impress Benny with freshly squeezed orange juice. After his first drink, he asked if I could give him a "full cup" so he could show it to his Daddy. ::snort:: 

Stacia fixed Chicken Parmesan, biscuits, asparagus and green beans (from our garden). 

I told the girls we HAD to conquer my terror of Chard and use it tonight. Allie found an online recipe and we adjusted it. I didn't have the wine, so used chicken broth. I can't eat parmesan cheese and subbed nutritional yeast....we used twice the onion and added cashews...oh and a pinch of bacon salt. 

Success. Everyone but Alex ate it. He filled up on Asparagus (I AM enjoying the fresh produce in the house).  Everyone who tried it took seconds. I headed to the computer to add chard to my order for next Tuesday - but I already have 6 bunches of kale on there....I figure it cooks much the same....

Dad was TIRED tonight. He told us repeatedly that Benny was a good little boy!  He went to bed shortly after dinner. The house is quieting down for the night. Nolan will be home in a few hours. 

Wonderful Weekend

It's been a great weekend....Krista came out to see Luke Friday night and spent the night here. We enjoyed visiting with her in the morning, and getting to see Luke and Reno before they  headed out for adventure. 

THESE ones have been in WA all week.  It was fun to see them again. I've missed hearing, "Baachan! I'm here!" at the door. 
That smile. 

Michael took advantage of the sunny day, and the company, to finish burning one of the brush piles. 

This gave us hours to simply sit, catch up, and watch the smoke....

...and warm our hands.
"Baachan, this is how to warm hands!" 

Michael is behind the smoke - I can barely see him. 

I took Benny into the greenhouse and garden....he was quick to discover the toys which had been left out last fall.  Between Benny and the chickens I should have the beds ready in short order. LOL 

I planted some seeds and put them in the greenhouse - under plastic. I am hoping they'll stay warm enough to germinate. We are just starting to see tiny green shoots under the surface. The ones in the house are much quicker....but I don't have enough room for all of the seedlings. 

We've ordered a load of compost....and I'm planning to make one of the beds into the "Grands Garden." Bella has expressed an interest, Livie wants to plant carrots, and Benny is all about anything in the dirt. 

Such sweet belly laughs! 

The trampoline is finally put to use. We may well need to replace this soon....we'll have to start watching sales and lists.  It works fine for these guys, Josiah mentioned it's getting low when he's on it. LOL 

We enjoyed the leisurely afternoon to catch up. We also watched a sale's list and saw a few things we wanted to check on.  

Meanwhile, inside, Stacia enlisted Allie's help in making a veritable forest of fondant pine trees. 

The day kept getting better. Josiah, Carrie, Livie and Willow stopped by for a couple of hours - or maybe it was a few hours. 

Livie and Benny 

Stacia pulled out the fondant figures from Christmas as they continued to play with ideas for the cake.....

Yep, they got Josiah to join them on the trampoline. 

This little girl was heading out for her shots. 

When everyone had gone home, Michael, Dad, Allie and I headed out to look at a promising Greenhouse. Unfortunately, we'd have to disassemble it and reassemble it at home. It would fit over the foundation of the one that blew away, but it's not 100% what we wanted....I don't know that we've decided if we want it. I know I don't want to pay $1500 for it and then have to do twice the work to get it set up. The sellers seem willing to negotiate prices. Michael and I are committed to working smarter as our work force has dwindled. We're still trying to decide which jobs we want less labor intensive and which jobs we're willing to work more to pay less. LOL 

We had a LATE dinner by the time we got home from looking at the greenhouse...and driving by the 6000 SF home we'd put an offer on before we moved up. We're SO glad we ended up in THIS house and in THIS town. 

I planned to adjust my Azure order - but by the time I got to it - it was locked. Ah well. It may be an interesting order. 

Today was the first day in 3 weeks Dad and I made it to church.  It was wonderful to see everyone.  We spent a lazy afternoon at home....I even took a nap!!!

My water bottle smells like smoke no matter what I do....a reminder of the leisurely Saturday afternoon. 

We're energized and ready for another busy week ahead. 

Saturday, May 01, 2021

FRESH ORGANIC Produce - We Did a Thing

 One of the "hard" things about living in Alaska is the lack of fresh produce.  Long time readers will know I have RUN produce co-ops in both San Antonio and San Angelo, TX.  Our last assignment was in the farm-belt of CA. I was vegan for 9 years. We ate CASES of produce in these places....and then we moved here. The prices are high....but the produce doesn't taste very good. We found ourselves not wanting to EAT the produce we spent exorbitant amounts of dollars to buy. Things are either on the edge of going bad or its obvious they were picked, and shipped, green or frozen.....

Months ago I heard about Wholesome Food Coop which operates here in the Valley. I joined the Facebook group. I got OVERWHELMED. They order from Azure Standard, Frontier, Equal Exchange, Locally sourced, and Organically Grown Company.  I watched the announcements come and go and put the idea on the back burner. I waited for a time when I could make sense of all the ordering procedures. 

BUT they began something called a Fresh Produce Pack. One simply gives them $39.99 plus  20% and receives a bag of organic produce. The order is due the  first  and third Tuesdays of the month and pick up is the second and fourth Tuesdays. WAIT...that means the produce will be no more than  6 days out of the warehouse when we receive it. FRESH.  I didn't want to pay a lot extra for organic, but four years after moving to Alaska, I AM willing to pay higher prices for FRESH....I decided to get one pack and see what we thought. I ordered. Tuesday, 27 Apr we picked up our first order. 

There it is....$47 worth of fresh, organic produce. Below is a photo which shows what is inside....I would say enough for 2 - 4 people for 2 weeks? Maybe.  I've been told to get 3 packs for our crew. 

When I went online to order, I was reminded the supplier is Organically Grown Company. Michael's sister, Rebecca, has worked at OGC for at least 30 years. I texted her and she shared they pick the freshest produce to send to their Alaska customers as it has the furthest to go. I did the math. Our order closes on Tuesday. It would be put in on Wed and would ship shortly after that. We pick up 7 days after our order closes. I am sure, other than growing or finding a local source, this will be the freshest I can get.    We have BEEN in this warehouse. We've eaten many yummy offerings from this company. They are in Eugene, OR and I knew I'd be hard pressed to find fresher.  I looked around the split orders a bit. I decided to add my name to a few splits as I knew the produce pack was probably not enough for us. The prices were much CHEAPER than what I pay for produce locally. I FORGOT there would be a per pound shipping fee AND a 20% co-op handing fee the end I may have paid the same but it's FRESH and ORGANIC. I don't buy organic locally, I can't afford it. 

I noted the co-op fee can be lowered and nearly waived if one volunteers. I've run produce co-ops and natural food co-ops...I decided 3 hours at pickup would be a good way to see what is ordered and how this group operates, and bring the handling fee down for next quarter.  Allie got done with school early and joined me. We counted the sorting as 3 hours of strength and cardio....she hauled the heavy boxes and we certainly did run back and forth a lot. I got 10K steps. We had a fairly good time and were welcomed as heroes when we came home with our loot. 

I am, once again, decorating with fresh produce. Is there anything prettier? 

Ye old fruit bowl

This pile has been whittled to 3 artichokes
I plan to use the chard today - somehow

11 days to go and I'm down to 1 lonely avocado

Y'all - I can't explain what has happened around here, people are EATING produce again. The oranges are SWEET and juicy. The cantaloupes are ORANGE and sweet. The avocados have NO BROWN SPOTS and are perfect. The apples are CRISP and FLAVORFUL. I'm not sure what to do with the Swiss Chard. My one mishap is my pepper purchase. I THOUGHT to get 3 bell peppers...I ended up with 3 bags of mini peppers.  ::snort:: 

We ate all the broccoli and one of the cantaloupes the first night. We've been enjoying lots of veggies and fruit this week.....Doc picked a good time to tell me to get 30 grams of fiber a day. Goodbye, Fiber drink. 

I tried avocado toast - freshly squeezed juice and a fresh organic egg too. Dad, Allie and I like it.  

Michael loves Brussel Sprouts - we have this many more left for next week. The rest of us are sort of neutral on these things....

The salmon was topped with fresh parsley - and I used 1/2 our asparagus...yummy fruit....

Burn the Portabella's she said - so I did. We got 4.  I baked them, froze them and will grill them when we have burger burns. We ate one and it was good...not marvelous but I think it will be when I grill them. LOL  I ordered more to get more than 3 in the freezer. 

I pressed bread crumbs into an avocado, spritzed it with oil, salt and pepper and tossed it in the air fryer for 7 minutes at about 350...then filled it with salmon salad. Stacia and I loved them. No one else has tried them yet. Michael doesn't like avocados, but then we don't love Brussel Sprouts...give and take people. 

The parsley won't stay fresh forever and we didn't need a ton of garnish, so I dried it. 

And then I asked the girls to make guacamole to go with the pizza - it seemed to work...and one thing led to another and now we have one lonely avocado left. We THOUGHT we'd have so many we would have to give them away. 

I've been working on the Azure Standard order. I have to submit that tonight....and the produce order for 11 May is open until Tuesday I'm trying to guess how much we will eat in the next 11 days....and put in our second order. 

I've signed up to work every pick up so by next quarter our 20% co-op fee will be 75% waived. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

And FINALLY....the One with a Zillion Random photos... it is....the "catch up" post.  Random glimpses of life since 16 that don't fit in other posts and maybe should just be left on the camera. LOL 

Nolan and Jamin BOTH made it home on Sunday the 18th.  It ironic they both fell asleep in the living room. I guess they come home when they're ready to crash! LOL 


Alex called in and was told he didn't need to show up for jury duty. 

I've been slowly testing my feet out...frankly they hurt all the time, I may as well walk a bit. Ice, Ibuprofen, stretches, inserts and new shoes. I'm walking 1.5 miles most mornings. 

Stacia wanted to go for a run. I went along for a bike ride....enjoying the weather. 

Our home was visited by a red robed monk? Nah, it's Stacia's birthday gift to Allie. This thing is amazing...a blanket with a hood, cuffs and pockets. 

Allie turned 17. 

Millie was on hand to be helpful! 

I don't know...maybe a bone? 

I continue to nudge Grandpa out for a walk every few days. He loves the ability to sit down when he wants to. LOL 

Selfie's are a challenge.

Alex pulls trampoline parts from the ice and sets up the trampoline. We moved it around for a few days to aid in melting the snow under it. Yeah - it's an Alaskan thing they aiding of spring. 

Nolan is working on his 3rd class for this session of WGU. The VA requires him to finish 18 credits every 6 months. He's pushing....I think the sun was a great help. 

I don't have photos but this would be as good a spot as any to mention how hard Stacia and Allie are pushing with school. I'm proud of them. They are up early and sticking to their schedules.  I think they may both finish this year's work early in May. Then it will be up to me to get the paperwork done. LOL 

Millie  knows when the "forever treat" comes out she is either going to be banned from the table or go into the kennel. 

Selfie anyone? 

Walks are slow, because walking is slow....and also because Dad loves to pick up rocks along the way. 

The chickens are very happy to be out in the yard again! The rooster, Pietro, keeps flying over the fence and then racing along the fence line all day. He can't seem to figure out how to get back inside the fence. 

The adult Gherkins know they are ALWAYS welcome to drop by - and they do. We see Arielle and the boys quite often. Cy, Carrie and Livie usually drop by on the weekends. Jamin drops in when he's got a house to show in the valley or a moment to breathe....but once a month we have a family dinner. The idea is to celebrate any holidays, birthdays and anniversaries on that date. This month I FORGOT to roll them all together so we had Easter dinner with everyone, BreZaak invited us all over to celebrate Bella...but we decided to take advantage of Allie turning 17 to get together for another family blow out. CoRielle were in Washington and BreZaak couldn't make it...but the rest of us had a fun night together. 

We SORELY miss Bre when it's time to sing Happy Birthday....we may need to get some vocal lessons.

Livie is willing to help blow out the candles...and sympathizes
with Allie over the pig hat. 

All told Allie had 3 celebrations - I think she has well and truly had a birthday! LOL 

Michael is shoring part of the row boat. He will add handles which will make it easier for us to carry, and allow us to add a trolling motor. 

The girls and I hung our hammocks  - and promptly were called into battle with the giant mosquitoes. The mosquito magnet will eventually catch up with them - or so we hope. 

View from the hammock

WHUT? Look what showed up on my van! 

 Have I mentioned how very happy I am to be able to walk outside again in the mornings? 

We ordered a few dresses for the girls to try for the upcoming wedding.....

Since Alex didn't have jury duty he took advantage of a bit of time off to reconnect with chickens, to work out, to play video games and  help out with a couple of projects around here.  Who knew chickens could be so "centering." 

Another walk...they probably don't walk with me because they don't want a photo with morning hair. 

Stacia has begun playing with ideas for a small wedding cake....

Millie is willing to try out her new bed if the humans will join her.

It's been a full couple of weeks....and it is only going to get busier as the weather changes and we move OUTSIDE. 

*I'm nearly caught up....I need to back date a post on produce and Millie....nearly caught up.