Friday, August 31, 2007

fat free cupcakes

I haven't been to Gottschalks in months and months but I went the other day to look for a blanket and found this cute little plate. It was on a sale rack for .94 cents. How could I resist?

Then I found this cottage looking candle holder. Also .94 cents. How could I resist this as well?

I knew it wouldn't be used for a candle but I thought just maybe the cute little plate could sit on it and when we had company I would use it for cookies.

Then I thought of cupcakes.

And what better way to display these adorable crocheted cupcakes from Splendid Designs than on this little stand and plate. How cute is that? A perfect display! Don't you agree?

I thought it was such a clever idea but with fall coming, would want some cupcakes in a fall theme. So I put my order in to Splendid Designs and this is what she came up with:

Aren't they cute? I can hardly wait to get them. They're just too cute for words.

By the way, I returned to Gottschalks yesterday because there was a second candle stand I thought I might as well get if it was still there. Plus more plates! I got three plates and one stand all for $4.03! This is about as good as it gets in Juneau!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

a crab care package

This is Porter investigating a cooler we received from a friend in Gustavus last week. He knows a good thing when he smells it, because inside is about 20 dungeness crab.

Gustavus is a remote community west of here. It's located right on the water where the fishing is plentiful. They don't have any tourist industry, no industry actually except for Glacier Bay National Park which is nearby. It's a wonderful little place. I'd like to live there. It's a place where you would, without a doubt, know all your neighbors and live a quiet life. You'd wear flannel shirts in the summer and wool shirts in the winter. You'd always be wearing some kind of hat. And XtraTuff rubber boots. You wouldn't worry so much if you didn't take a shower that day because chances are, you wouldn't see anyone. You would downsize before moving out there, keeping only the essentials; you wouldn't require a lot of fluff in this new life. You would live with nature and live pretty much off the land. You would come into town (Juneau) a few times a year to shop. Life would be simple.

We have a friend who used to come to Juneau to fish every summer. He fell in love with Alaska and ended up moving to Gustavus where he built his own little homestead. Gary keeps us supplied with fresh dungee crab, halibut, and shrimp. We love Gary!

We usually eat crab for a couple nights and then crack and freeze it for quiches later on.

This was our dinner one night--crab louie (salad), a crab quiche, and rosemary/garlic bread. Yummy!

Here's the recipe for the crab quiche:

Crab Quiche

Pastry for 9" pie crust
1 cup crab meat, pat dried
1 cup swiss cheese, shredded
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
1/3 cup finally chopped onion
4 eggs
2 cups whipping cream
3/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 425. Sprinkle crab, cheeses, and onion in pastry-lined pan.
Beat eggs slightly; beat in remaining ingredients. pour into pie plate.
Bake uncovered 15 minutes.
Reduce oven to 300 degrees. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. I usually end up having to cook it for much longer than 30 minutes though.
Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
This is so good, hot, warm, or cold. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

TAG, you're it!

I've been tagged by Lazylol from the UK. I don't know anyone international so this is exciting. I have to say, I've visited many British blogs but.... honestly... half the time I don't know what they're talking about! They speak a whole different language than we do... I apologize, in advance, for insulting anyone, but I suspect we have words that are as equally confusing. Okay, so I don't exactly know the rules but I think I'm supposed to share eight things about myself. I have to say that I have a very boring life, just ask my son. He's always telling me so, so it must be true! Growing up wasn't much better. But here goes. Eight things.....

1. I didn't really think I was afraid of bugs until yesterday.... A lady came to the nursery, holding a mason jar with a half eaten leaf, this 3" long black, slimy thing the thickness of a pen, and all kinds of unmentionables in the jar.... She wanted to know what kind of caterpillar it was. Besides BUTT UGLY???? I asked????? She kept trying to hand the jar over to me of which I finally took and holding it at arm's length, she goes, "you really don't like looking at it do you?" Ya think? I was ready to pass out. Honest to goodness, I was ready to throw up; my legs were weak; and I was light headed. I didn't know until that moment that bugs bothered me....

2. Which leads me into my second fearful item. I am, without a doubt, terrified of snakes. There's no question about it. I don't want to see a picture in a magazine or a snake on tv; I don't want to hear the grass move or see it slithering away. I hate snakes. It goes back to my childhood. I used to be tomboyish and remember even letting a little garden snake slither over my white tennies. One day I recall telling my mom about a snake I saw behind the garage and she said, "do not go back there!" So what did I do???? I went behind the garage.... The snake moved. I ran. And it wasn't until later that I noticed I had a big hole, the size of a quarter, in the side of my leg. It wasn't bleeding. It was just this big hole. Evidently when I ran, I ran into a pointy branch that cut a hunk out of my leg. I didn't cry. My mom thought it would turn out okay if we just let it be.... To this day I have an upside down heart scar on my leg that no one... no one..... is allowed to touch. It doesn't hurt. It just gives me the willies.

3. Since I'm on a roll of scary things, how about I'm afraid of being alone. I'm 55 and afraid of being alone. Mostly at night. Again, this goes back to my childhood. We lived along the railroad tracks. Well, originally it was the trolley car (does that date me or what?!). But we had "hobos" that walked up and down the tracks. We also had "peeping toms." One night when I was about 8, I went into my bedroom and heard the bedroom window opening (or possibly closing), and I ran so fast back into the living room and hid behind my mom who was sitting on the couch. Our dad was in the veteran's hospital at the time and it was just my mom and us four kids. My oldest sister, Georgia, put on my dad's overcoat and hat and with a bat in one hand and a fake, deep voice, scoped the rest of the house out to make sure no one had come inside. Today, I am still afraid of the dark. Of being in the house, at night, alone. Of shadows. Of strange noises. BUT, I no longer take a knife to bed with me when my husband is away. Yes, I am a scaredy cat...

4. I love crawfish! We used to catch them as a child and my mom would cook them in a large canner. She added pickling spices is all, I believe, and they were finger licking good. Gross as it might seem, I'll even suck the guts out, eat the fat in the stomach, and eat the meat behind the eyeball. Sad but true!

5. I love playing games: Scrabble, Mexican dominoes, dice, cards, Yatzee. I don't know cribbage or chess and really don't have any desire to learn them.

6. I was married for 21 years but it just didn't work out. We have two children, Tracy and Bucky. We've been divorced for 15 years. I've been remarried to my perfect soul mate and best friend for 12 years now. But, Soapy (my ex) and I are still friends. He's been our realtor, he gives us King crab and venison, I give him zucchini bread and cookies. We even spend holidays and other important events together like the kids' birthdays. It hasn't always been this way but it's a good place to be. My kids didn't ask for a broken home but I think they would agree that we're all in better places, happier places, and that's worth something. Is it strange spending Thanksgiving with your ex? Yea, a little, but it works for us.

7. This is probably no secret but I love chocolate. I love candy. I love sweets. I I had to give it up tomorrow, I don't know if I could.... Give me Junior Mints, peanut butter cups, or chocolate covered cherries and I'm one happy camper.

8. I believe in Santa.

So there you have it. The good, the bad, and the ugly! Now I'm supposed to tag other people. It gets hard at this point because I'm sure everyone has already been tagged more than once but here's a couple I'm hoping hasn't been tagged recently.

Tracy at Simply Blissful
Connie at Notes from a Cottage Garden
Deb at Homespun Living

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

just things

I don't really want to spend a lot of time thinking about what to write on my blog today so will just write some things that are "out there."

First, I've been nominated for the Rockin Girl Award by my daughter, Tracy! Me, Rockin??? Maybe a few years ago I was rockin a little more than today. Some days I just feel like I need a rockin chair.... Blog awards are fun; they certainly make us feel special. I nominate Tina at Cherry Hill Cottage and A Pink Bee at Fairiebees because I never get tired of their creative ideas.

My husband and I run Doggy Day Care four days a week. Not really.... but it seems we always have more dogs than our own little Sadie on any given day. Maybe it's our big, fenced yard. Maybe it's the cookies.... Maybe it's just that we love them. Whatever, dogs LOVE coming here! We watch Kona, my son's dog, four days a week because she didn't take kindly to moving out a year ago.... If left to her own devices during the day when Bucky and Michelle are working, she chews up the door. So they have to bring her over here. And I don't blame her for loving our place. We have the big, fenced yard to run in and low windows to look out of and a comfy couch that is all hers. It's truly a great place for dogs. And now with Tracy out of town and Adam working, we have Porter. He loves it here too, loves our Sadie. He's still a young pup; about a year old but is doing really well. This was the scene a few minutes ago. Honestly, I didn't drug them or beat them! It was just nap time! Sadie was sleeping on the couch (her picture didn't turn out; too dark). My hubby is fishing with Ray today and Timber (Ray's extremely large malamute) wanted so badly to stay and play at Doggy Day Care that Ray had to literally shove his big butt out the door to get him to leave. It was pretty funny. Like I said, dogs love it here. Go figure.

This is Monkey Bread I made this morning. I love it and it's so simple to make. Here's the recipe:

4 small or 2 large refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. Mix 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Cut each biscuit in fourths and roll each piece in sugar mixture. Place in a well-greased bundt pan. Mix 1 cube margarine (melted), 3/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Pour butter mixture over biscuits. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

the real me

Today I have a dirty little secret to share....

It has to do with blogging.

And it has to do with your blogs....

Have you ever noticed that you never see any real photos of my home? Everything I show is usually a closeup.

Know why?

It's because my house isn't a picture perfect home! It's cluttered, it's dusty, there's dog hair everywhere!

And I'm embarrassed to show it on-line!

Here it is.... This is our home! Mess and all.

Yet, when I visit your blogs, all the nicknack's are sparkling (no dust), your beds are perfectly made with not a wrinkle in the sheets and all the pillows placed perfectly, and not a mess anywhere!

I have to say, it makes me feel somewhat inferior, less than perfect! Embarrassed! Even on my best day, my house doesn't look so sparkling clean! Never is my house decluttered.

Okay, so these pictures are about as bad as it gets, well, excepting for the stack of disorderly magazines and catalogs everywhere....

and the dust bunnies under the chairs ....

and the dishes in the sink....

and the clutter on the counters....

My bed does get tossed together most days, but never will it look picture perfect.

The dog hair is swept up every other day but in between sweeps, you wonder when was the last time.

And for the most part my home is ready for company at a minute's notice. So why can't I show the "real me" on my blog?

It's really not that bad but sometimes I wonder what your homes look like on any given normal day, and not just during a photo shoot.... Is the sun really always shining through your windows? Are your windows always really clean? Are your kitchens really so pefect looking? If I came to visit would I see toothpaste gooped in the bathroom sink? A dirty coffee pot? Unfinished laundry? Piled newspapers?

I love my life. I try to live a balanced, healthy life. I no longer have such a strong need to be perfect.... (yes, Tracy, another inherited trait I'm sorry to say....), to have the perfect life.... I try hard to keep my home looking presentable; clean; decluttered-but-lived in. Maybe I'll just start showing more of the real me and not some version of what I think I should be for others.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

talking trash

Here in Juneau our dump is turning into a mountain. Granted, our family hasn't helped the cause any to keep it down. I honestly don't know where all our trash comes from. We have our regular trash pickup on Thursdays, but in addition, we probably take six pickup loads of "stuff" to the dump each year. In our defense, we also offer to take our children's stuff when we go, or when they need something taken, we can usually fill the truck up with our stuff as well. But our dump site is becoming a mountain quite rapidly and I honestly don't know how much higher they can go!

I'd like to say we collect trash from the side of the road just so we can dispose of it, but, sadly, that is not so.... It's just stuff.... sometimes remodeling remnants, a broken water heater, or old chicken wire that no longer has a use. But seriously, where does it all come from? I know of no other family that disposes of so much trash as us!

I always felt we did our share of taking care of the earth. We compost as much as we can. All of our fruits, vegies, coffee grounds, egg shells, get composted into these plastic compost bins. We can easily fill them both up by the end of fall. We don't do a lot of composting in the winter because of snow and ice but I suppose we could put a temporary trash can in the garage and keep it going all year long.

We try to burn all of our cardboard in the back yard. "Try" but often it just gets thrown in the trash. What I would really like is for Costco to not double bag and box their products....

We take all our plastic grocery bags back to a recycle center or our local thrift shop to reuse. I know that cloth bags are the next step; I just have to do it.

I thought we were doing good.... But as I was reading Simply Splendid the other day, I realized that we're not doing all that we could be doing. I don't want to be the cause of a landfill mountain! I want my grandbabies to have a healthy earth to live on, and their grandbabies. So we did what any normal, earth-conscience person would do....

We headed to Fred Meyers and bought plastic containers to hold our recyclable trash in. We don't have curbside recycle here otherwise I think more people would recycle. But we can take it to the dump for free and they ship it down south to recycle centers.

So now, we have a basket for each category at the recycle center: newspapers/catalogs/magazines; aluminum; mixed paper; #1 clear plastic; #2 clear plastic; #2 colored plastic; plastic bags; cans; and bottles.

It does take a conscience effort to take a minute to look on the back of one of those Costco plastic fruit holders to see if it's a plastic #1 or plastic #2 because you can't combine the two in a recycle center. It also takes a minute to save all this trash and take it out to the garage. But we can do it; it won't hurt us.

So, thank you Jeanetta, for being persistent with your "go green" articles. Even if I'm the only person that listened and is taking action.... maybe your next article will bring two more and then three and then pretty soon the whole world will be following in your footsteps! :) We still have a long ways to go. I'd like to learn how to clean without using so many harsh products. And simply not cleaning is not an option! I'd welcome any tips on how to "go green."

There's still a lot we can do but they'll be gradual changes. My hubby can only take so much change in his life. Baby steps. If we all just take baby steps, we will make a difference. Nancy

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

my pathetic life

Blogging isn't as easy as I thought it would be and most days I struggle to think of something interesting to write about. After all, I want my entries to be interesting with a little humor peppered here and there and maybe a life lesson to contemplate occasionally or a recipe to drool over. I like variety. Then there's the photos to include. But the bottom line is it all takes time. How do you all do it every single day?! I'm retired. I should have plenty of time to keep up my blog, but I don't.

Know why?

I spend too much time taking pictures of lazy dogs....

Of dogs left behind.

Of dogs being spooky....

about shadows on the ceiling....

This is how pathetic my life is!

Occasionally I even play the game "I spy" with objects in the garden.... I spy something that starts with the letter "S." Look closely....

Of reflections in the window and.... I spy two little faces in the bottom pane....

And another reason I don't have more time to blog....

This is Chippy.... He's begging for peanuts.

Need I say more? Pathetic... just pathetic.... Nancy

Sunday, August 19, 2007

a road trip to the glacier

Today you get to be a tourist. I thought we'd take a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. It won't take long. And it won't cost you a dime! So come on! Let's go see what's happening at the glacier today!

This is the road to the glacier. It's just about a two mile drive from our home. You can see the top of the glacier there in the middle (the white area).

Since I came to Juneau in 1971, the glacier has receded considerably. Now there's so much rock and mountain exposed. It's a pretty incredible sight. You can sorta get an idea when you look at all the ice that has recently calved off.

I hope you wore some comfortable walking shoes as we'll be venturing out on to the observation trail. The forest service built this incredible trail and viewing areas for tourists where we can observe the bear in their natural habitat (eating, fishing, climbing trees, nursing, snoozing) without the worry of getting mauled. We're in luck today as I see sign of bear!

One of their many fine dining areas along Steep Creek. This creek is a favorite dining spot of theirs as it isn't very deep (inches) and the spawning sockeye salmon plentiful. You can see half eaten salmon along the creek banks.

Another sign of bear: their bathroom.... (the little red specks are either fish eggs or berries. Sorry, but couldn't get close enough (or want to!) to see for sure!

And we're not the only tourists here today. I wonder what they're looking at....

OH! A little black bear! Don't worry. The forest service guide (in the green clothes) has everything under control....

He's not shy around so many people as you can tell. Another forest service guide keeps watch below (his boots). We have plenty of guides around us for protection, if we need it. Don't worry.... They're here to protect us AND the bears and will remind you to talk quietly, walk quietly, hurry along.... as the need arises.

And yet another forest service guide possibly preventing the little guy from getting up onto the trail (and us!).

Even the forest service guides take pictures! Here, the little guy decides just maybe he doesn't want to go any further and returns in the direction he came.

And says "goodbye" for today.

I hear yells, "can we follow him? Can we follow him?"

No, we can't follow him! Why? This is why:

Trail closed for the rest of the season due to increased bear activity. Evidently a couple bear "rushed" some tourists more than once and the forest service had to close the trail to protect us. So the caution signs could keep us from passing through.... but what about bear coming from the other direction?

Hope you enjoyed the tour! Unfortunately, you were looking at the rotting sockeye when Mike and I came upon a momma black bear and two cubs.... One cub was way up high in a cottonwood tree, the other on the ground near its momma. After a bit, the momma walked over to the base of the tree and must have gave the treed baby bear a look, or something, because the bear started making these little bear sounds and scurried back down. Momma and two cubs went to their pad, laid down, and nursed. Sorry you couldn't be there to see it.... Until next time.... N.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

the day after birthday pictures

Yesterday was my daughter's birthday. Today I feel a year older. Why is that? It's funny because birthdays never bothered me, or at least not mine. When I turned 40, it didn't bother me; when I turned 50, it didn't bother me; when I turned 55.... okay, it finally clicked that I was no spring chick anymore! Yet, when the kids turned another year old, I would think, "wow, they're really getting old!Imagine, ME, with a 30 year old!" Ha!

Here's Tracy hanging up her Happy Birthday banner custom made by Jerusalem at Storia Home. Oh, my gosh! If you have a birthday coming up or some other occasion -- a new baby being born -- a wedding -- you MUST run, not walk, your little fingers to Jeru's Etsy shop and order one of her banners. Her pictures don't do them justice. My picture doesn't do it justice. It was just too beautiful and I can hardly wait to order another one for my first grandbaby due in November. (By the way, I had the banner hung already but we wanted a better placement for it to take a picture. It's not like Tracy had to decorate for her own party!)

We had a busy day yesterday getting ready. Birthdays and other occasions are always events at my house. They're all about the details. Bucky built a fire. I love having a fire pit on our deck, but sadly the only time we use it is when Bucky builds a fire. I love my son for that detail that he adds to our gatherings.

I'm not certain why I feel such a need to make birthdays and holidays so special, but I suspect it goes back to my childhood. I was raised in a very dysfunctional home and, unfortunately, don't have many good memories of my childhood. Not to say I didn't have a nice birthday, I just don't remember; they were usually overshadowed by the drinking and fighting. Anyway, I think that's why I've tried to make good memories for my children. So when they got older they had more good memories to fall back on than bad.

Most parties have a theme involved. One year for Bucky's 8th birthday, I think it was, the theme was "snowboarding." The balloons were all white and hovered over the dining table, like clouds. On the table was a white cake with a skiing theme. I stuffed Soapy's (my first husband) wet suit with clothes and then dressed it with skiing clothes and propped it next to the table to look like a snowboarder. It was pretty fun although Bucky says he doesn't remember it.... Maybe these birthday themes are more for me.... than my kids.... hmmmm....

Yesterday's theme was Bullwinkle's Pizza Parlor. Tracy wanted home made pizza, cooked on the grill, "just like we had at Bucky and Michelle's that time." Oh, so yummy. We got popcorn from Bullwinkles and I placed it in some cute little popcorn holders I bought last time I was down "South" (The local's term for anywhere in the "Lower 48." Another local term for anywhere other than Juneau.) It looked really cute placed on my bathroom-cupboard-doors-turned-into-a-serving-tray. I also made a gigantic salad, but it ended up being mainly for looks because the pizzas were so good.

Michelle and Bucky came early so she could "help" make the pizza dough for me.... Okay, she did it all but only because I'm not so good when it comes to working with yeast.... and I didn't want dinner to be ruined. Doesn't she look so cute all pregnant? We just love Michelle and can't imagine not having her part of our family. Bucky couldn't have picked a better partner.

The pizzas turned out incredible, as I knew they would with Bucky in charge. He's an incredible cook. One of my favorite combos was Italian sausage, sun dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. I think it was. Really really good. Of course Canadian Bacon and pineapple being one of my favorite. Earlier in the day the weather was gorgeous, but by the time it came to grill the pizzas, it was just pouring down. Poor Bucky was outside, under the gutters, trying to stay dry while us girls were inside eating pizza as it came hot off the grill!

And for dessert? This cake. Oh, so good. Michelle is an incredible baker and I've heard rumors would like to open her own bakery one day. I hope she follows her dream and heart and makes it happen one day, when the time is right. This wasn't any box cake mix but the real thing. Too bad she forgot to take the leftovers home.... :)

So that was our birthday party yesterday. I hope Tracy had a great birthday. I love you, sweetie. mom

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Okay, I know in my first blog entry I wrote that blogging would be a piece of cake for me because I always have something to write about. But I was wrong. Today I'm speechless; don't know what to say. If you look hard enough, you might just see me blushing.... I'm not so comfortable having special attention bestowed upon me.... But Jerusalem, at My Little Life, nominated me for the Nice Matters Award. My first award! That was so nice and I feel so honored. Thank you, Jerusalem!

But why....? The only reason I can think of is because I plugged my daughter's new Etsy site with her cute, homemade journals. Oops, there I go again! Tracy said it was a shameless plug, but what's a mother for if not to help and encourage her children through all stages of life?!
When I started my blog, I wasn't certain where I was headed with it. I had been a faithful reader of Jerusalem's blog and loved it. Hardly a day went by that I didn't "check in" with her life and her family. It was like I was eavesdropping; spying on them. Eventually I left a comment. That opened up a whole new beginning of blogging for me. I was no longer a closet blogger! And now I have my own. It's been a wonderful experience; I don't know that I'll blog for ever, but for now it's filling a void in my life.

Blogging brings like people together and friendships are formed. Creative people blog together; share inspiration and creative ideas. Gardeners tend to attract other gardeners and share their garden ideas. People who love to cook, tend to cook together. Then there's people like me who don't seem to have a theme. I get the best of all blogging worlds. I so appreciate the friendships that are forming; my readers; those people who have decided that Pieces of the Puzzle are worthy of their time. We may never meet in person, but know I'm sincere when I say I appreciate the time you spend visiting me and my family on-line and for giving me the opportunity to visit you.

On that note, I would like to nominate the following for the Nice Matters Award:

My daughter, Tracy at Simply Blissful, of course. Tracy for her sweetness, her creativity, her integrity, her love for her family, and just for being Tracy.

Connie at Notes From a Cottage Garden. Connie has THE most incredible photos of vegies and flowers and butterflies and hummingbirds that she shares with us. It's truly a treat to visit her site.

Julie, from Equus Villa. When you go to Julie's blog, the first thing you see is this beautiful barn/home that she lives in. From there, stories of her life.

A Pink Bee from fairiebees. She's a busy lady; very creative; and so very nice.

Manuela from The Feathered Nest. Just because she always has such nice comments.

I know some of you have already been nominated, probably many times over, but I just wanted to acknowledge that I appreciate your friendships and your regular visits to my life. Nancy

Saturday, August 11, 2007

journals are a girl's best friend

What great news I have today! My daughter has her Etsy shop, Simply Blissful, up and ready to shop from! Tracy has always loved paper. Even as a young girl she used to collect the cellophane that came wrapped around candy. Now, today, she makes the cutest journals. In her blog she says, "Honestly, though, I am still wondering if people will buy them. I mean, I think they're totally cute, but underneath it all, they're still just composition notebooks & anyone can make their own if they were so inclined." CAN being the key word. Sure, we could! We CAN do anything we want. But the majority of us won't. That's what I love about all the Etsy homemade craft sites. I can enjoy everyone elses talents without having to actually invest in all the different craft materials!

I love Tracy's journals. She gave me one a few months ago to write all my thoughts down; to vent. I was going through a difficult period of time (involving a 17 year old stepdaughter who came to live with us.... against her will....) and she knew this was an avenue I've used for years and years to keep my thoughts straight.

But journals can be used for anything, not just as a diary. I need a place to keep "all my ducks in a row," as my sister would say. But it's true! If I don't write things down.... it'll never get done, it may never get purchased, we may never actually arrive at our vacation destination site with our toothbrushes and underwear! Yes, I'm a master list maker and I'm proud of it! You, too, can be a master list maker by following the steps below:

STEP ONE. Find a notebook to keep all your ducks in a row. One of those note pads you steal... I mean take from the hotel room does not count.... You need something with some substance. Something you will navigate toward each time you need to write a thought down. It doesn't work if you have notes and thoughts written on a hundred different pieces of paper laying here and there.

A medium size notebook works best. You want something easy to write in. Although I have to say, I love Tracy's idea of a mini journal to throw in your purse! I also carry a little notebook in my purse that is mostly used for traveling. This mini notebook is where I keep my shopping list, most important email addresses, places to visit, etc. But a notebook, color coordinated to go with my purse.... hmmmmmm...... Okay, so, first step--go to Tracy's Etsy shop and purchase one of her journals! Or better yet--two--one of each size!

STEP TWO. Purchase some sticky notes. Post-it-Notes. These will come in handy to identify the different sections of your journal/notebook. I use them as tabs. Here's some of the sections in my journal:
  1. To do. The items on this list range from cleaning the toilet to painting the bathroom trim white. I don't know about you, but often times I feel like nothing ever gets accomplished. Why? Because most of what we do has to be redone next week. And the next after that. It's not like our men can go out and chop a cord of wood and feel that sense of accomplishment. Woo hoo!! There's not a lot of satisfaction in knowing the toilet is clean... But there is sense of satisfaction looking at all the check marks on your "to do" list once it's been done. Do you agree?

  2. Needs/Wants/Things to Purchase. This doesn't need much of an explanation. Most things I want in life are written down in this section. Items like: tv cabinet, white sheets, new pillows. Then there's the Bose stereo system.... Unfortunately this has been on my list for about 14 years now! It's a need/want of my husbands and not so much my need, but I still write it down and maybe one day....

  3. Travel section. This is where I write down everything I need to take on a trip, plus some. I've mentioned before that I'm not a light traveler, and this is why. As long as there's room on the page.... it means I need to pack one more thing.... Maybe the mini journal would work better for my travel section! I also write down my shopping list and stores/places I want to visit while on vacation. These are eventually transferred into my mini notebook that I carry in my purse.

  4. Landscaping section. Here I list plants I want to buy, yard art I'd like. You'll even find drawings of garden sites.

  5. Holiday Plans. This is where I write my ideas for Christmas--gifts to buy, decorating to do, craft projects to attempt. I always keep track of birthdays and other special days and ideas to celebrate them.

This is just a sampling of what I write in my notebooks. Okay, on to the next step.

STEP THREE. Always, always have your notebook/journal handy. It won't do you any good if you have to search for it when you need it. Next thing you know, you'll have 100 post-it-notes laying around again!

STEP FOUR. When you've filled up the journal, don't toss it! No! I love going back over my journals years later to see what I was up to. Do be sure you write a date in the cover though so you know what dates/years it covered (June - December 2007).

So that's how you, too, can become a master list maker. And if you just need a place to keep your most personal thoughts, these journals are perfect for that too. Happy journaling!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

seafood chowder

My cousin and his wife were in town a couple weeks ago, visiting my ex-husband. They've been good friends for well over 30 years, in fact, I met my first husband through my cousin. Anyway, we had everyone over for dinner and some good conversation before they headed back home. My "ex" brought the brightest red sockeye salmon that I sprinkled with a little lemon pepper, a spread of mayo, and lemon slices, and then baked. Oh, so good!

Also on the agenda was seafood chowder. As summer closes in on us and fall hovers overhead, you might need a good, solid chowder for dinner one night, or two. What's nice about this chowder is you can put anything in it--halibut, salmon, crab, shrimp, scallops or clams OR some of all! Keep in mind that these quantities are just estimates. I generally triple this recipe using 2 lbs of bacon, a whole onion, six stalks celery, five or six cloves of garlic, 5 lbs of potatoes, etc. You might want to add a little more flour than called for too if you like a thicker, creamier soup base.

I love my chowder full of goodness--lots of bacon, potatoes, and seafood. I probably don't put as much water and cream (whole milk) in that it calls for either to give it a thicker base. In this version I added about 3 lbs of halibut, 1 lb of small bay scallops, three cans of baby clams (with some juice), two trays of small Petersburg shrimp, 2 lbs of bacon, and 5 lbs of potatoes. Anyway, this recipe gives you a base to go by and you can feel confident that no matter what you add, it'll be scrumpuous! Add some crusty bread and you've got a meal!

Seafood Chowder

6 slices bacon
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup flour
6 cups water
8 tsp chicken bouillon
2 cups chopped potatoes
1 pound salmon or halibut or a variety of seafood
2 cup light cream

Cook bacon until crisp. In droppings cook celery, onion, and garlic until tender. Stir in flour. Gradually stir in water and bouillon. Bring to boil. Add potatoes. Reduce heat. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir in seafood. Cook 15 minutes. Add cream. Heat. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, August 4, 2007


It's 5:00 a.m. and I have a migraine; second day in a row now. I'd probably still be in bed if it wasn't for the tap tap I heard. There it is again--TAP TAP TAP. Is someone at the door? This early? Can't be.... TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP again. Louder and more desperate. Now I know where it's coming from. I get up and stumble out to the sliding glass door and, sure enough, a whole passel of BBJs (Baby Blue Jays) are sitting in front of the glass door, on the table, on the chairs, on the gazebo, in the trees. Just waiting for their breakfast. And impatiently, I might add! It's only 5:00 A.M. for crying out loud!!!!!

My question is, how do they know I'll get up and feed them?! How do they learn that? Did their parents tell them I'm a sucker? As I talk to other ladies, Blue Jays don't even bother them, let alone knock on their door.

Did I tell you the story about my husband's shower? No? I didn't think so. I'm at work and he was in the shower. He said when he came out, he heard the two dogs barking like crazy. Our little Sadie gets in a real frenzy when she barks and it's like she can't stop once she gets going. The more she barks the more she shakes her head and the more she shakes her head, the more she barks. We have to physically put our hands on her head and gently direct her to her bed to get her sto stop. We have not been able to correct this behavior and I don't know that we ever will. It's a frenzy behavior for her and one can only imagine what horror in her history created it. Anyway, back to the story. The dogs are barking like crazy and Mike thinks someone is at the door and here he is soaking wet. Upon investigation he realizes it's only the BBJs tapping at the glass door and the dogs going crazy thinking some one's at the front door. Silly girls.

These pictures were taken last year but you get the drift. As try as I might, if I ignore them they've started flying INTO the door!!! All you hear is this heavy BANG! Blue Jays have their positions within the flock.... I wonder what this one did that he got assigned this job....?! When they get tired of trying to get my attention on the back porch, they just fly to the front porch and sit on the porch rail and stare at me or fly in front of the windows to get my attention. Again, I ask..... how do they know I'm their neighborhood sucker but more importantly, WHY ME???

Thursday, August 2, 2007

a bridge collapses

We've been glued to the tv, watching the rescue unravel. It's sad to know that just 24 hours after it collapsed, the rescue has turned from finding the survivors to retrieving the dead. These are dangerous conditions. Thank God for the heroes and the goodness of every day citizens who have risked their lives to help and for the dedication of the firefighters and police force to do all they can. May God keep them safe and give them peace.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

a road trip

I love road trips! They put me to sleep though.... It's a good thing we live where we do because our road trips don't take much more than an hour's time. Maybe 1-1/2 hours depending on how much time we spend taking pictures. If you start from one end of Juneau and drive to the other end, it's about 60 miles. Here's some pictures from this week's road trip:

Alaskan cotton. This grows in a marshy, muskeggy environment (soggy) and is sometimes difficult to get to because the ground is so damp. It blooms for a couple weeks and looks like a ball of cotton. This picture was taken at the end of it's cycle and after the wind and rain has been beating on it for days. It's looking a little shabby, but still a beautiful field of cotton. I was hoping to get some cotton picked on this trip but it just wasn't meant to be.

Deer. On the way home, we turned into a driveway of some new houses that just went up 4-Sale. We heard they are low income housing.... overlooking Auke Lake.... Interested, because they're not very nice houses, we wanted a closer look. As we were "critiquing" them, we happened to notice a deer just feet away from us. I was snapping pictures like crazy, knowing the deer would take off at any second. Sadie was barking like crazy, like she wanted to attack this deer. The deer just stood and looked at us for the longest time. As we started backing out of the driveway, my husband noticed a second deer! So we stayed a little longer and appreciated their stillness while I snapped away.

Fireweed. Isn't it gorgeous? Fireweed is one of our most vibrant, and massive, wild flower. The stems can grow up to 5-6 feet high. The flowers start blooming from the bottom of the spike and as the days and weeks go by, more flowers open up until they get to the very tip of the stalk. When they reach the top, the old timers say we have six more weeks until winter.... This gorgeous view is from Brotherhood Bridge with the wild Fireweed in the foreground and the Mendenhall Glacier in the background. This view is about four minutes from our home. How lucky we are to be so close to such beauty.

Cottage. We don't have many cute, cottage-style homes in Juneau except in the downtown historic district. Most new houses are just big, ugly boxes with no class, no individuality to them. This is one of my favorite little homes in Juneau. I think it's just as cute as a bug's ear and I'd love to live here. It's next to the main house and is probably a rental or maybe a grandma apartment unit. I just love it. If I lived there, I'd probably put a different window on the left . It looks like the perfect homestead for my sweetie and me.

Container Van. Most everything that comes to Juneau comes in these container vans, on a barge, towed by a tug boat up through the Inside Passage, along the Alaska coast line. Groceries, clothes, furniture, new vehicles. Most everything. Some perishable items will arrive via Alaska Airlines as freight. We live on the mainland; we're not an island. We just don't have any road systems in or out of Juneau. To get to Juneau you either arrive on Alaska Airlines, the Alaska Marine Highway System, or your personal boat or small plane. The barge arrives on Tuesday of each week. In the 1970s and 80s, you could find yourself in a pickle if you needed milk or eggs on a Monday morning.... only to find the shelves empty and the barge not due for another day.

This was a short road trip but thought you'd enjoy seeing some local pictures of Juneau.