Saturday, April 30, 2011

Biological Warfare: Alaskan Style

Ah... navigating the treacherous journey of being a mother to boys.

We live in a really great neighborhood, at the end of a culdesac. There is only one other little boy, but he is younger than mine and has an early curfew. So when my boys go out to play, they play with a great group of rough and tumble girls. Three total.

I was tidying up and playing with my baby, when I hear a knock on the door. This usually means one of the girls with a report about one or both of the boys being less than careful in their play. So, I open the door and here are two of the girls, solemn faced and fidgety.

Brunette: "Mrs. Bell? Uhm.. Connor is uuhmmm... throwing moose turds.... at my head."
Blonde: "Uh HUH!" (eyes all wide and concerned)

This is one of those tricky moments, where you have to be serious too, and not lose it laughing at the hilarity of it all.
nature's grenades
Me: (barely stifling a giggle) "Weeellll.... that's not very nice, but moose just eat grass, sticks and bark.. so it's not like dog poop. It's pretty harmless."
Brunette: (pulling the big sad eyes on me) "But moose turds are hard. So it hurt... and it was right at my head!"

When I got to the bottom of it all, they were playing "war" and throwing "stuff" at each other, like sticks and dirt clods. Then Connor and another little girl, started throwing the ample moose turds at everyone. So, since it was late already, I gave a diplomatic warning to everyone that no one should be throwing anything at anyone. Then told the boys it was time to call it a night.
So, my boys were pulled from their play, for engaging in biological warfare, of the moosey kind. I'm still giggling over it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Another Door Opens (continued)

If you haven't read the first part of this, read "Another Door Opens" dated 04/23/11 to understand what is going on.

So, in order to make our decision, we made a list of pros and cons and also asked a few people what they thought. Most of the people we talked to, said that while leaving Alaska is very hard, Montana is so similar in it's way of life, and people, it would be "trading beauty for beauty" as one person put it.

The cons list is pretty small. Concerns were that homeschooling won't be as easy. Alaska is either the only state or one of very few (unsure) that pay a stipend to anyone wanting to homeschool. This is because they recognize it costs the state more money to have a student in public education, rather than just pay a small amount of money for textbooks and supplies, to teach at home. However, I have a cousin who is homeschooling her girls in Montana that said she would help me figure it all out.

Of course we will miss friends we have made here, but having so many family in the area will be wonderful for the kids. My family is very loyal and if anything is needed, they are quick to help.
No Salmon!! Uhg! We love smoked salmon, but there will be so much to feast on in Montana. Elk and whitetail deer are on the property we are moving to, and since we will be living there, we have instant rights to hunt whatever is on that property.

No more Alaska Dividend! Well, that's a bummer. While the hike in gas at the pump is totally lame, that price also goes into what we get as a kickback from the pipeline. This year, they are speculating that it could be up around $2000 either right below or even just over that. That is always a nice little bonus near the end of the year to set aside for Christmas, or get caught up on bills. We will get one last one for last year, and then we lose our residency.

The pros are plenty. Kids will be close to grandparents and cousins. We will be living off the land, mostly self sufficient and prepared for the collapse of the economy. More hunting, bigger house, lower rent, ability to have pets, no neighbors, and it goes on.

The marker is approximately where our property is. (click image for larger view)
SO, we had to say yes in the end. It was an offer we couldn't say no to. It was hard, because we love Alaska and our friends here, but the chance to have an all expenses paid adventure that will bring us closer together as a family is hard to beat and would be silly to pass up.

So the "South Central Alaskan Bells" will become the "Montana Bells" at the end of May. It's going to be quite an undertaking, getting from Alaska to Montana. We are weeding out the excess and hope to make a little money in a few yard sales (weather permitting). Our car is nice, but getting old enough that driving it down wouldn't be worth it, so we are hoping to sell that too. Then, it all gets put into a Uhaul, put on a barge and 14 days later my husband will drive it from Seattle to our final destination in Montana. We will all fly down before the barge gets there and "camp out" until our household goods can be picked up. Which is fine, because we need to paint two rooms to the specifications of two little boys (within reason!). It's exciting! I am looking forward to showing the boys where I grew up and Chad my old stomping grounds. It's going to be so great reconnecting with family that I played with as a child. My kids will be able to experience the character building exercises of raising animals and working in the garden. Being paid to do work for family (small tasks) will teach them the value of their hard work and the reward of saving their money. Teaching them good stewardship of our land and animals in our care is such an important one. I am excited to see my boys become amazing young men!
Red arrow: where our new home is. Blue arrow: old homestead (click for larger image)

Keep us in your prayers, and your eyes on this blog! I will update with pictures as much as I can!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple were on sale at the local grocery store and the smell was taunting me from the register, so I had to get one. For dinner, my hubby was making bbq ribs and decided to grill some pineapple to go alongside. That left me with half of a pineapple to make a wonderfully sinful cake!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  • 1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored 
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter 
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 2/3 stick unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice (didn't have any, but grapefruit wasn't even noticeable!) 
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum for sprinkling over cake

Equipment: A well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet. If you lack a cast-iron skillet of this size, make the caramel in a small pot and scrape it into the bottom of a similarly-sized cake pan. (I used a 9″ cake pan)
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Make topping: Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces and set aside. Melt butter in skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes. Remove from heat and pour into cake pan. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

Make batter: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and rum. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Serve cake just warm or at room temperature.

Another Door Opens

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."
-- Alexander Graham Bell

I am an Alaskan girl. Always will be. I was born in Anchorage and moved all over the state because my dad was a State Trooper. I must have been blessed with kamikaze angels as a young child. I wanted to go pet the moose standing in front of our picture window early in the morning, while everyone slept. I could never get the door open fast enough and they would be gone. I've searched for Easter eggs in spring snowfall. Worn ExtraTuffs with a dress, worked in a cannery and fell in love with the wildness of a southeastern Alaska commercial fisherman. 

Never imagined leaving Alaska after getting married and having kids. Alaska felt safe and familiar. Anywhere else seemed crazy. Alaskans are a different breed. We are independent and fiercely protective of our right to live free, in the pursuit of happiness.... with our guns.

Early this month, my husband and I were getting ready for an overdue date night out. A sort of late anniversary celebration, just the two of us. My husband noticed he had missed a call from my dad. I hadn't called my parents in a while and figured they were looking to talk to the kids. Then, I noticed they had called me too. As we drove to the restaurant, I got nervous, since both my grandmas aren't in the best health. I thought maybe something had happened. So I called back just before getting to the restaurant. Dinner was delayed for a bit while my dad slowly told me what was going on in Montana, and that the family had a proposition for us.

With everything going on in our country, rising fuel and food costs that look to only be worsening, did we feel safe being far from family if something bad happened? What if Chad lost his job? What if there were food shortages? Well... people we had met were very good people, but they weren't family. We weren't sure. Those aren't the easiest questions to answer. Then, he dropped the bomb. Almost all in one breath:

(paraphrased) Your mother and I have been talking and we want to pay your way to move down to Montana and live on the farm in the house your brother just built. Its a four bedroom, two bath, two car garage home with natural gas and wood stove heat on 40 acres of land. Your uncle wants you to manage the farm and Chad will be paid for his time to rebuild the barn, chicken coop, fence in the property, and salvage the wood from the old homestead and barn. In addition to that, Chad will be employed to paint one grandmother's house and renovate a bathroom. While the other grandma needs a garage and a possible add on. We will also pay six month's rent after which it will only be $600/mo. We want to eventually get cows, chickens, maybe alpacas, prepare a portion of land for alfalfa and have a large garden. All the tools are there, even all the farming equipment. You would be paid to help clean the house for one grandma and maybe chauffeur the other from time to time and your mother will help with the kids. It's a lot to take in right now, so don't rush into this decision. Take some time and think about it.


I am sitting there stunned. I get off the phone, and tell Chad. We are both stunned. What should we do? There is so much to consider. Can we really walk away from Alaska? Montana is so far away. If we left, there would be no returning because, we cannot afford to go, certainly wouldn't be able to come back once they had moved us (the next day my dad calls to say, if we give it a few years, and it's not working out, they would help pay to send us back to Alaska!) What do we do? How do we process this once in a lifetime offer?

TO BE CONTINUED..... (for conclusion click here)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sumptuous Peanut Chicken & Teriyaki Noodlin's

Oh my gosh! What can be better, than a dinner that is amazing immediately served, all steaming and calling to you? Well, that same dinner, leftover cold the next day. I found a fantastic recipe for a peanut chicken and just threw together a delicious teriyaki noodle that is delicious cold, even better served on top of a simple Caesar salad!

I have to credit the April/May 2011 issue of Garden&Gun magazine for the peanut recipe before I begin. However, the noodles are all mine! I am posting the recipe, with the addition of any changes I made during the process.

Peanutty Chicken & Teriyaki Noodlin's
  • 5 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 3 green onions white and green parts chopped
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar (I used "seasoned")
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I omitted this for the kids)
  • 1 3-4 lb chicken (had thawed 4 large skinless thighs)
  • 1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger (for my application, chopped coarsely)
  • 2 garlic cloves (or 1 heaping Tbsp minced)
  • handful of fresh cilantro
Heat oven to 450° F. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, half the green onions, soy sauce, vinegar, and cayenne. Gently, loosen the skin of the chicken and spread half of the paste between the skin and the meat. Or if you are following what I did, just slather it all over both side sides of the thighs. Rub the rest of the paste all over the outside of the chicken. Put the remaining green onions, ginger, garlic and cilantro into the chicken cavity. Since I only had thighs, I sprinkled that mixture in the bottom of the pan, then laid the chicken, meatiest side down. Roast the chicken, breast side down, in a roasting pan for about 20 min. Reduce the oven to 350° F and flip the bird (or in my case, the thighs) breast side up. Baste with any juices that have accumulated in the pan. Roast for 30-40 min, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160°-165° F and juices run clear. Let the bird rest 10 minutes before carving.


Trust me when I say, you might want to double this recipe. It's that good!
  •  1 10 oz package Chinese noodles used for chow mein  
  • 1-2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • Kikkoman's Teriyaki marinade and sauce
Follow the directions for cooking the noodles, while those are going, begin sauteing the garlic and butter in a large pan until fragrant. When the noodles are al dente (about 3-4 min), drain and add to the cooking garlic. Toss noodles in butter/garlic sauce a few times, then add teriyaki sauce to your desired taste. I used about 1/2 C then left the bottle on the table in case anyone wanted more flavor. These noodles are amazing served cold over a plain caesar salad. Just trust me! There is a restaurant here that has a signature salad done this way and it is WAY popular!

The boys all raved about dinner. Lachlan slurped up the noodles happily. I was hoping for more leftovers.... looks like I'll be running to the store for more noodles to make up for a more adequate "leftover" lunch. Enjoy!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Fresh Outlook

With my 6 yo being Type I Diabetic, life can be pretty hectic. Especially when you throw in the fact that I am as well. Managing a chronic disease is really hard, but in the end can be rewarding when you meet others working through the same stuff.

Tonight, I met three amazing moms and some of their kids at the first gathering for Parents of Type I Diabetic Children. One of the moms was even in the same boat as me. She's Type I Diabetic too, with a 16 yo daughter struggling with coming to terms with her disease. It was so great to commiserate and offer each other inspiration, and the hope of better things to come. Our host was a wonderful woman named Ruth Clare, who is a diabetic educator in our hospital. She also helps with the diabetic camp I am hoping Connor will go to this summer.
The kids got along really great and we all had a moment to laugh and share stories. We brainstormed about different things we want from the group and what we would love to see happen. I put forth that we should have a blog for our local group. So, I am going to work on putting one together that will have all of us putting in info and sharing ideas and just how we are managing our lives. It's hard to get together when life is so hectic, so I thought it would be another great outlet and help us work around each other's schedules so we can meet, while maybe attracting more locals to come to our meetings. Who knows, maybe a famous diabetic would be interested in speaking to our group? That would be awesome!

So, I have a fresh new zeal for getting more social with folks who share a common goal: our children's health. Be on the lookout for another blog about parenting and diabetic kids!

Past Musings You Might Ponder

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...