Monday, December 31

Photo-a-Day Wrap Up

Well, so much for my once weekly recap of photos.  :op

Oh well, I should have known I'd be pretty busy with other things in December.  :o)

Starting at the top right corner, and going across each row, we have:

First picture is a bonus... hahaha  it wasn't one of the photos assigned, and I'm too tired to fix the picture.  Please enjoy a random picture looking up at the snow falling from under a street light.

  9th: Out & About - Walk in the woods with the Ruddster
10th: Under - (switched with "Looking Up" from 5th) - Looking up from my office in the shower stall.
11th: Sweet - Holding the hand of my favorite third grader on the way back to class.
12th: Hat - Winter in AK = frequent hat wearing
13th: Lights - Lights on the end of a stick.  Love them year round. :o)
14th: Something Green - Ornament in the dog park.
15th: Outdoors - Beautiful (COLD) day on the trail.
16th: Something You Made - Rosemary & Orange cookies.  Yum! (except I ate toooo many!)
17th: On the Floor - Rudder protesting his booties.
18th: Makes You Feel Merry - Memories of Talkeetna fun
19th: Something Beginning with "S"- Silly Springer Spaniel.  He looks ridiculous in his [needed] winter gear
20th: Weather - Dark when I go to work and when I come home, but clear enough to see the moon!
21st: Tree - Frosty trees at the dog park with the orange'ish glow of light pollution
--- Oops!  Another extra.  Super frosty lashes from cold cold morning walks!
22nd: Decoration - Sugar cookies.  Two of 143... (or something ridiculous like that)
23rd: Joy is _____. - A Springer Spaniel!
24th: Tradition/Something You Always Do - Homemade Pulla bread... Perhaps a new tradition?
25th: Lunchtime - Christmas tradition of stromboli.  FYI Augie scarfed my piece down a nano second after I took this... See him in the background?
26th: Mess - Blindfolded partner gingerbread house decorating.  Frosting was everywhere.
27th: How You Relax - Sightseeing with warm fresh Fred Bread in Huntsville, AL.
28th: Cold - Huntsville microbrew.  Yum!
29th: Hot - Rocket thrusters at the Rocket and Space Center.  Holy huge rockets!
30th: Something That Made You Smile This Year - Silly moments like these. :o)
31st: Self-Portrait - Rudder and I out for a walk.

I thought about doing this again for January... but think I may do something different.  It was fun, but I already know January is going to be a disaster month at work... so the fewer "things" I'm doing, the better.  :o)

Happy New Year! 

Monday, December 10

Recap: Photo-a-Day - Week 1

Just a quick recap of my instagram photos from the first week's assignments.  After all, I need to get back to my elf'ing ways! :op  NEARLY done with Christmas prep!  Woo!

Doubt this will be an every month participatory feat, however, I thought it'd be fun to do this month.  If you'd like to join in, it's put together by Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim and all participant photos can be found on Instagram under #fmsphotoaday 

It started off {albeit a bit late...} with Day #1's assignment: 8 o'clock.

Here's the rest of the week (+ 1 day):

#2  -  12.2.12 - Peace:  Rudder is [usually] a peaceful little sleeper.  Especially in the morning when my alarm clock has gone off four times and I want nothing to do with getting out of bed and getting ready for work... 

#3  -  12.3.12 - Something You Held: An orange at work.  As a Title 1 school, we get fruit and vegetables for the kiddos to snack on.  When there are extras, the staff get some.  :oD

#4  -  12.4.12 - Black & White:  Frosty weeds on a quick and COLD walk during my lunch break!

#5  -  12.5.12 - Looking Up:  Except in my mind it was the "Under" assignment.  So, this is me, getting buried under evaluations.  Holy cannoli, it's crazy at work!  Where did all of these kiddos come from?!?  Hand me the coffee pot...

#6  -  12.6.12 - From Where You Live:  There is some poetry written on the fence at the dog park, part of which is about the dark sky.  I thought it was appropriate as it was barely 4pm and getting dark.  Oh Winter Solstice, you cannot come soon enough... I much prefer counting the minutes GAINED rather than the minutes lost.  :o)

#7  -  12.7.12 - Stars:  Well hello there Alaska's flag!  You look particularly beautiful and starry on this frigid day!

#8  -  12.8.12 - Someone You Love:  How about two someones?  :o)

Alright, lots to do...  Back to it!  :o)  

Sunday, December 2

Photo A Day - 8:00

For some reason the assignment 8:00 makes me think of the book Tuesday by David Wiesner.  I LOVE that book.  The creative things kids can come up with when just given pictures is pretty awesome.

Anyways, I'm going to attempt to participate in the FMS Photo-a-Day Challenge.  Seems like a fun idea.  :o)  Today's assignment is 8 o'clock.

So, I give you what I took a picture of a 8:00pm tonight:

Yeah, I just posted that in my Cozonac post... but I didn't see this fun little challenge until just a little bit ago, and that is what I was taking pictures of at 8pm tonight.  :o)   I'll be a little less redundant for the Dec. 2nd assignment.  Promise! :o)

Dang, I just realized since these are also "instagramable" that they'll show up on my side reel thing-a-ma-whats-it.  So, yes, perhaps redundant.  BUT the words will be here since I have a lot more room to jabber away on blog posts than I do on instagram labels.  Lucky you!  :oD

Pofta Mare & Cozonac

Happy Romanian Independence Day!*
[*technically, it was on the 1st, but I took longer than expected to post, happy belated!]


I'm not Romanian (that I know of anyways...).  Neither is Kevin.  Rudder, well he's English.  However, our good friends, the Popovich's are!  So, we were invited over to celebrate.  :o)

Had some super delicious food to include Romanian staples like Mici (kinda like meatballs and made with beef, pork, and lamb), A La Rousse (or something similar) salad, and bread.  We also had amazing smoked salmon dip and a delicious cilantro'y quinoa salad.  There was also gingerbread cookies, Ovi's amazing angel food-meets-custard-meets-fresh fruit-meets-whipped cream cake! Oh, and I finally tried Tsuica.  Wow.  That can be checked off the list and declined from here on out.  :op

Rudder dressed up for the occasion.

As you can see from the blur, the hat stayed on for a nanosecond.
Kevin did some google research and found this recipe for Cozonac on  I'd see breads like this before, but had never attempted one.  Sounded pretty good though, so we went for it.

We made minor adaption to the linked recipe including adding orange zest to the dough, and some chopped dark chocolate to the filling.  I also halved the recipe, which ended up making one good size loaf.

Kind of intensive bread to make, not super difficult, just more time intensive.  I kneaded the dough by hand for 35 minutes and let it rise overnight.  You end up splitting the dough in half, then pressing out two rectangles by hand (12"x16"'ish).  Then a nice light layer of the filling stuff goes on, and ya roll it up like you're making cinnamon rolls! [which reminds me, I have a cinnamon roll recipe to share...]

Then, the brand new part for me.  Take each rolled up rope, and twist them together, then tuck the ends.  I liked this part.  :o)  

Let it rise again about 1 hour, brush on beat egg, sprinkle on some sugar*, then bake @ 350* for 50-55 minutes in a butter greased loaf pan.

*If you get your hands a bit wet before you sprinkle the sugar on, it'll help make sugar "clumps" like you can see in the top picture.

I love love love the swirls!  I have a feeling I'm going to be doing some experimentation with dough flavor and the innards...

 Ah, swirls.  Look so fancy, but you're really not as tricky as you made me believe.  :o)

Friday, November 30

Kansas Sweets - Foodie Penpals

It's that time again... time for Foodie Penpals!

I was sent a package from Megan this month.  Megan lives out in Kansas and sent me some local favorites.

Peach butter - such a fun alternative to apple butter that I've never had, and can't wait to try!

Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds - these actually make me think of the Amish since I got them back in Amish Country PA.  Haven't had them in a while, so I was excited to see them!

Honey Sticks - always nice to have on hand!

Peppermints - perfect to keep in my work bag!

Thanks again Megan!  :o)

Tuesday, November 27

Turkey Day [sans turkey]

 Heads up:  Lots of pictures here.  One animal carcass.  Just so you know.  :o)

This year for Thanksgiving, Kevin and I met up with Jana in Talkeetna.  Kevin's friend Karen has an ADORABLE cabin up there, and let us use it for the weekend.  

Yoga time!

Lots of cozy time with the pups...


And beer.

Oh, and did I mention the AWESOME view from the bay window?

Jana and I went out and explore the "backyard"

Rudder couldn't come.  He did some damage to some tendons a few weeks back, and is on strict bedrest from Dr. Jack.  He was not pleased...

Ended up on the railroad tracks...

Poor Rudder...

Kevin bought a frozen turkey on Wednesday morning.  I was thinking we could just have a rotisserie chicken (kinda looks like a mini turkey, right?) but Kevin thought a Hungry Man frozen dinner would be better than having chicken for Thanksgiving... so he bought one.  It definitely didn't have time to thaw... so plan B was...

Yup, he went out rabbit hunting behind the cabin with his 22 pistol, and came back with this.

I have never cooked (or eaten) a rabbit, but just gave it a whirl...

I coated them in some flour, herbs, and salt & pepper, and browned them in olive oil.  Inspiration: watching Chopped.

Then roasted them in beer and vegetable stock with onions for a while.  Inspiration: watching Chopped.

Here's the Turkey Day spread!

Cornbread stuffing, steamed green beans, beer-braised rabbit, mashed potatoes, cranberry-peach sauce, and sweet potato rolls.

It killed me to make boxed stuffing, instant potatoes, and microwaved green beans... but when in a little cabin in the woods, ya have to keep things a bit simpler.  :o)

I adapted a recipe from Miss Smart a made a DELICIOUS cranberry-peach sauce.  For the thing on the table that I never touched before, I think cranberry sauce is now one of my favorites!  All the way up there with the stuffing and potatoes (those will eternally be my favorites).

Posts on how to reuse your cranberry sauce - coming soon!

Dinner entertainment consistent of a little Arlo Guthrie...

Oh Rudder...

Dessert was a pumpkin gingerbread pie, and a salted maple pecan bar.  I had made the pecan bars before for a school thing, and they were a big hit!  Recipes to come later.  :o)

So cold outside, so cozy inside.  :o)

During the long weekend there, we went on a couple short walks with a [mostly] leashed Rudder.  Poor thing has so much energy...

Naturally, I was enamored with the rusty bridge.

Rudder was enamored with crunchy sticks...

We went to one of my favorite breweries, Denali Brewing Co., and had linner (lunch/dinner).  One of the most delicious veggie burgers + amazing Slow Down Brown Ale...  mmmmm mmmm mmmmm!

I took 400+ pictures.  No surprise...

Rudder abusing his off-leash freedom by hopping through the tall grass...  Just don't tell Dr. Jack!

Cabin from the woods behind it.

Dinner of rabbit stew with mixed in Thanksgiving leftovers.

Such a cuddle bug (and patient with our shenanigans in hairstyling).  :o)

No visit to Talkeetna is complete without breakfast at the Roadhouse.  Favorite by far.  I love the family style seating, and the food is both AMAZINGLY good and reasonably priced!  I always drink copious amounts of coffee there... 

By the way, I did NOT eat that all by myself.  I maybe made a dent in 1/4 of that...  Rudder and Kevin helped with the rest over the next two days.  :o)

Then we took a few pictures for Christmas cards.  Oh, and because we have next to no pictures of the three of us.  Always the photographer, never the subject.  ;o)

Such a great Thanksgiving!  :o)