Friday, November 29, 2013


I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.  We had 10 1/2 people over here (the 1/2 was a 3 year old).  No melt downs this time, maybe because my mom was here as the expert and I was operating as a sous-chef. 

I didn't take too many pictures.  Only a few:

The table set - fiesta is much better than china

Turkey only took 2.5 hours!

I'm sure you are shocked (shocked!) I made an apple pie!
Pippa loved the 1/2.  I spotted her seeking him out a couple of times for attention.

Our last minute Thanksgiving decorations
Mom and I did most of the side dishes on Wednesday so on Thursday all we had to do was the turkey, the gravy and the Brussels sprouts.  It was actually a pretty relaxing day.  There was a lot of this:

And of course this:

As fun as it was, I think it will be a few years before we host again.  I say next year is Thanksgiving in Florida.  I'm betting we can talk my in-laws into that.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill are our xtratuf boots. We discovered them when we moved to Alaska because everyone has them.  I mean everyone!  Entryways to parties would often look like this:

Add 10 minutes to your departure time to figure out which ones are yours

I resisted buying them at first since they are so ugly (they look like muck boots) and expensive (upwards of $100).  I thought I could get by with my waterproof hiking boots.  We tried to hike up to a sledding spot one weekend but had to turn around because our feet were soaked through and freezing.  Notice Kevin's the only one in the group not wearing them. We bought xtratuffs that night.

Having XtraTufs means you can go sledding in October.  Not having them means you go home cold and sad :(

Juneau "fashion" was to pair xtratufs to fancier outfits.  Skirts particularly.  The best one I ever saw was an Indian woman in a really intricate sari and... xtratufs.  See example of this on a fashion blog - a woman from Juneau submitted it:

Found on Chictopia:Xtra Tuffs shoes - Smart Wool socks - Anthropologie tights - Velvet skirt - Flux

I would often rock the skirt & xtratuff combination.  Sometimes I still do. Although people look at me a bit funny now I think.

As my sister pointed out, oh so nicely, I have Juneau colored legs too
Alaskan Brewery uses them in their marketing:


Once we bought them, we were all in.

Roxy misses the off leash days of AK

I was totally ahead of the jeans tucked into the boots trend

I am sure that Kevin was wearing xtratuffs here even though you can't see them
We've even brought them on international trips!

Jack and Jill in Ireland
 Sometimes we have regretted not bringing them.

This trip to the Adirondacks would have been much more pleasant with xtratuffs
Roxy was totally fine with being carried for part of the hike

They come in handy when we are hiking the slippery gorges around here:

I felt like a bad ass going straight through puddles on this hike. 

And they made an appearance at our wedding:

xtratufs + wedding dress = good photo opp

We plan to have many more adventures in them.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cheap vs. Thrifty: Additional Revenue Streams

This post isn't about saving money but making extra money.  We've started doing this in two ways: renting out our spare bedroom on AirBnB and dog-sitting.

Have you heard of AirBnB?  It is getting bigger every day and a new way of traveling.  The site matches "hosts" with extra space and "guests" (travelers) to create an informal bed and breakfast arrangement. We have pictures of us and our house up as well as description of the area and guests can book through the site.   We have complete control over who books our place and can decline a request for any reason.

The backbone of the site is the review system.  Both guests and hosts get to review each other after a stay.  It is a closed-review system, so you can only review someone if you have actually stayed with/hosted them. That way you don't have to worry about erroneous good or bad reviews.  We generally only accept people who have complete profiles (picture, description, etc) and positive reviews from other hosts.  We have made exceptions to this if it is clear they have just joined airbnb, it is their first time using the site, and get a good feeling from their profile (example was a retired couple who used to live in our area and were returning to visit grown children).  In general we feel like other hosts can take the risk on first timers.  We don't want to get greedy or take unnecessary risks.

We've done it four times and each time has been great and quite frankly easy money.  We plan to use all of the money we make through AirBnB on the house.  So far it has paid for about half of the bathroom remodel.

We also used it as guests once and had a good experience.  It was a situation where we were arriving late somewhere and leaving first thing in the morning.  We got a clean bedroom in a nice house for $50.  I shudder to think of the motel room we would get for that price.

We'll keep doing it until it doesn't seem worth it anymore or NY shuts it down (it is making a big dent in the NYC hotel industry and they've been lobbying the officials.  The attorney general has already subpoenaed records so we'll see what happens).

The other thing we've been doing is dog-sitting.  We dog sit for friends and family all the time - one summer I counted up the paws we were taking care of over the course of a few weeks and it was well over 30.  This past weekend was the first time we charged for it though.  One of Kevin's clients was heading out of town and asked for boarding recommendations.  Kevin offered our house for $30/day (about the same price as a kennel boarding situation with one walk).  It wasn't too much extra work for us and they got an in-home experience for their dog.

What Kevin failed to mention was that the dog was a dead ringer for my sister's dead dog.  Bear passed away quite suddenly earlier this year and Rooney looked exactly like him and even had some of the same mannerisms.  I actually had a really hard time, since I would sometimes jump when I saw her and definitely called her Bear by accident quite a few times.  It made me pretty sad since Bear was so great and I really miss him.

But we'd definitely dog sit again, even Bear-look-alikes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekends in Review

Thanks for bearing with my cranky-post Thursday.  After my rant (hopefully slightly funny and not just whiny), a run, and a good sleep things starting looking up on Friday.  So here is the post I planned to put up Thursday.

Two weekends ago my sister came into town.  She came without her kids, without her husband. She came by airplane.  She came for the queen bed all to herself with no kids climbing in at 2am.  She came for the long leisurely dinner out with two beers.  Most importantly, she came for the Dixie Chicks!  They did a Canadian tour and played in Hamilton Ontario, which is about 2 hours away.   We made a day of it Saturday and went up to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a cute artsy town on Lake Ontario.

I definitely want to go back and explore Niagara-on-the-Lake when it is a bit warmer.

The concert itself was great! They played their hits chronologically and put on a very good show. Those three women are magical together, much better than apart.  The stadium was absolutely packed.  For a group that hasn't put out music since 2006, they still have quite the fan base.

When a concert is 98% women, there is no need to have a men's room.  Granted, the women's room didn't have a line  (my sister went there) - details, details.

Kevin and I also went to the musical War Horse. I thought it was tragically sad throughout.  It was funny how I stopped seeing the man standing next to the puppet (directing the head) after a little bit and only saw the horse.

This past weekend was much less packed.   It was a good mix of chores/errands/down time/socializing. So uneventful I have no pictures to show for it (well, except for a couple for a post coming Thursday).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ms. Cranky-Pants

I'm not sure if you've noticed the pattern but I try to post on Mondays and Thursdays.  Sometimes Saturdays too if I have a lot to say.  I didn't have a post lined up for today and was going to post about this past weekend (it involved my sister, the Dixie Chicks, and the musical Warhorse - so it was a really good one) but I've been in a pretty foul mood today.  Mostly my foul mood has to do with work but I'm not so much of an idiot as to complain about it on the internet.  So I'll tell you about the other things bugging me lately.  You're welcome.

1. "Healthy" Living Bloggers. I read a few and I get so annoyed by them.  They post pictures of all the exercise they do and everything they eat.  Exercise vastly outweighs the food.  They'll post a picture of this tiny salad and say, "I ate the whole thing, #omgsofull!"  I'm sorry but if you run 10 miles/eat 1,500 calories a day you are not healthy, you have a problem.  They post a ton of selfie's and the subtext is #soskinny, #sohealthy.  It is not healthy, it is disordered. Get off the internet and into therapy you effing menace.

[I say this as someone who overcame an eating disorder - I had one all through my teens and twenties.  I'm really glad these "healthy role models" weren't around when I was recovering, I imagine it would have been a lot harder.]

2. Neighborhood Associations.  Even though we lived in our neighborhood for three years before buying our house we didn't really join any of the neighborhood groups.  After we bought the house we decided we should try to make an effort to be a part of the community so I joined a couple of committees (Kevin has yet to - smart man).  Wow, it is a bit like middle school!  There is a lot of talking behind backs, complaining about how something is done even though they're not part of it themselves, and general drama.  I wonder if it is too late to revive the "we're not joiners" excuse.

3. Roxy.  I'm a terrible dog owner for saying this, but she is driving me crazy.  I've started to refer to our walks as "stop and sniffs" since there is not a lot of walking going on.  It takes us a full 30 minutes to go .25 miles and then as soon as we get inside she wants to be chased around the house. If I don't chase her (since I just walked her) she acts SO BORED.  [Mom/Dad, KMC2 - don't you want to come live with us when you get old?  I'm so patient and loving!]

4. Drivers not stopping for me in the crosswalk.  This is my biggest pet peeve about where we live.  No one stops for me when I'm crossing in a crosswalk.  That is the point of crosswalks! A crosswalk is only safer for me if cars actually stop, otherwise I might as well cross anywhere.  I may or may not be the crazy lady yelling "CROSSWALK! CROSSSSWAAALLLK!" as cars speed by me.  And I'm pretty sure one of the cars I (may or may not have) yelled at was a coworker.   She avoids me now.

5. Apples. I hate apples so much right now.  I want to throw all the apples in my fridge (trust me there are a lot) at all of the above.  Except for Roxy, I'm not that mean.

This has been making me laugh despite my foul mood.  I love how both of these guys refuse to answer the question. (Via)

Family feud wife question seven dwarves

Monday, November 11, 2013

Homemade Pantry: Pumpkin Bread

I know pumpkin is everywhere right now but I can't get enough.  Apples, I've had enough of.  Have I mentioned we have a ton of apples from our CSA?  I signed up for the base share and an extra fruit share.  Over the summer it was great, we got a ton of variety and the fruit was usually different from what was in the base share.  But for the fall we get apples in the base share and then we get MORE apples in the fruit share. I'm starting to feel a bit like Bubba in Forrest Gump.  I've made apple sauce, apple butter, baked apples, apple crisp, apple couscous, apple sausage and kale, and every day I eat an apple for a snack ... I'm over apples.


But I haven't gotten sick of pumpkin yet! We really like this pumpkin bread by Trader Joe's:

Super easy, just add eggs and water and bake. My kind of baking. But a couple of weeks ago I bought two actual pie pumpkins at Apple Annies in Greece, NY. (We were there for cider and they were an impulse buy).  Who knew that pie pumpkins look like the thing on the left, not the thing on the right?


I had grand plans of making pumpkin chili and serving them in the pumpkin (kind of like here) but as usual with my grand plans I didn't get around to it and then the pumpkins started to rot.  Not one to waste food I decided to roast them and figure out what to do with them later.  The roasted pumpkin sat in the fridge for a few more days before I was once again in danger of wasting food so decided to try pumpkin bread.

Here is my recipe, adapted from Mark Bittman's Any Fruit/Vegetable Any Nut muffin recipe (in How to Cook Everything).

Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg

***To roast a pie pumpkin just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, place cut side down in in baking pan and roast at 375 until soft (usually about an hour).***

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl and then combine.  Spoon into a greased 9x5 pan and bake at 350 for about an hour (until an inserted fork comes out clean).

This makes a really dense, moist bread.  The pumpkin, orange and ginger combine to make a unique blend. I brought it into work and one of my coworkers said she could really taste the pumpkin, it tasted like a vegetable (I took it as a compliment even though I'm not sure she meant it as one).

The pictures I took turned out terrible.  A combination of it being dark out when I made it and still learning the semi-automatic settings of my camera.  Here are a few that turned out okay.

I had a bit of extra batter so I put some in these cast iron thingies (I'm so up on my kitchen terminology).  I actually liked the bread that ended up in these the best - maybe because it was smaller and the iron could distribute the heat more evenly.  Or maybe it is mental and I just think everything cooked in cast iron tastes better.  Have I mentioned I love my cast iron cookware?  I think I have.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Recent Acquisition

Something exciting happened in our house last week!
We got a pool table! When we were house hunting last year we saw one where the owners had turned their dining room into a billiard room.  We did have an offer on that house accepted and I'm pretty sure Kevin was hoping the pool table would be part of the deal. (We didn't end up getting it which is a long story I'm still pretty bitter about).  But Kevin's dream of having a pool table in his dining room was born.  We ultimately decided to keep the dining room as a dining room - we were using it more than we expected to and we had two living rooms.  So we turned our study into our living room and our living room into our game room.

I've played more games of pool in the last week than in my entire life (I'm still terrible).  Our nightly routine has turned into: we eat dinner when Kevin gets home, play a game or two of nine ball, and then watch some tv before heading to bed.  It's a good routine.

We threw a party on Friday night (I'm really bad about taking pictures when folks are over - I get wrapped up in hosting/having fun and completely forget). Our friends seemed to like the addition. The Paws seem a bit confused as to why we are suddenly in a previously unoccupied room and Kinsey is terrified of the cue sticks/loud noise of the balls hitting the pockets (those are Kevin's shots).  But he's happy to be in the room when we are not playing a game (he sits in the foyer and stares at us pathetically when we are playing):

I promise that they do love each other.  You may also notice the road kill bunny in one of the pictures and wonder why we have a toy with its guts hanging out.
It was part of our Halloween costume.  Our $0/15 minute Halloween costume.  We originally planned to go as Jessie and Woody from Toy Story but as usual we waited until the last possible moment and couldn't find anything good.  Being both cheap* and completely un-crafty we were left with figuring out an alternative costume.

Kevin brought surgery gear home from work.  I was the surgeon and he was the patient.  The bunny was tied around his waist and its guts were protruding.  The real "hit" was when we'd drink out of the catheter bag.  It really grossed people out.  (It was cider and delicious!).

*The only thing we could find were really crappy Woody/Jessie kits that had really poorly made parts (terrible hats) and incomplete (didn't have Jessie's chaps).  They were $30 each and seemed like a waste of money.  We don't mind spending a lot of money on something that is quality/we will get a lot of use out of (see the pool table above) but I hate spending money on crap. Sometimes it feels inconsistent (I'm happy to spend $100 on a nice shower gift for someone but won't spend an extra $5 on the gift wrap since will just go into the trash) but it works for me.