Friday, December 31, 2010

A Perfect Moment

I looked out my kitchen window the other day and was delighted to see mama and baby deer resting in my backyard.  These are the same deer that in the spring devour my tulips and in the summer feast on my rose buds and tomatoes just before I can enjoy them. But now watching their stillness in the quiet snow became a perfect moment.  I had to forgive them for eating all my hard work in the garden because on this day they had brought me peace.

Have Happiness and Peace in the New Year!  


Wednesday, December 29, 2010


It's that time again. It's time to look back over the year's accomplishments and mishaps to figure out what I did right and what I could have done better. I break up my life into sections(Family, Work, Brain, Body) and analyze each one. I write down specific examples of how I can improve. It's uplifting to see what I did manage to do in the midst of everyday craziness, but the best part of this journey is looking into the future and imagining what I can accomplish in the next year.  I try to be specific.  I write down things like: I want to read 50 books this year (I read 40 last year which is huge for me!); or Be able to do 25 push ups in a row (I won't tell you how many I can do now).  This way even by June I can tell if I'm on my way to accomplishing my goal or if I'm way off track.  If I'm off track, I either kick it up a notch or I realize that my goal wasn't really that important to me.  On New Year's Eve we sit down as a family and present our goals to one another. I think it helps the kids when they realize we are all working together to improve ourselves.  I asked my son if he had thought about his goals for 2011 yet.  He said he didn't have any goals except maybe to play video games more.  Oh well.

Have a Happy New Year!



Thursday, December 23, 2010

In a Fog

The past three days I have been walking around in the fog of a nasty cold.  Between wandering aimlessly through stores and working, I haven't had the energy to write.  Thanks for the comments while I was out.  Hopefully tomorrow I will have a clear enough head to write something worth while.



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Foreign Food Fest--Thenthuk

Friday we held our weekly Foreign Food Fest.  The kids chose to celebrate Tibet. I was pleasantly surprised to find a great website with recipes, cultural info, and stunning photos of Tibet at   I chose a dish called "thenthuk" which is a beef noodle soup.  Alyssa and I even learned to  make the noodles by hand.  Pulling the dough, tossing it into the broth, and trying to see who could do it faster were moments I'll not soon forget. Then we decided to make a coconut rice pudding for dessert.  Alyssa made the pudding all by herself. We were all impressed with the results of both  the thenthuk and the pudding.  Our taste of Tibet was a delicious success!
I'll be posting both recipes at  Check out yowangdu's site to take you directly to the thenthuk recipe with a great video showing the noodle pulling technique.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kid Free?

No thanks.  Both my parents and my in-laws called last week.  They thought we needed someone to watch our kids while we enjoyed a romantic anniversary this weekend.  I appreciated the offer but I actually wanted our kids to be with us.  I asked my hubby what he thought.  He agreed.  We both realize the importance of quality time for the two of us, but we only have 4 more years before our oldest goes off to college.  Then the other two will be gone.  Honestly we want to spend all the time we can with them before they go.  When the house is quiet and we have it all to ourselves we will have plenty of time for the two of us.


P.S. Stay tuned for our Foreign Food Fest of the week.  This week's lucky country is ...... drum roll... Tibet.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hmmm The Smell of Fresh Bread

Unfortunately, it stayed bitter cold and windy yesterday so our snowman did not get made, but we did create memories in the kitchen.  We found a recipe for a simple white bread in Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  The kids were intrigued to see how the yeast became frothy in the sugar water mixture.  Then I showed them how to knead the bread by hand.  Yes, a bread machine can do it all for you but where is the fun in that?  There is something special about putting your hands in the dough and connecting with your masterpiece.  Then it was time to wait as the tiny yeast cells magically made the dough rise.  In a world of instant gratification it is nice to have to wait for something good.  Alyssa punched down the dough and shaped a loaf by herself.  We let the loaves rise again and put them in the hot oven.  Soon the smell of fresh bread filled the house.  The loaves were a perfect honey brown.  Everyone wanted to slice into them right away, but again we had to be patient.  "They must cool first," I said.  We tried to busy ourselves with other activities, but that aroma kept calling us back.  Finally, we could wait no longer.  I sliced 5 pieces and we all sat around the table feasting on our creation.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow Days!

My kids enjoy school, but nothing compares to the joy of a snow day!  I love them just as much as the kids do. I love waking them up at the normal time but instead of rushing them out of bed, I say, "Guess what, you have a snow day!  Go back to sleep."  The blizzard which has blanketed the Midwest for the past 5 days has brought some good.  Now, it's not all fun and games at our house on a snow day. As I write my girls are practicing their algebra while listening to a Mozart concerto.  Ryan is reading a picture book that teaches Chinese characters.  Later today I am planning to teach them how to bake bread, and if the temperature rises above 2 degrees we'll go out to build a snowman.  

Stay Warm

Monday, December 13, 2010


 Habari! That's "Hello" in Swahili.  Our Ugandan Feast was delicious.   2/3 of my kids thought it was good, which is always the true test of whether the meal was successful.  I made the mistake of mentioning the plantains in the matooke are similar to bananas. Jessica decided bananas don't belong in stew so she carefully moved them to the other side of the plate.  The curried potatoes were a hit with everyone.  If you're interested in the recipes, I'm posting them at my other blog,  foreign food fest.
Uganda borders Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya.  In 1962, it gained its independence from Britain.  According to the CIA World factbook website, 82 % of the population is employed in agriculture.  What I found heartbreaking was that Uganda ranks as the 9th highest country in HIV/AIDS deaths.  In 2007, 77,000 people died of AIDS in Uganda, a country which is about the size of the U.S. state of Oregon.  The median age of Uganda's population is 15 years compared to 36.8 years in the U.S.  I found a wonderful book on the tragic epidemic in Uganda called The Price of Stones by Twesigye Jackson Kaguri.  Mr. Kaguri lost a brother to AIDS and is now living in America and raising money to build schools for the many orphans which AIDS has created in his native country.  Check out his website at The Price of Stones.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Card Delight

Ice cream in Whistler Village

I wandered through 2010's memories this morning, in hopes of finding the perfect picture for our Christmas card.  I relived our family ski trips and the Mississippi riverboat ride where we spotted nesting bald eagles.  Less memorable moments were also captured, like my grandpa and me looking up something on the computer, the kids being silly together, and a shot of my son's toothbrush.  It amazed me how many instances I hadn't remembered until the photo jogged my memory.  Another year almost past.  I wonder about those tiny special moments, not captured on camera yet somehow stored in the depths of my mind.  What will bring their images into the light again?


Stay tuned for our Ugandan Feast for Friday Foreign Food Fest.  Hopefully my pictures will be better and if you have any traditional recipes let me know!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Wonderland

 A soft white blanket of snow.  Lazy snowflakes drift down, muffling all man made sound.  Tree limbs bow, laden with their heavy burden.  The only sign of life is a tufted titmouse at the bird feeder, fattening himself for the long winter.  The rest of the world lies in sweet repose.          


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Little Time Means a Lot

Last week Ryan asked me to help out with his class trip to the roller rink.   Usually his field trips are planned for times when I'm at work so I jumped at this opportunity to spend time with him.  When I arrived at the rink, the kids were already skating and he was looking around for me.  His eyes lit up when he saw me.  He told me I should go get skates on which I did apprehensively. (I might be good at ice skating, but roller skating is a different story!) We held hands and skated around the rink.  He  took me around to all his friends and introduced me to them.  He was able to go much faster than I was comfortable going.  He lapped me a few times, but he always came back to grab my hand.   We skated the "Hokey Pokey" together and then it was time to get all the kids back on the bus.  The time had gone so fast, but it was an hour that I will always remember.


Monday, December 6, 2010

A Finnish Success

Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce
Our Finnish dinner was a great success, but I am definitely not a food photographer.  I tried multiple times to make this salmon look as delicious as it tasted, to no avail.  The other picture I took was even worse.  I had a nice plate set up with the braised red cabbage, a piece of salmon, and the quark dessert off to the side.  My husband said the picture of the cabbage looked like a tarantula on the plate, so I chose to show only the salmon.  Anyway, the Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce was excellent and as a bonus it was quick and easy to prepare.  I did make one small change in the recipe, I added about 1/4 cup of plain Kefir (a yogurt type drink), because I didn't have enough cream.  I love Braised Red Cabbage so I was excited to try a new twist on  this dish.  The molasses gave it a delightful depth without too much sweetness. Then we ended with Quark Dessert.  I had no idea what this was at first.  But I found out that quark is very common in Northern Europe. It is actually a type of soft cheese.  I was able to find it in the grocery store and it was similar to creme fraiche.   I mixed fresh raspberries and blackberries with about a cup of quark and then folded that gently into lightly sweetened whipped cream.  It was the perfect end to our culinary visit to Finland.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Foreign Food Fest--Finland

Hei, (Hello in Finnish), today for our official Family Foreign Fest, we are sampling the delectable Scandinavian cuisine of Finland.  I was lucky enough to find a plethora of recipes on .  Currently I am simmering the red cabbage,  Haudutettu punakaali.  It smells delicious, unfortunately my pepper grinder broke over the cabbage and I have a little more pepper than I had planned. Oh well.  Later, I am preparing salmon in dill sauce and something called quark dessert.  I'll let you know how it goes.