Monday, November 29, 2010

Post Thanksgiving

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving weekend.  I know I did.  It was everything I hoped for!  I safely made it home on Wednesday after work, a bit later than I liked but at least I made it!  Justin left at a time that made him able to pick me up so I didn't have to drive on the treacherous icy roads.  Freezing rain really terrifies me more than blowing snow and wind.  

The food on Thursday was everything I expected and in addition to the food for Thanksgiving dinner my mom had placed dishes of candy all over the house so I was eating from the minute I woke up.  It was pretty excessive.  I didn't take many pictures, but I caught Justin and my brother peeling potatoes.  For Justin this isn't a big deal.  I have seen him prepare food many times.  My brother, however, is a different story.  I don't think I've even seen him prepare food at my parents' house.  (He does cook for himself at his apartment).

Here is my Grandma Phyllis buttering and sugaring her homemade lefse, which is very delicious.  A holiday dinner would not be complete without it!  By the way, I know how to make lefse and have been helping my mom and grandma make it since I was a little kid.  I know just when to flip it over on the griddle!  It's such a bland and simple but delicious Norwegian food.  When I was in Norway a few years ago I ate some lefse at a history museum and it wasn't like what I am used to so I'm not sure what the real way to make it is.  I like the kind that is made from potatoes.

On Friday, while many people were shopping with the throngs of people, I went with my mom and sister to Northern Minnesota to meet my grandma, aunt and uncle and cousins at a casino.  While there, I proceeded to win $10 playing the slot machines!  Yeah!  Anytime I don't lose is a victory!

Saturday was a blast.  NDSU had a playoff game.  It was the first home playoff game! 

Tailgating was quieter than usual but there were still plenty of people around.  Andrea and I and our friend Kari posed on this snowbank to memorialize the event (you should check out Kari's blog about her and her husband's adoption journey...I have a link to it on the left).  It was my first time tailgating with snow and it was pretty cold (mid 20's).  Fortunately, my aunt and uncle's tailgating group, the FBC, had a tent with heat so that was a nice place to warm up.  OK, I didn't just warm up there...I was there most of the time except when I was refilling my glass and having a few very unpleasant and cold run ins with the outhouses. 

We won!  It was a good time!  The game was close but ended up being a big win.  AWWW YEAAAHHHH!  Hahaha.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Food On My Mind...

I don't have anything interesting to write about because my job has been really busy and the work is far from interesting.  I worked late this evening and we are going there at 7 tomorrow so we can finish early so people can leave for Thanksgiving.  We work for people in New York City  and they don't care that there is a blizzard ready to decsend on the area just as it is time to travel. 

I really love Thanksgiving.  I love waking up to hearing my mom working in the kitchen and already smelling good food cooking.  I also love watching the Macy's Parade even though I usually don't focus on it 100%.  It make soothing background noise.  And, of course, I eagerly anticipate my mom's cooking.  It is just the best.  That woman can really orchstrate a meal right down to the perfect timing when all the food is done at the same time.  I was delighted when I went to Justin's house for Thanksgiving a few years ago and discovered that his mom can also orchestrate a meal with perfection and makes almost all of the same food almost the exact same way!  So I will never have to worry about that aspect!  Haha. 

It is already very snowy here thanks to a Monday snow dump and there is a winter storm forecast for tomorrow so there will be alot of snow on Thursday.  This reminds me of how I used to play outside on the farm with my cousins on Thanksgiving.  We would sled down the creek banks and when that got boring as we got older we would take turns pulling each other in sleds behind a snowmobile.  We would often end up strewn around the yard because the driver would drive too rough and make the sled hit every bump.  Hmmmm...this is giving me some ideas for this weekend!  Some vigorous outdoor activity is a good idea on a day when you stuff your face with food 87% of the time! 

So...everyone enjoy the weekend.  There is an NDSU game on Saturday so hopefully that will result in some fun times!  I don't have a ticket and everyone else does so who knows what will become of me and tailgating might be kind of frigid!  We shall see! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oooh I Forgot About This...

I was in Bismarck this weekend and it snowed all day and all night on Saturday. Justin went hunting early on Saturday morning. When he got up he looked out the window and said that there was snow on the ground. I haven't seen serious snow this year...wherever it happens I am conveniently somewhere else! I decided I wasn't going to shovel on Saturday because I knew it was going to keep snowing. On Saturday night it really picked. I went out for a few hours and when I left the bar there was considerable accumulation on my car! It was light and fluffy and went up my sleeves when I was brushing it off...brrrr!

On Sunday morning there was no avoiding it...I had to try to remove the snow from the driveway. Oh, how I loath shoveling snow. I have spent most of my life living in a place where my dad takes care of high volumes of snow with large machinery and shovels are rarely needed. I wouldn't mind a stoop or a sidewalk but clearing our whole driveway is a time consuming and tiring ordeal. Our driveway is so long! I got started but after about 20 minutes and not much progress I went inside and called Justin and told him I wasn't going to shovel anymore and he could use the snowblower when he got home.

I was sitting in the living room, with the TV up loud so I could hear over the sound of snowblowers running at my neighbors' houses, when I saw snow swirling nd flying out the window. My neigbor was clearing our driveway with this snowblower! He has a habit of going up and down the block and clearing the sidewalks and he must have seen my poor attempts and shoveling and taken pity.  Very nice!

I put up the Christmas tree...I will do a post about it later but here are a few pictures as a preview...

What's this?

Hmmm....looks fun!

Ooooh, my little Christmas kitten!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm Getting in the Spirit...

It is November 18, which means that Christmas is five weeks away.  Today was cold like winter, not fall, and when it is cold I feel like shopping.  OK, I feel like shopping all the time, regardless of the season, but the idea of a warm, bright mall was very appealing when I left work today.  I was delighted but not surprised to find the mall in full Christmas regalia, with the lit pine boughs and big red shiny ornaments hanging in the corridors and the stores displaying sweaters, mittens and hats in the windows.   Oh, I love it!  I know I am a sucker but I am affected by holiday merchandising. I also love to hear Christmas music when I shop.  I am not 100% a sucker...I know that the beautiful sweaters and wool coats and mittens will be 40% as soon as New Year Day arrives and 60% by February and that no smart shopper buys winter hats and mittens in November.  But it's really fun to look!  During my browsing I found a summer dress I wanted from Macy's that was originally $118 and today cost $23.00.  Now I need a trip to Mexico so I can wear it! 

I am going to Bis this weekend and might put up the Christmas tree. I think it is pretty early but I won't be home for a few weeks after this weekend and I would like it to be waiting for me the next time I am there. We have a tall and very slim fake tree that my mom bought both Andrea and I on clearance a few years ago. This will be its 4th Christmas and it is fine for now. It certainly doesn't fool anyone and there is no question that it is fake. I fantasize about one day having a very real looking fake tree (or maybe a real tree...who knows) that looks something like these beautiful trees from Pottery Barn's catalogue.  Have I mentioned before that being a Pottery Barn display room designer (or IKEA or Crate and Barrel) is a fantasy job of mine?  Being the designer of Christmas spreads would be the ultimate fantasy!

The red Santa theme is always a good choice. 

I love how this one incorporate's words!  I would take it beyond just "Happy Holidays" and print the lyrics of a Christmas Song.  Maybe "O, Christmas Tree"!

This one has very nice fake snow!  I love the look.  I also love how there are two trees in the shot.  How festive!  I know alot of people, such as my mom and Justin's mom, have two trees in separate rooms of the house (Oh, to have a large house!) but I have never seen them right next to each other.  It looks cute with real trees.  It's kind of like a forest.  It would look pretty bad with fake trees though. 

I love the look of the trees with very short needlesas opposed to the varity with very long needes that look fluffy.  They are all nice, but I prefer the short needles.  These PB pictures reminded me of this photo I scanned...

That is my granparents' tree from the mid-1950's.  My grandma said it was her first Christmas tree that she had after they were married.  It is not as full as the catalogue trees yet reminds me of them.  The catalogue ones have a vintage feel!  The tinsel is a nice touch. Although they didn't have a large ornament collection the tree still looks special. Tinsel always adds alot to a Christmas tree! 

If our tree is taken out this weekend expect some photos next week!

Oh, and P.S....a few posts ago I linked to Justin's mom's blog about China...I checked it daily waiting for posts and no update came and she emailed and said that her new blog has now been shut down by the Chinese Communist censorship just as the old one was.  How annoying and dissapointing!  Come on, China! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

"If You Want to Destroy My Sweater..."

"....Pull this thread as I walk away..."

The title was a reference for any Weezer fans reading this!  My sister had an "Ugly Sweater" party this weekend to correspond with the Bison/SDSU game and it was quite a fun weekend.  Today was pretty tough because it was so boring and the weekend was so fun.  I saw alot of people that I don't see that often, especially in one place so it was lonely to be sitting and staring at a computer screen all day.  Also, my sleep schedule is off kilter and I felt like falling asleep all morning.  Oh, well, it was worth it.  I wish a weekend like this would happen more often. 

This was my first ugly sweater party, although I am familiar with the concept.  To this type of party, a guest can wear old, tacky, or outlandish sweaters.  The sweaters often date from the 1990s but can be from any era.  Often the most ridiculous ones have a holiday theme. 

I found this one, which is actually fleece and not a knit sweater, at a second hand store.  It's not really THAT bad (although I would not wear it except for this party)  but was ill fitting.  I chose it because those are cats on the front.  Cats wearing Christmas wreaths on their heads.  OH  YEAH!  Shopping for sweaters was a blast.  I must say that I cannot believe how many cartoon-themed sweaters and sweatshirts I saw on the racks.  Not the children's racks either.  When did grown women wear Disney, Looney Toon, and Winnie the Pooh clothing?  Oh, I am soooo glad the 1990's are over. 

This is a group shot of the guests present when Andrea decided to take a group shot.  There was quite an eclectic collection of sweaters!

 Even Jake had a sweater!  It was a child's size vest with a winter scene on the front (or the back, for a dog!) from a thrift store.  He was so excited to have alot of people around paying attention to him that he forgot he was wearing a sweater and kept it on all night.  The little pug belongs to party guests Aaron and Domonie, who live in South Dakota.  Her name is Sophie and she and Jake have visited each other before.  They are good friends and love to play. 

Here is a shot of the "cousins" on my dad's side!

This is the cousins from my mom's side (aka, my family with our cousin Katie).  Katie's sister didn't make it to the party and our other three cousins are in middle school in Michigan so were not able to attend this booze fueled event. 

Jakey looks completely doofy but he had alot of fun!

Kirk (right) had an amazing sweater with a muddle of "Amerciana" images such as apples, flags, hearts, farm animals (check out that hen!), a school blackboard.  Hahaha it was amazing.  My brother's patriotic number was purchsed by me at the Boy's Ranch store and is acutally a men's XL!  He was worried I would forgot that we aren't the same size when I was shopping and that his sweater would be midriff baring. 

Awww...maybe my mom will want to use this for a Christmas card!  Haha. I doubt it.  As you can see, I am wearing a different shirt.  I couldn't reisist a wardrobe change so I could wear my mom's denim shirt from the 1990's that has little Christmas appliques on it, such as presents, mistletoe, and bells.  It was very ill fitting, with too short sleeves and a wide cut.  Andrea is also wearing a sweater of my mom's, which she recalls wearing with a cream colored, ankle-lenght courduroy skirt!  It was really wide, so she had sewn elastic around the waist band to cut down on the frump factor.  Too funny!

On Saturday the football game was at 3 pm, and we managed to drag ourselves to tailgating around noon.  It was kind of chilly but not unbearable, and we had a good time.  It was the last home game of the season and I can't believe it.  I looked forward to tailgating starting in, oh, probably late July, and it feel kind of anti-climactic that it is over.  Sigh...

I was excited for the football game because it was the "Trees Bowl", which is when the ND Forestry Service has traditionally given away live sapplings for the fans.  Every year, Justin gets me one (I usually am not in attendance at the actual game) but this year I went to the game my self and discovered that there were no saplings this year.  The Forest Service felt it was too late in the year to plant baby trees so instead they gave away Christmas tree ornaments withe the Bison logo on them!  They are very cute. 

The rest of the evening was spent getting tipsy with all my pals, like we have done so many times before, and it was so relaxing and fun!  Maybe the Bison will have a playoff game and we can do it one more time!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanks Veterans

Since it is Veteran's Day, I am going to recommend everyone clicks on this youtube link  and listen to this Bruce Springsteen song while you read.

 It's called "Shut Out the Light" and it was inspired by the book "Born on the 4th of July" by Ron Kovic.  Bruce met Mr. Kovic in a hotel in the 1970's, apparently.  If you haven't you should read "Born on the 4th of July".  It is very good.  The movie was OK, but I read it first and had a hard time visualizing Mr. Kovic as Tom Cruise!  The song is about a Vietnam veteran coming home and returning the his regular life.  He sees a woman from his past, gets his car out of the garage with his brother, and thinks about working at his old job again.  Through it all, he is plagued with insomnia and nightmares and feels alone.  It is a good song and not preachy or hippy-ish like some war songs.  I have always felt impacted by the first verse where the returning veteran exits the plane to an empty blacktop and gets a taxi without a crowd to welcome him home.

It is Veteran's Day, as everyone knows, and I went to my job and had a normal day like many others.  (No more days off!  Ahh, the life of a public school/university student!)  I'm kind of dissapointed that a limited commercial showing of "Saving Private Ryan" isn't on TV.  It seems like it gets played around Memorial Day and Veteran's Day and I love that movie, regardless of the violence. 

Some families are filled with Veterans and I can't say the same about my own.  My Granpda Herald  was a veteran of WWII, but it ended soon after he enlisted.  My uncle Steve was in the Navy, although it wasn't during a time of conflict.  On my dad's side, the men missed the major wars by a few years.  My dad was 15 turning 16 when U.S. involvment in Vietnam ended.  My grandpa was around that age when WWII ended and his father turned 18 just as WWI ended.  I can imagine how they might have been different and how all of our lives might have been different if they had been a few years older.  I can't imagine worrying about turning 18 as I'm sure many young men did.  I was about to write that I can't imagine growing up with a war always going on but I guess when I think about it the Gulf War in 1990-91 had it's effect on my family, although not in a military context and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afganistan have been going on for almost 10 years. 

Thank you to all the Vets out there for your sacrifices!  I saw a sad news story a few months ago that shared the statistic in the current wars being fought by American's more veterans have died by their own hand as a result of depression and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome than have died in combat.  That is really upsetting and I hope anyone out there feeling that way is able to get the help they need. 

This is the only old photo I have of a veteran in my family.  He is my great uncle (I'm embarassed to say I don't know which one, but it is either Kenneth, Orvis, or Jimmy!) and my grandma Dorothy is the young girl in the front.  She had four brothers and I believe that three of them were in WWII.  The fourth was younger than she was so he was too young.  Several of my mom's uncles fought in Vietnam and one died in the early days of the conflict but besides him they all returned unharmed (at least physically).   I'm not sure about Justin's family's history, but I believe his uncle served in Vietnam.  He will correct me if I'm wrong.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Peony Controversy

In our backyard, right up against our neighbor's driveway, there was an old flowerbed dileneated by a border of paving stones.  It had not been maintained for years and was mostly overgrown by grass except for a few tulip plants that grew with no rhyme or reason.  The back featured a row of huge, bushy peony plants.  There were three different colors including very light pink, bright pink and fuschia.  In June they bloomed with hundreds of flowers.  I cut some to make a few bouquets but mostly enjoyed them outside.  When he started improving the yard, Justin wouldn't let a pre-existing plant live and he wanted to do away with the peonies as well.  I wanted to keep them.  He said he would plant them somewhere else.  I looked it up on the internet and learned that established peony plants don't adjust well to being transplanted. 

Sigh...last week I gave up and he dug them up.  Two were transplanted and the rest were given away to Justin's co-workers.  Sorry I don't have any photos but they are not much to see right now anyway!  I guess I will have a surprise next spring because we don't know which colors remain!  Spring seems like a lifetime away right now!

This is a picture of one of my bouquets.  It looks pretty sparse!  The reason it is that way is because you are supposed to cut peonies before the blooms have opened.  I was imagining something more like this...

Yeah...Nice try!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Opening Weekend

This weekend was the opening weekend of deer hunting with a rifle (bow hunting is allowed for several months each fall and rifle season only lasts a few weeks).  Justin loves this weekend and he goes to his cousin's house for the weekend (although he doesn't only go there this weekend).  I usually go with for the opener although I don't shoot a gun or have Hunter's Safety certification. 

The first time I went hunting was when we were dating and I was 20 years old.  Opening weekend is always at the beginning of November and it is imopossible to predict what the weather will be like. That first year, it was very cold and snowy.  One year there was an ice storm that knocked down power lines and left us without electricity for the weekend and coated every fence and every blade of grass with ice.  It was very beautiful and also challenging!  One year it felt like summer and everyone hunted in Tshirts.  This year was very nice.  It was near 60 and the sun was bright during the day so walking outside was alot of fun.  Although I love warm weather, experienced hunters say that when it is warm the deer do not move around as much so hunting is usually not as productive. 

It is hard to see them in this photo, but Justin and his friend Aaron are pictured in the distance.  Justin is at the base of those two trees that form a V and Aaron is easier to see by the large tree trunk. They were wearing orange and were very visible in life! It is taken near Justin's family's farm (where his cousin lives and where his dad grew up).  There is a small river that runs nearby so there are areas with alot of trees where deer can be found.

This is our nephew, Dylan.  He is 6 and went out walking with use for awhile.  He got kind of bored with hunting but that is understandable for a young kid his age.  I'm sure his interest will increase when he gets older. 

This little house is a familiar landmark to me!  After all these years, I decided to take a picture!  It is a place where the person posting with thier rifle sits and waits for the deer to be pushed out of the trees and grass.  I believe it is an old dog house that was maybe intended for a herding dog. 

Usually the end of daylight savings time usually happens the weekend before this one but this year it took effect Saturday night/Sunday morning.  Justin and the hunters usually like to go out at sunrise to look for deer so that means we get up at around 5:45 am.  This year it was nice that sunrise didn't happen until around 7:00 am!  Also, it allowed them to hunt later into the evening.  On Sunday morning we were back to the old way of getting up at 6 and I snapped a few pictures of the sunrise. 
Our friends Aaron and Andy were parked about 1/2 mile away and saw my flash in the distance when I took the pictures!  Hopefully I didn't scare away any deer!

I love this picture!  Guys usually avoid my efforts at group photos but I caught them! 
Meanwhile, back in my hometown, opening weekend was also in full swing.  My dad and my brother and brother-in-law hunt with a big group of guys and on Saturday evening the local fire department holds "smoker".  If you are unfamiliar with smokers, they are events that traditionally have been held for men and involve drinking, smoking and heavy gambling with the proceeds going toward community purposes.  This specific one is held in the firetruck garages.  It is now acceptable for women to attend and smoking is no longer allowed in the fire department but the spirit is the same I guess!  I was sitting in the local bar with Justin and his cousins when I looked at my phone and saw that I had recieved this photo message...

That's my mom holding a shotgun!  At first I thought she was just being silly but I found out that she won that gun in a drawing!  The gun is from Scheels and she can either pick it up after passing her background check or take the value in store credit.  Since it is a gun intended for bird hunting and no one in my family does that she will probably take the credit instead.  That could buy alot of shoes for running or a nice new ski outfit! 

I left after lunchtime on Sunday and, of course, Justin got a buck and his friends got a buck and a doe.  No one shot a deer the whole time I was there (well, there were shots fired, but no success!) and as soon as I left luck started to change!  I hope they don't banish me from hunting from now on!  I don't have the photos of his buck on my computer yet so I will show it off later if he wants me to.  It is a 5x6 if that means anything to any of you!  It's severed head is in my garage right now but I will spare you any pictures of that.  I don't really relish the sight myself.  My dad's group hunts more for meat and population control so they don't really worry about size or racks but I heard they got three bucks.  They process it themselves into jerky and pepperoni sticks which are delicious.  My family usually doesn't eat the roasts but if my mom gets any unwanted ones she cooks them and uses them for pet food which I think is a good use.  Justin gets his meat processed professionally at a local butcher and they make delcious summer sausage and pepperoni.  We eat roasts sometimes.  I prefer them after being cooked in a crock pot for several hours!

I stopped at the farm after I parted ways with Justin on Sunday just in time to trudge through the woods around the house to push out two bucks that Pete and Kirk (my brother and brother-in-law) had seen run in there.  They came out but escaped to live another eay!  I feel bad for the deer during hunting season but I also agree with the concept of population control to reduce starvation and disease.  Also, I know alot of people donate the venison to charities and homeless shelters so I think alot of good comes from deer hunting.  Not to mention, it is a good time to spend time with friends and family doing a wholesome outdoor activity!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Change of Scenery

The farm that I refer to often is where I grew up (at least since 1991) and where my parents still live has looked pretty much the same since that time.  When I was in high school my dad built a new machine shed and the year I graduated he added a sunroom/mud room onto the house.  About a month ago I learned that my dad had a builder over to make plans to build a new shop!  There is already a building that we call the "shop" which is where my dad keeps his tools.  That shop is prohibitive because it is not big enough to pull a truck or tractor into.  Also, it doesn't have heat except for an old wood burning stove.  There are also a few machine sheds but they don't have heat or electricity and one has a gravel floor.  This new shop will have a concrete floor that is also heated!  It will have elecricity, heat, and plumbing!  "Plumbing" includes a bathroom!  He will be able to work on projects in this nice warm shop all winter long.  It will have windows and various doors.  This is going to be fun...

It is progressing quickly.  Dad excavated the sight with his bulldozer in preparation for the build.  One afternoon I was talking to my mom on the phone as she was driving home and as she drove into the driveway she said something along the lines of  "Oh, what has he been doing?!"  He had gone to town on the area and tore down an old elecrtric pole (the wires are now buried). I arrived today soon after noon and the builders had poured the concrete and were smoothing it with big electric trowels.  By the time it gets too cold the structure should be up and ready to be finished.  He plans on doing the interior work himself, including the insulating, wiring, and plumbing. 

I saved my photography for after the workers had gone home so they wouldn't think I was crazy!  Who would want a picture of cement drying?  I am actually pretty amazed by this is fast drying so it could already be walked on today although it is not ready for heavy use.  Building will start on Monday if weather permits. 

 I carved my name for posterity!

Wally is mildy interested in the project.  Fortunately, the builders didn't seem to mind a clingy dog visiting them throughout the day.   There is going to be a dog door for him so he can take shelter on cold nights. 

Those orange tubes run under the concrete to heat the floor .  This is where the bathroom will be.  I've always thought we needed a third bathroom!  Maybe I will start sleeping in the shop when we have alot of guests!

I think it is so crazy that this cement dries so still looks wet but is solid!  The view will be quite a bit different soon, but in a good way!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Election Day

 Hello everyone!  I am sitting in Andrea's basement watching the NBC "Decision 2010" coverage.   I'm not really paying much attention but I love the soothing background noise of the news and I also love the demographic maps that are shown on TV. 

Without sounding really cliched, I was reminded of the freedoms we enjoy in the U.S. today.  Justin's mom is in China for the next month teaching University classes.  She was there in 2008 as well for the same reason.  When she was there in 2008 she started a blogger account and had a blog similar to this one.  China, being a communist country, censors the Internet.  It was noticeable in 2008 but now it is to the level that google searches are limited.  Since Blogger is owned by Google she was unable to use her old blog.  Oh, having the internet sensored would drive me crazy!  Having anything censored drives me crazy!  I was raised in a censorship free home, where any book or magazine that we were able to comprehend was allowed (of course there wasn't porn laying around or anything...)  I read alot of the same books and magazines my parents were reading and in 6th grade I made my mom order me Newsweek to go along with our Jr. National Geographic and Sports Illustrated for Kids subscriptions.  I was really weird and arguably pretty boring!  Anyway, I know the Internet is full of as much crap as legitimate information but it's important that it is available.  I don't think there are any examples of societies that succeeded by depriving people of information.

Anyway, she started a new blog with a different blogging website. 

Check it out in the following weeks.  It should be interesting.  I know it was in 2008!  And enjoy the ease of access! 

On another topic, rifle season for deer hunting starts on Friday.  Jakey, although he isn't a trained hunter or anything, is all ready for his weekend at the farm.  He has a new orange collar to alternate with his signature blue one!  It suits him!

He matches the couch so it is nice to be able to see him before sitting down!  Haha.

It seems to have a reflective quality.  No mistaking this guy for a deer!