Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Finding Me

One thing that I had in Alaska was a sense knowledge in everything there was to know about what needed knowing. If I didn't know how to do it, Google was right there to help me figure it out. High speed internet and Youtube videos have been utilized to their fullest extent at our house. You name it, I could do it. Were you looking for someone to do a great repair on your home? I knew the guy. Looking for the you-pick farm and the best deals on produce? I knew where to send you. Looking for that lady who sells hay and straw for half the price of the feed store? I have her number too. Need amazing garlic that grows in Alaska? I have that for you in my gardening lair and I can even teach you how to grow it. There's a lot of pride and joy that come from being a know-it-all and I was that person, full of pride, full of joy and full of know.

That woman is gone.

I mentioned about the woe-is-me-ness in the last post that I wrote. I lost my shoes, I lost my blanket, my home is gone and now me...Me is gone. I miss Me.

I realized something just this week. I need my own home. My own domain where I don't have to be beholden to a property manager to repair the heating ducts or the back door that doesn't close. I need my closet to be just so, so that I actually know where my clothes go because otherwise they get draped on the broken rocking chair in our bedroom. My JOB is being a wife, mother, baker, cook and I have failed miserably in the last 5 months. I have been trying to stay strong in this lovely, cold, bug filled home that God has provided. I know that our 9 person family needed temporary shelter and this home is big enough. But I can't be Me here and Me needs to come back...my family needs Me.

We may be buying a home here in about a month. It's no sure thing, we have been through this once already since we moved here. But I'm hopeful and looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. Having a good oven that doesn't overcook, cooking more meals and possibly doing some canning.

I thank God for this house we are in. I got to mope around here for 5 months, gain a bunch of weight while I sat around eating Doritos and Costco pumpkin muffins feeling sad about missing Me. I want to go home and by that I don't mean Alaska, I mean to a home where my family lives and is content. Where my husband can fix things with out getting permission from the land-lord and he can feel manly and useful and we can be joyful. Where I can re-learn how to garden in a much warmer climate, find a peach farmer, grow a different kind of garlic, buy goat milk from the cool nuns down the road, tell everyone about Gary-the-amazing-plumber and get my head back into the knowledge game.

Me is coming home soon. I can't wait to see her again.

Just lounging on the cool porch.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

One Good Friend

Often times lately I feel sorry for myself. "Woe is me," I say.

Today I was feeling especially woeful. My sister and her husband made the yearly late fall trek to Girdwood, Alaska. My husband and I have been going with them for the last three years and we have such a grand time...no kids, just adult time with two of the best people in the world. We were invited to go with them again, but getting tickets back to Alaska at the last minute and juggling what to do with our children proved too much at this time. They left for Girdwood last night and today she sent me a beautiful photo of the two of them at the top of the mountain surrounded by snow and bright blue sky and they looked so lovely. I love and miss them so much. I cried. Woe is me.

We all do that sometimes...right? We take turns feeling sorry for ourselves. A little indulgence into the passion of self pity. We allow it from time to time, some allow it to take a firm hold for a long time, sometimes a lifetime... some can combat it entirely. I fall to this temptation too often. Woe is me.

I was making a list in my head of all of the things that I have lost (misplaced?) during the move...not people that I have lost. Things. My tennis shoes, my shirt that I really like, an old comforter that my son likes, my fall boots, my garden clogs. Wracking my brain, I don't know where they went. Woe is me.

Then a car pulls into my driveway. Up walks my new friend that I met after moving here. She is a good soul, kind, loving, non-judgmental, giving. She has lost so much. Not just things but also many people. She has endured much suffering, she still goes through such suffering. My problems are nothing compared to hers. When I saw her I knew that she would see my pain and ask if I was ok. She would care enough to ask and I would probably cry when she did.

I tried to stay strong, to put on a good face. I failed. She asked. I cried. She hugged me. I felt so silly but she comforted me and told me how hard it must be to be in my shoes. She cared, really cared, and loved me.

Thank you, God, for this friend. How many people have a friend such as this? Someone who has suffered beyond anything I could ever imagine. Thank you for my tiny cross that I bear and for helping me to see how small it is. Thank you for loving me so much that you sent this woman that I did not know three months ago into my life exactly when I needed her and when she needed me. What a loving Father you are, how much you love us is unmeasurable and overwhelming.

Ahhh, what lovely people. Miss you guys.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Life Changer

I am 38 years old and never lived anywhere but Alaska.

We moved to Washington state 3 weeks ago. What the heck?

We sold. A lot. Including our animals. I finally got everything just right in the yard, fencing, apple trees, berry bushes...then poof, we leave.

Everyone asks me how I feel about this, am I sad am I excited? I don't get depressed or excited easily. I am at peace about it and trying to wrap my mind around it. I know myself well enough to know that I will be fine here. I will adjust. God wanted us here for His own reasons, we aren't sure of all of them but think we may have some ideas of why. It has been a hard journey that we started in February, really considering it. Many things have gone wrong but more things have gone right to make it possible to move.

We moved mainly because there is a new parish starting in the small town of Goldendale, WA. My husband is a deacon and our parish in Alaska had grown to a nice size where we weren't needed like we used to be. (Wanted sure, but not needed.) Leaving our parish was extremely difficult and more-so considering the history our parish had with people, especially clergy, moving away, we know the abandoned feeling all too well. This time it was us that was doing the abandoning. That was really terrible.

There isn't clergy here in this town to get a new parish up and running, and when presented with this as an option for us vs staying in Alaska it just felt so right for us both. Once the decision was made, the kids were told, our families were told, tears were shed...the work of moving began.


If you have moved you know. If you have tried selling your house you know. If you haven't, read up on it on the internet and learn what you can, then hang on for a bumpy ride. If you have any money in savings, it will go bye bye. If you have a credit card, it will get maxed. If you're moving because God wants you to, be prepared for a lot to go wrong. Get into the back of God's car and just sit back and watch the drama out the window. He's in control, let it go.

My husband can keep his job and work at home like he has for the last 14 years. My business didn't sell, so I'm attempting to run it from here. My sister was looking for a work-at-home job and as she's the best worker I've ever known, I was happy she was willing to work for me. 

Our house is still not sold. I don't know if it will. It was supposed to close June 2nd and they buyer's house still hasn't closed and we aren't sure ours will go smoothly now either after theirs sells... I'm thankful that we got plane tickets out of Alaska because I'm sure our car would have broken down had we tried driving. Either that or the nine of us would have killed each other on the way down. A 3 1/2 hour plane ride was definitely worth it.

When we got here most of the active parish was very sick, one boy had mono, another two families had whooping cough. Another has a simple surgery then gets sepsis and almost dies. What?

God did provide us with a beautiful rental house here. It's one of the old Victorian houses in the town and rent is very reasonable. Someone put in a very pretty yard and nice fences all the way around. There is even a koi pond with fish. I have always wanted a Victorian house and this way I get to have my cake and eat it too. I get to live in it but not be responsible for the major work that goes into owing one.

I don't have time to mess with a lot of pictures tonight but I've been posting some on Instagram: https://instagram.com/akmamaof7/

Friday, February 27, 2015

Canning Beans My Way

This is NOT the proper canning method recommended by extension service or Ball Blue Book, but it is what I use.

I presoak the beans in their individual jars the night before and I do not cook them for 30 minutes recommended time. This is much faster (for me) and gives me perfectly non-mushy beans (at least for the chick peas, my current favorite beans to can so I can make my hummus.)

 1/2 cup dry beans per pint, 1 cup dry per quart.
Soak in water overnight. I like it in the jars but you can do this in a bowl to make the rinse faster.
Rinse beans the following day.
1/2 tsp salt per pint, 1 tsp salt per quart
pour boiling water over rinsed beans and salt, secure lids, place in pressure canner

Can using following proper canning procedure, this is a VERY quick step-by-step:

2 inches of water in the pressure canner, hot jars in, lock on lid, heat up, let steam vent for 10 minutes, put on 10 or 15 lb weight depending on elevation, then start timer...

1 hour 15 minutes for pints (75 min)
1 hour 30 minutes for quarts (90 min)

Turn off heat, let pressure go down to zero, remove weight, remove lid (carefully! hot steam!) remove hot jars with jar lifter and put onto a dish towel on the counter, if using tattler lids, CAREFULLY tighten down rings, DON'T do this with metal non-reusable lids. Let cool completely, if using tattler, check for no seal. Any that did not seal I will use right away for hummus.

Beans on right just came out of canner, on left are ready to go in.

If you love hummus like I do then you will love the GoRemy Hummus: The Rap or maybe their new one, All About The Paste. But I really dig their Falafel Song, but don't use canned beans when making your Falafels! Only soaked overnight, see the recipe here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Steph's Cheesy Grits

I have never thought to propose to another woman, that would be weird.

Until now.

Now I understand why men propose to women who can cook. There is so much joy in eating good homeade food, something like Stephanie's Cheesy Grits could move one to ask her to marry you. I did ask her to marry me, but she declined.

I think the secret ingredient is the bacon or ham that are not mentioned in the title, but this pot of goodness really hits the spot on a cold Sunday afternoon...or on Pascha at 2am. This dish has become a break-fast tradition in our small parish. This Christmas Steph will be gone and I just don't know what I will do without her grits. Perhaps I can make them...but they just don't taste the same.

 Steph's Cheesy Grits
 8 c salted broth, my homeade broth usually needs more salt
-heat until bubbly-
2 c polenta
-whisk into broth, stir a lot for about 20 minutes until it's thick and no longer crunchy-
about 10 drops Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 stick butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c sharp cheddar or other cheese (more if mild)
1 lb cooked, cooled and broken up bacon or diced ham
-serve immediately, Steph puts hers in a crock pot and keeps it warm until after the church service and we indulge after 40 days of fasting-

Cheesy Grits looking dapper

Missing you, Steph. Come home soon.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Overwhelmed by the beauty of this place.
Overwhelmed by the work to be finished.
Overwhelmed by the kindness of children.
Overwhelmed by the selfishness of others.

So much pain. The priest who left us, took his wife and beautiful children...left.
So many temptations.The boy whom I met, who was sweet...killed himself...left.
So much sickness. The woman, whom I love, who left her family, left her four small children, her sick husband....left.
So many snares. The other woman, whom I love, who left her husband of 35 years....left.
So much sickness, so much pain. So much.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stock season

'Tis the season for making stocks. These recipes were created by what I have on hand and what my garden and freezer are spewing out at me:

Vegetable Stock 
yields 7 quarts

basic stock ingredients:
2 large onions quartered, skins on
6 ish medium carrots (and or zucchini or squash, something sweeter)
6 ish celery stalks and leaves
small bunch fresh parsley
1 Tbl peppercorns
2 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme
~20 leaves of beet greens
~20 leaves of mustard greens
~20 medium kale leaves and stems
some people don't recommend kale or cabbage, but others said some was ok, and to balance it out, I was pleased with the flavor.
salt optional, not recommended in stocks where you will salt your dish later
8 quarts warm water

Let simmer an hour or two. Most broths I leave overnight but I didn't see anyone doing that with veggie broth so I only did it for a few hours. Add salt and use in soup or can in quart jars at 10 lbs pressure for 35 minutes.

Beef/Pork Stock

Make this the same way, just with bones. I'm making mine now, it will simmer overnight and I will can it tomorrow. I read that you can substitute squash for carrots and I have a monster zucchini and not as many carrots this year, so I added a bunch of zucchini my beef/pork stock.

Turkey Stock

Later this week I'll make the turkey I pulled out of the freezer yesterday (yes I cleaned out the freezer, thus the stock making rush). I'll combine my turkey bones and my chicken bones that are frozen waiting for stock and can that up as well. I go through a lot of canned stock. I may even make a shrimp stock as my fish head stock failed earlier this year when I burned the veggies when I was just starting.