Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy new year, Papa!

Papa and everyone else, wishing you a happy new year! We're off to see the fireworks.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ester Dome mushing

Sonja joined me at work for a couple hours today (Emilie was at her daycare, which is open this week). After a lunch at home, we went to the top of Ester Dome with the dogs. Good inversion: -10F and below in the valleys, while it was probably around +20 at the top of the Dome. Sonja went on her sled, I on the skis, and each of us had one dog. We started in the saddle between the two main tops, and went on the out-and-back to the last top on the west side. Beautiful view of the alaska range and denali and the sun.

It took some trial and error, but at the end we had a system: on some downhills I took my skis off and held the handlebar of Sonja's sled and ran downhill that way. On some downhills I skied, tied only to one dog (too bad we can't let both of them run loose at the same time if we want to see them ever again) and was holding the line to Sonja's sled so close that the sled was pretty much right behind me. On the smaller uphills, each of us had one dog. On the bigger uphills, I took the skis off too, let my dog loose, and helped the dog that was pulling Sonja. And thus we went. At the end, Sonja was tired, and when I fell down and her sled tipped across my skis, and that caused some tears to be shed. Luckily it was only a 100 yards or so from the car, so we got home without problems.

Nearly back home, here is a picture of the Alaska Range at 3:20pm or so, about half hour after sunset. Mt Hayes is on the left, Hess and Deborah near the center. The hills closer by were the location of the fire/smoke that plagued us this past summer.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

LARS open house

Around Solstice the Large Animal Research Station (LARS) of the University of Alaska Fairbanks had its open house. We went there and enjoyed seeing the animals.
Sonja with Martin, and Muskox in the background.

Emilie running after them.

Reindeer, I think. Or was it caribou? Apparently the reindeer, having been domesticated for meat, do have a wider ribcage, and shorter legs.


Martin and the kids watching some muskox.

Overall, I think we will need to come again next year (may be during the spring/summer open house too), but it is one of the good activities that Fairbanks offers during winter. The lighting of the Christmas tree at Creamer's field was another such activity (my notes for next year...).

Another blog to follow

Martin left yesterday for fieldwork for a couple months. While he will have very limited access to email etc, he said some colleagues of his will be continue posting notes on the following blog:

Erin, one of the bloggers on that blog, did add me to her SPOT mailing list, and I already got some wonderful details such as that they were right here. (The map that this leads to is pretty much white everywhere, which is an unusual experience since even alaskan maps on google maps are not white - they are from summertime.) That part of the fieldwork Martin luckily? unluckily? missed, but now he is joining Erin and who knows who else on a cruise.

On a note only related to the color white mentioned in the previous paragraph, I thought that it might be time to say good bye to those cranes I had in the header of the blog, and instead put in a more season-appropriate picture - featuring some (not all) white.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Various shades of white

We've had an inch or two of snowfall here and there in the last week, which is good - we need more snow! As a result of the snow, we're back to a world in various shades of white.

Last few turns before our house

Look! A hint of yellow - the "End" sign on the bottom of the pole visible near the center of the photo.

Today at creamer's field, where we went skijoring with the dogs. There are colored lights on that spruce tree, it looks like they don't really show up on this picture. Too bad.

We went there to Creamer's ten days ago when they were lighting the christmas tree, it was a wonderful thing to take the kids to. Even though, as Martin said, if Santa Claus has musical inclination and he was listening that night, he might skip Fairbanks :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Meal planner

I like the idea of a meal planner as seen on here (and she lists the dishes themselves here). (As an aside - I really like Meg's blog - she is creative with kids' things, sewing, crafting in a way I wish I was. Two years ago I grabbed a copy of her 'yoga poses for children' that she still has on her blog, got those pictures printed, and to this day Sonja periodically takes the photos out.)

Now, in order to clean up the house before Martin arrives, I thought I should copy down some of our weekly shopping lists that we have actually managed to do in the last two months... similar to the meal planner on Meg's blog. For inspiration for the future time when we don't know what to eat. Then at least I will be able to toss those tattered and torn shopping lists out. They have been sitting around for a few weeks already.

These are probably equivalent to about half of the weeks - the other half we have just not managed to make a menu and do the shopping all at one time. Quite a few repetitions - might be good to figure out some other dishes into our standard vocabulary. It would have been interesting if I had jotted down what we ate five years ago - I am sure there are some dishes that we ate regularly then that we forgot about for one reason or another by now (e.g. the shrimp with tomato / feta sauce; or the potato / sausage / leek dish). In fact, there is no overlap with what we ate for one week a year ago.

OK, here I go. Some week we thought we might eat the following - and at the end the menu might have changed as circumstances dictated:
  • Chicken with sundried tomatoes cream sauce
  • Martin's mom's rice with veggies (rice cooked with bouillon and veggies and at the end topped with layers of cheese that melt on top)
  • Roesti (potato pancake from cooked then grated potatoes) with creamy mushroom sauce
  • salmon with potatoes
Some other random week:
  • Pasta casserole (Baked dish of egg pasta, yellow bell peppers, leeks + peas in gorgonzola / egg sauce)
  • Beef and broccoli stir fry
  • steak tacos with guacamole
  • Sicilian spaghetti (a sauce consisting of anchovies, raisins, and some other potent flavors, topped with fried breadcrumbs, from Jamie's cookbook - that british chef)
  • Salmon + rice (that might have been a very basic curry consisting of zucchini and red bell peppers in coconut milk together with the salmon)
  • Mushroom ragout
Another week
  • Martin's mom's rice
  • Spaetzle (sort of fresh pasta that's dripped into boiling water), fried up with some veggies and may be cream
  • Salmon chowder
  • Pork Roast + potatoes
  • Fried rice using the pork meat
Another week
  • Fettucini Greta Garbo (from the Fiddlehead cookbook - pasta with smoked salmon in garlic cream sauce, if I remember the recipe correctly)
  • Homemade pizza (I like this crust)
  • Chuck steak + potatoes
  • Roesti with mushroom suace
  • Potatoes, onions, sausage
  • Salmon + Rice
  • Stir fry - beef and broccoli
This week, we have made
  • Pasta carbonara
  • Martin's mom's rice
  • pizza
  • pasta in an italian sausage + canned pumpkin pasta sauce
Now the question is, what to cook tomorrow. May be I will take the pumpkin risotto out of the freezer, even though Sonja didn't like it the first time I made it - but she can have scrambled eggs, from the fresh eggs we got both from Marin and Anne.

Martin's blog

Here is what Martin has been up to:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thirty five degrees, or no more various shades of white

This morning, the local temperature as announced on the radio was "thirty five degrees" in Fairbanks. I kept waiting for the "below" part, but it never came. Indeed, a chinook (warm wind) came, and with it our winter wonderland scenery that we got to enjoy for a week or so around here disappeared. Before, everything was white or various shades off white, except for kids or dogs. As the wind came and knocked the snow off, the trees are now in various shades of dark gray.

We went to get the Sunday paper, so one of the dogs got to pull the kids in the sled (regular sled, not a dogsled) on the uphills, and then run as fast as they could on the downhills to keep up with all three of us barreling down the hill in it. Here is Saphira in her skijoring harness, ready to go for the paper.

I do keep hoping for more snow, so whenever that happens (hopefully soon), the scenery may change to the various-shades-of-white again.