Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I had a little Christmas gathering this weekend, making my Swedish rice pudding, BBQ meatballs, Christmas cookies, and having mini-cheesecakes, veggies, fruit, and more out to eat. It all tasted good!
I think the most fun part of the party was watching 4 little boys run back and forth through my house, playing with cat toys and fire trucks and Christmas trains and my dog. My dog Thai is really good with kids, except for when they try to grab his tail!
It was a fun time. I really enjoy hosting parties like this, and celebrating the season. And now I'll go be a guest at a few more parties over the next week or so!!
I think I'll go back to my healthy eating and exercising plan after January 1st - sounds like a good plan, doesn't it? And I'll come up with New Year's resolutions soon- I actually am very focused on my goals and make a point of working towards them the whole year.
Enjoy the Christmas season! Have a great time with family and friends! Stay warm!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I drove past the mall on Friday (Black Friday), took one look at the 3-block line to turn into the insanely full mall parking lot, and kept driving, despite being tempted by some of the ads in Thursday's paper. I figure there's plenty of time to go shopping. And I'll continue to make use of online shopping too!
I always enjoy Christmas. I've got my Christmas tree, lights, and decorations up in my house. There's even a gift for me under the tree already! I've got the outside lights brightening the outside of the house. And I've got my entire month planned out, to avoid being overly busy. The month is filled with parties and gatherings, which I intend to fully enjoy and appreciate.
I'll make cookies one day- I love making rosettes, krumkake, peanut butter blossoms, Chex mix, and more. What's your favorite Christmas cookie?
Every year, I make Christmas cookies to give to family and friends and share at parties. I make mostly Scandinavian cookies, since I grew up making many Scandinavian desserts and dishes with my mom. While I'm only part Swedish and Norwegian, I've always enjoyed this tradition.
Making Lefse- A traditional Scandinavian treat
I used to make lefse every year on a November weekend for many years with my mom, aunt, and cousin. It took us all day, even with many hands helping. The Christmas music would be playing, the snow was sometimes falling, and we would work diligently all day.
My mom and aunt would prepare the potato and flour mixture into balls, adding flour as necessary.
My cousin and I would roll the balls of dough very thin, turning them over regularly with a long stick. We would each try to make our round piece of lefse round as large as possible, without the dough breaking apart. When they broke apart, we'd take all the loose pieces, make a ball again, spread more flour on the bread roller and the cutting board, and start again.
After we had the largest lefse round possible, we'd carefully hand it over to my mom or aunt at the large round lefse grill (looks like a round pancake griddle). The lefse would brown, and they'd turn it over with a long stick to brown on the other side.
Then we'd fold the lefse and let it cool. We'd sample it to make sure it tasted good. We'd put butter and a little bit of brown sugar on a piece of lefse, roll it up, and eat it. Mmm, good.
We'd make as many as we could with the batch of potatoes and flour mixture. After several hours of work, we'd have enough lefse for my aunt to take home, and for my family, and for us to freeze some for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
So next time you see the lefse in the refridgerated section of the grocery store (if you live in Minnesota), pick some up to bring home, put some butter and brown sugar on it, roll it up, warm it up for a few seconds, and enjoy!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
So, stay warm, have a hot cocoa, grab a blanket, and maybe you'll come up with some of your own winter-time ideas as you read mine!
- Learn something new (to be determined what this will be- there's so many options!)
- To read more (fiction, spiritual, travel writing)
- To write more (creative writing, memoirs, etc.)
- To learn French and then Spanish
- To work on some house projects- organizing and so forth
- To make better use of the awesome employee gym I go to
Also, I'm going to try to write more in my free time, some creative writing, memoirs, etc. I have lots of ideas going around in my head, and I really need to start writing down the stories or I'll forget. I also am going to get back into doing more freelance writing.
Next, I want to learn French and Spanish. Oui, je parle francais un peu. But I want to learn more French so I can become fluent someday. I have CDs to brush up on my French. I think this will also help me learn Spanish easier. Of course, I know many basic Spanish phrases, but I want to learn more.
Also, I have my never-ending list of house projects- organizing and so forth- that I'll continue to work on on the weekends. It's always a nice feeling of accomplishment when I check something off of the list, though!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Kids say the funniest things, as they "vote" for our future president and senator and Supreme Court judges, etc.
Here's a few of the comments I saw or heard as kids looked at the ballot:
"Which one was the nice man, Mom?"
"I don't want to vote for any of those for President. I only want to vote for Momma!" (He wrote in Mom for president underneath the list!)
A 2-year-old: "Barack Obama! John McCain!" I think he was undecided...
"Mom, don't help me. I want to do it myself!"
So American kids are learning the democratic process!
I of course voted today too- and I'm glad to have the opportunity to vote. I hope many people got out to the voting places to vote. And I'll await the results late late tonight or tomorrow morning to find out if Obama or McCain will be our next president.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Do you ever have one of those weekends where you do so much, you feel like you accomplished something, but you just wish you had a couple more days to the weekend to do some more? Or at least wish one of the days was several hours longer? That's how I feel today. I worked my second job for about 10 hours this weekend, I thoroughly cleaned my house, I walked my dog for about an hour each day, I cleaned out some of my garden beds, I raked some and mowed my backyard, I went out and dressed up for Halloween night, and I turned the clock back an hour last night for daylight savings time. Thank goodness for the extra hour- I needed that extra sleep on Saturday night.
So now I got all that stuff done, which is great, but I think I am now in the get ready for winter/clean out all my closets and drawers/get the yard ready for winter mode. It seems like the evenings fly by during the week and I wonder where all those hours go sometimes... Well I can always have another productive weekend next week!
My Loyal Companion and Dog
My dog Thai is funny. I took him on a walk on Saturday, on a beautiful fall afternoon. I was going to walk maybe 2 miles. Well I started to turn back at the "usual" spot, and Thai wanted to keep walking. He pulled the leash and turned the other direction. Now, I'm pretty strong, and have handled my 90 lb dog for 4 years now. But he looked so excited about walking, I gave in and off we went. So, instead of my 2 mile walk, we took a scenic route and walked about 4.5 miles! We were both tired when we got home, but we did have fun. Thai took a nap. I cleaned house. Later, I relaxed for a bit with a book.
My Cat's Meow and Habits
I sometimes think I wish I could take my cat Maggie with me on our walks. She's a tiger/tabby cat, very pretty. I think she thinks she's in charge, or royalty. During the day, she can often be found sleeping on my bed, curled up and completely satisfied. Or eating her food out of the dish in the kitchen.
When I'm home, and the weather is nice, she sits in front of the kitchen back door, looking up at the handle and hoping I'll open the door for her. She stretches for the handle, meowing and looking at me pleadingly. She likes to go outside, roll around on the patio, and sneak out of the one space in the side fence she can fit through. She heads over to the neighbor's bushes. She will completely ignore me when I go look for here, too, and she does blend in quite well with the bushes. From this vantage point she can observe the neighborhood, the birds up in the tree, and if she's lucky, she'll see a squirrel, rabit, or chipmunk. She doesn't usually catch anything, but she likes to try.
Today, my neighbor was out in her yard with her little dog, who is probably about my cat's size. Well, the dog began barking at my cat and trying to pull on his leash to get to her. My cat's eyes got very large, she hissed, her ears went back, and she began stealthily moving towards the little dog. I wondered if she really would try jumping at the dog... Instead of finding out, I stepped in front of her, told her to go home, and she ran back to the gate.
Now- both the cat and dog are taking a nap, looking content and restful... Perhaps I should take a few minutes to relax and watch a movie!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Even though I've been home for a couple weeks, I'm still remembering the warm weather I enjoyed in Greece. I even still have a tan from the warm sun there!
But, the wind is howling outside my house, and the flurries are falling. It's gray and cold. I think winter is on its way. Leaves are blowing everywhere today, as it's so windy. Ah, the reality of Minnesota weather.
For now, I'll just look at my photos from Greece and imagine being somewhere warmer... I may have to escape to Florida or somewhere warm this winter!
I have raked 14 bags of leaves in my yard so far... I think I probably have 8 or so more to rake yet. So, I hope we still have some nice weather during the fall.
Yesterday was a nice fall day. I enjoyed a day in Lake City. I went to a cafe with two friends, and had tea and a salad. Then, we drove down to the harbor, and walked by all the large sailboats, yachts, and boats that have been pulled out of the water and are now sitting in a large parking lot. We walked down to the shore of Lake Pepin, watching a few sailboats in the distance and a ferry. It was a sunny breezy fall day. We stopped at one of the apple orchards and stores nearby, all of us leaving with apples, apple cider, pumpkins, and more. On my drive, I noticed most of the trees leaves are past their peak- the oranges, reds, and golds are starting to disappear. Some of the leaves are bare already.
Sept. 21- I have been traveling for more than a day, more than 24 hours. I spent 3 hours on my first flight, 4 1/2 hours in an Atlanta airport, and 10 HOURS on a flight to Athens, where I got the last seat in the last row on the plane. It was just a long flight and not very comfortable.
Sept. 22-I'm still drinking coffee- I had a coffee with steamed milk today that I liked better.
The Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens (and Me!)In the Acropolis, I saw an old amphitheatre (Theatre of Dionysus) that has been renovated somewhat and is now used for concerts. Another old amphitheatre was on the property- it's said that Sophocles, Euripedes, and other famous Greek dramatists performed their plays here in approx. 500 B.C. Since I was a theatre minor in college and have been involved in theatre for 15 + yrs, I've had theatre history and read all the Greek tragedies. These plays were really the beginning of drama. It was cool to see a theatre that's been around that long. The Parthenon and the buildings surrounding it were really interesting to see. Some are under renovation, but it's still interesting to see buildings that are so old and have so much history.
We also went to Ancient Agora, the ancient marketplace and city of Athens next to the Acropolis. It's mostly ruins, but diagrams and illustrations show what it may have looked like in 6th or 7th Century B.C. Very interesting. One temple is pretty intact, and still had some of the frescoes and roof.
Ancient Agora (Marketplace), AthensThe next day, we took a mini-bus tour to the ancient city of Corinth. It was a fairly large archaeological site. Again, it's mostly ruins and stones, but one can imagine what it may have been like around A.D. 50 or so. We could see where the city baths had been, the church, the city council, the temples, etc. Corinithian columns, which are the style that have leaves towards the top, were originally built here, and some were still standing.
We also toured the National Archeaological Museum in Athens. It had some amazing artifacts- jewelry, vases, and gold masks from the 15th Century B.C. Wow! Sculptures from the 7th Century B.C. All very interesting.
We've also had some good food- pork souvlaki, Greek salad, Greek wine, gyros, etc. Every restaurant in the Plaka in Athens wanted us to eat there- the host/manager would tell us to come in, that they have so much good food and everything we could possibly want to eat. There's so many restauarants around there, and there's a lot of competition between restaurants.
I've been taking many photos. I haven't had much trouble with jet lag, but my friend has been extra tired. The weather has been decent, but tonight we got caught in the rain as we were going around Athens. I'm hoping it clears up tomorrow. Tomorrow, we're off to Delphi and Olympia. I'm looking forward to it!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
We visited Mycenae, which has archaelogical ruins from the 16th Century BC. We had seen artifacts taken from this site at the museum in Athens- gold and bronze jewelry, vases, bottles, weapons, etc.
We also visited Epidaurus, which has one of the most intact amphitheatres in Greece and could seat about 7,000 people. It had great acoustics, and it was huge. That was cool to see, since I've been involved with theatre for so long. Tomorrow we fly to Santorini, which should be fun.
Friday, October 24, 2008
We're taking a sailboat cruise to a volcano to go hiking, to natural hot springs, to another small island nearby, and to the town of Oia. Oia is supposed to have the best sunset in the island. You can stand in the cliffs that overlook the Caldera and see the sun set in the midst of all the white buildings built in to the cliffs. The Caldera was formed in 1600 BC by a volcano that destroyed 3/4 of the original island, so now the caldera is sort of like a large bay. We went to Fira yesterday and climbed steep hills, walked through narrow stone pedestrian streets between the buildings, at at a restaurant overlooking the caldera. It was really nice there, and we had a beautiful view.
Caldera, from Fira, Santorini
Alison at Volcano
Sept. 30- We went on the boat tour around the Caldera in Santorini on Sunday. I climbed to the very top of the volcano and could put my hand over an area where the sulphur still smokes up through a hole. The volcano has erupted about 4 times I think. The earliest one caused one side of the island to implode in 1600 BC or so, hence the large open bay between the volcano and the island now. The bay is the Caldera.
So, after the volcano, we took the boat to one side of the volcanic island, and the guide said whoever wanted to could jump out of the boat, off the ladder, (the ship looked like a pirate ship!) and swim over to one corner of the island to the hot springs. So, I went down the ladder on the side of the large boat, swam 15-20 yards, and swam through the hot springs. They weren't really hot, really just warm. Sulpheric rock floated about us. It was a fun experience, but a long swim each way when I haven't swam in a while!
Soon after we all got back on the boat, it started raining really hard. I didn't get very dried off! The sails were over the seating area, pulled straight across to block much of the wind and rain. I was glad to have my rainjacket, as it got quite cold, windy, and rainy. We still had a few more stops.
We went to another small island nearby, Thirassia, that was also once part of Santorini or Thira. We had lunch there and I was able to warm up and get dry.
Our next stop was Oia (I-uh), on the northern tip of Thira. Oia is in many postcards and paintings, it's very pretty with blue-domed churches and white buildings and homes, tucked into the side of a very steep cliff. When we arrived at the port, I looked waaaaay up to the top of the cliff, where the town is. Our guide says, "Ok, 2 ways up- walk up 285 slippery, wet steps, or pay this guy 5 euro and get a donkey ride up to the top." 285 steps? I went with the donkey ride. I was already tired from climbing a volcano and swimming many yards, and I have asthma with exercise, so I thought I should take it easy. So the donkey gave me a ride, nearly to the top. Poor donkey, it's quite steep- I wonder how many times a day he does that?
Oia is known for its beautiful sunsets, and we had arrived on time for that. But wait- it had been pouring rain for hours?! The rain stopped just before we reached the town. However, all we saw of the sunset was a few light pink clouds. I still got some good photos of the town though. Lots of good little shops too. It was fun to visit. At the end of the long day, we took the bus back to Perissa, quite tired.
On the next day, Monday, we had a large travel day, taking buses and ferries to get to Mykonos, another island a few hours away. Usually, travelling days are fun. However, I woke up feeling quite ill with stomach problems on Monday. It didn't start out too bad, but as we traveled on the buses and ferries that day, I felt worse and worse. I'll spare all the details- I think it was food poisoning/stomach flu/weird traveler disease. I haven't been that sick in years- after breakfast I couldn't eat all day, and I slept for 3 hours after we arrived at our hotel at last in Mykonos. I think something I ate the day before didn't agree with me. Ah well. I felt much better by the evening.
Mykonos is very pretty. Lots of nice beaches. I've explored much of the island today and rented an ATV, driving all over the island, going to several of the small towns and beaches.
We'll go to Paris in a few days. I've really enjoyed Greece, so I'll miss it. I found the people we met, especially, to be very friendly, hospitable, and relaxed.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Oct. 4- Well, I am in Paris now and seeing the sights. I have been there a few times, but Paris is always fun to see. I have had a cafe creme (coffee with steamed milk), a crepe at a street stand filled with nutella and a banana, pain au chocolate (chocolate croissant), and more. I have been taking lots of photos.
The weather is much colder here than the Mediterranean. Its cold and windy and like fall in Minnesota. I am practicing my French skills (francais) and doing pretty well, I think. I've been able to order food, ask basic questions, greet people, etc. Yesterday we walked the city all day long, for hours and many miles. Very tiring, but fun.
We walked by the Seine River. Then we walked to Notre Dame, walking through the church and admiring the beautiful stained-glasss windows and the architecture. We walked through the Louvre courtyard, but we decided not to go there this time. I've seen it before. Then, we walked along the Champs-Elysees, window-shopping in some of the nice shops along there. It was rather windy and cold all day, so we warmed up and had lunch at an Italian place along the Champs-Elysees. We walked under the Arc de Triomphe. We walked down a side street and passed some of more designer shops, admiring the jewelry and clothing from the sidewalk. We walked over to the Eiffel Tower and walked around it. It's quite impressive, even if you've seen it before.
Today we have more to see. We will walk through the Latin Quarter and St Germain-des-Pres, a fun student area with many shops and cafes. Many Parisiens can be seen sitting outside at tables, enjoying their coffee or a glass of wine, and watching people pass by.
We may go to Cafe de Flore, one of the famous writer's hangouts, which has had authors like Hemingway visit, in the Latin Quarter. I want to sit with my journal and write there, just for the experience, and watch all the people of Paris walk by.
We went to Shakespeare and Co, an English bookshop near there, filled with books floor to ceiling on 2 floors, with notes tacked on shelves with people's recommendations. Fun place. We were caught in the rain for some time yesterday and hope for better weather today, so far so good.
The next day, we went to a nice French restaurant we found off a side street. It was great, the owners and servers were joking around with us (in both French and English), and it was fun. We had a classic French dinner, with some nice French blush wine, an entree of chicken and potatoes, salad, and chocolate mousse for dessert. It was very nice.
The following day, my friend headed back home, so I toured around on my own in Paris. I spent some time at a cafe in the Latin Quarter, just people-watching and writing in my journal. I went to the Musee Rodin, and saw some of Rodin's most famous sculptures. It was a nice, relaxing day. I returned back to the hotel early, as I needed to pack and be ready to find my way to the airport very early the next morning.
And, it's home to Minnesota!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
- Get the hotel reservations
- Plan the itinerary
- Book the bus tours on mainland Greece, Work with travel agent on details
- Collect contact information on hotels and cities
- Get schedules and prices for flights, ferries, and trains
- Read about motorscooters and hope they're safe
- Check out Greece weather forecasts
- Search for a great, reasonable hotel in Paris in a great location with less than a months' notice
- Studying a few very easy Greek words (I haven't gotten many more than "souvlaki" down very well!)
- Study Greek culture and history and find random facts online
It's fun to work out all the details! My friend is busy packing, and I'm hoping she'll give me some ideas on how to best pack everything I need for a European trip in a backpack, including all my books, my journals, my music, my phone, my computer.... Ok, I'm really not bringing everything I own with- really!
So off I go soon, and I hope to keep this updated on all my adventures in Greece. I'll take lots of photos, which I probably won't post until after I get back. I am excited to experience the culture and history of Greece. And I'm looking forward to spending a few days in Paris, and hopefully refresh my French!
See you all when I return from my travels!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I am still enjoying my job. It's great experience, and I am learning something new every day. I am so glad to have this job, using my writing.
Summer is going great. I have my evenings off, generally speaking. I have time to do some of my house projects, to read and write, to brush up on my French, etc. And to hang out outside, garden, walk my dog. Good times. I hope everyone is having a good summer!
I went to my old camp Lake Beauty last weekend. It was so nice to go somewhere where I've spent so much time in the past. After going to camp during most summers growing up, volunteering in high school, going to family camp for over 10 years with famiy, and working on summer staff for 3 years in college, I have a lot of memories there. So much was the same, yet different. The beach, lake, field, lodge, chapel, and gym were essentially the same. Many buildings had updates like air-conditioning or painting. The chapel services were the same great music and interesting speakers. It seems like just yesterday when I went to camp there or worked there. But I can see how things have changed too. I saw many people I'd worked at camp with in the past, some married with kids, some with interesting jobs. It was fun to catch up with some people who I hadn't seen in a long time.
It was just a great weekend to relax and remember memories from the past. I enjoyed having a 4th of July weekend off.
Have a great week!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I've also been wanting to write more, and try to get more things published. So I decided I'm going to try to write a couple nights a week or something like that. It's so nice to have more evenings free now. For the past several months, I've worked several nights a week, besides the "day" job. Now, I am beginning to realize I actually have some free time! Wow!
So I'm filling my time still- time flies. I am just getting more rest now, more time for some of my house projects, to write and read, to have fun and see friends, etc. I'm so thankful to have time to do things like that!
I think spring is officially on its way, despite the snow yesterday. I've seen tulips blooming, robins around, buds on trees. So soon it will get even warmer and sunnier I hope!
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I appreciate it even more because I have persevered for many months in my job search, continuing to search for a position that would be the right fit for my talents and skills. I've also worked long hours at 3 jobs, looking forward to when I could work less, have more time to hang out at home, go out and have fun, etc. It was all worth it, as I have found a very interesting position. I'm so excited that I'll be working in a department where I already know many of my coworkers, and I think it will be fun. I begin in a couple weeks, and I'm just so excited and thankful to have benefits, a simplified schedule, an interesting group of people to work with, and a job I really think I'll enjoy.
It's amazing what can happen... I just kept the faith in God that everything would work out. All things are possible with God!
May God continue to bless each of you. Enjoy the beautiful spring!
Monday, March 31, 2008
It's good for me to be patient, to work at a job that isn't very challenging for me. I think its helped me to appreciate and understand what other people's perspective's are, why different people enjoy different types of work, how different personalites work together. And it also will help me to appreciate even more when one of these positions I apply for do work out.
It will all be good, and for now I just am grateful that I have a job (or 3!) and so many other blessings. God is working things out, even when I don't know what will happen next!
It snowed on Easter, and it's snowing today... Ah it's "spring" in Minnesota! I have witnessed robins, squirrels, and birds in recent weeks, though, so there is hope. I've also seen some plants peeping out of the ground- so soon I hope we will see daffodils, tulips, and crocuses! And crab-apple blossoms on trees. If anyone has ever been to Washington, D.C., during the Cherry Blossom Festival, it's really amazing. Hundreds and hundreds of trees with pink blossoms line the rivers and the lakes. It's really beautiful.
Despite the snow/sleet/winter storm today, I do have the hope of spring. I am always happily surprised when tulips and other bulbs I plant in the fall actually do grow into flowers in the spring after a very long, cold, snowy winter. I enjoy the season changes, and am glad we have them. Even if the winter sometimes seems too long, we know spring always does come along. Everything looks new and fresh, grass turns green, flowers bloom.
As I continue to think and plan for the future, I'm reminded everything does have a season (Ecclesiastes). There's times of rest and sadness and winter, times of joy and mountaintop experiences, and times of peace, hope, and love. And it's good, because I think we can really appreciate every day and every moment, knowing things always change, but it's ok.