Sunday, November 25, 2012

Snowy Birthdays

It is a snowy weekend here in Juneau.  We woke up to quite the coating this morning.  I slid my way to Home Depot to buy my Christmas tree (a real one of course)!  But, I am waiting until Cody has a day off from work to put it up.  So, I settled for enjoying a snow day today.  I made some hot coca, listened to Christmas tunes, stayed in my pajamas all day, Christmas shopped online, and played outside with Specks.  Here a couple pictures from our snowy day.
Specks frolicking in the snow! 

Rocking my cute Sorrel boots. 
Today is also a very special day…my dad's 60th birthday!! So, happy birthday to my wonderful father. I wish I could be with you in Illinois today.  Missing you lots!

Dad & I enjoying Christmas circa 1996. 

Dad & I playing my favorite game, Pretty Princess! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Turkey-less Thanksgiving

I enjoyed a very satisfying turkey-less Thanksgiving.  Did you??  Ok, I know most of you filled your bellies with meat this holiday and I understand.  But, for those of us who enjoy gorging ourselves on slightly more humane dishes I thought I would post my two favorite recipe's from this Thanksgiving.  One is healthy and one is a wee bit more indulgent.  Enjoy :)

Vegan Cheesy Potatoes (with a side of veggie Stuffing!) 
Vegan Cheesy Potatoes 
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup flour
1 cup Veggie Broth
2 tbs of Nutritional Yeast 
5 large potatoes sliced thinly 
2 cups corn flakes cereal/bread crumbs/whatever      topping you choose
2 tbs veg butter 

1/2 cup veg sour cream 
Spices Used: Onion flakes, garlic salt, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, and basil. (Add to taste!) 

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a small casserole dish.  In a separate sauce pan add butter and melt.  After the butter has melted add flour and whisk.  When the mixture is smooth add milk and broth and continue whisking.  Then, add sour cream and nutritional yeast.  Add spices to taste.  When sauce has thickened begin layering it in the casserole dish with the potatoes.  Top with cereal, break crumbs, etc.  Cook for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  

Sugar cookies aka Cody and I's late night snacks. 
Sugar Cookies 
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 cup  sugar 1 cup butter (soft, not melted) 1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla 
Spices: Salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. (Add to taste)  
1 container cream cheese frosting (can be homemade if you are feeling ambitious) 
1 container of sprinkles 

Directions: Preheat oven to 400.  Combine all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl (flour, sugar, baking soda, and spices).  Mix well.  Add butter and mix thoroughly.  After mixing well add the egg and vanilla. Mix with a fork for best results!  Then, place cookies on a tray and put them into the oven for 7-9 minutes.  When the edges begin to brown pull them out.  Let them cool for twenty minutes before adding frosting and sprinkles.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving in Juneau

Happy Thanksgiving from the Thompson/ Middleton gang!! Thanksgiving was a bit of a challenge this year for the two of us.  It was the first year that either of us had celebrated without our family.  Skype provided us with a chance to chat with the family live. But, we were sad to not have family around for the actual holiday and celebration.  Together, we worked really hard to make it an incredible holiday and I think we succeeded :)

In the morning we drove up to Eaglecrest Ski Area.  The ski runs and lodge aren't technically open yet so we were able to go up for free and hike/play in the snow.  Here are some amazing pictures from the trip!
Greetings from 1500ft! 

Cody being blown away by 60mph winds. 

Me, stuck in a snow drift up to my thighs. 

After our eventful morning and afternoon we tucked in to some cooking. Thanks to cooking for only two people and the lack of meat involved, we managed to cook our feast in only 2.5 hours.  We then enjoyed ourselves a vegetarian feast!

Me, posing with a pumpkin pie in our messy kitchen! 

Stuffing and  Vegan Cheesy Potatoes were just two of our dishes. 

All in all, it was a fun day.  We made the most of our time together and enjoyed making some new traditions for the holidays.  I hope everyone else had a truly wonderful Thanksgiving! Gobble, Gobble!

Specks, the family turkey! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waterfront Apartment Living

I have been seriously slacking on the blog writing this week! But, I am hoping to redeem myself over the next few days because Cody and I have some shenanigans planned to occupy our time off from work.  Part of the reason that I have been MIA is that Cody and I found our own apartment!! We miraculously found an awesome place on the water (DIRECTLY on the water!).  With minimal neighbors and acres of free land in our backyard.  We couldn't be more excited.

The finding of the apartment came in a very coincidental way.  We stumbled upon it, or rather nearly slid my car into it! I got my car stuck in a random driveway out in North Douglas (heading out towards the ski resort/end of the road in that direction).  This very nice family helped me get my car unstuck and they ended up having a rental available.  We really hit it off with them during the hour it took to get my car un-stuck and now we are the proud renters of this gorgeous waterfront apartment.  It used to be a bed and breakfast so it is pretty decently sized for a 1 bed, 1 bath home.  Can't wait to post some pictures for everyone!!

Well, that is all for now.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Cody and I have big plans to celebrate our first Thanksgiving apart from our families.  We are hiking out at the ski resort in the morning, moving some stuff to the new place, and somehow going to make a deliciously, vegetarian dinner.  I will keep everyone updated as the week/weekend unfolds :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rough Terrain: Our First Big Hike!

This has been a weekend bursting full of excitement.  We ended Friday as a sleepy day, which we usually do.  I am always exhausted by the time I get home from work so we usually have pretty quiet Friday evenings.  We did find out that Cody starts working at Home Depot on Tuesday morning though! We are pretty excited for him to start working.  He was going stir crazy staying at home.  It isn't his ideal job, but it is a job that pays the bills for the time being.

Saturday morning/afternoon as a lazy one!  We slept in until 9:30am, which is sleeping in pretty late for us!  We are used to getting up so early that anything after 9am seems like sleeping in late.  We got up and made delicious cinnamon rolls and pretty much lounged around all day.  But, in the evening we got dressed up and headed over to Hangar on the Wharf for some drinks.  It was a lot of fun!  The drinks were pricey but we were able to sample some awesome beers.

Sunday morning we made it a point not to sleep in because we wanted to get in a full day of hiking.  We were a little disappointed this morning to see that it was only thirty degrees and raining (typical Juneau weather for this time of year).  It had also snowed so we were looking at some pretty slippery hiking.  But, we bucked up and decided to try it out anyways! It turned out to be an amazing way to spend the day.  We got to see and do some pretty incredible stuff.

First, we walked up to the visitors center.  This is the easiest access point to start the trail.  The woman in the visitors center forewarned us that while the trail was only 3.5 miles it was very rough terrain and would take multiple hours to complete.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center/ entrance to the trail.

View of the glacier-blue ice! 
We then spent the next 1.5 hours hiking upwards on a pretty serious trail (at least for us less experienced hikers).  It was a beautiful hike but fairly taxing.  The incline was steep and the weather conditions made it very slippery.
View from the summit of the hiking trail.  
On the way back down we were able to hike a little more leisurely.  The decline was more gradual the trail was more developed.  We stopped and played out on a frozen lake for a bit and enjoyed goofing around on the trail more that we did on the way up the mountain.

Specks and Cody out on the pond.
Finally, we made it back to our starting point.  Round trip we were gone for between 2.5 and 3 hours.  The sun was starting to set by the time we got back at 3:30pm.  We didn't realize it would get dark so quickly! 

The end of the trail. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Weekly Reader: Ken Follett

Surprise! I am gracing you all with midweek post (not that very many people read this ha ha.)  I wanted to give all of my wonderful friends, family, and fellow bloggers a good book recommendation. Not sure how it is in the Lower 48, but here is Alaska it has been cool and rainy for the better part of the last week.  Perfect time of the year to tuck in to a good book (or four!)

With that being said, my book recommendation for this week is actually an author recommendation.  That author is Ken Follett.  Now, some of you might not be huge fans of historical fiction.  Follett's books are truly amazing and really have something for everyone though.  Each book can be read as a series of a stand alone story.  There is action, adventure, love, intrigue, political turmoil, etc.  My personal suggestions are: Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, Fall of Giants, and Winter of the World.  The first two are a set as are the last two.  There is also a miniseries that was recently created that follows the book Pillars of the Earth.  The only downside, for some readers, is that each book is roughly 900 pages long. But, you really can't go wrong with an epic novel by this guy.  Check out the books for yourself!

Ken Follet Official Site
Good Reads Review 
Amazon Reviews & Book Listings

Sunday, November 4, 2012

An Eventful, Rainy Weekend

Back home when it rains, life stops.  Everyone stays indoors and curls up with a book or a television show to wait the rain out.  But, here that's really not possible because it rains all the time (or snows lately).  Cody and I have been adjusting to living the rainy life.  This weekend we weren't going to let a little sogginess put a damper on making the most of our time together.

View of the mountains 11/02/12. 

The mountains during some heavy rain. 

On Saturday we woke up early and got around just in time to go pick up a new car! Well, a new car to us.  We bought a 1996 Toyota 4Runner for Cody to have to get around in.  He sold his car when we moved from Illinois and sharing a car was getting pretty difficult.  But, we weren't ready to make too big of a purchase yet so we bought quite the interesting ride.  On the bright side, it came equipped with snow tires!

Cody's class new ride. 

On Saturday we also opened an Alaskan bank account (WOO!) So, I can finally cash my paycheck on Monday.  Also, we checked out a restaurant/ bar called Hangar on the Wharf.  It was a neat little place that served just about anything you can imagine, including southern comfort food.  Very, very tasty food! Check the link out below.  It has the menu and a little information about the place.

Hangar on the Wharf

Finally, we made it to Sunday.  Sunday is a bittersweet day for me because it is very relaxing but I am always dreading the end of my weekend.  I try to make the most of it though.  So, Cody and I went to   the mall this morning and stocked up on rain gear and then took the puppy on a nice little hike.  We did some stuff around the house and then tucked in to a pizza from our new favorite pizza joint, Island Pub.

" The Big Cheese" has mozzarella, feta, bleu, provolone, and gouda cheeses!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween, Bears, and Everything Spooky

TGIF! I am so glad that Friday finally showed up to greet me.  It has been a long week.  Between halloween fun, over-eating sweets, sick kiddos, sick employees, and the general inability to find substitute teachers around here, it has been nuts at work.  But, it was still a fun week and there were lots of new adventures to be had.

Tuesday and Wednesday we celebrated Halloween (Juneau style). This meant enduring heavy snowfall while attempting Halloween festivities.  There was a "trunk-or-treating" school function on Tuesday for the kiddos who are too little to walk around to get treats.  All of the preschool employees and families passed candy out of their cars instead of houses.  This was fun and the kiddos got way more candy than necessary.  Then, on Wednesday we had a Halloween party at school. For dinner, I dined on BRAINS (aka tasty spaghetti) and watched The Exorcist with Cody in the evening.  The following day was basically passed by in a sugar coma.

Finally, we made it to Friday! After having a crazy week full of sickness at work we finally had everyone there today.  But, then the craziness just multiplied.  There was a bear at our school! We were out on the playground when a child noticed a bear had approached our fence.  Insanity ensued and we all ran inside.  Thankfully, one of our teachers had a whistle on and was able to get the kiddos inside quickly.  We made so much noise getting inside that we scared the bear back into the woods!

Cody and I had anticipated having a fun Friday night out on the town.  Every first Friday of the month in Juneau there is an art festival-ish gathering downtown which involves a free beer and wine tasting.  We were pretty excited about it but the craziness of the week wore us both out.  So, we made potato soup and lounged instead.

Cody preparing the soup!