Farmer’s Market

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Here’s our haul from the South Anchorage Farmer’s Market today – cheddar cheese bread (makes an excellent tuna fish sandwich), cinnamon raisin bread, cocoa coconut truffles, buffalo summer sausage, bacon and black currant jam. We’ve already dug into the jam and the summer sausage at lunchtime – pb&j sandwiches for the kids and crackers and summer sausage for me.

Today was our second visit to the market and it’s an excellent little farmer’s market. I never really dug the Farmer’s Market in Dallas because so much of the stuff wasn’t truly local. This is the real deal though. The jam, jelly and honey comes from the town of Palmer, just north of Anchorage in the Mat-Su Valley. The meats also come from the Valley and the truffles and bread are made here in Anchorage.

But really, my favorite part is how nice and friendly the vendors are. They really believe in their products and they want you to love them too. Don, who sells the jelly and jam, lets my kids take way too many samples of his jellies and jelly candies. Mae, who makes the truffles, wanted to know how we’re adjusting to Alaska. I love buying such tasty food from such awesome people.

And my kids love going to the market. They don’t love going to the grocery store. I don’t either to be honest. But here, we’re supporting the local economy, we know from where our food is coming and we’re building a new community for our family. We’ll be back all summer long.

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Shake, Rattle and Roll

It finally happened.  I felt my first earthquake this morning.  It was 7 am and Audrey, Jack and I were downstairs making breakfast and getting ready for school.  Kate was still in bed.  I’m standing by the kitchen counter and then suddenly it sounds like a train goes by our house.  The dogs are barking, pictures and glasses are rattling.  It didn’t last long, 3-4 seconds maybe.  I look at Audrey and ask, “what was that?”  We decide it must have been an earthquake, but I text some local friends to double check.  Kate steps to the landing at the top of the stairs, looks down and says, “I think we just had an earthquake.”

Sure enough, it was.  The epicenter was 3 miles from our house and it was categorized a 4.6.  I’ve lived through hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes and hail storms, but until today, I’ve never felt an earthquake.  Now, I have to admit, I was somewhat looking forward to experiencing my first earthquake.  Of course, I normally tried to squash those feelings; my train of thought being, if I want to feel one, we’ll end up having some monster 8.3 quake.  Goodness knows that wasn’t what I wanted to experience.  I’ll take the somewhat intriguing 4.6 quakes.  I’d still rather avoid anything of Hollywood action movie proportions.

Wanted: One Good Kolache

You know how every donut shop in Texas has kolaches? They may not be good, authentic kolaches, but someone has at least made an effort? Not so here. In the donut shops here you get, well, you get donuts. The first time Todd brought home a box of donuts for the kids I was shocked.

Me (after opening the box), “Where are the kolaches?”
Todd, “They didn’t have any.”
Me, “What?! Whatdya mean they didn’t have any kolaches?”
Todd, “They didn’t have any kolaches. They had a croissant sandwich filled with egg and cheese, but no kolaches.”
Me, ” oh. Well, that’s disappointing.”

Now I’m always slightly disappointed when I open the box of donuts.

Two things to make clear here:
1. We do not eat donuts on a regular basis. This is like a once a month treat. We don’t eat that unhealthy every day or weekend.
2. In this case, when I say kolache, I mean the sausage filled kind. Yes, I know that technically the sausage or meat filled ones are called klobasneks, but in my house growing up kolache could mean either the fruit filled or meat filled pastry. I know I’m using the incorrect term. I also know I’m not the only Texan doing so.

So, no kolaches here. I never would have guessed that was a regional thing. I’ve heard there’s a European deli here. Maybe I’ll check that out soon. Even if they don’t have them, maybe they’ll know if there’s a Polish or Czech bakery hidden somewhere. If that doesn’t work out, perhaps I’ll have to figure out how to make them myself.

In the meantime my fellow Texans, I’d forever be in your debt if one of you could figure out how to get me some kolaches from the Czech Stop Bakery in West, Texas. Cherry with cream cheese and a spicy with cheese, please. Thank you!

No, We’re Not In Texas Anymore

Here are three ways to know you no longer live in Texas, but Alaska:

It’s May 10th at 6:20 am. You take your dogs outside to do their business and get the newspaper and

1. It is fully light outside.
2. There are snow flurries falling from the sky.
3. Your labrador retriever frightens off a moose.

One of these days these details will no longer shock me, but right now, five months in to our adventure, they still do.

First Alaskan Camping Experience

Our new pop-up camper

Oh yes we did! We are now the owners of a pop-up camper. The kids love it and we took it out for it’s first trip last weekend. It is now fully broken in as it rained on us most of the weekend. I received a few crazy looks before our trip, “You’re going camping already? We never go camping before Mother’s Day. Camping? In April? In a pop-up?” I told Todd before we left that I was now slightly worried.

We headed south to Seward. We wanted to go before all the tourists arrived. We camped at a place called Miller’s Landing. If we were crazy, we weren’t the only ones. There were several other families out as well. We even saw two campgrounds with tent campers!

It was 45 degrees F and drizzling most of the weekend. Our pop-up does have heat, so between the heat and our super cozy sleeping bags, we were never cold at night. The rain was a little more frustrating. Now to be clear, the rain was pretty much a constant drizzle, not a Texas thunderstorm, gully washer type of rain. Nevertheless, the rain could have presented a problem if we had stayed at the campground all weekend, but we had some in town activities planned.

On Saturday, we took the kids on a grey whale watching tour. It sounds very touristy and it is, but all of this is new to us, so we’re pretty much doing the touristy things. And we weren’t the only ones. In fact, most of the people on the boat were Alaskans doing the same thing – doing the tourist thing before the tourists arrived. We didn’t see any grey whales, but we did see several humpback whales, sea lions, a sea otter, mountain goats and lots of birds. We also learned that ginger candy can help with sea sickness. We were all fine when the boat was in Resurrection Bay, but Audrey and I started feeling pretty quesy when the boat got out in the Gulf of Alaska. Luckily, we weren’t out in the Gulf for long and no one actually got sick. Yeah!!

When we got back to the campground that evening, the kids and I did some beach combing while Todd built a fire (in a drizzling rain – I love my former cub scout, engineer husband!) The kids and I didn’t find much beyond some mussel shells as it was high tide. I did get some cute pictures of them though. Later, we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. By the way, the s’mores here don’t melt all over your hand. It’s too cold!!

Sunday morning we packed up and headed over to the Sea Life Center in Seward. This is an aquarium that also rehabilitates injured marine mammals and birds. They also do a lot of research on Arctic marine animals. The kids loved Woody, the 19 year old male sea lion. He’s huge!! Over a ton. I mean he’s massive! Of course, being kids, when you asked them what they liked best, it was the play boat that they could pretend to drive.

All in all, not a bad first camping experience. We have several trips planned for the summer. Here’s hoping it gets a little warmer.

Easter in Alaska

I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks now.  I finally have a few minutes to sit, type and maybe put a coherent thought together.  Our family experienced our first Easter in Alaska a few weeks ago.  Very different than an Easter in Texas.  As a kid, I remember a few chilly Easters where I had to wear a sweater to Easter egg hunt.  This year, my kids had to put on full fledged snow gear to hunt for eggs.

The kids ready to look for eggs in the snow.

The eggs were hidden in snow. I’ve definitely never had that experience before! As my best friend back in Texas told me, “Well, at least you didn’t have to worry about the ants finding the eggs and the candy!” So true.

We hung out at home that morning, hunted eggs, had brunch and then went to an afternoon church service. And really, no matter where you are, Alaska or Texas, cold or hot, He is the reason we celebrate. I thank Him for all of my blessings: my husband, my children, the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place and yes, even to be lonely and learn to rely on Him alone.

Easter 2012, ready for church