Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Decorating the house for Christmas

Here are photos from our Holiday kick off weekend.

Here is a quick family shot from Thanksgiving Day. I look odd, but hubby and Ocoee look nice so we are using it.

Mike and Ocoee with Kayla, our family friend and babysitter. We often joke that this is our other family!

Ocoee and I being silly.

Ocoee enjoying some pumpkin ice cream pie...she pretty much loved it. She devoured the crab cakes we made in the place of turkey.

Since it was our first Christmas in Alaska we wanted to go all out on decorating the house. Also Ocoee is much more aware this Christmas than last so we wanted to really make it special for her. We got an amazing 9 foot Fraser Fir that smells so lovely and decorated with some new ornaments, some old and a bow tied by hubby on top.

Every year Ocoee gets a special ornament. Last year it was a silver rattle by Lennox, this year it was a crystal snowflake from Swarovski. 

Ocoee working on decorating her mini tree for her bedroom.

Our tree with the lights on.....sigh. I love Christmas. I wish this website was scratch and sniff so you could smell it!

The staircase is wrapped in fresh garland and lights, with the 3 dogger stocking here.

The railing overlooking the living room holds our stockings. Since our old ones were mismatched and worn I bought us all three new ones from Pottery Barn and had our names embroidered on them. They look really nice and will last for years and years!

Hubby did the outside work and used fake garland. In Alaska we have very short days in the winter. We get down to about 5 hours of daylight on the winter solstice so the Christmas lights help to brighten your day and keep your spirits up. This will be our first winter solstice in Alaska since we are usually in Hawaii by the solstice.

Our door wreath. I use a lot of silver in the decorating.

Our new advent calendar from Land of Nod. I filled it with felt ornaments for Ocoee's felt tree. I will post about it later. She is too young for most tiny gifts and candy so the felt ornaments will be a fun way to count down to Christmas.

And the best thing of all from the weekend. The Nebraska Cornhuskers won their game and are heading to the Big Ten Championship this weekend. It was a rough season but we ended it 10-2...not too shabby!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It is beginning to look like Christmas

I have a big post coming with tons of photos but here is a sneak peak. We put up our very first Christmas tree in Alaska. Every year we have gone to Hawaii and never bothered to put one up. This year we will head to Maui for new years and go all out for Christmas.

We always do a real tree and even though our house is small our living room ceilings are tall so we were able to do a nice big 9 foot Fraser fir. I am so in love with it. It is so beautiful.

And best of all. It smells like Christmas.

Happy Holidays!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving weekend in Alaska

What a blessing four days off with family and friends is! The night before thanksgiving we made Ono fish wanton cups with homemade crab Rangoon. Yum! It was out anti-turkey meal and delicious.

Then on thanksgiving we had the whole day to relax and get ready for dinner. We were able to enjoy our morning tea and time with Ocoee. She is always a ton of fun in the mornings.

Hubby made roasted garlic mashed potatoes and we headed over to our friends the Berg family. There was lots of food and wine. Ocoee loved all the action and attention, especially from 12 year old Kayla who babysits her when we sneak off for date night.

By the time we go home she was wiped and crashed as soon as her head hit mattress.

The day after thanksgiving we headed to the nutcracker play. I was very nervous since she had never been to a play and this was a big time play. He has never even watched a tv show so I was afraid she might be overwhelmed. Hubby dropped us off and we found our seats. I was happy I had chosen 2nd row, aisle seats. We loaded her seat with all of our winter gear and watched the orchestra warm up. Behind us was the lady from our swimming lesson on Monday, another row back was a coworker from hubby's work and her daughter as in front of us was a 3 year old girl who danced 75% of the show.

The performance was magical. The sets and costumes were some of te best I have seen anywhere. Ocoee was mesmerized the entire first act bouncing up and down to the music in my lap while spellbound by the action on stage. I am glad we were so close because she really could see everything well.

After intermission we began watching the second act when Ocoee squirmed from my lap, headed into the aisle and began to dance. For a baby who was barely walking a week ago to walk up the aisle of a packed theater dancing was amazing. She played with the little girl dancing in front of us and if she had better balance I swear she would have taken a bow during the many applauses. I think she thought they were clapping for her!

Everyone commented on how well se behaved. The usher said she was the youngest baby she had seen and the best behaved too! The music and dance were perfect baby charmers and to be honest I was swept away as well. I think this will be an annual tradition go us.

After we were pretty wiped and decide to head home for dinner and skip the Santa sleigh arrival this year. Ocoee was spaced off, with I am sure sugar plum fairies dancing in her head.

Then today we met our friends for ice fishing at Campbell lake. Even though it was cold, Ocoee was bundled and the sun glistened off the mountains. Denali was out and the skies were a crisp winter blue. Hubby pulled Ocoee around in the sled while Kraig drilled ice holes. The guys caught lots of little lake trout while us girls headed home to warmth and prepared a classic Swiss fondue for a late lunch.

I love the easy going fun times of thanksgiving weekend. Here in Alaska many of us don't have family around so our friends have become our family for these special days. We are thankful for them!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The best laid plans-Thanksgiving week recipes

Last Year at the Cox's for Thanksgiving....our first with Ocoee! She was so little!

I am a planner. Ask anyone you know. I have vacations planned 3 years in advance. I started shopping for Ocoee's one year birthday party when she was 3 months old. When I play amateur psychologist I think it is because when I was young life felt so out of control that now I like to plan so I feel in control.

But I have also learned that I plan and God, Allah or Mother Nature (covering all my bases) laughs. A deep hearty chuckle actually.

So it is with fingers crossed that I plan our Thanksgiving weekend. Today hubby is off early, so he will get Ocoee and do some of the menu shopping. I plan on making early our Thanksgiving pumpkin ice cream pie tonight, along with fish wonton cups (I will use Ahi or cod instead) and crab ragoon for dinner. 

Tomorrow we will head to our friends how to celebrate thanksgiving. Since we are pescatarians (only eat fish, no meat) we will make crab cakes along with Julia Childs garlic mashed potatoessouthwest eggrolls as an app and some good vino from our Napa trip.

The day after Thanksgiving Ocoee and I are heading to the Nutcracker, then we will go out for dinner and head downtown for Santa coming in with real reindeer and the town square tree lighting ceremony. This is all if Ocoee is feeling well...which she currently isn't.  She has a snotty nose, cough and isn't resting well....sigh.

I also hope to break in my new fondue pot after a family adventure of ice fishing......did I mention is has been below freezing. Yep, the girls (cleo, eli and opie....our chickens) are in the garage in a big dog kennel while the really cold weather rages outside. They are good up until it drops below 10 degrees, then it is just ridiculous.

So I am thankful for the luxury of planning but grounded in reality that many things are out of my control. I will report back our success rate. If Ocoee can rally and I don't burn everything we may have chance. 

Oh yea I want to decorate and get a real tree for the first time in Alaska also....

Wish me luck!


Saturday, November 17, 2012


I have much to be thankful for. My health, my family, my friends, a good job, and the list goes on and on.

This week at my school we raised money for the water project to help bring clean water to Kenya. It was part of our Africa unit and I was very proud and thankful at how my students empathized with people across the world.

At the end of the week one of my students and a close family friend and I decided to bake a ton of cookie to give out to the people we are thankful for. Our school security staff, her teachers, Ocoee's teachers, our principals. We shopped and baked from 10-6, with Ocoee bouncing from me to Kayla to hubby and really enjoying all the attention.

At the end we had 5 different types of cookies, 19 goody boxes, a platter of macaroons, and a mixed cookie platter for hubby's work. More importantly I got to spend time with people I am thankful for while spreading a little cheer to others. These are the days memories are created.

Be thankful!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baby says.....OK!

It is official and marked in the record books, at 13 months and 14 days Ocoee said her first word.

This morning I was getting her up and ready for daycare when I said, "We need to go to the bathroom to change your diaper ok". She was not babbling or anything, it was completely quiet and then she said.......OK. 

Woohoo. Not only did she say her first word but it was a word that says, sure mom, that is a great idea. 

She has said things in the past that we thought for sure were words...but this was so clear and fit the occasion perfect that we are claiming it as first word. 

Hubby of course was mad he missed it, but that is payback for me missing her first steps.



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Baby photos of everyday life

I have switched gears now that Ocoee is mobile and we do more photos of everday life and less photo shoots.  I try to save the photo shoots for the special occasions and snap photos of all the daily activities. These change daily so it is nice to capture them.

Being in the dog bed has always been a favorite. She tries to play with the doggers but really only Brodie has any patience for her. Even his is short lived.

 Another favorite activity is playing in the drawers. We have given her a special drawer in the kitchen for her stuff. She likes to pull all of her clothes from her dresser upstairs...making her room look like a tornado hit it.

In these last photos above she looks so much older to me....she really is a big girl now. Her baby looks is being changed into a full fledge toddler look. Way too fast! Sigh.