Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Holiday Parade

It's not the holidays without a few embarrassing moments. Here's to a good 2010...

The Holiday Parade from Justine Larsen on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Starting With A Kiss

It's been a busy and disorganized time lately, but I'm trying to get back on track. I guess I'll start my day with a kiss...

Good Morning Kisses from Justine Larsen on Vimeo.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Every Man...

Originally uploaded by Scott & Justine fromWyo
... really, really, REALLY needs a dog in a tutu...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Visitor From The Cabbage Patch

I didn't grow this behemoth, but I now possess it.

I think it may need its own bedroom. Or zip code.

I wonder how much coleslaw and sauerkraut this might make?

Charlie came from the cabbage patch, so maybe he is thinking back a little.

A wise friend from the north suggested that I'd better check for another baby in those leaves. Wonder if it's twins?

Charlie and the Cabbage

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Sunday Sunday

Here is what I did today...

Woke up, gasping for a breath after dreaming of walking out of a store with arms full of stolen chocolate bars
Skipped church
Drank coffee
Lamented last month's paycheck
Thought about the job search
Made ham salad
Watched an hour of Remains of the Day on Netflix Instant
Consolidated the recycling to be taken to the center tomorrow
Cleaned out the station wagon
Put outgrow clothes and shoes in the wagon to go to the Thrift Store
Washed out jars for canning
Roasted peppers
Canned salsa
Had three children and their mom drop in for a wild rumpus
Made ice tea
Talked politics and pie making
Chopped apples
Heated supper
Used extra Rooster sauce on my plate of Korean chicken and steamed rice
Canned cooked applesauce, though a little thin it will be fine for cakes and pork chops
Picked raspberries
Had a nice conversation with a pollinating honey bee
Put away clean laundry, washed more dirty laundry
Finished the fourth load of dishes in the washer
Inventoried canned goods
Scrubbed the princess makeup off the little girl's face
Read Robyn Hitchcock's online biography
Ordered two Robyn Hitchcock movies on Netflix
Carried around dust cloths in my pocket all day and never dusted anything
Told the congestion living in my head that it either needs to move out or begin paying rent
Took allergy meds, wrote this list, grabbed the new copy of Vanity Fair, and headed for bed...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Traveling From Powell To Provence In Ten Minutes

Sometimes I need to take an excursion, if only a mental one.

This morning I made a 10 minute drive away from Powell and mentally transported myself to the Provence of Vincent Van Gogh. I pulled off to the side of Lane 11 and did my best to paint a digital picture of a Proven├žal landscape under the rising sun over the Powell Flat.

Charlie and Chester stayed in the truck.

When I climbed back in the truck, Charlie said "Mom, the flowers are so TALL.
They are so B E A U T I F U L..."

He's right...

Monday, August 24, 2009

FIrst Day of School

Augusta, ready for school in handmade and thrift store chic: a leopard vest made by Fairy Godmother Martha, a skirt from her friend Wyatt's mother (vintage 1970s), a new shirt from the Merc that was all of $4, and red Chuck Taylors passed along from her friend, Henry. It was all topped off with a red backpack purchased 2 years ago and her Tinkerbell raincoat from last Easter.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Last Day At The Froggy Pond

Today was the final day of the Froggy Pond for the 2009 summer season.

Charlie and Augusta had the entire pool to themselves.

School starts tomorrow!

Friday, August 21, 2009

An Open Letter To the Freeloaders In My Yard

Okay, I've had it. I've reached my limit with you. All of you. You are all a disappointment to me. Yes, I'm talking to you over there and there and there, too. I've given you lots of care the last few months; lots of water, high dollar food, plenty of support -- but it just hasn't been good enough for you. I've shared my nurturing goodness with you. I've included you in conversations. I've provide you attention when my own children have been left to run amok in the neighborhood. I just don't know what else to do for you. I'm at the end of my attention span. I can't provide you anymore love or dedication or money to support you. I'm cutting you off. No more water, no more electricity, no more rescuing you from that which pesters you.

You have all been a bunch of ungrateful, unproductive and underachieving... TOMATOES.

I brought you to my home from all different origins. A few of you were pricey and quite a few of you were, okay I'll admit it, cheap. But, I would have thought, with all the attention I gave you in the way of water and Alaska fish emulsion, you could have done SOMETHING more productive with your summer. The few of you that have even bothered to ripen have let yourselves go, with mushy and rotting bottoms and less than stellar character. You green ones are dotted with spots where you have been nibbled on by others. Really, what more did you want from me? What could I have done to benefit you? To nurture you? To encourage you? Some of you have even had music played for you and, still, that wasn't enough.

So, I give up. I concede. Go about, unimpeded, with your underachieving ways. I may have plans for a green salsa but, considering the lame production of your compatriots, the peppers, I may have to beg and plead elsewhere for enough ingredients for even one batch for the cupboard. I will tell you this, though; I'm done with you for this year. No more water, no more fish stink, and I may just give you an express ticket to the compost bin. Hasta la vista, baby!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Here's a little exercise that I've come up with, that I've been mulling around in my way-to-full brain today. The summer is fleeting and cold and flu season is around the corner so it's as good a time as any to think about things like getting sick and getting well. There is a lot of talk swirling about health care reform and even more yelling. Now, stop for a second. Take a deep breath. Don't let that blood pressure go up. We're just talking here. Thinking.
M u l l i n g.

Here's what I'd like you to do. Think of 5 things that you LIKE about your health coverage ... if you HAVE health coverage. Think about what you pay. Think about those aspects of the coverage that you use. Think about how happy you are to submit a claim, especially when the medical service or practice won't submit it for you, or when you have to call your insurance company. Think about the advocacy they provide for you, especially if you have a concern about what may or may not be covered by your policy. Think about how easy it is to come up with that high deductible each year or, if you have a low deductible, focus on that. Now, list those 5 things. This is a personal exercise. Don't tell me something that you heard from someone else that was quoting, directly or indirectly from a television program or a thrice-circulated email from your elderly uncle who is "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!" Think of only YOUR experience. Don't think of your child's experience. Don't think of your parents'. Think ONLY of YOUR experience. Set aside the "what ifs" and focus on your individual likes of your insurance coverage situation. Got your five in mind?

Now, think about what you don't like about your insurance scenario. Can you list 5 things? Can you think of MORE than 5 things. List them. Think again, only, of what has happened to you. Not to your children. Don't think about the percentage of uninsured children in this country, many of whom will lose their coverage as their parents lose or have lost jobs recently. Don't think about freezing of enrollment in the S-Chip programs. Only reflect on your situation. Don't think of individuals showing up at town hall meeting with Congressional Representatives that are hollering "I don't want the government in MY Medicare!" Don't think of the screaming about what-ifs that are leading to fisticuffs. Just focus on yourself. How many dislikes did you list?

Here comes the answers from my list. For the first list I have no answer. I am uninsured. I work. My husband works. I can't buy insurance. I also don't go to the doctor. The last time I was seen, while insured, it was for a serious cat bite that when all was said and done and I was able to keep my thumb, but I was out close to $4000 without any surgery. I'm still paying for that. In my household, in 7 years, we have had to meet at least a $5000 deductible 4 times, with the first year being a $6000 deductible. These weren't services we could have put off for a more lucrative time in our lives; one severely premature baby, a 3 day hospitalization for pneumonia, one pastorella and staph infection of the hand, a hysterectomy and an appendectomy. I've been seen at our local volunteer medical clinic for a weird ear thing more than a year ago and have just learned to live with it because I can not afford additional diagnostics. I was, thankfully, qualified for a funded program to receive an annual mammogram for what I would have checked otherwise after finding a lump under my arm. The directive stands in my home, where I am the one without coverage, that unless I am unconscious or bleeding profusely, I'll just have to tough it out because I can't go to the doctor and I especially can't go to the ER.

Here is my second list's 5 answers. I'll only put 5 even though I could come up with many more showing what I don't like about the experiences (mostly insurance-related) I've had over the last few years.
I don't like that it took 6 doctors in 5 years to diagnose the infertility issues I was having. Doctor #2 actually diagnosed me as infertile after I didn't conceive after two rounds of clomid (industry standard), no imaging and no further testing. That diagnosis gave the insurance their out. They said they did not allow diagnostic charges so instead of my $5000 deductible being credited with the over $10,000 in charges, it was all out of pocket and took care of the mutual fund.
I don't like that I was overdosed with morphine after surgery and wound up in intensive care. I'd never been injured or had surgery that required post-op i.v. pain management. Of course, that overdose had nothing to do with the insurance but the next year I spent fighting with Mutual of Omaha over their denial of the claim for my time in ICU I'd sure like to have back. They said that the 18 hours I spent in ICU was billed at too high beyond their "usual and customary charges." That fight was still unresolved when I had to meet the the chief financial officer of St. Vincent's as my newborn premature baby was in ICU. A social worker in the hospital's employ that was in the ICU, when I told her of the situation, stopped me mid-sentence and picked up the phone to call for an appointment to get me in to see him. She said "you can't expect to have this baby thrive if you have this hanging over your head. This baby needs to be your first priority" and she was absolutely right. The CFO, after my explanation of the efforts I'd made in good faith to get the insurance company and hospital to TALK TO EACH OTHER instead of yelling at me, wrote off the charges. Mutual of Omaha stopped doing business in Wyoming shortly after that.
I don't like that the coverage I had changed while I was expecting baby number two. Due to that change I was not able to deliver him at St. Vincent's. I was told by the insurance company that I could "have" the baby at St. Vincent's but they wouldn't pay hospitalization. I asked what would happen in the eventuality that my baby needed Level III Neonatal Intensive Care, only available at St. Vincent's and not at Deaconess. I was told, though I could not be guaranteed by just the phone call, that the baby would be transferred to the other hospital. The baby, but probably not me. I had a scheduled c-section at Deaconess Billings clinic, performed by my great ob/gyn. He did me a total favor by delivering my son there just to have my insurance cover it. Then this next episode happened.
I don't like that my doctor was told, 45 minutes after I was out of surgery at Deaconess, that even though I had been overdosed with intravenous morphine in a surgery previously and would require fentanyl (all recorded and ordered ahead of time) that Deaconess " didn't have protocol for that drug" so they just weren't going to use it. Imagine having a c-section and having a spinal block wearing off and nothing to follow it up for pain relief. A large belly incision and nothing to stop the throbbing reminder of that incision. Mull that over.
I also don't like that I was charged for my son being circumcised. He wasn't. When I called the hospital billing department to direct their attention to this unnecessary charge, I was told they would have to request notes from the pediatrician to confirm my complaint. I asked "do you not BELIEVE me when I tell you that he was NOT CIRCUMCISED? Do you want me to take a picture and SEND it to you as proof.?" As far as I know, the charge for circumcision stood.
I'll stop at 5 though I have a number of other dislikes of how health insurance coverage, when I had it, and billing fiascoes have played out in my personal experience. What this tells me, again, based on MY OWN EXPERIENCE, is that change has to happen. The way it is working, or more accurately NOT WORKING, must be addressed. The plan for reform that is being offered may not be the best or the most brilliant or fail safe, but it's the only idea being floated right now. If I was hearing from those yelling from the backs of town hall meetings of another idea, I'd certainly like to know their specifics. The truth is, I'm not hearing that. Am I hearing that the health insurance system currently in place is perfect for everyone else except me? If that's the case, then I'll just pipe down and take my multivitamin.

So, again I ask you to write your list. Now, take your list to your Congressional Representative's office and tell them that you'd like the coverage they have. If they aren't willing to share, get them willing to legislate some changes that will make a difference for you and, hopefully, for me. In the meantime, I'll do my best to not get sick. Or injured. Or any more discouraged.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Psychopoodle Update

The Psychopoodle had another x-ray and, though not 100% in the right hip, he's pretty solid. Our vet doesn't feel that surgery is warranted or that he'll be taping Chester up the left side after all. Lyle said that he's amazed that Chester can walk at all, but he's walking pretty well. Yes, this x-ray doesn't look ideal, but it is much improved from where he was on June 2. His range of motion is good, he's getting around well and was REALLY GLAD to come home from the vet. Today, Chester was able to go to tennis lessons with Augusta, have a brief squirrel chase in the front yard and a ride around town in the car. He's tired, a little sore, but relatively content.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fairly Good Fair...

The Park County Fair is done for another year. Augusta and I went to fetch our entries this afternoon. Augusta won red ribbons (second premium) for her poppies and a jar of strawberry peach ginger jam she made.

I won a few ribbons this year, with far fewer entries. Both Scott and I were unable to make the deadline to enter photographs this year, with traveling the two weekends to the prior to the drop-off date. As a result, this was the year for food, veg and fruit. Here's the list of ribbon winners:

Grand Champion - cucumber dill pickles with onion and garlic
Reserve Grand Champion - chokecherry jelly

First Premiums
plum jam
pears in light syrup
sweet pepper pasta sauce
peach jam
chokecherry jelly
cucumber dill pickles with onion and garlic
blueberry walnut coffeecake
English toffee

Second Premiums
raspberry jam
fig apple chutney
apple butter
pineapple salsa
pear topping
red raspberries
choke cherries

Third Premiums
cucumber bread and butter pickles
pear cranberry orange sauce
sweet peppers
red currants
coconut pecan fig bars
light wheat bread

I just hope I can come across half as much free and interesting food as I did this past year. Augusta has already asked me what she can make so she can win a blue ribbon. Suggestions?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

File Under Things NOT To Do For Your Kids

Today was Kids' Day Races at the Park County Fair. Both Charlie and Augusta took part, to their monetary benefit. Charlie, the C H A M P I O N of running off from Mom and Dad, won a dollar bill for the 0 -4 year old dash. Augusta won an assortment of quarters and fifty-cent pieces for her efforts. "It's just like what the Tooth Fairy brought me!"

THEN came the mom and dad dashes. "Mommie! Will you run?" says Augusta. I'm in shorts, tank, decent bra and Keens. "Sure" says the stupid, forty-year old me. "I hope I don't fall..."

On your marks, get set, GO! > > > > > > > > CRASH! Skid.... ouch.

"It was the shoes. I know I'm clumsy, but the damn shoes helped!"

Bloody knees, bashed hip and grass rash to boot.

Scott's turn. He's wearing Keens, too.

Guess what? Lather, rinse, repeat...

Our children, scarred for life by two parents with the Scandinavian klutz gene AND deadly shoes.
Me? Just scarred.

As Scott said "good thing we weren't running from a bear..."
Or a mountain lion.
Or a ticked-off moose...

So, to recap...
• Charlie and Augusta, about three bucks richer from their running.
• Justine, two big band-aids from the EMTs' first aid wagon.
• Scott, believing me the next time when I say "it was the shoes!" Like there'll be a next time...

Think I should write Keen about their $90 death rides?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer and Its Involvements

I was thinking it might actually be a low-key summer this year. We'd planned to stay a little closer to home, not take an official vacation and just go a couple of places as weekends allowed. I was working quite a bit a the outset, but now things have slowed. I'm trying to build the video business and it is progressing. But, now, I find myself asking "where did the summer go?" It's been cyclone-like since July began; a wedding in the mountains above Buffalo over the weekend of the Fourth, the National Folk Festival in Butte, the Yellowstone Jazz Festival in Cody and a dash to Red Lodge for pizza and an unintentional look at all the motorcycles that descend there on that particular weekend. Today is the turn-in day for Park County Fair entries, so we're off to do that shortly. Augusta is entering her first items in the Fair with a jar of Strawberry Peach jam and some poppies she grew from seed...

So, for now, Monday is all about getting stuff to the Fair. Maybe there will be a visit to the Froggy Pond later...

Monday, July 13, 2009

National Folk Festival in Butte, Montana

July 10 - 12 found us in Butte, Montana, for the National Folk Festival. Again, it was great to see what we did, but there was not enough time to see it all...

71st National Folk Festival from Justine Larsen on Vimeo.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Visit With Thomas

On our way to the National Folk Festival, we made a stop at the Billings Depot on Montana Avenue to see Thomas the Tank Engine...

Augusta & Charlie Visit Thomas from Justine Larsen on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Quite A Pair of Rum Runners

Another fantastic photo shot by Mike Carroll. He certainly knows trouble when he sees it...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Little Princess In A Field

Our friend Mike Carroll took this picture of Augusta in a meadow near Buffalo during the wedding our our friends Anna and Kevin. The tiara was a loan from Jen...

Friday, July 03, 2009

On The Way Over The Big Mountains

We stopped at the Medicine Wheel on our way across the Bighorn Mountains to Buffalo. It was the Psychopoodle's first trip post accident.

Little did we know that by the end of the hike, we'd be soaked to the skin. It was the Medicine Wheel spa experience: exfoliation by hail, hydration by downpour, comb out by pine tree and mud pack on the hike down. Buy one, get six free!
I do believe the three moose were just an extra bonus for the adventure-filled afternoon...

*Photos by SherBeari

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Bad Few Days In PsychopoodleLand

I'm just going to consolidate the latest of travails of Chester, the Psychopoodle.

On Sunday, Charlie walked Chester across the street to our neighbors' where he destroyed 8 goslings headed for their farm. It was a harsh lesson for the boy and his dog and a lot of crying all around.

Last night, upon arriving back at home from a visit to the grandparents, Chester evaporated. Aunt Laurie called at 9:30 pm to tell us that she'd heard a commotion outside her home 4 blocks away and went out to find Chester hit and flung, probably by a truck that hadn't bothered to stop. Lyle, our wonderful vet, was called and consulted. In hindsight, we should have taken him right in but we stayed up with him until close to 2 am. Scott stayed on the couch for the duration of the night and took him in to the clinic first thing this morning. Lyle x-rayed and did his best to reposition the badly broken pelvis, but is worried the sharp points could puncture the bowel. Lyle said he's not seen a break this bad before and still see the animal move. Chester has pulled himself up to move a few times and is still wagging his tail. He is crying a lot, but has not barked since last night.

I have brought him home. Lyle showed me how to lift him, using a sling. He is on Novox and anti-inflammatory injection. On the way to pick him up I stopped at the fabric store and bought a thick piece of foam wrapped in quilt batting that is now in a zipped dog pillow case. I stopped at the coffee shop and Karen followed me to the vet's to help bring him home. Augusta rode in the back of the station wagon and cradled his pin-head to keep him still. I have him sequestered in the laundry room, with the old Pink cat sleeping above him in his old-fogey basket. There is a lot of whimpering, but I have to keep him still as much as possible. Scott will call Lyle and get his recommendation. It may happen that we will need to take him to Billings for surgery. Of course, this all couldn't come at a worse time -- emotionally or financially.

This all may be a case of quick-acting goose karma. Or the squirrels of the neighborhood organized with the fowl survivors to put out an almost-successful hit. As you can tell, I have all sorts of theories. Fortunately for us, the neighbors are extremely good natured and they, like me, have an iron-clad alibi for last night at 9:30. Charlie did have to go over and apologize this morning for leading Chester over there that resulted in the carnage. I think many impressions have been made in just a couple of days.

Charlie and Augusta have both drawn pictures for Chester. He stood a few minutes ago, so I took him out in an effort to get him to pee away some more of the anesthetic, but no luck. I've also moved him out to the kitchen, in front of the stove and the whining has ceased. We are doing our best to keep a quite house for him. This damn dog...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Charlie Flu

Charlie Flu
Originally uploaded by Scott & Justine fromWyo
Unfortunately, we are in the throes of the garden-variety-not-Swine-but-maybe-Psychopoodle influenza. I took Charlie to the walk-in clinic yesterday where he fell asleep on the exam table. The doctor was leaning over to look in his ear (left, on the verge of infection) when Charlie blasted him with a big S N E E Z E, right in the face. I think I said something along the lines of "See? I think he has something..."

Now, I don't know who's more pitiful... the kid or the Psychopoodle.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mind the Gap!

I guess we will be expecting a visit from Mary the Tooth Fairy soon. Did YOU know that the Tooth Fairy's first name was Mary? We didn't, either, until Charlie told us yesterday.

Augusta shed her second front tooth at school today. No front teeth will make eating birthday cake pretty interesting next month. Birthday smoothie, anyone?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Long Winter .... Red Wall

It's been a long winter. A > > > R E A L L Y long winter. This was my fifteenth winter in Wyoming and it's physically and psychologically worn me thin, both literally and figuratively. I've lost some weight, not really intending to but happy that it happened. I have been holding off buying any new clothing that fits me somewhat better. Once shorts season is here I won't care that my pants are dragging on the hem because they no long fit around my waist. I'm at the end, nearly, of April and I'm only in my second day of wearing shorts. I want to work in the yard, shake away the winter blahs, but now I hear that there may be snow again tomorrow. Bleh...

Otherwise, I'm about trying to finish up/use up/polish up a few things in my little world. I went rooting around in the cupboards the day before yesterday and found some paint. It's paint I purchased BEFORE Charlie was born. It's red. Ruby Slippers is the name assigned and I don't know if I bought it for the name or the color. Regardless, it was time for some heroic shaking of the quart, to put into service my favorite paint brush that I purchased 2 years ago, dampen some paper towels and ready an empty egg carton. I brushed and mini-roller'd my way to a red kitchen wall. And, it is R*E*D and goes right along with the red battleship linoleum floor from 1959 that we still are walking on each and everyday. All in all, an inexpensive project to drag out my home engineer persona and shake up a little room that I spend a lot of time in each day. Better red than dead!

So, when you come to visit, be ready to pose for a picture in front of the red wall...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

After The Fit

There is such a thing as too much chocolate...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Treat

We took the little ones to the annual Elks' Easter Egg Scramble at the Fairgrounds. A huge mob of people came out on a nice spring day and we had a lucky little girl take home a nice Easter basket. Thanks to the Powell Elks for putting on this great and generous event.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Here Comes The Sun

After what has seemed like an exxxxxx-tended winter, a warm sun filled the back yard. I discovered the trampoline that we gave Charlie for his fourth birthday also makes a delightful backyard nap pad. It wasn't long before a certain little princess joined me for a sunshine snuggle...

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I just can't take it anymore.

I can't bear to watch the news. I've prided myself on being an aware person. I've always enjoyed the routine of the daily newscast. Since moving to Wyoming, I've awakened to the NPR broadcast each morning. As I rolled around town, I'd listen for the top of the hour id. That routine provided a dual purpose that stemmed from my college radio station days; I could tell the time and catch the latest news from around the U.S. I'd turn on the national broadcast and could often catch both CBS and NBC broadcast due to a half hour stagger on the schedule. I would often be up until the 10 pm local broadcast from the big city across the border to the north and would marvel at the rotating door of just-out-of-college broadcast journalism newbies that would be honing their newly graduated skills. I would often flip the channel to the PBS station and catch the BBC broadcast if the local news wasn't exciting enough. Over the last eight years I would steel myself in preparation for the language gaffe that was regularly broadcast by the last Chief Executive. I know those days are over and I'm grateful. But...

But I just can't watch the news right now. I find myself going through my daily online routine..., The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, SF Gate and I just have to stop. Much like the Rocky Mountain News, which ceases publication after this Friday, I'm out of business. I just can't do it right now. I'm depressed and the news is even more depressing than I am. I don't have a mutual fund, a 401K, or anything beyond a pile of bills and an inconsistent work situation. I do have a corner lot with a little house that has family in it, a college education, some volition... but now I'm wondering if that is enough.

And, according to the news... it's not. So, I'm clicking off for a while. Call me an ostrich, that's fine. I would say "bawk... bawk" but I'm not sure what sound a ostrich even makes. I still have faith. I still have hope. But I just need a little distance.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blindfolded Cookery

I don't know what it is about being tired and cold and hungry, but it makes for some interesting lunch.

On today's menu... mystery soup. It was kind of like cooking with a blindfold on, reaching into the 'fridge and turning on the gas.

A couple of days ago I browned a package of sirloin tips with garlic, diced red pepper and a little olive oil. I would have added some onion, but I couldn't remember where I last saw the onion that I bought last week. I put the nice smelling mixture in the crock pot with a cup of turkey stock I'd made and froze a couple of weeks ago and a cup of cooked barley. I found about a cup of browned Italian sausage from Sunday's pizza making and tossed that it as well. I set the whole concoction on low for a few hours and put it in the 'fridge overnight. And then I forgot it.

So, this morning, I was up at 5 to teach and, instead of being hungry at noon, I started feel a might peckish. It's not quite lunch time now but my feet are frozen and I'm even hungrier. Back to the 'fridge I went, grabbing the barley-beef-pepper soup, some beef stock, a can of tomato sauce, a can of Ro*Tel tomatoes and peppers, and what is left of the chicken chimichanga with rice from my birthday dinner last Monday. In the soup pot it has all went and now it is simmering on the stove, awaiting a topping of shredded cheese and crunched tortilla chips.

I'm not sure what exactly to call it because "Unfreeze My Feet Soup" just doesn't roll off the tongue. But, it is quite good and I have enough for company...

Monday, February 16, 2009


As I was trying to take a nap yesterday afternoon I was lamenting that I had no plans for dinner. I guess the wheels in my brain started turning because while listening to BeauSoleil on Prairie Home Companion, I came up with the following recipe.

BeauSoleil Stuffed Prairie Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 sour cream
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 -2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh spinach, julienned
1 glass white wine
1/2 thinly sliced onion
1/2 large sweet potato, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil

Using a meat tenderizer, pound boneless breasts flat as the prairie. Mix next five ingredients. Spread a thin coating of the cream cheese mixture on the chicken breast, roll up breast and place in a baking pan that has been buttered. Lay rolls of chicken breasts side by side in pan. Pour glass of white wine. Pour half over chicken breasts. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Reserve other half of wine for sipping while chicken bakes. Toss onions and sweet potatoes with olive oil. Top chicken with onion & potato mixture. Cover dish and bake in a 375° oven for 40 minutes or until chicken is firm and juices run clear. Remove chicken from oven and allow to sit 5-10 minutes. Lift each rolled & stuffed breast onto the plate and slice to reveal a beautiful sunrise...

Sunday, February 15, 2009


So, that day has finally arrived. I knew it would get here. I've tried to decide if I should prepare myself for it, or if I should just ignore it. Normally, I'd give myself plenty of opportunities to fixate, to mull, to obsess. Lately, though, it's been too hectic in my world; children in school, birthday cakes to bake, laundry to fold, and the general day and night routines. I continued to think I would have plenty of time to prepare, to focus my thoughts and get my over-stimulated brain in the right place. But it didn't happen and here came the day with no noticeable preparation.

I'm now 40.

What? When? Well, officially on February 16. How did this happen? I just don't know.

There was a time, and there shouldn't be offense taken by anyone reading this, when I was little that 40 was, well, OLD. It was even older than "grown up" or "mature". I'm not sure where that notion came from, but it may have to do with my family. My father was an "older" father. In reality he was 45 when I was born in 1969. On each of his birthdays, from the time I knew to ask, I'd say "Dad, how old are you now?" His reply would always be "thirty-nine" and I always believed him. I never figured he was a fibber or that his age wasn't what he said it was. Thirty-nine seemed like a reasonable number to me and, though it was older than most of my classmates' fathers, it was just fine by me.

But now, here I am. I am exiting the age that my dad always claimed to be and embarking on a new decade. I'm dragging along my small children and husband along for the ride.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What I've Learned From THIS Four Year Old

Today, my little Charlie is four.

He was lifted into the world during a record-breaking delivery day in Billings, Montana, during a snowstorm. No one could come to see him in the hospital except for his grandmother, father and mother, due to a Whooping Cough, Influenza and RSV outbreak.

He was nearly three times the size of his sister, being born at 6 pounds, 10 ounces.

He has the names of Scott's father (Charles, though only known as Buzz) and my father's middle name, Ragnvald. We should have immediately started calling him "Rags" or stuck with "Buster". When I ask him if he's still my baby he says "No, I'm CHARLIE".

Since he's had hair, it's been shocking, Billy-Idol-white. Why do boys always get this do when I have to pay for that color?

His Nemo swim trunks are size 12 months. This is the fourth year he's been wearing them.

He now hollers at the barking Psychopoodle "Awwwwww, SHUTH UPpppp" in a perfection imitation of Sylvester.

His patron saints are Goofy, Mickey, and Donald.

He loves his strider bike. He looks for all the bumps to bump da bump de bump.

He had his first visit to the dentist last Wednesday and attempted to abscond with all the equipment. He especially liked the water spouter-thingy.

His willfulness is astounding. I haven't heard him say "my way or the highway" yet, but I know he's thinking it.

He calls his sister "Ta-Ta". She calls him "CharrrrReeee".

He's not a vegetarian. He might be considered a green beantarian, a peanut buttertarian, a sausagetarian, frutarian or a fromagatarian. He also love pistachios.

He can hear the train coming 5 minutes before anyone else can. He also turns down the music when his dad turns it up. I am waiting to see if he can predict earthquakes like his grandfather Jon Justad. I think we may have a sound engineer in our future.

He now can operate his own "geee-mote".

He loves the cats in our house. He seems to be without opinion about the dog when it's not barking.

He wears custom-knitted delights from his grandmother and his friend Zipper.

He has names for all his pants, including Diego, Mickey, Bob the Bilker, Mater and Apple pants.

He used to call his grandmother "PeePaw" but now calls her "Gramma".

He can operate a mouse.

He has made our family complete.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


A friend asked me for a recipe today and so I took it as an opportunity to try something new. I put together a recipe card, with a photo of a batch of the toffee that I made this afternoon. I turned the InDesign file into a PDF and then lobbed it back to being a Jpeg so that I could post it here and on Facebook. I then reworked it and just exported it as a Jpeg for upload directly to the blog. All for a dinky little candy recipe...

I'm feeling a little too geeky right now, so I guess I'll go fold some laundry...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Birthday Slippers

Three out of four people in this house were tired of hearing me complain about my cold feet this week.

These ruby slippers were an early 40th birthday present.

There's no place like home...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Freestyle Sewing

So, I'm stuck in the house.

The sun is out a little, but it is still not terribly pleasant outside. I found a scrap of fleece and unearthed the sewing machine for a little engineering/freestyle designing.

I tried to duplicate/modify the design on a freebie balaclava we've had around the house for awhile. I used one of Charlie washable markers to sketch out the design on the fleece, minus one piece and this is what I came up with...

It's not perfect or windproof, but it was free, is keeping my neck warm right now and occupied a half hour of my otherwise ho-hum day.

brrrrr.... & grrrr....

Today's complaints:

My back hurts...
I just had to help dig my car out of the driveway after a big, icy drift developed overnight.

My front hurts...
See above complaint.

I just poured the last hot cup of coffee.
We are out of half and half.

Yesterday it was 18 below zero. Today it's 22 above.
There is just no consistency in this world.

And, in the amount of time I've taken to write this, my cheeks have started to thaw and they STING!

I wonder who is hiring in Hawaii?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Similar Minds

Okay, obviously First Lady Michelle Obama and I were of the same mind when it came to color selection for Inauguration Day. And, we were probably getting dressed at the same time, as she dressed in a gorgeous Isabel Toledo ensemble and I put on my shirt from Target at 4:30 MST this morning.


No, just two women ready to spend the day glowing...

A Lovely Day For An Inauguration

I am not there in person, but I'm parked in front the television. Our flag is flying and a beautiful day awaits the beginning of a new era.

We took this photo first thing this morning, after I got back from working early this morning, teaching English in Korea, explaining to my student the process and promise of the Inauguration today. It was probably 16 degrees when I was hanging the flag from the ladder that I later used as a tripod/quadpod. The forecast today is for a clear day with a high of forty-four degrees, obviously to correspond with the Inauguration of the Forty-fourth President.

To all this I say...only and thankfully in America.