Sunday, November 26, 2006

Christmas Cookies

We started our holiday season with a new project. We usually make all our candy on Thanksgiving weekend, but this year, we ate Thanksgiving at the Bishop's. So then on Friday, we spent cooking our own turkey and such, so we didn't make candy - just one batch of million dollar fudge. We made caramel corn last week to send to Spencer in Iraq, so we didn't make it this weekend.

Anyway, we wanted to be creative in the kitchen, so we invited the missionaries over to make cookie plates for them to take to people. They ended up not coming so we went ahead and made the cookies and they came today after church and Brian helped pack them up. Then we tied pass along cards for the Nativity video on to them. It felt good to do a little service. We are trying to spend our holiday season this year focusing on other people and on things we can do for others with materials we have at home. It was a very good and satisfying start to our holiday season. I highly recommend it!!!!!
LOVE Charlotte

Monday, November 20, 2006


WOW - it has been cold here. The wind has been in a hurricane pattern - circular, just off shore - sustained winds of 76 mph and gusts up to 94. And it is zero degrees out. If you don't have a windchill chart handy I can give you the exact windchill factor - STINKING COLD!!!!!

It is dumping massive amounts of snow in the Juneau - Sitka area (not really part of the state - just our capital, we all think we should give it back to Canada - it's way over on the continent). anyway, the rest of us here in the south central part of the state don't have that much snow. We had 2 inches, but the wind has taken it all and put it in like 3 drifts that are about five feet wide and maybe 6 inches deep. the rest of the ground, is barely white.

As you all know, our house leaks on the north side and it has been very cold in here. We have 3 space heaters (which I worry about all the time) that we have to use to keep the bathrooms and our bedroom inhabitable. Not too much worry about them starting a fire actually - they are on the same circuit with half the first floor. If i use my hair dryer, or my stereo, or a breeze causes both heaters to kick in at the same time, the circuit flips. So we end up never leaving them on when we aren't here and awake. We always have to turn them off to leave the house, because I have to turn on the light and use the hair dryer and I can't do that without turning off the heaters. It is a very effective system.

Brian got home from his long haul trucking trip on Tuesday morning. He flew down from Anchorage - Ray's granddaughter was having an operation there, so he stayed and Brian flew. He started the next day at the school. He is glad the job is indoors in this weather. We are all adjusting to the hours. We had lots of practice with swing shift when he worked at the mill. He works with nice people and he has great benefits. He did well truck driving, he missed us a lot.

Alicia taught a class at the scrap book store on Saturday - it ended up lasting all day - it was a Christmas card marathon. We spent weeks preparing the kits for it. We had 7 different card styles and each person was supposed to make 4 of each card and we were expecting 6 to 10 people. (try the math on that - some of the cards had like 30 pieces to them). It was a lot of cutting and folding and punching and counting. WHEW. We will post them on the family Christmas blog - they are in the other computer. We had fun at the class. It was close friends and we had the run of the store for the day. I couldn't walk after I got home, but it was probably worth it. It was the first time I had gone out in the cold weather. Too hard on the arthritis.

then this morning, she made me go to church. I was really sore, but I really wanted to see our friends' baby blessed in church and they had come all the way from Maryland (Army), so the least I could do was drag myself down there. I was glad I went, I haven't been able to go to Sunday church for almost 3 months. I really felt out of the loop. It was fun to see the kids again, but made us all sad that we don't get to see them any more since they moved away.

Someone stole Alicia's identity on e-bay, so she has been dealing with that all week. We had just checked our credit ratings for the first time last week, so we hate to waste another check with the credit bureau, but we really would hate for her credit to be compromised. E-bay assures us it was a "contained" breech in their system and that she isn't at any other risk from it. but she had to change all her passwords on all her accounts everywhere. that took hours and now we all have to stop and lookup every password, where as before we had them all memorized. Welcome to the 21st century, I guess.

Well, that is about all our news. Oh, the single guy in our ward passed away this week (he was 73). So I don't know what the single women in the Homer area will do. Pickings were slim - now they're dead...... what are you gonna do. Looks like no grandkids for us this year...... (and Alicia will KILL me for this paragraph. She doesn't find humor in her plight as much as we do. )
LOVE< Charlotte

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Whiskerless dad

I took this picture last week or so, to send in with a job application, and we were thinking that most people hadn't seen dad without his whiskers in a while (if ever). before he shaved last year I had never seen him without a beard, so it was totally different, but its nice, easier to see his smile and tell when he's joking. But anyway, just wanted to show you all what he looks like without whiskers. We talked to him for a few minutes this evening. They are in Seattle and he was hoping to get to see Blake but the traffic was so bad that they couldn't get to see each other. They talked for over an hour and in that time, Blake had been able to go 2 blocks, and dad hadn't moved at all. So it was a bummer they won't get to see each other - to be so close and so far apart! We also found out his hours for his new job. He will be working monday through friday 4pm-12 am. It'll be hard to have him on the night shift (and weird too) but i think he'll be glad to have a steady job. I don't think this truck driving thing would be good for him full time. I guess they had some nasty snow storms on the way down there, and he swore after we got up here (13 years ago - half my life, can you believe that??) that he would never drive the Al-Can again, but you do what you have to. So anyway, long story short here's dad without a beard. :) Love you all. Alicia

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Prayers are answered

As you know, Brian got his CDL license last week. On Saturday, last, he helped drive a semi-truck of food storage down from Soldotna to the church house. The friend who owns the truck liked the way he drove and he asked if he would like to drive a haul to Seattle this week... so Monday night, they took off at midnight for Seattle. It is 6:00 pm on Wednesday, and he just called. They are in Houston, British Columbia. They have been in -15 to -30 degree weather with ice and snow for most of the way, but it is going okay. He doesn't know how much turn around time they will have in Seattle, but we hope he will be able to at least talk to Blake on the phone... He would like to see him if it will be possible, but they just don't know what their schedule will be so they can't make any plans yet. It depends on when they can drop the load they have and pick up the load that is coming back up.

He was going to drive to Utah next week and I was excited about him getting to see my folks, but that isn't going to happen because he just called me and said that the school district called him and he got the custodian job in Homer. he will be the custodian at the high school and middle school. It is less money than he usually makes, but it is steady and indoors and at home. It means he won't have to go to work on the Slope, so he will be home every day. We don't know yet how many hours a week it is or what benefits come with it, but we think it is full-time with school district benefits. he will start as soon as he gets home. he said they wanted him yesterday, but he of course was in Canada, driving truck.

so all our prayers are answered. We really didn't want him to work away from home. This way he can still be around to take care of the Elders' Quorum and here to see us and help around the house, and still have the time to build up his welding business in his free time and in the summers. We had been praying and paying our tithing and doing everything that we could think of to earn this blessing. the final answer came on Monday morning and we had a family conference and decided that while we were waiting for a job to come, we needed to dedicate more of our lives to helping other people. so Brian cut wood for one of his home teaching families and I was crocheting a baby blanket for the pregnancy center and Alicia was quilting a quilt for Humanitarian services, and the phone rang...... it was the final key we needed to add to our prayers. We are very blessed..
Not gonna talk about the elections - some folks are happier and some aren't. We got the governor we wanted, so we are happy. Love you all and thank you for all your prayers. Charlotte and Brian and Alicia

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Great Bean-capades

Ok, so here's the rundown. A friend was telling me about how fun it is to have canned beans around the house, and how you just take dried beans, soak them, and then a couple steps later you have quarts of cooked beans. Well, there was a little more to it that than, but it was still fun.

I looked it up in my cookbook and had a recipe for what was supposed to be 7 quarts (just enough to fit in my new canner), and it took 5 pounds of dried beans, which sounded fine to me. So, I weighed the beans, and then had to figure out how many cups of beans that was. 5 pounds of beans = 15 cups of beans. Then I needed to wash and rinse all the beans, and then cook them a couple of times (to do the quick rehydrate instead of the overnight soak). To do that you need 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans. Let me sum that up - 15 cups of beans, and 45 cups of water. It took 3 big pots to soak them and cook them.
After all the cooking, soaking, and waiting, it was time to put the beans in jars. I don't know where they got their measurements in my cookbook, but 5 pounds of beans, is enough for 14 quarts, not 7. So then I had to bust out the other canner, and run 2 canners of beans. (pictured below)
And here is the finished product - 13 quarts of pinto beans. Now we can just pop them open and use them to make bean soup and stuff anytime. Long messy process, but fun!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little episode of the great bean-capades! :) Alicia

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Brian's Birthday

It is late Thursday night - minutes away from Brian's birthday. We have a surprise place we are taking him for dinner but other than that, it is pretty low-key this year.

I talked to Blake on Saturday when the Beavers were knocking USC into 9th place in the Bowl Standings and he didn't know that his email was on the fritz again. He was still getting spam and unimportant mail and he thought we had all just collectively stopped writing to him and he wondered why we were all mad at him. So he is going to look into getting it to be a more stable server. He said he would send out an email letting everyone know - but he hasn't yet - or he sent it and it didn't get out of his server.

anyway - they are fine and he isn't being anti-social, he really thought his email was working and we were the ones being anti-social. So don't count him out of the holidays - he wants to take part.

Quiet Halloween - we had 2 trick or treaters. Margaret's kids came over. Joshie doesn't like chocolate, so we always make sure to have skittles for him, and we give him extra because you know when he gets home his older siblings sort out everything that is chocolate, or nuts, or spicy. He told his mom that he thinks Alicia knows he only likes vanilla things because she didn't give him chocolate and she gave him THREE packages. We just laughed. He is the cutest kid. Anything that is not chocolate or nuts or cinnamon is vanilla to him. I like to practice speaking German with him - he is the only one in their family who isn't fluid in German and so we are trying to help her get him used to hearing German. He is 6 - he got to go to Germany this summer for the first time since he was 2, so he is picking up a little of the language, but needs to hear it more often.

We spent today working on scrap book projects. Brian went up toward Cooper Landing for his big fishing trip of the year - he went with a guy from Church. they had a good time. they were out in a boat on a lake, so didn't see any bear prints to report. I forgot to ask what fish they found. I'll have to report later.
That's all for now, I guess. Oh, he got his CDL license on Tuesday, so all he has to do now is get fingerprinted - new homeland security rules.....truckdrivers have to be cleared thru TSA and be fingerprinted and background checked. So getting his license is a good step toward future employment. Have to resend all the applications .
Thinking of you all ---- Charlotte