Living the cottage life, Alaskan style!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Seafood Chowder

We've been having a lot of rain this week, real Fall weather.  So it seemed  like a good time to make a batch of seafood chowder.  If you know me, a "batch" isn't a small pot, perfect for the two of us for a meal.  It means a large stock pot, maybe even overflow, perfect for sayyyyyy 10-12 people!  I never learned to cook small, even after the kids left, so if you're ever in the area, don't be shy about stopping over for dinner!

I'm not one of those food bloggers that take beautiful step-by-step pictures as they're making their food item. I wish I was, but the lighting in my kitchen is not good and there's always shadows on the item.  The other reason I don't make a good food blogger is because I forget to take pictures along the way.

I started out with this picture of celery picked from my garden.  I love it!  

Then I skipped a couple steps and now you see the bacon frying. 

What you don't see is the celery, onion, and garlic sauteing.  Next I've added flour for thickening, water, and chicken bouillon to season, and cook until thick. 

Here the potatoes are diced (in large chunks), ready to add to the mixture. 

Oh, where does the "seafood" come in?  I added some halibut to it after the potatoes were done and let it cook another 15 minutes.  The very last step was adding some milk. 

Imagine.... 30 minutes later and you've ladled this wonderful chowder into your bowl.  Add a dollop of butter, some salt and pepper, and you've got one of the best meals ever. 

This chowder is so versatile.  Depending on the mood, I'll add salmon some times.  Other times I'll add it all--halibut, crab, shrimp and scallops.  But it's a great potato chowder all on its own. 

Here's the recipe: 

That's the recipe I use as a reference and if you wanted to make a smaller serving.   To serve 10-12, go by this list:  
1 pound of bacon
1 whole onion
8 cloves garlic
handful of celery stalks
1 cup plus flour
12 cups water
8-12 chicken bouillon
5 pounds potatoes
whatever fish or seafood I have
2-3 cup whole milk

Enjoy!  Nancy
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One Lettuce Leaf at a Time

Some might say I have a green thumb.
Others might think I have all the answers.
But I don't and I certainly don't! 
I'm just lucky and I don't give up.

My husband wanted to try his luck at growing cherry tomatoes a couple years ago.
So we bought a couple of those Topsy Turvy things and hung them on the south wall of our home where they would get plenty of sunshine.
Then he plants other cherry tomatoes in a pot. 
I guess he's comparing which plant will produce better.

Last year we grew this beauty of a plant.
But it only produced one measly cherry tomato.  One.
We were told you need to clip its leaves....
Click here for the story behind it. 

This year we have tons of blossoms and quite a few little green tomatoes....
But nothing is ripening.
So my question to you, fellow gardeners.... how long does it take a tomato to ripen???? 
These have been "in process" for about 30 days now.

My peas are finally coming on strong.
My three year old grandson  has been waiting not-so-patiently for them. 
Every night, as he heads home, he runs outside, around the car, bends and peers, anxiously waiting for the first peas to arrive.
Now he's quick enough to yank a few off the vines and heads home with a whole hand full! 
This is why I grow peas.
My strawberries are trying hard to produce.
But the birds are beating me to them.
I might get some netting and drape them next year.
I snatched this one up last night even though it was only half reddish, but it was still so yummy.   
I bought this basil on June 8.  It's maybe doubled in size.... 
I know basil likes warmer temperatures, but, still.... come on.... 

Gardening is certainly a challenge in SE Alaska. 
Our temps can be cold and weather wet.
Our dirt is poor
and we live in many microclimates.

Yet we keep trying.  And trying.  And trying. 
Trying to find the answer to growing tomatoes without a green house.
Trying to become a little more self-sufficient.
One lettuce leaf at a time. 

Later!  Nancy
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Monday, July 25, 2011

My "To Do" List

How was my weekend, you ask?
This is my "to do" list for the weekend.
If you look real close, you won't see many items crossed off....
Like this basket of folded laundry that's still sitting in the same place I placed it Saturday when I took the clothes off the line. 

And this garden hose that never got rewound. 
This bag of receipts and bank statements was supposed to get shredded.
And more laundry was waiting to get washed.
The bed didn't get made....
The new shelf I found while garage saling on Saturday is patiently waiting to get dusted and something pretty sitting on it.
This box is full of receipts and other papers that were to be filed....
And I never cleaned up my mess in the garage....
Or restocked the pantry....
Course, in my defense, Hunter willl most likely just relocate these cans back to his truck so why bother....
This little darling is an old enamel table waiting to have its legs put back on and moved into the house.
This is on my "to do" list, but I'm at the mercy of my hubby to get it done.
And this mess is our dining room table. 
Beautiful, isn't it? 
Don't worry, at least it gets shuffled to one end for meals but then somehow manages to get sprawled out again.  I need to get organized!
So what DID I do this weekend?

This:  (look below)
I painted an ugly white plastic chair and its sidekick the table.  
That's about it.  
My Blue Jays like having another place to sit...  
Glad I could oblige....

I'll have to kick it in high gear tomorrow to get caught up on some of these things!   
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Garden of Life

Why is it I have way more to talk about and share than there are days in the week?
I could combine them all into a Week in Review collage and still not be able to cover it all.
It's not that my life is full of exciting adventures and stories to tell.
I'm not even one of those people who lives life to its fullest.
I just live a full life.
I live a quiet life.
A life centered around family and a few good friends.
Each week a rerun of the previous week.

I garden.
I babysit grandkids.
Then I garden some more.
We go for rides, getting a glimpse of our neighbor's lives through the gardens they tend.
Then I babysit some more.
We have family dinners.
Then I garden some more.
Occasionally we travel South to visit family.
Or head to exotic places and dream the life we wish we had.
Many of our travels are just across the street, visiting good friends and drinking wine on their porch. 
We pick berries along the side of the road and weathered glass on the beach.
We read.  Watch tv.  Play games.
I bake.  And eat.... Then bake some more...
Then we visit with the kids and laugh with the grandkids.

No, I certainly do not live an exciting life. 
I live a full life, a life I'm content with most of the time.

 My cousin's wife passed away a year ago.  She wasn't very old. 
He posted the following on his Facebook wall:

"Her message to you would be - if you have always wanted to do something and you’ve been waiting for the right time. It’s now."

Every time I read that passage, it brings tears to my eyes. 
Here's a woman who lived life, she just didn't have enough life to live.

That statement hits home because, you see, I'm still waiting for the "right time...."
I'm not certain what I'm waiting for, but I'm waiting....  
It seems I've been waiting most all my life for something.
To move south to live near family.
To travel across the U.S.
To live in a little cottage on the water. 
To learn to play the piano.
To travel to Maine to eat lobster.

Yes, that's me.... always waiting to experience life.
For the freedom and gumption to go, do, and be. 

I know my day will come to go, do, and be.
And I also know I'm supposed to be right here, right now.
Living in the present. 
But still, that statement makes me uneasy because it's so true.
We don't know what tomorrow will bring.
Or if there will BE a tomorrow.

Many people feel that since we're retired, we should be traveling the world.
Doing exciting things!  Being exciting people!
Or at least not being so tired from babysitting. 
And I have to agree that babysitting grandbabies was not on my list of things to do when retired. 
But I also believe this is where we're supposed to be at this time in our life.
This is who we are.
This is our chosen life. 
For now anyway.
Before we know it we'll have the freedom to pursue our dreams.
We can be those people others think we should be. 
More importantly, we can be the people WE think we should be....
It'll be interesting to see how our life will change....
I know one thing. 
In my next chapter, I do plan on seeing if the grass really IS greener somewhere else.
And I do plan on traveling the world, or at least the United States.
And I do plan on living a fuller life, living life, experiencing life, learning about life. 

My life will always be my children and my family but it's time to start checking things off my Life List.
I don't want any regrets.
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Found Treasures

My name is Nancy, and I'm an addict.
For garage sales
and found treasures, that is! 

My husband and I used to "ditch hunt."  That's what we called pulling over to the side of the road and picking up rocks or wood or any other treasures we found.  But we don't so much anymore.

I recently started going to garage sales again and am loving it. 
For the past few years I worked on Saturdays and had to put my passion aside.

Here's what I found this past weekend. 

These darling glasses are about 4" tall and quite stubby.  I was told they're about 30 years old and are wine "tasting" glasses because of their small size, I suppose.  For me, the glass is just about the right size for my limited drinking.  I bought them because I loved their amber color and sturdy stem. 

I bought this trio because..... because the lady wanted me too....  I really liked the LARGE ladle, but she said it was a set.  Originally it was $3.00, but said I could have it for $2.00.  Okay..... I'll resell it in my garage sale for $5.00.... 
I love this old red lantern.  I may hang it from a tree or.... 
I'm keeping a watchful eye on this old Alpenrose Dairy milk crate!  My daughter has threatened to move it to her home....  For now I just have a plant sitting on top of it.  Until it relocates to my daughter's home....
This was my best find!  Look at the detail on this old chair!
The dainty curves.
The legs!
This seat is too precious the way it curves. 
I'm going to paint this chair some funky colors, I think....
and use it as yard art.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I stumbled upon this little Radio Flyer red wagon!
I've wanted one for years and years.
I was afraid I wouldn't be able to afford it, but....
drum roll, please.....
There was a price tag of fifty cents on it! 
Of course I had to bring it home with me! 
I think it was a very good garage sale day. 
What do you think? 
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Garbage Day

Our garbage men have the best route in town!
Every week they are greeted with these darlings waiting at the window for them.
Patiently they wait....
Waving and waving until the men see them....
Even the dogs wait....

Until.... there you have it!   The wave!
The garbage man looks up and sees the kids and a smile breaks out over his face and he waves back at them.
Even the guy in the cab will honk his horn and wave.
You just know that these garbage men look forward to collecting trash at our home every week.
How could they not, with these darlings waiting for their arrival? 

Today I'm joining
 Cottage Flora Thursdays
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

gnome sweet gnome

Have you ever told a little white lie?
To your three year old granddaughter?

Meet my resident garden gnome. 
He  lives in this stump.
Behind this door.
He comes out occasionally to enjoy the weather. 
My granddaughter asks, "does he move?"  Of course he does!
"Can I open his door?"  No... no you can't. 
For you see, this little gnome (like all gnomes) will play possum when a human approaches.
They'll look just like a statue....
Then we leave them alone.

That's what I tell her.
And she believes me. 
But you can see her cautiously peaking around the astilbe that protects his little home in hopes of getting a glimpse of my garden gnome. 

When she's not looking, I'll gingerly move him a little, much to her dismay that she missed him in motion again! 

This is Henry.
Or maybe it's Harvey.
I don't know.... it could be Frank. 
My grandson will walk around the circle garden asking, "what's his name?"  "What's his name?"
He never catches on that they have different names every time he asks. 
This could be Jeremy.
Or Justin.
I'm pretty sure this is Frank, though.
I love my garden gnomes and in case you think I'm a non-believer....
I believe in gnomes!  And garden fairies!
And as far as telling a little white lie to my granddaughter, it's not really a lie as long as you Believe.... Is it...? 

Yes.... I love my garden gnomes. 
There's no place like gnome home. 
Later!  Nancy
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