Friday, December 30, 2011

BOOKS you read in 2011

Or Should Have Read

This book does more than just tell people not to breed or buy wolfdogs. Part Wild will touch the hearts of everyone not just owners of exotic pets because it is a story about love and loss.

I read PART WILD by Ceiridwen Terrill.

It's "One Woman's Journey with a Creature Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs".

I would definitely recommend this story to anyone who loves animals, has dogs or is even interested in wolves and/or dogs. It's a good story and well-written, with moments of humor and heartfelt sadness. Plus, I thoroughly enjoyed the scientific explanations of the differences in dogs and wolves (call me a nerd, it doesn't bother me--in fact I'll take it as a compliment ;)

And, I could totally sympathize with Ceiridwen's frustrations at having an "escape artist" hybrid. Believe me! And, if you don't think I can relate, read about Sasha my Siberian Husky who has escaped my totally fenced-in yard on too many occasions.

So, you might think that (since I have a notorious escape artist) I'd totally sympathize with Ceiridwen. And, although I think she tried to make a good home for Inyo, I couldn't feel as sympathetic as some other people might. One reason is that I find it difficult to understand why anyone would want to have three VERY large dogs, especially someone renting a tiny place.

My backyard has a fence that is over six feet high, all the way around. And my dog can leap like a deer. Luckily she can't scale our backyard fence but that doesn't mean she won't dig. We keep an eye on the tunnels and fill them in with bricks (and my yard used to be so pretty:(

I would think any renter would have serious trouble renting a home, apartment or trailer with a Wolf hybrid then add in a Cathoula leopard dog-pit bull cross and a German Shepherd/Doberman mix and I would think it would be nearly impossible to find a home with those three large dogs as pets.

I have one mid-sized dog in a house that is fully fenced and it can still be a humongous challenge keeping her contained (and I make sure she gets plenty of exercise. I take her with me on my marathon training runs).

So, one thought that kept running through my mind as I turned the pages of Part Wild was, "What were you thinking?"

It also bothered me to read how often Ceiridwen chained Inyo up. I've read that animals who are kept chained up get terribly frustrated and sometimes turn that frustration into anger, which can manifest itself in harmful and dangerous ways. So, I kept thinking, this is a recipe for disaster.

Plus, Ceiridwen had other challenges facing her. She and her husband were dealing with issues like obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder - then top that with the stresses of serious financial woes and studying for an advanced degree and it wouldn't have taken a wolf-hybrid to send me over the edge.

What I took away from the story was that love can't fix everything no matter how much we wish it.

I'm not saying that Ceiridwen had many options available to her in the end, which is what makes the story so horribly sad but I also think, in other circumstances, Inyo might have done much better.

But...I'm not recommending that anyone get a wolf/dog hybrid. I have a husky and I wouldn't recommend that breed to anyone who isn't training to run a marathon (and willing to take their dog with them on training runs), and has a fenced yard with someone home during the day to keep an eye on those Houdini hounds.

Still, I think this is a good book and I would recommend it to anyone who loves animals.

Did you read any books in 2011 that you WOULD recommend? Please share them in the comments section, as I'm always looking for another good book to read :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


One of my favorite presents was a scarf I got from my MIL. It is one piece of fabric shaped into a circle. It is stretchy and I just throw it over my head and wah-lah I'm so much warmer. I just love it.

How 'bout you...any favorite gifts that you got?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Have You Ever Forgotten . . . ?

Huskies may not be the most difficult breed but they are definitely up there in rank when it comes to challenging pets. And, I should know, because I have one.

Sasha, my dog, is a very loving dog but she is also a notorious escape artist. She has eaten our back fence . . . twice. My husband rebuilt the fence twice and finally he had to reinforce the wood with metal rebar. But, she still knows how to open gates...if we forget to put the carabiner back through the latch.

Luckily she doesn't have an opposable thumb. Just the other day, my husband took out the garbage and forgot to put the carabiner back on the latch. He went grocery shopping and Sasha saw the opportunity to go for a fun run. She snuck out by lifting the latch and going for a multiple mile run all by herself.

Luckily, when my hubby came back home, Sasha had jumped the fence and was sitting on the front porch waiting for him :)

But that's only one of the problems we've encountered raising Sasha. Another cause for concern has always been her LOVE of food. She will eat just about anything...including my couch. She actually ate one of our couches but she also eats metal, plastic and glass...yes, glass. Last year she ate the Christmas ornaments right off the tree and a few of the packages that were stacked below.

So...this year, I was afraid to put any presents beneath the tree. Instead I hung the packages from the branches--just to be safe. When she left those presents alone, I started piling the packages down beneath the tree.

And, maybe it's because Sasha is three now, and has finally passed out of the terrible twos but this year she left the tree completely alone.

So, the humorous point to this story is all about presents. I forgot about four of them. They were stashed inside the branches as a test to Sasha. Luckily she left them alone. But, then I forgot all about them.

I found one of my son's presents and gave it to him last night then I saw another present tucked safely inside the tree. My brother stopped by today to pick up his present.

Now, all I have to do is get one present to my sister and another one to my b.i.l.

So, tell me, have you ever forgotten to give a present that you already had wrapped and ready?

If so, please share the reason you think you forgot.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Presents

I love homemade gifts and this year we got a lot of them. It makes the gifts so much more least to me.

Here are a few of the homemade gifts we got this year:

This was a portrait that Kathryn painted of me and my hubby. Of course I think she should become a royal portrait painter. She sure knows how to make people look better than they do in "real" life. In the olden days, when a portrait painter painted a King or Queen, they had to make sure the royal was happy with the portrayal--else they'd end up on the short end of a noose.

Then I got this dress that Jovan designed and sewed just for me.

Jovan also made homemade soap and candles

And then Bo gave us some homemade jam from his own berry field in his backyard

I also got some knitted gifts but I'll save those for another blog.

How 'bout you...did you get or gift any homemade presents? If you did, please share what they were in the comments section.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Crown Roast

I wanted to make something different for Christmas dinner this year. I'd been watching The Next Iron Chef and in the finale I saw a crown roast. That was my inspiration. So this is what I made:

I had to start out with a good cut of meat. And this was about the smallest size they'd let us order. The butcher said if it was any smaller it would be a Tiara Roast not a Crown Roast. So, we'll be eating a bit more roast for part of the coming week.

then I had to stuff it with some almonds, dates, apricots, almonds, pears, cranberries, celery and onions.
We set the crown roast on a wire rack then we set it down in the roaster pan. We had loads of sacrificial vegetables in the chicken broth down beneath the meat. The sacrificial vegetables helped flavor the broth and then with the roast drippings dropping down in the pan yummilicious gravy makings were bubbling away beneath the meat in that pan. The aroma was amazing and the taste even better.

I poured a cup of Dr. Pepper over the top of the roast to create a sugary glaze on the skin. Then into the oven it went.

We baked the roast at 450 for fifteen minutes underneath a foil tent

Then we turned the oven down to 250 for two hours to finish it off

I added a salad made from lettuce, pickled beets, cucumbers and tomatoes

I added some candied potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and stuffing.
It was a wonderful way to spend a day dining :)

I hope you all had a wonderful day and holiday dinner too.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I wanted to wish all my friends and family a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Plus, I'll share a few photos from our Christmas Eve Celebrations. We have a tradition in our family of Dancing around the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve and Singing Christmas Carols . . . in English and Danish.

Here's the tree we danced around this year.
We pulled it out away from the walls so we could all hold hands (kinda like the Whos Down in Whosville;) and dance around the evergreen

Actually, the family has gotten so big we barely walk around the tree any more. But it's a fun tradition.

Then we have to remember the Danish Dinner we had. Smorgasbord Open Faced Sandwiches. No turkey or ham in this family. It's old traditions this year.

Then we all sit down and enjoy the feast.

Then it was opening presents (a lot of them were homemade-which I think makes them even better)

And back home to celebrate my brother and sister's birthday

My sister asked for a Weight Watcher's Birthday Cake so this one was homemade in a hurry.

We lit the candles and had them make a wish

Then the two of them (because if you hadn't noticed they're getting old) worked together to blow out the few little flames.

And poor little Sasha was a little overwhelmed by all the activity so she curled up in a corner, underneath the tree, with her best buddy Tigger

Then we all went for a walk down Peacock Lane

And, now, it's time to celebrate Christmas!!! So Merry Christmas to All and God Bless Us Everyone :) and if you're looking for more gifts, pop over to my cyber friend's site: Christian Farley's Blogspot to enter a book giveaway here's the link: then you just might have more presents coming after Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2011

Walking In a Winter Wonderland

Wednesday I went for a Winter Solstice Walk with my sister and a couple of girlfriends. It wasn't quite as peaceful and scenic as I'd pictured.

Maybe the reason was because it was only about 27 degrees outside. But, I’m not complaining…much. After all, it wasn’t raining and that’s one thing Portland is known for. Here in Portland it’s said we don’t tan, we mold and we try to think of rain as liquid sunshine—at least that’s what we call it. We try to keep a positive perspective otherwise we all might go completely crazy because lots of us suffer from SAD. Yes, that is a real syndrome here in the Pacific Northwest: Seasonal Affective Disorder. And we don’t simply suffer in the winter. It’s prevalent in every season here. Why do you think they filmed the Twilight series here? There’s a reason vampiric movies are set in this location: it’s called darkness.

Anyway, we girls met at a local little pub (Goose Hollow Inn) to grab a quick bit and a hot beverage before we headed out for our hiking adventure. We were going to “Learn the "reasons for the seasons" and celebrate the return of the sun!”

Plus we planned on stopping to “listen for owls, coyotes, and other creatures as we hike. We will also be using our night vision and learn how nocturnal animals adapt to low light.”

I had no idea that “using our night vision” meant hiking through the trails without any flashlights . . . at all. We wandered around in the black of night through the trails that were completely draped in darkness (also known as tree-cover).

My sister grabbed the back of my hood and held on for dear life. She said, “Why did you wear black? I can’t even see you and you’re right in front of me.”

The guide said, “Not to worry. Your eyes will adjust in about ten minutes and you’ll be able to see like a nocturnal animal…almost.”

And he was right. After about ten minutes it didn’t feel like I was wandering around in a cave with a blindfold on. And, when we stepped out from beneath the tree cover, we could actually see the stars. It was beautiful.

Our guide sent out a few owl calls into the night sky. We all stood around hoping to hear an answer to his calls. Unfortunately, the only answer we got was when my cell phone went off. I forgot to turn it on silent. It was sooooo embarrassing. I quickly pulled the phone out of my pocket and tried to silence it. Unfortunately, these radical hikers weren’t so happy about the interruption. The guide called out,
“You’re ruining our night vision.”

And it was true. I felt like a mole who popped out of my hole: The light was blinding.

Then hoping to sooth the wild beasts (in our group) after that unpleasant technological faux pas, the guide pulled out some Wintergreen Mints for us all to chew. I was thinking, “The way to a woMan’s heart is through his stomach” but there was more to it than that. It was a science lesson rolled up into that little bitty sugary ring of goodness.

When we bit down on the little ring, it sent out an explosion of light inside our mouths. So, we all took turns chewing and watching.

Later, after I got home, I looked it up to see what the reason was for the sparks flying around inside our mouths and found out that “The light was produced by the wintergreen flavoring. Methyl salicylate, or oil of wintergreen, is fluorescent, meaning it absorbs light of a shorter wavelength and then emits it as light of a longer wavelength. Ultraviolet light has a shorter wavelength than visible light. So when a Wint-O-Green Life Saver is crushed between your teeth, the methyl salicylate molecules absorb the ultraviolet, shorter wavelength light produced by the excited nitrogen, and re-emit it as light of the visible spectrum, specifically as blue light -- thus the blue sparks that jump out of your mouth when you crunch on a Wint-O-Green Life Saver.”

At one point, I heard one of the hikers calling “Phil, Phil…” I turned to see if she was okay and she looked fine so I went on my way.

Later, Phil started calling to his wife. I told him she had been calling him a bit back. He looked concerned. He pulled out his phone and called her. Then, he told us she was fine. She’d just gone off on her own.

Who wanders off in the dark, on pitch black trails at night. . . by themselves?

Obviously some people are more daring than me. I never would have left the group to wander the trails alone. She must have been a little more than mad. . . at her husband.

Anyway, it was a wonderful way to spend a winter night.

At the solstice hike, I learned a little, walked a lot and shared an interesting adventure with my sister and a couple of friends. And, now the days will be getting longer and the nights will become shorter. That is definitely something worth celebrating—especially here in Portland where the planet seems to linger in the darkness a little more than most places.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Decorating for Christmas

I have to add a little bling and decorate my potted plants for the holidays. Otherwise, they're all in hybernation for the winter
I had to put hats on my chairs - really they are seatcovers - but aren't they cute...looking like little Santa seats?

And, our tree was a present from my hubby's brother's tree farm. What fun to get the tree from a family farm.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Setting the Table

We had a celebration dinner on Saturday and I wanted the table to look pretty. I wanted to have a solid color for the table. Unfortunately, the tablecloth didn't quite fit. So I had to put a tablecloth underneath the tablecloth to cover the table. A little peek-a-boo of floral was peeking out. But, I thought it looked okay anyway.

And, it was a nice day filled with food, family and friends.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Graduation Day

Kara (the one in the middle) graduated! The last of my three kids to complete their degree...!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


There's a Danish tradition at Christmas that my family always keeps. We hang Advent Calendars for everyone in the family. Usually my husband and I don't have much hanging on the hooks. Instead we put a few candy canes on each others calendars and maybe a present or two but not the 24 presents of Christmas.

The kids' calendars are usually loaded with goodies. After all, these are great times for "kids" even if they are adults now.

Anyway, my husband and I went away for one long weekend and when we came home, the kids are loaded our calendars with tons of presents. In fact some of the presents were so heavy they had to hang them off to the side and keep the weight off the poor little hanging hooks. It was a fun surprise.

Maybe my husband and I should go away more often. I'm thinking "absence makes the heart grow fonder" or perhaps it "helps the kids appreciate us more". I don't know but I'm not complaining.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wrapped in the Warmth of the Season

I love to make things - especially gifts for people. It makes it feel more like something special... at least to me.

My recipients might prefer a "store bought" present. But, I always think that's the easy way out. And, I almost never give gift cards. Those don't even feel like presents to me. I think I might as well stash a little cash inside a card and give it away. Now, my kids probably wouldn't complain if I did but, if I do give gift cards, I always add some little something that I've made to the package.

Here's one gift I whipped up in an evening. It's a blanket for a baby shower gift.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sandwich Baggie Wrapper Wreath

This wreath was made from baggies. My daughter and her gfriend made it for me. Isn't it pretty? If you want to read how to make it, check out

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Explosions with WoMANS Best Friend

I wanted to share some photos (or explosions of color) my husband took one weekend when we went for a run.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Victorian Winery

I thought this one was so pretty, I just had to stop and take a photo.

I have a soft spot for Victorian Homes.

How 'bout you?