Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Fragments–Guess What?!

Already Friday? This week really went fast.  Thanks to Mrs. 4444’s Friday Fragments, I can try to remember everything and get it all down before the weekend! 


  • It’s been SOOO warm out that we actually turned on the A/C.  Fortunately I’m a big procrastinator and didn’t take the window unit out of our room yet.  Ahhhh coool, cool air!  North Dakota has a bad rap for being cold.  My dad likes to call this place “the land of extremes”.  This morning I turned on the heater in the car on the way to school.  This afternoon the A/C will be on full blast.  30 degrees in one day is not that unheard of.  But, alas, it will be snowing soon enough.  Sometimes before Halloween.
  • Speaking of Halloween, Aria has decided she wants to be Rocket from the movie “Sucker Punch”.  I blame her dad.  I’ve started working on age-appropriate pieces for it.  I actually think this might suit her personality really well.

  • Jackson likes to be a cowboy.  Daily.  He wears this hat, and a pair of handed down cowboy boots. Oh, and just some underwear.  I guess it’s not so much like Woody the Cowboy, more like NYC’s Naked Cowboy.  I wonder if the Naked Cowboy ever wears Buzz Lightyear Underoos?
  • I convinced Daddy that he only needed to mow the outside lawn.  I asked him to leave the part inside our fence alone.  He uses the bagger to suck up all the leaves, and it looks so pretty beforehand that I hate to see them go just yet.  He was happy to quit early and leave me my pretty yard a little longer.  Anyway, its been so windy he’ll have to do the whole thing over again soon.
  • I loved all the color so much I convinced my family, and a few clients to get their family photos done this past week.  You can see ours HERE and my other work HERE!
  • It was our anniversary last month and the in-laws gave us a nice gift card to Famous Dave’s.  Never heard of it? If you’re not from the upper midwest, probably not.  It’s a FANTASTIC barbeque restaurant with delicious ribs and the yummiest sauces.  This is definitely NOT for a first date.  We used up all the wet wipes before the meal was over.  Instead of napkins, each table has a roll of paper towel.  They have this “Meal for 2-3” that is actually served on a garbage can lid (yes, it’s clean!).  There was so much food, we ate the rest for dinner.  Woody and JC joined us since the other kiddos were in school.  YUM!!

  • Oh, yeah! Guess what?!  I’ve always joked that I like to spend at least half of our anniversaries pregnant.  This year was no exception.  We are expecting Fraase version 5.0 to be available this coming March.  I wonder who this one will look like…… Smile Probably not me.


Join Mrs. 4444 at Half Past Kissing Time to link YOUR Friday Fragments!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Family Pictures

I know I’ve been kinda MIA around here, I intend to fix that.  Now that things have settled down (as much it will, anyway) and school has started for the kiddos, I may have a bit more time.  Fall has arrived in these parts, and just a few weeks ago I had a yard sale.  I sat in a camping chair with a blanket and jacket and hot coffee because I was so chilly.  Tonight I sat on my steps in shorts and a T-shirt while the kids sold lemonade to the guys (and gals) hauling in the harvest.  The big trucks roll right past our house on the way to an elevator where they unload their beans/grain/corn.  If the line is long, we end up with customers hopping out of their parked semi-trucks to get lemonade or popcorn.  The kids make out pretty well during harvest!!  Since the weather has been in the 70’s and 80’s (practically unheard of for the beginning of October!) I convinced everyone we needed new family photos.  We went out to a nearby state park and I took my tripod and a remote.  I got some nice family shots, although it took me several clicks to get one good one.  It never fails, though, that my favorite ends up being a candid.


How can you not love this shot??  Hello, Christmas cards…..


Aria requested one of us together.  The goggles? Aria is into steampunk lately.


Here’s all of us.  It’s been a while since Daddy and I appeared in a family shot.  Now back to the kids…



Happy Fall, everyone!  Now, go out and take some amazing and colorful pictures!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011


There are so many things that I can classify in my life as amazing, and I think this is one of them.  Saturday night a stranger knocked on our door.  After a few minutes we learned that he was my mother-in-law’s long lost brother.  He found us through extensive on-line and physical searches through records and archives.  Our address just happens to be the same one my husband’s mother had once resided at. (Our home was a boarding house for a long time, she had rented here while finishing high school!)

Sadly, this isn’t my story to tell, but I can tell you some of it.  My mother-in-law was the second of five children.  They were removed from their parents when their father was imprisoned and their mother was unable to care for them.  There were horrible stories that went along with the life they lead prior to being removed.  Some of the children were adopted, a few spent the rest of their minor years as wards of the state in a local orphanage.  At the age of 17, MIL was on her own, finishing high school, and working.  She was able to remain in some contact with her siblings, but not her younger brother.  Both had tried in the past to find each other, but met with many roadblocks. 

We invited her brother to join us the next day for lunch.  He brought his wife and stacks of paperwork they had found from agencies that had handled their cases, as well as prison records that finally had all lead them to us.  We invited my husband’s brother and sister and talked about our plans.


Today my mother-in-law will see her brother for the first time in over 50 years.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Friday Fragments–Comeback

I’ve been MIA for a while and I have so much to tell you.  I’m excited to use Mrs. 4444’s Friday Fragments as a nice little way to make myself a list of ALL the stuff I need to come back and blog about!

  • After the March to Mandaree, I took some time to relax with my family and unpack.  We’ve mostly cleared out our camper of stuff, but we were hoping to use it one more time before school started.  Hmmm… maybe a weekend during the fall will work out better.
  • I got a new French press coffee maker and I think I’ll never go back to an electric one again.
  • We are planning on switching our current living room with our current master bedroom.  I know it sounds strange, but our house used to be apartments, so they’re really both living rooms anyway.
  • I had a tumor removed from my neck.  I’ll tell you more about that later.  I’m fine now, a little sore, and rocking a cool scar.


  • We visited my relatives in Wisconsin and wished we could have stayed longer.  Even my mom came from Washington, so it was awesome!  This is a picture of mostly great-grands and a few grandchildren for my mom’s mom’s side, and not all of them either.  My mom is the oldest of seven, and we like kids.  A lot.


  • While we were in Wisconsin, Daddy and I escaped for a day and took the commuter train to Chicago.  We googled a restaurant he’d seen on Travel Channel AND Food Network.  We found it and gave it a try.  It wasn’t bad, not OMGosh-I-Have-to-come-here-again great, but good anyway.  The journey was just as fun.


  • Our kids go to school almost a week before any other school in the area, so their first day was this past Monday.  Piper started Kindergarten, Max is in Second, and Aria in Fourth.  Wow.  Now JC is super bored without anyone to entertain him at home.


  • We did a lot in the last month, and I’ll get around to blogging more now that we’ll have a routine again.  I’m hoping to pick up more hours at work to keep up with our finances right now.  I look forward to THAT being better, too.

Have a good weekend!! And don’t forget to stop by Half Past Kissing Time and join in!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fix it Friday–Sun flares

I haven’t done I Heart Faces’ Fix It Friday in a while and this lovely shot caught my eye.  Even without work, you can see the potential.


Opening this in Photoshop, I tried doing an all-over level adjustment, but I wasn’t happy with what I was getting.  I went in with my dodge tool and lightened midtones in his face and some of the foreground as well as a few streaks of sunlight on his shoulder.  Then I used the burn tool to darken some of the shadows on his clothing and his long lashes!  The sponge tool let me saturate just the tall weeds and the blue areas in the sky.  I also used the clone tool to get rid of most of the lens flare on the bottom right.  A little contrast made all the difference at the end.  It’s more of a tweak than an all-out change, but I like it!!



Want to play along? Visit .

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

On the shore of Lake Sakakawea

Saturday before the 4th of July, we spent most of the day at the 4 Bears Powwow in New Town, ND.  While I was enamored with all the dress and music, my kiddos were getting pretty tired of sitting around while I endlessly snapped pictures.  I decided to grab some drinks and take them down to the camping area where they could play in the water and be free for a while.  Arnold (our new friend and walker who was along for M2M) told me the lake was really high and usually there is a swimming area, but its currently under water.  That didn’t stop the kids from getting their feet (and everything else) wet.






Friday, July 8, 2011

Homemade Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

First, let me start with a history on how the Shepherd’s pie came to be the masterpiece we’ve created at our home.  When my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, there were times when his platoon was in an area where the good old “mess hall” wasn’t really an option.  Putting together what they had, my husband made his men a version of Shepherd’s pie that they still talk about 5 years later.  The meat they got was hamburger cooked over an open fire, salt from a local vendor, instant potatoes, and whatever vegetables they could get ahold of.  Since coming home, we have made it many times (with a greater selection of ingredients!) and we’ve come up with this recipe, which we love to serve when we have guests.


4 cups of seasonal vegetables, diced (we used onions, carrots, green beans and corn)
1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves aged garlic (ours were unintentionally aged!)
3 strips of thick cut bacon (we prefer to trim the fat off)
1 1/2 cup chopped chicken (leftovers are perfect for this!)
3 cups mashed potatoes (instant or real, prepared with Knorr Concentrated Homestyle Chicken Stock)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups white wine
2 packets Knorr Concentrated Homestyle Chicken Stock
1 tsp smoked (or regular) paprika
1/2 tsp white ground pepper
1 TBS flour
1 egg
One small jar pimentos
Extra virgin olive oil

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes (and SO worth it!)

Shepherd’s Pie Filling

Dice the vegetables, slice the bacon, and crumble the chicken into separate bowls.


In a skillet, heat 2 TBS olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves and sauté bacon until crispy.  Next add ‘hard’ vegetables (carrots in this recipe, however, turnips, parsnips, broccoli, celery if those are the seasonal vegetables you prefer), and continue sautéing until the carrots are heated through, but still have most their raw crispness (three to five minutes).  Next add to the mixture the ‘soft’ vegetables (in this recipe, we used green beans, corn, and onion).  Heat through and remove from heat.  Place into a mixing bowl, drain and add the jar of pimentos, and set aside.


Shepherd’s Pie Sauce

Deglaze the frying pan with 1 1/2 cups of white wine (add it to the pan while the pan is still hot).  Bring wine to a simmer.  White cooking sherry will do nicely as a nonalcoholic substitute, if you prefer.  Add one 4.66 oz. Knorr Concentrated Homestyle Chicken Stock.  Whisk until evenly distributed.  Next, whisk 3/4 cup sour cream until evenly mixed.  Reduce heat and simmer.  Add 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp ground white pepper, and 1 TBS flour.  Mix well, and allow to reduce the sauce until thickened.  Pour over the Shepherd’s Pie Filling and fold both together.


Mashed Potatoes

If you are making instant potatoes, use Knorr Homestyle Chicken Stock instead of plain water.  If you are making traditional mashed potatoes, boil them in Knorr Homestyle Chicken Stock.’


Thoroughly beat one egg.  To temper the egg mixture (raise the temperature of the eggs without scrambling them), take about 1 tsp of still-hot mashed potatoes and whisk into the beaten egg.  When mixed, add 2 tsp more of still-hot mashed potatoes, and mix until the beaten egg becomes thicker and more velvety.  Pour the tempered egg over the rest of the mashed potatoes and fold them together.  Having the tempered egg in the potatoes, or even brushed over the mashed potatoes will allow them to crisp to a golden brown.

The Big Finish

Place the filling in your cooking vessel (ours was about 8’ x 10’ x 4’).  Spread the filling to an even depth and cover with the mashed potato mixture.  Smooth the potatoes and score with a fork. 


Bake at 350 degrees for thirty to forty five minutes (until the potatoes turn golden brown).  Let cool before serving, serves 4-6


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Four Bears Powwow

We were welcomed with open arms to the Goodiron family and I can’t even describe how good that felt.  They were so wonderful to us while we were in Mandaree.  “Our home is your home.” They allowed us to be part of the family.  One of the events going on that same weekend was the Four Bears Powwow.  I have never been to a powwow in my life, so seeing it was not only a first for my kids, but for my husband and me, too.  It was amazing.  I loved every minute of being there.  If JC would have been more cooperative, I think I would have stayed until dark.  I also think if I had stayed, I would have run out of space on my camera’s memory card.  The experiences our family had during this trip were very special, I’m so glad we were able to make it happen.







Tuesday, July 5, 2011

March to Mandaree–Home

Sunday was the final day of the March to Mandaree.  We walked together for the last miles down to Nathan Goodiron’s grave site for a service and breakfast.  Words were spoken from the heart and taps played.  It was a beautiful service on a beautiful morning.  It was also a bittersweet ending to this 415 mile journey.  The roads were long but the sacrifice was worth the remembrance of these fallen heroes.  Chris Kleinwachter.  Travis Van Zoest.  Curtis Mehrer.  Nathan Goodiron.  Remember those who have given everything. 













Learn more about March to Mandaree at