Monday, August 31, 2009

Sheila's Illegal Salon Part 2

Ok I confess. I have "trimmed" my hair yet again... I think it is the third time in as many months. I can't seem to help myself when it begins to morph into a Christmas tree shape. I actually feel pretty proud of this one because I usually fail dramatically at cutting my own hair, and so far I think this cut was a success. Probably because I did not use scissors; I only took out bulk all over my head using my razor, purchased very inexpensively at Leslie's Beauty Supply a couple of years ago. It is great for adding in texture and controlling shape without having to take off a lot of the all-over length.

A few days ago I was given the opportunity to trim my Mom's hair as well... I used scissors and finished it with the razor. I think it turned out pretty well, I forgot to take a before picture again, but here is the finished product:

(She styled it with an Aveda product; I'm not sure exactly which one.) I really like the spiky bits around her forehead and the hair away from her face really shows off her eyes.

My latest temptation is to bleach my entire head again... the reason I don't want to is because it needs touching-up every six weeks and I'm not sure I am ready for that commitment. Also I almost have all the color out of it and I've been trying to get it healthy. But all my sanity seems to fly out the window when I see pictures of it when it was long and platinum blonde:

Of course this is also a very happy memory for me. Jason and I were in the beginning of our six-week roadtrip and Mia is actually in this picture but we didn't know it yet. I forget that my hair sometimes felt like plastic, all I can think of is a happy windy day in Seattle, one of my favorite places.

I just found this pic from 2007 - I guess I've been dabbling in cutting hair for a while now. That's Sarie getting a trim and her friend Audrey in the background. One of these days I guess I should just get a license or something. Just in case the hair police are reading this, I do not charge for this little hobby, sometimes people chip in to cover supplies, but otherwise there is no exchange of money. If I ever decide to go legit of course I would have to start charging. If you need a trim and are willing to let someone with no formal training have at you, let me know! I enjoy opportunities to practice on all different hair types.

Here's another pic with the blonde, but in this one it is short like it is now:

I guess you will all just have to stay tuned to see if I can resist temptation.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Holy Guacamole

Here is my simple yet delicious guacamole recipe:

*1 avocado - not too ripe, you want it a little firm or it changes the taste
*1 TBS mayo (you can substitute sour cream if you are allergic to soy or dislike mayo)
*salt, pepper, and granulated garlic powder to taste
*diced tomato optional (great to add if you need to stretch it out)
*diced onion (I like sweet yellow) optional if you have a crowd that craves crunch

To keep it from turning brown, keep the pits in it if you need to store it overnight. Saran wrap pushed down to the top of the guacamole to eliminate air exposure also helps reduce browning. Occasionally I add a little lemon juice to help slow browning as well, but I prefer the taste without it. For every avocado add a TBS of your mayo or sour cream and more spices. Also, I keep my avocados in the fridge, it slows their ripening and when you make the guac, everything is cold and it tastes better. I used to labor over the firm avocados with a fork, to achieve the chunky texture that you lose if you blend it in the blender. I recently had the idea to try chopping the avocado with my Pampered Chef chopper; it worked amazingly well and took me seconds to smash as opposed to minutes with the fork. Here is the link for the product: I was fortunate to receive this as a gift, but $29.50 seems like a reasonable splurge if you're going to be making guacamole as often as I do. Also, and I love this part, it is dishwasher safe and super easy to clean.

I often have taco night just so I can make this. I also have quesadillas for lunch, buy chips to have something to eat it on, and offer to "clean up" so I can eat the leftover scrapings. Most recently I have been buying the avocados at Sam's Club, they're usually cheaper and have been good quality lately. Picking out good avocados is an art form; it takes time to be able to recognize the good from the bad and ugly, but it is a skill worth learning for the perfect guacamole. Happy eating everybody!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Really Awesome Chicken Salad

Ok, I was craving Chicken Salad this week (not chicken cut up on salad which could also be called Chicken Salad), so I dug way back in my email archives where I saved a recipe from a former co-worker (really cool lady with mad skills at making chicken salad) and I hereby present it to you!

Here is the email in abbreviated form:

Well we all had a taste of Tina Cox-Cole's amazing chicken salad over the holidays and I did get the recipe. Here it is, enjoy!

1 large can boneless white chicken
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 pkg. of Hidden Valley Ranch, (though she said other ranch mixes work just as well)
1 c. milk
1 c. mayo
1 dollop sour cream
dash garlic salt
dash celery salt
little pepper
little dill
fresh garlic and/or celery are optional.

Serve with crackers. Or I suppose you could put it on bread. Thanks and have a great day. Sheila

I made it with three cans of chicken since I had smaller cans on hand; the jumbo can of chicken that the recipe calls for was not in stock at Sam's Club when I went last. Just use the amount of chicken that seems right to you. I did put a little more salt than the recipe says, but I probably shouldn't have since a little less would have been better I think. I did not opt for the garlic or celery and I didn't miss them. Anyway I have been eating this on crackers for lunch for around three days now and it is really, really good. Thanks Tina, even though you may never read this, you are being appreciated this week.

Tune in next time for a super cool thing I just discovered that makes guacamole construction way easier!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


The last three years have seen a lot of changes. This month we have the end of an era with our dear friends Dan and Anjee moving to Canada. Joe and Rebecca have also moved away, but not as far and not forever. Last night we all had a chance to exchange goodbyes. I was fine until Mia started waving goodbye to Dan and Anjee, looking out the window, saying "By-ai" in her plaintitive voice. We have enjoyed many a winter night playing Wii Bowling or (pre-kids) having LOTR marathons. Summer trips to Chena Lakes enjoying the only beach in Fairbanks. We've devoured pasta and guacamole and lots of fajitas. We've had beers and burgers, walks and volleyball games. Weddings, births, and death. We've experienced a lot together and it is now a new chapter. Cheers to new beginnings and to memories of auld lang syne.

Mia loves her baby.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Half Cup of Sugar

Today I was feeling a lack of inspiration for cooking dinner. I called Jason to test the waters for some sort of option like Subway and realized that with his busy schedule including a surprise trip to Coldfoot Thursday there was no way he could stop and get food tonight. That along with his admission to eating nothing but cheeseits all day (he left too early to get breakfast and was too busy to stop for lunch) brought forth renewed motivation/compassion and I thought I would make a grand effort and whip up (ha) some potato salad to go with our chicken strips. Potato salad is one of his favorite foods and it takes a considerable amount of time to prepare. My first indication that things were not to go perfectly was that I could not find my potato peeler. I looked everywhere in the kitchen, checked the bottom of the dishwasher. I called Jason to see if he'd seen it. He hadn't. Then I remembered I hadn't really seen it since before our trip to Valdez... it may be in some Safeway bag somewhere since I may have taken it out of the house to do food prep. Regardless it is truly gone. I thought back to Laura Ingalls and told myself that thousands of women before me have peeled thousands of pounds of potatoes without a peeler and I could too. How long could 5 lbs. really take with a knife anyway. So I went to work. Things were going quite well; my celery had not gone bad so it was thrown in. I had plenty of relish in the fridge, mayo was not in short supply, the hard boiling of the eggs was accomplished with little drama and a few bites for Mia. I bustled merrily along until I realized I had no white sugar. Just a half a cup is all the recipe (from my mother-in-law's kitchen - Thank you Ilene!) calls for. I have brown sugar. I have powdered sugar. I have honey. These will not work. I thought I had a whole bunch in the pantry but I guess I used the last of it to make cookies. I called Jason (yes for those of you counting it was the third time in about an hour) to see if he was still at work and could borrow some from his parents. But he was unreachable. I then gathered up my courage and decided to call my next-door neighbor. I only recently got acquainted with her and I was not sure this was appropriate to ask, but I was desperate. The only thing holding me back from a delicious surpise for my dear/exhausted/starving husband was a half a cup of sugar! "No more twist, no more twist..." but I digress. I called her cell phone, but got no answer. I then called her home phone. A woman answered. The conversation went as follows:
Woman: Hello?
Me: Hi. This is Sheila.
Woman: silence.
Me: (Plunging ahead very nervously.) I was wondering if I could borrow a half cup of sugar. (Hitting self in head with hand thinking I made a big mistake.)
Woman: Who is Sheila?
Me: I think I have the wrong number. I don't think you know me.
Woman: I think so.
Me: This does not bode well for me getting my sugar.
Woman: laughing.
Me: (Gaining courage...) If you don't know me, I am probably not getting my sugar. (Holding out a slim hope that she is a neighbor that might have sugar???)
Woman: laughing more.
Me: Ok, well have a good evening.

So what started out to be just a slightly embarrassing phone call turned out to be... shall we say, super humiliating. Some woman out there is laughing her tail off and I still don't have my sugar. I could have just gone next door and knocked, but like me, my neighbor has kids and a busy life/nap schedule and stopping by is not kosher. So the partially constructed potato salad is buried in the back of the fridge waiting for Jason to return from Coldfoot sleep-deprived and hungry for real food and I am sure it will be appreciated then. Sometimes timing is everything. Of course I had to explain that due to technical difficulties all we would be having tonight was chicken salads. And the mess in the kitchen did not parallel the dinner. But if you feed a man cheeseits all day, chicken salad is equivalant to nectar of the gods. Tomorrow Mia and I will venture out to the store and hopefully we'll remember the sugar!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Check the Times...

Well my new-found commitment to working out every day is facing it's first challenge. 6:10 AM: I gulp down two cups of water and excitedly change into my gym clothes. 6:13 AM: I quietly sneak outside and drive the two blocks to my gym, after wiping copious amounts of condensation off the windshield (which in a matter of weeks will be frost). 6:14 AM: I arrive at the gym. It really is only 2 blocks away. I celebrate; I'm one of only two cars in the parking lot!!! I will have the gym to myself... but I quickly discover that's only if I break in. Which, although I am committed, I am not willing to go to jail for that commitment. Or work out in the dark - scary. I guess the gym opens at 7 on the weekends, and that's when Jason has to go to work, so I am up the proverbial creek without a treadmill. Luckily the gym is so close; it would have been a much bigger disappointment had it taken me 15 minutes to drive there versus 1. Why do I drive rather than walk you say? Well in a few short weeks it will be pitch dark/freezing cold... all the time. I am establishing a routine that I can put on autopilot. At five and six in the morning, autopilot will be a necessity. Now I will wait for Jason to finish his 20 minute job and try to go again. I am curious to see if there will be a lot of people once it's actually open.

Okay if you commute don't be a hater, but Jason's job (setting up asbestos monitoring pumps for a demo) is literally 30 seconds away. It is on our street. I can see it from our house - nothing political intended. =) The building that is getting demolished is the Captain Bartlett Inn. A couple guys from Seattle bought it and have unknown plans for the property... but I will share as soon as I find out.

Here's a question maybe one of you can answer for me: If I wear the free shirt the gym gives out does it make me a a dweeb? These and other meaningful conundrums seem to be foremost on my sleep-deprived brain. I don't feel presently equipped to solve these problems, but I do feel oddly giddy. (People like myself don't need controlled substances, just less than 6 hours of sleep will do just fine.) Signing off in hopes of a nap...Sheila

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sheila's Illegal Salon

It's not really illegal but it is so much fun it should be... and it saves money. Last night my sister-in-law (sil) Sarie came over and cut my hair and I cut and highlighted hers. We forgot to take "before" shots but we were both very pleased with the results. Bear in mind my "after" shot represents hair that hasn't been washed in three days, and it still looks awesome! We think in total we probably saved somewhere around $130 US by doing this for each other. Yea!

I swear I am still growing mine out, but I have to like the shape as it grows out, otherwise I will pull a Sinead O'Connor in the middle of the night sometime and no one wants to see that. Or do you??? Well it doesn't matter. I am not shaving my head for the entertainment of my readers. Sorry. =)

Ready to have fun in the new hair!

Pensively watching Sesame Street...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blue Skies

Yesterday the sun came out. I don't think we had seen blue skies in about a week; we came home from Valdez/Anchorage to smoke and haze. Thankfully at the end of the week it changed to drizzle and fog (everyone jokes that's because the fair came to town, but we've all been praying for rain). So all of a sudden at about 1 pm yesterday the sun started streaming into our house and I looked out and saw bright blue with fluffy white clouds, and we decided it would be really fun to go to the fair. And it was! We packed up the big stroller and sweatshirts just in case and (after Jason finding amazing parking) we paid our money and went inside. It's always fun just to people watch if nothing more. All the kids come out in full regalia; there are certain sections of the fair grounds where we realized we didn't fit in because we forgot to wear black... one guy that walked by with his family says to his wife, "Hey, a goth-a-thon!" There's a million babies and all their strollers and invariably the obvious first-timers with the look on their faces that says "Ok there are a lot of people here, but this is IT?" They are slightly confused as to what draws the large crowd. But we locals know that it is the food, the smells, the people, the hope that you get to see somebody behaving bizarrely, and the chance to see your children do something out of the ordinary.

Funnel cake IS good!

Mia was very wide-eyed and wanted to look at all the kids. Stuff she only sees on Elmo was life-sized! After stopping briefly at a father-daughter country music act we went on to fried zucchini and the petting farm. We didn't shell out for hay for the animals; we weren't sure she would appreciate feeding them, but as she was standing there at the sheep pen looking so cute, people kept sharing their hay with her so she could feed the animals. (I asked Jason if this was a foreshadowing of a girl who never has to pay for a drink...) Though at one point she had a fistful of hay in one hand and a chunk of fried zucchini in the other and she mixed up her hands and tried to put some hay in her mouth. Fortunately she realized it was too pokey to eat.

After more good food we decided to try her on the carousel which she loved and when it was over she said "Moh?" and wanted to pet all the horses on the way out.

Then we stumbled across the pony ride and thought it would be too much fun to pass up!

Finally after some icecream we found a booth where Mia netted not only a free pink balloon, but a free book and a free frisbee. Score! As we were packing the car up to leave, Mia was standing by herself and we heard: "Peas?" We looked over to see a little hand stretched towards the sky as the pink balloon floated into infinity. Jason told me not to cry and so I quickly collected myself and we made a big deal out of saying bye-bye to the balloon which seemed to satisfy me (I mean Mia). I'm not really sure who had the most fun at the fair... but I think we'll be going back next year. Two and half hours of sensory overload was just about perfect and we can keep the memories forever.

Daddy buys me treats!

Mama, is this what heaven is like?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More from Valdez...

What a good-looking guy!

Grandma, blanket, bottle, it doesn't get much better...

Mia and Daddy on the bow of the boat.

Shoup Glacier, the picture doesn't really do it justice.

A part of the seagull rookery at Shoup Glacier Lagoon.

Valdez Trip - Shoup Bay

Mia at the helm...

She takes her job very seriously.

A visitor to "our" bay.

A local duck (backside).

Daddy showed Mia that the top bunk wasn't scary after all...