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I've been building and painting...

So I built something that would normally take about 3 hours to complete but it took me 3 weeks thanks to snow and cold, and kids getting in the way. Love my kids, which is why I built this kids picnic table for them! You've probably already heard of Ana White's website - that's where I got the plans for this table. I've actually never built anything in my life but Ana's blog was very inspiring and her instructions easy to follow. I now have a long list of "to build" items from her blog. Funny but building actually brought another inspiration to paint all the walls in my house. I started with the kitchen/dining area. Next is the girls' bedroom. If summer would ever come to Alaska, I could really get things done!
It's not perfect but I love it and I think it's beautiful :)

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What's for Dinner?

A friend of mine has this awesome blog where she also plans her weekly menu and shares with the rest of us. I thought I'd try creating my own menu for the week and see if I can follow through with it. What are you planning to cook this week?

Week of 3/22 - 3/28:

Monday: Zesty Ravioli Skillet and green salad (30 minutes)

Tuesday: Pork Enchiladas (Chelsea's recipe) (start the night before: 4 hours in crockpot)

Wednesday: Hawaiian haystacks (40 minutes)

Thursday: Lentil Soup (1 hour)

Friday: Caribou Roast (10 hours in crockpot) with potatoes, carrots, mushrooms

Saturday: Salpicón - salad with leftover caribou meat (20 minutes) and bean quesadillas

Sunday: Shrimp stir-fry (30 minutes)

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Passport-sized Photo Tutorial...

A random post.. I suspect the professional photographers out there might just laugh at this, but it's so easy I wanted to share how I've been creating passport-sized photos for all our documents (immigration papers, visas, passports, etc.) for years. Why not save $20 or so if you can Do-It-Yourself? I think some of you may find this helpful.
Step 1.
Open your picture with Picasa. Go to Basic Fixes and Crop it to "Square: CD Cover" (after I took this picture of Eva's Bratz girl and she saw her on my computer screen, she grabbed her right away and won't let go of her, in fact, she and Jemma are now fighting for it because Eva won't share!):
Step 2.
Under 'Tuning' you can edit your picture by adjusting the lighting, color, etc.

Step 3.
Now go ahead and 'Save' the picture.
Step 4.
Right-click on the picture and 'Locate on Disk':
or you may have this option - 'Locate' -> 'File on Disk':
Step 5.
Once you've located the picture on the disk, make 6 copies of the same picture. Select the picture and copy and paste, or keep hitting 'ctrl+c' and then 'ctrl+v' until you have 6 copies in total:
Step 6.
Go back to Picasa and the 6 copies of the picture will already be there. In the file menu go to 'Create' and choose 'Picture Collage':
Step 7:
Now highlight all 6 pictures and add to the collage by clicking on the '+':
Step 8:
Under the 'Settings' tab select 'Grid: Arrange pictures into regular rows and columns' and you are almost done:
Step 9.
Now set the aspect ratio to '4 x 6: small print' and click on the 'create collage' button below.
Congratulations, you've just saved 20 bucks. Print at your usual location :)

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What happened to us?

Family Visit:
Sierra Vista activities:
Jemma's 1st Birthday:
Mexico Vacation:
Visiting Nuncha in Lake Arrowhead, CA:
Visiting Jessica in Laguna Niguel, CA (just in time for the arrival of her new baby girl!)
Visiting my dear Seattlites:
Vancouver and Kima:
Into the Wild:
On our food adventure:
So, I guess I'm back to blogging, or at least I'd like to think so... at least I put it on my New Year's resolution this time. I'm so far behind that I feel like, just for the sake of having some kind of record of these events, I need to recall what happened since I last wrote in here. We had a full year of adventures in 2009. Actually it started back in November of 2008 when we all left Alaska to go to Sierra Vista, Arizona for 6 months, for Jesse's training.
1. which meant we would miss one extreme Alaskan winter. Always a plus. (Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Alaska, though people here say you should either love it or hate it!)
2. Arrived in Sierra Vista, AZ a few days before Thanksgiving; had a big meal with just the four of us.
3. On the very first Sunday we found ourselves in an awesome ward with most people of our age. Another plus.
4. Drove to Mesa to pick up our brand new Mazda-5!
5. My brother came to visit us for the holidays from Pittsburgh, PA. Then we all (b/c we were within driving distance from Jesse's parents) drove our shiny Mazda to Tupelo, Mississippi! OK, so what if the drive was about 20 hours long...
6. The girls (but mostly Eva because Jemma was only 8 months old) got seriously spoiled during our stay with Nana.
7. Back to SV and oh, I just couldn't get enough of that warm Arizona winter sun. Enjoyed pushing my double stroller down Town&Country Rd. And our playgroup, we loved those days, of course, at the mall, on the playground, at the Aquatic Center, at the zoo (the Tucson zoo is a perfect size for the little kiddos, by the way).
8. March. Jemma turned 1 and we threw her an awesome party with our playgroup friends and a homemade strawberry cake (from scratch)!
9. April... we just tried to enjoy as much of the outdoors as possible - it felt like the warmest summer month in Alaska, in the mid-70s.
10. In April we also decided we could hop across the border to Mexico. It was easy, though entering back into the U.S. took longer than we desired, with two toddlers fidgeting and screaming from their car seats. We did that a couple more times though and had some yummy authentic Mexican meals. We learned that when the border patrol guys asked us what we were doing in Mexico, we could just say "Oh, we just came over to eat dinner".
11. All those trips across the border gave us another brilliant idea: Before we head up north, why not take a week off and drive down all the way to the beach! So in the first week of May we had our first family vacation. I can't say I enjoyed the driving part - you really have to ignore all the red lights and stop signs - if you don't, you might get hit from behind. But Jesse is a good driver, we survived, made it to our little beach house at Kino Bay and pretty much had the beach all to ourselves. Complete peace, though I did have to chase the kids and make sure they don't drown themselves!
12. So tanned and recharged by the beach sun we were now ready for our long journey back home to Alaska. We stopped back in Sierra Vista for a day to pack. To say our little van was packed with stuff would be an understatement. We drove from Arizona to California, rested and visited some friends for three days - huge thanks to the Jones family for hosting us at their beautiful house in Lake Arrowhead! Also, thanks to the Gardners who welcome us at their home each time we are in LA. That city just wouldn’t let us out of its borders. We finally made it out of LA and were on our way to Seattle to visit some more dear friends, then to Vancouver, Canada. Luckily, I have a friend who had arranged a room for us so we were able to rest overnight and do some sightseeing in the first half of the next day. After a week of visiting and driving we were exhausted and determined to get to Alaska as soon as possible. I think we beat the record, as we drove through Canada without any stops, except for gas and food, and it took us about 36 hours from Vancouver to the land of the midnight sun. Ah, there are just too many stories to tell. Is there such a term as “binge blogger”? I might be one of them, but I am going to stop for now!

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New Season, New Haircut

THEN: high maintenance medium/long length hairstyle. It usually ended up in a ponytail. This pic is an exception!

NOW: graduated bob. I feel relieved :)

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Schexnayder Look-alike Meter

MyHeritage: Look-alike Meter - Family tree template - Geneology

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