Monthly Archives: September 2008

I am supposed to be at the gym right now…


but my mp3 player needed to charge, and since listening to music with a fast beat can improve your workout by up to 30%, I took that a good reason to sit here, on my rear end, surfing the net and drinking coffee. 

Since Auntie Megan left, I have been trying hard to keep up the workouts.  I am not pushing myself as hard as she pushed me, but am getting to the gym 4-5 times a week for 1.5-2 hours a time.  Try to lift weights for half hour to 45 mins and then cardio for an hour.  A couple times I have participated in an “abs” class.  That was brutal. 

So you would think I might see a difference on the scale. 

No, not happening.  still a really big number.  Oh well, it will come off, or it won’t, and either way it is good to get the exercise.  I do feel good, energetic and boy do I get cranky if I don’t workout a couple days in a row.  I guess that means it is starting to become important to me. 

Well, as long as I am here at home, when I should be at the gym, I better get something done.  There are dishes and laundry that are calling to me.  Perhaps if I turn up the music a little louder I won’t hear them.


Vain attempt…


And by vain I mean both futile and narcissistic.  A couple of weeks ago I had my nails done.  The theory was that it would keep me from biting or picking at my fingernails, and look good at the same time. 

So, not really sure that it truly succeeded on either end.  What it really did was make my hands, which are (in keeping with the rest of my physique) on the large side to begin with, look freakishly huge.  No kidding, I think the nails looked good from a distance, but up close, geez, they look like I could hit 2 octaves on a piano, or palm a basketball.  Remember the “man hands” episode on Seinfeld?  Yeah, it was  a little more like “tran hands” around here.  Not a good look. 

And the nail biting/picking thing.  It helped a little, but not enough to make the inconvenience of having to have make sure my nails were polished, and not even close to worth constantly having to dig the dirt out from under the talons.  Let’s not get into what would happen when I would make bread.  Kneading and nails do not mix.  Perhaps I should have just sat around on cushions eating bon bons, there is no dirt involved .

That’s it, my brief foray into glamour is over.  That childhood fantasy of being a beauty queen, just not all it is cracked up to be.  Back to the slightly grubby Sandie you all know and love.  Ahhhh.

So, we are renters…


and we are OK with that.  No, that is not true, we are not OK with that, we are GOOD with that. There are a number of reasons that we have chosen to rent at this time in our lives. 

The fact that we rent, and not own, really seems to bother many people.  We have had people apologize to us when they hear we rent.  As in “oh, I’m sorry, I am sure you will get to buy someday”.  Yep, probably, but not right  now, and not in the near future.  

It has been interesting to see how renters are perceived as 2nd class citizens. 

I imagine many people think we must not be fit to buy a home, that our credit is destroyed or something.  That we are not responsible enough.  I don’t think this is the case, we have owned before, when we were very young, before the days of “anyone can get a mortgage if they are breathing” lending.  Now, I would imagine that our credit file is just unusually thin.  We pay cash for our cars, don’t use credit cards, don’t even have cable or satellite tv.  I do have a library card and nearly always return my books on time. 

I know that I am supposed to want to own a home, that is the American Dream, right.  Somehow not wanting to own is viewed as suspect.  Something must be wrong with a person who CHOOSES not to buy a house.  How unpatriotic that they don’t want to contribute to the economy in this manner.  Trust me, I love our country.  And I do contribute to the economy, I can guarantee you that even the property taxes on this house we live in (our home) are included in our rent. 

We have decided not to buy, and we probably won’t buy anytime soon.  We don’t know how long, really, that we will be here, could be 3 years, could be 5.  Could be more, and although Alaska’s housing isn’t in the same state as the rest of the nation, there is no real assurance that we could come out ahead or even, should we buy and then sell in the next 3-5 years.  So we will rent.  Maybe, in 25 years, when we haven’t left Alaska, we will regret this choice to rent right now… But, should Dave get the chance to work, say in Norway, I will feel a whole lot better if we can just give our 30 days notice, schedule the movers, and wave goodbye.

We have been fortunate in our last 2 rentals. They have been great little houses, houses we would have bought, if we were in a buying frame of mind.  We have also been really fortunate because we have been able to rent for several hundred $$ a month LESS than we would have been paying on a mortgage for those same houses.  This has enabled us to make some different choices.  I get to stay home, because our expenses are lower. We can put more away toward retirement (5 years of poverty level living, we have some catching up to do).  The landlord is the one who gets to take care of the water heater when it breaks. 

So why I am telling you all this?  here is why:

I was talking to someone today, and was told “I have heard it’s such a cute house, like a real house, not a rental”.  This isn’t the first time I have heard this, and not the first time that I have heard it from this person.  This is someone who hasn’t even seen this house, or the last house we rented.  And very well may never see it. In part because it is not “our house”, and therefore not really worthy of the effort it would take to visit.

I know it is silly, but that “like a real house” hurt.   

Whether or not I make the monthly payment to a guy named Keith or to Wells Fargo Mortgage services, this is where we live. 

This is our HOME. 

 Where my kids play, where I cook our meals.  I take pride in having the lawn look good, and try really hard to keep the house clean and neat (not my strength, but I never stop trying).  Our art is displayed on the walls, our books are on the shelves.  Where friends and family can visit into the wee hours, or stop by for coffee on the way to Costco, or Prudhoe Bay.  Where the neighbors can stop by to borrow an egg, or Sunny’s Girl Scout troop can meet for a movie night.  Where the boys can practice fencing in the backyard, or the kids can climb trees and generally raise a ruckus. This is where we LIVE.  Really live.  We visit with our neighbors, we invite people over for dinner.  This is what we have chosen, a darling little house in a charming older neighborhood. 

So when you come and visit, don’t feel bad that we are “just renters”, because really, for us, it is a 1st class life.

What happens when you let the kids plan the party…



Scrambled eggs

Chocolate potato cake



Chicken noodle soup

Cream soda

Monkey bread


We listened to a lot of Weird Al (think Amish Paradise, White and Nerdy, Weasel Stomping Day, Pretty Fly for a Rabbi). 

All the kids are getting new toothbrushes as party favors.

 Bet you wish you were here!

Garlic, it really does go with everything…


even chocolate cake. 

Not kidding here, I made Broder’s birthday cake today (we had a little party with another family).  He had asked for just 3 things for his birthday:

The love of his family

Mama’s chocolate potato cake

and “Lord of the Rings battle for middle earth 2, collectors edition” computer game. 


So I made the cake.  This cake calls for 1 cup of mashed potatoes in the batter.  As we had leftover mashed potatoes from dinner last night, I thought I would just use those, rather than making more.  (before you get too impressed, I need to confess that I ONLY make mashed potatoes from a box, I really can’t make them any other way, I have tried and always end up with a gray gluey mess, so, no more, it is flakes for me).

I took the potatoes from the fridge, set them on the counter to get to room temp (the recipe says this is very important, I just do as they say). 

Adding the potatoes is the last step.  Just as the potatoes hit the bowl I remembered:

Those were garlic mashed potatoes. 

 And not just a little garlic either, as anyone who has ever been subjected to my cooking knows I subscribe to the “there is no such thing as too much garlic” camp. 

Oh no!

Oh well!

into the oven it went.  Garlic and all. 

An hour later it looked as good as ever.  (and truthfully, this cakes usually looks pretty good). 

So I turned it out onto the cake stand and set it in the middle of the table, hoping that if it looked like a masterpiece…

And what do you know,  2 C sugar, 5 eggs, 1C butter,  melted bittersweet chocolate/honey mixture and a dash of black pepper can override a whole lot of garlic. 

 want the recipe?