arctic life: july

July was so good to us.

I love a good combo. Like pizza and beer. Or fresh guacamole and a margarita. Champagne and orange juice. Hmm. I’m sensing a pattern.

Anyway, July consisted of weeks that had days that flirted with 85 degrees and blue skies, and rainy mornings that meant you left home with a light jacket. My sun dresses and sandals have gotten plenty of wear. And we had days it rained all day and gave us an excuse to cuddle on the couch and binge watch Netflix. Swimming and sunburns. Long sleeves and an extra cup of coffee on a chilly day.

A pretty near perfect combo if you ask me.

Onto the deets.

Our garden has been kind to us this year. I haven’t bought a head of lettuce, kale or squash all summer, and Hayden runs outside every morning to pick snap peas.

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The pumpkins and broccoli are seriously out of control. Along, with the weeds around the garden. Yikes. And yes I realize I shouldn’t have planted approx 50 pumpkins right next to each other. pumpkins The green house is packed with tomatoes and I eagerly await my sprouts. Oh man, I can’t wait to eat those sprouts. When they are much, much bigger of course.

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toms

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We bought four apple trees and while they are small, three of our trees have fruit on them. Which I’m hoping means in the years to come, our chickadees can be  snacking on apples all summer.

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Darkness still doesn’t creep in until long after bedtime, so we spend most nights playing late. Laying in the grass, eating off our raspberry bushes. Even Sharky joins in the mix.

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sharkyyy

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And to my surprise, Hayden’s playhouse flowers have survived the wrath of children in the summer.

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It’s been a fantastic summer so far. We have had record hot days. The first time since I moved here four years ago we have had to make a solid effort in keeping the house cool because it’s hot as balls outside. That is an actual temperature setting by the way. A fellow blogger assured me of it.

When I look outside I see signs summer is well under way. The chairs and toys are scattered about from countless barbecues.

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Throughout the yard you can find mushrooms. Not the good kind you can saute up and enjoy for dinner. But the kind that means your past the prime of summer.

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And August has even more in store for us. So much more. But until all the excitement happens, we’ll continue to live simply in the grass and explore the little world right outside our doors.

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 I’m thankful for…..

Summer afternoons that are spent playing with neighborhood friends. Eating popsicles that melt all over you. Taking a swim in the pool afterwards. And a baby boy who is so worn out from all the fun he snuggles up and falls asleep in your arms. 

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I’m thankful for…

lots of tiny messes

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We recently separated the kids and they now have their own rooms. My original thought was that having the kids share a room would make for easier clean up and they would bond and learn to share better.

Wrong.

Now that Reid is old enough to crawl and adventure around the house he gets into everything. And all of Hayden’s tiny projects get destroyed by baby hands and small Legos and Barbie shoes get eaten. Which results in a baby screaming because his sister took his toy, and Hayden is in tears because “Reid bestroyed my castle!!!” The both of them in one bedroom was constantly a war zone and every time I tried to put Reid down for a nap, my delicate foot inevitably found the smallest sharpest toy.

Reid also began a bad habit of waking up throughout the night again, and trying to justify making Hayden sleep through that just wasn’t working. So that led to her sleeping in our bed with us again. Ugh.

So the split happened. It took about a week to rearrange and downsize things and I won’t lie that I had it pop into my head that I would regret this decision. I liked having a spare room for guests, and all my unfinished crafts. We had to get rid of a bed, and desk, tv and stand. And I wasn’t entirely sure Hayden would do well sleeping alone again.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. She was soooo excited and happy. Which made me excited and happy. My house stays cleaner because all her messes stay in her bedroom. I can lay Reid down for a nap without worrying I’ll have to kick Hayden out while she’s playing. And I’ve noticed she plays and uses her imagination so much more. She has her own freedom and space where she can close the door and keep Reid out of her toys. I love to hear her laugh and talk to herself.

My pillows are constantly missing, but it’s because they are used to build forts.

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And most days you can barely open her door because there are toys EVERYWHERE. But when I stop and look, they tell a story. Where she was having a picnic, or making dinner for her dolls. Where her stuff animals were going on an adventure, or she was playing dress up.

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In a perfect world, her room would stay neat and clean, and she would put away her toys when she was done. But we live in the real world, not a perfect one, and instead her time is spent pretending and being four. So I will continue to not fret about it and let her tiny messes be something I can be thankful for.

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living local

The idea of homesteading is really appealing to me  some people.

I personally am a fan of running water, daily showers and a cup of coffee I can enjoy in less than 5 minutes of prep. But the thought of foraging, living off the land and incorporating your surroundings into your life at home is something I can get behind. I’m pumped to have a garden that we’ve been able to eat out of all summer long, and I’m really excited to try out new recipes that let me play with flavors I don’t have access to during other parts of the year. Like fireweed blossoms.

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Fireweed is abundant everywhere in Alaska. It surrounds our backyard and whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or a walk in the woods, you’ll see it spread across the landscape. Fireweed ice cream is my absolute favorite and whatever restaurant is serving it, I’m sure to get double scoops.

So to feel like I was a real pioneer woman, I read a few articles on uses for fireweed blossoms and decided on a batch of jelly. You can’t go wrong with jelly.

We started with collecting our blossoms. I needed 8 cups of petals for my recipe. Hayden started out being a helper but was soon fired after she dumped out my first bucket of petals in the bushes. All 8 cups of clean, collected, ready to cook, petals. There might have been some choice words used in her direction.

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8 cups of petals were rinsed, dried off and put into a pot with water and lemon juice. Brought to a boil and simmered for 10 mins. After cooling slightly, the liquid got strained, making sure all parts of the flower were left out of the juice. Back in the pot to warm back up before adding the pectin. Sugar added and return to a hard boil for 1 minute. Pour into hot jars and seal. Easy as that my friends.

The recipe made for a small batch and I ended up with 7 small jars of delicious, sweet, purple jelly.

We did a taste test and it didn’t last long. It’s a very subtle flavor, sweet and not overpowering. The best description that comes to mind is a flowery grape flavor. Which I mean is probably what it says on store bought jars of it. It has a really pretty purple hue and makes for fancy toast.

toast

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It was a quick and easy project that had delicious results.

Now who wants a jar?!?!

jar

4th of july

Holiday weekends are where it’s at. Not that we ever need a reason to hang out with friends and family and play until the sun goes down, but at least on holidays it makes us feel like we have a purpose for it.

We started out the weekend with the city’s 4th of July parade.

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It was overcast and sprinkling but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the view and the most important part, getting lots and lots of candy.

curbsidecandyhandoutMusic and dancing galore, and everyone that entered the parade did such a fun job. We had lots of favorites.

handstandgrapesshoutjumpyscooterEven the furry ones enjoyed the show.

sharkyThe kids got their bags and buckets filled with goodies and had already devoured half of it when the parade came to an end with the loudest ones of all. The firetrucks.

loudfiretruck The day was just getting started. The daddies took the babies and dogs and hit up the store while us mamas took the older kids to a movie.

Then it was back to the house for games and a barbecue. You can never have enough barbecue.

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We filled the table with chicken, and hamburgers. Pulled pork and rolls. Watermelon and coleslaw. Potato salad and baked beans. The works. Oh, and of course, corn on the cob.

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And no celebration is complete without s’mores. Lots and lots of gooey, messy, delicious s’mores.

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If you’ve kept up with the news, you might have seen that most of our state has been on fire recently. Consequently, no fire work show for us. We didn’t let that kill the party though, and Hayden and the kids played until they were covered in dirt and marshmallow. She only made it to the couch before she crashed for the night.

Sunday brought the sunshine so we wasted no time at all in loading up the boat and kayaks and heading to the lake. Everyone else had the same idea as we were surrounded by families tubing and swimming their hearts out. We even had the tiniest of navigators.

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We jumped in and swam and played until the babies needed a nap and headed back to shore to unwind and catch a couple more hours of those perfectly warm rays.

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We took our sunburned bodies home and filled our bellies with more barbecue. Baths and pajamas out the way, we curled up with a movie and were out for the count.

Now this is what I would call my all American dream.

this round’s on me

One of my favorite things about summer is using fresh ingredients that are in season. I was spoiled growing up in the northwest with the fact that it wasn’t hard to buy just about any produce, any time of the year. Try buying peaches in Alaska come November. It simply won’t happen.

So I try to stock the kitchen with all that I can to get the most of it. Cherries has been our current kick. They are delicious and an easy snack for the kids. Plus, my lavender is rampant in the yard so this syrup recipe seemed liked the perfect plan. The actual recipe was for a lemonade using this syrup, but I mean how boring?

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My current obsession is sanpellegrino. Grapefruit is my favorite and orange and lemon are great for mixers. Feel free to use Sprite or 7 Up if that’s your kick. Over ice mix 1 part vodka, 1/2 part cherry lavender syrup and the top the glass with lemon sanpellegrino. I’m sure Sprite or 7 Up would be just as tasty, but the lemon soda is tart and the syrup is super sweet, so it’s the perfect combo.

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The syrup is best kept in a glass container in the refrigerator, ready to use for all your summer parties.

recipe

You can use this recipe and simply omit the alcohol for a kid friendly version, or increase your measurements and make a pitcher of this concoction. I promise it won’t last long! Cheers!

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