Monday, February 28, 2011

"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand

As you can see by my book lists on the right-hand side, I love to read. As a child, I never had to be forced to sit down and read a book, it's usually what I was doing anyway - Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, Little House on the Prairie, Ramona, etc...loved them all. I think the only time I took a small 'break' from serious pleasure reading, was in college when I was so busy reading for classes that I didn't have much time for 'fun' reading. I like to read different genres but I've definitely started enjoying more non-fiction books in the recent years.

I just recently finished reading "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand and I can't say enough good things about it. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and if I could have given it a higher rating, I would have!

Here is a brief summary of the book:

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Hillenbrand is a great writer - she really catches your interest right from the start. But it's the story of Louis Zamperini that I found so amazing. I know this is only one of many, many WW II survivor stories out there, but Zamperini has an especially compelling story to share.

I've also purchased Louis Zamperini's autobiography, "Devil at My Heels" because I wanted to read his story from his perspective - it's now in my ever growing pile of 'to-read' books...

Anyway, Louis Zamperini has an AMAZING story to share and I highly recommend "Unbroken"!

P.S. - I'm always looking for book recommends from others, so if you have any, please feel free to share!! :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

My New Bible :)

I opened my door and was excited to find this on my front step yesterday morning:

it's The Bible...The ALASKA Bible...see? It even says it on the cover...

I'm not naive enough to think that driving to Alaska is as easy as hopping in your car and heading north. My friend (and fellow Alaska road-tripper), Amy, sent me a couple of links to some Alaska information awhile back and among them was one for The Milepost magazine which appears to have a plethora of information about Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon Territory...JUST what we need for our upcoming drive! It's full of maps and info about where to stay, what to do, best routes to take etc...I think it's time to start planning!!

But one thing I can tell you right now...I will NOT be sporting one of these...ever...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Postage Stamp Quilt

I am not a fast quilter. I do not whip out projects in a day or two. I am somewhat 'Type A' and have to check and double-check myself before going to the next step, sewing the next pieces together etc...because I want to make sure I haven't missed something obvious. So when Rachel Griffith at P.S. I Quilt hosted a 'Quilt Along' to make THIS "Postage Stamp" quilt, I am not sure why I thought I could do it. I love square patch quilts - it's pretty much the only quilt making I've attempted so far...with the exception of one quilt...which consisted of a bunch of rectangles...I know, I know, I really know how to shake things up...but I love the patchy look of squares. Anywho...I got as far as week one in the quilt along - deciding on what fabrics to use and subsequently purchase. I selected Deb Strain's "Fresh Flowers" by Moda.

I guess technically I made it to step one and a half because I did get the color strips and white strips sorted into it's time to start sewing them together. Rachel's Quilt Along schedule had everyone completing their quilt tops in about 4 weeks ~ if I didn't have to work and could spend all day at home, MAYBE, I'd get it done more quickly...but probably not...I find I'm easily distracted when I'm home with lots of time on my hands...too many decisions about what to do...should I read, play w/ the boys, get together with friends, do laundry, sort through more stuff for my upcoming move, sleep etc... :)

So I'll post my progress but I'm not making promises on how QUICKLY I'll goal is to have it finished before I leave for Alaska in July.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Homemade Granola

This is what happens when you only buy oatmeal around the holidays for various baking projects and fail to look in all of your cupboards to see if you already have some...

I usually cheat and buy the Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal packets when I want oatmeal for breakfast, so the oatmeal in canisters does not get used up very quickly. What to do?? I definitely plan to make more Honey Wheat Oatmeal bread (will post recipe one of these days)...but I also found this old recipe from a college friend for making homemade granola - it's a very simple recipe...

Homemade Granola Cereal:
- 6 cups dry quick oats
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 1 cup margarine, melted
- 1 tsp cinnamon

*Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Spread mixture onto sheet pan. Bake at 200-250* for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes, until mixture is dry and golden brown. Add nuts, coconut or other ingredients to mixture prior to baking if desired. Add raisins AFTER baking if desired. Store in air tight container.

*I chose to add in some chopped pecans (about 3/4 cup) since I had them on hand. I also cut this recipe in half to make this batch.

I actually like to sprinkle this over yogurt or on top of ice cream more than anything!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Color Combos

I love different color combos and they definitely change over time but my current fav as you can see from the blog, is aqua and red. I'm a fan of Camille Roskelley and her blog, "Simplify". I bought her first book, "Simplify: Quilts for the Modern Home", and have purchased several of her quilt patterns. I have yet to MAKE any of them but they are in my quilt project binder for 'someday'. Back in September, she was offering a discount on her patterns as well as a free mini charm pack of her new fabric line, "Bliss" so I quickly placed my pattern order. I wanted to make a small wall-hanging out of the fabric and use it as inspiration to re-decorate my guest bathroom, which is currently navy/white/red to an aqua/white/red combo instead.

This is how it turned out:

I 'branched out' a little (for me) on the machine quilting with this one - in the past, any machine quilting I've done was 'stitch in the ditch' where you simply sew straight lines in the seams...I still did straight lines with this one, but I did some diagonal and some narrow straight lines (just don't look too closely at them as they are certainly far from perfect).

I'm pleased with how this turned out, even though it wasn't QUITE how I'd originally planned...but that's the fun of improvising ~ and now I can't decide if I want to continue with plans to re-decorate my bathroom (I just saw THIS cute shower curtain and think the Ocean color would be perfect with the red accents I currently have in the bathroom) and leave the wall-hanging in CO, or if I want to bring it with me to Alaska...hmm, decisions, decisions... :)

P.S. - Comcast gets an 'A' for their service this morning! On time, quick and fixed the problem.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Technical Difficulties...

I have a love/hate relationship with computers...right now it's more on the 'hate' internet connection at home is not working. Comcast has been contacted, an appt 'window' between 7am and 9am has been scheduled for tomorrow. I guess we'll see how true Comcast's current customer satisfaction commercials prove to be. Stay tuned...

On a happier note, I finished my current quilting project this weekend (a small wall-hanging). As soon as I'm able to post pictures I will. Blogging from a phone isn't the most ideal. :)

Happy President's Day!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Homemade French Onion Dip

So, for Super Bowl Sunday, I invited a couple of friends over to hang out, eat and craft. My friend Mary said she had the ingredients to make French Onion dip and was going to bring that among other items. If you spend any time perusing Mary's blog, you'll quickly see that she is an amazing cook / baker / food extraordinaire. She makes things I would never even consider when she said she 'had the ingredients' to make french onion dip, I was really impressed and curious to know how she makes homemade french onion dip...turns out, she was referring to the Lipton's Onion Soup Dip recipe. Although she did substitute the sour cream with Greek yogurt which tasted great!

Fast forward a couple of days and as I'm reading through several of my 'regular' blogs, I come across this post for Homemade French Onion Dip...not sure if it's irony, luck or just good timing, but I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised to see how easy the homemade version turned out to I decided to give it a shot...

Homemade French Onion Dip:
- 3 Tbls Onion Powder
- 24 oz. small curd cottage cheese
- 8 oz. softened cream cheese

Mix all 3 ingredients together either with a hand mixer or a hand-held immersion blender (I used the immersion blender) until mixture is smooth. Add more onion powder to taste. (I thought 3 Tbls was enough, however next time I might substitute one Tbls of onion powder for minced onions).

Serve with your favorite chips - mine are Wavy Lays...others may prefer Ruffles :)

*Update* I realize I never said if I liked it or not...I thought it was just as tasty as the lipton soup mix / sourcream version...I'd definitely make this again!

Friday, February 11, 2011

What's in a Name?

So the decision to move to Alaska took me no time at all to make...the decision to start a blog? Required MUCH more thought...and took A LOT longer...and once I decided to START blogging, the many, many design / template / layout decisions were ten times more difficult than the many choices, so many ways to go...and the name??? It's like trying to decide what to name your child...or your dog...I want it to be just right, to reflect me, to be unique...I read suggestion and idea sites, followed their advice and wrote down my ideas, then walked away...gave it some time...I settled on a name, started the blog...then decided I wasn't sure.

I mentioned "Dog, Dog, Moose" to a couple of friends...they laughed, and voted for it. It's random, and silly, but it makes me inspiration for it came while laying (lying? I'm never sure on this one) in bed one night...with my two dogs snuggled with me, thinking how could I incorporate my move to Alaska (without making the blog JUST about Alaska) with my dogs in some way without coming across as a completely crazy dog owner. With animals in my mind, I thought of "Duck, Duck, Goose" and then thought, "Dog, Dog, Moose" two dogs, and the soon to be many moose sightings I anticipate experiencing up in Alaska ~ and that's the simple explanation to my choice in Blog title ~ nothing terribly profound.

And now, because I'm still learning, here is a gratuitous dog photo of my boys...

P.S. Can you tell I like using ellipsis marks?!? :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Entering the Blogging World

I have been a blog reader / lurker for a couple of years now. I love finding great crafting ideas, quilting inspiration, and new recipes among other things in my blog reading. There are blogs I follow where I feel I know the blogger even though we've never met. It feels a bit voyeuristic at times but I know people only share what they want you to know so I don't feel the least bit guilty peeking into their lives. And then I have friends in real life who blog and even though I know a lot of what is taking place with them, I still enjoy following along in their on-line activities.

I've decided to jump into the blogging world because at the age of 35, I'm making a somewhat major (for me, anyway) life change and wanted to record the experiences as they happen. I also want a way to keep in touch with friends and family who will now all be rather far away.

I've lived in Colorado for all but 2 years of my life and never really gave a lot of thought to moving anywhere else because it is a great place to live. But this past December, an opportunity was presented to me to live in a beautiful home in Anchorage, Alaska and I didn't even think twice about it before saying "YES". This is somewhat out of character for me because I am usually a planner and a worrier and I need to have everything lined up in my life or at least spend time thinking it all through before I make a major decision.

There were 3 major items to take care of as far as I was concerned:
1. Find someone to rent out my Colorado condo
2. Find a job in Anchorage
3. Purchase a vehicle to get me up there

So far, #1 is scratched off my 'to do' list - a college friend of mine will be moving in to my place - such a relief as I will leave many of my belongings here and really wanted someone I trusted to live here ~ thank you Ginger!

#2 is in the beginning stages ~ it is interesting to see how many CO / AK connections there are among friends I have here...I have feelers out for a couple of possibilities...this is not just a job search for is also (hopefully) a career change...I'm not anxious about finding a job...yet...but this is definitely an area I'm praying about...for open doors, for wisdom in where to look and guidance in figuring out what I want to do.

#3 I have been looking for a used vehicle ~ trying not to look TOO hard yet as I really would like to avoid having a car payment until absolutely's definitely tempting to go out and find something right now, but I'm trying to be patient and prudent.

I've been asked if I'm nervous, stressed out, worried etc...and my truthful answer to all of these inquiries is absolutely 'No'. I am really excited about experiencing life in a new city, meeting new people and making new friends. I feel like I am ready for a change in my life ~ I just didn't know how it would manifest itself.

I'm still figuring out blogging so please bear with me - I promise not to always be so wordy and I will include pictures for sure! :)