So much to be thankful for

As I sit here on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, snuggled in a blanket next to a roaring fire watching the snow fall outside, I find myself thinking about how this year has been filled with so many blessings for our family.

I know that I didn’t post as much this past year, and so I thought I would do a little recap on our past year and the thanks that we have had.

We are thankful for all the visits from friends and family we have had this year.  From January on, almost every month we had friends or family coming out to visit us or we were able to make a trip back to Minnesota. Knowing that others want to spend some of their precious vacation time to come out and visit us always warms our hearts.

A visit from good friends in February

A visit from good friends in February

A visit from good friends in May

A visit from good friends in May

A visit from Mom & Dad in June

A visit from Mom & Dad in June

A visit to Minnesota in September

A visit to Minnesota in September

2 different  visits from my cousin

2 different visits from my cousin

A visit from JO's step-mom and step-sister

A visit from JO’s step-mom and step-sister

A visit from my mom

A visit from my mom

 

We are thankful for our extended line-familiy.  Being so far from our family and friends in Minnesota throughout the year can be hard, and our every growing line-family is always there to help fill that void when needed; helping to celebrate birthdays, holidays and just everyday events.

We are thankful for having married into such wonderful loving families who raised each of us.  Thank you for guiding us, supporting us and showing us unconditional love each and everyday.   Thank you for raising our perfect counterpart.

At the MN state fair with JO's mom

At the MN state fair with JO’s mom

We are thankful for being able to have the opportunity to go on various road trips this past year.   We loved going camping across Northern California; exploring our new home base state even more and visiting local breweries, shops, and parks. I am also thankful for the road trip from Minnesota to California with my sister last January.  Our time was fill with laughter, love and things only a sister could understand.IMG_1265

We are thankful for the people we both work with. J.O is so blessed to work with such a great group of people and so am I at the deli where I currently work.  I feel so honored to be apart of such a great family owned business, where the owners and staff have welcomed me with open arms.

We are thankful for the IBEW and all the men and women in it who work tirelessly day in and day out, all hours of the day, holidays and far from their homes to make this world a brighter (pun totally intended!) place.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see the world, meet amazing people and build a better life for ourselves.  Thank you for watching out for each other and being each others keeper.

We are thankful for all of you that continue to read our little bog, you’re my motivation to keep writing.

We are thankful for finding our dream house in Tahoe this year.  Yep, we bought a house!  After six years of being with out a place to “hang our hat” we officially have a home base.  We still plan on traveling full time for the next 3-4 years in our 5th wheel, when we will then hopefully get on with one of the local power companies and reside up in Tahoe full time.  We are so thankful to now also have a place to host holidays, visitors and just sprawl out

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In conclusion, we are extremely thankful for each other, our health, the food on our table each day, the roof over our heads, our beloved basset hound, and our enduring love.  IMG_2298

We both hope that this past Thanksgiving has brought you reason for thanks and that your upcoming year is filled with love, laughter and many happy memories made.

 

Preventing Rust on Your Undercarriage and Installing a Cedar Lined Closet

Living in different areas of the country, we have often had to learn how to cope with various weather and living conditions. For example, in the Midwest, we had to insulate our water hose and leave a little water running from the faucet if not live with no running water in many of the winter months. Southern California showed us that we had to keep our tires protected and treated so they didn’t crack in the desert heat. High altitude areas changed how we baked. In Hawaii we learned that dealing with cockroaches is easily remedied with Borax and that table salt will make ice last longer in the heat. Here on the coast of Northern California, we have come across our newest challenges: moisture and salt.

Now, every since we started working in California (2011), we have often stayed for weeks on end on the coastline. This, however, has been the first time that we have been on the coast for months at a time. Also, when I say coast, I mean coast. The ocean is basically in our backyard.

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When we first moved here eight and a half months ago, we knew that the salt from the ocean would be an issue. We started to wash down our vehicle and our 5th wheel weekly. We were fortunate to also find a woman at our campground who does a wash and wax service for our 5th wheel.

As diligent as we were, five months down the road, we started seeing rust spot up in the undercarriages of both our 5th wheel and our vehicles. We knew that something had to be done and fast. Even growing up in Minnesota with salt trucks coating the roads in the winter, our vehicles never had any signs of rust. Five months on the ocean and BAM: metal cancer.

We started to grind down and wire brush all the rust off and then spray it with Rustoleum. Everything had to be done in small sections because once the metal was clear of the rust and cleaned off, it had to be coated with the paint right away.   We just bought cans of basic rustoleum from our local hardware store. For under the truck and jeep we bought the high heat resistant rustoleum pain and taped off the connectors, filters, and other areas where it would be metal on metal rubbing. The final step will happen when our awesome RV-service lady puts on a clear coating to insure everything is sealed. We also have been doing spot treatments to the paint on our vehicles and are going to be replacing all of our screws on the exterior of the 5th wheel.

 

Our next issue that we have dealt with in the past few months has been one with moisture. It’s very damp here and moisture tends to build up on our windows often. This was something that we didn’t think was an issue until one day I went into our closet to get a pair of shoes and there was mold on them. WHAT?!?!?! I started to go through the closet and found that many pairs of my shoes and a few bags had mold growing on them…eeeeew. I ran my hand along the backside of the wall and it was wet with condensation. I knew what had to be done: install a cedar lining. Luckily, this was a fairly easy project and I was able to crank it out in a day.

Before I ran to the store to buy my materials, I cleared out the closet and put a pie tin filled with a mixture of baking soda and salt.  This would help capture some of the moisture trapped in the small area while I was gone.   I went to the Home Depot and purchased 5 of their cedar lining kits. You can find them in the closet section. When I got home I started by ripping up the only remaining carpet in our rig, which was located in the closet.  We never took it out when we did our big renovation because we figured it wouldn’t be seen, so why go through the hassle.   When I ripped it up, I found a big blotch of mold growing on the plywood. Bleach to the rescue! After bleaching all the surfaces down, I let things dry and got started on the installation process.

emptying the closet

emptying the closet

mold under the carpet! ICK!

mold under the carpet! ICK!

These kits are super easy to install. It’s a tongue and groove system and I chose to secure it to the existing walls with simple trim nails (as opposed to gluing down the boards). The boards were also very easy to cut to size. Just a few scores on each side with a utility knife and a clean break was sure to happen. The entre project took me about 6 hours to complete. I was then also able to clear out a few items in our closet too, which is always a nice feeling.  We now have a nice cedar lined closet that naturally resists mold and moisture and as a bonus, it smells nice!

Finished cedar lined closet!

Finished cedar lined closet!

I used the extra planks and put them in drawers and under our daybed.  We also use the DampRid buckets, you can also find these at The Home Depot.  Luckily, we have had no warping in our floors from moisture.

So, if you find yourself living on the coastal areas of the North Western United States, remember to wash and wax your vehicles regularly, protect your under carriage, and look out for moisture build up.

The Lovely Month of May

How is it that once again time seems to have slipped away from me?  I look outside my window and see our RV park packed full with campers; kids are running around playing tag, charcoal is being light for the grill, the sun is just starting to set and I realize it’s officially summer. Although, I would have never guessed with the weather, Pacifica is COLD in the summer and I miss my 85 degree days!  The point is, that with all this I have also realized that I haven’t done a post in awhile (again!).  This time, I will say, that we had a VERY busy month of May…hey, I rhymed!

The month started off with a trip back to our home state of Minnesota to celebrate and photograph my cousin, Jackie’s wedding.  J.O had a big scheduled outage planned, so I jumped on the plane and headed to Minnesota on my own for the weekend. I was ready to see family and have a jam packed weekend full of festivities; although, I was disappointed that I couldn’t have my love at my side.  But, that’s how this crazy trade works; you never know when the power is going to go off, or, when it has to stay on.  In fact, we were both reminded how crazy life in this trade can be that weekend when the planned outage was suddenly canceled and J.O on jumped a flight to Minnesota that Friday and surprised us all!  It was so awesome and a complete surprise!  I had no idea!  He was able to come to the wedding, and we were both able to see family, old friends and enjoy the weekend together.  The wedding was lovely, and we couldn’t be happier for the happy family!ashford-250-inside

J.O, me, my mom and dad at the wedding

J.O, me, my mom and dad at the wedding

The following week was also filled with family fun, but this time it was back in San Francisco.  My cousin, Rebecca, was in town for the week at a business conference and had a few evenings free where we were able to pull her out of the city and hang out on the coast.  It was so great to spend time with her out here and show her so many of the things I talk to her about on the phone!  We were able to go on a nice hike together, have a few meals together and share lots of laughs!  There is differently a benefit to live so close to a major business city when some of your favorite people have to travel to it for work!

Cousin Rebecca and I out on a hike on Mori Point

Cousin Rebecca and I out on a hike on Mori Point

Cousin Rebecaa and I out to dinner

Cousin Rebecaa and I out to dinner

The month just kept rolling and in between editing the images from my cousin’s wedding, going to work, making time for some play, and before we knew it our next big adventure for the month was upon us; our friends, Norm and Abby, were in town for a visit!  It was a fantastic long weekend with them!   We did it all!  Or, as much as we could manage in 4 days :)  We brought them up the coast to Tomales Bay to the oyster farms where we taught them the art of shucking an oyster.  We took the train into downtown and walked along the Embarcadero to the Fisherman’sWharf where we enjoyed ice cream until it was stollen from Norm’s hands by a flock of sea gulls. The mornings started off with either a group run or a hike and at night, our favorite restaurants and breweries were visited or we were grilling at home with a bonfire off to the side.  A  night up in Tahoe was even put into the works.  We had lots and lots of laughs, took lots of pictures and had a fantastic time with our great friends.

Norm and Abby at Hog Island Oyster Farm

Norm and Abby at Hog Island Oyster Farm

All of us up at Lake Tahoe

All of us up at Lake Tahoe

We thought that the month would have slowed down after that, but we just kept going.  We were hit emotionally with the news that a good friend and lineman that J.O had worked along side back in Iowa tragically passed away while on the job.  He had fallen to his death.  It was heart breaking to hear, as it always is when these accidents happen, but this time, it hit a closer to home.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to his family.  If you would like to donate to help his family, please go to www.nsujl.org or contact IBEW Local 55.

The month was wrapped  up on a more joyful note with getting out of town for Memorial Day weekend!  J.O knew that they were going to have the weekend off, so we decided to get out of town and start our summer off right with a camping trip.  Real camping.  In a tent.  We live in our RV, so when we camp, we camp in a tent :) We decided it would be a bit of a trail run for our big 4th of July camping trip when we are going to go up the coast for 5 days.  A cooler full of food and beer, our jeep packed high with our sleeping bags, tent, clothes and supplies and the long dog on my lap; we were ready to go!  We spent one night with friends in the Lassen National Park, about 60 miles North of Chico, Ca.  Then we drove to the North side of Lake Tahoe and spent one night there and finished off our trip on Lake Rollings near Grass Valley, Ca. The weather was ideal in every area we were and we both had such a great time, I didn’t want it to end! It was so much fun to get out as a family and do one of our favorite summer pass times.   It really solidified that summer has begun!

Our campsite at Lassen National Park

Our campsite at Lassen National Park

A "prom" pose in front of the waterfall and swimming hole in  Lassen National Park

A “prom” pose in front of the waterfall and swimming hole in Lassen National Park

Our Campsite at Rollings Lake

Our Campsite at Rollings Lake

Now, here we are and it’s already the middle of June!  I’m a little sad that time is moving by so fast, but I’m also filled with joy knowing that our upcoming summer is scheduled with so many fun events. Next week my parents are coming into town for a visit and then it’s the 4th of July; my favorite holiday and our big camping trip!  A few realizing weeks and we’ll move into August when we start to plan our next trip back to Minnesota to see family and friends.

I hope that you’re enjoying your summer thus far!  And, as always, be careful out there linemen.

Oh, and I almost forgot!  This May, Long Dog had a birthday!  He is now 10 and doing better than ever.  We even got him a subscription to BarkBox.  It’s an mailing subscription that send your pup a monthly package (or however many times you want) of treats and toys :)  So far, he’s loving it!

Happy Birthday, Long Dog!

Happy Birthday, Long Dog!

National Linemen Appreciation Day 2014

Today is a special day, a day to think about what it takes for you to have electricity on a daily basis.  Today is Linemen Appreciation Day.

Our linemen work so hard to give us our power.  They are out in the roughest elements, taking outage calls in the middle of the night, on holidays, sacrificing time spent with their families and risking their lives on a daily basis to make sure that America’s lights shine bright.  With out them, our lives, our country and the world would be a very different place.  They are, in a sense, the backbone of America.

To celebrate today, I woke up and ran the 5K race for the Fallen Linemen Organization; an organization that works to support families of fallen or injured linemen.  I also am in the process of making some yummy cupcakes for my linemen to bring to work tonight for the guys.

It’s still a normal Friday here, J.O is currently sleeping after working last night’s shift, I’m gearing up to head off to work and will return just before he has to leave for another night shift.  But, it’s nice to take an extra moment to recognize the fact that it takes more than a flip of the switch to keep our lights on.

So, I urge you to take a moment today to think about how your life would be different without electricity. Then, think about the risks and hard work it takes to keep it on everyday, through rain, wind, sun and snow. Happy National Linemen Appreciation Day to all the linemen that make the powered world as we know it possible. And a special thanks to my favorite lineman, my husband. Have you hugged a linemen today?

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Find out more ways to help families of fallen or injured linemen by visiting www.fallenlinemen.org or www.nsujl.org

It’s been awhile since…..

Man, I just got done looking back at my entries from this year and I’m sorry to say that there are not many!  I don’t even have a good excuse; where did the time go? So, needless to say, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.

With that being said, I guess it’s also time to play catch up on the past few months and whats all being going on.  After all, it’s been awhile since…

Our final winter months we were blessed with various unexpected time off and were able to head up to South Lake Tahoe to get in some good skiing.  We were able to see a great friend that we hadn’t seen in awhile one time, relax around a fire while staying at our favorite dog-friendly resort (Holly’s Place) every time, and celebrate my birthday with beautiful weather, skiing and amazing food on our final trip for the season.   We even treated ourselves this year and for the first time, in a long time, we purchased all new ski equipment; skis, bindings, poles and J.O FINALLY purchased new boots for himself!  It’s been awhile since we’ve treated ourselves to new skiing equipment and after using it, we both wish we hadn’t waited to long.  It’s amazing what a difference new skis, bindings and boots make!

Enjoying a beer slope side after a morning of skiing for my birthday celebration at Heavenly.

Enjoying a beer slope side after a morning of skiing for my birthday celebration at Heavenly.

J.O and I enjoying a day on the slopes
J.O and I enjoying a day on the slopes

Reuniting with our friend Nick and having some fun in the snow!

Reuniting with our friend Nick and having some fun in the snow!


It’s been awhile since we had visitors!  When my sister drove out to California with me back in January, we realized how much we enjoyed showing our loved ones around our new city!  We were blessed to be able to do that again with our friends Matt, Emily and their son, Marshall.  We spent one afternoon in Napa and then another day driving the coast down to Santa Monica and back up.  It was so much fun to have them here and show them around.  There’s nothing like great friends coming to see you for their vacation.  We are super excited for our next guests to come and visit in a few weeks and we can’t wait for more visitors after that (hint hint)!

Fun times with good friends!  Showing them around our new town

Fun times with good friends! Showing them around our new town

It’s been awhile since I’ve taken focus on my diet or been on a serious workout regime.  Well, a serious one for me. I was still eating healthy and working out daily, but I wasn’t pushing myself like I used to, my diet was out of whack from the holidays, and changes needed to happen for me. So, in February, my cousin (who lives in Minnesota) and I decided to embark on a 30 day bodyrock.tv fitness challenge together.  By checking in with each other everyday and after every workout, we were held accountable for our actions and progress was made!  No matter where we were or what was going on in our lives, we found time (12-20 min on average) for our daily workout video.  She worked out while on vacation in Florida, I did it while in Tahoe, she woke up extra early to get it in before work and I stayed up late to complete it after J.O left for work.  After the first challenge, we decided to do another 30 day bodyrock.tv challenge and this time my other cousin  joined in!  We all have the mentality that if we have 20 min to watch tv, then we have 20 min to workout.  We’re now on our third challenge for the year together and we’ve started a group on Facebook to get other friends and family in on the action!  We have a few other that have started this latest challenge with us and the sense of community and support is amazing.  They say that there is strength in numbers and together we are building our strength (and our bond) for sure.  Just goes to show, you don’t have to be in the same area code to have fantastic support. We’re all feeling great, eating healthier and embracing each others support and motivation.  And I LOVE having any excuse to connect with some of my favorite people.

It’s been awhile since we have been a two vehicle family.  Back in late 2009 we decided to sell my car and be a single vehicle family.  It just didn’t make sense to have two cars with how much we were moving and the fact that we really didn’t NEED two vehicles. When we first moved to California back in 2011, we knew that we wanted to get a Jeep Wrangler to cruise the coast in, so, we started looking.  Then, we moved to Hawaii, so the search came to a halt.  When we lived in Hawaii, we did have 2 vehicles, but one was a work truck and one was a rental (so, that doesn’t really count).  For the past few months, one of J.O’s co-workers had an extra car that I was able to use and during that time we realized two things: A. having a small vehicle in San Francisco is a necessity (trying to park a HUGE F350 dually in downtown is not fun, at all) and B. that having two vehicles is kind of nice.  So, the search for a Jeep started in full force again back in January and about 4 weeks ago, J.O found the Jeep he wanted to buy: a 1989 6.0 cylinder Jeep Wrangler with only 80,000 miles….you heard me, 80,000 miles.  We drove up to Napa and picked it up!  SInce then, J.O has been having a grand time getting it all ready for our upcoming planned coastal roady trips.  So far, he has installed new tires and wheels, a new sound system and a roof and cargo rack (and yes, we can still take the rag top off to enjoy the sunshine!).  Long dog is still unsure about riding in the open air, but little by little he’s getting used to it.  We have purchased a clip in harness for him so that he has cruise the coast safely and in style!  We have had one Sunday-Funday with the top off and it was SO MUCH FUN!!! I can’t wait for summer!IMG_0580IMG_0469

It’s been while since I’ve worked a job where I’ve received a taxed paycheck.  I say that, because even though I quit my ” taxed day job” back in 2009 when we hit the road together full time, I never quit working.  I simply don’t get paid with a taxed paycheck for being a domestic goddess :) Well, that all changed last week.  Since we have decided to stay in the San Francisco area for awhile, the opportunity arose for me to get a job if I wanted.  I decided I wanted to get something very part time and close to home.  I am now the newest employee to Columbo’s Delicatessen where I am quickly becoming a kick ass sandwich artist.  I decided to apply and accept the job offer at this establishment for a few reasons, including  the fact that it is owned and operated by family, they specialize in something (Italian meats, cheeses and sandwiches) and they make many items in house (roast beef, pasta salads, breads, pastries, pastas, calamari, and more) and they use natural and fresh product.  I’m working on average 20 hours a week, mainly weekends and so far it seems to work out well with J.O’s schedule.  We did both decide that if it interrupts our time together, that I’ll find something else.  So far I’m enjoying the work and it’s a nice change of pace and plus I’m learning a few new tricks. It’s also fun to work in an area that I enjoy (the kitchen) and both Long Dog and J.O are enjoying the treats that I bring home.

J.O is still working nights and 6-7 days a week, so we embrace each unexpected day off as a blessing.  The silver lining to his working these long and crazy hours is knowing that he still loves what he’s doing and enjoys going to work.

That just about sums it all up for the first quarter of the year!  Hopefully, I won’t have to start the next entry with, “It’s been awhile since….”

Beautiful sunset outside our backdoor in Pacifica, Ca

Beautiful sunset outside our backdoor in Pacifica, Ca

A Holiday Season That Kept Us on Our Toes!

How is it almost February? It seems like we just got back from our Thanksgiving vacation in Tahoe and I look at the calendar and see that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner (yes, sister, I know: Birthday Alert!). With that being said, I’ll apologize beforehand; this will probably be a lengthy post, but there will be pictures! Now, where to start…

The Monday after Thanksgiving, our normal daily routine went out the door.  J.O and his crew had to travel for a job to Merced, CA, a city that is roughly 2.5 hours South East of where we are now.  The job was scheduled to last roughly 10 days and they were put up in a hotel.  Because they were working night outages and the hotel was not dog friendly, Long Dog and I decided to stay up in Pacifica and go about our normal life.  Although it was a change of pace having J.O gone, I was able to get all of our Christmas tasks completed, pack for our Christmas trip back to Minnesota and go check a few things off my bucket list like the Walt Disney Family Museum.  You can read more about that HERE.

The third week that J.O was gone was the typical changing schedule that always seems to happen near the end of a job.  One day they think they’ll be done on Friday, the next it’s going to be Wednesday, and then it’s back to Friday but this time before noon, later that day it’ll change to Saturday and so forth.  Luckily, for us, we were driving back to Minnesota, so we didn’t have to worry about changing airplane tickets (some linemen on the crew were not so fortunate and changed their ticket dates a few times to get home for the holiday as soon as possible).  J.O got home from Merced on Wednesday night (the week before Christmas) and he slept all day Thursday, then went in to work for an outage Thursday night.  That night, before he left, we decided to leave for Minnesota in the morning when he got off of work.  We originally weren’t planning on leaving until earliest Saturday morning.  So, while J.O was at work that night, I feverishly got us packed, loaded the truck, cooked food and snacks for the trip, cleaned the camper (I can’t leave a dirty house when going on vacation), fueled up the truck and tried to find a place that sold windshield washer fluid that could withstand below 32 degree temps (very hard to find in SF!).  At 3:30am J.O called me and said, “I’m done!  Let’s hit the road!”  So, I picked him up and we headed East for the frozen tundra.

The road trip was fine; very typical and long.  I guess with it being our 6th time doing it in the past 2 years, the novelty had worn off!  No bumps in the road, so to speak. :)  The one thing that didn’t wear off though, was the element of surprise on arriving early! We had originally thought we’d be getting into town sometime on Christmas Eve, so arriving 2 days early was unexpected.  We ended up arriving in our home town around 4:30am on December 22nd.  We surprised all of our parents and then decided to sleep the rest of the day.  Zzzzzzz

Our week in Minnesota started off great!  But, it was cold…bitterly cold.  -20 cold.  One morning, we forgot to go start the truck and the engine froze.  It took J.O 5 hours to get it started again.  Because our block heater was obviously not working, we decided to just keep the truck running for 24 hrs a day after that.

A Minnesotan Sunrise

A Minnesotan Sunrise

We were able to see lots of friends and family right off the bat, which was great because we were only there for a week before we were to head off to Colorado to ski over New Years. Christmas Eve was spent at J.O’s mom’s house with family.  A feast was served and Santa Clause made his yearly appearance.  Even J.O got to sit on his lap :)  Our niece and nephew are at that really fun age where Christmas time is full of excitement and smiles.

Dinner with Friends

Dinner with Friends

Lots of gifts on Christmas Eve!

Lots of gifts on Christmas Eve!

A feast for kings!

A feast for kings!

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Christmas Day was a different story.  It started off in the traditional sense for J.O and myself.  We woke up early and toasted each other with a mimosa for the day ahead.  I got started on making some chubby sweet bread for breakfast and my pies and salmon spread for later on that day.  It had snowed the night before, so J.O went out to shovel the driveway and path.  When he came in he said he was not feeling well and had to lay down.  I’ll spare you the details, but the poor guy had been struck with the stomach flu and was in bed ALL day.  No gift opening and no Christmas dinner for him. My parents have a huge Christmas party and there were around 40 people expected to come, friends and family alike.  J.O ended up driving out to his moms for the day, which eased my mind; after all, there’s nothing like being with your mom when your sick, no matter how old you are. Although, I don’t’ think I’ve seen him so sad and upset about being sick before. He was not happy about having to miss out on seeing so many people and basically missing out on Christmas. I was able to carry on with the holiday a usual and it was so wonderful to celebrate with so many family members that I hadn’t seen in ages, but of course it wasn’t the same without my love at my side.

My three lovely cousins and I!  So many wonderful memories with these ladies!

My three lovely cousins and I! So many wonderful memories with these ladies!

My sister, my mom, my grandma and me

My sister, my mom, my grandma and me

My dad and his sister

My dad and his sister

Mom and Dad ready to host another fun Christmas Day!

Mom and Dad ready to host another fun Christmas Day!

 

The rest of the week was one more day of recovery  for J.O and then we were able to go skiing at Afton Alps with family that Friday.  Although J.O wasn’t feeling 100%, he was happy to get out and make the most of our short time there.

My sister, my cousin and myself having a great time at Afton Alps!

My sister, my cousin and myself having a great time at Afton Alps!

The whole crew at Afton Alps

The whole crew at Afton Alps

 

J.O and his dad relaxing after a few runs at Trollhaugen

J.O and his dad relaxing after a few runs at Trollhaugen

We then set out to ski the next day, Saturday with more family at Trollhaugen in Dresser, WI.  On our way out, our transmission in the truck started to slip.  This was something that we had honestly been waiting for it to happen for awhile and thought it would have happened on our trip out from California. When we had the transmission replaced two years ago, they simply rebuilt it and it’s never been working as it should. Unfortunately, Ford won’t just put in a new one, the other one has to fail you first. Needless to say, it’s been a waiting game.  With it being under warranty, we had to get it into a Ford dealership and hopefully fast so that we could still get out to Colorado the following week for our personal vacation.

J.O got on the phone right away and started calling every Ford dealership within a 100 mile radius to see who could get us in (and who had a reliable diesel mechanic).  Due to the New Year holiday the following week, no one could get us in until Monday, January 6.  AGHHHHH!!! That was the day that J.O had to be back to work in California….not cool.  Luckily, the 9th Ford dealership we called in  Baldwin, WI was able to get us in on Monday, December 30th.  Yay!  If anything, we could maybe still get to Colorado for a day of skiing on our drive back.

The nice thing about being in town longer, was that we were able to make up time lost on seeing people when J.O was sick.  We also were able to get Long Dog into his normal vet for a check up on a tooth that was bothering him.  More on that to come. New Years Eve was spent with family and friends and mostly inside because it was so blasted cold.

Momma and I ringing in the New Year

Momma and I ringing in the New Year

By the 2nd of January, we still hadn’t heard back from Ford and had thrown our Colorado vacation out the window.  J.O had to get back to work, so there was only one option; he would fly out to San Francisco for the work week while I stay in Minnesota until the truck is finished.  Then, he would fly back to Minnesota and drive the truck out with me and the long dog.  So, I sent him away on a jet plane Sunday, January 5th to warmer weather…sigh.IMG_0018

My week alone in Minnesota was nice.   I was able to spend more quality time with my mom, sister, grandma, cousins and a few girl friends.  But, once again, it was cold.  STUPID COLD….-50 with wind chill cold.  We were colder than the barren straight in Alaska.  Schools were closed and you could bubbles would freeze mid air when blown outside.   Long Dog refused to go outside expect to shove his face in the snow to aid his owie tooth.IMG_0005

I actually ended up taking him into the vet again and they ended up putting him into surgery.  Turns out it wasn’t a tooth, but an infraction behind his eye socket.  The amount of goo that came out of him was disgusting.  Poor little guy.  He’s now doing much better.

On Wednesday J.O called me and said that they are booked solid at work and are short handed, so there is no way he can fly back.  I’d have to find someone to do the drive with me.  Luckily, my sister was able to get the time off of work and we planned on leaving for sunny California the following Tuesday.  What a fun adventure to go on together!  It was a huge change to the original plans (again) but one that I was very excited for.

By Thursday night I was able to pick the truck up from the shop.  Everything was repaired and it was running like new.  Bummer part was that I had to bring it back in on Friday because I woke up to find about 2 cups of transmission fluid had leaked out.  Someone at the shop forgot to put on an gasket.  Honestly?  Thank goodness it was a quick fix, but I’ll admit, I almost had a mental break down.  It was for a moment feeling like I was never going to get to head back to California!

Over the weekend, I was able to say goodbye to friends and family and get ready to make the trip back home.  It was a very full and at the same time, a very relaxing weekend.

Monday, I brought the truck in to one more place, just to make sure everything was good to go for our sisters road trip. We were leaving the next morning and I wanted to make sure we could actually leave.  I was so ready to get home to my love, our home and the warmer weather.

my brother and I

my brother and I

My sister's kiddo's and I

My sister’s kiddo’s and I

Hanging out with Grandma

Hanging out with Grandma

Tuesday, as my luck would had it, I woke up to a fresh 6″ of snow and blizzard like conditions.  Awesome..

6" of snow…really?!

6″ of snow…really

I looked at the radar and checked out Iowa’s road conditions.  Since we’d be taking the longer, Southern route, I knew that if I could make it through Iowa, I’d be good to go.  Everything seemed to be ok, so we gave big hugs and kisses and set off.  Slow and steady, we won the race.  Although we passed many cars and semi’s in the ditch, we never faltered once.  I’ll admit, I was pretty proud of my driving skills!

The following four days on the road with my sister were fantastic; a lifetime of memories were made and I don’t think conversation stopped once!  We never had the radio on and we giggled a lot; giggles only sisters can share. :)   Because we took the same route that J.O and I had taken last summer (I35S to I40W) I had a good idea of where we should stop every day and we stayed right on route, on schedule and even had extra time for long lunches, early dinners and a little sightseeing along the way.   My favorite time though was when we finally got West of Bakersfield and I was able to really show my sister the California I know.  She had never been through Big Sur, so we took Hwy 1 all the way up to Pacifica.  As always, it was beautiful.

Stopping for lunch in Flagstaff, AZ

Stopping for lunch in Flagstaff, AZ

 

Hanging out with the Elephant seals and their calfs along Hwy 1

Hanging out with the Elephant seals and their calfs along Hwy 1

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Sister taking in the beauty of the Big Sur coast side

Sister taking in the beauty of the Big Sur coast side

When we arrived home, J.O had about 30 min to spare before he headed off to work for the night.  Even if it was for a small amount of time, I was so very happy to see him.  <3

The next day was spent showing my sister around.  I had so much fun doing this!  We haven’t had any family out to Pacifica yet, so it was fun to share our new town with someone special; to have them see and experience many places and things that we speak so much about.  We spent the morning walking the market at the Ferry Building and then walking down to Fisherman’s Wharf.

My sister in front of the Ferry Building, ready for a fun day!

My sister in front of the Ferry Building, ready for a fun day!

 

Jenney in front of the Bay Bridge

Jenney in front of the Bay Bridge

Hanging out with the seals at Pier 39

Hanging out with the seals at Pier 39

We met up with J.O for our favorite  Peruvian lunch in Pacifica and then walked a beach in Half Moon Bay.  I brought her to a few local spots for a beer or two and then we spend the remainder of the night watching movies.   I brought her to the airport at 4:45am to catch her flight.  As always, goodbyes are never fun, but I was so thankful that we were able to have such a special week together.IMG_0148

Jenney walking a beach in Half Moon Bay

Jenney walking a beach in Half Moon Bay

This past week has been getting back to normal living.  It’s been over 2 months since we’ve had our normal routine, and it feels SO GOOD to be back on it!  J.O worked 70 hours in four days last week and to our surprise ended up getting the weekend off! We decided to take advantage of it and race up to Tahoe.  We had such a wonderful and relaxing weekend together. It was just what we needed.

So, with all that being said, I think I’m all caught up!  Hopefully you can understand why I haven’t written in awhile. :)

Minestrone Soup

There’s nothing like a hearty and flavorful soup to warm you up on a cold winter’s night.  Pair it with a glass of wine and you’re set.  This recipe is another one that has basic bones, but I tend to switch some ingredients out for something similar (whatever I happen to have on hand).

You will need:

  • 1/2 Small Onion Chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Zucchini Diced
  • 1/3 Cup Eggplant Diced
  • 1/3 Cup Carrot Diced
  • 1/3 Cup Red Pepper Diced
  • 1 Cup Chopped Spinnach and or Kale
  • 1 Cup Diced Tomatoes (if you’re using canned, use the juices too)
  • 1 Can of Drained Beans of your choice (Black, Kidney or Garbanzo)
  • 4-6 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Basil 
  • 2-3 Tbl Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbl Salt
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tsp Oregano
  • 1/4 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar (I use a fig infused)
  • 4-5 cups of Vegetable Broth
  • Roughly a 1/4 Cup Red Wine (Optional)
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Pasta (Optional)
  1. In a large stock pot add in olive oil, onion, eggplant, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes and salt.  Stir and allow to cook until softened: 3-4 min.
  2. Mix in beans, basil, garlic and other dry seasonings.  Cook until garlic becomes fragrant: 1-2 min.
  3. Add in Vegetable stock, balsamic and spinach/kale.
  4. If you’re using adding in the wine and dried pasta, combine them in with everything else now.
  5. Allow flavors to combine by boiling and then reducing heat to a simmer for around 10 min.
Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

I will be the first to say that I had a VERY happy childhood.  There were lots of smiles, laughs, hugs, kisses, time with family and Disney.  Yes, Disney.  Movies, sing-a-longs, Disney theater productions, Disney toys, multiple trips to both Disney World and Disneyland, Disney on Ice, Disney themed birthdays, Minnie Mouse costumes, Disney books, a Disney cruise…Lots and LOTS of Disney.  You could say that many of my favorite childhood (and adulthood) memories involve the wonderful world of Disney.  So, you can imagine my excitement (2 years ago) when I discovered that there was a part of the Disney world I had yet to uncover: the Walt Disney Family Museum.

My childhood friend, Joanna, and I in our Minnie Mouse Outfits…that we wore often

My childhood friend, Joanna, and I in our Minnie Mouse Outfits…that we wore often.  I’m the one with the bowl cut…hmmm

Thanks to Walt Disney’s eldest, and recently deceased, daughter, Diane, this museum is open right here in San Francisco.  I had the opportunity to finally go and see this museum the other day and I had the best time!

Now, I understand that a lot of people would not find this place that interesting, but I think because the world of Disney was so linked with many memories of my childhood, I found it fascinating.

I spent close to three hours at the establishment, reading, interacting, watching, playing and learning.  The museum takes you through Walt Disney’s life, starting with his grandparents and their trip to America.  You learn about his childhood, where he lived, moved to, worked, his time as an ambulance assistant, moving to Hollywood, starting his first animation business, how he met his wife Lily, etc and all the way up to his death.

It wasn’t just the personal memorabilia and stories that were shown in the museum that I found of interest, but also the detail that was given showing every step of his career and that of the Walt Disney enterprise.  They talk about his trials and errors, how he revolutionized animation over the years, when the workers went on strike, the good times, the bad times, the continued education that was given to the animators and how he came to the idea of developing both Disneyland and Disney World.   There are many artifacts to see too, including the very first know drawings of Mickey Mouse, personal and business letters from Walt, awards that Disney has received in clouding the academy awards, many photographs and a miniature model of Disneyland.

If you have the chance and find any interest in Disney, animation or just want to feel like a kid again (while learning a thing or two!) I highly suggest visiting this one of a kind museum.  It had me smiling and feeling happy, only as Disney can, the entire time; I even woke up the next morning and watched, Mary Poppins and it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as always! :)

P.S  Happy Birthday, Walt Disney, today would have been your day! (December 5th)

The Walt Disney Family Museum

The Walt Disney Family Museum

Various early Mickey Mouse items

Various early Mickey Mouse items

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The museum also has great views of the Golden Gate Bridge!

The museum also has great views of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Images of Walt, his skis and the 1960 Olympic Torch that was designed by Disney artist, John Hench

Images of Walt, his skis and the 1960 Olympic Torch that was designed by Disney artist, John Hench

Photo strip of Walt and his wife Lily and Walt's hat that he had casted in bronze, shaped into a heart and then gifted it to Lily for her birthday, filled with violets.  A romantic at heart.

Photo strip of Walt and his wife Lily and Walt’s hat that he had casted in bronze, shaped into a heart and then gifted it to Lily for her birthday, filled with violets. A romantic at heart.

Some of the first know drawings of Mickey Mouse

Some of the first know drawings of Mickey Mouse

The dedicated book of Mary Poppins given to Walt by its Author

The dedicated book of Mary Poppins given to Walt by its Author

Minitur model of Disneyland

Minitur model of Disneyland

Minitur model of Disneyland

Minitur model of Disneyland

Minitur model of Disneyland

Minitur model of Disneyland

Original Model of the castle at Fantasyland

Original Model of the castle at Fantasyland

Sketches of Cinerella

Sketches of Cinerella

A recreated setup of an animators desk in the early stages of Disney Studios

A recreated setup of an animators desk in the early stages of Disney Studios

Every animated character had 3D models made up for the animators so that every sketch was consistent

Every animated character had 3D models made up for the animators so that every sketch was consistent

A Character Model Sketch profile.

A Character Model Sketch profile.

Poster from Snow White: The first feature animated film

Poster from Snow White: The first feature animated film

All the paints for the animations were made and mixed by hand at the studio.  These are some of the actual paints from years ago.

All the paints for the animations were made and mixed by hand at the studio. These are some of the actual paints from years ago.

Thanksgiving in South Lake Tahoe, Ca

Since 2008, Thanksgiving has been a holiday that J.O and I have broken away from our family traditions and we have started our own way of celebrating. More often than not, our day of giving thanks and turkey is spent skiing. Except for last year; there wasn’t very much snow in Hawaii. That year we went to the beach :)

This past Thanksgiving was no different.  We had decided back in September that we would make a trip to one of our favorite places on earth for their opening week: Heavenly Resort in South Lake Tahoe, Ca.

The first time we ever skied at Heavenly was on Thanksgiving in 2011 and even though there were only a hand full of runs open, it was fantastic. J.O and I both come from a family of skiers; J.O’s dad was an instructor in Keystone, CO and my dad did both alpine skiing and completive ski jumping.  We both started early too.  J.O  was up on skis  before he was up running around in shoes (he was 13 months old, to be exact).  I had a bit of a later start and went down my first bunny hill when I was 3.  We both did competeive racing in high school too (although, my racing career was nowhere near as admirable as my talented husband who was off achieving national medals while I was still learning how to set gates).  Needless to say, we both have always loved to ski and Thanksgiving has kind of become our traditional kick off to the season.

J.O’s family had thrown around the idea of coming out to join us for the holiday week, so we decided to rent a home through VRBO.com  If you haven’t discovered this site yet and want to have a more relaxed atmosphere on your next vacation (i.e not staying in a hotel room) check them out. We have used them before for other vacation’s and are always happy.  We ended up finding a great 3 bedroom, 3 bath home with a fenced in yard, hot tub and fireplace nestled back in the keys.  The Keys are an area in South Lake Tahoe that are manmade inlets.  It’s  a nice and quiet development that is close to Heavenly Village.  We have become familiar with the area over the years and knew that that is where we wanted to stay; it was perfect.

Our weekend before departing was originally filled with getting ready (packed, shopping,etc) and a little pre R&R, but, this was changed on Thursday night after J.O got home from a 12 hour work day.  We then received the standard holiday storm call.  If you’re a line-family, you know what I’m talking about.  It happens 9/10 times when getting ready to go on vacation or start a holiday: there’s a storm call. (life of a lineman!)  Luckily, it wasn’t anything that was going to completely change our plans.  J.O was called out at 9:30pm on Thursday night and worked straight through until noon on Saturday.  He toughed it out and stayed awake until around 6 and then hit the hey, getting his much needed rest for the week ahead.  We were up and out the door by 9 o’clock Sunday morning.

It was a beautiful week up there.  J.O and I had our first night there alone.  We spent it going out to eat, getting the house set up, playing Yahtzee, drinking cold beer, watching football and relaxing by the fire. There’s something to be said about the first night of vacation; it’s a feeling like none other.

Back Yard Looking onto the lake

Back Yard Looking onto the lake

Kitchen and Dining Room

Kitchen and Dining Room

View of the living room

View of the living room

Dining Room and Living room

Dining Room and Living room

We woke up early the next morning to head up the mountain. The resort had opened 2 days prior for the season and we were excited to see what the conditions were like.  The weather was beautiful at the base, highs in the mid 50’s and the sun was shinning.  The temps had been dipping into the teens at night and we knew that they had been blowing snow in addition to a small front that had passed through a few weeks prior.  We had purchased our Epic passes months before, so we didn’t have to worry about standing in line for lift tickets!  Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, I recommend taking the gondola up the mountain in Heavenly Village.  The views are, well, heavenly.IMG_3524

The first day was great!  It always feels good to shake the cobwebs out of and find your stride again for the season.  Because there was only 1 run open that day, we didn’t last too long.  The snow started to become really choppy and dodging people left and right takes a toll on my anxiety! But, that was ok, because we had to get back to greet our friend, Nick who had flown in to San Francisco from MN that morning and was driving out! 1476156_10153523346415158_2071350728_n

The next few days we relaxed, took Nick up to the top of the gondola, drove around, warmed up in the hot tub, played poker and Yahtzee, ate and drank at some of our favorite places and enjoyed each other’s company.  994056_10153515255650158_1619228343_n-1

Nick and J.O overlooking the lake

Nick and J.O overlooking the lake

Our next fun set of visitors came on Wednesday when we drove to Reno to pick up J.O’s brother, Erik and his girlfriend Alexa.  What is it about reuniting with loved ones at an airport?  It’s just so FUN and emotional!  Anyhoo, it was a nice drive back into Tahoe with them, catching up and all of us happy and giggly with the excitement of seeing each other and the days ahead.

The crew all together for a great holiday week!

The crew all together for a great holiday week!

On Thanksgiving, as tradition would have it, J.O, Erik and I went skiing (more runs were open too!)  and then we all went back to the house for dinner.  We had brought up a bunch of food to cook though out the week, and our Thanksgiving dinner was sure to not be forgotten!  A nicely sized 9 pound organic turkey from a local farm (Diestel Farms in Sonora, CA) would be roasted with herb butter, filled with stuffing and become the center stone for our meal.  We also made salmon spread, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted asparagus, a pecan pie and a french silk pie.  We were set, and by the end of the night, very full!  There was wine and beer and football too.  Even the long dog got in the spirit and dressed up for the occasion ;)1486873_10153523345615158_1705068303_n 1467368_766510810971_913448713_n IMG_3613

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Salmon Spread

Salmon Spread

All week the weather was gorgeous, low to mid 50’s and sunny!  It was perfect for walking around town and yet cold enough at night to make snow so that the skiing was still possible.  By the way, today (a few days after we left) Tahoe received 8″ of snow with a high of 28, how fast things change!

Friday and Saturday were filled with more relaxation, laughs, meeting up with other friends, eateries, breweries and sadly, goodbyes.  Just like our first night in Tahoe, our last night was spent between just J.O, the long dog and myself.  We laughed about all the good times in the past week and how blessed and thankful we are for the amazing people and experiences in our lives.

Sunday we packed up and came back to reality. After all the amazing food and drinks we had, reality also is including a bit of a detox before the next round of fun!  J.O is out of town for work for awhile and even though I’ll be able to go visit him a few times, I’m mostly taking the time to get prepared for the next holiday: Christmas!  This one will be just as grand since we’ll not only be driving back to Minnesota to see all of our friends and family, but there will be skiing involved too (our Epic Pass now includes Afton Alps, only 10 min away from my parents home) ! So, get ready Minnesota, we’re coming to see you soon! 1472068_10153537056305158_1342396999_n

Some of the places we went to while in town were:

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Every once and awhile, J.O and his crew will grill up some goodness to get them through a long shift.  This past time they grilled up a bunch of Jerk seasoned chicken drummies and even had a bunch left over to bring home!  Because J.O was a little “drummed out” we decided to use up the meat in another dish: Chicken Tortilla Soup.

This soup turned out to be one of the most flavorful soups we had every made.  I originally was inspired to make this from a pin I saw on pinterest.com; but, as always we made it into our own.  We used our own taco seasoning as a guide for what spices we would add then we added in a bunch of herbs some fresh vegetables. There is no corn or rice in our version, but like many traditional chicken tortilla soups, you could definitely add it in!

If you’re grilling up your own chicken before hand, I highly recommend using a jerk seasoning.  It gave the soup an extra smokey flavor.

You will need:

  • 1 lb of Grilled and Chopped Chicken (skinless and boneless)
  • 1 Can of Spicy Rotel (chopped tomatoes with green chili’s)
  • 1/2 Can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1 White Onion, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeño with the seeds and vein removed: minced
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbls Oreagno
  • 3 Tbls Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes or Cayanne (or both if you’re spicy like we are!)
  • 2 Tsp Paprika
  • 1 Tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbl Salt
  • 6 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth (we used Vegetable)INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP
  1. Combine all ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow flavors to combine for 20 min.
  3. Serve with chips, Salsa and Guacamole!Fresh, Chicken Tortilla Soup