Sunday, April 29, 2012

Word Freaks

If you've never read the book Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis, you really should check it out sometime.  He follows the world of competitive Scrabble players, and let me just say that "freak" is an appropriate word (meant with all sorts of admiration).  These people are crazy dedicated!  I love Scrabble but there's no way I would devote as much energy to it as those who attend tournaments on a regular basis.  However, Unalaska's public library hosted our own local tournament yesterday and I couldn't stay away.  Our little group assembled and we were just as happy about the snacks as we were about the game, if that tells you anything about our level of expertise.   Our first partner was assigned randomly and I was lucky enough to get the lovely sweetheart Suzi, above.  She's one of the nicest people in town, not to mention a local bird and plant expert.  We were pretty evenly matched and had a lot of fun playing.  In fact, we had the top two scores for that round--yippee!  For the second round,  we were supposed to be matched with the person with the next closest score so Suzi and I were going to get to play each other again, but she had to leave early.

 Tammy and Lori

Lani and Dan above

Because Suzi had to leave, Lia and I were matched up. We had a good time despite a lot of crappy letters and a very tight board that gave both of us fits.  For my last game, I was matched up with Lani, above.   Well, let me tell you, the woman knows her Scrabble. She schooled me big time!  I had the worst letters and couldn't do squat.  Or maybe she was just that good!

Lia and Kris-Ann below

Kris-Ann and I play online and she regularly whips me.  She was last year's champ! 

Despite my poor showing in Game #3, I ended up with the highest total score of the day.  Woohoo! With an even 1000 points in 3 games, I was pretty proud,  but I know it's really nothing in the world of the true word freak.  Read this article to see what I mean.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I love my little indoor garden

You might remember that a few weeks ago I went to workshop on starting tomato plants in the house.   I brought home two sprouts that had been started by the instructor, and three more containers with little seeds that I laid in the soil all by myself.  Now, in the past, I have been known to have quite the brown thumb or whatever the opposite of a green thumb might be.  People from my former life were known to comment about how consistently I managed to kill plants of all sorts.  One time we were walking through a lawn and garden store and spied a couple of dead plants pushed off into a corner.  A friend had the nerve to point at them and laugh, "Looks like Jane's been here."  Yes, that was mean hilarious.  So imagine my excitement that these little  babies are doing very well and have already been transplanted to larger pots.  The trick will be getting them to actually produce tomatoes when the time comes.

The table holding the aerogarden and other plants was formerly the perch for our photo printer but has now become my little garden spot in the dining room.  The aerogarden was a great investment and contains a huge amount of basil at the moment.   Needless to say, we have fresh basil in just about every supper, and Rich also made a delicious pesto, yet it doesn't seem as if a dent has been made in our supply.

The sun was shining today and most of the snow is melting.  I think spring might have arrived after all. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Food, Wine, Friends...a Lovely Evening Out

One of Rich's bigger events every year is the Convention and Visitors Bureau Wine Tasting Extravaganza fundraiser.  The CVB provides him with a wine list, which he then uses to come up with a delicious pairing menu.  Take a look!

Since Rich has to work at the event, I always have to find some friends who will let me tag along.  Crissy and Judi agreed to be my "dates."  We had a great time chatting and decided we'd go in together to bid on the Pen Air Grumman Goose "flightseeing tour."  This is a very cool auction item at several fundraisers around town, but tends to get a bit pricey. We thought we'd pool our money and take a chance.  And we were the high bidders!  Can't wait to go up in the Goose and see our island as never before. Rich is already thinking about the photo ops!

 I am a cheese lover!  Despite all of the other fabulous food items, I have to admit that the cheese table is one of my favorites!

Below, Lori and Debbie enjoying some wine.  (I am not sure what's up with this new Blogger format but it doesn't seem to want to let me type in certain places....annoying!)

 Veggie tarts

And meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Eddie, Paul and Willie make sure the food keeps coming out. I don't think anyone realizes just how many hours Rich and his crew put into an event like this. Great job, guys!

Ali and Alyssa from the CVB are getting ready to give away two round trip Alaska Air tickets. I was sure I was gonna win!  We were out of town for last year's wine tasting,  but for two years prior I was either the winner of the grand prize (not anything this good, though!) or sitting at the table with the winner (my friend Donna won a cruise on a ticket that I picked up for her....oh, I should have handed her the other one, right?!)   So I kept saying that I am always at the "lucky table."  I needed those tickets!!   Alas, it was not to be, but the "lucky table" held true and my friend Crissy won the tickets!  Yay!  If it couldn't be me, I am glad she was the fortunate recipient.  I don't suppose I can talk her into taking me on a trip....

 Tom pouring wine,  and my coworkers Joe and Alexandra
Lori and someone who still thinks it's winter...

Peach/mango cheesecake with little peppercorns--a perfect pairing with the Moscato.  I had two.  :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gigi's keeper's box

It's a cliche but it really is the little things that warm a grandparent's heart. Today we received this photo of Aidan in his baseball uniform, looking very serious and fierce. It kinda cracks me up because I think of him as such a sweet kid and here he is trying to be intimidating or something. :) Our boy is growing up! But the best thing about our mail delivery was that he wrote us a note himself. It says,

"Dear Gigi and Grandpa Rich,
Here is a baseball picture I thought you might want. Baseball is so much fun. I wish you could come and watch. I love you and miss you! Aidan xoxo"

When my girls were growing up, they each had what we came to call their "keeper's box." Their boxes held congratulations cards from their births to high school graduation announcements and everything in between. I think they still get them out from time to time and reminisce about the many memories held within. :) Probably the last thing I need to be doing at my age is to accumulate more and more keepsakes that someone else will have to one day sort through and throw away (I hate that thought!) But I love my grandbabies' birth announcements and birthday party invitations and many, many photos, and scribbled artwork and notes written by their moms before they could write for themselves. I really do get severely emotionally attached to these little mementos!

So thanks, Aidan, for the sweet note--you made your Gigi very happy! It will be fun to pull it back out when you are a teenager and remember the days of 9 year old baseball. And I wish we could be there to watch you play! We love you.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

And still we wait....

We were so excited to see these little flowers bursting through as the snow receded from our yard a couple of weeks ago.

Unfortunately, this was the view yesterday! We've had more snow, wind, rain and sleet ever since. I am not sure if those flowers are still hanging in there under the latest drift, but I really hope so.

What can we do but keep busy! Last week, Melanie, Tammy and I attended an aromatherapy workshop taught by our friend Sharon, who knows everything there is to know about local plants and their traditional uses and medicinal value, Unangan culture, and (maybe best of all) making fabulous chocolate confections (her sea salt caramels are *to die for*).

Tammy was excited to mix up some sweet smelling bath salts.

Mel and I with our concoctions--bath salts, massage oils, and room sprays. Nice! We had a great time and learned a lot. Thanks, Sharon! We had to leave class a little early because we'd made an appointment to stop by the hotel and say hi to Nils Andreassen from the Institute of the North, who was in town helping to facilitate some training. It was for "young leaders" of the Aleutian Islands and we were a little miffed to find out we were, yes, too old. :) Not really miffed but it's kinda sad to think we are not considered YOUNG any more. Anyway, we read that Nils had a degree in peace and development so we wanted to chat a bit. He was gracious and kind enough to meet us for an hour of discussion about all of our favorite topics. No photo, though. :)

The Lions Club holds an annual Easter breakfast and this year added a "cutie cupcake contest." I'd seen cupcakes like this on pinterest and decided to give them a try. The shaved chocolate is supposed to look like a bird's nest but, of course, mine did not turn out nearly as well as the example recipe I saw. It was pretty hard to shave that chocolate and make it actually look like twigs. Rich was enlisted to do the shaving since it was a little rough on my weakling arms and hands. And no, I did not win. :)

This is such a busy little town!We also attended the annual Soup Off fundraiser for USAFV (Unalaskans Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence), which is always lots of fun and supports a very worthwhile local organization. Speaking of winning, Rich took top honors in the Chili category with his Rib Eye Corn Chili. It was delish! And we won several door prizes so we were happy campers.

Then I went to a Saturday class on starting tomatoes in the house. We already have a bunch of basil growing in our aerogarden and have grown cherry tomatoes in it in the past but I thought I'd try to grow some tomatoes in pots. We planted some seeds in containers and also brought home a few little seedlings that were already started. My seeds have sprouted so we will see if I can keep them alive!

Our photo printer bit the dust about a month ago. (And is it a coincidence that we tried some repurposed printer ink around the same time? We didn't realize it when we ordered it, just thought we'd found a bargain. We should have known better but gave it a try, leading to runny ink in the printer and messed up photos. Ugh.) The printer had done well for us for quite a few years and we'd been talking about getting a new one anyway so it was time. It arrived on Friday and we went to a garage sale yesterday where we found a small table that we thought we could use to hold the printer.

Of course it was raining/snowing when we loaded the table into the back of the truck. Rich hauled it up the steps after taking out the drawer to make it easier to carry. We laid the drawer on the living room floor and I went off to the Democratic caucus we were holding at the library. When I returned a couple of hours later, Rich was at work, the drawer was in the kitchen, and there was a HUGE red stain on the carpet, along with three smaller red "drippy" spots. I was so upset! We realized there was some red ink or magic marker on one corner of the drawer and it must have started running when it got wet. I've tried carpet stain remover and every home remedy suggested by my Facebook friends :) managing to get the stain from bright red to muted orange but I don't think it's going away. And it's not in a place where it can be easily camouflaged or covered up--pretty close to the middle of the floor. I even tried cutting the fibers, which did take care of the smaller spots, hurray, but not the big one. I know it's a silly thing but I just can't stand looking at it. I am going to try the steam cleaning guy and if that doesn't work, guess I will be buying an area rug. For now, I moved our little entryway rug into the room to cover it. It looks pretty funny and totally out of place. But it keeps me from obsessing over the glaring orange circle on the floor.