Archive for the ‘Family’ Category


Suki's Birthday Morning

Blueberry Picking
Well I think winter is here to stay in the northland.  We finally had some snowfall Halloween weekend and it promptly blew away after two straight days of wind with 55mph gusts (did I mention how miserable that kind of wind is!?)  Anyway, we had a beautiful fall, full of sunshine and color, albeit too short for my liking. There have been so many things to squeeze in and prepare for winter’s coming so it has been quite busy around here.

I’ll recap some of the highlights:

We celebrated Suki’s 2nd birthday on September 6th and her first year in our home shortly thereafter. We woke her up from her morning slumber with too many presents; I think she was a bit overwhelmed.  It was a day of gifts including treats, bones, toys and her favorite squeaky balls.

We enjoyed a visit from Wayne’s mom Kathy and her friend Soni for two weeks in September.  They came to help celebrate the wedding of my brother in-law Randy to his new wife and with this the Jenski family promptly grew in number with the addition of five new nieces and nephews into the Jenski family.

I tucked my bees in for winter which involved a series of steps including regular feedings of sugar water, insulating their homes and relocating adjacent the house.  I’ll post some photos and details later.

We enjoyed lots of foraging and learned to identify quite a few plants and fungus this fall.  A trip to Girdwood for Fungus Fair 2011 gave us a proper introduction to the world of fungus and we even sauteed up our first loot of mushrooms, a variety called “angel wings”.  I learned to dye material with fungus while Wayne learned to propagate oyster mushrooms; he took home a spore filled bag and I took home two hand dyed scarves and a new-found hobby of natural dyeing.  We picked high bush cranberries, wild blueberries and raspberries from our backyard and made up some yummy jams while I proceeded to collect other goodies for various tinctures and dye projects. I also learned about and made some yummy fermented foods which are so very very good for you. More on these adventures to come!

We also celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary with a trip south to Valdez.  Lots of hiking, sightseeing, glaciers, wildlife and time together.  I’ll post pictures of that trip soon too.

Last month we had over 75 people in our house as part of the Palmer Art Council’s underground tour in which Wayne’s plants took center stage.  He also completed a series of botanical illustrations of recently discovered carnivorous plants for a book that was just recently published and is working on three more for another upcoming book.  Our local paper, the Frontiersman is schedule to come over for an interview with him tomorrow morning and he continues giving lectures to classrooms.  So as you can see, he is quite busy with his plant hobby.

I’ve religiously attended belly dancing and yoga class for over a month now and am really starting to improve on the dance front which is really exciting.  And for the record I haven’t cut my hair since JUNE! Working towards a few things on my 30×30 list….


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Bayli & Mel with doggies (left), Yugo napping (right)

Pictures from one of our outing this past winter at the Crevasse Moraine trailhead.  We met up with our niece Bayli and her husky Yugo for a nice walk through the woods. It was a beautiful and sunny day out and the dogs had a fun time running!  Yugo passed put on the way home….rear in the rear and head on the armrest in front!

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The Mother

Art by KMBerggren can be found here
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, grandmas, aunts, cousins, mother-in laws, friends,  and all the mother’s out there!  Thank you for being amazing, powerful and inspiring women!

I am the mother. I bring forth life. I love for love’s sake. I protect and nurture. The lives of my children are given to my charge. Nature has designated me as the channel through which new life enters this world. My children come first. I sacrifice my well-being for theirs. The nourishment that enters my body nourishes them and then, me. This love and committment I feel toward my children is bigger than I am; it is part of nature’s and God’s design; part of the dance of life in which I play my role. I am here to ensure that our species endures. I have this in common with all life forms. My babies captivate and delight me. They call on my deepest and most ancient need to love and protect. They adorn and give meaning and purpose to my world. They are my heart and soul made manifest. 

~ From Journey through Womanhood by Tian Dayton, Ph. D

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Mel and Mom overlook (top), Fat Marmot Backside (bottom left), Mine Building (bottom right)

A few more pictures from Momma-bear’s visit.  On this outing we ventured to Hatcher’s Pass (you’ll remember seeing other pictures of Hatcher’s from a previous fall outing post awhile back) and toured through Independence Mine State Historical Park.  The mine was first staked in 1906 when gold was discovered and closed in 1943.  At its’ peak, the mine included 27 structures, employed 204 men, covered 1,350 acres, and  produced 34,416 ounces of gold worth $1,204,560 at the time.  It was quite a chilly, foggy day as evident from the pictures but was fun nonetheless.  We also enjoyed the fat marmots hanging out on the dilapidated structures (above photo) who didn’t seem to mind us at all.

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Apple Snacks at the Neighbor's House

Since I haven’t stayed abreast on blogging lately, here a few bullet points of what’s been happening up north:

Most of the leaves were forcibly blown off the trees and a sunny, short-lived fall seems to be coming to an end as evident by frosty mornings with temperatures hovering around freezing.

More moose sightings as the weather gets chillier and they migrate down to town from the mountains.  This little guy was munching the neighbors apples the other afternoon.  Notice how he has to kneel down on his front legs to reach the ground.

I started a job this week at a little herb store with locations in both Palmer and Wasilla.  I am working three days a week with the title “wellness consultant” but definitely have a lot to learn!  Unbeknownst upon my hiring,  I am required to wear an apron/smock thing along with a name tag which is definitely adding a challenge to my fashion forward persona.

I’ve been embracing the homesteading lifestyle I’ve been wanting to achieve by canning two batches of apple butter and making over a gallon of applesauce with my shiny new chinois sieve (all from local apples given to us by kind neighbors).

Wayne and I did a fall clean up this past weekend….pruning the raspberry bushes, trimming trees, raking, bringing plant indoors, and mulching the garden.  While it is kind of fun to work outdoors I am also reminded how great it is to rent and not have the all the responsibilities of owning a house if I don’t want to.  Also I am reminded how much I want to be an awesome gardener but how very much I have yet to learn!

I voted in my first city/borough election.  Coincidently my neighbor is now the Mayor of Palmer.

I registered for a community education class at the Matanuska College (a satellite campus of the University of Alaska) called The Art of Animal Skin Sewing: Hats.  I’m crossing my fingers that enough people register because I am excited to learn some hand sewing techniques for leather and skins (which could really help with my jewelry making) and make a really cool hat to boot!

I had my first taste of moose burger this week in a potluck chilli Wayne made.  I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between beef.

We celebrated my niece Emma’s sweet sixteen on October 4th complete with a pink princess sash, princess tiara, and pink and silver sparkly wrist corsage  to complete her birthday outfit, courtesy of mine and Wayne’s awesome crafting abilities.  She also passed her driving test (Wayne was practicing with her in the weeks leading up to) and is now a licensed Alaskan driver!

Suki will celebrate her first full month at our little red house this Thursday; I can’t believe it’s already been that long!

And that is about all I can think of.  Whew!

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Kathy doing her blueberry thing

Last month during Kathy and Soni’s visit they were able to get out to Hatcher’s Pass for some berry picking and came home with some yummy wild Alaskan blueberries.  As a method of cleaning them (i.e. separating the berries from the leaves, twig and other detritus) Kathy set up a fan and passed the blueberries between two bowls, allowing the berries to fall into the bowl and the other matter to blow away.  Quite ingenious! 

Also take note of our new BBQ in the background courtesy of Kathy!  (That’s what happens when you feed your guests tofu, they come back the next day with a BBQ and lots of red meat 😉 )  Even though I’m not a huge meat-eater I do enjoy a nice juicy steak once in a while and it will always come in handy for grilling some tofu!

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More Suki…

Wayne and Suki (top and right), Grandma Kathy and Suki (bottom)

I just can’t help myself….more pictures of Suki!  Wayne’s mom, Kathy and her friend Soni, were visiting for the last 10 days (they left on the 27th) and spoiled her rotten!  It’s been just over two weeks now and things are going great.  This week we took her on two outings, one to Crevasse Moraine trail and the other to Matanuska River Park.  We’ve been letting her run in the woods off leash which is great exercise for her and have been working on her recall and “wait” abilities.  She’s been pretty good.  We did discover her love of chasing squirrels, which by the way sounds strangely similar to the squeak of her ball.  Also, as she’s been getting out and getting more exposure to the great big world her socializing skills are definitely improving so that is great.  This week she also got her first bath (much needed after jumping in swamp water and rolling on dead salmon carcasses in the riverbed) and saw her first moose (mama and baby) last night in the yard when we went out for a walk.  We are hoping to get out and hike with her this weekend.  Keep you posted!

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