Sunday, November 28, 2010

The End Is Near

FYI: The new movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I is awesome.  I know because our family went to see it today.  We have all read all the books in the series, and now we have seen all the movies in the series . . . and certainly intend to watch Part II when it is released next summer.  Despite knowing in advance what to expect from the plot, we were still surprised by moments of suspense that ended with elements meant to shock (and Hillary screamed quite loudly at one point when a snake made an attack that looked as though it were coming right off the screen and into our laps!).  We gulped down our dinner in order to make it to the matinée showing on time, so we had no time or appetite for popcorn or pop during the movie.  But other than the lack of snacks, it was a perfect movie-going experience.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I realize that it won't be Saturday until tomorrow, but I wanted to make my homemade turkey soup today from the stock that I made yesterday (remember?)--so this week our family's Scandinavian Saturday supper is happening on a Friday.

kalkunsuppe ["turkey soup"]

I didn't use a recipe for this one; I just threw in what seemed to "fit," and the result was pretty good.  I sautéed chopped carrots and parsnips in olive oil and butter with salt, cracked pepper, and herbes de Provence.  Then I added chopped celery, leeks, red bell pepper, and mushrooms to continue sautéing before adding white wine.  Then I brought in from the chilly veranda the turkey stock that I had made yesterday and skimmed off the fat before adding the flavorful stock to the simmering vegetables.  As that heated through, I chopped all the dark turkey meat and most of the white and then added it to the soup.  Then I added a buncha stuff: garlic cream of mushroom soup, a can of grilled chicken and noodle soup, a few packets of different seasoning mixes (meant for chicken stews and such), garlic seasoning, a dried dill seasoning mix . . . just whatever I could find in the spice cabinet that looked good.  After the soup had simmered a couple hours, I stirred in chopped parsley and fresh spinach to wilt.  The result was the thick, rich, full-of-flavor turkey and vegetable soup pictured above.

P.S.  We have so much dressing left over from our turkey dinner that I had Susan cut some of it into slices and toast them in the oven to serve as a savory bread to go along with our meal!  (That's what's on the plate in the photo.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All-State Suzanna

Last spring, when Suzanna registered for this year's classes at the junior high school (remember?), she wasn't able to fit chorus into her schedule; but the music teacher told her that she could sign up this fall for the honor choir, an extracurricular group that meets in the mornings.  She did that and is in that group (as well as in the jazz band, another extracurricular group) (as well as in the 7th-grade band, which meets daily as one of the courses that she's taking).  So she's as involved as possible in music at the school this year.

Well, another opportunity presented itself this fall: auditions for the all-state honor choirs selected to perform at the annual conference of the North Dakota American Choral Directors Association, which meets this year in Dickinson in February.  Suzanna (along with other students at the school) auditioned for the junior high/middle school honor choir, and her music teacher sent in her audition tape and application forms, and then they waited.

This morning Suzanna's music teacher e-mailed Susan and me to notify us that Suzanna has been selected to participate in the mixed honor choir!  In that choir, she is one of 25 sopranos chosen from schools across the state!  According to the list, she is the only student in the choir from Dickinson; except for four other students, the rest came from schools in Bismarck, Fargo, and Grand Forks.  We're as proud as can be, and so is Suzanna.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Music, Sculpture, Theatre, and a Bonus Video

Abigail got up early with me this morning to clear out the driveway so that she, her sisters, and Susan could get to church at 7:30 A.M. for choir rehearsals, Sunday school, and church.  I stayed behind and finished the snowblowing and shoveling, which turned out to be a two-hour job.  Fun.  Then I did some school work, knowing that I'd have no time to finish it this afternoon or evening due to our jam-packed schedule of three main events:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Simon and Son and Snow

Just last week we attended one of the concerts offered by the Dickinson Area Concert Association in this year's series.  Well, the next scheduled concert . . . was tonight!  We skipped Scandinavian Saturday supper this week due to last night's Norwegian buffet, ate our usual Friday night meal of homemade pizza, and got ready to leave.  It was snowing and scheduled to continue throughout the night, and I knew I'd have to get up super-early tomorrow to start snowblowing and shoveling so that Susan and the girls can be at church at 7:30 A.M.; so I wasn't eager to forgo supper tonight in order to go out and clear the driveway in time for us to drive to the concert.  So we walked there instead.  Through the continuously falling snow.  And the cold wind.  And the piles of snow on the unshoveled sidewalks and unplowed streets between our house and the university.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Norwegian Night

The other day, Susan came home with an advertisement clipped out of the local newspaper.  Lady J's, a local club and catering business, was advertising a special menu for tonight's buffet: Norwegian Night!  How could our family not go to that?!  We decided to forgo our weekly Scandinavian Saturday supper at home tomorrow night and instead eat Nordic food at Lady J's tonight.  And it turned out to be an excellent decision!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This month's activity for the seventh-grade Mentor Groups at church was to take a field trip!  We gathered first at the church, and then each mentor drove his/her group of mentees to the community center, where we sat in a meeting room to hear from one of the employees about "living in service to Christ."  This gentleman told tales from his life.  He was born in Colombia and lived his first few years with his parents, who put out their cigarettes on his head and eventually turned him out of the house because they couldn't afford all their children.  He lived the next few years as an orphan, surviving on the streets of Bogotá by begging and stealing and evading the hit men hired by businesses to kill any orphan children who loitered around their store fronts.  (He showed us the scars on his arm from when an irritated business owner doused him in gasoline and set him on fire.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Judgmental Again

Tonight was my second annual time serving as a judge for the third annual Miss(ter) Bluehawk Beauty Pageant at the university.  It's a fundraiser put on by students in the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program, and they donate all the proceeds to charity.  The format was the same as last year's event, but tonight there were 11 contestants (compared to 8 last year).  Everybody looked stylish for the formal wear competition . . . except for one guy, who wore a Burger King costume instead of a suit and tie or tuxedo, as the others did.  He was also the guy who wore a mermaid costume for the swimsuit competition instead of a man's swimsuit, as the others did (albeit with humorous variations: one guy wore arm floaties, another wore a life jacket, etc.).  He was also . . .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hillary's Gourmet Friend

Hillary spent the night at a friend's house for a birthday party/sleepover.  Susan picked her up this morning in time to go to Sunday school and church, after which we returned home for dinner and had our first chance to talk to Hillary about how the party had gone.  She had a great time playing games and watching movies with her friends but was sad to have to leave this morning before her friend's mom had served breakfast (danged Sunday morning church obligations!).  "Oh?  Do you know what she was going to make for breakfast?"  Why, yes, Hillary did, in fact, know . . . because it was printed on the menu that the birthday girl's mom had made and distributed for the sleepover!  Hillary pulled out her copy of the menu and showed us what it said:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Full Day Ending in Full Tummies

Another busy day.  Susan and Suzanna headed back to their rosemaling workshop today (remember?), and I dropped Abigail and Hillary off at church to help bake goodies for a bake sale tomorrow and then went to work myself.  After dinner, I took Abigail and Hillary to the senior instrumental recital of one of my students, who happens also to be Abigail's instructor for private lessons on the saxophone.  Susan and Suzanna were home by the time we got home, but then Hillary needed to be shuttled off to a friend's house for a birthday party sleepover.  It was supposed to be Hillary's turn to be my helper for Scandinavian Saturday supper, but Susan offered to serve as her replacement, and we made another tasty meal.

And (of course) I have photos to share!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Special Events

Yesterday Suzanna took her grandpa (Susan's dad, Roger) to a Veterans Day program held on the university campus.  Suzanna's geography teacher, himself in the military, encouraged his students to attend and suggested that they invite a veteran to accompany them . . . . so Suzanna did that!  She didn't have school yesterday anyway, so she phoned Grandpa and asked if he could pick her up.  Afterward I asked Suzanna for a debriefing, and she said that it had been interesting but that the speakers "weren't really talking with seventh-graders in mind"; she didn't know really what their speeches were about.  At least it was quality grandpa/granddaughter time.

This evening Susan and Suzanna went off to a rosemaling workshop (sponsored by our Sons of Norway lodge) that will continue all day tomorrow, so Abigail, Hillary, and I went by ourselves to a music concert, the next one in the Dickinson Area Concert Association's series for this season.  We thoroughly enjoyed Cahal Dunne, an Irish pianist and singer who has lived in the U.S. for a couple decades.  He told jokes (very funny) between songs and played instrumental solos (expertly--he's a classically trained pianist) and accompanied himself as he sang (with an easy-to-listen-to voice) and changed his suit coat often to match the kinds of songs that he would be playing (e.g., red/white/blue for patriotic tunes).  And it was a super-long concert; we definitely got our money's worth!  You can hear some of his jokes, piano playing, and singing here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Guy's Gotta Eat

Monday night our family ate international food at the Feast of Nations, a fundraiser for the business club at the university.  We went to the Student Center to enjoy food from the many countries of the international students on our campus, and we nearly burned out tongues out on the spicy Korean food!  There was entertainment, too, provided by international students; we saw dancing and heard some singing and instrumental music before we finished our meal and headed home.  The other adults at our table raised their eyes in wonder as our girls ate the unusual variety of food without picking at it or fussing or making faces.  (The girls were a little more critical of some of the out-of-tune "entertainment," though.)

Tonight we ate at Pizza Ranch after . . . (wait for it) . . . I worked a shift there!  Yep, as a fundraiser for the Western Wellness Foundation, several of us board members worked for three hours, busing tables and getting refills for patrons.  The tips collected (as well as a cut of the restaurant's profits during that timespan) were donated by the restaurant to our organization.  The girls do not have school tomorrow, so each of them has a friend sleeping over at our house tonight.  Susan brought all six girls to Pizza Ranch for supper, and I joined them to eat when my shift was done.  I have fond memories of working at the Ground Round as an undergrad years ago, but I was always busy there, interacting with the customers and getting food out of the kitchen and onto their tables.  Waiting around tonight for someone to have an empty plate for me to pick up just wasn't quite the same thrill.  But for a good cause (and some tasty pizza), I did it.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Susan's Handiwork

Look what Susan just finished:

Click on this photo--or any of the others--to see the item in greater detail.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Fast and Delicious

Uff-da!  It's been a whole month since the last time that I and one of my ladies cooked up a Scandinavian Saturday supper for the family.  I made such a meal on October 9.  However, on October 16, Susan made ethnic German foods instead; on October 23, our family was in Minot, ND (and my Scandinavian food that weekend was a meal made by a woman from Norway!); and on October 30, our family had supper with Susan's extended family at a gathering at her aunt and uncle's home.  But we were home tonight, so Abigail took her turn as my helper, and this is what we served:

Intrigued?  Read on!

Friday, November 05, 2010

My Sister's Fancy Apple

My sister Cathy won an award last night!  The Chamber of Commerce in her local community honors deserving educators with the Crystal Apple Award; and at last night's dinner and awards ceremony, Cathy received one!  Cathy, would you comment to tell us all the details about your nomination, your selection, the evening overall, etc.?  In the meantime, here she is with the award (which looks very nice, btw):

Cathy and her Crystal Apple Award

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Brace Yourselves!

At our daughters' last dental appointments, the dentist recommended that all three girls meet with an orthodontist.  Susan selected a highly recommended one and scheduled appointments for the girls this morning at his office in Bismarck.  The appointment was for a consultation, after which Susan intended to contact a second orthodontist for another consultation as a point of comparison.

I had to stay at work today for several meetings, so Susan and the girls left in the wee hours of the morning, and I relied on text messages from Susan throughout the day to stay informed on what was happening at the orthodontist's office.  And, mind you, quite a lot happened!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

An Uncle Again!

Today I received a text message from Susan's sister, Cassie, mother of our darling nephew Davis.  It was this photo with this message:

"Big bro to a lil sister!"

We've known for some time that Cassie and her husband Nick were expecting another child, but they just today found out its sex.  A niece!  That's great news . . . because now we can unload a lot more of our own kids' baby stuff on Cassie and Nick!  No, really, congratulations to you two and Davis, too!

Monday, November 01, 2010

First Chair

Tonight we attended Suzanna's seventh-grade band concert at her junior high school!  Walking into the gymnasium and seeing it set up with chairs for the band on one side and risers for the choir on the other just took me right back to my own days as a music student at Tioga High School!  And it was very special to watch Suzanna walk out and take her place in the "first chair" position amongst the trombones, carrying the same trombone that I used to play.  She's quite a good trombonist (owing in part, I'm sure, to the private trombone lessons she takes from a trombone performance major at the university), and it was very enjoyable to hear the concert.  We were proud as could be!

The band teacher, Mr. Dykema, is great and gets good sound from both his choir and band students.

This song--"Woodland Odyssey" by Michael Sweeney--is Suzanna's favorite from among those that the band played tonight.