Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ethiopian Christmas

This year we celebrated Ethiopian Christmas by making our most extravagant Ethiopian meal yet. I have successfully made a couple of Ethiopian main dishes but have failed miserably at making injera (the spongy, fermented flat bread).

To encourage me on this culinary journey, C.O. bought me a special pan with a tight fitting lid along with a cookbook with very detailed instructions on how to prepare injera. I had to order some of the ingredients online but was finally ready to bring a little of Ethiopia to Alaska.

The dough mixture of teff and whole wheat flour fermented for three days before it was time to cook it up. I had a few problems getting it off the griddle but overall it looked and tasted close to what we remember having in Ethiopia.

We made four dishes: misir wot (lentil stew), doro wat (chicken stew), t'ibs w'et (beef stew) and a salad and we drank mango and avocado smoothies like we had at cafes in Ethiopia.

The super fun, up-for-anything Miller family joined us for dinner.
We all ate with our hands using the injera to scoop up our food.

Harold heard that it was customary to feed people directly from your hand if you feel especially close to them. Michael wasn't quite ready to move their relationship to the next level however.

The kids weren't too sure what to make of the Ethiopian food but they were pretty good sports about the whole experience.

And finally, the very special Ethiopian princess that has made our lives so much richer. 

Merry Ethiopian Christmas
or is it
Happy Ethiopian Christmas?
. . . we're not really sure.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

John and Richelle Tied the Knot

We were able to travel to Minnesota this year to spend the month of June with friends and family. We did all the usual visiting, swimming, water skiing etc but the main event for our time with family was the wedding of my brother John and his wife Richelle.

They were married outdoors on Kaleva Island near Eveleth. It was a beautiful spot for a wedding. Unfortunately the weather was less than stellar. It was raining and cold but everyone kept their spirits up and had a great weekend.

John and Richelle asked me to take the wedding photos for their big day. This is a job way outside my comfort zone or skill set but it was a fun challenge so I gave it a try. Here are a few of my favorites from the day. It's easy for me to see what's wrong with each photo but overall I'm happy with how they turned out considering I have never photographed a wedding.

The Lindula Family
The Garee Family

Harold and his uncle.
Tizita and her new auntie (she is seriously happy about this!)

My mom made this stunning cake! 
In fact, she used the same silk flowers that were on our wedding cake.

There were two live bands that played throughout the evening as well as music from the happy couple and best man. 

Aren't they adorable?


Friday, May 30, 2014

The Class of 2014 (A Return to Brevig)

There wasn't time to take photos. I was too busy spending time in good company and enjoying my former home. The graduating class asked me to be their speaker this year. There was no question in my mind, I would be there.

I had all the usual Bush adventures. The Saturday afternoon flight was cancelled due to weather and I had to ask someone in Nome to take me in at the last minute. There was rain and mud and cardboard boxes for luggage but, as I told C.O., it was just like riding a bike.

Sunday morning my plane landed just before the fog was once again too thick and low for flying.
I got the warm welcome that Brevig is known for as I walked around town saying hi to everyone. I'm pretty sure I have never gotten as many hugs in the span of two days as I did during my visit. It was a bit surreal to be back in Brevig. It felt like I had never left. I saw our old house near the ocean and it seemed as though I could just walk in and be home.

In my third year of teaching, the group of students you see in the picture above walked into my classroom. They were some of my favorite students. They were a blast to teach and worked very hard at school. I knew all those years ago that these kids had a bright future. I felt honored to be a part of their special day. The kids all did a wonderful job with their speeches and their slide show was beautiful making an all around enjoyable ceremony.

The graduation speech I gave was about 13 minutes long. I don't suppose very many people will ever watch it but for my sake I'm thankful to have it preserved. I've watched it a couple times since returning and it makes me cry every time. The two most important points I wanted to get across was how much these young people have going for them and what a big difference they made in my life. It's common to hear about teachers who make a difference in students' lives but in this case, it was these students who made me love teaching.

I am forever grateful to Brevig Mission and this class for shaping who I am today. It was good to be "home" for a little while.

Brevig Grad Speech 2014 2 from AnnMarie Rudstrom on Vimeo.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Harold Does Poetry

Harold never ceases to amaze us with his long list of talents. The most recent discovery was his ability to write poetry. Harold has always enjoyed writing stories but this was something completely different and came seemingly out of nowhere. We were on a road trip and Tizita was in the middle of a crying fit when Harold whipped this out to make her feel better. C.O. and I were blown away.

Tizita is just like a flower;
Rosy and red.
She's the prettiest of all.
Look at her shining bright.
She's the prettiest in sight.

By: Harold Ramos Rudstrom

This evening we had the opportunity to learn more about poetry and celebrate Harold's writing. The Soldotna Public Library held a poetry reading session for kids in recognition of National Poetry Month. They began by reading a selection of poems from around the world followed by nursery rhymes. Kids were encouraged to bring their favorite poem to share as well. We had Harold practice reading slowly and clearly at home so he was prepared for an audience. Harold was too shy to go up by himself but he did a nice job sharing his piece with the group. We are so proud!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Curtain Project or Why it Takes Us So Long to Decorate

We are very happy with the house we bought here in Soldotna. It has just the right amount of space, a nice layout and a cozy feel but we haven't really had time to decorate and add our personal touch. We finally got going and decided curtains would be our first decorating project.

Martha Stewart magazine first inspired this project. The idea is to use painter's drop cloth as the fabric for curtains or whatever you're doing with cloth. The fabric is inexpensive and comes in larger widths than what you can find at the average fabric store. It's also a lot less expensive. You also have the option to dye the fabric whatever color you would like.

The first step was to cut out the curtain panels from a piece of drop cloth. 

We borrowed a large stainless steel sink and a propane burner from a turkey fryer and did the dying outside. It seemed like way to scary of an operation to do in the house.

Salt, dye and a vat of boiling water is the magic trifecta for adding color to your life. 

In goes the fabric. 

Our friend Andy stopped by so we put him to work stirring. He got a bit of purple dye on his new jeans. Lesson learned: wear play clothes when you come to the Rudstroms.

It's so purply!

We've decided to have a subtle nautical theme in the living area so C.O. made the rod supports from boat cleats. 





The curtains add a lot to the living area. It's like they're coming off the wall to give you a big, cozy, purple hug.

Slowly things are coming together in the house. Our project list and ideas are a mile long but little by little the house is starting to reflect our style.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Rudstrom Family Christmas Tree

"We're kicking off our fun old fashioned family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols."

"They invented [Christmas tree lots] because people forgot how to have a fun old fashioned family Christmas. You see kids, this is what our fore fathers did. They walked out into the woods, they picked out that special tree and they cut it down with their bare hands."

“The most enduring traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin. Thith tree is a thymbol of the thspirit of the Griswold Rudstrom family Chrithmath,” 

(A chorus of angels fades in.) There it is! 

Thankfully C.O. did not forget the saw.

 I give you the Rudstrom Family Christmas Tree.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 The Rudstroms

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Best Thanksgiving Yet

After most every holiday C.O. and I say, "That was the best one yet." Well, it happened again. This Thanksgiving was the best Thanksgiving yet. The holiday week kicked off with C.O.'s parents arriving from Minnesota.

Our entire family was thankful to spend these few days with Mac and Mary after not seeing them for well over a year. I noticed the kids were more content with all of the attention they received throughout the week. Grandparents are a good thing.

Mary Crockett came down from Anchorage to stay a couple days. Mary was my student up in Brevig Mission but now is all grown up, a college student and is considered a close friend of the family. She has grown into such a wonderful young lady (that is a very old person thing to say I just realized). 

Stu came from Bird Creek, south of Anchorage. Stu is now making Alaska his home after moving from  C.O.'s hometown of Side Lake, Minnesota. It's been fun to get to know him better.

There's something special about gathering with the same relatives year after year but I love celebrating holidays with a group of people who don't necessarily know each other. A group made up of friends new and old and family too. Our Thanksgiving Day table was filled with just that kind of group: families and singles, kids and grandparents, those who traveled from across town and those who had to fly a couple thousand miles to get here. Perfect.

We had a total of 18 people for Thanksgiving dinner and were able to seat everyone at one table thanks to a couple sheets of plywood, saw horses and a 20 foot piece of cloth. Throughout the night we enjoyed sledding and a bonfire, games and chatting, pie and egg nog and a whole lot of laughter. See. It was the best Thanksgiving yet.

I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Maybe next year we'll find you seated at our plywood banquet table. We'd love to have you!