Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Happy New Year, Farmgirl sisters!  If you haven’t noticed, it’s been a cold January for nearly every corner of the United States at some point this month.  My family and I have been in Minnesota and North Dakota for the past two weeks and have seen temperatures as low as -30–and that was without the wind chill!  Where we live in Alaska has been surprisingly warm, with some days registering nearly eighty degrees warmer than spots in the Midwest.

Leaving balmy Alaska for the frigid lower 48. That doesn't sound right!

Leaving balmy Alaska for the frigid lower 48. That doesn’t sound right!

Whenever we head to the Midwest, we spend the majority of our time with family; but we still had to find some ways to fight cabin fever!  We tried to get outside when the temperatures were favorable, but going out in negative digits with young kids is not fun.  We spend much more time getting bundled up than actually being outside.

Catching snow flakes on a "warm" day

Catching snow flakes on a “warm” day

Evan and I both got out on our own to make sure we haven’t gotten soft (not to say if you can’t tolerate -25 windchill that you’re soft…we were just joking with each other!).  Walking around Evan’s family’s farm in the frigid cold is magical–the snow glitters, rabbit tracks tell stories of hardy little creatures racing about and deer tracks lead to deer beds in the woods.  The wind blown snow drifts create some fantastical designs on the barren fields while desiccated burdock, yarrow and timothy hold strong above the snow in the frozen wonderland.  My phone doesn’t tolerate cold very well, so I didn’t get photos, but hopefully you can picture the frigid landscape!

You can just see how much they love the cold, can't you? ;)

You can just see how much they love the cold, can’t you? ;)

Luckily, we got plenty of photos to document our other activities to help pass the days of freezing cold.  If you are in the path of unbearable lows and are feeling cabin feverish, perhaps you can get some ideas!

I actually kind of like the extreme cold; it is amazing how adaptable humans are.  Think of people surviving these temperatures long before furnaces and modern insulation! We have been reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series and marveling at some of the measures they take to keep themselves and their animals warm in extremely cold temperatures.

Opal reading a Little House book to her stuffed animals.

Opal reading a Little House book to her stuffed animals.

This brings me to my first (and fairly obvious!) cold weather activity: reading!

Reading about a winter wonderland with Grandma Patti.

Reading about a winter wonderland with Grandma Patti.

While Netflix beckons during these cold spells (and I am guilty of succumbing to the call more often than I’d like!) I bet most of us have books on our shelves that are begging to be read; or long time favorites; or perhaps books about far away warm places, beautiful winter wonderlands or some non-fiction about something we’d like to brush up on.  When I I have the opportunity, I have been reading books about early childhood education. How exciting!

Some other indoor options:

Visit a local museum! While in Minnesota we went to the Children’s Museum and it was even better than we expected.  We could have easily spent six hours playing and exploring the many exhibits.  Being near a metropolitan area helps with the museum options, but even tiny Palmer, AK or Valley City, ND have historical societies and museums that are worth exploring.

Water fun at the museum.

Water fun at the museum.

One of the areas in the little kids area.  I LOVE the natural colors and textures of this area.

One of the areas in the little kids area. I LOVE the natural colors and textures of this area.

The sticker area where kids are encouraged to put stickers on everything!

The sticker area where kids are encouraged to put stickers on everything!

January seems to be a month when many restaurants lure people in with pretty awesome specials.  They are probably trying to get people to look past their New Year’s resolutions or post-holiday glutton guilt, but I’m not going to shy away from some deals.  When in Minnesota, we went to a restaurant that-unknown to us-had complimentary wine tasting Wednesdays!  In this tasting we discovered one of the best cabernets I’ve ever tasted. It is jammy and warming with hints of chocolate and not bitter at all!  The story of the vineyard was fun to hear from the wine rep, too–it is from a California vineyard that has one thousand sheep “employees”.  The sheep prune the vines and fertilize the soil, leading to much less maintenance and inputs from the vineyard owners.  It isn’t certified organic, but follows very sustainable and responsible practices.  Oh, to have such a vineyard! It sounds idyllic.

Ya know, if you're looking for a good wine...

Ya know, if you’re looking for a good red…

I consider drinking a good wine while reading a good book on a subzero day a little slice of heaven.  However (!!), this Farmgirl has to avoid wine for a couple more months because…

Do I look slightly rounder in this photo?  I don't have many/any pregnancy photos this time around...

Do I look slightly rounder in this photo? I don’t have many/any pregnancy photos this time around…

Baby Wilder #3 is coming in April! That’s right, we’re going to be a family of five in a few short months.  I’ve been terrible about telling people about this pregnancy, and the time seems to be speeding past as the due date gets closer.  We are excited and anxious and curious and all of those feelings that come along with welcoming a new member into our family, but I also feel more prepared than with the first two.

Being pregnant and having two young children has made me leery about spending too much time in public places (especially when one of us–I’m not gong to name names, but she is two–has taken a liking to licking things. Gross!).  I try not to get too caught up in the fear mongering about flu, but it is scary to imagine any of us getting this year’s strain.  We were all sick with a nasty cold over Christmas and New Year celebrations, and that was enough for this Farmgirl mama!

Tea Parties with strict dress codes are always a non-public space option

Tea Parties with strict dress codes are always a non-public space option

Sooo, this brings me to things we can do if we know people with cool things:

Evan’s parents are artists and have a pottery studio. We painted ceramics, experimented with alcohol inks on tile, played with clay and threw some bowls.  Getting creative during these cold times is a much welcomed outlet.

Ava experimenting with alcohol inks.  This is a quick, affordable and pretty easy project to bring some creativity and color to frigid days.

Ava experimenting with alcohol inks. This is a quick, affordable and pretty easy project to bring some creativity and color to frigid days.

When you haven't felt mud or soil in weeks/months, clay can soothe the soul and mind.

When you haven’t felt mud or soil in weeks/months, clay can soothe the soul and mind.

Throwing pots and learning skills from grandpa.

Throwing pots and learning skills from grandpa.

Painting silly monsters!

Painting silly monsters!

My mom is an amazing cook and I discovered that she has a cast iron aebleskiver pan! In my last post, I fawned over the aebleskiver in MaryJane’s most recent cookbook.  I didn’t have the cookbook with me, but my mom is close to a genius in the kitchen and she just whipped some up without a recipe! She made us some using garbanzo bean flour, oil, eggs, baking powder and soda.  Perhaps MaryJane has this next tidbit in her book, but I haven’t been able to read it all–apparently aebleskiver are traditionally tended and flipped using knitting needles! Geez, I love old-fashioned recipes and techniques.  She didn’t want to use her knitting needles, but this metal skewer worked great. We served them with a sprinkle of melted butter, a dusting of cinnamon and a little maple syrup for dipping.  Delicious, protein packed and filling!

YUM

YUM

And who doesn’t like a good nap?  I’m a big proponent of embracing opportunities to relax, kick back and enjoy the stillness that comes with very little to do.  Do you like to nap or do close to nothing?  I know it is very hard for a lot of people to turn off for a bit, but I think it’s essential sometimes.  It is nice when mother nature forces us to do it once in awhile.

Cuddles, naps and love can keep us all warm.

Opal cuddling with my dad. Cuddles, naps and love can keep us all warm.

Finally, we took this opportunity to get some personal hygiene accomplished–haircuts and dental check-ups being the two big ones.  Might as well feel fresh while trapped indoors!

Looking cool at the dentist office.

Looking cool at the dentist office.

Getting some hairs cut.

Getting some hairs cut.

Despite the dangerous outdoor temperatures on our vacation to the upper Midwest, it still didn’t feel like enough time to enjoy our family and friends.  All of these fun and relaxing activities almost have us asking for some more super cold temps to do some of the activities we didn’t get to: throwing water outside to see if it freezes mid-air! Blowing bubbles in the super cold! Creating icy sun catchers!

…I wonder if I’ll regret wishing for this…

I hope you are staying warm and escaping boredom during these days of deep freeze!

Sending peace and love from Alaska,

Alex, the Rural Farmgirl

 

 

 

Leave a comment 21 Comments

  1. Joan says:

    We’re in Colorado, not enough snow yet but the COLD has been too much BUT our cold is nothing compared to what y’all experienced. Your time sounded like fun, love those times with family. The girls art work is very nice. And congrats on the soon to be new addition, stay well. God bless.

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thanks, Joan! I do enjoy short stints in the extreme cold, especially with family to spend the extra indoor time.

  2. Dori Troutman says:

    Hi Alex!

    Looks like you’ve been having a wonderful time “outside” Alaska!

    I can’t believe you got to make the Aebleskiver’s!!!!! I want to make some SO BADLY. I bet they tasted amazing. Were they hard to make? I just need to buy a pan and get going!

    And so excited that you are expecting again!!! Yay for babies!!!

    Hugs,

    Dori, the Ranch Farmgirl

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thanks, Dori! I was pretty giddy when my mom showed me the pan. They were not difficult, but they are pretty time sensitive. They seem like something that you have to make by themselves–no multi-tasking with making bacon and coffee and brainstorming dinner at the same time! Luckily, you can make them ahead of time and they heat up really well in a toaster oven or are still tasty at room temperature. I also attribute using lots of butter in each well to ensure that flipping was easy (and the results nice and buttery). They were SO good!

  3. Kerrie H says:

    Hi Alex- Enjoyed your latest post espcially since I live in Lake County, CA just about 10 miles from Red Hills Rd! Our county is covered in beautiful vineyards. Congratulations on baby 3. God’s blessings to your family.

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thank you! I bet that vineyard would be so fun to visit with all of those sheep wandering around, sounds pristine!

  4. Carol O says:

    Appreciate your sharing these moments. We live in Massachusetts and love New England. Beautiful family.

  5. Joy says:

    I love the forced seclusion . Except for going out to feed and water the chickens twice a day, I’ve been baking bread and crock potting soups and knitting up a storm . I’ve learned how to make socks! Once a weeks we girls meet at a library one town away and for two hours and have a blast! Sounds like your doing all the right things with the kids and having fun doing it this winter. I even love knitting while listening to audio books on my iPad. Love your blogs , oh and congratulations on the new addition to the family ! Maybe a boy this time?

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Maybe! We are keeping it a surprise like the other two. We know it will be a human baby :). You knit socks!? How cool. I can barely knit a scarf, haha! Knitting is the perfect winter activity, I’m hoping when the kids are a little older we can all take lessons from grandma. Take care!

  6. Amanda says:

    Congrats on baby #3 on the way!!! I’m glad you all had some well deserved time with your families. However, we sympathize with you regarding the temperatures-especially my daughters! We had wind chills of 20 below and I’ve never heard my girls whine as much as they did when it came to doing milking/barn chores. On a side note, they never got chores done so quickly before, either-gave them extra time to draw pictures on the frosty windows! There’s nothing like a 40 degree heifer barn to warm you up when it’s super cold outside! They would spend the rest of milking bundled up in the parlor, cats on their laps, reading books. Like your family, my youngest is reading the Little House series and loving it! Oldest is rereading The Hunger Games. Enjoy your balmy Alaska weather and God Bless!

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Oh, I love the image of your girls reading with their cats in the parlor. Milking cows in frigid temperatures is very nice, I remember it fondly and hope to do it again sometime soon. Farm chores in the cold are definitely more of a “chore” but you are right–the cold definitely encourages quick work. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Diane Van Horn says:

    I love the winters here in Wisconsin and I was amazed that we were colder than Alaska for a couple of weeks. Congratulations on baby number three!

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thank you! Wisconsin winters are beautiful. I lived in Madison for five years, so I got a good dose of it. I miss being able to make HUGE snow balls! We don’t get good snowball snow very often in AK. Hope you’re enjoying the more playable temps :)

  8. Krista says:

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! How exciting! I am currently pregnant with my 3rd and I’m due in April as well. I actually don’t feel prepared at all this time around. This baby is a girl and my other 2 are boys. I feel like I have no idea how to raise a girl, but I’m super excited to meet her! Your adventures to the Midwest look like so much fun, despite those cold temperatures. We are suppose to finally get a good snow storm this weekend and I’m really looking forward to it. We will finally be able to take the boys out and play in the snow. In the meantime we have spent many hours cuddling on the couch and reading books. Good luck with the remainder of your pregnancy!

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thank you, Krista–Good luck to you, too! I have a feeling you’ll do just great with a baby girl. I hope you get some snow and some great play time in it!

  9. Marilyn says:

    Thank You for sharing your visits. Ava and Opal are getting so big. They are beautiful. I love the photo of Opal reading to her stuffed animals. Congratulations on Baby#3. God Bless.
    Marilyn

  10. Sandi says:

    Congratulations Alex on baby # 3. Going from Alaska to a much colder Midwest must seem amazing to you and your girls. Pictures of them in the snow with those bright red cheeks are wonderful memory making days. I am glad you all had so much fun and were able to visit with your families. The food you talk about reminds me of small pancakes I make for myself topped with real butter and sometimes syrup. Yum! Guess I’ll go make some now. Spring is just around the corner as some here like to remind us.

  11. Susan Lazarou says:

    Always enjoy your ramblings…wish I was able to tolerate the cold…give me a hot belly stove day is an any time kind of day to read a good book…got two completed and working on a third..God’s puzzle Solved by Art Mokarow…great reading always comforts my soul..

  12. Pamela deMarrais says:

    I love your posts! You are such a wonderful mom, and I’m excited to know that you are adding a new baby to your precious family!

  13. Susabelle says:

    I am in Colorado. Now that it is February, apparently Winter is having her say. I do love winter…it’s my “down time,” but that really means I’m just busy doing things indoors instead of out. Many of my weekends have been about creating inventory for the craft shows I’ll do this year. That time is very relaxing for me, even when a project isn’t going so great. I don’t watch television/netflix, so that won’t occupy my time. I’ve done an awful lot of sewing, and have a full bin of new inventory in bright, cheerful colors, ready to be on display at the first fair of the year in April. I love winter. It is the only time I actually sleep long nights, instead of very short ones.

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