A while back I had posted about my ACNE SCAR FRAXEL LASER EXPERIENCE (yes, this is my most-viewed blog post, you can dig it up as I won’t be linking to it here). I Wanted to finally give an update. Yes, It has been ONE FULL YEAR since my 3 FRAXEL LASER TREATMENTS.

BEFORE FRAXEL LASER SKIN RESURFACING: Yeah I’m just too vain. I don’t even know why I worry about such trivial things, my skin didn’t even look that bad (as you can see from my before picture below).

Never forget, there are people out there who actually have real problems. There are people out there without limbs… people who have full-body burns. Now that’s suffering!

Anytime you see someone complaining about their looks, remember to think of legitimate victims, not someone like me with literally nothing to complain about.


AFTER FRAXEL LASER RESURFACING: 3 spaced out treatments during 2017-18 $1,200 (for all 3).

I guess I’m glad I took before and after pictures. Would I do Fraxel again? NO. The reason? Despite making my skin smoother and the depressions less noticeable, it seems to have thinned my dermis and even my underlying “baby fat layer”. These are two important layers which give youth and glow to the skin.

People with a thicker dermis and more fat look younger than people with a thinner fat and dermal layers. Fraxel laser will make you look older because it inevitably thins out your skin. I guarantee it. They will tell you up and down that it doesn’t. But this has been my experience.

I really have no other way of describing this. I think that acne scar subcision would have been a much better solution to maintain the previous thickness of my skin.

Guess what? I will be getting ACNE SCAR SUBCISION along with injectable filler THIS COMING MONDAY. Oh how I wish I would have known about this option and had someone willing to give it to me before my FRAXEL LASER SURGERY. Yeah, it’s a more involved process and the technician would have had to work on each individual acne scar (and I have HUNDREDS of acne scars on my face) but the overall thickness of my dermis and fat later would have remained the same.

REMEMBER once these skin layers are diminished, it will be very, very hard to get them back. The medical spa professionals/Estheticians etc will tell you that “they will regenerate” and that “collagen synthesis will occur”. Not much. You’ll notice smoother skin but much thinner too. I don’t like this part.

P.S. I’m no expert but I AM both an RN and an Esthetician, so I’m not entirely clueless.


Crescent Rolls With a Twist (also, cheap and trashy cardboard Christmas Tree Ornaments)

Crescent Rolls With a Twist (also, cheap and trashy cardboard Christmas Tree Ornaments)

To get this fantastic Crescent Roll Dough, head over to this website for a great recipe:

Crescent Roll Dough

I’ve used this recipe 2 times now and have been very pleased with the results. The first time I made cinnamon rolls (super yummy!) and the second time, I made the crescent rolls.

I added things like: chocolate chips and fresh cranberry sauce. I added chocolate chips for a few of them. I mixed up my homemade cranberry sauce and brie cheese in a few others. I also tried a mix of chocolate chips and cranberry sauce. It was a brunch delight.

One has chocolate chips. The other has Brie cheese and leftover (homemade) cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving! You can freeze cranberry sauce and thaw it when you need it again 🙂


Here are some more:

Wrap them up in whatever conformation you desire.


And pop them in the oven.


Remove them from the oven when they are baked. (I followed the baking directions of the recipe linked at the top of this blog post. I HIGHLY recommend that you use this recipe too!)


This was a great way to use up the remainder of my crescent roll dough.


Cardboard Christmas Tree Ornaments

Find some cardboard. I used cardboard from a diaper box. Cut your cardboard into Christmas shapes or whatever comes to your mind. Get glitter. Get paper clips so you’ll be able to hang them up. Get a glue gun. Find paint and paintbrushes. Also, I like to add various embellishments from my stash of old beads, unpaired earrings and broken jewelry.


I also reused cardboard from other random boxes and then I painted the front of the ornaments, added glitter and glue-gunned random embellishments.

GRR IT’S A BEAR MARKET OUT THERE TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I like my pomegranate ornament:


And here are a bunch of our other ornament creations!



And a turtle my daughter and I made together:


And another fun one:


Finally. A snowman.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our home to yours 🙂






Anchorage Earthquake Recap

We made it through the big 7.0 earthquake here in Anchorage, Alaska (Friday November 30th 2018 at 8:29am). Thank you very much! There were no fatalities here, just lots of damage to our city. We have lots to be thankful for right now–especially for people. We thank scientists, engineers and strong building codes. The famous Haiti earthquake of 2010 killed 300,000 people and was also a 7.0.

Where was I during the earthquake? In the kitchen. I had just finished cleaning up after breakfast. As usual, Samson was covered in food and would need the usual 5-7 minute wipe down. I looked at the clock. It was 8:21 am. I removed him from his highchair and he started to wander into the living room. I started to walk to the coffee pot when I started to hear a rumble and a little shaking. “Earthquake” I shouted.

Without hesitation I scooped up both of my children. I dashed right into the hallway/doorway area. All I could do was shield both of them with my body as the house began to shake uncontrollably. The house was having a grand mal and I didn’t know what to do.

The painters, who earlier in the week were at the tip-top of a giant ladder painting our 20+ foot tall walls had now progressed to the shorter walls in the hallways and kitchen. As luck would have it, neither were on a ladder when the big quake started.

All I remember is a lot of real fright and cursing from all of us. I guess it didn’t last that long. But it seemed like an eternity. Both of our painters were life-long Alaskans. “Is this fairly normal to experience this?” I asked during the quake. “No. Never felt anything like this.” they said.

This past week has been one seizure after another…one aftershock after another. Sometimes I feel like I’m on a boat at sea.

My Thrift Store Ottoman Remodel

On the brighter side, I finally finished the ottoman I have been incrementally working on for 2 months.

In October I came across this old $5.00 Ottoman. I had to snatch it. Of course, a refreshment would be needed.

And here is a close up. The top vinyl covering was starting to break down.


Good news. The underlying structure and foam padding on this Ottoman were in terrific shape. All I needed to do was cut off the old vinyl fabric right along the seams and learn how to sew a snug, new one. Another sewing challenge for me.

  1. Cut off all the vinyl material that covers the ottoman along the seams. Avoid puncturing the underlying foam.
  2. Keep the old material that covers the ottoman. You will use it as your pattern for sewing a new one. Find some material (or vinyl) that you’d like to be the new cover. I used leftover vinyl from this project!
  3. Once you sew the cover for the ottoman, find a neat decorative fringe/trim at Joann’s Fabric to attach to the bottom part of the vinyl. These are a bit spendy. However, just bring in your 50% coupon to use for one item and you can get 2.5 yards of this fancy stuff for around $20. I attached this trim by sewing it onto the bottom, open section of the vinyl. You could probably glue gun it, but I wanted it to be securely attached for a LONG TIME.
  4. Once you sew your vinyl cover and before you snug it onto your ottoman, put it in your dryer for 10-25 seconds on LOW HEAT. Do this with extreme caution! I thought of this idea and realized that it works, but do it only for a few seconds on low heat. It will soften the vinyl just enough so that you can fit it around your ottoman.


Here is the old vinyl that I cut from the ottoman. Use this as your pattern to sew your new cover. You get the idea.

Here is the finished product.


My White on White Rocking Chair Renovation

My White on White Rocking Chair Renovation

The frustrating part about this blog post is that I already uploaded it but WordPress did not publish it or even save it in my drafts. There is probably nothing more angering that waking up early–before the kids arise–working hard on a project–and then having it disappear after it’s published.

Over a year ago I was lumbering around pregnant in Habitat for Humanity. I was pushing my two year old in her stroller. I didn’t think anything could possibly get better. Who would buy a beaten-up book shelf for $65?

It dawned on me how lucky I was with all my flea market finds when living in the Old World. In Germany, for instance, there was an endless supply of flea markets and gorgeous retro items were cheap–or at least you could negotiate a cheap price.

Here is an incredible (older) painting I snagged for only 60 euros from the Homburg flea market in Germany. It was painted on a piece of thin particle board and beginning to break down. I had it framed (for $140) and look at how it turned out? I can’t wait to hang it on our living room wall!


Here is another flea market painting we bought in Krakow, Poland.


Oh and this one below is mine. Crazy cardboard paintings… sorry but had to post.. I’m still working on it.

Habitat for Humanity and ALL THRIFT STORES in America have been a considerable disappointment since our move back to this continent. Everything is expensive and looks like it originally came from Walmart (after being used for 20 years of course).

I was looking for a rocking chair and I happened to intersect a stubby, older rocker for $30. I was not happy with the price. But I decided that despite its flaws, I would try and restore it.

Next, I waited in a long line to purchase it.

I was in for a surprise as I walked up to the cashier. “Oh, some lady already bought that rocking chair for you.”

I’ve heard of “pay-it-forward” where someone in front of you buys your drink at the local coffee drive through. This was even better. A STRANGER JUST BOUGHT ME A ROCKING CHAIR! So much to celebrate in life, right?


For me, part of the fun in life is picking up a piece of old furniture and taking it apart–but only if you get it for a cheap price. Otherwise, I’m buying something new.


Once home, I removed the seat cushion. In case your eyes deceive you, that isn’t cornbread–it’s a piece of ancient yellow foam between the layer of upholstery fabric; it was crumbling into pieces and I ended up having to vacuum everywhere after opening. You never know what you’re gonna get!. The foam was crumbling into little pieces.


Next? Throw out the old foam, vacuum up all the crumbles, measure your foam and buy a new piece. Price? anywhere from $29- $65 a square foot. I bought this 3 inch foam piece for $13–(but only because I brought my 50% coupon and got it half off). JoAnn Fabrics of course. FOAM IS NOT CHEAP. If you can salvage your foam or re-use a piece from a pillow/seat at a thrift store, do it. You’ll be saving tons!


I also bought some white vinyl fabric to reupholster this new foam cushion that would be the new seat!

I found some old left-over paint in our garage–it was actually EXTERIOR HOUSE PAINT and about 8 years old too! I refused to go out and buy new paint. I like to use what I already have. After hand sanding and wiping down the rocking chair, I painted 4 coats of this paint:

My lovely 3 year old trying out the “new” chair. New paint, new fabric cushion!


Now let’s take a look at the before and after picture:





Taxes–by Renee

Taxes–by Renee

When you force other people to do your labor for free we call that slavery.

When an (invisible, abstract) system called the “church” forces it’s congregants to give it money (from their labor) for the “benefit of everyone”, we call that tithing.

When an (invisible, abstract) system called the “government” forces society members to give it money (from their labor) for the “benefit of everyone” we call that taxation.

I finally get it.



Alright, so just a quickie here. Nothing too exciting.

Do you ever have 1,2…3 day old rice or quinoa in your fridge and you’re not sure what to do with it? You feel bad about wasting it so you just let it sit there, but then you eventually toss it out. Or…you make unhealthy fried rice.

That’s what I’ve always done. It gets kind of stale and sometimes the birds will eat it if I season it correctly.

What if I could just eat it? I’m always a sucker for trying things that save money.

Maybe, one day when you’re good and brave like me, you can revive it…transform it into Jambalaya or West African Jolof Rice.

My family *DOES NOT* like this kind of food, but I happen to LOVE it;
so here goes..just for my taste buds.

So grab some of the ingredients pictured below. These are what I had on hand…(oh, and maybe a slice of bacon or two and some extra diced tomatoes sitting in your fridge if they happen to be there..). It’s really not a big deal.

On the stove, heat your olive oil on medium-low. Add your diced up Anaheim chili pepper, diced onion and grated carrot. Saute a bit.

Toss in some diced up sausage and/or bacon. Sprinkle seasoning. Throw in your refrigerated leftover rice and/or quinoa (I used both). Sprinkle olive oil into the mixture as it Cooks on the stove top.

Super easy and done!

A plate full of Jambalaya from OLD rice and Quinoa. Hey, it actually tasted fine. But even better? It was healthier than some other options and I used everything that I already had on hand.

Don’t eat the rice past a few days.

If you want to transform older rice into a Jolof-style, you can add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste into the olive oil as it’s cooking/almost beginning to fry/just getting hot.

Once you cook the tomato paste in the oil for a minute or two, add the leftover rice or quinoa and add a sprinkling of water. (You have to experiment as it depends on how much leftover rice you have–so go easy on the water– and you don’t want it to turn soggy, just slightly moist and revived.) You can add veggies that you have cooked in another pot or sauce pan to the red/Jolof rice. You can add fried meats or fish too.

No. It’s not gonna taste like the authentic Ghanaian Jolof rice, or the Thieboudienne (red rice and fish) from Senegal. But it works if you’re in a pinch for dinner.



One of the things that you’ll notice about Fall is that Americans (and Europeans too) just LOVE IT! Underneath the silly, innocent face of every American is an inner child who loves Halloween. As American children and adults, we have stocked up decades of memories surrounding this holiday.

It isn’t so much the candy. It’s the gore, the blood, the skeletons, the fright, the spookiness…the fact that the Earth in the northern regions of the globe begins to darken. Night lengthens its presence. The scary nature of this season may be like a horror flick where you get the occasional rush of dopamine and adrenaline.

If you dive into our pagan past, you see that every holiday is just a merger between the Roman Catholic Church and some ancient European festival. Certainly, this has given Halloween its robust texture.

In the not-so-distant past, it may have been something like this: My personal take after skimming many articles on this subject and thinking about how it all unfolded….

During Fall we are beckoned to come inside, to the glowing hearth. The earth is getting cold. The soil is almost unplowable and hardens with frost. After months of cultivation and toil in the dirt, we bring the products of our labor inside. Then we share the fruits of our labor together, while singing and dancing merrily around the fireplace. We make soups and stews, breads and cakes. We spend time canning our vegetables and drying our fruits. We freeze fruits and vegetables that we do not can. We store onions, potatoes and squash in barrels in the basement. They sustain our survival through the long, cold winter.
Fruits and vegetables are a big part of our lives. We see the harvests as big events and we plan our lives around them. Festivals emerge with these harvests. We get creative and realize that we can make artwork out of the abundance of our crops. We start to carve faces into rutabagas, beets, squash and even pumpkins. We put candles inside the hallowed out vegetable corpses and And thus, a ritual begins: carving the Jack-o’-lantern.
We hunt game during the fall. We need to stock up on meat for the winter. We get creative and use the animal carcasses as clothing or costumes. We realize the spooky nature of All Hallows’ Eve, so we dress up in the animal carcasses and parade around the village square. Are we tricksters? Some among us are. Give us some of the bounty of your harvest— yes, treats and we won’t give you any problems. It isn’t long before this practice turns into Trick or Treating on the day before All Saints’ Day.

As you can see from my creative writing excerpt above, it isn’t hard to imagine how Halloween made its entrance.

Here in our house we are celebrating the Fall–oh, and Halloween too. I am savoring every joyous moment of this spicy season. I’m pointing out the leaves changing color while we’re driving.

We’re making apple pies. We’re baking pumpkin muffins with cream cheese filling and topped with this Costco salad topper pictured below (a blend of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and cranberries). I thought, why not sprinkle these on the baking muffins?



And…the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin Recipe. Mix it up however you like, stir in the cream cheese in the muffin batter and bake @ 375 for 20 min (give or take). AND TOP WITH THAT SALAD TOPPER PICTURED ABOVE (my idea!)


Michael’s had a HUGE sale on autumn decorations that lasted only for a day. I happened to randomly walk in the store on that day (something that never happens to me) so I decided to stock up. I bought cinnamon and pumpkin pie scented candles and a massive supply of Fall trinkets (I spent under $30).

Everything about this season is heart-warming and cozy–even here in Alaska. The moose are coming out of the woods too. Just a couple days ago the neighbor children were getting off the bus. When they got to their doorstep, they discovered a moose in their front yard. I happened to be out in my yard and they approached me saying “We’re too afraid to go inside our house, there’s a moose right there by the door!”. I managed to capture a few pics.

And…we went out and bought pumpkins…


We also spent one evening carving pumpkins:

Oh, and don’t forget the pumpkin spiced hand soap!


We also made a shrine to my husband’s Mother and Grandmother who have passed on. Their pumpkin/fall paintings are in the picture frames (they were amazing watercolor artists!)