Evan's Weekend Highlight

Winning his eighth-grade girls basketball tourney!

He's a coach, not a player ; )

Congratulations Mr. P!

(Somehow his trophy girl managed to lose an arm on her way home from the game)

There's no such thing as Bad Weather

... only bad clothing.

This little motto that we've adopted for the month of January was put to the test this past weekend when we ventured out to Big Woods State Park in Nerstrand, Minn. to partake in the annual candlelight cross-country ski event. In negative 20 degree temperature, it is quite a challenge to prove our motto true. Here was our attempt to defy the "bad weather" that night:

Despite the cold that practically paralyzed my fingers for the first twenty minutes of our trip, Evan and I set out optimistically under a canopy of stars. Just outside the small college town of Northfield (where E and I attended St. Olaf College) lies Big Woods State Park. It is known for it's wooded trails, waterfall, vibrant fall foliage, camping sites, and ... candlelight ski event. But the anticipated cold scared away many of the regular candlelight participants, and we happened upon only one fellow xc-skier on the 1.5 mile stretch of trail. He approached us so silently, if it weren't for his headlamp we wouldn't have known he was coming. Like a mythic being so practiced in the art, he sailed silently by as if the snow itself was pulling him along. He gave a gentle nod and a cheery hello, then was gone, just as quickly as he came.

Although the luminaries remained flickering along the side of the trail, the further we got into the woods, the fewer luminaries we met and the darker it became. But I was actually thankful we didn't bring our headlamp along, for without it we were really able to enjoy the sky. I desperately wanted to pull my camera from my pocket to document the scene, or better yet, set up my SLR camera on a tripod (which I had left at home). But when it's negative 20 degrees outside, you don't expose your fingers to the cold, even for the sake of art. So I surpassed my urge and took a mental image instead of Evan pushing forward under a fortress of twisted trees that loomed over us with windows to the stars. I love how the world is contrastive under a blanket of snow; everything is either light or dark. There is no gray area, everything is clear cut and extreme. ... not to mention the extreme temperatures.

(the above photos were not taken that night, but the top and bottom right demonstrate the contrast I'm talking about, and the other is from a xc-ski outing on my birthday this year)

One of the best things about subjecting yourself to an outdoor adventure in such frigid temperatures? Going out for pizza afterwards! Basil's pizza was a college favorite and an automatic "must" whenever we're in town again. My sister and her boyfriend (who attend St. Olaf) met us there, along with Evan's mom and friends (who were snow-shoeing at Big Woods) and their husbands. What a perfect end to a freeezing wonderful night!

And by the way, I wasn't joking when I said we made this our motto:

This homemade calendar is hanging in our kitchen right now to remind us to be optimistic this winter. Want to make your own calendar? It's super cheap (just printer ink and basic white cardstock paper from a craft store - I went to Michaels). I think my calendar cost $6 total. Not too bad for something unique and personalized! I have a quote or line from a song for each of my months of the year, but you could do whatever you want.

If you want to make your own, check out this website.
Go here to see more xc-ski events throughout Minnesota!

Stay warm!

White Christmas, Part 2: New Jersey

As you may remember from my recent post, my childhood Christmases in New Jersey weren't often celebrated under a blanket of snow. In fact, I have memories of heading down to Washington Crossing Park to watch the famed reenactment Christmas Day in nothing more than a sweatshirt. Here are my parents looking pretty happy in their light, snowless winter gear ... not to mention their soldier friend there, who looks pretty pleased with his accomplishments. (Yea, I was just looking for an excuse to include this photo because it makes me laugh, every time. The Indian in the Cupboard anyone? Or Night at the Museum?)

But this year when we arrived in New Jersey (err, Bethlehem that is), the ground was not brown and barren!
Confused by the huge mushroom of snow and the legs peaking out? Well you see, as I mentioned in this post, when we were little we used to spend hours out in the snow exercising our architecture skills and constructing masterpieces of snow. So of course when we were gifted with a yard full of snow this year, we happily donned our old snow-fort hats (Sarah's there looks a bit Indiana Jones, or perhaps Renee Zellweger from Cold Mountain?) and got to work.

(Kirsten was already back in St. Louis by this point)

We may have paused to play a few games of Fox n' Geese

to throw a few snowballs ...

and to play with the dog (who puts on a fierce fighting face but really just wants to be a ballerina).

In the end we had our very own igloo!

Which was the perfect spot for a cup of hot chocolate.

Max thought so too.

Here's another little video to give you a better sense of the fort, and to show off Max's mad digging skills ...

Have any of you played in the snow this year? Made a snowman? Snow-angels? Or perhaps triumphed in a mass snowball fight? Shout out to all the other fort-crafters out there!

Read about our Minnesota White Christmas here, and our adventures en route to New Jersey here

Thanks to my dad for taking many of these photos! Renee Zellweger photo from here.

Under One Roof

alternatively titled: flying to Bethlehem on Christmas!

Despite the 1,198 miles separating the Piersons (E's family) and the Pearsons (C's family), Evan and I managed to accomplish what we've never done before: we spent Christmas with both of our families. After a wonderful Christmas Eve and morning in Lake City, and a quick packing job and unexpected workout shoveling our stuck car out of our alleyway, we found ourselves en route to none other than Bethlehem.

....Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that is.

We thought that was quite the Christmas coincidence, until we landed in Chicago to discover Santa must've been craving some deep-dish pizza and needed a pit-stop on his way back to the North Pole.

Actually, this was our second Santa-spotting of the day. The first was a regular passenger who happened to look an awful lot like Santa, strolling through the airport with two black duffles in hand that read "TOYS" in red letters. Some kids actually called out to him, "Santa!" The airport is quite festive on Christmas, and we wouldn't be surprised if we hop on that sleigh again in the future for another Christmas Day flight. Just check out the quaint little Bethlehem airport -- much cozier than our typical Philly or Newark destination.

But the best thing about our visit out East was not our Santa-spotting -- hard to believe, I know. The highlight of the trip was simply that for two short days my family was all under one roof.

Let me tell you a story about Carolyn as a little girl. I must've been seven or eight when I started playing the "under one roof" game. Whenever I was worried about my family growing up and growing apart (in the physical sense, that is), or just when I felt insecure and needed some support, I'd shut my eyes tight and picture us all together holding hands in a line. I even included the pets in my little game. Yup, even the fish. It makes me laugh every time I recreate that little image in my head, because when I was little I'd often imagine us all going somewhere together like this, such as church. Here comes the Pearson family up the aisle: mom, dad, the girls, and the dog, complete with the fish-tank bringing up the rear in the little red wagon. I think that image must've made me laugh a bit back then too, which was part of my trick of calming me down from my worries. I'd realize that it would be silly and peculiar if we were all together all the time. We're a family even when we're apart, and I'm a Pearson no matter what. 

This photo was taken August 2009, right before Sarah headed off on her Global Semester with St. Olaf College. After this, we weren't all together again until August of 2010.

Although I don't imagine my family hand-in-hand parading into church with the dog and fish anymore, I do often remind myself that you don't have to be linked together to remain close, or even live in the same state, and we don't have to be under one roof to be a family. But it sure is a treat when I can fall asleep knowing all six seven of us (now there's Evan) are snuggled in under the same roof -- plus or minus a few fish.

Christmas 2008

Ready for some heat!

I just scrolled down to look over my most recent posts, and discovered a common thread ... they are all about SNOW! Well, they may not all focus on the topic of snow itself (although this one certainly does), but there are far too many images of snow, references to snow, and stories about adventures in snow for even this Minnesotan, winter-loving girl.

I'm ready for some heat!

Perhaps that's why I was drawn to this new recipe the other day, that boasted cajun spices and summery seafood. Although I enjoy a wide variety of food and like to consider myself somewhat adventurous in the kitchen, for some reason shrimp just hasn't made it onto my plate very often. But the other day I realized we had half a bag of mini shrimp in the freezer, so I decided to whip up something in the shrimp + pasta area. And this is what we ended up with:

It was delicious. Served with a little French bread and some white wine, it was the perfect remedy for some post-Christmas, winter blues. I know many of you have already visited my facebook link (and some have even taken the recipe for a test spin!), but I thought I'd post it again here because it quite simply is that good. Now, without further ado, I present to you:

Carolyn's Creamy Cajun Catch

Creamy Cajun Shrimp Linguine

8 ounces uncooked linguine
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions. Place pasta in a large bowl; keep warm.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and tomatoes; saute 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Sprinkle shrimp with Cajun seasoning, red pepper, and salt. Add shrimp mixture to pan; saute 3 minutes or until shrimp are almost done; remove from heat. Stir in half-and-half. Pour shrimp mixture over pasta; toss. Sprinkle with parsley.

Note: We used mini shrimp because that's what we had, and it worked great. When my mom made this recipe she didn't have any fresh tomatoes, just canned (diced? Or whole peeled? I don't remember). So she used her canned tomatoes and said it still turned out great, just a bit runnier probably.

Let me know if you try it out or have any other variations you'd like to suggest.

Bon Appetite!

To browse other Pierson recipe favorites, go here. First pasta photo and entire recipe taken from here. Linguine with Spicy Shrimp is a Cooking Light recipe found on myrecipes.com

White Christmas

When I was little I always dreamed of the perfect white Christmas
 Living in New Jersey, that wasn't usually a reality
 But now that I'm a Minnesotan
I think all my Christmases will be white.


Favorite Christmas Memories from 2010
with the Piersons in Lake City, MN

Cross-country skiing with Evan out in the fields

Donning our Santa Hats and bringing Christmas gifts to the little calves out in the barn

 Receiving Christmas kisses in return!

Soaking up the magic of a stable on Christmas Eve
Spending time together
 as a family

 And enjoying the peace of Christmas.

And in the end....

not a creature was stirring
not even a mouse.


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