Gone Outside

While Dave and Ben are working industriously on the house, I left to take a little trip Outside to visit Lee and Beth in Utah and celebrate Mom and Dad Vice’s 50th Anniversary in Washington.

I spent the first long weekend with Lee and Beth in Midvale, Utah.

Lee at the "office". He installs air handling systems in new construction, so doesn't spend any time at this site.

Lee at the “office”. He installs air handling systems in new construction, so doesn’t spend any time at this site.


Beth likes her work in food service.

After Utah I flew west to Washington and spent a week or so visiting with lots of extended family. While there, we celebrated Mom and Dad Vice’s 50th Anniversary. It was a great party!

Dee Dee and Harold Vice

Dee Dee and Harold Vice

Vice Clan Back Row: Bret and JoEllen Vice, Frank Vice, Laurie Hall, Colleen Gibbons, Allen Hall, Nick Gibbons Front Row: Dave and Renée Persón, Harold and Dee Dee Vice (missing Ted and Lea Schalow)

Vice Clan
Back Row: Bret and JoEllen Vice, Frank Vice, Laurie Hall, Colleen Gibbons, Allen Hall, Nick Gibbons
Front Row: Dave and Renée Persón, Harold and Dee Dee Vice (missing Ted and Lea Schalow)

Mom with most of her siblings (missing David) JoEllen Vice, Mary Lynn Brown, Raymond Thompson, Dee Dee Vice, Julia Grant

Mom with most of her siblings (missing David)
JoEllen Vice, Mary Lynn Brown, Raymond Thompson, Dee Dee Vice, Julia Grant

Happy 50th Mom and Dad!


Why He’s Building It

Remember that I told you Ben was building a house? Well, there’s a good reason for him to want to be building. He’s very eager to get out on his own.

Well, that, and he’s getting married. In December. On the 28th. How’s that for construction motivation?

(photo credit: Raena Rowland of Wilder Arts, Fairbanks, Alaska)

(photo credit: Raena Rowland of Wilder Arts, Fairbanks, Alaska)


I was in Utah with Lee and Beth when Ben called to tell me the news.

“Hey Mom. It’s Ben.”

“Hey, Ben.”

Silence (Ben believes in long pauses when speaking on the phone. You must imagine them between each exchange.)

“Where are you? Are you with someone?” he asks.

“Um (I start getting nervous – this solicitous behavior is strange for Ben.), I’m here with Lee and Beth.”

“Oh, are you having a good time?”

“Uh, (anxiety level really rising) yes, we’re having fun. What about you, what’s happening?” (I can’t stand the suspense and must get to the bottom line!)

“Oh, I just wanted to let you know that I made it to Palmer safe and sound.”

“That’s good.”

“And well, I’m engaged!” (He usually prefers getting to the bottom line pretty quickly himself.)

“What?!” (I fall over with relief and joy, with tears running down my face.) “That’s great! I’m gonna put you on speaker phone – tell me all the details.”

“Well, I took her for a walk down to the cow pasture. But we decided to climb up into the birch trees, ‘cause the pasture was full of cows… and a LOT of cow patties.” (Not the vibe he was going for.) “We sat up in the trees and I asked her to marry me.”

Naughty mama that I am I started singing: “Ben and Sharon, sittin’ in a tree…” Ben actually almost giggled.

Lee and Beth and I spent the next few minutes teasing Ben and laughing with him. Yay! Another sister for our family!

Sharon Rowland is from Unalaska, Alaska. Our families have known one another for nearly  forty years. For about the last ten years we have spent Spring Break together in McCarthy. It really is our joy to have another woman in the family.

(following photos taken by Tammy Rowland)

Cows everywhere.

Cows everywhere.

Will you?.... Sure!...

Will you?….

The Rock(s)

The Rock(s)

Farewell, So Long, auff Veederzane, Good-bye

Lee and Beth left Monday on their new adventure. On their move Outside they’re getting to ride the ferry from Haines to Prince Rupert. And they’re visiting family and stopping at some great American sights on their journey to Wisconsin. I’m sad to see them go. I’m excited for them too. Like so many parenting experiences these days my feelings are mixed.


As they drove down the road, I took pictures and tried to smile, I told myself, “It’s just a trip to town.” Then I turned around and, walking inside, bawled my eyes out. Well, I cried until I got upstairs anyway, David was still home and I didn’t want him to think his Aunt had lost her mind.


I love you, Lee and Beth–

 May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be ever at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face and rain fall softly on your fields.

And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.


A Bittersweet Tale

Wyatt’s leaving tonight. He’s headed to Bible School in Michigan. Well, he’s headed to Michigan eventually. Tonight he’s flying to Portland to meet up with his favorite girl: Holly. They are going to enjoy one another’s company for a couple of weeks after having to have spent the entire  (interminably long) summer apart. This is where Wyatt get’s no sympathy from Lee who spent four years away from his favorite girl. Nor does Wyatt get any sympathy from Benjamin who’s also separated from his favorite girl. Instead Wyatt’s been subjected to our teasing – ’cause we love him so much. Teasing is what we do.

The truth is, while we’ve been teasing him, we’ve also mourned along with him. We miss Holly, too. (We also miss Sharon, but this post is about Wyatt so I’ll try to stick to the point.) We’ll have to wait until Christmas to see them both. Separation is hard on people, it’s hard on relationships. Dave and I don’t do separation well, and it makes us sad to watch our boys go through it. So, while we know that we are going to miss Wyatt terribly when he’s gone, we know that he will be happy being with Holly again and in following his desire to go to Bible School.

Actually we are so proud of Wyatt we’re fit to bust. He is a man that we admire. He’s loving, kind, thoughtful, forward thinking, responsible, godly, dedicated, cheerful, smart, and fun to boot. We are going to miss having him with us. A lot.

So to celebrate (?!) this bittersweet leave-taking I made cookies/brownies/hand pies tonight. I’ll send a few along with Wyatt so he can remember that his mama (and his papa) loves him and is REALLY going to miss him over the next few months. sigh, gulp, sniff Oh golly, let me go get the Kleenex so I can finish this…

Brownie Hand Pies – you choose the filling

9 2-inch brownie cookies

inspired by: Bakers Royale

The cookie is not too sweet, since it’s made with dark chocolate. They are really good on their own, but if you want a bit of extra sweetness, by all means, slather on the filling.

filling choices: salted caramel filling (recipe included), peanut butter filling, or what about an orange cream filling, or how about a raspberry cream filling, or the ever popular vanilla filling

for the brownie cookie:
12 ounces chocolate, chopped (I used 60% cacao – Ghirardelli brand)
3 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon baking powder, sifted

for the salted caramel creme filling:
1 cup butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Caramel sauce

Brownie cookies:

1.) Place 7oz. of the chocolate and the butter in a saucepan over low heat and gently stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.

2.) Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat for 5 minutes on high speed until pale and creamy. Add in flour, baking powder, melted chocolate mixture, remaining 5 oz. of chocolate and mix to combine. Set aside to to stand for 10 minutes.

3.) Using a 2 tablespoon disher, scoop batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8–10 minutes or until puffed and cracked. Allow to cool completely on the trays.

Caramel Creme Filling and assembly:

1.) Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamed. Add in confectioner’s sugar and salt and beat until light and fluffy. Add in caramel and beat until combined.

2.) Spread a teaspoon and a half of caramel creme on underside of one brownie cookie and place a second brownie cookie bottom side down on top of the frosting.

Recipe formatted with the Cook’n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

Enjoy, Wyatt! We love you!


Filling the Freezer

Ben loves salmon.

The guys went fishing a couple of weekends ago. Well, the guys, plus Beth. Hmmm, I’m going to have to change my vocabulary a bit here, since I can’t refer to just “the men” anymore.  Regardless, they all went dipnetting in Chitna a couple of weekends ago and came home with seventy-seven beautiful reds to fill our freezer.

The left after work on Friday, drove for six hours to the Copper River, unloaded the ‘Burban and the trailer, and hauled everything down to their fishing spot. And THEN they commenced to fish. All night. And all the next morning and early afternoon. Once the fish box was full, they packed up and came home Saturday night.

The Processing Plant

The Fillet-ers





















Erin the Packager – she’s tough, don’t mess with her.

Sunday afternoon (after sleeping until 12 p.m.) we set up the processing plant beside the garage. Jay, Nick, Erin and Scott came over to help us with getting the fish filleted and packaged. While Ben, Scott, Nick and Jay filleted, I scraped the carcasses. Erin and Dave packaged everything. Wyatt stayed in the house, so sick he could barely stand up right, poor guy. After all the fish were processed, and everyone else cleaned up the mess, I took the “scrapings” inside to turn into salmon sausage.

Salmon Sausage

30 pounds salmon chunks (no bones or skin please)

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup Kosher salt

1 t. freshly ground black pepper

½ t. freshly ground white pepper

½ t. cayenne

2 T. dill weed

¼ cup sage

Mix all the spices together so there are no lumps in the mixture. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the salmon and stir together. Use your hands to do this, it’s most efficient. I divided the salmon between four big bowls, then sprinkled on the spices before stirring together. This ensured that the spices were evenly distributed.

I ran it all through the sausage grinder attachment on my KitchenAid. Package as desired. I put mine in 2 pound packages.

How do I use this stuff? I’m so glad you asked…

Salmon Burgers – simply use 1/3 pound to form into a large thin patty, grill for just a few minutes on a side. Serve in a really good bun that isn’t too thick or chewy and slathered with plenty of tartar sauce.

 Salmon Sausage – use 1/6 pound to form into a small thin patty and fry for just a minute or so per side. Serve with fried potatoes (or biscuits) and scrambled eggs.

Salmon meatballs – form into walnut-sized balls and bake at 350* for 12 minutes. Serve with dilled rice or lemony pasta.

The freezer is now full of salmon; and it’s time to pick blueberries, but since we still have some left from last year, I think we’ll let this year’s harvest go by. Besides, moose season will be here soon and we’ll need room in the freezer to take advantage of whatever the men, plus Beth bring home. 🙂

This little guy was hanging out in the front yard. He seems to have an appreciation for the flowers. grrr

May your freezers and pantry’s be as full as they need to be.

Love, Renée

July 4th Wedding

Kaleb and Brittany Rowland – July 4, 2012

The Entire Party –
family, friends who were directly involved in putting on the wedding.

How would I describe Kaleb and Brittany’s wedding? “A Party” – and WOW!, what a party! For the principle members involved it was a lot of planning and work and the day probably had its stresses, but as an attendee (even with it at my home) it was a truly great bash. Over two hundred family members and friends came to celebrate with Kaleb and Brittany, and it was awesome. From the sprightly, though, ahem, curiously, ahhh, old flower girls to the live band with square dancing to the sparkler send off it was an afternoon and evening of ear to ear smiles, and happy laughter.

Thank you Kaleb and Brittany for choosing our home place to celebrate the kick-off day of your marriage!

(The following pictures are from various cameras – you’ll have to contact Kaleb and Brittany to see the real, official photographer’s photos.)

The Core Wedding Party
Ain’t they all purdy?

Note the arch in the background and the cool picket fence behind the border; I want one of those fences, this one was borrowed.

Dave with his lovelies – he still carries their pictures in his wallet.
I know this has absolutely nothing to do with the wedding – I just couldn’t resist, cause it’s such a great picture. And I love them.

Square dancing –
Is that Keith swinging Laurie or is Laurie swinging Keith?

Ben and Hannah were the winners of the garter and bouquet respectively. You should have seen these two AGGRESSIVELY compete for the prizes. I think they might possibly be interested in marriage. To others. Not each other.

The sparkly (well, smokey anyway) send off.

Until next time!