Monday, October 13, 2014

Summer Update // 2

Sometimes I get to go on amazing field trips for my job. I had two fun ones this summer: Denali State Park and the Palmer Farm Tour. The Denali trip was fantastic! The state is building a new (and pretty awesome) visitor center and expanding one of their campgrounds. The above photo is the view from the campground, and it really doesn't do it justice. That's Denali (Mt. McKinley) on the right and the Moose's Tooth Range on the left. I hate to talk about the weather here, but it was gorgeous! Pretty regularly, you can't see Mt. Denali because of a thick mist that likes to hang around it. We got lucky with a super clear day.

In fact, the weather was so nice, that my travel buddy and I decided to spend a little extra time at the lodge to soak up the sun.

On an equally beautiful day, I got to go tour some lovely farms in Palmer. Alaska agriculture is pretty interesting because of our weird growing season. The summers are short, but the days are long. As a result, this is the only place in the world where peonies bloom in July. The wedding industry has caught on and Alaskans are starting to capitalize on that fact.

We learned about sod, CSA programs, farmer's markets, raising yaks and got to sample a bunch of vegetables I never knew existed (and I've already forgotten what they were called - bummer). The quote of the day came from the sod farmer: "It's instant grassification!" Ha!

The reindeer was a pet at the farm where we stopped for lunch. See that wire around its pen? It's electric. Ask me how I know that… 

That's all for now, more soon!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Summer Update // 1

Hello! It's been a while… Summer is definitely over, and judging by the snow on the mountains (and in the forecasts), Fall is on its last legs too. And I've barely posted anything about our doings these last few months. Shame on me. So here's my attempt to catch up a bit. I've got a few posts in the works to cover the highlights of the past season, starting with this one. 

The above photo was taken at the Eklutna Lake Campground, where Nick and I had our very first Alaskan camping adventure! Ok, adventure might be a bit strong. We roughed it for one night with some friends and their kids. It was fun, and the setting was gorgeous. If you look closely, you can kind of see a little bit of rainbow tucked between the hill in front and the one just behind it. And below is the actual lake. Our campsite was just a short walk away.

Pretty huh? Next time I'd like to stay a little longer and maybe bring a kayak. 

Every once in a while, Nick gets inexplicable urges to bake cookies, grill meat, and try new and complicated recipes. In a fit of culinary bravado, he decided to make lasagna completely from scratch. Including the noodles.

The first batch of noodles was a flop, but the second batch turned out great! The lasagna was delicious, but not quite mind-blowing enough to justify all the work that went into it. Store bought noodles will be just fine in the future.

The really exciting food event of the summer was these:

Nick just went out one morning and brought back three big fish! I came home for lunch to find him cleaning them out (all over the kitchen). He had an appointment he was running late for, so he left me with a quick "can you clean up the kitchen and take care of the fish in the sink?" Not exactly what I was expecting to do on my lunch break, but we're having salmon for dinner tonight and it totally makes up for the mess.

So there's a little taste of what we've been up to. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We Moved! Again!

It's been a while, but Nick and I finally have our own place again!  It was love at first sight when we saw this apartment.  We fell pretty hard for the great natural light, the ridiculous amount of built-in storage, and more than anything, the spacious balcony with an incredible view of Cook Inlet.  Would you like a little tour?  Here we go!
The hallway on the left is what you first see upon entering our little home.  Not pictured, but immediately to the right is a generous coat closet.  If you turn to the right at the end of that first hallway, you'll see the second hallway.  The first door on the left there goes to a bedroom/office, the second to the master bedroom.  The far door on the right goes to a guest bathroom and then there's a folding door to a broom closet with more storage above.  Opposite that second hallway, you'll see this:

Can we just take a second to appreciate all that sunlight?  Walking into this room is so nice on a sunny day, and not half bad even when it's cloudy.

The actual space is a little small to be both a living room and a dining room, but there are only two of us, and not a lot of furniture, so we don't mind at all.  Especially since there's so much space in the kitchen.

Counter space, cupboard space, drawer space, all kinds of space.  It's wonderful.  So much space in fact, that most of it is unoccupied.  Those upper cabinets are on the tall side, and Nick and I are on the short side, so we've opted to keep most of our kitchen gear in the lower cabinets.  And we haven't even filled those yet.  But let's go back to that view...

This is what you see from our deck, or anywhere in our living/dining/kitchen room, really.  It's breathtaking, and definitely the selling feature of this place.  On a clear day, there's another mountain range that can be seen in the distance, and both Mts. Denali and Foraker can sometimes be seen to the right.  Plus, we're facing west here, so we get to watch some beautiful sunsets.  And as if that wasn't enough, I'm told that later next month we should be able to see beluga whales out in the inlet!  I'm pinching myself.  I could go on and on, but there's still half an apartment to see...

Here's Nick in his new office before we moved in (nice and clean and empty) and another view of the space clearly after we'd moved in (ahem, excuse the laundry).  Note the window that shares that amazing view, and all the awesome built-in storage.  There's even a fold down ironing board in this room.

And just a little further down the hall, our bedroom.  Again, check out all that storage!  The building supervisor informed us that a couple of architects lived in this apartment for twenty years, and the owner let them do whatever they wanted with it.  They must have had a lot of stuff to store. 

Just to emphasize the storage, you can see that these closets are plenty big (at least Nick sized), and we both get one and a half all to ourselves!

And finally, our bathrooms.  Two of them!  The one on the left is our master bathroom, and on the right is the guest bathroom.  These are probably the prettiest bathrooms I've ever had.  I feel so spoiled.

So there you have it!  And the icing on the cake is the location.  It takes me less than ten minutes to walk to work now, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is about a block away, as well as a few different parks, and being downtown means we're super close to a ton of restaurants and other fun stuff (the mall!).  Now all we need are some house guests (hint, hint).

We're feeling very blessed :-)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Our Hovel

In one week, Nick and I will be moving back to Anchorage, so I'm finally getting around to showing you just where we've been living these last few months.  The tardiness of this post is mostly due to laziness, but I have had a few technical difficulties as well, so please forgive the crummy pictures.  Above, you see the entrance to our home which I have nicknamed The Hovel.  It's an itty-bitty condo on Douglas Island, just across the Gastineau Channel from where we work in downtown Juneau.  I wish I could show you the photos I took when we first moved in (stupid technical difficulties), because it's a pretty sad little place, but it's come a long way since we first saw it.  Just through that front door is our living room:

 I'm actually very proud of how this room looks now.  When we first moved in, there were a couple of grime-encrusted, upholstered chairs to go with the drop-leaf table and our landlord brought over a very ugly, but functional loveseat.  I ordered a cover for it, but it's too small, so you can still see some of the lovely western-esque pattern peeking out at the bottom.  It doesn't look too awful in the photo, but trust me, it is.  

After a less than successful attempt at constructing our own coffee table, our landlord took pity on us and brought over the one you see here.  It's huge, which is great since it serves as our coffee table, dinner table, desk and media center.  It's usually a little more cluttered than pictured here.  The side tables, stools, shelves and microwave cart came from a garage sale, the vacuum is on loan from a co-worker, and the microwave was on its way to the dump before we rescued it.  We really didn't want to invest much into decorating this place, since it's so temporary, so the walls stayed depressingly bare for quite a while.  My favorite piece of "art" in this room is definitely this awesome coffee poster that I found buried in a cupboard at work:

It hangs over our microwave and I plan to keep it forever.  Isn't it great?  Free or super-cheap were my requirements for decorating the other walls, so I used twine and a dowel rod to make the macrame hanging and ordered a pack of clipboards to use as make-shift frames that I never got around to filling.  Oops.  I still think they're an improvement over the bare wall.  Continuing with our tour, we pass through our tiny kitchen to get to the bedroom:

When we were looking for an apartment in Juneau, it had to be fully furnished.  We're only here for a few months and we only brought what we could fit in our car with us.  Buying an apartment full of furniture and then needing to sell/store/move it all shortly after was not an option.  As you can see here, our place came with a bed.  But don't let that fluffy white comforter fool you.  It's covering the most disgusting mattress I've ever slept on.  We put a nice thick mattress pad over the whole thing, but it should really just be burned.

And there's our little bathroom.  I'm just grateful everything in it works.

So that's where we've been living lately.  I'm amazed at how flattering these photos are, so I was originally going to include a few close-ups of just a few of the things that make me so happy to leave this place behind, but I think I'll spare you all and just stop here.  If you want the grisly details, I'll gladly share them with you in person.

Let's end on a happy note: we think the mouse is gone!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Last Thursday, Nick and I boarded the Tustumena ferry and began our trip to Juneau.  We'd heard all about how smooth the ride usually was, and all the cool scenery and wildlife we'd probably see.  And at first, everything was great.  We didn't get on board until late at night and we were both asleep by the time we actually left the dock.  But the following morning, almost as soon as I stood up to go brush my teeth, the nausea hit.  A crew member assured us that the water wasn't rough at all and that we were in fact experiencing an incredibly "smooth" passage (the swells were only 7' to 10').  Apparently Nick and I have extremely weak stomachs, because we were both miserably seasick all day long.  We took turns staggering down the hall to get food, but mostly stayed in bed. 

Nevermind scenery and wildlife, this is what we spent all day looking at.  Our room was small, but clean, and the beds were surprisingly comfortable.  Good thing too, since we barely left them.

By the following day, we had made it into the inside passage and the boat finally stopped rocking.  When people told me that the ride would be smooth, this is what I was expecting.  We only had half a day left on the boat, and Nick and I spent it everywhere but our cabin.

Most importantly, we made it safely to Juneau, but we probably won't be taking the ferry anywhere ever again.