Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things

I'd like to take a moment of silence to mourn the days of summer.  We're moving into Fall around here and the days of blue skies and long sunny nights are turning into days and nights of grey, colder temperatures and lots of rain.

I'm sad to see it go, because Alaska summer is the stuff dreams are made of - beautiful flowers, temperatures in the 60's with no humidity and lots of sun.  This summer was the first time I could understand how "outdoor people" exist and definitely the first time I wanted to be one.  But with beautiful scenery and constant light, it's hard to want to stay inside.

The only positive I've come up with is that I'll be able to break out my Ugg boots soon enough (26 going on 18 over here apparently.)

Aside from the thought of Ugg boots and vests, here are some things I'm loving lately.

Anchorage - It took a while for me to love it but I think the whole summer thing definitely helped. I'll never get used to living in a place this incredible.   See those pink/purple flowers in the foreground, that's called fireweed.  Legend has it when the fireweed blooms to the top and goes to seed, it's only six weeks to winter.  Yikes.  Other legends say the more bees in the summer, the harsher the winter. Let's all pray for that legend to be wrong because there was a lot of buzzing this summer and even with all the Ugg boots in the world, my Texas self just can't take a "harsh Alaskan winter."

Our refrigerator went out last week and while I certainly didn't love that, it's given us a chance to get out of the house for meals.  It went out on Thursday which happened to be National Hot Dog Day so we celebrated with reindeer dogs downtown.  Getting the fridge replaced is covered by our homeowner's warranty (thank you brilliant realtor) but that process is taking forever. I'm really loving a husband who is willing to be on hold for a few hours trying to get our claim processed.

These capris! I had heard rave reviews about the Zella active wear brand at Nordstrom but didn't buy into the hype.  Since they are on sale right now I decided to give them a try. The hype is true - every word.  I can't say enough good things about these pants! They are Lululemon quality but without the hefty price tag. These capris are the most comfortable workout pants I've ever owned. They don't fall down when I'm running which is nearly impossible to find in a pair of pants.  This style is called "Live In" and I can see why. I want to wear them ALL. THE. TIME.  Do yourself a favor and get a pair.  I haven't tried the long version but I have two patterns in my shopping cart just waiting to pull the trigger.

I've had several awesome hair days lately so you know I'm loving that.  Both straight and curly which never happens. My selfie game obviously needs some work but just appreciate the fact that I'm having good hair days in spite of not having my hair done in 5 months.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Marathon of a Weekend

What a weekend!  We tour guided, we celebrated a wedding and then I ran a half marathon. Whew. It seems only fitting that we would have a jam packed weekend a year to the day of my first trip to Anchorage. The one where I flew up to meet Nathanial who was already in town for a business trip and put an offer in on a house.  Happy adventure anniversary, Anchorage. I have really grown to love you!

These two had no idea what life in Alaska would be like.

We spent Friday night showing one of Nathanial's former teachers and his wife around Anchorage. Nathanial spent many summers biking around Oklahoma with Mr. Ingham and the two have stayed close.  It was so fun to see the Inghams and even more fun to see their reaction to Anchorage.  

Saturday morning my training group met up for one last practice.  Training with the group was such an incredible experience. I can't say enough about the wonderful coaches and encouraging ladies I got to train with. Saturday we did a short run, all of our strides and some tempo paces. We finished with some stretching and group pictures.  It was a great way to get mentally prepared for the race.

After practice, I headed over to the bib pick up and shopping expo.  This race definitely had some great swag.  Brooks even made tons of custom apparel with the race logo. I've already worn both sweatshirts I bought.

 The list of people doing the race. I forgot to take a picture with my name, but I bet you can find it. :)

 The tech tee and bib were so cute! The water bottles were custom for my training group. 

The two jackets I bought at the expo.

Nathanial picked me up after the expo and we did some more sightseeing with the Inghams.  Then Saturday evening, we headed to the Hotel Alyeska to attend the wedding of one of Nathanial's coworkers.  It was a lovely wedding with incredible views. It didn't hurt that I had a hottie of a date too.

Earlier in the week, I realized there wasn't much left on the couple's registry. I decided to get creative and make them a framed print.  We gave them a gift card too but it was nice to give something a little more from the heart.

I woke up pretty early on Sunday to start getting ready for the race.  Even though I've done a race every month this year, and this was my third half marathon, I was still so nervous.  Once I got to the race and saw my coaches and running buddies, my nerves switched to excitement.  

There was such a fun, empowering vibe in the air.  There's definitely something to be said for an all women (& 1 lucky guy) race.  

All smiles with my running buddies before the start.

This race was a tough one. I started out strong but shin splits reared their ugly head pretty early and the pain only got worse as the race went on. My legs have never hurt so bad.  The course was hilly - in fact the finish line was 100 yards from a 3 block, 100 foot tall hill.  My running group trained the hill several times but not after 12 miles. It was such a blessing to see my coaches at the bottom. I was pretty teary eyed as they ran up the hill with me.  

The elevation chart from my running watch.

As always, my biggest cheerleader was waiting for me at the finish.  I couldn't wait to see Nathanial! 

I didn't PR with this race but I did beat my last half marathon time.  Progress, not perfection.  I am proud of the improvements I made and know I'm a better runner because of this race.  

I'll wear my finisher bracelet with pride.

    These are the coordinates for the finish line.

The cute bottle it came in.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

When Crafting Gets Engineered

Last week I was thrown into full craft mode when my friend who was taking the lead on planning/hosting a baby shower for another friend was stranded at an airport in another state and couldn't make it back in time for the shower.  Luckily she had already purchased some decorations and prizes for games. 

The original food plan wasn't working out so I had to come up with something last minute (read Friday night when the shower was Saturday.) I opted for something easy but also tasty and went with a Mexican theme. I stayed up way too late on Friday evening working on everything but I was so pleased with the way it turned out.  It was so much fun showering one of my favorite Alaskan friends.

The invite:
I designed the invites in Illustrator and had them printed locally. The most time consuming part was cutting out the elephants I inserted with additional details. I've removed some of the details like names and addresses, which is why the alignment looks so odd.

The food:
Since the food plan had to come together quickly, I utilized some pre-made items that I would normally make myself, namely guacamole & salsa from Costco.  I cooked up some hamburger meat and diced up chicken Nathanial grilled for me. The mom-to-be specially requested my Crunchy Asian Salad so we had that too.  I set up a taco salad/ nacho station and and quesadilla station.  My mom bought me a quesadilla maker when I was in college and it is used often!

My favorite food item was probably the fruit skewers I put together. I used an elephant cookie cutter for the watermelon.

I also made some jungle themed pretzel treats.

And finally got to use the beverage dispenser I got as a wedding gift.  

Sarah, my sister-in-law, sent me the best punch recipe!

The games:
After eating, it was time for games.  The biggest project from a time perspective Friday night was putting together an elephant match game. I traced and cut out elephants on sheets of scrapbook paper and wrote phrases associated with babies on the back.  When a match was picked, the winner got a corresponding candy prize (i.e. hospital bill was 100 grand.)  Except once I cut out the elephants, I realized they didn't look much like elephants. I knew I needed to draw at least an ear on each one, but the paper was too thick to be able to see my pattern.  My brilliant husband engineered me a solution!

Using my phone's flashlight inside a Pyrex dish, I was able to illuminate my pattern and draw the elephant's ear in a consistent spot on each one.

I wasn't sure how to adhere the elephants to the poster board so he came up with something for that too.  Double sided tape & the sticky part of a Post It.

That man is the peanut butter to my jelly. The ying to my yang.  The solution to my crafting?

I forgot to take a picture of the completed game so you'll just have to take my word for it that it was cute & well received.

After the matching game, we played a pass the prize game. I found a cute poem on Pinterest with lines like:
"We are getting tricky now - here's a real humdinger. Pass it to the one with the most rings on her finger."

Prizes were also awarded while presents were opened (9th present for the mom-to-be's birthday, 8 minutes in for the parent's anniversary.)

After gifts, another hostess led a baby food game where the guests had to guess what kind of baby food they were eating.

I understand now why people choose to make their own food.

This was my favorite set of guesses.

I wanted the mom-to-be to have something special to remember the shower by so I bought Horton Hears a Who for all the guests to write a message in.  I made a sign using the same graphics I used on the invite and provided some colorful sharpies.

I also used the invite graphics to make food labels since I always like people to know what they are eating.

I wanted to send each guest home with something too. I found cute treat boxes and filled them with animal crackers along with a note.

I made a colorful wreath for the door out of deco mesh but also forgot to take a picture of it. It was such a fun afternoon celebrating a sweet friend and her baby!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


I have such a hard time writing new blog posts. I started this blog as a way to share a bit of Alaska with our friends and family back home so it's difficult to write about the day to day.  Life isn't always glaciers and moose. Sometimes we're just sitting at home watching Battle Bots and Nathanial is agreeing to watch Bachelor in Paradise with me as long as the raccoon in the commercial is on the show. Definitely not so glamorous.

Sometimes the most exciting thing going on around here is how many inches my asparagus plant grew over night. Although, let's be real, 4 inches overnight IS pretty exciting.

I've called our parents on FaceTime too many times to count to show them the progression of this asparagus so at least I'm just showing you a picture.  At N's genius suggestion, I've been measuring the growth every night.  Tonight the tallest stalk measured at over 35 inches.

Sometimes you give in and wear jeans and a t-shirt to work because you don't have any meetings. Of course that will be the day a news crew will call and want to do a story on a press release you pitched three weeks ago.  So then you'll go home in the middle of the day to change and be annoyed that you wasted both jeans and business clothes.  

                              (Watching the reporter do an interview)

Sometimes your moose obsession is so bad your husband says "Wow you must really love me if I get to replace a baby moose as your phone background."  

Mountains, blue skies and a handsome husband - these are a few of my favorite things.

Sometimes you realize you haven't told an embarrassing Alaskan story so you decided to include it with the rest of a jumbled post...

Let me set the scene...
A few weeks ago, we stumbled upon what has become Nathanial's  favorite place. It's a peaceful creek a little ways off the highway with the most turquoise waters and the best mountain views.  

He's been wanting to go back since our first trip there so one Friday evening he surprised me with hammocks to take down to the creek.   Keep in mind this is during a record high heatwave for Alaska (i.e. upper 80's with no air conditioning.) Also keep in mind the only other time I've used a hammock was on our honeymoon in Bora Bora.  

Knowing those two things, you might understand why I decided to wear a sundress and nice leather sandals. 

My first indication that our adventure wouldn't go well was when there were bear tracks near the steps.  But us Alaskans of 8 months can't be scared off by a few bear tracks so on we went.  The first time my foot got stuck in the mud (because it was low tide and everything was mud) should have been my second hint but yet we still keep going.  It wasn't until I slipped and slid down the bank getting my entire backside covered in mud that I decided we should turn around.  

The purple is hiding the mud.  Apparently I'm still not a wilderness girl.