From Sea to Shining Sea

As promised, here’s the photos from our trip across country.  As a photographer at heart, I naturally started snapping while in the air.  The first sights were Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood as my connecting flight took off from Portland, OR.



While in Virginia we were waylaid with the tunnel closures due to terrorist threats and decided to check out the historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Norfolk.  There were several revolutionary war tombstones, some that time has since almost over grown and a cannon ball in the side of the church from a British ship!  Although the church caretaker informed us that the cannon ball actually bounced off the wall when fired and was later inserted into the wall for historical reenactments.  He also said that every so often it falls back out of the wall and they have to plaster it back in!  I love getting the inside scoop on cool stories like that!

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We were also able to tour the inside of the church where we found impressive stained glass windows, and this amazing hand-carved wood organ!



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After leaving VA we drove through West Virginia, where we spotted this rig on the turnpike.  I’m fairly certain they were repos, but the fact that they left the car trunk and truck windows open for the haul was astonishing!


We also spotted this cool double bridge amidst the construction (hence the orange in the margin) during one heck of a rain storm in Charleston.


And somewhere in western West Virginia this rig snuck up on us and flew by.  I barely had time to collect my senses and grab my camera to get a shot.  That eagle statue is actually on a towed trailer which was also decorated.  I’ve searched the internet for info on what spurred this strange creation, but wasn’t able to find anything in particular.


While in Kentucky we spotted this 9/11 tribute ‘window art’ on a car at the gas station we happened to stop at.  I thought it was pretty darn cool.


I snapped this photo somewhere in Kansas after a guy at a rest stop offered $10,000 for the truck.  He claimed he’d been following us for about a half hour scoping the truck out and trying to keep up with us!  Obviously we declined the offer.  There’s much more sentimental value in that hunk of metal than almost any offer could cover.


After that, Kansas was long and flat. Fields, sky and windmills for HUNDREDS of miles!


Along with the occasional batch of sunflowers of course!


I didn’t get any shots of Colorado as we entered, since it was already dark by then, but I did get several shots of the region as we made our way from Denver to Durango.  This is the Colorado I remember.



We stopped for gas in one of many small towns we passed through and I spotted these flags on the hillside.  It screamed small-town America to me, and I loved it!


While at that stop I saw a pretty Australian Shepard sitting on a truck bed, patiently waiting for her owner to return from inside. I went over to take her picture as she sat, but once she saw me come close she immediately wanted attention and a few pats on the head.  I was hooked.  Who wouldn’t be with that face?  I finally got her to back up enough to get this shot just before her owner returned.


In Durango, we stayed with my husband’s aunt on her ranch, which held a wealth of wonderful photo ops around the rustic barn, nearby river and house which dates back to the 1800s!















Inside, the house was a treasure trove of antiques and historical finds, like this 1950’s stove and fiesta ware!


And I nearly swooned at all this green glass!


We spotted this cool old church in the historic section of Durango, but didn’t have time to explore.


We also saw this cool rig, which I’m sure see’s lots of action come winter!


Back on the road, we headed out of Colorado and into Utah.  More fields, sky and miles of very little.


I did enjoy these two Indian statues at a gas station we stopped at.  I’m not sure why they were there, but they were pretty large!

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Quickly the fields gave way to sagebrush.


Which then led to very colorful mountains in unique formations as we approached Moab.






And then on the side of the road was THIS!


We’d discussed going to see the famous arch in Moab, but I knew it would be a several hour detour to do so and not an entirely fun one with our large rig.  So when we spotted this arch literally on the side of the highway I was delighted.  Luckily the hubby let me spend 10-15 minutes snapping a few different angles.


And just to give you a little perspective on size, here’s some hikers that were climbing while we were there.


Just down the road from the arch we spotted this little “Hole in the Rock”.  It looked like an interesting tourist stop, but we were on a mission to cover miles so I just snapped a quick shot as we went by.


Just past Moab we stopped again for gas at a station right next to THIS!  I was literally giddy!


I can’t say what I wouldn’t have given to have a model to use this background!


Just think of the possibilities for themed sessions here!


As I made my way back to the truck I spotted these wig wams.  I’m sure they’re not traditional or authentic, but they were still pretty cool.


And as I shot the sights the mob apparently pulled in…We never did figure out who this group really was, but they sure did look suspicious driving all black Lexus and Audi’s individually.  Only two cars had a passenger, and everyone in the group was a young male – although they did have different state tags and the drivers were different ethnicities.   Whoever they were, they sure got a LOT of attention!


From there it was more desert landscapes.  While they hold a beauty all their own they still aren’t my favorite.  It just can’t compete with the splendor of the changing seasons.


This rock formation and upside down flag were high above what I think was a coal plant in nowhere Utah.  I wondered who had climbed up there to install the flag pole and what their significance was for hanging the flag incorrectly.  Perhaps in protest of the coal?  Maybe on accident?  I’ll never know.


We spotted this train heading into a tunnel below us as we rounded a curve, so the hubby made a pit stop when a large shoulder was available soon after so I could get a better shot.



And I decided to do a close-up of these rail road irons that were sitting where we pulled off.62

Several hundred miles later we entered the Columbia Gorge, where we paused along the river briefly.


I ventured down the little trail there to get this final shot of the dam and locks just up river.


We pulled into Portland a little while later and were then busy with unloading the truck and several appointments for things we can’t get up here in Alaska.  Apparently we were so busy that I didn’t take any more pictures!  So that’s our trip across the country in a nut-shell.  Watch my photography website, Jenna D’ Photography for the portraits I created during sessions for several family members and friends!  There’s going to be some great ones! 🙂


My Latest Splurge!

Although we’re still several weeks away from moving into the new house, I’ve been watching several sources for the perfect pieces to complete the look I want for several spaces, including the entry way.  I knew I wanted a table that I could decorate with seasonal items, but that also served as storage for my stock decorating materials (candles, cloches, baskets, etc.).

1100I spotted this beauty at a local antiques store last year while visiting Anchorage, but was aghast at the $1100 price tag!  I’d since watched it move around the store with a price drop each time I saw it.  The latest was a reduction to $850, which still seemed high to my bargainista conscience.  I told myself that if it was still there once we moved in I’d bite the bullet and make the purchase, taking a stab at negotiating a lower price first of course!

Then a few weeks ago I found a new local woman-owned business called Persnickety’s Attic who refinishes found pieces and advertises on Facebook.  I’d liked several of her pieces, but hadn’t seen anything that fit exactly what I wanted for the new house.  That is until she posted this beauty!


Yup, my dream entry buffet’s long lost twin!  And at $575 she practically sang a siren’s song to me!  I confirmed the measurements were similar to the first “high-cost” piece and would fit the space, but was then out of town for our recent trip.  Luckily, another fan who was interested said it wouldn’t fit the space she wanted it for, so it was still available when I got back.  It was very hard to part with a big chunk of money so soon after our trip, but this is the real deal – a solid antique military dresser, which means it will last FOREVER!

DresserCabPlus it has LOTS of storage for all my decor items, including the tall vases and glass domes that don’t currently fit in the Craigslist dresser we found earlier this summer.  With a cabinet this deep on both sides I might even have to add a shelf on one side!  I’m already envisioning all my treasures stacked neatly where I can find them at any time!

Unfortunately, there is no room left in the rental for it to be enjoyed, so it will live in the garage next to the hot tub until we move.  I’m very tempted to move all my decor items into it just to see how everything fits.  Yes, it’s neurotic to do so, but I thrive on being organized and having all my decor stuff together where it will eventually live is music to my ears.  Yes – I know I’m crazy like that. 🙂

9It’s going to look fantastic in the new entry way which will look almost identical to this, except with our wood style floors throughout and prettier chandelier.

I’m thinking a hand-made driftwood mirror similar to this above it (although turned length-ways) would finish off the look and provide that ever important spot to make sure you don’t look like a hot mess before answering the doorbell.

What do you think?  Did I find a perfect look-a-like at a fraction of the cost?  Will drift wood compliment the finish or should I do something other than a mirror above?  I curious to hear your thoughts!

I’mmm Baaccckkk!

Sorry I’ve been MIA recently.  The hubs and I were on a cross-country road trip to pick up my my 1955 F-100 from Virginia!  It’s now in my mother-in-law’s garage in Washington until the spring when we’ll head back down south to pick it up and put it on the ferry to Alaska.  We had originally planned to complete the whole transport in one trip, but the ferry schedule was not feasible, so we had to come up with a plan B.

55 TruckWe definitely got a lot of attention hauling my ’55.  It was pretty common for people to tailgate us, then pass slowly as they checked out the truck and throw us a thumbs up before speeding on down the road.  And just about every time we stopped someone asked what year the truck was or what we were doing with it.  We even had an offer for $10,000 in a mid-west rest stop!  Of course I didn’t accept, since the truck holds more sentimental value of time spent with my dad restoring it from the junk yard mess it was when we first bought it.  My husband really enjoyed throwing people for a loop by pointing out that the truck was mine and not his!

Beyond moving the truck closer to Alaska the trip was a means to visit family and friends across the country.  We spent a few days with my family in Virginia where we watched my nephew play in a few baseball games before heading to Denver to visit our good friends.  We got to town just as the biblical rains paused for a day, before resuming the following day increasing the already swollen rivers.  Luckily, our friends live in Morrison, in the mountains south of Denver so they didn’t have any major damage like Boulder did.


Our last night in Denver we had dinner with my husband’s cousin and her family – who I did a quick portrait session for (watch for a post about that on my Jenna D’ Photography site!)


After Denver, we headed to Durango, CO where we visited my husband’s aunt’s ranch.  I was supposed to do a family session for her daughter’s family but we were unable to coordinate all six kids schedules to allow everyone to participate.  So instead, I did a few pictures of the younger kids as they introduced me to the horses and of the two kitties who call the ranch home.


I also took photos of the needlepoint projects his aunt has done to create a portfolio of her work.  We were only there for about 18 hours, but it was good to visit and meet more of my hubby’s extended family.  From there, we headed to Portland.  We learned that the storms had hit Durango just after we left, washing out the road to the ranch we had been at and causing boulders to crash down the mountainside, knocking my husband’s cousin’s truck off the road!  Everyone was alright, but it sure was a scary few hours!  We spent the last two days of our trip with my mother-in-law just across the river from Portland.  Once the truck was settled in her garage, I got in a little antiquing and shopping before meeting up with an old high school friend I hadn’t seen in over a decade for dinner.  It was fun to catch up and chat about how we had both changed.

Of course I took LOTS of pictures along the way, which I’ll be editing to share in a post later this week.  There’s just too many to sort through tonight.  Now that we’re home and unpacked it’s back to work and a normal routine.  We checked in on the house right after picking up our fur babies from doggie day camp.  Unfortunately, there hasn’t been as much progress as hoped.  The exterior was being painted when we arrived, including the front door – only in the wrong color!  The foreman arrived while we were there so I pointed that out and reminded him that I’d tried to give him the color I wanted before leaving, but he’d said to hold off.  Now that he has the right paint number & name it should be repainted tomorrow.  The roofing material is on-site, but has not been installed yet.  The electrical has been done, although we’re going to need a diagram to figure out what switch goes to what light before moving in!  The local power company still has to run the line to the house to finish the electrical inspection, but the crew should begin insulation on Monday, followed by drywall.  They can’t mud and tape until the electrical inspection is complete, so we’ll see if there is a delay there.  Here’s the latest picture of the progress.


Stay tuned this week for new posts!  I promise I’ll be back to my normal weekly routine now. 🙂

Wash, Dry, Fold, Repeat

I’m so exited to have a laundry room again in the new house. Our rental did come with a washer and dryer, but they are in the garage, which doesn’t make doing the laundry very convenient.

As I mentioned in a previous post about our appliances, we’ve purchased a brand new LG washer and dryer which will be a huge improvement on the machines we had in military housing and in our current rental. Our landlord actually bought the same model we did for his new home! The new home will also have a sink in the laundry room, making treating all those doggie slobber stains super easy.

In true “type A” style I already have several plans for this space. The first is building a platform like this to eliminate bending to see into the machines, while creating a system for laundry sorting that stays tidy and out of the way since this will be a walkway to our garage.

Since our builder just plumbs for the sink and doesn’t install one, I plan to get this for the nice deep sink and storage underneath.

We will have additional storage with cabinets above the washer & dryer in the same color and style as our kitchen. There won’t be a cabinet above the sink due to the window there, so I want to install a drying rack that will open over the sink. Maybe a DIY like this.

As for decor, I plan to keep it simple with the same funny signs I had in our laundry room in Kodiak. That will give me a color palette of muted red, blue and yellow. I may update that later, but it’s not high on the priority list as there are plenty of other projects that need attention first.

And once all that is in place, it will be a steady routine of wash, dry, fold, repeat! 🙂

Happy Fall Y’all

FallAlthough I’ve been traveling in the lower 48 (as we Alaskans call it!) the last few days, where there are NO signs of autumn, I was very happy to see the colors start to change before leaving the 49th state. I’m probably part of a vast minority there who feels that way. Regardless, I’m ready for sweaters, stews and the crunch of leaves under foot.



I’ve always loved the changing of seasons, especially after living in the desert for the later part of my childhood where there’s only two seasons – HOT and less hot. There’s just something about the change that revives my creativity. And while I love the long carefree days of summer, I’m always glad to see the blazing colors of fall arrive and wow me with their splendor.


Maybe it’s because fall heralds the beginning of the holiday season – which you all know I love decorating for – or maybe it’s just the thrill of something new. Whatever the reason, this year that feeling is definitely intense with the “nesting” desire spurred by the construction of our new home. I’m itching to move in and watch all of our plans come to reality. It will be the “harvest”of a lot of effort for the hubs and I.


So as my favorite scripture, Ecclesiastes 3:1 says:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sow; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.


Quick Update


I made a final stop by the house today to see if there was any progress since last week before heading out of town for our cross country road trip.  Unfortunately, although the fall leaves down the driveway were sure pretty, there wasn’t much progress to report.  The roofing and electrical are still MIA, but the gas line had been installed on the side of the garage, the siding on the front of the house was almost complete, the man door had been installed in the garage, the front porch columns are taking shape and the siding patch for the dining room windows had been fixed.



I think we are officially a month behind schedule now, although the foreman is still thinking they will be done by November.  I guess he plans to go gang-busters once they get the roof done and can start work inside.

In addition to the foreman, I met with our realtor and the new electrician (the previous one apparently quit) to go over the plan for everything.  The new electrician says he will start tomorrow and have everything done by the inspection on Friday.  The roofing material is supposed to be delivered so the roofer can start that this week too.  We’ll see.  I might just be sending some friends over next weekend to check.


A Studio of My Very Own!

The studio/office is my most anticipated and daydreamed about room in our new home for obvious reasons.  Although the main colors will be the same neutrals found in other rooms of our home, there will be a healthy dose of purple accents throughout the space, including my pretty purple chair I’ve blogged about before.  The plans for this space include a wall-length desk down one side of the room with shelves overhead for storage.  Something like this.

I want enough room for both the hubs and I to have a spot to sit with the printer and Silhouette  in between.  I’d like the printer to live in a cabinet under the desk where we can store paper too.  I plan for the Silhouette to be on the desk top where there will be room to feed material into it.  Here’s the basic concept, made with two wood file cabinets we got on Craigslist right after moving to the mainland for $25 each and a cabinet we will build to house the printer and support the middle of the desk.

Picture 2Because we have more files than the two cabinets can hold as it is, I might add a file storage bench like this one.  It would provide a little bit of extra seating if I have a group of clients and can be moved around as needed or even used as a prop.

Luckily hubby uses a laptop that won’t always be on the desk, so that leaves room for me to spread out with craft projects.  I’m toying with the idea of adding peg board – likely painted purple – on the wall above the desk but below the shelves for storing things up off the desk, keeping the desktop clear.

The other wall will remain mostly bare to accommodate my backdrops for photography sessions.  I may eventually add studio lights to my photography arsenal, but for now the natural light from the window will work just fine. I may finish that wall in pallet wood like this, but that would likely be a project much later down the road.

I’m on the hunt for a large armoire or hutch for the other corner by the door to house my craft supplies like this.  That keeps things behind closed doors, both out of sight and out of reach of any clients’ little hands.  I might add something like this to the side of the armoire for a little extra work space when crafting so I’m not always spread out on the desktop.  The other option is to create something with storage underneath and above a workspace in the center like this.

Large sliding barn doors like these will added at some point to allow us to close off the space when have guests over or I need a little privacy for a boudoir session.  They’d double as a nice backdrop if needed too!  We will have to figure out a way for the doors to fit past the desk and shelves when open, but that should be simple as leaving a gap between the desk and the wall.

So that’s the grand plan to fit a photo studio, craft room and office for two into one room.  Good thing it’s a fairly large one!  🙂

Don’t Fence Me In

We knew we’d  install some type of fence at the new house to keep the dogs contained on days when they stay home and we are at work, we just weren’t sure what type we’d use.  It needs to be solid enough to keep our hooligans in and the wildlife out, but not so much that it impedes the rural setting and views.

My first round of research led me to this post and metal bar style.  I like it, but it’s a little too contemporary for our taste and it felt a little heavy.


Then we spotted this chain link and wood style in a neighborhood where our builder has other homes under construction.  I’m not a fan of chain link, but because it was colored and paired with wood it looked ok.  It still seemed a bit much though.


The next option I found during a wedding photography gig at a garden.  The owners had installed his post and cable system after fighting the local moose population for years and loosing.  They told me they had fenced approximately 10 acres for about $7,000 by purchasing used cable from a contact who worked with the seismic monitoring station.  Apparently the seismic equipment requires new cable after a certain amount of use so they sell off the used wire in 1,000′ spools!


Even better than the price was the fact that it blended in with the vegetation so well, you had to purposely look for it in some areas of the property.  Plus they said that they hadn’t had a single moose in the garden since the fence had been installed.

I showed the hubs this idea and he was impressed.  We may have to put the lower strands closer together to keep the dogs from going through, but that’s not a costly or difficult change to include.

Now lets just hope we get into the house before winter hits so we can install enough to let the dogs enjoy the backyard during the day!