A Look Back at 2014

It’s New Year’s Eve and that means it’s time for a recap of 2014 at the DB&DT home. It’s certainly been a year of change. This time last year I had just picked up Sangria’s ashes and we had already brought Stoli home. Then just two months later Luna joined the family followed by Bacardi two months after that. That’s an entire new family group within a year!  And we’re blessed to have all of them.

We spent the first part of the year getting the basics set up in the new house including the master closet, the bathroom closet and the pantry. The next big project was upgrading the fur babies from the small dog run they had when we first moved in to a huge fenced back yard with grass. We also ditched the slider door insert and installed a permanent doggie door in the wall. The studio/office started coming together with the addition of my craft cabinet and the first phase of the wall-to-wall desk upgrade.  And of course I decorated to make the house feel like a home with various projects throughout all of this.

We spent a big chunk of the summer adding flower beds in the front and on the side of the house plus a massive rain garden along the driveway. Then the hubs built his big manly shed this fall.  Somehow we still squeezed in some travel with our 2 week long road trip on the AlCan and extended my business trip to Juneau to include some time to explore.

I’ve got big ideas for several projects in 2015, including finishing the office, getting the spare room set up and making the laundry room more functional, plus a batch of outdoor projects for the yard over the summer.  I’ve started a Pinterest board to keep track of what we accomplish along with ideas for a few fun things as well.  And it all kicks off tomorrow, so stay tuned for updates! 🙂


Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary – All in one!


I decided to splurge a bit and get the hubs something special for Christmas so I had a handyman build a table to fit his big green egg BBQ based on the design he’d drawn up several months ago. Although he planned to build it this summer when we start working on the yard again I knew he’d never get to it with all the other projects we I have planned. Hopefully it also serves as an inspiration for all those projects!

It ended up being a bit more expensive than I originally expected, but it will get lots of use and since I told him it’s a Christmas/Birthday/Anniversary gift he isn’t expecting anything else until next Christmas! LOL

I asked the handyman to leave the wood unfinished so the hubs can decide if he wants to paint or stain it, which lets him still have a hand in “making” it. He’ll also add some large casters to the legs, just like he did for my craft cabinet, so the almost 200 lb. egg can be moved around the deck easily. In addition to using a patio paver from our current stash as a thermal base for the egg to sit on, he can put one on the top as a trivet for any hot plates. And maybe down the road he’ll add some fold down extensions on the sides for extra workspace.

But the best part is that there’s now plenty of out of sight storage for all the accessories that have accumulated since we got the egg, including room for the not-so-lovely deep fryer burner and propane bottle! I’m secretly doing a happy dance over that fact. 🙂

I’ll share more photos of it once everything is finished, organized and in place, but it might be a while due to our longer than average winters in Alaska.

Christmas at the DB&DT House!

Merry Christmas!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  Here at the DB&DT home we had a fun time introducing Bacardi, Stoli and Luna to Christmas presents, which they all got to open themselves.  Bacardi wasn’t too sure about the idea at first, but she eventually figured it out.


The excitement made Luna a little unsure, so she hid out under the tree while the dogs opened their gifts and then proceeded to act like toddlers on a sugar binge.


Eventually she came out to see if there was something for her to open.


And seemed fairly pleased that there was several items with her name on them.


The first was this fun fishing pole toy from Uncle Mark & Aunty Mere!  She was ready to pounce as soon as she saw it!


Now that she had this gift opening thing figured out she moved on to the next present, one from mom and dad.


She had to dig to the bottom to find it!


And almost thought the bag was the gift!


But it was actually a play tunnel!  I think she thought the bag was better at first…


But curiosity won out and she decided to investigate.


She explored slowly and didn’t seem to notice the window in the middle.


Probably because she spotted something interesting at the other end, which she quickly attacked!




Big sister Tequila wasn’t to happy about her kitty kat being hidden inside this new thing.


Even when she could be seen in the window.


Big brother Stoli was also worried about his kitty.


Luna however, wasn’t too happy that they could peek in at her.


But without a doubt, the tunnel was the biggest hit of all the presents, keeping the dogs and the cat – as well as the hubs and myself – entertained!  The hubs gets all the credit for picking this one out!  But all that play eventually made for some tired kiddos and humans…


So we had to take a break before opening the rest of the presents, which included more toys and fun.  We wrapped up the day with a walk in the snow and a yummy Christmas dinner followed by special treats for the kiddos.  I look forward to many  more Christmases this this goofy group. 🙂

Merry & Bright


It’s Christmas eve and I wanted to share one last Christmasy craft project! My mother-in-law gave me several glass blocks when we visited her last fall. They had been given to her and she had no idea what to use them for, so she hoped I would figure out something fun to do with them. I had seen several ideas on Pinterest using glass blocks, so I revisited them and chose to make a simple lighted message block, using materials I already had. I didn’t take step-by-step photos since the process was so easy.

I had the hubs drill a hole on one side of the block and then shoved a strand of Christmas lights inside. I could have paid better attention as I stuffed and probably would have gotten the lights more evenly dispersed inside the block, but I think it turned out just fine anyway.

I found a Merry & Bright design in the Silhouette online shop for 50 cents and used white vinyl to create my applique. Once the vinyl was applied and smoothed I just plugged it in. Wha-la! Festive Christmas décor for under $1!

I also made one with a different Merry & Bright design and white lights, which sold at my holiday bazaar booth. Luckily, the one left was my favorite of the two and it now greets guests on our front porch.

I hope your Christmas is Merry and Bright and filled with fun!

A Mini-Date at Alyeska

I had a photo session scheduled over the weekend out at Alyeska Resort, which is a well-known Alaskan ski destination and when I found out that the hotel was offering free tram rides up the mountain that day I asked the hubs if he wanted to make a day trip out of the booking. Game to spend his day off with me, he agreed to come along.

Although we’ve lived in the area for almost 2 years, I hadn’t been up to the hotel until recently when I was asked to shoot an elopement there this fall, but I didn’t get a chance to explore the area so I was excited to have an opportunity to check it out.   The hubs had last visited the hotel about 10 years ago, but that was before the tram was installed so there was plenty of new things for him to see too.


It was foggy down by the hotel, but we heard that there was fresh powder up on the mountain which is why the hallways of the hotel were crowded with skiers and snowboarders waiting to head up the mountain when we first arrived. Luckily, most of them were already up top by the time we finished my session and headed up ourselves.

Just like when we rode the tram in Juneau we climbed into the fog bank hoping for the best.  The view on the way up made me feel all Christmasy inside!


The fog started to clear as we approached the tram terminal at the top.


This was the view as we stepped off the tram! Sorry for the glass reflections, but it was the only spot to get the shot.


The view got even better as we headed out of the tram area and passed a small café which was PACKED with folks trying to catch a quick meal before getting in some more time on the mountain before the limited daylight hours passed. We hung out in a ski lift chair at the end of the walkway that was set up as a swing for a while just enjoying the experience.


We visited the little gift shop/museum called the Round House which is the octagonal building seen in the photos above. They were having an end of year inventory sale and I found a pretty scarf that was super soft on sale for just $16! The view from the walkway of the Round House was absolutely stunning and just required a panoramic shot to capture the whole scene.


I spotted another photographer on the walkway around the shop and asked if he would take a photo of the hubs and I with the beautiful background, which resulted in this shot. Notice that new scarf!? 😉


Next we headed over to the Seven Glaciers restaurant where we sat in a corner with windows on both sides so we could see the tram as well as the people coming down the slopes.  Check out the amazing view!  Even the hubs had to do a panoramic picture!


But I mostly enjoyed checking out this view… 10
As we waited for our food we spotted the same photographer who had taken our picture working with a bride and groom out on the edge of the slopes! Seeing him work, I felt bad that I’d set the camera to auto before handing it to him to take our photo! Oh well.  While we were eating I spotted these cool bells hanging from the ceiling. I’m not sure what they were from but they were obviously made by a crafted by a skilled artisan or two as the bells themselves had etchings and the collars they were attached to were quite intricate.


We enjoyed our lunch, watching the tram come and go as the light started to fade and the number of people out on the slopes dwindled.


We decided it was time to head back down the mountain and start the journey home. Although the tram deck looked empty when we first arrived from the restaurant, it soon filled with folks carrying their snow gear and ready to head back to the hotel for the evening, which made our tram back down much fuller than our tram up had been.


As we descended, we entered the fog once again and slowly the hotel appeared as we approached. It was definitely an entirely different weather experience on the ground than it was at the mountain top.


We headed back through the hotel pausing to warm up by the large fireplace where a moose mount sported some festive cheer.


And as we left the hotel we spotted this polar bear who unlike the moose, didn’t look too excited about being dressed up for the holidays.  Maybe his scarf was a little too tight.


We don’t have a lot of down time with our busy schedules, so I’m grateful we were able to fit some in around other activities. It was a perfect winter mini-date to get us excited for Christmas.

Christmas Light Show

I love seeing the Christmas lights along my daily commute including a large fishing boat that has been outlined down the road and a solitary evergreen along the highway that a group of “Secret Santas” rigged to light up despite being in the middle of nowhere. And this rig swagged with lights amid traffic made me smile.


But my favorite is a neighborhood light show I can see from where I meet my carpool group. I usually arrive a few minutes early and park facing the neighborhood so I can tune my radio to the frequency they broadcast coordinating music on. I’m always bummed to see the van pull in because it means I have to leave my happy cocoon of Christmas spirit. The hubs and I drove through the neighborhood to get an up-close look over the weekend and enjoyed the free candy canes provided as you enter. Here’s a little taste of what we enjoyed.

Checking out Christmas lights is one of my favorite holiday traditions and even though he might grumble about putting up our outdoor lights the hubs has said that he would love to set up a ‘light show’ like “The Christmas House” we used to visit while in Kodiak. I’m totally game for that, so long as we stick to Christmas lights and don’t end up being this house! 🙂

Meet My Herd

Each of the women in my family has a decorating theme at Christmas. For my sister it’s snowmen and for my mom it’s Santas. For me its reindeer, which is totally fitting for life in Alaska! But I don’t just welcome any ol’ reindeer into the herd. I have to feel a connection with them. And once they are in the herd they have to have a name. Let me introduce you to a few of my favorites.

HollyHolly has my shotgun rider during the Christmas season for several years now. Even when traffic is insane and I’ve had a bad day I’ve got a little bit of festive cheer looking back at me from the dash.

RudyWhile Holly keeps me festive inside my ride, Rudy is my Christmas spirit ambassador on the outside, high atop my antenna!

FinkFink is a fun little guy that my mom found for me. There is a button under his pedestal that when pushed makes him collapse over, but he pops right back to attention when it’s released! 



Fancy swirls make Noel so pretty and feminine. But she’s tough too and can still pull a sleigh.

MaxMax is a hand me down addition to the bunch who I adore and welcome back each year.

MIloI locked eyes with Milo’s sweet face at a craft bazaar and never thought twice about bringing him home with me. I just love his little floppy ears, twig antlers and big goofy nose. I smile every time I see him. 🙂

MoeMoe’s knotty knees and gangly feet were just too sweet to pass by. I’m sure he was crafted just for me and I plan to keep him forever.

GusAlthough he can be a real couch potato but I still adore Gus’s casual laid back vibe.

RustyRusty was too big to make the journey from Virginia to Alaska when I first moved and I dearly missed him every Christmas. Luckily, he made the trek to our new home when we brought my ’55 up north.

WoodyMy favorite, Woody also had to be left behind in Virginia until our recent haul brought him to the last frontier, where I hope he will soon be joined by a Mrs. Woody and maybe even a little one or two!

FlintRedFlint and Red are two of the newest members of the herd, having just been found last year. They found a safe haven from the dogs on the mantel and I love how they look there.

SebastianElegant and poised, Sebastian whistled at my mom in the store so she knew he was a keeper. I’m not joking. He was the only one on the shelf but she wasn’t sure he would ‘speak to me’ as much as he did to her, so she put him back on the shelf and walked over to the next aisle to “think about it”. Then she heard someone whistle from the aisle she’d just been on. When she looked around the corner there was no one there, except Sebastian. She took that as fate and bought him for me.

Of course this isn’t everyone in the herd, that would just take too darn long – There are at least 10 who live on the tree alone! There are few newbies this year who are on interview. If they don’t fit well with the herd I’ll find them another home to be festive in next year. So now that you’ve heard about my wacky Christmas decorating, I want to hear what your traditional décor includes!

The Most Wonderful Time of Year?

Christmas is my favorite holiday and I always look forward to the fun traditions it brings. Unfortunately, the past week or so I feel like I’ve been hurtling through December, with an impending face plant into the brick wall of reality that Christmas is just ONE WEEK away. It’s been non-stop at work with 5 separate holiday parties to plan, I crafted for two holiday bazaar booths this month and of course this is the one of the busiest times of year to be a photographer! Even though I was moving at light speed and constantly crossing things off my to-do list, everywhere I looked I saw signs that I was failing:

  • That laundry basket of sheets on my counter which needs to be folded and stored in the vacuum seal bags I got for items on the top shelf of our master closet. FAIL.
  • The large box filled with smaller empty boxes left over from shipping Christmas presents out, still sitting next to the bar wall. FAIL
  • The dust bunnies that swirl in my wake as I hustled down the hallway to and from our bedroom. FAIL
  • The kitty litter I feel beneath my feet on the laundry room floor as I put on my boots each morning. FAIL
  • The pile of supplies sitting on counter for Christmas craft projects that will likely not happen before Christmas. FAIL
  • The box of holiday décor items by the front door that was left out to because I had grand plans to do some more decorating on the porch, but haven’t. FAIL
  • The photos I took for the blog that I haven’t had time to edit for posts. FAIL
  • The outfits for family pictures which I haven’t taken for our Christmas cards that also haven’t been designed yet. FAIL
  • The pile of ‘stuff’ to go through on the side table by my chair which has been there for over 6 months. FAIL
  • The set of classic Christmas movies I haven’t had time to watch yet this year even though it’s one of my favorite traditions. FAIL
  • The spare room full of stuff that is waiting for other projects to be done so they can be stored or displayed. FAIL
  • The coupon for the photo book I was supposed to order weeks ago for my grandmother’s Christmas present. FAIL
  • The funky looking stem of our Christmas tree that I had planned to hide with a tub or crate this year but didn’t. FAIL
  • The empty spots in our pantry because I haven’t gone grocery shopping. FAIL

The list goes on and on. Each item added another layer of guilt, coupled with a major lack of sleep, which made me feel overwhelmed and downright Grinchy. I was in need of some serious grace. That’s when God led me to this post and this post (two of my favorite blogs) to remind me we all have our flaws and self-criticisms, it’s part of being human. And then to reassure me that he made me strong and capable of handling any struggle he drew my attention to two presentations on Lifetime (The Red Tent and Women of the Bible) that highlight the important, yet often overlooked role women play in his plans.

It all gave me a revised perspective and made me notice the blessings I’d overlooked recently.

  • The hubs planned meals for the next week and went grocery shopping for all the ingredients.
  • Despite this being the first Christmas with us or ever for three of our fur children there has been no damage to our tree or ornaments.
  • Although there isn’t a ‘family’ picture for the Christmas card yet I was able to capture a great group shot of the dogs that I absolutely adore.
  • I found personal and thoughtful gifts for most on my list and all have been shipped in time to be opened on Christmas morning, plus I’ve come up with a plan to still get my grandmother her photo book in time.
  • We’ve accomplished a lot of projects around the house since we moved in this time last year and have plans to complete the next few soon.
  • The hubs recently got a job offer for a new position which comes with a substantial raise that will help us pay down our debts.
  • I received an exceptional compliment on my work ethic and success from the President of the company I work for, which was followed up with multiple comments in agreement from several senior managers.
  • And most importantly, we are all in good health and in need of no life basics.

It’s not a complete 180, but my mood has shifted. I’m taking time to enjoy a little bit of Christmas each day starting with watching A Charlie Brown Christmas last night surround by my fur babies as I sat in my chair by the fire. It was just another message from above. Watching Charlie Brown’s desire to celebrate the season with a heart of joy was like looking in the mirror and when Linus remind everyone what the real reason for the season was it drove the nail home. And I’m so glad it did.

Crafty Christmas Creations


I began making ribbon characters a few years ago after finding tutorials on Pinterest for several holidays. My Christmas collection includes a Christmas tree, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Clarice (Rudolph’s girlfriend), a snowman, a snowlady and a penguin. I’ve also tested angel and Santa designs similar to the snowman and lady, but haven’t perfected them yet.

At first I just made them as hair clips for my nieces, but I soon realized that if I sent clips to the girls I’d have to send something equally cute for my nephews so they didn’t feel left out. The solution was simple – put the same characters on broach pins. Not only did the boys enjoy them, adults who wanted to show off their festive side in a professional way couldn’t get enough of them!

This year I started making them as ornaments as well, since not everyone wants to wear a hair clip or broach pin. They haven’t been as popular as the clips and pins, but it’s nice to offer the option since I let customers mix and match for a price break from $3 each to two for $5.

Want to order one for yourself or someone on your list? Check out my Etsy shop where they are listed!

Getting in Tune with the Holidays

December 1 marks the beginning of the Christmas season for me and there’s nothing that brings me into the holiday spirit quicker than Christmas music. That used to mean digging into my Christmas storage tubs for my holiday CDs, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology I now have a “Christmas” playlist in iTunes and all I have to do is click play wherever I am – my desktop computer at home, the iPod in the vehicle or the iHome at my office.

Like my other playlists, this one is pretty eclectic ranging from country to classic. Although the music included comes from multiple sources, two albums make up the majority of the list so I thought I’d share them with you. The first is “Heavenly Christmas” by Jackie Evancho. If you haven’t heard this gal’s AMAZING voice you’re missing out big time. Every time I hear her sing I get goose bumps. Literally. I’m so glad my mother-in-law was watching a special about her while I was visiting a few years ago because otherwise I probably still wouldn’t know about her amazing talent.

The other is LifeScapes Christmas Stress Relief, a 2-CD collection of 24 instrumental classic Christmas tunes. It’s the perfect background music when I’m working but still want a festive feel. I stumbled upon this album at Target several years ago while playing with the music sample kiosk.

I also have a few favorite singles on my list such including:

So now that you know what’s on my playlist, I want to hear what’s on yours! I’m always on the hunt for new favorites to add, so share your suggestions below.