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!

EggTable

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.

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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.

LunaTree

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

LunaTree2

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

LunaPresent

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

LunaPresent2

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

LunaPresentBag

She had to dig to the bottom to find it!

LunaPresentBag2

And almost thought the bag was the gift!

LunaPresentBag3

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

LunaTunnelFace

But curiosity won out and she decided to investigate.

LunaPresentTunnelUnsure

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

LunaTunnelWindow

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

LunaPresentTunnelReady

LunaPresentTunnelPounce

LunaPresentTunnelAttack

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

LunaPresentTunnel

Even when she could be seen in the window.

LunaPresentTunnelWatch

Big brother Stoli was also worried about his kitty.

LunaPresentTunnelStoli

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

LunaPresentTunnelStoli2

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…

StoliDadChill

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

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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!? 😉

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

Truck

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! 

Fink2

Noel

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!