Introducing Stella

Over the weekend our little family grew by four paws and a set of whiskers!  The Hubs and I had been talking about getting a kitten for a while and had looked at several online but nothing had lined up just right.  Then he spotted an ad online for someone rehoming kittens from an “opps” litter and one was an adorable grey tiger female.

We called and confirmed she was still available and made arrangements to see her later that day.  She purred while I held her, cuddled, was talkative and seemed interested in both me and the Hubs.  Just like our other fur babies it just felt right and she came home with us that evening.

Her previous home had several large dogs and other cats so we figured she would adapt well to our pack quickly.  For the dogs it was love at first sight.  Tequila follows her around just hoping she will play with her.  Brinley enjoys her sprints up and down the hallway and even a playful swat on the nose when she gets too close. Stoli has been a bit more reserved usual, letting Stella come to him as she pleases.  She’s got them all wrapped around her little paw.  In fact, she can walk right up to any of them and rub her face against them anytime she likes.

Luna on the other hand is not impressed with her new sibling, voicing her thoughts with several hisses and grows.   Stella has respected the message by keeping her distance.  She’s got plenty of interaction with the dogs and a whole new house of things to investigate instead, while Mom follows her around with a camera.  Luckily she quickly got used to that too.

Her previous home called her “Miss Thing” just as a way to distinguish her from her almost identical brother but we decided to rename her Stella.  It’s the perfect bridge between our alcoholic doggie names and the Latin roots of Luna’s name which means Moon.  Stella is Latin for Star, so the cats have celestial names, but it also can be short for the Belgin beer, Stella Artois which continues our alcohol theme on that side.

Since she’s arrived it’s been cuteness overload.  From the perfect kitty pose & stare to that adorable little tongue.

All that play and investigating makes for a tired kitty.  So little cat naps are frequent and just as adorable.

She likes to cuddle and has snuggled with both of us quite a bit, purring all the while.  While the Hubs was watching the Olypmics, she discovered the corner of the couch is the perfect spot size for her to curl up and still be close to Daddy while also providing a great view of the tv.

That is until she falls asleep. 🙂  I’m sure you’ll be seeing lots more of her in the coming weeks as she continues to establish her place in the pack.  We plan to keep her inside for a while and will introduce her to the yard when she’s a bit bigger and spring begins to arrive.  Then she’ll have a whole new territory to investigate – including meeting the chickens and learning to mouse so she can earn her keep with more than sweet snuggles and purrs.

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New Job, New Desk and New DIY Decor

In my post last week I mentioned that 2018 started with a big change for me at work.  I’ve been promoted to a new position within the same department and as part of that transition I got to move to a bigger desk.  I had decorated a bit at my old desk, but the space was awkward and limited so I didn’t do much beyond organizing my office supplies.  The new desk has much more room and is a bit more private so I had a lot more to work with.

Here’s how the space looked just before I moved over.  It was a total blank slate.  And here’s how it looks now!

It’s still a cubicle, but it’s cozy.  And since I spend a big chunk of time here every week I’m glad that it makes me comfortable and reflects my style.  Things started with a plan to organize my office supplies.  I’d picked up some pieces from the Joanna Gaines spring line at Target, but they ended up not working out for what I wanted.  So I went the old DIY route.  I had this little metal caddy for a while.  I picked it up from the Target dollar zone probably 2 summers ago for use out on the deck, but it never left the cabinet since it came home so it needed a new purpose.  It was just the right size and layout to store my note pads, pens and markers.  But I wasn’t crazy about the color in this space when I tested it out with my other supplies.

So I did what any good DIYer does, I broke out the spray paint for another desk caddy revamp.  My first thought was white, and I had a can of chalk paint in the garage.  I taped off the handle to protect it and got to spraying.  It took several coats to cover the teal color and once it did, I wasn’t loving it.

So I dug in the paint cabinet again and found black.  It’s my new go-to farmhouse style color and I figured it would work well with the frames I already had at my previous desk.  There were a few spots that crackled or bubbled since the first coats were a chalk paint but in good farmhouse style it adds to the character.  Here it is finished and all loaded up.

I did keep the fun shaped paper clips from Hearth and Hand because having goat shaped paperclips is just awesome.  I had originally planned to have them in the small dish you saw above, but it was too small and they spilled out easily.  So I decided to DIY another solution.  I pulled an old small canning jar out of the cabinet – oddly the same cabinet the caddy had been stored in – and since I’d used up all the black on the caddy I painted the ring top with ORB so it coordinates.  Now it’s the perfect way to store all my cutie paper clips.

There was a little cubby area in the back corner of the desk which lent it self to being the perfect spot for all my supplies.  Here’s how I originally set it up.

I decided to move the paper clip jar over by my business cards so it was more visually balanced and turn my little Scotch doggie tape dispenser toward the caddy.  This just felt better so I kept it this way.

I had this fun cast iron card holder from my craft show booths and since it doesn’t get use most of the year I decided to bring it in to the office so I can see it every day.  I think it was originally meant to hold bars of soap but it’s the perfect size for business cards.

I snagged a letter board on EBay for $20 with shipping and put that off to the side near the phone as you saw above.  I plan to share inspirational messages each week to help motivate our team.  I flanked the board with an IKEA plant I already had and the seasonal winter bird decor I’d gotten for each of the desks in the office back at Christmas.

I placed the lamp from my old desk in the other corner behind the monitors.  I already had the verse print from our trip to Hawaii when we visited a friend’s shop there, but I found a nice frame for it and placed the books I’m reading for professional development next to it.

If you’re wondering what’s on the other side of that big white area behind the monitors, it’s this pretty mural of a local mountain range.  It’s a nice piece of art to enjoy every time I walk toward my desk.

Above the back corner was a little shelf, where I display my awards and a faux succulent from my previous desk.  I hung my version of van Gogh’s Starry Night (my fave painting) that I did at a paint night event a while back on the back wall for a bit of color.  I also traded out the heavy wood inbox tray for the black wire one I’d brought in for my old desk, since it coordinated better with my other black accents and reduced the visual clutter a bit.

So here’s my home away from home during the week.  It’s cozy and welcoming, but still professional.  My coworkers have enjoyed seeing the space come together and now look forward to the weekly inspiration on my little message board!

I also DIYed some items for the gal filling my old position, which I’ll share soon! 🙂

Farewell 2017

Happy New Year!  As we welcome 2018 with new goals and ideas it’s easy to think of how much we didn’t accomplish last year.  Yet when I look back at what I’ve shared here on the blog I’m always amazed at just how much we did do each year.  Here’s a quick look back at the highlights of 2017:

  • We started off the year with one of my favorite projects to-date, barn doors for the office!
  • The next big project was finishing the laundry room sink update by installing the granite counter top remnant.
  • We celebrated the Hub’s birthday at the famous Iditarod ceremonial start during Fur Rondy.
  • The Hubs and I had a great visit to Portland over Memorial Day weekend where we did lots of shopping and celebrated our anniversary at the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill concert and got some great finds at a wonderful little antique shop.
  • The first season using the green house was a great learning experience for next summer and the added porch, sitting area and nearby shed bed make it my new favorite spot in the yard.  Plus the DIY compost bins should hold some garden gold come spring!
  • We enjoyed a unique 4th of July celebration in Glacier View while my sister and brother-in-law were visiting from Virginia.
  • There was also the quick trip down to Kenai to visit the Hub’s family during their annual fishing trip from Arizona.
  • We made a quick day trip with friends to Hope & Whittier in search of new photography locations and salmon berries.  While we didn’t come home with much it was a fun day spent with friends.
  • I enjoyed browsing local artists’ creations at the Bubbling Brook Vintage Market where I started my Rae Dunn collection.
  • I saw some amazing gardens on the Willow Garden Tour and can’t wait to go again this year!
  • I got to explore Homer while there to photograph a sweet couple’s wedding.
  • The Hubs resurfaced the deck off the living room with Trex and built a new one off the master bedroom to match.  There’s still some finishing touches to do to the new deck this year, but it’s been a great addition to the yard.
  • I attended two great photography workshops to improve my skills behind the camera and in running my business.
  • We hit the State Fair to see Josh Turner perform and to pet the goats.
  • I picked up some fun new items at this year’s Picker Day that will be fun projects for the yard come spring.
  • The Hubs and I had an amazing time in Iceland and Scotland this fall on our way to my nephew’s wedding!  I’ll be sharing those adventures soon as I’m still working through the thousands of pictures we took on the trip.
  • We kicked off the holiday season with the Colony Christmas celebration and an amazing fireworks show.
  • We enjoyed a little getaway in Girdwood while photographing an elopement at the end of the year and had a nice quiet Christmas at home with the fur babies.

This year is off to a busy start as well.  Tomorrow I have a minor dental procedure to keep myself healthy and when I return to work after recuperating for a few days, I’ll be starting a new position in my current department!  There will be a lot of new things to learn and coaching of the person who will take over my current position, but I’m excited for the change.  I’ve also got some big plans for the house and yard this year which I’ve already started planning out on the calendar.  Looks like next year’s annual recap will be just as interesting!  🙂

 

A Day in Girdwood, Alaska

I recently had a few days off from my full-time job and booked a photography client for an elopement in Girdwood during that time.  Since that’s a 2 hour drive from our home we decided to make it into a little day trip to celebrate holidays.  We stopped in Anchorage on the way down to take care of a few quick errands and then stopped a local eatery in Indian, AK called Froth and Forage for brunch. They specialize in organic, locally-sourced meals so they had a great menu and cozy atmosphere.

The elopement came next and was done in an open field with amazing views near Alyeska Resort.  The temps were nearing single digits, so after the ceremony we all headed to the hotel to warm up for a bit and do a few more photos there.  Once I wrapped up with the bride and groom the Hubs and I hung out at the hotel enjoying the big couches around the cozy fireplace and pretty views of the grounds and tram up the hill out the window.

The moose above the fireplace kept us company along with skiers and snowboarders there to enjoy the mountain’s activities.

The hotel was decorated for Christmas and the snowy trees covered in lights created the perfect mountain retreat winter wonderland feeling.

After relaxing for a while, we headed to the infamous Double Musky Inn for dinner.  It’s the local hot spot for fine dining in this sleepy ski town and while the Hubs has been there several times, this was my first visit.

Like most buildings in Alaska the exterior is simple and deceiving of what you’ll find inside.  The impressive wine cellar is on display behind a window as you enter the building and head toward the restaurant.

As you turn the corner into the dining room there’s a completely different feel.  A collection of random items hang from the rafters and a hodge-podge of signs cover every inch of the walls.

We got a table in the solarium, where I had a great view of the bar area.  It too had an eclectic variety of decorations including several well recognized flags across the ceiling.

I ordered the Redout Volcano cocktail, which had a fun hint of coconut.  I enjoyed sipping it watching the candle light flicker against the massive stained glass window our table sat against.

The Double Musky’s menu is based on cajun specialties, which started with jalapeno bread that came with our salads.

We decided to try the cajun stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer and were stunned at how big they were.  We each only tried one so we could leave room for our meals, knowing the portions are always generous at this venue.

While the Hubs went with the Musky’s classic peppercorn steak, I selected the crab stuffed halibut with baked potato and it didn’t disappoint.  It was flaky and moist, with just the right amount of spice to the sauce.

Both of us only made a dent in our entrees before we were full, but we had to try the creme brulee for dessert so we split it.  It too was delicious and just the right mix of crunch on the top and smooth inside.

Rather than order another cocktail when I finished my meal I opted to go with a hot chocolate, which the waiter added chocolate sauce drizzle to.  It was a great way to warm up before we headed back out to the cold for the drive home.

While it was only a short get-away, I’m glad we were able to squeeze it in and spend a little quality time together.  Although I will admit I slept a good portion of the ride home while the Hubs drove thanks to a content and full belly! 🙂

Christmas Recap

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  Here’s a recap of how our holiday went at the DB&DT house.  Christmas eve was Stoli’s 5th birthday so we celebrated by giving the dogs their plaid ‘bling’ from Scotland which included bandanas for the girls and a fancy bow tie collar for Stoli.  They looked pretty snazzy as we delivered Christmas gifts to a couple of neighbors during an afternoon walk.

Lucky for the Hubs and I our kiddos aren’t in a big hurry to wake up on Christmas morning, so we slept in a bit and then go to opening presents.  Luna was sure this pile was all for her and when I told her it wasn’t she had to investigate each to confirm.

We always get three of everything so the dogs are equal and put them in matching or coordinated bags.  Since Luna was pouting that not everything was for her, we started with the dogs’ gifts, letting them take turns ‘opening’ one.  Stoli was so polite and kept looking at daddy for the ok to pull out the gift.  Tequila on the other hand was ready to dive in and find the goodies.

Daddy tried to help Stoli by bouncing the toys out of the bags, but that just led to Brinley swooping in and snagging them.

He eventually got the hang of things and started reaching in like his sisters, although sometimes he still wanted Daddy to help.

Tequila was ready for another and dove right in as soon as it was ready.  Then she supervised her brother doing the same during his turn, albeit a bit more gingerly.

While the dogs were entertained with their first round of toys for a bit Luna got to open a few presents.  She wasn’t sure at first, but having seen the dogs open their gifts she decided to investigate.  You know that old adage about curiosity and cats… 🙂

Moments later she was pawing her new toy out of the bag with a bit of help from Daddy.  This one makes noise which attracted the dogs’ attention so we let her play with it for a bit before moving on to the next gift.

Up next was the biggest gift, which means it was the biggest bag too.  Honestly, the bags are kinda her favorite part of presents – at least when opening gifts anyway.

She went right in to check it out while her siblings watched.

Now that the dogs were back to being interested in presents we moved on to the ones I had DIYed for them, with a special yummy surprise at the bottom.  Always the gentleman, Stoli again asked Daddy for permission before diving in.

The smell of the bone at the bottom drew him in and he spent several minutes with his head buried in the bag pushing the fleece braid rope out of the way to sniff the bone while his big sister watched.

Apparently he was taking too long for Brinley because she decided to come help so Daddy switched to her gift.

Next Tequila opened a combined gift from their Aunt & Uncle, then assisted Luna with her gift from the same relative.

Daddy opened the dogs bones so they were busy with that, leaving Luna to finish up her gifts uninterrupted.

The dogs had a pretty good haul at this point, and they still had a few gifts to go!

While the fur babies were all busy with their new favorite toys, we opened our gifts and connected with family on the phone.  While the spending money I received is quite handy I think these two guys are my favorite gifts this year.  The big elf is from my Mother-in-Law and the smaller one is from my sister.  There is still one more gift coming from my sister that will be a close second – two new Rae Dunn mugs that say Bark & Woof!  They will be perfect for our house! 🙂

We spent the rest of the day snuggling on the couch watching movies while I got caught up on some of my favorite blogs.  It was a great way to spend the holiday together, resting and enjoying each other’s company.  Hopefully we can do a little more of that this weekend as we celebrate the new year!

Colony Christmas

We’ve been trying to make it out for the Colony Christmas festivities in Palmer the past several years, but schedules haven’t lined up.  Luckily this year they did and we were able to catch some of the merriment.  The Hubs had to work until around 3, so we decided to start with the ceremonial lighting of the iconic water tower at 5 pm and the parade right after that.

Alaska Picker helped orchestrate the lighting and housed the historic red light for the top of the tower for a while in preparation.  We spotted these awesome hats celebrating the tower, being worn along the parade route where everyone was gathered,  I wasn’t able to get a shot of them before they disappeared into the crowd.  Luckily our friends saw them too and stopped them to ask for a picture!

The parade was done on the main street in town, which has a quaint historic small town feel. Since it’s so dark this time of year, many of the vehicles in the parade were decorated with lights or pulled trailers decorated in lights.

We even spotted the Grinch far above watching the action from his modern day Mt. Crumpit.  There was no sign of Max, who I’m sure would have loved to see all the people and pretty lights!

One parade float done by a local church had a nativity scene, while others featured Christmas trees, large snowmen or pretty packages.

A new consignment shop in town had this pretty lighted arbor design with cut outs of items offered a the shop around the edge of the display.

The best entry of the night was this old truck, completely outlined in lights from a local coffee shack.

The big boom truck from the electric company was my second favorite because they decorated a good portion of the truck with lights, including a star on the grill.

After the parade we headed over to check out a bazaar at the train depot which was PACKED!  We made a quick lap to see all the products and the headed outside to catch the fireworks.  While waiting for the fireworks to start I enjoyed the light displays around the depot, including this one of a train driven by a moose.  There was also a Grinch with little Whos, the Grinch on his sleigh, moose and snowmen along with others.  There were so many people around the displays that I couldn’t get good shots of them, but I’ve shared links to shots that our friends got earlier in the evening.

The fireworks were totally worth the wait in the cold.   I made a video of them, which I’ll share on Facebook later today.  On the way back to our truck we spotted the old truck again and got to see it up close, which was even better!

While we were admiring the truck, the same friends who got the shots I linked to above spotted us and invited us to join them for dinner at a nearby cafe.  The rest of the night was spent laughing and sharing stories around a table.

It was a great way to kick off the holiday season.  I think this might need to be our new tradition, with a whole day devoted to all that’s available during the weekend!  I’d love to hear what activities you do to kick off the season, so be sure to leave a comment below.

It’s State Fair Time!

The approach of fall means it’s state fair time.  The last time we went to the fair was 2 years ago, when we went to attend a concert.  That was our motivation to attend this year as well, this time to see Josh Turner – one of my favorite country artists.

We arrived a little early so we could experience the fair before the concert and I made a bee-line for the livestock pens like I usually do, with a pause to check out this year’s garden display in the center of the fairgrounds.  This year’s design used simple plant types to create an amazing bear family and a stream of salmon.

Inside the livestock barn we spotted this unique art entry that took top honors.  You can see why!  I’d love to have something similar in my garden!  We wandered the rows of livestock stopping to talk with the 4-H and FFA exhibitors to encourage them in their upcoming time in the ring.  Of course I had to stop and visit every goat!  There were several breeds represented, but my favorites have always been Nubians, with their big floppy ears.  There were a couple of groups of sleepy goats all curled up together that were pretty adorable as well.

After watching a few of the livestock classes in the ring, I made a quick stop in one of the large halls nearby before heading to the concert to support a local vendor I’ll be working with soon.  On the way I spotted this great totem pole, which I’ve never noticed before.

We also stopped to get my fair must-have – funnel cake with raspberry topping!  Even thought it was messy to eat, and the developing breeze kept blowing the powdered sugar all over my outfit, it was delicious and so worth the mess.  The Hubs chose a steak taco, which he shared a bite of.  It was pretty yummy too.

Then it was time for the main attraction – the concert.  The opening act was The Last Bandoleros, who had a Tejano style mixed with rock.  I didn’t know any of their songs but now that I’ve heard of them I’ll have to learn a bit more about them.

And then that gorgeous country crooner put on quite a show. Unfortunately they don’t allow DSLR cameras at the concert, so I had to make do with my camera phone – but I wasn’t the only one.  How many camera phones do you spot in the picture below?

Mr. Turner and his velvety voice put on an amazing show.  The weather turned chilly and windy during the concert and both the Hubs and I had been fooled by the nice weather earlier in the day and had foregone jackets.  That just gave us a reason to snuggle and keep moving to the beat to stay warm.  It was pretty funny to watch Josh and his band rub their hands together to try to ward off the chill between sets.  They even commented how this was quite a change from the heat of the deep south they are used to, but they didn’t let that keep them from keeping us all entertained.

While we’re not typically fond of big crowds, parking was a nightmare and everything was expensive, it was all worth it to hear that wonderful voice in person – and yes it sounds as good in person as it does on the radio ladies! 😉

Have you made it out to your local county or state fair?  Leave me a comment to share what your favorite fair activity is!