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! 🙂

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Merry Christmas on the Porch!

As promised in my last post, I’m sharing the festive decorations on our porch today!  I’m really enjoying styling the little vintage cart we picked up at the junk show in Washington for each season.

It’s just the right size for this little awkward corner on our porch and is the perfect start to each season’s look.  Luckily it’s also well protected in this spot so I don’t have to worry about it too much.

For Christmas, I continued our winter theme with frosty trees, white lanterns, a Christmas sign I picked up at the Alaska Chick’s Market, Rusty the reindeer and a larger tree that I DIY’ed to fit in the crock we picked up on the same trip we got the cart.

I added the antique sled I’ve had for a while to the corner of the set-up.  I may still add a bow or wreath to the sled, but if not it looks nice just as it is.  It had that thick paint job when I found it, so I may strip it down to see what lies beneath one day.

If you’re wondering how I made the tree in the crock, here’s a little behind-the-scenes.  It’s a tomato cage wrapped in garlands and a strand of lights.  I didn’t do a step-by-step for this project since I’ve seen them all over the web and it was so simple that I did it while watching a movie with the Hubs! (Hence the crappy cell phone pics! But at least I got it done before Christmas!)  Just tie the three stake feet at the bottom together to form the point of the top of the tree and start wrapping the garland from there toward the bottom – or what used to be the top when it was used as a tomato cage.

I can say having twine or wire handy to tie off the end and beginning of each garland so they stay in place, and to buy more garland than you think  you’ll need.  This one took four 12′ garlands and I still didn’t make it all the way to the bottom of the cage.

I think it turned out quite pretty and the extra part of the cage at the bottom was perfect to anchor it into the crock so that it’s very stable.  I may be making more of these next year to add trees in the bedrooms!  Have you made a tree from a tomato cage?  If so, I’d love to see it for inspiration for next year’s decorating! 🙂

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.

Picker Day Finds!

This past weekend I went to the fall Alaska Picker Day and as always had a great time.  The crowd that attends these events is always so courteous and there’s great finds that we can’t usually get here in Alaska at reasonable prices.

This was the first time they’ve held the event at their new location in downtown Palmer.  I love that they sit directly below the historic water tower which just adds to the charm.  I arrived 15 minutes before the sale opened and there was already a good sized crowd on-site, but everyone was respectful of the “gate” which was just an extension cord pulled across the driveway.  I ran into our friends Larry & Anne, who run Anne-Tiques and chatted with them about some projects I’m brainstorming while we waited for the sale to open.

Once the bell rang everyone flooded in to the shop through the large bay door, right to this massive back bar piece they brought back from the midwest.  A local brewing company had samples available for a donation, but since I was driving solo I didn’t partake, but heard them receive good feedback from several patrons.

This was the scene inside behind the makeshift bar.  Oodles of awesome junk.  I wasn’t on the hunt for anything in particular so I decided to step back outside and look at things there now that the crowd had migrated inside.  I spotted these awesome metal headboards and knew they’d make great trellises for the garden but didn’t have an exact spot for them so I hesitated.  I was most interested in the larger more ornate piece, since they were just $30 each.

I decided to ponder them some more and browse for other items so I headed back inside to look around.  I spotted these cool carriage wheels, one set wood and the other metal.  The wooden ones were already spoken (tag pulled) for so I don’t know how much they were priced at.

Near the wheels was this line of milk cans.  Priced at $58 each they were a good buy but I’d had the luck of finding one at a garage sale I stumbled upon that morning for just $20!  It doesn’t have the patina these ones do, but a coat of paint will have it ready for a new home on my deck or porch next year.

I’m always drawn to these wash tub stands because they make great raised planters, but I don’t have a spot for one right now and their $225+ price tag wasn’t really in the budget right now.  I’m sure they will find happy homes quickly.

These fun apothecary jars caught my eye as well.  At $12 each they were a little pricey, but still a good buy.  I didn’t have a specific use for them so I left them for someone else to enjoy.

There were also several displays of vintage cameras.  As a photographer I love seeing them and the history the document, but I’m trying to simplify our spaces and reduce things that just collect dust so I passed on these, even though were well priced from $25-50 each.

This old photo viewer was another interesting photography find.  I didn’t get to ask about the history of the piece but it just looked cool – and the photo in the holder made me giggle thinking it was likely considered very risque when it was taken.

So here’s my final haul from the sale.  I ultimately decided to get one of the headboards, but when I went back out to grab the tag on the biggest one it was already gone, so I opted for the smallest one thinking it will give me more options on spots to put it.  I’ll store it in the green house for the winter and find it a home in the gardens next spring.  I also picked up a couple of wooden berry baskets for just $1.50 each.  I plan to use them in my seasonal decorating, starting with fall.  I’ve got a couple of pumpkins that are going to look adorable in them!  I also found this fun conveyor belt bin for $10 that I think will make a fun wall planter on the back deck next year.  I wanted to find a few more, but my friend Anne and the friends she brought beat me to them.  I told them if they don’t find a use for them I’d be happy to take them off their hands.  And lastly here’s the milk can I found at the garage sale.  Like I said, it needs some TLC, but it’s solid. 🙂

It wasn’t a big haul, but I’m pretty happy with the items and projects they will fuel – all for just under $65!  I’d love to hear what you think about my finds and ways you think I could use them in a comment!

Adding a Porch to the Greenhouse

Since we got the green house set up this summer I’ve been wanting to add a little porch to the front to reduce the step in at the door.  I had planned to build one myself from pallet wood, but the Hubs offered up a few piece of damaged Trex boards that were scrap from our deck projects.  (I’ll be sharing the new deck & hot tub the Hubs has been working on all summer once I get a chance to style it a bit and get some photos!)

I certainly wasn’t going to turn down his help or an option that required less prep work – especially as we enter the last few weeks to get outdoor projects done before winter arrives in Alaska.  He built a simple frame from some some left over pressure treated boards left over from building the new deck and attached it to the frame of the green house on the front.  Because the ground slopes here we used paver bricks to support the frame so we could get it level.  Once we had it attached we pulled out the pavers and the Hubs added a support post using a scrap piece of 4×4, also from the deck construction.

I was busy getting a new flower bed installed next to the shed (I’ll be sharing that update next week) so I didn’t get a picture of that step but you can see it in the edge of the finished photo.  I plan to add fill dirt around the front, side and back of the green house to level things out a bit more before we spread gravel over the whole area around the green house.

Here’s a quick little before and after:

It’s amazing how much that little change elevates the look of the whole green house!  I absolutely love it and can’t wait to see it finished off with the gravel around it.  Now I just need to find a metal R at Alaska Picker Day tomorrow so I can complete the “GROW” sign I plan to add to the top of the front.  🙂  If I find some good treasures I’ll be sharing those next week as well!

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!

Well Float My Rope and Ring My Bell

Yesterday I mentioned making driftwood garlands, like the ones I saw in Homer, but today I’m sharing a similar project I did recently that also has a bit of a nautical flair.  This little project has been in the works for years.  It started when I picked up a batch of wooden floats used for fishing more than 2 years ago.  I only had six and every project I thought up required more so they sat, waiting for more to be found.  Then I happened upon these cool vintage metal floats at Junk Bonanza and decided to pair them together but still didn’t have quite enough to complete the project.

I spotted a pair of metal garden bells in a catalog for $20 and knew they’d be perfect at the end of a line of floats.  Unfortunately the company wouldn’t ship to Alaska so I had them shipped to my Mother-In-Law and picked them up when we visited earlier this summer.  To fill out the rest of the rope I picked up several cork floats from Alaska Picker for a few bucks each.

I used some woven rope I already had in my stash from another project and started with a loop tied with a knot.  I fed the floats onto the rope in a set pattern and tucked the loose end of the rope from the knot at the loop into the center of the first float.  At the bottom I just made a knot and then tied the rope that came with the bell into the knot, again tucking loose ends into the last float.  It was so easy, I did both ropes while watching a movie with the Hubs and it took less than 20 minutes.

The Hubs added hooks we had left over from another project on the front corners of the green house so I could hang the ropes easily and take them down for the season quickly.

Here’s the rope on the other side, where I’ll have a large metal horse trough planter next season.  Right now it’s serving as a brooder for the baby chickens we picked up yesterday!  Get a peek at them on Instagram or Facebook.

The bell on this side is a little smaller than the other, but has the same style and finish.  They don’t get much movement in this spot so they stay pretty quiet, but when they do chime it’s a pretty soft sound that’s soothing and just right for a garden.

I’ve still got several projects to tackle out around the green house before we close up the yard for the winter and I’m already putting together the plan for what we’ll plant and do next year.  Until then these float ropes add a little bit of Alaska style whimsy to the garden and make me smile every time I see them.  One more project checked off the list. 🙂