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!

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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. 🙂

Exploring Homer

This past weekend I headed down to Homer to photograph a wedding and had a couple of hours to explore before the ceremony.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, which was a welcome change to the constant rain we’ve had in south central Alaska for the past several weeks.

Since I was only in town for a few hours I opted not to rent a car.  Instead I decided to focus my sightseeing on the Spit, which is easy to walk.  Although I’d been to Homer before I hadn’t had time to wander and check out all the little shops so this was a rare treat.  I started at the Seafarer’s memorial which is dedicated to those who are lost at sea.  Fishing is a big part of this region and with that comes the risk of not making it back to safe harbor.  The base of the statue was covered with trinkets and messages from loved ones and friends of those honored here.  Nearby there is a bell that is tolled during ceremonies when names are added to the plaques contained in the memorial.

Nearby the memorial was this uniquely decorated laundromat for an RV park.  The wall had an eclectic assortment of things from the region including buoys, urinals used as planters and even a petrified moose leg.  It’s definitely one of a kind!

My next stop was the iconic Salty Dawg Saloon.  I waited several minutes to get an unobstructed shot of the lighthouse style building and original log cabin.  I also took a quick tour around the inside of the cabin, which is virtually wallpapered with messages written on money and a variety of other items.

Back outside I took a peek at the less famous side of the Salty Dawg, which had an adorable free form garden containing a variety of nautical accents.

The shops were grouped in clusters up and down the road, including this batch which were built on a pier over the waterfront.  It reminded me of the Outer Banks in North Carolina where I used to visit often when I lived on the east coast.  Looking out from the deck of the pier you can see RV’s parked near the shoreline.  Since the Hubs wasn’t with me I texted him to say that I wanted to plan a long weekend road trip in an RV here next summer.

I popped into one of the shops on this boardwalk called Sunken Treasures.  They had a great inventory of nautical and Alaskan items including these fun signs.  The sunny days one is sooooo me! 🙂

One of their shop windows had cracked and rather than try to hide it they had embraced it and added an inspirational quote to follow the curve of the crack, which mimicked the curves of the mountains across the bay!

Out on the deck were several spots to sit and enjoy the food options available.  Most included some sort of repurposed fishing equipment, like this table.

A little further down the road was this cool cabin style store, which looked like a cross between an Alaskan Mountain Man’s hunting lodge and a Viking Hall.  I almost came home with one of the cute stringers of carved fish displayed out front, but decided to save my money for another trip we have coming up.

Up and down the main road were a variety of artistic and unique signs, including this massive milepost and hand-painted Salmon Dawgs ad.

I had to chuckle at the ingeniousness of this shop owner’s signage, which can be changed by just moving the velcroed N to indicate if they are open or “nope”…

Another shop I stopped in, called the Blue Urchin.  There were a lot of unique items here too, but the ones that I fell in love with were small vintage style bells that will be added to the ends of driftwood garlands I plan to make from driftwood collected on our many adventures.  In fact they had one just like what I’ll be making for sale in the shop, so I snapped a picture for inspiration.  I’ll share my finished garlands when they are done.

Another fun thing I spotted was this classic truck parked outside one of the many small eateries.  There were two older gentlemen standing nearby discussing the truck who were surprised I showed interest until I told them I have a 1955 F-100 at home. 😉

After my sightseeing was done I made my way to the end of the Spit to have lunch on the deck at Lands End, where the wedding reception would be held.  On the way there I passed the ferry terminal docks which were occupied by a swarm of seagulls who were in constant chatter.  All I could think about was the Finding Nemo scene were all the seagulls chant, “Mine. Mine. Mine!”

The sun was out in full force when I made it to the hotel.  I’ve stayed here with my family when we traveled through Homer to take the ferry to Kodiak.  It’s THE landmark for the Homer Spit.

I snagged a table out on the deck with a fantastic view of the bay and watched the boats go back and forth.  Although I couldn’t enjoy a cocktail since I still had work to do it was a much enjoyed little break with my Dr. Pepper fix.

While waiting for my lunch I spotted several sailboats crossing the bay.  It was so peaceful to watch them glide across the water in contrast to the fishing boats that powered toward the marina leaving waves in their wake.

Lunch was a cup of clam chowder and this amazing caprese stuffed mushroom.  It was just the right amount to keep me full until dinner at the reception.  And it was well complimented by the sunshine and surf.

It was only a couple of hours, but it was a wonderful little mini-vacation as summer begins to wrap up.  I hope we get to enjoy a few more beautiful sunny days like this before the white stuff arrives!

 

Garden Touring

Today I’m sharing a recap of the fantastic garden tour I did last weekend.  Grab something to drink and get comfy because there are going to a LOT of pictures in this post!  The tour started off at the Willow library where the Willow Garden Club maintains this lovely display garden.  I wandered through and enjoyed the flowers while waiting for the maps for the tour to be handed out.  There were several varieties of columbines that were doing quite well.

There was also a Monkshead plant tucked between the columbines.  I was surprised to see how clumped it’s foliage was as when I spot these growing in the woods on our property it’s usually a single stem with just a few ‘hoods’ on it.  I’m going to have to research them a bit more to see if this is a different variety or if it’s just that it is in full sun, versus the shade ours have under the trees.  I’m aware that they can be poisonous so  I won’t be adding them to the flower beds, but I’d still like to know.

The tour organizers gave a brief welcome and introduction to the event, then handed out the maps to the four gardens and lunch location with a short write up about each, which I’ll include in my descriptions below.  Most of the gardens were open for the entire time of the tours so you could visit them in any order.

I decided to visit the two gardens closest to the lunch spot to get started.  The first garden I visited was Janet & Lee Thibert’s Garden on Nancy Lake.  They’ve done a lot of work to the property since purchasing it as a cabin property in 1989.  They tore down the cabin and built a lovely home with a verity of landscaping, including peonies, forsythia, dogwood, bleeding heart, roses and many ground cover plants.  Part of their property has gorgeous rock work that creates a very manicured feeling.  Also situation around their home are many cherry, birch, larch, maple and spruce trees.

The first part of the garden that tour visitors saw is an adjoining property they purchased a few years ago where they created an idyllic terraced grass and flower beds.  The first two beds as you descend the walkway were full of strawberries, which Janet said she uses as ground cover more than a harvest crop, although she did say she will sometimes pick a few to enjoy.  The third bed had a mix of bell flowers and other perennials.  The bottom beds were still under construction but had recently been planted with peonies and poppies that should fill in the space as they grow.

Off to the side there was a small trail through the trees that led to their home on the property next door.

It was a lovely wood style home surrounded by a lush green lawn.  Off to the side they had created a rock retaining wall and raised deck for their hot tub.  The top of the wall was adorned with pretty annuals and several cool rock sculpture ants.

Following the lawn down the opposite hillside led to a beautiful open area with more rock work that reached well above my head before the trail narrowed and led to a dock on the lake.

The front of the house was just as stunning, with more grass pathways and and rock work.  There was a water feature in the top section of the year and a few raised beds off to the side in an area that looked like it was still being developed.

The next garden was “The Birches” on Long Lake.  When I arrived I followed others down this amazing tree lined driveway which opened to an amazing country style garden packed with a variety of ferns, iris, currants, rhododendrons, a massive mock orange and other perennials planted many years ago.  The design of the garden encourages walking through the groupings of plants on several paths.

I followed a main path around the house to find this lovely view of the lake accented with more beds of wildflowers along the shore.

Off to the side was a pathway that ran along the shore.  On the other side of the lakeside lawn was a smaller path that curved around the other edge of the shore.  This area had several areas still in development including a fun boat and trellis planter in the making!

It was time for the lunch stop so I headed a few streets over to the Nuss home on Little Lost Lake.  They had a great open lawn area next to the lake where you could see their boat dock and arbor.  They had set out a large tent which was decorated with fun paper lanterns.

They even had a cute little spread of treats on the deck where they did raffle drawings for plants from several of the host gardens, including several unique and rare varieties.

While enjoying my lunch under the tent I spotted this amazing bird house.  I’m now on the hunt for something similar to add to my yard.  And I got a chuckle out of this guy’s shirt.  I need to find one for the Hubs!

After lunch I spotted this fun little fairy garden out near the driveway as I made my way back to the truck to head to the next garden – the world famous Coyote Garden.!  It was the one I was really excited to see and I knew our neighbor friend would be there helping out!

On the way to the next garden I spotted Denali in the distance and just had to pull over to get a shot considering.  It’s still amazing that we can see “the great one” hundreds of miles away.

This is Coyote Garden’s 25th year of garden tours!  Created by Les Brake and his partner Jerry Conrad, the garden has been featured in numerous magazines over the years.  It continues to receive kudos from well-respected garden publications all over the U.S. and was featured in last year’s fall issue of Garden Design with an article written by Dan Hinkley.  This year the garden will be profiled in the summer issue of a new magazine for the northwest – Northwest Travel and Life.

Our neighbor, Debra took a break from her duties greeting guests to walk through the garden with me and show me around.  She also introduced me to both Les and Jerry who are good friends of hers.  We started the tour on the deck of the house, which featured several pieces of Jerry’s amazing willow furniture.

The deck leads to a stone walkway along the side of the house where a variety of perennials were blooming.

This is the view from the deck, down the stone walkway.  That’s Les chatting with some ladies from the Anchorage Botanical Garden about – of course – garden stuff.  I enjoyed listening in for a bit until they started talking above my head. 🙂

Near where Les was standing was this amazing poppy.  I’ve never seen one with this coloring or pattern and it was the only one I saw there.

Looking from the pathway toward the house there is a small area of grass which leads to a narrow trail back around to the front of the house.  I’ll share more on that side in a moment.

At the end of the stone walkway you go through this curved structure that Jerry built, which leads out to an open lawn area.  This is the center of the garden as there is more beyond the grassy area that I’ll show shortly.

to the left of the grassy area is a small pathway to the lake.

Across from the curved structure is this newer back section of the garden.  It holds quite a few surprises.

As you enter this area a small gazebo structure is down another stone walkway off to the right.  It was created by Jerry using the same methods he makes the willow furniture from.  It just begs for you to sit and enjoy the garden.

Across from the gazebo is this stunning moss meadow!  I just wanted to lay down on it and pretend I was in a fairy tale movie.  It would be an unbelievable photo session location!

And here’s the view looking back from the moss meadow toward the house to give you a sense of the depth of the gardens.

We made our way back up to the original stone path off the deck and wandered behind the house on the narrow trail I mentioned before that leads around the other side of the house.  Debra told me that this large structure is new.  It replaced an older willow structure that was deteriorating after decades in the garden.

Les was also having a plant sale during the tour and thanks to Debra I already had a pink peony on reserve when I arrived.  I opted to add another to my pile since they were well priced and something I’ve been planning to add to our garden for a while now anyway.  I’ll share where they end up before the end of the season. 🙂

The last garden was Dream a Dream Dog Farm.  Veterinarian Susan Whiton, and Iditarod musher Vern Halter have combined businesses, pleasure and beauty when they decided to create this lovely bed & breakfast with a garden area to complement a bustling dog kennel.  Dream a Dream hosts many visitors every year who wish to savor the true Alaskan experience.  I was quite impressed with the spread as I walked up the driveway from the sign at the road.

Just past the house and kennel building are the main dogs’ quarters.  They were actually very quiet, napping in the sun until one saw my camera and sounded the alarm.  Luckily Vern was nearby and told them to pipe down so they all went back to napping.

Behind the house is this lovely little garden, which was well laid out to contain a lot of crops, yet still feel wide open.

The green house was cram packed and getting good use.

They had a gutter running along the side of the green house that drained into a barrel for rain water collection.  We’re setting up a similar option along our shed which will stock the water tank for the raspberries.

There were several raised beds, some with edible crops and others with flowers.  This one was cram packed with a variety of poppies mixed with a few other perennial wildflowers.

Here’s the view from the far corner at the front of the garden.  It’s amazing how much they’ve fit into this small area.

Down the hill from the garden were more raised beds and this monster rhubarb plant.  I hope the one I just adopted from a co-worker is this healthy after acclimating to our yard!

Beyond the gardens was a small enclosure for some of the older puppies.  They were so stinkin cute and super friendly.

Next to their enclosure was this Iditarod sign, which I’m sure is authentic!

This area of the property opened up to a mushing trail, which is perfect placement for training the dogs.

After exploring the gardens I visited the kennel’s building which was set up to entertain tourists and showcase Vern’s mushing career accomplishments.  The mural on the wall was a great depiction of him and it was pretty cool to stand under the bibs he’s worn on the trail.  The inside of the large bay doors also had a mural of Alaskan scenery and wildflowers.

It was a perfect day for touring gardens and it was so much fun to see the different styles and methods used by each host.  I’ll be putting a few of the ideas I got during the tours in reserve for our property and look forward to attending again next year and seeing some new gardens!

 

A Day Trip to Kenai

Over the weekend the Hubs and I made a quick trip down to Kenai to visit family who come up from Arizona each year to fish for salmon.  This year we were blessed with fantastic weather and a few extra familiar faces as additional family friends were in the area too.

The fishing was quite slow the day we were there, but it made time for conversation between those fishing and those of us watching from the walkway above.  The Hubs caught up with his uncle and cousins as they cast.

I enjoyed the sunshine and the view of the river which was full of others fishing on the opposite bank and boats making their way up and down the river.

It was quite calming to watch them all cast and reel repeatedly with patience as they joked about prior visits to the river, shared old stories from their childhood days together and caught up on each other’s lives.

Eventually the fish did start to bite and it was a team effort to make sure they were reeled in successfully.  It’s a great example of why we love Alaska – its a place where others willingly stop what they are doing to help you out, knowing that you’ll do the same for them when the tables turn.

The Hub’s cousin seemed to have the best luck with the fish, although several played hard to get.  One even jumped back out of the net after being scooped up – prompting some interesting net wielding!

Several fish teased the anglers by brushing by their legs in the water.  Another decided to give the cousin a good splash when he was running the net for someone else, but that he didn’t complain too much and quickly got back to helping out.

There were a few surprise catches too, including this rainbow trout that we all thought was a dolly at first.

During one of the lulls I spotted this dog napping on a boat drifting down the river.  A little while later they were heading upstream and the same dog was standing at the bow, tail wagging like it was the best day ever. 🙂

I took a break to relax in the sun on a nearby bench which was apparently the good luck charm for the group, because that’s when the fish finally started biting.  Although they still played jokes on the guys, swimming into their stringer of other fish or along the shoreline that was covered in tree branches and sticks, making it likely to tear the nets.  But with every fish that was caught the smiles got bigger and bigger.

And every time I sat back to relax I’d hear “Fish On!” and jump up to see who had a taunt line.

As the day wore on the other fishermen in the area left to go home for dinner so we soon had the area to ourselves and it was just our group in the water.

Another friend of the cousins’ stopped by to chat and ended up running the net for them several times.

It seemed their luck had turned and they were all happy to show off their handiwork as a team.

The Hubs and I had to head out to make the 4+ hour drive back home for the work-week, but we left the guys to fish under Alaska’s midnight sun and share more stories – or create new ones.  Several of them will head back to the lower 48 this week, but we’ll see them again next year when they return.

The Hubs will head back down this weekend to join those still here in the river and catch fish of our own, so hopefully soon our freezer will be well stocked for the colder months to come. 🙂