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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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!

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! 🙂

Our Simple Christmas Decor

I’m still tinkering with my Christmas decorations, but since the big day is just around the corner, I thought I’d share what I’ve done so far.  I’ve migrated to a more “winter” look than full-on Christmas so things can stay up well into January without feeling out-dated.  That’s handy since winter in Alaska can last well into the months that most classify as “spring”.   I also find that my style is much more simple than it used to be, perhaps that’s an influence of our recent trip to Iceland where they have a very minimal Scandinavian look, or maybe it’s just a lack of time to create so much detail.

Things start out on the front porch, but I’ll share that in another post later this week.  Today we’ll start in the entry way where Red and Flint are the first of my reindeer herd to welcome guests.

Around the corner Gus hangs out above Brinley’s kennel where my cute storage bench used to be.  It was a victim of her teething stage and so now the kennel lives in it’s place.  Ahh the sacrifices we make for children….

Just past the entry the media cabinet in the family room became a bottle brush Christmas tree farm just like last year.  I’ve added the lighted houses in the pedestal cloches, a few more trees and this cute little red truck, which used to be an ornament.

The mantel has a frosted garland and trees.  All of the trees except the two twig ones light up and create a pretty glow in the evenings – or pretty much most of the day since this is winter in Alaska!

I found the light up bottle brush trees at Joann Fabrics this year and am very pleased with them, especially since I got them for a great price with a sale and a coupon!  I’ll be watching to see if they have any in their after Christmas sales.  The two mercury glass trees came from a local vintage shop called Revive.  I’d been hunting for some all over town and had pretty much given up when I found them tucked away in a display at a great price.  If she’d had more I would have snatched them up too.  They also had hollow centers and access through the trunk section so I crammed a strand of fairy lights into both to give them a soft glow as well.  I may just add a strand of the same lights to the two twig trees so everything lights up!

Next to the mantel Sebastian has a view out the window next to his own tree.  Max moved out to the living room this year from the office where he’s been the past few years.  Now he is one window over from Sebastian.

On the couch I’ve got a couple new festive pillows.  I picked up the Ho Ho Ho and tree one from Target’s after Christmas sale last year, but had to ship them to my Mother-In-Law’s house because they wouldn’t ship to Alaska.  Good thing I was able to visit and pick them up earlier this year. 🙂  The red plaid pillows are from JoAnn Fabrics’ fall line.  Pay no attention to the coating of dog hair – that’s what I try to do…

The side table next to the couch got a touch of color with this little wreath and lantern.  I found the lantern at a garage sale earlier this year for just $2 and the wreath was another JoAnn’s sale find for around $5.  I love how they look together.  This is the only time of year I decorate with red, but I love the pop of color during the long winter months.

The tree is behind the couch, next to the nativity on the curio cabinet.  When we first moved in 4 years ago I had a hard time figuring out where to put the tree, but this spot has worked out perfectly and become the tradition in our house.  We have a new tree this year, after our tree of many years stopped lighting up in several sections last year.  It’s an after Christmas clearance deal, so it’s nothing special but it will work for a few years until I can save up and somehow justify the cost of my dream tree along with the vintage style candles for it.

The tree has a bit of Scottish flair after our trip this year.  We picked up a couple of ornaments while there to continue the tradition of growing our collection.  Unfortunately one of those new ones met an untimely fate when Luna and Brinley ganged up to attack the tree soon after it went up (repeat that phrase about things you do for your kids…).  You’ll notice there’s less ornaments on the lower sections of the tree for that exact reason! But our Harris Tweed highland cow and Scottie dog are still safe… for now anyways.

I had this sign for the nativity made last year after the holidays and really like it above the creche.  It’s the perfect compliment to the simple style of my beloved Willow Tree nativity set.

Over in the dining room, Moe found a new home this season on the scroll wall hanging where we put up the holiday cards we receive.  I really enjoy seeing him more often this year and think this will be his ‘usual’ spot going forward.

Next to Moe, this new addition came to us from WA where my wonderful Mother-In-Law went on a mission to find him at an antique shop I follow online.  Several ‘elves’ have made an appearance around our home this year and I think they are great care-takers for our herd.   I haven’t named him just yet, so if you have suggestions I’m all ears.  He reminds me of the Nordic elves we saw depicted in Iceland and even the Scottish Highlands so maybe I’ll do a theme using either of those cultures.

My dear, Milo ended up in the other windowsill, where he’s safe from the dogs.  I’d be pretty heartbroken if something ever happened to him.  His expression seems to say he knows how dangerous being closer to the floor could be in this house!

On the back wall of the dining room I hung my North Pole sign from last year under the windmill and decorated the top of the buffet with faux winter greens, antlers and gold tone votives.  I’d like to make some twig luminary trees to add to this set-up and since the look is “winter” rather than Christmas I’ve got time to do that even after the holiday.

The two votives in the front are new this year.  They were a fun little find at the Alaska Chicks Vintage Market a few weeks ago.  At just $2 each I thought they were a great price too!

The new mug rack also has a few more additions to it for the holidays after the Alaska Chicks show.

This “Merry” Rea Dunn mug was one of my favorite finds that day thanks to one of my favorite vendors, Rustique Designs.  She’s who I got the other Rea Dunn mugs from and who made the reindeer sign and nativity sign!

This sweet little fella was also part of my Mother-in-Law’s adventure to the antique shop.  Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever?  While he’s not quite “Christmasy” I just couldn’t not put him out right away after she made the effort to find him for me.  Plus the little sprig he’s holding kinda looks like holly and the red rim ties him in to the season – at least in my mind. 😉

There are also little touches of Christmas in the other rooms, including this little church in the laundry room.  It started out as an ornament, but I like it much better as a decor piece here after a few little modifications.

Below the shelf is another little elf with a reindeer buddy just his size to keep him company.  These two also started life as ornaments – I think I’m sensing a trend here.

The office window where Max used to sit is now home to the lovely Daphne who joined the herd last year.  She’s got her own little tree and some pretty votives to light up the dark.

Also in the office is this sweet little fox I found at the grocery store!  He was the last in the display and just begged to come home with me.  He’s looking quite dapper on the daybed, among all the pretty pillows.  He also needs a name so keep those suggestions coming!

In the hall bathroom another couple of ornaments turned decor add a little touch of the season to the existing decor.

In our bedroom are two pretty little reindeer my sister found for me last year.  They too started as ornaments, but now they hold their own on our nightstands so we have some holiday cheer at the end and beginning of each day.

In the guest room, there are some little Santas on the nightstands.  If you follow me on Instagram, these are the find I made at that lovely store I made it out of only spending $10!

The chair in the guest room also got a little update for the season with this simple pillow I found at Hobby Lobby during our recent trip down south.  I’m so glad they already had Christmas stuff out while I was there!

So that’s the tour of our Christmas decor.  I hope you liked it!  Stay tuned to see what I’ve done out on the porch, or get a sneak peek over on Instagram! 🙂

My Christmas Wish List

Remember back when you were a kid and made your list for Santa?  It was so much fun to sit and dream up a list of all the things you’d like to get and wonder which might arrive on Christmas if you were good.

Now that I’m all grown up I tend to keep a running wish list all year, so that as budget allows I can get items from the list when I find a good deal.  Here’s a few that are still on my list, just in case anyone is wondering what to get me – complete with links where most can be ordered. 😉

At the top of my list right now is a letter board to go above the craft desk.  I’ve been eyeing them on other blogs and friend’s social media for months and love the idea of being able to change up the phrase to fit my mood, or leave little messages for the Hubs from time to time.  The size I need for that spot is a little pricey, so I’ve been watching for it to go on sale like it is now, but it’s not in the budget while I’m buying gifts for others.

 

I’ve been needing to replace the shams in the guest room for a while now, since the ones currently in there are from a bed in a bag set I bought several years before we were married.  The current ones are faded and missing ties, but I’ve made do with them because I wanted something different but wasn’t sure what, until I found these these shams.  They will coordinate with the existing bedspread and tie in the colors of the new throw pillow we got in Scotland on our trip!

Speaking of pillows, I’ve also been eyeing these check pattern throw pillows for the sofa.  I like their classic but neutral style that would work with my other seasonal pillows.  I drive the Hubs crazy with my pillow collection, which grows every year and is in constant rotation around our home, but he and the dogs always seem to enjoy them when they are snoozing on the couch!

 

There are also several small items on my list like these pot holders from the Hearth and Hand line at Target.  The pot holders we current have pre-date our marriage and are looking WELL USED.  In fact they are getting so worn I’m worried that soon they will no longer be functional.  These would be a pretty and safe upgrade!

Source: HGTV.com

Continuing in the kitchen, I’d like to update our soap dispensers.  While I still like the DIY ones I created back when we moved in several years ago, I’m ready for something different and love the look of the ones Joanna Gaines uses in her remodels on Fixer Upper like this one.  Although I’ve looked, I can’t seem to find her source and she doesn’t have any in any of her retail lines.  I found something similar, but the reviews are pretty bad so I’m still on the hunt for a set with metal heads that will be able to take the abuse of daily use at the kitchen sink.

Source: Pinterest

I’m also on the hunt for old rolling pins.  I recently changed up the decor on top of the kitchen cabinets and now have a crock I’d like to fill with a few vintage rolling pins like this.  I’m thinking I can fit 3-4 in the crock I have.  I’m sure I could find some on eBay or Etsy, but expect they’d be pricey for real vintage pieces.  I’d rather find bargains locally on ones that are just “old” since they will be displayed up high and don’t need to look good up-close.  I’ll keep an eye out at local thrift shops and on the buy/sell pages, but may also request help from my Mother-in-Law who helps run an amazing church rummage sale each year!

Another small item on my wish list is remote-or timer controlled, flameless votive candles.  I like using the small votive glass in my decor and it’s a pain to switch each candle on and off each time I want to use them.  If they were on a remote or timer like my Luminara candles it would be much easier to enjoy them.  Some I’ve seen online had horrible reviews but this set seems to hold up and work well.

I’ve also been wanting a vintage truck that I could use in my seasonal indoor decor.  I’d planned to get one for my Christmas decorating but my local Target doesn’t carry them and they are out of stock online.  I’ve heard there are similar options at Hobby Lobby and other similar retailers so maybe someone will spot a good deal on one and snag it for me. 🙂

Although we’re firmly in winter’s grasp, there are a few wishes for when the weather allows gardening again, like a new cement bird figurine to replace the one that froze before I could get everything in the yard pulled for winter.  It cracked and fell apart when I picked it up!  It was a random gift from my Mother-in-Law during one of our trips so I was pretty upset that it broke.  I’ve searched online for another just like it, but haven’t found just the right one.  During the search I did find this cute little hedgehog who might have to find a home in my garden next season!

And of course there’s a few photography items I’d love to get, including several I snagged on black Friday sales.  But one I haven’t gotten yet is a new camera strap for my backup camera.  The current one is a bit too bulky and I’d like to switch to a scarf style like I’ve been using on my primary camera for the past several months.  I’ve found several on Etsy that would be great options ranging from floral to modern and even classic.

I guess that is a pretty long list, but like I said mine runs year round – and I’d like to think I’ve been good this year, so a gal can hope right?!  I’d love to hear what’s on your list!

Last Minute Finishing Touches

1It’s the week of Christmas and I’m still tweaking my holiday decorations.  I wanted something above the mantel in the family room and had been looking for a farmhouse style sign that said “There’s no place like home for the holidays” but hadn’t been able to find one locally.  I considered DIY’ing one, but knew that wouldn’t happen with my current to-do lists.  So I came up with a quick DIY alternative using items I already had and a free printable.

I dug out this large classic frame I’ve used on the mantel several times before including St. Patrick’s and Halloween.  I filled it with some light colored burlap material from my fabric stash and used the cardboard baffle inside to keep the fabric tight.

bcOnce it was closed up, I turned it over and added a free printable I found online thanks to  fellow blogger Lil Luna to the glass on the front using glue dots.  This made placement much easier than trying to attach the print directly to the fabric and center it in the frame under the glass.

dHere’s how it looked all put together.  Sorry for the late night photos, but daylight is a rare thing when I’m at home working on projects these days.  Unfortunately this frame has seen better days and no longer has good hanging options on the backside, so we had to get creative when we went to put it on the wall – especially one made of stone.

aThe Hubs and I came up with a solution using more items we had on hand and now it completes the fireplace wall – just in time for Christmas!

eAnd while we’re talking Christmas decor, I’ll give you a quick tour around the house of my other displays, since I’ve been meaning to do that with photos I was able to take during our minimal daylight hours.

Next to the fireplace I used my collection of bottle brushes along with another free printable I found on the Little Glass Jar blog.  I flanked everything with two of our favorite lanterns filled with pine cones and mini light strings.  Please overlook the dust I apparently didn’t notice when taking these photos – because it’s so common in our household, hence the name of this blog!

treestrees2In the entry way a lighted garland is the perfect base for several woodland style characters, including this super cute driftwood reindeer I just added to the herd this year!  I haven’t named him yet, so if you have suggestions I’d love to hear them.  I also picked up that cute little stuffed fox this year and think he makes a perfect buddy for Santa – plus he makes a great prop for winter time photos shoots with small children!  He’s in need of a name as well so share those ideas too.

entrydeerfoxOut front there’s a new wreath on the door as Rusty greets visitors.  I usually get a live wreath, but the fundraiser I used to buy from is no longer available through a friend, so decided to go faux and get something I can use for several years.  The classic combination of silver and gold should fit in with any holiday style I try over the coming years.

doorwreathI shared my decor on the dining room buffet on Facebook a while back, including the new wall decor I got this year so be sure to get a peek at that.  On an adjacent wall I placed another new piece, this barn wood angel.  I picked her up at the Colony High School Holiday Bazaar that I attend every year.  She was created by the same vendor who made the barn wood star that hung above our nativity set last year and then became part of the gallery wall.

angelThere are a few other decorations around the house, but they are minimal and most have been shared here on the blog before so I won’t rehash them.   I hope you enjoyed the project and quick holiday tour!

Our New Star Tree Topper

I’ve been on the hunt for the past several weeks to find a new star topper for our Christmas tree.  Although I’ve seen a variety of adorable alternate tree topper ideas, I like the tradition of a star atop the tree.  We used to have a large glittery copper paper star, that met an unfortunate demise when it fell off the tree and Bacardi ‘revamped’ it.  Last year we used an IKEA star, which is now on the nativity creche I shared last week.  It worked, but I didn’t love it and knew I wanted something new this year – besides, it looks a lot better with the nativity set than it did on the tree.

I was planning to DIY a star topper I saw on Pintrest but couldn’t find the right materials locally.  I also browsed Etsy for some ready to buy options, yet couldn’t find anything I loved.  So the top of our tree sat naked for the first few weeks it was up while I continued the hunt.  Luckily, during a recent stop at Walmart I spotted a gold colored faux mercury glass star that was ready to plug in and light up.

a

The box it came in was fairly beat up, so I looked for another one that hadn’t been abused, but after searching through all of the tree topper shelves I confirmed this was the last one in that style.  While it would still be pretty even if it didn’t light up, I didn’t want to pay full-price if I wasn’t going to get the glow atop my tree like I was envisioning.  Since it was quite early in the morning, the store wasn’t busy and a very nice sales associate helped me find an outlet make sure it still worked.  It lit right up as soon as he plugged it in, so I said I’d take it.

b

That night it went on top of our tree.  Since the plugs for the tree lights are in the middle of the tree and the star’s cord didn’t reach that far, I had to run an extension cord through the tree to plug it in.

c

It’s the perfect finishing touch to our tree and well worth the little extra effort and hunting.  It’s got a rustic and vintage vibe with the mercury glass look, yet is classic and modern too.  If only I’d known to search for mercury gold star to begin with!

I’m pretty sure we will be replacing the tree for next year – I’ll be on the hunt for a bargain during the after Christmas sales – but the size and style of the new star should work well with any tree we get, so I’m planning to enjoy it for many more years. 🙂