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!

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Denali Road Lottery

9So apparently tomorrow turned into a week – but that’s how life happens around here.  Soon the projects that are pulling my attention in 200 directions will be complete and I can refocus on celebrating the holidays.

Ironically, I was feeling about the same way when we took our quick trip to Denali several weeks back.  Too much going on and not enough hours to get it done, but in desperate need of a break to recharge.  Fortunately winning the Denali Road Lottery gave us just that opportunity.  If you haven’t heard about the lottery here’s a quick recap – the general public pay to enter the lottery for a chance to purchase a day-long permit on one of four selected dates.  You can get the full details on the program here.  Both the Hubs and I entered this year and I won for a date in late September.  In that area of Alaska, September could still be fall but often, it’s the beginning of winter weather so we knew we could experience either.

The scenery was definitely fallish on the way to Denali from the Mat-Su valley.  The views reminded me of Colorado, but on a much grander scale.

12We went up the day before our permit so we could make the most of the trip.  We stayed at the McKinley Chalet just outside of Denali.  As we entered the lobby to check in I spotted this statue of Balto the famous sled dog from the Iditarod.

baltoOnce we were checked in and had dropped our stuff off at the room, we made our way over to the welcome center at the park to purchase our permit pass for the next day.  While standing in line I heard someone call my name and turned around to see a lady who had retired from the company I work for in line behind me.  We’ve run into each other on adventures like this a few times since she’s retired, so we had a good chuckle over it.

I had been to the welcome center once before but hadn’t had time to wander and explore, so I enjoyed checking out the many displays they had, including this large exhibit that had lots of information about the wildlife and local ecosystem.

wildlifecenterOf course we had to take a selfie with the giant moose, since you can’t do that in real life!  Other interesting animals were the adult and baby mountain goats, marmot and pika, which I’d never heard of before.

wildlifeselfiegoatgoatkidmarmotpikaThis display of the different types of volcanic rock in the park reminded me of similar exhibits we saw in Hawaii.

rocksIt was nice to see the local plants on display since most of them were now gone for the season outside.

flora2floraOther displays explained how researchers track the movements of predatory birds in the region and monitor the fault lines that formed the landscapes surrounding the park.

birdradiosfaultlineWe headed back to the hotel to get dinner and enjoyed the view from the dining room as we leisurely ate and chatted about the sights.3After our bellies were full we wandered out to the lookout on hotel property where a vintage tour vehicle was on display.  It was nice to see the time and effort the preservation groups had put into rescuing a piece of the park’s history so future generations could appreciate it.

86457Next, we hit the tourist shops where we tried out several crazy items like this mountain man hat that hid half the Hubs face when he tried to photo bomb me!

hatphotobombThere were also plenty of Alaskan puns on everything from T-Shirts to wall decor.  Here were a few of our favorites.

shirtakambearshirtakbearlyawakeshirtakchocmooseshirtakdeereshirtakhighlifeshirtakmealsshirtakmoosewmeshirtakpolarbearshirtakredbearshirtakredmooseAfter we had our fill of shopping we went back to the hotel where we decided to spend the rest of the evening at the new Denali square.  We browsed the artist gallery and the small shops around the amphitheater before snagging a spot at one of the many fire pit tables with a view of the mountains.

commonsWe sat enjoying the crisp air and the view as sunset faded.  Eventually we ordered a few drinks and some very yummy beignts with caramel sauce as dessert to our earlier dinner.  In fact they were so good, we had to order a second round!

firesideviewfiresidedessertWe stayed well after dark to chat with a group of tourists from the east coast of the US who joined our table.  We had lots of laughs as we shared the difference between real life in Alaska and what they see on TV.

The next morning we met up with friends we’d invited to join us on the road lottery and had breakfast together at the hotel before heading into the park.  Not far past the welcome center we spotted this big guy in the brush.

10As did several other park visitors.  He was apparently quite used to this chaos and wandered across the road right between the groups of cars before heading on out into the next field.

1211A little further up the road we spotted a flock of ptarmigan who were already switching to their winter camouflage, which made them stand out against the colorful vegetation.

13Soon the snow that had been forecasted made it’s appearance with a dusting over the low brush.  While not the look we were hoping to see, it was pretty in it’s own right.

14Now that there was snow on the ground we spotted these tracks on a hillside and all pondered what animal might have made them.

15We soon discovered the answer and watched as this ptarmigan darted up the hillside.

16It paused at the ridge to look back and before we knew it one had become many!

171819The weather made wildlife sighting quite difficult so we continued on to the Eielson Visitor center where there were several antler displays around the building.  The first was a caribou set that would have overlooked the view of Denali if it had been a clear day.  The most impressive was the two bull moose antlers that were locked together after their rutting battle led to them getting tangled.  Unable to pull free of each other, the encounter eventually led to both o their deaths.

202122The weather was cold and wet so we turned around to head back toward the park entrance.  Along the way we spotted a group of moose we’d seen on the way in and decided to sit for a bit to see if they’d come any closer.  All we could see of the bull was the very tips of his paddles above the brush, just visible through the misty snow.

23The cow on the other side of the same knoll was easier to spot.  She was very aware of the bull’s proximity and was keeping a close eye on her two yearling calves nearby.

24Eventually the bull decided to come out of hiding and show off his enormous rack.  The distance made his size a bit deceiving, but as the men in our vehicle noted very vocally you could sit a full grown man in his paddles and still have room to stretch!

2526We left the moose to woo his cow and headed down the road were we spotted a bear crossing the road in front of several cars on the hillside above us.  By the time we got to the same spot he was more interested in foraging in the brush, so all we could see was the top of his back.

27We came back through the lottery check point and were amazed at the difference in climate from one area to the other as we looked back across the landscape at this pull off.

28There were several more wildlife sightings before we left the park including this strutting male grouse who caused another slowdown in traffic and a small herd of caribou, including a few who had radio transmitters like the ones described in the exhibit at the welcome center.

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30A bit further, we encountered a massive traffic jam which meant there had to be something big nearby that was causing everyone to stop on the road.  I hopped out to investigate while the Hubs navigated the congestion.  A few steps from the truck I spotted antlers in the brush.  At first I thought they were a shed from a bull last season, but then I saw them move and realized they were still very much attached.

31I rounded the bend to see this cow standing nearby and a few more steps brought the bull into full view.

3233He was absolutely stunning there in the colorful grasses.  He didn’t seem to interested in his crowd of admirers and neither did his female companion.  So when the Hubs had finished making his way through the congestion I bid them farewell and hopped back into the truck.

34We headed back to the hotel so our friends could pick up their vehicle and head home for a final exam the next day.  While we were in the parking lot with them we noticed just how dirty the truck had gotten on the back-country roads.

dirtytruckThe mud was so caked on that you couldn’t even read the magnet sign for my photography business on the tailgate!  I took the rare opportunity to leave a message for other highway travelers as we headed home, much to the Hub’s dismay.

dirtytruckmsgAlthough our friends had to head out, we decided to enjoy one more meal with the view.  Since the Hubs was driving, I ordered my new favorite liquid libation.  Made with an Alaskan wine, this drink is a very simple sangria mixture which is probably why I like it so much.  In fact we bought a bottle of the wine used so I can have them at home occasionally and will know what to buy when this one runs out!

drinkIt was the perfect ending to our little get away.  And thanks to the very nice ranger at the welcome center who pointed out that we could buy an annual pass for the same price we expected to pay for the per head pass this time we can come back to enjoy the park again through next September!  Although we won’t be able to access the entire road system, it would be nice to see the park in the other seasons and compare the differences.  There just might be a few more weekend getaways coming up next year to this destination! 😉

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Fall Decor & Fireside Chats

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you’re enjoying the day and giving thanks for the blessings in your life.  Since I plan to switch all the decor over to Christmas today because I don’t have another chance to do so for quite a while, I thought I’d take this last opportunity to share my fall decorations. If you look really closely, you’ll catch a sneak peek of another decor change I’ll be sharing soon.

I’ve found that using pumpkins and autumn elements can carry me from the first signs of fall in September all the way through to Thanksgiving.  This theme starts in the entry way with a collection of pumpkins flanked by lanterns with large pine cones and light strands I found in the dollar zone at Target.

0Next to the dresser I have a pumpkin wax warmer.  It casts a pretty orange glow near the front door and looks like mercury glass which is a favorite of mine.

1Over in the family room I featured a fancy purple velvet pumpkin in the new cloche I got at Home Goods during our recent trip to Portland along with my favorite woodland creatures, Mr. Fox and the thrifted Whooty Owl.

3On the mantel there are, you guessed it, more pumpkins.  The velvet one in the center is a rich burgundy so I gave it a bit of prominence on a birch round.  The new lanterns I got at the end of season clearance sale for outdoor accessories will work well for several seasons thanks to their neutral classic style.  And my favorite little raven is tucked up in front hiding out after he saw Brinley chew his buddy’s beak off after she mistook him for a chew toy and snagged him from the windowsill.  He’ll get some reconstruction soon so he can join his buddy again next season.

2The tray on the end table got a gold votive and a glittery pumpkin.  I thought for sure that little sparkle would make it fall prey to Brinley’s teething chompers but she never showed a bit of interest in it thankfully.

4Over on the curio, my favorite little scarecrow is guarding some gourds.  He also stays up high because his button legs would be too much temptation for our fur babies.

5Over in the office a metal lantern goes autumnal with some mini pine cones and two colorful floral picks.

6In the dining room I filled this large glass lantern with moss stones, mini yarn pumpkins and pine cones.  These antlers fit perfectly around the curve of the glass give the whole arrangement a more rustic style.

7Beyond the centerpiece is this vignette with another velvet pumpkin, my little turkey votive holder and this fun rusty cup I picked up at a new local shop filled with orange mums.

8On the next windowsill I added a fun little dollar store pumpkin I snagged on our recent trip to Portland next to the creeping Jenny I brought inside for the winter.

9On the sideboard a crock with decorative grass takes center stage with my rusty owl.  More velvet pumpkins line the top of the sideboard leading to more lanterns with moss and pine cones.

10Outside there are even more pumpkins, including the only REAL one in the entire collection which is being perfectly preserved by the recent low temps.

outside My wooden pumpkin stakes and the metal spheres from the garden adorn what’s left of the dusty miller in the whiskey barrels out front.  Behind them my DIY 4×4 pumpkins decorate the steps next to the metal and burlap planters.  outside5 outside6outside3

outside4Up on the porch my welcome pumpkin hangs on the front door and a ceramic one joins a metal lantern on the milk can table.  In front of the table is the lovely fairytale pumpkin I bought at the local grocery store.  It was originally inside but Brinley attempted to make her own pumpkin treats with it so it moved outside before she could really do damage to it.

outside7 outsidepI’d never seen a real white pumpkin before so I had to have one when I saw them at the store.  I’ll be saving the stem from this one for DIY projects next year, but the rest of this large beauty will become compost in the garden.

And while we’re still thinking fall, I had to share this pretty set-up one of my networking groups did for our “Fireside Chats” meeting.  This is a group of wedding professionals – event planners, photographers, cake makers, and more so there is usually some sort of decorations but this was the perfect mix of rustic and chic.

1The smores themed cupcakes were quite yummy and those who wanted the real deal had the ingredients ready just steps away from the fire.

24And if you wanted a snack to go, they had that covered too.

3Just shows you don’t have to make things complicated to create something special.   I hope the rest of your Thanksgiving holiday is fun and relaxing.  I’m gearing up for the big bazaar I have a display at this weekend and then more photography clients in need of Holiday portraits. I’ll be back tomorrow to share our quick trip to Denali with friends, so check back for that after you emerge from your turkey coma! 🙂

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Simple & Elegant Fall Centerpieces

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Today I thought I’d share a simple centerpiece I created for a recent work event.  I wanted something fall themed for this particular event, but hoped the elements I chose would pull double duty for our upcoming holiday party so it needed to be able to transition into winter.

The venue provided the silver lanterns, so I added a birch round, pinecone, pheasant feather and mini pumpkin to compliment.  Some of the birch pieces were thicker than others so I set the lantern next to the birch for those so they didn’t impede the view of the presentation being given.

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We also had some small signs on the tables with factoids about the subject matter, which we put in small silver place card holders.  Although I can’t share the factoids, here’s a blank card to give you an idea of how they fit in with the centerpieces.

I was able to do all 7 tables for around $100 which was pretty minimal. They were just enough for this business luncheon event once the rest of the table was set, and next month I’ll reuse the pine cones, birch pieces and feathers for our “silver winter” themed holiday party!  Low cost and multipurpose, that’s my kind of décor! 🙂

DIY Rustic Fall Centerpiece

As promised, today I’m sharing how I created the DIY chalk paint fall tray centerpiece on our dining room table. I picked up this wooden tray on a local buy/sell page for $15 from the Rusty B (love her stuff!). It had a metal handle that had come a bit loose so I popped that off and gave it a quick coat of cream chalk spray paint left over from painting the pumpkins I used around the house this year. I’m really loving this stuff and it comes in lots of colors! Anywho, I forgot to take a picture before taking the handle off but here’s the before – like literally seconds before the spray paint started flying thanks to my hubby who snapped the picture with my phone as I shook the can in between sprays! (In fact, you can see a little peek of the pumpkins I’d started painting in the top corner.)
FallTrayBefore

After two coats it was looking pretty good.  Much brighter and prettier than before.  The chalk paint gave it just a bit of texture, but it looked a little flat.   So I decided to distress it a bit to get some of the black to show through.

FallTray2

A quick hand sanding later it had dimension again with a worn, lived with look. Then I reattached the metal handle and it was ready for some fall filler.

FallTrayAfter

I filled the bottom with white beans, then topped it with a variety of pumpkins and gourds in similar colors. A few pieces of leftover berry spray from the entryway and a couple filler pieces I found on a recent trip to Michaels and it was done.
FallTable

And that’s the story of my DIY fall centerpiece. I’ll be back tomorrow with the quick makeover I did on a little faux pumpkin!

Shared on Knick of Time’s Vintage Inspiration Party #209!

My Fall Decor

FallMantelAt last, I’ve finished decorating for fall and got some nice daylight shots to share.  I started with the mantel, which I kept very natural and neutral with a little pop of orange from the DIY pumpkins I made last year.

FallMedia1

Next to the fireplace I continued the neutral theme on the media cabinet. I found the free feather print online and added a green urn filled with tiny yarn pumpkins I DIY’d years ago by wrapping orange yarn around and around to form a ball, then adding a small stick as a stem. On the other side I kept the wooden tool box filled with hydrangeas from my summer décor and added a doily wrapped pumpkin – another DIY from years past using a doily to cover a basic green plastic pumpkin and covering the gathered ends with twine I wrapped to form a stem.

FallMedia2

My yellow and orange zig zag pillow covers made the throw pillows I was using for the summer more appropriate for fall and I added a couple of clearance pillows I found at Michaels to tie in the neutral colors I’d used elsewhere. I also picked up a white striped pillow in the same pattern as the black ones and have it on the chair next to the couch, although I somehow forgot to take a picture of it.

FallCouch

On the side table I placed a ceramic lantern and pumpkin in a metal tray and finished it off with a cute little wooden crow I’ve had for years. The lantern and tray were both recent Michaels finds. And the arrangement leaves just the right amount of room for the TV remote to be stored in the tray where it can be found.

FallSideTray

The metal table between the chair and couch holds my favorite thrifted find, a little owl lantern with some orange mums in an old crock and a pretty glittery green pumpkin I found at Walmart for under $1.

FallSideTray2

I put my little scarecrow on top of the curio cabinet, where his little button legs are safe from puppy teeth.  I like to display him with them dangling like I did last year, but now that the dogs are home alone for a longer portion of the day I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.

FallScarcrow

I kept things simple in the entry way, using more of my DIY wooden pumpkins and an old wood tray I got at the estate sale this summer.

FallEntry

I filled the tray with a variety of green and neutral colored pumpkins and gourds, including several I painted white with chalk spray paint after seeing one of my favorite bloggers create some for her home the same way, although I painted the stems of mine green and brown for a little contrast. I added a berry spray I got at Michaels around the base for a little extra color.

FallEntry4

I also DIY’d this gold pumpkin, which picks up some of the golds in the pumpkins in the wooden tray. It was a super simple project using craft paint I had on hand, but I’ll share a recap of it in the next few days.

FallEntry2

On the other side of the entry table, I used a textured wooden pumpkin I found at Target. I’ve seen them all over blog land and there were only a few left at my store, so if you want one you better hurry.

FallEntry3

Over in the dining room the buffet became home to a mix of old and new pieces with a variety of textures.

FallBuffet

In the center is a new copper lantern I found on sale at Michaels. I paired it with a birch log stand and a piece of the berry spray I used in the entry way.

FallBuffetLantern

I found this little fox at Fred Meyer and knew he had to come home with me. I loved his graceful curved tail and adorable face. And since it was a BOGO half off sale he made a cute green ceramic pumpkin only a $1. The pumpkin ended up in the wooden tray in the entry way.

FallBuffetFox

Another new find this year was this rustic crow. He’s super sturdy with his strong metal feet and his distressed colors blend perfectly with the rest of my décor this year.

FallBuffetCrow

And here’s the whole scene with the candles on and flickering. I’ve set them all on a timer so they automatically come on about the time we get home each evening and I’m enjoying the pretty warm glow they create.

FallBuffetLighted

In front of the buffet I put together this little basket of harvest goodness. This was another revamped DIY piece created from a wooden tray I found on the local buy/sell page. I’ll share that project tomorrow.

FallTable2

FallTableSo that’s my fall décor.  October is shaping up to be a very busy month, including a work trip to Southeast Alaska, so I might just skip decorating for Halloween this year and leave these pieces up through Thanksgiving, but we’ll see.

Feeling Fallish

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThriftDCreationsFall is my favorite season.  I love seeing the colors change and the crisp feel in the air.  It makes me want to grab a cup of cocoa, light a fire, snuggle up in a cozy sweater and watch the leaves fall as I start to plan for the upcoming holidays.  But fall is also usually one of my busiest seasons so it’s pretty rare when that actually happens.  This time of year I’m prepping for the holiday bazaars, creating family portraits for client’s holiday cards and preparing our home for winter, which will be here before we know it.Fall4

I will admit that I did attempt to ignore the initial signs of fall.  Alaska’s amazing summers are hard to give up and those first few cooler days are not well accepted because we know it means our days of endless sunlight and amazing landscapes will soon be replaced with darkness and cold.  But once I accept it I always fall in love with this wonderful transition season.

Fall1Now that I’ve conceded that summer has passed, I’ve embraced fall and carved out a bit of time to get out and photograph it’s beauty with my photography Meetup group.  We went up into the foothills of the Chugach mountains where the colors are more pronounced due to cooler temperatures.

Fall2I love the vibrant colors seen in the plants, which are offering the last of their harvests and one last burst of beauty before the first frost arrives.

Fall5

Fall6And our beautiful fireweed has now released it’s seed to blow in the wind and begins to display a variety of colors including green, red, orange and even purple on it’s leaves.  This was one of many I spotted along the trail recently.

Fall7In fact a colorful autumnal fireweed is one of my favorite shots to date.  It literally screams fall every time I see it.

FallI took Friday off to make the long holiday weekend even longer so I can wrap up a few outstanding projects around the house, like getting the deck prepped for cooler temps, cleaning up the garden, reclaiming the garage for parking and of course decorating for fall!  I’ll also be updating my Etsy shop inventory, revamping my photography marketing and testing out new designs for the holiday bazaar I’ll be selling at after Thanksgiving.  But I’m determined to squeeze in a little fall relaxing too.  In fact I already purchased all of the s’more making materials needed for our firepit’s fall debut, and I can’t wait!