Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Alaska: Part II.

Step by step, day by day, I'm taking you through our Alaskan honeymoon. You can catch up on the first two days here

Our third day in Anchorage was a bit of a bust. We had a flight seeing trip on a float plane scheduled, but they called about an hour before take off saying that weather was bad and they'd like for us to reschedule. Thankfully, we had our last day open, so we switched our flight. That left the entire day open, and poor weather on the horizon at that.

We're not ones to waste a day in a new city, though. We've biked in a Chicago blizzard all with the spirit that it was our first visit to that city. 

We started at Potter's Marsh on a tip we picked up from my sister's friend.


The marsh was created by the Alaskan railroad. On the right is Turnagain Arm, an extension of the Pacific Ocean reaching inland. A couple feet offshore, the railroad parallels the water, cutting of this space that would have been connected to the ocean. Enough geography. It enticed us as a prime moose habitat and others had talked of bears. Spoiler alert: we only saw birds and fish. 


How perfectly timed is that raindrop on the bridge shadow?! Just noticed that.

We did see salmon swimming upstream, though it wasn't as epic as we'd imagined. They weren't jumping out of the water up a 90-degree angle, but they were massive, and they were salmon.

We then popped over to Beluga point where I hoped to see a walrus. No, obviously it's named for Beluga whales. The weather really broke loose at this point, so we spent some time waiting it out.


It never got better. I never saw the belugas. This is sounding all negative, but really, despite the weather, it was fun to see the sites and you really can't go wrong with anything in Alaska. Look at that view on a terribly, rainy day!

That night, we went to Moose's Tooth Pub and Pizzeria. It was amazing. Seriously, I normally don't boast restaurants with an hour wait, but you know it's good when the locals are will to do that on a weeknight. Fun fact: Anchorage has a TON of craft breweries and pizzerias. It's sort of their thing. We went expecting seafood, but we're always in for pizza and beer. 

Another fun fact: Alaska eats the most ice cream per capita of any state. We got in on this and ate a lot of ice cream while also rubbing the bellies of metal bears for supposed good luck


On our fourth day in Alaska, we trekked three hours south to Seward to take a six-hour boat tour. 


The weather was worse than the day before (read: no break in the downpour) and we were offered the option to pick another day, but after driving three-hours and having no other days available, we were getting on that boat. 


We were attempting the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour, with a cruise through Resurrection Bay past glaciers, sea otters, sea lions, and whales. It was a big catamaran boat and had windows, but we had ponchos and braved the elements under four layers of sweaters and thermals. 


The boat had to turn back early for choppy water and bad weather (and the majority of passengers puking), but Zach and I had a great time. We saw some sea otters, puffins, and sea lions. 


I was very upset to miss the whales, whales jumping, and glaciers calving into the water. Next time. The company was great in that they offered a partial refund for the early return. 

Again, the sites were amazing.


This is also where we had the best salmon of the trip, and I can't imagine there were many steps between it and the boat. 


Okay, last one. Isn't this something out of Robinson Crusoe? This place looks so cool and I wish they had invited us in for hot chocolate.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Picture This: Week 33, 2013.

Last year, I started a picture-a-day project with the new year. My intent was and is to try and appreciate every day, the good and the bad. I'm posting weekly recaps of the past seven days. It's a fun way to recap the week, and keep me motivated for the next week. By throwing it up to the interwebs, it's a not so subtle reminder to myself that if I'm laying around all week and taking pictures of my feet poking out of a blanket as I watch Netflix for the millionth time, I'm going to bore everyone to sleep. Not that I care, guys. That being said, it's rarely ground-breaking, but I couldn't handle that anyway. It's a log of my life, and a gentle reminder to myself that life is a gift and I should take advantage every day. I don't want to get preachy. If you do this, I want to know so I can nose around. In the least creepy way possible. You can start anytime, too - a new year doesn't have to start on January 1. Steph created one mid-year. Veronica does this as well, but I'm losing faith in her ever updating her blog. Check out my past weeks through the "picture-a-day" topic link on the right. 


August 11, 2014


The array of items that hang around our house is very strange indeed.


August 12, 2014


I worked from home on Tuesday and I cannot contain my excitement at working from this desk. It's very much a work in progress, but it's so beautiful to me.


August 13, 2014


My beloved cup fell out of my backpack and to the asphalt. I am disproportionately upset about this.


August 14, 2014


I might not have mentioned it, but recently, Zach decided that the coffee table we had built from pallets was a poor decision as we had not researched the pallets beforehand. He read about how pallets should be heat treated (discernible by a stamp or HT marking on them) to be used indoors and after we painted them, there was no way to know. So he chainsawed it in half. I maintain he was looking for an excuse to use the chainsaw. That left us with little option but to quickly build a coffee table before his upcoming fantasy football draft. Thankfully, we had some leftover wood from revised desk planning.


August 15, 2014


Sometimes the fur babies like to sit on their shelves and just throw shade on us. It's not so silent judging.


August 16, 2014


Saturday was epic. It started with a zoo trip and the discovery that the Cleveland zoo is awesome. Apart from baby Charlotte, they have koalas, hippos, giraffe feedings, everything. Later, we went to the Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy and ate ourselves into food-babies. Seriously, I'm still digesting the best bruschetta of my life and savoring the lemon ice.


August 17, 2014


The office is coming together much more quickly now. There's a ton of little things to do that will keep me from feeling the room is complete for a while, but we have a working light, a new light fixture, the structure of the standing desk, and a nearly complete sitting desk. I'm so excited and love looking at this mess of a room.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Read This: Volume XXIV.

I'm recapping some things I read this week that I found interesting, not to force you, because I can't, but because sharing is caring. This also holds me accountable and keeps me from zoning out on Pinterest every hour.

  • I love this concept. Denali did much the same thing in Alaska and I think we saw more animals for it, the animals were safer, and the world is better for it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Alaska: Part I.

I was debating covering our Alaskan honeymoon. Not because we didn't love it (we really loved it and plan to return), but because going through and sorting pictures is arduous (I've been reading Game of Thrones again)

I have a new goal of completing the photo book by next weekend, which means actually finishing it this weekend so as to give the printers time. That has sped up the process. I love books for recounting the experience not just for us, but also in retelling. We tried a slideshow approach already, and flipping through a thousand pictures is hard for anyone to stand. I'm procrastinating. The merits of photo books has nothing to do with this.

So without further ado... Alaska!


We chose Alaska because we are adventurers and felt like it'd be harder to visit the more involved we got with life (i.e., children). We chose to fly into Anchorage and rent a car to do our exploring. We thought about a cruise, but quickly eliminated that because we didn't want to waste days on a boat and the neuro-virus, clogged toilets, boats being towed to shore stories were all-too-recent. We weren't about to spend our honeymoon without plumbing while puking.

So we flew into Anchorage. The first day was uneventful. We hopped off the plane, had lunch downtown, and walked the Coastal Trail for about an hour and a half before checking into the hotel. 


We woke up like this. *flawless*

Then we decided on a nap which turned into 13 hours of sleep. Wedding planning is no joke. 

As a result of our all-night nap, we both naturally awoke, feeling refreshed, at 5:30 AM the next day. We had a glacier hiked planned for the afternoon, but took advantage of the morning and of a tip we read in some pamphlet that the chances of seeing a moose are greater in Anchorage than in Denali. Specifically, Kincaid Park offered great chances because of its proximity to the airport. The airport is fenced in and that creates a sort of moose traffic jam as they reroute around or hang out around the fence. We found the airport fence, but didn't find any moose (meese? mooses? I have a hard time accepting the plural of moose as moose).  We did find a gorgeous lake, beautiful birch trees, and a lot of mosquitoes. 


We hiked back to the car and continued driving through the park. We came upon what must've been the park center with a bunch of soccer fields, activity building, and a disc golf course. We ambled about and almost ran into our first moose who was munching through the disc golf course. 


We took a lot of pictures and attempted selfies because that's so 2014. 


After we had enough of marveling at the moose, we hopped in the car to drive to the glacier. I was nervous for this - the drive. They didn't provide an address, just a mile marker number, comforting us with the 'this is Alaska, folks' line which is not comforting. I like addresses and I like attempting to be on time and I like Waze to tell me my directions. We padded our travel time to allow for mistakes.

Turns out the drive was fine. There's really one main road in and out of Anchorage and they were correct in that you can't mess it up. Well, you can, but it'd be fairly difficult and even easier to correct. There are lots of scenic stops along the way and we took full advantage. It made driving much more relaxing - having ample travel time and frequent pull-overs to look at these incredibly unbelievable, picturesque landscapes. 


This post is already so much wordier than I anticipated. 


Then we hiked on a glacier! This was one of our favorite parts of the trip. We went with Mica Guides on a three-hour ice trek, which was more like a gentle walk in helmets and crampons on our feet.  This glacier used to extend all the way up to where I was standing, taking this picture. That's over the pond and all the dirt that looks like a construction zone. Since the 70's, it's been shrinking to its current footprint. Actually, that footprint is under the dirt a bit, too, so it's deceiving. That's one of the dangerous parts about glaciers- the ice may be closer than it appears and the landscape is constantly changing. The ponds are called kettle ponds and are created when hunks of ice break off, either above or below the dirt crust, and melt in place.

Anyone is able to walk on this glacier- there is an entrance fee because the only access road is through private property and there were RV's and people in slippery, rubber tennis shoes running around. I wouldn't advise it. It was so hard to tell what would be beyond the next ridge, and sometimes it was a hundred-foot hole. 


Our guide pointed out different features of the giant, moving mass as we marched around up little hills, over small streams and crevices, and to different landmarks. 



So much of the glacier looked like something out of a cartoon. The ice was so shiny, the blues so vibrant, and the angles so intense and seemingly random. It was beautiful. We were pretty naive as to what we would experience on it, but it turns out there is no snow. It's ice. All ice. Even the pillowy, soft looking white in the background is ice. Hard ice that requires you to really stomp down on your crampons to get a good foothold. 



We had debated the glacier walk because it was a two-hour drive from Anchorage, on our first full day, we wanted to relax on this vacation, and we knew we'd see glaciers based on other plans. I'm so glad we did it. Seeing a glacier does not compare to hiking on it, dipping your fingers into the little puddles that form when small specks of dirt attract so much light on a white surface that they make finger-sized pools, hearing the water rush in hidden crevices underneath, and learning fun facts. I love facts. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Picture This: Week 32, 2014.

Last year, I started a picture-a-day project with the new year. My intent was and is to try and appreciate every day, the good and the bad. I'm posting weekly recaps of the past seven days. It's a fun way to recap the week, and keep me motivated for the next week. By throwing it up to the interwebs, it's a not so subtle reminder to myself that if I'm laying around all week and taking pictures of my feet poking out of a blanket as I watch Netflix for the millionth time, I'm going to bore everyone to sleep. Not that I care, guys. That being said, it's rarely ground-breaking, but I couldn't handle that anyway. It's a log of my life, and a gentle reminder to myself that life is a gift and I should take advantage every day. I don't want to get preachy. If you do this, I want to know so I can nose around. In the least creepy way possible. You can start anytime, too - a new year doesn't have to start on January 1. Steph created one mid-year. Veronica does this as well, but I'm losing faith in her ever updating her blog. Check out my past weeks through the "picture-a-day" topic link on the right. 


August 4, 2014

Copper brought out the dramatics, and the somersaults, in an attempt to be let outside.


August 5, 2014

We were persuaded into Snapchat, and now I get these things from Zach when I'm one room over.


August 6, 2014

I finally put the chick and hens (that may or may not be their official name) in the ground from my gram. I'm hoping they spread quickly!


August 7, 2014

The most bountiful tomato harvest.


August 8, 2014

I swear I did other things than creep on nature this week. However, I failed to document a wonderful wine night on Thursday and a Mexican dinner surprise party on Friday. This butterfly is cool, though.


August 9, 2014

In a belated birthday celebration, Copper licked his catnip cigar while lounging in the hammock.


August 10, 2014

Anyone else noticing a trend? It's lazy boys. That's the trend.

To be fair, Zach put in a lot of work this weekend. Just not at this moment.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Read This: Volume XXIII.

I'm recapping some things I read this week that I found interesting, not to force you, because I can't, but because sharing is caring. This also holds me accountable and keeps me from zoning out on Pinterest every hour.


  • I carry a mini tape measure in my purse. Zach always makes fun of me when he finds me in an aisle taking my measurements, but it's proven invaluable. Now, I need this hair clip, especially after my hair cut has proven difficult for the ponytail.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Headdoor.

I'm realizing the title could have been a Game of Thrones reference to Hodor. There are door puns for days! 

In April, I took the French door that used to divide off the guest room and started to paint it in my quest to make it our headboard. How's this for a timely update? I have no idea why one would want 15 panes of glass separating you in your prone, sleeping state from the rest of the house, so we replaced that door with the standard six-panel immediately. I knew I wanted to use the door again, so it sat for several months, patiently waiting it's turn for my wrath.



I'm jumping ahead. First, and apparently with no photographic evidence, I removed the hardware on the door that we assume held a curtain in place. We're further assuming they realized being in a glass box in one's prone, sleeping state was not ideal. I then patched those holes with wood filler, sanded the frame down and rounded the edges, and further wiped everything down with liquid deglosser because there was no way I was about to sand the curved window panes. 



Zachles was kind enough to tape off all of the windows on one side before I smacked it with a coat of primer and two coats of leftover semigloss paint in Ben Moore's Simply White.



Then the door sat until we returned from Alaska. Two weeks ago.

Whelp.

I had Zach trim off about six-inches off the bottom to make it symmetrical. Before, the bottom of the door had more of a wood frame than the top. We didn't know how sawing would go because we didn't know if the door would have a solid wood core. We had nothing to lose, so we did it. Luckily, it seemed to be a solid wood core.


At this point, I flipped the door over, taped all of those windows, primed and painted one coat. I knew this would be the back of the door, so I was satisfied with one coat. I didn't want weird orangey-brown reflections and a coat of primer + paint was enough to let me sleep easy. It's streaky, but it's sufficient.

Note: I just read this post. I will not be taping in the future. It was terrible. 

Then we brainstormed. I didn't want to mount the door directly to the wall because the off-center window wants to drape its curtains behind the door. The horizontal headboard door. I tried to communicate the creation of a door with legs, and Zach wasn't getting it until I found enough "legs" in our scrap wood pile and showed him what a wonky door monster it would be. 



We measured the legs to be 18.5 inches off the ground, which would allow for the bed frame to be bolted into them and the door to extend above our pillows, but not above the window. It's an arbitrary height we found after holding the door and struggling to remember it's position. Sometimes projects require three people. I'm working on training the cats to take pictures. 

We used 3-inch wood screws to attach the legs and hoped each time that we'd be drilling into wood. We think we did each time, and we definitely did on the legs that are on the edges (and have the frame bolted in them). 



We attached three legs on the front of the door and two on the back. The plan didn't start that way, but after attaching three on the front, I couldn't sleep that night thinking of the top-heavy door and the screws potentially stripping out from the weight if it tipped backward. This makes more sense with my hand demonstrations ... maybe. Once complete, the door could stand on its own!


I then painted the outside legs (rather, gave them a coat over the primer), watched it dry, drilled holes in them to match up with the door frame, and manhandled the beast into the bedroom because Zachles was working late and I have no patience for that and I'm allowed to use non-cutting tools without a second person present.

I lined up the legs with the frame and easily attached with bolts. 



I then carefully straightened the bed and board to where I wanted it on the wall before searching for a wall stud on which to attach the furniture cable. We found this Quakehold! 7-Inch Steel Furniture Cable on Amazon. Surprisingly, we didn't find anything but baby-proofing nylon cables on our Lowe's or Home Depot, but maybe that's because there's no earthquakes in Ohio. Yet. We'll be ready. I followed the instructions on the box exactly, attaching the wall plate to a stud and the furniture plate to the furniture. It was super easy and allows us to sleep easier (pun!) knowing that the cable can hold up to 1000 pounds. And I'm sure the door is less than that because I'm sure I can't lift that.  



I'm happy to report that we've been sleeping under the door for at least a week and a half and everything is going well. We haven't punched through the glass panes, which seemed to be most people's reaction, nor has the door fallen on us. The only reaction I have for it is love, and a desire to make decorative pillows. 



The colors are wonky because the sheets are yellow and I don't have a fantastic camera. This post had to keep marching on. 

I love this view. I LOVE the curtains casually draped behind the panes. I love the wall color through the panes. I love the reflections of my pond picture off the panes. 



...which has moved to the left to make way for the dresser mirror attachment. We didn't think we'd want it attached, tried it after eight months, and actually like it for function and for the midcentury style. 


That wall still needs attention in the crown department, patching holes from where the pond previously hung, and maybe new paint. That wall still acts like it's wet, seven months after being painted. It's super sensitive to fingerprints, and if we wipe them off, we're stuck with a mark of the washcloth. I'm thinking we'll have to try some fun treatment (I love this) to help hide it, or exasperate it. 


Otherwise, the bed is looking much more stately, if not totally washed in white. Pillows will help that. We also need to build a bed frame. That saggy box spring is really a firm box spring covered in plastic in an attempt to discourage the cats from scratching it in the wee hours of the morning. Form poorly meets function. Let's marvel at that headboard!

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