Saturday, February 18, 2017

Presently..Life in Alaska

So. Here we are. Finally living in Alaska. Is it all we've dreamed of? 


Moving during the winter, I can tell you one thing for sure. It doesn't snow as much as it did in Upstate NY. It's not a bone chilling wet-cold type of climate and I'm not outside shoveling EVERY TWO HOURS. However, I don't think we've witnessed enough of Alaska's beauty nor experienced all the seasons to make a final decision. Then again, we had a pretty terrific view once we disembarked the ferry in Haines. Time will tell if we're cut out for living in the last frontier or if our hearts' still long for North Carolina blue skies.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Autumn is arriving soon and so are the movers...

Autumn is my favorite season. There's football, crisp cool air, leaves changing colors, Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and of course all things pumpkin flavored or scented. And in the North Country that means apple cider and cider donuts. 

It also means a time of change and preparedness; back to school, animals prepare for Winter and the Army tells us it's time to head to another duty station. 

So after 3 years in Upstate New York, we're moving to Alaska. More specifically the largest interior city in Alaska, Fairbanks.
 It's population is roughly the size of Salisbury, NC, the birthplace of Cheerwine. There are no sit-down chain restaurants, just a few fast food options. Everything else is a locally owned restaurant, which is going to be kind of a nice change. Their coldest months are November and December, but here in upstate NY its January and February. Another welcome change is the amount of snowfall. Fairbanks averages 65 inches of snow all winter and here in Watertown, they average 106 inches each year. The winter of 2014/2015 we saw 181 inches. That's 15 FEET of snow! And I'll take sub zero temps over crazy amounts of snow anyday. 

My husband is over the moon and excited about all the hunting, fishing and endless outdoor activities and of course no silly NY gun laws. I'm pretty excited too, mostly for the opportunity to see the Northern lights in person, all the wildlife, ice sculptures and cooking all the wild game that makes its way into my kitchen. 
Our kids are slowly warming up to the idea of a new state, new city, and new friends. But we've made the best out of every duty station we've been assigned. Now we 'hurry up and wait' for the movers to arrive and enjoy one last fall season here in New York. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Happiness is...

One of my New Years resolutions is to appreciate all things that I've been blessed with in life and to be grateful for them. Much like stopping to smell the flowers, I want to pause at the end of each day and jot down something that made me happy. I recently stumbled across this idea multiple times on New Years; first when a friend posted that she had just opened their '2015 jar of happy'. It was filled with random snippets of dialogue from her children, memories from living in Korea and other fun times throughout their year. The second time I saw a happiness jar scroll across my newsfeed was from the personal page of Elizabeth Gilbert.
I read through several posts from Elizabeth's fans and was intrigued by several of their stories of how they found happiness even on a horrible day or time in their lives. 
After seeing jars filled with gratitude and happiness, I knew that this was something that I really wanted to do during the year ahead. I want to remember one good thing that happened during my day when the rest of it might have been a bit more chaotic. I want to look back a year from now and see that even on my darkest day, it was filled with light. 
As I said in my first blog entry for the year....

I really want this year to be focused on happiness and not let any negativity seep in and destroy what I've got going on in my life. I've joined a new community of like-minded people that just want to be happy and I like that idea. 

So here it is.  Just a simple jar with a lid that I picked up at a local craft store. I wood burnt the tag and tied it in place with jute. Colorful things make me happy, so I picked up some 2x3 inch cardstock to jot my happy moments on. I had the word happiness leftover from a scrapbook and taped it to the bottom of the jar. For less than $10, I created something that will bring me joy in the year ahead and I think that's pretty neat. Along with writing down happy moments, I'm taking it a step further and including wallet-sized pictures of happy times with my family from throughout the year. I know when I see a picture of us having a family game night, it'll remind me of the fun time we had playing Catan on New Years Day. Another idea is to eventually compile all the happy moments into a scrapbook after we open the jar on NYE.  

I'm looking forward to 2016 and all the happy things it has in store for me. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Happy Birthday Hunter!

Today my dog turns FIVE! 

My sweet Weimaraner, Hunter has turned five and is slowly going gray around his muzzle. He's been my deployment/hubby isn't here buddy since we rescued him almost 3 years ago. It's hard to believe that I wasn't a "dog" person until I got him and now I couldn't picture him in my life. He's already traveled cross country twice, once to the beach for the very first time and the second time when we moved from Kansas to New York. 
Hunter loves car rides, playing at the dog park, chasing squirrels on our walks, laying on the couch with his sister, Bella and cuddling with me while I read. He loves to steal potatoes and hide them around the house, catch frogs and bring them inside and even purrs when he's happy. 

Happy 5th Birthday Hunter! 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

It's a brand new year & a brand new day. As I sit here thinking about all the things that I'd like to accomplish in the year ahead, I'm amazed at what the last year has bought me. I had been given a year where my spouse hasn't deployed, a year where my children were healthy, a year where we found an amazing church family to worship with, a year of new friendships and a year where we've been content with our lives.

A few things that are happening right off the bat in 2016; a happiness jar is in the works. I really want this year to be focused on happiness and not let any negativity seep in and destroy what I've got going on in my life. I've joined a new community of like-minded people that just want to be happy and I like that idea. :)

I'm slowly getting back to my fitness goals from last year and carving out some well deserved time for myself. I've saved a ton of self-care and motivational pins on Pinterest in the past week and I'm looking forward to putting those into action. I'm also making more time for a project of mine that's been in the works for over 6 long years. It's been pushed to the back burner far too many times. My spiritual relationship is also in need of some repair, so I'll be diving back into my weekly PWOC meetings here on post and striving to lead a more Christ-filled life. 

There are some big changes ahead in 2016. I'm working on myself from the inside-out and I'm excited about all the changes God has in store for me and my family. Hope you all have a fantastic 2016, filled with lots of love, laughter and joy! 

Here's to a new year! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fall Into A Good Book

October is my favorite time of year.
It's no secret that I love a good book. However, this is the time of year is when I read the most of all. The air is crisp and leaves are slowly changing color. I love being able to curl up in a comfy chair and stare outside in between chapters. Plug in a wax burner filled with apple pumpkin, crisp fall leaves and toasted campfire wax melts and it's almost perfection. Fall is the time of year, you wish you could just enclose it in a bottle to remember the sights and smells. Last year we took a weekend trip to Lake George and saw the last of the leaf peeping season here in the North Country. We stopped alongside the Hudson Watershed and snapped a couple quick pics. Autumn in New York is brief, however it is breathtakingly beautiful. 

October is a time for fresh apple cider and hot cider donuts. Enjoying one in front of a waterfall is an added bonus. Impromptu picnics on the remaining days of an Indian Summer and spend the evening under a full moon warming yourself beside a roaring bonfire. It's more than PUMPKIN everything. As I said, it's my most favorite time of year. New books begin hit the shelves at local bookstores and  The New York Times Best Seller list produces tons of fall worthy reads. Which brings me to my original thought. I love a good book. A few ladies in our neighborhood have formed a book club and although we took  the summer off from reading we started back up in right before school started back. For August, we picked a historical fiction WWII novel, "War Brides" by Helen Bryan. Although most of our group enjoyed some parts of the book, we mainly agreed it was a little slow going. It received 3 1/2 stars. 
September's selection was a debut novel, California by Edan Lepucki. It was a post-apocalyptic novel following the characters, Cal and Frieda into the wilderness leaving L.A. behind in their past. Our group enjoyed the far fetched reality that Cal and Frieda faced, but we were left hanging by the ending. California received a week 3 stars. For October's selection we decided to go with a thriller to fit with this time of year. "The One that Got Away" by Simon Wood was a fast paced thriller that had us rooting for ZoĆ« and that the Tallyman got what he deserved in the end. Wood's book received 3 1/2 stars. 

For November's book club pick we decided to read another thriller.  Reese Witherspoon's Instagram account provided our selection. "In a Dark, Dark Wood" by Ruth Ware is a mystery/thriller based on high school friends that loose touch, only to reunite at a "hen weekend" to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Clare. I picked this book up after our meeting to get a jump on reading. It was a page turner and had you guessing until the very end. Ware's debut novel received a strong 4 stars. I'm also excited to see news that Witherspoon is taking this novel from page to screen. Meanwhile, I'm trying to finish up reading the first book in the Outlander series, so I know what all the hype is about and then moving on "Into the Wilderness" by Sara Donati. I'm hoping that there's no thick Scotch accents to read like in Outlander. I hope this rambling of my love of all things fall and a few book club selections kept you entertained. Until next time y'all and keep on reading! 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

An Autumn Meal

Tonight, I made a super simple Sunday supper that screamed "Fall is here". We had apple bourbon pork loin, a sweet potato, apple & pecan 'hash' and braised bacon Brussels sprouts served alongside some Harvest Pumpkin stuffing. Dinner was delicious and I had several friends on Facebook asking for the recipes. So, here they are! 

For the pork loin, I marinated it for about 20 minutes in a packet of McCormick brown sugar bourbon made as directed along with 2 tablespoons of apple cider for a little kick. Then I seared the loins in a cast iron skillet and once done I transferred them to a stoneware dish. I baked the pork loin at 350*F for 45 minutes until it reached 170*F. 
While the pork was cooking I peeled and diced a few sweet potatoes and granny smith apples. In my cast iron skillet, I melted 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and cooked the sweet potatoes for about 8 minutes until they were beginning to soften and starting to turn golden brown. I added the apples next and continued cooking them until they were browned. A couple teaspoons of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice were added to the apple and potato mixture. Then I tossed in a half cup of pecan halves and a cup of Craisins (soaked in warm water for 5 minutes, then drained before adding to the hash). Stirred it all together and cooked for about 2 more minutes. Then you're ready to put it on the table.

Bacon braised Brussels sprouts are probably one of my favorite go-to dishes during the spring, fall and winter. Bacon makes everything better. I take a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts and cook them partially in my Pampered Chef micro-steamer. Meanwhile I'll dice and begin to cook 3 strips of thick-cut bacon in another cast iron skillet. Once the sprouts are done in the microwave, drain and cut them in half. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the sprouts in a bowl and season with some McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning. Then scrape the sprouts into the skillet with the partially cooked bacon pieces, mix together and cook alongside the pork loin for the last 20 minutes at 350*F. The harvest pumpkin stuffing I found at Aldi's in their seasonal aisle and made it according to the directions on the box. Dinner was simple enough, on the table in about an hour and gobbled up by my boys. 
Hope y'all enjoyed my take on an autumn meal!