Welcome to North Pole, Alaska!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Alaska's State Bird

...The MOSQUITO! That's a local joke...

But really, these suckers (oh yes!) are out in full force already! They especially love hanging around our house because this is what the back part of our backyard really looks like:

Isn't that stagnant water just lovely! We are crossing our fingers that it clears up real soon!

I've already googled every natural and very toxic anti-mosquito repellent that there is. We will be buying lots of citronella candles, lots of vanilla scented candles (apparently mosquitoes hate vanilla and to cover up the gross citronella scent), spray bottle full of Listerine (people have sworn by that), DEET, and whatever other hearsay happens to fall upon us. Any ideas...LET US KNOW because we can already tell this is going to be an itchy summer!

Tonight I put on my domestic apron and baked lots of banana chocolate chip cookies, compliments of a recipe blog. Andrew gives them two thumbs so they must be good! What a sneaky way for me to sneak some fruit into our diet!

According to weather.com, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh are having some pretty nice weather...Enjoy! We have finally caught up to the East Coast temperatures as well-hit 69 today!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lovely Weather...

Driving towards home and the clouds always look like they are low in the sky.

I can't believe it is April 26th...the longer we live in Alaska, the faster the months go by. Beautiful weather has hit us, finally! We are getting used to the 60 degree and partly sunny weather. This weekend, Andrew and I ventured outside to fix up our backyard. Note: We live in a townhouse that has a "community backyard" which means we have half a dozen children, ages 2 to 12, roaming within inches of our windows at any given time. They also like to hang around our house and giggle, "Mrs. O'Neill" and they can't believe they live in the same neighborhood as a teacher (Yep, by 1st grade they realize teachers don't really live at the school, really, I used to think this too). So, if anything, Andrew and I are always on our best behavior because small eyes are constantly watching us. That said, our ingenious friends and neighbors, (four doors down) decided to build a semi-permanent fence. It is a beautiful creation and after drooling over the idea, and eventually, their finished product, I convinced Andrew to put his man-skills to work...next weekend. He builds, I help, we'll paint it a pretty color, and we become the isolates of our townhouse row...yay!

This Saturday we ventured to our friend's house and took apart a raised garden bed (8 feet long!) dug out all the soil (LOTS of it), and re-built the garden bed in our backyard. Andrew used his saw and cut the size of the bed down to 6 feet, a much better fit for our plot of land. I supervised the construction, took a few pictures, and held my breathe as Andrew pounded a sledgehammer right over my hands...exhilarating. My plan is to plant tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and anything else that will grow for us. Planting starts June 1st so I still have time to do some research.

Notice the black cylinder pole-like things rising from the ground. They are part of the septic system and they are here to stay. Curiously, I popped off the top of one of those, took a whiff, and almost choked on that awful sulfur-magnesium aka bathroom smell, and Andrew stood next to me laughing and said I deserved it for being so dumb...I was curious!

After construction was over, we cleaned up our yard a bit, put out a patio table and four chairs, and of course, a fire pit...something that we are very excited about!
A few pictures of wild-man Andy chopping down a few birch branches. I knew his $36 sledgehammer/axe would become a favorite toy...




I have been battling a hoarse voice for the past couple of days. On Friday I could barely talk and unfortunately, it had to be the night of the military brigade ball. We went and had a great time, despite my 80 year old smoker's voice, no joke. Everyone that I talked to would give me a weird look if I didn't first pat my throat and say "loz my voiz" so it was interesting. Of course, our camera was M.I.A. but Shannon, my friend (the one who built a fence!) took some great photos. Here are a few of the evening...

Our neighbors and friends in the middle, the Wardwells, and our friends on the right, the Benjamins...with a baby due in September!

The guest speaker, an Army big-wig, had a nice little speech for the evening. The beginning was funny as he compared the two military posts in Alaska: Fort Richardson in Anchorage and Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks. He cracked jokes at their differences and these are the only two that I remember but they are very true...
1. People in Anchorage vacation down in Hawaii, while people in Fairbanks vacation down in Anchorage
2. People in Anchorage check the stock market in the Anchorage Times while the people in Fairbanks check the Newsminer to see if any of their friends got arrested last night

Like I said before, Fairbanks/North Pole is quite an interesting place with lots of interesting people, and the Newsminer lets you know about every little antic that takes place.

One more funny thing, I was reading the Newsminer when I came across the tiny "News in the Nation" section and GUESS WHAT? Camp Hill, PA was one of the three articles! It talked about how the prison in Camp Hill (they had a picture of it!) was getting rid of tower guards and how it could be detrimental to the safety of the prison system. I meant to take a picture but forgot and Andrew burnt the paper in our fire pit so you'll just have to take my word on this one! Now that is big news! Camp Hill, PA prison system in our local Fairbanks paper! Very cool and almost concerning that there is not bigger news than that in the nation...

Last but not least, I took a walk up a large hill near our house and snapped a picture of our townhouses from up there (way in the background) It has hit us, this is our home!

It's 10:30 at night and we FINALLY ordered curtains for our bedroom window!

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wedding Photographs!

Trip down memory lane...only five months ago...

I just want to throw every single picture on here because they are all perfect!
Tomorrow I am going to learn how to put up a "virtual picture frame" so that they will all rotate on my blog.

Our wedding was so amazing and it wouldn't have been possible without my dad and mom, Charlie and Marjie, Lindy, Tim, our groomsmen and our bridesmaids, and to all our family and friends for making our wedding day the best day of our lives!

Andrew and I are in the process of sorting through our photograph set (over 700 4x6's)to send out to our family and friends! I definitely need to get a move on it because the pictures are beautiful and capture the excitement and joy of the day...and we will have our photographs forever, but I can't say the same for everyone else!

You can view all of the photographs on www.carynazurephotography.com, click weddings, clients, find our album, and the password is our last name. You can order prints directly through her website, which are high-quality professional grade, or you can simply let me know what you want and I can send you the image(s) as I have all the rights to them now. I am relying on Shutterfly for most of our prints and from my past experiences with them, their prints are wonderful (and reasonably priced too!).

Happy Friday everyone! Our Saturday temperature should be hitting a high of 57 degrees so life is sure to be good this weekend!

Only in Alaska...

Will it look like this at 10:00 P.M...

Will I walk to work and read a sign like this...

Apparently the fox was trying to hop on the school buses...oh my.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kenai Peninsula, Easter, Baby Shower!

So much has happened in the last two weeks! I was on the Kenai Pensinula for a few days, chaperoning the 6th graders on a science field trip at a space center. The best part about the trip was the 11 hour drive, BEAUTIFUL. The other best part about the trip...eating at 6 different fast food restaurants in 70 hours...

Once we drove past Anchorage, we hit the coastline, and were literally driving about fifteen feet from the water. In the summer months it is not uncommon to see whales blowing their holes! Andrew and I are planning to visit in June and take a whale/glacier cruise in Seward, Alaska.

Here are a few pictures...not the best quality due to the thick-paned bus windows...

So far, we have not seen or heard of one outdoor pool in Alaska. We suspect it has something to do with the permafrost land, but it is still disappointing. Nonetheless, Alaska has some pretty impressive indoor pools...they would stomp on the YMCA facilities...

I arrived back in Fairbanks on a Friday evening, exhausted. On Saturday, I made chocolate eclair pie for our Easter Sunday meal, and we spent the evening decorating eggs and relaxing with our neighbor friends, Greg and Shannon. On Sunday, we joined a few friends at Shannon and Greg's home for an Easter meal...it wasn't the same as being with family but it was definitely second best! Ham, pineapple casserole, cheesy potatoes, pies, the usual Easter grub in PA. I stole this picture off Shannon's blog, our ONLY Easter picture...thank you Shannon!

The weather has been warming up (i.e. 20's, 30's and at times, 40's). Since we are living in a valley and because the sun's position in the sky is closer to the latitude/longitude of our position (something like that), it actually feels much warmer than it really is. Andrew and I like to think that it actually feels 10 to 15 degrees warmer than whatever temperature it really is. So, when it is 30 degrees, it feels warm enough to venture outside without a jacket and be comfortable, really! The ice on the roads has melted, the snow in our backyard is slowly melting, and we are thinking "break up" is here! Break up is when warm weather arrives, snow melts, all the ice breaks apart, and voila, birds chirp, sun shines, and it's SPRING! However, on Wednesday and Thursday, I walked to work in this...

(View from walking out of our neighborhood)

So basically, it's warm, then cold, sunny, then snowy, very unpredictable, and we are just going with the flow. It did snow on June 2nd a few years ago...

A picture for fun...Andrew with my friend's tiniest, most adorable, chihuahua puppy! She maybe weighs in at a pound and half.

We are up to fourteen hours and thirty minutes of daylight a day! Daylight increases by about seven minutes a day. Tonight, it will not be dark until 10:00 and even then, it is still a dark blue, twilight-looking sky. We are welcoming summer with open arms!
Our summer essentials: fire pit, a table and chairs, great friends, a grill, warm weather, and light all night!

Yesterday, I hosted a surprise baby shower for my friend, Stefanie. With seven friends, it was a great little party to celebrate the newest addition to the family, and to shower the mom with some baby gifts! I didn't find my camera until halfway through the shower so I only have a few pictures of the events. Shannon took a few of the set-up so I'll have to grab them off her!

Aubree and Shannon Looking Cute

Had to play the "guess the girth of the tummy with toilet paper..."

Tonya's awesome homemade, no-sewing involved blanket

Cute Mom-to-be

Shannon was a game winner!

I tried my hand at making a diaper cake, something that Andrew fondly calls a dodo cake! It is a fun and practical thing to make for a mom-to-be. The diapers are centered around bottles of baby lotion, or shampoo, then the diapers are rubber-banded, tied with pretty ribbon, add a few cute details, place on a platter, and you have yourself a non-edible, and never would want to eat, diaper cake!

(The adorable mom-to-be, due June 21st...but we have a feeling he will be here sooner than that!)

I recently booked my plane ticket home to Pennsylvania! I'll be flying into Pittsburgh on May 14th, and flying out of Harrisburg on May 27th. I am very excited to see my family and friends, do LOTS of shopping (I'm bringing a half-empty suitcase home), visit the Farmer's Market and other hometown landmarks, enjoy the consecutive days of warm weather, and sit on my front porch for hours!

Also, I did the math this morning. We have lived here for 4 months, so we are officially 1/9 done with living in the last frontier! Life is moving quickly and there is never a dull moment! We love living here but it is a far travel from our family...can't even get home without taking a red-eye flight!

Alaska is a very interesting place with VERY interesting people. I've never even visited a place like Alaska, nonetheless lived there! Before moving here, I was talking with a woman, who lived in Fairbanks, Alaska for seven years. Not knowing I was moving there WITH a husband, she told me, The odds are good (for finding a man), but the goods are odd! I couldn't agree more with her comment after living here for four months. You just need to visit to see what I mean...

To end this post with a little Alaska humor, here is a sign I read in a dingy little gas station outside of Denali. We see these things daily and they are sure to crack some smiles.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blog to be updated, TOMORROW, FRIDAY, the 9th :-)

It is April 8th and it snowed about 2 inches today! Apparently we may have these warm/cold spells until June!
It's been a long week and a late night so I'll be posting tomorrow night, Alaska time! Happy Friday everyone!