December 30, 2012

2012 in Photos

2013 will be upon us in 2 sleeps. Another good year has almost come to an end.

2012 brought us new friends, lots of family, more staycation adventures (most in the rain), our first time in Hawaii, a new car, more moving, a team captain and a proposal!  Memories that will last forever.

And so, it's time to look back and plan forward.

Here are my top 12 "best" (or more correctly, favorite) personal photos of 2012...

And the best for last...

1. True story 2. Red fox 3. Our small furry friend Mo 4. Inspiring words from a 5th grader 
5. A new beginning (rehabbed bald eagle release) 6.  Curious crab 7.  Hawaiian sunset 8. Playful spinner dolphins 9. Caribou 10. Ground squirrel 11. Moose 12.  A proposal

I hope your 2012 was a good one.
 Bring it on 2013!


December 22, 2012

DIY Wine Cork Christmas Tree

Since the invention of Pinterest, I've been hoarding our wine corks for a "big project".  As of last week, the jar was almost full and I had yet to use a single one. Just in time for Christmas, I came across this little DIY that I thought I would try.  We'll be having 17 people over at our place for Christmas dinner and our apartment is desperately in need of some sparkle and festivity. 

diy wine cork christmas tree

Wine Cork Christmas Tree

What you'll need:

  • paper or styrofoam craft cone (11'' or 14'' tall)
  • wine corks (either cork, synthetic or both)
  • hot glue & glue gun
  • mini tree topper star

Note:  An 14'' tree requires about 100 wine corks. (If you don't drink as much wine as we do, Michaels craft store sells them in bags of 20.)

Before you begin adding corks, secure the tree topper to the top of your cone. To add the corks, start at the bottom and glue them vertically.  Make sure they are secure. After you complete one row of vertical corks, you can either continue gluing the other rows vertically, or glue one row horizontally (like I did in the picture to the right) and continue the pattern. There is really no right way to glue the corks on, just be creative! But note, since not all corks are the same size, you may need to cut some corks smaller to fill in any larger gaps.   

Voila! Easy enough, right?  Now you have the perfect centrepiece for your Christmas dinner, whether it be small or as big as ours!

We hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!


December 20, 2012

Party Like It's 3012 Tonight

Over dinner last night, a girlfriend and I had a good chuckle regarding the chaos the latest snow fall has created in the Lower 48.  It's causing pileups, closing interstates, creating delays and ruining travel plans. To us "Alaskans", it's just another day.  To the Lower 48, it's like the end of the world.

So, it got us thinking, with tomorrow being "the end of the world" and all,  what would happen if the world did end? How would we react?  

I can't help but get sucked into NatGeo's new show "Doomsday Preppers".  If you haven't heard of it, I suggest you check it out.  If not for some "tips" on how to prepare for the end of the world, then for your own personal entertainment.  The series follows various survivalists, or "preppers," preparing for the end of civilization, whether it be due to economic collapsesocietal collapseelectromagnetic pulseterrorist actsnuclear incidentsfuel shortageswarpandemicsgeomagnetic reversal and other one-in-a-million type circumstances (such as zombies). The interviews detail the actions that the preppers have taken, and end with an expert analysis and recommendations for improvements. While I very much think being prepared for emergency situations, such as fire, flood etc., is extremely important, I also believe that people can overdo it and overreact. I believe that if it's meant to happen, it's meant to happen and we'll all be toast regardless of how much we prepare.

Anyways, back to reality.  By now we've all agreed the world is NOT ending tomorrow.  NASA says so. Friends in Europe have even confirmed they're still very much alive. But for a moment, let's entertain the fantasy that it was. What would you do?  How would you react?  Are you one to have a go-with-the-flow attitude about it?  Or are you a so called "prepper"?

My thoughts?

Well, for starters, the world is supposed to end at 5:11am, or so I saw somewhere on the Internet (credible, right?!). That means that we would not need to set our alarms for work Friday morning (also giving us an excuse in case the world was not to end and we're late for work, right?).

Next, is that Eastern Standard Time?  I kind of need to know. If it's EST, that's 1:11am Alaska Time, soooo we may as well not even go to bed tonight. In the words of Justin Beiber, "We're going to party like it's 3012 tonight!"

As for that New Year's resolution of getting in shape for the wedding, guess I may as well throw that out the window. Heck, may as well throw all of the wedding plans that we've worked so hard making out the window too!

When you think about it, the world ending is a little bit of an inconvenience. So much to do, so little time...   :)

Happy end of the world!


December 15, 2012

Practice Kindness.

I love putting a smile on someone's face.  Giving them an experience they have never had before.   Something that they will remember for years to come. Whether it is seeing a polar bear up close for the first time, feeling various furs or getting the wolves to howl.  It's easily one of the best parts of my job.

Today I arrived at work and found a giant envelope sitting on my desk, with my name on it.  Inside were 12 personalized notes from 2nd grade students that I recently had in one of my zoo classes....

"Thank you for showing us around the zoo."

"I really liked when we got to go close to the polar bears that was fun even when I got a little scared."

"My favorite part was well I don't have one I liked it all."

"I hope I can go to the zoo again!!!

"The musk ox was my favorite animal.  I thought the alpaca would spit in my face."

(Don't kids say the darndest things?)

And my favorite?

"If I ever go to the zoo again I will remember you."

These kind notes were not required or expected. But, they were very much appreciated.

It's things like this that put a smile on my face.  That easily turn an "off" day into a fantastic one.  It's things like this that I will remember for years to come.

Remember: Small gestures go a long way. Sometimes, the little things can mean so much. They can even turn a day around.

Practice kindness and pass it on. There can never be too much.

Have you completed any random acts of kindness lately?


December 14, 2012

Trying Something New: Confessional Friday {Linkup}

Today I am linking up with A Blonde Ambition for my FIRST EVER Confessional Friday. Here goes...

I confess,

... I am horrible at making pancakes.  Even if I follow the directions on the box to a t, something always goes wrong.

... I have felt completely unmotivated lately.  Maybe because of the darkness?  The cold?  The almost foot of snow we got the other day?  Flu season?  Luckily, I am one of a handful of people at my work that has not been praying to the porcelain God this past week.  (too much info?)

... This time of the year I turn into a serious hypochondriac.  But who doesn't during flu season?!

... I cannot wait for the newest season of Pretty Little Liars to start.  I love the drama.

... I want the beach. BAD.

... Christmas time really makes me wish Steve and I had a place to call our own.  Our house would be totally blinged out with sparkle and Christmas cheer.

And last but definitely not least,

... I have been seriously emotional lately.  In a good way. Examples:  Picking out music for our wedding playlist.  Tears.  Realizing that next Christmas I will be buying presents for my husband.  Tears.

Have a wonderful weekend.


December 11, 2012

Comforting the Cold

Nothing says winter like -10F weather and frozen eyelashes.  And nothing cures the winter blues like homemade soup! 

Soup is the perfect winter comfort food. This crockpot recipe for split pea soup will not only warm your body, and soul, but also make your house smell wonderful!

Split Pea Soup 


+  1 medium onion, diced
+  1 large carrot, peeled and diced
+  10 cups of water (or 5 cups water, 5 cups lower sodium stock)
+  1 lb. dried yellow split peas
+  1 smoked ham hock (~1 lb.)
+  2 bay leaves
+  salt and pepper to taste


Add all of the ingredients to your crock pot and set on high. Cook time should be approximately 4  hours. Once the soup is cooked, remove the ham hock. Pull the meat away from the bone, and shred or chop into small dice. Discard the bone and stir the chopped ham back into the soup. Remove bay leaves and discard these as well. Be sure to taste the soup and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. To save for later, freeze in appropriate containers.



December 10, 2012

DIY Birdseed Ornaments

Feed your feathered friends in a festive way this holiday season by making them some birdseed ornaments! They are a simple, and inexpensive, way to attract birdies to your backyard this winter. Not to mention, they make perfect gifts.

Birdseed Ornaments

Yields: approximately 8-10 ornaments

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups bird seed of your choice 
  • cooking spray
  • twine or yarn
  • large spatula or spoon
  • medium to large cookie cutters 
  • waxed paper
  • toothpick

  1. Place the cooke cutters on the wax paper and coat with a layer of cooking spray.
  2. Mix together the flour, corn syrup, water and birdseed in a large bowl.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the cookie cutters. Pack well.
  4. Using a toothpick, create a hole in the birdseed. This is where the twine or yarn will go. Be sure to leave a large enough space at the top of the ornament so that it can hang without breaking. 
  5. Allow the mixture to harden in the cookie cutters.  Depending on the size, this should take about 6 hours.
  6. Once dry, remove the ornament from the cookie cutter and string each with a piece of twine or yarn. 
  7. If the ornaments are going to be gifts, package in a cute bag.
  8. Hang in a tree that is visible from a window of your house so that you can watch the birds enjoy your special treat. The birdies will thank you.

These are also a great activity for children!

Have you ever made birdseed ornaments before?

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