It's Official!

Well, it's finally official!  If you couldn't already tell, we will be staying in Alaska for another year! (insert sigh of relief)  Steve put it in writing and resigned this morning for his third year with the Alaska Aces!!!  We couldn't be more excited for this upcoming year and all it will bring!

Here are some pics from the past hockey season (courtesy of the Anchorage Daily News)...


What better way to celebrate than to hit the beach and recharge with friends in Kauai, Hawaii?!? Peace out AK.  See you in a week!





Alaska Botanical Gardens

Lately, I've really taken to photographing the small things. Especially flowers. There's just something about them that gets me excited - their bold hues, graceful curves and dramatic color contract. They're so simple, yet so strikingly beautiful. If I could turn this into a blog about nature photography, it would be done in a heartbeat.  

These photographs came from my time spent at the Alaska Botanical Gardens this past weekend.  

Enjoy the small things.


I also have also become obsessed with birch trees...



Today we are enjoying exactly 19 hours and 21 minutes of sunshine and 65 degree weather. It's officially summer!

Happy summer solstice!




Baby Girl

Thought I'd share a photo of my new furry friend, taken by the Zoo's photographer John Gomes during a recent training session. (Thanks for capturing this moment Gomes.)


The lamb was orphaned during an Alaska Department of Fish and Game research project that involved capturing and collaring lambs. The lamb’s mother left the area and they could not be re-united.  ADFG regrets that this happened, but behavior of this ewe was very unusual. In 108 of 109 lamb captures ewes remained nearby and were successfully re-united with their lambs. ADFG donated the lamb to the Alaska Zoo where it will help educate Alaskans and visitors about Alaska’s wildlife.



Florals in Black & White

Enjoying the small things.  Inspired by my weekend spent at the Alaska Botanical Gardens.



p.s... Happy Father's Day dad! xo





Almond Cheesecake with Cherry Topping

I was spoiled for my birthday dinner this past week. Steve made me my fav fettucine alfredo with homemade sauce, peas, bacon, chicken and mushrooms. Delish.  And for dessert?  Because obviously there was dessert. Amy whipped up a quick almond cherry cheesecake.  To. Die. For. Complete with candles, in the shape of a 2 and a 6.


ALMOND CHEESECAKE (courtesy of Eating Well, Living Thin-er!)
(Note: The recipe is for a sugar-free cheesecake, but the words sugar-free are not in our vocabulary, especially when it comes to dessert. The recipe below includes the substitutions.)

Ingredients
crust:
+  vegetable cooking spray
+  1 cup graham crumbs
+  1/2 cup flour
+  1/4 cup butter, melted

filling:
+  4 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
+  1 1/4 cups sugar
+  1 1/2 tsp almond extract
+  1 tsp vanilla extract
+  4 eggs
+  1/4 cup half and half
+  1 tbsp flour

topping:
+  2 cups sour cream
+  1/4 cup sugar
+  1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray a 10 inch spring-form pan with vegetable cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl combine the cracker crumbs, flour and melted butter. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool while making the filling.

For the filling - In a large bowl whip the softened cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat in the eggs one at a time just until blended. Beat in the half and half and flour just until combined. Pour into cooled crust and bake for 1 hour or until set on the edges and jiggly in the very center 2-inches. Keep oven on.

For the topping - In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread to the very edges of the baked cheesecake. Return to the oven for 5-15 minutes,or until just set.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge and cool completely BEFORE removing the sides of the pan. Wrap tightly and chill overnight. Makes 20 servings.

CHERRY TOPPING  (courtesy of My Recipes)


Ingredients
+  2/3 cup tawny port or other sweet red wine
+  1/2 cup sugar
+  2 (10 oz) bags frozen pitted dark cherries
+  2 tbsp lemon juice
+  4 tsp cornstarch


Directions
To prepare topping, combine port, 1/2 cup sugar, cherries, and reserved vanilla bean halves in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until cherries are thawed and mixture is syrupy. Remove vanilla bean halves; discard.

Combine lemon juice, cornstarch, and 4 teaspoons water, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Stir cornstarch mixture into cherry mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 3 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened and shiny. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill. Serve over cheesecake.


You will not regret making (or eating) this.  It's THAT good!






Celebrations.

When did I grow up?  Seems like just yesterday my biggest worry was getting through final exams and finding a job for the summer.  Now friends are getting married and having babies... on purpose.


This past weekend we switched up our Sunday dinner tradition to celebrate the future Baby Bogo. It was an amazing afternoon with amazing people. I can't wait to meet the little guy in 8 weeks.

Wishes for Baby Bogo.
Blue velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Recipe here.
Designing bibs for Baby Bogo.
(White bibs were found at BabysRUs and fabric paint and markers were from Michael's.)
Baby clothes line.

Mustache pops.
(All of the supplies for these were found at Michael's.)

Girls only!




Ideas for this shower were found on Pinterest.  
I can finally say all the time I spend on there has not gone to waste.





Photo of the Week

Rehabbed immature bald eagle release at Potter Marsh.




Valdez Adventure

ADVENTURE: an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks; an exciting or remarkable experience.

While this past weekend did not involve danger, it did involve some go-with-the-flow attitude, some unknown, was extremely exciting and a remarkable experience.  Safe to say, it was an adventure.

So what did we do this past weekend?  We traveled to Valdez, AK... by ferry.  A 6-hour ferry ride to be exact, followed by a 6-hour car ride home in the rain.  But, if you've followed our latest adventures, rain is just par for the course.

The beginning of our adventure seemed very promising - it was sunny, the sky was blue and the 6-hour cruise along the Alaska Marine Highway to Valdez was breathtaking, with views of mountains, icebergs, killer whale dorsal fins, sea otters, sea lions and bald eagles. But, as soon as we reached our destination, or should I say, as soon as we could see our destination, the clouds rolled in and the rain started coming down.  Not having a plan, we frantically tried to find a place to stay, knowing we wanted to tour Valdez in the am. Turns out, the closest campground still had four to five feet of snow, in June.  Greeeeaaaat. So, we went with the flow and were forced to drive, and drive some more, leaving Valdez behind and bypassing all the things we wanted to see. Thank you Alaskan weather. Before we knew it, it was 1am and we were back at last week's camping spot along the Little Nelchina River, half-way home, blowing up the air mattress so we could sleep in the back of the car.  At least we were comfy, and dry.  What was meant to do be a three day adventure, quickly turned into a day and a half. But, it was still an adventure - exciting and remarkable, despite the rain and change of plans.

Get ready for a lot of pictures...


Alaska Railroad - a must do for anyone visiting Alaska.
Having some fun with my camera in the Whittier tunnel (it's supposed to be an M).
Whittier.
Our ferry to Valdez - M/V Aurora.
Best seats on the ferry.
Thank you Milepost - the bible of Alaskan road trips.
Home.



Trust me, it's a Stellar sea lion resting on ice. If only I had better lens (hint, hint).

The most remarkable part of our ferry ride. "Ice berg, right ahead." Can't tell you how many times that was said during this part of the ride. 
Lazy sea lions.
The view from Valdez on.
Keystone Canyon.  As Steve said, "something out of Jurassic Park".
These posts guide snow plow drivers in the winter.  Yes, they get that much snow.
Lovely.
FYI, these pictures were taken in June.

I may have shed a tear at this.  Mama was trying to get baby to cross the river but it was too strong for baby.We watched him fall into the river.  He's soaking wet.  I was afraid we were going to see him drown. Luckily, he made it!
Despite the rain, we had to stop and see the Alyeska Pipeline.
More pipeline.
Quick note about the pipeline: The Trans Alaska Pipeline System was designed and constructed to move oil from the North Slope of Alaska to the northern most ice-free port in Valdez, AK. It is 800 miles long and crosses three mountain ranges and more than 30 major rivers and streams. Construction was completed in 1977 and cost $8 billion, making it the largest privately funded construction project at that time.


Midnight sun anyone? 


Have you ever gone on adventure that didn't go according to plan?