December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

This Christmas as we celebrate the miraculous gift of Jesus, may we share with others the joy that knowing Him brings...

I feel so fortunate to be with family this holiday season and am thankful for the people that are in my life. 

Merry Christmas to all my family and friends. 

November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!! I think Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends and give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives.

Matt and I participated in the Skinny Raven Turkey Trot to start off the day. Interestingly, Thanksgiving is the biggest running day of the year in the United States. 

The temperature was a brisk 9 degrees and the wind was blowing at about 20 mph. The Anchorage Turkey Trot was claimed as the coldest Thanksgiving Day run in the United States this year. Awesome.

Matt and I spent the rest of the day with a family that we have gotten to know really well while living in Anchorage. Their house was inviting and the meal was delicious. I was in charge of an appetizer and with some help from Pinterest, decided to bring raw veggies and two homemade dips.

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

September 21, 2013

A weekend in Homer and Kachemak Bay State Park.

Matt and I have always wanted to go camping in Kachemak Bay State Park, which is a 400,000 acre park in and around Kachemak Bay, Alaska. A couple months ago, we decided to rent a state park cabin in the area for one night. We made a long weekend out of the trip, staying in Soldotna on Thursday night and Homer on Friday night prior to staying in the cabin on Saturday night.

On the way to Homer, we stopped at the Anchor River so Matt could fly fish.

I read my book and Rio slept while we watched him fish.

In Homer, we rented a cabin at Spruce Acres Cabins and RV Park. The place was very pleasant and the owners, Clare and Peter, were very welcoming. Upon arriving and checking in to our cabin, Peter gave us six fresh eggs from his chickens. We ate them for breakfast Saturday morning! 

After breakfast on Saturday morning, we visited the Homer Farmer's Market...

...and purchased fresh brewed coffee and snap peas.


We checked out the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, which is dedicated to understanding and conserving the marine environment. It was pretty neat and a nice way to pass some time before our boat ride out to Kachemak Bay State Park.

Kachemak Bay State Park was the first legislatively designated State Park in the Alaska State Park system. What makes Kachemak Bay unique is that there is no road access to most areas of the park, so most visitors fly in or travel to the area by a boat from Homer. We reserved a water taxi over to our cabin with Ashore Water Taxi Tours...our captain was very nice and promised he would pick us up the next morning. :-)

Kachemak Bay is considered a critical habitat area due to the biodiversity of the area...wildlife in the park include sea otters, sea lions and whales, moose, black bears and a large number of sea and land birds. 
Kachemak Bay State Park is mostly wild land; however, there are a few park service cabins and campgrounds. The park service cabins can be rented throughout the summer and winter. Matt and I rented the Halibut Cove Lagoon West cabin during our overnight in Kachemak Bay State Park. 

Halibut Cove is a sensus designated place in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska. About 35 people live in the area year round and it is home to one of the only floating United States post offices. Halibut Cove is a very popular tourist destination for fisherman and has a number of lodges and cabins.

We arrived to our cabin in early afternoon and quickly organized our items inside. The cabin was very nice.

We went for a hike around the area but we were turned off by the large amount of fresh bear scat on the trails. We ended up hiking for about 3 or 4 miles and as soon as it became dusk, headed back for the cabin.

Matt heating some water for tea with our camp stove... 

 We wore our rain boots the entire time. It was VERY wet from all the rain the area had received over the past three or four weeks.

The temperature was in the low 40s at night, but we stayed quite warm in the cabin thanks to the wood stove inside. Matt did a great job tending the fire.

In the morning, the tide was out, so we walked on the beach. The view was beautiful...and the weather was very nice.

You can see the stairs up to our cabin in the background. I ran these stairs in the morning for my workout. There were 40...I went up and down them 5 times. It was painful.

 Rio enjoyed playing in the water...

On Sunday, our water taxi picked us up and took us back to the Homer boat harbor where we had parked the truck. 
We met some friends for coffee and then headed home. It was a great weekend.

September 18, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Happy 66th birthday to the United States Air Force. 

Fly. Fight. air, space and cyberspace. 

Happy Wednesday!

September 10, 2013

Make your own trail mix.

Trail mix is super popular these days and goes way beyond the basic peanuts, raisins and M&Ms. From sweet to savory, there are hundreds of combinations that can appeal to anyone...especially anyone craving a snack. I often bring trail mix with me when I go hiking or camping and especially love the varieties that combine sweet and savory.

I recently read an article from that gave a great overview of trail mix...from how trail mix was invented to ingredients for the perfect trail mix. Here is a review of what I read and some of my favorite trail mix ingredients...

According to legend (from Hadley Fruit Orchards), in 1968, trail mix was to be eaten while hiking or doing another strenuous activity. It is lightweight, portable and is full of energy dense ingredients like dried fruit, nuts and chocolate (and can pack a hefty caloric punch when not used appropriately).

The Ingredients (taken from

  • These pint-sized nutritional dynamos are loaded with healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E and other essential vitamins and minerals.  
  • Whether they’re raw or roasted, go for unsalted, unsweetened nuts to keep sugar and sodium under control.
  • Healthy favorites: Almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts. Higher-calorie macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, and pine nuts are also good options in moderation. 
  • For those with nut allergies (or just looking to mix things up), seeds provide many of the same nutritional benefits as nuts. 
  • Healthy favorites: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax or hemp seeds in trail mix for an extra boost of nutrients.
Dried Fruit
  • This sugary treat can easily become a danger food, so pay attention to the ingredient list and serving sizes. In moderation, dried fruit can be a great source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium and vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Look for dried fruit options with as little added sugar and preservatives as possible (some varieties, like cranberries, are naturally quite tart and almost always sweetened with cane sugar or apple juice). 
  • Healthy favorites: Dried apples, cherries, cranberries, goji berries, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, raisins, banana chips, figs, pineapple chunks, mango, and dates.
  • Grains add complex carbohydrates for extra fiber and make you feel full
  • Choose whole grains whenever possible and avoid highly processed cereals that add unnecessary sugar and sodium.
  • Healthy favorites: Shredded wheat cereal, pretzels, toasted oats, puffed rice cereal and air-popped popcorn can all add a little bit of crunch.
  • Sometimes we all need a little something sweet to round out the mix. Just remember to add treat-like options sparingly (unless you’re making dessert instead of a snack).
  • Favorites: M&Ms, chips of various kinds (chocolate, peanut butter, carob, butterscotch), cacao nibs, yogurt-covered raisins, chocolate-covered coffee beans, mini marshmallows, or chocolate-covered nuts. When going the chocolate route, dark varieties add extra antioxidants.
Savory Extras
  • Adding spices is a great way to change up the flavor - season the mix with sea salt, curry, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or cayenne pepper. 
  • Also try wasabi peas, coconut flakes, dried ginger and dark chocolate covered coffee beans.

Some of my favorite combinations include...
  • Cashews, almonds, white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, dried blueberries
  • Almonds, cashews, dried cherries, dark chocolate nibs
  • Almonds, peanuts, cranberries and wasabi peas (Trader Joe's "Wasabi Wow")
  • Almonds, cashews, dried cranberries, chocolate covered powerberries (Trader Joe's "Powerberries Trail Mix")
  • Cashews, peanuts, raisins, cranberries, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips

I hope this gives you some ideas for experimenting with trail mix on your own.


August 26, 2013


At the beginning of August, my parents took Leah, Matt and me to California. It was a wonderful trip that included visiting wine country and touring San Francisco.


We began our trip in the Napa Valley, staying in St. Helena, where we were almost right next door to the Silverado trail, which means very easy access to a slew of wineries. One of the first wineries we visited was Cosentino Winery, which was a very pleasant "first stop" on our tour. My parents had been to Cosentino before and wanted to be sure we experienced this winery as well.

Our tour guide throughout the vacation...

In front of the Elizabeth Spencer tasting room...there is a distance arrow pointing to the birthplace of Ms. Susan Doster!

A lovely vineyard next to Paraduxx Winery...

One morning, we enjoyed coffee at a shop in downtown St. Helena...


Gott's Roadside has three locations in Northern California, and one location happened to be very conveniently located about three blocks from where we stayed in St. Helena. Gott's been featured on a number of Food Network shows, including Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.   

The food was exactly what you would expect at a Drive-In but with a California twist. The burgers were juicy and came with classic fixings and super zesty homemade sauce...the fries were roasted in garlic (YUM!) and the shakes were just what you needed on a hot California afternoon.

We spent one day touring the vineyards of Sonoma County, claimed to be "the top wine destination in the U.S." according to TripAdvisor.

Beautiful Sonoma County in the background...

On our way back to St. Helena from Sonoma, we visited Russian River Brewing Company, home of the Pliny the Elder IPA...supposedly the best IPA in the world. 

After a few fun days exploring the Napa Valley and Sonoma County, we headed south to San Francisco for a couple days.

We walked around Muir Woods National Monument...

...which is basically a cathedral of redwoods that age anywhere from 400 - 800 years and have a height up to 250 feet.

Muir Woods National Monument was established on January 9m 1908 when President Roosevelt signed legislation to protect an old-growth coast redwood forest from destruction...nice move Mr. President.

We saw the California Coast...

...and toured Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. 

We ate lunch at The Codmother Fish & Chips, which is the number one rated "lunch" establishment on Yelp in the Wharf area (we had to narrow our choice some how).

My dad had to stop at this antique arcade. Let me say it was quite interesting looking at and playing arcade games that were almost 100 years old.

A boat harbor with the San Francisco skyline in the background...

Group photo!

We visited the California Academy of Sciences, which was pretty spectacular. They had an amphitheater feature on earthquakes and inconveniently had a number of glass displays with snakes (I closed my eyes). 

Our last adventure was a night tour of Alcatraz. 

It was pretty incredible to learn about the history of Alcatraz and how the prisoners lived...

Some of the most famous prisoners at Alcatraz...

Night shot of Matt and me on the boat ride back to San Francisco...

The trip was wonderful and I was so thankful Matt could join us. 

I hope you had a great weekend...Cheers!