Sunday, January 30, 2011

Guestroom makeover on the cheap

Furniture is expensive. Especially in Alaska.  So when Matt graciously offered to let me "re-do" the guest bedroom in anticipation of guests visiting, we had to get creative.  If you know us at all, we are quite the bargain hunters (and pretty good at it, if I do say so myself).

At one point this room looked like this...
Yikes. Good thing that didn't last very long. 
It typically looked more like this...
It was filled with furniture hand-me-downs, curtains from our previous home's living room and various mis-matched clutter that just didn't have a place in the rest of our new house.  Sound familiar to anyone?

Then I found this beautiful bed at a going out of business closeout sale a couple months back.  It was such a great deal, we couldn't pass it up (though we were mid bathroom remodel and guest bedroom wasn't quite on the radar yet.  But we are bargain hunters, remember?).  To our surprise, we were able to sell our old, particle board bedroom set on Craigslist for over half the price of this brand new, real wood sleigh bed.  That made this purchase a darn good deal and justified it enough for the both of us. 
It was a start to the new room.

Then I had a random day off work and decided I wanted to paint.  After much debate and several trips to Lowe's for color samples, I decided on this rusty orange color accent wall to brighten it up a bit.  Leaving the rest the neutral color for now.

 I had to wait until Matt got home to help me move the bed.

And of course we had those black curtains. It's already so dark up here (at least right now), they were quite depressing.  But again curtains are also expensive and that window is big!  So I ventured out and decided I wanted to make my own via no-sew hem tape.

Complementing my mom's stain glass she made me.
 As you can see the print matches the wall color.  Much better than the black!

The unfortunate thing about buying just a bed was that there were no nightstands.  It kinda made the room look bare.  So I jumped on Craigslist and patiently waited until I found a set of these...
 An older lady was trying to get rid of them and though they looked old school at first, a $10 can of wood stain and about $24 of new hardware, we turned them into these...
I would also like to point out the fancy green lamps that I found on Craiglist as well for a whopping $20 total.

Matt also installed this wonderful fan (more so needed for the light, not the cool breeze since too much heat is not really an issue up here) because before the room - actually none of the rooms - had a central light.  Again, not sure how the original owners survived with it being so dark...not anymore, thankfully!
So all the above with the new bed set that took a long time convincing Matt of (because it has a couple birds on it - while I think is trendy, he thinks is girly), the room is almost to completion.  I'm still working on wall art, but I have to say I'm quite proud of our new makeover on the cheap.  It's almost ready for visitors.

Date Night - Ice Skating Duet

If you recall, a few months back I found these brand new bad boys at a local thrift store for next to nothing.  I planned on using them in all the frozen rinks around town throughout the long winter.  It's now the end of January - thankfully on the downhill slide - and I can say that they finally have officially been used.

This winter the city decided to cover a park area right in the middle of downtown Anchorage with water and let nature do it's business and freeze, thus creating an ice skating rink.  They also had these nifty ice sculptures all around it created by locals...which miraculously never melt (imagine that...). 

We decided it'd be a fun (and rather cheap) date night to go ice skating and warm up with some hot cocoa at a local coffee shop.  I imagined being a Friday night we would be fighting the crowds of people out there enjoying the free ice skating along with us.

Much to our surprise....we were the only people out there ice skating.

It makes me laugh because the last time we had gone - we had to fork over a handful of cash to enjoy a rink indoors with 300 other people.  Never had I been able to just walk on to and enjoy an entire rink by myself - thanks to the 4 months of below freezing temps.  Another first (and maybe only) in Alaska.
And I lasted about a whole 30 minutes until my toes went numb and a hot drink was in order. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Crosscountry Skiing Powerline Pass

It has been frigid here. And I'm not just talking about I-live-in-Alaska-cold, but unusually consistently below zero, no snow harsh, brutal weather.  It's been terrible.  Just going outside my hands would burn from instant freezing.  Taking Mocha for a walk was torture, even she would do her business in record time so we could go back inside - of which we are thankful.  The worst part...well, let's say, a bad part...was that there was no fresh snowfall for about 3 weeks.  It caused all the existing snow turn to ice, which made for outdoor sports a no-go.  Until....

We finally got some cloud cover which made it "warm" up to the 20's and a couple days worth of snowfall. A long time coming. Naturally we come out of our cacoon and threw on the skiis. Matt spent a good part of Friday downhill skiing Alyeska...while I sat at my desk at work (I'm not bitter at all)...and Saturday we ventured out to a trail familiar to us from the summer while hiking and enjoyed some crosscountry skiing with some friends.  Then we headed back to their place for some slowcooker white chicken chili (yum!).

Other than my hair freezing and the life-threatening slippery roads on the way to the trail (ok..they weren't that bad), we had a blast!  I think I found a new hobby to help keep me slightly sane during these long winters!

Enjoying our new skis bummed off a co-worker of Matt's moving back to the south.
Worked out well for us!
Our good friends, Ann and Chad, with their dog
I was sad we didn't bring Mocha.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm learning it's winter in Alaska when... scrape ice off your windshield and by the time you get back in you car, there is more ice on your windshield.
...lines in the roads typically used to determine where your lane is are now covered by ice and snow, thus each man for himself in determining if he can really fit between those two cars at that stop light. 
...same for parking lots - officiall "spots" are nonexistant.'s dark when I leave the 3:45pm.
...gone are the days of my skin ever seeing the sunlight. almost hit a gigantic bull moose - while driving out of your neighborhood.'s considered 'warm' when it hits the upper 20's.
...I can buy frozen goods and they'll stay frozen in my trunk all day long.
...I don't leave home without my wool socks.
...a gym bag left in the car all day results in a dead ipod, frozen facial wash and brutally cold clothes to change into. need to think twice when deciding to wash your vehicle.  It will probably result in getting trapped inside when the remaining hot water on the outside immediately freezes and the car door will not open.  This may or may not have caused Matt wasted time in the garage while waiting for it to melt.  I was wondering where he was...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An afternoon walk... the 12 degree weather.

This is what I have succumbed to to get any glimpse of sunlight these days.
Ice Fog - causes all the tress to get covered in ice.
I think it looks so pretty.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year's Resolution

For the most part, I'm not really big on New Year's resolutions. Mainly because I just forget what they are.

But not this one. I remember this one each year.  To some I might be considered an organizational ocd type person.  I like things clean, uncluttered and not having TOO much (it's all relative, right?).  It began when Matt and I got married (ok, not really, I've been like this my whole life - Matt just added to the need for it), we moved into the same house and combined we already owned + all the awesome wedding presents we received.  It was A LOT.  It was also a challenge to decide what to get rid of and what to keep.  A project of which I don't think ever comes to completion.  I'm consistently going through and getting rid of things we never use, nor need.

But the closet is another issue to tackle.  My closet is full of clothes that are too big, too small, out of style but might come back into style, not Alaskan worthy (aka- warm), etc...and then the clothes I wear on a day to day basis of course.  

So every New Year, Matt and I made a pact to go through and declutter our closet.  We help each other decide items to discard that really could benefit another individual more than us. 

Our donation pile.
No, Mocha isn't part of the give-aways.
Then I found this awesome idea (can't remember who to give credit to), but to turn all your hangers backwards.  Then after you wear an item you can make the hanger face the correct direction.  This way you can see what you actually wear. Ingenious. 

So this year we are going to try it.  I'm rather excited. 
Call me a dork. I'm ok with that.  But our closet looks good.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas in Pictures: Texas/Heine Style

Matt and I spent half the time we were back south in Keller with my mom, sisters, brother-in-laws, grandparents and nephew.  It's one of the few (if only) times in the year when we are all together.  Now that the families is twice as big - it's even more eventful than ever.  There is rarely a dull moment. I love it.

We had a gingerbread house contest - boys vs girls.
I think there is a clear winner in this one.
Annual sister picture in front of the tree!

Nothing would be complete without a Starbucks run

ICE Exhibit at the Gaylord Texan - Charlie Brown Christmas.
They provide these heavy duty coats for the poor locals who aren't used to the cold.
It was like an average day for Matt and I!
And just to give you an idea of what it's really like...


Hope you had a Merry Christmas!!

Friday, January 7, 2011


Church.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, we immediately enter into a community that encourages, restores, convicts, and promises hope and eternity in Heaven.  However, we have to chose to belong and embrace it.

A church isn't a building - it's God's people. 

As long as I can remember I have been blessed beyond measure with a church body that spoke Truth, challenged my faith and provided deep friendships.  I've realized now, I lived in the South at the time, the ultimate Bible-belt, where it seems that every other person you meet is a fellow brother or sister in Christ and there are more solid churches than one can ever chose from.

My specific prayer when we moved to Alaska was for fellowship.  Since we were moving thousands of miles away, we knew we needed community if this place would ever feel like home.  Praise the Lord, that the first church we went to had a Newly Marrieds Class, where we met some amazing friends who have explored, reached out and encouraged us.  This group is awesome. 

When we decided that the Lord maybe calling us to attend a different church a few months later, it was a hard decision to leave the new group of fellowship that the Lord had so graciously blessed us and answered our prayers with. 

Thankfully beyond that, God even gave us a common bond with a fellow couple to search for a new church home with.  God is good, isn't He?

So we began our search and each Sunday we would attend a different church, occasionally looping back to a previously visited one to expand our perspective of it.  Almost every Sunday, I left discouraged.  There has not been a bright light or a loud voice that points us to where we need to be, not that there typically is. However, I did not remember it being this difficult before.

I realize there is no such thing as a perfect church.  It has been a challenge to reflect and discern if we are being too critical or if God is just leading us away from a certain place.   Anchorage is a spiritually dry city.  I recently heard that Alaska has fewer people per capita than any other state that regularly attend church.  Even more disheartening is that some Christians we've met just chose not to involve themselves with any church because they could never find a good fit.  That is not an option since Matt and I firmly believe that God calls us to invest in a body of believers.

On one of our "church shopping" visits, a preacher gave a sermon on our focus on why we go to church.  So often we look at what can it do for us? Rather than looking at it from the perspective of how can we serve this church?  Convicting, since we/I certainly had the approach of looking out for my own personal gain and needs almost the whole time.

It's a journey.  One I am anxious to come to fruition soon so we invest and have a "home". 

After prayerfully considering the options at hand, we have decided to fully dive into a church we have visited several times and pray that is where God can best use, equip and challenge us.  If not, I guess we will continue on the journey and praise the Lord in the midst because as David writes in Psalm 16,

"I have set the Lord always before me;
because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken...
...You make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
(vs. 8,11)

Our world and everything in it is flawed, except God and his promises.  I'm thankful I have that to count on.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Part 1: Home for the Holidays - Lessons in Travel

Gone are the days of a quick weekend home to enjoy family time for Christmas.  We now live almost as far away as one possibly can.  Many a friends we've met up here chose to not go home for the holidays...of which I thought was sad and not an option for Matt and I...and until this point could not understand their decision.  We planned early and purchased a couple flights (on miles we had been saving) to go back for about 12 days - 2 days to travel and 5 days with each family.  (It is a good thing we are planners, since had we waited until last minute, flights had rocketed to $1400+ to Dallas. Ridiculous.)

We were both incredibly excited to get back to the South to see family and friends we have missed since our move in June.

The interesting thing about not being able to drive to your destination is that you really have to plan out how you are going to get all luggage and presents to and from.  As we were Christmas shopping, we were consciously choosing gifts that weren't bulky and could squeeze into our suitcase.  In addition to asking for items on our Christmas list that were small and could easily be transported back.  (Unfortunately, another large duffel bag had to be added to our collection of luggage on our return flight.) Another downside is that TSA does not allow packages to be wrapped in checked luggage (as they warn they may have to unwrap them to check contents...possibly just for their own enjoyment), so all that cute wrapping paper I had purchased on clearance last year is still sitting under the bed unused. 

We headed out on a red eye (I'm learning I despise those) from Anchorage, hit up Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, Wichita, and Oklahoma City...before arriving at our final destination.  Sounds thrilling, huh?  Though it was actually smooth and filled with so much anticipation and excitement, we were oblivious to all the layovers and airport food.

Due to the fact that I took basically zero pictures and relying on others to send me photography, I have little to document at this point. However we had a great time at NCAA basketball games, attending Gaylord ICE exhibit, having a Gingerbread house competition, eating, sleeping, laughing, and just spending quality time with friends and family we have missed.

All was well until it was time to head back to Alaska.

We drive 2 hours from Matt's folks house and arrive at the Tulsa airport, check our luggage, board the plane and head towards the runway.

That's when things start heading downhill.

Then the pilot announces, "There's a storm in Houston and all incoming aircraft have been banned from landing at this point. We will wait it out and get back to you." 

Almost 2 hours pass on the runway...

Pilot again, "We have been instructed to head back to the gate and deboard the plane and await further news."

At this point our connecting flight in Houston had been missed.  We both were scheduled to work in the morning back in Anchorage (since we had already been gone almost 2 weeks) and I was bummed we might arrive a few hours later than I thought.

Several more hours passed while people hunted for available flights for us...there are only so many flights a day to Anchorage and not many (if any) direct flights at this point in the year - of which everything was completely full already, as you can for the Tulsa airport people getting us all the way up there was a challenge.  They looked through every city in the lower 48, Hawaii, even overseas.  The highlight was when we were told there was an availability to Asia...but it would still land us back into Alaska about a week later. UGH.

We waited and waited... and finally received flights on the SEVENTH OF JANUARY!! That, ladies and gentlemen, is nine days after our initial anticipated arrival!  That's the best they could do - so we were told.

After much debate and frustration and another night in Oklahoma, we decided to get on any available flights and head as north as possible and get as close we we could...being wait listed on hopes that someone else's misfortune would free up a couple seats for us to get home. 

We flew from Tulsa to Houston to Portland to Seattle...and with God watching over us, finally to Anchorage.  Surprisingly only a day later.

As wonderful a time it was back at home with family and the 80 degree weather, maybe next year the "Christmas season" will be celebrated a few weeks before or after December 25th.