Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Alaska – 2 years later

In life, wildlife on August 29, 2014 at 3:47 am



photo (15)

As bloggers go, I am about as random as they come, but looking back at old posts reminds me of how far I’ve come since starting this blog of puppies, art and Alaska. Amazingly two years have flown by and Alaska continues to throw us adventures, opportunities and challenges. This year summer didn’t really happen with all the rain and cool weather.My garden was pretty neglected which is just as well since our friendly moose helped herself to what little I had. 

no moose

In the end, I’ve learned that I really don’t have what it takes to be a gardener, and that’s ok. Not everyone can grow a 60 lb cabbage. Alaska has been the backdrop for so much professional and personal growth. Long winter nights can bring out the worst in people – depression, self-doubt, loneliness. Yet – I love the darkness for the opportunities it brings to capture this:


Chasing auroras is something I highly recommend doing at least once in your life. Which brings me to the point of this post – at the age of 31, I’ve learned that life is too, too short to spend it worrying about how you look to the world. Celebrate what makes you unique and give back! Volunteer (I like Fairbanks Youth Advocates), do something nice for someone for no reason. Host a charity event like this one benefiting Marley’s Mutt’s.


(Chloe and Connor are always happy to model for my event promotions)

In the end, you can’t take anything with you when you’ve reached the end of the road – but you can make sure you’ve left something good behind. Oh, and hug your puppy every chance you get, because that’s always good for the soul.








A girl and her dog – journey 4150 miles in 8.5 days to Alaska

In dogs, life, travel, Uncategorized on October 29, 2012 at 3:29 am

It has been a while – but Connor and I are currently in Alaska. We made the trek together in late August/September and it was quite an adventure. I am a pretty wimpy driver. Before attempting the drive from northern Virginia to Fairbanks, Alaska the furthest solo drive I made was only 4 hours long. Needless to say, this road trip was beyond my tested endurance levels, so I planned to cover no more than 550 miles a day, with 8 hours on the road.

Planning is key when setting daily goals. It also helps to set up pet-friendly hotel bookings in advance so that you have no surprises on your trip about whether your puppy would be welcome in your room. When traveling alone, I highly recommend bringing your puppy with you. Connor is no mean guard dog, but he’s big enough to make someone think twice about approaching me.

You cannot plan for every possible situation on such a long trip, but here is a check-list that may be helpful for future Alaska-bound travelers:

– Have a valid passport (and in visa/ green card) for border crossings

– Have a health certificate and rabies certificate for your dog completed within 30 days of travel

– Have roaming enabled for your cell phone for calls (I disabled data roaming services)

– Inform your credit card company that you will be traveling to Canada

– Join AAA (great for hotel discounts and car emergencies!)

– Check tires (including spare), carry a can of tire inflation slime in case of punctures

– Check all fluids (I carried spare windshield fluid, and engine oil)

– Have some windex and paper towels/ rag to clean your car as needed (I tried to wipe off the bugs from the bumper and windshield each night)

– Book hotels (especially important to ensure pets are welcome at your nightly stops)

– Have cash on hand (some gas stations in remote areas don’t accept cards)

– Have snacks and drinks packed (also for your dog)

– Enable satellite radio (I had a free trial subscription to SiriusXM) or have a good selection of CDs or music on your Ipod available. Satellite radio worked well all through the drive until I got to Tok, Alaska – at which point I had to change to cds/ my Ipod

– Have a good GPS (I had the one that came with the car and a GARMIN portable GPS – the car’s GPS worked reliably in rain or shine; unfortunately my GARMIN lost signal at inopportune times so I gave up using it after the first day)

– Carry something for self defense (just in case – I had easy access to several self-defense ‘tools’)

– Carry a first aid kit, and sleeping bag

– Have a copy of the Milepost. Incredible resource for navigating the Alaska Highway.

Here’s Connor at Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway. Boy did we have a drive ahead of us!

Finally, there are a few things I learned during our trip:

  • Road trips are better when you have company – even if he sleeps through most of it.
  • Make frequent stops to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery. You may never be back in the same place again.

  • Yes, you can make it through bumpy rough roads and scary fog. If you quit in the middle, you’re simply stuck in the middle of nowhere. Just take a deep breath and carry on.
  • Be prepared for good and bad things to happen. Sometimes you just have to roll with it
  • Don’t pass up an opportunity to stop for food, ask for directions or take a bathroom break – especially the further north you get. Sometime opportunities are few and far between.
  • Keep a camera in easy reach, and take lots of pictures! Pictures can help you remember  what you’ve done and how far you came.

Happy Father’s Day

In dogs, life on June 17, 2012 at 2:10 am

We love dads. I have a great dad. The best I could have ever asked for – funny, smart, and the right mix of strict and supportive. I think everyone with a good dad should be grateful EVERY day. I love you Dad.

Chloe and Connor love their dad too. Since imitation is the best form of flattery, here is the ultimate in puppy adoration. Sorry if they stretched out your shirts, dad. At least they didn’t borrow your tools – which explains why everything looks unused. I’d also like to add that the puppies don’t look nearly as handsome as their dad in those shirts; in fact, I think Connor looks a little chubby in that shirt. Maybe time for Connor to go easy on the cookies. Happy Father’s Day to all dads, whether you have two-legged or four-legged kids.

Minions – you know you want some

In dogs, life, Uncategorized on June 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm

If only I had minions to plough through the seemingly endless hours of writing emails, reports and processing data. Whenever a new task arises, wouldn’t it be nice to assign it to someone else, and have your minion obediently say, “Yes Boss. Right away”. In return, I would provide medical and dental care for my minions – and the occasional liver treat for a job well done.

Who am I kidding, though? Puppies can’t type.

Passing on the Versatile Blogger Award love

In dogs, life, Uncategorized on June 9, 2012 at 9:24 pm

My very first blog award nomination was very kindly given from teepee12, whose writings on the ups and downs of life have kept me a follower of her blog Serendipity.  Thank you so very much for passing along the nomination! Our ‘versatility’ tends to come as a result of a lack of direction.

Chloe and Connor are proud of this achievement, especially since they provide much of the entertainment and subject-matter of my blog. I believe they now expect some sort of reward for their part in the award which will likely come in the form of something tasty to eat.

Part of the Versatile Blogger Award rules is to nominate other deserving blogs, and to provide 7 facts about yourself. I don’t follow a lot of blogs at the moment, and I believe some of the blogs I love have already been nominated for this award, so here’s my list of nominees to pass on the VBA love:

1. Nikitaland’s blog follows the life of one of the cutest dogs out there – Nikita. It also includes crafts and free printables, and is a lot of fun for anyone that loves dogs and DIY projects.

2. M.K.D. provides versatile uses of everyday objects to create a bird-a-day art. It is amazing what he can do with something as mundane as splashes of water on pavement, and soy sauce.

3. Allen’s Zoo is another favorite for his creative style of illustrations. His marine life series is what really drew me to his work.

4. Mermaid Scientist is a beautiful blog that combines the science of marine biology with the beauty of art. It reminds me of the fun of being a marine biologist, and the importance of conserving our oceans.

5. Sadie and Dasie is a like a visual candy, with a mix of home decor, dogs and fashion pictures that fall into themes. I love what she puts together.

6. Oscar the English Bulldog is a blog about Oscar. He is possibly one of the cutest puppies around, and there are many pictures to prove it.

7. Cooking College Chick is a blog about easy recipes. The fact that chocolate and peanut butter are some of her favorite ingredients makes this blog a must-read for anyone with a sweet-tooth.

8. The Other Alaska – a blog that shows Juneau is worth a visit gosh-darn-it!

Now on to the 7 facts about us:

1. We love pizza.

2. Connor has consistently stayed 5 lbs heavier than Chloe over the last year, but Chloe is still the bully dog.

3. Chloe recently had a tooth extracted for a fracture. Some dogs shouldn’t have very  hard things to chew.

4. The patience exercised by the dogs in costumes is directly proportional to the tastiness of the treat that awaits.

5. We believe in off-leash fun for well behaved dogs.

6. Connor survived eating a partial bag of Raisinettes left out by a child with no ill side-effects.

7. Chloe would rather starve than eat plain kibbles.


In dogs, jobs, life on May 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm


Yes, our vague plan to move to Alaska looks like it is actually going to happen. I accepted an offer for a job in Fairbanks, Alaska and we shall be packing up and moving there in stages. The puppies have no idea what is in store for them yet, but I think some warmer clothes are in their future.

It has been quite an adventure being a part-time under employed job seeker in this dismal job market. I do not envy those still in that position. There is hope though that having a vague idea of where you want to go in life and what you want to do can still work out. It does take: 1) persistence, 2) patience, 3) supportive family and friends and maybe a little luck. 🙂

It is both exciting and terrifying to start planning another cross country move. I welcome any advice on moving to Alaska.

Life’s a beach

In crafts, decor, dogs, life on April 12, 2012 at 11:55 am

I feel at some point somebody is going to knock me on the head and say, “Wake up! You do not live at the beach!” Luckily my husband indulges my coastal-inspired decor. For instance, here is a porch that I would love to have – look at that view!

But failing to have the money for the real thing, we do what we can with what we currently have. Here’s the overall set-up using items we already own, some of which have been borrowed from inside the house. Hello plastic Adirondack chairs from Target!

And a close-up of the haphazardly painted table. I didn’t exactly color within the lines. I love the idea of coastal furniture being fun and exuding a care-free attitude. So, I painted it a little messy – stop fussing and go get another drink already! In the background is a hammock  I brought back from Thailand,  wood shore birds from Galveston and a Humpback whale that was a gift from a friend in Hawaii.

In case you didn’t notice earlier, Chloe has a sting-ray pillow. It was custom made by a friend who originally used it as part of his Halloween costume. After Halloween, he stuffed it and made it a pillow. It is almost completely anatomically correct, tail and all!

And an encore for the pillow because it is so cute:

I will refrain from showing you our view and the other side of our porch that stores our under-used grill and Chloe’s baby wading pool. Sometimes it’s best not to look behind the magician’s curtain. 😉

Bunny ears + dogs = Easter fun

In dogs, life on April 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Yes, poor dogs.  However, it is a small price to pay for all the privileges these two get.

Unfortunately, we could not find the white bunny ears so Connor had to share the pink ears costume.


In dogs, life on April 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm

There is an illness that 92% of pet owners silently suffer from. The strain that most commonly affects dog-owners (Canis-familiaris-hyper-compensatia) is typically the worst version you can have, and sadly my husband and I both have it. It seems to be more prevalent in urban areas, where owners either have homes without enough space for their dogs to run around in, or the owners are away at work for long hours.

Symptoms can vary, but for us a typical scenario goes like this:

Me: Look, we just bought this car, and it’s the nicest one we’ve ever had. We have a big truck for you to ride in, so you’ll just ride in the truck, ok?

Dog: Gee, but it looks like such a NICE car. I wish I knew what it was like to sit in a car with a sun-roof.

Me: Um, well maybe we can get some seat protectors for the backseat. You can ride in it if you stay in the back, and promise not to shed or drool.

Ten minutes later, you notice that the interior of your car has muddy paw prints, dog hair and drool and nose-prints on the windows; and the next time you look out your side-view mirrors, you see this:

At this stage, you realize that it is too late to put your foot down, as CFHC has dictated the outcome of the situation. At other times CFHC manifests itself during something as routine as taking your dog for a walk. One minute you are simply out getting your dog some exercise, the next – you are getting some ice-cream and losing a significant share of your cold treats to the monsters with their sad eyes and pink tongues.

Perhaps you’ve noticed symptoms such as a sudden over-abundance of dog toys in their toy box, or you wake up to find the dog is taking up more than half the space on the bed and has stolen some of your covers. If you have ever taken a road trip explicitly because you’ve heard of a chocolate store that makes delicious carob dog biscuits or driven over an hour to get to a good dog park, you may have CFHC. I do not know what to suggest for relief of these symptoms and I could do more research on the topic, but my CFHC is kicking in this morning and I have to go take my dogs to the dog park.

Miss Congeniality

In life on March 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm

If there was any doubt that Chloe is the most popular member of the household, there is none now. The other day Shaun and I were walking down the street with Chloe and Connor when someone whom neither of us recognized said “Oh look, it’s Chloe.”

Of course this is not the first time that a stranger seemed to know Chloe by name, it happened before when we used to live in Texas. It could be that we’ve met people who remember Chloe, but whom we have subsequently forgotten, or maybe Chloe does some self-promoting from the window when we aren’t home. Almost all the children in our street know Chloe and come running to pet her if she’s out while they are playing. None of those children know our names, it’s all “Chloe! Chloe!” Fortunately she basks in the attention.

I am sure when we move to Alaska, Chloe will make her rounds so that everyone in the neighborhood will know who she is – maybe some of that Chloe charm will rub off on shy  Connor, who was most recently referred to simply as “the black dog” by our neighbor’s daughter. In the meantime remember this face, folks. She may not be a superstar, but sometimes she sure gets treated like one.