Friday, November 14, 2014

One Has to Keep One’s Wrist Happy

Several months ago Bryan got a pair of Garmin Vivofit Wrist Bands, a black one for him and a teal one for me. This is a device by which one can keep track of how many steps one takes throughout the day, and is really pretty cool.

With just the push of a button, I can switch between the Time, the Date, How Many Steps I've Taken, How Many Steps I Have Left to Meet My Daily Goal, How Many Miles I've Gone, and How Many Calories I've Burned.

If I have been inactive for too long it has a band of red lights that blink at me. It starts out with just one light, but the longer I sit there doing nothing, the more lights it adds on until I end up with the entire display blinking at me. To get the lights to go away, I have to get up and walk around a bit: the more lights I have blinking at me, the longer I have to walk around.

As I always say, “My wrist is yelling at me to get up and walk!”

There is a program online that I log in to where I have created my own page to keep track of my progress. I can adjust my band to my personal step size, give it my height & weight, and even keep track of my sleep patterns and moods.

A typical day for me has my goal set at around 4850 steps. If I just go to work and then home afterwards, I have to really work at getting to my goal. If it’s one of the days I go to the gym, I usually go over my goal by about a couple thousand. On my recent vacation, I had about 5 days in a row with around 10,000 steps a day – as opposed to the sick day I had to take once I got home, where I logged in at barely 500.

Originally, the goal was set at a random number based on the information entered in to my website page – but the longer I wear it, the more it adjusts based on my history. Which basically means, the better I get at meeting my goal, the higher my goal becomes!

It’s been pretty fun, actually, and really has encouraged me to be more active throughout the day.

Scrapbooking Conference in Bellevue Washington

Yes, I know. I am not a “scrapbooker” – I’m a card maker. But they had classes on all sorts of paper crafting things, so I was able to keep busy the entire time.

Thursday night was a 12x12 Layout Workshop from 6:30 to 8:30 pm which I basically took just to get a feel for the place so that I’d know what I was doing the next two days.

Friday was my busiest day with 7 classes (1. All About Cards, 2. Newest & Coolest in the Scrapbooking World, 3. Designer Cards Featuring Simple Stories, 4. Pop-it-up Pivot Cards, 5. Shake It Up Shaker Box Cards, 6. Celebration Wine Tags, and 7. Trendy Card Creations) leaving no time to shop the vendor faire or even lunch break.

Saturday was an easier day for me, since I only had 4 classes (1. A Full House - Cards for Every Occasion, Trunk Show, Sun Kissed Fleur Cards, and Cards Full of Sunshine). I had plenty of time to eat lunch and go shopping and even rest for a bit; sadly a necessary thing by that time, since I was really not feeling good at all.

The hosts of the convention had drawings each hour for various door prizes. I got a ticket for each class I took plus one for each day that I was there: in total I ended up with about 20 tickets. Out of the thousands (only a slight exaggeration, there) of people who attended = my name actually got drawn not once but TWICE!

Woo-Hoo! I ended up getting a free stamp set from Heartfelt Creations (worth $18.00) and $20.00 worth of free paper from Keller’s Creations.

In addition to the door prizes, each class had their own give-aways & drawings – so I ended up coming home with way, WAY more stuff than I arrived with. In fact, if I were to add it all up, I bet I ended up “winning” crafting supplies worth more than what I paid to attend the conference!

Plus 54 cards!!!

Am I going again next year?

Hell, yeah!

My Week in Seattle/Bellevue

I was in the process of creating this big long post about my Seattle vacation the other day when it dawned on me that you probably aren't that interested in what I had for dinner each day or how long we had to stand in line at the car rental place. What you really want to know about is just the highlights: what we did and where we went.

So, in a nutshell = here’s the condensed version of my Vacation.

We went to the Seattle Science Center under the Space Needle where we leisurely browsed the Tropical Butterfly House, the Children’s Insect Village and the Chihuly Garden & Glass exhibit.

We went down to the docks to shop at Pike’s Market and take a ride on their new ferris wheel, called the Seattle Great Wheel, which stands 175 feet tall and extends out over the pier by at least 40 feet.

We did some shopping at several stores that are not in Alaska: namely, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Lush, and See’s Candy.

We even took a short hike in the Bellevue Botanical Gardens where we got to traverse a 150’ long suspension bridge!

My main reason for going on the trip in the first place was to attend the Creating Keepsakes Scrapbooking Conference in Bellevue, and boy oh boy did I have fun! 2 whole days of back-to-back classes from 8:00 in the morning till 6:30 in the evening! I learned so many cool new techniques to use on my cards: my next post will give you more detail.

Unfortunately, I ended up getting sick the very day I got there – so that by the time the conference started I was in full-blown-cold mode, heavily medicated just to get through the day in a vertical state.

I had a good time, regardless - but would have preferred to be healthier.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

They Have Noodles!

I got a phone call from my brother the other day, saying he & his co-worker Esau would be having lunch at a nearby location and were wondering if I could join them.

“It’s that noodle-place on Dimond and Old Seward, called Pho-netic. You’ll like them; they have… you know… noodles!”

How could I resist?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What Kind of Logic is This?

After putting away the groceries last night, I sat down to enjoy my cup of tea and go through the mail. Among all the other junk mail I received the quarterly sale flyer from Costco, so I flipped through it to see if there was anything I needed.

When I got to the pharmaceutical section, I found several coupons for various items grouped together in quasi-logical fashion: you could choose from several types of Advil (Advil PM, Liqui-gell Advil, Advil Extra Strength, etc…) for $2.50 off the regular price, or choose from several different types of multi-vitamins for another $2.50 off – that sort of thing.

But tell me: in what parallel universe does this pairing make sense?
They actually have a coupon that gives you $2.50 off your choice of either Excedrin Migraine or Gas-X!

Yup, Excedrin Migraine or Gas-X.

Now, I can assure you = in all of my 35+ years of Migraine Affliction, not once has it ever caused me to fart.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Apparently My Spirit Horse Kicks Ass

But as Bryan would say (and did) “I could have told you that!”

I bet you’re thinking “What the heck is she talking about, anyway?”


Bryan and I took a Painting Lesson the other day at Arctic Crown Canvas (conveniently located right next door to a very good sushi restaurant) where we painted our Spirit Horse! I must say: the results were quite surprising. If you come visit me, you’ll see it propped up on the hearth right in front of the fireplace that I never use.

Bryan was not nervous at all this time until he realized that first: there were no lines or numbers involved (think paint-by-numbers), and second: the end result had to actually look like a horse – or at least, somewhat like a horse. I kept trying to assure him that he was doing great, but it really was a stretch for him.

The class was small, but filled the room to where it was a tad bit crowded. There were 4 tables with 4 people sitting at each one. We all had an easel with our canvas propped up on it, a glass of water, two paintbrushes, and a paper plate with 8 blobs of paint squirted onto it: dark brown, light brown, white, black, blue, dark yellow, bright yellow and red.

The instructor was called T-Rex, and despite her rather intimidating name was actually a rather petite woman with a braid about as long as my own. She assured us that she would help us create a masterpiece – and then actually proceeded to do just that!

Sometimes her instructions were as easy as “Pick up your round brush and get a dab of white paint on it.” But then sometimes her instructions were a bit less so: “You just kind of swirl it around, blending just a little bit here and there so that the colors look the way you want them to.”

The reason I think my Spirit Horse kicks ass, as they say, is that in the beginning the eye was shaped such that it looked evil to me. T-Rex assured me that once we were through with all the layers we were going to add to it that it would look much better.

She was right – it does look much better.

But I still think the evil is in there, simmering just below the surface.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Where Does The Time Go?

It seems like I have something going on every day, which leaves me with no time to write about anything.

We’ll start with last Thursday: Bryan and I went to a class at one of the local cooking stores called Zucchini’s. It was on Fermenting Vegetables as presented to us by a woman from Lithuania named Gdaiva. Your guess is as good as mine on the proper pronunciation on that name! She was very knowledgeable however, and we had a lot of fun at the class. I am now motivated to try my hand at fermenting Lemons and Cabbage (separately, though – not together) and maybe even some Turnips.

The following day I met up with my niece Lauren at the REI store: she wanted some help picking out a bell for her bicycle. The bells apparently fall completely outside of her hearing range, so she needed somebody who could assure that the chosen one was not too obnoxious and yet still audible enough to alert people to her approach. While standing in line to pay for her new bell, she pulled out a wad of dollar bills from her pocket – but did not seem to appreciate my humor when I accused her of dancing on tables again.

Saturday saw both Bryan and I out in Palmer at Mother’s house where we hooked his computer up to her big screen TV to see pictures of his recent trip to Mongolia. Mother’s friend Kurt was there as well, and we all had a good time discussing the finer points of a horses’ saddle or the proper way to set up a drive net in which to capture wild mountain sheep. From there we headed over to Bryan’s Father’s house (in Wasilla) to do a repeat of the slide show for his family. It was a long day, but a happy one.

Sunday afternoon was fun: Bryan and I went over to the library to join a group who meets there once a month for 4 hours to do crafting! And yes, Bryan came with me. He swears that he had fun making cards with me – and I honestly think he did. The group was a bunch of ladies who were very nice, albeit a tad bit surprised at Bryan being there. I plan on going each month, schedule permitting, since it really is more fun to cut paper with company.

Monday was a nice quiet day, which was good because I got hit with a major migraine on Tuesday. I drove out to Palmer to deliver a proposal to the Borough Building out there (I even got to have lunch with Mother at Turkey Red) and on the way back to Anchorage the sunlight flashing through the trees made me so nauseous I barely made it home. And yes, I went home rather than return to the office.  I was really bummed because I had planned on meeting my niece Lauren at the vet where she was taking her new kitten, but had to cancel. Wednesday was a loss as well; I did go in to work that morning, but had to go home at noon and crawl back in to bed.

Thankfully I woke up Thursday morning with NO HEADACHE! I felt almost giddy, actually; the relief is intoxicating. I felt so good, in fact, I met Bryan at the Midnight Sun Brewery after work for a drink! Have you ever been there? It’s a strange place, tucked back in a nowhere-neighborhood behind Home Depot on Abbott. They serve pretty darned good food, though: I had a grilled peanut butter sandwich!

Which finally brings us to today; I’m eating my soup for lunch (Fire Roasted Tomato Soup base to which I added Swiss Chard, Black Beans, Butternut Squash, and Wheat Harts) and preparing for a site visit out to some VA Housing. After work, Bryan is taking me out to dinner at Sacks 5th Avenue and then to the Performing Arts Center to see Les Miserables!

I’m so excited!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Honey Honey How You Thrill Me

The Honey Tasting Class last night was awesome.

Summit Spice & Tea is one of my favorite shops: they have just about any kind of spice you can think of, a whole entire wall shelf filled with hundreds of different types of tee, and their Tea Room is a great place to sit with a book and relax over a good cup of tea and a sweet something. They offer many different classes: Tea Tastings, Chocolate Tastings, Oil & Vinegar Tastings, that sort of thing. This was their first Honey Tasting, and it was a really good class.

There were 4 tables set up for the class, seating 8 per table. Each place setting had 6 different honeys to try with a coordinating information sheet to go with them. We got to talk with a local honey farmer - Joe Dunham: owner OF Alaska Honey, Pollen & Comb (AKHPC) - who explained the dynamics of a hive, the life cycle of a bee, and how honey is made.

We even got to go shopping afterwards with a 15% off coupon in case we wanted to pick up our favorite honey from the class. I had intended to get a jar of raw honey (I infuse it with lemon and ginger for my teas at home) but ended up getting a Meadowfoam Honey made by Bee Raw (soft and sweet with notes of caramelized custard and a hint of burnt sugar) instead. It was my absolute favorite.

The other ones we tried were: Fireweed Honey by AKHPC, Wilelaiki Blossoms by Big Island Bees, Macadamia Blossom by Big Island Bees, Spun Honey by AKHPC (this one was my second favorite – it tasted like liquid taffy!) and Whole Honey Comb by AKHPC.

One interesting thing we learned is that bees actually make 6 different marketable products, or substances: not just honey – which everybody is familiar with – but also wax, pollen, royal jelly, venom, and propolis (the "stuff" they use to coat the entrance to their hive).

Monday, October 13, 2014

What a Great Weekend!

My friend Bryan came and picked me up Friday night for a bowl of Alaskan Seafood Chowder at Suite 100. They not only make the best chowder in town, but they also make a pretty darned good Lemon Drop as well (the Yuzu Lemondrop: a Japanese lemon, quality Ketel One vodka and a sugared rim).

I would also say they make really good bread, too; except they have it delivered up from outside. It is good, but I don’t know why they have it delivered when there are so many good bakeries right here in Anchorage.

Anyway, Bryan had just gotten home from his trip to Mongolia so I spent a good hour or two happily listening to his stories and eating my dinner.

Once we finished our desert (Croissant Pudding: studded with chocolate chunks and served warm with bourbon sauce) we headed on downtown to the Egan Center for our concert = Mark Chestnut! What a great concert that was! The opening act was beyond lame, but Mark more than made up for it. Makes me want to go out and buy a Mark Chestnut CD!

I got to sleep in a bit Saturday morning: Bryan politely waited until 11:00 before showing up at my doorstep. We ate a late breakfast – which I somehow managed to both undercook AND burn, both at the same time. We ate anyway, then headed off to the store to get some supplies (furnace filters, hardware to hang shelving, register plates for my new floor, that sort of thing). Apparently, remodeling my house is an on-going thing: I’m still not done!

We were both pretty worn out when we got back to my house, so we just popped a movie in the DVD player (Jaws!) and I made some cards while he organized his Mongolia pictures. We got hungry again around 4:30 so headed out to the Long Branch for a burger.

Sunday was another lazy morning, just snuggling with my Thing and listening to the rain outside; but Bryan was back at my doorstep around noon to tackle the house this time.

We got the wall map and several pictures hung up in my bedroom; all the floor registers switched out (replaced the old metal ones with new wooden ones); the shelving put back up for all of my antique figurines; and got my jewelry racks hung up in the bathroom.

We watched another movie (The Man from Earth) then had an early dinner of fresh Silver Salmon, Rice, Broccoli, and some of Mother’s Homemade Bread.

Then I kicked him out and read my book until going to bed.

Not a bad weekend at all, I’m thinking!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Performances Around Town

I have so many things to look forward to this winter, I’m almost not sorry to see it coming hard at us already this year. 

And how wonderful is it that I have somebody to go with me to all of these!

7-Oct-14    Polar Obsession
10-Oct-14  Mark Chesnutt    
24-Oct-14  Les Misérables
29-Oct-14  Tim McGraw
18-Nov-14  The Lens of Adventure
5-Dec-14    Celtic Woman
28-Dec-14  A Christmas Carol
13-Jan-15   Rovers of the Red Planet
21-Feb-15  Steep Canyon Rangers
3-Mar-15    Connect with Anybody, Anywhere
7-Mar-15    African Guitar Summit
17-Apr-15  Jesse Cook

Monday, October 06, 2014

Not One of My Finer Moments

I was sitting up in the library last night, watching a movie and making my cards, when the doorbell rang. I fumbled around till I found the remote to turn the movie off, and then ran to get the door.

No one was there!

So, I’m standing there saying to myself, “Oh God… please tell me I did not just do that.”

Sure enough: I went back upstairs and turned the movie back on to see Whip Dalton (aka: William Peterson) open his door to the people of Graves Point who came asking him to hunt down the giant squid that has been terrorizing their fishing grounds.

Back Again

I realized the other day that it had been quite some time since I last posted anything on my Blog. I don’t have a good excuse, really, other than that life just has a way of getting the best of you at times.

I have had a wonderful summer: hiking, camping, road trips, exciting activities, family gatherings, crafting parties, working out at the gym… you name it, I’ve probably done it.

I even remodeled my house: new flooring, new paint (inside and out), a new bay window, some wall repair work. I absolutely love the end result, but wow – that was an agonizingly stressful 3 weeks.

Anyway, hopefully I will be posting more often. Feel free to leave comments whenever the mood strikes you!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Obituary

Jannen Louis Amgwert, 82, passed away Thursday night January 9.

The only child of the late Henry and Esther Amgwert, he was born in Omaha, Nebraska on October 19, 1931. After serving his military duty with the Army he moved to Colorado where he married and started his family.

“Jack” spent most of his life around horses, sported a handle-bar mustache and smoked a pipe in true cowboy fashion. He was joint-owner of The Westerner in Ft. Collins, an avid shooter all his life and an accomplished marksman.

In the early 1970’s he packed up his family and moved up north to Alaska, bought a little log cabin on the river in Palmer, and settled down. Eventually he moved in to Anchorage where he lived for the rest of his life.

He is survived by his 5 children: Stewart, Kelly, Noel, Ruth, and Reed. He is also survived by 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made in his name to Seward Mountain Haven (907-224-5241). 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Why Not, Continued

I had so much fun with the whole “Why Not” concept last year that I’ve decided to continue with it this year!

Basically, it goes this way:
I’m reading the papers or surfing the web, when I see an ad for something and say to myself “Wow, that looks interesting! I would like to do that.”

And then I say, “Why not!” and so I do it!

Already this year, I have myself booked for a flight seeing tour of Ruth Glacier (I mean, come on! How could I not do that one?), another Pie Making Trip to Talkeetna (I had so much fun last year, Why Not?), Rock Climbing lessons, a Horse Back Riding trip, a 4-hour cooking class, a camping trip out at the Kennecott Mine, and a Glacier Trek with Zip Line.

Most exciting, however, is that I am going to a Scrapbooking Convention for 3 days in Seattle!


Appreciation on Both Sides

On the one-year anniversary of my neck surgery, I sent a Thank You card to Dr. Kralick for a job well done. I included a picture of my neck showing him that I barely have a scar at all, as well as my records of the procedure: dealing with insurance, keeping track of all the people who played a part in it, all of the costs involved, and documenting my progress in healing – because I thought perhaps he’d be interested in the other side of the equation.

And I never heard a word from them. Did they get my card or not? I never knew…

Until today! Today, I got a phone call from a lady that works at Anchorage Neurosurgical Associates, Inc. saying that she was putting together a new web site for them and was asking if she could use what I had written on that card as a testimonial on their site! 

Apparently, they not only GOT the card, but really liked it, too!

I have to admit: I’m feeling all kinds of warm & fuzzy over this whole affair.

And of course, I said yes.

Body Parts, Insurance, and Rental Cars

So, last time I talked about my car wreck I left you hanging as to when the whole thing was going to get resolved.

Unfortunately, I can’t really tell you that. I can tell you that the parts required to fix the car came in earlier than expected, so I am to drop the car off at the body shop tomorrow. Today, I called the Rental Car place and reserved a replacement car for the duration (estimated to be around 4 days). A friend of mine is going to help me drop off my car at the body shop and go pick up the rental car at their place, so it should go smoothly.

As far as insurance is concerned, things are not going as well. The guy was driving a company vehicle, so my insurance has been trying to work with them on a solution to the whole problem, but they have been rather un-responsive so my insurance has passed my claim on to the “next level” so they can “pursue it more aggressively”

Whatever that means.

Actually, I know what that means. That means I get to pay for everything up front and wait for reimbursement somewhere down the road when things finally get resolved.

But at least my car will be fixed and good as new again.