Friday, December 18, 2015

Altered Book Christmas Trees

Who's ready to get their Christmas book craft on?  Now here's when you pipe in with, "I do, I do!"

This is an easy tutorial, and the end result is so cute.  I set up a display on the front desk of the library where I work with the finished trees and it looks adorable.  Bookish and festive!

I'll go through the step by step of what I did, which was based on the instructions I found here.

It's one of those projects you can work on while you're watching t.v. - You fall in to the repetition of folding the pages and before you know it, you're finished.

You'll need a few old books that you don't mind re purposing, an exacto knife, dry adhesive, and any accessories you'd like to use to decorate the trees.   I like to use books that are older and have yellowing pages because of the antique-y effect it gives to the finished tree.

Here are the steps:

Step 1
Remove the front and back covers from the book

Step 2
Count out 30 pages, and carefully slice down the binding to separate the pages from the rest of the book

Step 3
Count out another 30 pages, and slice down the binding again. 

Step 4
With the binding an the left, fold down the top right side of the page into a triangle

Step 5
Fold the page down toward the binding a second time, sort of like you're making a paper airplane

Did I mention I used a very old children's book for my trees?  Nice werewolf picture, right?

Step 6
Fold the little triangle at the bottom of the page up.

Continue folding all of the pages in this way until you've folded all of them, and you have half of a tree.

Once you've folded all of the pages in both 30 page sets, thoroughly coat the back of one of the tree halves with dry adhesive, and affix the two tree halves together.

I decorated the tree with crafting supplies I had on hand, and my final result looked like this:

Like I said earlier, I set up a cute little display for the Christmas season on the front desk at the library where I work, and I think it's too damn cute:

How fun for folks to walk in the front door and have these festive altered books greet them.

Merry Christmas, and happy book crafting if you give this one a go!

Ta-ta for now.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

12 Things I'll Miss About Living in Alaska

Granted, we don't even know where we'll be transferring to yet, but our inevitable moving date is hurling toward us, & I'm finding myself doing the predictable.  Reflecting on what I'll miss about living way up here in the 49th state.

Even though I'm enthusiastically anticipating the jump into our next chapter, wistfulness inevitably creeps in when I think about what I'll miss about living in Alaska.

As I contemplated the motley lineup of experiences that made up our life here - both the hefty, indelible experiences like bear viewing tours and tackling major mountain hikes, and the minor, everyday things like views out the living room window and scenic drives...I was a little surprised. Turns out I'll miss a lot more than I expected!

12 Things I'll Miss About Living in Alaska

1.  Those pristine, ogle worthy landscapes
First things first.  The natural environment we've been surrounded by is truly spectacular.  I've said it before, but it's like the Discovery Channel, National Geographic & the Sierra Club all wrapped up together.  The result is pure, pristine beauty.  Just a simple drive to work or the grocery store brought me past sprawling ocean and mountain vistas that I gawked at on a daily basis.  It never got old.  I know I'll pine for it when I don't get to see it everyday.

Buskin River

2.  The unbelievably clear winter night skies
I'll never forget the first time I saw a crisp, clear, Kodiak winter night sky.  To say it was astonishing about covers it.  An inky blue backdrop dotted with truly countless, brilliant stars no matter which part of the sky I gazed at...unforgettable for sure.  

3.  The northern lights
Speaking of winter night skies!  Experiencing the northern lights in person was a life list moment that I was so thankful to see.  And not just once - I admired lady aurora dancing in the sky quite a few times during our time in Alaska. It was always spectacular.

Fairbanks, AK - More difficult to capture on camera than you'd think!

4.  The hiking
Hiking was hands down my favorite outdoor activity here.  I know we'll hike again at all of our other destinations, but I don't think it'll ever quite match the Alaskan hiking we tackled over our three years in Kodiak.

North Sister Mountain

5.  Northern bird watching
I traded in the brown pelicans and white ibises of Florida for puffins and bald eagles.  And what a fun replacement!  I spent the better part of two years stalking eagles and puffins with the ultimate goal of capturing a decent close up.  After lots and lots of trial and error, I finally succeeded.  I'll miss watching the bald eagles soar, the doofy puffin zip by me in my kayak, and believe it or not, even the smart and sneaky black-billed magpies that were ubiquitous around our house.

My best northern bird close-ups
6. The vibrant green mountains of summer
They don't call Kodiak Alaska's Emerald Isle for nuthin'.  I would anticipate the gradual encroachment of green up the mountains every year in spring time.  And once June rolled!  So vibrant and beautiful.  I ran out of adjectives to describe Kodiak's flourishing, gorgeous summers a long time ago.

Indescribable Kodiak summers

7.  The most exquisite Alaskan king crab legs I've ever had
Not only were they enormous, they were every word you can think of for succulent & flavorful.  We went over the top overboard during our first winter in Kodiak and ate somewhere around 30-40 lbs of crab.  Yeah.  A little much.  Needless to say, we haven't had as much crab as we did that first year - but I'll always remember what came out of the hubby's mouth the first time we tasted it.  And I quote, "Oh sweet Jesus this is good."

8.  Ditto for the halibut & salmon
I can't say enough about how marvelous it is to have fish for dinner that was swimming that morning.  It just doesn't get any better than that.  Fresh Alaskan salmon caught & later grilled by the hubby?  You can sign me up every time.

Salmon grilled on a cedar plank & blackened Alaskan halibut in the cast iron skillet

9.  The sunrises and sunsets
I know sunrises & sunsets are a dime a dozen because they happen every morning and evening no matter where you live.  BUT.  There's something about them here.  They're spectacular.  Well, when it's not overcast and cloudy, anyway.  Which is pretty much the status quo.  But when it's clear?  Breathtaking.  Maybe it's an island thing, because they were dynamite in Key West, too.  Either way, I'll miss those gorgeous skies.

10. Kayaking -  We'll kayak at whatever our next destination is if it's feasible, but I'll miss the uniqueness of the landscape and all the incredible things there were to see out on the water here.

11.  Whale watching - Every April, gray whales migrate over 10,000 miles round-trip between Mexico's nursery lagoons and feeding grounds in the Bering Sea.  Massive pods of whales pass by Kodiak each spring, which made for excellent opportunities to whale watch.  I looked forward to it each year and had the privilege of witnessing breaches, spouts, and tons of sightings along the coast.  So fun, and so memorable.

A commanding view for whale watching at Narrow Cape

12.  Mossy forests
Because...gah!  They're stunning. The first time we ambled into one of those carpets of green was a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life.  It was like a fairy tale.  The sort of atmosphere that begs you to try and spot a fairy or an elf.  The Shire, for sure.

So, as I ponder our last three years - where we got to try on Alaskan life for a little while - I think my primary emotion is gratitude.  What a one-of-a-kind experience we dipped our toes into.

Living on Kodiak was so unique, and I can't imagine overlooking or taking for granted how special & memorable our time here has been.

And I'm sure once we step off the ferry and start our journey back to the lower forty-eight, that wistfulness will resurface and tap me on the shoulder every so often.

And looking back fondly is exactly what I'll do when Kodiak is on my mind.  How could I do anything but that?

Ta-ta for now.