Golden North Klaus: Between a rock and a hard place

When I stop and look at Klaus now, I can’t believe he and I ever had a rough spot. I was watching Marley and Me the other day and you know the scene where Jennifer Aniston has had enough and tells Owen Wilson that she can’t take it anymore and get rid of the dog? It makes me cringe every time because that was me. No, I would never actually get rid of an animal that I pledged to care for, but that defeatist feeling was there. The exhaustion was high and the patience was low and that my friends, is on me.

The first year with Klaus was rough, to say the least. I’m a control freak and he was, well a puppy. Mentally a baby and I felt like every time we took two steps forward, he bounded three steps back. It was a game and not one I wanted to play.

Klaus was rambunctious, he had separation anxiety. He ate two original Harry Potter books. He then ate Cesar Milan and Marley and Me books. A point made there pooch. He chewed D’s college homework and then his W2. He also succeeded in making D’s iPhone his teething toy. He swiped a full plate of sushi. He shredded two of his dog beds, tore our window treatments, chewed our coffee table as well as our bookcase, and destroyed two pairs of Toms, countless hockey shoelaces, holiday decor, and the kitchen drain plug.

That wasn’t enough, he ripped up a significant portion of our carpet that couldn’t be repaired, it had to be replaced. That was bad. The worst, though, was going home sick only to walk in on a demolished couch. Might I add that this was our rookie mistake in purchasing a brand new couch? How naive of us, “Look, we’re grown ups! Look how hard we’re adulting!” Klaus sure showed us, the cushion stuffing was fluffed around the room like a faux-Christmas morning and I can only imagine that he created a game in which he needed to remove the springs from the couch cushion. It was premeditated. It was surgical. There are not enough words to describe how frustrated, discouraged, and helpless I felt some days.

This dog and I were not on loving, understanding, or patient terms back then. Or at least I wasn’t. What I can say is that he was loving, understanding, forgiving, and patient with me and that says a whole lot more about our characters than words ever could. It took a bit of reflection and with consistency, training, love, and a lot of exercise for both of us, Klaus and I spent a year and a half growing up together. They say that dogs have a way of finding the people who need them. I have always thought that Klaus chose D, but now I know that he chose me too. He knew that I needed to unwind, laugh more, live more, and let go of my depression once and for all. Not a day does not go by that I don’t look at him and feel thankful for his mischievous eyes and goofy grin.

It is interesting to me how the soul of a dog saved my own. It is powerful and humbling to say the least. I am happy, D and I are happy, and that directly corresponds to the light Klaus has shined on our lives. He brought responsibility, maturity, and patience to our home and I am grateful for his heart and sweet demeanor every day. As I write this he is sitting beside me surgically removing the fluff from his stuffed animal. I suppose some things don’t change.


Golden North Klaus: Between a rock and a hard place

Golden North Klaus: Heart & paws in the last frontier

We are coming up on a very special anniversary, and I have found myself reflecting a lot on this wild ride we have been on.

In March 2014, I hung up the phone feeling excited with an edge of determination. I had just seen an ad on Craigslist about a litter of Golden Retriever puppies that were three weeks old and as they would be needing forever homes, the breeders were accepting applications and deposits. After an affirmative from D, my significant other, we talked with the breeders and after careful consideration decided to place a deposit for a pup of our own. It was a mad dash to the bank (because I’m a competitive nutcase) where we placed a hold for our future golden-baby and with relief, were informed by the breeders that we had the pick of the litter.

The day was clear, the sky was blue, and our hopes were high, so dutifully, we shelved any nagging concerns about what puppy ownership would be like and bathed in the excitement. Let’s cut to the chase; I’m an organizer, a planner, and I love everything being in order. The Kon Mari method is my bible. How hilarious it must have been to everyone we told that we were going to be puppy parents: two full-time working adults living on the top floor of an apartment complex in Alaska would be committing to a life with a puppy. The paws, the teeth, the chewing, the messes, and the mischief. I don’t like to half-ass anything.

When the litter reached their six-week milestone there we were, getting lost twice and winding down a forested neighborhood, before pulling up to a fresh looking home overlooking a large green yard with three happy Golden Retrievers wiggling with delight and eager to greet us. We met the breeders and they showed us to a comfortable, clean and well-housed outdoor kennel where the puppies ran to investigate the newcomers. Gulp.

We had decided we wanted a male, so the fluffballs were separated by gender and we were swarmed by exuberant and curious golden bodies and cool wet noses. It was easier to pick our boy than we thought. Though all of the puppies were overwhelmingly sweet, we were each drawn to one of the boisterous brothers. With mom and dad playing fetch athletically in the yard behind us, it was impossible not to be impressed by their color, coordination, and flair. The breeders talked of the dogs like they were family, and it was obvious they were well treated, well mannered, and thoroughly cared for.

Klaus honestly picked D; he made sure he was king of that dog pile and made it clear that D was his person. He was playful, alert, yet sweet and snuggly – our perfect blend. He was given a special collar and the #1 to distinguish him from his brothers and we were told we could pick him up in two weeks, on his eight-week birthday.

When the pick-up day finally came, I was a bundle of nerves. At the time I didn’t handle stress very well and I was suddenly hyper-aware of what we were about to do. Everyone was giving me advice, I assume on a level only comparable to what to do (or for the love of God NOT to do) when you’re pregnant and whether or not to vaccinate your children. I wish I had the laissez-faire attitude that D possesses but then there wouldn’t be any humor to our life.

From that first day, I can say that I have a sliver of an idea of how parents feel. Emotions and reactions ranged from clapping because he pottied outside and not on the rug! Breathing a sigh of relief when we managed to successfully bathe him! Celebrating with glee when he only woke up once during the night!

Our first night with Klaus was an exciting and comfortable success, but then D left for two weeks of training and it was just me versus a 5-pound golden baby. Terror, dear friends. Terror.

Klaus and I had a rough go of things at first. Potty training was more difficult being on the top floor of an apartment complex, but we muddled through. He and I didn’t connect emotionally at first and I was searching for ways to understand his puppy-brain without stressing too much. At that point, I was meeting his basic needs and implementing training, but I wasn’t enjoying him which made me feel like a monster. Which as it turns out isn’t an uncommon feeling.

Slowly but surely, we figured each other out, though, but that’s a story for a later date. In the meantime, check in on Klaus’ adventures on Instagram at @goldennorthklaus


+ We have since adopted two cats and one retriever. I have volunteered in our local animal shelter and we are pro-adoption! 

Golden North Klaus: Heart & paws in the last frontier

You should go and love yourself

Something disappointing happened last week and I’ve carried the heaviness of it into this one. I haven’t felt like I have needed to address this topic since my freshman year of high school, and I’m sad to say that with all of the education and awareness available at our fingertips it is an even more pestilent disease today: bullying.

bul*ly; use superior strength to influence or intimidate (someone), typically to force him to do what one wants

Synonyms: persecute, oppress, tyrannize, browbeat, harass, torment, intimidate, strong-arm, dominate, coerce, humiliate

I have thrown my fair share of stones. Everyone looks back at some point and wishes they had made better choices; mature decisions that would have shaped their life more positively or gracefully. This is essential to growing up and it is a right of passage in itself. What has never gone out of style, though, even if momentarily forgotten, is the essentialism of kindness, integrity, and self-respect. Nothing will ever be as classy and timeless as this.

What I saw last week raised serious concerns

it took place on social media
it was shared with the intention to hurt others “for a laugh”
the language was derogatory, crass, & abusive
the content was vulgar mentally, emotionally, & sexually
it targeted both boys & girls (middle school aged children)
it was heavy in ubiquity: spread by children hiding behind electronics

It makes me realize how much time has changed in the last decade and not necessarily for the better. Bullying has warped into something even more sinister at the cyber level and is just as hard to prove as it is relentless. This is worrisome not only because of the frank abuse but because of how personal it is. After having the unfortunate opportunity to see this “story,” shared publicly, I wondered what these kids’ families were doing while their middle schooler tapped out those ugly words, heavy with intention, with their quick thumbs. Just finished family dinner? Discussing weekend plans? Working on a project? Rushing off to practice of some kind? The few seconds it took to perpetrate the content makes me sick. We should all expect better, shouldn’t we?

How would you even begin to monitor online use these days? How do you hold yourself and those around you accountable and responsible for their online footprint? I’m not asking for a friend, I’m asking as a sister of a middle schooler and a woman planning her family. How do you keep children safe online too, not just from the monsters lurking behind fake profiles, but their own classmates? How do you instill in your child the importance of uplifting and supporting others, instead of tearing them down and why does this seem harder today than ever before?

To those sweet babies who had their personalities, behavior, and bodies bashed in a public stoning, if someone hasn’t said it already let me scream it from a rooftop. Do not let a handful of bullies:

alter how you view your reflection
twist how you behave towards yourself or others
compromise your values
belittle who you are

Then, do not be the bully. Do not limit others or label them. Do not put them down. Do not spread more venom in an already difficult world. No matter the excuses you’ll hear about how different, quirky, or odd someone is. Turn your back on the whisperings on the collection of their pigmentation, social class, language, ability, or gender. When someone else spreads hate, do not be the person that laughs or goes along with it. We all, myself included, need to be reminded of this sometimes too.

We can strive each day to leave someone with a smile, a grateful heart, or a stronger spirit. Start small: maybe practice grace, empathy, and forgiveness towards people today. Let’s make 2017 the year to bury bullying. I’ll start right now.

Disclaimer: I have unfollowed the offending accounts which is sad to me, considering these are family friends and children I have had the gracious opportunity to see grow up. The behavior, however, is not something I will subscribe to.  

You should go and love yourself

Crossing that mid-20’s line

I have found myself thinking back over the past few years and shaking my head in amusement, and admittedly some chagrin. Maybe it is because the world is celebrating a new year, fresh with possibilities, chances, and surprises. Maybe it’s because my 27th is around the corner. Regardless, I’ve felt a little removed from my life, like it is happening to someone else because it is so sweet. I’m not meaning to brag, honestly, I am just happily surprised.

Looking back to college and just after, I shake my head and wish desperately I could go back and make different choices. That obviously is normal, but they feel unexpected. I kind of laugh at the antics of the depressed, insecure girl that I was, but mostly I’m sad for her and the wasted time. Which of course is silly, I learned so much from those mistakes. In hard ways, but the lessons are there regardless.

I would say so much to the girl I used to be. Mainly that I should have:

+ been happy with ME and taken the pressure OFF
+ realized my twenties were for fun and growth
+ not wallowed in my own sadness or past hurts
+ been single, give or take an exception or two
+ taken time for me, traveled, and just chilled
+ understood I am simply either a white wine or whiskey kind of girl
+ focused on my education and healthy friendships

I so wish I had lived more in the moment and not been blind to the good things that were in my life. Self-sabotage is quite real, friends. Yes, I think I would definitely do things differently and from that, I would have sparked a lot more happiness in my life and treated others better. Which is all fine and good until I blink and realize that this is what those darkest years were all about. From those lessons and with some help, I can say that the girl I used to be is a shadow of the person I am now, and that is okay. Healing came from all of it.

I wonder if this is when things begin falling into place; people start settling into who they are, knowing what they want, understanding their maturity, and giving back. I’m curious what the rest of my 20’s will hold, but for once I’m not in a rush, I think I’ll just enjoy the ride and remain as ever, a work in progress.

I’m a few days behind, but 2017, I’m ready for this next year around the sun.

Crossing that mid-20’s line

Visiting Alaska: Plan Your Trip!

Planning to visit the great northern state of Alaska? Here are some tips to navigating Anchorage, the place that I call home. The first thing you’ll want to do is think about how you’re getting here, how long you want to stay, what season to visit is important to you, and what you want to do while you’re here!

For Your Planning Needs
Check out Visit Anchorage and Trip Advisor
Plan recreational activities in the Kenai Peninsula area here!
Where Should You Stay?
Best Hotels in Anchorage – USA News
Springhill Suites
Dimond Center Hotel
The Hotel Captain Cook
The Lakefront Anchorage 

Car Rentals
Dollar Rent a Car
Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Dining Experiences
Glacier Brewhouse
Snow City Cafe – Breakfast/Brunch
Bear Tooth Pub and Pizzeria
Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria
Simon and Seaforts Saloon and Grill
Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse
Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant
Midnight Sun Brewing Company
Fat Ptarmigan
Crush Wine Bistro and Cellar
Spenard Roadhouse
Midnight Sun Brewing Company
Middle Way Cafe
South Restaurant and Coffee House
Fire Island Rustic Bakery
Tequila 61
Whale’s Tail Wine Bar
Rustic Goat
Blues Central, A Proper Establishment 
Hearth Artisan Pizza
Wild Scoops – Ice Cream Truck
M.A.’s Gourmet Dogs (Food cart!)

Neat Places to Shop
The Wildberry Place
Ozark’s Antiques
Farmer’s Market
Polar Bear Gifts
5th Avenue Mall
The Ulu Factory
Octopus Ink
Sweet Chalet, Artisan Chocolate & Confectionery
AK Starfish / AK Mermaid
The Spice & Tea Exchange 

Get Out and Play
Potters Marsh Bird Sanctuary
Ghost  Tours of Anchorage
Beluga Point
McHugh Creek
Winner Creek Trail
Portage Glacier
Alaska Zoo
Flattop Mountain
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Alaska Botanical Garden
Top 10 Places in Alaska
Kenai Fjord National Tours
Soldotna, Alaska (2 hours, 40 minute drive from Anchorage, 147 miles)
Nikiski, Alaska (3 hours, 20 minute drive from Anchorage, 171 miles)
Seward, Alaska  (2 hours, 20 minute drive from Anchorage, 127 miles)
Homer, Alaska  (4 hours from Anchorage, 222 miles)
Nikolaevsk, Alaska  (4 hours from Anchorage, 216 miles before Homer)

Fishing in Alaska 
Check out what’s happening on the Kenai River and refer to a fishing guide or two to get ready! June is a great month for fishing!

I Spy … 
Bald Eagle
and so much more!

Visiting Alaska: Plan Your Trip!

ThredUp Experience in 2016

I recently hit a rut with my wardrobe. Maybe our move had something to do with it, but I was feeling uninspired, monotonous, and bored with everything I put on in the morning. With buying a house and Christmas around the corner it wasn’t feasible for me to spend a lot of money on clothing, at the very least my conscience wouldn’t let me with the other purchases we were making. So I took to Pinterest and found ThredUp, I decided to give it a try and wasn’t surprised with how easy it was to fill up my cart.

There is so much variety to sort through. It wasn’t overwhelming, though, I liked being able to categorize what I was looking for by size, color, then pricing low-high just to give myself a starting point. It felt like a personalized shopping experience where I only saw items that would fit me, and more specifically they were in the colors I wanted and in the price range I needed.

What did surprise me was the total. I ordered 13 new blouses, tanks, and sweaters – all name brand and all in wonderful condition for less than $30 from the comfort of my living room, sipping a cup of coffee. Not only were my items of choice already marked at more-than-reasonable prices, but there was a coupon available as well. The cherry on top was free shipping to Alaska which always makes me a little giddy, as well as my confirmation email letting me know I had saved over $520 from retail. I couldn’t have done this anywhere else and received the quality that I did.

My cute polka-dot box arrived less than 5 days later and it was an experience just opening it up, there was no waiting for Christmas day here folks. Every item was nicely folded in tissue paper with ThredUp tags attached. It was a nice touch and I was thrilled when everything fit just as I needed it to. Sigh, now this is what shopping is supposed to be like. I have absolutely fallen in love with ThredUp and cannot recommend the experience enough.

I’m committed to this company and as a customer, I am able to offer $10 to all who use the links above (valid for 30 days). In full disclosure, I am also given $10 to continue shopping so we all get to wear the pretty things. Also, use MERRY40 to receive 40% off of your total until January 5th. Have fun and pay it forward!


ThredUp Experience in 2016

Home for the holidays

We did something kind of neat. We signed a lot of paperwork, made a big commitment, and became homeowners 12.12.16.

Our yard is covered in a fresh layer of the white stuff, and there’s a balsam fir candle burning on our mantle. I’m sitting on the staircase of our new home waiting for our living room furniture to be delivered, envisioning the holidays, gatherings, and memories that will take place here in this little nest of ours. Our dogs are playing tag in their winter wonderland and the cats are strategizing their plan of attack on the Christmas tree. At the end of our cul-de-sac children and families are sledding, skiing, and enjoying the crisp air and sunshine of the day. D is putting our home together and our newly gifted Pike Place roast is brewing. It’s all so simple and I don’t think my heart has felt happy and full quite like this before, pardon the mushiness. Do we really live here?

Thanks to our friends, family, and a wonderful realtor, Tennant&Co has moved for the last time (at least for a long while). There is so much to be thankful for.

I like paying it forward sharing what works for our family, and in full transparency, my posts may contain affiliate links. Which as a heads up means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using them. Happy shopping!

Home for the holidays