Exploring Portage Valley, AK

One of our favorite spots to explore and play it out in Portage Valley. Located just 45 minutes outside of Anchorage, it winds back into heavy woods to offer secluded campsites, access to Portage Glacier, Portage River, and one the of the longest tunnels (2.5 miles of enclosed highway) in North America to open up to the small seaside city of Whittier and surrounding Prince William Sound.


In addition to the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center, there are numerous trails to hike as well with guided boat and hiking tours. Whether a full-fledged adventurer or a newbie, there is something for everyone and that is what we love the most!

The dogs always have a great time running themselves silly, and we get in a nice hike and fresh air ourselves 🙂



Exploring Portage Valley, AK

Why I’m childfree (for now).

An interesting thing happens the moment you get engaged, well-intentioned people start casually inquiring about your reproductive habits and plans. Which is funny when you think about it longer than half a second, but we’re all slightly guilty of this faux pas, aren’t we? First, comes love, then comes marriage; we all know what is supposed to happen next and I think we’ve all asked with an edge of excitement, “soo when are you planning your family?”

I have never given this a second thought until I became friends with a woman in college who at a young age understood her expectations and plans for her future did not include children. At that time I was inspired by her knowing her own mind and it was disheartening to hear people tell her, “you’ll change your mind.” Sure, maybe, but why is that anyone else’s concern? Why is it taboo for a woman to know she doesn’t want to raise a child? Or at least not want to procreate in the near future? Admittedly, her decision wasn’t something I was able to personally relate to at that time but heck it is one I supported!

I have always wanted to experience motherhood; so much so that I have considered adoption options and have worked to ensure my career is molded into one that had the potential for a WAHM situation so I could stay at home for the first few years to soak up all that baby goodness. For the past 10 years, I have volunteered at my local NICU, nannied for three wonderful families (such happy years), and am currently a court advocate for foster children – please understand I believe children are a wonderful gift and bring so much joy, there’s no question. Up to a year ago, honestly less, we were firmly ready to start a family of our own.

That said, now that we’re three months from the wedding, that desire has changed. We’ve assessed our life, our values, and circumstances and coupled with me hitting my 27th-year, realized there are things I still want to do for me. As a woman, as an individual, as a wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I am just settling into a happy and rewarding career. D and I are in a great place and enjoying our little life with our furkids. We’re finally in a position to plan trips we’ve been talking about for years: Iceland, Ireland, Argentina … we have the freedom to spend time with our friends with zero notice, see professional sporting games, schedule vacations. We’re so freaking happy right now and I simply don’t feel the need to add to our family yet. Just, not yet. It is empowering to have this choice.

It’s interesting when you slowly start sharing that you’re not ready to be a parent (because those well-meaning people ask, and ask, and ask) how folks respond. Some react with support, some disappointment, and others are just plain floored – these are all valid emotions. When the time comes, though, we will voluntarily decide to add to our family not to provide grandchildren or playmates, but because there isn’t anything else that we want more.

Just a few responses to common questions and comments I’ve heard:

What are you waiting for?
Personally, I want to want a baby more than other experiences

But you can travel with a child
This is absolutely true – when we’re ready we will be thrilled and humbled to share the world with a Tiny T. See? He or she already has a nickname!

Isn’t your life kind of meaningless or lonely? 
Not at all, we’re tremendously happy and fulfilled with our chosen activities and lifestyle.

You really don’t know what tired is/ I never sleep anymore
Let’s not one-up here: tired is tired, work is work – we are all doing our best.

Isn’t that kind of selfish? 
I’m unclear on which part of waiting until we’re ready is selfish. I suppose arguably that could be the case, but this is our time to be. We’re under no obligations. When we choose to be parents, Tiny T will consume our time and we want to give that time freely and joyfully.

The love between a parent and child is unlike any other!
I understand. One day that will be a wonderful experience for us. Until then, our life is overflowing with love from family, friends and each other. Love runs deep all around.

What about your biological clock?
My clock is ticking just fine, I’m good – thanks!

I can babysit though! / You two will have such pretty babies! 
Sorry, thank you, but neither is a good enough reason for us to have a child right now

Not everyone wants the same life and the reasons someone may choose to live their lives without a child are varied and personal. Let’s be honest too, our social and political systems aren’t exactly set up for all families to raise educated, happy, and healthy children. Let’s not pity, let’s not judge, and let’s not make assumptions for why a woman or a couple may choose to be childfree whether in the interim or permanently. There just shouldn’t be any room for shaming here on either side of the fence.

Just something that has been on my  mind lately,

Why I’m childfree (for now).

Time flies when you’re having fun

When D and I first met, I wasn’t quite in a place to date even though I wanted to be, and we joke that I was trying to friendzone him. There’s a chance that I was, but it didn’t work. We met in late March, maybe very early April. At that time I needed some space emotionally to figure out what I wanted and was urgently checking myself into not rushing things while I plunged into finals. But D was patient and kind with me – always. He saw the best of me and was consistent no matter what. He came to my college graduation and we hadn’t even been on an official date yet.

Things were a whirlwind with him and for some reason unbeknownst to even me, I kept trying to push him away. As if wiggling every single skeleton in my closet at him would finally make him walk out the door with his head shaking. No hard feelings. The stronger the feelings grew, due to his sheer perseverance, the more I fought them, and I’m not talking about a few weeks – it was at least two full months before I decided to inch forward with him.

It was late June when I went on a camping trip with him and his friends several months after meeting each other; I was feeling relaxed, happy, and comfortable. I remember sitting with him by the fire and finally saying I was maybe, kind of, ready to be his girlfriend to which he replied, he was maybe, kind of, ready for that too.

Not that this has been an easy ride since that moment, but it is ours and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are not perfect people, but we complement and challenge each other in ways I couldn’t have expected. This man, this wonderful man, turned my world upside down and helped put me back together again. Spending my life with him is a privilege.

We are just 3 months away from #tennantstietheknot 🙂

Someone pinch me, but not too hard,


Time flies when you’re having fun

I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious

I’ve been thinking about the things that solidified my relationship with D. When I started to realize I could spend my life with this cool person. When we first started dating, we had a great honeymoon period: so much to laugh about, adventures to go on, and things to learn about each other. It was fun and romantic, and a whirlwind – until reality set in and we realized we were real people, with things like communication and trust to work on, and insecurities to lay to rest, and compromising to learn.

When we actively committed to doing those things though our relationship went through a few phases from:

fun and flighty
kind of raw and overpowering
balanced and healthy, and then, back to fun.

Growing up together these past 3.5 years hasn’t always been easy, but we have learned so much about who we are and what we are looking for; from ourselves, each other, and life in general, and I hope we don’t ever stop. Here are just a few things that I saw in our relationship that made me realize we had hit that good place that might resonate with you as well:

  • You are strong individual people, who work at being a powerful and balanced couple.
  • There is no room for toxicity, manipulation, or mistrust
  • Your partner’s steady hand works authentically beside your own.
  • Becoming a “we,” does not take away from either, “me.”
  • You can make your partner a priority without compromising yourself.
  • You expect and in return give, a love built on respect, values, and support.
  • Your partner revolutionizes your world; from surprisingly little ways to life-altering impactful ones.
  • Memories of togetherness, forgiveness when needed, and commitment to your future strengthen you and your relationship.
  • Friendship is key, laughter is often and communication is swift and evolving.
  • Forgiveness comes more easily than you’d expect.
  • You win or lose, together as a team.
  • The small things and the difficult times empower you as a couple.
  • Through it all, you want to be the one beside them day in, and day out.

At the end of the day, a relationship is what you make of it. Everyone knows they are not always easy, and they shouldn’t be – people mature and grow with challenges and no two relationships are the same, regardless of how similar. I full heartedly believe that we often need to learn lessons the hard way and that was certainly the case in our love story. I don’t regret one chapter of it.

I’ll leave you with a note by Jane Wells, Marriage Advice from 1886 that has always stood out to me:

Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger. 
Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break. 
Believe the best rather than the worst.
People have a way of living up or down to your opinion of them.
Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship. The person you choose to marry is deserving of the courtesies and kindnesses you bestow on your friend.

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I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious

Our very own fixer-upper: Alaska style

I don’t think I have ever felt so thankful, fatigued, frazzled, and overjoyed all at once! The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of sawdust and, well dust in general. We have been tested on our ability to be patient, flexible, and handle unforeseen unfortunate events.  We have also been supported and encouraged by family and we are officially, and ever so happily, settling into our new nest!

D and I purchased our first home together back in December and it needed some TLC. Our place is the perfect size to grow together over the next few years and we are so excited to be in this chapter. Buying a house is a great milestone and we’re still over the moon that we are officially homeowners. Pinch me, this can’t be real!

That said, we had a few dreams for this little fixer-upper of ours and enough HGTV marathons under our belt to believe we could tackle them. We decided to stay far below what the bank approved us for and instead put our pennies towards remodeling a sweet space and truly making it ours. I’ll be transparent and share that my dad is an entrepreneur who started Alaska Property Brothers LLC and works as the general contractor on the team. He was willing to teach us how to do a lot of the remodel ourselves, as well as lead the project.

Our downstairs “before,” was small. The kitchen was crammed into space off the garage with simple island seating. We enjoy having friends and family over as much as possible and the available dimensions didn’t serve our need for seating and table space. The layout also cut the kitchen off from the living room and the kitchen itself provided limited storage.

My dad designed two different remodel options and we chose the first which allowed for an open concept floor plan, large island seating, and more kitchen storage than I know what to do with … for now. Over the next three weeks, our walls were torn down, the downstairs closet was removed, soffits removed, sub-floors replaced, electrical and plumbing checked, and a transformation was completed.

We chose simple white kitchen cabinets that carried up to the ceiling for added storage as well as a cohesive look that brightened the small space. Since our little nest is a duplex, we decided on a nice Ouro Romano Formica countertop for the sides of the kitchen with a butcher block countertop for the island – handmade by us! The butcher block project took us about 6 hours total to create (not including the two days it sat to dry), including flat planing the wood, strategically pre-drilling, gluing and screwing the pieces together, sanding then fine-sanding, staining and finally sealing.  Our home had a beautiful cherry wood beam that we loved, so we chose a walnut stain for the butcher block countertop as well as warm cherry floors to create contrast within the space.

One of my favorite parts was choosing a paint color for the new space and I settled on Lapland Ice by Sherwin-Williams.  I love it so much more in person! We settled on white trim and painted the dark doors white to compliment the cabinetry and contrast the warm floors. (The front door is next to be replaced this summer!)

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We are thrilled with how this renovation turned out, it completely changed the entire look of our downstairs and is bright, warm and welcoming -exactly what we wanted! We can’t wait for all of the memories that will come in this kitchen: dinners, game nights, dancing, parties, maybe even pitter-pattering feet .. a lot of happy memories will be had here!

Sipping coffee from my new nest,



Our very own fixer-upper: Alaska style

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