Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Something More Permanent

  It's been exactly seven days since we loaded up the car, a process we have perfected from all the loading and unloading since January, and set up residence at our assigned house on base. Three hours and two hundred and forty-eight boxes since the moving truck arrived, the unpacking began. Presently, there are still fifteen sealed boxes awaiting my attention. But, how can I describe the perfect bliss of folding my aching tired body into my own luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets? It's as if the universe knew all too well of the discomfort of the past forty-five days and is making it up to me in the form of a wondrous sleep experience. LOL

For seven straight days, the only fresh air I've gotten is from stepping outside to supervise Miss Sophie's walk to her bus stop (just one house over on our side of the street) and her return later in the day. Gone are the days of bundling Liv up to make the drive over to Sophie's school in the morning and parking thirty minutes before the school dismissal bell rings to get an optimal spot in line in the afternoon. This whole time, I've been cooped up in our new house, putting things in their proper places, and loving every minute of it.

I will be posting several "before" images and gradual "reveals" as the place starts to come together. I'm frustrated at the lack of home decor resources here. Ashley's is not my kinda thing, especially since I'm trying for a more contemporary fun look. I'm tempted to use the few days I have during my Utah trip next week to score some great finds and make UPS a whole hell of a lot of cash.

But here's to something more permanent...in a four-year permanent sort of way!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Bite of Alaska: Snow City Cafe

  The first sight of the jam-packed lobby automatically signaled *jackpot*!!! I consider other patrons' willingness to suffer late-morning hunger pains for an hour or longer just to imbibe in this institution's wares as a very promising indicator of the place's excellence. I am pleased to report that I was not mistaken (when am I ever? LOL)

Snow City Cafe, on the corner of L and 4th,  has an eclectic urban vibe to it, reminiscent of some artsy Seattle cafe. It seems the servers make an effort to keep up with the theme as well (or maybe the place just attracts "interesting" applicants). Our server, a pretty girl with a large nose ring, a bleach blonde buzz cut, and long feather earrings definitely fit in (she was a great waitress, too!). I fell in love with the place.

And then the food came...and cemented the permanence of my love affair with this cafe.  I was pleased a kid's menu was available offering traditional fare for picky predictable kiddie palates.  I, in an effort to sample new dishes, ordered the sockeye salmon cakes with two eggs over easy, sourdough toast, and a perfectly cooked crispy brick of hash browns.  The salmon cakes came in a pair of medallions, with generous lumps of pink meat, diced red onions, green bell peppers, and green onions. I am particular about how my eggs are cooked, and mine were perfect.  Ultimately a great choice.

The Mister had his usual two-egg breakfast. Ho Hum. Dylan didn't care much for his chicken sandwich. It had a sweet ranch sauce and thinly sliced apple on multi-grain bread. I thought it was divine, but it clearly was not the D's idea of a good sammich. 

But here was the jewel of our breakfast, with all five Fam Och members unanimously agreeing on the best thing of the day: REINDEER SAUSAGE.  It came in a six inch 1 inch in diameter cut link, sliced lengthwise and charred on the grill.  It was smoky like a polish sausage, with an unmistakeable...well....I guess...reindeer taste. It was heavenly!

We are anticipating many returns. However, we will be sure to call ahead to be placed on the seating list. Although, I wouldn't mind waiting another hour. It's that good.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Random Updates

  --We arrived in Alaska with suitcases busting out of a full-sized SUV. After a month, we have accumulated another load full.  How do we know? We had to move to a downtown hotel for our last week sans permanent house (let's not get into it...I understand the rules...it doesn't mean I have to like it) and we had to make two trips. Our suitcases in the hotel room...and all the other crap filling up the back of the Explorer in the parking lot.

--Winter is NOT the most hazardous time to drive.  No sirreeee! It is SPRING! The snow melts and re-freezes in this ugly mucky cycle that guarantees three things.  One--there is at most a two hour window of owning a clean vehicle after a run through the car wash.  Two--there is now a generous coat of slick wet ice just where you need it most...parking lots, sidewalks, and highway ramps! Three--If you don't know how to maneuver on said surface, you better learn quick.

--This temporary situation in this downtown hotel does not afford us the luxury of school buses.  Playing glorified chauffeur with only one car in the family blows.

--Set foot in our future house! Yes, the previous tenants have moved out...and double YES, they were not slobs as previously feared! And another thing---our house is an end unit butted up against a stand of spruce and pine that is known as an area the local moose population frequent...as evidenced by the fresh steaming mound of their excrement five feet from the living room window. We are actually really stoked about it!

--Fixation of the moment: how to decorate my home. I am tired of what I already have. I want something more fun and colorful...but still classy...I'm really loving on Jonathan Adler right now. Lime green? Orange? Peacock blue? The Mister looks scared.

--I was walking outside in 23 degrees F/-5 degrees C wearing a short sleeved shirt. Why am I so proud of this?

--Figured out what to do for Sophia and Olivia's birthday celebrations next month! We don't have enough friends for a party. Sad...I really wanted to throw a pinkalicious shindig complete with a pink candy buffet. But, we just booked a cruise in Resurrection Bay to witness the gray whales migrating from California (they say there are around 2,000 of them).  Also, we are staying at the Seavey (of Iditarod fame) cabin overnight with a dog sled ride the following day. Should be fun and right up the girls' alley!

--Haven't seen me much on Facebook? Gave it up for forty days. You know, the Lent thing. Not entirely, though.  Don't want to be rude and not reply to those who msg me. I also had to make sure my friends in Japan were okay. Please pray for them. But my relentless nonsensical posting is on pause until after Easter.

--Next week, we are finally unpacking and settling in for four years! I have lost my wits many a time, trying to find some normalcy in this hotel living situation. The Mister has had to pick up the pieces of my sanity more than a couple....er, several times and force them back on me. Less than a week. I'm trying to keep it together 'till then.

Much love!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Bite of Alaska: RJ Pastry and Breads

  Picture a dilapidated cottage, its dull yellow paint chipping off its weathered siding. Its unlikely location next to a downtown cemetery and across the street from the Sheraton makes it stick out like a sore thumb. A glance through the windows hints at a compulsive hoarder's dream, random objects pressed against the panes...bags of styrofoam cups here, a bent spatula there...Yeah, I know, I wouldn't eat there, either. It didn't even look like an eating establishment.  It didn't look like any kind of establishment at all. In fact, the first time we turned into the parking lot of the place a week ago, we promptly drove back out.

But, the Cebuana who regularly cleans our TLF unit insisted the food was good.  Remember when I rejoiced to the heavens about a Filipino restaurant in the area? We went there the day after I posted. Have I written about it? No. Have you ever been too disappointed to report on results? Yeah, it was like that. So, with hopeful but wary heart, we approached it a second time. The interior was even scarier than the view from outside. The lady who owns the place has this gigantic mole with wiry hairs sprouting from it like a sea urchin on her face. BUT, the heavenly smell of Filipino food was all I needed to just keep walking in. 

Nilagang buto-buto, ukoy (sp?), bopis, lumpiang shanghai, kare-kare, kutsinta, pandesal. All you can eat for ten bucks.  And you can believe I ate my money's worth.

It was all good.  The kare-kare (peanut stew with oxtail and tripe) was okay.  My mommas is excellent, so any other version pales in comparison. But everything else I had seconds of.  I even had a packet of kutsinta (round orange rice cakes and my favorite) and grated coconut to take home. 

So, if you can get past the surroundings, genuine Filipino food is yours to be had here at RJ Pastry & Bread. If not, then you can enjoy your halo-halo at Angelina's Filipino Cuisine instead.

Alaska Aces!

What better place to attend Fam Och's first ever hockey game than here in Alaska? We were debating whether to watch the University of Alaska game or the Aces (semi-pro). A friend advised us to go for the Aces if we want to see brawling. OF COURSE we want to see brawling! Now we are aware center ice is the best position to watch the whole game...but we wanted to be where the action was at.  We scored seats: front row, in one of the corners. Yes, the plexiglass somewhat distorts our view from the plays on the other side of the ice...BUT, the corners are where all the smashing and bashing happens!

Perfect example below:

We were surprised at how the kids took to the game. Maybe it's because of our close proximity to the game itself that even the littlest one watched every minute. Also, during pre-game warmup, Liv waved so enthusiastically to a particular player that he tossed a puck over the glass for her.  Nobody can resist my kids! (Just kidding...well, no, not really...they're freakin' adorable when they want to be!)

Other spectators filled the arena decked out in their jerseys...and cow bells. Yeah, I know. I never knew.  But they made so much noise, the kids had to have one, too. 

 Listen below when the Aces score a goal to tie the game.

The game was an eventful one.  Many scuffles, but no gloves flew off..darn it! The tie led to an unproductive overtime, which then led to a shootout.  So cool.  We (are we claiming ownership already? It's only our first game!) ended up with a loss. But it was an exciting loss.  So, we'll take it.

I know most of you potential visitors promise to come during the warmer months.  But this is an incentive to come during the bleak winter months!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Bite of Alaska: Glacier Brewhouse

  Eating out can seriously put a dent in the wallet, but the Mister and I could NOT resist when each kiddo made their way into school on Monday. (Yep, Liv the munchkin attended her first day of preschool here.) We giggled like two kids playing hooky from school as we headed towards downtown Anchorage. We wanted to save the Glacier Brewhouse for a time when we could both enjoy it.  (no little monsters demanding potty breaks NOW even when the food was just placed on the table...and since our fish allergy girl was absent, there were no menu restrictions!)

There is a humongous fireplace smack dab in the middle of the room, and I take it tables adjacent to it are in high demand. We were placed in a booth overlooking the street. No worries...we were there for the food!

Asking for recommendations, our waitress insisted their seafood chowder was the "can't miss" item.  We both ordered a cup...I could have just upgraded to a bowl of it and been blissfully happy.  Chunks of salmon and halibut and roasted corn kernels swam in the creamy thick soup.  Yum! Of course, we both chose fish dishes: he the bbq salmon and I, the panko crusted halibut.  Loved them both!

Obviously, the brewhouse brews their own beer. We opted for the non-alcoholic drinks this time, although we both promised to return to try out their wide selection.  The root beer was a little weak in the sarsaparilla, I preferred Moose's Tooth's much better. But the Mister who is not blessed with an adventurous palate as mine was pleased with it. 

Another winner!