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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today's Geography Lesson

After having to explain this concept to several people, I realized that I may need to back up a step.  Yes, you can drive to Alaska.  It is connected to Canada (you know, that big country above us?)  I realize that some people may be a bit confused, as Alaska sometimes appears as an island near Hawaii on many maps.  Trust me, Alaska is not an island, it is not tropical, and it is most definitely attached to North America.  This is the route we plan to take:

View Larger Map

And holy crap, that looks really far when you look at it like that.

And for anyone that wants a better look at where we'll be living:

View Larger Map
That's about a 45 minute to one hour drive from Anchorage.  As you can see, that's not too far north, so I  will not be living in complete darkness, nor will it be below zero year round.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

For your viewing pleasure

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Family Video.

Hopefully Karl will get compensated for all of the crap he had to do, and won't get fired as soon as they hear he joined the suit!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The best thing about it being freezing cold in an Alaskan winter...

Is that it will only take like five minutes for my lye to cool when I'm making soap!!  I just realized this as I when soaping tonight, and waiting and waiting and waiting for my lye to cool to a reasonable temperature, even thought it's only 30 degrees out.

Here's the fruit of my labor:

The left is Earth (smells like fresh dirt, with a touch of mint perhaps?), which I colored with cocoa powder.  I also added black sesame seeds to make it look a bit more dirt-like and give it some exfoliating power.  The one on the right is coconut, which I left uncolored because coconut doesn't really have a color (although I really wanted to make it green for some reason...)

And here they are all snuggled up under a blankie to stay toasty roasty overnight.  I think the old school afghan is very appropriate for soaping, don't you?

Don't ya wanna come visit already?

So, to start getting people excited to come visit me in Alaska, here's a glimpse of one of the places I'll take you for some yummy food with an even better view:

This is the view from inside the Long Rifle Lodge, which is located along the Glenn Highway and overlooks the Matanuska Glacier.  This glacier is 27 miles long by 4 miles wide!  This photo doesn't even come close to doing the glacier justice.  It's a little over an hour from Wasilla, and is the most gorgeous drive (although to be fair, every road trip we took ended with "that was the best scenery EVER!").

On the topic of food, anyone have any good ideas for road trip food?  We'll be in the car for 8 days and eating every meal out is just not a feasible option, and I will not be eating granola bars three meals a day for a week.  My typical road trip fare consists of a pound of bulk candy and some Cheetos.  Sufficient for a six hour drive - probably not so much for a week.  Any thoughts?  We'll have a cooler, and I'm hopeful that we'll be able to use our grill at the campsites.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Craft Show Prep

So I spent my Friday night getting ready for my craft show coming up April 10th.  Truth be told, that's my favorite way to spend a night off!  I got my four fragrances of cuticle salve ready to go and even got them listed on Etsy!

In the process of doing my listings on Etsy tonight (which I've put off for a week, because it takes forever), I saw this handy little button called "copy."  If only I had seen this precious button weeks ago.  Basically, it completely copies a listing so you can just edit the parts you need to (like the fragrance).  What a concept!  Now I may actually be able to get everything listed in the foreseeable future!

I also got my bags ready to go, in 3 different sizes.  I have a few really big bags too, for anyone that buys a gift basket.

Once I got the chance to sit down and do my inventory, I realized that I'm in better shape than I realized. Of course I'll feel better once everything is done, which will likely be as I'm walking out the door to go to the show!  I'm really excited, and I hope this show is a success!

In moving news, my hitch came in the mail yesterday.  It weighs about a thousand pounds, and I'm very glad Karl is the one that has to deal with putting it on!  What a huge step and really reminds me that this is for real!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Busy Busy Busy!

So I’ve apparently been pretty quiet the last few days.  Getting stuff sorted and packed up to sell on Craigslist takes a lot of time!  Luckily, we’ve already sold a few things so we’re well on my way to my goal of getting our gas money.  I’ve been pretty open to selling almost everything, figuring we’ll just take whatever stuff is left at the end.  Unfortunately, we can’t go with a smaller trailer even if we have less stuff because the 5’ x 8’ is the smallest that will hold our mattress and box spring.  It would be really nice though to have less stuff in the car and more in the trailer, because we (and Willow!) would have more space to move around and easier access to our travel supplies.
Our move date is probably going to be moved back a day or two, because Karl’s dad will be at a family reunion on June 25th in Seattle.  He’ll fly over to Pittsburgh afterward, then we’ll hit the road!
Sometimes I feel like I’m planning too early, and other times I feel like there will never be enough time.  I sure hope that all of this work Karl and I are putting in now will result in less work later.  I really want to be able to have our cross country drive be a huge adventure with as little stress as possible.
In other news, my first craft show is just 2 weeks away!  It always seemed so far away and now I don’t feel prepared at all – the moving plans may have to be put on hold for a bit while I crank out some product.
In other other news, I had my very first sale on Etsy to someone I don’t know!  How exciting!  I also better get some more stuff listed…  Hopefully, since I’m writing this blog up while I’m in a terribly boring training at work, I will be able to list things when I get home tonight. 
Have a great day!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thank Goodness for Karl!

I've spent most of the weekend reading blogs by other people that have made the giant leap in moving to Alaska.  Interestingly, if you google "moving to alaska blog" you'll notice that an unusually high proportion are people from PA.  Wonder why that is?

In any case, it makes me SO glad to know that Karl isn't in the dark about things like I am, and that his family will be able to help out considerably.  Of course, sometimes I wish that Karl was in the same boat I am.  However, I try to remind myself that he WAS in the same boat - just six years ago.

Good things about Karl having roots in Alaska:
1. Guaranteed housing with his dad as soon as we hit Wasilla
2. On a similar note, a guaranteed address to use until we have our own
3. Always having someone to ask "is this a bad part of town?" and "how far is it to Anchorage?" and "what towns should I be looking at?"
4.  Having someone to give me 100% truthful advice about whether I need 4 wheel drive and/or studded tires.
5. Also having someone be completely honest about the weather.
6. Knowing that we will immediately have friends and family so we won't ever be hopelessly lonely.
7. Being able to ask Karl what stores are in Alaska and whether I'll be able to buy certain things.

I'm sure there's a million others, but these are the things that constantly pop into my head when I read about other people struggling with these problems.  Makes moving a bit less scary!  Also remembering how incredibly happy Karl is when he's back with family and in Alaska.  It's a side of Karl that I never see in Pittsburgh, which is a bit sad, but makes the move all the more exciting!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Very Good Day

Today was a productive and successful day!

After Karl talked to the guy at Advance Auto Parts (in a language I don't understand), we (Karl) figured out how to hook up the wires for a trailer on my car.  We (Karl) was able to find all the parts on Amazon, for only $192, and since he has like a bajillion dollars in Amazon credit, it was a net cost of zero for us.  Score!

Then I went through all of my craft stuff and my house and my dad's and pulled out what I want to list on Craigslist.  The vast majority of it isn't coming with me because it is just easier and more cost efficient to purchase new fabric/yarn/embroidery floss as I need it.  I'm selling each type of craft supply as one bulk item, so hopefully I'll get a few bucks out of it.  Karl's listed his paintball stuff already, and he got one offer of $25 for a gun.  Better than a kick in the teeth, and hopefully we'll be able to sell almost all of this stuff off before we go.  We have about 47 things we want to list tonight, which will not be fun, but needs to happen nonetheless.

Karl picked up a new battery for his Mustang, so now it runs without needing jumped!  Aside from one dead headlight, it's in good shape.  While he was working on that, I managed to pack two more huge boxes in the trunk.  In the tiny trunk of of a '64 1/2 Mustang, I have managed to cram two extra sets of hubcaps, an extra steering wheel, a cd changer and all the wiring, a set of socket wrenches, Karl's poker chip set, his tackle box, and ALL of our Christmas decorations, in addition to the spare tire that already takes up the majority of the trunk.  And Karl's dad thinks a city girl can't pack...

And last but not least, Karl spoke to the landlord who was thankfully cool with us breaking our lease a few months early.  The plan now is to hit the road on June 25th.  Of course that's flexible, but at least it's something to plan for now.

Hope everyone else had a productive Saturday, too!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gardening in Alaska

I've been trying to do a lot of research on gardening in Alaska, and frankly, the information out there sucks (when you can find it).  Alaska is notoriously left out of so much information on growing seasons and climate.  I guess people assume that since there's never any sun and 18 feet of snow all year, plants couldn't possibly grow.  From my info gathering, it looks like the Wasilla/Palmer area has a growing season similar to Pittsburgh's.  Luckily (?) Southwestern PA has a pretty crappy growing season already, so I'm used to it I guess.  It will take a little research on what veggies will do well in lower air and soil temperatures all summer (aka awesome for lettuce, pooey for tomatoes), but Alaska has the added benefit of some serious sunshine so one day in Alaska almost equals two Pittsburgh.  Looks like almost all gardening will be out for this summer, unless we land jobs and find a place to live as soon as we get there.  I'll probably try to grow lettuce, because it only takes 45 days to mature down here.  I can also plant it right in a big ol' bag of dirt at Karl's dad's house, so I could easily toss it in the back of my car and move it to whatever home we find.

On the topic of gardening, I want one of these so bad I can taste it:
Of course, this will have to wait until we have a home of our own...

One last bit of Alaska trivia for everyone:  from March 17 to September 24 (192 days/52% of the year) Alaska has longer days than Pittsburgh.  On the shortest day of the year, the sun will come up at 10:14 am and set at 3:41 pm for a total of 5 hours and 27 minutes of sun.  On the longest day, the sun will rise at 4:20 am and set at 11:42 pm for a whopping total of 19 hours and 22 minutes of sun!  I know from experience that although the sun may "set" for those other 4 1/2 hours, it's not really dark out.  We will be purchasing some black out shades asap, or I may go insane a la Al Pacino in Insomnia.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


It's been quite the adventure telling my family and friends that Karl and I are planning to move to Alaska this summer.  Some people have been very supportive and excited for me, while others have been downright discouraging.  What is it about this move that terrifies people so?  Is it leaving my life in Pittsburgh?  Is it starting this new life 4000 miles away?  Or is it choosing a place that people see as a frozen wasteland with nothing to offer?  My guess is it's a combination of all three.

I wanted to share some of my favorite photos of and places in Alaska, which serve to remind me of all the reasons why this move is so phenomenally exciting:

These two photos were taken in Hatcher Pass.  We will probably try to find a house in this area because:
1. It's absolutely gorgeous
2. It's very close to Wasilla (aka Karl's family)
3. It's the prettiest place I saw in Alaska that wasn't a native village (check out Ninilchik and Chickaloon)

This is the view of Mount Augustine from Kachemak Bay near Homer.  Even though it was summer, the water looked just like glass and all of the mountains in the distance were white with snow.  Kind of felt like I could just look out over the water for hours (that is, until I got seasick).  

The idea of hopping in the car (or on a snowmachine) and seeing any one of a hundred awesome sights within 20 minutes sounds just like heaven.  Mother Nature did such an amazing job designing Alaska - I think I could go a long time before the beauty of the mountains, lakes, and wildlife became mundane.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Hello, my name is Sarah, and I am stressed out! 

I admit, I am typically pretty stressed out on any given day.  I have managed to adapt to my natural state of being very high strung, which is why I typically have 32 projects going on and I have been go to bed way too late.  However, planning this move has dumped WAY more anxiety causing problems on me than I had anticipated.  We just found out that I may not be able to have a hitch installed on my car (because Ford wants to punish me for not getting the towing package for $2378523 when I purchased it).  No hitch = no trailer = not taking the vast majority of our stuff.

Now I don't have some serious emotional connection to most of my furniture or anything like that.  In fact, most of it is junk anyhow.  And I realize that we can ship almost any of our personal belongings beyond what we can fit in our vehicles.  But, the minimal amount of money we'd get for selling this stuff won't come anywhere near the cost of replacing it.

Karl's answer is to just sell everything and buy new things as we can afford it.  This seriously freaks me out, because moving will be hard enough without feeling like I'm a 19 year old kid with a sleeping bag in a frat house. 

We also don't know if his Dad will be around this summer, as he's thinking of going gold mining.  We can make it work either way, I just feel like I need to know so I can plan accordingly.

Basically, it just seems like there's a million questions that I don't have answers to, and I can't make any decisions until I get get this information. 

So, to make myself feel better (and to own even more stuff), I had to purchase some new fragrance oils.  The coconut fragrance oil that I got last week went kinda of funky - the lid had cracked and I think the exposure to air made it turn.  In addition to more coconut, I got Cedarwood Virginia, Autumn Afternoon, Dreamsicle, Earth (which is supposed to smell like dirt - what fun!), Gardenia, Honey Harvest, Mango Sorbet, Plumeria, and Snow Drops.  I think this will take me to over 50 fragrances!  I am probably lucky that I don't have a place nearby where I could go sniff all of their fragrances and essential oils.  I would probably leave with $500 worth of stuff and STILL want more!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A funny

A friend told me that I reminded her of this comic:
Comic from Grand Avenue
Cracked me up, but I hope people don't really think like that!!  I'm a third generation crafter, so I don't think much about what I make.  It's just kind of how life is.  In any case, I love sharing the things I make with people that love it as much as I do!

Monday, March 14, 2011


Look what I learned how to do! This is only half shameless self promotion. The other half is me being totally proud that I learned how to pull my shop into my blog!

This and That

"Sarah," you might ask, "what is the most expensive part about moving to across the country?"

"Is it the trailer rental?"

"The increasingly high cost of gas for a 4000 mile trip?"
             No, although that's nothing to sneeze at either.

"What about the cost of replacing the things you can't take with you?"
             Close, but no cigar.

Give up?  The most expensive part so far is having a boyfriend that owns one of these:
Karl's 1964 1/2 Mustang
$2300 to have this car hauled across the country to Seattle, then stuck on a ferry to Anchorage.

Sigh... I accept that Karl loves this car and really wants to take it with him.  It's also a bargaining chip if he ever opens his mouth about the amount of space my craft supplies will take up in the trailer.

I also spent the day today going through my boxes of miscellaneous mementos.  I've avoided ever making a decision about whether something qualifies as a keepsake by stuffing it all in photo boxes.  In the spirit of having a fresh start, I was brutal in going through photos, ticket stubs, and cards.  In the process, I found these gems:
Me on my first day of kindergarten!
My little brother's first bike when he "gradutated" preschool
Little Karl (on the right)
And finally, I cut my brick of freshly made Grapefruit Shampoo Bars and it turned out perfect!  I've decided to gauge the quality of my bath and body products by how much I want to eat them.  The soap looked just like pudding when I poured it, and the bars are so super creamy now I can't wait to use it after it's cured.  I haven't used traditional shampoo or conditioner in over a year, and my hair has never looked better.  Less crap = more nice, in my opinion.
Grapefruit Shampoo Bars

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Cross Country Trip

Now, of course, Karl and I will be DRIVING to Alaska - it's the only way we'll be able to take even a moderate amount of our belongings.  I've always wanted to drive the Alcan anyhow, but it's just not feasible on a 10 day vacation.  I set out to figure how far we'd go each day, and where we'd stop each night.  This way I'd know how long we'd be in the car, and could plan our expenses and our departure date accordingly.  We finally got our copy of the Milepost, which is the be all end all guide book to highways in AK and Northwestern Canada.

The Milepost
So here's our planned itinerary:
Day 1: Pittsburgh to Cedar Rapids, IA - approximately 11 hours of drive time
Day 2: Cedar Rapids, IA to Sioux Falls, SD - approximately 11 hours of drive time
Day 3: Sioux Falls, SD to Billings, MT - approximately 11 hours of drive time (and we'll get to see Mt. Rushmore on the way!)
Day 4: Billings, MT to Calgary, AB - approximately 10 hours of drive time (and crossing into Canada!)
Calgary, AB
Day 5: Calgary, AB to Dawson Creek, BC - approximately 12 hours of drive time
View from the Icefields Parkway in British Columbia
Day 6: Dawson Creek, BC to Liard River Hotsprings, BC - approximately 10 hours of drive time
Liard River Hotsprings - 107° - 126°F !
Day 7: Liard River Hotsprings, BC to Haines Junction, YT - approximately 11 hours of drive time
Haines Junction, YT
Day 8: Haines Junction, YT to Wasilla, AK - approximately 11 hours of drive time
Wasilla, AK / Mat-Su Valley
I'm really excited for such an awesome trip across the US and Canada!  Now we just need to nail down when exactly we plan to leave.  It will be sometime in June or July, but no specifics yet!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Welcome to the trainwreck?

So I was at dinner with my friend, Charlene, tonight, who told me that I needed to start a blog.  I have my own fledging business selling handmade soaps and such, and I'm planning a big move to Alaska from Pennsylvania in the next several months.  A blog would be a great way to share my creations and keep in touch with everyone I'm leaving behind in PA.  I said "But Charlene, how do I come up with something poignant for my very first post?!?  Everything I can think of sounds so stupid!"  Charlene responded with "Well, Sarah, someone is going to think your blog is stupid.  I can guarantee it.  But people will still read it, because everyone loves a trainwreck."

Hmm... Well here's to hoping that I'm a big more successful than that!

Check out my Etsy site at and stay tuned for more about my big move!
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