Monday, March 2, 2015

Frozen Art in Anchorage

Pin It Most winters, Alaska is a complete winter wonderland.  This winter, 2015 has been an exception. There has not been much snow and it even warmed up in February to above freezing temperatures and melted most of the snow we did have.  Last year at this time, there was at least 3 feet of built up snow in our yard but this year you can see patches of grass.

But, luckily we were able to enjoy the two events in Anchorage where all that solid water is put to artistic use.  The Crystal Gallery of Ice in January and the Snow Sculpture Competition in March.

The Crystal Gallery of Ice is an annual event that takes place in the Town Square Winter Center in downtown Anchorage.  It is organized by Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Ltd.  Ice carvers come from all over the state and the world to transform ice slabs cut from Alaskan lakes into beautiful works of art.
Official site

Because it is held in a park and ice is hard to transport, you can go watch the artists carve away the few days before the competition.  My husband and I went one evening to see them work and then returned the next day with the children to check out the finished products.

travel with kids

travel with kids


The kids loved it!  They were quite impressed.

travel with kids
 travel with kids

This year's was held January 9-11, 2015.  And after the sculptures have spent some time in the park, they are moved to various locations around town for viewing by all who walk by until they melt.

travel with kids

travel with kids

The first place winner was this very cool sea monster



Many of you have heard of the Iditarod, the famous dog race.  But what I came to learn is that it is actually associated with a big celebratory event called Fur Rendezvous held in Anchorage, AK.  During the Fur Rondy (its nickname) there are several events that span the silly to the artistic.

On the artistic side is the Snow Sculpture Competition.  It is held at Ship Creek in Anchorage right across from the Ulu Factory store.  (A great place to find beautiful souvenirs of your trip to Alaska.) Ship Creek is not as convenient to get to as Town Square and you will likely need to use a vehicle from your hotel to get there.

travel with kids

The artists are given 8 x 8 foot blocks of compressed snow to work with.

travel with kids


We were worried that with the unseasonably warm weather there would be no sculptures, but we lucked out and there were a few days in the 20s to keep the snow in tact.

travel with kids

The sculptures ranged from whimsical to serious and a couple were quite beautiful.

travel with kids

The children loved to run around and look at each one of them.

travel with kids

At Ship Creek, vendors sold reindeer sausages (a favorite street food here in Alaska) and hot chili. And the Ulu Factory was giving out free hot chocolate and coffee!

travel with kids

So many people only come to Alaska during the amazing summers because it is so cold here (usually) in the winter.  But if you are a hearty family, there are fun things to do in Anchorage during the winter and these are just two events that you kids will love.

If you are interested in hearing more from me, there are a couple ways for you to keep in touch!

 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fancy Sweat Pants

Pin It
I have been seeing all sorts of casual pants that look as comfy as sweatpants but in a little more stylish fabric.  They seem to be quite the trend and as I have never been one for going out in sweatpants but do like to be comfortable, I figured I would give them a shot.

First, I needed to find a pattern that suited my needs.  While I was in Afghanistan, I saw Pattern Anthology advertising its 8 Days a Week collection and Go To Patterns had a knit pant pattern included.  Pattern found.

The pattern actually has three different styles of knit pant; a legging, yoga pant, and a baggy pant with ribbing at the ankles.  I opted for view B, the baggy pant with ribbing.

Next, I had to pick some fabric.  I wanted something fairly fancy.  At first I had in mind some sort of luxurious cream colored knit.  But I could not find that.  Have you ever imagined a project and then can't actually find the right fabric to fit that mental picture? I only have one fabric store here and I was not willing to wait for something to be shipped to Alaska so I tried to open my mind to other options.

pattern review: Go To knit pant


I then found a grey knit with silver brocade-like printing on it.  The weight of the knit was just heavy enough for pants, so I thought they could work pretty good.

The pants require a 2 inch elastic for the waist band. So, while you are at the fabric store trying to find your perfect fabric, you will need to find that too.  But finding the perfect fabric is the hardest part of sewing these pants.  They were quick and simple to put together.

pattern review


I like the look of the pants, but I am not really sure if I have found the right top to wear with them. And, I will make them out of a heavier weight knit when I make them again.  And probably not choose a fabric that is so hard to find a coordinating top for.

What do you think?  What type of top would work with these?

pattern review


If you are interested in hearing more from me there are a couple ways for you to keep in touch!

 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Wanderlust and family hikes

Pin It

We are a hiking family. We love the outdoors and enjoy the time together walking in the woods, along the beach, or beside a river wherever we live or travel. While we lived in Germany, we were lucky enough to live in an area with lots of great trails for hiking. We essentially lived in the midst of the Phalzwald, a state park consisting of a large forest. I strongly believe that hiking is great for even the little ones and you will be amazed how far they can go.


Here are our tips for hiking with kids.

Pack plenty of snacks and water. They will get hungry and will need breaks. So be prepared for a little picnic along the way. If the hike has a turnaround point, this could be the perfect time for people to rest and get some food. Also, as a matter of safety, it is always good to be prepared for a longer stay.
Hiking German castle ruins
Germany

Make them walk. If your children no longer fit in a toddler backpack, they can walk. This is a wonderful time to explore and strengthen those little legs. Don’t take that away from them by carrying them everywhere. Our two year old was able to do 3 mile hikes with us. Yes, it was not at a fast pace and we took rests along the way. But that is the point, to do the hike as a family with each one getting to enjoy it.

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains
Smoky Mountain National Park

Have a baby-backpack for non-walkers. But some of your kiddos may not yet walk … or least not very steadily. For them, I highly recommend a child carrier to toss on your back. We had one that also had a compartment for food, diapers, and whatever else you need to survive. It ups the work out for the adult carrying them but allows you all to freely explore and not be limited to stroller friendly areas.

Hiking German Castle ruins
Hiking in Germany

Pick an appropriate length and difficulty. Now, my two year old was able to hike 3 miles, but she did not start off that way. Make sure to pick hikes that fit your family’s ability level. If it is too grueling, you won’t want to go back out there. Then, as your kids get older and stronger, you can increase the distance.


When traveling, I love museums and sightseeing, but it is also valuable to just enjoy the country side. The kids get to burn off some energy, it slows the pace of your vacation, and it is plain ol’ good family time.
Often, my boy would pretend he was a knight fighting his way to the castle ruins that were at the top of the hills. And what is more fun than that?

What are your tips for hiking with kids?  And where are your favorite family hikes?



If you are interested in hearing more from us, there are a couple ways for you to keep in touch!

 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Castle hopping in Germany

Pin It
Berg Hohenzollern

If you have a vehicle in Germany, it can be fun to go castle hopping. I recommend that you take a look at what is in the surrounding areas of your primary destination. (Our travel book, DK Eyewitness Travel, Germany helped us find many of these castles on our visit to main attractions.) Then take a day or two to go out and explore. You can couple these excursions with hikes as public trails abound in Germany and if their is a castle, there is likely a walking path leading up to it.

In the region of the Schwabishe Alb are several castles. The one of the largest we visited was a Prussian home (same family as Frederick the Great), Berg Hohenzollern.

Berg Hohenzollern
armory

Berg Hohenzollern

Berg Hohenzollern


 To the east is Lichtenstein named after the light colored rock it was built of.

Lichtenstien

Lichtenstein

Another great area to see castles is father west in the Moseltal (Mosel river valley) where you can leisurely drive and see more castles.  The river has several bends and twists and is known for its beauty and wine. There are castles at nearly every bend.

Mosel River
Mosel River


We drove and/hiked up to a few.
The highlight of that area was Burg Eltz. The Von Eltz family owns this castle but has it open to visitors and there is even a cafe.

Burg Eltz
Burg Eltz

Here is a castle that we saw  from the main road and hiked up a public path to. Unfortunately,it was not open to the public at the time but we were able to see some of the grounds and the hike to and from was lovely.

hiking in Germany


I read once that Germany has the most castles or castle ruins of all the European countries. And I can believe that because of numerous times we saw them. Some are simply remains of walls in the woods at the crest of a hill and others are like these, remodeled and well maintained. We had wonderful time visiting each and all those in between. A visit to these historic house of the powerful not only were an opportunity to ooh and ah and imagine being a princess or knight for the kids. We used the time to discuss historic events and how society was structured in times past. Talk about making history come alive and be fun!


If you are interested in hearing more from us, there are a couple ways for you to keep in touch!

 
01 09 10 11 12
Blogging tips