Showing posts from 2015

Goodbye, 2015

This year was full of ups and downs, surprises and life changes. We adjusted to life on a tiny island, we traveled to Alaska for a surprise wedding (our own), we climbed mountains and kayaked lakes, we adopted a new fur baby, and we lived our lives the best we could. Now, as it all grows to a close, we look back fondly and begin to look ahead to 2016.  So, without further adieu, here are the highlights from 2015.

In January, we struggled to stay warm as the temperatures plummeted into the -20's and remained there for quite some time.  Luckily, new snowshoes brought about a new winter hobby that kept us busy and adventurous.

February remained bitterly cold and Lake Michigan became a solid sheet of ice.  We walked our way towards to the surrounding islands on the lake, which gave us some seriously spectacular views.  The sun seemed to shine every day.

March was the month of blue ice.  Lake Michigan began to form ice caves, which shone a bright blue.  We explored these little caverns…

Eight Things That Make Alaska Great

I saw this article the other day and it really spoke to me.  The author details the various reasons why he returned to Alaska.  As my long-time readers know, this is something that comes up in conversation a lot in my household.  We almost moved back at the end of last year, but one thing led to another and we committed to another year on Beaver Island.  Nostalgically, Cody and I talk about our time spent living in our little seaside apartment in the southeastern part of Alaska.  And, when I saw this article it just sparked a new longing.  I thought I'd touch on a few of the author's points from the article and shed my own spin on some of the things that make Alaska great.

1.) The Light. The light in Alaska is truly different from anywhere else in the US because it is so extreme.  In the summer, the sun never seems to set.  Darkness is equated more with dusk, and only then for a couple of hours.  Then, winter sets in, and the few hours of sunlight seem to be frozen in between …

The Holidays

The holidays were a wondrous and low-key affair on our little island. Much food was eaten, many presents were given and received, and quality time was spent as a family.

First, let's rewind to last week...We went on a tree hunting mission at a friend's farm on the east side of the island.  It was a windy day, which made for a quick and rather uneventful tree hunt.  Previously, the weather has been mild, but for a few days around Christmas the wind howled and caused a dip in the air temperature. Because of this, we quickly settled on a very pretty pine, which has turned our house into a giant, festive pine-scented candle.

Then, on Christmas Eve, insane windstorms ravaged the island and left us without power, and our power and internet continued to flicker in and out over the coming days. Rumors of 20+ foot waves on Lake Michigan have been circulating.  It was that windy. Trees were down on the roads, which essentially blocked us into our house for a short time.  We didn't m…

The Start of Christmas Break

Christmas Break has begun, much to the excitement of teachers and students alike.  I think that we were all very ready for a couple of weeks of down time.  My students decorated a small tree in our room two weeks ago.  They had a blast making ornaments and decorating the room.

As is island tradition, we also went caroling to the homes of a few of the elderly islanders.  The students sang a handful of songs and we handed out bird feeders and cookies to each house.  It was a beautiful and much appreciated tradition.  Many members of the community showed up and took part in the singing. The students were freezing and tired by the end, but they were troopers and did their best at each house. Check out this great video of us singing!

The final day before break in my classroom we had a big, all-day party.  The morning started off with "Books & Toast."  "Books & Toast" is another island tradition in the classrooms.  The entire elementary wing declares a pajama day…

An Island Thanksgiving

Yesterday marked the first time that Cody and I have ever hosted a holiday at our home.  We've spent so much time traveling and moving around over the last few years that we've never hosted anything, and we haven't spent very many holidays even together. Typically, Cody heads down to southern Illinois to visit his family and I head to northern Illinois and/or southern Michigan to see mine.

This year, my mom and her boyfriend, Mark, volunteered to come visit us for a rainy, island Thanksgiving. It was soooo nice to not have to travel and worry about packing, booking flights, or renting cars.  Instead, we worried about planning a meal.

We opted to forgo the turkey this year because they were nearly $40 on the island, and 1/4 of the people attending our meal were vegetarian. The carnivores made a batch of homemade chicken and dumplings. Then, for everyone we made green bean and mushroom casserole, rolls, potatoes, and giant Greek salads.  We wrapped up our wonderful meal with…

Stacking Firewood

This is our first year heating our home with wood, and I've got to tell you, it's quite the adventure. Before this year, I'd always romanticized the idea of heating a home with only wood.  The thought of cutting our own wood and providing our own heat seemed very idyllic and homestead-y, which is sort of my goal in life.

To be fair, I do love snuggling up by the fire and reading a good book, or cuddling with Cody and the dogs. It is romantic and ideal in many ways.  It is also a huge amount of work though.  Aside from cutting the wood, which we did only a minimal amount of this year because of how late we moved in, there are many other chores. We clean the inside of the stove each morning before starting a new fire and this requires venturing out into the brisk morning air to dump the ashes into our designated ash bucket, which never sounds fun at 5 o'clock in the morning. 
The biggest chore that we are focusing on now is stacking the wood.  It took us quite some time…