Archive 2014 September
Food & Fitness Fridays: Earthquakes & Pancakes

Food & Fitness Fridays: Earthquakes & Pancakes

Yesterday I was sitting at work making my usual media buys and client phone calls when all of the sudden I heard yelling from our graphic designer in the back of the office. One of the other account executive’s went to check on her so I continued on my merry way when I heard even more commotion from the back and decided to go see for myself. Our designer had apparently shouted, “Earthquake” and in the 15 seconds it’d taken me to get back to her, she claimed our whole office had been shaking.

I had felt nothing so I teased she made it all up.

Well she didn’t. A 6.2 earthquake struck about 235 miles south of Fairbanks yesterday morning.

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An office in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. Photo acquired from the Fairbanks Daily News Miner’s online website.

This is not the first time this has happened. Alaska is known for its earthquakes. Just a few weeks ago an earthquake with an epicenter much closer to Fairbanks caused some serious rumblings that I was convinced – while hanging out on our deck with our foster dog – were caused by my husband bouncing around in the house. Nope. Just an earthquake.

I’m bad at this. Minnesota had blizzards, thunderstorms, and the occasional tornado. This whole faults in the ground releasing energy when plates collide business is foreign to me. It is kind of exciting though. Provided a giant crack in the ground doesn’t open up and swallow my house or me. I am really crossing my fingers I notice the next big one!

In other news, it’s Food & Fitness Friday!

It has been a slow and steady week for me. I’ve been taking it easy fitness-wise since my cough and congestion has persisted stubbornly. I’ve been lifting light and running for distance, not time.

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Today’s run felt really good after the second mile. I’m prone to side aches, and I’ve finally nailed down a breathing technique involving big breaths in while pushing my stomach as far out as I can and then deep exhales and squeezing my abs back in. The last few times I’ve gotten a serious side ache this has worked wonders for me! I followed that up with some ab work, and attempted a selfie to prove it but workout selfies are always so awful for me. I’m not one of those cute glistening, perfect-ponytailed workout girls. I sweat, a lot. My hair gets frizzy. It’s not pretty. I need to work on it.

So I’m going to give you a picture of the point of today’s blog post instead:

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WHAT ARE THOSE BEAUTIES, YOU ASK?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I rifled through a bunch of different pumpkin pancake recipes today, but I was missing ingredients for some and others had ingredients I wanted to avoid so I just took a few pointers from each and created my own.

And they worked surprisingly well.

Before I share this recipe can we talk about how great pumpkin is? Growing up I only really cared about carving them, eating the baked seeds, and devouring as much pumpkin pie as humanly possible around the holidays. As an adult, it’s grown into a full blown love affair.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

1. With only 49 calories per cup and with 7 grams of fiber, pumpkin keeps you fuller longer!
2. Pumpkins have the antioxidant beta-carotene which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute
3. A cup of cooked pumpkin has more potassium per serving than a banana!
4. A rich source of vitamins & minerals (vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper calcium, potassium & phosphorus)
5. 100 grams of those delicious pumpkin seeds provides 30 grams of protein

Sources 1, 2, 3

Alright, so now that you’re convinced…

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes
(Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free)

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup almond milk (I prefer Vanilla, Unsweetened)
1 1/2 TBSP coconut oil (soften before adding)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking soda
Salt – a couple pinches
Cinnamon – a few shakes
Nutmeg – a few shakes
Chocolate Chips! (Dairy Free)

1. Mix together all wet ingredients, adding the eggs last
2. Mix together all dry ingredients
3. Mix together wet and dry ingredients
4. Add the chocolate chips!
4. Scoop pancake sized dollops on griddle
5. Cook on both sides until cooked all the way through*

*The consistency of these pancakes is quite different than pancakes requiring flour. They won’t necessarily “rise” and they need quite a bit longer to cook through than other pancakes I’ve made.

Makes 5 Pancakes.
Each Pancake: 187.80 calories, 21.2 carbs, 9.2 grams of fat, 5.6 grams of protein, 4 grams of sugar

I ate one and a half with a little bit of peanut butter and a side of sausage and I was full! They’re definitely sweet enough that no syrup or butter was required for me. Maybe not the healthiest recipe I’m hoping to share on here but they were delicious and the PERFECT post-workout fuel.

Tomorrow I’m road tripping a couple hours to hang out with the husband who has been training at Fort Greeley the past couple weeks. He has a free Saturday and I’m taking full advantage! You can be sure there will be lots of picture-taking and a blog post offering up all there is to see in the Delta Junction/Fort Greeley area of Alaska.

Hope everyone has a lovely September weekend! This might be the last before snow hits up here. Eek!

Tis The Season

Tis The Season

Pumpkins. Leaves. Apples. Halloween. Cinnamon. Candles. Spices. Sweater weather.

How can anyone on earth not adore fall? How?!

The nostalgia that hits me when I see the decorations and smell the season’s scents is out of this world. Growing up in Minnesota, I grew up with four ideal seasons just like in the movies. The summers were hot and humid. The springs were rainy and filled with flowers. The winters were cold and snowy. And the fall? Oh the fall was filled with chills and dazzling colors. My mom decorated every fall, and we baked. Apple crisps and pumpkin pies and baked pumpkin seeds and all that goodness.

Today I was especially feeling the holiday spirit. When I went to get some cleaning supplies at Fred Meyer I also made a stop in the seasonal section. Window clings, candles, candle holders, towels, and baking supplies. OH MY.

Oh my to these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bars. I found these on Pinterest via Ambitious Kitchen (recipe in link). I was so impressed because I am often hesitant to make baked goods “healthy” but these babies were vegan, gluten free, AND tasted great.

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Since my husband is out of town every, single one of these bars is mine. I’m trying to space them out over this week, of course.

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Note the dazzling pumpkin window clings, along with those melted, chocolatey chips.

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I bought apples and extra cans of pumpkin because the holiday baking has just begun. Now if only Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown were streaming on Netflix.

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
Lauren DeStefano, Wither

Have any great pumpkin or apple recipes? How do you celebrate autumn?

Camille Mae (2)

Food & Fitness Friday + A little life lesson for the planner in me

Food & Fitness Friday + A little life lesson for the planner in me

What’s that saying, again? We plan, God laughs.

I am not religious, but I believe in this sentiment with unwavering faith. I’m a media planner. Planning is my life. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m unnaturally good at it. I sent my mom an e-mail on Monday about how optimistic I was regarding the next few weeks while my husband is off training. I sent her an extensive list for everything I hoped to accomplish and all the fun activities I’d be partaking in during this time…

HA. HA HA. HA HA HA.

Tuesday morning I woke up and could barely get out of bed, speak, swallow, or eat. A severe sore throat, a fever, a cough, and an exhaustion that knew no limits had hit me like a ton of bricks.

It’s now Friday.

I’m posted on my deck with a cup of hot tea, a glass of cranberry juice, and my computer. The autumn leaves are still beautiful and bright. The crisp fall air is still tolerable to be outside in a sweater and jeans. It’s a nice Friday evening.

Except, I haven’t been to Crossfit or ran all week. I have failed to clean anything in the house. My foster dog who I’ve grown unfortunately close to due to snuggles and loving on this sick week leaves tomorrow. I couldn’t attend a last minute concert in Fairbanks (of a band I actually know and love!!!!). The 7 mile hike and yoga for tomorrow is out.

This actually isn’t a poor me post, I swear……..

It’s a “We plan, God laughs” post, or “Buddha” or “Allah” or whoever we’d like to think is up there cackling chuckling at us. My childhood wonder says there’s a life lesson to learn here; a reason why all my plans were demolished. My adulthood logic says sh*t happens.

The only thing I did accomplish this week is eating healthy, and that glimmer of hope leads into the only thing I can write about honestly this week…

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1. Don’t work out. I like to push myself to do things. All things. I push myself to do well on client’s campaigns, to accomplish a certain number of things on the weekends, and to workout a specific amount each week. I have a really hard time deviating from these “plans” I’ve pushed on myself. Logically, when I can’t attend work due to illness I do not let myself go to the gym. Seems obvious, right? Well even when I did get back to work this week after two days spent on the couch, it took a lot of hearing “DO NOT WORK OUT” from my mom, my best friend, and my co-workers to keep my butt from racing right back there. I was still coughing, still constantly needing Kleenex, and still exhausted. I had to force myself to keep driving past the gym yesterday and today. Do not work out if you’re still sick. Take it easy. Walk. Do slow yoga at home. Relax.

2. Don’t eat poorly just because you feel awful. It’s so easy. The easiest thing in the world is to buy a quart or gallon of ice cream and eat it all in one sitting because my throat hurts. Make better choices. Grab the frozen fruit pops. Pay the extra for the unique brand organic chicken noodle soup or beg someone to make it homemade because do you know how much sodium is in Campbell’s?!?! Fruit is always a superb choice, especially all the options chalked full of vitamin C. Meat gets pretty unappetizing for me when I’m sick so I’ve been eating peanut butter toast and quinoa for protein the last couple days. It’s completely possible to keep eating healthy if I don’t give myself excuses.

3. Remember everything your mom, or grandma, or doctor told you.
Stay hydrated. Drink lots of tea. Sleep ridiculous amounts. Use the herbal and all-natural remedies that you grew up with or have suggested to you (within reason of course). Remembering these seemingly simple things while your body fights the illness will get you back to full health, back in the gym, and back to eating all the foods you should be and want to be – sooner! I am crossing my fingers that by the end of this weekend, the cough, runny nose, and tiredness will be gone.

I have planned (I plan my free time, completely normal) to take it easy this whole weekend. I have a brand spanking new pair of Reebok Nano 4.0’s sitting on my kitchen table and they are aching to be used, but I think they will get the best use Monday when I’m 100% healthy. Fortunately for me, I don’t think my new weekend “plans” can get ruined!

Hope you all have a stellar weekend more exciting and health filled than mine! But if not, cheers to getting healthy, too much Netflix, and sleeping in.

Camille Mae (2)

***I am not a nutritionist/doctor/expert. I am just a gal passionate about healthy eating and fitness. Take all personal experience and advice as opinions!

Travel Tuesday: Denali National Park

Travel Tuesday: Denali National Park

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Denali National Park.

The pictures speak for themselves. I have visited the park five – yes, five – times now. I adore it more every visit. The mountains, the wildlife, the scenery, the hiking, the beautiful Mt. McKinley herself looming in the distance if you’re lucky enough to catch sight of her.

It’s breathtaking each visit in a different way. I’ve seen it newly snow-covered in late September, muddied and fresh in early Spring, at the height of green beauty in the depths of summer, and in these photos – an array of colors for fall. My husband and I plan to visit the park this winter when the snow is deep and maybe explore a bit on snowshoes or skis. I’m sure beautiful sights, sounds, and views will memorize me in the middle of winter just as they have in every other season.

Denali National Park was actually the first place I visited when I came to Alaska two years ago this month. I flew in the evening before and the next morning we set off for the park. To a Midwestern girl, there is nothing like it. To anyone on the planet, there is no mountain like Mt. McKinley. She is stunning beyond words and I’ve yet to capture a picture that does her justice. Sorry if this sounds like a love affair. It kind of is.

But if you get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go, here’s the lowdown:

When To Go

Early summer or early fall is by far the best time. Mid June – Mid August is chaos. That time frame is still gorgeous and the weather will be better, so your chance of seeing Mt. McKinley might be a little higher during prime tourist season – but I primarily go for the hiking and it’s loads better when you have the trails to yourselves in the end of May or early September.

How To Go

When you enter the park, go to the visitor’s center and get a park pass. If you’re military – it’s FREE! Make the drive to Savage River. It’s worth the views, the wildlife sightings, and there’s some alright trails at the Savage River turn around (they won’t let you drive any further). There are buses that will take you past the check point. I’ve heard they’re worth it, but the ride is LONG. I mean hours and hours going 30 mph to get to stops along the Park Road. I would like to try a bus next summer, and hopefully update this info. Apparently at the end of Park Road is Wonder Lake, complete with cabins and a lodge visitors can stay. The view of Mt. McKinley from this area are stunning from photos I’ve seen.

What To Do

Hike. Explore. Get out of your vehicle and into nature. Almost the entire park is fair game for back country hikers or campers, so don’t feel confined to just the managed trails. The one hike I’d suggest for anyone visiting Denali is the Mount Healy Overlook Trail, and if you’re feeling ambitious, keep going to the Mount Healy Summit. The trail past the overlook was originally used by animals, but overtime has been used by more experienced hikers or people who work in the park. The summit is absolutely breathtaking. It’s completely worth it if you have the stamina, and if hiking on narrow, winding, rocky ridge lines doesn’t give you vertigo. I intend to do a whole blog post on this favorite hike of mine soon.

What To Eat

My favorites are 49th State Brewing Company and Prospector’s Pizza & Alehouse. I’ve been told the Salmon Bake is delicious, and there’s a couple other restaurants in the “Denali Alley” area. Note that almost all of the shops and restaurants are seasonal and they usually close around September 20th, and don’t open back up again until Mid May. We drove through Denali over Thanksgiving last year on our way to Anchorage and it was literally a ghost town. The 49th State Brewing Company is located in Healy, AK (just a short drive from Denali) and is open all year round.

Where To Stay

I personally would avoid all the tourist hotels that line the Denali Alley area, and opt for a bed and breakfast (if you like your comfort), or cabin (if you’re open to a little less amenities), or even camping (if you’re really into the outdoors). Cabins and B&B’s can be found in the Cantwell and Healy areas on either side of the park entrance. I would recommend The Denali Lakeview Inn, especially if you’re visiting the park with a significant other. It’s very romantic! Or the Earth Song Lodge if you’re with a group. The Earth Song Lodge is composed of a bunch of cabins and worked perfectly for five of us visiting for 2 days and 2 nights. I’m not big into camping, so my suggestions are limited in that area. This being Denali National Park, I’m sure the camping opportunities are endless!

 In Conclusion

Add this amazing national park to your bucket list, stat!

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
John Muir

Camille Mae (2)

Content

Content

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I love September in Alaska.

Two years ago, this month, was the first time I flew here to visit Michael. It was the first time we went to Denali National Park. It was the first time I’d ever seen mountains of this grandeur and the first time I’d seen the leaves on the trees change so beautifully. Minnesota has a gorgeous fall, don’t get me wrong. But nowhere I’ve ever visited or lived beats an Alaskan September.

It took me a LONG time to fall in love with Alaska. A looooonnnnggggg time.

I spent the first five months living here asking how quickly we could leave. We were newly married, on a relatively tight budget, living in a tiny, old, debilitated apartment, and we couldn’t afford to do much outside Fairbanks.

And then we took our first trip to Anchorage Thanksgiving weekend, and slowly but surely, I started to see the appeal. When you drive 6.5 hours down the Parks Highway after a freshly fallen snow when the trees and mountains are glittering the entire drive you can’t help but fall in love a little bit…

We began to ski and snowboard frequently throughout the winter months, and the holidays proved to be adorable and festive in snow-covered Fairbanks and North Pole. Two trips to visit both our families kept me sane through March, and even caused me to miss our new “home”. Moving into the lovely duplex apartment at the end of this past winter was when I finally came around.

The tipping point to loving Alaska was taking an amazing Alaskan road trip with my husband and three closest friends in the end of June/beginning of July. Seeing the state through their eyes made me realize what I have here and how it’s only temporary. Despite what Alaska is missing, it has so much to offer.

So I can finally say without hesitation, I am content.

I am content with Fairbanks, Alaska. I am content with our adorable apartment, the Crossfit community I’m apart of, the aesthetic views while running, the mountains I see on my way to work, and our proximity to visiting them whenever we feel like it. I am content with the unending winter, the lack of fresh produce, the small population of this area, the expensive plane tickets, and the isolation.

Because where else on earth will I see a sunset like this?

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Sweets

“You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole–like the world, or the person you loved.”
Stewart O’Nan, The Odds: A Love Story

Have you ever disliked somewhere you lived? Military spouses – how long has it taken you to come around to a new place after PCS-ing? 

Note: Photos taken with my new Nikon COOLPIX P530! Only the one of us kissing has been edited since we have yet to master the “selfie” on a real camera.
Food & Fitness Fridays: How To Eat Healthy Living with a Significant Other

Food & Fitness Fridays: How To Eat Healthy Living with a Significant Other

I like alliterations, if you haven’t noticed.

I know the last thing on earth anyone wants to think about on a Friday is working out and eating right, but keeping good habits in my mind as I head into my wild weekends (there it is again) is often just what I need, so maybe it’ll help others too!

This weekly theme could be one recipe, one workout, a review of a diet plan, or up to date look at my own food & fitness journey. I won’t go too in depth on why I’ve become a bit of a health food nut and fitness junkie, as I’ve touched on that here and here.

But health is a HUGE part of my life.

HOW to eat healthy with a spouse in the
I was probably telling him to only let me eat one piece of our wedding cake…

This week I want to talk about staying healthy with a spouse/significant other in the house. And let me tell you, this is not an easy task. Especially when you’re married to someone like my husband who can eat anything, and I do mean anything, and not gain a single pound. The man could live off pizza rolls, ice cream, and beer and I guarantee you he’d lose weight. He is one of those people.

My genetics, on the other hand, are not in my favor. I work hard for my physique, and most of my work is just practicing self-control around his nightly dessert cravings. Last night, I failed. He didn’t even offer me a spoonful of his Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.  I was the one who got up, grabbed a spoon, and ate a solid ten bites. My advice on this topic is a work in progress…

1. Eat Healthy Alone 

Every meal I eat that he isn’t around, I do my best to stay on track. Since he leaves at 5:30am for PT and I don’t leave the house until 7:30am (or later), we always eat separate breakfasts. When it comes to lunch, he’s never guaranteed an allotted time and I am able to opt for a schedule without a lunch break, i.e. shoveling in food at my desk in between phone calls and media buys. Two meals a day I eat solo, so I make them count. Breakfast is usually some variation of eggs, bacon, granola, fruit, oatmeal, or high protein waffles. “Lunch” for me is usually a couple small meals consisting of either an extra chicken breast I grilled the night before, spinach or kale salad, a veggie burger, sliced peppers or celery, various fruit, etc. When I don’t have to be tempted by his caloric filled snacks or pleading for a night out to a restaurant, I make sure I stay on track.

2. Consider Working Out Part of Your “Job” 

I started this habit in college and carried it over when I got my first full time job. I am an afternoon work-out girl. Not because that’s the perfect time of day for me (I’ve read mornings are better), but because I’ve made it a habit that part of my day or my job is ending it at the gym or going on a run. Once that’s complete – THEN I can go home. I tell family and friends I’m not done with work until 5:15, even though I technically leave my office at 4:00. Once I leave work, my day is not done. I still have one more job to do – that job is to workout. Getting into this habit has been incredibly helpful while married because my husband has learned that’s just an extension of my day. I leave in the morning and I don’t come home until work and working out is finished. Make fitness an extension of your job.

3. Eat at Home as Often as Possible (so you might need to learn to cook) 

I read this quote recently,

“Women and men should both know how to cook because neither feminism nor sexism are going to do shit for you when you’re hungry.”

And if that’s not the truest thing you’ve ever read – you have a terrible sense of humor and you obviously aren’t human. But seriously, learn how to cook and learn how to cook often. Yes, it’s SO incredibly easy to go out to eat and yes, restaurant food is almost always better because they slather the shit out of it in butter. But that buttery food will start to take residence in places on your body that you don’t want it too. I try to have a plan of what we’re going to eat every night, whether I’m asking him to cook or I’m cooking, so he can’t just look at me and say, “Do you want to just go out?”. I don’t necessarily plan meals, but I leave the grocery store every week with enough food to make a couple home cooked recipes, and then some easy things to throw together last minute – chicken sausage, chicken, DIY salads, etc.

4. Have Healthy/Low-Cal Treats on Hand. Always. 

I can’t live without sugar. I can’t. If you can, hats off to you. I can’t. I freaking love chocolate, marshmallows, cake, frosting, cookies, brownies, sweet breads, ice cream, etc. I am aware of this affliction, so instead of trying to avoid it completely and then ache with jealousy when he sits down on the couch with all that ooey-gooey, diabetic goodness, I try to have my own snacks on hand. Kettle corn, dark chocolate, fruit, and hot chocolate are all go-to’s of mine. If I can find the healthier version of something, I let myself have it. It’s better than trying to avoid it for days and then binging on a pint of ice cream when I finally give in. Then when he sits down with his treats, I can grab my kettle corn or dark chocolate and feel perfectly content*.

*I’m just going to add that I totally eat all of the crap I listed, but I TRY during the week to stay on track and only eat “healthy desserts”. I mean if we’re out to eat, I’m not about to say no to some delectable dessert…

5. Make Health a Priority 

This isn’t really so much of a tip as it is a fact. If you don’t make eating right and working out consistently a priority in your life, it’ll be easy to let yourself go when your sweet significant other is offering another bite of cake with those loving eyes and saying, “Oh babe, you’re fine. Just one more bite with me?” We’ve all been there. Those darn lovers of ours, seeing us in perfect light even as our clothes beg us to put down the fork. It’s not the end of the world to gain a little weight after marriage, but wouldn’t it feel so much better to look just as good as we did on the wedding day? Marriage can be a healthy balance of sweet treats and nights out, and all the healthy goodness, too!

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15 months after saying “I do!”

Any additional tips for staying healthy while living with your significant other/spouse? Do you find it hard to say no to their unhelpful habits?

Camille Mae (2)

Travel Tuesday

With the launch of my new URL, theme, and blog name, I am also starting Travel Tuesdays! Whether it’s a city, a hike, a museum, or a road trip – every Tuesday I plan to share somewhere I’ve been in Alaska, in the United States, and hopefully one day – the world! I’m so excited about this opportunity to share my adventures, and hopefully hear from others about their own travels. 

Fairbanks, Alaska

 

Where I am currently calling home and have come to know quite well in the past 15 months + 2 visits prior to moving. The city of Fairbanks is located in Interior Alaska about 6-7 hours from any shoreline or Canada. It’s essentially the northern most significant sized, incorporated city in Alaska (and in the United States). There are establishments farther North, such as Barrow and Prudhoe Bay, but they’re considered villages dominated by either Native Alaskans or people in the oil industry. If you’re looking for the last stop before the end of the world? Fairbanks is your place.

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Grabbing pics of the distant Alaska Range right outside Fairbanks

The city is not generally on people’s lists of places to visit when planning their epic vacation to Alaska. Fairbanks and the neighboring city of North Pole rest in a valley – The Tanana River Valley and it’s unlikely you’ll see very many mountains during your stay here. But that’s not to say it doesn’t offer it’s own set of charms, and as someone living here long term (2 years), I’ve discovered it’s the perfect gateway to the rest of beautiful Alaska.

What To See/Do

  • Enjoy 24 hour sun-light This takes the cake for me. From early June to mid July, Fairbanks never gets dark. Literally. The sun will go “down” around midnight (or later depending on how close we are to June 21st) and the sky turns to a grey dusk and stays that way until around 3 am when the sun rises again. I discovered two weeks ago when friends came to visit, that the never-ending sun kept us up hours later than planned and seriously depleted our sleep intake. We jammed so many activities into our week together thanks to the sunlight, it was great. Marvel at the light. This phenomenon occurs across Alaska, but it’s best the farther North you are, so Fairbanks wins.
  • Hike Angel Rocks A beautiful, moderately easy 3 mile loop ascends to these gorgeous rock formations and overlooks the rolling hills and faraway mountains of Interior Alaska. It’s an easy way to see beautiful Interior Alaska from up high and get a feel for how much bigger the sky actually is from on top of the world. The rock formations are fun to climb on, and the trail is about what one would picture for an Alaskan hike. Highly recommended. $5 needed to park in the State Park lot, but restrooms are available. BRING BUG SPRAY.
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    The view from Angel Rocks in April 2014
  • Kayak Chena Lakes Recreation Area or the Chena River Rent a kayak, and either hit the river or the lakes. The water flowing down stream makes the effort of kayaking much easier on the Chena River, but the rental area for the river is about a leisurely two hour kayak from where you bring the boat out of the water and we were left wanting a little more. We’ve rented kayaks from the Chena Lakes Recreation Area (hourly instead of a certain distance), and have enjoyed making our way around the lake system at our own pace even though it required more effort. The lakes offer more privacy and more animal life, in contrast to the river that flows through town. Either is a lot of fun, but I would recommend Chena Lakes. If you kayak out far enough at the Lakes you can see the mountains in the distance, and the view is pretty gorgeous on a warm summer day.

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    Kayaking the Chena River with the Husband
  • Chena Hot Springs This little oasis is about a 40 minute drive out of town at a natural hot spring. It’s best to visit from October – March when it’s snow covered and chilly, since the Hot Springs are HOT. Besides just the large, steamy outdoor rock springs, there’s also an indoor pool and hot tub with the same water, an ice museum where you’re served martinis in ice glasses, a little Alaskan restaurant, and a hotel. Note: I’ve been told and based on my own research, the hotel does not seem worth the price.
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    Chena Hot Springs
  • North Pole, AK Because going to a town named the North Pole, and popping into the Santa Clause House constantly filled with everything Christmas decoration your heart can imagine, seeing reindeer, and taking pictures of the candy cane themed lamp posts is a once-in-a-lifetime thing even if it isn’t that spectacular and probably overrated. It’s still cute. This little town is actually where my husband and I reside, but we’re on the edge closest to Fairbanks.

Where To Eat

Ranked according to my favorites! (Disclaimer: Apparently Fairbanks has the best Thai around, but I detest Thai food so I am not listing those. Refer to Trip Advisor’s Fairbanks Restaurant Reviews for the Thai restaurants or if I have any requests, I’ll ask my husband who has tried every place in town)

Dinner

1. The Silver Gulch Brewery & Resturant – Great food, great beer, Alaskan atmosphere, a surprisingly nice-looking restaurant on the inside with a gift shop. $25 – $35 per meal. This is our go to.
2. Lavelle’s
3. Geraldo’s
4. The Turtle Club
5. Pike’s Landing

Lunch

1. Ajimi – BEST sushi I have ever had. Hands down. I don’t mean that lightly. I’m a huge fan, and my Thai-loving, Sushi-hating husband tags along for their other dishes.
2. The Chowder House
3. Bad 2 Da Bone Barbecue

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Ajimi Restaurant – BEST sushi

Breakfast 

1. The Cookie Jar – I’m an at-home breakfast kinda-gal. I rather sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays, but if I do find the energy to go out, The Cookie Jar’s breakfasts are where it’s at. Try the cinnamon roll french toast. To die for.
2. Sunrise Bagel & Espresso

Dessert
1. College Town Creamery – The gelato. Forget the fro-yo and the crepes. Just eat the homemade gelato.
2. The Fudge Pot
3. Hot Licks Homemade Ice Cream

Where To Stay 

This is a trickier one to answer since we’ve only stayed at two hotels, but I’ve gotten feedback from a couple friends who’ve stayed at hotels throughout Fairbanks as well. If you can get on post (military, ex-military), The Holiday Inn Express, is great. Very nice, very reasonably priced for Alaskan hotels, and close to all activities and/or amenities. SKIP the Alpine Lodge. Yes, it’s next to the airport but that’s about all it offers. Terrible breakfasts. Mediocre rooms. Mediocre food in the hotel restaurant. Friends have recommended Pike’s Waterfront Lodge and The Westmark. Hampton Inn & Suites is the #1 rated hotel in Fairbanks and if you’ve ever stayed at a Hampton Inn & Suites before – I assume it’s similar. This hotel is situated directly next to fast food and our strip mall with – Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, Old Navy, Sports Authority, Famous Footwear, Sportsmans, and Barnes & Noble. Great if you’re looking to be next to “things”, probably a negative if you’re looking for a “getaway”.

In Conclusion

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If you find yourself in Fairbanks to visit family, because the military brings you here, or if it’s one of the stops on your Alaskan vacation – there’s Alaskan charm and beauty to be found in this seemingly boring town. It took me awhile to appreciate everything Fairbanks had to offer, but I’m pretty fond of all the memories I’ve made thanks to living here this past year.

Have you been thinking of coming to Alaska? Would Fairbanks make your list? If not, you’re bound to love the other places I’ve visited throughout Alaska that I can’t wait to share!

Camille Mae (2)

Changes

Y’all may notice, but you might not so I’ll just do the honor and point it out: I [finally] bought a domain name and officially have my own URL: www.wandersandwords.com

I turned 23 yesterday! And with a birthday comes a new set of goals for myself to make this year the absolute best year. Improving my blog and posting more frequently is towards the top of my list. I want to share this crazy life I live and how I live it and what’s worked for me and where I’ve been and what I’ve read and all the odds and ends that go along with a lifestyle/travel/career/married/fitness blog. I.e. I really don’t want to pick a theme because I have way too much to say.

I also signed up for Blog Lovin’ and claimed my new URL so please follow me on there!

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/12829371/?claim=5mvdytrn49b”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I had the BEST birthday. It was filled with lots of quality time with my husband, phone calls, texts, Facebook posts, co-worker’s treating me to sushi & giving me flowers, a dinner out, a crazy delicious cake, a little too much wine (is there such a thing as too much wine?) and a fire before calling it a day. Here were some of the highlights!

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Seriously, how handsome is he?

I am one happy girl today. Hope you enjoy the new layout of the blog, the new URL, and all the awesome blog posts to come.

Camille Mae (2)

22 Things I Learned At 22

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1. If I let the weather dictate my mood, no matter where I live, I turn into a relatively grumpy person. Embrace the rain and the cold and the snow. Without them there’d be no autumn colors or flowers or green landscape or holiday feels or snowmen or skiing. All good things.

2. The client is always right, even when they’re dreadfully wrong.

3. If men are crabby, they need food or sleep. I had a roommate’s mom tell me this in college and it has surprisingly been one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.

4. How to lift and do Crossfit.

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5. Homesickness is the strangest ailment in the world. I catch a scent, or hear a song, or begin watching a show and suddenly it hits me like a ton of bricks and I’m transported back to a moment in time. Whether I’m a small child, or a recent memory from one of my weekends home from college, I am temporarily in tears and wishing for it all to come back. And then it passes, and I’m fine. I have started to wonder if this only grows worse your entire life, or if it’s just because I’m currently 3,000 miles away.

6. To quote Ben Affleck’s Oscar speech, “[Marriage] is good, it is work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”

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7. The less I drink hard alcohol, the better I feel. In contrast, the more I drink wine, the better I continue to feel.

8. Holding unto my youth as a married, young twenty something doesn’t require partying frequently. It does require a lot of laughter at really nerdy jokes and finding joy in really simple things, like a trip for gelato or a short hike in the woods. It also requires listening to lots of music and foregoing podcasts. It requires regrettable decisions along the lines of eating too much pizza, staying up too late on weeknights, and spontaneously fostering someone’s massive black lab that sheds and slobbers gallons.

9. Vacation days do not require taking an actual vacation.

10. But a vacation spent with a group of great friends is worth all the money, stress, and anxiety it took to plan. Ten fold.

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11. I connect more with my spirituality on mountaintops than I ever have in a church.

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12. If we never go hungry, without electricity, or without a vehicle…we’re doing just fine.

13. I can afford anything I want, if I sacrifice all the other things I want.

14. Planning in the military is comical. Learn to be flexible (even if I have to cry first).

15. Keep in touch with good friends, even if they make it hard sometimes. It’s worth it.

16. Kiss my husband every day. Even twice a day. And say I love you equally as much. There is never enough time.

17. FaceTime my nieces as much as possible because no matter what kind of mood I’m in those silly, sweet babes put the biggest smiles on my face. Their moms are pretty great, too.

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18. The things my mom spent so much time nagging me about were all totally true – drink more water, take your vitamins, workout your arms, do the dishes and laundry every day or as often as possible, clean up the mud you track in the house and the crumbs from breakfast, ice cream soothes the soul after a bad day, love is worth the sacrifices, etc.

19. Attempting to eat healthy with a man who can eat absolutely terrible foods and never, ever gain a single pound is frustrating. Take deep breaths. Practice self control. Dump ice cream on his head. Whatever it takes.

20. “I’m sorry” is important even when I’m always right. It’s even more important to leave off the “always right” part when saying the actual apology aloud.

21. Having a career has been the most gratifying part of the past year no matter how tedious or frustrating work can be. Knowing my degree was worth it, helping my clients, and watching campaigns/projects I’ve planned or implemented succeed has been so rewarding. Paychecks don’t hurt the cause either.

22. Complain less, give thanks more.

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“I don’t want to look back in five years time and think, ‘We could have been magnificent, but I was afraid.’ In 5 years I want to tell of how fear tried to cheat me out of the best thing in life, and I didn’t let it.”

 

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