Amanda Dorough | The Beautiful Journey


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It’s 2015, It’s Time to Shine

I’ve always loved new years.  The anticipation of what a sparkly new year can bring is exhilarating. It’s a time when people focus on what the coming year could bring and resolve to make the changes that they’ve been putting off in their life, but, lets be honest folks, how many of those resolutions stick?  Ya you may do great at going to the gym for a month but then the old excuses creep back in and somehow it’s not as important anymore.

Ok, yes, when I say lets be honest, if I’m really honest, I’m talking about myself.  I suck at resolutions, there you have it.  I suck at them, that’s why two years ago, as 2012 transitioned into 2013 I choose to stop making resolutions for the coming year and instead to choose a word I wanted to personify it, to saturate and define the coming 365 days.  Last year I chose the word JOY.  2013 had been rough for me and more than anything I wanted 2014 to be filled with pure happiness, special moments and joy filled memories and it was, it really was.

When it came time to pick a word for 2015 I had trouble and ended up sitting on it for a few weeks.  It’s not that I couldn’t find a word, it’s that there were so many in contention.  In the end I selected a word that I felt like all the others could branch out of, 2015 is the year where I want to SHINE.

Shine

Contrary to how the phrase may sound I have no desire to be in the spotlight. Instead I want to radiate light, to bring happiness and joy to those around me and to SHINE the light of Christ. The other side of the coin is that I hope to fill my life with light.  Things that edify, people that bring joy and moments of wonder.  I made the board above to reflect my heart and hopes (photos from Pinterest).  Pure light, sparkle and color make me so happy and I hope that the coming year is filled with it.

At the end of this I want to issue a challenge as well.  If you’re like me and suck at resolutions, it’s not to late!  Pick a word that you want to define your year and do your darndest to live it out!

So here we go 2015, it’s time to SHINE!

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
– Nelson Mandela

 

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Here’s to 2014, Looking Back At This Last Year

Oh what the difference a year can make.  2013 was not a good year and by the end I was feeling terribly discouraged.  As I looked ahead to 2014 I had hope, hope that good things would happen and determination to make them so.  Now, as I reflect upon this last year I can confidently say it was everything I wanted and so much more.  I would even go so far as to say it was one of the best years of my life.

That’s funny for me to say considering the year contained one of the worst months of my life.  You see, March was not good to me.  It started out with terrible cement burns on my legs that made just moving a horrible chore and ended with a highly publisized controversy in relation to the organization I worked for that caused immense heartbreak for me and my co-workers.  Thankfully, when you hit the bottom there is nowhere you can go but up and give each blessing, big or small, that much more significance, and let me say, the rest of 2014 was full of them.

2014

In May after months of prayer and research I made the decision to apply to go back to school to finally become a paramedic.  It was a scary move for me and one I didn’t fully trust for another 2 months, but it ended up being one of the best decisions of my life.

At the end of June I once again headed to Tijuana, Mexico with my church to build homes for those in need and once I got home I was in full planning mode for the transition from full time employee to full time student.  At the end of July I officially gave my two weeks notice at World Vision and leaving was definitely bittersweet.  While working in a call center is not my calling in life (I actually hate talking on the phone) I couldn’t have worked for a better organization and my co-workers made each day so special.

2014

Mid- August brought the big move.  I loaded up my new car (Praise the Lord!  One of those blessings I was talking about earlier) and began the journey north to Alaska.

I got the incredible chance to spend the first half of the trip on the Alaska ferry traveling from Bellingham, WA to Haines, AK.  I saw sights I never imagined I would lay eyes on.  The inside passage is so gorgeous (when it’s sunny) and met so many great people.  The remaining drive to Soldotna was long and lonely but provided perfect time to think and reflect. In case you were wondering, Yukon territory really is as empty as you would imagine, go figure, but as soon as I pulled into the school after 3 days driving I knew I was home.

2014

This last semester I was given best friends, got to go on incredible adventures and laughed more than I had in 28 years.  I couldn’t feel more blessed.

2014

Now, as the year wraps up and I’ve officially got the first step in my pursuance of becoming a paramedic finished (EMT 1, hooray!) I eagerly look forward to what this next year will bring, and I remember that no matter what happens that God is good!

Happy New Year Everyone!  Here’s to 2015!


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One Semester Down, 4 To Go

Freedom feels so, so good.  I feel like the fall semester literally flew by.  I mean, wasn’t I just sailing away from Washington on the Alaska Ferry like last week not 4 months ago?  Goodness.

My life in Alaska really has been a blessing and only more of a confirmation with each day that it’s where I’m supposed to be.  As of a week ago I’m officially an EMT 1, hooray!  I still have to take my National EMT exam in January but according to the state of Alaska I am now official, hooray!  Next up?  EMT 2 then the plan is for Paramedic school in the fall, it won’t be a cake walk, but I couldn’t be more excited.

EMT Class

My EMT 1 Class along with our teacher, Tiffani, after our practical exam on the 13th.

So what else is new? Well, some of you may have seen on Facebook but I was offered an RA (Resident Assistant/Resident Advisor depending on the school you go to) for the spring.  I had my interview the Monday after Thanksgiving and hardly ate for the next few days as I waited to find out the results.  I knew that a few other girls had applied for the position and wasn’t sure where I stood, but in the end it worked out for me.  It’s definitely a position with a lot responsibility but it should be so good.  As an added bonus I get free housing in return which is definitely going to take off some of my financial burden.

Speaking of financial aid I found out the other day I received a scholarship from the school that covers 12 credits!  Another huge blessing for sure.  However it looks like the credits I transferred in from my bachelors are causing some trouble/confusion and making me technically ineligible for financial aid since I’m now going for an associate degree and have more than 150% of the credits needed (not the specific classes just the credits in general).  I can’t talk to anyone at the school about it until after new years so it’s definitely a weight.  I’m considering double majoring and entering a bachelors program if that will make things easier.  This is a definite prayer request for me.  My entire life is in Alaska right now and if I don’t have financial aid then I can’t afford to go to school and if I don’t go to school I will lose my housing and my job on top of the academic issues it will cause.  In other words I REALLY need this to get sorted out!  I know that God has paved the way and provided everything thus far so I have no reason to think it won’t work out, but until I have some certainty I can’t help but worry a little, you know?

In other news, as for life right now, I’m currently enjoying my Christmas break in Washington, spending time at my parents house, catching up on Redbox movies (we don’t have Redbox in Soldotna although we ironically have Blockbuster) and enjoying time with my 3 month old nephew Ezekiel.  Gosh they grow so fast!  I’m so thankful to have this month where I can just rest, relax and enjoy the “temperate” weather.  I mean, I can leave the house only wearing a sweatshirt!  I haven’t been able to do that in months!  I’m also enjoying all the shopping options we have here compared to Soldotna although I could leave all the traffic.  Definitely not something I missed!

Well, I guess that’s it for now, except to wish you all a

Merry Christmas!


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Influenster #ModaVoxBox Review

Hey y’all!  Happy December!  Today I’m back again with another Influenster Voxbox review.  I definitely feel really lucky.  This was the third box I’ve recieved since signing up with Influenster in June and it’s probably been my favorite yet!  For those of you not very familiar with Influenster or what it is you can read more about that on my last VoxBox post here.

So lets get on to the good stuff!

This particular Voxbox was called the Moda Voxbox and described as being for the fashionista.

Moda Voxbox

And here’s what was inside…

Moda Voxbox

The only thing you can’t see in the picture is the Rimmel lipstick and that’s because I accidentally hid it behind the mascara (oops!) but it’s there, trust me.

Like I’ve said in the past I like to make sure I really use the products before I say anything about them and this case was no different, so here are my thoughts.

Hair Food Moisture Hair Mask ($14.99, Target):  This is apparently a brand new product line so I was super excited to give it a try.  The description says it moisturizes and softens and helps provide “rich moisture protection from everyday styling for smooth, manageable hair while adding smoothness, softness and radiant shine.”  I liked this product.  I thought it smelled awesome and worked well.  That being said I don’t think it was necessarily better than other products I’ve used, however I’ve been spoiled by using salon quality products since my sister is a hairstylist.  But if I’m making that comparison, honestly, I think this product offers salon quality performance for a cheaper price tag.  I definitely recommend it. #HairFood

Moda Voxbox

 Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa ($2.29):  This is a new line from Swiss Miss that offers classic hot chocolate by only using 5 simple ingredients- Sugar, Cocoa, Nonfat Milk, Salt and Natural Flavor… whatever that means, and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.  Hot chocolate has always been my hot beverage of choice (I hate coffee), and I loved this.  It was the same great hot chocolate taste but I felt better drinking it without all of the additives.  I definitely recommend it. #SwissMissSimplyCocoa #Contest

Moda Voxbox

Jergens Ulta Healing Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer: ($5.99/$6.99):  The claim of this moisturizer  is that you’ll have “visibly luminous, healthier looking skin in just one week.”  I don’t use lotion a whole lot because my skin isn’t very dry.  I did for testing purposes try out this moisturizer and can say that it did leave my skin feeling softer and healthier, but since I don’t really have issues in this area to begin with I can’t say I’m a huge authority on it.  From what I experienced myself I would recommend it, and a bonus is that it smells good! #1WeekToGorgeous

Moda Voxbox

Resource Spring Water ($1.49):  The description says Resource is 100% natural spring water and features naturally occurring electrolytes.  The bottle is also made from 50% recycled material.  To be honest I find water hard to review because it’s well, water.  I have had bottled waters in the past that had an absolutely terrible taste, but Resource isn’t one of them.  It tastes clean and fresh, a definite plus.  I also like the design of the bottle, it’s eye catching and a good size. #RefreshWithResource

Moda Voxbox

Puffs Softpack (1 pack for $1.99-$2.49, 3 pack for $4.99-5.99):  I’m sure you know that not all tissues are created equal, especially if you find yourself stuck with a cheap pack of tissue and an awful head cold.  I for one don’t like when the skin under my nose is rubbed raw, thankfully Puffs is one of the good brands out there.  Recently they released new Soft Packs.  They’re essentially the same size as a traditional box of  tissues but with a soft flexible casing more like a travel pack.  While traditional cardboard boxes are great if they’re sitting in your bathroom, if you need something more mobile the soft pack is awesome.  You can shove them in pockets in your car, carry them around with you etc. and the plastic exterior holds up so well.  A bonus is the packaging is super cute!  I definitely recommend. #PassThePuffs

Moda Voxbox

Then the last 3 products were all by Rimmel London, Scandalizes Rockin’ Curves Mascara ($5.49-$5.99), Moisture Renew Lipstick ( $6.99-$7.49) and Moisture Renew Lip Liner ($5.99-$6.49):  I’ve used Rimmel products in the past and like them in general.  When it came to the mascara I liked some things and didn’t like others.  First I always buy waterproof mascara and the one I received in this case wasn’t, not the end of the world, but a strike against it.  I liked that it had an interesting “broken heart-shaped” brush that helped me get more places on my lashes, but I felt like overall the look was clumpier than I like.  I’m not sure if I’d get it again.  Then when it came to the lip items, the lip liner was great.  It’s clear so you don’t have to worry about matching it to your lipstick and it worked well.  The lipstick itself was also very good, smooth, rich, and long lasting, the only con for me was the specific color I was given.  It ended up being  a bright raspberry shade called “As You Want Victoria,”  not bad on it’s own, just a color I would never choose for myself unless it was a costume. #RockinIt #Rimmel #MoistureRenew

Moda Voxbox

 

So there you have it, the Moda VoxBox.  Like I said this was probably my favorite box yet.  Did you see anything you liked?

*I received the above products for free for testing purposes from Influenster.  The opinions are 100% my own.


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Thankfulness

Today marks the 9th Thanksgiving I’ve spent away from my family and while it’s bitter-sweet in ways I couldn’t be more blessed.  It’s truly been an example of God’s provision to me.  I had several friends invite me over to their homes for Thanksgiving and in the end will get to spend the day with one of my best friends families as well as my surrogate family here at the res hall.  There will be Turkey and potatoes and tons of desert.  It will be amazing and I am so, so thankful for it.

In truth, I have a lot to be thankful for this year.  God has given me so much.  New opportunities, the chance to live in Alaska, the ability to go back to school, to follow my dream.  Good friends, a great car, a safe and beautiful road trip to Alaska, good grades, a great job with awesome co-workers, snow, a new nephew, just to name a few.

2014 has been a year full of changes and a year full of blessings and today…

I am thankful.

How about you?  What are you thankful for today?

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Thanksgiving


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Yum, Yum, Yum! Reviewing Tazo Chai Tea

Last week I posted a review of a Chapstick product I received to test out from a company called Smiley360.  Well around the same time I was also offered the chance to test another product, Tazo Chai Tea and I couldn’t have been more excited.

First of all I must start out my saying I’m weird.  I know we’ve already established this on many occasions but I needed to reaffirm the fact just in case.  I am one of the few Seattelites that don’t like coffee, and I also don’t like tea, with one exception, Chai.  Maybe it’s my years spent traveling or those weeks spent in India and Nepal that changed my taste buds, but Chai is delicious, although unfortunately, like most things not all Chai is created equal.

Before October I’d never had Tazo Chai Tea or Chai Tea Latte so I was a totally new palette in terms of the brand.  In the package from Smiley 360 I received one loose packet each of Tazo Chai Tea in Classic, Chocolate and Vanilla Caramel, as well as 3 coupons for free boxes of Tazo Chai Tea or Tazo Chai Tea Latte to test and share with friends.

Tazo Chai Tea

The first thing I did of course was hop on their website to scope out flavors and was excited to find there was a Pumpkin Spice Chai version (seasonal).  Yay for fall flavors!  So I headed to my local store to pick some up only to find that no stores in my area carry that flavor.  Bummer!  So I picked up a Chai Vanilla Caramel Latte instead and called it good.

It was only a couple days later that I got my first chance to try it out.  I’d spent the afternoon on a roadtrip to Girdwood with friends to play in the snow (because even though I live in Alaska we don’t have snow sticking around in my town yet, bummer).  When we got back we were cold and ready to snuggle up, thaw out and watch a movie.  My friend and fellow tea lover Kirsten and I heated up my Chai Vanilla Caramel Latte and joined the rest of my friends for the show, and oh my gosh it was so good!  Creamy, flavorful and sweet but not to sweet.  Kirsten loved it and I loved it.  I would definitely recommend!

Tazo Chai Tea

As for the other flavors?  Well they’re good too!  Tazo is definitely a brand I will be buying in the future and I would recommend to all chai tea lovers out there.

Go Tazo!

*I recieved the mentioned products for free for testing purposes from Smiley360.  The opinions are 100% my own.


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Where I Fix My Eyes

In my life right now downtime can be pretty hard to come by, so anytime I have a few hours to kill I try to take full advantage of it, and by taking full advantage I usually mean watching Netflix.  I know, I’m hopeless.  The unfortunate thing about using all your free time to socialize and veg-out (aka be lazy) is that the things that need to be put away don’t get put away and the things that need to be cleaned don’t get cleaned.

This folks is my reality.

This last weekend however a miracle occurred.  I had one of those rare time slots where I was both free of obligation and I had the motivation to get things done.  Hooray!  I mean good gracious, the kitchen was starting to look like a warzone.  I don’t live alone, but I mean someone has to clean eventually.  So I popped in my headphones, set my phone to the Rend Collective (my all-time favorites!) Pandora channel and set to work.

So there I was, hard at work, hand washing my dishes when a song comes on that I’d never heard before.  It was one of those songs that immediately appeals to your taste in every rhythmic way.  Usually I just listen to beats and melodies of music while I let my mind get lost in thought, but this song caught me, so I began to listen to the words…

Hit rewind
Click delete
Stand face to face with the younger me
All of the mistakes
All of the heartbreaks
Here’s what I’d do differently

I’d Love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on You
On You….

(find the song here)

That chorus, oh so good, really got to me, and one word began to flash in my mind like a neon sign high above the Vegas Strip,

SELFISHNESS

Looking out for the so-called #1, putting yourself first, always.  It’s so easy to do.  So easy to get trapped by the idea that in your life you’re the most important person in the world.  The feelings of self preservation and making sure that you make the most effort to make yourself come out as close to the top as possible.

But it’s ridiculous.

My most precious memories & experiences, the ones that mean the most and I hold to the tightest aren’t about me.  So why would I think I could have the best life possible by doing the opposite?

So as I stood there, scrubbing away I was convicted.  I’m 29 years old.  God willing I have many years of life left to live and I don’t want to have regrets.  This is the time where I need to love others even when it’s hard, give of myself even when everything wants to turn the other way, take time for strangers and make time for friends…

But out of every way that I could be selfish I’ve been most selfish with my time when it comes to God, and that I am ashamed of.  He’s the real #1.  The one who loves despite our failures, and calls through every ounce of creation for us to love him in return, yet unfortunately we oftentimes show greater love to our pet or our TV than we do to God.

We worship what we focus on.  If you watch 20 hours of TV a week but spend 5 minutes praying, where do your priorities lie?

That’s why I’m choosing today to fix my eyes on the only one who deserves my worship and part of that will be committing to be in the word daily, something I’ve been abysmal at these last few months.

Back in May I discovered a website, or, the more fitting word for it would be a community called SheReadsTruth.  They put together online, free, daily Bible Studies for woman covering books of the Bible or topics ranging from Justice to Hospitality.  These aren’t your “Daily Bread” devotionals many of us grew up with.  They’re so rich and so good.

On Monday they began a short study using Hymns, and next week they start a study focusing on Thanksgiving.  I’m making a commitment today to make God a priority in my life going forward, not just a convenience, and I challenge you to do the same.  If you’re currently looking for a great Bible study I would definitely encourage you to check out SheReadsTruth.  They even have Apple and Android apps if that’s your thing.

Remember, Selfishness is overrated, SELFLESSNESS on the other hand changes lives.

 Be giving.  Love freely, and FIX YOUR EYES on the one who really matters.

www.shereadstruth.com

 

 

 


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Savoring My Season

Hi y’all it’s been awhile, I know, but I’m alive, yay!

Things have quickly changed up here.  The leaves turned and were on the ground within a week and since then it’s just gotten progressively colder each day.  Like bitterly cold.  It was 14 degrees last week y’all, brrr.  It’s going to be a long winter.

Being back in college is hard, I can’t lie.  Tests and homework and roommates….  There were times in the last 7 years when I really, really missed school.  I know crazy right?  I mean, as my senior year of college wrapped up I absolutely couldn’t wait to be done with school, FOREVER.  This is something I distinctly remember, but still, as the longs days of class and nights filled with homework became distant memories I thought “hmmm, maybe I should go back to school again.”  Obviously, as I’ve stated before becoming a paramedic is something I’ve wanted for years but I actually considered going back to school several times to pursue several different avenues, studying Egyptology in Egypt is still one of my favorites.

Surprisingly I don’t hate tests and homework this time around, maybe it’s because I finally know what I want to do with my life?  Or maybe it’s because I’m not bogged down with 18 credits, not sure, but it really isn’t so bad.  That said I am still counting down the days until Christmas Break (37 days!) although it kinda terrifies me at the same time considering I have my EMT certification tests right before I fly home.  I mean, I’m sure I’ll do fine, but its scary none the less.

Moving away from class and homework and all things academic, I really am liking living here in Alaska.  While my specific living situation is less than ideal many days (long story, not for a blog), I do really like living in the KPC Residence Hall and have managed to find myself a small group of great friends.  We’re together so often others have come to call us “the elite 4” but we prefer to call ourselves “The Pevensies” (ala “The Chronicles of Narnia”) since no, we are not elitists.   Nights are usually filled with card games, late night runs to the store for ice cream, playing Wallyball or watching shows on the big TV out in our common area.  So far we’ve polished off “Sherlock” (and I’m tearing out my hair at the thought of having to wait another year for a new episode!) and now we’re working on “Warehouse 13” via Netflix.  If you haven’t seen it you totally should!  The pilot was absolute garbage but it’s gotten really good I must admit, and we can’t just sit an watch one episode at a time, we need to do at least 2 preferably 3.

We also try to have adventures as best as we can.  Things really close down/seal up around here after the tourist season ends but we manage to have a good time.  Recent adventures have included a bonfire at Kirsten’s moms house to roast hot dogs/marshmallows and burn Keevens disgusting shoes (they were real bad, trust me), a road trip to explore the beach up at Captain Cook Park, swimming at the Nikiski pool and a short jaunt to Girdwood for dinner (ya, Girdwood is a  2 hour drive…).  To be fair, after getting dinner we did run up to Alyeska to play in the snow and get a bit of our Narnia fix.  Totally worth it.

So there you have it, life thus far.  Not terribly exiting and not a lot to report on but so good none the less.  A year ago I would have never guessed I’d be here, and while each season has it’s challenges this one has been pretty sweet thus far and I’ve been happy to take a step back and really try to enjoy it.

Now if only it would snow, because lets be honest, the bitter cold and ice is getting old, and this Washington girl wants to go sledding!

And of course, what would a post be without pictures?  Keeven is a bit a of a selfie maniac so I have plenty to choose from like…

Lake night Ice Cream escapades to Safeway for Moosetracks!

Ice cream with friendsRoad tripping to Girdwood (R-L: Keeven, Kirsten, Me and Tobin)

Roadtrip to Girdwood

Building a mini snowman at Alyeska on our road trip adventure.

Roadtrip to Girdwood

Before I came up I found these fun photobooth props on clearance at Target so of course we had to play with the whilst singing “What does the Fox Say?”

friends

Oh and a picture from the Halloween dance at the Residence Hall last week.  I don’t have many pictures since I was the one behind the camera most of the time, but here’s Keeven and I, we were both Unicorns…

Halloween

And finally, a picture of a moose, because I feel like this is very Alaskan and I took this picture from my bedroom window.  There are so many moose y’all, it’s crazy!

moose

Fin


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The Alaska State Fair, Hiking Flattop & an Update on Life

It’s officially been a month.  To an extent that is so hard for me to believe but on the other hand so much has happened in these last 30 days that it’s felt like an eternity.  That and the fact that I pretty much waved goodbye to summer when I waved goodbye to Washington.  See, next week the rest of the country celebrates the official first day of fall, meanwhile, in Alaska Weather Underground tells me we’re going to have low temperatures in the 30’s, the 30’s people!  Where I come from that’s winter.  What am I going to do when it gets down to 0…. or lower?!

I’m in for it, I know it.

On a happier note I have great news, I got a job!  Yay! Praise the Lord!  I’ll now be working at the help desk for the IT department at my school.  I was getting to a point where financial stress was starting to get the best of me but God definitely provided.  Now I can pay my bills and I don’t even have to leave campus, which means I’ll be saving on gas too.  Woohoo!

Ok, onward to stories.

________________________________________

Recently my Facebook feed has been flooded with pictures of friends back home enjoying the Washington State Fair (although it will always be the Puyallup fair in my heart and mind).  It’s made me a bit nostalgic.  The rides, the Hobby Hall, the Fischer Scones…

Over Labor Day weekend a friend of mine from my Liberty U days who lives in Anchorage with her family invited me to come spend the weekend with them and go to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, and it was…. interesting.  Alaska may be the biggest state in the US but their state fair is not.  For you Washingtonians I would put it more on a level size-wise with the Western Washington Fair or even the King County fair.  But what the fair lacked size-wise it definitely made up for in character.

Alaska State Fair

Alaska State Fair

I can pretty much sum up the fair in two words: Fair Hair

Fair hair is face painting taken to an extreme level and at the Alaska State Fair apparently it’s the thing to do.  However, I do have one word of advice, on a 5 year old fair hair is adorable, but on a 15+ year old?  Not so much.

Alaska State FairMy friends sweet little daughter Isabelle.  She definitely had the best Fair Hair of the day.

We spent literally all day at the fair, from 10 am to 9-ish pm.  Definitely the longest I’ve ever spent at a fair ever.  It was ridiculously exhausting, but the day was packed with everything from lumberjack shows to acrobats to giant vegetables and of course fair food.  Just FYI, the corn fritters with honey butter are to DIE FOR.

…Now I want corn fritters and honey butter, bummer…

Alaska State Fair

Clockwise from left:  Fair games and prizes that are always near impossible to win; The obligatory elephant ear which was about half the size of the elephant ears I get at the WA state fair, just saying; Epic beard contest; Acrobat show

Alaska State Fair

Alaska State Fair

The real reason we were at the fair that day (and stayed so long) was to see the Robertsons from Duck Dynasty.  It was set up like a concert but it obviously didn’t include any singing.  It was more of a Q&A and just super fun and entertaining.  Not everyone from the family was there but we did have Phil and Kay of course, then Alan, Jep and good ‘ole Uncle Si.  I really, really enjoyed myself and I really appreciated their hearts.  Their faith is so evident in everything they say and do, it was so refreshing to see.

Some of my favorite quotes of the night? (there were many but I only had the mind to write down a few):
When asked what he thought of Alaskans-
Phil:”Alaskans are the best people because they kill and eat stuff.”
to which Si chimes in “Well that’s because they have things that kill and eat you.”

True Si, very, very true.

And later when Si was asked to describe himself he says “I see myself as an uncureable disease and they haven’t found a cure yet… I’m also like space, I go on and on and on.”

Also very true, haha.

Oh I’m so glad I went!  The tickets were $40 so I debated for awhile whether or not to go but it was so so worth it.  Just as entertaining in real life as on TV, even without Willie and Jase.

Alaska State FairThey wouldn’t let us take pictures using cameras and this is the best my little phone could do sadly.  I love that the venue was so small you could easily see everyone on stage.

After all of the excitement that occurred at the fair on Saturday we took Sunday to just hang around, go to church, relax, and in my case hit up the Apple Store in Anchorage since my Macbook Pro decided to stop working when I crossed the Alaska border (nothing that a new $80 power cord couldn’t fix, ouch!).

Then monday, before I started the long drive back to Soldotna we had one last adventure, climbing Flat Top.  I was told it’s an “easy” hike and one of the most popular hikes in Alaska since it’s so easily accessible from Anchorage, only a 15 minute drive.  Now for those of you that have no idea what Flat Top is (which, lets face it, is probably most of you) it’s simply a mountain, just east of the city that appears to be flat on top.  Yep, they got real creative with it’s name.

 It’s definitely a popular hike, the parking lot was packed by the time we got there around 11am, but an easy hike?  In my opinion no, but I’ll never say that any hike we’re you’re basically climbing up, up, up only to come down when you’re done is easy.

Flat Top HikeIt took us a good hour and a half to get to the top.  The first 3/4 of the hike is just a lot of walking up + stairs, but then the last quarter is brutal.  You’re basically rock climbing.  I mean, no gear was required or anything, but it would have been easy to slip and go tumbling down and get very, very injured if you’re not careful.  The difficulty of the hike however made the feeling when we reached the top that much sweeter.  There’s a big pole at the summit that serves as a “you officially made it, congratulations!” point, so of course we needed to take as many pictures as possible with it.

Flat Top Hike

Really it’s the view from the top that makes it worth it.  When you look west you can see Anchorage and the Cook Inlet.  We definitely got blessed with a gorgeous Labor Day to do the hike on.

Flat Top Hike

And then peaking around the next corner you can just catch a glimpse of the start of the Turnigan Arm which separates the Kenai Peninsula (where I live) from Anchorage.

Flat Top Hike

Flat Top Hike

Don’t those colors steal the show?  So beautiful.  You don’t just see colors like that naturally everywhere.  I didn’t even edit these photos, the colors are just that great.

After another hour or so of hiking down (hiking down that last quarter was almost harder than going up) we were officially pooped and starving so we hit up Mc D’s for lunch and then I started the long 2.5 hour trek home.  Thankfully I was going the opposite way of all the traffic and as you can see it was a sunny day, so it was a pretty nice drive. Not a drop of rain, even through Turnigan pass where there’s almost always clouds.

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The last few weeks have been filled with a number of adventures, big and small.  All of which I’m excited to share with you.  I have a feeling the bigger adventures will start to slow down as the weather gradually deteriorates and the days get shorter, but we’ll see.  Alaska is one big ball of unknowns to me right now and I find that the greatest adventure of all!


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Influenster #VitaVoxbox Review

I’m taking a break from my recent steady stream of Alaska blogs to go down a bit of a different path.

A little over a month ago I wrote a blog about a box of goodies I received (aka voxbox) from a website called Influenster.  I must say, Influenster is a pretty cool site. Part of me wants to keep it to myself in order to keep the pool smaller and increase my chances of receiving products in the future, and the other part of me wants to tell everyone I know to sign up because it’s that cool.

From what I can tell Influensters main purpose is product testing/reviews.  Once you sign up you put yourself in the running to receive what they call a Voxbox.  This is a box of free items that you get the chance to test out and review.  Sometimes there are items from multiple brands in the box, sometimes it only focuses on one, it really depends.  The probability of someone being chosen for a voxbox also depends on a couple of factors, demographics being a huge one, but also your social media presence as well as how active you are on their website doing reviews etc.

I signed up for Influenster at the beginning of June and already received my second Voxbox, the Vitality Voxbox, last month!

Influenster Vitality Voxbox

Before they choose you to receive a box Influenster sends out an email survey to make sure you qualify.  In this case I wasn’t feeling to confident because the first half of questions were all about coffee, and if you know me you know I think coffee is gross.  The big bummer about that though?  Ya, last month Influenster launched a voxbox with the new Keurig 2.0!  People received the Keurig to try out for FREE.  I was so bummed, if only I liked coffee!  But, despite me obviously not qualifying to receive the Keurig I did qualify for this other voxbox and I still think it’s pretty great.

So you wanna know what was in it?  Here’s a little picture overview…

Influenster Vitality Voxbox

This time around I really wanted to try everything out (well, to the extent that I could) before writing this blog so that I could write thoughtful reviews.  So here’s what I thought about everything

First Up,

First Degree Advanced Burn Cream ($5.97-$8.99)-  Between cooking and flat ironing/curling my hair I get little burns all the time, but you know what?  I’ve had this burn cream for a month, ready to go and not a single burn!  I mean, in all honesty that’s a good thing.  I would never wish for a burn nor burn myself on purpose just to try out a product.  So yes, I haven’t used this yet, but I have heard great reviews from others if that makes a difference.  According to the box it “helps reduce the appearance of scars, protects against infection” and “soothes the pain and cools the burn,” all of which are a plus.

Influenster Vitality Voxbox

Elizabeth Arden FLAWLESS FUTURE Powered by Ceramide Caplet Serum ($60 for 1.0 fl oz)-  That’s a bit of a mouthful no? So, I didn’t receive a full size of this in my box but I did receive a big enough sample to give it a good try.  I do really like the packaging, or I guess moreover the appearance of the serum.  As it sits in the bottle there appears to be little pearls suspended in a clear gel but then once you pump it out everything gets mixed together into a pearlescent serum.  The purpose of the serum according to the packaging is to “reinforce skin’s essential moisture barrier, even skin tone, retexturize, and reduce the appearance of early signs of wrinkles.”  I’ve been using the serum everyday after I wash my face and I can say I’ve noticed a difference.  While wrinkles aren’t really a problem for me just yet I have seen my pores shrink as well as my skin just tighten and brighten overall.  The serum is also very lightweight and dries quickly, which is nice.  The only thing not so nice?  The price.  It will probably be a little while before I can get some for myself but for any of you willing to spend a little extra on your skincare routine I definitely recommend it.

Influenster Vitality VoxboxJust ignore the ugly chipped fingernails pro favor, they’re really bad but the serum is really good.

Playtex Sport Fresh Balance ($3.99)- Playtex/PLaytex Sport Tampons aren’t new to me.  I like them a lot and have used them for years.  The only thing I don’t like about these specific tampons are that they’re “lightly scented.”  From my experiences in the past scent is just not a good thing in this area so I probably wouldn’t buy these specific tampons in the future.

Pure Leaf Iced Tea (Sweetened)- I don’t like iced tea, I just don’t. Hot, Chai tea?  Yes, but ice tea, no.  That being said, I really debated whether I would try this or not in order to review it.  In the end though, I knew what I would think about it.  It could be the best sweet tea in the world and I still wouldn’t like it.  The positive is that I have a roommate who likes tea a lot so I decided to give it to her and have her tell me what she thinks.  The verdict? She liked it!  At first she thought it was to sweet but she let me know that it grew on her and she liked it in the end.  She has also tried the unsweetened version before and really liked that as well. #contest @PureLeaf

Influenster Vitality Voxbox

Softlips Cube ($3.49)-  I have to admit, this was the item in the box that I was the most excited about.  I’m such an 8 year old at heart haha.  If you know the softlips brand you’re probably used to seeing their packaging as long, skinny tubes.  In recent years other brands with more squat, cute packaging have been gaining popularity.  I’ll admit, I bought some of the competitors because I liked that I could just sit them on my desk at work and they wouldn’t roll away.  Softlips must have been paying attention to this because now they’ve released the new Cube version in three different flavors.  I received the fresh mint flavor in my box.  I was a little apprehensive at first because I don’t usually gravitate toward mint, but this mint must have some sort of menthol in it because my lips felt cool and icy as soon as I put it on.  I definitely liked it and I totally recommend it!  If you’re thinking of trying out this new chapstick here’s a link to a coupon for $1.00 off two.

and last but not least,

Bikini Ready Energy Gummies ($14.99/Jar)-  Some select voxboxes contained full size jars of these gummies but I unfortunately only got a sample, therefore I don’t think my review will hold as much weight was someone who was really able to try it out, but I will tell you my thoughts.  My little pack contained 2 gummies, which is essentially a single serving.  According to the packaging they “taste great,” and it “boosts metabolism” and “increases energy.”  But also if you read the small print on the back it says “two Bikini Ready Energy Gummies provides approx. 20mg of caffeine equivalent to 1/4 cup of brewed coffee.”  I don’t know about you but based on that statement I would need to eat a whole lot more than 2 gummies to get the energy boost I need.  The gummies themselves remind me of small sugar covered gumdrops.  The taste isn’t bad, not great like the package claims, but not bad.  The aftertaste however?  Horrible!  And it lingered.  I had to go drink a cup of juice just to get rid of it.  I also didn’t notice an increase in energy or metabolism however I’m sure it would take much more than one days worth to notice a difference there.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

Influenster Vitality Voxbox

So there you go, the #vitavoxbox.  If you like getting free things I definitely recommend going to their website and signing up, it’s really easy (and no, I was not asked to advertise them, I just think everyone should get a chance to take advantage of the opportunity if they would like).

You can follow my link here to get yourself all signed up!

So have you tried any of the above products before?  Anything you’re going to try?

* I received the above products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.  The opinions are my own.