Favorite Alaskan Blogs | Vacationing

One of my favorite things to do when planning a vacation (we’re still debating on where to go, by the way!) is to find bloggers in that area and read up on what they have to offer as far as information.  Blogs (and bloggers) give a more personal insight on what to do in an area than any travel site could.  Here are a few of my favorite Alaskan Blogs to follow!

Life Alaskan Style–  Whitney updates her blog frequently, though it hasn’t had an update since the beginning of March.  However, I still love looking back through her old posts and photos of the Alaskan outdoors.  From the glimpses that I catch of her home, they do in fact, have indoor plumbing!

Pardon My French– The first Alaska blog that I found, before starting to plan this potential vacation.  Kelsey has 4 children, and her husband is in the Army.  The pictures from the first post of hers that I read, had me hooked!  And I really want to got to Alaska during this time of the year and check out some glaciers now.  And probably freeze to death, since I’ve become accustomed to Florida temperatures.

Wild Roots Homestead–  Emily is located in Fairbanks and homeschools her kids.  Her blog is like the real-life version of Alaska: The Last Frontier.  Which is like the reality TV version of Alaska, The Last Frontier.  I was really, really, really impressed with her homemade gifts– Scott and I would love to be as self sufficient as she is!

Idlewild Alaska– Another homesteading blog based in Alaska.  It had great recipes, and great info- especially if you think you should get a bunch of chickens every year during Chick Days at Tractor Supply.  We have yet to get chicks, but every year we think we SHOULD! It also has some great resources for traveling to Alaska, like her Road Trip to Fairbanks, Alaska post, and her Hunting the Denali Highway, Alaska post.

Ana White– Okay, so she doesn’t have as much about traveling to Alaska, but this is where I get most of the building plans I use for the furniture I’ve built.  I pretty much love anything and everything that Ana has on there, and her story of how she starting building is just great.  I’m not sure if it’s still on there, but her husband apparently got injured when they were trying to build their house (in Alaska, of course), and she pretty much took over, learning as she went.  I also love that she gives permission to sell the furniture that you make using her plans.

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Revamping an Old Post | Painting a Desk

I was going through some of my old posts from back when I first started blogging. One of the big things with me when I started blogging on a regular basis, was cutting down my “wordiness.” I still have issues with it, but it’s glaringly obvious in the old posts.  Also, I had NO idea how to resize my pictures (I fixed them for this post!)  You can read the original post here, if you like, to compare how I would now approach it now…

I’ve been in search of my own computer desk for quite sometime. If I have a space to write, I’m more apt to do so, as opposed to sitting in front of the TV and binge-watching Entourage. Anyway, I bought this desk on Craigslist for $50 to repair and repaint.

It had some dents and dings in it, and the drawers had that old musty smell in them. I used wood putty to patch them up, and selectively sanded the damage out.

Sorry for the blurriness- these were taken long before I had thought about eventually sharing them.

Using my homemade version of chalk paint, I painted the top and the little trim piece a light gray, and the rest an antique white. I also painted the drawers (gray), which sealed out the must smell, and covered any damage. Then, I spray painted the original hardware oil rubbed bronze.

I did notice some red bleeding through along the bottom. Apparently it had a mahogany stain on it originally, the pigments of which was bleeding through. So, I sprayed a couple layers of white spray primer, and repainted.

I put 3 or 4 coats of paint on, with a light sanding in between.  Then sealed the whole thing with some polycrylic.  Polycrylic is tougher than furniture paste, which is good for the day to day use it would be seeing. After the poly, I buffed the top with 0000 grade steel wool for the smoothest finish I’ve ever felt.

Truth be told the hardest, most time consuming part of this project was painting the drawers. They have a different grain than the rest of the desk, so it took many (I lost track how many) coats of paint for them to look decent.

The cost breakdown:

Desk: $50
Paint: 2 quarts @ $13 each
Paint roller/pad/tray combo: $9.97
Polycrylic: $17.97
Steel Wool: $7.94 for a 16 pack
Wood Putty: on hand
Spray Paint/ Primer: On hand.
Total: $99.88 before tax!

As an update- I’ve used this desk almost daily for over a year now and it still looks great and has held up well.  It could really use another coat of poly, but.  Meh.  I may repaint the whole thing!

Portsmouth Island, Outerbanks | Vacationing

A while ago while cleaning up one of the guest rooms, I came across my old digital camera.  That had an old memory card in it.  That still had pictures of our first vacation together.  I loaded them up on the computer and immediately realized how far cameras and technology have come in 4 1/2 short years.  I do believe my iPhone 6 has better quality pictures!

We decided that we would camp on a deserted barrier island south of Ocracoke, NC.  It is part of the Cape Lookout / Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  At the tip of the island, there is the abandoned village of Portsmouth, NC.  The buildings are still maintained, and the area that is apart of the village is quite large.

Our plan was to stay for a week and explore.  Camp.  In a tent.  Sit on the beach with Hunter (who was 2 at the time) and puppy Diesel.  We had researched.  We bought gear. You can see that budget vacationing has been our thing for quite some time.  This was the extreme in that our showers were to consist of using a camp shower that you have to hang above you in order to work!  I had cut off most of my long hair at that point as well, purely to make it easier to wash during this excursion!  We were excited.

Then, we got there.  Apparently there are these things called green head flies.  They sting when they bite.  But, the sting/bite/welt doesn’t last long.  However, they were BRUTAL and none of the fly spray we bought touched them.  After the first night, we had to make a decision.  We (and the dogs) were miserable after less than 24 hours.  Scott ran back to where the ferry dropped us, as it’s the only place to get any kind of cell signal.  He called the company that runs the ferry.  We had two options.  Leave that day- last ferry was at like 1pm.  Or wait two more full days.  We bailed.  The deciding factor was the mass amount of beached jelly fish we found while walking the beach in the morning.  Somehow we managed to not step on any, neither did the puppies.

The neatest thing was looking down the beach in either direction and seeing no one.  The only human life we saw the entire time was the National Park Ranger on his four wheeler.   I think some of them actually live in the houses in the village during the summer.

I did get to explore the village a little bit before heading out, though. There was a lot more to see further in. We talk about leaving the bears with family and taking off to Ocracoke to stay in a beach house.  There is a ferry that runs between Ocracoke and Portsmouth Island that we could take to get back there for the day.

We wound up driving inland a little bit and staying at a campground in North Carolina.  That was after a night at a hotel.  Which was also the point when we started to figure out that the boys prefer me to Scott.  The room had 2 queen beds.  Diesel was going through a phase in his puppyhood that he would whine incessantly when I was out of sight.  He still kind of does, when he gets scared / nervous.  When I went to bed, it was me and the pup in the bed.  When I woke up it was me and the boys in the bed, and Scott sprawled out on his own bed.  Still the case 5 years later, except for I don’t get the luxury of my own bed.

We still count this vacation as a success- mostly because we were able to be on a deserted island and be miserable and not kill each other.  The second part was more enjoyable when we were staying at the campground.  I still have to go through those pictures and see what we got, but stay tuned!

Linking up with Green Fashionista / Chesire Cat / Martinis & Bikinis,  Live Randomly Simple, Oak & OatsA Compass Rose, and All Kinds of Things

How to Track Product Costs

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You may have noticed lately that I’ve been posting a lot of book reviews, as well as some other product reviews.  First off, sorry, not sorry for the book reviews- I love to read, and love free books even more.  On the other stuff (some of which is coming), they’re things I look at purchasing, but have a (slight) fear of change.  Face products?  I need to use them- but don’t want to spend a ton of money trying out all kinds of different things.  Enter the product review.  For these things, I want to use the product for at least two weeks, sometimes longer depending on how often you’re supposed to use it.

Anyway, that’s out of the way.  Scott and I met when we were both working at H&R Block. Obviously we are both very conscious of anything we (I) get that could be taxable, or a write off, at the end of the year.  Nowadays, I just give my tax information to him and he sends everything down to a CPA to deal with.  Eventually that could include the free books and other products.

Below is the spreadsheet that I have created.  It breaks down what I receive by month, the list/cover price of the item, and the sale/ Amazon price.  I keep a running tally of both over to the side.  I created it on Google Sheets, which is very similar to Excel, and it saves it to my Google Drive account to access anywhere.  Plus it saves automatically.

I don’t really have an issue showing ya’ll the price of things I get for the blog- in all reality, if you wanted, you could find this out on your own, so why not throw it out there?  The color coding is so I can quickly see where I got the product from (which is also what the initials in the parenthesis show).

Why keep track of the list price vs. the Amazon price?  Amazon is my “Fair Market Value” measurement source. If you’re anything like me, you don’t pay full price for anything- since Amazon is… Amazon it’s pretty good indicator for market price.  I’m not going to tell you that you have to use one over the other for tax purposes, or that one is better than the other- that depends on your individual situation.  I’m telling you to record it, and hand it off to someone who knows what they’re doing- the more information readily available the better!

Theoretically, if/when I start offering sponsors and posts, I would make a new spreadsheet/tab for that.  Then, I would have a third combining all of the information, and a “monthly earnings” and “YTD” line for Google Adsense and Amazon Affiliate revenue.

What are your record-keeping tips and tricks?

Linking with  Beautiful Things, Home of Malones, Kristin’s kNook