What makes a house a home?

Thursday was our (my daughter and I) travel day home from Cedar City. It was a crazy day that day. We started out at 8:00 in the morning leaving Cedar. We were originally supposed to arrive in Anchorage at 8:10, which put us home before 10:00 pm, but we didn’t arrived at home until the next morning at 2:15 am . That’s not how it was supposed to work out originally, but with delayed flights at both Las Vegas and Seattle, we missed one connection, switched airlines, with more delays, and made it home 4 hours after we thought we would arrive. It was however, a good day to spend with my daughter, and we were safe all along the way, so all in all it worked well, just exhausting.

I am very much a homebody. I get very anxious as trips approach, even if it’s something I really look forward to doing, like visiting family I hadn’t seen in over 2 years. However, once we are on the road, I’m fine. I don’t mind flying and I enjoy wandering around the various airports and little gift shops, although I rarely buy anything, it’s fun to see what each city’s airport has to offer. I also enjoy people watching, and an airport is a great place to see people from all walks of life.

My mom asked me about half way through my visit this time if their home still felt like home. I thought a bit about that, and yes, it still feels like home. But it’s not about the actual house I have decided. Their home has changed over the years. There’s a new kitchen, new furniture, new carpets and the rooms get switched around periodically. Things get painted and the exterior has been resided with vinyl siding and a different color trim. What makes it home is family, particularly my parents. There is comfort and familiarity when they are there. I don’t think it would matter where they lived, and I feel the same comfort when they come to visit me in my home.

I have decided, as the quote above states, home is not a place but a feeling, and to a great extent the people whom we love, regardless of where they reside. My daughter and I had a great vacation. We visited with all my siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephews, and even saw some cousins and friends. I especially enjoyed visiting with my daughter there who is going to college, living at my parents home. We got to spend a lot of time with her and really enjoyed the things we got to do with all of them. You can read about our adventures in the 3 previous posts. I always find it hard to leave, and as my kids get older I find my heart torn between my home, and wherever they are at the time. I want to spend time with each one of them on a more regular basis and once or twice a year just doesn’t seem like enough. However, I am super grateful for the speed with which we can travel these days, and even if we are delayed an extra 4 hours, it’s still much faster than the alternative. I am also grateful for the technology that allows us to call or text, or even video chat any time. That wasn’t an affordable options when I left home.

Home is definitely where the heart is, and I am grateful for the family, immediate and extended, that always make me feel like I’m home no matter where in the world I am.

Cedar 3

Wow, this has been such a great visit with family this last 10 days. We have had a great time visiting family and enjoying the visits, the drives, and all the fun we have had. We are sad to be going home but excited to see home, family, and the dog.

One of the places I really wanted to take my daughter was to Red Cliffs Recreation Area. It’s kind of a mini Zion National Park only a lot less people. It’s a beautiful area with red rocks and arches and lots of hiking trails to explore. She loves photography and loves the color contrasts of the desert. This was one of my favorite places growing up and is only 30 minutes south of Cedar City.

One of my daughters favorite things is to drive up Cedar Canyon. There has been so much snow up the canyon and she hadn’t had her own car so she hadn’t gone up the canyon yet since she had returned to Cedar. A couple days after I arrived we found her a nice little SUV that had low miles and was the right price, so Tuesday we decided to go up the canyon. Cedar has had a lot more snow than they’ve had in years and there is a lot more snow up the mountain than normal, several feet more standing snow than we have at our house in Alaska. We didn’t go all the way to the top because of time constraints, but we enjoyed the drive and scenery we got to see.

This has been a fun vacation and opportunity to spend time with my family. I miss them when we’re apart and there’s never enough time when I’m here, but I know I’ll be back. I have also had some time to paint in between things, so here are some of the quick paintings I did, and one that took a little bit longer.

Cedar 2

The past few days have been relaxed, which has been so nice. I have had the opportunity to paint a number of small, quick sketches on our down time which has been relaxing as well.

I had the opportunity to go get ice cream with my oldest daughter and then drive to the Cedar City Temple to watch the sunset.

Saturday we drove down to St George to see the explosion of growth in that area as well as to hit Costco. All I can say is So Many People. It was crazy big. We also drove past a couple of temples, one under construction and one being renovated.

Today was a great day to be at Church. We got to hear a family friend speak about his mission. We had a great family and friends dinner and fun conversations after dinner with family. I am so grateful for family and the opportunity to be here. I am excited for this upcoming week! (And apologize for any typos or grammatical errors!)

Cedar 1

I love visiting my family! I am late tonight and my post will probably be short, but I thought I would share a couple of things we’ve been doing.

We flew down on Tuesday, started at around 1:00am. The flights were full and crowded, but typical and uneventful which is always nice. My sister and oldest daughter came to Las Vegas to pick us up and the 3 hour drive home was a great time to catch up with both my sister and daughter. We stopped for In n Out Burgers in St. George and then made it to Cedar City by about 2:00 in the afternoon.

We had a little bit of time to run to the store and then we went to a unique exhibit of a lifesize replica of the Old Testament Tabernacle. That was a fascinating tour and we learned some interesting details about the Tabernacle and the rituals and ceremonies performed there. The one thing I found most interest was that the Holy of Holies is 15x15x15 which represents perfection.

The evening was spent visiting with family and having dinner at one of my favorite restaurants – Costa Vida. I dream about that place sometimes. It was fun to catch up with the nieces and nephews as well as siblings and their spouses. The only people I didn’t get to see were my brothers.

Today has been much more relaxed. Many of the family members left early this morning for Disneyland so the house was pretty quiet. We did some shopping and touring around Cedar to see the changes and development since my last visit, and of course we drove up to see the temple while we were out and about. This evening we had another great dinner, this time with just my parents and siblings and just 2 nephews. It was so fun to just catch up in with just a few, and I finally got to see my brothers as well.

I love coming to visit, we have really busy days and then really relaxed and quiet days and I appreciate both. Also, apparently I brought the inclement weather. It’s rained and the wind has blown since I got here and tonight it’s snowing. Oh well, good thing I came to visit family not get a tan!


Gardening in Alaska can be fun if you’re set up for it early.

I really enjoy gardening. But, in Alaska the season seems very short. However, when you start your own plants, the season is several months longer. A couple of weeks ago I started by planting Brussel Sprouts and Peppers. Yesterday I planted my Tomatoes. In a few weeks I will be planting my Cabbage and Broccoli. The last veggies I plant inside, in April,will be Cucumbers, Zucchini, and this year I will try a variety of Winter Squash.

One thing you need to make sure you have here in Alaska is a light source that you can put over your new plants. For years I never did this, simply starting my plants in my windows. But my plants were always spindly looking. It worked, and when I transplanted them they always grew, but they never looked as good as the ones I saw at the greenhouses or even in my friends houses and they seemed to grow much slower initially when I transplanted them outside compared to the ones I got at the local greenhouse. I read a lot this winter about gardening in Alaska and read that you need to give them lots of up close light when they are first sprouting so that they don’t have to stretch for the light which causes them to be spindly.

I bought a shop light with daylight bulbs in it this year and have set up a small grow area in my dinning room. I didn’t get it done before my Brussel Sprouts sprouted, so they are a bit spindly already, but I’m hoping the rest of the plants will be alright. I am so excited to see my peppers finally sprouting, and my tomatoes will probably be sprouting by the time I get home from Utah, as long as my husband remembers to water them and turn the light on!

A couple of tips for starting your own plants:

1 – Make sure you don’t plant things too early. One year I planted my zucchini with my tomatoes. I had giant zucchini plants by the time I put them in the ground. But zucchini don’t like to be disturbed very much, and the plants were so big is was hard not to break and damage the plants. It took them a while to recover. So, make sure you’re planting in the right order at the right time.

2 – Use the right supplies. I like to buy the little plastic 6 pack cups with a tray to go underneath for watering. I have also used regular plastic cups with holes in the bottom. They didn’t do too bad. My tomatoes I will probably have to transplant into something bigger before they go outside, I have read that milk jugs work great for that, but I start them off in smaller 6 packs so they don’t take up so much space initially. Jiffy pots are not a good idea here in Alaska. They suck the moisture out of the soil and they don’t degrade for years so you have to remove the cups before planting, which damages the root system. Having said that, I have used them, and the plants do grow, but there is a longer recovery when putting them in the ground, and in Alaska, that’s precious time wasted.

3 – Plant extra. Seeds don’t always germinate and your friends will probably love any extra plants you might have. I usually plant a few extra plants, but I also plant 2 seeds in every cup and then remove the smaller plant when they’re still fairly small. Almost every year I have had only 1 seed germinate in some of the cups and was glad I had planted the 2 each. This is a must if you’re using older seed as they lose their vitality in storage. If they don’t germinate you might lose your window of opportunity to plant those particular items.

4 – Keep track of how much you plant and how much you use. This is where I struggle. I don’t keep very good track of a lot of our totals. But, I have not gotten enough of what I wanted many years either, so this year I am going to try to do better. I know how many potatoes and carrots I get every year, and how many we used by the next summer, so I know how many to plant the next year. But those are the only ones. I am going to do better this year though!

So there are some of my tips for gardening in Alaska, or colder climates. I also created a YouTube video if you’re interested in watching how I plant and getting my tips via video. It’s called March Gardening.