30 Things I LOVE about Fairbanks.


Can you believe it’s November? (I thought it was at least January by now.)

In honor of it being Thanksgiving month, and in an earnest Joan of the Arctic effort to pull myself up by the sorrel straps and focus on the positive aspects of being estranged from civilization, I’ve decided to focus on gratitude this month.

Thirty* (30!? 30 days has November…) things I LOVE about living/ hanging on the edge of the earth:

*This list is brought to you by 30 hot toddies and an Alaskafella who agreed to put the babies to bed tonight.  Thank you, Papa Bear.  See, this thankful thing is going to be easy(ish).

1. Our little log cabin. I really, really, love our humble abode.  I don’t care what anyone says about looks not mattering.   They do.  Or that material things can’t provide happiness?  (Have they heard of Maslow?).  Shelter, baby. Shelter.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cursed the intermittent internet; or wondered what other people are DVR-ing; or craved a long, languid, meander down the wide, abundantly stocked, well-lit aisles of Target; and then looked around and thought, “Well, at least it’s pretty here.”

My (local) Happy Place

2. Here comes the sun, little darlin! These days we get to watch the sunrise without getting up early (at all!)!

3. We solved the dilemma of the master bedroom being on a separate level from the main floor bedrooms. Our girls sleep right next to us, in our closet!

4. Our girls’ being in the closet, led to an entire main floor bedroom being transformed into a closet for all of us!   Our one-room-closet makes getting everyone dressed and putting the laundry away easy (well, easier). And having a whole room as a closet makes me feel like glamazon Jenna Lyons!  Well, kinda like Jenna Lyons – minus the antlers on the wall, amazing wardrobe, living in NYC, and being the creative director of JCrew thing.

My Closet. Oh wait. This one is Jenna Lyon's.

This is our all-for-one and one-four-all closet! (Conveniently located across from the laundry room!)

5. You know that feeling of deep de-thaw you get from a hot shower after a day of skiing?  Well, I get that feeling every time I take a shower!  (So, like once a week.)

6. My blog!  It’s made me hope for things like a bear jumping on my car.  And, for one blog post a day, I get to sit in front of my computer screen and make weird faces as I escape to a world of words.  It’s delightful for me.  And, I hope that, on my very best day, it’s maybe a 3 second escape to the arctic and a smile for you?

7. My blog readers! I’ve really found you all to be so dang supportive.  It makes me feel a whole lot less alone to have you all here with me.

8. The Pretty School.  Yes, there is a lynx on the loose.  Yes, they go outside in negative 20 degrees.  BUT, last week when I went to retrieve my pretty schooler, the music was boomin’ and all the kids (and the teachers) were doing this:

I wig for pretty school! Clown wigs, princess wigs, mohawks, dreads all bobbing up and down on these 3 foot tall humans in a totally E.T. way. As I watched, I thought, "I love this place!"

9. The coffee huts.

10. The street names.

11. That my mom and dad came to visit. And, despite ALL circumstances, they did not complain. They are good sports, or good liars, or both.

12. Our Fairbanks-or-Bust trip up here was really epic.  We ferried all along the Alaskan coast and saw Orcas and Humpbacks.  Then, we were the lone car on the AL-CAN Highway in the  remote Yukon territory right at the peak of Autumn colors. It was spectacular.

13. The Northern Lights really are awe-inspiring.

14. If I can get my internet to load pages, I am told that Restoration Hardware and Anthropologie DO ship.  So does Amazon.  It just takes time.

15. Miles and miles of undeveloped land in every direction you can possibly go. (Splendid. And challenging.  All at once.)

16. Falling snowflakes and the refreshed and sparkly world they create (the view from our bedroom window)

17. The arctic blast is certainly a rush.

18. Warm clothing – jeans, boots, turtle necks, sweaters, scarves – it’s kinda fun after four years of tank tops!

19. FLEECE PJ PANTS.  I love you. I love you so much.  I love every soft, warm, cozy, cuddly thing about you.  Except one: I can’t take you off.

20. Beef Bourguignon! You are the one thing I know how to cook (easy enough for a three year old). And you make my house smell so good!

21. October was all about getting organized.  We started the month in a new house and didn’t know where our forks, pre-school, or toilet paper were located.  Luckily, THANKFULLY :), that’s all been sorted out now.

22. All wheel drive.

23. That Mitch works in the kind of hospital that offers indoor trick-or-treating.

24. I love this bar:

25. The fire. (In the name of transparency: I also hate it.  Constant ashes are a mess. Buying wood is expensive. Chopping wood takes time, not mine, but my right (and left) hand man’s.  Keeping the fire alive takes some attention.)  And despite all that, it makes our house toasty. It smells good. It is so pretty.  It crackles.  It is Alaskafella’s favorite thing about our log cabin.  Mine too I think (well, I think mine is the big windows.  Or, maybe the cathedral ceilings).  Our fire is a little bit of magic right in the corner of our living room.

26. Fairbankians. This teddy-bear cowboy is kareoke-ing "Shoulda Been A Cowboy" quite well at another great local hangout, The Pump House.

27. One of my girls, and my fella, love the snow.

28. Huh. I am hitting a wall … But, I will NOT give up because that is so NOT Alaskan.  I’m thankful for ingenuity, persistence, and fuel transport with an environmental consciousness.

All things possible.

29. So many adventures – adventures unique-to-this-neck-of-the-planet – still to come.

30. My cabin mates.  Someone once told me, it doesn’t matter where you are, only who you’re with.   I just went up to check on my little bunkers because I heard something; it was Lucy giggling in her sleep.   As I stood in the doorway and gazed upon my little family, each one sleeping soundly snuggled into his/her bed,  I think I realized one-eighth of how lucky I really truly am.   I feel so full.

To blooming where you’re planted (even if that “soil” happens to be in frozen solid),


P.S. Happy National Letter Writing Week, and happy month of giving thanks. This girl has both of those things down!


12 responses to “30 Things I LOVE about Fairbanks.

  1. If you go to karaoke enough at the Pump House, you will be forced to hear the above man sing, “I stroke it to the east, I stroke it to the west, I stroke it to the woman that I love best, huh, I be strokin’…” And let me warn you- It is disturbing!

  2. Marie kennedy

    Katie, I LOVE your blog! Next to Facebook and Google, it seriously is my next favorite thing about going online. You are extremely talented and you’re creating a phenomenal “photo album” to capture this significant time in your lives. Your Alaskarella-readers are blessed to be bears on the wall of your cathedral-ceilinged, fire-crackling, one-four-all, all-four-one-closet, beef bourgignon-scented log cabin in arctic paradise. And for that, I wholeheartedly thank you from the 80 degree beaches of Laguna as I type on my iPhone on the sand by a palm tree at sunrise. And, just so you don’t get completely cabin feverish, I’m actually still under my duvet, it’s only 70 now, I had to type this twice (operator error on my day old new iPhone) but it will be in the 80’s today and I do plan on going to the beach. But Cali has nothin’ on the Pretty School. How can I enroll there? Big polar bear hugs to you Katie!

  3. Finn saw the girls bed and said, “cozy ups!” It is the sweetest closet room I’ve ever seen! Do they really sleep together? How do they ever get any sleep in that sweet creative room? You are one cool mama!

  4. Great Post Honey! Iam thankful for you as well and can’t wait to eat our crockpot dinner with my cabin mates tonight.

  5. You literally brought me to tears….Family, honesty, love and joy, adventure….thankfulness…..There really is only one word for today’s blog Katie…..Perfect.

  6. Yes, I’m 8 months pregnant but I will openly admit that this post has me crying (sitting in my office with its glass door, super). I cannot commend you enough for working so hard to find the best in everything and in acknowledging the precious family that you are blessed to be around day in, day out. I wish we could all be so positive about what life offers us.

    On a side note, your pictures gave me great ideas for C’s Christmas gifts (a globe and dress-up “stuff”) and I LOVE LOVE LOVE your creativity with the girls’ room and how cozy perfect it is.

    As always, looking forward to your next post 🙂

  7. How do you find this S&!T? The letters…so funny! I had to read this post one more time and invite my hubby to share. You warm my heart! LOVE YOU, mon

  8. Betty Domanski

    i love this post babe! all those things and most importantly, being there with alaskafellow and the girls make it all doable! wherever your family is, is home sweetie 🙂 love you and miss you!!!

  9. 31- 38: my friends: Mrs K, Marie, Monica and Dave, Tami, Liz, Beanie, Betty! Thanks guys!! Your heartfelt feedback made my day. Really, I’m on cloud 99 thanks to you.

  10. Pingback: I Heart New York / I Heart Fairbanks | ALASKARELLA

  11. Pingback: # 31. (Of 30 Things I LOVE about Fairbanks). | ALASKARELLA

  12. I am a little behind, but…central heat, plumbing, e- communication? I think your blog tops Sara Palin’s Alaska. you betcha. Gf