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Life: Deciding to revamp this here blog... maybe


Salut! C'est moi Lauren! Haven't seen me in a awhile! Well here's my face again.

One thing I've missed over the past few years was this little blog. I had been a way to keep track of my life and something I still look back on frequently to remember outings, outfits, and where I was at in my life. So why not try again! I've come back to this post often, trying to re-write it.

Since last I wrote lot's have changed, but I can feel that I'm headed down the path to become my true self more and more.

1. The biggest visual change is I've adorned my body with some amazing tattoos. I'm at 12 right now, which isn't a huge number, but they are large and I have traveled for them. Since last blogging I've gotten a Magnolia on my back from a traveling artist named Ellen, I chose a magnolia because I have a beautiful tree outside my house in Oakland, I also got it when I became a manager of the design team at WU. After I got an amazing blackwork piece of acorns and oak leaves on my arm by the amazing Lawrence Edwards. Next I got a large thigh piece of my dog Tripp, while traveling with him on a road trip through the Pacific Northwest. It was a literal road trip I planned to get a trip tattoo of Tripp... say that three times fast. It was done by the ever so talented Shawn Hebrank, whom I can't wait to get more from. I went with my best friend Marlee before she moved to the UK to get tattoos from Regina in Oakland and I got a silver millennium crystal and time key on my sternum. Then I made my way to Europe for the first time alone and was able to snag a spot with the goddess of ink Kate Mackay-Gill and got a whimsical white squirrel circling my knee and interacting with my Tripp tattoo. I have a shoulder piece by Jessica Zed of a bouquet of flowers representing some women in my life, peonies for my mom, roses for my grandma, forget-me-nots for my alaskan family, and fireweed for in general the women who were there for me during my summer in Alaska years ago. I received a beautiful rib tattoo of blueberries and moth by the incredible Ella Coose, who is amazing and so young, she will become a major famous artist I can feel it. I got an amazing Pacific Dogwood and Coastal Redwood tattoo on my forearm by Annelise before she moved to Portland, OR. And started a huge floral back piece with Cecelia! Soon I will be covered in beautiful flowers and animals. Oh also I fulfilled a desire I've had since jr. high and got my septum pierced, and have icy purple hair.



2. Travel, I've done tons of travel and mostly alone. I never thought I'd like the solo travel aspect but I love it especially for road trips. You can stop anywhere, listen to anything, have your own schedule... I love it. I did two long roadtrips alone (well with Tripp dog of course) and stayed in so many places, met up with old friends and met some interesting people along the way. Last year I finally went to Europe, I spent a week in Scotland with my friend Marlee traipsing about the Orkney Islands and Edinburgh, then hopped over to Paris where I spent 5 days alone in a country where I didn't speak the language... It was fine! haha! I stayed in a hip hostel and made friends immediately. I can't wait to do more foreign travel! I also went on a girls trip to New Orleans!! I definitely want to go back there too.

My most recent solo trip was to India to see my dear friend Sonali get married! It was an overwhelming once in a lifetime trip and I saw so many amazing sites, and it was really really hot... Then went over to Amsterdam to see an old highschool friend from Brasil!






Pictures from India and Amsterdam. 

3. The most important thing... I've become an avid costumer and vintage/antique clothing collector. As anyone knows who knows me, I LOVE dressing up. I always have. I love vintage clothing. I love history. I was obsessed with American Girl dolls as a child, I loved history and dress. I remember telling my mom I wish Colonial Williamsburg forced the tourists to wear costumes because people in shorts and fanny packs among the history made me angry. I have made myself many costumes, and my mom taught me how to sew and care about authenticity when she went thru pains to make the American Doll clothes she made and sold accurate looking. Slowly and surely through art friends here I was exposed more an more to the costume community here. And that has lead me to now being on the board of the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild, attending and attend Costume College, a costuming convention in LA, yearly. But most importantly I have made friends so deeply that I didn't know I'd have those type of friends after college. Everyone is so wonderful, helpful and supportive. What this has also taught me is how to mend clothes better and make clothes with less waste. Old techniques of creating clothes is fabulous to use in modern sewing and mending.




Here's some quick pics of the past 6 months of costume. 

4.  The biggest challenge in my life is I've started again to really concentrate on creating a lifestyle that I consume less and create more. Currently where I focus on for this challenge is my backyard garden, my food cycle, and also through my style. 80% of my closet is USA made, me-made or vintage/used. I've started preserving food again and only growing or buying from the farmers markets. My partner and I have built an amazing garden in the backyard and discuss when we will have a small homestead and live more off the land. I've started making another effort to cut plastic out of my life and reuse as much as I can. We also have two forms of composting, worms and a tumbler. My goals is practicing more different food creation and how to process it. Fran├žois works at an urban farm in San Francisco so we get lot's of food to experiment with preserving and processing, currently as I type he's figuring out how to best hull his millet harvest. I'm really excited to learn more and more how to be self sustainable and also appreciate what I do consume and buy that I don't make.

 Flowers from my garden. Bells of Ireland, Yarrow, and Snapdragons.

What I've now found, I'm living what I loved as a child. Tattoos, dressing up like a real life American Girl doll, gardening, doing handicrafts, just making and solving the question, how was that dress made? And learning how to live fully on my own and grow and make everything.

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Alaska: Seward

A couple months ago we had the pleasure of visiting my family in Alaska. In 2009 I lived there for a summer with my cousin, not knowing my future after college I spent time up there contemplating, painting, crying, and biking. I was excited to go back to see it again as a different more secure woman and also have a car! We managed to pack so much in in our week and a half and I wanted to share our travels, there's so much to show so I'm breaking it up into different posts about the area we went to, starting with going from Anchorage to Seward and our time in Seward.

We flew in very late at night, and fell right asleep after being picked up from my cousin. The funny thing flying up there in the summer is we saw sunset twice. I watched the sunset in Seattle as we boarded the flight and then as we flew further and further north the sun peeked up over the horizon again for a few more hours before setting again around midnight in the far north.

Bright and early we woke up and were greeted by my cousin, while waiting for my Aunt and cousin's daughter to get ready we got a quick coffee and breakfast at Fireisland Bread, we had the breakfast sandwich which was awesome. Once everyone was ready we drove down the Seward highway along turnagain arm and first stopped at Indian Valley Mine where we panned for gold. It was Mike and Brailyn's (My cousin's daughter) first time so we all had lots of fun. We got a piece of granite, copper, fools gold, some gold flecks in our tub of dirt. The place itself was really great, had some awesome souvenirs and great skulls and decor. The owners were so great and very helpful and patient with teaching all the kids there how to pan for gold, great place to stop for anyone.

After panning for gold we drove a bit further and had lunch at Chair 5 in Girdwood. The restaurant had fun taxidermy and posters all over the place. The food was good, but nothing special. Girdwood is a nice little town and a good place to stop at, once a year they have a fair there in the woods which was really fun when I went there in '09. Finishing lunch we headed to the wild animal park.



Wild Animal Park

Alaska Wild Animal Park
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a really amazing place and is a definite stop for anyone traveling to Alaska. The center rescues hurt animals and helps grow populations of herding animals, such as the Alaska Wood Bison. They have caribou, moose, lynx, a bald eagle, bison, black and brown bears, porcupine, and deer. You can get really close to the animals and there's many signs to learn about the animals. The park itself is a driving park or walking park, and also has an amazing gift shop. At the end we bid farewell to my cousin and aunt and started down the highway to Seward.

Wild Animal Park
Wild Animal Park
Wild Animal Park
Wild Animal Park
Wild Animal Park



Mountains and Fireweed
Mountain

On our way down to Seward we encountered a couple rain showers which we were excited about not seeing rain for almost a year. We made it down to our cabin, which was amazing. It was right on a creek with salmon running up stream, the porch hung over the stream and the door opened to that so we felt very secluded with a beautiful view from the window. Our cabin was the smallest and called the Trapper cabin, it was perfect size and the owner was awesome, if you're in Seward look into this place, Alaska Creekside Cabins.



Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier
Once settled in we started to drive towards Seward. We accidentally took a wrong turn but ended up at Exit Glacier so that wasn't a bad thing. Exit Glacier is a part of Kenai Fjords National Park and one of the glaciers that's easiest to access. It comes down from the Harding Ice Field, we wanted to hike up to the ice field but unfortunately didn't have time. The glacier of course really just makes you sad, it's receded 187 ft in 2013, half of it's recession in the past 150 years has happened in just the past 10 years. It's so sad watching these amazing things retreat so rapidly and watch people at the park deface rocks and such and not care... Come on!

Exit Glacier
Exit Glacier
Exit Glacier
Exit Glacier runoff



Resurrection Bay, Seward
Downtown Seward

Anyway, after walking around the glacier we made our way to downtown Seward. Seward is a small old port town with certain areas you drive thru that smelled so strongly of rotten fish, but what do expect from a fishing town. The downtown is just a few blocks with more bars then you'd expect. We had dinner at a good brewery called the Seward Brewing Company, we had the lamb fries, and reindeer hot dog which was all amazing. This was the first time we realized how different the time was, I forgot that when you're here you loose complete track of time. By the time it started getting to sunset we realized we hadn't eaten in hours then looked at the time and it was almost 9pm. It's surprising how much you depend on the sun to know when you should eat and relax. It only felt like it was around 5 at that point. After stuffing ourselves and watching the sun finally set at 11pm, we made it back to our cabin and fell asleep listening to salmon swimming up the shallow stream.

10:30 sunset Resurrection Bay
Salmon up stream at night



Kayaking
Kayaking

Resurrection Bay

We got up super early and made our way back down to Seward to go kayaking on Resurrection Bay and a great place called, Sunny Cove Kayaking. It was a great small group led by two experienced kayakers and we were out for 3 hours. Luckily it was the morning, so the bay was like glass and super easy to kayak in. While we were out we saw some amazing views, Resurrection Bay is ENORMOUS! All around you are massive mountains that you really can't comprehend and glaciers peeking over the tops and valleys of them. I wish we were able to see some of the glaciers up close, but the bay is just too huge. We saw so much wildlife, we saw silver salmon jumping, a couple almost jumped into some of the kayaks, there were bay seals, and lots of eagles. One bald eagle we saw flying around with a fish in it's talons before dropping the fish off to it's partner bald eagle in the trees then swooping back down over us. I absolutely fell in love with kayaking and can't wait to do it again, and I was super happy that I had my foul weather pants on so I didn't have a wet butt afterwards :)

Kayaking
Kayaking



Seward Sea Life Center
Seward Sea Life Center

Seward Sea Life Center

The Seward Sea Life Center was incredible. It's a working center the takes in Alaskan animals, and supports rehabilitation. It had so many amazing things, I could've spent many more hours there! The Stellar Sea Lions that they had there were amazing, and it's a part of a breeding program to better understand the impacts on the huge guys. They really are massive the female sea lions are larger than the male California Sea Lions AND their breeding male has lost some weight cause it wasn't breeding season, he's only 2200lbs! Down from 2700lbs! We at first thought maybe he was a type of walrus he was so large.

Seward Sea Life Center
Seward Sea Life Center

They had some really neat exhibits on salmon too of course. I thoroughly enjoyed how the Sea Life Center was focused on native ocean life unlike most aquariums that have species that aren't local. It definitely worth a visit and the gift shop was awesome!

Seward Sea Life Center
Seward Sea Life Center


Sockeye Salmon spawning
Sockeye Salmon spawning

The Kenai Penninsula

On our way back up to Anchorage we made a few stops after Seward, this map was super helpful in finding cool places to stop at, http://www.alaska.org/guide/seward-highway. First was a salmon spawning platform at Moose creek north of Seward, we almost missed it but I'm so happy we didn't. The trail went through the woods to a shallow stream. As we walked up it was full of bright red spawning sockeye salmon. The platform beside the stream allowed us to watch without disturbing them. We even saw a female salmon building a nest called a redd. It's incredible to think these fish started in this exact spot, survived to get to the ocean, lived in the ocean for years, then swam upstream/up water falls without being caught to spawn and die in the same spot they were born. It's incredible.

Sockeye Salmon spawning
Alaska woods
Sockeye Salmon spawning

A woman soon joined us at the viewing platform and told us that she had been here a few years ago but about two or three weeks later, she said the the stream smelled terrible and was full of dead salmon, we all were happy that we had made it at the perfect moment and didn't see the aftermath.

Alaska ferns
Alaska mushrooms

On our way up we also drove to an old stop along the Alaskan rail line at mile 23. It was called Alaska Nellie's Homestead in Lawing and was a restaurant, and lodge, trophy room and with many out buildings. The '64 earthquake damaged much of the property but stayed running until it was vacated in the 70's. Now it was just a bunch of abandoned buildings, once a great stop for tourists along the railway has become a part of the forest.

As we headed toward Turnagain arm we drove to the west towards Hope, AK. It's a town I had seen from the other side of the bay but never had been.

Next post, Hope, AK! Then Wasilla, Talkeetna, Denali, and final post Anchorage! Make sure to visit Alaska.org for really good historical travel info, that's how I found lot's of stops on the highway.

Abandoned Lawing