Thursday, October 25, 2012

Eating Local

Since I did a Shopping Local blog, it would be unfair to not do a blog about Eating Local.  Alaskans are passionate about food.  Most wear it on the outside *sorry*, but there are a lot of places to rave about locally.  Since I have a partner in crime, we try as many new places as possible.  Some places I don't get excited about like others do.  95% of the time, I've been there.  So here's a shout to my fav's:

Sorrento's - This is the best Anchorage has to offer for Italian.  Most people say Romano's just down the street, but I completely disagree.  I love their Spaghetti Puttanesca, and they make great pizza's.  I've never had a disappointing meal there!
Fireweed, West of Northern Lights - Anchorage, AK

Yamato Ya - Since one of my favorite places on Huffman closed, I will say that Yamato Ya is one of the best for sushi.  I love the Y-2 roll.  They do great bento boxes too for lunch. 36th & Old Seward Highway - Anchorage, AK

Simon & Seaforts - TWO WORDS - Halibut Cheeks.  As a former fatty, I try not to let food take me to this heavenly place...but I fail when the cheeks touch my tongue.  It may be the best meal to eat in all of Anchorage.  Bonus that it overlooks the Cook Inlet, and has a great bar.  L St & 4th Ave - Anchorage, AK

Fletcher's (in the Captain Cook Hotel) - Most people go to Captain Cook for the Crow's Nest (which is absolutely lovely, great food, and overlooks the entire city), but my favorite is Fletcher's.  It boasts an awesome bar and I find it rather cozy.  My favorite is the Halibut Picatta, and they make solid burgers too.  5th Ave & K St.  - Anchorage, AK

Bombay Deluxe - I used to detest Indian food (blame it on a lot of poor choices made on a trip to England), but I was introduced to this place last month, and the food is amazing!  A great place for Vegetarians too.  Portions are huge, but it was nice since I had about 2 meals to take away.  They know how to make lamb very well, which is hard to find in any state.  Northern Lights & Dawson - Anchorage, AK

Snow City Cafe - Although it is usually full of tourists, this has to be one of the best places to eat breakfast or lunch.  They also serve amazing lattes.  My favorite item to order is the Nuevo Huevos.  Staff is always friendly, but be prepared to wait (although they are now taking call-ahead reservations).  They also own Spenard Roadhouse (love their Sunday night TV Dinners) and Sacks Cafe (not a fan at all, sorry).  4th Ave & L St - Anchorage, AK

Pancho's Villa - I am from Arizona, therefore exposed to a lot of Mexican food.  Surprisingly, Alaska is not lacking in Mexican food.  There will always be a huge amount of opinions (more so than Italian up at the top) on authentic Mexican.  Panchos reminds me of home.  I was told places like Mexico in Alaska were more authentic...and while that may be, they completely lack in flavor.  At Panchos you can never fail with chicken poblano, flautas, enchiladas, you name it.  Plus it has some of the best seating, very cozy small booth's.  So this is my final call on Mexican food (and yes, I've tried it all, locally). Spenard & 31st Ave.

Out of town:
Seven Glaciers - Girdwood, AK - the nicest restaurant I've been to in AK.  It actually sits between 7 different glaciers.  The Hotel Alyeska owns it (gorgeous) and you have to take the tram up to the top of the mountain to get there.

Turnagain Arm-Pit - Indian, AK - the best BBQ I've had in AK.  Ask to buy the BBQ sauce, the jar alone is worth the price (although what's inside is amazing).  Brisket and Fried Pickles?  Yes please.

Double Musky - Girdwood, AK - This has been featured on television more than a few times, and ranks as some of the finest Cajun food in the country.  It truely lives up to its hype.  The Pepper Crusted Steak is its signature dish, and I personally, would not order anything else...because its that good.

Gwin's Roadhouse - Cooper Landing, AK - If you are road tripping South, this is THE place to stop.  The staff is the friendliest.  Smoked Salmon Chowder Soup is a must.

Although I've been North and South of Anchorage, these are just a few of the places you should check out when visiting Alaska.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shopping Local

Since I've been procrastinating writing about my teenage years and life beyond that, I wanted to touch on the amazing things that I've found in small business stores, made by Alaskans!  With big cities, you don't have to seek it out as much.  In fact, when living in D.C., I rarely shopped anywhere but Tysons Galleria in McLean, VA.  Beautiful high-end stores (Neimans, Saks, Chanel, Versace, Bally, Burberry, Cartier, Tory Burch, Gucci...etc.  Hermes and Louis Vuitton were a mile away.  Beautiful items, but rarely original or one-of-a-kind.

Since arriving, I have found some great places to go for fashion and home.

Some of the businesses I support regularly -
AK Outerwear  They have amazing hoodies and lots of items for winter sports (and my personal fav, fishing).  Their logo is so rad, that it makes a great gift  (even my dad in AZ wears it)!  Dimond, West of King - Anchorage, AK

Bella Boutique - all items handmade.  The owner has made several sets of earrings for me, and is very talented.  On Spenard, North of Northern Lights - Anchorage, AK.

Sheritt Fine Arts Gallery - a small, well thought out gallery, ran by Fayrene and her husband.  She does a lot of jewelry, while he does a lot of the artwork.  2nd St - Hope, AK

AK Starfish Co. - you would think with just a few designs (starfish, salmon, raven) that this store would be boring.  HARDLY!  They carry these few designs in t-shirts, hoodies, tanks...for men and women.  I visited the one on the Homer Spit, in Homer, AK.  However, there is one right next to Bella Boutique (above) on Spenard.

Sevigny Studio - gallery and lots of home items.  Beautiful store, and you leave wanting everything.  4th Ave & F, Anchorage, AK

Her Tern - best and one of the most expensive indie boutiques in Anchorage.  They have so many great brands that they carry - Patterson J. Kincaid, Prairie Underground, Alternative Apparel, Jeffrey Campbell, Mink Pink, Frye - the list is long!  7th Ave & H - Anchorage, AK.

Bells Nursery - don't let the name fool you, this is not just a nursery. Not only do they have plants for your garden, they have high-end cookware, fine china, the whole Swarovski line, and seasonal gifts. They also boast a full coffee shop on the patio.   Le Creuset and Stonewall Kitchen are some of the brands I've walked away with.  Specking Rd & Rabbit Creek, Anchorage, AK

Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge - went in the first time today, and walked out with a gift for!  So there's chocolate, local artist jewelry and artwork.  It amazed me.  Will be back for more!!!  You would not fail finding a gift here.  36th St & Old Seward Hwy, Anchorage, AK

My all time fav is Plain Jane consignment.  Melinda has THE best items to consign.  High-end, reasonable prices and she has great taste about what she takes.  I consign there, and like to use my credit on something new.  Brands I've purchased in clothing, just to name a few - Prada, Missoni, Helmut Lang, Burberry, Nanette Lepore, Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs, Theory...she has everything.  Northern Lights & A St. - Anchorage, AK

So get out and shop local - you wont regret it!!!

Pics of some of my wares -
Handmade earrings from Bella Boutique

Alaska Outerwear (Original Logo) Hoodie

Earrings from Sheritt Fine Arts Gallery (made by Fayrene)

Shoes from Her Tern (Seychelles and Jeffrey Campbell)

Raven hoodie from AK Starfish Co.

Handmade hand-warming mug from Sevigny Studio

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Today, we are 2 weeks closer to my favorite day of the year.  Halloween is magical.  You know the Bruce Springsteen line "Wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face?"  It might be the best line ever, to sum me up as a woman.  I love to change, and I love that Halloween let's me live in this magical place for one night a year.  It also hits me that my other favorite holidays are fastly approaching - Thanksgiving and most importantly Christmas.  The days get much shorter here (as little as 5 hours of sunlight/day) and there is snow on the ground.  Its just... magical!

I usually put a lot of thought into my costume...placed 4th out of 1000 in a competition in Falls Church, VA, 2010 Halloween, for Lady Gaga, and invested a good amount of money into my costume that I'd never wear again. This is the first year, I am down to the wire, and going to have to settle on something that I did not create myself.  Nevertheless, it looks amazing, and I'm excited to wear it.  My other favorite person in my life bought their costume today, because I insisted I wasn't doing it alone this year.

So is it weird that a 31 y/o is obsessed with dressing up on Halloween?  I don't think so.  While you'll be passing out candy at home and dreading the late Trick-O-Treaters, I'll be having one of the best nights of my life.  You only live once! costume is a secret!

The infamous Bjork swan dress - 2011, Anchorage, AK

Lady Gaga - 2010, Falls Church, VA

The Watchmen! - 2009, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Brave (Me Singing Live).

So I haven't recorded something in a really long time (musically).  I did this today, more for my mom.  But I'm brave enough to share it.  It has not been edited in any way, but the camera is facing the wall because I couldn't bring myself to record the camera facing me.  So its rough, but its me (and if you need any proof, plenty of people to vouch here).  Click on link.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rebel, Rebel (Pt 2)

So I talked to my mother yesterday, about how I don't remember any vivid memories through the age of 6-12.  What we did come to an understanding was, that I was a busy child.

When I was about 9, my grandmother (mom's mom), said that if I kept up at dance, that one day I'd be a stripper in Vegas.  Well we all know how that turned out.  Out of dance, and not a stripper!  If I would have continued to dance and then stripped, I would have never wound up morbidly obese in my 20's, that's a fact. :)

My parents started me at that time with voice and piano lessons.  Music was always an interest....since Im that artistic Pisces I told you about.  For the life of me, I cannot remember the woman's name that gave me lessons, but she was beyond eccentric.  Half the time, she did know what she was talking about, and had recitals often.  Then, one Christmas, I was convinced to sing in front of the church we attended - solo.  That was the beginning of my actual 'performance' days.  I suppose I sang well for a 9/10 yr old.  I always had stage fright.  Things would get off to a rocky start, but would progressively get better.  When you're that age, its cute...if you do well or you mess up.

About a year later, in 5th grade, I was asked to pick an instrument to play for orchestra.  I always wanted to play the violin.  But my parents thought of the most unique instrument they could, and I played the oboe.  The oboe is a beautiful, distinct instrument...but if not played well, sounds like a dying duck.  You can imagine how bad I played for the first few years. :)  I continued to participate in choir and recitals for my voice lessons.  Music was quickly dominating my life.  I loved it though.  SPOTLIGHT (jazz hands)!  I really knew how to ham it up when it was my moment.

I had a few very close friends.  My bestest friend was Tricia.  We met in the 3rd grade in the cafeteria...she asked to see my retainer. She also played the trumpet in band. We were pretty inseparable the next 15 years.  I have always been the type of person who never needed many friends (still that way), just a few people that I can be myself with.  For the most part, I always ended up in trouble with Tricia if we did anything outside of school.  My mom always said we were a bad influence on each other.  To correct her, I was a bad influence on Tricia.  Tricia and I always laughed a lot and could tell each other anything.  We'd spend hours on the phone at night, planning out what we were wearing to school the next day.  Towards the end of elementary school/before puberty...we were looking pretty awkward, as most kids do at that age.  We were really excited to go into junior high though.

At 12 it was immediately BOYS BOYS BOYS...although, we were completely innocent.  The hard part was making everyone else around us (adults) believe it.

My teen years got a lot more interesting (the stories are actually very funny, some tragic), and I can say I got through them without ever doing drugs, ever getting pregnant, and having less than a handful of cigarettes or beers.  But we'll leave the gory details for Part 3...and I promise it will get a lot more entertaining.
Dancing at 6 years old

Playing softball - I made the All Star Team when I was 11!

Band concert (me in the middle, Tricia on the right)

Glamour Shot - age 12

Tricia and I, the summer before junior high

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rebel, Rebel...(Pt 1)

31 years ago, I was born in Mesa General Hospital in Mesa, Arizona.  Very healthy, 7 pds 7 oz, and from what I was told, had the darkest hair and eyes, that they confused this white girl with the Hispanic babies born that day.

My parents had decided to have their first born, because they wanted to give a grandchild to my grandfather dying of cancer (mom's side).  He lived another 20 years, and thank goodness he did, because I was the apple of his eye.  My mom always said "You were planned", and not until the last year does that statement mean a lot to me.  Why?  I really don't know.  I get sidetracked don't be surprised when things go all over the place in this blog.

A little background on my parents - my father is from Ohio and my mother is from Germany.  He was rough around the edges for a girl like her.  She spotted him in her high school parking lot in Ohio.  She was still in school and he had graduated.  I'm assuming she was drawn to the bad boy image my dad had around town.  He was wild, tall, way too skinny and had long blonde hair.  She was beautiful with her long brown hair, reserved and well-behaved.  They dated for 4 months, broke up and fate reunited them a little over 4 years later.  More on that in another post on another day.

The first few years of my life, we lived in Chandler, Arizona, but soon relocated to a home in Mesa around the time my brother was born, 2 years later.  When he was born, I noticed a major shift...I was obviously not the center of attention anymore.  I do believe I developed a rebellious streak and a NEED TO BE SEEN attitude shortly, thereafter.  My mom enrolled me in dance around 3 or 4, and it was my first outlet to be the center of attention again.  I really shined.  That was a distraction from my brother...who I often bullied at that age.  I was a hardcore biter!

My parents bought their first home in Gilbert, Arizona.  If my timeline is correct, it was right around the time I was starting kindergarten.  I remember my grandparents (mom's parents) around all the time since both of my parents worked full time.  I loved having them say they spoiled my brother and I is an understatement.  My grandmother acted like the house maid - cooked whatever you wanted, cleaned the house, and always had things in perfect order when my parents came home.  My grandfather took us to the public pool at the end of our street often, out for ice cream, or any other place we wanted or needed to go.  At a very early age, I noticed how much my grandparents loved each other.  They always wanted to be together.  It was icing on the cake that their ultimate element was being around my brother and I.  They also had a toy poodle that they brought over, named Peaches.  They doted on the dog just as much as they did on us.  Probably the main reason I am such an animal lover today.

When they went home for the evening, it was back to business.  My parents had worked a long day, and here you have two kids who just spent the last 3-4 hours being given anything they want.  I can't speak for them, but I'll speak on it now - we were brats!  A typical night would involve my brother and I sitting at the dinner table, spitting our vegetables into a napkin, or hiding them in our pockets.  I was a big complainer about what my mom would prepare, since it was junk food city after school.  After that we'd make a mess (my mom has always kept a house so clean, you can eat off the floor) or brawl with each other.  I was still bullying my brother since he remained much smaller and powerless over me.  In one incident I had thrown a blanket over my brothers head and shoved him head first into the corner of the wall.  A trip to the hospital was made since he had to be stitched up.  If my mom had to take us anywhere, like the grocery store or the mall, I'd either get mouthy or my brother would misbehave by hiding in the racks.  If we reached her limit, we got the belt from dad when we got home.  Obviously my brother and I had no idea how hard our parents had worked all day to provide for us, and why they weren't as easy-going as my grandparents. But, in our defense at that age, it's not something you can comprehend.

I'm just getting started on my childhood.  It's spotty in places, but I hope you're ready for a long read... :)

My mother, 3 months after giving birth to me...and my dad admiring in the background.  Isn't she gorgeous?

My mom and I on my first birthday - Chandler, AZ

My grandmother and I.

My dad letting the military straighten him out :)

My grandfather.

My brother and I - around 1984

My brother and I - Easter 1985

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lets start at the very beginning...a very good place to start.

Me and the Kenai

It has taken quite a bit of courage, but here I am, writing my first blog.  I've always had strong opinions and normally have a lot to say.  No better time than the present to document my thoughts.

As you may have read in my introduction, I live in Alaska.  I relocated to Anchorage from our nations capital on June 15, 2011.  A series of events have led me here, but I'd like to call it fate.  I will get around to discussing the last 31 years, but I'm just asking for your patience, please!

I admit to being a true Pisces...I live in a fantasy world and have an artist's mentality.  You get me or you don't.  You love me or you hate me.  There is no in-between with Crystal (I'll try not to speak in third-person).

You will hear me discuss fashion and the outdoors more than anything.  I have other interests, but these subjects will dominate the that order.  I also have a handful of truly amazing people in my life, that inspire me, so you will hear about them as well.  I am a freelance artist for a major cosmetic label, and have worked on and off in the field for the past decade.  I'll try not to talk about work much. :)

I admit to not being eloquent, so this should get interesting.

Just a list of things to start out with (that you may know or not know about me) :

I am a former fatty, and 115 pds smaller than I was around 5 years ago.
Erdem, Viktor & Rolf and Alexander McQueen are my favorite labels in 2012.
Halloween is by far the best day of the year.
When I was a teenager, I was in a Broadway play.
I went off to college on a Music scholarship.
I'm addicted to creating sets on Polyvore
I've found the love of my life.
I've had an amazing fishing year - one of the luckiest.
I could listen to Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones all day.
I'm spiritual, but not religious.
I'll never discuss politics on my blog.
I have the most amazing parents.
I am a die hard animal lover.
I thrive in the dark and snow, the summer and sunshine depresses me.
I can sniff out the most expensive item in the room - I have good taste!
And yes, that is Betsey Johnson in my profile picture with me.