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Citizen Voices

Tapered Flower Headband

Tapered Flower Headband

This simple crocheted headband is my best-selling product. I sell out of it at Bella Boutique every holiday season. You can’t go wrong — it’s colorful and has a huge flower on it. I also love embellishing the back of the headband with a vintage button.

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March 1, 2015
Dispatch from Juneau: Smoked Alaska Black Cod Dip

Dispatch from Juneau: Smoked Alaska Black Cod Dip

One thing Juneau does well is seafood. In my opinion, Alaska’s ocean bounty is second to none. As I was browsing the offerings at a fantastic local shop, Jerry’s Meats and Seafoods, I came across a package of smoked Alaska black cod. While wild Alaska salmon hogs most of the spotlight (and justifiably so), black cod is the unsung hero of Alaskan seafood. Rich, meaty, and incredibly tasty, it might actually be my favorite Alaskan fish.

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February 28, 2015
A Yearly Flood Into The Gulf Of Alaska

A Yearly Flood Into The Gulf Of Alaska

Satellite data has confirmed that the amount of freshwater released into the Gulf of Alaska from streams and rivers in Alaska and northern Canada is about 1.5 times what the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico each year.

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February 26, 2015
Fuzzy Ombre Scarflet

Fuzzy Ombre Scarflet

Last summer an old friend of mine got married on the Greek island of Paros, which is known for its brilliantly white buildings contrasted against the blue Aegean Sea. I wanted to send her a handmade wedding gift that represented the beautiful location of her wedding. Since I have limited artistic talent (I am not a brilliant illustrator as she is), I decided to knit her an ombre scarf. Ombre might still be considered trendy, but I know I’m a little past the height of ombre hype.

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February 25, 2015
Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli With Lemony Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli With Lemony Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Back to the food. I’ve lost track of how many friends are resolving to drop a few pounds this year. A little less candy, a few more carrots. In that spirit, this dish of roasted cauliflower and broccoli, topped with crunchy, lemony, cheesy panko breadcrumbs is about as close as you get to wanting seconds when it comes to veggies.

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February 24, 2015
Tore 031203 2 (By Erik Holmstedt)

Winter Is For Sleuthing At Your Local Museum

Museums are temples that explain a culture but they can be intimidating—you may feel you don’t belong, you’re not on ‘the’ board.

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February 5, 2015
Augustine Volcano during its 2005-2006 eruption. (Photo by Cyrus Read, Alaska Volcano Observatory/USGS)

Digging Up Augustine’s Top-Heavy Legacy

Augustine Volcano sits alone, a 4,000-foot pyramid on its own island in Cook Inlet. Like many volcanoes, it has a tendency to become top heavy. When gravity acts on Augustine’s oversteepened dome, rockslides spill into the ocean. A scientist recently found new evidence for an Augustine-generated tsunami from a time when Egyptian pharaohs built their own pyramids.

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January 29, 2015
(Photo via U.S. Fish and Wildlife)

Nature Lesson

It’s 6:33 a.m. Most of Anchorage is on its way to work. I’m on my second cup of coffee. Three moose lie sleeping in my front yard. The cow and one of the calves awaken now, their heads raised, ears alert to something at the end of the street. The other calf is laid out flat on his side. It’s the most Zen moose I’ve ever seen.

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January 9, 2015
Jeanne Branch Johnston’s uncle Rod Mason took this photo of a tsunami wave that hit Hilo, Hawaii, on April 1, 1946. (Rod Mason photo, courtesy Pacific Tsunami Museum)

Tsunami Survivor Shares Her Story

On April 1, 1946, the sea floor ruptured just south of Unimak Island in the Aleutian Islands. Seawater displaced by the giant earthquake sent a 100-foot wave into the Scotch Cape lighthouse on Unimak, destroying the concrete structure and killing the five men inside. They never knew what hit them in the 2 a.m. darkness.

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January 6, 2015
Big, Fluffy Brioche Cowl

Big, Fluffy Brioche Cowl

Now that the holidays are over and my handmade gifts have been delivered I can start posting some more patterns. Earlier this winter I became mildly obsessed with the brioche stitch. I found this lovely tutorial and pattern for a cowl and I came up with a simple headband/turban using the same stitch.

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January 5, 2015
Peter Paul Rubens Triumph of the Church (1626)

Art and Politics are Not so Strange Bedfellows

As art aficionados know, anything aesthetic is the first thing cut at school board meetings—art is considered a frill! This month’s line-up ought to send the naysayers rethinking.

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January 2, 2015
Skating at Portage (Photo by Neil O'Donnell)

’Tis the Season to Discover the Unobtrusive Aesthetician

I just began the somewhat daunting task of writing a dissertation on the art of Winston Churchill. However for my townsquare49.org columns I get to be less academic when writing about international art exhibitions and master artists. For variety, I decided to seek out quiet artisans in my neighborhood; amongst all of us lurks what I refer to as the Unobtrusive Aesthetician. As art critic Jerry Saltz says, “In the end it all comes down to… a life lived in art.”

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December 1, 2014

Twenty Weeks Through The Heart Of Alaska

It is a very remarkable fact that a region under a civilized government for more than a century should remain so completely unknown as the vast territory drained by the Copper, Tanana and Koyukuk Rivers.

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December 1, 2014

Zig-Zag Chevron Hat — A Free Knitting Pattern

Today I decided to try fair isle again by designing something simple — zig zags. I’ve included the chart and the row-by-row instructions. I recommend knitting the patterned portion in a place with little distraction and possibly without other people. I end up counting out loud “knit one, knit two, knit three, knit two,” etc. so I don’t get lost in the pattern. It’s not difficult, but requires a fair amount of focus.

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November 26, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Walnuts, and Anchovies

The Best.  It’s a bold statement, right?  To say something is the BEST you’ve ever tasted.  People throw the phrase around too loosely and apply it to things that simply don’t deserve such high praise.  “This is the best corn dog I have EVER tasted!” “Have you tried this burger! Best burger ever!” “OMG, this cheese may be the BEST CHEESE EVER.”  And we all know that the chances of that corn dog, burger, or piece of cheese being the BEST EVER are pretty slim.

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November 25, 2014
The Idle Hour Country Club

The Idle Hour Country Club

idle-hour

It’s been years since I was at The Idle Hour, an upscale supper club that began life in 1938 with white tablecloths and floor to ceiling windows that overlooked spectacular sunsets and the silvery Lake Spenard. In that romantic setting, I had an almost proposal over lobster and prime rib that left me with fond, if embarrassed, memories.

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November 6, 2014
Richard Estes, Central Savings (1975)

Art is Comfort Food in the Age of Ebola

Richard Estes, Central Savings (1975)

It was time to hug our East Coast kids and see some fall art. Husband Dave and I flew to DC for a weekend of soccer starring our grands, Tess (8) and Kai (6). Late October in Alaska is not conducive to outdoor activities but soccer fields adjacent to George Washington’s Potomac home were still verdant with parents decked out in polar fleece cheered for their toddling players who often put the ball into the wrong goal—to grandparents it’s all love.

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November 3, 2014
Old-Fashioned Navy Bean & Ham Soup

Old-Fashioned Navy Bean & Ham Soup

bean-and-ham-1

Fall in Alaska is that glorious 3 days of the year where the leaves turn beautiful shades of yellow and orange, there’s a distinct smell of sour cranberries and wood smoke lingering in the air, and the Chugach mountains look like they’re on fire with all the brilliant red of the dwarf birch and blueberry bushes.

October 20, 2014

Instead of Golfing, Vacation with the Environment

Recently I met up with Jay Sargent, a former high school classmate, and discovered that not only does she still love horses, she now loves dolphins – enough to go on vacation with them.

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October 1, 2014

Why Was Interior Alaska Green During The Last Ice Age?

Foraker-and-Denali-web

During our planet’s most recent cold period, a slab of ice smothered Manhattan. Canada looked like Antarctica but with no protruding mountains. When the last glacial maximum peaked about 20,000 years ago, most of the continent — from the Arctic Ocean to the Missouri River — slept under a blanket of white.

September 29, 2014