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Matanuska River in WinterMatanuska River with Pioneer Peak in the Background

I recently left the temperate rain forests of Southeast Alaska and moved to the lovely and fertile Matanuska-Susitna Valley in South Central Alaska.

Palmer is surrounded by majestic mountains on all sides, from the imposing Pioneer Peak abutting the Knik River, the Talkeetna Mountains to the north and the Chugach Mountains to the south and east. Almost daily I am taken aback by the breathtaking beauty of this place, whether in summer or winter.

Palmer lies on the north shore of the Matanuska River, which can be deceptively calm and inviting one day, tempestuous and malevolent the next.

Giant kohlrabiGiant kohlrabi from my garden

Incredible winds originating from surrounding glaciers can snatch up silt from the Matanuska or Knik Rivers and blow with a terrible force! These silt-laden winds funnel through town, affecting air quality, sandblasting cars, canceling baseball games...you get the picture.

Palmer is probably best known as the agricultural center of Alaska because of it's fertile soil and ideal growing conditions, resulting in some of the largest and sweetest vegetables in the world.

The long hours of daylight in the summer impart a special sweetness to carrots, kohlrabi, and other produce. 

Every summer, gardeners partake in a "giant produce" contest, where the winners are revealed at the Alaska State Fair. This fair takes place in Palmer and goes from August to September.

Palmer holds the world records for giant kohlrabi, kale, rutabaga, turnips, broccoli and cabbage. The largest recorded cabbage was 138.24 pounds at the 2012 Palmer Fair.

Alaskan MooseA Common Backyard Visitor

We are blessed with an abundance of wildlife here in Alaska. I especially enjoy the moose coming by to visit my yard-- they are amazingly huge beasts.

On a freezing winter day, I and my dogs were held captive in the house for four hours by a huge bull moose which lay steaming in the sun. He had no intention of leaving until he was good and ready. I don't like disturbing the moose-- they have such a hard life in the winter.

My family and I enjoy the many hiking and biking trails in this area. Our favorite place is Hatcher Pass, a scenic mountain pass about 22 miles from Palmer.

My husband and son are more adventurous hikers than me, enjoying mountain trails in the Chugach Range like, Matanuska Peak and Lazy Mountain, (don't let the name fool you-- it's not a lazy hike!) They have yet to climb Pioneer Peak, which rises over 6,000 feet.

I enjoy picking a variety of local berries; high-bush and low-bush blueberries, cranberries, and lately, I have tried my hand at making skin-care products out of rose hips, from the wild roses that grow so abundantly here.

Buff Orpington ChickenJosephine, my favorite buff orpington!

In addition to growing vegetables, I keep chickens, not for eating, of course...just for the eggs. I am amazed at their hardiness, especially when temperatures dip down to 20 below.

Why I became interested in home staging

I first became aware of home staging years ago when I was in the process of selling my house. I was just hours away from expecting my first "potential buyer" when my sister, (who was visiting at the time) suggested that we "stage" the house. "What's that?" I asked.

She explained that it was getting rid of clutter and hiding personal stuff to make the home more appealing to buyers. My sister rushed around the house, washing windows, clearing off kitchen counters, stashing appliances, even hiding things in the oven. My house sold that afternoon, to the first person who viewed it!

Flush with success and now a confirmed believer in the power of home staging, I decided to learn more about it. With a background in art and a strong interest in home decor, it was a natural fit for me. I pursued the subject and enrolled in a home staging and redesign course.

Hatcher Pass TrailPicking Berries at Hatcher Pass near Palmer, Alaska

I also worked as a Real Estate Agent for a short period of time-- it was a valuable experience, an interesting study of human nature in all types of situations.

Working as a Realtor certainly provided me with plenty of useful information for my DIY home staging website.

My husband was a home builder for many years and eventually moved on to running larger construction projects. I like to think that I absorbed a bit of construction knowledge over the years simply by association.

Together we remodeled and sold three houses, two of them 100 years old, so I know a bit about the problems you can run into when fixing up old homes. It's fun to see the different home decor styles of past eras as you peel away wallpaper and flooring during the demolition process of an older house. We even found a few treasures hidden inside the walls!

English springer spaniel puppiesHere are some of the pups from my one English Springer Spaniel litter. I kept the largest puppy in the litter. Simply too cute not to share!

I have always been keen on doing my own work rather then paying someone to do it for me.  (Except for jobs that require the expertise of a professional, of course.) I wanted to create a "one stop" home staging web site for do-it-yourselfers like me.

Perhaps you live in an area without access to a home staging professional? Or maybe you have a question about choosing paint colors, arranging furniture, repairing a hole in sheetrock or how to make a small kitchen look larger. Whatever your question, I hope you find the answer here. If not, just ask me and I’ll be glad to answer.

More Alaska pictures...

Bess the Corgi at Hatcher's PassBess the Corgi at Hatcher Pass near Palmer
Wildflowers along the Knik RiverWildflowers along the Knik River
Horseback Riding LessonMe fulfilling a "bucket list" item...riding lessons!
Nunatak Mountains in southeast AlaskaNunatak Mountains in Juneau, Alaska
Snowy Mountain on Admiralty Island, AlaskaSnowy Mountain in Southeast Alaska

Above is a summertime photo of Snowy Mountain located on Admiralty Island. Admiralty Island is also known as, "Fortress of the Bears," home of the highest density of brown bears in North America!

Bull moose in Anchorage, AlaskaBull moose in Anchorage, Alaska
"Forget-me-not"-- Alaska's state flower
Sitka black-tailed deerSitka Black Tailed Deer in SE Alaska
Mountain view in Southeast AlaskaMountain view near Juneau
Devil's Club in southeast AlaskaDevil's Club in S.E. Alaska
Mendenhall River in the winter in Juneau, AlaskaWinter scene along the Mendenhall River in Juneau
Snowy meadow in AlaskaWinter day in Juneau
Indian Paintbrush, an Alaskan wildflowerIndian Paintbrush, a delightful Alaskan wildflower
Winter mountain scene in AlaskaWindswept mountains near Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau
A winter sunset in AlaskaWinter sunset in Southeast Alaska
Petersburg Creek near Petersburg, AlaskaWalking along Petersburg Creek in SE Alaska
Son and Corgi in the SnowSon and corgi romping in the snow
Hoarfrost on winter grasses in AlaskaHoarfrost on dry winter grasses
Pink alpine flowers in AlaskaDainty alpine wildflowers on Mt. Juneau
Fireweed in the Mendenhall meadowsPink blaze of fireweed in the mendenhall meadows
Tall Devil's Club plants in southeast AlaskaMe among giant Devil's Clubs

The devil's club plant in the photo on the right is over 10 feet tall. 

Devil's club is a beautiful but treacherous plant that grows in the forests of Alaska. It's also known as the "devil's walking stick" for good reason!

The branches are covered with very sharp thorns that are quite painful and difficult to remove once imbedded in the skin. In late August, the berries turn a beautiful bright red. 

Devil's club are highly prized by Native Alaskans for their medicinal value, and I find a cup of devil's club tea very energizing.

The devil's club that grow in S.E. Alaska are much taller than the ones in the Matanuska Valley, which are easily stepped over when tromping through the woods.

South Central Alaska has it's own deceitful shrubbery, the beautiful, but painful Alaska wild rose.

Hiking through South Central Alaska woods is much easier than S.E. Alaska woods, sort of like going through a park, but watch out for those wild rose thorns!


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