thThe snow is clean and new, the temperature is 18 degrees, daylight is increasing (we get 9 hours, 43 minutes today) and the annual winter carnival known as “Rondy” (short for the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous) is underway. When I lived here before, February was always the month when winter turned around. Still is, even though it’ll be months before we can garden.

The carnival includes a three-day dogsled race that starts and ends downtown. As I’ve noted before, Anchorage is the only city I know of that puts snow on the streets. And they’ll do it again on March 1, when the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has its ceremonial start downtown.

Yep, it’s a weird place.

I haven’t posted anything particularly deep lately due to having first a virus and then a head cold (still got it, yay), and also having accepted a magazine assignment and been in negotiations with another magazine editor. The latter involved a long phone conversation and then sending a fairly lengthy outline on a very personal subject, only to be told this wasn’t specific enough: What did it feel like?

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thWe get it: The weather has been very cold lately in the Lower 48, including places that normally don’t see single-digit temps. But is setting your thermostat to 70 degrees or higher the right way to go?

Some 28 percent of the 2,035 people interviewed by HomeServe aim for more than 70 degrees. Of those warm-blooded creatures, 34 percent are elderly and 32 percent are millennials (18 to 34).


I can understand the elderly having trouble regulating their body temperatures. But what’s with all these young pups who just can’t stay warm? Do they own no sweaters?

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thIt’ll be several months more before DF and I can put any plants in the ground, but we’re definitely looking forward to seeing green rather than white outside. My desire to play in the dirt was exacerbated by the arrival of a media kit from Renee’s Garden, purveyor of more delicious-looking seeds than you ever imagined.

Or maybe you can imagine quite a lot – especially in light of the particularly ugly winter weather in much of the Lower 48. Maybe you’re dreaming of things like Peppermint Stick Chard, Lace Perfume Dianthus, Black Cherry Tomatoes, Baby Snack Peppers and Heirloom Chocolate Daisies.

If so, now’s the time to plan those dreams into vases and onto your dinner plates. Not everyone is able (or willing) to care for a giant backyard spread, but why not consider container gardening and/or edible landscaping? Even condo dwellers can harvest small versions of greens, vegetables and herbs, and food crops can do double duty in terms of visual interest and palate pleasing.

Put another way: You can even grow zucchini in containers. Honest.

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thWhile at the Talkeetna Bachelors Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition each December we always visit the annual bazaar at the Talkeetna Elementary School. Although we frame this as “supporting the local economy,” it’s really just an excuse to sample local crafts and, yeah, the local baked goods.

Also the goat-milk soap table, run by a pleasant woman named Brenda Hogan. I bought a few odd-sized scraps from her last year and the soap was luxurious stuff.

This year I decided to share the wealth by giving away some of her artisanal soap. Not scraps, either: two full-sized bars.

The fragrance: violet-rosemary.

The effect? Delicious.

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thHave you thought about how you’ll manage after you stop working? Get some free advice at “Jump-Start Your Retirement Plan,” a day-long online chat on Feb. 20.

Sponsored by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors, the event is designed to help consumers make the smartest possible money moves.

Given some of the comments from my recent Mary Hunt book giveaway, I’m hoping that readers will make time to attend. You can submit specific questions, such as “I’m in my 40s – how do I get started?” or “We’re on a really tight budget – what are your suggestions?”

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