So you want to vacation in Alaska? Here’s how. [Part 1]

About Me

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know I went on vacation to Alaska at the end of June. And if you’ve talked to me in person since then you know that I think it was the trip of a lifetime.

I know there are lots of ways to take an Alaskan vacation, but the trip I went on was perfect for me, my interests, and my comfort level. In fact, it made me learn things about myself that I didn’t even know before!

So, I thought I would revive this here blog to tell you about my trip, my recommendations, and what I learned. Plus, then you get to see pictures of Alaska!

First things first, what did we do? I took this trip with members from my running club and the entire trip was planned mostly by a club member who has been leading trips to Alaska via the Sierra Club for years. And, yes, since we’re runners, many of us started our trip off with a race.

But we did so much more than run. In fact, here’s our agenda:

  • Thursday, June 21st – Arrive in Anchorage, AK
  • Friday, June 22nd – Explore Anchorage and pick up race packets
  • Saturday, June 23rd – Run the Mayor’s Marathon in Anchorage!
  • Sunday, June 24th – Drive RVs to Denali National Park and camp in Savage River Campground
  • Monday, June 25th – Hike the Savage Alpine Trail. Drive RVs to Teklanika Campground.
  • Tuesday, June 26th –  Take the park bus to Wonder Lake. Hike at Eielson Visitor’s Center.
  • Wednesday, June 27th – Back country hiking
  • Thursday, June 28th – Return RVs to Anchorage. Take charter bus to Seward, AK.
  • Friday, June 29th – Ice climb at Exit Glacier
  • Saturday, June 30th – Kayak in Resurrection Bay
  • Sunday, July 1st – Boat trip around Resurrection Bay. Take bus back to Anchorage
  • Monday, July 2nd – Explore Anchorage & fly home

I could write one GIANT post about my trip, but I thought it would be more fun to break it up into pieces. So, come along with me as I take you on a trip through Alaska!

Grocery delivery saved my sanity [not sponsored!]

About Me

Hi there. I know, I know, I haven’t blogged in forever and you probably thought I was gone for good. Well, I had an idea for a post about grocery delivery and when I asked about it on Twitter the response was, yes! Write it!

So, here I am! I had some bad luck with cars earlier this year and one of those instances left us with just Jason’s low slung sports car, an alley filled with snow, and no way to get to the grocery store. And while, yes, I could have just ordered pizza or sushi or a million other things you can get delivered in Chicago, I decided to use the opportunity to try out the Jewel-Osco grocery delivery I’d been hearing about.

And now, more recently, I’ve been trying the Mariano’s delivery.

 

Jewel-Osco

When I first used this, I was AMAZED. You create an account, you shop for food just like you would any other thing online, you pick a delivery time, and VOILA, your groceries show up! The delivery guy will even bring them into your kitchen for you and they don’t accept tips.

You can also tell them if it’s okay to substitute an item with something of the same brand but different size or same size but different brand and you can put comments on each item if you want.

Delivery is super cheap (usually under $7) and it’s free if you order over $30 and choose a four hour delivery window.

When they deliver your groceries they bring an itemized receipt and go over any substitutions or out of stock items with you. And, yes, you can purchase alcohol this way. You just have to show your ID to the delivery driver.

For most deliveries Jewel uses their own shopping and delivery staff. However, I’ve found that this lead to some inconsistencies, especially when it came to produce.

For example, I ordered a pound of brussels sprouts but the shopper filled up the bag and delivered almost 5 pounds! Another time I ordered 4 tomatoes and got 4 pounds! Allegedly they will refund you the difference if you call them, but my friends and I have had differing experiences with this.

Jewel brings your groceries in the disposal plastic bags that are allegedly banned in Chicago. I don’t know how they get around that. I find this annoying and wish they would bring them in paper.

Also, you don’t know if something is out of stock until the delivery comes and they don’t carry the type of ice cream sandwiches or steak that my husband likes. Mostly for this second reason I decided to try Mariano’s.

Mariano’s 

Mariano’s delivery is powered by Instacart. I know that Jewel has a two hour or less delivery option also powered by Instacart but I haven’t tried it. Mariano’s only has Instacart.

The main differences? Mariano’s has a mobile app in addition to their website that you can use to make your grocery list. You can also create favorites and save lists in the app. With Jewel you can see your past orders, but you can’t create shortcuts like that.

Another difference is that Instacart allows you to enter a tip for the driver. They auto-calculate it based on your order but you can override it if you want.

Mariano’s offers one hour delivery windows and delivery is always $9.95. The first time I saw that I was shocked since Jewel’s delivery fees are so low comparatively. However, I logged into Jewel, filled my cart with the same or equivalent items, and found out that even with the higher delivery cost Mariano’s was cheaper. Crazy, right?

You get a text when the shopper begins shopping and they also text you if something is out of stock and they make a substitution. Apparently you can decline a substitution but I’ve never done it so I don’t know what happens then. I prefer that they let you know in advance. And so far I haven’t had anything be so out of stock that they couldn’t find something to sub it with.

They also text you when they are on their way for the delivery. I like this feature.

If only they came in this cute little truck! 

However, when they drop off the groceries they just hand them to you and leave. I assume this is because they’ve already texted you about what they substituted or what was out of stock. They don’t go over the receipt, though. And because they may substitute items that are slightly different in price or may not be able to the exact poundage of produce or meat that you ordered your receipt might not match the online estimate exactly.

Jason dislikes that they don’t go over the receipt with you. I don’t mind. Honestly, grocery delivery is a sanity saver for me so having to review an email after the fact is better than trying to find the time to actually go to the grocery store some weeks.

Oh, also, Mariano’s brings the groceries in paper bags which is perfect for us! We can use them to take recycling out to the bin in our alley.

Some downsides

So far I love grocery delivery no matter who I get it from. However, there are some downsides. The biggest one is that you can’t use coupons. If the item is on sale at the store, great! But otherwise you’re stuck with the regular price.

Also, if you’re a fan of Ibotta you can’t currently use this with grocery delivery, either.

Finally, it’s not always clear on either site how much of something you’re ordering when it comes to produce or meat. Am I ordering one shallot or one pound of shallots? I’ve started putting in comments and so far that helps with Mariano’s, at least.

Overall conclusion

Although Jason prefers the itemized receipt from Jewel, I prefer the prices, options and, so far, the better shoppers at Mariano’s. The Mariano’s/Instacart interface is a little easier to use, too.

In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter which one I use. I LOVE grocery delivery. I love being able to build my list throughout the week and have it delivered when I need it. It saves me from dreading a post-weekend trip grocery run. It saves me time if I need to get groceries during the week. And it keeps both of us from impulse shopping!

If you have grocery delivery in your area and haven’t tried it, what are you waiting for?

A quick Shopbop sale heads up

Shopping

Hey everyone! Popping back in for a moment to let you know that one of my favorite sites, Shopbop, is having a sale!

While, yes, I get a stipend from them to mention their sales and host their widget, I have found so many great items over the years by shopping there.

For example, my absolute favorite jacket that I’m really looking forward to wearing more often once the weather warms up.

Or my current favorite brand of premium denim, PAIGE.

And my favorite brand of shoes, Sam Edelman, of which I own two pairs of ballet flats, two pair of sandals, and two pairs of boots. Yeah, I’m a bit addicted.

So, if you’re as tired of your winter clothes as I am as tired of mine, take this opportunity to refresh your wardrobe. I know I’ll be doing a little bit of shopping in the hopes that I’ll get to wear something other than boots and sweaters soon!

 

Like a rainbow on the water [SIA Post]

Style Imitating Art

First, I want to thank everyone who participated this week! I could go on and on about my feelings but, to be honest, it’s more fun to look at all the different outfits. I’ll still look forward to that on Jen and Salazar’s blogs and I hope to participate myself even if I’m not blogging or hosting Style Imitating Art.

That being said, I’ll probably still pop in here now and then so don’t unsubscribe from the little blog just yet!

Anyway, this week saw some great prints and a nice mix of patterns. As a reminder, here’s the artwork we’re interpreting:

Source

First is Nancy and her Oriental print skirt. I also think the tree in the background fits the inspiration perfectly.

 

Mike. Oh, Mike. I think I shall miss your lovely emails the most. Always thoughtful. Always detailed. Thank you for being such a wonderful SIA participant when I’ve hosted!

Mike said, “I didn’t really have anything that was sepia toned, as seen in the image, but I think that I got the grays and blacks down pretty good (they are my favorite colors after all!)” And he looks great in the plaid shirt.

Co-host Salazar also has the perfect printed top. What is it with everyone having such wonderfully printed items? I love it and clearly need to up my print game.

Both Jen and her husband Sam participated this week! Jen (and Sam) will always have a special place in my heart. Jen inspires me so much, even though she says it was ME that inspired her, Plus, she’s a librarian who actually works in a library. I mean, I have a degree in library science but haven’t work in a library. Maybe someday! And did you know I once bought a book Sam wrote as a gift for my mom?

Finally, there’s me. I did indeed wear this outfit to work. Some day it will be warm and I won’t have to wear sweaters and scarves, right?

I wish I had something profound to say, but honestly, I don’t. I cherish the relationships and experiences I’ve made through blogging, both here and in my previous life as a running blogger (missed that? It’s still online!)

I’ll still be on Instagram and I’m sure I’ll still post here now and then, if only to fulfill my agreement with Shopbop (hey, that gift card they give me every month has bought me a lot of things, including the jeans I’m wearing in this post) and keep you guys updated on what I’m up to. So, as I said early, don’t go too far! Just don’t expect to see me here every week.

And with that, I’m off!

The willow crackles now, its earlier
green bitten by the frost;
Like a rainbow on the water, the
reflected bridge hangs down.
Drinking deeply we feel the sorrow of our
parting;
Tomorrow our paths will part—yours to the
west, mine to the east.
Your laughter will be gone, and we,
reminded, ungrateful for full moons;
Sticking to fair winds, your journey
will be safe and sound.
Back home you will talk of how you passed the time,
Until the candle on the stand has burned its wick away. – Source