Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas to all!

*Disclaimer* I know it's not very PC, so if you choose to celebrate something different, please insert that holiday's name in place of Christmas.

Well, another holiday season has come and gone. I have to admit, I'm not too sad to see it go! With money being pretty tight this year, it just added a lot more stress to the holiday season. But Travis and I are both blessed with incredibly wonderful families, a roof over our heads, food on the table, health and one another. What else could one ask for?

This is our first Christmas spent actually living in Minnesota, so it was a little different for me. I campaigned pretty hard to drive down to Missouri for a day to spend it with my side of the family, but common sense won out. It turned out to be the right decision though - we've been slammed with snow since Christmas Eve! The roads haven't been great so it's probably a good thing that we didn't chance the drive.

Christmas Eve we walked over to the church for the candlelight service. As I mentioned before, Travis volunteered us to light the advent candles. I was a little nervous, and it didn't help that as soon as we got there the Pastor said "ok well we're going to do that first, so are you ready? I'm starting now." Umm, ok! I read a little too fast, and Travis lit the candles a little too slow, but in the end we did our job and no one complained. After church we went to Trav's parents for dinner. We had a great time socializing, eating, and playing the Wii. I'm still sore! I guess I got a little intense with my bowling.

Christmas morning we woke up (kind of early for us) to open presents and spend some quality time with each other. Now, I'm going to share some pictures, but I have to warn you: first thing in the AM is not the prettiest picture of me. Bare with us here.

See? I told you! Unfortunately you can't see the mounds of snow coming down outside. Trust me - it was buckets full.

OF COURSE we watched "A Christmas Story"! Unfortunately I seem to be the only one up here with such an affinity for the movie. We didn't get to enjoy the day long extravaganza of "F-ra-gi-le" and "soap poisoning!", but I made sure we watched it twice just for good measure.

Even Maya got in on the present action. She has decided that the couch is her permanent new home. If you sit there, you must pay attention to her, tell her she's pretty, and give her lots of pets. Or else.

We love our new waffle maker! We're trying it out tomorrow, so excited! It makes 2 at once!

After presents we went outside to play in the snow! Travis thought it would be a good idea to make a snowman, so he used all the snow off our sidewalk to make the base. We have since invested in a snow shovel so he doesn't have to make a snowman every time the walk needs to be cleared. Not to brag or anything, but I made his head and got his arms from a tree!

We eventually mosied on over to Dave and Leslie's house to give and get gifts. They got me this really cool wine cabinet! The front is actually an old window out of the basement of the house we live in. A couple from church make these, and I had asked them a few months back to let me know how much they cost so I could buy one. I never heard from them because apparently the in-laws called them up to buy it for me! So cool!

They also got us a Wii! The whole game system, not just the controller. Travis has been playing it a lot, but I've been a super wimp about being sore from the first night playing on Christmas Eve. And it looks like I'm the only one that was opening gifts but Travis decided to play sole camera man for the day.

Traditionally Trav's grandparents host a big shindig at their house a couple of days after Christmas. Well with Ray's poor health and Christmas falling on a Friday, I think everyone thought it was a good idea to just hold the party on the actual holiday. So we went over there for dinner and visiting with all the long lost family. Grandma and Grandpa Scofield live on a pretty limited income, so typically they give homemade jams and canned foods. This year, they said no gifts because a lot of their money has been going to medical bills. Well the kids couldn't accept that, so what did they get for their parents? A new toilet of course! What every person needs! Actually there is some use to it: the one they have is very short and it's harder for Ray with his limited mobility, so he needed a bigger, taller one. Well:

Tada! Here's proud Grandma Scofield with her brand new toilet! Of course it's in the requested color of almond because that's the color of the other one in their downstairs bathroom. Your toilets have to match you know!

Well, that's Christmas for us this year! Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Late Breaking News!

I finally broke Travis down - we got a dog!!! Her name is Maya, she's a 3 year old rat terrier. My, what big ears you have!!

I saw a posting on Craigslist for her, and the owner basically said that if she couldn't find a new home then she was going to the pound. A well behaved, potty trained, adult dog? That's craziness! So I emailed the owner and haggled with her about the "rehoming fee" that she wanted to charge.

Eventually she emailed me saying that a family with 4 kids had adopted her. One of the daughters was crying for a dog for Christmas, so she thought it would be a perfect fit. Yea, I'm sure a family of 6 has plenty of time to spend with a dog.

So we took that to mean that we weren't meant to have a dog. It is kind of a crazy idea anyway - not sure I'm using my best judgment in the situation.

Then Monday evening I received an email from the owner again, she had the dog back because the little girl wasn't "bonding" with her. Go figure. Would I still like her? Heck yea! So after some last minute planning, we are the pround new owners of Maya! Formerly Nya, but we didn't care for the name.

Here she is in the coat we bought for her. It's cold outside! Luckily the pet store was having a big sale, so we got this snazzy little number for $10! She came with a crate, 2 beds, leashes, collars, toys, and food. So the transition hasn't been to difficult for her.

She seems to be very well behaved. She "tells" Travis when she needs to go out, she listens to our commands, and she's pretty much just a big cuddle bug. I think she's decided that she likes us already and is settling in nicely.

The only issue we're having so far is everyone adjusting to each other. So far there are a lot of standoffs like this. Chloe just stays in our bedroom, but Zak is interested in coming out and sniffing around. Just as long as Maya doesn't notice him! There's been a lot of hissing and whining, but nothing serious. One of the good things is that Maya sleeps in her crate at night, so the cats can roam around freely then. And torture her by sniffing at her cage. They'll just take some time to get used to one another!

But as you can see, she's already become a part of the family! What a great Christmas present!

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 more days!

The countdown has begun! It's officially "Christmas week" and the festivities are on. This weekend we attended the kid's Christmas program at church. Travis landed a solo playing "We Three Kings"! Who knew he was a kid, eh? Anyway, he did awesome! I have a feeling that they're going to try to make him play a lot more now. After the Christmas program I was notified that he volunteered us to light the advent candles on Christmas Eve. Good thing there's a script! All we have to do is read from it and light the candles in the correct order. Doesn't sound too hard - so here's to not messing up!

We've also decided that since we're having our first Christmas in Minnesota, that we need to mix in a little of my traditions too. So the plan is to go for a Chinese lunch before the Christmas Eve service. I know it's weird but that's what I do!

Since funds are tight this year, I decided to make Christmas gifts instead of buying them. Here's what I came up with:

Cookies in a Jar! All the dry ingredients are in there for you to make chocolate chip cookies, all you have to do is add an egg, butter, and some milk I think. There are 12 of these bad boys and let me tell you - it was tedious work! But they came out pretty good in the end. I hope people enjoy them!

Oh yea, some chocolatey goodness! So that's all we've been up to this week. Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Chaos!

This is what my life has boiled down to. Complete chaos! And they said that this stay at home wife stuff would be easy!

Saturday night was the holiday party for Trav's company down at the Black Bear Casino. The casino is about 2 hours south of us, so we decided to stay the night and make a weekend of it. Fun right? Oh yea....

Now normally I am the best packer on the planet. I never bring to much, but I think of everything and I rarely forget anything. I guess I am never allowed to say this ever, ever again. We left around 2 pm so that we'd get there around 4 and have time to relax and get ready before cocktails at 5:30. So we get everything loaded in the car and get on our way right on time. No problem! Until we were about 20 minutes away when I realized that I had absolutely none of my jewelery. Not even my wedding rings! It took us 10 minutes of going back and forth on whether we should turn around before Travis finally did and we went back for my jewelery.

I get everything, we get back on the road and we think "ok, now we're good." Again, 1/2 hour away and I think "oh shoot! We forgot the camera!" But I told Travis to just keep going, we'll just have to do without (hence why there are no pictures in this post!). We continue on our way, making good time, until we're about 1/2 hour from the casino. I look at Travis and ask "where did you put my dress? It was on a hanger." He turns to me, eyes wide in horror, and says "I didn't touch your dress. It was hanging with my dress shirt. I thought you had them!"

So now we have no dress clothes. Wonderful! Luckily Travis had packed his dress pants, shoes, and a nicer sweater in our overnight bag. But all I had were jeans, a sweatshirt, sweater, pajamas and shiny silver shoes. Now those shoes can make just about any outfit look good, but pajamas are a far stretch! Ok, new game plan, we can handle this! I tell Travis to just go to the Wal-Mart in Duluth, which is only about 20 minutes out of our way. I'll go in and grab something quick. Well, of course, since I'm a girl, this can't really be as easy as I think it is. After 20 minutes I find a shirt that will work with my jeans and shiny shoes and we finally get out of there.

We actually managed to be only 15 minutes late, and no one really noticed at all. Phew! So after some meet and greet and cocktails, we finally sit down to dinner. At a table with only one other couple. Who, we find out much later, are only dating and are something of a new item. Awkward! Luckily we were able to push through with some small talk about old jobs and whatnot. Now it's time to gamble!

Trav's boss was very generous and gave everyone $15 to spend in the casino, or however you wanted to spend it. I spent mine on booze and slots. I can still feel the burning sensation of it being ripped out of my hands so quickly. Travis, ever the cautious gambler, spent his a little slower but lost his in an equally brilliant blaze of glory. We decided we'd have much better luck on the dance floor, so off we went to boogey down in the casino lounge.

What we didn't know was that it was AARP night in the lounge. So we danced along with a bunch of blue haired 70 something's, trying not to knock anyone over and cause a broken hip. We managed pretty well, but I was starting to get pretty warm so I thought a walk around the casino would make me feel better. Boy was I wrong! It was pretty much all downhill from here. I started feeling horrible and ended up passed out in bed, leaving Travis to his own devises for the rest of the night. He went back down to the casino until 4:30 in the morning, but surprisingly didn't spend or lose any money. Alright hubby!

So the next morning we decided to skip breakfast and just head home. This process was complicated by the fact that I kept getting sick on regular 1/2 hour intervals. Now I know what you're thinking: "oh you wimp, you can handle a hangover!" This was no hang over. I don't know who poisoned my food, but something I ate had me sick all day long. The only thing different that Travis and I ate was the cooked pineapple in the ham plate, so we've decided that it was the pineapple. After my third rousing round of toilet hugging, we decided to make a break for it. We got safely down to the lobby and out to the car. We're doing great! We get on the highway, stop to buy a bottle of water, and get back on the highway - no problems. I'm feeling much better! Until all of a sudden - oh boy, pull over! Lucky us, Travis brought the plastic baggy from the hotel ice bucket. Win!

We managed to get home safely with only having to pull over one more time, and I holed up for the rest of the day at home in bed. Monday morning I woke up feeling fine, almost all better even. What have we learned from our weekend? Always make a list and follow it closely, double check said list 50 times, and don't eat the cooked pineapple if you don't know how long it's been sitting there. So you can commence your berating now, I hope you get stitches from laughing so hard at me.

Monday was spent buying all the necessary ingredients and supplies for making cookies. Today was cookie day. I sit here, on the couch, barely able to move, as the cookies have declared me their evil nemesis and they have definitely won. I'm glad that baking only happens once a year in this house!

Happy Holidays kids! Only 9 more days until the chaos is over!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Deck the Halls part II

Well it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in the Northwoods! It's been snowing for about 4 days now, and we have a good 5 inches stuck on the ground. Perfect Christmas weather! We're finished decorating finally, inside and out. Out took a little longer than in since we weren't really sure what to do out there. This is the first time we've gotten to decorate a house instead of just a little apartment balcony! I promised pictures last week, so that's what this post is going to be all about!

Here's our little house with the Christmas lights up! We don't have a ladder tall enough to reach the top roof line, but trust me - if we did, there would be lights up there! Notice there isn't any snow on the ground here.

And here we have our beautiful wreath that Travis made. Now look at all that snow!

We even have icicles! The sun came out for a few hours yesterday afternoon, so I ran outside to snap these. They're still there however as it hasn't gone above 15 degrees in the past two days. Brrr!

Here's our lovely Christmas tree! Complete with presents under it and all! It looks really pretty from the road when you drive by :o)

The Christmas Angel shelf. With a few extra odds and ends

The new kitchen cabinet is a great place for decorations too!

And our cute, cuddly cats getting in on the snuggling. They know it's Christmas too!

Besides decorating, our lives haven't been too exciting lately. We're both just plugging along, doing our jobs and trying to stay warm up here! Next weekend is the Country Financial Christmas party at the Black Bear Casino. Should be a fun time! It's about two hours from us, so we're planning on staying over in the resort's hotel. Pictures shall follow!

I hope you all are staying warm and getting in the Christmas spirit!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Deck the halls!

Well, it's that time of year again! There's a light dusting of snow on the ground, we've got our tree up and all I need is a good dose of "A Christmas Story" to really get in the spirit of the season!

We survived Thanksgiving well enough, even after eating my own stuffing. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I offered to make stuffing, but it sounded like a good idea at the time. Except, oh shoot, I've never made stuffing! Sure sure, I've made Stove Top but really - does that even count?

Being the good little planner that I am, I went to and found a basic, easy stuffing recipe. Chicken broth, onion, celery, pepper, Peppridge Farms stuffing mix. How can you mess that up? So off to the grocery store I went to stock up on supplies. I decided that I'd make a green bean casserole as well, mainly to save face against my stuffing should it turn disasterous. I've made that tons of times, so we're good!

Things were going okay until I decided that I needed about 20 servings of stuffing and casserole. So there I sit, in the middle of the stuffing aisle with my Dad on the phone, trying to figure out cups vs. servings ratios and if I needed one bag or two. Saftey won out and I bought two bags of stuffing and about 14 cans of green beans. Yea....

Thanksgiving Day roles around and we were told that we weren't eating until 4 that afternoon. So we had a lazy day, watched the parade and the dog show. Then at 2 o'clock my sister in law calls to say that the turkey is done and we can come over any time. WHAT!?!?! I guess I better start on that stuffing! The green bean casserole came out fine like it always does, despite me trying to overload the green beans. The stuffing on the other hand.... I think that Pepperidge Farms ought to put a disclaimer on the bag saying something to the effect of "Warning! There is about 2 cups of pure crumbs in this bag! Move on to the next one!"

Of course I thought we could get the job done with one bag of stuffing. And we did. It was just mainly crumbs and therefore pretty mushy. Trav also did a great job as my sous chef for the day, but the onions and celery he cut up were in rather large chunks. So we had onions and celery with a bit of stuffing thrown in for good measure. In the end, it didn't taste bad. Actually it was rather good. And Trav's Grandma, Memaw, actually complimented it and said we did a good job. So I guess if it gets the "Grandma Seal of Approval" then it was alright!

We also had lots of wine with our dinner (and I do mean "lots"!). What's Thanksgiving dinner without a little wine? We brought a bottle of Rhubarb wine and it was probably the biggest hit of the night. Everyone had a glass! Check out Minnesota's own for more info. Of course when there is wine, there's always some carnage as well. A wine glass met it's demise by my elbow after dinner. But most of the wine landed on Travis so no harm, no foul! We also had pictures from some of our festivities, but unfortunately they were after all the wine and should be considered blackmail rather than fun, family photos. Ahhh, Thanksgiving!

Now the T. Scofield household has moved on to my favorite holiday, Christmas. All the decorations are up, and our house has taken on a warm and cozy glow. Our task today: Christmas lights on the house. We're going to double team it, so hopefully we both survive! More to come next week!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Grease is the word

have you heard? It's Grease Lightning! Why am I singing Grease songs you ask? Because last night we saw the Broadway version of Grease, starring our very own Dane Scofield!

Dane and his parents, Cherie and Alan, live in St. Cloud which is about 3 1/2 hours south of us. Pretty close to the cities. Dane played the lead, Danny, and was awesome! The whole cast is a bunch of really talented kids, we were pretty amazed. Here's Dane with his co-star Jennifer as Sandy and their proud moms:

Trav could have gotten a little closer, but he wanted the sign in there. And the whole family with Mr. Cool:
Good times! After dinner we went out to eat at the Green Mill in downtown St. Cloud. If you ever have a chance to go, go! It was pretty good. They had a pasta special with a free bottle of wine, so of course I convinced Travis that we needed to order pasta! We ended up drinking the entire bottle at dinner - and no one wanted to share with us even though we asked. So the drive home was pretty entertaining! All in all, we had a great time!

In other news, I have my first real estate client! I got extremely lucky and happened to get a phone call on my very first day doing floor. A gentleman from Colorado was interested in a house, and he wanted me to show it to his friend who would then relay the information back to him. His friend must have gushed about it because he ended up putting an offer in! So we're in the middle of that. Fingers crossed that we can work something out!

Thankgiving is a short 3 days away and thankfully we're not hosting! I'd be very overwhelmed at this point. I did offer to bring stuffing though. Why I did this, I have no clue! Leslie and Dave will be hosting, and she said she wasn't planning on making stuffing so of course I piped up and offered. Did I mention that I've only ever made Stove Top before? Yikes! So I printed off a recipe and it doesn't sound that hard. Just have to get the supplies! Fingers crossed for this too. Soon I'll be crossing toes and limbs! I think I'll bring a green bean casserole too, but only because I know how to make this, and make it well. Hooray Thanksgiving! It's making me hungry just thinking about it.

So that's it for now, off to make my shopping list!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Got Orange?

That's the en vogue color right now: bright, neon orange. It's hunting season! This weekend marked the official start of deer season and let me tell you - it's a little crazy. I'm thinking that Minnesota should just declare the month of November a holiday to let all these crazy men (and a few women) get it out of their system.

Now I'm not to sure on the rules and such as I'm not an avid hunter myself but I think I have the gist of how it goes. You buy a permit to hunt, and depending on what type of permit you get, you can shoot either one buck or doe, or you can try to shoot two deer in any combo ( two bucks, two does, one of each, whatever). The law states that you can only have one permit per person. So how do ensure that you can go willy nilly and get as many as you want? You get permits in other people's names! Travis has been asked twice now if someone can get a permit with his name. Then there are all these "gentleman" rules about hunting together and who gets to shoot what and when. That's beyond me so I won't even go there.

Needless to say, living way out here in the country, I'm a little afraid to leave my house this weekend. Travis and I went on a walk yesterday and saw multiple dogs with bright orange collars on so that they wouldn't get shot. Scary! I don't have any pictures either because I'm not sure where I stand on deer hunting yet so I don't want to promote it.

In other news, I'm finally done with my real estate classes! Hoooorrrraaayyy! I've applied for my license, which takes 3-5 weeks to process and come back so now it's just a waiting game. Until then I can go to the office meetings, do open houses, and hang out at the office but that's about it. The only downside is that we were planning on Trav's bonus from Country to pay for some of the fees to get me started, but they took so much out in taxes that I'm not sure how we'll pay for me to get started. We'll figure it out: where there's a will, there's a way!

Thanksgiving is on it's way, and right now I'm thankful for heat! It's a balmy 46 degrees outside but it's also a little rainy and damp. Brr!! So I hope this finds you all warm and toasty, have a great week!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Or All Saints Day since I'm a day late. But whatever, this post is dedicated to Halloween! We had a great time last night at Bimbo's Octagon Bar where Shamrock'd played for the Fireman's Ball. There were some great costumes for sure! Since Travis and I are on a limited budget we put some things together and borrowed some things and voila!

Gypsies! Trav looks a little more like a pirate, but all the pictures we could find online of a male gypsy were of shirtless men smoking cigars with a donkey in the background. It's a little cold to go that far! Of course, no Minnesota Halloween would be complete without snow on the ground. We only have an inch, but I think it's an inch too much!

As I said earlier, Shamrock'd was the entertainment for the evening. We had heard rumors of their costumes but no one had pinned them down yet. Here they are as:

The Village People! Classic I tell you. Dan is the cop, Ian the cowboy, Zach the sailor and Eric is the construction worker. But what Village People costume would be complete without....

The YMCA Dance! We seem to have lost a cowboy here but it still works.

They say that Halloween is a time for ghouls and ghosts, that you never know what you might see on this magical night. I guess whoever "they" are were right because we really did see a ghost!

Michael Jackson is alive! It's amazing!

I'll save you from some of the racier pictures. Some of the "law enforcement" were taking their costumes a little to literal and started arresting people. All in good fun!

I hope everyone had a very Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

One big pat on the back

for myself. Here's why:

I made this! All by myself! Ok well, technically someone in Taiwan "made" it and then put a million pieces into a box and shipped it to my house. But I put it all together! And I have to admit that I'm pretty proud of myself. It only took 3 hours and a huge fight with some cam locks but it came out nicely!

Speaking of, did you know that a cam lock and a cam lock bolt are two different things? They work well with each other once you get it figured out, but yea, two different things. And I used a hammer to get some of the pieces in, but whatever. It's up, together, and won't fall down in the middle of the night!

Travis finally made it home from his two week training camp in Bloomington, Illinois. He was supposed to come home on Friday, but his first plane was delayed causing him to miss his connection in Detroit. Luckily Northwest/Delta was kind enough to put him up in a fabulous Best Western (insert tons of sarcasm here) and he made it home the following afternoon. I came home to find him investigating the outside of our house. Forgot that we gave his house key to his mom to feed the cats while we were both gone. Whoops! He was only outside for 10 or 15 minutes though, Trav is a tough guy!

One thing I'm learning about living in northern Minnesota is the kindness and generosity that the people have here. It is very common to see a flyer for some kind of benefit dinner a couple times a month at random restaurants/bars/community centers. We happened to have one at our community center this past weekend for a gentleman that lives near us who is suffering from cancer. It was a chili dinner, and they had prizes to raffle off. Let me tell you - I was amazed at the amount of people there and the amount of donated prizes. And not just like dish towels and baked goods - there was some good stuff! Travis and I bought tickets for Wild Tickets, a wine rack/shadow box thing that came with 4 bottles of wine and 4 hand painted wine glasses, and a free night at one of the casinos that included a dinner at the restaurant. Of course we didn't win anything, but it's the spirit that counts! I don't know the exact number that was raised but I know that it was a lot. Makes me pretty proud to live in this community!

The next big thing is a Halloween party at Bimbo's Bar next weekend. Travis and I will be going as a gypsy couple. Pictures are sure to follow!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vacation Recap

Here I am, back in the northwoods of Minnesota. And the weather isn't so frightful today, although it's been pretty hairy for a week now. Last weekend Travis and I both left to go to Illinois for him and St. Louis for me. I had such a good time visiting with my family! Sunday we went out on Keith's boat and then went down to visit with Scott, Karen and the kids. Then Monday we had a winery day, hooray! Of course, I only have pictures from winery day - priorities, eh?

Here we are at Montelle, one of our favorites. The wine is great, the views are great, what more could you ask for? And of course I came home with a bottle. Only one though, shocking!

I told you, the views are spectacular!

And here we are enjoying our wine. And those potato chips - they're so good! I can't think of the name right now, but oh boy are they yummy!

Here I am with my mom at Balducci's, and Keith's butt. That pretty much sums it up ;o)

On Tuesday Mom, Dad, and I piled into the car for the 13 hour drive back to my house. It was a loooong drive. Luckily Dad let me drive a little bit, like you know, maybe 45 minutes. He's such a trooper! Of course I'm telling them that the weather won't be so bad and it's not as horrible as everyone thinks. And then it snows Thursday. Just kidding guys! I did move to the North Pole!

While they were here we visited the Minnesota Discovery Center which is basically a museum dedicated to the Iron Range, and they also have different exhibits. This month was one called "Iron Dogs" all about the history of snowmobiling. It was pretty cool! They had antique snowmobiles from every stage of development.

Thursday we drove up to Ely, Minnesota which is the gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area - basically right across from Canada. But they have some neat stuff there! We went to the North American Bear Center and got to see some black bears. They're pretty cute little devils!

This one could see my flash going off, so she kept posing for us. She'd walk one way, stop and look at us, turn around and walk the other way, stop and look at us. Although she quickly became bored with us once she realized we had no food (nor could be eaten behind the windows) and walked off into the forest.

This guy is sitting on the scale they have built especially for the bears. They put food up on the little ledge and the bears come up on the scale, eat, and get weighed. The researchers at the bear center are very diligent about tracking the bears growth and health. They try to weigh the bears at least two times per day. I don't know how that works once they start hibernating - I don't think that they're very friendly waking up from that nap!

Ely is also home to the Steger Mukluk's store, where they handmake these shoes and boots out of moose skin. You can buy them online, but if you want to experience them first hand then you have to go to Ely as they have the only Mukluk store in the nation. Check them out!

On the way home from Ely (not pronounced Eli, although my parents are gunning hard to change the name of the town to Eli) we stopped at a lake along the side of the road that my parents thought was particularly pretty.

Here's my Dad being a tourist. He's pretty good at it!

My good lookin' parents! Right after this my Dad found a big piece of slate to take home for his garden. Hopefully this wasn't some kind of national park - if it was, you never heard about this. The lake didn't have a name marker, so we've named it Eli Lake.

They packed up and left me Friday morning, and as always it was pretty tough to say goodbye. I'm not so sure about this living on opposite ends of the country thing. We'll just have to get good at traveling.

Last night was my first wine tasting, at my own house. It went really well! We had a great turn out of 12 people, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I personally enjoyed the Pedretti Pinot Grigio and the Paseo Cabernet Sauvignon, both of which can be found at . Go check them out! Oh and my merlot drinkers especially liked the La Vigna Mobile Toscano - I even let them take home the rest of the bottle (for a small fee (o: )

So that's the news from the Iron Range. Travis comes home on Friday, and I'm really ready for him! Hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Well, the weather outside is frightful....

Or should I be singing "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow"? Yep, that's right folks - guess what I woke up to this morning!


What's that you say? It's not even Halloween yet, you say? Bah humbug! The snow is here whether you like it or not!

Here's the cute scarecrow that I just bought, literally two days ago, to make our house look a little more fall like. Now he looks like some weird snow-franken-crow with his snow beard.

And our cute little pumpkins now have snow hats.

This one is a special request for my Dad:

Flamingos in the snow!

So there you have it folks, our very first northern Minnesota snow. In October. The beginning of October to be exact. Looks like I'm in for a long winter!

Earlier this week I left you with the cliffhanger of my impending real estate exam. Tuesday I spent about 5 hours in the library studying, and Wednesday I spent another good 4 hours studying. Before I went to class on Wednesday I took a practice exam on the testing website. I thought I was being a good little student and that I had no worries. Man was I in for a surprise! The practice exam was completely different that I imagined it would be, and sadly I only scored a 66%. So of course, I was freaked out beyond belief with only about 12 hours to go until I had to take the real exam. How do you even prepare for that? Well, I went to class, reviewed my practice exam and Minnesota laws one more time, and then I left it in the hands of God.

The testing center is in Duluth, and I was told to arrive at 9:30am. Duluth is a good 2 hours away, which meant that I was up at 6 and out of the house at 7:30. The entire way there I'm sweating bullets, freaking out that I'm going to fail, and I called Travis a couple of times to look some things up in my book back at home. Good ol' GPS got me to the testing center right on time, and I walked in on shaky legs to get it over with. The test is split into two portions, the National and the State exam with 80 and 40 questions each. It took me an hour and a half to get through all the questions, second guessing myself the entire way but....


Hooray! I was so relieved that I nearly passed out. I walked out to the test proctor and double checked with him: " it said that I passed. So that means I really passed right? Like, I'm good? No jokes?" He looked at me a little funny but confirmed that I had indeed passed both portions. Yippy!

So since then I've been relaxing a little bit and getting ready for my trip to St. Louis. Travis and I both leave tomorrow out of Duluth at 8:15 am. We're on the same flight to Minneapolis and then we split there. It's going to be a long 2 weeks! But I'll make sure that I have lots of pictures for my next post!

Monday, October 5, 2009


In all areas of my life it seems! But I have good reason:

Behold - I give you exhibit A. My real estate study book, including but not limited to a calculator, pen, pencil and 250 flash cards (give or take a few).

Yep, that's a whole lotta note cards. Hand written too, not those pre-printed, garbage cards you can buy from independent exam review places. Just call me old school.

So this real estate exam has pretty much taken over my life. I take the exam on Thursday and then have 4 more weeks of classes. They recommend doing it this way because the stuff that is on the test is strictly from the first two weeks, the next four are all just for fun. Yay fun!

How am I managing all this studying you ask? I'm unemployed! Uh...self-employed. Friday was my last day at the bank (happy dance will commence shortly), so now I'm trying to get the word out about my Traveling Vineyard business and pass this exam. Go check out my website! . There you can shop around, purchase wines, book a tasting, learn more about wine, join the wine of the month club, and even sign up to be a wine consultant like me. My first tasting is scheduled for the 17th - but don't get to excited just yet. I'm hosting it at my house and inviting everyone I know. I figure that most people won't do it unless they see it first. Fingers crossed!

Travis is keeping himself busy with work. He has to do a lot of online training, and they've been narrowing down their office locations. But he's leaving me in a week, for two whole weeks! The good news is that I'm leaving too! Well, I'm flying down to St. Louis to visit our family there, and then will be driving back with my parents. They'll be staying here for 2 short days. Probably can't handle the cold for longer than that!

Speaking of, I think our high has only been around 45 for the past few days. Our heater is definitely on and working! I'm freezing already though - not a great outlook for January. I might be a popsicle by March!

Today I went to the DMV to apply for my new license and get my new plates. In Minnesota you have to retake the written portion of the exam in order to get a new license if you've never had a MN license before. While I totally understand this, I was a little freaked out about taking the test! So, like the good girl that I am, I got a review booklet and read it over last night. No need to worry - I passed with a 91%! Silly me thought that I could get my license and plates in the same office though. Ney ney, they are in two different locations, on opposite sides of town from each other. Lucky though, I was the only person at the plates office and one of two at the license office. Oh they joys of living in a small town! But now my car is officially Minnesotan, and I will be in about 5 weeks when my license comes. Yay!

To my faithful followers: next week I'll be in St. Louis, so I may not update for a couple of days. It will be tough, but I know you can make it through!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Off to the Cities!

After a very long, harrowing week Travis and I were able to get away to Minneapolis/St. Paul this weekend. It was a much needed break from our daily lives! Normally we wouldn't do this type of thing, just go off to a new city, stay overnight and explore but we had good reason. Sue and Russel were in town! They're good friends of ours from St. Charles who came up for the Midwest Book Sellers Convention. Well, Sue did. Russ just came for company and to see the sites. It was so great to see them!

We decided to leave Saturday to meet them for dinner Sat night. The day started off like any normal day, although I knew it would be a bit busier. I had to work until 12, then real estate class until 3, then we would leave from school for St. Paul. "The best laid plans of mice and men...."

Travis was running late and had to rush out to meet someone in Hibbing, and when I was about ready to leave myself I couldn't find my wedding rings. Of course I run around like a lunatic trying to find them, tearing the house apart, in tears until I finally had to give up and leave for work. After calling Travis a million times, he finally texts me "don't worry, your rings are safe." Apparently he had put them in the little cup I use for q-tips in the bathroom sometime during the night and failed to tell me. Crisis averted!

I had to go straight from work to my class, which of course means that something would go wrong at work and I would be made late. Of course. Which is exactly what happened, on top of the fact that I was 4 hours late for class anyway due to having to go to work. Then we get out early. Great right? Nope! I forgot that we needed cat food, so I had to rush to buy that, then rush home. And the church was doing a work day at our house, so there are a ton of people here when I arrive. All of which I have to say hi to, tell them they're doing a great job, give tours of the house to those that haven't seen the inside since we moved in, blah blah blah.

But finally!!!! We got in the car, all ready to go and were off to the cities! We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, St. Paul City Center. It was pretty nice, and I got a great rate too :o) Saturday night, we met with Sue and Russ at the Mall of America for dinner.

Now, never having been to the Mall of America, I knew vaguely what to expect. OH MY GOODNESS! This place is huge! We scored a super close parking spot, and managed our way around reasonably well. My overall impression: amazing. After dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, we rode one of the roller coasters. A roller coaster. In a mall. Roller Coaster. Mall. Yea....


This is a super cool obstacle course that is 4 stories high. You're tethered onto a harness above your head, and the course gets successively harder as you go up. And the nets end after the second story. Scary!

Here's our car right behind the "Mall of America" sign, only about 50 feet away from one of the entrances. Score!

This is a view outside of our hotel room, on the 15th floor. The weather wasn't so great, but it's neat being right in the heart of downtown!

When we were driving back to our hotel Saturday night, we passed a famous St. Paul landmark that both Trav and I recognized right away. I immediately said "we have to go there for breakfast!" Do you recognize it?

It's Mickey's!! The little dining car from the Mighty Ducks movies! It's so tiny, I think it holds all of 20 diners if that. Lucky us, it was within walking distance from our hotel. You go inside and have to stand along the wall until spots along the bar open up, or there are 4 booths in the way back if you're lucky. And the food! Typical diner fare, but good! Travis got an omelet that was as big as his head!

After we ate breakfast, and already having been to the Mall of America, we wondered where we could go from there since it was still pretty early. Did you know that your GPS has a "navigate to" winery option? Where there is wine, I will travel! We ended up finding two that were more or less on our way home. St. Croix Vineyards and Wine Haven Winery. St. Croix also has an apple orchard on the grounds, so the place was a little like a madhouse today.

Looking towards the wine house.

The apple barn, and the throngs of people with their kids. A little nutty, but fun.

Our loot. It was $5 per person for a tasting, but they had deal that if you bought 4 bottles of wine then you got your 5 bucks back. And we got one to open there too, so the lady says "if you get one more then you get an additional 5% off all of the wine." Say no more! Plus I got a posi-pour like they have when they do the tastings, it pours out 1 ounce portions. That was $5 and she forgot to charge us. Whoops!

Which leads me to my next big adventure: I'm starting my own wine business! I'm officially a consultant for The Traveling Vineyard, which hosts at-home wine tastings. They offer hundreds of wines from boutique wineries, most that you can't get in stores. Plus they are very reasonably priced at $12-20 per bottle. I'm really looking forward to bringing some wine sophistication to the Iron Range! Boxed wine and Boone's Farm beware! Ali is on the loose!

I'm also quitting my full time job at the bank to pursue real estate full time. Yes, I may have slightly lost my mind so we'll see how this goes. Hopefully swimmingly well! Fingers crossed?