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!