Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Here I am, dear blogger. I know you thought I forgot about you. Life has been hectic and crazy as per usual around the Christmas holiday. We've had parties to go to, presents to wrap, and of course, our never-ending shower renovation.

No, the shower is not done yet. It's close though! Travis has put up almost all the tile. Unfortunately, Christmas festivities put a halt on tile installation and we will likely not finish it until we get back from our vacation. But I'm ok with that, and I think Travis is ready for a break.

We have been nothing but blessed this holiday season. I had to work a half day on Christmas Eve, and my boss called me first thing that morning. We had talked earlier that week about a new (but sort of old) position for me, working as a junior rep for the company again as well as doing my current job. We played phone tag for awhile, but he eventually got a hold of me so that I could accept and negotiate a $10K pay raise. Sweet! He also offered Travis a job as the custodian at the new office that we'll be moving into in January. Not the most glamorous job, but just a starting off point until something else comes open for him. It pays great, and is full time with benefits. He accepted!

Christmas Eve was spent at Bear River Lutheran Church, where most of the pews of the small church were filled by our family. Afterward we went for dinner at Grandma Fran's house and got to spend time with family from all over Minnesota. Christmas day saw us going back to Bear River to spend the day with Trav's parents and family. His brother took a shift on Christmas day for another coworker with kids, so they waited until he got home at 4:00 to open presents. We received lots of wonderful presents this year, the big ones include a circular saw, a wooden folding table with 2 chairs, a new set of silverware (much needed!), a vacuum, steam mop, and a beautiful new peacoat for me!

As I write this, we are currently waiting to head out on our trip to Florida. We're driving the entire 30 hour trek, taking about 2 and 1/2 days. We plan on leaving tonight around 8 and driving through the night and tomorrow until we stop tomorrow night. We're hoping to make it to Dalton, GA which is just an hour north of Atlanta. If we don't make good time, we'll power through until we get to Chattanooga, TN. Then we'll finish the rest of the trip on Wednesday. I am so looking forward to see my parents! So far our plans include mani/pedi's with my mom, a New Year's Eve dinner cruise, and dinner at a Japanese steak house on New Year's Day. Let's not forget lots of shopping! We'll be there for a week, and then take a day to drive to St. Louis to visit my brother's and their families. I'm ready to get a move on!

So naturally I will be neglecting my blog while on vacation. But I hope to have lots of pictures to make up for my disappearance! Stay tuned!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shower, week 2

I'm so very glad that my husband has the Mr. Fix-It aptitude that I so obviously lack. Here I thought that we'd have the new shower installed and tiled in a week. I am so naive.

In the words of my brother, "Every home improvement job takes at least 3 trip to Lowe's." In our case, Lowe's has been a daily occurrence. We need more screws, more cement, more stuff that I don't even know why we need it but it goes in the shower somewhere. But hubby has been trucking along, slowly making progress.
Here is it is after putting up the tar paper and putting in one layer of cement. Apparently that stuff has to dry for at least a day. Notice also the little step out that will be tiled and hopefully act as a water barrier.
Here is most of the cement board up and taped. Once we've water tested the pan liner and added another layer of cement to the bottom, Travis will fill in the bottom areas with more cement board. Then we'll be ready to tile. Which is a whole other story. Of course we can't agree on a tile we like. I think it comes down to good taste (me) and not so good taste (hubby). Hopefully we'll eventually compromise. I'd like to have my bathroom back by Christmas!

I also have to include a picture of our new lined curtains for our weird family room window. It is extremely long and short.
You'll notice our Diva Dog on her new favorite blanket. That's the electric blanket we got on sale on Black Friday. I believe that I have used it a handful of times, and Travis has used it a handful of times. Maya? She sleeps on it every day and every night. She will no longer sleep in her crate because she believes her rightful place is on her electric blanket on the couch. It's not on, but we're in trouble if she figures out how to operate the hand held control. She'll be nice and toasty all the time!

I guess Maya has a good idea though. As I write this it is currently -6 degrees. We're expected to have a low tonight of -27. Our Florida trip can't come soon enough! 14 days until we leave!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I love my house, I love my house...

Really, I really do. But sometimes I want to throw something at it. Or give it a good, swift kick. You know?

We have lots of projects planned for this house, but nothing that is super urgent or needs to be done right now. Or, at least, until this past weekend. While most families are preparing for Christmas, decorating their homes and shopping for gifts, we are dealing with this:
What is this, you ask? Well, this my dear readers, is my 2nd floor shower. Sure not looking like a shower right at the moment, right? So let me tell you why it looks like this right now.

Friday morning I'm quietly taking my shower, minding my own business, when I hear a small little "crack" under my feet. Hmm, not so good. Ever since we bought this house, our shower floor has always felt like you were standing on un-solid ground. The previous owners put in a fiberglass shower surround and floor. Lo and behold, we discover that they bought the cheapest one that has foam underneath it. Foam!??! What good is foam!?!? Maybe if I weighed 50 lbs then this wouldn't be a problem. While I will not disclose my actual weight on a public forum such as this, I can tell you that it's not anywhere close to 50 lbs. So my big fat butt broke our shower floor.

We do have a full bathroom on our first floor, thank goodness. We really did not need to attack this problem right before Christmas. However, I hope to have an employed husband come January, so we're utilizing his free time now. So now I'm sure you're thinking "has Travis ever replaced a shower before?" Well, umm, no. But this is a learning experience! He's already doing a great job.

After looking at our shower options, we decided to put tile in instead of another fiberglass surround. The reasoning is that a surround cost just as much, if not a little more than doing tile. Surprising, right? So far Travis has ripped out the old shower, and the drywall they put up. Honestly, whoever put it in was an idiot. They used plain old drywall instead of the cement board that won't get wet and moldy. We also discovered that they used regular insulation behind that, instead of the plastic protected insulation which we replaced and you can see in the picture. (That was my idea! Hey, I watch HGTV - I know what I'm talking about!)

The biggest surprise so far? The sub-floor actually had a hole in it right underneath where it cracked. No wonder it always felt like you were standing in a hole! Today he got the new sub-floor in, and put in a new drain. Tomorrow is cement board and hopefully cement over the sub-floor. Somewhere in there goes a water proof membrane too, but at this point that's all up to hubby dearest. He's pretty ambitious, that man I married!

Hopefully by early next week we will have the tile laid. Please pray for us.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

It may be a few days late, but I'm still stuffed from our Thanksgiving fare thanks to plenty of leftovers. I hope you all enjoyed yours as well! Thankfully we didn't have to make the turkey since my mother-in-law offered to bring one. So Thanksgiving morning was spent washing china, setting the table, and cooking up all the sides!

Here is a picture of part of our table:
We were waiting on a card table that the family was bringing to extend our table a bit. 9 people sure wouldn't fit at this table!

And here I am cooking up a storm!
Somehow we forgot to take pictures of everyone at the table. Too busy being hosts I suppose!

Of course, once Thanksgiving was over and all the food was packed up and put away that could only mean one thing: Christmas decorating! I'm very excited to be able to pull out all our stuff and go to town decorating for the first time in this house. It's always difficult trying to figure out where things should go, and oddly I feel like I don't have enough decorations!
Although we put the lights up earlier this month, I waited patiently to turn them on until Thanksgiving night.
The living room, complete with our new little "wood" stove.
Dining room.
Last but not least - the tree! And yes, there are even some presents under there already. :o) The only problem we've run into is that our tree is just a tad too tall for the family room, coming it at 7.5ft. The poor angel's wings are pressed right up to the ceiling. I'm not sure what we'll do about that, unless we get a new, shorter tree. I already have this fancy tree in mind for next year. A girl can dream!

I hope everyone had a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

T-minus 2 days Till Turkey Day!

Our Thanksgiving feast is nearly upon us, and I for one am excited. This is the first time we're hosting at our house. I can't wait to break out the fancy china!

So far our menu is pretty traditional. We'll be having turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, stuffing, maple dill carrots and some crescent rolls. Desert is being brought by Trav's grandma, and all I know is she's bringing pumpkin pie and custard pie. I am salivating just thinking about it!

I'm also looking forward to the annual Bear River Christmas Bazaar in which you can find goodies made by local "artisans". Travis plans on bringing some wreathes to sell as well. We're hoping to bring in some cold hard cash! We've also set up a sign outside to advertise our wares.
Hopefully we get some customers soon! Since we've had about 8 inches of snow today, I'm thinking that's got to get people in the Christmas spirit!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Winter Wonderland

We've had our first big "winter storm" of the year this weekend. Yay snow! There's something to be said for being able to hunker down at home and drink hot chocolate while it snows outside. We got an early Christmas present from my Mom & Dad that made it extra special. They gave us a faux wood stove that looks like a little fireplace and blows out warm and hot air. So we've been sitting by the "fireside" all weekend!

Here are some pictures for your enjoyment:
Travis cut a path between our yard and the house on the left side of this picture. That's where Maya's best friend, Charlie lives. They play everyday, but unfortunately neither one of them are taller than 15 inches. They need a path!
So far we've had about 6 inches, and it's still snowing! Although supposedly the sun is supposed to come back out tomorrow. But I think it's official, we won't see our grass until April!

Monday, November 8, 2010

So maybe I'm a hypocrit

After all my preaching last week about waiting until after Thanksgiving to start with the Christmas festivities I have confession to make: we put up our outside Christmas lights. But hold on a minute! I can explain!

I live in the land of snow and ice. The Northern Tundra. We might as well be Canada right? I didn't want my husband on our second story roof in December when we will most likely have snow and/or ice. We have crappy insurance and I sure don't want to test it out. So yes, he got up there and put the lights up. He also strung some up on the garage and on our front porch. We have some lawn figures, but we're waiting to put those out - I know you can only handle so much. And the neighbors are doing it too.

Speaking of snow, we surprisingly have had none. Zip. Zero. A small town to our north had a little bit, but we haven't seen a single flake. That's fine for now, but we better have some by Thanksgiving. What are the holidays without a little festive snow? We've had an unusual "warm" streak with highs in the upper 50's. Cold by my mother's standards, but not by a Minnesotan!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween is over - bring on Christmas?!

It sure feels like now that Halloween is over, everyone is ramped up for Christmas. Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas. There are no if's, and's, or but's about it - Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. I come by it naturally; my mother is equally as crazy about the holiday. And I go all out. Christmas tree, decorations, dishes, blankets, carols all month long, you name it. But I'm just not ready!

Whatever happened to Thanksgiving? I mean, sure, we all get happy about the day off and the good food. But it feels like a speed bump along the way to the "big day". I think we all need to just slow down a bit and chill out. Let's get excited about turkey day!

One reason I'm particularly excited about Thanksgiving this year is that I get two days off for the holiday. My office is closed on "Black Friday", meaning that it may be possible for Travis and I to score some good deals! We haven't shopped on Black Friday for a few years, but cleaned up on gifts for our family and some things for ourselves. Gotta love a sale! The best part about where we live is that in a small town you don't get swarms of people. Sure, there are crowds, but nothing compared to a big city!

For the record - Halloween was a bit of a bust around here. I bought a lot of candy, planning on lots of Trick-or-Treaters since we have quite a few kids in our neighborhood. We only got about 10-15 kids, so we have tons of candy left over! (Although that's really ok in my book.)

So bring on Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Leaves, leaves, leaves

They're everywhere! Run for your lives!!! AAAAHHHH!!!!
You know what comes with a nice, big yard with lots of mature, pretty trees? You guessed it: leaves! For days on end! And this picture is just one small portion of our yard. We have birch trees, maple trees, a willow tree and apple trees all shedding right now.

Travis and I went back and forth on when to start raking and if we should maybe get a second rake so that we could both rake at the same time. Then we could rake all weekend. And maybe next weekend too.

I finally gave in and we bought this:

The Mac Daddy of All Leaf Blowers.

You know what's still sad about this? One tank of gas only got about 1/3 of our yard done. Travis spent a his entire Saturday blowing leaves. Let's pause for a moment to think about how long that would have actually taken with a rake. Can you imagine? I believe this was money well spent.
This is just one of about 4 piles of leaves that Travis managed to wrangle up. Now we just have to decide what to do with them. My mom is a fan of burning, although I'm certain we'd have the DNR fire fighters arresting us in no time if we do that. We could easily fill a bagillion trash bags. I suggested putting an ad on Craigslist. You never know what people will take for free. Think we'll get any takers?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another giveaway!

Go check out The Painted Hive for her giveaway this week. Up for grabs is a beautiful grain sack inspired pillow cover. I happen to think it would go lovely with my bedroom curtains, but hop over and enter for your chance to win too! I love this Aussie's style, her decorating always looks peaceful and "quiet" to me. Her rooms have a spa like feel that just make you want to relax.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

You say it's my birthday

That's right, it's my birthday! Well, yesterday was technically my birthday. But this is my birthday "weekend". For my birthday I decided I wanted to go drive up the North Shore to look at the fall colors, then head back to Duluth to have dinner there since the restaurant choices are far superior to what we have in Hibbing. Unfortunately most of the leaves have fallen already but we still had a good time.

The day started with opening presents:
These are winter riding pants, kind of like snow pants
Except they have suede on the butt to help you stick in the saddle!
And I got winter riding boots! Of course I had to try them on. Now I'm all set for riding this winter!

Then we drove up the North Shore to the Split Rock Lighthouse, that overlooks Lake Superior

It was a gorgeous day, so we had great views. There are a few paths you can take to several overlook areas, including the area around the light house itself.Look closely, you can see a cave!

There is also a picnic area on a beach that is part of the park. We were going to forgo that area but Travis decided he wanted to go have a look anyway. As we park he says "So are you hungry?" and pulls out our "winery day" picnic basket from the trunk, complete with wine, cheese, crackers, and goodies! I was completely surprised. He knows how much I miss going to the wineries in Missouri, and decided to make a winery day for me. He's pretty sweet ;o)
Our view!
Risking life and limb to climb out on the beach after a few glasses of wine.
From our spot on the beach we could see this little island, that is connected to the beach by a little land bridge. You can kind of see some people walking on it to the right. Just beautiful!

We ended the day in Duluth by dining at Bellisio's Italian Restaurant. They have the largest wine list I have ever seen. We had a wine flight and enjoyed some delicious food before heading home. It was a wonderful day!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I love a Giveaway!

A friend of mine makes handcrafted soaps, bath salts, shampoo, face name it. I personally think she is awesome for taking on this endeavor with her husband, and she's having great success! She's also having a giveaway! Go check out Reef Botanicals blog for more information and the link to her shop. Go I say! Go!

Monday, October 4, 2010

You win some, you lose some

You know, life can't always be about the win, right? You gotta have some loses to stay humble. Like with my cooking and math skills. Or lack thereof. I know these are two things I do not excel at. At all. So I usually leave the cooking up to my wonderful hubby, and I like to let him do all the math too - or carry a calculator.

Normally Travis is a super good cook. He's very imaginative, but doesn't stray to far out of my realm of comfort. We also like to use our crock pot quite a bit, especially now that the weather is turning colder. So imagine my surprise when I walked in the kitchen one morning to find this:
Why yes, that is my husband holding up half of our ceramic crock pot insert. Hmm, interesting. Apparently he dumped frozen stew meat in and it fell just a wee bit to hard. Not only did the meat crack the thing in half, but the entire base fell out and into 3 pieces. Great! Luckily we have a 24 hour Wal-mart, so he was able to go buy a fancy, schmancy new one to cook our beef stew that day. And it has an metal insert! (Plus a retractable cord, and a locking lid. It's pretty cool.)

Not too long after the crock pot incident, dear hubby and I were perusing for some gym floor tiles for our "new" home gym. Let's pause here so I can explain. Our basement is basically one little room after another. Kind of freaky actually. But there is one room that so far has just been a pass through to the "Christmas Room" where I store all my Christmas decorations. (Please keep your eye rolling to a minimum here.) This room is about 8'x16'. So we decided that it would make a nice little home gym. Our treadmill was already there, but no plugs to plug it in. Hubby ran an extension cord across the basement to the one and only 3-pronged plug down there. I bought a fitness ball and a yoga mat so that I could do some ab work and light weight lifting with the 5# weights I already own. Hubby was even nice enough to set up a TV and run a cable line to it so that I can watch TV down there while I work out. It's great! All we wanted was a little bit of flooring to give the hard, concrete floor a little more cushion and warmth.

We found a great deal on those gym floor tiles, that go together like a puzzle. They are 1'x1'. The pack we bought included 24 tiles. So in my mind, this meant it would cover 24'x24'. See where I'm going here? I blame hubby for having a total brain fart on this one, because I told him my rationalization that we would only need one package and he agreed. If you're not mathematically inclined I will help you out with what I've learned so far: our room is 8'x16'= 128 square feet. The package contained 24 1'x1' tiles = 24 square feet. Doh!
So, umm, yes. Now I have a little padded corner of the room to do crunches on. In reality we need about 5 1/2 packages of this stuff to cover the whole room. Right. You can laugh now.

Moving on to wins!

My sister in law was nominated for homecoming! Since she's a junior, she couldn't actually be voted as queen, but she looked pretty darn cute anyway!You can't see much of her dress here, but it was very pretty - and short! That's the style this year though, all of the girls dresses were super short. Her escort thought he was pretty cool, yea?

Travis has decided to make and sell balsam wreathes this year for Christmas. Today was Day 1 of his work "schedule". So far he's right on track with 3 wreathes done!
And lastly: I got into grad school! Woo Hoo! My last reference sent in her recommendation letter about two weeks ago, and I was just notified on Friday that I've been accepted! I'll be attending the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee's Master of Library Science online program, starting Summer of 2011. Which is good, because that gives me some time to figure out how to pay for it! I was accepted by Minnesota's reciprocity program, so I at least only have to pay in-state tuition. That's still a lot of money though! But I'm not thinking about all of that right now, I just want to revel in being accepted for a little while longer!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Uh oh...

Two weeks and no posts? Don't give up on me faithful followers! I have not abandoned you! I've just failed my responsibilities for a short time, but I'm back. Let's forgive and forget, shall we? Moving on...

A few weeks ago I started having a little bit of car trouble. The engine light came on. I've had this happen before, and all it signaled was my gas cap not being tight enough. Been there, done that. I tighten up the gas cap and wait for my engine light to go off. And I wait. And I wait. Finally a few days later, it does!

Then a few days later, my engine starts making a funny sound. Uh oh is right. I drive it to Wal-mart and back to listen to it. The knocking only happens when I accelerate. Okay. I bring it home to my handy husband and say "husband, please go fix my car, it's making a funny noise." I'll give him credit - he did go out and putter with it for awhile, but couldn't figure it out.

Now it's time to take it to a shop and have someone (who really knows what they're doing) take a look at it. Mr. Mechanic had it for a week, and finally tells us on Friday "well I think you need a new engine. I don't want to mess with it since you have a warranty, so I'd suggest you have it towed to the dealership in Duluth." Of course we don't have a Kia dealership in Hibbing. Or anywhere on the Range for that matter. It's Ford, Dodge, and Chevy, all day long. Thank goodness for AAA (love you Dad!)

A few hours later, Mr. Tow-truck-driver picks up my car and heads off to Duluth with my car. Now we're starting to sweat a little, because I've kept up with the maintenance up until we moved here. With the nearest Kia dealership being 2 hours away, it's not exactly "convenient" for us to jog down there all the time. Travis has been doing my oil changes. So we had to round up all my records that Monday (which, for the record, were all in my glove box but the the mechanic swore he couldn't find them) from the two dealerships I'd taken my car to, and fax them to Duluth Kia. They receive them, and we wait. And wait, and wait.

Fast forward to Friday when we finally get an update.
Mr. Kia Mechanic: "yep, looks like you're going to need a new engine."
Me: "......."
Mr. Kia Mechanic: "do you want us to do that for you ma'am?"
Me:"uh. how much is that gonna run me?" *at this point I'm having chest pains*
Mr. Kia Mechanic: "Oh yea. Nothing! Kia is going to cover that for you."
Me: "REALLY?!?! Oh Mr. Kia Mechanic, I could kiss you right now! You just made my day!"
Mr. Kia Mechanic: "err, great. so should I get started on it?"

It finally took another week to get my car back, brand new engine tested and running good. My bill for the whole process? $16.80, only because I asked them to rotate the tires too. Hooray!

So here are the lessons I've learned: Always take your car in for regular maintenance. It's a pain in the butt, but will pay off in the end.

Be nice, you catch more flies with honey. I wanted to get upset with how long the process was taking, and how they better pay for my engine since I'd been doing regular oil changes. And how the heck does an engine go after only 4 years anyway? But I didn't. I was patient and nice. I'm pretty sure that rotating tires costs more than $16, but I didn't question it. (Ok, that's not entirely true. I did have a minor freakout when the cashier said "that'll be sixteen eighty" and I thought she meant $1,680. But that was a small oversight.)

Kia may not be Mercedes, Toyota, or Ford for that matter, but if the car keeps on running and the company is willing to fix it's mistakes and take care of it's customers then I'm sold. This may not be our last Kia.

And there you are.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Have to add this one

We found some hay bales! I will slowly be adding to my pumpkin collection :o)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Playhouse is Gone!

Hoooooray!! The playhouse has finally left our yard to reside somewhere else, we've been paid for it, and it is gone! This project was a lot more than I was anticipating, I'll tell you that. Once Travis posted it on Craigslist, we had tons of interest in it but there was always one problem - no one could figure out how to get it home. The playhouse is 8x12x8, so we needed a big trailer. No one seemed to have a trailer big enough to haul it away. Finally Travis talked to his dad, who had a snowmobile trailer big enough to handle it. Ah-ha! So Travis relisted the sucker with a "delivery" fee, and *poof*! Gone!

I am so in love with our back yard now. It feels like we have a lot more space.
The playhouse used to block the right side of the garage from this view. Even pre-clean up it looks so much better.
Here you can see the square shaped patch of dirt where it was. We plan on planting grass there next spring. But you can also now see all the way to the tiny tree wayyyyy in the corner of our yard. Nice!

Everything looks pretty green in those pictures, but I'll let you in on a secret: leaves are starting to change! There is only a few patches here and there, but it's true - hints of red and orange are starting to blaze all over the place. This only goes to show that I am right on time with my fall decorating! I'll spare you the brunt of it, but here are a few pictures.
I love this cute candy corn berry garland I found at Country House. The little "Give Thanks" hanging pillow was only $2 on sale at Joann's.
Some leaves adorning our bookshelves in the family room. The pumpkin has little mini pumpkins surrounding it. I should have taken a closer picture.

And yes, I'm sure you noticed the giant TV next to the bookshelves. We finally broke down and upgraded from our 23" box TV. Wal-mart had this 42" flatscreen beauty on sale for $540-ish, and they threw in a $100 gift card which essentially paid for our groceries for 2 weeks. Not a bad deal. And it's paid for thanks to the sale of our playhouse :o) I have to admit, as I sit here watching Sunday football, I don't know how on earth we watched TV on something so small before. I can actually see the players! I can read the score! It's like a football-season miracle!

This week I'll be on a mission to find bales of straw to decorate our front porch. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Ah Labor Day. The weekend that closes Summer and ushers in Fall. You can tell Fall is coming by the crisp air, and the way the light starts to change. It's like someone has turned a switch, and all of a sudden the days are shorter, the evenings a bit cooler.

Many people mourn the end of summer. Certainly the kids do. Here on the Iron Range, kids don't go back to school until after Labor Day. I, on the other hand, love this weekend. I always say "Fall is my favorite". I love everything about it! I love the leaves changing, bringing out the sweaters, football, and pumpkins all over the place! My house is no exception. I love decorating for fall.

So I trudged downstairs to riffle through our decoration room to see what all I had. I came back upstairs with an arm-full of stuff. After putting out my fake leaves and hanging up few wreaths, I decided that we were seriously lacking in the fall decoration department. We live in a much bigger house than I've ever had to decorate! I needed more stuff. More Stuff.

Off to Joann's we went (why yes I said "we". I also needed extra hands to hold whatever bounty I found). Joann's just so happened to be having a big Labor Day sale, 40% off on all fall decor! Hooray! I did keep myself in check though, and managed to spend less than $50 thanks to the sale. The grocery store also started selling pumpkins in the produce section. So all I need now is a bale of hay for the front porch and we'll be set! Pictures to come eventually!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cousins and curtains

When you live in a small town, chances are that you're related to someone. Or the whole town - one way or another. Travis has a multitude of cousins and second cousins, enough to make up a small town. We always joke that he had to come all the way to Florida to find a wife because he was related to everyone up here.

This weekend we went to a second cousin's wedding, and sure enough we knew most of the people there one way or another, and there were probably 200 guests altogether! I asked Travis "do you think that when people get together up here, they have to find out if they're related first?" I was joking, but his answer was "yeah, probably".

So the Anderson clan and family took over Fortune Bay Casino for the night, and probably consumed all the beer in the place! You know Northern Minnesotan's, they can really put away the alcohol. We danced the night away and managed to get home at the decent hour of 2:30am. Here we are early on in the night:
I was laughing at something Trav's mom was saying about the picture she took of us right before this. We had to redo a few times :o)

It's a good thing that my husband really loves me, because we take the saying "Happy wife, happy life" pretty seriously. Well, I do at least. Travis is kind enough to humor me and go along with it. So today, after only a few hours of sleep, I asked him to help me hang some curtains. Luckily for Travis, he also knows that a happy mother-in-law means a happy life too. My mom is determined to dress every window in our house, slowly but surely. She sent us these lovely curtains for our bedroom just this week, so of course, we had to put them up today in order to get pictures to send to her.
They are from The Country House magazine/website. Not to be confused with the Country House store in St. Charles, MO. Also one of our favorite places to shop. These curtains are great because they are lined to keep the sun and cold out. As you know, we get our fair share of cold here in MN. But what you may not know is that from May to August, the sun also likes to rise at some ungodly hour like 4am. No joking. It's like we live in Alaska or something. So these should help us sleep in a little, or at least until the alarm clock goes off.

So that's what we've been up to. Being party animals and home bodies, all in one weekend!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bear River Fair 2010

It's that time again - time for the fair! Since I no longer write for the Cook News Herald, I was able to relax and enjoy the fair this year. Last year I was on patrol for a good story to write! This year we only spent a few hours there, but somehow managed to still take part in a lot! I volunteered to help out with the concession stand for a few hours, and Travis ended up on a softball team with his cousins at the last minute. They ended up winning, so he had to go back this morning for an 8 am game. Talk about early! I opted out of that trip and stayed home to sleep in :o)

As always, we had a good time with friends and family. Our cousins usually camp there over the weekend since they're on the softball team, so we hung out with them afterward and it turned into a bit of a party. That's how we roll in Bear River! All 3 "B's" were present - bonfire, bean bags and, of course, beer!

I have pictures of the softball game, but unfortunately nothing really after that. So enjoy!
Travis played catcher. He was doing great up until this pop up, and he managed to fall flat on his butt!
Can't take him anywhere! He was appropriately nicknamed "Poopy Pants" for the rest of the night.
Here's the team after the game. They played for Zup's grocery store, but only 1/2 or so had the team shirts on. And they're pretty much all related too - cousins everywhere!

The 8 am game didn't go quite as well as yesterday. From what I heard there was a lot of falling and missing balls. Oh well, you win some - you lose some!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Swiss Family Robinson

They lived in a tree house. Most of our week has revolved around our tree house. It's a very loose tie, but there is a connection! We have an ugly (UGLY) tree house in our back yard. Well, let's say we used to have an ugly tree house in our back yard. Now we have an ugly shack:
This beauty used to be the second story of our tree house, underneath was a little garden shed. There was a wooden ladder so you could climb up and the porch had railings all the way around. This 8th World Wonder is insulated, has electricity and even a window. The roof on it is newer than the roof on our house!

From day one I have said "that sucker is coming down!" We have no need for the Taj Mahal of tree houses in our back yard, so Travis got his brain working on this little project. By some engineering feat, he managed to knock down the bottom half with the top remaining in one piece. How he did this, I have no clue. Houdini doesn't reveal his secrets.

Now you're thinking, why wouldn't you just knock all of it down? Well my friends, my dear husband wants to sell it. Like as a playhouse. This is conceivable, no? It would make a very cute little girl's dreams of playing house or school come true. And she could even play in it during the winter! Obviously though, not in it's current conditions. The little bit of sun bleached pink (which used to be Pepto Pink) is probably not enough to convince a naive little 8 year old that this is her own barbie dream house. So off to Lowe's we went to take a gander at their "oops" paint.

We found lots of gray, and lots of wood varnish, but nothing that we really could use to cover this bad boy up. Then we wandered over to the builder grade paint section - you know, cheap but does the trick? Right next to that is a whole "Barn Paint" section. Perfect! The only setback here is our limited color choice: Red, Green, or White. I guess barns don't really come in a whole lot of colors unless you're going the Morton route. Lowe's only had red and white in an acrylic based paint that does not require a primer - so guess what we picked?

Our progress so far:
Just a little more trim painting with the white, put the railings back up, and we'll be all done! Then all we have to do is sell it! Good thing Travis is on a little vacation so he can devote all his time to this project. I sure hope it's worth it!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blah, blah, blah

This is how I feel about life right now. Just blah. I failed to update the blog yesterday because, frankly, I have nothing super exciting to write about.

Travis lost his job this past week, so there's that. The district manager decided to close all the one man shops around here. Now they're sitting on 4 offices that they have to pay rent and utilities for, but with no one in them making money. Brilliant business decision, I must say. So now Travis is home all day with me, searching for jobs and keeping up with the very demanding requirements of unemployment. Submit this, fill out that. Unemployment is a job all by itself! Pray that something comes through for him.

I had a job interview with my company for the representative position (which I did for a month) last Friday. But alas, first thing that morning I got a phone call from my boss that my interview was being canceled because they offered the position to a candidate they had interviewed the day before. I still have my job working from home though, thank goodness.

The only shiny spot I have going right now is that I'm still riding and helping out with barn chores. I finally admitted to myself that my saddle is too small for me though, and have listed it on ebay. Talk about stressful! I've already had to re-list it once since it didn't sell the first time around. I currently have no offers on it as we speak. I wish someone would just buy the darn thing! In the meantime, I've been stalking a few other saddles to replace my ill fitting one. However, after bidding and losing on a total of 3, I've given up all hope on winning something via ebay. So I bit the bullet and ordered a new saddle from Dover that I can test ride in for a few days first. If it doesn't fit then I can return it. Hooray! This is the saddle I'm getting. It's a little more than I would normally spend, but I happen to know that they are very well made, good quality saddles that resell very close to their original purchase price. Also, I have it on good authority that many people in the AQHA world use these. Since I seem to be living in the land of Quarter Horses, I figured this will be a safe bet for a future horse of my own.

Speaking of, I found a rescue group in southern Minnesota: Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation. If you don't know my horsey history, then you don't know that I learned to ride on rescued horses and my first horse was an off the track Thoroughbred (OTTB) rescue. Rescues hold a special place in my heart for all the good they do. So when the time is right, I hope to maybe find a horse through this organization. There is one cutie, named Sterling, that I would love to take home with me today. If only! They're hosting an auction next weekend for 13 of the horses that were in the Trainer's Challenge (read more about it on the website), and Sterling is one of those. I am trying to convince Travis that we should go watch but given my latest ebay experience, he was quick to point out that I am no good at auctions. Hardee-har-har. It's probably for the best - I need a horse like I need a hole in my head right now!

So that's what we've been up to. I hope to have more exciting news for you next week!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Riding, riding, riding

Lately that's all I've been doing. Really though, that's ok with me! Poor Travis may be missing me a little, but he knows I'm happy and that's a big plus. In addition to my weekly lessons on Monday, I've also started feeding and cleaning stalls on Wednesday and Friday nights. My trainer and I have worked out a deal to exchange chores for rides, so I'm also riding on Thursday night and Saturday morning. My life is full of horses again! And it's wonderful!

Travis came along on Saturday to meet the ponies and see where I'm spending so much time. He also took pictures and a video. Here's me riding Noah:

Noah was being a little lazy so my equitation isn't as good as it should be. I was working really hard on just keeping him going! I can tell my legs are sorely out of shape. So please ignore our transitions. :o)

My trainer also has a horse that she's trying to "give" away. Apparently she rode and showed him quite extensively at one point, but he came up lame. After having a vet look at him, they discovered that the issue was in his back and not his legs, so he's "body sore". The vet said that it would just take time to heal, and now it's been a few years. So she's trying to get me interested in him. It's something to consider, but not until we have a vet look him over to see if he still has issues. We shall see!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blueberry Festival

This weekend we went to the annual Ely Blueberry Festival. As promised, we went and I plan to tell you about it. Unfortunately we don't have very many pictures. It just wasn't a picture taking sort of event!

Actually, I was a little underwhelmed with the "blueberry" part of the festival. I had envisioned tent after tent of all things blueberry. Blueberry pie, blueberry jam, blueberry tarts, blueberry craziness all day long! That wasn't the case though. There was a pavilion where you could buy a slice of blueberry pie. You could also get some blueberry-flavored soda. There was one tent (one and only one) that had some blueberry scones, blueberry sugar, and I think some blueberry pancake mix. But that was it!

Afterward we did go to eat at the Boathouse Brewery & Pub, which was featuring a Blueberry Blonde Ale. I had that with lunch and it was yummy! There were even little blueberries hanging out at the bottom of my glass.

Even though the festival wasn't exploding with blueberry-ness, I still managed to have a good time. I wouldn't want you to think otherwise! I'm not sure if Travis had a "good time" or not, but he was a trooper. We did the whole festival, a nearby craft show, and walked around downtown for awhile. Ely is a really neat city and I love going there. They have a great downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants. You can definitely spend a whole day there!

I feel bad for not having super photos of the festival, so I'll share the ones I do have :o)
Travis walking from the festival to the craft show. His shirt has blue pinstripes and I wore a blue shirt as well. Figured it would be fitting. And we're cheesy like that.
This cute little framed leaf painting was on a "clearance" rack in one of the booths. I got it for a whopping $6 - not to shabby!

This is a really neat old window that a vendor cleaned up and painted with pretty flowers and such. I thought it would look nice in our guest bedroom. Whadya know - it does! Zak approves.

So that was our exciting trip to the Blueberry Festival. Today was spent around the house. Can't have a weekend of all fun and no work! We finally finished painting over the basement wall crack (and the rest of the wall) with Drylock today. That cement/concrete stuff takes ages to dry! Doesn't help that it's in the humid basement I suppose.

This afternoon we went grocery shopping. I don't particularly like grocery shopping, but I see it as sort of a game. Like, let's see how much stuff I can get for the least amount of money! So usually I scout the sale flyer online, make my list and meal plan based on what's on sale for about two weeks out. Even though we live in town now, I still find that this helps us save money. I print my coupons at home since we don't get the flyer in the mail. I hate trying to sift through it to find the coupons in the store. Then you have to rip them out and it looks all jagged. I have thought about bringing a small pair of scissors with me though, that's always an option.

This week I happened to hit the grocery store jackpot. They had a full page of "Buy One Get One Free" items. Wahoo! So how did I fair? I managed to walk out of the store with approximately $175 worth of food for two weeks for $114. :o) My receipt said I saved $63 total. I think that earns me a gold star, don't you?

Now I've earned myself a little relaxing time. And a nap. I definitely think a nap is in order.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend Warriors

Sometimes we like to wear this hat. Sometimes we don't. This weekend was a warrior weekend - mainly out of necessity. If you remember a few posts ago that we made a rain barrel due to a poor gutter location and a crack in our basement wall. Well the rain gutter has been working quite well, but it can only do so much, you know? So this was "patch the crack in the basement wall weekend".

Travis did his due diligence by researching online what we needed and just exactly how he needed to get the job done. Then off to Lowe's we went with our list in hand. Thankfully we got out of there under $100. Also, we only needed to go back once to get more putty/plug stuff for the outside too.

Once we got home, construction commenced and I made myself scarce. This was a one man job anyway, so I let Trav have at it. Now, I don't remember if I have ever mentioned our half wall insulation in the basement, so I'm going to tell you about it now. We have a crazy layer of insulation around the entire perimeter of our basement, from waist level to the ceiling. Why the previous owners thought this was helpful is beyond me. The insulation faces the wall, and the outside is a shiny aluminum foil-like material. We had to take a lot of this down to get to the heart of the crack. Wonder of wonders, there was even more crack than we thought. And of course this lovely insulation was holding on to some of the moisture coming in from the outside. Luckily there was no mold and it all came down nicely.

So after a lot of chiseling and mixing and troweling, our basement crack is filled. Most of it was done yesterday, the last bit outside was finished today. Now all that's left is to paint over the wall with Drylock and we should be done! Hopefully this will keep the water outside where it belongs!

Last night was the 3rd Avenue Block Party, which is a lot like the Hibbing Street Dance, but just one band and two bars. Big plus - it's 21 and over, so there are no teeny-boppers or crazy people with their kids and strollers and beer. Not a good combo. Yesterday was also Trav's sister's birthday, so we had dinner and cake at the in-laws house and then made it for the last hour of the block party. It's a funny thing being the only sober people around a ton of not so sober people - but it was fun! Among the crowd were toga wearers, some hula-dancers and a raucous bachelorette party. So we danced and sang along with Shamrock'd and made it home at a decent hour. It's always an adventure!

Next week - Ely Blueberry Festival!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More curtains!?!

My mom is a sewing fool!

It's ok, you can be jealous of our beautiful curtains.