We’re off to the (even more) frozen tundra

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Yep, it was snowing again on our way to work today. (And it’s STILL snowing 5 hours later)

We are spending our Thanksgiving holiday with my family in North Dakota. On our way to work this morning, Grant commented, “I can’t believe we are going even farther north.” I can’t say I disagree with him. Minneapolis is already enough of a frozen, snowy tundra. It’s a good thing the people (and my cute dogs) there make it worth it.

Roads permitting, we will leave this afternoon and arrive this evening. I’ve armed my iPhone with the North Dakota and Minnesota travel apps:

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If the roads aren’t so good, we will stop along the way and get there in the morning. We’ve also got plenty of snacks, blankets, water, other supplies, and a shovel in case things get really bad.

But i’m sure we have nothing to worry about. Driving through Minnesota and North Dakota will be just like driving with the top down in Hawaii…

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Happy Holiday Weekend!

 

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Winter has arrived

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Winter is here, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

After a lovely, brisk, sunny weekend, Monday morning greeted us with 6 inches of snow and quickly plunging temperatures. Our walk to work was just the beginning of a storm that lasted all day.

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As it snowed on and off all week and the temperatures continued to drop, it became clear that winter had officially set in, much earlier than we expected or hoped. Much to my chagrin, we broke out our “puffy coats,” gloves, and ear protection. I don’t think Grant was as disappointed about the puffy coat coming out. He was (and still is) pretty thrilled about his new winter coat.

I took screen shots of the weather report as we headed to work. Balmy, huh?

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The snow came and went alllllll week. By the weekend, it seemed pretty commonplace, and I decided I wasn’t going to let it slow me down. Less than 10 minutes into this drive however, I seriously regretted my decision to get groceries on a snowy Saturday afternoon.

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At our stake conference (church conference where about 10 congregations come together to hear from our stake leadership and other members) last weekend, our stake president talked about his decision to “embrace winter.” I decided that I think that is probably the right decision. I guess it probably won’t help much to be depressed about the weather for the next 4-6 months. I’ll start by embracing the new seasonal view.

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Although i’ll stand by my statement that i’m not opposed to moving somewhere warmer…

 

 

If the shoe fits

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I’m pretty sure that shoe won’t fit anyone, ever. It was sure to fun to see it though!

One weekend while we were sitting at our table in our apartment, each doing our own thing, I could tell Grant was up to something. He just had that look on his face. Then he looked up from his iPad, and the notes he was making on the paper in front of him, and asked me if I wanted to go away next weekend. Of course I did! But he didn’t want to tell me where, and I totally loved that. I kind of really really really love fun, thoughtful surprises.

During the week, I tried to figure out where we were going. I figured it was somewhere not too far away, but I really had no idea. On Friday we both left work at 4:30 (I know, we are quite the risk-takers) and once we got in the car, he couldn’t contain himself anymore. He told me that we were going to a bed a breakfast just outside Redwing, Minnesota! I was so so excited. Since we had gotten married, we had been talking about how fun it would be to sneak away on the weekend to a cozy bed and breakfast. I couldn’t believe we were actually going to do it!

We arrived at the Hungry Point Inn just as the sun was setting. Oh my gosh…it was just so picturesque. It reminded me of something you would see in New England. There was a field in front of the house with a few sheep grazing, a hen house, and the house itself was the most amazing color of red. It stood out so beautifully from the still green grass and this incredible yellow tree in front of the house. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking

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The interior of the house was decorated in a colonial theme, and when I say decorated, I mean, the house was filled with colonial-ish items. It was really interesting. The furniture, the knick knacks, everything seemed to have been selected with so much thought and care. It looked so amazing. Even the floor, oh my gosh, it was a hard wood floor, the floorboards were fairly wide planks that had a worn look and feel to them, and the nails looked just like nails from hundreds of years ago. Seriously, so cool. The room we stayed in was called the “George Washington Room.” Again, it had so many thoughtful details like the stencil pattern on the wall, the way the colors and patterns of the sheets, pillows, and bedding worked together, and the old instruments on top of the wardrobe.

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When we arrived, were greeted by the sweetest woman who owned and managed the bed and breakfast. Her name was Merriam, and we loved getting to know her better. In the morning she made the most delicious breakfast. We had homemade caramel rolls that made me realize I can never ever try to make my own because they will never ever be as delicious as Merriam’s. Also, the eggs were fresh from her hens, and not surprisingly, they just tasted better. The decor of the dining room was probably more impressive than the rest of the house. (which is hard to believe) All these colonial looking home items: dishes, pots & pans, candles, baskets, a real loom (it was gigantic).

One of the best parts about our stay there was that somehow, we managed to be the only overnight guests, despite the fact that every single other bed and breakfast in Red Wing that Grant looked at was completely booked. Breakfast was just us and Merriam and her friend Larissa who joined us later. We had the nicest conversation with Merriam about her home and about how she found all the items to put in her home. When Larissa learned that we don’t drink wine, she immediately asked what church we go to which prompted a really great Gospel discussion.

We were planning on spending most of the day in Red Wing and the surrounding area, so Merriam and Larissa suggested some things for us to do. From there, we headed out on our next adventure, sad to leave the Hungry Point Inn, but with plan to return.

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We absolutely loved downtown Red Wing. We checked out a farmer’s market, a really cool historic hotel, and a few fun shops.

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The highlight though, was the Red Wing Shoe Co. headquarters (the pic immediately above) and the Red Wing Shoe Store. That’s where we found…THE WORLD’S LARGEST BOOT.

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While were were inside, an employee oiled our shoes for us (because that’s just what they do for you at Red Wing Shoe Co.). We also checked out the museum where they showed you how the shoes are made and some of the history of the shoes, we didn’t buy anything, but it was really fun!

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After that we left the Red Wing Shoe store to check out more of the surrounding area. Although many of the leaves had fallen off the trees, it was still a lovely drive. In fact, it was far more beautiful and enjoyable that I would have ever imagined. Merriam recommended we drive along the Great River Road and see Lake Pepin, which definitely did not disappoint.

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And then we stopped at the Pelican Bakery (also one of Merriam’s recommendations) in one of the many, adorable little towns along the Great River Road. There we had the most delicious slice of raspberry sour cream pie.

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Grant was also pretty thrilled that every motorcycle in Minnesota seemed to be out on the road with us as well. For some reason, I didn’t get any photos of that.

We had such a fun time at the Hungry Point Inn and in Red Wing. We can’t wait to go back!

 

 

The Apple of My Eye

 

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This handsome man.

Ok…you know we can’t resist a good pun. Perhaps it’s more like Grant can’t resist a good pun, and with how excited he gets when one of us comes up with a really good pun…I also now cannot resist a good pun. I absolutely blame Grant entirely for that.

Back before we we forced to embrace this constant snow falling from the sky, we had a wonderful day away from downtown at an apple orchard. We had been planning to go all week. I think we were both pretty excited for it, which I was really happy about. It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun if I would have felt like I was dragging Grant along on this little adventure. He really is so good to me.

The orchard was really lovely. The first thing we checked out once we arrived was this apple slingshot thing. Sadly though, I didn’t take a picture. We also didn’t try it, but it looked like fun. There was a huge crate of sad-looking apples that you would put into the slingshot and shoot at a box about 50 yards away in the middle of a big open area. No one seemed to be getting it into the box, but every time someone would get close a loud, excited gasp would come from the spectators.

After we had had enough of the apple slingshot, we decided to venture out to the orchards with everyone to pick some apples. Check out our chariot:

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We rode on benches that were on top of a big trailer attached to the back of that sweet red tractor. Grant was totally into the tractor. He kept pointing out the different mechanical parts and commenting on how cool they were. Naturally, I had no idea what he was talking about, so I just nodded.

There were different stops on the “trip” way out to the orchards. (The orchards were totally within walking distance from where we started. I think the tractor was more of an attraction than anything) You could choose where to get off depending on which type of apples you wanted to pick.

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After we got off the tractor, we began wandering through the rows of trees, sampling the different types of apples, and then using the bad-looking apples for target practice. I wasn’t so good at hitting the targets, but Grant was pretty precise in his aim. I wondered how exactly he got so good…

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I was a little bit shocked by how many apples had fallen off the trees and would never end up in a lunchbox or a delicious pie.

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After extensive apple sampling and target practice, we checked out the petting zoo. This guy was hoping we had brought back some apples for him.

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And the apple cleaning and packing facility. Kind of fun.IMG_6083

And of course, what would a trip to the apple orchard be without a delicious apple treat? There were definitely some battles with the spoons over who would get more bites out of this delicious apple treat. I can’t really remember what it was, some sort of apple turnover with caramel and vanilla icing. We just couldn’t quite get enough of it.

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What a fun day at the apple orchard it was! I must admit, I was actually a little surprised by how much I enjoyed it. But then again, everything seems to be more fun with this handsome guy.

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Even though he hates it when I make him take 48,529,329 pictures…

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I think we will for sure plan another trip to an apple orchard next year.

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Camping with the Borens

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Before we were buried in 6 inches of snow and hit in the face with an arctic blast…it was warm, and sunny, and so lovely outside. So lovely in fact, that we went camping!! Before you get too carried away with visions of long treks to a remote campsite and fishing for dinner, please be advised that the word “camping” should be used lightly here.

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We registered for a few camping things as part of our wedding registry. I remember my mom, after looking through our registry, said something to me along the lines of, “I didn’t know you went camping?” Regretfully, I admitted that truthfully, we never had gone camping, but we like the idea of camping. We like the idea of getting away from the busy-ness of the city, of work, of life, and just disconnecting from everything for a short while. We like the potential a camping adventure has for making memories as a family.

Surprisingly, we got a few fun camping items as wedding gifts, so we decided we needed to go on a camping adventure before it got too cold. The last weekend in September, we loaded up the car with our camping stuff (and plenty of snacks) and headed for a state park about an hour from the city. (Like I said, “camping” should be used lightly) The weather seemed like it would be perfect, a little cool, but still warm enough during the daylight.

Our first task…dinner. Leaving after work didn’t give us much of an opportunity to prepare anything before we left, and since I don’t like hotdogs (I know, I know…weird) we decided we would find some food along the way. As we got closer to the state park however, we realized that we were running far from civilization and we hadn’t really seen any food options for quite a while. Then…we saw it: a seemingly old, faded sign, advertising some sort of family restaurant. We figured it was our only option. Our expectations weren’t very high. When we saw the place, we perked up a bit. Then we saw the menu. And then we ordered and our food arrived.

It. Was. Amazing.

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Best Camping Dinner Ever. I can’t even remember exactly what we ordered, but I remember it was delicious. Those green beans had some sort of chinese-food-like glaze on them, and they were oh-so-fresh. Oh man…

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The restaurant also had a place for you to tie up your horse in case you need it…

I think we could have just gone home from there and been pretty satisfied with our trip, but we continued on to our campsite. We first had to pick up some fire wood.

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Once we found our campsite, we had quite an adventure pitching the tent. Let’s just say we didn’t quite pick the best place to try to put aluminum stakes (or whatever kind of sad metal it was) into the ground, but it just seemed like the best location on our little plot. So maybe it was gravel and meant for the car…but we went with it. Also, our tent was teeny tiny, so we managed to find some softish (and very lumpy) ground that would let us put our stakes in.

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Yes, we both slept in that tent. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t even be able to get a twin-szie air mattress in it.

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We had quite an awesome view from our tent though.

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My eagle-scout husband managed to build us an impressive fire with our firewood and some kindling he managed to scrape up. (I didn’t realize you couldn’t just light a piece of wood to start a fire). We roasted marshmallows on our new, super-awesome roasting sticks. I’m pretty sure we each only had one because we were still so full from dinner. In the morning, the air was so fresh and so nice. We sat in our chairs and read our books. Every few minutes a breeze would move through, and the trees would rustle, and then the leaves would fall. It was sort of magical, like the first snow fall, but more colorful and much warmer 🙂

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We checked out the rest of the park in the afternoon. Oh my goodness…it was so beautiful.

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I’d say our first camping adventure was a success.

Our $$$$$ view

I’m pretty sure at least once each week, one of us comments that we pay too much for our apartment. Usually the comment comes in a moment where we find ourselves away from the noise of downtown, soaking in the blissful quiet and openness of the suburbs or somewhere much further from the city. It’s become sort of a routine. We ask ourselves, “why we are paying so much to live where we do?” To which one of us (usually me) invariably responds with the same lines about it being so convenient to work and so nice that we don’t have to commute and that our commute is a 15 minute walk. And for the most part, that argument holds true. We are both SO grateful that we do not have to spend any amount of time sitting in traffic on the interstate, especially on those long work days that go far into the evening… And when compared to our other downtown living options, not only was this place less-expensive, but also just more awesome.

There are some features of our little apartment that we really love. We’ve realized how much it has “forced us” to get used to being around each other so often. We’ve learned how to be together but still do our own thing when we need to. We can walk to Target or Lunds to get groceries or whatever else wee need. It is super-close to the interstate when we need to go somewhere. We have a great park across the street where we can go play tennis (and Grant can try once again to avenge his most recent loss). We have some really awesome neighbors who live in our same building just three floors down. That has made for some fun, easy friday/saturday night game nights. Also, they have cable, so we may or may not have watched a few BYU games with them…

In addition to all those fun little things, i’m pretty sure one of the best, if not the best things about our apartment is our view. It’s pretty much amazing, like incredible. Living on one of the highest levels in the building puts us far above the treetops and all the other buildings we look towards. It was so so beautiful in the past few weeks with the leaves changing. Also, we overlook this huge, amazing Catholic Basilica.  It kind of looks like a rotunda of a state capitol at first glance. It’s just such an amazing view. I even caught the Comcast guy sneaking a photo of the view when he was here to install our internet.

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(Our half-living room, pre-furniture)

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And then there’s the sunset view… We face the west which means that we get to see the sunset pretty much every night. Some nights are “oh, that’s lovely,” and some nights are, “OH MY GOSH, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND LOOK AT THIS.” And they just keep changing and getting better as the minutes pass. My iphone doesn’t really do them justice, but it’s the best I can do. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

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Bridal Showered…Again

 

After the shower in July, I thought I was in the clear. I was so wrong, but i’m so glad I was.

When I was in North Dakota in August, my sweet family surprised me like i’ve never been surprised before. What I thought was a trip to my Grandma’s house to try on my dress that she was hemming turned into a surprise bridal shower. I was so so so surprised. I remember walking into the house with my head down, looking at something on the floor, and when I looked up, I saw Kelsey and Megan, friends from high school, in my Grandma’s kitchen. Immediate reaction: what in the world? A quick glance around the room revealed 10 other dear friends and family members. As I took in the sight of sweet, smiling friends, lovely decorations in my wedding colors, and delicious desserts out on the table, this little voice in my head whispered, “They are all here for you. All this is for you.” I was a little bit overwhelmed with emotion. It was just so sweet and so thoughtful, and I was SO surprised.

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It was such a fun time. I learned that my aunt, sisters, grandma and mom managed to plan it, make the decorations, make the food, and round up all the guests in THREE days. They did such an amazing job making it beautiful and special.

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And even better than the surprise and those knock-your-socks-off-delicious macarons was seeing so many people from days gone by. Wonderful people who I love very much, but just don’t get to see often enough.

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Thank you to everyone who made it such a fun, wonderful, and joyful surprise!