Camping. Round Two.

Recently we set out on our second-ever camping trip. This time however, we decided it would be more fun with company, so we invited our new friends the Cobells. Like the first time, we stopped for dinner on the way up. I know this really isn’t the full “camping” experience and probably at least a little bit humorous, but when you leave after work on Friday and have to set everything up once you get there, tin foil dinners cooked over a fire just don’t have the same appeal. So, we compromised with a fun little restaurant that had great reviews located in a tiny town along the way there.

A few days before our camping adventure, I realized we needed a certain item to really complete the experience for everyone. And fortunately, Amazon Prime could get it here in two days, so without any hesitation, I ordered…a selfie stick. After having it for about a month now, it has come to be one of the best $20 purchases i’ve ever made. The proof lies in the pictures…

We ended up camping in Wisconsin because there weren’t any drive-in campsites (I know, hardcore) available within an hour of Minneapolis. I think we are all pretty happy it worked out that way because we ended up in a really beautiful location. Emily and Jesse (the Cobells) are from Washington (the state) and the said it looked like we were out there.

The boys expertly put up the tent for all of us.


We went for a short, sunset hike that was really spectacular.


A camping trip is never complete without a fire and s’mores. Also headlamps that make your nose glow red are a must.


Unfortunately it rained on us quite a bit the next morning, so we had to delay all the hiking we wanted to do. It really wasn’t that bad though because we had delicious Scandinavian donuts to help us wait out the weather.


Once the rain finally stopped, we got to go on a few short hikes that were really incredible.


There are a lot of glacier “pot holes” in the rock along the river. The pot holes were formed by round boulders that would grind the rock in a circular motion when the area was covered in a glacier. (Or something like that) Some are massive, and some are quite small. This one is sort of medium-sized.


In case you didn’t know, lush, green vegetation inspires deep thinking.


The mixture of rocks, trees, and so much green was really beautiful.




We even got some people on this river boat to wave to us.


We were really surprised to find a Transformer in the rocks.


Despite the rain, we had a really great time hiking. Perhaps we will even get in a second camping adventure this year??


Courtyard Tea Party

Once the temperature finally warms up after a long, cold winter and everything becomes, beautiful, lush, and green, all I want to do is be outside. When the winter is as bad as it is in Minnesota, you never really forget it, and you have to take advantage of being outside when you can because before you know it, winter will be back again.

My dear friend, Ali, gave us the most wonderful reason to spend some time outside together-a tea party! She is seriously the best hostess. She makes the most delicious food and does everything with so much thought and care. She made scones, muffins, bread, cucumber sandwiches, baked ham and cheese puff pastry-esque sandwiches, and had fruit and so much other good stuff. It was all so perfect and so delicious. As if the food wasn’t perfect enough, the company was even better. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.









May Little Things

I did it! For the first time in what feels like forever, I posted the “little things”in the month after the happened! (There is tumultuous applause in my mind right now.)

May was such of fun month. The temperature finally started to warm up, the sun actually felt warm, and I didn’t have to wear tights or socks anymore! Finally, bare feet and ballet flats. The bad part? Realizing just how white my skin is after a loooong winter. Ugh.

We got to babysit for our friends who just finished a master’s degree in engineering and wanted to go out for a baby-free dinner. We were happy to oblige. They have the cutest, sweetest little boy. We loved every minute of it. It was really so sad to have to put him to bed. Also, this melted my heart just a little bit…


We bought a boat, named her the U.S.S. Inflation, and took her out for her maiden voyage. It was awesome.

Our Stake Relief Society (meaning all the women from about 8 congregations) hosted a wonderful Saturday meeting for us where we attended some great classes and work shops about finances (Grant was so proud of me) and the psychology of happiness (so interesting) and so much more and then had a delicious lunch together. The decorations were INSANE. Somebody somewhere is quite the balloon-sculpting and fruit-carving master.




I’m not sure why we decided we needed to bend down in these pictures. We definitely weren’t going to get ourselves to the level of that balloon octopus. The theme was something ocean-related like, “happiness cruise line.” We talked a lot about finding joy in the journey of life, where ever our journey may take us. There was the most beautiful hymn sung, and it was really really great.

This guy had a birthday


and yes, I did too. Please forgive the horrible picture of me below. That cake though was delicious (flourless chocolate torte), and those boxes had some fun stuff: a salt grinder and a block of pink Himalaya salt, a children’s hymn book, a cookbook, and some beautiful bowls that hadn’t arrived yet. Have I ever mentioned that he spoils me?


I even got a beautiful custard cake at work as a birthday gift. It was so fun to share it with everyone.


Free rhubarb at church meant that I had to make something with it. My plans to make muffins quickly turned into plans to make a pie once Grant made it very clear he preferred pie over muffins. I think in the end the pie was definitely the more delicious option, and I got to try my hand at making a homemade pie! It turned out better than I expected.



We drove to North Dakota and saw all of my family, and I failed to take any pictures of anyone. Really? I am SO disappointed in myself. I did however, take a picture of the mosquito massacre that took place on the front of our car. Gross.



May also brought with it the most beautiful skies and sunsets. Although the winter had its own beauty, the clouds and colors that come with the warmth of may are so so beautiful, and I am so so grateful for the front row seat that we have to this incredible display.



And May ended in the most lovely way. With a Tea Party! I think I’ll write more on that very soon, so i’ll just leave one picture as a preview. Aren’t my friends beautiful?


We bought a boat!


Meet the U.S.S. Inflation.

Before you say anything, an inflatable boat is still a boat.

We think this might be one of the best ideas we’ve ever had. It wasn’t completely our idea though. We must give credit to Rich and Bobbie for inspiring us back when it was still far too cold to even consider the possibility of the lakes not being completely frozen.

Once the weather started warm up though, and Grant started thinking about  fishing again, we decided it was time to make our move. In exchange for a small fortune, hooked us up with fly fishing supplies and…our new boat.

I was a little concerned when we first picked it up. The box was huge and heavy. Grant didn’t seem too concerned though, so I decided to feel ok about it. I’d say we both felt pretty great about it at that point.




As we prepared for our maiden voyage, I once again became somewhat  concerned. As far as I could tell, this thing was HUGE, and we were going to have to inflate it and then deflate it and pack it up every time we wanted to take it out.


If Grant would have voiced the same concerns and decided that we needed to go buy that Toyota Tacoma he is always talking about, i’m pretty sure I would have agreed, and we would have a truck right now. But thankfully he didn’t. Instead, he couldn’t have been happier figuring out how to get it all inflated and ready to go. Once it started to look like a boat, I could tell that the people walking by at Lake of the Isles thought our boat was pretty awesome. In fact, we heard a woman on her bike say just that to her companion. Surprisingly, it didn’t actually take all that long to inflate, and we were ready to go.


Oh man, we were pumped. (and yes, so was the boat #grantjokes) The maiden voyage did not disappoint.


It was pretty perfect, even though it was a little windy. After all, it was Saturday, and we were on a boat! 5 minutes from our apartment!


Look at that face. The blissful look of a new boat owner.

And of course, what would a boat ride be without a little fishing?


Fantastic idea? Absolutely.


April Little Things

I tried my first one-pot dinner. Just throw all the ingredients into the pot at one time, put the lid on, and 10 minutes later…done. So easy. It was good, but I think I’m still on the look out for a better one-pot option. Or maybe I should put in less water next time?


We finally made it to Chick-fil-A, so I could try the frozen lemonade we kept seeing in commercials while we were in North Carolina. It did not disappoint. Just thinking about it has my mouth watering. If were weren’t such old-timers who go to bed at 8:30, I would be tempted to go get one right now.


It turned out to be quite a fun date night. (Even though it ended with Grant getting a new calling…) What is it about those waffle fries?

And of course, what would April be without General Conference? The first weekends of April and October, we have the opportunity to hear from our church leaders on different Gospel-related topics. It is seriously a feast of goodness. All weekend long (4 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday) we get to hear different “talks” from different individuals. You can go here to listen to any of the talks. This one was one of my favorites. (But they’re all SO good!) It is better than any self-help book you could ever read. I always look forward to it so much, and I get so disappointed when the Sunday session is nearing the end. Fortunately, we can go back and read and listen to those talks whenever we want. Different ones always resonate at different times.


General Conference weekend also happened to fall on Easter weekend this year, and it was a beautiful day! Between General Conference sessions on Saturday, we headed to the driving range to hit some golf balls.


For our Easter Dinner on Sunday we had pot roast, potatoes, and vegetables. We had this last year as well. It may become our Easter tradition. After dinner we went down the block to check out the Basilica of St. Mary. They have the most beautiful Christmas and Easter decorations, and this year was no exception.


We had a few typical Boren-style friday nights: Grant reading something academic and thought-provoking, me reading and marking my cookbooks. (Yes, it is totally possible to read a cookbook. In fact, the ones that have stories and explanations and little memories to go with the recipes are my favorite)


When the weather starts to warm up in Minneapolis, it means it’s time for food trucks! I think the food trucks are so great. Some of them have such fun, unique menus. They add a little pizzaz to the normal lunch time routine, and they give you a good excuse to spend a little extra time outside during the work day. My wonderful friend Ali came downtown to meet me for a food truck lunch one fine day.


And finally…Grant re-claimed an old hobby that he is pretty excited about and he seems to be loving-Fly fishing! He is even making is own flys (or is it flies?) He has been getting up super-early every Saturday morning and heading out to fish for a couple of hours. We have more than a few lakes within 15 minutes, so it’s a great hobby. He always seems to get back before I actually get out of bed…


Now on to May!

The Best Mothers

Even though I seem to have missed Mother’s Day by about a week, Moms deserve to be celebrated and recognized every day.

I really have the most wonderful mom. As I get older, and I navigate my own challenges and try to do things that seem hard to me, I often think of my mom. I wonder how she managed to do all that she did for us. She worked (and still does) so hard to give us all that she could. She is a shining, incredible example of love, courage, thoughtfulness, generosity, and sacrifice. She taught me to be strong and independent. She taught me that hands are washable, and I can work hard. She made me believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. She has always loved and supported me, no matter how questionable or unconventional my plans seemed to be, and I know that she always will. I am so grateful that I get to be her daughter.

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Mom, you are beautiful. In every way. I love you.

Marrying my husband meant that I also became part of another family. I feel so fortunate to have the most wonderful in-laws. I recently learned that they tell people I’m not their “daughter-in-law” but their “new daughter.” How sweet is that? They have showered me with so much love, kindness, and thoughtfulness, it truly feels like I have been part of their family forever. I know there is so much I don’t know about their family, but I do know that my mother-in-law did an incredible job raising the man of my dreams and for that I am so grateful.

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Aren’t they the cutest?

Finally, recognizing the mothers in our lives wouldn’t be complete without celebrating my grandmothers. They are the glue that holds their families together, and the most wonderful grandmothers I could ask for. I think their hearts might actually be made of gold. They have done and continue to do so much for their families.

Graduation Grandmas

I’ve been thinking about mothering a lot lately. I’ve come to the conclusion that all women, regardless of whether they have children, have the divine ability to mother. Every woman has the ability to literally change the world through her capacity to do what only a woman can do: mother those around her. Women can lift where they stand by caring, nurturing, loving, and reaching out in ways that only women can do.

Happy Birthday To My Love


May 7 might be one of my most favorite days of the year. I get to celebrate the birth of my most favorite person in the whole world, my wonderful husband. Put that celebration on top of an opportunity to make him feel a little uncomfortable by unwanted attention and praise, and it makes for a pretty good day.

This year I thought a lot about the years that led up to the beginning of this new one. I wondered about all the experiences and people who have made him who is he today. I couldn’t be there to experience all those years with him, but I am so grateful for all those who did get to be part of those years. I can’t help but feel so grateful for all that he did to make himself the kind, thoughtful, generous, handsome, funny, intelligent, hardworking, and faithful man that he is today.

In celebration of his special day, we picked up some Arby’s. (we were a bit pressed on time, but it sooooo hit the spot) That had to have been the cheapest birthday dinner ever, ringing in at a whopping $12. After dinner we went to see the new Avenger’s movie.  He was like a kid in a candy store going to see the movie.


I’m never quite as super-excited to see action and super hero movies like he is. Generally though, I find myself surprised at how much I enjoyed the humor in the show, and last night was no exception.

It was a special evening celebrating the birth of the best part of my life. I have no doubt that this will be another year of big decisions, growth, opportunities, and special memories to look back on.


I can’t wait to spend the next 28 with him. (and the next 28…and the next 28…and the next…)

March Little Things

Even though April has come and gone, I really wanted to do a “Little Things” post for March. At least I’m not doing this in June, right? I just love being able to pull together all the photos from small moments that don’t necessarily need an entire post but are still worth remembering.

The first of what will hopefully be many “baking days” with my dear friend Ali. She is very talented in the kitchen. When she opens her bakery, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.


We made cornmeal lime cookies. I loved them. Grant, not so much. That just meant more for me, right? Yep, I ate them all.


Can you guess which cookies Ali glazed and which I glazed? (Hint: Ali’s are pretty)

The annual Twin Cities Auto Show was waaay more fun than I thought it would be. We learned something about navigating an auto show though: Don’t begin in the section with the luxury cars. Those Hondas and Toyotas just won’t have the same appeal once you finally get to them.Lessons learned. (But those Jaguars and Mercedes were ah-mazing)

IMG_7671IMG_7684Look at that smile, like a kid in a candy store.


I told him he could get the truck if he really wants it. Seriously.


Because House Hunters has become one of our favorite shows, it seems only natural that we would also spend some time at the semi-annual Parade of Homes. This is the equivalent of an auto-show only for house. There are hundreds of new or newly remodeled homes around the Twin Cities to go and see. Of course all of them for sale, and of course, even though we ventured away from the bustle of the city, the homes were all really expensive. It’s so fun to look around the homes and get ideas about what we really think is important and the designs we like.


What would March be without a little St. Patrick’s day celebration? Because St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Sunday, I took some extra time to prepare a festive dinner for us: Irish Beef Stew with Cream Cheese mashed potatoes on top, and of course, I used my green Le Creuset dish from my wonderful husband. The stew was deeeeelicious.


Unfortunately for us, during March we also failed miserably in our attempt to host some new friends for Sunday dinner. A couples notes to self: 1.) make sure  you change the kitchen clocks when daylight savings time happens 2.) make sure you check the quality of your salmon before you intend to rely on it as the main attraction for your Sunday dinner. It’s a good thing our friends are so nice, and we could offer them good ice cream for dessert.

These spilled peppercorns were the perfect end to the not-so-perfect dinner hosted by the Borens.


I finally took down all the Christmas cards that were covering our fridge and the wall next to it. I just loved having all those Christmas cards up and being able to look at the faces of dear friends and family. Having them up made everyone seem not quite as far away. Fortunately with wedding and graduation season upon us, our fridge is once again being filled with beautiful, smiling faces.


Of course it snowed…


But then we went to North Carolina, and we found some amazing green grass!!


My foot = SUPER white.

If you got through all of that, you’re a champ. Let’s hope I can get a little things post up for April before this month is over!

Which wolf are you feeding?


I recently learned a story of an old Cherokee man teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil: he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good: he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

There are some powerful lessons to be learned from this story. One of the most relevant for me right now is the responsibility that I must take for my emotions and my thoughts. Inevitably, the wolf that I choose to feed, is the one that will win. It’s hard to admit, but there are times when the good wolf doesn’t win. This is especially true when I give in to fear, anxiety, negativity, self-doubt and criticism. At times, it can be so hard to feed the good wolf. And honestly, sometimes it’s just easier to choose the evil wolf.

I’m learning that at times, it can take a lot of courage to choose the good wolf. Courage to choose the good wolf, often requires a step of faith. It might be a small step or it might be a giant leap, but choosing good requires faith. Reading over the grandfather’s description of the good wolf, I realized that the good wolf embodies the qualities of Christ, our Savior. If we are seeking to make the Godly choice, we will choose to feed the good wolf, as difficult as it may be. It sometimes takes a tremendous amount of faith to choose those good things like humility and kindness, but by choosing the good wolf, we can show that we have faith that our trials have the potential teach us and lift us in ways we can’t understand.

I hope that this blog will be more than a we-did-this-and-then-we-did-that-kind of blog because I don’t feel like that completely captures our life as it should be remembered. Posts like this, which are devoid of selfies and descriptions of fun things, will hopefully remind us that through our challenges and bumps in the road, we have learned, we have grown, and we continued to move forward.

The Outerbanks

At the end of March, we turned a weekend into a very long weekend and met up with our dear friends, Nick and Haley for a little get-away in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. (OBX, if you’re hip and local)

Even though it was unseasonably cold-think, overcast, 45 and windy, and we were there about 2 weeks before the busy season really starts up, we had such a fun weekend.



We saw some really interesting stuff…


Our vacation rental was right on the beach. Although it was far too cold to make use of the beach, you can’t beat that view.


Don’t let those shorts fool you. That little sliver of sunshine and warmth was short-lived.


There was so much sand around and below the house that we couldn’t park in the driveway underneath without getting stuck in the sand. Kind of like getting stuck in the snow but replace the snow with sand. I can’t say that’s somethingI ever experienced growing up in North Dakota.


And you know what they say, “when the kids are away, the grown-ups will play.” Or something like that. (“Grown-ups” being a very loose term)


We had a really great experience learning about Wilbur and Orville Wright and the first flight at Kittle Hawk.




Then there was the food. Oh my gosh…the most delicious seafood. The thought of shrimp and grits had my mouth watering even before we left Minnesota.


More shrimp.


And seafood straight from the boat to the table.


Duck Donuts, anyone? (made to order, greasy, so bad for you, yet so delicious)


Despite the cold. It was a fun, lovely, relaxing weekend with the best of friends. Being married has given me some amazing, unexpected blessings like new friends who I feel like I have known and loved forever.