So busy lately!

Wow! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. That’s okay though. As busy as I was, there wasn’t too much to post about.
My brother graduated from Luther College a few weekends ago (where I had graduated in 2009, my parents in 1982 & 1983, my aunt and uncle in 1994 & 1995, my other uncle in 1977 and my great uncle in 1954!). We all had a fun time watching him graduate.
Our Memorial Weekend was pretty bland since it RAINED the whole weekend. But this week will be a short one and then after work on Friday Ethan and I are heading up to Grand Marais for our mini vacation! I can’t wait to get up there and go hiking, walk along the shores of Lake Superior, relax, etc. It’ll still be a little colder up there, upper 50s but that’s okay as long as it doesn’t rain! I’ve had my fill of rain for awhile. I even had some sad kitties who wanted to go outside!

Sad Nika

Sad Nika

Sad Enzo

Sad Enzo

OH! I almost forgot one thing! Starting June 3rd (while I’m still on my mini vacation), I will be starting to take an online class for accounting! I’m a little nervous about it but excited at the same time. I am taking it for work since I work in the accounting department but don’t have any accounting education. My bachelor’s degree is in history… so not even close lol. The best part…. my work is paying for it! It’s not costing me a dime! I’m not fully enrolled at the school because I’m not sure if I want to complete the degree, get certified or what. So for now I’ll just be taking the one class to see if it’s worth it.

Anyways!  Here are a few more photos from my time away from this blog…

My new camera!

My new camera!

The last Sookie Stackhouse book :(

The last Sookie Stackhouse book 😦

Our new gas grill!

Our new gas grill!

Enzo wanted to go to comic con too!

Enzo wanted to go to comic con too!

Car I saw near my work...

Car I saw near my work…

Just a relaxing evening reading.

Just a relaxing evening reading.

He loves his bags and boxes.

He loves his bags and boxes.

Found my favorite necklace I thought was lost forever!

Found my favorite necklace I thought was lost forever!

Finally had time to get the tank clean.

Finally had time to get the tank clean.

Easter

I had a great little Easter vacation this past weekend.  We got Friday off at work and went down to Kansas City, Missouri to hang out with my aunt, uncle and cousins.  My parents, brother and brother’s girlfriend went too.  We all had a great time!  It’s always fun getting together with them.  Despite the fact that our age range amongst the cousins is 21-28, we did an Easter egg hunt and colored Easter eggs.  It was fun!  We each had a color of egg we were allowed to find and camoflauge eggs that anyone could take.  Each of our own colored eggs had special presents inside and the eggs ranged in size from the normal size to giant sized haha.

Hubby opening his eggs

Hubby opening his eggs

Oh, and they made us wear bunny ears on our heads as we searched.

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Dakota even had bunny ears!

Dakota even had bunny ears!

We colored eggs both the usual way and we also tried something I had found on Pinterest.  Marbling the eggs using shaving cream!  It was messy but really fun!  I had so much fun that I ended up coloring 15 eggs total!

My eggs!  Marbled eggs were made using shaving cream.

My eggs! Marbled eggs were made using shaving cream.

We played a couple of games of Settlers of Catan, which if you’ve never played before… PLAY IT!  I love that game!

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Our 2nd game... I won!

Our 2nd game… I won!

On Easter morning we did the church thing and then had a huge Easter lunch.  It was amazingly delicious.  Each “kid” got an Easter basket with candy in it too!

547434_733006532463_1480217240_nWe had lots of fun with everyone, the dogs too!  My cousin Joey’s dog, Duke, is a handful but he’s also very loveable and cute!

Duke

Duke

My other cousin Jimmy’s dog, Dakota is even cuter! (Sorry Joe!)  She’s also much more mellow than Duke and you saw the photo of her with the bunny ears… So cute!

Dakota

Dakota

The Ladies and the Bunny Napkins

The Ladies and the Bunny Napkins

My family

My family

One of my favorite parts of this vacation was my aunt introducing me to the awesomeness that is Cook’s Illustrated magazine!  Not only does this magazine have awesome recipes but it also explains WHY the recipe works as well as tips on the best tools and ingredients to use!  I spent quite a bit of time pouring over the magazines that she had and helping her cook many of the recipes.  In fact, the majority of the food we ate while down there was thanks to recipes from this magazine.  If you don’t know anything about this magazine or have never heard of it and you like cooking… check out this magazine!  I’ve always been interested in cooking but I never knew much about it.  This magazine helps shed light on all the aspects of cooking!  It was created by Christopher Kimball back in 1980.  You might know him from America’s Test Kitchen!  You can visit the magazine’s website here: http://www.cooksillustrated.com/

One of my presents in my Easter eggs was a copy of their latest edition of Make Ahead recipes.  I also bought a copy of America’s Test Kitchen All-Time Favorites and the current issue of Cook’s Country, which is another magazine put out by ATK.  I haven’t made any recipes from these magazines yet on my own, but I can’t wait to do it!  Both my husband and I are somewhat picky eaters so we have to sit down and decide what we would eat, and if there are non-essential ingredients that we would skip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Vacation Planned!

Yes! I am so excited! My husband and I just booked a short little vacation for this summer. We’ll be spending 4 nights up in Grand Marais, MN on the shores of Lake Superior. We got booked a room at The Shoreline Inn which is right on the shore! And for only $79 a night!!! What a bargain! We plan to head up after work on Friday, May 31st and stay for 4 nights. On Tuesday, June 4th we will check out in the morning and stop in Duluth on the way home. I haven’t been to Grand Marais in YEARS! Here is a photo of my family the last time I was up there. I look so young! (I’m on the left)
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I am so excited to go back! I’ve already started planning what kinds of things we want to do. I am especially excited to just hang out on the shore, combing the rocks for any “sea” glass and agates. (For more info on Lake Superior agates, visit this site here! http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snapshots/rocks_minerals/lakesuperioragate.html )

I can’t wait to eat at Sven and Ole’s Pizza, do some shopping at the Lake Superior Trading Post, do a bit of hiking, and just relaxing by the lake.  I’m sure that I will take lots and lots of photos!

Missing Mackinac Island

Ever since we got back from our cruise adventure, I have been pining for Mackinac Island.  And for all of you people who have never heard of this place, it’s pronounced Mackinaw.  We went there last summer on our belated honeymoon (we had been married in January).  We had booked our hotel room there in mid January.  We decided to go at the beginning of their tourist season so we could get a cheap rate.  Our room was only $90/night!  So then on January 28th, we got married.  We were in the process of buying our townhome that we live in now so there was a lot going on all at once.  We closed on the townhome on March 2nd (first anniversary of that coming up on Saturday!) and decided to paint all of the walls first, before moving furniture in.  So my mother-in-law was pulling out the fridge to clean and paint behind it and you’ll never guess what we found stuck to the back of that fridge!  A magnet from Mackinac Island!

Mackinac MagnetWe couldn’t believe what a coincidence that was!  To this day we still have it on our fridge.

So anyways, the night before we were going to leave, our friend Josh came over to help us put our bike rack on the car.  He grew up around everything bikes so he knew exactly how to have it so that it would hold the bikes steady and not damage the car.  There are no cars allowed on Mackinac so the only means of transportation are carriage, bike or walking.  They have many bicycle rental places but they tended to be a little expensive.  Since we were going to be there for 4 days, we decided to bring our own bikes since it only cost $8 extra to bring them over on the ferry.  The next morning, in order to make the last ferry at 6:00 ET, we left MN at 5:00 AM.  The journey would take a little over 10 hours plus tack on an hour for the time change.  My husband hates driving on highways so I drove the whole way.  We had a really fun drive.  We alternated listening to music and Adam Carolla’s books on cd (which are hilarious if you’ve never heard/read them).

We would be boarding the ferry in St. Ignace, MI and we made it there just in time to watch the 4:30 ferry depart the docks.  We couldn’t wait to get on the island!  We bought our tickets for the ferry and waited around.  It was chilly and windy that day but that didn’t stop us from looking around outside.  Before long, we were loaded onto the ferry and we decided to sit on the top deck.  We were the only ones haha.  Since it was the last ferry, we figured it was mostly island residents who were going back, especially since there weren’t that many people.  We had a great time cruising across Lake Heron with me snapping photos left and right.

Star Line Ferry

Star Line Ferry

The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel

Downtown

Downtown

We chose the Star Line Ferry (there were 2 other ferry lines to choose from) mostly because their dock was almost right across the street from our hotel (which is the yellow building in the “Downtown” photo).  We got off the dock, grabbed our bags and bikes and met the porter who brought our bags to the hotel.  He helped get us checked in and showed us where our room was.

The Windermere Hotel

The Windermere Hotel

Our room

Our room

The rooms at this hotel have no TVs, which we were excited about.  We were looking forward to spending a few days without a lot of technology.  The first night we did some walking around the downtown area and along the shore a bit.

Best pizza ever!

Best pizza ever!

We ate dinner at Goodfellow’s Wings and Things.  Best pizza ever!

Our bikes and M-185

Our bikes and M-185

British Landing

British Landing

The next few days we spent exploring as much of the island as we could.  We walked A LOT!  We didn’t ride our bikes as much.  We did ride the entire perimeter of the island on the “highway” called M-185.  It was very easy as most of the road was flat.  The entire length was paved.  We would stop along the way to see the different sights both on the water and on the island.  It was very fun!  We tried to do it again a different day but our butts were so sore we could only make it part way haha.  When we explored the interior of the island, we always walked.

My favorite variety of lilac

My favorite variety of lilac

There were lilacs everywhere!  A few weeks into the tourist season they have a lilac festival!  They were all so pretty and the smell was incredible!

The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel carriage

The Grand Hotel carriage

One of the things that the Grand Hotel is most famous for is their porch.  At 660 feet, it is the longest in the entire world!  Parts of the movie “Somewhere In Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour were filmed here too.  Around the island they have markers,noting where certain scenes were filmed.  Unless you are a guest of the hotel, you have to pay $10 just to walk on their grounds!  Their horse drawn carriages are the fanciest on the island as well.

View from Fort Mackinac

View from Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac

The view from Fort Mackinac is incredible!  It overlooks Marquette Park and the marina.  The Fort itself was a very interesting place to visit.

Walking by a carriage tour

Walking by a carriage tour

View from Arch Rock

View from Arch Rock

Crack In The Island Trail

Crack In The Island Trail

The Crack in the Island

The Crack in the Island

The Crack in the Island was a sort of eerie place.  Even though you were in the middle of the woods, the only sounds you could hear were the leaves moving in the breeze.  There were no animal sounds, no people sounds.  Back in the day, the Indians and fur traders who lived on the island steered clear of this place.  They felt it was an evil place and would not eat any animal killed near this place.

I realize this post has been pretty long, but I have been missing Mackinac for so long it only felt right to go back and share some of our photos and experiences from it.  We don’t have any official plans to go back yet but I’m hoping we don’t wait too long!

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My favorite photo of us on Mackinac

To see more photos from our trip, check out my Shutterfly share site!  The album title is Honeymoon 2012.

http://marensphotos.shutterfly.com/pictures

For more information on any places I’ve mentioned in this post, check out the following websites!

www.mackinacisland.org

www.mackinac.com

www.windermerehotel.com

www.grandhotel.com

http://www.mackinacparks.com/fort-mackinac/

 

Oops!

I seem to have forgotten about my blog… I blame my scatterbrain.  Since I last posted, my husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary!  We went on a 5 night cruise to the Caribbean.  It was amazing to get away from the Minnesota winter for a few days and relax under the sun.  The morning we left it was -6 degrees outside!  We were on the Carnival Destiny.  We departed from Miami on January 21.  Originally we were supposed to stop in the ports of Grand Turk (of Turks and Caicos) and Half Moon Cay (AKA Little San Salvador Island) but they had to rearrange ports due to tugboat issues.  So instead we stopped in Key West, FL and Freeport, The Bahamas.  Key West was a total blast!  We definitely want to go back there someday, hopefully in the near future. We saw the southernmost point in the Continental US, Ernest Hemingway’s house, Sloppy Joe’s bar, Capt Tony’s Saloon (the original location of Sloppy Joe’s), and some general shopping and wandering around.  I loved seeing all of the hens and roosters just wandering around the streets.

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Freeport was kind of a disappointment but we had a good time at the beach.

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Our final stop was in Nassau, The Bahamas.  We had a great time there!  We did some shopping on the main street, explored around the Queen’s Staircase, visited Fort Fincastle, ate at a delicious cafe, etc.

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We would definitely go back to Key West and Nassau sometime in the future.  They were very fun places to explore and there were so many things that we didn’t even get a chance to see!

This trip sparked the travel bug in both of us.  I got a HUGE craving to go back to Mackinac Island (where we went on our honeymoon).  If you’re ever interested in going to an island where motorized vehicles are not allowed, horse drawn carriages and bicycles are the way to travel, fresh fudge is made right before your eyes… then Mackinac Island is the place to go!  http://www.mackinacisland.org/  Such an amazing place.

This summer we’re hoping to take a couple of long weekend trips to go camping up on the North Shore (Grand Marais!!!).