Thursday, July 28, 2011


This happened last week, but I am just getting around to mentioning it now...I have been troubled by the recent violence in Norway.  Most of you probably know that I studied in the beautiful city of Oslo during the summer of 2006.  Well, I say I was studying.  There was alot of other nonsense going on between classes!  I remember it very clearly and will never forget those streets and the favorite bars, restaurants, and parks that we visited.  There are bombings and shootings in some unstable countries on a regular basis but thinking of it happening in Oslo is very hard to imagine.  I scrutinized the pictures of the scene of the bombing, looking at the backgrounds to look for familiar landmarks and I saw places I recognized.  On the news I saw footage of the huge memorial that has formed in front of the Oslo Cathedral, a place where royalty is married and a place that I walked by several times a day on the way to and from our school.  I recognized the elaborate entrance at the front. 

There I am as a  23 year old...I can't believe it has been that long!  I haven't really been thinking thoughts about what it would have been like if I had been there...I have thinking about that peaceful city in chaos and of course of the people I met there and the Norwegians who came to study at UND that I met in the U.S.  As far as I know from Facebook they are all safe along with their families. 

I know the city will recover and I will go there again someday!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Big Fiasco

When I was a child we lived in Wyoming and one of my family's regular summer activities was camping in the Black Hills or Yellowstone.  We had a little pop-out camper.  Often my grandparents from Minnesota would join us for a week or two.  There are many photographs from these days, including this family classic of my brother laying in pine needles with his blanket.   

Since moving to ND in the early 90's we haven't camped much...or at all.  I recall one failed trip to Turtle River where it rained the whole weekend and also a pretty fun girl scout camping experience which also took place at Turtle River.  Other than that, I spent overnight in many tents and campers in my friends' yards and went to We-Fest twice. 

In 2008, my sister suggested that she wanted to camp an tube in Minnesota for her bachelorette party.  Tubing is something we have done quite a bit of, since the resort is located in the town where my mom grew up and where my grandma still lives.  I booked the campsites and it was a blast!  In 2009 and 2010 she organized the same trip where guys were included and it has always been a fun time. 

We headed off to Northern Minnesota on Friday feeling excited for the weekend.  After weeks of hot weather everyone was excited to spend time on the river.  The campground was full of festive people and the delightful smells of campfires and grilling filled the air. 

I love this fire photo!  Usually they don't turn out!

There was rain in the forecast but we hoped for the best.  Well, the lightening started around midnight, the sprinkles of rain started around 2 a.m., and at 4 a.m. the violent thunderstorm with sheets of rain and strong winds hit and water started inflitrating the tents.  I was staying with my cousin and her husband and soon my sister was in our tent saying that theirs had collapsed.  My brother's tent collapsed as well and we all ended up fleeing the campground!  Yikes what a mess!  It was raining very hard and we all were soaked.  Fortunately, we had packed our bags and put them in the vehicles in case the storm materialized.  

When we returned the next day we found that the canopies had blown off the tents and the sheets and mattresses inside were soaked.  If it had been nice out we would have gone tubing anyway but it wasn't!  It was 65 degrees!  After weeks of 90s it was 65 degrees on Saturday!  WHY?  

So...we tried to dry everything and then we started the grill and tried to eat some of the food we had brought.  It was a huge bust!  I headed back to Bismarck. 

Our garden is showing some positive signs...that little stem is actually a very tiny cucumber!  Exciting! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Las Vegas

OK, I finally got the Vegas pictures loaded...and they are in some sort of wacky order so I am just going to leave them that way.  There were eleven of us on the trip, all related.  Both of my grandmothers were their in celebration of their 80th birthdays, both which took place in June if you recall.  My aunt and uncle from California met us there, as did my aunt from Illinois.  My sister and I and our two cousins shared a room.  We stayed at the Flamingo, which was kind of a dive by Las Vegas hotels.  The flamingo theme is fun, with pink everywhere.  I hear they have some delux rooms with neat pink flamingo themed decor but we didn't have those rooms!  Our room was pretty generic and run down.  Apparently they will be renovating all the rooms in the near future.  Not soon enough, in my opinion.  It didn't matter though, since we didn't spend much time in the rooms.

My cousins Katie and Brenna couldn't join us until Friday night (everyone else arrived Thursday afternoon) so when they did they were excited to check everything out.  It was Brenna's first time visiting Vegas.  Notice my obnoxious dress...I am going to start calling that thing my vacation dress because I only wear it on vacations.  You can see me in it in my prior posts dedicated to when I went to Vegas last summer and when I went to Mexico for my cousin's wedding.  It is so garish that a vacation destination is the only place it works.  OK...I admit...I wore it to a bridal shower on a hot summer day once. 

We spent most of Saturday afternoon by the hotel pool.  That pool was a madhouse.  In order to have lounge chair, you had to get in line at 8 am, get your wristband and towel (pink, of course), and scramble to find unused chairs that had not been claimed with a towel already.  It was kind of intense. 

We found a little spot for ourselves that had some shade.  Lucky for me!  That pool is actually a hot tub which is not the most appealing idea in June in the desert but it was nice to have our own little area so we didn't have to watch the booty shaking contests if we didn't want to.  Those contests are pretty funny... 

This was taken outside of the hotel called Ballys, where we stayed last year.  I think we will probably return to Ballys in the future...the rooms were nicer and the pool was less chaotic.  If you were unaware, Ballys and the Flamingo and several other hotels are affiliated and you can use your rewards membership credits at either.  The grandmothers spend quite a bit of time playing the slots which enables us to get very cheap and sometimes free rooms at these places. 

On our last evening we talked about going to a show like we did last year but decided to just hang out and walk around the strip instead.  We came across some club promoters who were giving out free drinks to get people to come to the Miss USA after party (the pageant took place that night!).  Not much was happening at 7 pm but we got our free beers and hung out on the patio.  Later that night when we walked past the club again there were pageant contestants and families milling around outside!  Those girls look very "made up" in real life!  They also look very slim...I guess TV cameras do add some weight...and their heels are sooo high! 

This crazy sofa just begs for tourists to pose on it!  It did't matter...there was no one there as you can see from the background! 

 There are lots of escalators on the strip to prevent the throngs of pedestrians from interfering with traffic.  They are a nice place to rest your legs!

There is the Flamingo...this picture was supposed to be at the top but it ended up down here. 
The back side of the Flamingo has a very nice bird habitat featuring flamingos, of course, and other birds.  They have a bird expert on staff to feed them and take care of everything.  It is a very nice and well kept area...almost like walking through a mini zoo! 

I love visiting Las Vegas.  I love the desert air and the heat and I love the views of the red and brown desert mountains in the distance.  I also love that you can be amused for hours just by walking around.  I enjoy getting a fix on the cheap slot machines, especially if I win a few dollars.  I love the over the top themes of the hotels and how you can get food everywhere you look.  And, best of all, the dry air makes my hair very smooth and agreeable!  I didn't know it was possible for it to look like that until I visited Vegas!  I overlook the cheap laborers handing out flyers for call girls at every street corner and how the casinos are all shrouded in a fog of smoke.  Mostly I love it there. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Aww crap.

Hola!  It is almost 10:00 and my eyes are on fire and I just tried to make a post about the Las Vegas vacation I took back in June and the photos were uploading so slow that I gave up for tonight!  Sometimes Blogger acts wierd like that and it is a big waste of time...I don't have time for your nonsense, Blogger!  OK...that might be an overstatement...I have time to write about mundane crap several times a week so I have to admit that finding time is not a huge challenge.  It is annoying though!  I will try again tomorrow. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Twins Game

We went to a Twins game this weekend.  Justin and I went with my parents.  They had free tickets because the weekend's game was sponsored by the Northland Ford Dealers.  The seats were mediocre but any seat is fun at Target Field.  Some friends also met us there.  They had tickets way down by the dugout! 

It didn't matter where you was hotter than the fires of Hades on Saturday afternoon and evening!  It might have been the worst humidity I have ever felt.  I knew we were in for a sauna of a day when I stepped outside around 8 am in Fargo Saturday morning and the was immediately sweating. 

The game was so hot.  I wore a pair of shorts to the game that left my thighs exposed and ended up being glued to my chair the whole time and feeling like I wet my pants.  Those shorts were a bad choice although longer pants would have been hot as well.  Relief came once the sun sank below the stadium wall but that didn't happen until we had been there awhile.  

The view is always lovely!

Before the game there was a ceremony because Bert Blyleven is being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Twins retired his number.  There were former teammates and coaches on hand to present him with various uniforms from the three decades he played for the Twins and he threw the first pitch.  They played some footage on the big screens.  That is Harmon Killebrew on the screen being interviewed for this occasion before he passed away recently. 

Fortunately we had some open seats around us so there was room to stretch out.  At one point our friends Aaron and Andy climbed up to the cheap seats to see if we had a nicer breeze (we didn't) and there was room for them to stay for awhile. 

It was a fun time, regardless of the heat.  I have attended many Twins games in my life and my enjoyment of them has increased.  When I was in elementary school I thought they were exceedingly boring and they seemed to drag on and on.  I didn't really understand the rules of baseball in those days (not that I am and expert now, but I know what is going on most of the time!).  Now I find it relaxing to just sit there and watch and listen to the music they play between innings.  It is also fun to be at an outdoor stadium and to walk around downtown Minneapolis before and after the games. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


During law school, I spent two years living in a campus apartment, which would have been known as "married student housing" in my parents' college days.  They now let unmarried students who are in grad school or have been in undergrad for several years live there.  They also let lone individuals have two bedrooms without roommates since a few new residence halls have opened up and taken the strain off the housing supply.  We weren't married when I first moved into my tiny bedroom apartment at the height of harvest season before my 2nd year began.  My dad and brother had to help me move and they were WAY too busy for such nonsense because of the farm so they made a few trips from my storage unit that I was sharing with a few classmates and piled everything very haphazardly near the entrance of the apartment and took off leaving me to deal with furniture to position and boxes to move.  I think they must have helped me assemble the bed frame at least!  They also accidentally grabbed a large painting that belonged to one of my friends from the storage unit that I had to return to the unit later.  (I am not trying to sound unappreciative...I just think the whole afternoon was funny.  It must be so annoying to be a man and always have to help people move heavy items...)  I had no idea what to expect from my new campus apartment.  What I did know was that it cost about $300 less a month than the off-campus one bedroom that I had rented my first year.  The campus apartments had cable TV, internet was very cheap, and, since UND generates its own electricity, the monthly electric bill averaged about $4.00 per month.  Seriously.  The building was quite dated, with panelled walls and a porcelain sink protruding from the bathroom wall without a counter or any sort of cabinets.  However, it was spotlessly clean and the outdated faucets and showers dumped water in wonderful way that new, water conserving fixtures can never compare to.    

After one semester in the one-bedroom I upgraded to a still cheap two bedroom and was assigned to a unit in a neigboring building of the complex.  This place seemed cavernous compared to the one-bedroom, mostly because it had white walls instead of panelling.  Both of these units were quite sufficient for student living and I lived there until graduation.  The two-bedroom was our first home after getting married and I was always relieved to get back to that cozy little place after sub-zero walks from the bus stop. They lacked one major thing however...curtains...yikes.  Upon discovering this I pinned some blankets over the windows that August day that I moved in until I could get to Target to buy some cheap curtains.  The two bedroom had FOUR whole windows instead of just two like the one bedroom so I decided to make some curtains myself!  The kitchen had a window and I had my heart set on curtains with a corn on the cob pattern like the curtains in the Simpsons' kitchen!

I couldn't find any fabric with a corn print on it so instead I ended up choosing a sunny, yellow fabric with a lemon pattern!  I didn't care if it would look over the top because I couldn't do much else to modify the appearance of the apartment. 

Later that year I was in Kohls and came across this cheap lemon slice rug.  I bought it and it was the start of a lemon theme.  I am not crazy about themes in houses because they can get ridiculous fast so i will call it a casual lemon is not in your face as soon as you walk in the notice it gradually... 

I found these towel and also a cutting board with lemons on it (I forgot to get it out for the photo) and also some dish sponges (long thrown away) in the dollar aisle at Target when they had a brief line of fruit oriented kitchen items in there. 

I found these fake lemon figurine things at TJ Maxx within the last year. 

I ordered this poster that hangs above the stove when we lived in the campus two bedroom.  It is a vintage Sunkist advertisement.

Oh...then there is this wall hanging...I bought that at TJ Maxx as well.  It is metal and the lemons are raised off the background.  I bought it to hang in our apartment when we moved here.  Justin hates it and didn't want it in our new kitchen when we moved to this house.  It looks kind of wacky in this picutre and the wall color looks all wrong compared to how it is in person but I actually think it goes nicely in the kitchen.  It is a small, 1950's kitchen so anything overly ornate or farmhouse-y would look wrong.  I should mention that the whole kitchen is not full of lemons...there are other aspects of the decor.  If you want to see you can click on the "kitchen" link on the right side of the page. 

The lemon slice rug has been with us since it was new back in 2007.  I wash it regularly the grippy material on the back is inevitably wearing out and it has started slipping around and causing problems.  It bunches up and I keep tripping over it.  This afternoon I shopped for a new rug to replace it.  It didn't have to be just had to match the kitchen and preferably have a color or colors to match the Fiestaware dishes from which I drew the colors that dominate the kitchen (yellow, turquoise, green). 

Ohhhh my....there are so many ugly area rugs out there!  I went first to TJ Maxx, because it is a good place to find cheap crap that is a bit different from the usual things you see everywhere from Target or Kohls.  I couldn't find anything good.  There were some cute things but they were meant more for a living room or someplace that wouldn't require the rug to be washed regularly.  I was looking for something with a grip on the back.  Next I went to Kohls because that is where the original lemon slice came from.  They still had that half-circle shaped line that I had in mind but were so ugly!  Ugh!  There was one with fruit on it on clearance that I almost bought just to be silly but it was so bad I had to put it back.  Next I went to the mall and started at Herbergers and then went to JC Penney.  It was all the same...garish colors with pictures of coffee cups or wine bottles or vegetables and words like "espresso" or "vino" all over the place.  Maybe that would be OK if I liked coffee and I do like wine but that "tuscan" wine motif would be weird in our kitchen. The alternative choice was something in dull, muted taupe or sage green that would look all wrong.

I finally tried Target (the Target here is still attached to the mall like they were in the old days before SuperTarget took over!  It is convenient but I miss SuperTarget).  That is where I found this!

Hahaha...I still think it is kind of ugly but oh least it doesn't get bunched up cause problems. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kitchen Faucet

Everyone hold on to their hats...this is going to be exciting!  Justin recently replaced the faucet in the kitchen!  The old one was seeping water out of the base of the  handle when it was turned on at full pressure.  There was always water residue along the backsplash. 

This new one is very nice!  I like how it has that less shiny look (what is that called...brushed?) because water spots do not appear the way they do on shiny fixtures.   Also, I like how the spray nozzle is not black like most of them are in older sinks.  I wish I had a before shot to show you for comparison.  Well...actually I don't.  Who wants a picture of a faucet from the 90's?  Who wants to see a picture of any faucet at all?  Yes, I know, it is your lucky day to get to see a picture of a kitchen sink. 

Allan did something naughty this morning.  It all started a few months ago when I thought it would be funny to put him on a shelf in the linen closet.  He likes enclosed spaces so I thought he would like the compact size of a closet compartment.  He seemed to think it was OK but jumped out pretty quickly.  On Saturday I left the closet open and later discovered that he had jumped in there and was laying on a towel!  Most of the towels were in the basement waiting to be washed so there was extra room in there. 

So...add one more towel to the pile in the laundry room...I promise if anyone comes to visit they will get a towel that no cat has had contact with. 

This morning I was in the shower and I heard a crash.  Allan had tried to jump into the closet again and somehow took down that basket full of crap that you can see at the bottom of the picture.  Maybe he fell short because I had since filled the shelf with folded towels.  I thought no harm was done and started shoving everything back into the basket when i realized I smelled nail polish.  That little blue makeup bag holds my nail polish and one had broken and the other bottles were all covered with pink polish!  What a brat.  Only one bottle broke.  Oh big deal...the broken bottle was a cheap one and not one of nail salon quality polishes that I occasionally buy from bargain bins at Trade Secret.  There are so many naughty things that he doesn't do that I will accept his snoopy, curious behavior.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Flowers and Gardens

These pictures are a few weeks old but I realized I forgot to show them off...yes, they are so impressive I am sure everyone is going to be jealous of my gardening ability.  I guess I should also mention that I have had almost nothing to do with any of this because I do not water it or weed it because I am never there!  All I did was put those flowers in the pots back in May.  Justin waters them and takes care of the garden and does everything, much to my dismay because I like taking care of plants.  Sigh...there will be other years...

Here is the garden.  Once again, it is not doing too hot.  The potatoes are taking off and the peas are doing OK but nothing else was really thriving at my last visit.  Justin planted the onion bulbs upside down so those were a bust.  For some reason the green beans didn't grow at all even though spilled bean seed has been seen sprouting in the box of my dad's pickup and on the gravel driveway by his shop on the farm.  I will be seeing it again tomorrow so hopefully everything lookso more robust. 

Ahhh...the flowers...Justin has been diligently watering these during my absences and when I am there I pull of the dead blooms.  They look full and healthy. 

The only plants that have dissapointed me are the geraniums!  I don't know what is wrong with them because those usually grow without a problem.  I made sure not to crowd any plants in the pots this year but the geraniums still look stunted.  It must have been the specific shipment at greenhouse.  How to you like the shadow of my hands in the corner?  Haha. 

For anyone related to Justin, I made an ancestry post about one of your branches that you might find intersting on my blog...that website pulls me in and I was on it until 11 pm last night!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Alone With the Morning Burning Red

The title of the post is lyrics from the song "4th of July" by Shooter Jennings.  It is a favorite song of mine!  I think of it every year around the 4th of July although I listen to it all year round!

I feel like I was just uploading pictures from the 4th of July in 2010.  Where does a year go?  Even more extreme than that, where does a decade go?  I thought about that over the weekend because it was my 10 year high school reunion.  I know that this is a cliche, but HOLY CRAP those 10 years flew by.  I am not going to get all nostalgic about missing high school because I really don't but it sure was fun to B.S. with my classmates for a day and look at old pictures.  I was with these classmates starting in 2nd grade and many of them were together starting in pre-school so we all go way back.  Even when I haven't seen them for awhile it is like we were never apart.  People really don't change that much.  Well, I believe we have all grown up alot so that is a good change!

There we are in 2001.  This photo was taken at a non-denominational church service the week before our graduation.  There were 28 in the class and I think everyone is in this photo.  Our school colors were not orange and purple...we picked those as our class colors.  Our moms were not thrilled because it was hard to decorate for our graduation parties with orange.  At the reunion, we decided that the orange was a regretable decision.  Oh is something to laugh at! 

The reunion took place on Saturday the 2nd and that evening we went to the annual street dance.  It was so beautiful out.  I can't remember the weather being more perfect than it was on Saturday. 

Here is Andrea and Katie doing some pre-gaming before the dance.  Shocking, I know.

On Sunday morning Justin and I went to MN to his parents' lake cabin where we saw our four nephews.  We also saw Bison, Belle, Rocky, Rosco, and Chloe, the dogs of various family members that formed a wild, wet, pack of dingos.  I think I laughed at the dogs' antics more than the kids' antics!  The weather was perfect for the lake and I look forward to returning for a future weekend.  I forgot my camera so I don't have any photos of the day but it was fun.  I love a lawn chair, a beach towel and some reading material on a hot summer day.

On Saturday my brother showed up with a quantity of fireworks that we have never had before.  They were real "big" fireworks and not the mediocre "fun pack" fireworks that don't do anything but shoot sparks.  I was shocked that he would spend so much money but it turns out that his roommate works at a fireworks store so he got a deal.  I hope he stays friends with this person for awhile.  

Here is a shot of my and my buddy Wallace/Walter!  He is a good dog and our first dog that hasn't had a complete meltdown over fireworks, thunder and gunshots.  It is kind of nice!  I like to joke that our former dog Chubby gets so scared on the 4th that he wakes from his peaceful grave and dies of fear all over again.  That poor dog hated fireworks. 

This is a weird lantern thing that Pete bought with the fireworks assortment.  Once lit, it rose like a hot air balloon and went sailing away with the wind over the trees around the farm and out of sight!  Who knows where it landed!  We didn't hear news of any fires so it must have fizzled out eventually. 

 There were quite a few house guests at my parents' house over the weekend. On Saturday night there were 11 people staying there and on Sunday there were 14 people camping out around the house! Six bedrooms in a house is a feature of yesteryear and those rooms usually are only filled at holidays.  It was good to have the space but I have never wished we had a third bathroom more in my life!  You could not find an open bathroom unless you watched it like a vulture and dashed in as soon as someone came out!

The morning of the 4th dawned hotter than Hades and steaming with humidity.  Yikes....We headed to the parade, which was the same as it is every year.  The horses brought up the rear and there were alot of them! 

That afternoon was the demolition derby, an event that is usually filthy, hot and full of crazy sights.  It was made extra nasty because by 2:00 pm it was about 100 degrees with 99% humidity.  Holy bananas it was so hot.  I hate to say it because I long for the heat of summer all year, but it might have been too hot!  Everyone looked like a soggy mess by the time it was over. 

I don't know why I like watching cars smash each other so much.  Any other day of the year I could care less about something like this.  I attribute it to the festive atmosphere.  There are entertaining distractions betweeen heats and lots of refreshments and socializing.  For example, a guy threw frisbees into the crowd before the event began and my brother caught one.  It had a man's name written on it.  He thought it was just a novelty and gave it to a little girl.  Four hours later, the man from the frisbee had won the whole derby and that little girl had won $50!  Silly Pete. 

So another 4th of July has passed and summer is flying by.  I went shopping today and noticed the back to school promotions and fall oriented merchandise were already taking over the prime spots and the flower pots, lawn chairs, and beach towels were on clearance.  Sigh.