The last time I left you we had finished painting (or so we thought) and the tub/shower unit had been sprayed a pretty white. After living with the wall color for awhile we decided it was just too pink looking in certain lights. So we picked a new color and between Mark and my mom it’s now a much more appealing blue color. And I LOVE it! Next it was on to tile. We had ordered the tile awhile back and last Sunday Mark spent most of the day laying it. Now all that’s left is grout and we can finally install the toilet! Weehoo! A couple of other little updates happened over the last week as well. 1) Mark installed the outlets. 2) The exhaust fan works! and 3) Mark did something with the toilet area to get it ready for installation. Next up grout and lights!!2014-09-20 12.14.502014-09-20 12.15.08

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since I last posted an update on the progress in the bathroom! Needless to say things were moving slowly, but we’ve picked up some momentum in the last month or so. Since our last update, we installed a new window, sheetrocked, put the cement board on the floor, primed and painted. Although the paint color isn’t what we were hoping for so we picked out a new color last night and hopefully that will be the last coat of paint. The pictures below are from the post priming phase.

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The biggest change in the bathroom is the color of the tub/shower surround unit. Late last month we hired a local company to come and spray the unit and make it white. It looks AMAZING! Mark had also done some work to patch where the old faucet was and make way for the new faucet and you can’t even tell where the old one was. I’m so impressed! Here’s one view of it, with the paint color that is going to change. 🙂 

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We have the tile and pretty much everything else we need to finish the job so hopefully my next update will be a) in the near future and b) of a complete bathroom!

This weekend Mark decided to tackle reinforcing the deck to fix a small problem that we had. With the help of his dad they finished the job this morning. 🙂 Can you tell what’s different?

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Today was Day 2 of actual work on the bathroom. We spent a good part of the week debating whether or not we are going to refinish the tub/shower unit and sink. I think we’ve decided to refinish the tub/shower and and buy a new sink. After a trip to Menard’s this morning to get supplies Mark and his dad spent the late morning and good part of the afternoon framing the walls so that we can eventually install Sheetrock and working on the electrical. Even though it may not look like it, there has been progress!

Last weekend we started tearing out our upstairs bathroom – our first big internal renovation project since we bought our house a little over two years ago. With the exception of the bathtub and shower surround everything has been removed: toilet, vanity and sink, tongue and groove below the ceiling level, linoleum and the plywood that was under the linoleum. We now have a blank slate to start fresh. The next step is to get quotes on refinishing the tub/shower and sink. Here are some before and post-demolition pictures.

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After

Our journey to Iceland started in March when Mark and a good friend (Travis) went to the annual sheep banquet and bid on and won a goose hunting trip during the live auction. They left on Tuesday, October 9th and I followed that Friday, October 12th. What a trip it was!

Day 1: Arrival

When I arrived early in the morning (6:30a local time) I was greeted by the driver for the hunting organization that coordinated the guys’ trip. Finni was his name and he picked me up and brought me out to the lodge to meet with the guys when they got back from hunting. When I got settled in Mark’s room I curled up and took a couple hour nap. When I woke up I took a walk around the area that the lodge was on and met Dafid, the cook. We chatted for a bit and then he warmed up the hot tub for me so I could sit and relax. The water in the hot tub is heated by the ground and comes out of a hose already hot. No electricity required! After a good long soak it was time for a shower. While I waited for the guys to return I had the chance to talk with Dafid about Iceland culture, food and the area. It was a great way to start the trip! When the guys got back they cleaned up and we had a fantastic lunch of goose legs (shot the day before), cod with cocktail sauce (ketchup and mayonnaise), salad, potatoes, and gravy. It was nothing short of spectacular. After lunch the guys cleaned the birds that they shot that day and then we packed up for our drive to Reykjavik. Finni was again our driver. He first brought us to a local grocery store where the geese were stored until our trip home. Then he brought us to our hotel (Room with a View) where he made sure we were settled before he left us. The hotel desk clerk was amazingly helpful and arranged for reservations for dinner on Saturday and Monday nights. Then we headed out on the town to do a little exploring before dinner. Reykjavik is a party town and on Friday and Saturday nights people party until dawn so there was plenty of activity everywhere we went. Dinner on Saturday night was at Fiskfélagið (Fish Company) and it was amazing. We all had something different and shared. My main dish was several different kinds of fish. After dinner we went to the Lebowski bar for another drink before heading to bed for the night.

Day 2: Whale Watching

Sunday morning we got up and got ready to go whale watching! But first we had to go pick up the rental car from the Reykjavik airport. After that and a little breakfast (Skyr – a yogurt like breakfast food) we headed to the boat. The trip took about 2 ½ hours and we got a couple of glimpses of Minke whales while were out. After the boat tour we took a quick stop at the Hallgrímskirkja church where we were able to see the entire city from the church tower. It was a neat view and we saw the iconic colored roofs that are part of the cities culture. Then we were off and running toward our next destination, the Efsti-Dalur II farmhouse in Laugarvatn. We drove through Þingvellir National Park on the way there. After checking in we headed toward The Great Geysir. Now the Great Geysir is no longer operating due to use and abuse over the years, but there is another geyser, the strokkur geyser, that puts on a pretty spectacular show every 3-5 minutes. There are many other pools and mini-geysers that were interesting to look at and were also very warm! We then headed to our next destination – Gulfoss Iceland’s most famous waterfall. It was beautiful and we even saw a rainbow in the mist from the water. We walked around for a bit, took some pictures and then drove further north to try and get a good view of the glacier (Lángjökull ) that supplies water to the river that flows over the Gulfoss falls. The road north was not very well maintained and after a few “oh crap” moments on my part we made it to a river and got a pretty good view of the glacier. At this point it was getting dark so we headed back toward the farmhouse and stopped for dinner at the Gulfoss Hotel where we had some drinks and another tasty dinner – this time it was stuffed zucchini for me! As we were leaving we looked up into the sky and the Northern Lights were just starting to show themselves. After watching and trying (unsuccessfully) to take some pictures we headed back to the farmhouse. On the way we continued to watch the show in the sky, but the best was yet to come. Once we got back I kept the camera out, set up watch and was able to get some pretty amazing pictures. They were turning all colors of green, blue, purple, pink and white and dancing across the sky. It’s almost indescribable and was by farm one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in nature. Once they quieted down it was time for bed because we had more adventures in the morning.

Day 3: Snorkeling

After a delicious farmhouse breakfast we headed back into Þingvellir National Park to go snorkeling. This is the one activity that surprised people when I told them what we were planning to do while in Iceland. We met the tour company at the visitor center in the park and we followed them to the parking lot where we’d get our gear. They provided down suits (teddy bear suites), dry suits with boots attached, neoprene gloves and head covering, goggles and snorkel. By the time we got all our gear on I felt like a stuffed teddy bear! The water temperature was 2 degrees Celcius and felt kind of like sticking your head in a bucket of ice. But, it was crystal clear so I quickly forgot about the cold and started looking at all there was to see underwater. We swam/floated for about a half hour and then got out for the walk back to the parking lot. On the float we saw algae, some really cool rock formations, and scuba divers swimming underneath us! It was pretty awesome. On our way back to the parking lot we stopped and did a little cliff jumping. I was a little scared to do it at first, but then I bucked up and have to admit that it was pretty cool. After we got all our gear off and warmed up a little we headed to where we had seen a cool waterfall in the distance and did some investigating. This is the point in the park where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are separating and the valley in between is sinking at a rate of approximately 1/3 of an inch per year. While we were there we explored the waterfall and the river and then took in some of the historic sites. The park is the site where the Alþing (parliament) general assembly was established around 930 and continued to convene there until 1798. Major events and celebrations in the history of Iceland have taken place at Þingvellir – most recently in 2000. Once we were done exploring we headed back to Reykjavik for our last night. We once again settled in at the Room with a View and were happy to find the belongings that didn‘t travel with us safe and sound in the apartment. The hotel staff had been very gracious and allowed us to store the stuff (mainly the guys‘ hunting gear) in the apartment while we traveled on Sunday night. We cleaned up and then headed out to try and check out some of the shops before dinner. Most everything was closed, but we popped into a couple of bookstores and souvenir shops. Dinner was at Þrir Frakkar and was again very delicious. I had my first taste of Icelandic Lamb on our last night and it was very yummy. We had a relaxing time and then stopped at a small bar on our way back to the hotel.

Day 4: Blue Lagoon

Tuesday morning came way too quickly in my opinion. We had already seen and done so much, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to leave. I got up early and headed out to do a little shopping before we met Finni (our driver from the first day) to get the geese for the trip home. After we exchanged our good byes we stopped at a local coffee shop for some breakfast and then headed toward Keflavik airport. We stopped on the way at the Blue Lagoon – a famous geothermal spa. We changed into our suits and floated, applied masks, had a drink, and generally just relaxed for a little over an hour before changing and making our way to the airport. It was a great and relaxing way to end a fabulous vacation.

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Last weekend we were doing yard work and cutting down tree limbs in the 90 degree heat and apparently Tucker was looking for a cool place to lay. While I was loading the tree branches onto the trailer I noticed that the whole pile started shaking. Not sure what was going on I went to investigate and this is what I found. 😉

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Between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday evening we got 10 inches of rain which caused flooding and devastation throughout the Duluth/Superior area. Waking up Wednesday morning and turning on the news was a shock – to see all of the road closures, flooded homes and businesses and just general craziness was a little bit overwhelming. I made the decision to stay put and not try and brave the weather to go in to work. So Tucker and I stayed home together and just hung out. When we went out to check out what was going on on the road, he enjoyed swimming in the ponds and rivers that had been created in our neighbor’s driveway and the ditches!

I am so incredibly thankful that our damage was limited to fixing the driveway (which we did last night). I know so many other people who are dealing with flooded basements/houses and others who can’t leave their homes because of damage to roads. We were very fortunate and so were most of our friends and family. Someone was watching out for us!

After Mark came home from work we took a drive and here’s a bit of what we saw.

Today I spent some time planting and I’m super happy with the results! Everything I planted went into various containers because we haven’t really figured out our landscaping yet. Here’s what I did.

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French Marigolds in a pot by the well

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Hydrangea and Begonia by the front door

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Impatiens in a Hanging Basket for the deck

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Double Impatiens in a Hanging Basket for the deck

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3 Tomato Plants, Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper. Originally I put the pots in the area where we think we might put a garden eventually, but we moved them inside the fenced in dog kennel (that we don’t use) to keep the animals from getting them.

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Tucker had to give them his sniff of approval.

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Cilantro and Chives are now residing in their home on the deck.

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Along with a pot of Basil

All in all it took me a few hours and 3 cubic feet of dirt and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything grows!!

One last picture of the little man intently watching the hummingbirds at my in-laws last night. They have probably a dozen or so flying around. It’s so fun to watch them!!

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Does anyone still check this? Is anyone out there? I just downloaded the app for my iPad so I’m thinking I might try this again. It’s nice to be able to go back and see what’s happened in the past. We’ll see how it goes.

2 years ago today, Mark asked me to be his wife. I remember it like it was yesterday. We had packed up after camping for the Memorial Day weekend and headed out for the drive home along the north shore. We stopped at Gooseberry Falls state park for, what I thought, was a potty break. It was a beautiful sunny day so we took a walk down to the water and climbed down on a rock ledge. It was there that he weaseled the ring out of his pocket and popped the question. I think my first response was something like “are you serious?” and he was. I happily said yes! Afterward we went for a walk by the water and I wanted to tell everyone we passed that we had just gotten engaged. 🙂 I was SO excited. We continued our drive home and stopped at Mark’s parents to drop the boat off. While we were sitting in the gazebo talking, Mark broke the exciting news. Mark hadn’t told them of his plans so they were truly surprised! It was so much fun. We left there to drive to Trav’s (where we were living at the time) and I called my parents asking if we could stop by later. I made up some excuse for coming over, little did I know that they already knew. A few days before we left for camping, Mark had gone and asked for their blessing. It was so much fun to break the news to everyone and to have them share in our excitement. It was the start of a new journey and is one of the best days of my life so far.

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"To live. And as much as possible, to use your money in pursuit of a life so well-lived that people will never remember your clothes, your shoes, your handbag--they'll remember the interests you shared with them, the love you carried, the meals you ate together, the miracle of your family, the joy you took in your work, the arms-wide-open you brought to life itself."
October 2017
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