Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Hearts of Horses The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book caught my attention at a store by reading only the back of the book and not knowing anything else about the book. I greatly enjoyed reading about Martha, who seems like a strong young woman sticking to the way she'd like to do things rather than society's pressures for women in 1917. I was surprised by the love story that appeared gradually through the book and loved the ending. The characters were developed throughout the book, so you felt like you knew this community of which Martha has been adopted into through the horses she is working with and the conflicts that developed. I'd greatly recommend this book who is interested in reading about an independent young woman and horses.

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Up North Trip: Thursday

Our last day up North, we had breakfast at the hotel, walked Canal Park's lake walk and then packed up the car. We didn't head right back home though. We stopped at Fitger's to get some growlers. We also stopped at Positively 3rd Street Bakery to pick up some Thunder cookies - positively delicious!

Then we went over to Kitchi-Gammi park and walked around enjoying the ice, rocks and lake.

We had a lot of fun playing around in the ice and the ice formations from waves and wind.

It was beautiful and a great way to spend a morning!

We drove back home to reality. Thankfully neither of us had to work Friday, so you'd think we'd slowly come out of vacation mode and back to the responsibilities of being an adult. When we got back, we found that the sewer had backed up into the dishwasher, toilet and bathtub and had sat for some time. We are so thankful that it wasn't worse and the backup didn't continue into the rest of our apartment by overflowing, but it was not a pleasant thing to come home to. We spent much of the night cleaning, disinfecting everything, and trying our best to get rid of the horrible smell with candles.

I think we'd both like to go back to vacation. I guess times like when the sewer backs up just make you appreciate vacation that much more!

Up North Trip: Wednesday

We started the morning with breakfast at the hotel. They had some decent rolls and yogurt. I had some tea and Erik had coffee. Then we headed out for adventures of the day. We headed out to Seven Bridges Road and did a little looking around Amity creek. It was still a wee early so many of my pictures were a bit on the dark side.

Then we went up the shore on old highway 61. We stopped when we felt like it and when I thought we'd find a nice picture opportunity, but we simply enjoyed the ride too.

We veered off 61 to Stoney Point and caught view of some beautiful waves crashing on the rocks and ice. I took a lot of pictures.

We went through Two Harbors. We stopped into The Canoeist to see Mike Keller, as Erik went duck hunting with his brother this fall. The Canoeist is a nice store for many camping, paddling, and snowshoeing needs.

We went out to the lighthouse and made our way down the icy pier to get a different view. I wasn't so sure about traversing with all the ice, but I wouldn't have stayed behind either.

We stopped in the Rustic Inn Cafe for lunch. It was recommended to us the last time we were up there, but we didn't go. I'm glad we went. Erik and I had great meals followed by very good pie!

Then we headed up to Gooseberry State Park. We had a lovely time there. The trails were incredibly icy, but we had some fun with that sliding down the side of the stairs. Near the upper falls, we saw a red fox grooming itself and enjoying the warm sunny day. Our video has a shot of him moving around a bit too.

Here is a picture of the upper falls. Again, the sky was brilliantly blue. It was a beautiful day!

We hiked out to the lake and enjoyed hiking/sliding along the shore.

Erik went out on all ice to take a picture. (Sometimes I take pictures of him taking pictures too!)

After Gooseberry, then we headed back to Duluth and went ice skating.

After skating, we headed out to Park Point and walked along the lakeside.

The ice was piled up in large sheets about 2 inches thick.

It was another beautiful sunset!

It was that blue time of night.

After watching the sunset, we went to dinner at Hacienda Del Sol. It was also very good, but filled with crying or whiny kids. Then we went back to the hotel and watched the Olympics.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Up North Trip: Tuesday

Started the day off right with Caramel Rolls!

We headed out to the trails and looped around the Grand Portage Trail in the morning. It was a beautiful morning with a bright blue sky.

With the sunshine it felt quite warm after 'shoeing for a while.

I started the day all bundled up, and shed layers (into Erik's pack) the further we went.

We headed to Duluth after our hike and checked in to our hotel, South Pier Inn. This is our second time staying there. We do like it a lot. This time we upgraded to a room with a view of the harbor, a whirlpool, and a fireplace. It was very nice.

We had lunch at the Taste of Saigon and then went to the Depot to the Railroad Museum (among other little museums). We had fun checking out all the cars.

Then we enjoyed a walk back around the harbor. The sun was still out, but the clouds were coming in from the lake.

It is a pretty place when it is cloudy too.

I spent some time waiting for the sun to set and I'm glad I did. This was the view from our hotel room.

After the sunset, we went out for dinner at Fitgers. I had the salmon burger with a salad - very good, with a rootbeer. Erik had a burger, fries and a beer.

Up North Trip: Monday

Erik and I left Monday morning for our vacation. We were ready to go. We said we were going to leave by 10am and were out the door not long after 9am. We had a few stops to make on our way. The first was to get another card for my camera (glad I did too). The second stop was the half-way stop at Tobies. We picked up some wildrice, onion, cheese bread and caramel rolls - both delicious!

Then we headed up to Jay Cooke State Park, a little bit south of Duluth. We brought snowshoes and 'shoed one of the trails before checking in for the camper cabin we reserved for the night. The first trail we took was right along (sometimes on) the St. Louis River, named for the nearby town, Carlton.

The river is beneath the snow, we could hear it, but could only see it in small sections.

We headed over to our cabin after the Carlton trail and got ourselves settled. The cabin was very nice. It had bunks, one full and three twin beds, a table with benches, and a lovely thing... heat.

We headed out again to snowshoe the Ogantz Trail, which had a beautiful overlook.

Below is the camper cabin we stayed in. We checked out other cabins that we'd like the location better. This one was sort of out in the open and there was another one that was tucked back in the woods. Of course you can't tell this on a map when you are looking at which one to stay in.

Erik made us dinner - a cache lake meal - chicken stew and the bread from Tobies. Most of the cache lake meals we've had are pretty good. The one we had this time was a bit salty, but we added curry powder and that helped.

We were both worn out and fell asleep quickly after reading a bit, but the heat was a little hard to regulate, or our sleeping bags were so good that I woke up very warm in the night and had to turn down the heat.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Back from Vacation Up North

Erik and I came back from our trip up North yesterday. We had an absolutely wonderful time! I'll share more details when I get the pictures up here. We did use our flip camera and compiled some videos of our trip.

It was definitely back to reality when we got back as the sewer backed up into our apartment. It could have been SO much worse than it was, but we did have sewage in the dishwasher, toilet, and bathtub. The smell was horrible. Who knows when it occurred since we weren't home and then it sat there. We've bleached and sanitized everything, got a new shower curtain, ran the dishwasher a bunch of times, and tried to subside the smell with candles.

With that, as we have been lately, we are ready to be home owners and out of this apartment with so many stinking water problems. We both had today off too - very nice! We went to see a mortgage consultant about pre-approval, so when we find the right house we can act on it.

It is a beautiful day today too! Started off cool, but warming up. You can tell spring will be on it's way soon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Erik and I exchange cards for Valentines day. I think we exchanged gifts once on Valentines and now we don't with trying to keep spending down. We both like to surprise each other with gifts other times of the year too. Erik got me a very sweet card and I got him a sweet card too.

Today, Erik and I went to the Y. I went to spinning class. I haven't worked out in 2 weeks. I've been trying to kick a bit of a cold that's been a nuisance and it's not completely gone, but better than it was. It was nice to be moving. Then we went to my parents and hung out with them for a little while. It was nice to see them.

My Dad has always gotten flowers or plants for my sister and I. It is greatly appreciated! This year I got a Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily). It is beautiful and found a spot between the tv stand and the book shelf. And I brought him some nutella cupcakes that he had requested a few weeks ago (that's what I was baking and smelled so good yesterday). They turned out a little dry, but they still tasted good. Not exactly sure what happened, I may have not let the butter soften enough, but I sure thought I had.

I got an amaryllis from Karen (Erik's mom) and it is growing and greening up. I also pulled out some tulip bulbs that I had from last spring. It looks like two of the three may sprout and grow again.

Erik made a really nice dinner for us: meatloaf and roasted potatoes. He is such a good cook. I'm thankful for that!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Foggy and Frosty Morning

It was a beautiful morning today! The first reason was because I slept in and that is just so lovely! Second, I had no plans or things I had to get done. Sure there are always things that could get done (bathroom needs cleaned), but not today, or at least not now. Third reason it was a beautiful morning, it was truly a beautiful morning outside!

The foggy morning made hoar frost all over and it was a beauty! I just couldn't let this morning pass without being outside and enjoying it. I went over to Dodge Nature Center and enjoyed hiking around. They had plowed and packed down trails, so I didn't use my snowshoes and I was still able to enjoy the tranquility and feel close to nature. Here are some pictures from my morning.

The sun started to come out of the fog and the frost was quickly falling and melting from the branches.

The Food Post

I've been trying to do more cooking so that I'm not enticed to eat convenience foods and I don't buy lunch in the cafeteria at work, but bring a good meal instead. It isn't always easy. It means more planning ahead and more time for cooking.

This week Erik and I made Asian Mushroom Lettuce Wraps from Costco's cookbook, which I found out is available online - very cool. They have past years too... I just googled Costco recipes and found them. We really liked the wraps. They were easy to make and seemed fairly healthy and certainly you could adjust them to be healthier or less healthy. I brought some leftovers for lunch the next day so that was great to have a good meal for dinner and an easy one to bring for lunch.

Yesterday we were bumming around in the afternoon and went to Valley Natural Foods. We saw some really good looking baby bok choy and Erik whipped up a wonderful stir-fry with the bok choy, green onion, red pepper, shiitake mushrooms, steak, garlic and ginger in a ginger sauce. It was very good.

I've been enjoying smoothies for breakfast lately. Here is a look in the blender with all of the ingredients. This morning I had vanilla yogurt, orange juice, a little half and half (or milk - it makes it frothy), frozen raspberries, frozen strawberries, and frozen mango. This past week I have been getting up and leaving before Erik get's up and I've missed my smoothies.

I also have something baking right now for tomorrow (Valentines Day). It smells good!