Friday, March 27, 2015

Digging Through the Past

Pulling together pictures for the Etsy shop has forced me to revisit my past life, as well as what I have accomplished over the years. If you asked me 10 years ago what I would want my life to look like, I pictured exactly where I am today. We planned to live abroad for a few years, as all college grads do, but somehow my getting a real job right out of school when the economy crashed dictated that era of my life. Despite that, we still managed to remain true to ourselves. And we made some pretty great memories.

Vintage Truck

The perfect soundtrack for this activity? Carrie and Lowell by the one and only Sufjan Stevens. It is currently streaming on NPR, and it is beautiful. Art is born through real emotion, and this album is Real.

In a similar theme, I wind down every night reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. The Kindle book is only $4.62, which is a worthy investment in my opinion. Like Carrie and Lowell, this book is about the grief which comes after living a hard life and losing a mother. There is one part of the book that had me weeping in agony - you will know it when you get there.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. 

"Make the most of your life
While it is rife
While it is light

Well, you do enough talk
My little hawk,
Why do you cry?
Tell me what did you learn
From the Tillamook Burn
Or the Forth of July?

We're all gonna die"
~Sufjan Stevens 

Cannon Beach Sunset II

Friday, March 13, 2015

Icelandic Excursions

Iceland has got the whole tourism thing down to a science. You can book fun activities through from the warmth of your home, or you can simply stop by a tourist kiosk once you get to Reykjavik. Many people book vacation packages to the Land of Fire and Ice in the off-season due to its affordability (raises hand and shouts, "Here!"). If you are one of those people looking for a budget trip, know in advance you may sacrifice getting to see many of the exciting things Iceland has to offer due to poor winter conditions. This is why we will be paying full price next time we visit... :)

"Experiencing the weather and nature is part of the fun and adventure of traveling in Iceland..."
"Iceland winters are not as cold as you would expect..."

These are just a couple examples you will find regarding tourism in the off-season. DO NOT BE FOOLED. Iceland is ASS COLD in the winter. The thermometer may read 38 degrees, but there is a near-constant arctic wind blowing in your face at 25+ mph the entire time. As a result, I have gotten incredibly sick both times we have visited. It took a good 3 weeks before my lungs were fully recovered from this last trip. To put it in perspective, there was a blizzard one of the nights we were there. The wind was so strong that the next day the snow was gone. Need another anecdote? I was actually startled awake one night when the wind stopped blowing. The sudden lack of noise made me wonder if the world had finally ended.

There are several email chains and blogs out there boasting beautiful Icelandic scenery and lush green countryside. The tricky part is that the roads to see these natural wonders are not at all negotiable in the off-season. In fact, one of my acquaintances rented a car to see some of these places in March of last year. She found herself stuck in bad weather in the middle of nowhere for three days. She was lucky to get caught near a small town, and she met many other tourists whose cars had rolled trying to see the amazing Icelandic attractions in the harsh winter months. If you are renting a car, proceed with caution.

The moral of the story is this: Iceland is incredibly fun year round, but people who are looking for outdoor activities will have the most fun in summer (start a savings account now).

All of that being said, we had some pretty memorable excursions to the countryside on our trip. I apologize in advance for the terrible quality of some of the photos in this post. Our trips to the countryside were pretty active, and with the weather being kind of iffy, lugging a big camera along was just not practical.

Horseback Riding

I am obsessed with horses. Jeff puts up with my mania and travels to the arctic with me so I can live in my happy place. For anyone who has had experience on a horse, Iceland is the premier place to visit in any season. Riding one of these things is like driving a Ferrari. These little guys look cute and cuddly, but they are insanely responsive, sleek, and powerful. I want one!

Most touristy horseback riding experiences (especially in the United States) involve riding in a line and walking the horse for an hour behind angsty preteens. Not in Iceland! You are galloping those suckers all over the lava fields, and it is the most incredible sensation. Of course, there are beginner options too, but we like to go big.

The best part of the riding experience is that it is friendly to visitors traveling in winter. You can see we were wearing full snowsuits provided by the company, so you only have to show up in warm layers. 

I still dream about riding those horses. I told Jeff we should by one for our kids and he said, "You mean you want to buy one for yourself?" He knows me.

The Golden Circle

I have done the Golden Circle tour twice. On this last trip, the tour was included in our snowmobiling package. Unfortunately, the weather was so poor that we could not see anything out of the windows for 90% of the bus ride. The tour guide did a great job explaining the sites through which we were passing...we just could not see them.

Thingvellir National Park

By far, my favorite part of the tour is Thingvellir National Park. We got out of the bus here, but the wind was so strong that it almost knocked me over. I tried taking pictures with my real camera, but it was so windy that I could not hold it still enough to get a good shot. So here it is taken with my iPhone.


When you get to the geyser area, called Geysir, you may be a little underwhelmed if you have ever visited Yellowstone. However, it is still pretty amazing. The big geyser goes off regularly, so you are not waiting around for activity. Hooray for instant gratification!

WARNING: do not stand near the geyser when it goes off. You will get drenched, and you will be sitting in wet clothes on a bus for the rest of the day. We watched half a dozen people with fancy cameras on tripods get soaked, then the geyser decided to give them the middle finger and squirt them a second time by erupting two times in a row.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Pictures cannot do this site justice. The amount of water is simply unfathomable. However, getting to the waterfall area was a little treacherous given the strong winds and pelting side rain. Jeff gave up the battle halfway to the viewpoint. I braved the elements in order to produce this photograph to share with the world. You're welcome.


We booked a snowmobiling excursion to make our trip that much more extreme. There is a glacier close to Gullfoss Waterfall, which is where all the action took place. The touring company provided snowsuits to everyone, and we made our way across the tundra after "suiting up" so to speak.

It was pretty incredible getting to see the glacier up close...

...and personal...But I can say with absolute certainty...

...those snowsuits were NOT WATERPROOF.

Jeff and I enjoyed the experience, but I imagine if you are a snowmobiling enthusiast you would not appreciate the ride so much. You are definitely going in a straight line, which means you can only go as fast as the person in front of you. Kind of like horseback riding in the United States.

AND a non-waterproof snowsuit means an hour and a half long bus ride back into the city in sopping wet clothes. So from my two experiences doing the Golden Circle tour, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND packing at least 1 extra change of clothes, because I definitely had to peel my clothes off when we finally arrived back at the hotel.

Back in Town

When you get back into the city, it is always a good idea to find a nice spa area. Our hotel happened to have one in the basement, so we took advantage of the warm water and thawed ourselves out. 

And once you are warm and cozy, it is time to go out and indulge in all the things that are delicious and Icelandic. Like ice cream. Iceland's ice cream is - dare I say it? - the best I've ever had.

And who can be mad about a White Russian from the Lebowski Bar that is essentially an alcoholic milk shake? Oh man, Iceland sure knows how to do dairy. I'm salivating from  the memory.

So, if you happen to find yourself visiting Iceland in winter, don't believe the tourist websites when they tell you Iceland's winters are mild. You will probably not get to see all the things you saw in that email chain that was sent to you, and be warned that you will likely go home with the black lung. Because friends, I am here to tell you that Iceland in the winter is colder than a bitch's stare. However, do take advantage of the "mild weather" and enjoy the delightful things the country has to offer from indoors (the FOOD!). I guarantee that you will still have a blast.

Also, remember to pack the following, because Iceland is f***ing cold: 2 hats, 2 pairs of gloves, lots of wool, LL Bean boots, a warm scarf, long underwear, and at least 2 jackets - preferably down and preferably ones that cover your ass. I was warmest when wearing both my down jackets at the same time. Good luck, and consider yourself warned - but not warmed.

Feel free to check out our other 2015 Iceland posts HERE, HERE, and HERE. Okay bye!

Everett Updates

It has been a while since my last Everett update. He is so much fun, and there are so many things to share, but I also know how annoying it is when people only ever talk about their kids. However, he deserves so much recognition because he is my joy and my sunshine! Barf, I know. Parents are the worst!

I keep thinking to myself, "Don't grow up! You are so sweet just the way you are!" Then he becomes more fun with every passing day. He still loves to cuddle with me on the couch while reading, and it is my favorite part of the day...even though I am often late to work because he wants to read "Nuther one!" How can a girl resist?

This boy is obsessed with things that move. Every night after we put him to bed, we listen to him talk to himself about, "Fire engines, and the ambwans [ambulance], and police cars, and the dump truck, and the tanker truck, and the jet plane, and the fire engine, and the garbage truck, and the race car, and the fire engines, and the tractors, and a front loader...the motorcycle!" If he hears a siren in the middle of the night, we can hear him in the monitor saying, "A police car!.....zzzzz..."

He is pretty much potty trained with the exception of nighttime and naps. Potty training weekend boot camp did the trick. He still struggles telling the nanny when he needs to go, but he will get there!

Signs of a potty training toddler = nonexistent pants or lazy-mom pants

His latest obsessions (in addition to trucks, tractors, planes, etc.) are coloring with Crayola markers and Pete the Cat. He has 2 Pete books and we read each one at least 5 times a day. In fact, normally when a toddler stops making noise it means trouble is happening; when Everett is quiet, nine times out of ten he is reading Pete to himself.

Everett is also besotted with his pets. He loves playing fetch with Willow, and his favorite game is chasing the cat around the house. Oddly enough, the cat does not seem to mind this game too much. Every night before bed, Everett says goodnight to Willow and tells her that he loves her...and that she stinks, which he thinks is the funniest thing in the world.

Disclaimer: Willow doesn't actually stink. She farted one time when Everett was hugging her goodnight, and the concept has stuck.

Kinder is also pretty into his grandparents. He asks hourly if he can call Grandma, go hiking with Grandpa, or text (video chat) Nana and Pop. He has a couple toy phones on which he regularly talks to himself/"Grandma, Grandpa, Grandma, Grandma, Grandpa."

Ever since he was small, he has been a water baby. He loves playing in the sink, in puddles, in the tub, in a pool. If there is water, he will love it. We are on a few waitlists for daycare (Woe is me!), and one of them offers weekly swim experience, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a spot opens when we need it. I'll probably present many ranting, word vomit posts in the future over this new chapter of life...stay tuned! Yay, daycare!

Finally, his favorite food is...I guess it depends on the day! He will gobble up something one day, then refuse it a week later. Surprisingly, he most consistently eats oatmeal and Morning Star sausages in the morning. For other meals, sometimes we have to force him to eat, and sometimes he picks raw onions out of a dish, consumes them, then leaves the rest. He is always asking for pizza but never eats it. He likes the crust but refuses to touch the cheesy parts...NOT MY CHILD. Nothing toddlers do makes sense, because last night he ate all the freshly grated cheese on top of his pasta, asked for "More rice...pweeese," then refused to eat the pasta.

To conclude, every day with this toddler is exhausting, but incredibly rewarding. Even though I spend 30 minutes trying to corral him for a 10 minute errand, we have so much fun together that all I can do is smile. This stage of life is busy, but it keeps my heart full.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Let the Shopping Begin!

I'm pretty excited to announce that I officially opened an Etsy shop! I've been dragging my feet over this for months, and was encouraged by my friends to take the plunge. I put my first sale in the mail today, and am happy to be sharing my photographs with the world.

If you have a chance, please stop by my shop and let me know what you think. I really, really appreciate feedback, and I want to be as accessible as possible. I only listed 15 photos for now, just to see how it goes. If people like my pictures, I will post more.

Finally, if you are interested in any of the pictures you see (either in the shop or on this blog), I offer custom orders. If you are looking for something larger or smaller, I am willing to work with you. Happy shopping, and happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How-To: Cheaply Frame Photography/Artwork

I'm taking a break from posting pictures of Iceland to share one of my easy (read: lazy) crafting projects. Way back when (July to be exact), I was walking down the hall at work at saw this beauty sitting outside an office.

I pounced on it and brought it back to my office. The response from my coworkers was pretty consistently along the lines of, "Oh! That's....cute?" Sure, the picture is incredibly 1990's "Thomas Kinkade Mall Display-ish", but this girl never turns down a free picture frame.

I took some gold spray paint out of storage, quickly covered the glass (a less lazy person would have invested more time in removing the glass), and went to town.

Since all house projects with a curious child require minimal time investment, and since Everett was far too curious about the can of spray paint, the job is not perfect. However, now we have some artwork to fill our newly remodeled master suite.

Please ignore my reflection in the glass.

And here is where I'm really bad...I turned over the old 1990's picture and simply taped my photograph to the back of the print, which happened to be the cardboard you see pictured. Some day, when I have a bit more time and far less laziness, I will use the white foam board I already bought to make an actual mat for the frame. For now, I think I kind of like it the way it is.

This picture is a Costco poster print from one of our trips to Cannon Beach, Oregon. Now, when I am reading in bed at night, I can look up and be transported to one of the most relaxing places in the world.
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