Ireland or Bust

We went to Dublin!

When your coworker finds super cheap tickets to Dublin…..talking about $304 per person round trip….you can’t really say no to going abroad. Momma Mishappenings, my sister, The Engineer, and I all loaded up and flew over for a quick 4 day adventure in Dublin and the surrounding country side.

We arrived in the city around 8am on Thursday, basically 20 hours after we boarded our first flight out of Minneapolis. After a very brief…..frankly too brief….power nap at our Airbnb, we ventured out into the city. Our house was down in Dublin 8, a quiet district a bit south of the downtown area and several of the popular destinations. It was sometimes nice to be a bit away from the hustle and bustle, but if you’re going to Dublin mostly to party and enjoy the bar area, I would stay closer to the River Liffy.

I didn’t get a ton of photos taken the first day, I was mostly too tired to think to take any pictures. We did visit St. Patricks Cathedral as well as the original fortress of the city, Dublin Castle. The original castle was almost entirely destroyed in a fire, but they do have an interesting exhibit which allows you to see the ancient foundations. It was an odd fact to learn, but St. Patricks Cathedral was actually build outside of the walls that protected the medieval city of Dublin. There was a cathedral built inside of the city walls, but because of the supposed historical significance of a bubble spring well that St. Patrick might have used for baptisms, the second cathedral was built outside of the safety the walls could provide.

Seems like a very risky thing to do when the threat of invasions and war is lurking every time people sailed up to your shores, but I guess they didn’t pick where St. Patrick chose to perform his baptisms. Also, they built the cathedral on top of some marshy river land. It means that there is not a crypt below the church, and also the walls of the church have shifted and bowed as the soft, wet ground moves beneath it. Another strange choice the way I see it, but the church has stood for hundreds of years so what do I know about it.

The next morning we were well rested and headed off to tour the Guinness Brewery. It’s self guided and ends with beer and food, so you’re free to spend a few hours soaking up as much or as little information as you would like. The gravity bar at the top was very crowded and overly warm when we got up there….it was a surprisingly sunny day….but there are plenty of other places to explore and sip your pint in. Also, do yourself a favor and get a bag of the spicy chips….so spicy and savory! I need to find a reliable supplier of those chips in my life!

The Guinness tastes different in Dublin. They say it tastes different everywhere in the world, but the best obviously can only be had in Dublin. I will drink a Guinness anytime anywhere, but The Engineer and Momma Mishappenings aren’t huge fans of the Guinness we can get here in the States. Even they liked the Guinness fresh from the source! It’s smoother, a bit easier to drink, and doesn’t have the bitterness people typically comment about. If you’ve only had Guinness at bars in the USA it can be hard to imagine spending a whole night powering down pints of the black stuff….I mean I’ve done it….but it’s defiantly a commitment. In Dublin, it’s so smooth and easy to drink it’s like drinking any basic lager here.

We saw an Irish rainbow on the way to lunch and our visit to the other medieval cathedral in town! We stopped in a small chip shop near the cathedral and had a nice alfresco lunch of fish and chips in the cathedral yard. Note to your American taste buds…when they ask if you want salt and vinegar on your fish and chips, maybe request extra salt! Also, as you widdle down the huge filet and the mass of chips that come wrapped in newspaper….hold on to the paper. One brisk wind gust might send the whole thing flying off your lap as you consume the deliciousness!

Christ Church Cathedral was built inside of the original city walls, and is just down the street from Dublin Castle. Speaking of streets, Dublin streets are a bit confusing as they don’t form blocks at all. You often have to walk out of the way of where you want to go because nothing connects! Apparently they follow the original streets and paths of the medieval city, but I can’t imagine how people drive and live in them now.

The crypt of Christ Church is open to visitors, although it was under renovation during our visit so it was a little crowded. Also, their restroom was out of commission which lead us to run across the street and break into the fancy hotel bathroom! Much like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the walls of Christ Church have a slight visible bend to them. This was caused in part by the collapse of one side of the cathedral in 1562. Much of the cathedral was destroyed in the collapse, but they do have one small area of original tile flooring that was saved. That isn’t what is pictured, the original tiles are very worn and weathered, and had almost no color left. Replica tiles now align the floor of both historic cathedrals.

Both cathedrals were preserved and renovated with the donation of millions of dollars earned from alcohol! The Guinness family and and another prominent whiskey distiller in the area took the restorations of the cathedrals into their own hands in the 1800’s. It’s a shame to know that such gorgeous historical places could have been allowed to fall into such disrepair over the years, but I think that is just the way of history. Often times things teeter on the edge of disappearing forever before people realize their importance.

Fish and chips kinda view.
Notice the slight sway in the walls?!

Jameson is one of The Engineer’s favorite, so I took him on an early Valentine’s Day date night to a special tasting at the distillery while Momma MisHappenings and my sister hit up the shopping on Grafton Street.

A Tale of Four Whiskeys

We met for dinner at a pub I found through Instagram called the Hairy Lemon. It was small, crowded, and loud….but in a good way. The downstairs was just seating for dinner, but upstairs was just standing crowds of people drinking pints and having a Friday night at a pub. I had coddle, which is a traditional veggie and sausage stew. Momma had bangers and mash….hold the mash add extra roasted veggies. My Sis had fish and chips…..for the second time that day….but it was her birthday so that’s allowed!! The Engineer had shepherd’s pie which he informed me was better mine. :/

Saturday we headed back to Jameson Distillery to take the “official” tour as a family. Nothing like a bit of morning whiskey drinking to bring a family together! After some whiskey sampling and sipping we headed for lunch. Along the way we stopped in an area that started out a Georgian mansions, and eventually transitioned into tenement housing until almost 1980. It’s sometimes easy to forget that most of Ireland’s history has been tumultuous. We also like to think of European countries as these old, well established countries. Ireland is relatively new, having only gained their independence in the 1920’s.

While we were looking at the large, brick homes that became tenements, The Engineer and I had a nice chat with a local man. He thought a car near us that was booted belonged to us and we stopped on the side of the road to bust it off for us. He showed us his busting tools, and told us all about his previous car troubles and gave us a citizens view of the Irish economy… wasn’t a good view to be honest. He’d let the cops take his previous car because he owed taxes on it, but he had only paid 300 Euro to begin with for the car. It was also alarming to find out that parking can cost nearly 3 Euro an hour….no wonder cars and parking were such a hot issue for him. It was an entertaining chat for sure!

Lunch was at Nando’s, a chain chicken restaurant, and if you’re ever near one I would definitely recommend it! I mostly wanted to go because I watch some trashy, English reality TV shows, and they are always talking about going to Nando’s. Also, I think there is some lingering debates about whether or not its acceptable to take a date to Nando’s….I vote yes! Get your girl some spicy chicken and some sweet potato fries!

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Seriously….go grab yourself a cheeky Nando’s!

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After lunch we wandered down to Trinity College to see the library and the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a spectacular ancient book containing the 4 gospel books of the bible. It’s hard to describe if you aren’t there to see it in person. The fact that it is preserved in the condition it is even after being stolen and lost in the bogs for years is amazing. The long library….it’s amazing! It’s the way you imagine all college libraries should be. It’s volumes and volumes of books and knowledge lined up all neat and tidy and just waiting for you to dig in an discover something. It looks like it should just be a movie set, but this is an actual working library….on an actual college campus! If it doesn’t look like the library at your college, don’t feel bad…..mine looked nothing like it either! Maybe only the ancient libraries of Europe are allowed to look this good.

Sunday morning we boarded a tour bus and headed out into the countryside. We met farmers, sheep, and walked through the ruins of a church that stopped being used in 1214! It had gone through it’s life all before 1214!! That just amazes me. I love being American, but there is just something so impressive about the history that surrounds you in Europe that nothing in America will ever match. It’s the deep, robust, slow cooked kind of history you just can’t find over here in the New World!

First stop was to see a farmer named Rich and his herding dog Bruce. We learned a bit about the traditional way he and his family have been raising sheep in the mountains for generations.

There were even a few early lambs for cuddling!

After a visit will the lambs and an impressive herding demo from Bruce, we were off to the ancient monastic site and lakes of Glendalough. I’m not sure if Glendalough is technically a town anymore, but at one time it was a thriving center of religion nestled in a valley abutting the Wicklow mountains. Our guide pointed out several churches around the area, I think she said there were 6 or 7 in the immediate area. All are in ruins, although the largest one, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, is mostly intact except for it’s roof. It was built in the 10th century and abandoned in 1214 because of the Norman invasion. Instead of being sprinkled around the countryside, religious leaders of the time were called back to the safety of Dublin….remember the wall around the city?!

There are two lakes near the monastic site, the Upper and Lower lake. To be honest, the Lower lake isn’t much to write home about. Actually it took me a while to even realize we were walking past the Lower lake. The Upper lake was amazing though, and totally worth the cold, windy hike. A word to the wise about traveling to Ireland. Even though the temperature might be projected to be in the mid to upper 40’s, you’ll need to pack like it’s a Midwest winter. I packed jackets and my raincoat, the things I would wear when it’s 50ish degrees here at home. While I was there I ended up buying mittens, an additional sweatshirt, and a scarf. Granted, I would have bought those things anyway, but it certainly helped with the temperature and wind.

Our last stop on the bus tour was Kilkenny. We had a cozy pub lunch next to a crackling fire, watched a rugby game with some locals, and saw the historic Smithwick’s brewery. Turns out we know nothing about rugby…even when trying to google the rules, but no one in the pub really seemed to notice or mind. Kilkenny is also home to a massive castle and it’s expansive ground. Thousands of acres belong to Kilkenny castle and the surrounding grounds. The castle itself looks almost modern from the outside, and served as a private residence for most of it’s existence. The carriage house and grounds across the street from the main castle have been converted into cute little shops and a restaurant. It was an impressive end to a day spent winding around small country roads watching sheep graze on hills in the distance.

Monday morning we said a very early morning goodbye to our lovely little Airbnb and took our final double decker bus ride back to the airport. For being a short trip, I feel like we really got in some activities. Granted, there are dozens of additional things to see and do in Dublin, but you can’t do everything and I feel like we got a good sampling of the city and surrounding countryside.

Since we’ve gotten home everyone has been asking if it was a good trip. I think it was, and I’m glad we went but I’m not sure I would return specifically to Dublin. It gave me a bit of the same impression I had when we went to New Orleans. I enjoyed it while I was there, but the reality of French Quarter doesn’t really live up to what you imagine it will be like. Dublin felt a bit the same to me. It was nice, we saw some lovely things, and had great experiences, but I had a much different idea of the city before I went. In my mind it had always seemed more quaint….less like the bustling metropolis that it is in real life.

If I go to Ireland again, which I wouldn’t turn down a few years in the future, I would like to adventure over to the other side of the island to see the cliffs and the small surrounding villages. Try something a little less city and a bit more country!

The Christmas Come Down

Now that most of the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season is behind us, I thought I’d share some of my favorite gift items from this year! I know it’s maybe a little late to be giving you gift ideas, but I can’t be spilling the beans to my family and friends! 🙂 Plus, some people are really organized and are probably already starting to shop for Christmas 2019!

My big crafting project of the season…..which I didn’t even get finished until the last moment….was a set of decorative pillows for my Sister’s condo. The pattern came from the lovely ladies at Knit Collage, although I did make some modifications. I decided to do both sides of the pillow in the herringbone pattern, it just seemed fancier and more inline with my Sister’s decorating style.

I ordered 4 skeins of Sister Yarn in Dusty Pink and got to knitting. Apparently I can’t read a pattern correctly, it turns out that 4 skeins of yarn is not enough yarn to make both the 18×18 pillows I had planned on. Alls well that ends well though, it turns out that rectangular pillows were on the list of home decor things my Sister was looking for. So, 4 skeins of yarn turned into a pair of 12×18 inch pillows with some decorative pom poms! I had a little tiny bit of grey sister yarn left over from a previously project, so that’s where the grey in the poms came from. The pattern doesn’t call for pom poms, but if you’ve got the yarn you might as well pom it!

Since I planned on doing both sides of the pillow in the herringbone pattern, I just knit one large rectangle instead of 2 separate 12×18 pieces. So I ended up only having to stitch 3 sides together, and the top of the pillow is nice and seamless. If you’re looking to modify the pattern to make the 12×18 pillows I will tell you it took me 54 rows not counting the cast on and bind off. For the rest of the pattern you’ll have to snag yourself the pattern….it’s not mine to share.

My favorite purchased gift is a handmade knife for The Engineer. It was made by David Maple of Tuckamore Custom Knives, and then I had it sent off for a custom sheath from J Sylvia Handcrafted Leather. It’s beautiful, feels good in your hand, and it’s truly a one of a kind piece. If you ever have a chance to get your hands on a Tuckamore knife, I would 100% recommend it. They are great knives, he’s very responsive to any questions you have, and I’m constantly drooling over all of his designs on Instagram. Give him a follow…you’ll be totally in awe!

Totally snagged this picture off the Tuckamore Custom Instagram page, but he takes better pictures than me. I snagged one of the black handle beauties in the middle!

The custom sheath totally pulls the whole thing together. Now the knife is all set for hunting or camping….wherever our journeys take us the knife will be set to go. I also snagged a leather stroping block from Tuckamore. It’s useful and so much more beautiful than anything you can buy in store for the same purpose. All we need now is some good knife oil and a sharpening stone and we will be good to go for a long time to come.

If you need some other gift ideas but knitting and handmade knives aren’t really doing it for you I have a few more ideas to toss at you.

  • O-Venture Key Rings – One of Oprah’s favorite things, and so handy for any busy women on the go who are on your nice list!
  • Souped Up Fleece Robe – Zips from the top or the bottom to keep you cozy while also letting you move around. Momma Mishappenings even started wearing hers as daywear around the house. Long and cozy!!
  • PooPourri – Truly a gift for everyone on your list! Smells for you, your girlfriends, the men in your life, and even special Holiday season smells! Remember to use it before you go!!

Maybe this will give you some shopping ideas for the loved ones in your life….but don’t forget that sometimes you just have to love yourself too.

No shame at all if you pick of some of these awesome products for yourself!

Old Enough to Know Better, Too Diva to Care

Yesterday, The Engineer and I spent most of the day at the emergency vet clinic with Scout….it was not necessarily how I had planned to spend the 2nd to last Saturday before Christmas.  Not that any weekend is a good weekend to take your fur baby to the vet, but I was already feeling slightly stressed on the Christmas project time line.

The morning started out normally enough.  I got up and went to the gym while Roo and The Engineer napped.  I got home, showered, and had a coffee FaceTime date with Lil B.  The Engineer finally dragged himself out of bed after nursing his first hangover as a 29 year old.  We were just getting dressed to go run some errands and grab lunch when I spotted it……..a large section of torn up carpet next to the bathroom.

Exhibit A…..the carpet

Now…..Scout-a-Roo has a long. lengthy, and impressive history of eating things she isn’t supposed to, but carpet has never been one of those things.  While I was attempting to google how we might go about fixing the carpet, we discovered something else.  She had eaten the wings and legs off her beloved duck toy.

Now, her beloved duck is several years old, and he’s needed some emergency surgeries of his own.  I’ve repaired and patched several holes but mostly they have all been due to use and abuse…..and the occasional severe whipping around.  Scout likes to make sure he’s dead before she gives him to you, she’s considerate like that.  I had recently just had to apply a large patch to his whole abdominal area, but he was living to see more play days.

It seemed like 2 wings, 2 legs, and all that carpet was too much for Scout’s tummy.  Occasionally when she was little and would get into something I would induce vomiting at home.  I was hoping I could do that now and I could get the bulk of the material out of her before it started into her little intestines.  Normally, we wouldn’t know she’s eaten something until she either decides to puke on her own….or we find bright decorative chunks of fabric around the backyard. :/  If it had maybe been one thing or the other I might have just left her to her own devices….she is semi professional in this capacity after all.

We dosed her will a round of hydrogen peroxide and then we waited.  We waited through the loud tummy gurgles, and I sat near by with a garbage bag and hoped for the best.  Sadly, the best never came.  The gurgles came and went but no wings or carpet ever arrived.  I couldn’t find anything online about what to do if you attempt to induce vomiting but it doesn’t work, so I finally caved and called the vet.

We ended up needing to take her in to the vet, initially because hydrogen peroxide can cause ulcers if it isn’t treated and neutralized.  The vet took some X-rays, I think mostly because they didn’t believe me when I told them that these random things she eat tend to hang out in her tummy for really extended amounts of time.  Sure enough, a whole little puppy tummy full of “stuff”.  We were assured that one round of nausea inducing medicine ought to do the trick, so we waited and sorta listened while they worked on her in the back.  At one point I think they sort of inverted her to try and get gravity on their side….the force was not with them.

When the vet is scary, you feel pukey, and you’ve brought great shame on the family.

15 minutes later they came back to inform us the medication hadn’t had a strong effect on her, but that they would try it again.  Apparently a single dose of the medicine is suppose to make them vomit until they dry heave…..Scout was having no part of that.  They can only dose the medicine once an hour….and we still hadn’t eaten… was around 4pm by this time so we left to come home and eat and then said they would call.

About an hour later they called…..tummy still had something in it, but they had gotten “a large amount of carpet”.  “I’ve never seen a dog with this level of iron stomach, but I think we should try one more round again in an hour”.  Clearly this guy has never met my dog….she’s the pukiest dog I’ve ever had, but she never pukes multiple rounds in a sitting.  So, we sat at home another hour, and waited for a good phone call.  Finally, they called and said they thought they got everything out and the x-rays were clear.

The list of items they got out of her stomach–

  • A large amount of carpet
  • A sock……that we didn’t know was missing
  • Maybe 10……1x6inch rag stripes from my entry rug….that we didn’t know were missing
  • 2 duck wings
  • Anything else potentially wrapped up in the carpet ball

Several hundred dollars and some hours later, she came home and is generally fine.  I’m hoping that she’s learned her lesson, but honestly that seems unlikely.  We did leave her for a few hours today with the torn up carpet and rug booby trapped….everything was undisturbed when we got home.  Hopefully she ate something and it didn’t feel good, so she kept eating things to try and fix the first thing but who even knows with dogs.

Catching Up

It’s been several weeks since I’ve had time to just sit down and write!  Seems like between work, vacations, and social events I just haven’t been home with nothing to do but talk to you guys in quite some time!

I thought maybe I’d just catch you up on a few things that have been happened recently!  

First things first, The Engineer survived his first long distance, week long vacation with Momma Mishappenings and my Sister!  We took him to what might be our favorite vacation destination….Colonial Williamsburg!

Williamsburg really is one of my favorite places.  The smell of boxwood shrubs and gingerbread cookies fills the air and oyster shells give a particular crunch under foot that can’t be created or mimicked by anything else.  Don’t even get me started about the magnolia trees.  I can technically plant a magnolia tree here, but they aren’t the same variety as those large southern plantation magnolias that have come to be a system of southern living.

While in Williamsburg we made a day trip to Monticello.  In all our trips to Williamsburg, I’ve been maybe 13 times…..we’ve never been to Monticello.  Sometimes it’s discussed, but we always just end up staying the extra day in Colonial Williamsburg.  While the house and lawns were impressive, I have to say the tour left some things to be desired.  Tour groups run continuously at 10 minute intervals….so they really have to rush you through the house.  It’s hard to take in all the furnishings of the rooms or see all the custom architecture, and there really isn’t even time to ask questions.  While I’m sure the gardens are lovely in the Spring and Summer, fall trips to Monticello’s extensive gardens are a bit lack luster.  I can’t say that I regret going, but I’m also not sure that I would recommend the visit….if that makes sense.

We also celebrated The Engineer’s birthday last week!  It really did turn into a week long celebration, mostly because I managed to snag us tickets to a 4 course Beer and Dinner pairing at one of the boujee-ier restaurants in town.  You know you’ve had a good night of eating when the dessert course was the least impressive of all the courses!

Smoked scottish ale and a porkchop on a bed of parsnip puree….yes please!

We took Friday off work to scout some public land for turkey and pheasant. We found both, but unfortunately the turkeys waddled through a thick windbreak into a private field, and the only pheasants we flushed up were hens.  Never the less it was fun spending the day driving around and trudging around all the land that’s open to the public.  I do love me a good trudge!  I’m really not much for blaze orange, but now I have a hat and sweet matching vest.  Safe to say I think I’ll mostly stick to turkey hunting so I can leave the neon colors at home!

Birthday week wrapped up with maybe the worst decision I’ve made in a long time.  

In early September I found out that The Engineer’s alma mater was playing a rivalry game on his birthday weekend.  I got really excited and snagged 2 tickets.  I know how he feels about football, and how he feels about being a Jackrabbit, and I thought it would be a fun birthday surprise!

Ahhhh, inside drinking beers before we were forced onto the frozen tundra.

What I failed to consider when buying the tickets, was the drastic change in temperature that occurs in South Dakota between September and mid-November.  


I don’t know that I could tell you the last time I felt that cold.  We were sorta okay until halftime. Two blankets, hot chocolates, and a pretty eventful game kept us going until the action stopped…every minute from halftime through the 3rd quarter felt like hours.  Minutes move much slower in frozen toe time as it turns out.  By the time we left the stadium and checked the weather from the relative warmth of the un-started car, The Weather Channel informed us it was 10 degrees and felt like -1 due to wind.  Even with the seat warmers on high for the hour drive, my booty was still an ice cube when we got home!

Never again will I buy tickets to an event in an outdoor stadium anytime after Halloween!

This was before our faces felt like they were going to crack and fall off!

Final Days of Summer

This weekend marking the final day of summer and the first official day of fall.  While I’m excited to decorate with pumpkins and bust out all of my delicious fall candles, I have one final summer throwback blog to write.

We went late season camping in Nebraska and it was great!!

The Engineer and I drove down to meet his Sister and Bro in Law for a long camping weekend at Calamus State Park.  It’s about an even drive for all of us so it seemed like a good spot to try.  They spent the weekend telling me they needed good blog nicknames….but didn’t suggest any, so I’ll leave it as The Camping Pros for now!  Trying to get The Engineer to prep and pack for camping is almost useless….”If we forget it The Pros will have it so it’s not important.”


Remember to pack enough food and supplies to provide adequate puppy lounging opportunity.

I think I’ve officially waited long enough to ensure that none of the camping participants….furry or otherwise…..caught West Nile.  The bugs down there were big and apparently impervious to any type of bug spray!  Coming home covered in bug bites was really the only downside of the weekend.  I had 18 on just my right ankle……JUST THE RIGHT ANKLE!  The Engineer and I spent days itching and scratching while trying to ignore the constant full body itching.

Besides the unrelenting mosquito blitz we picked a slightly questionable weekend to camp.  As The Engineer and I drove we watched a fairly severe thunderstorm brew up over the top of the park.  When text messages to the pros weren’t immediately returned we were sure they were hunkered down waiting out the storm.  Our suspicions of severe weather were reinforced by the gas station attendant in the small town neighboring the park.  We left with our 2 bundles of firewood and visions of hail and storm winds in our future.  Needless to say we were pleasantly surprised to find out that even though the radar system showed a huge red blob of thunderstorm death over the park, there wasn’t any rain happening at the campsite.  We actually lucked out and only got rained on early Monday morning before we packed up to head home.  All’s well that ends well I suppose!


The trees were sadly not 10-12 feet apart, but we had hammocks to use!


Due to the predicted forecast of less than stellar weather I, being the only member of Casa Mishappenings who plans for things, began to stress over the fortitude of The Engineer’s bargain price tent.  Luckily, the Pros have several large, better tents, and they had one all set up for us when we got there.  Their’s held up much better to the wind and rain.  The Engineer, Puppachino, and I stayed nice and toasty dry and cozy!


Everyone begging for dinner around here!

We also didn’t discover until we got there, but I had somehow managed to rent 4 separate campsites in a “Group Camping” area.  I had no idea!  I just rented what was listed as the only available site for the long Labor Day weekend.  It popped up site 09-12, but I just assumed that meant like site 12 inside of loop 9.  NOPE……the 4 of us had one whole half of a very large open glen area.  A large…..and somewhat odd family of rednecks took up residence on the other half, and for one night we did sublet one of our sites to a large Hispanic family.


4 sites, but we can only have 4 occupants and 1 tent…makes sense I guess!

Mostly, we spent a pretty low key weekend just hanging in our hammocks and hanging out together.  Many naps were had and several beers were drank.  We did make a special trip out to one of the local breweries for lunch one afternoon.  If you’re ever in the middle of nowhere Nebraska I would seriously recommend the Ass Blaster Jalapeño beer from Bootleg Brewery!  Also, the sweet potato fries are!  By this point in the weekend we had extra space in the coolers, so I actually ended up buying a whole growler of Ass Blaster!  It’s delicious….if I could buy it at a store locally I would keep it stocked in the fridge always!


There was a slight blip of excitement when we thought we might have spotted a mountain lion.  I saw it first, The Pro Sister saw it second….in two separate viewings I’ll have you know!  I turned around from making bacon the first morning and saw something slightly redder than a deer off in the trees beyond our camping clearing.  It was moving in a way that caused the internal dialogue, “WTF was that slinking through the trees!?”  The Pro Sister saw a similar size and shape animal the next morning in about the same place.  I would like to point out that both of us are well versed in animals and their general style of movement.  I’ve never watched a deer move through a wooded area or field and thought, “Wow look at that deer slink around over there!”  The guys, and 2 park rangers, were quite sure that all we saw was a deer.  Ppppsssshhh it wasn’t a deer, but whatever I guess…..The Pro and I know what we saw!


The ever elusive……BAT EARED PUPPERS

Making Mornings Easy

A couple weeks ago I discovered something amazing.  Sadly, if you were hoping for a quick new breakfast recipe, this blog isn’t about that.  My intermittent fasting has really put a damper on good breakfasts around here.  If it isn’t coffee, it doesn’t much happen before noon around here.  It’s the worst part of fasting….I love a good breakfast.

What I discovered is how good my eyelashes could look, and how sad they have been looking despite my best efforts to perk them up with mascara.  I’ve always know my lashes were short.  If I wanted my lashes to look like anything, or if I was wearing a heavy makeup look and wanted to actually see lashes, I had to throw on a set of falsies. Despite their obvious length challenges, in my brain they had always seemed quite curled.  Sure, I applied multiple coats of multiple mascaras everyday, but that certainly got them looking on the up and up.  I was wrong….. Even at maximum level makeup my lashes still never looked like much.


Obviously hunting after work means I had all the mascara on my short little baby lashes.  The Engineer totally out lashes me….boys are blessed with lashes they don’t deserve!

Enter Laura McElroy Beauty and the Elleebana Lash Lift….and of course an after lift tint job!  You might be thinking to yourself, I love waking up extra early so that I can curl my lashes and coat them with mascara, plus my lashes are dark so why bother tint them.  Well, wanting to wake up early when you could stay in bed makes you insane.  Let me tell you what, I would give almost anything to spend an extra 2 minutes in bed, and dark tint still makes dark lashes look.  I’ve seen Laura for a variety of waxing and beauty treatments over the years, but this was my first time getting a lash treatment.  She’s the best around and offers a wide variety of services.  She had been telling me for years that I would like a lash lift, I just thought I knew better……don’t be like me!

All the photos are curtesy of Laura, and I can attest that there was no photography trickery afoot.  I know we can all get skeptical of before and after photos, but the only difference in the after in my curled  lashes!  Also, please ignore the snaggle brow….they were desperately in need of a wax at the time of the photos. :/


Think of it in simple terms as a hair perm for your lashes.  A small rod is temporarily attached to your eyelid at the base of your lashes, and your lashes are then combed and curled up over the top of the rod.  It takes about an hour and a half for the whole treatment, and the results should last about 3 months.  It’s only been a few weeks like I said, but so far my lashes are still cute, curled, and needing very little upkeep.  I was also amped that my lashes were long enough to the medium sized rod.  I don’t have the smallest lashes!!

I do still swipe on mascara occasionally, but mostly just to plump the hairs up a bit.  Even putting on mascara on days I feel like I want more oomph has become easy.  Since my lashes are already curled and shaped a couple quick swipes is all it really takes.  Applying falsies is easier too since my lashes blend more seamlessly.  It really is an all around win in my book.  I wake up everyday with perfectly curled, flared, and dark lashes.  It’s so easy, especially for week days when I head off to work with minimal makeup effort.


I’ve you’d like some low maintenance lift and tint beauty in your life and you’re in the area you should definitely check out Laura at her salon.   I love her, I’ve gotten one of my coworkers hooked on her for a few different services, and you’ll love her too!  Plus, she is gracious enough to offer a referral discount of $10 if you see her for a service and mention this post!




5 Years: Remembering and Moving Forward

Saturday, July 28th marked the 5 year anniversary of my Dad’s passing.

It seemed oddly fitting that I spent most of last week out in the Black Hills.  It happened to be that the interns my family sponsors in Dad’s memory were doing their final presentations on Thursday.  We made our annual family trip out West to honor Dad by attending the presentations.  I always feel a bit awkward about all the attention we receive when we go, but I suppose that’s just a bit of my Dad showing himself in me.  He wasn’t ever one for the spotlight really, and even after his diagnosis he just wanted our lives to continue on as normal as possible.

I was partially left to my own devices while I was there, which I secretly sort of love.  Anymore, feeling like you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle of everyday life seems to be a rarity for people, but I think it’s important to be okay being alone.  If you’re going to be stuck in a place without a car, I would strongly recommend Lead, SD.  I had what amounted to about 24 hours essentially on my own without a car.  I was staying with Lil B, but unfortunately she had to work both Thursday and Friday.  I spent the time reading, hiking with her Momma, and generally just enjoying the outdoors.  I  had a wedding and bridesmaid duties in Rapid City on Saturday, in case you were confused as to why my Momma and Sister left me in the Hills. 🙂


Cute little twins and their momma just off the trail

Friday morning, while waiting for The Engineer to arrive in town and the start of the wedding activities, I went for a 6 mile jog/hike on a new trail that runs between Lead and Deadwood.  The trail is gorgeous and is perched high above both cities with stunning views of the mountains and hills surrounding the towns.  Out here on the prairie, we would say the towns are nestled in valleys.  Out in the West…they don’t have valleys…they have gulches.  They are sharper, more severe, and create a much more nerve racking albeit amazeballs view when you stand on the edge.  It really can’t even be described in a way that does it any manner of justice, and my photography skills will never capture the true feeling of standing on the rugged edge of nature.




















I’m not much of a runner honestly, but while pounding my way down the pine lined trail, I think I finally began to understand why my Dad liked to run so much.  Normally, I consider the thin mountain air to be a major struggle factor when I try and exercise out in the Hills.  In fact, Thursday afternoon I tried to jog up a large hill and across Lead to the grocery store…..I didn’t even make it halfway up the hill before I was doubled over and trying to pull all of the oxygen out of air that seemed too thin for my lungs to even hold.

For probably the first time ever, I didn’t feel like I was struggling to get enough oxygen to fuel my legs down the trail.  It was cool, breezy, and clear….and I just ran.  The air out in the Hills has a specific smell about it.  It’s pine, but such a subtle, delicate pine that you’d have a hard time recreating it.  Take every Christmas Tree candle you’ve ever smelled and toss it out the window.  It isn’t like that at all….not that I don’t enjoy a good pine scented candle during the holidays!  There’s a slight sweetness to the air, but I find that I only notice it when I focus on it.  It’s something to be discovered and savored, and is probably lost on people who don’t take time to pause and enjoy the surroundings.

Before I’d even realized I had ran almost 2 miles straight…..with brief pauses to carefully traverse down a particularly steep or gravely section of trail.  I’m no running expert, and I’m certainly not well versed in trail running.  Better safe than sorry….sorry being hands and knees scraped up and full of dirt, gravel, and pine needles.


It was glorious.  Honestly, for how ever brief a time I think I really understood what my Dad always saw in running.  It cleared my mind and was just such a nice time to reflect.  It was easy…I just ran.  I’ve only ever felt that way one other time running, that I can remember.  The first Father’s Day after Dad passed I headed to my townhome’s gym and ran a 5K….but it didn’t feel natural, I’m sure it was fueled purely on sadness, anger, and stress.  This run felt different, it felt natural….like I was put out there specifically to go on this run, and have this time, and feel a connection to my Dad that I haven’t felt in a while.  That’s the thing about being raised by parents who taught me to move forward, even in times of difficulty, and to never quit.  I sometimes  forget that moving forward doesn’t mean I can’t pause and take time to reflect.

I’m not sure when I’ll have another run that feels comfortable and easy.  I might not ever, and I came to terms with the fact that running just isn’t my jam a long time ago.  But, I might try again next time I’m out in the Hills on a high up mountain trail.  Worst thing that happens is it’s horrible and I end up walking….which out there isn’t all that bad either.


I ended up doing more walking than jogging most of the way back to Lead once I got to the end of the trail in Deadwood.  Turns out that the whole trail, even the “flat” parts had an ever so slight downhill trajectory….which suddenly explained why going to Deadwood felt so glorious, and why going back to Lil B’s house felt less than stellar most of the time.  Also, about a mile from the end of my run/walk I got distracted and forgot to check where my feet were landing.  I took a rather large rock right to the side and/or arch of my left foot and ended up with a rather swollen and bruised foot.  Still not the worst thing….I ended up walking  back to Lil B’s house and came upon a cute little buck in velvet hanging out on the edge of town.


So close I almost could have touched him!