North Dakota Living

Boots in the Country

In 2005, a bitty little kitty came home to my mom and dad’s house. We had always had house cats when I was growing up, which were almost always free kittens from someone’s farm. The previous cat Jed had recently passed away, so when my cousins had another litter for giveaway at their house in the country, my parents picked one up to bring home.

She was a little tortoiseshell-colored spitfire. We named her “Boots,” but usually she was simply called “The Cat.” She was a strange one from the get-go. She was fascinated with running water, unlike most cats, and would splash in the faucet whenever we were brushing our teeth. She was a lurker. It seemed every time we walked into a room, she was already there — lurking, looking at us from behind a stack of books, or from behind the bed, or from the top of a shelf. Sometimes, she would lie docilely next to us on the couch, purring and kneading us with her paws, and then suddenly out of the blue, she would shoot up into the air and take off with a screech in a flash of black and orange fur.

She was born to tease. She loved trying to climb onto the counter right in front of us, knowing she wasn’t supposed to; she loved strutting by the dogs with her tail flicking, knowing they weren’t allowed to harm her; she constantly pestered my mom by carrying clean socks from the laundry room all over the house. She had a knack for finding the cleanest clothes in any room and sleeping on them. Every time someone opened the front door, she would bolt outside. I think she just wanted us to chase her. She always escaped to the rock garden, stopped, and let us catch her to bring her back in.


Crazy Boots got herself into trouble once or twice. There was the infamous laundry incident, for starters. Remember I told you Boots was fascinated with running water? She often tried to jump into the washing machine. My mom was doing laundry late one night and had already pulled Boots out of the washing machine once. While she was switching a new load of laundry, Boots jumped back into washing machine undetected by my mom, who closed the lid, pushed start, and walked away. A few minutes later, she came back upstairs and heard a funny sound from the washing machine. She realized with a sick feeling that she hadn’t seen Boots since she closed the washing machine door.

She raced over to the laundry machine to push stop, but when she saw the soggy state Boots was in, she couldn’t bring herself to deal with the situation. She shook my dad awake. “Mike, I think I killed the cat!”

My dad roused himself from bed to gently lift Boots out of the washing machine while my poor mother fretted in the background. To their surprise, Boots was stunned, but breathing! Luckily, it was a high efficiency washing machine and therefore didn’t use much water. Also luckily, it hadn’t yet started the spin cycle. [There are so many jokes a person could insert here.] Boots was extra crazy after that…

But her fur was also extra soft and fluffy for a long while.


She and my mom had a funny relationship. Boots knew my mom was the most likely one to feed her and would follow her all over the house. She sat patiently outside my mom’s bedroom door for hours at night, waiting for her chance to bolt inside. She was naughty and exasperating, but I think my mom was secretly pretty attached to her. So when she got the news last year that Boots, at 9 years old, had developed an untreatable medical condition that would not allow her to control her bladder anymore, she had a difficult choice to make. Boots couldn’t remain a house cat; but she was still relatively young and healthy and no one wanted to put her down. Mom decided ultimately to send her to the farm for a new life, but it wasn’t without some concern. Boots had never lived in the country before. Would she survive? Would she make it through the winter? Would she get along with the other farm cats? It seemed better than the alternative, though, so early last fall she was transported up to the farm to begin her second life.

It turns out, all those fears were completely unfounded. Boots has absolutely flourished. Not only did she survive the winter, she did so with style. She is as fit and in shape as ever. Her fur is still soft and fluffy. And she’s still up to all her old tricks:

She lurks- EVERYWHERE. All over the farm yard. It’s pretty creepy, actually.




She still teases the dogs.


Who retaliate from time to time. Don’t worry, she isn’t getting hurt. I think she likes it, actually, because shortly after this picture was taken she walked by Scout again, flicking her tail and taunting her:


Boots also has no fear whatsoever of horses, though she had never seen a horse before in her life. She prowls through their pasture and rubs up on their legs, which they tolerate patiently. She’s probably trying to figure out how to tease them:


And now, rather than bolting out of the house to the rock garden like she did in her city life, instead she tries to bolt into the farmhouse anytime someone opens the front door. Once she makes it successfully inside, she usually chooses a place to lurk until someone spots her and kicks her back out.

Yes, Boots was made for the country. I like seeing the familiar flash of black and orange fur all over the farmyard. I like the way she is bursting with personality and makes no apologies. She’s always loved action, and the farm is full of it.

Her second life here seems to be right where she belongs.


How To's

How To: Slow Cooker French Dip

It’s allergy season for me, so I’ve been hiding in the house a little more than usual this week. But that’s ok, because I had a chance to do some indoor jobs — no, not the teaching units, sadly, but I have done some laundry, cleaning, cooking, and general organizing that really needed to be done. Let’s just say my domestic side has gotten a little rusty this summer and it’s about time I used it again.

This morning I hauled out the crock pot. I love my little old crock pot, which was handed down to me by my mom. We actually got a shiny new silver one for our wedding, which has fancy settings and a snap-on lid, and I love that one too, but more often than not I get out the trusty old guy instead.


Today, I cooked up something especially fabulous: My mom’s French dip sandwiches. All the boys are preparing for harvest this week, and with all the shoveling grain and cleaning out combines and squeezing in some mowing, they were all pretty grateful when I offered French dip sandwiches and fresh-cut strawberries for dinner. This recipe is perfect for hungry workers, as the crock pot can just sit on low to keep the meat warm until they come in. And you just never know quite when dinner time is around here.

This French dip recipe is so good, in fact, that I just need to share it with you all. I’m sure you will all be thanking my mom afterward. It turns a big clunky roast into tender, flavorful slices of roast beef and creates perfect au jus for dipping.

For this recipe, select any two or three-pound beef roast. I’ve used several different types of roast, including chuck, arm, sirloin tip, etc., and really this recipe works well with any of them, even the toughest of cuts. Be sure it is thawed out before you put it in the crock pot. I also usually cut it into two or three pieces beforehand to ensure more even cooking and to make the slicing easier later.

To begin, dump into the crock pot a can of beef broth, some soy sauce, and cup of water (to make the au jus), and then the seasonings: bay leaf, ground thyme, garlic powder, and peppercorns. Add the roast. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 7-8 hours.


See, wasn’t that incredibly easy??

I would show you what the roast looks like cooking in the crock pot, but I have a thing against picking up my crock pot lid while it’s cooking because I don’t want any moisture to escape! Call me superstitious or something. It’s all in there though, I promise.


After 7-8 hours, lift the roast pieces out of the crock pot and slice. Strain the juice in the crock pot into a bowl or container to remove the bay leaf, peppercorns, and extra pieces of fat floating around, and then pour the strained juice back into the crock pot. Place the sliced meat back in the au jus to keep everything warm and tender until ready to eat. This last step could be skipped, but I think it makes the meat especially juicy and flavorful to put it back in the au jus after shredding it.

When you are ready to eat, scoop out some meat with a slotted spoon onto your bun or bread slices…


Spoon a little au jus into a bowl…


And eat!

Now if that wasn’t the easiest tasty recipe I’ve ever followed, I’m not sure what is, but let me tell you this is one good sandwich. Thanks Mom!

In case you are wondering what that sign peeking out from behind my crock pot says, here it is:


That perfectly sums me up. My poor husband.

And before you get too impressed with my domestic abilities after I just showed you how to make the best French dip sandwich ever, here is what happened to the cookies I made today:


Oh, well, can’t win them all. I did tell you my domestic side is a bit rusty these days. Good thing my dad likes crunchy cookies.

Slow-Cooker French Dip

1 can beef broth
1/2 C. soy sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 T whole peppercorns
1 C. water
1 3-lb. roast

Put beef broth, soy sauce, bay leaf, thyme, garlic powder, peppercorns, and water into crockpot, and stir. Add roast. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours. Slice meat. Strain juice. Place both back into crock pot until ready to serve. Place meat on rolls. Use juice for dipping.

How To's, Musings

How to: Iced Mochas

We are officially settled in to our little modular home on the farm. The appropriate items have been put into storage for the time being, the rest of the boxes are unpacked, and we can actually walk through the guest room now. My husband is hard at work at his new job, and my teaching job starts again in about three and a half weeks.

Oh dear.

What do teachers even do during the summer? you non-teachers may ask. Well, I wish I could tell you. Every year when school gets out, the summer seems to stretch before me like an endless dream. Time! I think. Time to do all my projects, all my trips and travels, all those units I’m going to plan for the next school year. And every summer, suddenly it is nearly over and I think I might have done a project or two, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. I know I haven’t planned any units for school. That one’s for certain.

What I’ve really done this summer, besides a bit of travel and running around to family events, is move to our new home in western North Dakota and drink a lot of iced mochas. And you know what? If I don’t have much more than that to show for the summer, I guess that’s ok.

Right now, I’m going to share with you how I make these iced mochas. They are delicious and cheap. Kind of like my time this summer. Sigh.

How to Make Delicious Iced Mochas at Home (or any other variations of iced coffee!)

Step 1. Cold brew coffee. I learned about this method via Pinterest and Pioneer Woman. For those of you who haven’t heard of her, she is a ranch wife and mother with a brilliant blog and show on Food Network. Cold brewing means that rather than brewing a hot pot of coffee the traditional way, you pour cold water over coffee grounds, let it soak or “brew” for several hours, and strain the liquid out. This method is great for iced coffee in the summer because 1) you can make a large amount of iced coffee at once and 2) the coffee is strong and cold enough to handle ice cubes without melting them and getting all watered down.

Here is the link to the instructions on Pioneer Woman’s blog that first led me down this wonderful iced coffee path: “The Perfect Iced Coffee.”

A few of my own tips to add to her instructions:

First, I’ve experimented over the last couple summers with different types of coffee — extra dark roast, French roast, breakfast blend, medium roast, etc. Although right away I went all out to create the darkest, strongest coffee possible, I found the taste to be a little too overpowering and backed off to a less intense blend. Honestly, though, I think I use a different brand or type of coffee every time. It depends on what’s on sale and what I have in my cupboard when I get a hankering. You may have to experiment to find your own personal preference. I typically just dump whatever grounds I choose into a large Tupperware container that looks like this:


Second, Pioneer Woman recommends straining the coffee through a cheesecloth. However, the cheesecloth I had on hand was not fine enough to actually strain out many coffee grounds, so my first attempt ended with a pile of coffee grounds on the bottom of my pitcher. The next time I tried it, I didn’t feel like running to the store to search for finer cheesecloth, so I rummaged through my supplies to see what I could use instead. I was delighted when I found an old sheet I had recently ripped up to use for rags (it was very clean, I promise). The piece of sheet, draped over my big strainer as I pour the coffee through, lets through the liquid without letting a single coffee ground escape. Perfect! It’s not just an old sheet anymore – it has a special place in my drawer as a very important kitchen tool. And yes, it is in fact an old Sesame Street sheet, so Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, and the Cookie Monster are there to help me every time I make iced coffee.


Final tip: I used to pour the cold coffee into a pitcher. But then I decided to splurge on a beverage dispenser at Target for about $16, and it was the best decision I ever made. (I say that a lot). Walking to the fridge and dispensing iced coffee into my glass is a breeze. It’s also helped a lot as I’ve slowly transitioned into my family’s iced coffee lady. Summers ago, my little brothers started to realize that when I’m around, the fridge ALWAYS has iced coffee in it. So when they’re out working in the hot sun, they stop in for frequent “coffee breaks.” It was a problem when I just had coffee in a weenie little pitcher and didn’t know about the cold brew method. I would make a pot of coffee in the coffee pot, wait hours for it to cool… and it would be gone before I even had a chance to pour myself a glass. But now, with my big, tough drink dispenser that can hold up to two gallons of cold brewed iced coffee, it’s no deal at all! The boys get their coffee, and I don’t get grumpy. I like to think the cold brew method and my beverage dispenser have improved family relationships around here.


The coffee dispenser, of course, has a prominent place in the refrigerator:


Ok, I think I’ve spent enough time discussing cold brew coffee. But it’s a serious matter, you guys.

Step 2: Once you have your jug of iced coffee, pour the desired amount into your desired drinking container.

Step 3: Add whatever it is you like to add to your coffee. In recent summers, I have kept a carton or two of International Delight’s Iced Mocha on hand.


I pour a mixture of about two-thirds iced coffee and one-third ID Iced Mocha into my glass. Then I top with a little splash of half-and-half and a handful of ice and end up with a creamy, delicious, refreshing iced coffee drink. My husband adds a splash of flavored creamer, such as French Vanilla, instead of half-and-half. Some of my brothers add only cream and no Iced Mocha. It just depends on what you like! Pioneer Woman even recommends using sweetened condensed milk, which I haven’t tried yet but which sounds delicious.


If you like iced coffee as much as I do, this method might be worth a try. It’s made my summer iced coffee habit so much easier and economical.

Now to those unit plans… Aw, maybe tomorrow.

Musings, Travel & Adventure

Scottish Adventure

When we booked our tour to Ireland, I just knew I had to see Scotland as well. First of all, beyond my obvious love of travel itself, I was an English major and have always loved British literature and history. Second of all, have you ever read the Outlander series? I’m not usually much of a freak fan, but ever since I’ve read the series a few years ago, I’ve been dying to see the land so richly described in those books. All three of us had already been to England, so we left it off the list. I went there with my Shakespeare class in college. (I told you I have a thing for literature!) Here is proof:

england (8)

So, the day after our Ireland tour ended, we struggled to life at 4 am and caught a shuttle from our hostel to Dublin Airport. Our tickets were booked with RyanAir, a notorious budget European airline. I say notorious because general consensus is that while they have great prices, working with them is a nightmare. For example. although my suitcase fits carry-on size for most airlines, it was much too large for RyanAir’s carry-on allowance, so I paid for a checked bag. However, my checked bag, at 70 euro, actually cost more than my plane ticket itself! That, along with the ticket printing fiasco of the night before, torturously long lines at the airport, and uncomfortable seats that don’t bother to recline, made us very happy to reach Edinburgh!

We also tried something else that was new on this little detour: we booked a place to stay using the website AirBnB, a relatively new trend in traveling that offers rooms, apartments, and even whole houses – from local residents and their own homes. The prices are almost always better than hotels, and it allows the locals to make a little extra cash. AirBnB is available nearly everywhere, but of course, in a place like Edinburgh, you do end up with a lot more options than you would in, say, North Dakota. The place we booked was a little apartment up a long spiral staircase, right in Old Town and with a view of Edinburgh Castle. It was amazing, and our hosts were gracious and accommodating. I would highly recommend AirBnB for your future travels. Just read the reviews first to get an idea if you are getting a good place or not.

Anyway, back to our adventure in Scotland. We were only there for 3 days, so we packed as much into that time as we could. Here is a little breakdown of what we did:

Day 1: Edinburgh. Since we arrived so early in the morning, we started with some breakfast and then hit up Edinburgh Castle as soon as it opened. This architectural and historical treasure dominates Edinburgh’s skyline, sitting on top of the volcanic rock that slopes down toward the Royal Mile. We spent about three hours exploring all the nooks and crannies that the castle has to offer.

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After the Edinburgh Castle, we took a tour of Edinburgh’s underground. As I mentioned, Edinburgh sits on top of a volcanic rock, which slopes from Edinburgh Castle down to Hollyrood Palace below. The road connecting the two is known as the Royal Mile, which runs right down the spine of the volcanic rock. Off the Royal Mile is a series of “closes,” steep and narrow alleyways sloping sharply down, where the citizens of Edinburgh lived for centuries in tenements and apartments. When the Royal Exchange was constructed on the Royal Mile, it was built right on top of some of these downward-sloping closes, which are therefore now underground. These were closed to the public for years, but now, you can tour the closes through companies such as Real Mary King’s Close. Ghost stories also abound, and numerous ghost tours are advertised as well. It was very interesting, but a little creepy, I admit.

We spent the rest of the day exploring Edinburgh. We also tried “haggis,” Scotland’s national dish. Haggis is various sheep parts – heart, liver, lungs, and sometimes stomach – ground with spices into a type of sausage. I’m telling you, it doesn’t sound appetizing, but it actually wasn’t too terrible! Haggis is often served with “neeps” and “tatties” (turnips and potatoes).

IMG_2418 FullSizeRender

I do have a tendency of trying gross things. Remember the spider? The haggis was much tastier, though.

Day 2: Scottish Highlands. We booked a day trip to the Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness. What a great decision! We loved it. Although it was a lot of time spent in the van, we were able to see much more of Scotland than we would have otherwise. Our day trip left at 8:00 in a 14-passenger bus/van hybrid driven by an energetic local woman. She entertained us the entire way with historical stories about William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots, among others. The trip was rich with information and history. We caught glimpses of Sterling Castle, Doune Castle (where several shows have been filmed, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones, and of course, Outlander!), and the stone tower where Mary Queen of Scots was held captive by her own people. One of our stops along the way was Glencoe, site of the terrible massacre of the Clan MacDonald in 1692 ordered by King William III. This lovely glen, despite its grim history, offered some good photo ops.

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Next was Loch Ness, which I’m sure I don’t need to define for you. Did we see the monster? Well, no, unless you count the rather scary man telling stories on our ferry. But we did have a lot of fun.

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On the way back, we caught some photos of these little cuties. The Scottish Highlands are full of them! Is it strange that I would like to put a couple in my yard at home?


This was overall a great day, and worth every pence (see what I did there?) that we spent on the tour.

Day 3: Back in Edinburgh. On our last day, we booked a rather intense 3-hour bike ride to see more of the city of Edinburgh. I mentioned that Edinburgh is hilly? Well, this left us so thoroughly exhausted that we were pretty worthless that afternoon. We did a little shopping, stopped for some coffee, and possibly downed one last beer or two before we needed to catch the bus to the airport.


In summary: I loved Scotland! Like Ireland, the culture was rich, the scenery was beautiful, and the locals were some of the friendliest I’ve ever met. I’m definitely going back someday! Until then, I’ll be saving money and living in my little modular house with my hunky husband! I’m thinking next time he can come with me…


Musings, Travel & Adventure

Eight Days on the Emerald Isle

GO TO IRELAND. Do it. If you’ve been thinking about it, do it. If you have vacation time to use up, do it. If you have any extra money, do it. And if you don’t have any vacation time or extra money… do it anyway.

I’ve wanted to go to Ireland for years. My paternal grandpa, Tim, was 100% Irish, and I grew up proud of my Irish heritage, though the other three of my grandparents are largely of Norwegian background and therefore make up an even larger part of my heritage. (I’ll go to Norway next!) My friend and I talked about going on a trip to celebrate turning 30 this year, and we finally settled on the Emerald Isle. We invited a few others to join us. After my cousin Beky accepted, we had a trio. We booked an eight-day tour that took us around the country, which started in Dublin, headed up to Northern Ireland, traveled down the west coast through Galway, visited the south part of the island including Cork and Kilkenny, and ended up back in Dublin.

I did a little bit of research before we went, and discovered that one of my ancestors came from County Down (in what is now Northern Ireland) in 1880. The other came earlier, in 1840, from County Tipperary in the southern part of Ireland. Eventually, their descendants moved to western North Dakota and two of them, James Dwyer and Grace Taylor, married. James and Grace were my dad’s grandparents. Although our tour took us to neither County Down nor County Tipperary specifically, we did drive through both areas, which made our visit that much more interesting for me.

Here is a brief rundown of our eight day visit:

Day 1: Dublin. We arrived in Dublin, checked into our hotel, and visited the downtown a little bit that evening.

Day 2: Dublin to Derry. We got on the tour bus and drove north to Belfast, birthplace of the famous Titanic and also a hotseat of conflict between Catholic Nationalists and Protestant Unionists in recent decades. From there, we went to Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, which sports neat formations of hexagonal rocks as well as a beautiful coastline. Finally, we checked into our hotel in Derry, another hotseat of Catholic/ Protestant conflict. ‘ We also ate fish & chips meal #1. This started a strange little obsession with fish & chips which lasted for the week.

Here are some pictures from the Giant’s Causeway: IMG_3563 IMG_3569 IMG_3581 Day 3: Derry to Galway. We traveled from Derry down to Galway, a quaint town on Ireland’s western coast. In Galway, we did a little shopping, visited a couple of pubs, and had fish & chips meal #2. Yum. IMG_3592 Day 4: Aran Islands. This may have been the highlight of the entire trip. We took a ferry from Galway to the Aran Islands. When we arrived, we rented bikes, bought a picnic lunch at the grocery store, and headed to a set of dramatic cliffs about 5 miles away. It was overcast and cool, and we weren’t expecting such an intense bike ride (it was almost all uphill), but eventually we struggled up to the cliffs – where we promptly decided it was much too windy to actually eat our picnic lunch, took a couple of hurried pictures and tried not to get blown off the cliff, and headed back to the village. The return ride was much, much easier. IMG_3614 IMG_3616 IMG_3618 IMG_3638 IMG_3646 Day 5: Galway to Cork. Our bus took us from Galway to Cork, with stops at both the Cliffs of Moher, which were too foggy for us to actually see, and Blarney Castle. We did get in line to kiss the Blarney Stone, but only one of us (Beky) kissed it. The other two of us were too freaked out by heights (Jackie) and germs (me). That night, we checked into our hotel in Cork and spent some time listening to live pub music.

Here are my travel companions taking advantage of selfie opportunities in front of Blarney Castle: IMG_3668 Day 6: Cork to Kilkenny. On this day, we headed to Kilkenny, with a stop in the morning at the port town of Cobh, last port of call for the Titanic, as well as a stop at the Jameson Irish Whiskey distillery. Once in Kilkenny, we checked into our hotel and went out for a bike tour of the town. Our guide, a Kilkenny native with a great sense of humor, led us to various spots of interest in the medieval town and the lovely Kilkenny Castle. IMG_3687   IMG_3689 IMG_3690 IMG_3695 Day 7: Kilkenny to Dublin. We left Kilkenny and headed back to Dublin to spend more time in the capital city. One of the highlights of this day was a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, where we learned about the process of making Guinness and even learned how to pour a pint! Afterward, we ate our 3rd dinner of fish & chips. (The fish & chips dinners were slowly improving with each attempt. I felt I was on the verge of discovering the perfect fish & chips meal.)

We also walked through Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells. That night was another highlight of the trip – an evening at the Merry Ploughboy Pub, where we were served a delicious dinner and treated to a show of traditional Irish pub songs and dancing. If you ever get to Dublin, make it a point to spend a night at the Merry Ploughboy! IMG_3699 IMG_3705 Day 8: Dublin. This was our last day in Dublin. Highlights of the day included Murphy’s Ice Cream (AMAZING), a garden festival at Christchurch Cathedral, a little shopping, and a great meal at a delicious little pub called The Norseman. This pub had a fabulous selection of food and beer, and I couldn’t help from ordering just one more fish & chips dinner — and this one was the BEST yet! Furthermore, there was more traditional pub music and a lively atmosphere. I would highly recommend the Norseman as well if you find yourself in Dublin.

Unfortunately, that night was spent at the hostel in a frustrating attempt to get our plane tickets printed out for RyanAir on an ancient computer in the hostel lounge, which seemed to eat up a large amount of Euro for minutes used and sheets printed. I swear, I spent an hour and a half just trying to get those darn boarding passes. But I finally printed them successfully, and we left early the next morning for Scotland.

Despite the poor ending to the last night, I thought Ireland was fabulous. Next time, maybe it will be eighty days instead of eight!

Musings, North Dakota Living

7 Months, 3 Houses

Hubby and I moved last weekend to our third house since our wedding seven months ago. We are back on the farm, in boomtown, in oil country, in western North Dakota, starting our new jobs and a new adventure together. I will miss some things about living in the capital city, but then again, when I lived in the capital city, I missed it here, too. I read a quote once that said, “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” It’s true; no matter where I am, I miss someones and somethings somewhere else. But that’s ok — at least I have all those someones and somethings to love!

I digress. Here is the story of the move:

Upon starting summer vacation in early June, I assume I have lots of time to move before school starts up again this fall, so rather than packing up my house, I pack a suitcase and go on vacation to Ireland and Scotland with two girlfriends and without a care. While on vacation, I get an email from my father, who is helping us to get rid of our house in the capital city. The email informs me that I must be out of my house by the following Saturday. Upon doing some calculation, I realize that gives me three days to move out once I return from Europe.

I also realize at this point that I haven’t packed one thing besides my suitcase. I haven’t even collected one cardboard box. Uh oh.

So, late on the Wednesday night before the move, I return home to a happy reunion with my hubby after being away for two weeks, followed by a lot of frantic wrapping, sorting, packing, boxing, carrying, and loading into two trailers. We should be good at this by now – not only is this our third house together, but I have moved nine times in the past six years, and in the past nine years, my hubby has moved a whopping 18 TIMES!

And every move is just as terrible as the one before.

Luckily, we have the help of my parents, grandparents, and one brother. After three long days, we load the last box, take out the last bag of garbage, wipe down the last shelf in the refrigerator, and decide that it was probably good we didn’t have much warning — kind of like ripping off a bandaid.

And just like that, here we are, enjoying the long western North Dakota evenings and unpacking at a much slower pace than that of packing. Our new home, a little modular on the family farm, is shaping up nicely after a few days of TLC. Never mind that the spare bedroom looks like this right now:


(I know. Don’t judge.)

The more important thing is that right outside the window it looks like this:


The view outside is a bit better than the view inside, don’t you think?

I think those boxes in the spare bedroom can wait a little longer….