Trip to Duluth and a Proposal

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I have some very exciting news to share with you all! A few weekends ago (April 29th to be precise) my boyfriend Luke proposed to me! Before anyone asks there are no rings yet (so no pictures of them), but we do have them picked out. We just have to wait until we have enough saved up now, as neither of us have much (me paying off my student loans, and him just finishing up his undergraduate degree a few weeks ago).

The proposal itself was not super-mushy or anything like that, since that is just how we roll as a couple. On Friday the 28th in the evening we came to the realization that we had no plans for the next day (a fairly rare occurrence). So we decided we would go hiking, as it is an activity we both enjoy doing when we have the time. We realized after researching parks near us that our chosen one, Banning State Park, was only half an hour away from Duluth. We then decided we were going to head up to Duluth instead, and stop at the park on the way back if we had the time.

So, for the proposal itself: Saturday morning comes and I am in the bathroom brushing my hair, getting ready to roll. Luke comes in and asks, “Hey! How about we make this our official engagement day?!” I excitedly respond yes!

We take off for our destination shortly after that. The day was a bit chilly up in Duluth, though there was still plenty of fun to be had there! We started off by having lunch at Clyde Iron Works around 11:00am. I had a quite delicious chicken alfredo stromboli while Luke tried one of their burgers. We both shared fried ravioli as an appetizer (would definitely recommend it!)

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After that we headed over to Enger Tower Park, which overlooks the city of Duluth. Climbing to the top of the tower was easy enough, though it was very cold up there with the wind whistling!

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We rounded off our time in Duluth by visiting Bent Paddle Brewing and each grabbing a cool beer.

This all did not take an enormous amount of time, so we happily had a lot of time to spend in Banning State Park! One of the biggest features of the park is the Kettle River flowing through it, with several areas of rapids and even a waterfall. We decided we definitely wanted to see this waterfall and began our trek there.

As the winter season had just recently ended (there were still patches of snow here and there at the Enger Tower Park!), the trails had not been groomed for a while. There were several times where we wandered off the paths, simply because we could not tell where the trail ended! It seemed that plenty of other people had done the same thing, as the non-paths we walked on were trampled down by footprints.

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In total, we hiked around for over three hours! It was quite exhausting.

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I am so happy to be able to spend the rest of my days with this awesome guy, and cannot wait for all of the future adventures we will have!

 

 

Spring Is Here! Two weeks: The Zoo, a Walk, and a Sleepy Cat Introduction

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There are not many things more pleasant than having cold weather go and warm weather come again in Minnesota. Do not get me wrong; I do like winter. It just gets a bit dreary sometimes after the first few snowy days, the piles of sludgy grey on the sides of roads, no flowers or green plants outdoors (except for the evergreen trees!) I miss all of the color quite a bit.

Good news! The plants are starting to bloom and bud once again! (even though we received a little bit of snow here several days ago).

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A couple weekends back it was absolutely gorgeous, and I had the pleasure of being able to go walking Friday and Sunday around my neighborhood. My boyfriend and I went all over the area surrounding the Stone Arch Bridge and Nicollet Island. We also discovered that there was a nest of Totodile at Nicollet Island Pavillion (yay Pokémon Go!) so we hung around there for a while catching a bunch of the happy little reptiles. I managed to get enough candy to evolve one fully into a Feraligatr!

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One of many pretty cool things I saw on our walk was this tree. It looks like it was struck by lightning at some point! The bark was gone on the surface of it, you could see inside of it as it had contracted outwards, and the middle was blackened/charred. I think it is really interesting to look at!

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That Saturday I visited the Minnesota Zoo with my best friend Jenne. It was a lot of fun to see a bunch of the baby animals they have there right now, a sneak peek at their new kangaroos, the farm animal exhibit they have right now (I pet so many goats!) and I even was able to pet a shark in their Discovery Bay area. My favorite picture I took has to be of this sea dragon though!

Another fun bit of information that has occurred since I last posted: I now have a pet cat! His name is Felix, and he is one of the most cuddly cats I have ever met. I love that he really likes snuggling on laps and in the crook of your arms – like a little baby – and that when he kneads he almost never retracts his claws enough to scratch you or rip clothing. He has a very chill personality, but is always up for playing with his toys too!

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A Brand New Pet!

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Exciting news everyone!!

The other day (Tuesday to be precise) I obtained my first ever ‘adult’ pet (adult in this  context meaning I fully am responsible for her financially); a little corn snake named Kahli! Here she is, pictured below.

KahliI received her from a friend of my boyfriend’s who was adopting out her three pet corn snakes. She is busy with a full-time job right now and other things, and so didn’t feel that she had enough time to give them. Very nicely she included Kahli’s tank, decorations, heat lamp, water dish, and two ‘fuzzies’ (the small frozen mice she eats) with Kahli.

She is so adorable, though understandably shy at this point. For the first several hours, she hid away in her log decoration, peeking her head out from time to time to look at me cautiously while I was reading a book. If I dared to glance at her directly though, she would quickly withdraw back into her hiding place.

When I left my room to make and eat dinner for a while though, I came back and found she had ventured out and spread herself onto her leaf decoration. I called my roommate to come and look at her, but when she (my roommate) put her face close to the tank, Kahli ducked her head behind the leaves and eventually slithered back into her log.

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I’m hoping she settles down and feels more comfortable in her new home soon! Each week I’ll be feeding her one ‘fuzzy’ and begin handling her in a day or two. Her previous owner said she was really good with show-and-tell, so it would be great to make sure she stays used to being taken out of her tank at times.

A Week’s Recap: Pokémon,Weather, and More!

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Me_Annoyed This is about what I believe my face looked like when I looked at the weather forecast for my area at the beginning of this week. Highs touching the 30s in Fahrenheit for a few days, a chance of snow on others. Despite all that though, there were a few fun moments in this week such as…

Teaching people how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) on Monday! This week at my university’s Pokémon League was TCG themed. Though quite a few people already knew how to play, we had a few new members who did not know, and I had a lot of fun showing them the ropes and letting them use my decks to test their new-found skills against other members (I have four of them!)

Tuesday was the first day of Pokémon Fun (a class I teach at a local K-8 school) after their spring break. This counted as a new ‘session’ for their school, and for the first session I worked as a teacher I had eight students. This time I have fifteen! Many of the same faces are present from my last class, but its great to see new ones too. One of the kids thanked me for battling with them after class ended that day, which I thought was really sweet of them!

I also managed to cook this deliciousness up on Tuesday:

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The Lunds & Byerlys near the school I work at had a fantastic sale on salmon filets going on, so I partook of it and made corn meal crusted salmon for the first time ever. It was a great and delicious experiment.

Wednesday was a liiiiittle more hectic, as I had a mid-semester group paper due that day (and had volunteered to edit it before it was turned in). Everyone had their parts done at the agreed upon time though, so I had a couple hours to review it, which was plenty of time. Really proud of my team! I also baked a pan of lemon bars (as the filling used up six eggs, and I needed to use those things up). It was my first time making those as well, and my roommates thought they were yummy (as did I) 😀 The recipe I used can be found here. I followed it pretty much exactly, except for only using about 1/2 a cup of lemon juice and four tablespoons of lemon zest.

A really exciting thing happened Thursday! I found out where I will be living next year starting in September, after touring places with my future roommate. I liked my landlord a lot this past year, and so toured two bedroom places he had. We decided upon a large lower-duplex that was recently renovated in the past year. My future roommate, a current roommate, and myself polished off the rest of the lemon bars in celebration.

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With Friday morning came with this scary sight: snow that stuck to the ground! 😮 It didn’t stay around too long though, as the temperature warmed up sufficiently throughout the day.

Saturday was nice, and I worked on and completed quite a bit of my homework load this weekend, rather than putting it all off until Sunday. This fuzzy creature didn’t help with my work ethic too much though, and made me feel like napping too:

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WineFinally, today! The weather was simply awesome compared to the last several days! I didn’t even need to wear a hat to keep my ears warm. Plus the store I worked at today as a brand ambassador had another ambassador there in the wine section giving taste samples. I found their brand to be quite enjoyable and very smooth: I might need to purchase a bottle sometime! (though I’m very much more of a beer and hard cider girl).

I can’t wait to see how this next week goes, especially since tomorrow will be a battling night at Pokémon League, and I should hear back from a couple of places I’ve interviewed with. Wish me luck in finding an amazing place to intern or work at this summer for more digital marketing experience!

A Wonderful Cat Named Draco

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If you’ve read my previous posts, you probably know that one of my roommates owns three adorable cats! In this post I wanted to highlight her black cat, who goes by the name of Draco.

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Let me start off by saying that this cat is so far the only cat I’ve known that loves to be pet everywhere (even his tummy! My family’s cat I knew growing up would maul you if you even THOUGHT of going near his stomach with your hand).

Almost without fail every day (this day not being an exception) at some point he comes up to me meowing for attention in the form of pets, which I happily bestow upon him. He then proceeds to flop onto his side and cuddle up next to you while purring loudly. Simply. Adorable!

He’ll sometimes be quite mischievous by sneakily taking food from you when you’re not looking, or beg incessantly for a bite of something delicious. He also is pretty smart, and has learned how to open a few doors around the house that don’t shut completely properly, but putting his paw underneath them and pulling them open. This has resulted in the following sign being posted near the door that houses the cats’ food supply (and a lock being utilized).

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Some people may think that cats of this color are bad luck (I can ensure I’ve had nothing but good or neutral luck around this kitty though!), or not very photogenic (and I do admit, when Draco is in a dimly lit area, it is kind of hard to make out his features in pictures like below).

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All-in-all though, according to data collected by Dr. Emily Weiss, black cats aren’t less likely to be adopted than other cats at shelters and rescues.

In this research, it was shown that people may think that black cats are having a hard time being adopted, since there are usually quite a few of them in any given place. With black fur coloring being a dominant trait, there are simply more black cats available.

Personally, I’m of the opinion that a cat, dog, ferret, or any other type of critter you’re thinking of adding to your life should be chosen not based on aesthetics, but on behavior and personality, if it’s possible to observe that first-hand or based on a good description before obtaining them. Someday I can only hope to get a cat as cuddly as Draco for myself (whether they’re black or a different color doesn’t really matter) 🙂

 

Deals on Eggs and Making Good Food!

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As a college student, I’m always on the lookout for a good deal. The other day, I happened across one before heading off to work. My Cartwheel app went off, telling me that eggs were 50% off at Target for a dozen on Friday and Saturday. Woo! Cheap protein!

I was even more astonished when I made it to Target later in the day to find that the regular price of their Market Pantry eggs was reduced to 99 cents. So each carton of eggs was a whopping – drum roll – FOURTY-NINE CENTS! This deal was so amazing to me that I promptly bought three dozen, though I had a mostly-full carton at home already.

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When I told my boyfriend about my spontaneous purchase decision his reaction was at first disbelief; not at the price, but what the heck I was going to do with all the eggs?! Eat them of course, I told him.

So far I’ve gone through a whole dozen, believe it or not! Friday night I made a delicious 3 eggs scrambled with veggies for dinner, along with a small batch of homemade cupcakes that used up an egg. For Saturday breakfast I had one over-easy, along with other things. In the evening I made chocolate peanut butter chip cookies with my boyfriend, using up another egg in the process, and then hard boiled six of them. I managed to scarf down one of those last night and another this morning, with my boyfriend copying this and their roommate getting one yesterday.

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So now I only have about three dozen left to go! At this rate, I almost wish I had bought more at that price while I could!

 

Selecting a Succulent

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Today I went to a school event where a student group was giving out snacks and succulents. What is a succulent? It’s a plant that’s thicker in parts than some plants, and those parts retain a good deal of water. So much in fact that many of these plants are able to live in areas that receive very little water, such as deserts. Pretty neat stuff!

Anyways, the group vastly underestimated the interest in their event. I mean, on a college campus if you say you’re giving away free food, gobs of people will appear to feast on it. I discovered today when you add free succulents to the mix, hordes of college students will take over an entire floor of the building you’re in.

The line leading to the room where the plants and supplies (such as gravel, sand, and decorations) was outrageous! The group said that they had bought 200 succulent plants, and all of those were claimed and going happily home with people within 30 minutes to an hour. The event was scheduled to last two hours, but they ran out WAY before that! Luckily I managed to be one of the first 30 or so people in line, so I was able to get my hands on a wonderful cacti I have named Mr. Prickles.

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Isn’t he wonderful? Finally, a plant I probably won’t kill! (for those of you who have been following my blogging from the beginning, I planted some seeds a while back that sprouted. Suffice to say, they didn’t make it, whether from temperatures not being warm enough, not enough sunlight, etc. I’m unsure).

I’m very happy to have Mr. Prickles though! May he live long and his prickles give him protection from my roommate’s cats!

Doughnuts, Hawks, Bowling, and Technology

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Today SEVERAL fun things happened that I must elaborate on.

Starting off, when I woke up I found from a friendly text message from my boyfriend that a student group had Krispy Kreme doughnuts on sale for $5 a dozen. These doughnuts in themselves can be a big deal around here, as Minnesota has no Krispy Kreme stores. Most of the time, they can be found for $10 a dozen from student groups fundraising though. However, this particular group WAY overestimated demand within their club for the sugary treats, and so decided to mark them off by 50%. I of course hurriedly got ready for the day and went to the location they were being sold before heading to my first class.

Upon arriving there, I found another awesome surprise: a Red-Tailed Hawk was feasting on a rabbit carcass not thirty feet away from the doughnut stand! To most people, this may seem a bit…disgusting. However, I absolutely LOVE birds of prey, and seeing one up close was a real treat. I took several pictures of him/her before running to my first class: bowling.

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I must’ve had a lucky streak this morning, since my first frame for my first game of the day in bowling class was a strike! To tell of my bowling prowess, I’m extremely happy whenever I score above 100, and am lucky if I get one or two strikes/spares per game (I managed to get three for that game!)

Finally, the end of today was pretty cool, as I attended an event called MinneDemo. Seven newer apps and website groups showed off their content at this event, and I feasted on cheeses, crackers, and even had some beer. The mingling with sponsors of the event, creators, and other attendees was riveting as well, and I think I’ll definitely visit their next event April 23 if I’m able to make it work around my schedule of things I have to do.

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Playing with New Ingredients

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Today while grocery shopping, I decided to try out something new. Well, new for me to cook with anyways.

Normally when I buy mushrooms, I go for baby portabellas (they have so much flavor compared to those white button things stores seem to have an abundance of!) or sometimes spoiling myself with shiitakes (which taste remarkably like chicken cooked in a little butter or olive oil on the stove top).

I spotted some oyster mushrooms though, and decided to give them a go, and I definitely am glad I did! They have a very delicate, though still meaty flavor, and I found them to be quite good in my dinner omelet with cheese and some chili powder.

What new foods have you all tried recently? I’d love to hear about them and your experiences! 🙂

Pokémon Club: TCG Night

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Mondays are not a thing that everyone enjoys. They denote an end to the weekend, which for a college student such as myself, are wonderful times that seem carefree sometimes until the dreaded Sunday-procrastination-until-the-night-before-assignments-are-due sets in. However, I do have something to look forward to every Monday night during the school semesters: Pokémon League meetings!

Tonight’s meeting was based around the Trading Card Game. Fortunately I have hoarded cards over the years, buying booster packs and occasionally decks when the mood strikes – mostly since I love the artwork of them and like to treat myself to some occasionally instead of buying candy/art supplies at the store. Through this hoarding, I have managed to create four decks: one comprised of Psychic types, another Grass, one Poison, and my favorite which is Dark and Electric!

Pictured above are some of my cards from my Dark Electric deck. Now, I do not claim to be an amazing TCG player, but I am proud of this deck and will go into details of some of my favorite cards in the deck.

First off, I must make a special mention of Flaaffy, as it is my favorite Pokémon! The two I have in my deck are both from different expansion sets, one which uses Thunder Spear and Thundershock (the former of which can damage opponent’s benched Pokémon) and another which uses Cotton Guard and Power Gem (the guard damages the opponent and reduces the amount of damage Flaaffy takes if they attack next turn).

Of course, Flaaffy can evolve to the mighty Ampharos! The regular ones I have in my deck both have Elctrobullet as their attack, and the ability Electromagnetic Wall. I absolutely love this ability! Each time the opponent adds energy cards to their Pokémon (which they all need in order to attack) that Pokémon take 3 damage counters instantly. And the Electrobullet damages not only the opponent’s active Pokémon for 70, but also one of their benched ones for 20. Muwhahahahaha!

The biggest star in my deck arguably is Ampharos EX though. As a basic, it doesn’t need to evolve twice before being used. Its first attack, Thunder Rod, only costs one energy to use and helps out a bunch in getting more energy attached to Ampharos EX so it can use its awesome attack, Sparkling Tail! This attack does a whopping 100 damage, and isn’t affected by weakness, resistance, or any other effects the opponent’s active Pokémon has. Which means it obliterates just about EVERYTHING.

A few other notable mentions include Raikou with its Thunder Lance (50 damage plus 20 more for every Electric energy attached to Raikou), Snorlax with Toss and Turn and Heavy Press (Heavy Press having a chance of making Snorlax fall asleep, and Toss and Turn doing more damage if Snorlax is asleep), and Liepard with Claw Rend (if the defending Pokémon already has taken any damage and has damage counters on it, Claw Rend does more damage). I also love having Rare Candy on hand, so I can evolve Mareep straight into Ampharos without also needing a Flaaffy.