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Iceland

February 4, 2018

Every January, I have a chunk of time off during PLU’s “J-term” schedule where I’m not teaching any classes. For years, my parents have been talking about wanting to go to Iceland, so we planned a trip together with Jenn and Casey! We had a really wonderful time during our 10 days there.

Some of the things we learned:

  • Travel in January isn’t bad (it could’ve been – but it wasn’t this time). My Southern-California friend Juliana laughed when I told her this, but the weather was “good” at mid-30’s to 40 F without snow or rain most of the time we were there! Traveling at this time had other perks, like no/few lines at touristy spots, plenty of places to stay, and cheap flights!
  • There are many, many hot springs in Iceland. We visited the famous Blue Lagoon and had a great time there; we also visited another more rural natural spa further north and had an equally great time for a lot less money!

Some of the highlights (I’ll try to organize these in line with the photos):

  • Beautiful paper village displays in Reykjavik airport.
  • Hofoi House:¬†built in 1909 and one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Iceland. It was originally a French embassy, and also the site of the meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that marked the end of the Cold War.
  • Grotta Island Lighthouse.
  • Listvinafelag Hallgrimskirkju: uniquely architectural church.
  • Christmas decor: Christmas is a huge deal in Iceland! There are decorations up for months beforehand and weeks afterwards! Beautiful paper lanterns, string lights, Advent candles, etc. up in every window, and Christmas trees strung up on the sides of buildings. They also have fireworks celebrating the 12th night of Christmas.
  • Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
  • Little details you see popping up again and again – horseshoes above doors for good luck, and black ravens, also for good luck.
  • Rutshellir: one of 200 little man-made caves used to store produce (this one was for hay) throughout Iceland.
  • Skogafoss waterfall (Iceland is the land of waterfalls!).
  • Mom’s tacos. Food is VERY expensive in Iceland. It’s common place for people to pay $40/person at an average restaurant, not including appetizers/desserts/etc. We bought all of our food at the public market there called “Bonus” and made our own!
  • The little coastal town of Vik with the often-photographed red-roofed church.
  • Skaftafell glacier – this was so stunning. We got there just as the sun was rising and it was breathtaking.
  • Fjallsarlon glacier – the largest glacier in Europe. Can you see Casey in this picture?
  • Skalholt Cathedral – a pretty Lutheran church in Selfoss.
  • Kerid – a volcanic crater along the Golden Circle. We wouldn’t recommend seeing this one in winter – it was $30 to get in, and wasn’t too exciting frozen over.
  • Geysers in Geysir – we learned this is where that word originated!
  • I love Icelandic fashion! Lots of cool, muted colors in wools, linens, etc. So cozy.
  • Gulfoss waterfall – also part of the Golden Circle.
  • We had fun sampling and purchasing some goodies at OmNom chocolate factory. We tried different raw cocoa beans from different areas – Aaron’s favorite treat was a chocolate/licorice malt ball which we learned is one of the most popular flavors in Iceland.
  • Beautiful storefronts.
  • Translations – Icelandic is definitely the first language there!
  • Perlan glacier museum – this had all kinds of fun, interactive displays and information sessions.
  • I didn’t get any pictures of this, but the Icelandic horses were pretty much the cutest. Very furry, and with such a funny prance as they walk.

We weren’t able to see the Northern Lights, which was the only big disappointment of our trip. We stayed up several nights and were checking the hourly predictor-map – it has a cool numbering system that tells you how likely you are to see the lights from different places in the country, but with no luck!

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House Sale

February 4, 2018

Lots of friends have been asking how things are going on the farmhouse! The answer is:

SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW… !

We continue to encounter all kinds of hiccups along the way. But the good news is we finally got the Tacoma house listed for sale, and it SOLD! We are so glad. We weren’t sure how things would go, trying to sell in rainy January without a realtor. But it turns out that the lack of inventory worked in our favor and we had a busy open house with several offers to follow. We close at the end of this month and will then be able to use the proceeds towards making more progress on the farm.

This is a picture from summer of our little house – we will miss this tiny 1906 cutie!

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Spanaway Lake Lights

December 17, 2017

Aaron is sick with a cold this weekend, so we’ve had a lazy time with lots of naps and hot drinks. I drove up to Seattle this afternoon for a friend’s holiday party and stopped at Nordstrom Rack on the way – I found several great deals, including a pair of pants for $4.99 down from $65 and a white tunic for $4.99 down from $108! It’s so fun to find things on sale.

We are spending Christmas with Aaron’s family in White Salmon, and I’ve been wanting to visit the Spanaway Lake Lights before we go, so I bundled Aaron up and we drove over this evening after dark. There was about 2 miles of beautiful light fixtures – my favorites were the lanterns hanging from the trees and the little clouds with rain coming down on the tulips.

 

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Still, Still, Still

December 11, 2017

My favorite Christmas song is an old Austrian carol: Still, Still, Still. The lyrics go:

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star it’s vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.

Isn’t that beautiful? One of the things I love about being at the farm is how quiet and still it is. Last time we were there, there was snow on the ground, and I took this little video of the leaves blowing from one of the big trees on the property:

Leaves

This is one of my favorite versions of the carol, sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: