I risked my Birkenstocks to tell this tale 1

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Birks: Not as outdoorsy as they look.

Oh, the fashion sacrifices I will make to bring to light the story of a good, old-fashioned haunting!

Let’s rewind a bit, shall we?

Two weeks ago, I shared the story of the mysterious fluff that randomly appeared in my office while I was away from my desk for two minutes.


After exhausting all logical explanations for why our ceiling had suddenly started snowing, Scott determined the entire event to be–for lack of a better term–supernatural.


A few days prior to the fluffy invasion, our next door neighbors had informed of us a collapsed house in the woods directly next to our property. “Really?!” I exclaimed, “In our woods?”

While the wooded area isn’t considered our property, it shares a border with the garden on the West side of our lot, and feels quite familiar to us. Lars disappears into the forest each day for hours of cat adventures. The woods also happen to be the home of an abandoned Studebaker that peeks out just behind Scott’s compost pile. We’ve toyed with the idea of transforming it into a chicken coup, as the owners of the property live across the country and are never around.

Surely, our woods couldn’t be hiding a collapsed house?

collapsed house

Alright, fine. Maybe they could.

The above structure was formerly inhabited by four old maids who had been shunned by the community back in the 1940s and 50s. Apparently, being unwed and childless ’round these parts was enough to warrant a banishment the woods. The premise of a secluded house for single women is messed up on a variety of levels, and grows even more disturbing as additional facts (listed below) are filled in…

  • The house is tiny, and consists of single, approximately 12×12 room. How that space plan worked for 4 adult women is a mystery to me.
  • The home existed before the highway to our house was built in the 1980s. It was literally isolated in the woods, practically unreachable by modern modes of transportation.
  • All four women died in the house. (Of natural causes…but still!!!!)

(Truly, I may not have purchased our home had I known about all of this a year ago.)

We decided to visit the house for the first time the day before the ceiling fluff incident. Lars had meowed violently at the dilapidated structure, while our nieces and nephews ran haphazardly around the perimeter of the building.

Had we somehow upset the old maids with our visit? Did they view our curiosity — not to mention our rambunctious pets and family members — as a sign of disrespect?

Were these crazy b*****s behind the white crap all over my desk?

I shivered at the though of such a possibility.


Fortunately, The Pest Detective (yes, that’s what our local Exterminator goes by), confirmed he disaster in my office was the result of carpenter ants, not a haunting. While these ants–which are similar to termites–can cause major structural damage, we were lucky enough to catch them right away. After a quick spray around the perimeter of our house and the tree in our yard where the ants had colonized, our infestation came to a screeching halt. It might just be the best $180 I’ve spent all year.

As for the old maids, they seem to be friendly souls. Still, I brought them some strong coffee when I took pictures of their home this morning, just to stay on their good side.


Here’s hoping the ladies like French Roast.

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Ten pathetic excuses for why I’ve been AWOL for the last 20 days 4

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1. We’ve had company at our house for two months straight. Apparently, this influx of visitors is what happens when you live on a lake.

2. Every time I sit down to write, I end up reading instead. (Just finished this guy. Currently halfway through this book, this book, and this book.)

3. Work has been crazy. I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing Photoshop.

4. I’ve been training for my very first CrossFit competition.


Despite logging several hours in the gym, I’ll still publicly humiliate myself with my tragic attempts at unassisted ring dips. Still…I’m quite looking forward to sporting our sassy team uniforms.

5. I may have had a little too much fun at a Minnesota Twins Game.


Photo taken BEFORE all the “fun”

Not only did this directly undo all of that ring dip training…it took me a good 72 hours to fully recover. (If that’s not a sign that I’m officially out of my twenties, I don’t know what is.)

6. Before you judge me too much for #5, what would you do in the face of one of these???


At only $16, the Hrbek’s bloody mary is easily the best value in the entire stadium!

7. I’ve been dealing with the fallout of a broken dishwasher, washing machine AND the mystery fluff in my office. (I promise I’ll explain the rest of that tomorrow.)

8. I’ve been outside swimming, paddleboarding and sunning myself. Gotta get it all in before it starts snowing in three weeks, right?


9. Not sure what’s gotten into me, but I’ve been cooking up a storm. This overnight apple cinnamon french toast is my new favorite method for consuming my entire daily caloric intake before 11 am.

10. I’ve been just plain lazy. The critters (and their siren-like snuggling powers) may or may not be directly responsible for my sloth-like behavior.


You know your life is in a sad state of affairs when you Photoshop lying in bed pics to make your hair appear less…er…greasy.

In other words…it’s beyond time to get back to blogging.

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What the fluff??? 11

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It was possibly the most typical Monday morning in the history of Monday mornings.

I was drinking my first cup of coffee, answering emails and minding my own business. Suddenly remembering the critters (my new term of generalization for Jolie, Penny and Lars) had been outside for a good thirty minutes, I ran downstairs to corral them back indoors. When I unsuspectingly returned to my office a mere two minutes later, I could hardly believe my eyes.



I immediately texted the above images to Scott, explaining this mystery debris appeared to have suddenly descended like fresh-fallen snow from our exposed ceiling.

We quickly brainstormed what the unidentified, possibly toxic waste could be.  Potential options included…

  • Light, feathery chips of dried paint??
  • Something insect related
  • Fungi
  • The result of Scott spraying the nearby windows for spiderwebs the night before
  • Queso fresco. (I had purchased a crap ton of queso fresco for tacos the day before. Scott’s family had been staying with us and he wondered if our nieces and nephew could have possibly stashed it in the rafters as a prank. Admittedly, this theory is a stretch.)

Unsatisfied with Scott’s logic, I turned to Facebook for answers. Disappointingly, my internet friends weren’t much help, either. (No offense, internet friends.)



So…best case scenario it was Ebola/SARS/Anthrax/Ceiling Leprosy. Worst case scenario, my home office had unwillingly become the epicenter of an impending zombie apocalypse. Awesome.

I was just about to Google “How to tell if your husband is hiding bodies in the ceiling”, when Scott texted me with an even more terrifying possibility.


Little did he know, I’d been thinking the exact same thing. Only I’d been too afraid to say it out loud, for fear that might somehow make the haunting “real”.

To be continued…

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I survived my twenties 2

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Somewhere between teenage angst and a midlife crisis lies the infamous thirtieth birthday.

Mine just so happened to be last week.


I can honestly say I was ready to be 30. I don’t feel old, (because I’m not), and am legitimately excited to see what this next decade has in store for me. I just felt like it was time to be done with my twenties.

That’s not to say my twenties were hellacious and I wanted to get them over with. The last ten years have been awesome. My twenties were about finding myself, getting settled and becoming an adult. I went through a great deal of change and growth. I matured. I learned. I figured out who I want to be for the rest of my existence.

I’ve always assumed my thirties would be the prime of my life. While I’m still young, I’m mature enough to have the majority of the struggle, uncertainty and those four crazy years known as “college” under my belt. I’ve worked hard to get to a place where I can enjoy the fruits of the last decade of labor. Am I going to stop hustling now that I’m 30? Of course not. But I’m ready to focus on accomplishing big things now that I’ve had plenty of practice figuring out how to pay bills, have a real job and actually cook my own food.

And then there’s the whole “conquering a load of laundry” thing.

Fortunately, it only took me two months to learn that fabric softener and detergent weren’t actually the same thing.

As I excitedly cartwheel into the next chapter of my life, it seems only appropriate that I look back on the past decade and reflect on what I’ve accomplished. I’m proud of my twenties, although I have no doubt my fabulous thirties will blow them out of the water. Still…it seems a numerical list is warranted.

20 things I’m proud of accomplishing in my twenties


1.  I spent my twenties in four different states.

Nebraska, New York, Washington and Minnesota, to be exact. I’m a firm believer that everyone should live in a different state at least once in their life. The experiences I’ve had and friends I’ve made across the country are absolute treasures.


2.  I discovered a love for exercise. (Other than cheerleading.)

Once I grew to old to prance around in a pleated skirt yelling “GO BIG RED!!!” my physical activity pretty much came to a halt. After three years of no sweating (and eating like a rabbit to make up for it) I realized I actually enjoyed exercise. Go figure! It’s since become an integral part of my daily routine –  I can’t imagine my life without it, and am really pleased with myself for developing such a healthy habit all on my own.


3.  I started treating my family better.

Soooooo…I used to be a pretty big brat. My teenage attitude was horrendous, and my irritability towards immediate family members only slightly faded as I came into my twenties. At age twenty-six, my sister pulled me aside for a heart to heart. The gist of it was that I was mean, selfish and horrible to be around. She didn’t enjoy spending time with me and couldn’t continue our weekly get-togethers if I was going to keep up the Bitchy McBitcherson act. (My words, not hers.)

Can we say wakeup call?

While I didn’t want to hear it, I knew Hayley was right. I immediately shaped up and have been on much better behavior ever since. My whole family has noticed, and regularly expresses their relief at my change in attitude. I’m not sure why we tend to treat the people we love the worst, but I’m so thankful I have a sister with the cahones to call me out on such tomfoolery.

(Yes, I just said “tomfoolery”. Told you I’m 30.)

And guess what? Life’s way more enjoyable when you’re kind to your family. Who would have thought?


4.  I also stopped borrowing money from them.

At age nineteen, I received a ridiculously expensive ticket for speeding through a construction zone in Blair, Nebraska at 11:30 pm.

I haven’t asked my parents for a dime since.

(Unfortunately, I’m still working on the speeding part.)


5.  I earned my Masters of Science from Syracuse University.

At age 22. With a 4.0. If that sounds like blatant bragging, it’s because it is. But I worked my ass off to achieve such a thing, so brag I will. To this day, it is perhaps the single best decision I made for my career. Thanks, S.U.


6.  I got (and stayed) married.

I’m not saying getting married in your twenties is a must. Or that getting married at all is a must. Or that divorce means you are a failure. (It doesn’t. AT ALL.)

But I did get married young–the day after my 23rd birthday, which was probably too young–and I’m proud that seven years later, we’re going strong.

(Strong-ish…there’s definitely regular fights involving the pettiest things you could possibly imagine…but most of the time we like each other.)

Marriage is absolutely wonderful but also incredibly difficult. There are times you feel like dancing around naked with a giant lollipop, and times you want to shave your significant other’s hair off in the middle of the night. I’ve always hated the cliché rollercoaster analogy, but that’s exactly what being married is. I’m happy that I can say I haven’t jumped off the ride and started puking yet.


7.  I learned to cook.

Scott may beg to differ on this one.


8.  I traveled the world.

Over the past ten years I’ve visited Europe three times and made my way to Central America, South America and Australia. I’ve checked 13 countries off my travel list in addition to 34 states! If I believe anything in life, it’s that you are never too young or old to travel. Experiencing different corners of the world is hands-down the best money I’ve ever spent. I’ve got quite the list of destinations I’m hoping to tackle over the next ten years.  Life it too short to stay in your geographical bubble!


9.  I found my career.

Through a combination of random chance, hard work, great mentors and happy accidents I found a career I love at an organization I’m smitten with. We spend the majority of our lives at work — I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to feel satisfied and fulfilled with your day job.


10.  I fell in love with myself.

The first part of my twenties had its fair share of insecurity and self-hatred. Then I realized that cellulite can be totally awesome. Also? Not many grown women can ride a unicycle in high heels. (Just saying.)

Yes…I’m flawed in too many ways to count. But I’ve chosen to ignore that part, and wallow in the delusional bliss of being my own biggest fan. It’s so much more fun.


11.  I grew some balls.

Still working on this one…but I’ve finally reached the point where I can (sometimes) be honest with others, even if it hurts their feelings or makes things awkward. I spent so many years worrying about offending others before I realized that I also have the right to be offended.  Like I said, I still have a lot of room for improvement in this area — here’s hoping my balls grow even bigger this year!

(Oh, you know what I mean.)


12.  I bought a house.

July 8th, 2013 was the happiest day of my life. Scott and I had searched high and low for the perfect home, and worked incredibly hard to be able to afford it. One year later, I’m still enamored with our quirky little digs. (Although I’d be even more enamored if we could get rid of our stupid shag carpet.)


13.  I made tough, grown-up decisions.

Turning down a full ride fellowship to actually pay for graduate school at a different private (read: expensive) university –that I’d never actually visited–was one of them.

Leaving a job I loved to pursue a totally new challenge at a non-profit was another.

Picking up our life in Seattle and dropping it in the middle of Smalltown, Minnesota was perhaps the biggest.

Something tells me I have several more of these ahead of me. Bring it, adulthood. It’s nothing a magic 8-ball can’t help me with.


(I prefer a good old-fashioned coin toss.)


14.  I stopped wearing high heels.

On a regular basis, at least. While I have no problem pulling out a fabulous pair for special occasions–such as riding unicycles–the majority of the time you’ll find me in sensible (yet still stylish!) flats. Heels hurt, make me grumpy and cause me to walk like an 80-year-old women with severe arthritis. I end up taking all of this out on whichever poor, unfortunate soul happens to be in closest proximity to my throbbing feet. When Katrina wears heels, nobody wins.


15. I stopped freelancing.

I made really good money as a freelance web designer on the side.

But it was high-stress and I didn’t love it…so I quit.

Realizing that some things are more important than money? I think that’s a big part of what growing up is.


16. I remembered how much I love to read.

It’s funny how going to college and being forced to read can make someone who used to love reading (and majored in English, for goodness sake!) really, really hate it.

It took a couple of years, but I eventually found my way back to books. Reading is a joy, and being well-read is something I’ve always valued. (Obviously, this doesn’t mean I still don’t enjoy a good Netflix binge. Don’t be ridiculous.)


17. I remembered how much I love to write.

Despite studying creative writing in undergrad, I completely stopped writing once I fell into the world of Interactive Design. It wasn’t until Scott bought me a Jen Lancaster book for our anniversary one year, that I realized how much I missed documenting ridiculous, everyday occurrences in an overly dramatic fashion. Enter…..this blog! Here’s hoping that I book I’ve been working on finally comes to fruition in this decade!


18. I (We) paid off our student loans.

Easily my second proudest achievement. Read how Scott and I did it here.


19. I became a {dog} mom.

And a cat mom. It is probably the only type of “mom” I will ever be, which I’m totally ok with.

(Mostly because you can leave your children at home in a cage while you’re gone, and it’s perfectly acceptable.)

(Also because they never develop teenage sarcasm.)

(Well…at least not the dogs.)


20. I stopped caring what people think. Kind of.

There is not a single person in the world that is liked by everyone. And there’s no point in living a life where everyone thinks your fabulous except you….right? Still struggling with this, but have made great strides over the past few years. Translation: I no longer change my outfit if Scott says I look like Effie Trinket.

One step at a time, people. One step at a time.


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