Category Archives: Life

Iceland Recap

Happy New Year!

I know this blog has been dismal over the past year or so, and truthfully I have no excuse. But, as I was reflecting over the last 12 (or 14) months, I decided there were some things worth sharing, the first of which being our October trip to Iceland.

Visiting Iceland feels like visiting another planet. The beauty found on the island is truly indescribable. Ray and I were lucky enough to visit this amazing place with some of our favorite people, which made the experience that much more enjoyable.

We started off with a bang, arriving at 6am, and headed straight for the famous Blue Lagoon. Some say the Blue Lagoon is too touristy, but we loved it. The silica enriched, milky-blue warm water paired with the rocky landscape was exactly what we needed after a long flight. The Blue Lagoon is on the pricier side, at about $95 per person, but very worth the cost. Our reservation was early, and we were able to avoid huge crowds.

We spent the rest of the day exploring downtown Reykjavik and settling into our airbnb. The highlight for me was visiting the clock tower at Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland’s largest church. The views from the clock tower are unreal!

The next day we started our journey on the golden circle, an area in south Iceland full of beautiful sights. We visited Kerid crater, Gysyer, Faxi waterfall, and Gullfoss waterfall. We also ate ice cream while watching cows graze.

Our next day started early with some amazing waterfalls, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. Skogafoss was our first real view of what Iceland had to offer landscape-wise. Skogafoss is famous for having a path that takes you to the backside of the waterfall. Seljalandsfoss is huge, mighty, and has a (terrifying) staircase to the top. I, being terrified of heights, passed on the staircase, but Ray and Krista climbed to the top and claimed the view was breathtaking.

From there, we made our way to the town of Vik. Vik is on the southernmost point of Iceland and is famous for it’s black sand beach. Right offshore are stacks of basalt rocks, which according to legend, are former trolls. The icelandic people have a rich folklore involving trolls, elves, hidden people, and other mythical beings. This may have been my favorite day of the trip. The sights were indescribably breathtaking. Being from the flat lands of Florida, seeing the literal hundreds of waterfalls, cliffs, mountains, and valleys was a mesmerizing treat.

Our fourth day we took a little easier. We had to switch out one of our rental cars, so a few of the boys went back to Reykjavik to take care of that. Ray, Kristi, Krista, and I went grocery shopping and had famous Icelandic hot dogs. We all spent the afternoon at Thingvellir National Park, where the North American and European tectonic plates meet. We saw a few waterfalls, location shoots from Game of Thrones, and at least 30 rainbows.

Our fifth day was our longest travel day paired with our worst weather. Our first stop was Fjadrargljufur Canyon, which had the most un-Florida like views! Next we made our way to Vatnajokull, Iceland’s largest glacier. This wasn’t something we originally had on our itinerary, but I’m so glad we went!! We were able to hike to the edge of Vatnajokull and taste 1,000 year old ice! We then made our way to diamond beach and the iceberg lagoon. By this point in the day, it was cold and rainy but the dreary weather couldn’t take away from the beauty of the icebergs.

That evening we were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights, one of the main sights we were hoping to see while in Iceland. I can’t even describe what an incredible experience it was. We had been checking the forecast all week and were worried we wouldn’t get our chance to see them. I’m so thankful the skies cleared and we saw the Northern Lights dance across the Icelandic sky.

Our last full day was spent searching for breweries, petting Icelandic horses, exploring the countryside, and eating at the famous tomato restaurant. The tomato restaurant is located in one of Iceland’s largest greenhouses. We dined on tomato soup, olive bread, tomato based cocktails, and even tomato ice cream!

Before catching our flight home, we spent our morning in downtown Reykjavik. We spent a few hours checking out museums and shops and bidding Iceland a farewell.

It’s difficult to truly put into words the beauty and magnitude of this trip. Iceland feels like a completely different planet. I encourage everyone to visit this mysterious  and breathtaking island if given the opportunity.

Flowerbed Progress

About a year and a half ago, Ray and several of his friends rebuilt our front porch. It’s beautiful and I’m still 100% in love with it. During that process we pulled up several large bushes that had been planted along the front of our porch area. I was glad to have those ugly bushes gone, but then the front of our house started to look real bare.

In March we cleared out the area right in front of the porch. We dug weeds, tilled the soil (and oddly enough found lots of seashells mixed in the ground), added compost, added more top soil, added bricks to mark off the bed, and added a plastic covering to avoid weeds.

Now, I do want to create a proper flower bed with a mixture of seasonal foliage and flowers… but for right now I’m fine with more of a shabby cottage style bed. I need big, bright, colorful flowers that will last throughout our sweltering summer. On the same day we cleared out the flower bed, I started my zinnia seeds. It was crazy to watch these tiny seeds germinate within 6 days!
You can see the progress below:It might be too late in the season, but I would like to add some Delphiniums behind the zinnias, along with a few variegated hostas along the sides of the bed. I’ll keep you updated on the progress!

Bee Saga

Hey guys! It’s officially spring, and almost summer, here in north Florida. The pear trees have bloomed, our grass is green again, baby ducks having taken over the lakes, and the bees are buzzing… albeit, less bees at Big Brown. 😉

A few months after Ray and I bought our house we noticed some bees flying around a column on the outside of our sunroom. Because we were planning on having our wedding reception in our backyard (PS- it was awesome), we had the yard sprayed for bugs (mainly mosquitos) and we also had pest control spray the bees. Listen, I know we shouldn’t kill the bees… but I also know you can’t have your grandparents or pastor or photographer or tiny babies being stung at your nuptials.

About a year or two later, the bees showed up again. I was pissed because I didn’t know anything about bee pheromones and I thought the pest service we used just did a terrible job when they originally sprayed. After some deciphering, we figured out that the hive was actually inside the concrete column underneath our house. Cool, right? I stressed about it for a while, but ultimately the bees were keeping to themselves and we didn’t have any money to fix the problem anyway.

The bee activity was at a minimum, until the hive split. Twice. At the time we literally had no idea what was going on. When a hive gets too large for the given space, the worker bees will start grooming a new queen. Once the new queen reaches maturity, she leaves and takes a portion of the hive with her, thus a split. The new hive will find a place to hang for a while and send a few bees out to scout a location for a permanent home. The first time this happened we had a bee tornado and it was truly terrifying. The second time we just saw a cluster of calm, docile bees on our palm tree. Still a little terrifying.

Since then we’ve had several people come out and look into our bee situation. One guy (an ex cop, mind you) who said he knew loads about bees, got scared and never came back. Another guy took 3 months to respond to emails. Another guy thought the job looked too hard. I don’t know if we were just having bad luck or weren’t asking the right people or what… but it wasn’t working.

A few weeks ago our good friend, Lacey, said she had a friend who could possibly help us. In comes Phillip. Phillip came out several times, thoroughly assessed the bee situation, examined the column which housed the hive, and ultimately relocated majority of our bees and properly sealed the column so they can’t return. He was awesome! 

While Phillip was awesome, Ray, Lacey, and myself were… well, kind of dumb. Between the three of us, we managed to get 5 bee stings because we couldn’t help but watch the bee removal process. My sting, which was in the middle of my forehead, happened 5 seconds after I walked outside. OF COURSE. My face was swollen for a few days, but thankfully I didn’t stop breathing or anything.

It’s honestly hard to believe that after 7 years of struggling, within a week of meeting Phillip, all our bees were gone! We’re so happy! If you’re local and have a bee situation, or see a hive clustered up like in some of my photos… I’ve got a great bee guy!