October 5, 2015

Abandoned Estonian Church

I was scrolling through the Popular Pins page on Pinterest when I came across a pin about an abandoned church. Then I saw it was in Wisconsin. Then I saw it was a town I had heard of. Then I had to check Google Maps because my sense of direction is nonexistent. Then I told my husband about it and we went and saw it. 

The end. 

Just kidding. A little over an hour of driving, and we found it. I apologize if the first picture here looks blurry, I keep zooming in on the damn thing and it's not blurry. The tiny lines of the siding make it appear so, however. (Beth, no one cares. Shut up.)

It's an old Estonian Lutheran church, the first one in the country, built in 1914. It's been shuttered for decades now, but it is being at least somewhat maintained. I would have liked to take a closer peek, but it almost looks like it's on private property, so we stayed back. 

There's a small (and rambling, oy) article about it here

On the Grand List of Things Beth Greatly Enjoys, abandoned places are right up there with brownies and old pictures of Marlon Brando. Here are some other abandoned places - Kirwin, Wyoming, an old logging camp, and the Heart Mountain Relocation Center.

See you later!


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October 2, 2015

This Month's Books - September 2015

Okay, so it's last month's books. You get the idea.

I still haven't been reading much. My prime reading hours are late at night when I can't sleep, but lately I've been sleeping like a rock. (That, and last night I stayed up and played WordBrain with my husband, which is either REALLY FREAKING hard, or we are both REALLY FREAKING stupid.) But man, once you hit those three-word puzzles, it's mind-numbing.)

On to the books!

First is Radiance by Grace Draven. 

I loved this book. Like a lot. Like a lot a lot. It's about an arranged marriage between two nobles, from kingdoms that generally do not like each other, and it's fantastic. That's a horrible summary for a good book, but I digress.

I liked Radiance so much I read another book by Grace Draven, called Master of Crows.

This one is about the Master of Crows, a sorcerer that is trying to fight off a god. He needs help, and Conclave (a group of mages that sounds suspiciously like the Vatican) sends an apprentice.

This is a good book, and I did like it, but it had one problem - it's not Radiance. It's hard to top that one.

Also, this one has a lot of sex. Like....a lot. Now, this does not bother me (I saw an ad on Goodreads for a book with 'No Gratuitous Sex or Obscenities' and I was like, damn, why bother) but it bears mentioning, because holy crap do they go at it like rabbits. 

Keeping with the theme, the next one is Follow the Crow by B.B. Griffith.

This one is about a Navajo cop named Ben. While he's out and about doing his job, he starts feeling odd, and then he starts seeing crows everywhere. And that's about all the summary I can give, because it gets weird after that, and it's more helpful to read it. THE CROWS MEAN SOMETHING, Y'ALL. 

I liked this book, but it wasn't a slam-dunk for me. It was good enough that I'm curious about the sequel, but that's about it. 

And this last book was a steaming pile of donkey crap. It's called The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning.

I don't even know. This was just awful. It has absolutely glowing reviews on Amazon, but when you flip over to Goodreads, it's a different story. (I wish I had done that before buying this book, because I never would have bought it.)

It's about sisters. Their dad croaks and they have to get jobs. The end. 

This one lost me right away in the beginning, when one of the sisters thinks to herself THANK GOD WE'RE ALL THIN AND SLENDER.

I am not making that up, she actually thinks this. SO THANKFUL HERE IN OLD TIMEY GERMANY THAT WE BE SO DARNED THIN. As a woman of not inconsiderable girth, this was not amusing. And I could have overlooked it, but the ridiculousness level just went HAM from there on. 

The damned cover art sucked me in. That's my only excuse. 

Have a good weekend, and stay away from all skinny German glassblowers. 

This blog, Black Spruce Hound, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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September 30, 2015

There's No Trail There, Son

I'm trying not to bore everyone with all these posts about going out in the woods, which is why last week y'all got a reprieve. But not today, people. Not today. 

The house is finished aside from a few small projects (is installing a range hood a small project? Please say yes.) so every available weekend has been spent going out and exploring the area a bit. Last week we tried to find a lake. (Not just any lake, but a specific one. I'll shut up now.)

Hoookay. So this lake is located out in the woods, a few hundred feet from the nearest road. We drove back in as far as we could, then struck out. (And then I had to stop and pee. I haven't peed in the woods in years, so this felt like an accomplishment. This has been an overshare, oh my god.)

The further we walked, the wetter it got. When grass has been replaced by moss, you know you've landed in a situation.

That way was a no-go, so we decided to try and walk around to a drier side. We found eye-level ferns.

And then more swamp. We are either idiots that missed a trail to the lake, or there isn't one, and the only way you can get to it is with waders and a canoe. 

Today is the last day of September, and with the cooling weather I'm going to just sit here and look back fondly on all the good days spent outside. 

You know, before I turn into a frozen Bethsicle and spend the next few months huddled under blankets. 

See you later!

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September 28, 2015

Super Blood Moon

You're probably sick of seeing pictures of this eclipse already, but hey. I'm driving this thing, okay?

Night photography is something I'm still learning, but these pictures look all right. Until I am able to get a 500mm lens for this camera, this is as far as I can zoom the moon in. (I miss being able to take these sort of moon pictures.)

Moonlight on a lake. (Cue romantic music.)

The mosquitoes are nearly all gone, so last night I was able to just sit in front of the house and watch the whole ding-dong thing. It was just me, my camera, and a huge toad that was hanging out under the grill. 

Also, someone on twitter said it was important to stand barefoot in the grass to ground yourself with the moon. So I did. 


See you later!

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September 25, 2015

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Lattes

**This was originally posted in October of 2011 and I decided to revisit it this week. And retake the pictures.**

I kept hearing about these magical pumpkin spice lattes. And my first thought was, wow, that sounds...gross. But I kept thinking about it and thinking about it, and they started to sound yummy after all.

I decided to make one, because the closest Starbucks to my house is, well, I really have no clue where the nearest one is. I know. I know.

So I made one, without any strange syrups and liquids and who knows what else goes into the Starbucks kind. I didn't have any canned pumpkin, so I steamed a fresh one. And my steamer (read: saucepan with steamer basket) ran out of water and I didn't realize that until the house smelled like burning monkey hair. I really don't want to talk about it.

After that slight mishap, it was smooth sailing. End result? Pumpkin deliciousness. Like autumn in a cup. (I can't believe I just said that, someone please come over and punch me in the face.)

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Lattes


3/4 cup strong black coffee
1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice) 
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons vanilla flavored coffee syrup, or sugar, or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 big pinch ground cinnamon
1 tiny pinch ground nutmeg


1. Place all ingredients except the coffee into a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until almost boiling. 

2. Pour into a blender and puree until completely smooth and frothy, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Be careful while blending hot ingredients!)

3. Pour the coffee into your cup of choice, then add the pumpkin mixture. Top with another sprinkle of cinnamon. 

This makes 1 large latte, or 2 regular, normal human-sized lattes. 


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