Showing newest 11 of 15 posts from 08.07. Show older posts
Showing newest 11 of 15 posts from 08.07. Show older posts


the other gorgeous fabric

I removed the hideous closet doors from two rooms in our house and spent around $1 million to make curtains. Actually my mama made them when she visited. The other curtains were for Bug's room, which I still salivate over. The transformation in our basement guest room is amazing; The curtains are now the focal point. Andy would say that I am polishing a turd. But, hey, it shined up nice n' purdy.

I am disappointed that the large heat vent prohibits me from doing an exterior mount for the curtains in the guest room. Here is a design tip: If you have an ugly heat vent in your basement that prevents you from doing an exterior wall mount for amazing curtains, place an adorable dog in front of the fabric. It works every time.

I think Amy Butler's designs are incredible. I want to make these pillows that look like giant pieces of candy. And I thought they looked like candy before I knew she called them gum drop pillows. so there. So I may have to graduate from sewing rectangles to sewing three dimensional objects. Profanity will fly. I will try not to let Bug be affected. She can hear now.



throwing away good food

OK, so the title of this post is a bit extreme but I feel all icky inside. I just tossed four quarts and eight pints of pickled tomatoes and peppers.

The jars have been lounging in the basement closet collecting dust for nearly three years now. They were my first attempt at canning and my subsequent first realization that in canning, one must follow a recipe. I used my mom's famous cucumber pickle recipe for maters and peppers and the transitive property didn't work. The pickled fruit resembles sucking on a mushy piece of algae from the Dead Sea.

This is a painful process and I am grieving right now.



I planted too much basil. gasp. Too much basil? It is true. I have trees of basil loaded with huge green leaves. And I will be bringing pesto something to every single potluck for the next seven years.

I picked and picked forever and I haven't even tapped into the purple forest in the northwest corner of my plot. I would love ideas for other food preservation with basil.

The greatest trick in the universe about pesto: freeze it in ice cube trays. Many know this but I didn't until last year and it changed my life. I no longer have to waste plastic bags that I felt obligated to fill full to minimize the waste and am then left with an entire baggie full of thawed pesto when all I wanted was enough for a fried egg sandwich. No! The ice cube trays create perfect little portions of the bright sauce.

I don't measure things when I cook...I just check out the ingredients and go for it. This works like a charm with pesto. I use:
Good parmesan cheese (Kraft will not do. Do people use that stuff? blech.)
Pine nuts
More garlic than you think you can handle and a spousal unit who likes to chop garlic
Good olive oil (totally worth in the investment)

The trick is to start small: Add about 1/2 cup of olive oil and a hand full of basil and pine nuts to the food processor. Once that is good and smooth, add the rest of the stuff a little at a time. If all the ingredients are thrown in at once, one is left in grid lock.

Once the pesto is frozen, the darling little cubes pop right out and into the same plastic bag you have used for the last few years.


I run

Today, we have blue sky. And no smoke. It rained. After coffee and granola, Alice and I suited up for a long walk. I even got to wear long pants and long sleeves which the heat hasn't allowed for months.

We walked the route we always run and when we hit the secret stash of trail that no one knows about, I let her off leash and I started running. I had been thinking about it for about twenty minutes and kept talking myself out of the idea because I haven't run in over a month, my belly is bigger and I was wearing a very unsupportive bra. AND I didn't want to take off my sweatshirt because I was wearing a turquoise tank top and purple pants. Hello 1984.

But I looked both ways to make sure no one could see the pregnant lady with flailing breasts running and I ran. Alice was very encouraging--running happy, long strides away from me, making a quick pivot that kicked up dirt and running straight at me and then over again. For seven minutes. And then we were back on the populated trail so I stopped and then I thought who cares and I ran all the way home.


sustainable farms, food, life etc.

I am not a vegetarian. I was for like eight years. The reason I stopped is because being a vegetarian is because I felt like it wasn't enough. I felt like a hypocrite. I needed to be vegan, never use leather and walk about naked. This is unreasonable. So I chose to eat it all but know where it comes from. We buy 1/8th of a buffalo every year from a guy in Arlee and get elk from my uncle. We grow as much as we can in our little plot. I accost people with fruit trees so I can pick and can. We buy organic and try to support locals when available. But, at times, I slip into the not-paying-attention-to-what-I'm-consuming mentality...We could do more for sure...

Lunchables and Tyson meats. This food is affordable and convenient. And in a culture where people are increasingly unaware of what it is they are buying, where it came from and who suffered to bring them that rock bottom price, items like these seem a fine meal or snack for the kids.

But I don't think this food is affordable. The tables below are from this research.

If you think about the quality of the product and how much nutrition and sustenance can be extracted, then it is actually a rip off. Study after study proves that meat hormones and pesticide residue in produce result in food with decreased vitamin and mineral content and an increase in cancer and health related problems. Check out the decline in the last 60 years (since these pesticides and hormones became abundantly and widely used):

Beyond the quality issue, there is the whole animals-crammed-in-too-small-cages issue. I find this deplorable and am convinced, because I tend to be optimistic about people's intentions, that if people took time to learn about factory farming, they would dish out the extra $1/pound for meat and an extra $1.50 for milk that is humanely raised and harvested. The Meatrix is a great and hilarious spoof on The Matrix that chats about large agribusinesses and the cost to small farmers, animals and humans that consume food (hi. that includes you!). reports that "when The Meatrix was first released, over 10,000 viewers watched it in a couple of hours and crashed Sustainable Table’s server. The server crashed again, even after it was expanded, as some ten million viewers tuned into the story of factory farming."

Yes I sometimes eat meat and items that I know are bad bad--especially now that I am pregnant and crave meat--like the Costco polish sausage I devoured last Sunday or the Albertson's fried chicken I ate at Roger's pot luck. But we can all try to be better, eh? For the pigs.

My sources:


to Drummond and back

To escape the smoke, my man and I devised a plan to drive southeast to the charming town of Philipsburg for a walk, dinner, taffy and a dip in the river for the pooch. It isn't as smoky there.

We grabbed a jar of raspberry jam, sharp cheddar cheese, a baguette, water, dog leash and long-sleeved shirts, piled into our faithful Subaru and took off through the thick smog. We did feel guilty about contributing to the problem by driving but we were desperate for a firemoon.

Just east of Clinton, the speedometer and RPM thingy started freaking out and things were beeping indicating that something was awry. Our "check engine" light has been on for a few thousand miles, but we thought it was a ploy to get us in for a service check to find out about a $300 fuse or something...actually, I don't know what we thought. It is just a pain in the ass to deal with car stuff and we have mildly been considering a different, newer vehicle and, shit.

I began searching through the manual and discovered that when the "check engine" light is lit up, one should immediately seek service. We pulled off at the relatively smoke-free Drummond and just like that she was done. I commend her efforts in getting us to Drummond and croaking about 1/4 mile from the only towing facility in 40 miles either direction. That was nice.

This is actually the second time I have used this tow service but that is another story.

Just as we approached the garage full of toothless, oil-stained men the nastiest wind storm picked up and blew all of Missoula's smoke straight at us. A fire truck raced by as a nearby valley was under immediate evacuation.

So we sat in the smoke dust soup and waited for Dan. Dan has two hearing aids and his father doesn't speak to him because he has poor hearing and therefore couldn't be in the military. Andy said it wasn't his fault. His sister works in the cafe down the road and they haven't seen each other in eight months. He used to fight fires and man, he had an opinion about them and it has nothing to do with climate change and we heard all about it on the drive back to Missoula. Alice had to ride in the car because he was sued for $25K a few years back when a dog lost his vision during a tow. I don't understand but he wasn't budging on that rule. She seemed to have an alright time.

So, back in Missoula, we could see the mountains. We decided to walk home from Roemer's, carrying our unused stash of baguette, cheese, jam, long-sleeved shirts and Alice. The smoke blew back in when we were about a mile from home proving the impossibility of escape.

I made this delicious summer salad instead. At least we got our walk in.

black olives
feta cheese
red onion
black pepper

Cut the limes into half moon shaped chunks and put a bowl with the juice of a few limes. Cut up watermelon and feta into about 1/2" triangles and add to marinating mixture. Add olives and fresh ground black pepper. Toss with your hands so the feta and watermelon don't get all mucked up. I accidentally bought a yellow watermelon and I don't think it is as pretty but tasty none the less.



I love zinnias. When we wed a few years back, I grew my own flowers. Well, not just me, but 11 other women as well. I sent out an invite in an over-sized vellum envelope with a packet of seeds to women who rock my world in the spring and come September 17, buckets of flowers began arriving at my house. The invite:We all gathered and arranged for hours. It was one of my favorite parts of my wedding. I bought some wheat and millet for added texture in the bouquets but other than that, all bouquets and arrangements were grown and constructed by ladies I love. We wore them in our hair too.

Man, I wish I'd had a blog during my wedding planning. It was a definite DIY affair complete with white China purchased from garage sales and thrift stores, best friend-made guest book and food made by the moms that people still talk about.

Alice was the flower girl. It was affordable (which allowed for an excellent wine selection. yeah. I know what is important.) and very very fun.

And so back to my 2007 zinnias. geez. They obviously carry a bit of nostalgia now. They are a welcome cheeriness in a smoky western Montana. I love that they are hardy, colorful and bloom when little else is blooming except rudbeckia.


downward dog

This is the face I see every morning after I put on my work clothes and not my running clothes. I am initially greeted with a hopeful wagily butt that fades into disappointed eyes. Our days of three or four early morning runs a week are no more. And walks just don't cut it for either of us. I haven't run since my half.

I just haven't felt like it because I am getting bigger by the hour and because of all the effing smoke. I feel like a bad mom. So I let her sleep in her favorite spot that is usually off limits (like the only place off limits in our whole house)--on our bed, which is allowed, but she prefers to be on the sheets. On the sheets is only allowed on weekend mornings.

I sometimes wonder if my heart is big enough to love yet another creature. I feel so full with my man and my animals. And I don't like it at all when people say things like my animals will lose significance when the baby arrives. No way. Alice and I will always spoon under the covers.


on fire

On Sunday, the sun disappeared through the thickest smoke I have ever seen. The above photo was taken moments before our brightest star vanished completely. Cars were driving with their lights on at 7pm. It was dark and the light was the color of curry. Even in our house.

This NASA satellite image is pretty incredible. Missoula is right there in the middle of all of the smoke (click to enlarge).

There is ash falling from the sky. The gray dust is all over my plants.


Western Montana Fair

The Fair. It is so weird. Fried food, carnies, farm animals, zucchini dressed in outfits, grubby kids high on cotton candy and caramel apples.

I volunteered at the Planned Parenthood pro choice booth with Chelci on Friday night at the fair. And with my pregnant tum, we got some looks. I loved it. I had an amazing conversation with this fifteen year-old kid from Fort Worth, Texas who was confused about my being pregnant while sporting a pro-choice temporary tattoo. He told me that I needed to make up my mind. He confessed he had been raised to believe that pro-choice meant pro-abortion. Seriously? I cannot believe people tell their kids such lies but with GWB in his second term, well, I guess nothing really surprises me much anymore. So we talked for like ten minutes about how I would love to see less abortion and more education in the school system. How I would love to see a federal government that gave a rat's ass about parents after this child is born--heath care, maternity and paternity leave. I like this site.

It was a good night and I felt great about the chat I had with that Texan who called me ma'am.

After, Andy and I walked around and looked at award winning tomatoes, fine art and floral arrangements. I ate corn on the cob that I swear was boiled in butter, fried cheese curds and a polish hot dog. At the fair, everyone wins with a ribbon.

We played a game in the art building where we each had five minutes to pick out the piece we would buy if we had to. Andy really liked the Jesus pencil sketch, but landed on funny cat. I picked the pint sized pup with small circus creatures.

Our friends, Meg and Pete came to town on Saturday. In the thickest, eye-burning smoke on Sunday, the boys went fishing and we went to the fair. It is the first time I have been to the fair twice in one season. I was psyched to go back because I had forgotten my camera on Friday night and there isn't anything quite as photogenic as the fair.

Meg wore a pig hat that declared she was having a squealing good time. In the art building, she liked the one-eared bunny and the goldfish. She wowed everyone with her dart popping abilities and won a small, foul smelling dolphin that she graciously gave to a darling little boy.


tons of squash and a (heart)broken owl stool

Oh, what to do with all that effing zucchini.

This year I planted my summer squashes from starts that I bought so I wouldn't be misled into planting just one more tiny, innocent seed in the dirt. When I start from seed, I always convince myself that one more can't hurt and then I have veggies growing to the size of small children in my garden. How do they conceal themselves so well? They are like covert operatives getting amped on vitamin D.

I bought one itty bitty pot of zucchini and another of yellow summer squash. Each pot had two starts and I couldn't just pitch one because that is murder. So I have four plants that could feed most of western Montana.

I found a recipe for pickled squash and I made it. And it would have been easy except I got everything boiling and realized I was missing three spices and apple cider vinegar. I phoned my neighbor to no avail and had to make a 9:30pm dash to the grocery.

To reach high items in the kitchen, I always stand on this children's stool that is at least a quarter of a century old. My mom and Andy take turns telling me how unsafe it is and I practice my ignoring skills. It is a tiny stool with three owls painted on the surface. My grandma made it for me. I love it.

The beloved stool buckled under my weight while I was looking for the spices and vinegar. I didn't come crashing to the floor or anything, but the owls couldn't take the 15 pounds I have put on. tragic. Yesterday, I did go crashing to the floor during a 50% off shoe sale at one my my favorite stores, Betty's Divine. I mean I fell. hard. It was humiliating and people make a gigantic deal out of a pregnant woman going down. But I was merely put in a state of crazed frenzy by the cute red wooden platforms and frustrated that I couldn't reach over my belly to hook the ankle buckles so I decided to walk anyway assuming that if they looked fab then Andy could buckle them for me. But I fell and I put the shoes back and bought some practical (sigh) flat soled shoes.

I would love ideas for what to do with summer squash and zucchini. Please post comments. Last night I was at a BBQ at Sam and Eva's house and a guest suggested making an "apple" crisp with zucchini saying you cannot taste the diff. I also heard of people making "raspberry" jelly with zucs by adding a packet of flavored jello. Is zucchini really that spineless that it can't even hold its own flavor? I am not sure how I feel about that.

Squash Pickles:
2 lbs summer squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 1/3 C sliced onions
1 1/4 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ginger
2 C water
1 C vinegar

Combine squash and onions, set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot and boil. Do no inhale over the pot of you will think you are being fumigated. Add squash and boil for 10 minutes. Pack hot veggies & liquid in hot jars (1/4" head space), remove air bubbles, add lids and rings and process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
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