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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last Minute Decision

Good last evening of 2016 to you all. I was texting some friends and thinking about things before heading to bed (No, I won't be staying up to ring in the new year, I'll see it in the morning with everything else thank you very much), when I decided to shoot out one last blog entry since I have slacked of so wonderfully on this thing this year.

I, for the first time in a long time and making a couple small resolutions. The small ones are the easier ones to keep, but you never know what the year holds. These small resolutions may end up being insurmountable odds in the long run... But fingers crossed and they stay truly attainable. The first I that I hope to blog a bit better this year. Some of you may already have noticed a bit of format change. I decided when I made the choice to hop back on the blogging horse to make it easier for myself and do smaller, short and sweet posts, a little bit more often instead of saving up photos until it was a large task to get a single post up. And Blogger, your new weird quirkiness when I try to add photos is not making this easier. Just so you know.

Someone takes vet appointments awful easily, doesn't he?
And the second one I just mentioned to The Guy. I bought a local area hiking book and map the other day and I told him that I plan on getting out on a decent hike on my Tuesdays off with the dogs this summer, and with luck, top every peak of the Bridger Mountains while I'm at it. I think the peaks will be the challenge, but the hikes will be easy, as long as the boys can keep up.

In fact, that will be the biggest challenge to the hikes. We knew Tucker's knee surgery didn't work but we received the news from the vet yesterday that it's shot. We are reviewing some options, and as you see here, we started some laser therapy to see if we can decrease some inflammation and pain he's suffering from. Poor Tucker. But if anyone knows of some large breed/herding breed mix pups that need adopted out, we need a girl! I need some new blood mixed in with these old men. Hiking is so much less fun without dogs, and it doesn't feel safe. Too many years of always having them ready, willing and able to go at the drop of a hat I guess.

And the last isn't really a resolution, more a goal that I'm already reaching for. We need to eat a bit cleaner, and we're getting there. Last night I made Turkey pesto wraps, mainly in hopes that the garlic and basil would beat back this cold that got me this week. Its always great to wake up on Christmas knowing that you're getting sick, no? On the good side though, I do think it's on it's way out. I feel markedly better today and the sinus stuff seems to be clearing. Between the good eats, the better living through chemistry, and the new humidifier, I'm getting there.

Tonight I made a new recipe that came from the "America's Test Kitchen", my new favorite PBS show's email. It's a Brussel Sprout Gratin, and it was pretty good, but then I like Brussel Sprouts. The Guy doesn't but I saw him take a second helping. It's amazing what sins a cheese sauce helps hide. It needs some tinkering before I add it to my own book, but it was a good start and went well with the leftover Christmas Ham. If you're so inclined to try it, I would start by doubling all their spices sans salt. Between the cheese and the cream you have other sources of sodium but it can be a bit bland so be heavy on the pepper, garlic, cayenne, and nutmeg.

Tomorrow night it's the traditional Pork roast with sauerkraut (I can feel The Guy cringe from here), and black eyed peas New Years feast. I think it's the germans way of purging the old year out with the fiber and gut clearing kraut, but hey, traditions are meant to be observed.

I know, we're such party animals here. Hard to believe all our jet setting and wild gatherings, isn't it? Meh, I learned a long time ago that wasn't my thing. I prefer to hang out with the furry ones, the good friends, and The Guy, any day, and especially the holidays. Let the drunks have the street and stay home and cook good food and stay warm and safe. I hope you are all doing the same, and here's to a happy, active, and joyful 2017.

And please, remember in these next few years when I fear that there are some scary changes to come, to not to forget one another. Kindness and Compassion must start with us, in our hearts and our homes. Don't think writing a check to a charity is the end of the work. Remember that sometimes it's more important to raise your voice with those around you. May you all walk in Peace with Hope and Mercy as your guides.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Christmas Time is Here

In the words of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. Am I showing my age too much by saying we used to have this on vinyl in our house when I was a kiddo?

Regardless, I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas where ever you are this year. We here in the foothills of the Bridger Mountains are having a lovely white Christmas today. It snowed over night and into this morning and now that we have a couple new inches on the ground, it's clearing up and the temperature is dropping, encouraging those kiddos to stay in with their families and driving mom and dad nuts as to when dinner is going to go out, I'm sure.

We here, just finished up our own early dinner. I got my Thanksgiving turkey so I gladly cooked up the traditional Christmas ham for the guy. Just think how good that left over ham will be in homemade mac and cheese next weekend... Mmmmm.

I learned a new way to make potatoes from PBS's America's Test Kitchen, and I love them. I played with it a bit today with some added sage and rosemary. They are so delicious. Smooth and creamy inside and crunchy toasted on the outside. Perfect.

But as usual, I always forget something when cooking and forgot to throw the almonds in the green beans as I seared them up with a bit of onion. Oh we'll, they all still tasted wonderful.

Then while the guy did dishes, I shoveled again so I don't have to mess with it in the morning as I head to work.

Yesterday when I got off work and we decided to run out for a bit, we finally found one of these! I don't know if anyone else ever used one of these but we had one when I was a kid and it was great for these light powdery snows that weigh little but pack down hard. We found it at the True Value hardware store and I've used it twice today. Sure brings back the memories of snowy childhoods. They don't work for big wet snows, but we seem to mainly have the lighter fluffier ones here, so fingers crossed. Heck, I'm just happy we have snow on Christmas and not rain with an ever growing pond in our front yard.

And what's Christmas with out some candied pecans? Mmmm-hm. I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday whether it's a holiday to you or not. Relax, enjoy your surroundings and families and most importantly, stay warm and safe.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

North of Yellowstone

Wednesday night the snow started as predicted. Light small dry flakes that took a lot to add up to anything substantial and have more of a tendency to blow in the wind.

However, it did snow through to Friday when it started to clear up and get cold. Saturday morning we woke to sheer beauty here, but dang, it was cold to go with it. I think I discovered that my car once again bottoms out at -32 on its external temperature probe, since others and online were saying after I got to work that they had readings of -35 or -36. I don't know, but cold enough my clutch was awful stiff even after I go at the engine nice and warm.

It's comforting to know that as I headed in to work, the animals all found warm places to cuddle in at home. Little bastards Sweet little furred ones.

Actually one of the benefits to cold cold mornings, is the sheer beauty of them. The air tends to clear out with the cold and in this case, then dawn light was gorgeous as it broke over the mountains and filled the valley.

A little bit further down the road there were some cows out in a field and with the light, and the steam of their breaths and the frost on their backs as they helped themselves to their feed, it would have been gorgeous but I didn't have my good camera and decided I didn't really want to stipend get out. As it was, I got to work just right on time (First week went well, thanks for asking, but I got lots of learning to do).

Despite being tempted to lay somewhere warm in the sun...

And then I came home to cuddle with beasties. We actually took them out on a drive as it was too cold for old toes. We ran up to Montana Wheat and then drove around Three Forks a bit. Tried to give the boys a little walk but less than a half a block from the car their feet let us know it was too much. Getting old sucks. Tucker did the best as he's a breed built for cold and I ran him up the street a short ways and back, which as soon as the other boys saw they had to join us, but their paws paid for it.

I stumbled across this tonight and thought I'd share. It's kind of funny... Okay it is funny but only on the second watching for me, because I've had people ask many of these questions, and it's not funny at the time. Okay, the two queens was funny first time through, but then it wasn't a question in the same vein as the others, was it?

Some of these I think all couples do, but there's a couple that are probab;y male-male relationship only... But my favorite is the suits. And no, The Guy and I do not talk to our dogs quite like that. It's more threats of making ear soup and him telling them that it's okay, I've always been a bit crazy.

And just because I should always try to end this on a laugh.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

And so I've begun

Work that is. Yesterday was a good but busy day being my first. Lots to learn and absorb. No more slacking around the house knitting all day every day. Dammit.

No, it's good to get back to work. I need it for my sanity.

Well, let's pretend like I ever had any, okay?

On that note, I know any posting I would have done will be slowed down a bit so I thought I'd share these couple of pictures I snapped Sunday morning.

It was pretty, but a bit cold.

I always like ice frost on trees. So pretty. But the cold made itself apparent this morning when I realized the second new thermostat we put in the second zone was not working.

These ones were Sullivan trying to tempt a cat out from under the futon to play. Midge wasn't feeling it. Please note the blurry tail in that first pic.

Alas... Cats.

So, the rest of these I'm going to throw on are last spring on a rainy day when the birds were busy about the feeders and we had a visit from our orioles.

For those that already spotted it, you're correct, this ones a robin. We actually didn't see a whole lot of robins in our yard this last summer for some reason. Maybe the Jays were rough on them?

And one of our larger woodpeckers. Not the big Palliated ones, I never got any great pics of them either as they're rather shy.

Like I said, it was a rainy spring day...

That's about it for the week guys. Sorry, I need to go check for ice damage to heat pipes now and shut the crawl space before returning to my scrub hemming... Have I ever stated how much I dislike sewing? At least its just hand hemming. Not difficult, just time consuming, but I did all the ironing of the seams already so I just need to do the needle work. Here I go... Have a good week everyone, wish me luck.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A comment worth passing on

I stumbled across this yesterday on a website that has nothing to do with twitter, as I am not a tweeter, but it struck me as something I agree with. Yes, I'm trying to stay quiet and positive about our incoming administration, and I hope people don't take this as agreement with said group. I am listening, and I am worried, but I refuse to add to the negativity and hateful speech that seems to be occurring on all sides. This message spoke to me, and I think it's lack of negativity and hate is something that needs to be passed down the line, and it couldn't wait until I bothered to blog again and possibly be buried in big litany of whatever was present in my mind for that days post.

I know it's been a bit overkilled over the last decade, but I think we need to take a little guidance from the message anyway.

Oh, and Emmitt agrees with everything I say, can't you tell?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

It's happening, it's really happening!

Snow! And boy is it a bit cold to go with it. Which makes it a light drifting of snow. One of those that you can sweep away a bit at a time until the cold breaks the brand new broom. Yes, you read that right, I blamed it on the cold... And it was a cheap broom and we got what we paid for. I went to bump the snow stuck in the bristles off on my boot and it just snapped the head of the broom right off. It was the plastic part that broke, not the bamboo. Gotta love bamboo, to bad the fittings were plastic.

The mountains have actually been getting it quite a bit the last couple of weeks. Several times when I've been looking online at weather reports for the surrounding ranges and their recreation areas have been under avalanche warnings.

A little blurry as I snapped this with my phone as The Guy was driving home.

But today, we seem to be actually getting a bit of it and I'm thankful that we got good and cold first. When I had to go into town yesterday for my human resources meeting for the new job that I start in the next few days, the roads were a mess when I hit 19th street. It appeared that they got the rain that froze and then was snowed upon as predicted for Sunday evening. It was a mess, and as soon as you got away from the mountains the roads cleared up. I decided after driving in a line of slow pokes (the road was actually just wet at that point) to cut through some back roads I discovered the other week would take me where I wanted to get to, that the locals that know how to drive in these conditions seemed to have the same idea.

Why wait for all the timid ones who want to go 35 in a 70, when you can at least go 55 on the back roads? The new tires helped too, but the roads in that area were just wet and clear of ice, it was a bit ridiculous and I was tired of getting a snotty windshield from the drivers ahead of me.

It's funny, it always seems to be that people drive either too timidly for good conditions or crazy for bad conditions, but at least here there seems to be a good chunk of people who drive well, and far fewer cars on the road anyhow.

Friday afternoon as I was cleaning up the back yard, I noticed the moon and venus standing out. Mars is close by but so much dimmer that we couldn't see it until full dark and the moon was close to setting and wasn't visible well from here or I would have tried for another snapshot.

Now that we're back in the land of clearer skies I hope to get some better nighttime photos.

I was trying to get these sky photos off the camera when I realized I still had some photos on here from Michigan that I thought I had shared a long time ago. Obviously since they were still on the cameras memory card, I had not done that.

I actually found quite a few and will share them over the next few weeks. These last couple were from a few weeks prior to our move. Between he rainbow and the sunset lit rain clouds, it was a pretty night though a bit windy.

I could have sworn I shared this little bit of National Geographic excitement from our front yard last winter before but I found them on the camera too. On the ground there is a mourning dove that just dove down to the snow to get away from the swoop of the hawk you can just make out in front of the lowest branches there.

The dove tried to then lift off and get into the cover of the pines.

But it was a bit too late.

I think this may have been the fist interactions we had with our little Coopers Hawk that appreciated our bird feeders.

I remember as a kid that our neighbors always fed the pigeons around the corner.

My mom used to always complain about them pooping on her car. I think she drove her little red le Baron at the time.  She was proud of that zippy little red car.

We were walking back from the park with our dog Cali one afternoon for a romp and we happened to see the Goshawk round the corner just about a foot off the street and nail a pigeon as it tried to lift off and topple into the neighbors yard with its fresh kill.

As we finally walked by and it carried the kill into the trees our neighbor came out and freshened up the seed he always left out on the sidewalk and saw us.

He smiled and made some comment about feeding pigeons because it kept the hawks around.

My mom never complained about it again and shortly there after my stepfather made a bird feeder for our back yard, though it was constructed in a way that the pigeons couldn't really get into it and we never saw the goshawk hunting the blackcap chickadees and other small songbirds, though I'm sure they could have.

I think the raptors preferred the bigger meatier pigeons. There's a reason people used to regularly eat pigeon pie after all. Had they not been around I'm sure they would return to eating the smaller birds when able to catch them though.

We need to get a bird feeder set up here but it will be more helpful when I know what plants we have here in our yard as well. It's a nice bonus to have the hawks but I too would prefer if they stuck to the invasive eurasian doves (or the eurotrash as The Guy calls them), over the small songbirds and hope they have enough cover to escape into here.

That reminds me, I never did cut the clematis loose of their last years mornings here. I recognized that vine no matter the lack of leaves.

This hawk was incredibly patient about letting me snap shots. When I got cold and moved to go in, she decided to try moving off with her lunch.

Trouble if I ever saw it...
We also have a couple stupidly placed pine/spruce trees that might be perfect christmas tree size for the next couple years that need to come out. Who puts in a pine over their southern exposure close to the biggest set of windows the house has? They block out much needed light come winter, so they'll come out over the next couple years and we'll try to correct the weird little park thing they tried to make and plant something hardwood with pretty fall foliage and cold tolerant. Lord knows we need some trees with deep roots so we don't have to water much with the cost of water and sewer here.

So, not a lot of new stuff here. Just figuring out the house and trying to find work here. Cooking again as you can see here by the braised pork chops with cinnamon pears and summer cucumber salad. Gotta keep the vitamin C intake up! Don't want any winter scurvy after all.

And knitting. I had to throw out my old ratty dog chewed slippers before moving. Well, I didn't have to, I just saw no reason to keep them. Last week I whipped up a pair of the unfelted slippers for myself. I've had this yarn saved for this project for a couple years, don't know why I stalled on casting these on so much. It was a very easy and fast knit. Literally, from start to finish it's about 2 hours per slipper. And when I say start to finish I mean cast on, knit, seamed, and ends woven in. That's it, 2 hours apiece. Just a quick christmas knit idea if anyone needs one.

I used two skeins of Cascades Pastaza Paints yarn held double and had plenty left over. Yes, it's discontinued so you will have a hard time finding it but any worsted/aran weight yarn held double would work. I chose this which is a single ply because with wear it will lightly felt in the heel area and become a bit stronger. I made the talked about size for myself but I only wear a mens 8. I could probably have added two more stitches to either side to make them fit a little bit better but this will work and they're a bit sock like as they are.

I have the Peace Cowl on the needles and will be wrapping it up in the next couple days as I'm absolutely bored with it. It's a pretty waffle stitch pattern, and thankfully I have to change my stitch pattern every couple rows, but I'm still tired of it. Not the patterns fault, it says more about me than it does the pattern, but the idea around the peace-along I feel is something that we need.

As for the yarn, sorry, that's some of my handspun from the huckleberry fiber club. As usual, it's gorgeous stuff. Any one interested in spinning; whether an old hand or just beginning, I encourage to check out her store, and of course, the fiber club. Love this stuff. I need to get back at it! I have some blue stuff on the wheel that really needs to be wrapped up.

And then there's the wrap I started so that I could buy some yarn from the local yarn store I've been frequenting. I just feel that if Im going to knit and be social there, I should have something in the bag that's from their stock. You know? It's only polite. It's a bit of a pattern I somewhat made up, and the yarn is a lovely linen, silk, and wool mix called Kookaburra from KFI. It's a single ply that isn't the best for a semi-lace pattern but it's going to be lovely when completed. It has such a fun texture as it's a bit of a thick and thin yarn but not to extremes. It's just going to add tot he finished ripple affect.

There's a couple other project that are on the needles but I've decided I have too much stuff going right now and am buckling down. I need to wipe these two projects out, I have two more knit projects in the background that need to be completed before I can even contemplate starting something else, not the mention the spinning project that should be done too so I can get something new on the wheel. And let us not discuss the loom, though I have plans. Big ones ;-).

Emmitt just the other day got himself in big trouble nesting in our bed. I had just mentioned the day previous that I hoped he was finally over this behavior as he hadn't done it since we moved. He likes to pull back the covers so he can lay on the sheets that smell like us, and up against the wad he's made of the covers. I was sitting in the next room, literally, right by the door and heard something that made me go investigate. He jumped off and tried to slither by but he got a swat on the rump despite his stealth. Nothing like dog hair and sand on fresh sheets. Little butthead.

Like the snoozing Tucker in this photo, I think I'm done in for the day. I bought this photo the other night when I realized that he had fallen back to sleep after itching his own face. That pink thing under the rope knot at the bottom, is his tongue sticking out his open mouth. So ridiculous.