Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wildlife Watch X

I'm not sure if there are more critters now that there's snow, if they're just easier to see, or if they're just more striking against the mostly white background.  It doesn't much matter, because I'm happy to be seeing them.

Dec 27: Three of the four* does ("doughs," not "duz") walking through the forest behind our woodpile.

Dec. 28: One of the three types of woodpecker we see pretty regularly, this time working the suet in the pouring down snow.

Dec 29: Go home, Bird, you're drunk.

Dec 29: The elk herd that warrants big lighted signs warning us to "WATCH FOR WILDLIFE" on HWY 93.
(I was the passenger in the car when this photo was taken.)

Pretty sure that's a white-tail deer doe butt there under the 3.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A White Christmas After All!

It was really starting to look like we'd have a brown and grey Christmas.  The weather has been really Portland-esque here in the Bitterroot lately. And while that doesn't get me down viscerally, it bums me out on the surface, because I didn't move to Montana to NOT have a white Christmas, ya' know?  BUT. Guess what we woke up to on Christmas morning... SNOW!  Yes indeed, we got our white Christmas, after all.

SNOW! And Delia enjoying one of the Beastie Grrrlz' new Christmas toys, an Unbreakaball!

A "view" of the valley through our trees and behind a piece of firewood abandoned on a chopping stump in autumn. Life interrupts chores sometimes.

Our ornament wreath and the northbound road.  That snowy hump? That's a tarped pile of gravel at the bottom of the driveway.  It's there in case we need extra traction. It's certainly not the most attractive landscape feature, but it's definitely one of the most useful.

I know it's perhaps unusual, but I've been pretty excited to see how the snow looks accumulated on the "new" fence.  Here's a taste of that!  This is where it runs behind and through the lilac bushes.

We did a Christmas Day hike into the National Forest.  Here's a view from nearby the property.

The squirrels have a highway in the forest and we crossed it!

I love "our" forest which is mostly Ponderosa Pine, but I admit to getting a special nostalgia-based thrill when we come upon a little stand of Douglas Fir.  If you look closely you might spot Eric and Betty camouflaged in this photo.

We surely missed our family and friends, but we had a really nice day.  The four of us were visited by Santa (!), we exchanged gifts with each other, we ate yummy snacks, we walked in the forest and had fetching with the Beastie Grrrlz, we all got naps, and we ate a delicious Hungarian mushroom and wild rice soup that Eric made followed by apple pie and fresh whipped cream.  It snowed more around dusk, there was some hot tub time, and some lovely wine from Matello, too.

Life is sweet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Making Traditions

As I was decorating for Christmas something felt different.  I realized that this is our third December here in the Bitterroot, but really only our second holiday season.  The first year we went back to Portland for the week of Christmas and didn't really do any decorating at the house, so 2013 was really our first Christmas in our new home. When decorating this year, I realized that I was putting a lot of things "where they go" for the first time.  It was a bit odd, but also comforting: we're starting our new traditions in our new home and not just the things you consciously decide will be traditions, but they things that just naturally reoccur and make themselves your traditions.  It's nice.

That said, there's not much to photograph and share.  I may as well, just insert a link to last year's posts about holiday decorating.*  So instead, I'll just post a few of the new decorations or new ways we used "old" decorations.

Last year I started using my silver tinsel tree just for my Kermit the Frog ornaments, but I didn't have a tree skirt.  Eric let me use the Kermit collar from a childhood costume his mom made to make this skirt!

I decided to use the gold tinsel tree as a pet tree.  We have foot prints for Olive, Ella, Betty, and Delia and a blown glass ornament representing Pearl that was given to me years ago by a dear friend.  I'm going to need a tree skirt here, too. Hmmm.

Last year's ornament wreath has found a home on the new fence!  Right at the bottom of the driveway.  And yes, that's about as white of a Christmas as we may have. The heck?

Now we have some Santa action: the nutcracker is for Eric's childhood and the Santa mug was given to me by my grandmother; this year I bleached and dyed the bottle brush tree hat.

I was lucky enough to host some crafty friends for some bottle brush tree crafts the first weekend of December. I had plans of taking lots of photos, but instead I just had lots of fun. Sometimes you gotta just live in the moment rather than capturing the moment for posterity.  These are part of my results from that day.  I'm truly bummed I didn't get photos of what my friends made, because there was some serious awesome going on!

My first complete bottle brush tree project.  Bleached and "snowed" and set into a thrift store salt shaker and inserted into a 2-quart blue mason jar.  It goes great with all the other aqua trees!

I used some thrift store brass candle sticks as bases for a trio of trees for our '70s-inspired bathroom. They sit in the window sill and wit the back lighting I wasn't able to get a decent shot.

This year we added Krampus to our "alternatree"!

I think that this decoration is only partly done. I have ideas, but haven't figured out exactly how to execute them, but in the meantime we have a bunch of candy canes hanging on our clothes line!  Sadly, this snow is long gone.

We're preparing ourselves for the disappointment of a non-white Christmas, but... there is still hope!

Lately the weather has been rather Portland-like and dangit, I WANT SNOW!

* see what I did there?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Wildlife Watch !X

We've caught our local flying squirrel visiting the bird feeders several-to-many times several times since our initial meeting back in January 2013.  But I finally got some (crappy) photos of my own!

I was sitting in the hot tub the other night and heard the scratching of wee claws on the tree by the deck on which the bird feeder hangs.  I was cruising pinterest on my phone and tried to use the light from the display to see. No dice.  So I texted Eric to ask if he'd turn on the deck light. He did, but I saw nothing, but a swaying bird feeder.

The two lower light smears are it's eyes!

When I went back into the house, I grabbed my digital camera and tried the and turned the deck light. There it was sitting on the swaying feeder!  I turned the light back off, but the results were less than satisfactory with the "night vision" setting.

Obviously the night-vision setting wasn't going to yield results, so I resorted to the old fill flash. At least, I think that's what it's called.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wildlife Watch V!!!

So there I was minding my own business, throwing balls for my own dog in my own yard on my own Thursday afternoon when I noticed a dark movement in the sky near the house.  What did I see?  A BALD EAGLE LANDING ON A TREE RIGHT BY THE HOUSE!

See that majestic profile view he threw me?

Luckily, I had my own Galaxy S5 in my own pocket so I could take my very own crappy photos of that BALD EAGLE SITTING IN A TREE RIGHT BY MY HOUSE!

Annnnnnnd in case you didn't get enough majestic bald eagle poorly captured by camera phone here's a shot of  it looking right at me. Just like Paul McCartney did this summer. Right. At. ME.

This was not my first ever bald eagle sighting, not even here in the Bitterroot, but it is the closest I've been to a still one annnd IT WAS AT OUR HOUSE!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What a Bunch of Turkeys: A Thanksgiving Review

I've been as busy preparing for Thanksgiving this year as last year, but I sure haven't have a chance to take photos and write blog posts.  One reason is because many of the preparations are because both Eric's mom and my mom are flying out for the long weekend  Obviously there are meal preparations, but this also means house preparations.

Occasionally we have more than one guest at a time or a family with kids, so we finally got an inflatable bed to set up in the office/studio. since we already had a third down comforter, I wanted to make a duvet set for that bed.  I managed to put it together over a weekend. WHEW!  Hopefully I'll get some photos soon.  If you've been following along, you know that I sewed a new shower curtain for our main bath, too.  It's the start of the "remodel" project that I hope I can accomplish in January of February.

I'm just starting to enjoy Thanksgiving now that I'm middle-aged so I went on a bit of a decoration-acquiring kick this summer in between trips to Bend for work.  Now that live turkeys are as much a part of our daily life as neighborhood cats were when we lived in Portland, I've taken a shine to turkeys and knick knacks in their image.  Yeah for friends, Ebay and thrift shops!

Two tureens, one candy dish, a pair of candles, two salt & pepper sets, and one candle holder.

As long as I can remember I have been fascinated by honeycomb paper decorations. The left-hand turkey is vintage from a thrift store and the right-hand turkey is a dollar store item.

Of course I have a pinterest pinboard for Thanksgiving and after I heard that most likely those at the first Thanksgiving served venison, I had to include deer imagery along with the turkeys.  So it's all about turkeys, deer, pumpkins, and that forest classic: pine cones.  

The leaf bowl was a welcome gift from one of the neighbors. In it are various pine cones: glitter ornaments, handmade felt that I put together for another project that didn't work out, and a real one from the property.  So far the dogs haven't noticed!  Last years' centerpiece craft project and place setting pumpkins have found their way to the end tables in the living room.

Last year I had fun putting together place settings for just us two and this year was fun doing the same for the four of us. One really neat thing is that this year we used both of our maternal grandmothers' china!  And I went ahead and made two more "gobblets" using some of the "things I'd do differently" that I wrote about last year.

Set up and photo-ready a few hours before The Moms arrived and dare I say, several hours before dinner was served,

All set!  See the pilgrim buckle homage?  Ha!

I decided to make special Thanksgiving napkins and found this pretty aubergine linen.  I found a tutorial for easy, crisp, mitered corners and just love how they turned out. They were fiddly and sort of time consuming, but man they sure look nice.

One of my early pins for Thanksgiving was a centerpiece similar to this one that I made from an antler I found in the forest last winter, pine and fir cones from the property, a turkey feather Eric spotted on the road our 2nd autumn in the Bitterroot, and cedar bows I ordered from a local florist.  I keep a thrift store list on my phone and found the wooden bowl this spring.

It was so nice to smell the cedar.

So all this stuff on the table meant that we served the food buffet style on a table in the kitchen.  We also got to use our grandmothers' things for serving.

Left to right, top to bottom: Lefse, cornbread stuffing, lemon almond green beans, roasted acorn squash with bleu cheese, maple apple gravy, cranberry sauce, and butterflied turkey with maple apple glaze.

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's CURTAINS for YOU, Shower!

We've been living with our temporary shower curtain for over two years.  It's not a bad shower curtain. In fact, it cost more money than I usually would consider spending on a plastic shower curtain, but it just isn't the right one of this house and this bathroom.  And it kept two bathrooms dry over the course of about 7 years; mission accomplished, Mr. or Ms. Curtain.

You can see it in the reflection in the mirror here. You can also see the vinyl wallpaper that is just not "us."

I want to try to display and use some of my heirloom and vintage linen towels and the like, so I decided that I'd make a linen shower curtain.  I've made a few shower curtains before, but was a little nervous about the linen, because linen can be kind of costly... unless you use your 60% off one item Jo-Ann coupon. POW!  I chose a not-bright white, but not quite cream or natural.  The material was 50" wide, so I had to put a seam in; I debated over a) 2 seams with a wide center, b) one seam down the center, or c) one 50" wide piece and then one 20" wide piece. I went with that last one and am please with that choice.  And I made my first French seam!  That I then sewed down, because the flappy bit unsettled me. Meh.

Button-holes for hangers because I thought the look would be better with the vintage linens vibe and when I was ready to finish this project, I did not want to go out to buy more nickel grommets.  I wanted to do keyhole buttonholes, but I couldn't make it work on my trial pieces, so I just went with the regular ol' buttonholes.

Cute li'l half-inch button holes!  I did many test buttonholes before attempting them on the actual, nearly-finished ,shower curtain; I'm not sure when I got so skittish about making buttonholes.

I want the other colors in the bathroom to be aquas and purples, so I added this cotton print border to the bottom hem.  Because of the obvious stripe-y pattern, it was fiddly to get neatly cut and sewn, but I'm glad I took the time to fiddle with it. 

Like all the photos, the colors are slightly off due to the NW facing window, short day length, halogen lights, and my lack of skill with cameras.  It's pretty close, though, and I can't be good at everything, right?

I hope that I'll be able to do the major projects in redecorating this bathroom in January or February next year.  I'll strip the wallpaper and repair the walls, skim over the popcorn ceiling, apply finishes to the walls and ceilings, refinish the cabinets, reset some of the hardware, etc.  You'll see it here* if I do.

I wish I knew how to do the linen justice in my photos. Linen is just so pretty and nice and you can't tell much about that here.

BONUS INSIGHTS INTO SHOWER SITUATIONS!* I cannot believe that I hadn't thought of this before or even seen it somewhere. I've been procrastinating cleaning the shower curtain liner because it's such a hassle. I've had bad luck with the washing machine and other methods. Then today I suddenly realized that because it's hung on a tension rod, I can just move the rod to the wall side of the shower and hang it there. Then I'll have the shower wall to support my scrubbing! Duh. The whole thing took a dozen minutes, worked like a goddamn charm, and now I won't have to feel guilty about considering just tossing it for a new one. I saved $5.99, too. 

What you can't see is how the vinyl wallpaper is mostly attached only to itself at the seams, and to the ceiling and tub shower insert seams.  As far as being attached to the wall (or backing paper), well it's only doing that in a few places.  At least the top layer should be pretty easy to remove. The backing paper is anyone's guess.

We have struggled with our shower drain. This is not normally something I'd really talk about on the interwebz even though most of us have had to deal with shower drain issues.  I have really thick, quite coarse, long-ish hair.  The man in the house isn't the kind to shave his legs and such, so he sheds those and then we have two dogs who manage to get their shed hairs on and in everything.  Add lint and hard water minerals to that and well, it required constant attention to keep it from clogging and then it clogged eventually, anyway.  We've tried a few hardware drain sieve thingies and they just didn't give very good results.  Then I spotted this in the cleaning aisle at our local grocery. Two for $3.99, so I there goes some of that shower curtain liner savings, but I'm still up $2!

So far, it's much better. Both easier and less disgusting to clear out, easy to install and uninstall, top rack dishwasher safe when needed.  

*You lucky schmoes! 

Monday, November 17, 2014


Last Monday we got our first snow!  As you can see it was windy, too.

Snowflakes on Bert, my pickup truck.

Then on Thursday night and Friday, we got more snow!  It's been quite cold, too.  Below zero some nights with highs in the low- to mid-20s during the day.

The turkeys are back in the yard.

The garden is officially done.  Eric is ripening most of the last of the tomatoes by layering them in newspapers in a good dry place i.e. the unused shower stall.

Annnd whatever these berries that grow in the yard, they're done too.

We got the wood from the trees we took down in the spring stacked to dry for the winter. We're told that the freeze-drying effect works pretty well. We shall see.

We reserved when one of the big ones for chopping kindling. It changes everything.
I accidentally shot this when I was putting my phone back in my pocket. Strange framing, but I like it anyway and I like that you can see the snowflakes falling.