A Vacation Day Morning

Enjoying the cool morning, on my vacation day.

Sitting in my porch glider, with my biggest cup full of Java, listening to the birds sing, and watching my silly puppies play. The trees are obscuring, from my neighbors, my still being in my pj's, and I'm happily flourishing on this beautiful summer morning.

So blessed!

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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Celebrating Independence Day!

Isn't this just awesome!

Man made fireworks competing with Mother Nature's fireworks! This is the rodeo and fireworks celebration we have over the 4th of July in our little town every year….but with a little extra kick this particular evening. I wanted to be sure and share this wonderful photo since we're not too far out from the 4th. We do have some extremely talented folks that live in our town, and I borrowed this from Facebook to share with you all.

Here are a few more shots I took myself while just moseying around close to home, over the last couple months. Since it'll be Christmas in just a few weeks, guess I'd better share the few warm weather photos I've taken (kidding!…….but not really :-/ )

 

 

The park geese with their new broods, in varying stages – some have newer fluffy yellow babies, some are 1/2 way to looking like their parents.

 

This is the Crazy mountain range.

This is about 7 miles from the cabin. Such a pretty day it was!

About 4 miles from the cabin as you top a hill and look southerly, this is the Absaroka mountain range.

 

A golden eagle in a field near the road.

And a bald eagle on a telephone pole just above the golden.

 

 

 

Hope you all are having a nice summer, and are making the most of it!

TTFN,

Teresa 🙂

 

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Journaling the Cabin Progress

This is going to be a dry post. I'm putting up a ton of pre-renovation cabin pics just for documentation. Mr. Bruce has been up there the last 6 weekends working like a fiend. He also struck a deal with a too busy contractor. It is so wild in this area presently, with people buying property as quickly as it hits the market, then fixing it to flip, or live in themselves, that it is next to impossible to find a decent contractor worth his salt. All the good contractors/carpenters are lined up with work for months to come. I'm sure there are plenty of shysters out there, because when it's popping like this, those shady types are drawn in like rats to grain. But Bruce has known this fellow for years, and the man is a local that has lived here all his life. He has a good reputation, and is therefore busier than the dickens. But, after a bit of skillful finagling and bartering on my Mister's part 🙂 , the contractor said if Bruce will have everything lined out, and every bit of the lumber, cement, screws, nails, basically every and all supplies needed (including all the new Windows, and all the new flooring) sitting at the cabin ready to go, he and his crews will pop up there between their other big jobs as time allows. Anytime there is slack on the big jobs they're working on, or if there is inclement weather that they can sneak away from their outdoor projects and come up to work on indoor things for us, they'll shoot up to the cabin and try to bang out one project at a time. That's about as good as it gets right now for folks like us that have comparatively smaller projects. When it's chaotic like it is presently, in demand contractors don't want small jobs. Especially when they have to trek clear up into the mountains to do them.

Oh, good gosh, I hope this works out!! We've been burned by carpenters before, but we've also been lucky enough to have some excellent ones do big jobs for us at our house. I just want to get the big basics done on the cabin, then Bruce and I can tackle the smaller, more manageable ones. Bruce doesn't have the time, or number of men available that are needed to get windows and doors installed, the wood flooring laid, or the walls put in. He will still be doing the majority of plumbing and electrical himself, as well as all the trim and finish work; and together we can install the wood “tongue and groove” panels on the walls, sheet rock where needed (if we decide to use sheet rock in the bedroom and bathroom), building and rocking the new hearth for the wood stove, and installing whatever we decide to use for kitchen cabinetry. I can paint, wallpaper, tile, stain, make curtains, and decorate to beat sixty without any help. But for the big, heavy duty stuff, we need a crew of men to come in and hit it hard to get it done in short order.

Once the new windows are in place, we can contact the company that will sandblast the logs on the exterior (the company we looked into uses ground walnut shells to blast, then the shell dust and log dust can be left on the ground to naturally decompose). The blasting will basically sand away the discoloration and weathering, and leave a nice even tone on the logs to then stain and seal, making the exterior look brand new, hopefully.

The odd shaped windows on the top right will be eliminated. Then, all along the top, left to right under the pitch, will be framed in and probably covered with shakes, so it will be symmetrical.

 

This bay window is being replaced with a picture window. Same width and height, but flat in the wall.

 

The circular vent to the left of the window will come out as the furnace is moving to the hallway, resulting in dreaded log patching.

 

A larger window will replace the bathroom window, shown center, which will require log cutting and patching.

 

The kitchen window, left of door, has to be raised 1 1/2 logs higher, and the porch window, far left, will be eliminated. More log cutting, and filling. Not fun.

 

 

Porch floor must be laid, and an end wall built, since there will only be stairs to the front now.

 

 

This is the enclosed portion of the front porch. The 2 windows shown will be eliminated, and a big walk-in storage closet will be built, floor to ceiling across this whole end of the porch. There isn't much room for storage in the living area of the cabin, so we want to be smart with this space and squeeze every square inch to make it useful for hanging, boxing, shelving, leaning, and stacking. The window on the floor to the left came out of our kitchen at home when we remodeled and put in the giant picture window. This will be installed to the right of the front door entering the porch. We bought a nice, solid wood door with glass upper from Craigslist, saving probably $300 vs buying a brand new one. We got bids from 3 different companies on the window package we need. Only 6 windows have to be purchased, and I was shocked at the $5,500 price tag from the first company. The second company came in at $4,200. These bids were for aluminum clad wooden windows. We got a bid for vinyl windows next, which was much more reasonable (less than a third of the first bid), albeit not quite the quality we were hoping for – but we have to remind ourselves that this is just a cabin, not a full time residence. And we need to be careful not to dump in more money than we would ever be able to recoup on the little place. Having to build the new foundation, and crane the cabin to it, put a major dent in the budget right off the bat. We have to be very careful with our spending, being mindful to get the most bang for our buck. There is a very long list of things yet to do, and after the shock of the windows bids, we will have to be extra diligent in searching out the best buys. That shouldn't be hard with the decorating/furnishings (since I'm the queen of rummage saling ;-0) but building materials are a different kettle of fish.

As for the inside…..

We do have a plan roughed out. Bruce is wrangling in the plumbing right now. We're having a heck of a time trying to find the best options for hot water. We don't particularly want to go the heater tank route because, unless you plan to keep the propane furnace at 48 degrees all winter (which would be very costly) to prevent water in the tank and pipes from freezing, you must drain and winterize the tank each autumn. That means no hot water if you hope to snowmobile in for weekends in the winter. There are many tankless, hot water on demand options available, but high altitude, extreme temps, and not being there daily, really complicate the decision. I know there must be a good option because I've seen tv shows about hunting camps in Alaska where guides bring folks to a shut down cabin, walk in, flip a few switches, and they're fully functional for a week or so. They leave after minimal winterizing, basically in suspension til next trip in, which they do often, all winter long. We've researched on the internet; I even got a year subscription to Cabin Living magazine to look into that and other things, hoping to make the most informed and correct choices. We surely don't want to dump a bunch of $$ into things, just to have them be dysfunctional and have to be replaced for even more $$. Bruce has checked with other folks in our cabin community, and it seems bottom line up there is water heater tank – bite the bullet and leave the heat running; or rough it – winterize and do without hot water in the winter months. I'm sure there has to be a better, more practical option. We'll keep after it…if nothing else, Mr. Bruce is the prize winner in persistence.

 

The blue tape lines are wall placement markers for bedroom and bathroom. Bigger bed and bath than what was there before, but still mighty tight!

 

Such a dreadful mess - makes me want to pull my hair! Doesn't bother Bruce in the least.

All I know is summer is fleeting, and boy, do we have a lot on our plate! Between work schedules, my folks moving, trying to get as much as possible done at the cabin in the short season we have to do it, and regular old house chores and maintenance, we could all stand a few more hours in the day to be sure!

Anyhoo, not whining….even if it does sound like it! All these things are very good “problems” to have! And not problems at all! We just need to stay organized, and step it up as best we can.

Meanwhile, Pinterest is my friend – it gives me so much to aspire to!

TTFN,

Teresa 🙂

 

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Farm(s) Pending

This might well be the new “mini” farm.

Quite the view. Six and three quarters acres (80% less land than the farm), but just enough land to suffice. The house is about 1/3 less square footage to have to keep tidy and maintain. Close to town. Neighbors, but not right on top of you like living in town. Irrigated. These are the pluses.

The downside is; no barn or shop for hay and equipment storage. No small shelters for the little horses. Not a fence on the place. Close to the highway, so the 5 remaining barn cats coming with will have to be contained in some type of little building with a tall, screened in outdoor area, to keep them safe. (Being barn cats, they have always roamed free at the farm, so this will be a tough adjustment for them.)

These all are the realtors pictures. The inside is lovely, but quite small (compared to my folks farmhouse). But, that's all part and parcel of downsizing. It was a lucky break to have been able to JUMP on this place hours after it was listed. My folks tied it up as quickly as was humanly possible. The realtor had multiple, multiple inquiries in the days following the listing of this property. It's going to be a lot of work to get it ready to house all the critters, but that's part of the give and take. The land is pretty much a blank canvas. They are already contacting fencing companies, contractors to build outbuildings, moving companies, etc., just to get on the lists. I mentioned before how crazy wild it is right now with real estate in this area, and all types of companies involved are booked up weeks to months in advance.

So, God willing, it's upward and onward. Real estate dealings are are fragile and fickle; fingers crossed this will go thru without a hitch. I guess now would be the time to start stock piling super potent vitamins and coffee….the whole family's going to need them to get this show on the road!!

I'll take a minute now for some more sappy and sentimental sharing of farm pics. The gardens are so beautiful right now, due to my good little Mom's relentless efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Clover, the tamest barn kitty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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Farmward – Ho!

The saga with my folk's farm continues. It looks like this time the sale might be the real deal – possibly. It's been a long drawn out process, drug out since last fall. A couple with 4 little kids want to buy it “for sure”……..contingent upon them selling at least one of three properties they own. And then comes all the hoop jumping and red tape with appraisals, inspections of every sort, what is included in the sale, etc., etc. At least these people don't expect my folks to include furniture, pictures, garden decorations, clothes, shoes, and the family bible in the sale, like the last yahoos did. (Maybe a slight exaggeration, but not by much!) This potential buyer did want them to throw in the backhoe with the sale, which may, or may not, be considered. Depends on what sort of place my folks can find to move to. If they have to start from scratch with a place with no fences or outbuildings, my Dad will need all his equipment to get the job done. Hopefully a place will come up not needing everything from soup to nuts to get ready, before they can move in. I cannot tell you how absolutely insane the real estate market is in this area right now; very little to be had, and a king's ransom in pricing for what is available. We've all been searching like mad, trying to catch things that come on the market immediately, as homes and land are snapped up, literally, within hours after being listed.

I stopped at the farm on the way back from the cabin the other day. I feel like you can't soak in enough of the place, when you know the chance is great that it will belong to someone else soon.

 

My Mom brought me upstairs to see this cactus type plant that is in full bloom.

 

I got to visit all her babies while we were upstairs.

 

 

And get an upper view of the gardens from the bedroom balcony.

 

It will be a big adjustment for the little horses to have only a very few acres to live on. Hopefully it won't bother them too much. They are an elderly lot; the oldest one being about 34 years old, the youngest I think around 22. There are 15 left, and my folks just want to keep them fed and happy til they go to the happy pasture in the sky. Their whole house search is revolving around finding a place where it will work for their old horses, and old barn kitties. Some people call that crazy, I think it's mighty admirable.

 

From last fall

 

Hopefully the geese will get to stay on the farm, as many of them are 30+ years old

It's a beautiful place, and I sure hope the new people will love and care for it as much as my folks have. It will be nice for their little kids to grow up there; the perfect setting for playing and memory making.

As stressful as it is, I guess we just have to remember that the good Lord has a plan for us all, and we need to keep the faith and move forward knowing it's in His hands.

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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R is for Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a vegetable, but is most often put to use like a fruit. For most folks, it is a love it or hate it situation – not too much of an in between. I love it's bright, tart goodness, and have quite a collection of recipes so that all that grows at my house is not wasted. It is tricky to cook with, because it holds so much water. I've turned out several pies that were either absolutely water logged, or so tight they were rubbery, by under or over estimating the amount of thickener needed. It's hard to get that just right consistency; glossy and soft – not too runny, not too firm and bouncy.

I've had a bountiful crop so far, due to the cool (cold!), wet conditions rhubarb is partial to.

This is what remained after harvesting about 2/3 of what has popped up so far this Spring. More will come now that it's been thinned a bit. YAY 😉

I seem to have better luck making bars, rather than pies. With the filling not so deep as it is in pies, it tends to thicken more consistently. So, I drug out all the gear, and a “go-to” recipe.

Here is the recipe I used, that is a compilation of several I've tinkered with to make it work for me.

First, the best crust I've ever had. The recipe came out of a little paper back church fund raiser cook book I bought when I was a teenager and kept in my cedar hope chest til I moved out on my own. I've used it until it is rag-tag and falling apart over the years.

3 cups white flour, 3/4 cup butter flavored shortening, 3/4 cup salted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 to 5 Tablespoons ice water, 1 egg lightly beaten, 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening and butter. Add ice water 1 T at a time til mixture is crumbly but starts to come together a bit. In a cup, add the vinegar to the egg, mix and pour into flour mixture. Stir and press til a ball forms, adding small sprinkles of flour as you go, so it doesn't stick to the bowl. Place dough ball in a bowl in fridge 15-20 minutes to rest.

Second, measure out 7 cups chopped rhubarb into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups white sugar, 2 rounded Tablespoons tapioca powder (what I used was called tapioca flour; both work, and are probably pretty close to the same thing), 3 rounded Tablespoons white flour, and half of a 3 ounce package of red gelatin (I prefer strawberry, but any red works and looks best.) Add sugar mixture to rhubarb and coat well.

Get your crust dough from the fridge and roll out on a well floured surface, to about 1/4 inch thick. I transferred the whole kit and caboodle to a large, rectangular baking pan, covering the bottom and up the sides. Press lightly into corners and on sides. Cut the excess from what hangs over the sides. Gently pour rhubarb mixture onto crust in pan. I loosened the crust from the sides and folded it over the rhubarb, galette style. It keeps the crust from getting too brown on the sides. Since I try not to waste anything, I rolled the leftover crust into long skinny ropes and placed them on top. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temp to 350, and continue baking 30 to 35 minutes longer.

It came out just right; not runny, not rigid or rubbery. The crust was a golden brown. I guess you could drizzle a glaze, but I think it's plenty sweet without.

We gobbled it up 🙂

Tomorrow I'll make rhubarb freezer jam. I love being on vacation!

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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A Vengeful Spring Storm

The pretty little mama robin came back this spring. She reclaimed the nest she and her husband built last year. I was so happy to see her flitting to and fro out my kitchen window. The lilacs were in full bloom, as were the apple, Schubert's chokecherry, buckeye, and cherry trees in my yard. Spring was springing!

Then, Montana being what it is, it hit.

And this year, it was particularly bad.

A horrible, heavy, wet snow that weighed down the trees made fragile by the sap freshening in their branches and trunks, and the new leaves holding the snow, which further pulled the branches down. The next morning was disastrous in our little town. Whole trees downed, and broken branches everywhere. I heard there were homes damaged from falling trees and limbs, as well as fences, vehicles, and anything else that happened to be in the way as the snow laden trees were torn to bits. Working where I do (at the City's refuse transfer station, recycling, and green waste drop spot) I saw first hand the carnage the spring storm produced. People brought pick up truck loads, trailer loads, and some dump truck loads full of broken branches, crushed bushes, and whole trees that had fallen. It was fairly chaotic at my little scale house, to say the least. After 6 days of people hauling load after load to the green waste pile, over 200 TONS of green waste had been brought in by folks. And that doesn't even count the the BIG City dump trucks that were running full loads (which were not weighed) out of town to a spot of land where they can deal with the massive amounts later. Boulevards and alleys are still littered with stacks of branches and bushes as they wait for the city crews to make their way through the town to load them all and haul them away.

Comparatively, I got off fairly easily with just one large branch broken off my apple tree, and a medium sized branch off my Ohio Buckeye. The lilacs and pussy willow were flattened, and are just starting to try and pull up again. Bruce wrapped a ratchet strap around the willow to get them off the ground.

My little Mrs. Robin couldn't take the whole ordeal, and flew off, leaving her one cracked and frozen egg in the nest. I wonder if she'll be back, or if she's packed and headed for warmer climes, where you don't have to worry about our unpredictable Montana weather.

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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Horse Crazy

All my life I have been besotted with horses. Well, all animals really. But as far back as I can remember, horses were my hearts desire. All I wanted in life was a horse. Being a town kid, that made the dream fairly far fetched and hard to attain. So I consoled myself by reading every available horse or pony story I could get my hands on. And I read a lot of them!

I believe it was third grade when our teacher assigned a special project for the whole class, in which we were all instructed to decide what our favorite book was, and write a letter to the author of that book. I chose the wonderful author and artist C. W. Anderson. He wrote many books for children and young adults. His paintings and sketches are so wonderful, just beautiful.

I love this one. I am really partial to pinto horses.

So, I set to task writing a very heartfelt letter to my favorite author and artist. We sent them to the publishing companies of the books we had chosen as our favorites, and asked them to please forward the letters to our chosen authors. From what I remember, most of the kids received either printed info about the author from the publishing company, or a postcard from the author thanking the student for the interest in their work. I, on the other hand, received a lovely, hand written letter on Mr. Anderson's stationary, that also had a print of one of his paintings on it. To say I was thrilled is putting it mildly! It had his return address on the envelope, so I immediately sent another letter. He again responded with another kindly letter. I have both of those letters to this day, tucked away in a scrap book.

With the information available at our fingertips today with the internet, I can see that he would have been quite elderly when he sent those thoughtful letters to a little girl that loved his stories and beautiful paintings of horses. As an adult, that is a regret I ponder – that I didn't continue writing to that wonderful gentleman, so we could have continued sharing thoughts on our mutual love of horses. He would have passed away about a year after our correspondence started.

But kudos to my third grade teacher! What a wonderful thing for a kid to have experienced, and all because of her grand idea to write those initial letters, and take a chance that the publishing companies would forward them.

I had very few pictures to grace the walls of my very first apartment. I had a few antique prints in my bedroom of lovely ladies, that had belonged to my great grandmother (those same prints hang in my little cottage bedroom today). But the one that hung front and center in my apartment living room was the Anderson print (shown below) that I had purchased at a rummage sale when I was about 13 years old, and kept in my cedar chest in anticipation of having my first place.

For the life of me, I have no idea what became of that print after I moved from my apartment, which makes me sad! Even though I have a bazillion pictures now, I still keep my eyes peeled at rummage sales, estate sales, antique shows etc., for C. W. Anderson prints, because I would surely make room for one or two.

 

Thankfully, and happily, the summer after fourth grade I got my very own pony! She was a wiley little Shetland named Cinnamon that I loved with all my heart. For the first 3 months I had her, I knew better what the underside of her belly looked like than what her face looked like, as she spent the biggest portion of our time together schooling me! I was black and blue that whole summer, until I learned the ropes a bit, and was better able to stay on the top side of my steed. She was the first of 10 horses I've had in my life, each wonderful, and wholely loved.

So, if you have a horse crazy young person in your life, I recommend Mr. Anderson's books. I would think/hope they would still have his books at the public library.

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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Spring Time in the Rockies

This is a pretty time of year around these parts. The snow is just starting to come off the mountains because it's a bit warmer during the day, but there is still plenty of it to shine against our big blue skies on these early spring days. So, here's a little mountain photo overkill for you –

 

 

 

 

 

Big Spring storm rolling in

 

A hint of a rainbow

 

A meandering Yellowstone River, before the Spring run off

 

Everything greening up

 

 

 

Plenty of snow up there yet

 

There are lots of new baby calves on the ground, magpies building nests with zeal, bunnies chasing each other with abandon, robins feasting on big fat worms that are emerging, and shoots, blooms, and tiny green leaves unfolding at every turn. Yup, it's Spring time in the Rockies for sure!

TTFN,

Teresa 🙂

 

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Corners In My House

 

Living room

 

Living room

 

Family room

 

Living room

 

Cottage bedroom

 

Family room

 

Entry way

 

Upstairs bathroom

 

Kitchen

 

Master bedroom

 

Master bedroom

 

Kitchen

 

Laundry/Utility room

 

Laundry/Utility room

 

Cowboy/Indian bedroom

 

Cowboy/Indian bedroom

 

Family room

 

Living room

 

Dining room

 

Family room

Just a few pics of random corners throughout my house. Guess I better make myself useful and start dusting some of them…. 😉

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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