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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Baking a Cake

I love to bake. Unfortunately, I also love to eat sweets. Thus, it is best when I can bake something that someone else will eat!

One of our houseguests from last weekend, Jen, has a birthday that is almost exactly six months from Christmas. Since I’m barely a month, I think it is awesome to spread the gift giving out. Dusty totally knocked it out of the park when he randomly brought home cake mix last Wednesday night before Jen and Ryne arrived. I decided to make Jen a birthday cake! I had strawberries too, so I thought I’d top the cake with them…

First, I noticed on the box (yes, it was a Pillsbury mix, I’m not that Betty Crocker) that you could substitute yogurt for oil. Fun! Except we didn’t have any strawberry yogurt left. No worries; the blueberry yogurt substituted nicely.

Next, I poured the batter into two 9 inch round pans and baked. Once they were baked and cooled, I took my Aunt Brenda’s advice and popped them both into the freezer so they’d be easy to remove from the pans.

After they were frozen, I turned the pans upside down and beat on the bottom of them to pop them out. Nice and round cakes!
Next I cut strawberries into thin slices and spread the cream cheese frosting onto one side of one of the cakes. Then I put one layer of strawberries onto it, frosted the bottom of the other cake and put them together. It looks like a strawberry cake Oreo, doesn’t it?

Last, I frosted the whole thing, and used the rest of the strawberries as accents. I’m excited to say it was really, really delicious! Some chocolate ice cream on the side might have been nice too…

'Sconie's Visit

Man, what an awesome weekend. My good friend Jen, and her husband Ryne, flew up from Denver to visit us in Bozeman. I’ve been talking up Bozeman to Jen for so long; I hope it lived up to the hype!

After some thunderstorm-related delay/ on time flight drama, they arrived to Bozeman at about 11:30pm on Thursday night. It was the busiest I’ve ever seen it at the Bozeman airport and of course I saw a number of people I knew.

Friday we got up, grabbed breakfast at Bagelworks and ate at Soroptomist Park before walking Main Street. Jen had a garlic bagel that she enjoyed burping up for the rest of the day.

First, we stopped at Vino Pour Tutti, where Jen and Ryne put the skills learned from their recent trip to Napa Valley to use and bought a wine for us to try that night. After that, we stopped in at Gift Corral where Jen kept her family tradition alive by purchasing a Christmas ornament from a place she visited. I also talked the manager into letting us go up on the back deck for a birds eye view of the demolition work of the explosion site.

R-Bar go boom!

After that, we stopped into a lot of stores on Main Street. They bought a couple of National Park Service reproduction posters for their house, which were an awesome find! We also stopped into the Powder Horn, where Jen and I tried on some hats and pretended to ride horses.

I have no idea why this photo will not load to be a landscape instead of portriat orientation, but it is a great photo!

I spared Dusty the horrors of being seen at Plonk, and took Ryne and Jen there for lunch. It was lovely to eat good food and drink sangria at noon!

After continuing the Main Street tour I drove Jen and Ryne around Bozeman to see the sights before going home. Dusty got home about 3:30pm, and from there we headed up to the fabulous Virginia City! We walked around VC, then picnicked in the park before catching a Follies Show.

Someone couldn't wait until the picnic and had to eat some fried chicken early.
Oh the Follies. Inappropriate humor in the form of song and dance.
Although the Follie’s started off slowly, I think the high point of the trip may have been Jen’s trip to the bathroom at intermission. Some dude was exclaiming to his friend how his, um, PARTS got so big. He “put it in the beans!”. Ha ha! Post-Follies, we spent some time playing darts and dancing around in the Pioneer Bar.

Saturday we started slowly and had breakfast at Main Street Overeasy. Dusty worked on that triple bypass he’s been eyeing and ate something with a LOT of gravy… After the gavy fest we drove over the pass to Livingston, and did some walking around. We checked out the free museum in the Depot, which was awesome!
The Depot Train Museum, which is FREE this summer!

After the Depot, we drove down to Chico Hot Springs and played in the pool for a few hours before heading back to Bozeman for a BBQ and more Beverages.

The Murray Hotel, in Livingston. I love their lobby!

Sunday we hiked around Palisade Falls and basically hung around until they had to leave for their flight. Jen and I walked through an open house in our neighborhood, which was fun too. I’m excited to start really looking for a house sometime soon!

He's a jumper. On a log.

Overall, it was absolutely lovely to have Jen and Ryne here. It is so great to have friends that you can not see for a long period of time, but then fall right back into that easy friendship when you do see them. It was fun for them to meet Dusty, and I think all parties got along well. Hopefully we will be able to go visit them in Denver soon!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This One's for the Girls

I have a number of really, really awesome friends to be proud of.

My friend Erin just finished her Master’s Degree in Social Work, and about two hours ago accepted a position as an elementary school counselor in Astoria, Oregon (yes, the Goonies was filmed there). I’m so proud of her for pursuing the Masters’ Degree she wanted while still also working 20 hours a week!

I think we were headed to One Shot Charlies...

Alli will also finish her Masters Degree in Geographic Information Systems this August. She’s 100 pages into writing a thesis, and has been going to school while working for the Army Corps of Engineers in Nashville. Although she’ll probably stick around Tennucky for a bit, hopefully the west will call this Colorado girl home soon.

Jen, Alli, Kristin and me in Lexington in the fall of 2006.

My friend Kristin also finished her Masters Degree in December, and works for a car company in Detroit. Although things in Detroit aren’t going swimmingly, she’s figuring out where she wants to be in the long run and contemplating the big move to Denver!

Sarah will finish her Masters Degree in Education this fall. Sarah M’Bera and I grew up together, spending summers boating and riding our bikes to each other’s house. She now lives in Moses Lake, Washington, with her husband Tyler.

God love her, Sarah has always been unable to keep her eyes open in a photo.

I have two friends who own their own business as well.

Kelly is a professional photographer who takes fantastic photos of newborns, as well as senior portraits, engagement sessions and weddings.

Joslyn, and her husband Mark, started a landscaping company in Polson three years ago, and by the sounds of it have as much work as they can handle!

Kelly, me, Kristin and Joslyn at a MSU football game vs. Colorado State in the fall of 2004

These standouts are just a few of the great friends I get to have in my life. From Shawna, with her quick wit, near PhD in Psychology, and adorable dog Ava, to the ladies I work with at Gift Corral.

Its pretty awesome to see the successful people we have become. I'm proud of all of us :)

And I forgot (almost!) to mention my mom and sister. My sister aims to run ESPN one day. Clearly she's a shoe-in.

This is Gretchen. She's kind of a big deal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 23 Ten on Tuesday

1. After DJ leaves for work promptly at 7:17 am every morning, I usually grab coffee, go back upstairs, crawl under the covers and surf the internet for a half an hour before getting in the shower for work. I'm not a morning person, but I love being up, and home alone in the morning for a little while. Between work and well, work, I rarely get to be home by myself.

2. It was cold last night. I walked outside to check the plants when I got home and I could see my breath. I put a blanket on them for the night. Hey, the peppers are blooming and I don't want to stress them!

3. The peppers also had this weird black discoloration at the stems, right where branches meet. Mold? We've had some pretty wet and rainy weather and maybe they're not getting enough sun? So I moved them out from the house into the patio. Here's hoping for some serious sunshine today! (pepper plant photo)

Dude, what is that? mold?

4. I closed at Gift Corral by myself last night. AHHHH SOOOO NICE to not have to train someone or make small talk for 2 hours! LOVE.

5. While at Gift Corral last night a gentleman from Colorado came in with his service dog, a yellow girl Labrador retriever named Gage. The owner, and the dog, were very fun to talk to. But oh gosh, Gage, Gage the lab! She stole a little spot in my heart! Something inside of me wants a dog so badly right now that I get a little teary eyed at them. We also met Klancie the golden retriever last weekend. Sigh... Although I keep asking DJ if we can get one, I know its not a good idea until we have a house. With a yard. With a fence. Because while I wouldn't mind walking a dog every night, I don't want to do it in the -40 degree weather in February. :::sniff, sniff, but they're so soft:::

I really thought about stealing this dog.

6. DJ's dad and dad's wife arrive tomorrow. It’s the first time in 5 years that Dennis will have been in Bozeman; since before DJ moved into our condo. His dad reminds me a lot of my uncle Paul; both are mechanics for big machinery. It will be nice to have them here (although not staying with us) for a night before they leave on a road trip to Deadwood on Thursday.

7. Which is good because Jen and Ryne arrive later Thursday night after my Preservation Board meeting!

8. I'm hosting the Preservation Board meeting on Thursday at AOII. A number of the members expressed interest in seeing the house, and board member Jane Davidson Klockman's grandparents donated the library!

9. Now I've got to go dust the library so Jane's not mortified at the state of her grandparent's books.

10. Oh yeah, I'm a farmer. In about a week we should have enough snow peas for stir fry and strawberries for shortcake!


The Farm.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Riggs-Kozub Wedding Recap

Urban myth verified: I wore a bridesmaid's dress from last summer. I thought that never happened!
DJ and I went to a wedding this weekend that was so incredibly unique that I’m still processing it!
Jeff (the groom) coaches little league baseball with DJ, and Suzy (the bride) used to work in the same office I do; we also have a TON of mutual friends. I should add that Jeff is super quirky. A college basketball player turned self-made farmer and entrepreneur, marrying a super-organized, University of Virginia grad.

Instead of registering for gifts, they registered for trees and landscaping materials for their property. How cool is that?! I’d much rather give someone a tree than a plate! Last fall they moved a 100 year old farmhouse about 20 miles and put it on a new foundation on property the groom bought a while ago. The week before the wedding they invited all of their guests or out of town guests to camp on their property. In lieu of a rehearsal dinner on Friday night, they invited everyone out to their property to help plant trees, and BBQ. There were even antique fire truck rides! (Like I said, Jeff is quirky; he owns an antique fire truck).

People camped on their property, with the trees planted. There may have been a rattlesnake killed, skinned and BBQ'd that evening too.

Fire Truck rides. Seriously, how cute is Jeff's nephew in the middle in the fireman hat!?

Their wedding was Saturday night at the local historic middle school turned cultural center. Guests arrived at 4pm to food and beer or wine. Beverages were served in a random assortment of glasses that the groom purchased over a lifetime of going to garage sales and farm auctions.
Alisha, drinking from her garage-sale glass!
At 4:30pm the bride and groom arrived via antique fire truck (I’m so mad that I didn’t get a photo!) and mingled until 5:30pm, when everyone was ushered into the auditorium for Act I of “the show”.

First, the bride and groom walked down the “aisle” (between rows of seats) and thanked everyone for coming. They introduced the MC, a longtime friend of the groom’s. The MC introduced all of the “scenes” which included skits by their close friends (think in lieu of a wedding party. These were the people who would have been bridesmaids or groomsmen). Scenes included slideshows of their childhoods, the results of a quiz emailed to all of the guests the week before, poems acted out by their friends, and a skit about how the groom lured the bride into dating him. It ended with the groom serenading the bride (lip-synching), while groomsmen picked her up, the little league baseball players brought her flowers, etc. The Blue Jays, who'd finished a playoff game about two hours before this.

After Act I there was an intermission, with beer and popcorn in the lobby. It was a good chance to use a bathroom for some of us who may have drank some beer…

Act II was the ceremony part. It began with a video of the house being moved a year ago. The second video was of the BBQ they had last fall, where the groom sent everyone (both the bride and groom’s families were there) on a scavenger hunt to find letters spelled out. The bride had to put the letters together, and it spelled out “Marry Me Suzy” (the bride later noted the lack of a question mark). It was all on video, including the look on the groom’s mom’s face when she figured out what it spelled before the bride did! Basically from the part where Suzy figured out he was proposing, there wasn’t a dry eye in the auditorium!

After the videos were over, the parents came up on the stage and offered advice to the couple.
Suzy's dress was so fitting for her and Jeff was in this suit for all of about an hour. He changed back into shorts and a collared shirt right afterwards :)
Then two friends presided over the ceremony, in which the bride promised to let the groom wear mis-matched socks for the rest of his life, and the groom promised to “be present, mentally and physically” (he’s a traveler). It was one of the most un-traditional, but incredibly heartfelt and sincere ceremonies I’ve ever, ever seen. It was awesome.

Dancing on stage. Check out the backdrop!

After the vows were done, everyone danced in the former gym turned reception hall! It was a really, really awesome wedding. And it made me think, if you have the creativity and vision to try to pull something like that off, DO IT! Unforgettable!

Dancing to The Clintons in the former gym. I even got DJ to dance with me!

Congrats Suzy and Jeff!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fathers Day

My dad has had a really rough two years. Since his firing by MSU, he's struggled to create a new, non-coaching, identity for himself. Falling back on his agricultural roots seems obvious enough, and barring some miracle in the coaching world, appears to be where he will remain.

Its tough not to get to be around my parents and Gretchen very often. I miss having them nearby on days like this. But more, I think, I miss grabbing a take-n-bake pizza on a Friday night and spending the evening hanging out in the kitchen with them. I miss, I guess, what could have been if they'd been able to stay in Bozeman.

In the meantime though, they're only a phone call and a text message away. I thought I'd share some photos of dad in the last couple of years:

Dad, his mom and Dave, Aaron and Paul.

Dad, jumping into the water

He always wants to make sure your drink is full.

Especially if you're at the lake and he made margaritas.

He loves his leaf blower.

He's a big biker. Emphasis on big.

Mostly he likes driving his boat.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cactus Ass

We have a big weekend coming up; a wedding and houseguests. Right when I publish this DJ and I will leave work for a party out at J & S's property in Three Forks. J coaches the Mighty Mighty Blue Jays Little League team with DJ, and S was a planner in our office until about three years ago. Their housewarming/ landscaping/ barn dance party is a teaser for the big ceremony and reception tomorrow night at the Emerson Cultural Center.

J & S moved a white farm house that once sat at the Manhattan, MT Interstate-90 off ramp, to some property just east of Three Forks that J bought a couple of years ago. They put it on a new foundation and have been retrofitting it for the last nine months. I'm super jealous of their house-move project.

Since both of them are grown ups, and S actually bought a house a couple of years ago, they definitely didn't need stuff as wedding gifts. Instead, they registered for landscaping materials, which might be the coolest thing ever. Today/ tonight's party is a sort of free labor love-offering to them. I plan on planting at least one tree! And I'm excited to see their property for the first time since the November Paintballing/ Cactus-in-the-ass Sunday afternoon out there. Expect a lot of photos (of their house and the wedding, not the Cactus-in-the-ass episode. Which, by the way, how long can cactus pokers stay in your ass skin? I'm pretty certain there is still some in there. And maybe one is infected. TMI. Sorry).

Late tonight, my friend Erin and her boyfriend (and former neighbor across the alley at Kappa Sig) Rich arrive. Erin just finished her Master's degree in Social Work at Eastern Washington, and is in the middle of a massive road trip interviewing for jobs. She's also doing the half triathlon in Bozeman on Sunday. They're not leaving Coeur d'Alene till like 6pm, so they'll be here LATE. I'm thinking in the morning I'll run to the gym early, then have breakfast with them before catching some Mighty Mighty Blue Jays baseball at noon.

The wedding is at 4pm, and will include a lot of friends, co-workers (hmm, maybe rethink that "hot" dress to something more modest...), and other social acquaintances. Sunday, I might run out and watch EWIN! race, and go for a hike with DJ to prepare for the Big-Huge-Hike Alli Ross and I have planned in August. May even tick the remaining to-do's off of the "Do This Before Putting Condo On The Market" list. Hmm... Murphy's oiling a door and banister you say?

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cooper Park tour!

I just have time to quickly post about the Cooper Park Historic District tour coming up tonight. The fun part of my job is taking the inventories of historic districts and spinning them into walking tours, which the Preservation Board will be making available on their website (http://www.preservebozeman.org/ ). Tonight’s tour starts in 38 minutes, and hopefully won’t get rained out!

Residential tours are at 7pm the third Wednesday of June, July and August. Main Street district tours are at 10am the first and third Tuesday of July, August and September, and will cover the first half of the district and the second half of the district separately. More info on the website!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Self Sabotoge

I'm good about going to the gym. No, really, I am; I get some type of strenuous exercise at least 6 days a week. If I miss a day I start to feel nasty about myself. I'm definitely addicted to the endorphins from it. I sleep better, eat better, and actually get more done if I make time to go to the gym. I also love, love love to go for 1-2 hour bike rides around town, although those have been stymied by our current living location west of town and my inability to give up my favorite bike route south of town where my parents live. I'll even get up and go for a bike ride at the lake. Nothing motivates a girl like the prospect of spending the afternoon in a swimsuit.

Dad and I on the bike trail in Harrison, Idaho.

But really, I power pump twice a week at the downtown gym, I do cardio every other day of the week and sometimes try to squeeze in a Pilates class. Imagine if you will a Kramer doing Pilates. It must be like watching a hippo do ballet; uncoordinated, ungraceful, with a lot of inappropriate grunting. Yeah, I'm graceful.

Why then have I seen the scale inch up in the two years since grad school? Well, I think the problem has many layers (like an onion!). There is, of course genetics. My family breeds offensive lineman. No, really. My dad, and his brothers Joe, Pat and Dave all played college football. My two cousins Blake and Zack did too.

Gretch, Blake, Zack and me after a football game. Yes, I know, my little sister is both taller than I am and usually looks older than I do.

And as I get older I'm coming to terms with looking increasingly like my mom.

Mom and I gearing up for a bike ride from the Harrison docks. Thats right, my family has been known to use the wakeboard racks as bike racks to transport a bike across the lake.

When I was a kid I was on the swim team. I've always loved being in the water, and I'm pretty sure swim team was cheaper than after school daycare for my parents. I would walk a mile over Cheney's steepest hills home from swim practice and be starving. Although I'm certain our diet was much more diverse than I recall it, all I remember eating is BBQ'd chicken breast and potatoes as a kid. A lot of them. I remember scarfing down dinner one night, and my mom being a bit surprised how much I ate. My dad's response was that hey, as long as you're exercising you can eat whatever you want.

While that might have been true when I was 10, its not when I'm 26. Apparently it’s now important to watch my portions and eat fruits and veggies. Thankfully, I never really got into fast food. I'd rather eat really yummy food, with cheese. And beer. Or wine. Sometimes whiskey.

The other stumbling block is that I love sweets. Well, maybe I don't love it, but it’s definitely my go-to coping method for stress. Staff Report, CLG Report and 8 COA's due today? Run to Western Drug for Jelly Bellys!!!! (and they've helped give me a jelly belly!) Site visits to do and yucky phone calls to applicants to make? Swing by Joe's parkway for licorice bears and yogurt pretzels while you're in the area!

Ultimately, the candy eating leads to the fact that I must go to the gym, which takes a sometimes very valuable hour away from my already-overbooked day (see: reasons for stress above). And if I don't make it to the gym I feel like a total cow the next day.

Really, my candy binge followed by gym routine (sometimes it’s reversed; gym, then the "I earned it" candy binge) is incredibly self-sabotaging. I mean, without the copious amounts of candy, I'd be eating really well. Three fruits and veggies a day, salads with baked fish for dinner, almonds, yogurt with flax seed for Christ sake.

So I've identified the problem, but the question is if I'll do anything to address it? Other than continuing to work harder and harder in the gym. Anyone have any non-chocolate related stress coping techniques?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Butte, America

I spent Wednesday night, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Butte, Montana; often referred to by the locals as Butte, America, for its historic mix of ethnicities. At one point Butte was the largest city north of Denver or Salt Lake, between Minneapolis and Seattle (bigger than Spokane). Although it topped out at probably 100,000 inhabitants, the census numbers couldn’t properly count everyone in 1910 and 1920 because so much of Butte’s population was transient.

Butte’s claim to fame comes from its copper mining history, which is the basis for its National Historic Landmark status, the largest one in the United States. The mining past also lead to butte being another “largest”, that is, one of the largest Superfund sites in the USA. Contamination from the 19th and early 20th century copper mining has run down the hill, down Silver Bow Creek, and into the Clark Fork River, where it pooled behind the Milltown Dam from 1910 until just last year. Milltown Dam, on the Clark Fork River near Missoula, Montana, from the Historic American Buildings Survey website.

As copper mining became less profitable, Butte began a slow decline as early as the 1920’s, although the Anaconda Copper Company continued to run the city, and really the state, from the sixth floor of the Hennessey Building trough much of the 20th century. The grim reaper knocked on Butte’s door when ARCO shut down all the Butte mines, except for the ever yawning Berkley Pit, in the early 1980’s. (The Hennessey Building, whose 6th floor offices are infamous for their influence in state and national politics)

Butte now, is a town of about 30,000 people, and struggles to find a new identify for itself. The inhabitants have a wealth of housing and commercial building stock, yet no money to repair, restore or rehab the buildings. Some of the structures we toured last week had been boarded up until very recently. Whole floors of downtown buildings, abandoned in the 1930’s. It’s amazing to walk around in.

I left Butte on Saturday with a new perspective on both Butte, and Bozeman. Until recently, maybe as recently as 1995, Butte really was a bigger and more advanced city than Bozeman. Butte really was a CITY, with numerous “skyscrapers” (please remember that in Montana, any building over four stories is tall), a trolley system, multiple schools, parochial schools, active industry, a dense, and large commercial district. Bozeman was a cow town in comparison.

I’m still trying to process everything I saw in Butte, but in the mean time, I can say with certainty that I will go back, and probably stop in occasionally on my way though . I have a crush on Butte, America.

The Dumas Brothel

Interpretation of Butte's Red Light District. See the other black shilloutes in the background, indicating "johns", "madams", and police officers? There are also red lights that come on in the parking lot at night.
The Mai Wah society building, one of the last remnants of Butte's Chinatown area. From the "Cheater Story" window of Mai Wah.

The round radiator in the second floor of a building. The staircase to the second floor was removed in the 1930's, and the lawyers offices and tax asessment offices moved. The second floor was sealed, and inaccessible until recently. The second and thrid floors of this building were also abandoned in the mid 1930's. It was built as first floor retail, with second and third floor hotel rooms. The current owner has put a new roof on the building and is looking to further stabilize it. And people in Bozeman say the Armory is in bad shape?

The main floor of the building is a great antique shop. I could have spent a lot of money, but instead spent $18 on fun antique paste earrings for me and a Olympia Beer opener for DJ, whose grandpa once worked at the Oly Beer Co.

The Steward Mine

Engine Room of the Steward Mine.Looking out the Engine Room door of the Steward Mine, towards the headframe.

Houses directly across the street from the Steward Mine.

The O'Rourke Building, currently for sale for $116,000. Anyone want to go in on it with me?

With 300 photos of this conference, I'm beginning to feel like I didn't take enough photos...