Tuesday, August 26, 2014

home is good

So nice to be back home, after feeling cooped up in the car for 2 days!  Even though we drove a
l-o-o-n-g time Sunday (about 12 hours or so) that meant that we had an easy day (about 8 hours) on Monday and arrived at home with some time to unpack, start the laundry, mow the lawn and even take a walk!

I forgot to tell you much about our time at Glacier Distillery.  They use cherries in some of their products, and it is prime time for cherries.  Lauren showed us the huge vat of Rainier cherries that were fermenting and bubbling away.  Yes, there are bits of foreign material in there since they do come from a tree, not a lab!  But all that is filtered off so you won't end up with a stem in your cocktail!

I bought a cherry brandy liqueur, Daughter of the Sun, as well as Little Cottonwood which also has some cherry flavor along with other good seasonings.  I had a delicious cocktail at the Whiskey Barn tasting room--Daughter of the Sun mixed with sparkling apple juice (at least I think it was Daughter of the Sun, but to be honest I might be mistaken about that after inhaling all those fermentation fumes!)

And since I have a special place in my heart for a good gin and tonic, I sampled and purchased the Glacier Distilling gin.  I like that fresh flavor, like a little pine tree in a glass!
I'm not sure why the gin doesn't get a beautiful label like the others, there's one more question for me to take back to Lauren.

On our last day of vacation, we had a bird's-eye view of the Flathead River valley.  It was pretty cloudy so the picture isn't the best, but I liked to look all the way over Whitefish, down to Flathead Lake and Columbia Falls just off to the left.

Also, on that last afternoon, we went to Brewfest in the Depot Park in Whitefish.  There were several (12-14?) microbreweries present serving up samples of their brews.  Not only did it taste good, and we had fun meeting more of the Whitefish folks, but the glass was really cute, too!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

call me huckleberry hound

Yesterday Dan and Lauren took us up the gondola on Whitefish Mountain and showed us how to find and pick huckleberries.  These are a local delicacy, and folks get sort of territorial about the berry patches in the wild.  We did not witness any berry wars!  We just wandered around the mountainside a bit and didn't have to look far to find some bushes.  These berries are a little small, they do develop larger when given the right growing conditions.  We were picking them simply to eat, not collecting a bunch like a few other people we saw.  When we arrived in Whitefish last Sunday night, we were treated to a fresh huckleberry galette (sort of a rustic pie) that was delicious.  Now that I have seen how hard it is to gather any significant number of berries without eating them, I am so impressed that Dan and Lauren shared their berries with us in a pie!

Today has been spent on the road, after forcing ourselves to reluctantly leave the kids and Whitefish behind.  We did so many fun things, and have some left to do next time!
We drove east across the middle of Montana, with rain most of the way.  There had been significant rains in some areas, with lots of water in ditches, etc.
Even covering the road that we had to drive through!  There was a police-type person there who told us it was safe to drive slowly on the left side of the road, which Bob did while I pictured the car floating out to the prairie!  

I have had a chance to do some hand stitching on these wool applique samples for a future class for Bear Patch.  I did most of the preparation before leaving home.  I finished up the cornucopia that I had begun back at home.  Then today I got almost all of the candy cane done.  And tonight in our hotel I did the pressing to fuse the snowman all together so he is ready for stitching tomorrow.  I can stitch without motion sickness when the road is pretty smooth and straight, as it is in a big chunk of eastern MT as well as the rest of North Dakota that we will cover tomorrow.

patterns from Buttermilk Basin
 Before leaving Whitefish, I did make stops at a couple of shops for more "souvenirs"--
first, at Whitefish Quilts.

I found some odds and ends, patterns by local designers, a bit of fabric, etc.  I always like to find things that I won't find easily back home in Minnesota, and I really scored at this shop!  Some fabric lines that we don't have at Bear Patch, a sweet little ruler that will always remind me where I got it, some applique designs from an Alaskan woman with blueberries and lupines, both appropriate for MN, too!  The woman working (sorry, I didn't get her name) was very good at answering my questions and giving suggestions.

Then I hopped over about 3 blocks to Knit 'n Needle.  Their online presence is Polka Dot Sheep, selling both their own patterns and now their own yarn, too.  I liberated 2 skeins of yarn and one little pattern to bring home with me!  Jill was working there and was so friendly and helpful.

I think that pretty much covers the yarn and fabric shopping portion of this trip!  I did even get a little bit of sew time because I took my machine (Viking) out for Dan to experiment with.  He's interested in making some tote bags so we had a little sewing lesson.  If only I could have stayed longer, I could have taken him through the construction of a whole bag.  Instead, I left him some instructions and spare fabric to practice on.  I'm sure he can create something amazing!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

a trip to the mountains

It's vacation time, and the livin' is easy!  We have spent this week enjoying the beauty in and around Glacier National Park, but more importantly, spending time with Dan and Lauren.  We have done so many fun things, and we were lucky that Thursday they could both take a day off from work.  Even though the day looked pretty dark and cloudy to start out, we did end up with a beautifully sunny day.  Our lunch was eaten on the shore of Flathead Lake, watching a few boaters drift across.

And the day would not be complete without a few stops just for me!  This beautiful muted colored yarn was purchased at Camas Creek Yarn on Main Street in Kalispell.  The shop is in a beautiful old building and they have renovated the upstairs into accommodations.  They have become known for the licensed products they create for colleges--hats, scarves, etc. with the school colors and name.  The yarn is by Raven Ridge, a local spinner/dyer.  You can see her interesting colorways on her website, all derived from the colors in nature.  If you scroll down a ways on her website, you will see the whole story of the process of dying the wool.

There was another stop in Kalispell at Glacier Quilts.  This is a great source for fabric, they have an extensive collection.  More batiks than I have ever seen in one place!  And they offer a lot of the picture panel prints that can be worked into a quilt or wallhanging.  I listened in as 2 of their staff assisted a woman pick just the right fabrics to coordinate with an American flag picture.  They were really helpful to the customer.  I walked the aisles of the quilting cotton, but what ended up going home with me were some squares of hand dyed wool to be used in some future project.  The colors were great.

We have only one day left of our visit in Whitefish, so I better get off this computer and enjoy it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

bathroom before/after

Our little bathroom is so spiffed up, it feels like it must be someone else's house!
Since we don't have a "master mega suite", this little bathroom is not only the bathroom that we use daily, but also the place that visitors use when we have friends or family over.
So I am really happy that is a spot that gives us space to keep all of our personal items put away.  So guests don't have to stare at our toothbrushes when they wash their hands!
I do need to work on getting something up on the walls and pick out some new coordinating towels.  That will eventually happen.

The placement of the toilet and shower flip-flopped, and better use of the space allows for a larger shower and more countertop.

Where the throne previously sat, we now have a beautiful tiled shower with glass wall and door.

And the sink stayed in approximately the same place, with additional cabinets and countertop.  We used the same old medicine cabinet but had it painted to match the cabinets.  I looked and looked at new medicine cabinets, but couldn't find anything that would work as well for us as the old one.  New lighting was added.  And a new fan with light, and that fan is so quiet you barely know it's running!

So that pretty much sums it all up!

Monday, August 11, 2014

kitchen before/after

The remodel/makeover/renovation is nearly finished in the kitchen.  I have some before and after pictures to share, showing the changes.
The kitchen is a long "galley" layout, and we left some things right where they were before, especially along the window wall on the left in these first two pictures.  

The pictures below show how one little corner has changed.  The tall cabinet on the left was the cleaning supplies.  The little appliance garage, while a good idea, only had enough room to hold 2 electric appliances.  Now the broom closet section has expanded, and the right side has widely spaced shelves that hold all of the appliances that we need.

Down below, you will see an area that has a big improvement.  In the old kitchen, the cabinets ended at the refrigerator.  Now, we have a whole new section of cabinets, both top and bottom.  It is so nice to make better use of that blank space.  Now we have ample room for all of our "good" dishes, glasses, serving pieces, etc.

And finally, probably the biggest change in the scenery.  We removed the upper cabinets and soffit,  and created an island.  And don't you love that new contemporary range hood?  Actually, we have had a long wait for that piece to arrive, but it is now scheduled to be installed this week (I hope)!

The back side of that island was formerly a carpeted hallway.  Now, it is a bank of narrow cabinets with wood flooring.

 We are thrilled with the outcome and very happy with the craftsmanship that made this a kitchen that will last a long, long time!
Our general contractor was Ross Tretsvan of Norway Builders.
He lined up the right guys, worked out solutions, tried to keep things running smoothly, and helped us through every step of the project.
Tomorrow is the bathroom reveal!
And now I'm going to make some breakfast in my lovely kitchen!