Monday, August 25, 2014

Jake & Maggi

Rick and I stopped at the Montana Grizzly Encounter yesterday. We were on our way home from taking Nicole back to school in Billings. The MGE is just outside of Bozeman, and we've been there a few times before. We usually see Brutus & Sheena, but yesterday we were fortunate enough to see Jake & Maggi. They are both eight years old. They were rescued from a wildlife place in Oregon that didn't have the funding to care for them properly. Click here to read their story. Maggi is the lighter one and Jake is darker and much heavier.

The lady working at the Encounter yesterday was really sweet and told us a lot of things about the bears. She even tossed out some almonds for them, which they seemed to like a lot. MGE has five bears at the moment — Jake, Maggi, Brutus, Sheena, and Bella. Bella is the newest and is just a cub. I figured she wouldn't be on display yet. We were told that she will be in about another month. When we drive out to get Nicole for Christmas, I'm hoping we can stop by and see her as well. If you join their Facebook page, you'll find lots of cute photos and videos of the bears, including little Bella.

If you're ever in the Bozeman area, it's worth stopping by to check out the bears. The Encounter is right off I-90 and visible from the road. You park your car and then walk up to the enclosure. I was really happy to see so many people stopping yesterday. I imagine it's expensive to feed and care for grizzly bears, so it was cool to see people stopping. The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for children. Click on the link below for more details.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's National S'mores Day!

Did you know today is National S'mores Day? My family loves S'mores. They're a staple for our camping trips. Neil is the only one who isn't fond of him. He likes catching marshmallows on fire, but other than eating the chocolate bars, that's about it. The rest of us have fun making them. As you can see from the photo above, even Yoda gets into the sticky festivities.

The Hershey Company has some interesting facts about S'mores. Click here to read more. Apparently, the first recipe for S'mores appeared in the 1927 edition of the Girl Scouts handbooks. My mother-in-law cracks me up every time she says the word. She says it like it's a French word—SaMoreAye—or something like that. I don't think she'll ever grasp the "some more" concept, even though she was a Girl Scout herself. 

Above is a picture of The Marshmallow Man that the boys and I made back in 2010. We modeled him after the character in my book of the same name. This particular guy was made on May 25, 2014. The book was officially released one day later. His icing was still wet when I took his picture, but he was smiling and happy to be inducted to our family. Well ... guess what! The Marshmallow Man is still alive and well. He lives in the wine rack in my kitchen. He is now over FOUR YEARS OLD! This is how he looks today ...

It does make me a little concerned that people eat these foods, and yet, they look untouched four years later. Even so, he looks pretty good for a four-year-old food product! His bowtie broke a long time ago, but the rest of him is still intact really well. He's even still soft in some places. As with all of us as we get older, he does have some wrinkles. But ... he's still smiling and still seems content to be here. 

Now you're probably wondering what The Marshmallow Man has to do with National S'mores Day, but you will just have to read the book to find out! :)

To get more information on The Marshmallow Man, click here.
To buy The Marshmallow Man book, click here.
To watch the trailer for The Marshmallow Man, click here.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Not too long ago I was in Target when I spotted PB2. I might have squealed a little. It's hard to say. I'd seen this online, but never in a store. I've always wanted to try it. I am a huge peanut butter addict. It's really, really bad. I've often said I wish there was a way to form an aversion to the stuff. So, when I saw this at Target, I was really happy. A serving has only 45 calories, verses the 190/200 of most regular peanut butters. That's a big plus to me.

So, how do you actually eat powdered peanut butter, you ask? It's simple. You just mix 2T of powder in with 1T water. You get the same exact consistency of peanut butter. It's made with real peanuts. In fact, the ingredients are simply roasted peanuts, sugar, salt. They press the peanuts to remove 85% of the fats and oils.

You might have already tried this—or maybe not—but I hadn't, so I was excited to see I could buy it locally and not have to order it online. I've only put it in my protein shakes so far. If it helps me to eat less peanut butter, then this will be a good thing for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Busy as a ... bear?

I apologize for the lack of blogging I've done lately. I had some issues here, but hopefully those are taken care of. I've also been busy with my current WIP. Well, actually, it's finished now and not really a WIP anymore. It's finished in the sense that I'm looking for an agent. When and if that happens, then of course, it will go back to being a WIP. So, that's been keeping me busy.

This is the bear story I started years ago, and I'm really excited to be finally submitting it. I only have one submission out so far, but that's better than where I was a week ago. I had initially thought I might self-publish this, but decided to try the traditional route instead. The bear pictured here is at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana. If you're ever in that area, stop by the place and check it out. It's really fun and educational.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Grrrrr ...

I am so over these darn mosquitoes! Are they bad where you live? It seems a lot of people I know from all over the country are saying the mosquitoes are extra bad this year. I know here, we had a really rainy June, and then July has been pretty hot. It's perfect for them. Sad thing is, they bite me more than anyone else in the house. Lucky me. Not only that, but I have really bad reactions to them. I've spent most of this week taking oatmeal baths and Benadryl. Not fun.

I wanted to do some hiking this summer once the trails dried out. Last July Rick and I hiked to Cold Lakes. It was an awesome hike, but it's about 6-7 miles into deep, deep woods. The mosquitoes were thick as air back there last year. If they were that bad then, I can't even imagine what they would be like now with the conditions we have had. Last year I came home and discovered I had over 100 bites. They all puffed up, making me miserable. They bit me right through my clothes. Oddly, they bit Rick too, but he didn't have the reaction I had. 

The other day Rick bought four of these Tiki torches that he filled with citronella. I had them all around me, along with a citronella candle, but I still got bit over 30 times. I wasn't out on the deck but thirty minutes to an hour. I hate the thought of having to use repellent just to sit on the deck for a few minutes, but I guess it's going to be one of those years where I need to.

That top picture was enlarged, by the way. I didn't want you to freak out thinking we have monster sized mosquitoes in Montana. Nope. Those are in Wyoming in Yellowstone. ;)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Are We Who We Say?

I read a really fun article today called What I Instagrammed Vs. What Was Really Happening, Or My Entire Life Is A Lie. What a great title. Olivia Muenter really hits Instagram on the head, or at least she did for me. Please check out the link because it's a really fun read.

I'm really into Instagram. I think I like it more than Facebook or Twitter. Taking pictures has been my passion though, so it's really no surprise. However, Olivia really nails it when she talks about what she's trying to portray, verses what really happens. I don't usually like to copy someone else's idea, but her article was so fun that I wanted to create my own. So, here goes ...


What It Looks Like I'm Doing ...
Oh, look at this unique flower! I better take a picture of it because I'm such a great photographer of flora and fauna. I'll post it so everyone knows I see such amazing things on my outings.

What I'm Actually Doing ...
I wouldn't even have seen this flower had I not stopped to die! I was biking up a steep hill and had to stop because it was kicking my butt. I had all my gears in the wrong spot. Oh, look at the flower! Let me take a picture of it while I stand here and heave. Regardless, it worked. I was able to rest and I got a cool flower picture—not to mention one I'd never seen before.


What It Looks Like I'm Doing ...
I'm going to post this picture of my homeschool classroom to show everyone how neat it is. I want everyone to think I'm the best homeschool mom. What a great learning environment. I am completely organized, right down to the last cubby. Don't you wish your kids did school here?

What I'm Actually Doing ...
Thank the Maker! I have finally cleaned up this mess. Nevermind the fact we're due to start school in a few hours. After sitting in shambles for the entire summer, I figured I better get it at least walkable in there. And since I like putting photos of our classroom in our school year book, now is a good time to get a picture taken before it goes back to its unruly-messy-laundry-on-the-floor state. Oh, look, a googly eye ... hmm, I know I have a cubby for that.


What It Looks Like I'm Doing ...
On first glance, you would think I was bragging. Oh, look at me! I have brand new Doc Martens. I'm so cool because I have cool boots. Don't you wish you had cool DMs too?

What I'm Actually Doing ...
I'm actually bragging. Oh, look at me! I have some Doc Martens. Seriously, I found these shoes at a thrift store and paid about six dollars for them. There's no way I can afford Doc Martens. Sure, I'm going to brag. It's just a bummer they squeak. No wonder they were given away.


What It Looks Like I'm Doing ...
Doesn't this Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake look yummy? Don't you wish you could have a slice? I better take a picture and post it on IG to show everyone what a great baker I am.

What I'm Actually Doing ...
I can't get the damn cake out of the bloody pan! I have the stupidest bundt pan in the world. It has all these nooks and crannies. Everything sticks, no matter how much I grease it. I took a picture of it because I was going to blog about it. After it got stuck in the pan, I posted it on IG instead. I got the cake out eventually, but it was missing some pretty big chunks. It was yummy, but not definitely not pretty. Ironically, I had seen this recipe on Facebook the day before, so I wanted to try it. It was really good. Click here for the recipe.


What It Looks Like I'm Doing ...
Oh—here I am again—posting beautiful pictures of beautiful Montana. I'm such a great photographer and I want everyone to know how beautiful it is where I live. 

What I'm Actually Doing ...
This is what I call a drive-by shot. I even tag these on Instagram as #drivebyphotography. I'm not alone in doing this. Lots of people tag pictures that way. I took this shot while Rick was driving 75mph down the road. Brighten up the color a bit, add a frame ... perfect. Am I really bragging that I live in such an incredible place? Yeah, maybe, a little. But in all honesty, the canola blooms once a year and it's so damn pretty. I simply want to take a picture of it.


What It Looks Like I'm Doing ...
Oh, look at me. I'm so cool wearing my John Lennon sunglasses. I bet you wished you had John Lennon sunglasses. Aren't they cool? And look at my face. My skin is so perfect.

What I'm Actually Doing ...
Just like Olivia, I tend to take a lot of pictures to get ONE selfie I'm willing to post. Sometime I'll take 30 or more. It's not that I'm scared of people seeing how I really look. It's simply a matter of why would I want them to see me looking like an idiot? I look stupid in most pictures. It's all about control. And the sunglasses? They cost me about $5 on Amazon. Yay for gift cards.


What It Looks Like I'm Doing ...
Oh geez, look at Denny wearing that fantastic, patriot visor. Isn't he the coolest? Even Denny gets into the spirit of the 4th of July. I couldn't have asked for a cooler cat.

What I'm Actually Doing ...
There was blood involved in this.


What It Looks Like I'm Doing ...
I love Trader Joe's so much. I want everyone to know I shop there. Oh, look at my bag. It's reusable. I care so much about the Earth. All the cool people shop at TJs.

What I'm Actually Doing ...
I used to shop at Trader Joe's all the time. We had them all over California. There are none in Montana. The closest TJs to me is four hours away in Spokane, WA. That's a hell of a long drive for a jar of habanero salsa. So, when I DO get the chance to visit a TJs, I'm as giddy as a school girl. I'll take pictures of the bag, the products I buy, the products I didn't buy, the sign on the front of the building, you name it. I have no shame. I miss that store—A LOT.


I'm not mocking the article I read. I really enjoyed it. She had a lot of great points. Things are not always how they seem. But ... THAT'S OKAY! You don't pick up a magazine and see cups of half-drank tea with lipstick smears on the rim. You see a pretty tea cup, next to a pretty croissant, next to pretty flowers, or whatever else they decide to photograph. We don't see pictures of people with unflattering lighting. We see images that are carefully PhotoShopped to make people look good. That's okay. We all know what that slice of cheesecake looks like before we stick our fork into it. Life is pretty. It's okay to take a picture of it. It's okay to share.

Instagram—at least to me—is like a modern day, digital photo album. Remember how we used get our film developed, sort through the pictures, and then toss out the bad ones? Then we'd put the good ones into albums to enjoy for years to come? That's all it is to me. I don't post pictures to brag or to tell everyone how great I am. I just like taking pictures. It doesn't matter if it's the most beautiful scenery in the world, a pair of matching scissors (photo challenge prompt, by the way!) or a dead mosquito. It's all good. I totally appreciate people who take the time and effort to make their pictures worth looking at. So, take a picture of that bag of pretzels and share it with the world. I don't mind. I love pretzels.

And last of all ... thank you, Olivia. Your article was awesome!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First trip to GNP this summer ...

Yesterday we drove up to Glacier National Park. We only live about 45 minutes from the West Entrance, so we try to go there as much as possible. Our plan was to ride bikes around the Apgar/Lake McDonald area. They have a really nice bike path that winds through the forest. It's easy and very pretty. The boys just got new bikes, so they were excited to to try them out. I took the picture above of Nathan riding in front of us. We had just passed what we were pretty sure was a bear in the woods. We couldn't see him, but we heard him. We also knew there was one in the area, so we were on guard. It definitely sounded like a bear to me.

This is a picture of the guys in front of the North Fork Flathead River. We rode into the little town of West Glacier to see if someone at the gas station could tighten my handlebars. Luckily, Rick found someone who could, so that was awesome. You almost always see big groups of rafters on this part of the river. They had just put out after we went down to the water. The river is going really well right now. 

The Going-To-The-Sun-Road just opened last Friday. This is the only road that goes all the way through GNP. Because they don't get it plowed so late, the season can be pretty short, especially if you want to drive up to the summit to Logan's Pass. The Sun Road can get up to 80 feet of snow, so it takes awhile for them to get it plowed each year. They were just about done the other day and then a freak snowstorm came along and delayed it for a few more days. 

It's a pretty drive—albeit a terrifying one if you don't like heights—but it's worth going up. Right now there isn't much to do at the summit other than look around near the visitor center. The trails are still covered with quite a bit of snow and ice. Lots of skiers and snowboarders are up there right now. We'll go back up soon to hit up some of the trails.

Weeping Wall is going pretty good at the moment. I took this one right before Rick drove the van into all of the waterfalls. Everyone does that. We joke and call it the local carwash.

We also stopped at the Trail of the Cedars. That's a short stroll through a dense cedar forest. It's wheelchair accessible, and it's an easy walk, so it's one of the more popular stops. It was in the 80s yesterday, so walking in the shaded forest felt good. We stopped at Avalanche Gorge (pictured below), as we always do. Maybe we can hit up the hike to Avalanche Lake next time.

And of course, no trip through the cedars would be complete without the boys stopping at what they call The Nose Pickin' Tree. I've posted pictures of this before. Maybe I'll dig them all out and see how much they've grown since they first visited it.