Where the heck have I been?

Hello friends, just a quick update on the lack of posts over the past few weeks. I’ve just moved and I’ve been going through boxes and boxes, trying to get moved in to my new apartment that I’m sharing with my husband (it’s such a relief to live together again!). Anyway, I plan to post some updates in the next few days and apologize for being AWOL!

The view from Lone Pine

For all you vista gluttons out there:

Shot this photo from Lone Pine State Park above Kalispell. I drove there to cover an event, which I found out when I got there was canceled because of the “possible government shutdown.” But the government didn’t shut down! Oh well, at least the Hubs and I got to walk around on a lovely, sunny day in a nice state park and take in the views. The above is a view of the Swan mountain range, which starts around my town and runs a hundred miles southeast or so. (And in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve cropped out “town” in the bottom of the photo. Remember that nearly 80,000 people live in this “remote” valley, after all.)

Oh, and I need to wish my lovely husband Shawn a happy three years together anniversary today! (Our six months married-iversary is next weekend.)

Whiskey rain, whiskey rain

Saturday night, the Hubs and I went up to our local distillery, Glacier Distilling Company. It’s our friend Nic’s venture and not only do we want to support him, we like drinking good whiskey. And “Glacier Dew,” the distillery’s first whiskey, is just that.

Here’s the whiskey barn in Coram. You can’t miss it!

I wrote a story for my newspaper, which you can read here, a while back before the distillery officially opened for business. Nic and his business partner Danny are going to distill not only white whiskey like Glacier Dew, which is obviously polished off in the above photo, but also bourbon. They’ve got a neat selection sitting in barrels in the back, just waiting to come into maturity. It’s a long wait, but it’s going to be worth it.

Here’s a keg of the North Fork Flood Stage Whiskey. Can’t wait to give it a try.

Here’s Danny (left), working the crowd.

The distillery has a neat collection of old whiskey bottles. Shawn and I are considering donating our brandy bottle to the cause. Our bottle is shaped like a liberty bell because it was made in 1976 and then sat, unopened, on a shelf in my grandparents’ house until this year. Shawn discovered it and my Gramma gave it to him. It’s got a little less brandy in it than when it was bottled because of the angel’s share, but since it’s 35 years old, it’s a smooth, smooth brandy. Evidently that’s how you get such a divine drink: Put it on a shelf and forget about it.

Hubs and I purchased bottle No. 60 of Batch 1A. A keepsake, no doubt!

Chili League (and new holidays)

On Wednesday this past week, us folks in northwest Montana created a new holiday (well, the credit really goes to Hilary at Outside Media): “406 Day.” Wednesday was April 6, so, 4-06. And Montana’s area code is 406, so it’s the new Montana holiday. And to celebrate, we had the Chili League finals.

What’s Chili League you might ask? It’s a bunch of us (upwards of 40 or 50 people) getting together on a Friday to enjoy each others’ company and to put our best chili recipes to the test. In the past few months, we’ve tried probably a dozen different chilis, all fabulous. Some were red chilis, some were green. I think there was even a white chili, too. Some had meat, some were vegetarian (and had squash!). One didn’t have any beans (“true chilis don’t have beans”). Some were fairly simple recipes (like mine – the secret weapon is Indian chili powder) and others took days of experimentation. All chilis were creatively named (ours was dubbed “Afterburn”).

So the winners from each “heat” competed Wednesday.

Buck Fever, Chili Supresa and (well, I’m forgetting the name of the third chili… someone remind me!) went head to head. The competition was fierce. Brows shone with a sheen of sweat (from the competition? from the heat?).

And Buck Fever claimed the victory. A melange of venison, antelope and elk, the bean-less chili took the crown. Its maker, Erik Lorona, is pictured below with his lovely wife Aubrie. He’s holding the Chili League trophy, from which he’s required to eat his chili during next year’s competition.

During the summer, after all, Chili League becomes Barbecue League. Ladies and gents, fire up your grills!

I also made orange rolls for the event. Here’s a before-I-baked-them photo. I like how you can see the little flecks of grated orange peel in the dough. Alas, there’s no “after” photo because folks inhaled them! But I guess that’s a good thing!

New digs

So Shawn and I moved to a new apartment  last weekend and we LOVE it. Love, love, love.

Here’s our building. We live on the top floor and another married couple with a dog and a cat live on the bottom floor. We think the apartment is about 800 square feet.

Here’s half the living room. I’m not showing you the other half because we don’t have any stuff to fill it! (Which, really, is OK, but the room looks a bit bare). And yes, that’s an animal skin on the floor. Hey, we live in the West (be grateful there aren’t animal skulls adorning the walls). That’s Fat Calf, Shawn’s last 4-H calf. He’s nice and soft on the toes.

Here’s the bedroom, complete with lazy fuzzballs. The Hubs and I love that both the living room and bedroom have nice, big bay windows that let in lots of light. It’s mostly sunny at such a high elevation, unlike northwest Montana where I will live for just another two weeks! Oh, and the quilt on the bed is the one my Gramma sent to me with the caveat, “oh, it’s just a rag I threw together.” Yeah right, Gramma. It’s art!

Here’s some art in our bedroom that I had framed. The one on the left is a Bigfork artist (a wedding present from my mom) and the one on the right is by Chris Peterson, Hungry Horse News photographer and probably one of the most talented Glacier National Park photographers. That shot is of Two Medicine.

I don’t have photos of the kitchen or garden yet. The garden was under snow and the kitchen, well, I forgot to take a photo. But I have big plans for the garden, so stay tuned. I also have big plans to paint the bedroom a nice green (we already have the paint) and the living room a lovely pale blue-gray (I’d like to color match Restoration Hardware’s light silver sage to Olympic, which is no VOC and not to mention way cheaper). Painting the trim white (seriously, gray trim?) will be a long project, no doubt.

Here’s my seed starts. I started Glacier tomatoes (a fast-maturing variety for the tiny blip of a season we have around these here parts), a sweet peppers variety and Columbines. But I’m not really holding my breath on any of them. If any of them do germinate, well, what a pleasant surprise.