Vivid colors and nifty buttons

Purple flower hatHere is the second hat for little Miss Olive that her parents requested. I think it’s darling. I’ve been playing with vivid colors and with color combinations that I think are unexpected. Teal, orange and deep purple: how delightful!

Resin hat button

And the button! I’m gaga over the button. It’s a resin button made by Melissa Loden, a local (in a state as big as Montana everything within about 300 miles is considered “local”) artist. I love these resin buttons. I have a set in yellow with the same flower I’m hoarding for myself in the future (I’m so busy making things for other people I don’t make much for myself). Anyway, I thought the purple of the button matched the hat just perfectly.

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about my hats and blankets recently, so I think I may go for it on the sales front. Planning to sell in our brewery for a while, and maybe expand from there. If I can get in with a few local shops that cuts down on shipping, too. So wish me luck!

 

Advertisements

Little pumpkins

For Jonathan’s first Halloween, I picked up a pumpkin shirt for him to wear as a costume. I wasn’t about to spend a lot of money on a baby costume for two reasons: one, cute as baby costumes are, they just feel like a waste of money to me, at least the first year; and two, Shawn and I didn’t have plans to be anywhere, so why spend money when we two were the only people who would see the Peanut’s costume? I did however have some cute photo ideas for his simple costume. And those ideas included carving a pumpkin with Jonathan. He preferred to watch the carving of our ‘Jack. We tried to get him to stick his hands in the pumpkin guts and feel the slimy, oozy-ness, but he wasn’t too into that. While we jointly carved the pumpkin, Shawn and I realized neither of us had carved a pumpkin since high school, perhaps even earlier than that. What a strange realization! We do, of course, have a lot of pumpkin carving in our futures! So without further ado, here’s some photos of our little pumpkin and his big orange friend.

 

High summer garden

Sorry for the complete lack of posts the past few weeks, people. It’s summertime in Montana which means we’ve had some visitors! And I think those visitors would rather I hang out with them than update my blog. Apologies, blog friends. So, to make up for my neglect, I’m going to post quite a few times this week! I’ll update you from the backlog of the past few weeks.

First up: a little garden update. While I write this, the sky is darkening and there’s a dislocated thump of thunder in the distance. We are so excited for rain, and we hope it does actually rain instead of passing tantalizingly overhead. It’s been very warm here, in the 90s, which is not normal, folks. Aaaah, global weirding. Anyway, it’s finally cooling down, back into the 70s. And I think my poor plants will appreciate the reprieve from the heat. They’ve been rather limp the past week, despite their daily dousing.

These photos are from three days ago, but things haven’t changed much in the garden since then. Things are continuing to ripen well. We’ve pulled three nicely sized zucchinis out and we’re having a bumper crop of green beans. Here’s our Thai peppers reddening into ripeness.

I am excited for the heat they will add to our cooking this fall and winter. A good way to remember the warmth of summer.

My pumpkins are oranging nicely on the vine. Yes, oranging. I did just make that word up, but I think it works well.

Remember the pumpkin photo from July 31?

Here’s the same pumpkin three weeks later:

 

These aren’t the only pumpkins I’ve got growing. I’ve got another that’s still quite green that’s double the size of the other two.

We’re looking forward to pumpkin pies, cookies, and muffins. And pumpkin mush for our son!

The sunflowers are much taller these days. The tallest is about seven feet tall. Here’s yours truly again for scale. Seems like every few days we have a couple more lovely sunflower blooms out there. I planted two varieties of sunflowers: the standard yellow sort and one called Mexican Torch. I adore the Mexican Torch variety. Here’s a bloom:

Definitely saving the seeds from this flower. Isn’t the color just amazing?

The bees like the sunflowers too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember that post I promised? Here it is.

OK, OK, I know I’ve been a delinquent blogger for the last week or so. I blame it on boys basketball. I spent the weekend covering the state championship in Bozeman (my town’s team won — Yay! Go Wildcats!). When not covering the game (which, dare I admit, has increased my interest in basketball from zero to that of mild entertainment — what can I say, we’re a football family!), the Hubs and I had a fabulous time hitting up Bozeman’s darling Main Street. We did window shopping since we’re hanging on to our two pennies to rub them together, but had a great time nonetheless.

But moving on… a few weeks ago now I had the opportunity to go on a snowshoe hike on the Apgar Lookout trail in Glacier National Park with Ryan Alford, publisher of Snowshoe Magazine.

Here are some gals we met on the trail. They came over from Browning (though they have scads of snow in East Glacier) for a day hike. We also saw another couple. And, sssshhh, don’t tell, but we didn’t make it to the top. Neither did anybody else we saw that day. I’ll blame it on the “considerable avalanche danger” and just plain wussing out (hey! the snow was like waist deep even with snowshoes!). But enough about me, let’s talk about some snowshoes.

I was handed a pair of snowshoes by the lovely Hilary at Outside Media (She said “test drive?”.  I said “yes, please!”). Easton Artica Hike snowshoes to be exact, a pair that won’t hit the market until 2012.

First of all, I’ve noticed a trend. Women’s snowshoes are pink. Metallic magenta to be exact. Not that I have a problem with that, nope not at all. But I guess pink is the new… pink? Anyway, I traded my Atlas Elektra 11 Series snowshoes (you guessed it… also pink) for a date with the Artica pair.

The first thing I noticed (besides the color) was the articulating frame. Is it just me, or are you wondering why no one else thought of this sooner? Pretty dang bright whoever thought that up. The frame of each snowshoe is actually two pieces held together in the front and back, which allows the snowshoe a little more “give” and “twist,” easing up the pressure on knees and ankles.

I also noticed (especially when we were descending a 45-degree ridge) the crampon under the heel for that “aggressive rear traction” Easton Mountain Products touts. Worked like a dream on some slippery snow (soft powdery snow on top of a slick layer… hence the “considerable avalanche danger” warning) and got me down the hill way faster than I would have otherwise been comfortable (yes, I’m poky). The flotation on the Artica shoes was great.

I had no trouble with the decking, but Ryan did. He wore a pair of men’s Artica Hike snowshoes and his decking actually tore on the test run. Not a terrible tear, but something I’d be hopping mad about if it happened to me and I’d paid for the ‘shoes.

I loved the binding. My feet didn’t move at all, letting the snowshoes do the work for me and saving me energy. That’s my big gripe with my Elektras — my feet are always coming loose. I think the fact that the cinch is made from fabric and not plastic really helps. It doesn’t slide on itself so easily.

A bell/whistle of the snowshoes were the front crampons. Instead of just one single crampon, each ‘shoe has a split crampon that pivots, allowing more traction on one side of the ‘shoe than the other. Nifty, but I didn’t notice a difference from my regular M1-A1 crampons. Perhaps if we’d had more sloped terrain to walk along instead of up and down I would have noticed.

Did I mention that the snowshoes are 80 percent recyclable? As a person who considers herself very eco-conscious and “green,” it’s important to me that what waste I produce doesn’t sit in a dump for half-life of uranium (which is like 4 billion years if you’re wondering). Although I don’t know why exactly you’d want to recycle your snowshoes — in my experience they last a long time. Or if they wear out, you toss ’em in the garage for 50 years, then take ’em to an antique store and make more money on ’em than you paid in the first place!

Really, I had just three problems with the Artica snowshoes.

1.) Didn’t solve my “snowshoe hip” problem. By about five miles into the nine-mile hike my hips were definitely starting to smart. My Elektra snowshoes don’t solve this problem either. I’d be tempted to say it’s just me, but I know lots of women with “snowshoe hip” issues. Easton attempts to solve this problem with snowshoes that curve in, becoming thinner, in the back. This keeps the shoes from knocking together and helps prevent a person from walking like they just got off a 10-mile trail ride on a fat horse. However, my “snowshoe hip” issues persist.

2.) Weight. The 7075 aluminum frame was a bit on the heavy side. Definitely felt heavier than my Elektras and that made a lot of difference when we were going up a 45-degree hill.

3.) My biggest problem? Giving them back. Wish I could’ve kept ’em forever! I tried to tell Hilary they were going to a good home, but no, Backpacker Magazine or some such rooks had to take ’em next.

Alright, this post is getting near epically long, so I’ll keep it brief. Just one more shout-out to this baby:

(This photo either screams “product placement!” or it’s nifty and artsy… you choose.)

I took my brand new Hydro Flask water bottle with me on the snowshoe hike. I’ve always been a Nalgene fan, but I’ve got to hand it to my bright orange buddy here, Hydro Flask has got me converted. While Nalgene holds more water (and it went on the hike too, holding water), the orange water bottle above got filled with steaming hot chocolate at 8 a.m. And was still mostly warm at noon. Did I mention it was -7 degrees outside? So cold my Nalgene’s lid froze shut. And started forming ice cubes. The Hydro Flask kept the hot chocolate not hot, but at least warm until lunch time when I appreciated the sugar rush and the warmth. And I like that it’s orange. For someone as clumsy as me, it’s good to know that if I dropped it in a snowdrift, I’d be able to find it!

Oh, and MAJOR props to Hydro Flask for its fivepercentback.org initiative. Hydro Flask donates 5 percent of every sale to the non-profit of your choice when you enter the code on the sticker on the bottom of the water bottle. My choice? Well, I vacillated between NPR (since Congress seems hell-bent on getting rid of it and everything else good in life) and the American Hiking Society. But since I recently donated to NPR, I chose the Hiking Society. Got to support the good things in life!

All-in-all, a day well spent. The snow was luscious and powdery, the skies brilliantly blue, the company good.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perk’d for testing the snowshoes or water bottle and writing this blog post. Just my honest-to-goodness opinions in the name of awesome snowshoeing!