Monday, August 13, 2012


It's peak cherry season and we have over 70 cherry trees..... You can imagine there's a lot of work to do.
Just the other day we made and froze 14 pies, canned 2 batches of whole cherries and washed/weighed/packaged over 70 lbs to sell at the farmers market. Luckily my mom was helping me in the kitchen and at the market!
If you'd like a deliciously easy recipe for fresh cherry pie, just head over to Lawrence-Farms.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Road Trip

We are heading out on a little summer road trip. Off to Port Angeles, Washington to help my grandma celebrate her 85th birthday. The boys are watching a DVD with headphones in the back while hubby and I contemplate solutions to the world's problems in the front.
Should be a great visit for all. We are loaded down with cherries and raspberries to share and I baked a strawberry rhubarb pie too!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

At the Farmers Market

This weekend I tried my hand at the Farmer's Market.  Though there are several to choose from in the area, I wanted to go for the big one in Kalispell, about 25 miles from where we live.
We didn't really have any idea how to best prepare for this, so there was a lot of "winging" it as we were getting all the fruit ready and deciding how I would run my stand.  We picked all the cherries fresh on Friday evening, hand washed all the fruit and then weighed/packaged them so things were ready for the market.

I would certainly call the day a success.  I sold out of fruit (cherries and raspberries) within the first 2 hours of the market and peddled several bottles of honey in the last 1 1/2 hrs.  I only came home with a few big jars of honey and one wilted bunch of kale.... not too shabby.

I did come with a lot more fruit & honey that is pictured here.  I kept things on ice in a cooler at the back of the booth.  It was fun to talk to people and be able to say that yes, I picked, washed and packaged it all by hand.
I think I could have easily sold another 100 pounds of cherries and another case of 1 lb jars of honey.  I'll know for next time..... there will certainly be a next time as we are facing tons of cherries in the next few weeks here.

While I was at the market, the rest of the clan was manning the yard sale.  It turned out to be a pretty good success as well.  I sent the boys with all they needed for a lemonade stand and they cleaned house!  They took my advice and kept their price low, just 10 cents per cup; but their cuteness factor kicked in and after sales, tips and donations, they walked away with $20 to add to their Walt Disney World savings fund.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Memories

It's been a busy week here, but I wanted to check in and share a tutorial I just posted up on CutCardStock.  If you're like me, in your ideal world you would create a spectacular scrapbook for every year of your child's life.  I have the desire, and I have certainly collected enough supplies to get a good start on it, but I don't have the time and it feels like such an overwhelming task.  Sound familiar?  Well I am here to tell you that scrapbooking memories doesn't have to mean creating a 30 page 12x12 album documenting every event of the year.  A scrapbook is how you define it.... it could be a picture frame that you change out a couple of times a year, it could be a card that you fill with photos and send to the grandparents.... it's up to you!  Check out my tutorial and see how I created this cute frame for the boys to capture a memory from their time at camp.

Besides doing a little crafting, we visited Silverwood Theme park for a day of summer fun.  The park is in Coeur de'Alene, Idaho, just about 3 1/2 hrs from our little Montana paradise.  So we packed up the kids and enjoyed a day of thrilling rollercoasters and cooling waterslides.  The park is half amusement park, half waterpark and the boys earned free tickets through a reading program at school this year.
It was a blast and the boys both took on their first upside down rollercoaster rides.  I'm such a proud Mama!  I love those kind of rides and was so pleased that day finally came -- they were both tall enough and brave enough to give it a shot.  They've caught the bug, so they can't wait to go again!

Now we are taking on a yard sale tomorrow and I'm going to give a first attempt to selling produce at the Farmers Market.  I'll let you know how that goes.....

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sweet Freedom..... it tastes like Mountain Dew

We picked the boys up from camp early this weekend and I have to say, I couldn't wait to see them.  Leaving them at camp was the longest they had been away from me without being with their grandparents.  I wondered all week if they were struggling with feeling homesick.  I also wondered if they were just running so much that at the end of each day they were too tired to think about anything but going to sleep.

They were so happy to see us when we arrived at camp.  They were talking a thousand miles an hour to tell us about the friends they made, the activities they did and how they enjoyed camp and couldn't wait to go again next year.  In addition to all the activities they did, we also learned that they enjoyed the freedom of spending their money at the camp store.  They bought necessities, such as bandanas and flashlights, but they also indulged in daily treats such as snickers bars, slushies and pixie stix.  Connor quickly admitted that he didn't feel all "hyped up and crazy" after drinking a Mountain Dew, despite the warnings he's heard from us for a long time when we have denied him the opportunity to try it.  Nope, he didn't feel that way at all when he tried it the first time, second time, even the third and fourth time.  I just had to laugh and be thankful it was the two teenage cabin counselors that had to deal with him during this experimentation!

They seemed to come back 6 inches taller, with deeper voices, new words and expressions in their vocabulary and a strong sense of independence.  That's a good thing and I'm happy we sent them!  Along with all the fun, they learned a lot about faith, Jesus and being a part of the church community.  They both participated in bible drills and learned more about praying.  It was heart warming to hear them share how they feel about the experience and their faith!

So now we are back to as normal gets in our home.  Hubby and I managed to take full advantage of our time alone; it felt similar to our life about 11 years ago.  We went out on dates and enjoyed each others company without feeling the pull to get home or worry about how much the babysitter will cost.  We met friends for sushi one night, ate at a bar another night and even took in the production of "The Music Man" at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse.  It was really a nice time and we are glad the boys want to return to camp next year!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Camp Send Off

It's so hard to believe how quickly kids grow up.... just yesterday it seems I was changing diapers and burping them and in no time they will be enlisting in the Navy or graduating from college, or something else very adult-like.  Today, unbelievably, we dropped them off at camp where they will be away from us for several nights.  I don't know where the time has gone, but as they were running away to meet their new friends in their cabins, I felt my heart sink a bit!

I've been glancing at the clock every hour or so, pausing to wonder what they are up to.  I am sure they are loving every second of it and having a fantastic time -- making wonderful summer time memories!

When we dropped them off, we walked them around to see where their cabins where, add money to their Camp Store account and check in with the Camp Nurse.  I could see they just wanted to go.... go and have fun and talk to the other kids.  So I kept the goodbye brief and happy, sent them off with a hug and kiss and they took off before I could think of anything wise to pass on to them.
So now I just have to figure out how to spend all my free time....

Friday, July 13, 2012

From the Crafty Corner

One skill that I've really developed since moving to the country is quilting.  I have managed to make a few quilts and I am learning new, regular sewing skills as well.  Not only is it relaxing, but it's brought me into a whole community of ladies who share the same love of fabric.  I am fortunate to have a room dedicated to my office work and crafting work -- it's my studio.  You'll often find me in there with either FoodNetwork in the background on the tv or Pandora streaming Adele type music from my computer.

Lately, I have been doing a lot of work from the studio.  As I finished up my second semester at the college, I was offered an opportunity to be a part of the new web community being started here in the Flathead Valley.  The site takes a local approach to social networking and offers people a place to go for wellness, sustainability and personal growth.  The founder has amazing plans for the site to grow and I was brought on to be a graphic designer and help manage the web content.  It's still in it's infancy, but I can see a lot of potential with OpenDoor

All of that to say that I spend lots of time at the computer doing work for this opportunity as well as the other freelance design jobs I have been fortunate enough to stumble upon.

When I manage to break free from the computer work and other work isn't beckoning me, I enjoy spending time with my sewing machine.  I am in the process of making two quilts, one each for the boys.  Once in a while, though, I need to get my hands on a quick project that can be started, finished and cleaned up in just a couple of hours.  Here is what I was able to do today:

I found the tutorial for this here and I had the fabric as part of the stash I inherited from a dear friend.  It was quick and easy, and I might even consider making several of these to sell at our little town's quilt show next year.  I wanted to show you how it looks when on, so I bribed a reluctant model to show how nice this sits when tied around the waist.  There's not such a great bow when it's tied around my waist!  (Faces have been cropped to protect the innocent.)

It's easy to get lost in work, chores and other obligations, regardless of what our daily responsibilities are.  I think it's important to find little pockets of time to do things that we enjoy.  Hobbies are good -- whether that means sewing, scrapbooking, playing a round of golf, going to the movies -- whatever gives you a break and is something you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

After one year in Montana....

So I guess if I were going to win any awards, I might be in the running for "Worst Blogger Ever" based on my frequency.  You may have been wondering if I were eaten by a bear by now, but I'm happy to report I am alive and well here in Big Sky Country!
It's been a crazy busy year, but I am rededicating myself to keeping in touch through blogging.  I hope some of you have stuck with me and are glad to get an update.  I have to admit, though, that this revisiting of the blog came with a bit of encouragement from a couple of my friends after a recent visit to California.

After so many months, I don't exactly know where to start, so I will keep it simple and to the point:
  • Boys:  good, growing like weeds, loving Montana and all it has to offer, asking for a dog on a regular basis.  Jacob will be heading into 3rd grade, Connor will start his 5th and final grade in elementary school.  They both loved their first year at this school!
  • Hubby: good, busy learning orchard and bee stuff, fixing everything that constantly breaks, loving Montana.  He's decided that maintaining the property is a full time job in itself.
  • Me:  good, one semester left of school but already doing lots of graphic design/web work, doing lots of laundry (socks get extra dirty in Montana), sewing and papercrafting, warming up a lot to Montana and still trying to be a good sport about the whole thing!
The boys are out of school and in full Summer vacation mode.  As soon as school was out, we headed down South for a three week visit with Grandma and Papa.  The older folks around here go to AZ in the winter to escape the socked in snow and cold, but noooooo, we wait and head down when it's breaking 100 degrees on a daily basis!  While in AZ, hubby and I slipped away for a long weekend to Temecula.  We were able to check on our house we left (with renters in it of course), visit with friends, drink some wine with said friends and I also managed to incorporate some work into the visit.  I have continued working with my former boss in Temecula and have since rebuilt their website and continue to work on optimizing it -- if you want to see some of my work, check it out here.
After our getaway weekend, we celebrated Jacob's 8th birthday and headed for a day trip to the Grand Canyon.  It was as beautiful as it was 25 years ago when I last saw it, and hubby & the boys enjoyed their first look at the Natural Wonder!  The funniest part of the trip was on the way home we visited Bearzona - a Wild Life drive through park just outside of the Grand Canyon park; it's main attraction are black bears.  Yes, you read that right.... I left Montana to visit bears in Arizona!
It really is a beautiful sight!  If you haven't been, I highly recommend it.  You could actually spend several days adventuring through the park.  Jacob was quite disappointed we didn't ride the mules down.
Boy, do they look thrilled or what?  Jacob is still in the fake grin phase, but Connor has clearly moved on to the "really Mom, can we just get this over" phase!

We came back to reality and luckily the weather had improved with our return.  (It rained the entire time we were gone -- even a freak hail storm that broke all the vent covers on our camping trailer.)  Now it's sunny and warm, but not too warm.  The garden is starting to blossom, cherries will be ripe soon and there's a baby fawn that I can catch a glimpse of often from my master bedroom window.

For now, that's the update.  I'll be back soon as I prepare to send the boys for their first week of away Summer camp.  They are so excited..... I am freaking out a bit!  -Amber

Wednesday, March 14, 2012