Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer, so far.

July came and went in a whirlwind!

The weather has been awesome, and I've been reacquainting myself with the outdoors. Last post I talked about the Glacier Challenge, and the team I was on placed 7th out of 10 all-female teams. I don't think I've ran that fast since high school, which wasn't incredible but I was proud of myself. It was a gorgeous day, and we all had a blast. I'm sad I won't get to do it next year, but maybe one day I'll come back and do the whole thing solo :)

I did my first backpacking trip in Glacier with a group of ladies to Akokala Lake.
It was super hot and buggy but it the hike was nice and mellow. One of the highlights was enjoying our boxed wine and playing Catch Phrase until our faces hurt from laughing.

I took the PT students up to Numa Ridge Lookout a couple weekends ago. Another hot and buggy hike, but with a great climb and beautiful views at the top.
How cool would it be to live up there all summer?

On a side note -- you know you live in a rural area when you drive an hour and a half to go hike in the wilderness and you run into at least 4 people you know.... Such is life in Whitefish!

I seem to have caught the race bug this summer, too. I agreed last-minute to do the Paddlethon in Kalispell last weekend with a friend. This entailed 3 miles of kayaking, 5.5 miles of mountain biking, and 4 miles of trail running. It was definitely tough, and it was a hot hot day, but somehow I managed to finish with a decent time and placed 7th out of 10 solo women. Apparently 7 is the magic number?
(we paused just long enough to take this photo before jumping directly into the lake)

I also just managed to fit in a Thursday Night Race League event yesterday on Big Mountain. Do you remember 2 years ago when I was racing almost every week? I did all beginner courses (1 lap) except for one week when I attempted sport class (2 laps) and finished DEAD LAST. I didn't get to race at all last year because I worked every Thursday, but this year I was bound and determined to attempt a sport class course again and finish BEFORE they started the awards ceremony.... So yesterday I dragged a friend up to do it with me, and low and behold I kicked a little bit of ass! I was by no means super fast, but I did tons better than I remembered ever doing the first year. I managed to pass a few people, I didn't walk any of the course, only fell once (toppled over trying to push up onto a lip and caught myself on a trail sign - it was pretty entertaining to watch I'm sure), and my lungs didn't feel like they were going to explode. I even placed second in my category and got a raffle prize, too. Success!!

This weekend I'm off to bike a section of Glacier Park with a couple of ladies, followed by camping in Many Glacier and hiking Ptarmigan Tunnel. Whew! Getting tired just thinking about it. Better get to bed...

Friday, July 8, 2011

2 years ago today

Tomorrow morning is the Glacier Challenge.
As I was preparing for my leg of the race tonight (and by preparing I mean eating homemade pizza and watching hulu), it hit me that at this time 2 years ago I was spending my first night in my new apartment after just pulling in to town with Dad and Mike, trying to get a decent night's sleep before I competed the next morning in the same race.
I had agreed to be on Whitefish Therapy's team, so literally less than 24 hours after getting my keys, I was canoeing Whitefish River (and pretty much dying since I had done one day of training all summer) on the second-to-last leg of the race.
Talk about jumping right in! Nothing like being so sore you can barely get dressed, much less lift people's limbs all day, on your first day of work.
I had a blast though, and this will be my 3rd time at it. Last year I did the road bike section, and this year I'm running the last leg of the course.

Who knows, maybe I'll come back one year and do the whole thing on my own... but in the meantime, wish me luck!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Meet my new best friend.

Did I mention that I finally invested in the best kitchen appliance I will ever own??

Can you see the drool marks on the shiny stainless bowl?
Can you smell and taste the endless amounts of baked goodies I will be able to make with this bad boy?
Can you tell that I'm pretty stoked about it?!

And of course, what better way to break it in than with a full-on batch of Linda Smith Cookies.

Oh, and did I tell you that I got an ice cream maker attachment too?

If I disappear from the public for a while, you'll know where to find me. Up to my chin in dough and frozen magic.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mission: PDX

Kyle and I got back very early Monday morning from a whirlwind of a weekend trip to the City of Roses.

If you haven't yet heard, we'll be moving to Portland this fall. Both Kyle and I are super excited to be moving back to a city and do the urban thing for a while. While we love Whitefish and hate to leave a place where you can be hiking, mountain biking, or skiing within minutes of our door, we are ready for a change of pace. It feels like the perfect time in our lives to live it up!

So this weekend was all about exploration. Scope the neighborhoods, check out the public transportation, and most importantly - find some really good food.

(digging in at Pok Pok - Kyle was like a little kid on Christmas morning;
at the Screen Door for brunch - totally worth the wait)

I wish I had taken more pictures of some of the places we went. We had some awesome desserts and pastries (my fav) as well as food and drinks. We even managed to watch a little of the Grand Floral Parade outside of our hotel room, and caught glimpses of the City Fair going on and some smaller street fairs. There were definitely not enough hours in the day to see everything we wanted, but we will be back!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh yes, we can

A little back story: Last fall/winter we had 2 students at the clinic, Jamie and Amanda, who were interested in learning to can their own jam. I had plans to do so anyway since I was out of stock, so they came over for a "canning party" before going cross country skiing one Saturday. We successfully got the jars all filled and processed and sealed up, but they never quite set up like we had we ended up with strawberry sauce instead.

Well, I've had the jars sitting out, waiting to be poured back in to the pot and fixed up, then returned to the jars so that they can be eaten. However, for the last 6 months they've just been sitting there, taunting me, teasing me with their sweet goodness while I keep putting off the re-do.

So anyway, I FINALLY corrected the recipe and have been enjoying some delicious homemade strawberry jam - on my very own homemade bagels, nonetheless. One of the most rewarding baking projects to date! They're really not that hard to make, if you find the right recipe. I'm sure they'd be even better if I used the recipes that call for overnight proofing and whatnot, but hey, I like to keep things simple.

So then I had the canning bug...and some cucumbers to use up... so I went for it and made some pickles. Another pretty easy task, just a little time consuming. But, ta-dah! Pickles that cost almost nothing that taste better than the store bought kind.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Saving the environment, one loaf at a time.

I told you I had projects going on, so here's numero uno: bags.

I've been following a woman's blog about reducing household waste, which has been a goal of mine but something I've gotten away from recently. I was inspired to start up again, and my first task was to make bulk shopping and food storage bags.

I have been baking bread a lot more lately, but the problem has been in how to store it. My loaves are too big for most plastic bags, which I don't want to use anyway since they ultimately end up in the trash after a few uses. And I hate to use plastic wrap because I feel like the plastic seeps into the bread and gives it a funny taste. I had been using foil but, again, it ends up in the trash can.
Solution: fabric bags.

I know, I know, seems counter-intuitive to store a baked good in a breathable bag, but it actually has worked pretty well so far! Yes, if it's left in the pantry for over a week it gets hard, but we don't often go past that long before it's all eaten up (toasted homemade bread with butter is one of my many addictions). And it holds up great in the freezer, too. Who'dathunk?

I also took an old sheet and some laundry bag material and sewed up some bags for bulk items at the store. My goal is to significantly reduce the amount of packaging I take from the store, so I'm buying most things in bulk (flour, oats, even chocolate chips and pasta) and from the bulk produce. To go even further, I take my own bulk bags instead of the plastic ones at the store. I write the numbers down on a piece of scrap paper (usually a receipt from the previous trip) and have the tare weights of the bag written right on the fabric. So far it's worked great! When I get home, I just put it into glass jars for storage.

It was great to break out the sewing machine and be creative again. Having projects definitely helps my sanity in this wet and cold Montana spring.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'm baaaaack!

For anyone who is even still following this practically abandoned blog.....

It's making a comeback!

I've taken quite the hiatus, but I think it's about time to resurface. I've been hard at work creating, cooking, baking, sewing...all sorts of fun projects lately. And what better way to keep a tally on them than to archive it on this here blog.
And with the weather finally getting nicer and nicer it's about time to head into the wilderness and see what kind of trouble I can't get myself into.
I know I'll have stories to tell.

So you can look forward to some new posts, as well as a little blog facelift action to come!

It's good to be back.