Roadtrip.

I love road trips.

Even ones that aren’t meant for play. Normally, I hate being stuck in a car for long periods of time, but this road trip wasn’t quite as daunting. I don’t know if it was the beautiful scenery, the low traffic on the roads, the high elevations, the forgotten towns that look as though they are stuck in time, or the fact I really needed a vacation. But it was wonderful. And I took “drive by” photos to share.

Oh how I love the Bitteroot Mountain Range.

The reason we went to Spokane was to attend the Society of American Foresters Career Fair at their annual convention (I wish I had the money to attend the actual convention!). So we decided to make a mini holiday of it and stop for a couple days in Missoula, Montana before we headed to Spokane. Can I just say I LOVE MISSOULA! What a beautiful town nestled in the mountains with forward thinking individuals. I hear they have the best farmers markets but unfortunately, it was too cold. The town was gorgeous and very walkable, which I also love.

Both Spokane and Missoula were a blast and I just wanted to share the highlights of our trip:

Tagliare Delicatessen, Missoula, MT

The best sandwiches. Ever. I love sandwiches. Real sandwiches, not subbies or quizzies, but made from scratch sandwiches. This was our first stop and hands down the best one on the entire trip. I had a pickled beet sandwich with goat cheese, carrots, arugula and a mustard vinaigrette. I am by no means a vegetarian, but that sandwich was absolute perfection. Tart, sweet, tangy. Yum. Zach had the roasted pork, wine soaked pear jam, arugula and a tamarind balsamic drizzle. It was equally delicious. We finished perfection with two mini cannoli’s: a cardamom clove and Strawberry fennel. My mouth is still watering.

Flying Goat, Spokane, WA

We were told this was a hip-hipster joint and they were right. But if there is one thing I love about the oh-so-lovable-hipster is there constant striving-to-be-different attitude applied to food. I was afraid it wasn’t going to be as good as people made it sound because as we walked in, an older couple decided to walk out as they complained to the hostess. Boy am I glad we stayed. We ordered the McLellan Dumplings which was house made sausage with roasted jalapeno and goat cheese wrapped in dough and deep fried, served with arugula pesto and chili sauce.

Seriously?!? Food should not be this good!! It is too dangerous! They were so good in fact that I almost ordered another round (thankfully I didn’t or I would have been one very sorry girl). The sauces were equally amazing and we felt less guilty asking for another round of them to dip our pizza crusts in. We also ordered the Kiernan; a pizza with Italian sausage, truffle oil tossed arugula, house cheese blend, and heavy cream topped with an over-medium egg. It was fantastic. Egg on pizza? Yes please.

Atticus Coffee & Gifts, Spokane, WA

We have a thing where we try and hit every notable coffee shop and bookstore wherever we go. I have to admit, I chose to visit this place because it is also the name of my niece, but boy am I glad I did. They had a great gift selection. Yes, it is just stuff, but I like stuff! Teapots, coffee mugs, books, woodland creatures, etc. This isn’t your grandma’s trinket shop, it’s meant for a younger crowd, like myself, who likes oddball items. So much fun! The coffee was pretty good too.

Paradise Fibers, Spokane, WA

I forgot to mention that everywhere I go, I also have to visit at least one all yarn shops (poor Zach). I love going places where I can touch things and not worry about breaking them. Yes, I am a compulsive toucher. Although all yarn shops are awesome, this was the best of the trip. Partly because I am bias as I love old brick buildings, but mostly because of the selection. It was huge!! They are mainly an online company so they weren’t as “cute” as most yarn shops but they had soooo much to choose from! I love when I can go to a yarn shop and have the option of cheaper yarns as well as expensive. It somehow makes me feel better that I have seen all the colors and price range options before reverting back to the more expensive yarns. I am an addict. I can’t help it.

Coeur Coffeehouse, Spokane, WA

This find was not at all our style…..at first. The palette is white, almost clinical. One is surprised the aroma of rubbing alcohol doesn’t join the wafting scent of fresh ground coffee. The artwork adorning the walls is perfectly symmetrical, and perfectly ignorable. And the barista at Coeur Coffee nearly vibrates with eagerness. I began to worry this coffeshop was too pretentious for me. The barista rattled on all night to another customer about coffee, how to brew it, who makes the best, the price, the origin, he just went on and on and on. Rather than disdain the barista’s passion and snobbery, I started to admire it, for somehow he managed to be innocent and genuine in his love of coffee. They brew Portland’s local legend, Stumptown. Obsessively measured, brewed, and poured, even regular coffee is made with a french press; they don’t drip brew here. One of the night’s pleasures was watching our young earnest barista prepare a large catering order by brewing ten consecutive small french press batches without looking annoyed or impatient. The forty-five minute effort seemed almost silly, but after tasting their french press I knew it was worth it.

After a while of knitting and listening to this guy, my coffee ran dry and I decided to order another. Two girls came in and ordered foo-foo lattes (as I like to call them). He made them both with precision but I noticed there wasn’t a line of flavored syrups blockading the minimalist bar. I was curious how he flavored these drinks and looked at the menu to find they only offered three flavors; chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. Thinking this was odd, I asked him where they get their syrups. He replied that they make their own syrups. Huh!?! Make? No way! I have never heard of a coffee shop making their own flavorings. He told me their caramel was the best as it was a salty variety. I was sold. That latte was by far, the best flavored latte I have ever had. Salty, sweet, rich, but not overpowering. Perfection. Out of all the coffee shops I have been to in my life (believe me, there has been many), these people make the best flavored lattes hands down.

Frisbee in the evening.

This is my dog Ember. She is a very special mutt I adopted from the Animal Control Facility six years ago.  They tried to tell me she was a St. Bernard/Bassett Hound mix (obviously not true, and I always wondered how that would even of been possible). It was the scar on her forehead and floppy puppy ears that got me.  She has been a great dog.

The only thing that Ember loves more than projecting where you are going to need to be standing and laying down right in that exact spot is playing frisbee.  She absolutely loves her frisbee.  In fact, I can’t even say the word without her going bananas.  I have to say Effbee when I talk to other humans.

She has a friend named Gibbs that we loved taking with us to the park. Gibbs is obsessed with balls, thus making it very easy to take them both to play. Neither one of them will fetch the others toy, and both are as happy as can be.

It was such a beautiful day in February for frisbee and photos. I love the colors the winter sun provides. We have since moved from Gibbs and her owner, but we do miss them terribly.

Yellowstone National Park.

Every year since I was old enough to remember, my Dad would take me to Yellowstone.  It got to the point where my Mother wouldn’t go because she had been dragged every summer by my Dad since their honeymoon. Excluding my teenage years, I never grew tired of it.  In fact, I am positive it is the real reason I love nature with all my heart and soul.  It is the same reason I choose to work for our forests. There is something truly magical about our National Parks, and Yellowstone in particular.

Yellowstone was the first recognized National Park in 1872. It was such a bold idea that in fact, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming were still territories rather than states. It took a lot of great men, and perfect timing of events for these treasures to be saved. And in a time period when we were wasteful, we are lucky that these great men saw the importance of setting aside these beautiful places. Although I don’t get the pleasure of riding through Yellowstone on a horse or stagecoach, donned in a Dolly Varden dress and bonnet, I do get the pleasure of enjoying and photographing these beautiful lands with minimal human alteration.

Thank you great men, and especially my dear Teddy Roosevelt, for preserving Yellowstone “for the benefit and the enjoyment of the people”.

Losses and victories.

I needed something to ease the pain of the Atlanta Braves loss during the wildcard game on Friday.  What a mess!  Even my dog Ember was  disappointed with the game.

So I decided I needed to finish cutting out my couch quilt in order to ease the pain.  It is technically the first quilt I have ever made, and naturally I couldn’t find myself a simple pattern.  No, I had to go and create my own.  So after a lot of math and calculations and one really messy Excel spreadsheet, I came up with this pattern.  No piece is the same size so it took forever to cut out.  Then I had the fun task of placing them all in their proper place like a puzzle.

Now it is time to sew, sew, sew!  Then the fun part begins–hand quilting.  I absolutely love the bold, organic look it creates.  I better get busy!

Moving decades.

It is official.  I have time-warped into the next decade.  And I am off to a great start with a little help from my friends.  Well, my boyfriend. is the guiltiest of them all.

And boy did I get spoiled with an assortment of treats.

My mother got me a skein of Malabrigo worsted merino in the Kaleidos colorway, (of course she had to get one for herself so we can knit our scarves together).  Zach’s mother gave me Downton Abbey, because I love all things British and she has been raving about that series.  And, because Pride and Prejudice is my all time favorite book, a Jane Austen inspired knits magazine is absolutely fitting.  During all my visits to the cabin in Island Park,  I have been collecting pine cones, bark, leaves, and needles from my two favorite (western) trees; Lodgepole Pine and Quaking Aspen.  Zach noticed my desire for a new found hobby of dying yarns naturally, so he took it upon himself to find me a book to get started.  And I was super excited to find it actually contains both Lodgepole Pine and Quaking Aspen as dye sources.  Eeek!  I can’t wait to begin!  I also received 3 bottles of kombucha from my favorite Portand Tea Shop, Townshend’s, to quench my thirst during my projects.  (Believe me, there will be more about kombucha and Portland to come!)

And wait, as if I didn’t sound British enough, I also was gifted new tea to try from Adagio Tea Company.  Being that Earl Grey is my favorite tea, I received three different varieties to try; earl grey bravo, earl grey moonlight, and London earl grey.  Also, I am a Harry Potter fan, and Zach found that this tea company also makes Harry Potter themed teas, so he got me my favorite character: Ron Weasley’s blend (which is marsala chai with almond and ginger).  I also got  Adagio’s ingenuiTEA to make my love of loose leaf teas easier.  It works great!  I used it to make Ron Weasley’s blend and it was delicious.  A delicate chai with almond almost gave it a creamy taste.  I loved it!  I am such a lucky girl.

 

Beetles and fungus.

It was a beautiful Sunday in Island Park, and I found myself wandering in the woods.  I quickly noticed under every pine tree mushrooms were sprouting in mass quantities as though the little people in forest were building homes to survive the cold winter.  These mushrooms were erecting from the ground with such ease and grace, it was as though the soil and needle layer welcomed their intrusion. It was such a marvelous site.

I also found scattered remnants of all the pre-winter wood chopping we did a few weeks ago.  My father will only cut down dead, standing timber as he feels it is a waste to have a dead tree not put to good use.  So, because the wood was already dead and dried out, I found this piece of bark that fell off the stack of firewood.  I flipped it over only to find evidence of one of my favorite forest pests!   Although I can’t determine that the Douglas fir beetle (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae) was the cause of mortality, it was most definitely a contributor.

Look at the beautiful marks this insect makes.  It absolutely amazes me that beetles that range between 1/10 to 1/4 of an inch in size can easily kill a tree that is well over 100 feet tall.   Now I too, hate to see a tree die and not be put to good use, but I do admire the beauty and organic movement the bark beetles make with their egg galleries.  And there are so many different types of bark beetles, each having their own signature markings and unique patterns.   I love finding these little artistic treasures.

Costume conundrums and learning new tricks.

A little over a year ago, I was planning my costume for my favorite yearly event.  No, it wasn’t Halloween (for I have yet to find a Halloween gathering worthy of getting dressed for, unfortunately).  I am talking about my costume for DragonCon. Yep, my nerdiness has officially been revealed.  For those of you who don’t know, DragonCon  is a convention for anyone who enjoys anything fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, comic book, etc.  It is the east coast Comic-Con and every dreamer’s dream.  We all dress up like Frodo’s, Dr. Who’s, Luke Skywalker’s, and Kara Thrace’s (guilty!). We drink and mingle and meet celebrities (fake and real) for a four day weekend.  It sounds silly, but it really is a blast, even if the only reason you go is to people watch.  Anyway, for DragonCon last year, I decided to go as Penelope, a character from my favorite modern fairytale movie, Penelope.

(By the way, if you haven’t seen it, please do!  It is so beautiful!)

I admit, I am a procrastinator, but I did already have the perfect purple coat, long brown hair, and funky tights so all I needed was a few buttons, a pig nose, and Penelope’s signature scarf.  I could do that in less than a week. No problem.

Lucky for me, I save all the random buttons I find, whether they be on the ground or the ones you get in a baggie clipped to your tag when you purchase a sweater or shirt.   They come in so handy!  So I took a mix of buttons, big and small and sewed them onto my coat. Then I purchased the nose prosthetic from a local costume shop. Now all I needed was her scarf.  Of course this was no ordinary scarf.  I searched high and low for one that even remotely resembled it with no luck. Procrastination showed me who’s boss and I reluctantly went without.

It still turned out rather cute, I thought.  And sooooo many people recognized my costume, but I heard “where is your scarf, Penelope?” more times than I would have liked.

So, once the weekend was over, I made two post DragonCon resolutions (that is what all DragonCon-ers do, by the way.)

(1.)    I will not procrastinate in making my totally awesome costume for DragonCon 2012 AND it will be the best one ever.

(2.)    I will learn how to knit, so that I can knit Penelope’s scarf.

And so that following weekend, I taught myself how to knit with a book, a little youtube, and a whole lot of trial and error.  Now I am hooked, knitting up a storm, and have yet to make Penelope’s scarf (soon though! I found a great tutorial for it).  And I am still Queen of Procrastination. I didn’t make it to DragonCon this year because of the move,  but hey, I did learn a new hobby!

Oh, and here was my partner, Inspector Clouseau.  Maybe we will pull these out for when my nieces and nephew come over to trick or treat this year.

Aspen falls.

I know fall is finally here in Idaho because the quaking aspens are the most beautiful golden color right now.  While up for the usual weekend trip at the cabin in Island Park, I asked my Dad to take me on a drive so I could take pictures of my favorite hardwood trees.  Unfortunately, the annual wild fire smoke has been quite awful here and my pictures look like I am back in the Smoky Mountains, but regardless, I couldn’t resist sharing.

In a land of evergreen trees and sagebrush, it sure is nice to see that pop of color. It makes me wish I were a better painter.  Did I mention that I love fall?

Another thing that makes me excited about living back in the west is the extended sweater season.  I love sweaters, sweatshirts, or anything I can bundle up in on a cool fall day, but living in Georgia the cool fall never really started until November or December, thus shortening my favorite season.  So in celebration of my first cool September day in seven years, I cast on my very first (adult) sweater!  I am super excited about it.

It is called the Serina Sweater by Gretchen Ronnevik.  I chose to knit from my stash of Swans Island Certified Organic Merino Fingering in the Wild Salmon colorway.  The color is absolute perfection!  (And my choosing this yarn color had nothing to do with my love for the Salmonidae family and how interesting their life cycles are, I swear!)  I can’t wait to see how it turns out, I hope my first attempt is a success!

Just because gifts.

I finally finished a gift for my niece.  I actually have two nieces and one nephew, but the youngest, Atticus, is my brothers first, the other two, Danika and Rylyn, came as a package deal he couldn’t refuse.  They all are great kids but Atti May (Atticus) being almost two, is too cute to not dress up.  So I went on the hunt for the perfect knitting pattern and found it.

The pattern is called Ridinghood Sweater by Tina Good.  It came out beautifully! I used Plymouth Yarn’s Baby Bunny in 211 (which I like to call raspberry sorbet).  When I saw the yarn, I knew it would be perfect because it matched the color of the glasses she picked out.  The lace trim is done in Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Dyed Cotton in Cobalt.

I chose to do a short sleeve to keep its seasonal versatility.  That way come winter, all she needs is a long sleeve undershirt to keep her warm.  And of course, the hood is the best part.

And no two year old’s photo is complete without a dirty mug.

Needless to say, Atticus was a hit at her big brothers birthday party with her new sweater!

Hello world!

It is day one of my new blog.  I have never claimed to be a writer; I am just a lover of creating things and taking photos and I will just use words to fill in the gaps.

A little about me:

I was born and raised in Idaho, moved to Georgia for college, graduated with a degree in forestry (most people think I am a park ranger or a game warden when they hear forester, but in fact (according to Wikipedia) the definition of forestry is “the science, art, and craft of creating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human benefit.” (I must add that we also manage forests for the benefit of wildlife, soil, and water protection.)  So essentially, I am a farmer of trees. Anyway, I will save the details and my love for trees and forests for another day.

Back to the main plot:  I am now back on the west coast waiting for things to line up.  Government jobs aren’t easy to get into, but I am passionate about multiple-use forests, preservation, and conservation and I am determined to keep at it until I get in.  I am hoping for my career to take me to Oregon, Washington, or some parts of Idaho, Montana, and Colorado.  Although I went to college in the south, I am a western girl at heart.  (Isn’t it strange that the places you couldn’t leave fast enough are the ones you come running back to?)  I did manage to pick me up a wonderful southern man and a dog named Ember during  my college adventure.  Oh trust me, you’ll see them soon.

My other loves are sewing, quilting, knitting, drawing, photography, reading, gardening, etc.  What I mean is I know a little bit of everything but I am an expert in nothing.  I am eager to share these passions with you (and a whole lot of pictures!).  I hope you will join me!