It's a brisk 47 degrees, and only the incandescent orange and yellow of the aspens brightens the steely, dull sky. It's the sort of day to light an extra candle, pull the blanket a bit tighter around my legs, and slurp deeply from my hazelnut coffee. And to wax lyrical with my end-of-September summary. Here goes:
ONE: Getting crafty
Cooler temps and shorter days launch me into crafty mode. With great enthusiasm, I have leapt into a new project, 30 cross-stitch ornaments for this year's Christmas tree. I am really enjoying this kit because the designs are simple and it only requires a few hours to complete each one. For me, this means a rapid sense of gratification, compared to many complex pieces that mean months or even years of work. And the designs are SO cute!
Autumn's arrival also means football, and I often marry game time with crafts; I just feel better being productive while supporting the Cleveland Browns (and yes, they finally snapped the 19-game losing streak. Go Browns and Baker Mayfield!) It is a special joy to watch the games in our new screening room; so comfy, and the sound/projection system can't be beat!
(I created the arrangements below before my family's visit in September, but the topic just didn't seem to fit any of my previous posts, so I am wedging it here with my other creative endeavors.)
TWO: Getting lost
As most of you know, Spousal Unit and I are avid hikers. Responsible hikers inform family members of upcoming trips, and we are in that camp. We have a 'system' with our kids that involves sending an email with details on starting and ending points, trail names, etc., along with the appropriate emergency number to call if a designated time passes and we have not been in touch. WELL. This month, I misjudged the duration of a hike, and we had no cell service to contact the kids until 30 minutes after the deadline had passed. So, #1 Daughter had started calling out the cavalry, as she should. To say the least, they were relieved but not entirely happy when we finally got service and checked in. So, we are now the proud owners of a personal locator beacon - a Garmin Inreach, which is very slick. It utilizes satellites, so at any point in time, the kids can log on to a website and determine our location. The Garmin also sends simple texts ("Safe at car") even when we don't have cell service. And it has many other features as well. I think we all feel a bit safer with this (not cheap) valuable tool.
THREE: Getting fed
Delicious meals in our house are never an issue with Spousal Unit at the helm. In the last couple of weeks, we've had a couple of stand-out dishes worth special mention. As you may recall from my Horses, Homes and Huckleberries post, my Mother harvested the first of our Goodland apples earlier this month, and we have since plucked the remainder from the tree to protect them from bears (good thing we did but more on that later). Utilizing the apples, Spousal Unit concocted an apple/blackberry pie, which we shared with former neighbors visiting from Cleveland. Just scrumptious!
I'm still endeavoring to achieve my 'cook once a week' 2018 goal, and one of the best dishes we've discovered lately is this Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna. Mouthwatering flavors, a pleasant change from a tomato-based lasagna, and pretty healthy to boot with chicken broth and low-fat milk as the base. Perfect for these cuddle-up cool fall evenings!
This time of year, I occasionally treat myself to a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, with a scone. Heaven, just heaven.
FOUR: Getting visitors
Consider this Chapter Three of our summer visitor series. (See links for Chapter One and Two.) We (re) welcomed two former neighbors from Cleveland, who had been to the house last September, when it had no door or flooring and barely had shingles! To say the least, it was a joy to tour them 'round the finished dream, inside and out! After a scrummy dinner that featured "brisket beyond compare" (per one of our guests), we gathered around the fire pit and caught up on each other's lives. Nothing could have capped the evening with more flair than the pie I already mentioned above. Food coma, anyone?
The next day, we cruised over to Glacier National Park and absorbed the adjectives that rapidly tumbled from our visitors. Until the car became silent, with only strains from Billy Joel's Greatest Hits in the background … I suppose you can run out of ways to describe the soaring, rich grandeur of mountains in autumn.
An overnight light snowfall above 6,000 feet added another dimension to the vistas throughout our drive on Going to the Sun road. At Logan Pass (6,646 feet), the snow and rime coating every flower, blade of grass and tree brought these natural structures into sharp relief against the dark mountains. The 1.5 mile hike (one-way) to Hidden Lake Overlook reminded one of our visitors of scenes from Skyfall. We all marveled in our own ways at the wonderland created by a little H2O.
On our way out of the Park, we stopped at Lake McDonald Lodge, which provided a close-up view of the outcome of the Howe Ridge Fire (see this link for my report on this fire back in August). From ridge to shoreline, the mountain is scorched, with little black matchsticks that used to be towering pines. Without the billowing smoke and leaping flames, it now seems somewhat benign. But we know it consumed 14,522 acres and 13 residences, some of which had been used by the same families for over 70 years. Sobering, and lingering smoke lets us know the fire still smolders, waiting for snow as the final extinguisher. We moved on to Whitefish for a bit of touristy shopping and then wrapped the day with a delightful dinner at Tupelo Grill. (Get the chicken and dumplings - to die for!)
|If you look closely, you can see a ribbon of smoke at the base of the mountain
|Candle gift from our guests; their note in our guest book
FIVE: Getting outdoors
Lest you think everything is perfect
Wildlife seems to be hiding out - my trail cam photos are mostly deer and elk. The other day, while cleaning the patio, I met this little fellow … I am not entirely sure, but I think it's a garter snake.
In the meantime, I was amazed to find this small violet growing near the house, and a harebell plant that sprung up in the middle of a stretch of compacted dirt - nothing else is growing for yards around it. Asters are holding out against the cold mornings and the frost we've had; they almost seem to thrive in it.
And of course, the aspens are gussied up like young ladies heading to prom. I don't know why some are orange or red while the majority are yellow … but then, I don't need to know; it's enough to simply bask in the radiant beauty.
Sharon's Souvenir Photos
Wednesday Around the World
Willy Nilly Friday