The Photo-A-Day challenge  by fat mum slim was hard for me this month.  It's been a very busy month with Lou Lou in track. The practices kept her from riding the bus which meant that I had to go into town everyday to get her. Then the meets each weekend that took us over 80 miles out to the next town. It was so fun, but it wore us all down.  

Also this month was the science fair! Bean got to, or rather was required to (much to her delight), participate in the science fair this year. So we had two projects to do. It was loads of fun, and in spite of the extra work, I love that they love it! 
Lou Lou attempted to sprout a pineapple top and seems to have one that is showing root buds! She even brought a new one to do a demonstration. Bean planted lemon seeds and had some great starts to share! She also planted a seed in a jar along the side so we could see the sprout and root. We got the idea for both of these activities from pinterest

I would like to share some of my shots from DigIfYouWillAPicture. Now lets see what adventures we have in June. Starting with the last day of school tomorrow! Yeah!


Leaving an Impression {A Plea For Help!}

When I was enjoying the highlife of our high school choir,  I learned a valuable lesson. Not that "if I applied myself I could actually be a second soprano", no, that came later in college. Nor was it that "if I didn't apply myself, I might not get a part in the school musical", and yes, that really did happen. No, I learned, that when we went on tour, we needed to bring gifts.

When we traveled on tour we stopped over night at other high schools and their choir would host us for the night. This meant that we would go sleep over at someone else's house, who we had never met before, who's kid also happened to be in a high school choir. Luckily for me, I enjoyed this very much! Meeting new people and seeing where and how they lived. Most often we traveled north to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival and our stop was either in the Napa area, where my Grandparents lived, or the Chico area, where my best friend lived. I was fortunate in these brief meetings to enjoy the host family so much that we would become pen palls and shared letters throughout the duration of our high school career (please note, this was before the internet). Upon departing from each families' generous hospitality, we would offer gifts of gratitude. It was a simple gesture but I think it surprised the family, that kids would be so thoughtful. (Thank you! to Mrs. Fujikawa, for the lesson.)
The pool and patio at the Alamanda Resort
Saint Martin, Caribbean Islands 

In this industry, namely the hospitality industry, it is also customary to bring gifts. As a manager of a resort, if you travel far and wide, you bring gifts to the manager of the place in which you are staying. This, however, doesn't really seem like a simple sweet offering of gratitude as much as it does a moment of advertising. Generally because the gift is usually a Tee shirt with the name of your resort on the front and since we are still paying full price. Still, who doesn't love a new Tee shirt, right?

With this in mind, my Darling Adventure Man and I love to travel, and it was on one of our many adventures that we made an offering of a Tee shirt, left at the front desk for the manager of the Alamanda Resort on Saint Martin. The response to our gift was that of surprise, perhaps this isn't as common in other countries? But the manager sweetly sent up a gift in return. A bottle of rum punch! Which, we still have stashed in the cupboard to this day, two years later. As I mentioned before, us Mormon's aren't much for drinking!

But Why Isn't The Rum Gone?

So my big question is, what can I do with this bottle of rum? Can I put it in a cake? Does it go bad? I honestly, have NO idea, people! Help! 


Happy Memorial Day! But Summer? Really? I Don't Think So!

Cold and cloudy Memorial Day
here on the Mountain
I keep hearing on Facebook and such, that this wonderful weekend is the mark of the first day of Summer!  With announcements of BBQ's and beach trips. Well, I would like to correct that crazy line of thinking! First of all, My kids have 4 more days of school, count them! 1. 2. 3. 4.

We are in the midst of the scramble to get science fair boards done. Personally, I think the parents should get the grades on these!

Second, Summer? Yesterday it Snowed ALL Day!! All DAY! Ok, it's melting off fast. But there is still a pile of snow under the windows and along the roof lines. And it's still only 40 degrees outside! Do we need to count those too? I didn't think so!

But really, I do want to say, Happy Memorial Day to the wonderful men and women who have served and continue to serve this beautiful country! I am so grateful for your sacrifices. I am grateful for the sacrifice your families make when you leave. What an amazing group of people you are and you make me proud. Proud to be an American.

Proud to represent the "Purple Mountains Majesty" part of our patriotism. Have a wonderful Day!


Walk MS 2012

The MS walk is one of my favorite things. I love teaching my kiddos about making a difference and helping out. I love being able to show that I can be healthy and supporting those who are struggling with mobility. And I love knowing that we are raising money to try and find a cure. I've written about my challenges with MS, which are few, so I won't go into details. I just wanted to share some of the pictures from the day, and what a beautiful day it was! 

the whole fam~damn~ily came

we raised over $200 and got a pin! 
I crocheted these flowers for our hair
He wanted a lift

these guys were really funny.
They took the chips out of our hands. 
My guys! 

And the funniest part was that I won a bottle of wine in the raffle! Yeah Me! Now who's going to help me drink this? No, I don't want any, but maybe I'll use it the next time I make a big pot of chili, and spaghetti or what ever else I can make with it???? I don't even know! 

Just what every Mormon Needs! LOL! 

If you would like to make a donation to help find a cure to fight MS visit your local National Multiple Sclerosis Chapter. Or you can donate to our team here. I thank you for all your help and support


Accidental Cajun Turkey Soup

This is a follow up to yesterday's post. You know, where I burnt the turkey breast?

 So I cut off all the crispy outsides of the turkey breast and simmered these in a pot. This was the part that had all the seasoning on it, I couldn't just let it all go to waste!

The inside of the breast was still quite tinder and good so that got chopped up to add later.

 I used:
 About a cup of barley, washed, picked though and simmered in a few cups of water. Until it was big and yummy. (see! I'm so NOT a chef! I can bearly tell you what I did!)

Chop: Some carrots, a small onion, celery, some cabbage and a bell pepper.

I prepped the barley in a separate pot while the stock was simmering. This made it easier to remove and discard the outer parts of the meat. I also added about 2 or 3 cups of chicken stock to the burnt Cajun turkey. The breast was seasoned Cajun style, not that the turkey was Cajun. I just wanted to be clear! (I used homemade stock that I had in the freezer.) 

Once the broth looked ready (I'm so helpful!) I used a ladle to remove the turkey. I added the barley and veggies (but not the bell pepper or the good turkey yet) as well as a can of chopped petite tomatoes with the juices, salt & pepper to taste and let it simmer untill the veggies were just getting tender. About 10 minutes... I would guess?

Then add the meat and peppers and cook a little longer. This keeps the meat from getting chewy, which was amazing that it wasn't already! And it keeps the pepper from over cooking and turning to mush. Plus the pepper stays green. Don't over cook soup, I hate mushy vegetables!

 Now this was easy because I used breast meat that was pre seasoned. It would have been even better if the seasoned part got to stay because it would have been much more spicey!

If you are doing it from scratch you would need (I think): salt, garlic powder, paprika, ground black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. Or something like that! But this is the Internet, so I'm sure you could find someone who actually knows how to cook and doesn't rely on happy accidents!

 Enjoy! We all did!


This is NOT a Cooking Blog

There are some great blogs out there with wonderful, step by step instructions to get you though even the toughest of recipes. They come with fabulous photos of mouth watering meals, that, if I could pull off, let alone tried, would send my family to dinner ecstasy and back! Two of my favorites are Our Best Bites and How Sweet It Is. Reading these blogs might make me a better cook, if I applied myself. What they really do is make me hungry!

This picture has nothing to do with the story
I just saw this in a market and had to share!
Perhaps we will try buffalo bergers
when the in-laws are here?
 I have some things I can make. Most of them are things I've been making since I was in high school. My mother was so proud that I showed such potential in the kitchen. To bad my cooking repertoire has pretty much stayed the same for 20 years!

 A few weeks ago I bought a turkey breast at Sam's Club that was preseasoned. It was actually a two pack as that's the nature of Sam's. I threw it in the freezer to pull out on a particularly uninspired day. I forgot about it until yesterday when I went out to the garage to get milk. We freeze our milk so we don't have to go into town so often. I was really digging in the freezer because I wanted to be sure this really was the last gallon. That's when I spotted the turkey. It's Cajun! I was so happy I had a plan for dinner!

 Jenny 'O was all defrosted and in the oven in time for a 6:30 dinner! I was so proud. Then Darling Adventure Man came in and informed me he was eating with the guests that night. If I had known that I would have just made roman! The kids were acting hungry and like they weren't going to make it until dinner, so that's what I did. We all had roman. It was fast and if I add green onions and chili oil, I can even stand it. I figured I would simply reheat the turkey tomorrow when we can all be there to enjoy it. (I know, what a wonderful example of health and nutrition I am!)

 Darling Adventure Man got home about 8:30 as I was wrangling up jammie clad half pints. He's better at bedtime patience then me so I was grateful it wasn't a late night for him. Not to mintion the fact that he goes in to work at 8 am, so it was only a 12 and a half hour day! It was at this moment that I walked past the kitchen and smelled a very well done Cajun. I had forgotten to take the bird out of the oven! I don't recommend making turkey jurkey out of an unsliced breast! Amazingly, even after 4 hours of roasting, the center of the gal is still good and I'm thinking a nice Cajun soup will be on the menu tonight. As long as I don't burn the water!


And We're Off

Guests on a hike.
No, I'm not vague. 
Our first guests have arrived. They come in Sundays and depart Sundays. This means that our Sunday's around here are pretty crazy with the turn over, but technically this time around shouldn't have been too bad seeing as we had no check outs... Except there was the whole thing with the van not working so we had to change out the battery and redo some wiring. And then there was that issue with not having hot water in one of the cabins so a pump needed to be replaced. So really, with this week being sold out, and all, and having so many kinks to work out, it's been a little crazy. Not for me mind you, but still.

wild forget me nots

Someone from church kept calling last night for my husband. He was not expecting him to be at work on a Sunday night. Adventure Man has to greet the guests. And have dinner with them. And hang out with them after dinner. The guy called twice. He's a sweet old man who didn't know us last year. He wanted to talk about the Sunday school class Adventure Man teaches. (It's the 12 year olds, and they Love him! I know, so cute, right!)  At nine o'clock Adventure Man called the man back and got the machine. He called again this morning, but Adventure Man was gone by 7 am. Off to take the guests to a ranch just north of here where they are all hopping to spy some grizzlies. Or something like that. I don't really know as I'm not with them! But it IS Grizzly week ya know!

The Aspen Trail by our house
And so it goes. Adventure Man working and running, and me here folding socks. This is the life I tell ya! But really, we have just 2 weeks of school left and lots of crafts, and foods, and fun planned for our summer daze. And although the laundry never stops, and I am hosting a church service project in just a few weeks and would like to serve lunch in a clean house, not the house I'm living in now, we do tend to have lots of time for fun. Even if I don't get to go observe markings on the trees. And perhaps that's a good thing, as knowing that there are bear markings on the trees where my kids like to build fairy houses, might just be a bit much for this mama to handle.

NOT a grizzly. this is a black bear and cub
(ONE of the cubs, she had twins)
they came around last spring looking for food.
We scared them off, and although they were still seen in the area,
they never were quite this close.


The Changing Season ~ An Adjustment of Sorts

I know, you're thinking "Here Comes Summer!" And yes, and no…

Working Little Miss Six Pack ~
Get that 6pack Back!
I had forgotten some of the changes we have to make around here now that the guest ranch is expecting check-in's come Sunday. Most of them are good changes but some of them are kind of hard.

The biggest I think would be the people. Neighbors! It's a wonderful thing. In the winter there just aren't any! So, we have neighbors; our staff again! Such a great group of people! {They should be, we hand picked them!} Wranglers who help work the horses and feed. {No more hay in my boots! Yay!} And the kitchen staff who have an endless supply of yummies and they love to share. {Better get up from here and get the running shoes on or those skinny jeans won't cut it anymore!} The fence around the pool is going up! Which means it will be cleaned and filled soon. We've been swim suit shopping for the tween who keeps proving she can reach new heights. And the weather has been so warm this year! Much warmer than it should be, with less moisture. Last year at this time the rivers where all overflowing becasue of the rain and snow run off. {Forest fire anyone?} And a gardener to water, water, water! I think that's a full time job in it's self around here!

Friends Just Waiting to Happen
Then there are the other changes. With the flurry of activity, comes the fact that we are no longer alone on the mountain. ...We have neighbors again. I guess there is a down side to all neighbors. We can't leave our blinds open for the deer to see all… Who else will see? But we don't really do that anyway. Our blinds are black out blinds, which means they can make a room much darker. We did this because, with the summer's long days comes the fact that we are way, way, WAY north. And as it is now, the sun doesn't actually set until after 9 pm. Give us another month and convincing the kids that it's bedtime, when the guest's kids are playing in the park next to the house, because they're on vacation, and their parents aren't used to the daylight at 10 pm and don't realize what time it really is. {You get the idea!}
Adventure Man At the Grill

Longer days can also mean longer work hours for Darling Adventure Man. Eating dinner with the guests, hosting musicians and the campfire. {Ok, we do get to go roast marshmallows too, but that puts a whole new pressure on our kids who have to behave, and yet they are always trying to mother each other. This always ends in a fight because "So-in-so is telling me what to do!" It's a downward spiral.} DAM's not home until after 8 even 9 pm some nights. It's hard to live in the place where you work, especially when what you do is cater to people.

It's an adjustment for us all. Luckily, for us all, we love it! We love meeting new people! Wonderful people from all over the world who have come for their love of nature, learning, conservation and of course, horses.

So, yes, Here Comes Summer! And it's gonna be a blast!


For the Love of the Race

Junior High Track isn't about being the best. It's not about setting state records. It's not even about recognition. For the past month I have been the proud Mama of a tack star. No, she didn't win any races. In fact, most of the time she came in dead last, but she ran. She ran to get in shape. She ran because she wanted to try. She ran because her teammates were her friends, and they cheered her on. She ran because she wanted to. And she did it. What could make a mother more proud.

In track, there is a lot of this… 

And a lot of this… 

And when you're lucky and the day is hot, you may have a lot of these… 

The team does a lot of this… 

It's a time to spend with family and friends

It's a time for to spend with the team.

They get to run. 

Then they stand around some more. 

And some more.

Someone will aways be last… but they try...

And someone will always get to win too. 

And when it's your teammate, it's even sweeter! 

Good job, Lou Lou! I am so proud of you! 


Day 9 ~ Living With MS

Something You Do Everyday. This was the theme for the May Photo-a-Day challenge today. What do YOU do everyday? I could have chosen something easy. Something everyone does. Brushing my teeth. Making my bed. Folding laundry. But there is something else, something that no one sees. No one else feels. That is living everyday with MS. Multiple Sclerosis.

I first started having symptoms just before I was married. Almost 17 years ago. I felt like I was limping. Just on the right side of my body. I felt clumsy and slow. I fell down the stairs at work once. My foot slipped out from under me and slid down on my butt. Olga, My boss, and owner of Stapleton's, flipped out, but I just laughed. They were very old tiny steps and we filled so many orders in that tiny old floral shop in downtown Palo Alto, it could have happened to anyone.  I was rushing.

It wasn't until after the wedding and we had moved to Utah that it started to get worst. It seemed to move up my leg to my arm. I kept dropping my knife. I went slower to hid the limp, which didn't help me gain favor in the new floral shop I was working in. Then, just as fast as they had come, all the symptoms went away.

I didn't get diagnosed for another two years. I had started having vertigo. I felt like the world was spinning and I couldn't make it stop. That was when I got up the nerve to have the tests done. That was when I received my diagnoses. By then, it was more of a relief than a fear. I finally had an answer and I could go on. On to realize that my diagnoses didn't define me. It didn't change anything. I am strong and healthy. I am blessed.

I have gone on to have four beautiful kids. I have a very supportive husband who is also an amazing coach, gently encouraging me, even now, to get off the computer and go workout. I am active and that I believe is the key for me. It helps me de-stress.

Something I do Everyday 
Next weekend is the Walk MS in our area. We have a team, we're The Movers & Shakers. It's just me and my kids and we haven't made much money. But it's OUR Team, and we love it. We try and walk every year. We missed last year because I had just had a baby, and we had just moved to a new area, but we're back on the ball again.

I take meds. I give myself a shot everyday. That is what I do everyday. I don't LIVE with MS. I take a shot everyday. The MS just lives with me. That's not to say that I don't think about it. I thank the Lord everyday that I have my health. That I can feed my baby in the night. I can get up at six in the morning to get girls ready for school. I can see the words on the page to read to my son. I can fold that laundry, and pick up those toys, and make those beds. I DO live everyday. And I have MS.


Ready Or Not, Here We Go

Key West Fl
Home Of The Sunset
Have you ever watched the home makeover shows? Or even just a room makeover show? My brother is a movie producer but before he got really big he had to start somewhere. Once, one of these shows came to the area and he was hired, along with other technical theater folks, to lend a hand. He said it was a sham. All props and stage workmanship. Nothing that would really last. I've watched the shows, I love them! And there is a lot of last minute racing around to get it all done. I've seen them put bedspreads on beds without the sheets. Ok, I can forgive that for a simple (and exciting) reveal.

A few years ago we took our family on a trip to see my hubby's sister who is stationed in Florida. We didn't get to see them when they were in Germany and we didn't want to make the same mistake twice. I realize that Germany is Way different than Florida, but that was fine with us, that's just the way we roll.

While in Florida, and knowing it wasn't likely we would get the chance again, we wanted to do some main atrations. We found ourselves renting a condo in the Key's. SO AWESOME! It was beautiful! And the condo had just been put on the market of rentals. It was a new complex too. Had a great pool, amazing views and everything inside was top of the line. Adventure Man has good taste! We went from room to room taking pictures. Then someone sat on a bed. "Crinkle!" What was that? We looked… 
Condo Master 
The beds were made up beautifully but in the hast to get it looking perfect for the inspection (probably to see whether it would qualify as a rental) no one took the plastic off the NEW mattresses. That's fine for the inspection, but then they forgot to swap it out for real bedding. They were really lucky. Why? Because their first guests were us. 

We were the first managers at the Bed and Breakfast. We were there for the opening. We remember the all-nighter we had getting ready for the big Grand Opening. We were the first staff at the last ranch we worked at. A luxury Resort in Montana that caters to the rich and famous. Again, a major race to get everything ready for yet another Grand Opening. And then every time we opened a new cabin, or luxury camp, we had guests on the books long before it was ready to open. More scrambling and all-nighters. We remember the complaints of things that had been over looked. You try to fix them before the guests come, but sometimes it happens. 

Glamping at the last place 
My Darling ran down to the main office and picked up the sheets. It was late and there was no housekeeping around. We had the beds swapped out in no time. (Ok, I think I complained a little bit, but that's probably because I'm lazy and was pregnant.) The guy at the front desk apologized up and down. But really it was no big deal. 

Now we are just two weeks away from the start of a new season. Our staff hasn't gotten here quite yet. 

harvesting the last of the winter crop
Here at this ranch our scramble to get it all done will be greatly helped by our up coming weekend event. We have a lot of people who come and do volunteer work throughout the season, but just before we open we have Volunteer Weekend. We pack 'm in and work 'm hard. Most of the volunteers work for the non-profet company that owns the ranch. They cut trees and split logs, they clean rooms, wash windows and make beds. They set up the gift shop and work in the greenhouse. They make food for them all and clean it all up after. They're a group of angels and they're on their way! Here we go! 

Volunteer Weekend was snowed out last year.
That didn't stop anyone! 


My Old Friend; The Jon

I remember my first semester in collage, waking in the night and racing to the toilet to throw up. I didn't make it. I almost did. But not quite. Now I think perhaps most people have experienced something like this in collage. But for me, well, I went to BYU-Idaho (only way back then it was called Ricks Collage). A church school were we didn't drink or "party" at all. Ok, we DID party, but it consisted of making cupcakes and going to school dances and making crazy balloon hats. No really! I had a roommate who could make balloon animals! It was pretty awesome!

balloon birthday hat
So there I was, sick as a dog, with a mess to clean up. Now my roommates banged on the door and offered to clean it up for me because they were an amazingly wonderful group of girls who I still love. But I couldn't ask them to do that for me! So I locked the door and cleaned it up myself. Then I proceeded to throw up again. Luckily, as I was already in the bathroom, I made it just fine. At that point I went to bed. I don't remember anything else of that flu bug so I must have just slept.

When I was still at Ricks I had an amazing opportunity to take a trip to Paris with the Interior Design Department. When I was in one of the hotels, the toilet clogged and threatened to overflow. I called the front desk. The maintenance guy (Hot Maintenance Guy) who came to fix it had a mop. But when he walked into the bathroom he stopped and looked at me with shock. The toilet hadn't overflowed! Perhaps flooding was common? I told him I had turned off the water. Again, shocked French Man in my room. Was it that I was just so cute, or that a 19 year old American knew how to turn off a toilet? Hello! I didn't want that on my bathroom floor! And THANK YOU Dad, for sharing some handy plumbing tips!

But many people seem to think that they are paying for someone to clean it up anyway. Besides, it's not like they leave the cleaners under the bathroom sink for you to help yourself to! While the hubby and I were managing the Bed and Breakfast, years latter, we got a call from a room that needed a mop. My Darling Adventure Man attended to the guest who had had some kind of food poisoning. When he came back DAM was pretty grossed out. This is a man who hates to changes diapers because, as Bill Cosby says, "He doesn't like surprises."

We, after almost 17 years of working in hospitality have most always worked in boutique resorts. This means they are usually small, remote places. Usually privately owned.  Could you imagine doing housekeeping for one of the big resorts in Las Vegas? Where too much alcohol consumption would more than likely mean that making it to the toilet was hit or miss. (I imagine mostly miss.) And with a society that expects housekeeping to take care of things, I have to really admire the men and women who do it.

Sometimes we can't help it. Sometimes we do it to our selves. Sometimes it's just bad seafood. But whatever it is, leave that sweet housekeeper a tip. You wouldn't want to clean up her mess!