Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween (And My Giveaway Winner!)

All Hallow's Eve is finally upon us! It is a gloomy morning in Montana right now (which is exactly how it should be!) Last night, all dolled up, my Mom and I went to The Keep (a great restaurant perched on the hill South of town). We had requested a seat by the window and we could look out over the city and all the lights. We ate filet mignon, drank Fuzzy Navels. For dessert? She got cheesecake and I got chocolate mousse. Mmm!
What a great night! Did I mention the whole time I was in cat ears? He he he.
This is the best picture I could take at the restaurant because of lighting.

After returning home I packed all the little treat bags for today's trick-or-treaters. I always liked using treat bags filled with candy. So much more fun for the kids! I loved going out on Halloween night as a kid. My Dad would dress up too and walk me and my sister all over the neighborhood! Till we had enough candy or our fingers froze (whichever came first!). My Mom would stay home and light all the candles, turn on the autumnal classical music and greet all the little kids that went to our house. (And there were a ton who visited our house!)
My sister and I on Halloween years ago. I'm the tiger. :)

This year, is the first year I'll be home all evening and also in a house that kids go to. My old apartment looked a little spooky, on a rather spooky street. So, no kids. But this year is different! I will put my glowing pumpkin out front, light all the candles, and turn on the autumnal classical music and greet all the kids. I think my Mom would be proud. :)
Another picture of my sister and I. I was so excited to be a ghost that year!
I love the intense expression on my sister. LOL!

I hope everyone has a marvelous time tonight! And now to my giveaway winner! I drew out of a hat (with the help of my cat) and the winner is......

Linda! of Life And Linda. Her blog is wonderful and I encourage
everyone to go over and visit her! (She has the most
beautiful house and I just love her centerpieces) :)
Thanks Linda for all of your sweet comments! I'm so happy
to have met you! Here's what she won:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Festive Saturday

This evening I will be dressing up elegant, in black and orange, to celebrate Halloween with my Mom. We will look fabulous and go out to eat at one of the fanciest places in town. I can't wait! I felt the need to throw a little Halloween spirit into my Saturday morning routine too, so I added some ears to my yoga practice. My instructor couldn't stop smiling. :)

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Photo Challenge: Architecture

It's another Photo Challenge Friday!! I recently went to Butte (as you can see from my last two posts) and took some photos of the architecture there. That city is rich with cool, old, (and often haunted) buildings! :) What a perfect place to peruse before All Hallow's Eve!
Charles Clark Chateau & Museum

Copper Kings Mansion B&B

High Bay Window at the Copper King Mansion

Ironwork at the front entrance of the Clark Chateau. There are two
entrance doors beyond the iron, made of extremely heavy glass and wood.

Head on over to RAZMATAZ's blog to check out the other participants! Have a great, and safe, weekend!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Little Butte Adventure Part 2

So after my less-than-ideal hotel stay in Butte, I had 5 hours to kill in town. What's a girl to do? I actually had a lot of fun and got to see a lot of town. I started with a trip to their shopping mall. Nothing too exciting, but I was on a mission. I have a conference to attend next week and really wanted a black vest to go with my suit. Don't ask me why, but I am obsessed with this vest idea. After searching my favorite stores online, and coming up empty handed, I had doubts. But after the first store I went into in the Mall, they had about 10 different styles! Jackpot! Bought one (on sale too!) and then wandered the rest of the very small shopping center. I was feeling pretty successful at least. Looked at my watch. Now it's noon. 4 more hours. Well, this week's photo challenge by RAZMATAZ had the theme of Architectural Elements. Time to go look at some old-school architecture! If you're looking for cool old buildings, uptown Butte is the place to go. Most of them are on the national historic register and the gingerbread details are awesome. I went to my favorite building, the Charles Clark Chateau and Museum, and realized it was open! I took a bunch of photos of the outside and then paid for my indoor tour. The lady rattled off some info and then sent me on my way to explore the 4 stories. Wow! Built in 1899, it is a vintage beauty. I slowly walked the floors and imagined what it would be like to entertain and live here. The rooms are decadent. Funny though, is the 4th floor ballroom. Very elegant, but used for yoga now! So to one side was a stack of yoga mats, there were Buddha figures everywhere and incense scented the place like Nag Champa. Not quite the 1800s feel, but oh well! I spent a lot of time in the house until I started hearing weird noises. I got spooked and fled. :)
The Chateau's Salon. Hand-painted wallpaper!

Next stop? A few streets away is the Copper Kings Mansion B&B. No tours were offered in October so I instead took photos of the outside. To enter the B&B you need to ring the old brass doorbell and call the hostess. I didn't want to disturb her for a peak around the parlor, so I stayed outdoors. This building is a little rougher than the Chateau but pretty none the less. My favorite part is the huge, carved wooden front door. This house is also haunted! But by only friendly ghosts, I hear. :)After this house I drove the streets and found as many interesting buildings that I could. I didn't photograph most of them, but just took in the old-world charm. Next up? I wanted to visit the Berkeley Pit. Now, for those of you that don't know, the Pit was an open-pit mine that is now RIDICULOUSLY deep, and filled with icky mine waste. Not something a state or city should necessarily be proud of, but interesting still. I have only ever peaked through the fence surrounding it. This time I wanted to pay and go out on the platform to look at it. No luck though. It was closed. :( Shall I peak through the fence again? No...there's creepy people in the parking lot. Moving on quickly!
Berkeley Pit! (Source)
Now it's lunch time so I'm headed to my favorite bakery/deli: Hummingbird Cafe. But, I keep forgetting that I need to come from the other direction to park. I get all turned around. Keep popping up on the wrong streets. I cruise by the front of it about 100 times before I finally get a spot and stop. I must have looked like an idiot! Finally inside I order and turn on the laptop. Lots of work and fun mail to check. Then I get curious and start looking up Butte ghost stories. Eeek! Enough of that! Think of something happy instead! I stuff my face while I try to un-spook myself.
My favorite place to eat! (Source)
I end up with another hour to kill. So I go for a drive. I cruise around the outside perimeter of the city taking in the mountains (with their snow), Our Lady of the Rockies perched up in her high place of honor, and all the old scars from the mining days of this town. It's an interesting contrast to say the least. I finally end up, across the street from the mall, at a Starbucks. Instead of coffee I pull out my cell to phone my Mom and we chat away the rest of my free time. (Mid-conversation I exclaimed with glee that snowflakes were hitting my car. Wahoo!)
Our Lady of the Rockies is a 90ft figure of Mary on the top of a mountain.

Then it was finally time to work again! Off to my subject's houses for sampling, a kind goodbye to my new employee, and I was back on the highway home. The road turned dark before I made it to my own town. Lots of traffic but at least little rain or snow in my way. What an odd two days spent away, but at least I made the best of it! Check tomorrow for more of my architectural shots. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Little Butte Adventure Part 1

I warn you, this is a rambling post... :)

So my field season began on Monday. Me and the Highway back together again. Oh I do think it missed me! I sure missed the open road! Felt good to get back in the car, pick up some coffee, crank the tunes and just cruise. I was headed to Butte this week to finish training our newest employee before setting her free to sample for the winter on her own. She picked up all the skills very quickly and I think we've left Butte in good hands! I arrived in town and met up with my her and then loaded up her car and headed to the very first house of the sampling season. More nice folks! Hurray! The appointment went well and it was now time to go visit one of two grad student friends that I have in Butte. I was supposed to be staying the night with one of them. Hadn't heard from him in a few days though. Text him...nothing. Called is turned off. Hmmm. Called my other friend and asked "Where's Chris??" Her answer? "Utah." What?! So, apparently I was forgotten...time to get a hotel instead! My work office books me a room and I head off for dinner with the other grad student. We finished the meal with a shared piece of pumpkin pie. Mmm! We bid adieu and I walk back to my hotel. Back in the room I start to hear a lot of noise. Oh geez. The folks on the floor above me must have children. Heavy children. There's a real potential they actually have rhinos up there. Thump thump thump. (They must be running.) Thump thump thump. Hopefully they'll get tired and sit down. And then they do! To watch loud TV. I hear the murmur of the television through the ceiling. Oy...And then I hear the folks next door. I'm surrounded. I thought it was bad at home living next to the 21 year olds! I do my best to relax and decide to page through the hotel's guest book of activities and accommodations. Turns out I can't. Why? All the pages are glued together with some mysterious substance. Eew...Ok, put the book down. Go in the bathroom to brush my teeth. There's a goober in the sink. Eew. And a drink ring on the toilet tank. Eew. Dust....everywhere. When was this cleaned?! Ok, enough time in the bathroom. Let's try to sleep instead! It was so noisy in that place, and the bed not comfortable enough, that I didn't fall asleep till midnight! And then at 5 I woke up to rhinos. Rhinos running around all morning (and by the sounds of it moving and dropping every item they can find). Maybe I'll just doze...nope! The housekeepers are at work and they like to slam doors! At 8am! Awesome! So, fully awake, I go to make coffee, and? Coffee maker isn't clean. Eew... *hangs head* This isn't fun anymore! I head down and grab breakfast and make sure the front desk knows I'm NOT staying a second night. I try to work on my laptop at my desk but between the folks upstairs and the constant BANG! of the hall doors I give up. Enough is enough! And now comes the part I really hate. Complaining. I don't like to be that person. I tell the sweet receptionist that this was not a good stay. She looks at me like she's going to cry. I tell her everything that was wrong or icky. She immediately informs the head housekeeper. I was surprised! She then made a list of all my complaints to tell the staff. She then hands me a business card of the general manager and informs me I should call her and let her know. The entire time this lady is being as sweet as can be. She seems like she honestly wants to help! Whew! Felt good to not get glared at. Returned my room key and booked it back to my nice, clean, comfortable car. I should have slept in the parking lot instead! Ha ha! The time is now 11am. I have about 5 hours to kill. In Butte. My options are severely limited. What did I busy myself with? I'll share that in my next post! :)

Remember! I'll be choosing a giveaway winner this coming Sunday! Go here to read the post and enter!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My 100th Post (And a Giveaway!)

Hello friends and followers! Today is indeed my 100th blog post. I started blogging back in January after my Mom started hers. Now, I did have a Live Journal back in high school, but that was only filled with odd poetry and angst. LOL. I had given up on it a long time before, and it's now out there gathering cobwebs somewhere. (Which I probably could have written a dark, thought provoking poem about back then...) So, when my Mom started hers, it looked like too much fun to miss out on. And it has been so much fun keeping up with it! I am excited for every one of my 40 followers and am floored that you guys actually read my blog! And then comment! I thought I'd have one follower: my Mom. :) Through this writing outlet I have met some wonderful people. I have read beautiful stories. I have shared my journey over the last 10 months with all of you people, and you have shared yours. What a cool world this is! I love checking the site every day to see what people have added, and I'm more than thrilled to see a new comment from someone. You all have such interesting tidbits to share and your compliments are sweet and make me grin from ear to ear. As a tribute to my 100th post, and a heart-felt thank you to all of you out there who read, I wanted to host a Fall giveaway. Right smack in the middle of Autumn, and in time for Thanksgiving, I'm offering an adorable pumpkin plaque, a glass pumpkin candy jar, and a cute kitchen towel with (you guessed it) pumpkins on it! I do love pumpkins, don't I? I hope you do too!

To enter, please just add a comment to this post. I will draw a winner next Sunday. If your email address is not listed on Blogger, please provide it in the comment so I can get hold of you if you win. Thanks again to all of you who have brightened my days and enlightened me with all your whit, creativity, and kindness. This blog started as a wonderful outlet for me to share my story of days. You fellow bloggers have made it that much more rich and rewarding. I look forward to your future posts and being a part of this unique community. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Let Me Introduce You To....

...the Witchy Sisters! When I was figuring out what to get my Dad for his Birthday on Sunday, I came across a new post on one of my new favorite blogs, Sassafrass Hill Primitives. The sweet lady that writes it is named Denise and she is an AMAZING craftswoman of the coolest folk art. I was so excited when I first discovered her! Then came her Halloween crafts and after she posted some photos I was hooked! I decided on the Witchy Sisters and after a quick phone call across the country she saved them from her latest show and packed them away for me. Last week they showed up in their box on my step. I was so excited! Inside the box I found the neatly bound Witches (in brown paper and gingham ribbon) and a hanging ornament made from an old Winter print and pieces of pinecone. (Yay for surprise extras! Thanks!)

After delicately unwrapping my purchase, I enjoyed looking at all the wonderful details! The tight, brunette curls. The big, bright eyes and long, thin noses.

So much care had been taken with making this eclectic pair! Right down to their little name tag!

What a perfectly strange gift for my Dad! He was gonna love 'em!

My mother loves these ladies too! (Which is important because she's in charge of the decor at their house!) I wrapped them back up all cozy in their paper, wrapped their box in striped paper and ribbons and presented it proudly to my Dad. He received it with grins and happy laughs. Perfect!

Please head over to Denise's blog (or website) and check out her amazing art. She is an absolute pleasure to do business with and her work is beautiful! :D Thanks again Denise!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Season's Changing

I sit alone at my desk near the window. Everyone else has left for the day. Cole is crooning to me between instrumental versions of Moon River and That's All. The day is sunny, but cold and crisp. Moments of absolute stillness and quiet are surprised by sudden bursts of wind. The leaves give up and fall, and those on foot fight against the force on their coat lapels. There is a sense of urgency out there, of impending cold and frost. Quick, look at the scene before the trees are bare and painted white with snow! It will be here before we know it. I am not afraid of the next change of seasons though, and am long used to frigid Halloweens (coats over costumes, snow under stilettos). This morning greeted us with frost on the windows and flowers, for the first time. I added a layer on my way to work and hid my hands in thick downy pockets. The river still flows, but its color is no longer aqua or green, it's the final midnight blue before it goes black--always inky before the blocks of ice come flowing West, and then the edges freeze over completely. Leaves are slow to change this year, so I await the final act when it all goes red like leafy fire--before the chilly winds come blow it out. It is easy to love this place during an easy, sunny Summer, but to love her as she cools takes a true Montana friend. Seeing her through the cold and rough, rewarded with these vibrant Falls, crystal Winters and inspiring Springs. I look forward to the moment when this amber season gives way to the diamonds of the colder months. What a gift we're given here, so close to nature you can breathe her in, feel her shift and settle with the seasons, recognize the beauty of each dramatic mood. I can't imagine being anywhere else.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Girls Night In!

Last night turned into an impromptu girls night in with my sister. After a busy evening we both plopped down in the living room, tired and seeking entertainment. Before we knew it we were deep into the 6th Season of Sex & the City (I have the series on DVD) enjoying each episode after episode. We sought refreshment in the form of Bohemian Highway Cabernet Sauvignon and after the bottle was empty, giggled our way to the grocery store down the street. We purchased another bottle, a loaf of rosemary foccacia bread, cheese, and cake. Mmm! We were set! We got back home and began where we left off. We laughed and joked and were constantly pausing the DVD to share a story, a memory, or a secret. For the first time in a long time, we went to bed after the college-aged neighbors next door. What a silly and fun night. The best ones are so unplanned!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Under October's Magic Spell

Today is the Barn Chick party hosted by Idyllhours! I went for a fall drive down our Bitterroot Valley the other day and found a lot of barns! There are new ones and old ones, red ones and brown ones. It was a gorgeous day out there! The Bitterroot River flowed low amongst the rocks while the yellow and red trees on the bank shivered in the breeze. The sun was high and the clouds were few! It was a glorious day for photo taking. (Even if I got caught in construction (it gave me time to admire the cows nearby) and was stuck behind a combine on the highway for awhile (he was really nice about it!)) Below are some photos from the road along with some from my home. I am so enchanted by this season and love to decorate for it. I hope all of you keep enjoying Autumn!

The leaves looked so much like watercolors on the sidewalk on my way to work one day, and the other photos are from the Bitterroot.

This bright barn was found on a lone dirt road I took on accident!

Not much left of this old one, but I love the bones.

My autumn wreath adorning my front door.

A bright tree on campus and some images from my home.
Please hop on over to Idyllhours and check out the other
participants in the Barn Chicks Party!

Three Amazing Women

I am particularly inspired and proud of three women in my life right now. These three women are three friends that I love more than anything. Each of them lately have been dealt very interesting and challenging hands and I've been here to observe them as they move through it. If there's one thing I've seen with each one, it's that they are strong, and brave, and ready to tackle anything. They make me proud and are teaching me infinitely important lessons.

One of these dear ladies recently received medical news that would throw us all in a panic. A girl of only 23 years of age, she surprised us all with a reality we never expected should strike someone so young. What has happened since? She has shown me the power of positive thinking. This lady, even in the hospital bed, laughed and grinned and joked the whole while. She took everything in stride and never wavered. She kept thinking positive and believing positive things. She kept smiling. And now she's doing much better, is back at home, and enjoying this Autumn like the rest of us. It reminded me that being positive gives you the power over situations. And she was able to turn her scary situation into a happy ending. :) She is unstoppable!

Another lady has found herself on a path she didn't want to be on. It wasn't in her original plan, and it's not what she originally wanted. At first she seemed frustrated, and upset. (As was I, when I found myself too on a different path than anticipated.) What we discovered together was this: so what! So what that things don't always pan out like we want them too. The journey is still a good one, and everything happens for a reason. I've watched her calm down and take very deliberate steps on this new path. She has accepted where she is at and is bravely moving forward. She reminds me that God would not give her anything she couldn't handle. And I'm learning just how much she can handle! This girl is a fighter and is taking every bend in this new road with strength and courage. I look forward to following her progress as she finally gets to where she was headed all along (even if the path provided was a bumpy one.) Watching her navigate the speed bumps has helped me with my own. :)

The third woman who has been inspiring me has been dealt a little bit of a mystery. Her situation has gone back and forth between understood and confusing. What she's been dealing with has left her with very little energy and I know that this just drives her nuts, a woman who is used to always moving and shaking! Here's a woman who serves others. Always. She is loved by everyone who meets her and touches lives everywhere. She is constantly out making this world a better place, be it by decorating her home all the way to giving a worried teenager someone to trust. She plays a very important role in our community, and especially my life. For her to be forced to slow down has been difficult. It's not her style. She has had to sit back, relax, and let other people come wait on HER for a change! I know her change of lifestyle right now has been unideal, but she's taking it like a trooper and it feels good to help as best I can. She has shown me how to bend with the wind and take things as they come. Even when things are confusing and uncertain, she's still smiling and plugging onward. Soon enough she'll be back to her normal pace, but until then she at least has a huge support crew and lots of love from everyone. She cares so much for so many, that even when she's not feeling 100% she still wants to give 100%, and that to me is amazing. Not all of us give enough to others, be it time, understanding, or love. This woman has it down to an art and it warms me to know that nothing ever gets in the way of that. :) (No matter what life throws her direction!)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Yep, It's Fall!

I walked to work today, coffee in hand, song in my head, enjoying a cool, crisp breeze. Leaves fluttered around me as they quickly evacuated their home trees. They're falling faster lately. A light fog draped herself sleepily on the mountain, reluctant to wake and head home. The sun is low, the river cold, the colors bright in the trees as the sun turns them to stained-glass. Was it Fall? Almost. But as I continued my steps toward work something caught my eye. On the side of the path. In the brown dirt, there lay, a bright piece of candy corn. All alone, dropped by a passer-by. I smiled and thought, "Yep, it's Fall!" Officially. Candy Corn Season. :) Mmmmm.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Photo Challenge: Self Portrait

Hello fellow bloggers! Happy October! Chania over at RAZMATAZ has a new theme for us this Friday and it is Self Portrait! Below is my interpretation: Me, Myself and Eye. :) I love this picture because it originated out of a recent night of photo-snapping with my sister. We giggled and laughed the whole time taking funny pictures. I thought this one was particularly interesting and a fun representation of how an impromptu "photo shoot" can yield artsy results.

Make sure you head over to Chania's blog to see the other participants! Everyone have a fabulous Friday! I'm looking forward to a warm weekend full of Autumn leaves and sunshine!

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