Show & Tell

diy fall wreath

I’ve loved fall before the advent of pumpkin lattes, the tall-boot trend and the  desire to add pumpkin to everything I stuff in my face.

These things have just deepened my love for fall.

In addition to these fall must-haves, I’ve discovered that I need a new fall wreath every year.  Not want.  NEED.

You may remember last year when I fell in love with this guy:

 this might be the winner for fall wreaths...love it.

My heart still skips a beat when I see this.  I love everything about it.

Problem was (and still is), is that it’s made out of cornstalk tops (yes, that’s the technical term).  And lots of them.  I don’t have access to cornstalk tops…so last year I settled for my second favorite wreath, the Nonna wreath from JDC:

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I still love the Nonna, and she’s proudly hanging in our living room again.  But I couldn’t get ‘ol cornstalk-top out of my head, so in an effort to deter myself from poaching a farmer’s field after midnight, I went back to Pinterest  to find an alternative option.

Autumn Wreath   Hand Crafted Fall Wreath   Front Door Wreath For Fall  Natural Wreath   Dried Wreath  Autumn Decor on Etsy, $70.00
Rustic burlap wreath.... Want to make one for our front door with some fall flowers added to it.
Love this front door decor for fall... especially the wheat wreath w/ burlap bow... simple but warm and welcoming
Burlap Fall Wreath for Front Door or Wall | WeHaveWreaths - Housewares on ArtFire  www.facebook.com/CraftCreationsbyJen Twig Wreath. For the front door for Fall.

I liked all of these options (especially the upper-right one)…but then I found this one:

StoneGable: RAFFIA WREATH TUTORIAL....I am for sure making this for the fall!!!

And I knew it was The One.  I mean, it was big, crazy, and disheveled…just like the cornstalk-top one.  Plus, it’s made of raffia, which is easily-accessible.  Unlike cornstalk-tops.

I’m not doing a tutorial here because the one at Stone Gable is great.  I will say a couple of things though:

  • I didn’t bother with hot glue.  Mostly because I bought the full-size sticks instead of the mini-sticks and I was too annoyed to wait until I had time to exchange them.
  • It’s a very messy project.  Don’t do it on your couch while watching America’s Next Top Model.  At least….I hear that you shouldn’t do that….it’s not like I watch that show.
  • The tutorial only instructed you to do 1 row of raffia around the wreath.  I did three.  I like it big.  But because of this, it took a little over 2 hours to do.  Not exactly a speedy process.
  • I can’t find those damn bleached oak leaves for the life of me (ok, I went to one store).   So mine doesn’t have them.  I wish it did though…

So…here she is in all her big, crazy glory:

(oh, and yes.  I did paint my front door black.  Thanks for asking!)

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It’s surprising to me that I like this unruly thing….but oh how I do.  The only thing that could make it better is the bleached oak leaves.  I suppose I could check out more than one a few more stores.  Or I could just strut around in my tall boots with a pumpkin latte eating pumpkin everything.

Yes.  That sounds like a better idea.

What about you?  Do you like clean-cut wreaths or crazy messy ones like this?  Have you made any this fall that I need to see?

P.S.  Did you know that if you subscribe to my blog, or “Like” twsst on Facebook, you’ll know there’s a new post up before everyone else?   You can do either from the right hand column!

i am titanium

Man…I’m a wee bit rusty at this blogging thing.   It took me almost a day to think of a title for this post, to which I’m sure you’re thinking, “and that’s what you came up with?”

Yeah, I know.  But trust me, this was the best option.  Let’s just say that one of the options referenced Justin Bieber.

So yeah, bear with me as I work the kinks out.

Way back in the day I told ya’ll the story about how my husband tricked me into going on my first backcountry skiing experience.  It was touch-and-go at best.  But I kept at it and something magical happened:  I liked it.  I liked it a lot.   So I took an Avalanche Certification class.  I got all the fancy gear and spent some time getting my pack together and organized just-so.  We started getting out often and going on weekend trips to backcountry ski, like here and here.

And then we had a baby and my fancy skis and perfectly-packed pack sat in the corner collecting dust.

Until recently.

This past week the Hubs and I carved out some time to reconnect and spend time together doing something fun and reminiscent of our pre-baby days.   We (correction, “I”….let’s not kid ourselves, the Hubs pack has never collected any dust) dusted off my pack and headed in search of spring snow.

We found it at Trapper Peak.

Trapper is the highest peak in the Bitterroot mountain range just south of Missoula.  It’s about an hour and-a-half drive to the trailhead from our doorstep.   I’m still trying to figure out if it was necessary to pick the highest peak around because (a) it’s spring and snow is hard to find, or (b) The Hubs go-big-or-go-home philosophy.

To be honest I think it was a little of both…and I was skeeeered.  I mean, this thing is over 10,000 ft, ragged and gnarly looking!

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The Hubs planned our ascent which took us from the trailhead to the peak in 4.2 miles (basically the lower red line to the purple line in the topo map below).  If all went well we would only need to hike for a mile or so until we hit the snow line and could skin up (fancy words for “hike with our skis on).

Only 4.2 miles!  No big whoop.  I crush more than 4.2 miles in a lunch run these days.

So we make arrangements for Abby and head out bright-and-early.  We arrive at the trailhead by 10:00 and hope to be at the peak by noon…a fairly conservative estimate, we thought.    When we arrive at the trailhead I notice how lush and green everything is and take a moment to marvel at the pretty yellow daises that seem to welcome us to the trail.  There are bees buzzing and birds chirping, insects flying by.  The air smells of morning dew and spring thaw.  The weather wasn’t quite what we hoped for…the peaks are hanging in clouds and the sun is hiding behind a dense layer of fog.  But I tell myself that it’s still early and it could burn off by the time we reach the peak.

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I load up my pack and grimace a little as I heave it on to my back.  It’s heavy.  I still hike in my alpine boots (the same boots I would use to ski at a resort), not willing to make the investment in the lightweight backcountry boots that weigh half as much.  Although at this moment I’m wishing I had them (as I catch a glimpse of the Hubs practically floating around with his light-weight gear).

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After the obligatory “we’re off!” photo, we start hiking.  It’s steep.  Really steep.   And constant.  There doesn’t seem to be any break from the steepness.

And then I remember…a “mere” 4.2 miles. Well duh.  No wonder it’s such a short hike; it’s steep as hell!

Awesome.

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But I keep going…I keep trudging along…trying not to think about what torture lie ahead.   At this point I’m not really loving it but not really hating it.  I find myself doing Oula dances in my head to take the focus off my burning calves…

I’m bulletproof….nothing to lose….fire away, fire away’
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium!

Seriously.  I think that song got me up half of that damn mountain.  That and Justin Bieber….All around the woooooooorld….people want to be loved.  Do doo doo dooo….do do do dooooo….

Have I lost ya?  Sorry Dad.

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Anyways….of course the Hubs is rocking it.  He runs up a GD mountain on his lunch break so this is nothing.  PLUS his gear is so much lighter than mine that obviously gave him the advantage…right?

An hour in and we’re just finally hitting snow.  I have no idea how far we’ve come but it feels like a long ways.  The GPS says 8,000 feet…so we’ve climbed 2,000 and have 2,000 more to go.  I kind of want to die.

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I’m bulletproof….nothing to lose …..
Fire away, fire away…

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Instead I scarf down a clif bar, get my ski boots on, skin up and head back up the mountain.  We seem to be entering the cloud covered area and everything is dense and foggy.  I could really let myself get creeped out about the eeriness of it all but the Biebs was keeping me going (Baby what you doing? where you at? where you at?).

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We climbed for what seemed like forever.  And then we climbed some more.   Another hour later we were almost to tree line.  I was still in good spirits but starting to wear down.  Afterall, we thought we’d be to the top by now (it was noon) and we still had 1.3 miles and 1300 feet to go.  I think the Hubs was trying to be helpful when he said “Sweet, just 1300 feet….like climbing up Mt. Sentinel!”   I secretly gave him the side eye and said, “yep, just like Mt. Sentinel!”

This is Mt. Sentinel:

I’m not sure any amount of Bieber could motivate me up that.  (After reading this you probably think I’m a total Bieber fan….but this is actually the first time I’ve probably ever typed or even said his name…hahaha.).

This was the actual view of Trapper from that point:

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We obviously misjudged the time it would take for us to climb up 4,000 ft carrying all of our gear.  And I certainly didn’t account for the altitude.  I definitely noticed a difference skinning the higher up we got…but I wasn’t sure if it I was just getting tired (over two hours of constant climbing) or the fact that we were now around 9,000 feet.

We decided to climb for another hour and see where we got.  The Hubs took off like a bat out of hell towards the peak which we could see intermittently between fog banks.  Per usual I trudged a long behind muttering something about pacing myself.  The higher we got the more fog started to blow off and patches of sun came through.  It was really beautiful watching the peaks come in-and-out of it, but it also made it hard to judge how far we had to go.  Plus, I’m pretty sure I was missing out on what was an amazingly majestic view.

It didn’t take too long to get above tree line which I have to say was pretty cool.  Gone were the snow-covered trees and winding white bark pine.  Instead we had wide open spaces that lead to the rocky peaks above us.

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Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away

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As we approached the peak I started to wonder how exactly we were going to get to the tippy top.  It was surrounded by a boulder field (rocks as big as a car) that weren’t completely covered in snow.  There wasn’t a direct path but there looked to be a few ways you could snake through them to get to the top.  To be honest, I wasn’t convinced the effort was worth it.  Part of me thought “you HAVE to get to the peak…you’ve come this far!  You’re so close!”  and the other part thought “who the hell cares, I’m tired.”   In the end, the devil on my shoulder won.  When we got to the saddle about 300 feet below the peak I called it….”Are we done?”  I yelled to The Hubs.  “What??  You’re done???” he replies.

Yes.  Yes I’m done.   And I could care less that I didn’t make it to the tippy top.  This counts damn it.

You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium

I made my way to a small rock pile to rest, get my skins off and eat my lunch.  The Hubs wanted to climb just a little bit futher so he took off up the mountain.  Show off.

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As I sat on the rock (at nearly 10,000 ft) eating my PB&J I couldn’t help but notice how SILENT it was.  There was no wind.  No birds.  No bees.  No crunch of snow as I skinned.  No heavy breathing.  No songs running through my head. It was literally complete and utter silence that I can’t even describe.  That I’m not even sure I’ve ever truly HEARD before, because when I thought about it, it’s a fantastically rare occurrence in life.  Just me, sitting alone at the top of this giant mountain as the fog rolled in and out between the peaks.  It was almost surreal and at the same time extremely beautiful.

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Not much later I finally heard something – the familiar “whaaaa hoooo!”  from the Hubs which usually indicates he’s either skiing powder, drunk, or running a rapid.  He met up with me at the rock and we took some more photos while getting ready to descend.   I think we were both waiting around to see if it was going to clear up at all so we could take what had to be amazing views.  But it never did and we gave in to the excitement of skiing after working so hard to get there.

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15 minutes later we were back to dirt and putting on our hiking boots.   Funny how that works.  Such is the life of a backcountry skier and earning your turns.

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The decent was soooo much better than the trip up (well, not if you asked my knees).  And it was really cool to leave the cold, foggy snow and transition to the budding trees, blooming flowers and sounds of the forrest.   I was tired but I was still riding the high of actually accomplishing such an awesome feat.

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That’s the thing about doing stuff like this.  I don’t really consider myself extreme, although some of my friends may think I’m a wacko to carry my skis on my back up a mountain.   I know not everyone would entertain the idea and I’m not sure that I would seek something like this out if it weren’t for The Hubs.  But I like it, I really do.  Sometimes I just need to remind myself of that when I think I don’t have the time or ability to do it anymore.  Once I get past  the mental side of it (this is going to be hard, I may not like all of it, it could be dangerous) and just let myself enjoy it (because I have the knowledge, skill and ability to do it)….I’ve never regretted it.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get after accomplishing something that you’re a little scared or is outside your comfort zone.

Basically you feel like a bad ass.  Or something like that….hahaha.

We stopped to take a few pictures on the way down because of course the fog started to lift and the views were incredible.   I will definitely be returning to see this from the top when there’s no fog around.

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And of course we had some victory beers (and dry clothes) in the car to celebrate our outing.   Nothing ever tasted so good.

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10,000 ft (4,000 climbed)
30 lb pack
4.2 of the longest miles I’ve ever crossed
3.5 hours up
1.5 hours down
1 giant gnarly peak

Yep.  I am titanium.

Not sure what song I’m talking about?  Watch this.  The video is a little strange, but you’ll get the idea.

abby’s birthday

Let’s just go ahead and pretend that it hasn’t been 3 months since I’ve posted….ok?

Ok.  Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I thought it was due time I shared a bit about Abby’s birthday with you.  She turned 1 earlier this month and we of course had a little celebration.   I actually really struggled with how much of a party it needed to be; do you keep it simple or do you go-big-or-go-home?   Part of me really wanted to have a big party with a theme and decorations and everything-Pinteresty.   But the other part of me just kept thinking….dude.  She’s 1.

In the end, my rational-brain won and we decided to have a small family get together with our immediate family.  Because when I actually sat down and thought about it, the only thing I really cared about for Abby’s birthday was (1) making it special to her and (2) making her cake.   Besides, we have about 18 more years of birthdays that can be over-the-top if she wants.  For now, we were keeping it simple…and just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it can’t be kind of Pinteresty (are you following me?  You should!).

The Hubs and I are lucky enough that both of our parents and all of our siblings live close enough to drive to town for the day.   Wait, let me rephrase.  The Hubs and I are lucky enough that we have parents and siblings willing to drive upwards of 2 hours for a 1-year olds birthday party.   And since her birthday is in February, we decided a sledding party might be in order (sorry Abs, you’ll probably have lots of sledding parties….at least until you can ski).

We have a big park in the back of our house with a couple of rolling hills (great for mini-sledding) and a bigger hill (great for big-kid or brave-adult sledding).

So the plan was to do some late-morning sledding, come in for some chili and  then do cake.   And even though nearly all of the snow melted into a giant ice/snow rink the week before her birthday (thanksalotglobalwarming) we were still able to get some sliding around done.   And it was a beautiful bluebird day to boot.

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I’d say she enjoyed it…..

So then it was time for chili.  Isn’t chili just one of those awesome comfort foods?  I love me some chili.  I made our favorite elk chili and then this tasty little number:


(image from ambitious kitchen)

Sweet potato, black bean and quinoa chili with smoked chipotle.  Go make it now.  Seriously.  Go.   Now.  It’s amazing.   I used to think nothing could beat our elk chili recipe but I was wrong….this is just as good if not better.  And it’s vegetarian (gasp).

We had all of the fixings of course, my award winning maple cornbread, fritos, sour cream, vinegar (please tell me you put vinegar in your chili too?), green onions, cheese….mmmm.   Maybe what I like most about chili is all of the fixings you get to put in it.  But I digress.

Birthdays are mostly about cake, are they not?  And I knew I wanted to make Abby’s cakes.  In fact, I hope I always make her cake…it’s something my mom used to do for me and something I want to do for her.

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Hellooooooo doll cake!   You were my favorite!  And wow, Mom, I just realized you broke out the CHINA for my birthday.  Looks like we were slumming it with the paper plates for Abby.

I’ll spare you the details of making Abby’s cake….but let’s just say making a cake from scratch is not always easy.  And sometimes one itsy teeny weeny mistake like using PAM can mess the ENTIRE thing up.   Don’t use Pam.

I have to say though, I am quite pleased with how this all turned out.   Yes.  Quite pleased.   Because no matter how many awesome ombre cakes there are on Pinterest, I guarantee you there is not ONE tutorial out there for how to do it.   I should write one; but who am I kidding, I don’t blog.

Gah.  Too many words.  Let’s just get to the pictures, shall we?

IMG_4975 Do you love that banner so much like I do?  I wish I could say I made it.

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 IMG_4992 I wish you could see the candle holders up close!  They are a fish, duck and pheasant.  So incredibly appropriate for a hunters daughter.  And actually pretty darn cute.

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The “1” was actually a last-minute decision.  But I’m glad I did it!

IMG_4997 And now…the Pièce de résistance

IMG_5036 Oh you pretty little cake…how you tortured me so.

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IMG_5029 Don’t let these pictures fool you.  She did not, I repeat not like cake.  There was no smashing.  No laughing.  No sticking her face in it.  No having to tear it away as she screamed for more.  She just really wasn’t interested.   Maybe next year.  Or maybe it just needs to be in the shape of a doll.

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IMG_4982 Here’s her birthday present.  She loves it.  Not actually sitting on it, but she loves standing on the chairs or laying on the table.  Cuz that’s safe.

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IMG_5005 Sorry, can’t talk right now…I’m riding a pony.

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And just like that, the party was over.

Sometimes I can hardly believe that she is a year old already and sometimes I think she ought to be 5 by now.   In fact I ran across a quote the other day that really resonated with me…

“The days are long, but the years are short.  Don’t blink.”

I try to remind myself of that often.  No matter how long the day (or night) may seem, these years really will fly by.

Now can we just look at this again please?

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springith hath sprungith

Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement after my last post!  Abby has spent two nights in her crib (still swaddled) and seems to be doing well.  The first night she slept from 9-6 (wow!) and last night from 9-3.   I think the biggest thing I learned from ya’ll is that change is the only constant (like most things in life).   Which is a tough pill to swallow, but oh-so-true. 

But enough about me and my baby drama…let’s talk about something fresh and new and pretty!

Last fall I planted a few things around our yard hoping to reap the benefits this spring.  I don’t have much of a green thumb so I was slightly nervous about seeing anything this spring. 

But reap I did. 

Remember when I planted this little bedding area by our fence?

It’s an itty-bitty area, but I was able to squeeze in two peonies and about 10 tulips.  The hop plant has been there for a few years and are the bane of my existence.  Sorry Hubs, I know you like them.   But they really are pain in the arse.  They’re just too unorganized and crazy for my liking. 

Anyways, I was pleasantly surprised to find this come spring:

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TWO peonies popping up,

TEN tulips raring to go,

And ONE crazy ass hops plant nearly to the top of the fence already.  (Seriously people….if it’s already to the top of the fence, we are in for some crazy ass vines this year!)

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I know the peonies are kind of hard to see….but they’re rockin’ too (the picture below is probably best for seeing them)!  In fact, it’s about time I purchased a couple of tomato cages for them.   My sister recommended using them since the blooms are often too heavy for the stems. 

I will surely be back with an update once these guys bloom.  I love nothing more than a peony!

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Oh!  And let us not forget the garlic I planted last October! 

Remember?

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I’m happy to report that it too is chugging right along. 

The plan here is to let them grow until early July – then they’re ready for the picking. 

I’m a little bummed that of the eight cloves I planted, only five came up.  But that’s ok…I’ll just know to plant a few more this fall. 

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Isn’t it wonderful when things go according to plan?  I sure think so.  

And aren’t these tulips ah-maz-ing? 

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Did anyone else do any successful fall planting?