Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Gang's all Here!

Ok, ok, I know this information is old news...but I've been busy. And I have all these cute pictures to post! During our last weekend in Montana, the whole family was able to get together! (well, almost the whole family...Lindsey wasn't able to make it, but she'll be home from Guatemala before we know it!) Tessa flew in Thursday morning, Ben flew in Thursday afternoon, Duffy flew in Thursday night--we were making airport runs all day long! As soon as the gang was all here, the fun could begin. The boys started Friday morning with a round of golf on Eagle Bend. The girls decided to make lunch for our boys and got this great shot when we delivered their sandwiches! (Mike didn't get the memo on the blue shirt, I guess.)

On Friday night, I tried my hand at fish tacos for the first time. Not as intimidating as I thought it would be...they were awesome! Dean walked in the kitchen and saw the pot of oil for frying and said, "Whoa...are we frying something?! I don't think this family has every deep fried anything!" (Growing up with all older sisters, he hasn't had many opportunities to eat homemade cooking that wasn't mostly least not at our house. He's right, I can't think of one time that we have deep fried something in our own kitchen...hee hee.)

On Saturday morning, bright and early, we hit the lake to get some skiing in on the glassy water. At 8:30am, the sun has just come over the mountains, and it is not exactly warm yet. You'll notice how I am bundled up from head to toe. The boys said the water was warmer than the air, but I was still to wussy to get in...not until it warmed up, anyway.

After the boys skiied, Richard, a friend of my parents who is kind enough to pull us all behind his boat, took us out on his other toy--a ski boat he has had since he was a teenager! Check it out! I think that vintage look is coming back!

When we cruised across the lake, it felt like we were almost sitting right on the water. It was super-fun...until we ran out of gas in the middle of the lake...then we had to wait for someone to come and tow us. What an adventure!

On Saturday night, we had a little dinner party and a good friend of my dad's, Tabo, came over to teach us all how to make sushi! It was so much fun! My dad made some beef tenderloin and my mom made some green beans wrapped in prosciutto and a salad to round out the menu (we have been eating well this summer!).
I'm hoping to remember all the things we learned from Tabo about sushi to host my own sushi-making party! It was so yummy! Happy Sumo's got nothing on us!

After a long day, and a fun-filled weekend, we sat out on the newly-extended patio and enjoyed the new fire pit. What a perfect way to end our fabulous summer!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Oh, Canada!

On Saturday, we all piled in the car and took a day trip to Canada. Our destination: Waterton, a beautifully scenic town just on the other side of the border in the province of Alberta. Waterton Lakes National Park borders Glacier National Park in Montana to the south, together making up the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park--a world first.
We crossed the border at the Waterton entry, and the border patrol made everyone get out of the car so that the sniffing dog could search every seat! My mom has crossed the border at Cardston a dozen times and she has never had to get out of the car...note to self: go through Cardston.
When we got to Waterton, we took a two-and-a-half hour boatride down Waterton Lake. It was an absolutely gorgeous day--not too hot, not too cold, nice and sunny. (Three weeks ago, the temperature dropped 40 degrees or more and it started snowing; so, I guess we picked the perfect day to go!) On the boatride, we crossed the border back into the US, which has been cleared into a distinct divide on both sides of the lake.

They widened this divide after 9/11. At the time, the US wanted to build a fence and even include sensors; however, due to the amount of resistance that proposal received, they left it like this.

On the return trip, we saw lots of wildlife! We saw a golden eagle, a bald eagle (in Canada, no less) and a black bear cub! We were hoping that the mama bear would show herself, but no such luck. It was a really incredible trip! It was also really interesting to learn about how the glaciers formed the rocks over time and to see all the different lines in the sedimentary rock.

On the way home, we drove through Glacier National Park and on the road saw a family of Rocky Mountain Rams. What a day!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Brother, the Hero

Last Wednesday, my 15-year-old brother, Dean, returned from a condensed semester at Cambridge University. After scoring incredibly high on the ACT, as a freshman, Dean was invited to participate in a study abroad type program at Cambridge for three and a half weeks. Dean chose to take Quantum Physics and Archaeology while he was there. Are you kidding me?! Apparently on the first day of Quantum Physics, Dean's teacher told the class that none of them would ever probably understand it..."no one really does," she said. In a letter home, Dean said he thought he was starting to get the hang of it, but decided to keep that to himself. When I asked him what kinds of things he learned in Quantum Physics, his answer was pretty much over my head--he talked about electrons, which I got; but after that, he lost me. (And I did take Physics! Dean hasn't even had a physics class yet. Show off.)

Dean had the time of his life in England! And, he was sweet enough to remember those of us back home...he brought all kinds of goodies back for us, including my favorite, HobNobs!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Wild Week of Wildfires

The Flathead Valley in Montana is surrounded by at least 6 raging forest fires comsuming nearly 200,000 acres. I took this picture last Friday evening--right before I took this picture, the smoke was so thick that it completely blocked out the sun. Mike and I had been out to dinner with my parents and when we got back to the car, no more than an hour later, the hood of our car was covered in ash. By Sunday, the situation had worsened and the governor of Montana has declared a state of emergency. Luckily, the fires are far enough away from us that we aren't in any serious danger, but the horrible air quality has limited our outdoor activities considerably.

Busy Work Week

I've been taking an extended vacation from my job this summer while we have been out west, but I did actually have a couple catering gigs last week to keep my busy. First, I helped with the food for a fundraiser for the hospital--my first paying job in months! It wasn't so much cooking that I was asked to help with, but more in a food presentation and maintenance capacity. The host, a neighbor and friend of my parents, asked me to make sure the food looked pretty and the trays stayed full. Not too stressful, but still a good experience.

The bigger project was a wedding reception for 200 guests that I was asked to cater. My mom volunteered my services to a family in her ward when she heard that they were planning to serve just the wedding cake to the guests. She thought I might be able to offer some other options and knew I would be up to the challenge. I compiled a list of the menu items I could offer and sent the three-page document to the bride to review. She came back with 7 or 8 items and I went to work!

The menu consisted of the following:

TURKEY AND SMOKED GOUDA on a mini dinner roll
CHOCOLATE FLOWING FOUNTAIN with fruit and assorted baked goods

The biggest party I have catered to date was for about 60 people, so my biggest challenge was to figure out how much food we needed for 200 guests. After two days of working around the clock preparing all the food, my sous chef (and momma) and I loaded the car with all the food and serving equipment and headed to the reception site. (When I get some serious start up capital for my catering business, my first purchase will be a refrigerated truck! hee hee) The food was a raving success!...or so I was told. I didn't actually get to see people eating the food, since I spent the entire party in the kitchen prepping additional trays to go out. It was an exhausting day, but it was a very valuable experience for me and a very gratifying day of work.

Now I just need to think of a name to go on the business cards. Any suggestions?