Every Life has a Sister Ship

June 25, 2016

Sadie

My niece Sadie, she is so dramatic and theatrical and she shines on stage and behind the camera. So it’s totally natural that she would want to gift her best friend a photo shoot for her birthday. Sadie politely asked if I would snap some shots behind the camera for the two of them. I told her I wasn’t much of a portrait photographer but when you’ re fourteen I am not sure you care as much about the photographer as long as you get to play behind the camera. She’s such a sweet girl and has the gift of sweet talk so I threw aside my lack of self confidence to call myself any kind of photographer (a story for another time) and said “sure thing Sade”. However, for one reason or another, probably Montana weather, the shoot was cancelled back in April and I finally cleared space for them last week.

Sadie and Ellie

Look at these two. They’ve just graduated junior high and they have their whole lives ahead of them. Looking through the lens, I couldn’t help to see my summer leading into high school. That summer seems so distant yet so idyllic. Moving cows in cutoff shorts and a bikini top and lazy afternoons around the pool eating stacks of Grandma’s sugar cookies and Grandpa’s favorite Hershey toffee nuggets. I laugh now because I use to give my Dad such a hard time about his white legs. Now its jeans, cover ups and white legs for me too. I think for a moment there, I actually wished I was 18 years younger with tan lines and not a calorie care in the world. Anyways, I had so much fun with these girls. I told them we’ll do it all over again the summer before they venture off to university.

I’ve recently given a lot of muscle in converting the cardboard box maize upstairs into a guest bedroom. I get in these organizing moods sometimes. So it seems I’ve been Spring cleaning since Spring. I’m also determined to figure out a system to keep my personal life and work life on track. I currently rely on stacks of notebooks. It doesn’t work though. It use to work when I was an engineer with one job and one notebook and what seems like a sharper memory. While trying to consolidate and encrypt my notebooks I found a scribble “Poem, The Blue House”. Wondering the context, I searched the poem and after reading it found it very relevant in my life right now and perhaps yours and the girls’ too.

It’s easy to day dream about the good ol’ days or perhaps a chapter we never read but think we should have read. Tomas Tranströmer writes in the poem “Every life has a sister ship. One that follows quite another route than the one we ended up taking. Whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

It’s important to acknowledge and live in the present and be forever thankful. It’s also important to know yourself. Can you be happy and content saluting your sister ship from shore? If not, I say take command of your sister ship too! If you find yourself struggling at times, I have found great power and transformation in seeing the familiar from a new, more distant perspective. Sometimes that’s all it takes, perspective. Trust me, I had to walk a half mile down our driveway to see from a new angle that our little farmhouse might actually be the perfect place right now!

Friends

The Blue House

It is night with glaring sunshine. I stand in the woods and look towards my house with its misty blue walls. As though I were recently dead and saw the house from a new angle.

It has stood for more than eighty summers. Its timber has been impregnated, four times with joy and three times with sorrow. When someone who has lived in the house dies it is repainted. The dead person paints it himself, without a brush,  from the inside.

On the other side is open terrain. Formerly a garden, now wilderness. A still surf of weed, pagodas of weed, an unfurling body of text, Upanishads of weed, a Viking fleet of weed, dragon heads, lances, an empire of weed.

Above the overgrown garden flutters the shadow of a boomerang, thrown again and again. It is related to someone who lived in the house long before my time. Almost a child. An impulse issues from him, a thought, a thought of will: “create. . .draw. ..”  In order to escape his destiny in time.

The house resembles a child’s drawing.  A deputizing childishness which grew forth because someone prematurely renounced the charge of being a child. Open the doors, enter! Inside unrest dwells in the ceiling and peace in the walls. Above the bed there hangs an amateur painting representing a ship with seventeen sails, rough sea and a wind which the gilded frame cannot subdue.

It is always so early in here, it is before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. I am grateful for this life!  And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.

A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands.

-Tomas Tranströmer

Sadie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie | Last of the Lilacs

June 4, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

I made this pie for my brother-in-law’s birthday a couple weeks ago. I did not personally craft this recipe but I will definitely be keeping it close by. If you have a husband, boyfriend or boy friend I am confident promising this pie will win you all kinds of favors and brownie points.  Plus Father’s Day is just around the corner so this takes away the time and energy thinking about what do get Dad.

I just want to say, this pie is as easy as 1-2-3 and you’ll take home the blue ribbon. Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie // serves 8

WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR THE CRUST // by Baking Bites

10 large/double graham crackers
6 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. unsweetened raw cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions here.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR THE FILLING // by Crazy for Crust

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 c. heavy whipping cream, cold
3 Tbs. powdered sugar

Directions here. Note I used the above baked chocolate crust.

Lilacs

Birthday Pie

Spring Gardening | Tomato Tips

May 17, 2016

Heirloom Tomato

I was flipping through a gardening magazine over the weekend and came across an advice column with the following tips for growing beautiful tomatoes. Thought you might be interested, ’cause who doesn’t love fresh summertime tomatoes.

I also wanted to share a song with you ‘Steady Heart‘ that I recently discovered through my yoga class playlist. One word. Repeat.

Here are 6 ways to maximize your tomato harvest!

Support your plants
Sturdy metal cages or wooden ladders keep plants upright, prevent broken stems and make harvesting easier.

Water deeply
Keep the entire root zone evenly moist by watering slowly and deeply – a soaker hose is ideal. Avoid daily sprinklers, which result in a shallow root system. This was a new concept to me but I tried this approach last summer and I think it made a huge difference.

Apply mulch
Once the soil warms up, a supply of 2″ or 3″ layer of organic mulch, such as straw, to conserve soil moisture. This helps minimize blossom end rot, which is caused in part by fluctuating moisture levels. I rake my weed free (okay kind of weed free) grass clippings and spread a layer around the tomatoes. It also helps keep the weeds under control.

Fertilize regularly
Tomatoes are heavy feeders. Fertilize plants monthly throughout the growing season to keep them strong and productive. I also plant my tomatoes with a couple Tums (two or three per plant).

Prune suckers
Pinch off suckers (the shoots that form where side branches meet the stem), especially those that grow below the first flower cluster. Allows more energy for producing delicious fruit!

Troubleshoot
Examine plants daily looking for signs of trouble – chewed leaves, for example, or spots on foliage or stems. Get to know the insect pests and diseases common in your region so you’ll recognize them early, when control is easiest. I just cross my fingers on this one. No, I am trying to learn more and more with each season. It takes time, like anything.

Cooper Hereford Ranch

Crab Apple Blossoms

Chocolate Espresso Everything Ice Cream Cake

April 15, 2016

Birthday Cake

Ice Cream Cake

HELLO! I can’t believe it’s been months since the last recipe I shared. So sorry.

Now that it’s spring, I am feeling inspired and motivated by longer days and fresh colors. My eyes have been fixated on green’s grand entrance into the pastures and markets. Hallelujah. I no longer have to rely on soups and stews to carry me through the winter.  So I am going to try and put my best foot forward again but I have to tell you I am still learning how to juggle and I am not very good at keeping all my balls in the air. And I hate to say it but this site always seems to find ground first.

Geez, now I’m feeling like I should have shared a recipe highlighting the fresh flavors of spring instead of this delicious ice cream cake. Well not really, ha! I love ice cream cake and we celebrated Luke’s birthday last weekend so this recipe seems fitting. I also kind of think if you don’t like ice cream cake, well that sucks for you! Plus the best part about making a homemade ice cream cake is the truth in the ol’ saying, “If a little is great and a lot is better then way too much is just right”! So go hog wild here. Throw everything in that bowl. Brownie bites, cocoa nibs, chocolate chunks, walnuts, marshmallows….you get it. This is ‘Your Everything’ ice cream!

So the funny thing about this ice cream cake is its what I call a ‘zero sum’ dessert. Do you know what I am talking about? When you balance a healthy decision with a not so healthy one.  So in this case, the cake is gluten free, calls for coconut oil, which we all know is the go-to oil these days in healthy living blogs and magazines and well if I had coconut sugar that would have been great too because its low on the glycemic index. But then I go and defy my healthy decisions with a quart of decadent dairy! See this cake is what I call a ‘zero sum’ dessert. But the bad news is just the other day I read an article that made the point that being “good” isn’t about zero sum. Well shit! However, the article has nothing to do with diet or healthy eating but actually about the buzz on how eating less meat would solve global warming. The article is a little dated (2014) but offers an interesting perspective from the other side. If you like you can read it here. But somehow when I read this article I immediately correlated the idea of ‘zero sum’ to my cooking and baking practices, which point proven here! However I’m not totally convinced that ‘zero sum’ is bad practice, but perhaps I will try harder to win all the way around next time!

Hope you are getting outdoors!

Luke's Birthday

Chocolate Espresso Everything Ice Cream Cake / Serves around 14-16 depending on the slice!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED (cake)

165 g. coconut oil
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1/4 c. maple syrup
4 eggs, separated
110 g. coconut sugar
3 c. almond meal

HOW TO MAKE IT

Recipe here. I was low on coconut oil so only 130 grams made it into the sauce pan. I used raw cocoa powder. I didn’t have coconut sugar in my pantry so substituted for granulated white sugar. And I was low on almond flour so added a little oat flour. Despite my poor grocery planning, the base was still incredibly chocolatey and fudgy, which is all that really matters. Am I right?!

I baked the cake in a greased and lined 9-inch spring form pan. Allow it to cool and then top with ice cream. If you don’t feel like making homemade ice cream just buy your favorite quart. Freeze the cake for a couple of hours so the ice cream can set but I recommend removing from the freezer for 15-20 minutes prior to serving.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED (ice cream)

2 c. whole milk
2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 whole vanilla bean
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbs instant espresso
10 oz. semi sweet chocolate
Everything / chocolate chunks, walnuts, coconut, brownie bites (like I said, a little is good and more is better)

HOW TO MAKE IT

Use ingredients above and follow my Serviceberry Ice Cream recipe.

Note: Pour custard through fine mesh strainer over vanilla, chocolate and espresso. Wait a minute or two for chocolate to melt before stirring.

Yellowstone National Park |10|10|10|

February 2, 2016

WY 9

A couple years ago my girlfriend had this great idea to winter vacation in Canada. Not quite the type of vacation I had in mind. But she’s a California girl and wanted a change of seasons. So she did some major arm twisting and my sister and I met her in Montreal and Quebec City. When I returned I swore the only winter vacations I would be taking again would require sun, sand and salt water. So when Luke’s mom asked if we would join her in Yellowstone National Park for a winter vacation, I was a little hesitant. Why does everyone want to vacation in the snow? People I live and work in the snow, I don’t want to play in it too. However I have to say I am thankful that Jayne planned this trip. Yellowstone is the place to visit in the winter. I’m serious it’s magical. Just don’t tell everyone! So I thought I what share my 10|10|10 and of course a handful of my favorite shots.

WINTER IS BEST.

1. Numbers are low. Yes temperature, but also tourists. If you want to see Old Faithful front and center or drive through the park without road rage then this is probably the best reason to visit the park in the winter. A ranger told me that 4.1 million people visited the park last year with the majority vacationing from late spring to early autumn. So let me paint a picture for you; the people of Montana could visit the park 3 times and still wouldn’t exceed the total number of visitors from last year. There’s just something to be said about visiting the park when there’s probably more bison and elk then homo sapiens.

2. Photography.  Whether you are a professional or novice behind the lens, I swear you can’t take a bad picture during the winter months. The animals pop against the white backdrop and the landscape is so mysterious with steaming geysers.

3. Bombardiers. Have you seen these retro snow coaches before? They were originally used for military snow operations but now they chauffeur you around to different areas of the park. Rumor has it they are going to retire but I don’t believe it. They’re iconic. Bring a blanket and keep a lookout for wildlife!

4. Grizzlies. Or lack of. Don’t get me wrong, it would be pretty wild to see a grizzly but that’s more excitement than I care for on the trail. So I enjoy the peace of mind that comes with winter hibernation.

5. No traffic. Most the park is closed to vehicular traffic which means you can head out for a quiet ski on a road that would normally be bustling in the summer. The park is your playground.

6. Old Faithful. No need to rub elbows with tourists. I hate to say it but I actually enjoyed browsing through the very interactive interpretive center until a couple minutes before when I watched the eruption through the floor to ceiling windows. I was warm and had a clear path. What more could I ask for?

7. Ice skating. Who doesn’t like the idea of skating around a rink hand in hand with your husband. Luke took me ice skating once and I have a feeling that was a first and last. But that shouldn’t stop you from dragging your significant other on the ice. The Snow Lodge has a nice setup out back with lights and a burning fire plus you can borrow a pair of skates for free!

8. The Boiling River. Soak in a natural hot springs on the Gardiner River. Trust me your body will thank you after all that skiing. Suits required so don’t be that guy.

9. Wildlife. With a white backdrop the animals are easier to spot. Plus they are more concentrated in certain areas of the park in the winter. I have yet to see a wolf but I hear odds are higher in the winter since they are more active. And again, the white backdrop.

10. Frozen waterfalls. There are a couple trails in the park where you can ski or snowshoe to a frozen waterfall. I’ve seen my fair share of flowing waterfalls but not many frozen.

WY 2

WY 7

WY 8

WY 1

DON’T FORGET

1. Have you ever been hangry? Haven’t heard this word before.

Hangry: adj. a state of angry caused by lack of food; hunger causing a negative change in emotional state.

Luke is very familiar with this word which is why he usually carries some sort of bar along with him in case I have an emergency. If you stay at the Snow Lodge there is only one way in and one way out and that’s either on a snow coach or snowmobile. The mercantile is closed and your only two options are the Snow Lodge Dining Room and the Grille. And trust me you will probably tire of the menu if you stay more than one night. You can request a packed lunch but personally I prefer my own snacks.

Snacks I packed. Oranges and Apples/Sesame Honey Cashews/Nut Bars/Oatmeal Cookies/Chocolate/Hard Candy/Plantain Chips

2. Dinner reservations. So I mentioned above that you are pretty isolated at the Snow Lodge and your only dining options are limited so that means make your dinner reservations when you book your room otherwise you will be eating the early bird special or be the last seated.

3. A good read. The days are short which means after a good day of skiing there is still plenty of time to kill around the fire place with a book and a cold brew.

4. Skis and snow shoes. There are miles and miles of groomed trails. I was actually surprised to see trails groomed for skate skis. Obviously more Nordic trails but the best way to see the park is on skis or snowshoes so save some money and pack your own. You do have the option to rent but if I can save a couple bucks I will!

5. Camera. The park is breathtaking, really, and like I said you can’t take a bad photo.

6. Binocs. This is one item I always remember after I’m on the road. Sometimes the wildlife is up close and personal but if you get the opportunity to watch a pack of wolves feast on a bison carcass from a distance you’re gonna want the option to pull our your binocs.

7. Sunscreen and sunglasses. Sometimes these two items can be easy to forget when temps are low.

8. Flask and Whiskey. Nothing warms you quicker from the inside out when the sun starts setting.

9. Tours. The snow coach from Mammoth to Snow Lodge is about four hours and some of the Bombardier tours are all day. Just think it’s good to know when you are planning.

10. Wine. If you have room in your luggage it doesn’t hurt to throw in a bottle or two. Like I said, you spend your fair share of time around the fire place reading and drinking before your dinner seating and if you are done skiing at 4 p.m. your tab can add up quickly. The lodge didn’t seem to mind if you shared a bottle around the fire place.

WY 3

WY 11

WY 4

WY 10

WY 14 READ MORE

Los Cabos

January 12, 2016

Mexican Flowers

parasailing and surfing
Farm to Table 2

beach life

 

About a month ago the entire Cooper Clan (yes, all 13 of us) flew south to Los Cabos for our bi-yearly family vacation. In December I was compressed between holiday festivities and to-do lists and now busy on the ranch with calving in full swing. But I finally got around to sharing some highlights from the trip. If you read the first post on the new site, you know I would love to hear your (constructive) two cents regarding recent and upcoming posts. What did you like or find helpful? What did I miss? That sort of thing.

Let me just repeat that this was a family vacation, which means we were trying to accommodate 13 personalities. Ha!

To give you a timeline which the following took place, we stayed 7 nights and 8 days, which I think was plenty to explore the Los Cabos area and outside areas that are less touristy.

Day Trip to Cerritos Beach and Todos Santos (North – West)

Cerritos beach is the perfect spot to kill a morning surfing the Pacific. You have the option to take a hour lesson. The guys we had were great; very friendly and attentive and don’t care if you’re a beginner beginner, if you know what I mean! After an hour + lesson you can keep your board and play in the waves until you tire or get a salt/sand/board rash. And trust me you will probably get both. But if a workout and rash isn’t your idea of a vacation then relax on the beach under an umbrella while one of the local ladies massages you for $20. Yes $20. Head north a little further and grab lunch at a little farm to table restaurant outside of Pescadero. The al fresco restaurant is surrounded by gardens and native fruit frees. The hibiscus tea is incredibly refreshing coming from the beach. I ordered the carrot ravioli with pesto and local ricotta. It was delicious. The menu is limited so I am guessing between the 13 of us we sampled every dish. You can’t go wrong. Continue north even further to the little town of Todos Santos. Luke and I honeymooned in Todos four years ago and boy has it changed. First off, the highway from Los Cabos was dirt. What took us over three hours four years ago only took us an hour +/-. The overhead electrical wires are being relocated underground and all the dirt roads are being replaced with stamped concrete. More tourists and I am sure there will be more in years to come. So get to this cute quaint town before it loses its charm.

Check out the rooftop bar at the Gauycura and there are a number of delicious restaurants in town. Trust me, we ate at all of them over our honeymoon! (Michael’s at the Gallery and La Casita Tapas being my favorites)

Day Trip to Miraflores and Santiago (North – East)

Miraflores is a another quaint little Mexican town. Pretty quiet. The day we visited the townspeople were preparing for what looked like a holiday festival. People were busy sweeping the streets and brushing a fresh coat of paint on the sidewalks and buildings.

Santiago is also another quiet town. We checked out the Palomar, which use to be a popular hangout for the Hollywood crowd. Folks like John Wayne and Bing Crosby visited for the world class white-winged dove hunt (now illegal). I don’t think you will find the rich and famous there today but its a nice place to sip on a cerveza! We decided to take a dirt road outside this little mountain town to the waterfall. Its similar to a state park so there is a small entrance fee for the day. Its not a far hike and well worth the pesos. There are a couple big freshwater swimming pools fed by a waterfall. We did not know what to expect but next time I would pack a picnic and beers and spend a good part of the afternoon basking in the sun and dipping in the pools!

Chileno Beach.

A very low key beach between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Not many people, decent snorkeling and great swimming. The beach is extremely clean, no dogs are allowed and you can rent an umbrella for a small price tag. Perfect for my fair skinned Irish husband! We spent a lot of time flopping around in the salt water on this vacation. The beach is cheap entertainment for both adults and kids. I suggest packing tortilla chips and local pico de  gallo, jicama with lime and the Mexican spice that seems to hold its hand everywhere and of coarse cervezas. Quick, easy and a must for all your beach days! Don’t forget a frisbee or football and books, mags and/or journal.

Cabo San Lucas. 

If you walk to the beach adjacent to the Marina I am sure there are a bazillion companies that would love to take you and yours parasailing. Parasailing was the one thing all the kids wanted to do on this vacation and it was a big hit. They absolutely loved it. I parasailed the last time the entire family vacationed in Cabo so I volunteered to be an extra on the boat and take photographs this go around. The two man crew that took the seven of us out was incredibly friendly and entertaining and made the experience that much more enjoyable! After you can get done parasailing walk to Claro Fish Jr. for crunchy fish tacos. Possibly the best fish tacos I have eaten to date and trust me, I have eaten my fair share. Don’t miss this place. The fixings bar with an assortment of salsas, slaws and cucumbers was a plus.

San Jose del Cabo. 

San Jose del Cabo is considered old town. If you head down to the central square there are lots of cute little shops. Great for picking up souvenirs. They have lots and lots of nativity sets that are absolutely beautiful. If my sister wouldn’t have gifted me one last year I would have bought one. There was a beautiful one painted in neutral and gold colors. It was stunning. Grab a homemade popsicle made from fresh ingredients at Paletas Michoacan across the street from the church. I chose walnut and licked everyone else’s and am confident I would make the same decision next time! However grape seemed to be the runner up. Who would of thought?

We only ventured into Old town once so didn’t have the time to experience the Thursday night art walk. Remember, trying to accommodate 13 personalities on this trip! But we did spend an evening at Flora Farms, the farm to table venue located outside of San Jose del Cabo. Beautiful grounds, wonderful ambiance and music and delicious food. But don’t be mistaken, this place feels more like California than Mexico. The menu was not authentic; which was a disappointment for me because cooking and eating authentic foods is the surest, truest way to a country’s soul. Plus it’s very expensive. This is just my opinion, perhaps you need to confirm yourself!

I only ate at one restaurant in San Jose del Cabo; Taqueria Rossy. Its good but the parking is definitely tricky! But my friend recently visited and she seemed to like the following. La Lupita & Mezcal / La Osteria / Lolita’s  & Mi Ensaladas.

La Paz (North – East)

We did not make the day trip to La Paz this time. But when Luke and I honeymooned in Todos we took a boat tour around the different islands in the Sea of Cortez. We snorkeled and swam at different locations and stopped on a beautiful beach for lunch. Our captain’s wife made ceviche which was delicious.We organized this trip through the Hotelito in Todos Santos. I would highly recommend it.

Cabo Pulmo and Los Frailes (North – East)

We didn’t make it to the National Marine Park of Cabo Pulmo and the town of Frailes but I wish we did. The area has the only living coral reef in Western North America. People from all over the world come here for the snorkeling and diving. I hear you don’t even have to get your hair wet to see all the beautiful aquatic life. Next time, or if you go tell me all about it!

Adios!

Mexican Color

molly

mexican plant life

New Year | New Site !

December 31, 2015

3

Did you have a Merry Christmas?

I trust you are Fat and Happy after a month of holiday parties!

I really do wish that expression held true.  Especially after a month of self-indulgence!

I spend eleven months out of the year trying to maintain a balanced diet and live by the philosophy ‘everything in moderation’. So honestly, by the time December rolls around, I intentionally forget about the numbers . I mean it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t at least have one New Year resolution to oust sugar. So bye-bye brown butter cookies for breakfast and hello quinoa pancake topped with a fried egg and avocado.

So forget about Fat and Happy, how about a Happy and Healthy New Year. Those words seem a little more synonymous.

I want to share the new site with you. Yes, it’s a New Year and there’s a New Site! Pitchforks and Pomegranates has evolved. After almost two years of food styling and photography I developed an appetite for more. I want to expand my subject beyond food. Don’t worry, the new site will still have lots of recipes. I am still as passionate about food and gardening as I was yesterday. But I have so much more to share with you. Luke and I have been working together since the conception of McDonagh Construction but this Spring will mark our first design/build project together. So I want to point my camera at home design. We have also tried to carryout our wanderlust since we became self employed so I am hoping to share more of our travels whether near or far. I think I told you back in the Fall that I was selected to be a part of the REAL MT program. It’s an amazing program dedicated to leadership and Montana’s agricultural and natural resources industries. It seems there’s much to talk about after each seminar! And of course, the beautiful place I call home #cooperherefordranch. For one reason or another I don’t share enough about this place.

Ok, so now I am asking you to raise your hand and participate. I want your feedback. I’m not asking you to fill out a survey, just a little conversation. I have been wanting more interaction in the comments section and also on social media so I suppose this is one way to start! Why do you come here? As much as this is my hobby, I value your time and care about what compels you to visit me. Hopefully it’s not just because your family and friends! Well, even if it is, I want to know what keeps your attention. I am still trying to solidify my thesis and am looking for fresh ideas. So if you feel like throwing in your (constructive) two cents on what sort of things I could keep in mind for you, that be just dandy!

Oh and a little further down I have shared a couple things that might motivate you in the New Year and just a couple fun things (period)

Kale

IMG_2787

I have been practicing more yoga and really feel like its time to make this purchase. Why didn’t I ask Santa?

Not that you need it, but try adding more life to your home. I think I am about to loose a poinsettia that I potted four Christmases ago so I might replace it with a fiddle leaf fig tree! Yes, I kept a poinsettia alive for four years and yes I guess Home Depot ships a live plant to your doorstep. I think I have a little more research to do but if it shows up with more than one leaf I will let you know!

I double dog dare you to try this. OMG, is it even humanly possible? Don’t get me wrong, I run a tight ship but think this list may suit me better this year!

I stumbled across a new word. I think its perfect for the new year.

tacenda (n.) things better left unsaid; matters to be passed over in silence

This is one of the best smelling candles, EVER!

I am kind of a sucker for beauty products so when I came across this article I got a little excited. Just a little. The sunscreen moisturizer and the hair mask being at the top of my list.

I forget where I came across the words below but they are note worthy.

Remember…..Eat Seasonally
Shop at farmers’ markets
Plant a garden
Conserve, compost & recycle
Cook simply
Cook together
Eat together
Remember…..Food is precious.

Happy New Year! Hope your still drinking champagne this morning.

Speaking of champagne, I recently finished reading Circling the Sun and one of the characters said ‘Champagne is absolutely compulsory in Kenya’. I just loved that, I think champagne should be compulsory at the Cooper Hereford Ranch! Oh, and if you haven’t read it, do. It’s probably one of my favorite reads. Not sure if its because the main character is a wild and strong woman or if its because the majority of the book takes place in the African bush. Heck, it could be all the horse training and racing. You know I wanted to be a jockey when I grew up. Whatever, I loved it!

Giveaway!! | Windy Peak Vintage

December 10, 2015

Windy Peak Vintage_

Listen up!! I have something to share with you. It’s an online shop called Windy Peak Vintage. I’m telling you about it just in time to sneak in a little Christmas shopping for yourself. 🙂 Windy Peak Vintage came to fruition during the snowiest of Montana months. Relatively new, it features unique, one of a kind vintage clothing that shop owner, Kristi, has combed the heart of rural Montana to find. There are also a handful of handcrafted lifestyle goods you will surely covet. Kristi carefully curates her shop collection with love from the Montana countryside. I am obsessed. And I know you will be too.

I was paired with Kristi for Day 06 of the Dream Shop Collective and here’s what’s going on. We are giving away over $100 worth of vintage pieces and jewelry . Below is what Kristi has carefully selected for the lucky winner!

Vintage Eddie Bauer Leather Pack $57
Set of 3 clothes hangers $15
Vintage glass bottles $13
Quartz necklace $18
Vintage scarf $14
Wooden Bead Earrings $17

Be sure to enter quick! Giveaway ends on Sunday morning at 7 Montana time (that’s Mountain Standard)! All you have to do is enter your email address and if you really want to win you have 6 more changes with the bonus options. Super easy stuff and you could receive this beautiful package in the mail as a Christmas gift to yourself!

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You can find more vintage goods like the fringed jacket  here or an assortment of handmade soaps here that would make great stocking stuffers. The citrus energy bar and and homesteader’s coffee bar would be my first two choices!

Also, be sure to browse the Dream Shop Collective website because there are still 3 more giveaways coming up plus you will discover more beautiful shops and creative blogs. And during the remaining days use code ‘DREAMSHOPCOLLECTIVE’ to receive 10% off at all participating shops.

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Giveaways are open to US participants only.
Gifts will be shipped within one week from the closing date of the giveaway and shipped by Windy Peak Vintage.
This giveaway starts on Friday, December 11, at 07:00 AM MST and ends on Sunday, December 13 at 07:00 AM.

Dream Shop Collective

December 8, 2015

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It’s that time of year again. The holiday shopping season is upon us and I want to make your life easier with the Dream Shop Collective.

9 Giveaways | 9 Blogs | 18 Days. We’re a group of women bloggers and independently owned shops banding together to shift the focus from the hyper-stimulated e-commerce world to offer a place of  inspiration and beauty, where handmade, quality and vintage takes center stage. Yes, I know I am sharing this a little late but when Mexico beckons I come a flying! So I’m back in windy Willow Creek now and the good news is Day 05 giveaway with Vaux and Crumbbums started today. So check it out along with the schedule here for the upcoming giveaways. You will see on December 11th I will be hosting the giveaway from Windy Peak Vintage. If you like unique vintage items don’t miss it.

And ‘Tis the Season to be Jolly, so during the remaining 10 days use the code ‘DREAMSHOPCOLLECTIVE’ to receive 10% off at all participating shops. There is a lot of good stuff here peoples!

Good Luck!

Thanksgiving Leftovers & Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

November 27, 2015

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

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Happy Thanksgiving! I know it’s been a little quiet over here for a couple of weeks. Sorry about that. But I’m back and just in time for the holidays. Phew, because this is my favorite time of the year to be in the kitchen. So many sweet treats to bake. My sister and I actually already baked 8 dozen sugar cookies. I am feeling inspired this year if you haven’t noticed from my holiday board. However, I am pretty sure the creators behind these cookies or should I say ‘edible art’ have to be professionals!

So what did everyone make for Thanksgiving this year? Did you host and have the honor of cooking the turkey?

We ate the tried and true standbys; turkey and homemade cranberry sauce, stuffing and mashed potatoes, broccoli quinoa casserole, and pumpkin and apple pie. I created a new salad with kale, Brussels sprouts and candied hazelnuts. Nat recently visited Spain and Portugal so she was feeling inspired by the Spanish and made a sangria. Mom tried a recipe for chocolate chess pie. Yes, it sounds like we had a lot of pie and we did. Four to be exact. Just what I needed right before I squeeze into my bathing suit for a week. Oh well.

The best part of the day was that I didn’t have to host or cook the turkey. I volunteered my sister and her husband for both. Thanks Kels and Dave. The smoked turkey was delicious. You may be smoking turkey from here on out!

So now you have an entire fridge of leftovers. The real reason behind the feast; so we can eat pie for a week. No seriously, there is usually a lot of leftovers and I can only eat so many turkey and cranberry sandwiches. So I have two ideas for you this year; Shepherd’s pie and these pumpkin cranberry muffins.  Shepherd’s pie is a great way to use up leftover turkey, gravy, roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes. And these muffins aren’t too sweet, which I like. And let’s not forget the cranberry tucked away in the middle of the muffin. I mean who doesn’t love a little surprise!

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving leftovers

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins / makes 8 large muffins

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. spelt flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt, dried orange peel and nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 c. leftover pumpkin puree (8 oz.)
Leftover cranberry sauce
Demerara sugar and pecans

Preheat oven to 350.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add wet ingredients minus the cranberry sauce and fold everything together until just blended; do not over mix. Spoon the batter into a greased muffin pan, filling each cup halfway. Add a generous teaspoon of cranberry sauce and fill cup with batter to three-quarters full. Sprinkle with sugar and rough chopped pecans.

Bake for 20 to 3o minutes until golden brown. If you insert a toothpick into the center of one muffin it should pull out clean.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter of coarse!

Happy Holidays! And remember, there’s always something to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

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