Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich

What can go wrong with Stephanie, Lulu, and brain-sucking zombies? Maybe you should ask what can go right!

Evanovich has hit another one out of Trenton, New Jersey with Stephanie on this one - Hardcore Twenty-Four.  And another late night for me along for the romp.

Zombies and headless corpses and missing brains have come to New Jersey. It's a bit of a problem as one of the latest bail jumpers is called Zero Slick. Plus Stephanie is having to take care of a large boa constrictor for another bail jumper. All with Lulu and Grandma in tow.

If that's not bad enough, she also has Morelli, Ranger, AND Diesel vying for her attention (I should be so lucky).

The worse part? Trying not to laugh after everyone is in bed, over the dead groundhog in one of Ranger's new cars.

Too bad it was over before it started!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Batches and Punches at Gulch Distillers

There are going to be several places I will miss when we depart Montana in May, but Gulch Distillers will probably be one of the top, if not the very top, place both Savvy and I will mourn for.

Gulch Distillers started out as Triple Divide and was one of the first places Savvy and I visited and fell in love with. Imaginative drinks and you can see, right behind you, where the vodka (at that time) was coming from. 

A few months later, Steffen and Tyrell bought it, eventually renaming it Gulch Distillers and it has been pure magic from the start. The Neighborhood Apple Brandy released this year was gone in a matter of days. Luckily, I grabbed a couple of bottles, one for immediate consumption and another as a stocking stuffer.


Soon, there was an expanded choice of alcohol and classes!

Boy, oh, boy, have I fallen in love with the classes.

This past Saturday was all about "Punches and Batches", just in time for holiday get-togethers.

The class started with Tyrell and his wonderful, wonderful EggNog. 

I haven't been much of an eggnog drinker in the past, mainly because I felt the bourbon or whiskey taste was so overpowering. But he used rum and it was just enough and yummy.

I think the best thing I am getting out of these classes are the little tips and hints I had no idea about. Like the one about eggnog. I didn't know you could keep it in the refrigerator for not only, days and weeks, but years! The alcohol used in it keeps the eggs and milk from spoiling. And actually, aging the eggnog for at least a few days helps mellow out the flavor. Although this one, made and consumed in less than an hour, was plenty good.

Spiced Rum was used in this recipe, but Savvy and I are going to try some with the Apple Brandy I have too. CJ likes eggnog, so this is something he would probably enjoy too. It's been added to the Thanksgiving menu and can't wait to make it a couple of days ahead and then sip on Thursday.

Next was the Flintlock Pistol which is made and served at Gulch, but in this case, made into a batch. The premise is, make a batch and store in the freezer or fridge until needed.  Spiced rum, coffee syrup, orange bitters are involved. Savvy and I passed on sampling this one (since there is a limit on what you can consume at a distillery) because we can go in and order any day.

The next one was a Billingsley Punch - 

Gin, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup are combined and then put into a bottle and chilled until needed. Then it's combined with soda or a sparkling wine and served.

Couple of takeaways from this class which really makes Savvy and I very happy - 

  • Make a batch and keep chilled or in the freezer until needed. It can be anything from the above drinks to a batch of Manhattans. This is exciting for Savvy because she is planning on being the home everyone comes to for entertaining. By making up batches you can serve and mingle and not be behind the bar making drinks. (I see a bar freezer/refrigerator in her future.) It also helps in 'recycling' bottles.
  • Secondly, she is going to let me make syrups and 'brews' I've picked up from other classes. There will be ginger beer, amaros, syrups and the likes being made. I love concocting these!

But back to Gulch Distillers.

They have renovated the tasting room. It was small to begin with, but the changes they have made elevated it to the next level.

The old, dark, penny bar was removed and replaced by a lovely, thick, light butcher block top, brightening up the area. Secondly, they carried this butcher block look to the shelving behind the bar. It's country/rustic and chic. The metal and wood work so well together I may steal their idea for the shelves when we get our new house.

Secondly, it may sound 'country', but once again, it works and takes it to a new level - Mason Jars! Large mason jars along the shelves hold spices and herbs they utilize in making their amaros and syrups. Butcherblock and mason jars give the tasting room a clean and a vibe I really love.

Third - they are inventive. They are constantly upping the game, whether it be a new ice maker which makes these fantastic ice cubes or a centrifuge to do extractions in mere minutes rather than hours or days. 

Don't let the aprons and beards fool you, they could hold their own in any high-priced bar in New York or LA. Every time I go in they have attended a workshop, are brewing something new - and this doesn't include the 'special' drinks they come up with on almost a weekly basis. 

Keeping my fingers crossed I can get some of their whiskey which is currently aging before I leave (or have a nice friend who will get it and mail it to me!).

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Week in Review - November 12 - 18

It's been hopping around here!

Struggling to stay up with NaNoWriMo (and failing), a bit of volunteering, pre-Christmas gift buying. And it doesn't show a sign of stopping and I'm loving it.

The week started off with a great showing of a rainbow as I drove Savvy to work. The pictures don't show just how vivid and 'up-close' the rainbow was. And we could see both ends of it. We laughed as it seemed one end was hovering over Jensen Jewelers.

But now, most of the snow is gone. At least on the streets, which is nice. Especially since we made a quick trip Saturday afternoon to Missoula with a friend to get her phone fixed at Simply Mac. There isn't an Apple store anywhere near Montana, but there are 'cousins' of the Apple stores and the people there are fantastic. We have taken computers, and now a phone, to them and they work their magic - always friendly and knowledgeable. Love them.

But the end of the week was spent with Savvy at Gulch Distillers. I think if Savvy and I had to pick one activity we love doing together (or alone), it would be the cocktail classes they offer monthly. I figure I have about four more before our move. Check out tomorrow's post for more information on the class!


Otherwise this past week...

  • Another enjoyable Great Divide Orchid Society meeting and coming home with three new, little orchids of types I didn't have.
  • Planning and buying craft supplies for four craft sessions Texter and I will be during between Thanksgiving and Christmas at Creative Horizons, where Lady K goes.
  • Most of Friday was spent at the library, volunteering at the annual Turkey Challenge for Helena Food Share. They were hoping for 1500 turkeys for families and they received 2000. While the outpouring was tremendous, it's sad to think there are that many families in this small town which need this type of assistance. But I am so glad they made their goal.
  • Just a touch over 25,000 words for NaNoWriMo....way behind where I wanted to be.
  • Finished off 9 books. No, I didn't start and finish 9 books. I just finished them up!
  • Three batches of cookies for Sunday's outing.

This coming week, of course, will be occupied by Thanksgiving. Here is what else is planned...

  • Visit one of the fire stations to say thanks to some of the firemen involved in putting out our house fire last December. I think we are finally able to go in and say thanks, taking a bunch of cookies along too. 
  • Shopping for groceries and picking up our turkey on Tuesday.
  • Wednesday will be pre-cooking items for Thanksgiving.
  • Thanksgiving lunch at daycare with Lady K on Tuesday.
  • Bonnie Hunter 2017 Mystery Quilt starts!
  • Planning to try out the 12 Week Year process. Hoping to be more focused on what needs to be done.

So for now, some French toast and coffee, then cleaning off my desk!

Monday, November 06, 2017

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Week in Review - October 29 - November 4

WOW! Another crazy week.

After finding out two weekends ago Lady K had a really bad UTI and not a bad appendix, by the end of this week, she was coughing and sputtering. Pneumonia. Not enough to knock her out, but enough to have more antibiotics and at-home time.

Then if that wasn't enough, Texter started complaining of a sore throat, ears hurt and feeling yucky. It turns out she is 'allergic to fronts'. Yep. Allergic to weather fronts. It messes with the fluids in her ears, causes headaches and apparently contributes to a sore throat. And all these years I thought it was the fronts and sleeping with my mouth open!

Needless to say, I am popping Vitamin C gummies and the rest of my vitamins to stay at least reasonably healthy.

Of course, with Lady K at home and Texter down for the count, I have gotten NOTHING done for the most part.

Except for...


After our Halloween Trick or Treating (2 times during the day and 3 pounds of candy), the snow moved in. With the snow came a frenzy of cooking and baking on my part.

Thursday and Friday were snow-filled days. Snowing and more snowing.

Saturday, much to Texter's dismay (because she hates seagulls), I managed to attract them with the popcorn I threw out. A couple dozen arrived, ate the popcorn and winged off.

Saturday was also filled with running the girls all over town. Urgent Care for Texter and the stores for Savvy. It was also occupied with assisting a bit with the mini-cupcake experiment for the Diamond Event next week at Jensen Jewelers (more on that later).

It also meant a run downtown for a different piping tip to make the roses which will be on the mini-cupcakes (and many cupcakes too!) I love the stream the city is installing down the walking mall. Don't know how much longer it will run before they turn the water off because it is frozen solid.

Otherwise this week...

  • Delivered lunches to three friends at work on a snowy, cold Friday (and got rid of leftover bean soup and Apple-Walnut Cheesecake bars)
  • Potted up about 2 dozen tiny jade plants into actual pots (well, one pot and one old coffee container)
  • Started NaNoWriMo with my writing this year focusing on my Montana Memories
  • Time in the quilt studio pulling fabrics for this year's Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt
  • Finished 2 books
  • Drinking tons of water and getting at least 5000 steps in daily (Savvy has a wellness challenge via her work and has put me on it - yarn and Starbucks rewards will do it!)
  • New quilt pattern I have been wanting
  • Swap package from my NaNoWriMo partner
  • Ordered a 8 big cans of Sweet Sue Chicken and Dumplings from Walmart! (long story)

This coming week...

  • Afternoon at the library, refocusing on my plans and getting some word count in on my NaNoWriMo project
  • Sewing on Christmas gifts
  • Crocheting on a couple of projects
  • Decorating cupcakes for the Diamond Event at Jensen's
  • Hopefully cranking out about 10,000 plus words this week
  • Getting my temporary crown replaced with a permanent one

But for now, more coffee (and water).

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Bring On November!

I am writing this quickly as it is early on November 1 and I am trying to get 'things' done so I can concentrate on NaNoWriMo! Can you guess what one of my goals is for November?


My October goals were...

  • Finish up the Joy Quilt top - not quite, but almost
  • Finish the afghan for a friend - again, not quite, but almost
  • Gather items for a NaNoWriMo swap and get it in the mail DONE!
  • Prep for NaNoWriMo DONE!
  • Order my Hobonichi for 2018!!!!! Ordered and received!
  • Figure out the new measurements on the Noodle Box Quilt - nope, haven't even looked at it
  • "Fear No Fabric" two day workshop Loved, loved, loved it
  • Texter's in-laws coming to visit (sightseeing and day trips!) come and gone!
  • Writing workshop at the library (participating, not leading) not so much on writing, but on gathering your stories
  • Trick or Treat with Lady K  did and she's got a really bad cough
  • Orchid Society meeting with guest speaker (and maybe a new orchid?) did and can you say 4 new orchids?
  • Work on fabric Christmas gift ideas did and still have some to complete
  • Craft fair (and apples) at Tizer Gardens Did and loved it

Wow! I actually did more than I thought I did for October. 

Now, let's keep the momentum going.

For November...

  • Complete NaNoWriMo before Thanksgiving
  • Start the Bonnie Hunter Mystery quilt
  • Get the additional fabrics needed to do the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt
  • Finish up the afghan I have started
  • Catch up on the Spirit of Life CAL
  • Do some Christmas sewing
  • TONS of reading
  • Make mini-cupcakes for the Jensen Jeweler's Diamond Event
  • Another Gulch Distillers class

Let's see how it goes for November. Today isn't looking great as cold and snow are due in and looks like they will be remaining for a few days. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Mandala Monday and Playing Catch-Up

The past couple of weeks have been a bit, well, crazy. I have fallen out of my routine and it's bugging me.

(Deep breath)

Anyway, getting back on track...

This past week culminated in a wonderful lunch with Texter and three great friends.

And to keep it short and sweet, the past couple of weeks have revolved around...

  • Broken tooth and it's temporary repair (and how come everything I want to eat are things I'm not suppose to eat until I get my permanant crown)
  • Lady K and a hurried drive to/from Bozeman to pick her and Texter up and come back to Helena to the ER for suspected appendix issues to have it be a severe UTI. And then a week of trying to get antibotics down her.
  • Out of state visitors and spending time, here and there, with them.
  • Day trip to Missoula to the 'mall' and a day trip to Great Falls for some adult time alone while Lady K at school
  • Prepping for NaNoWriMo
  • Repairing a couple of items crocheted or sewn and getting sewing table cleaned up and sewing projects in order to begin and finish
  • Crocheting while binge watching Season 1 of Stranger Things
  • Picking up a new bit of sourdough starter and chatting with a friend Saturday afternoon
  • Exchanged books with a friend (love to have friends who pick up books because they know you would like them)

This week will be a bit 'harried' also...

  • HALLOWEEN! Party at daycare on Monday and then a couple of Trick or Treat adventures on Tuesday
  • NaNoWriMo starts Wednesday!
  • Wicked weather comes our way starting Wednesday....gets cold and rainy/snowy
  • Bit of grocery shopping and cooking for the cold weather (ham is in the fridge already and part will become Tuscan Bean Soup)
  • Bread baking
  • Weather permitting - Fall Art Walk on Friday night
  • TONS of stack of books has grown terribly
  • Sewing projects ticked off my to-do list
  • Reviewing goals for November, into December, and to finish up the year

But for now, I need to wake people up to get ready for school and have more coffee!

Friday, October 27, 2017

NaNoWriMo Prep and Book Cover

I am slowly prepping for NaNoWriMo this year. 

My writing with be a memoir rather than a work of fiction. Of course, those reading the book might be considering it a work of fiction by the time I finish it.

It has been fun, looking back through four and a half year of pictures.


As part of my prepping, I created a cover for my book.

The SUV was Texter's vehicle during the drive to Montana. I was following along in my little Ford Escort with one dog in the back seat. She was riding with four huge SUV tires and two other dogs in the car with her. And a huge bag of baby supplies as she was due any day now. 

Stay tuned for more updates on this epic adventure!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fall Is Here!

October has been a bit crazy for me and I have had trouble 'getting into step' with it. 

Between a broken tooth (temporary cap on it for the moment), friends from out of state visiting, and life in general, has me out of step with myself.

In fact, Montana went from summer to winter overnight and we missed out of fall it seemed.

But fall has returned!

Tuesday, to get some exercise, fresh air and just to have a change of pace, I took a walk around Spring Meadow Lake in town.

Even a quick walk downtown yielded lots of fall images and color. I love what they have done with the remake of the water feature flowing through the walking mall. 

The sun turns the water into jewels.

I think the textures and colors make autumn my favorite season. Still warm enough to get out, but with that nip in the air that tells you soon it will be time to stay inside.

Even my new crochet project echos the color of fall. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mandala Monday

"Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt."

-William Allingham