We hope everyone had a safe and happy New Years. We had a great time. We made snacks for our guests and we spent the evening with friends. All in all a good time. We got home right before midnight, just in time to watch the repeat of New York’s New Years Eve. I honestly always thought they reset the ball in New York to drop special for all 4 time zones. Clearly that is not the case. In my defense the last 5 New Years I have lived near a city large enough to have their own televised celebration. And honestly I missed watching the news crew from Chicago’s ABC affiliate-especially Hosea Sanders. Yes folks we really know how to live it up on New Years. LOL
I hope people are sticking to their resolutions if they made any. Mine was to stop watching the news, and to say yes to doing more things. I’m more of a homebody. So far, I think I am doing great on both of these. I have no clue what is going on in this great big world of ours. And that’s great. The less time I spend fretting over things in this world I can’t control, the more time I can spend making my little corner better.
For 2017 we are hoping to add a few new things. One that I am very excited about is we would like to start offering box lunches. I am busy trying to perfect my sourdough recipe, and I already have a great multi grain bread recipe lined up. I will keep you all posted when I get that rolling, hopefully sometime in February or March.
We are also looking to diversify our to go breakfasts. And adding new not to go breakfasts and bakery items. One item I made and absolutely loved was cannoli stuffed french toast, topped with nutella. I served that over Thanksgiving and believe it is a keeper.
With that I wish you all a healthy and happy 2017. If you aren’t where you want to be, make 2017 a year to plan a change, or make a change. If you are where you want to be, make 2017 a year to make your corner of the world better, and to be thankful for what you have.
I promise this blog is going to be upbeat and fun. It is Christmas after all (and Hannakuh too). But I do want to share some sad news. Most of our guests at some point or other hear about our cats, and even meet some of them. Yesterday our old man cat Sal passed away. He was 19, which, I have been told was almost old enough to get him a letter from the queen if we were in England. I had him for 16 of his 19 years, and we sure miss him already.
A much younger Sal.
But I promised this would be a cheery post, and it will be. While I am not a big fan of the Christmas season, I do have my fair share of holiday memories, and I love Christmas music. In the spirit of the season, here are a few of my favorite things about Christmas.
Christmas song: I actually have three. The first one is Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney. The Boo absolutely hates this song, as do a lot of people I guess. I don’t know what the problem is, its a good song.
My second favorite song is A Cradle in Bethlehem by Nat King Cole. It’s just a pretty song. And, well, Nat King Cole.
My last and possibly favorite favorite is the Snoopy and the Red Baron song. It’s Snoopy right? My favorite. The video I shared on here is super cute too, and well done. As far as all other Christmas Songs, there are few I dislike, and I find you can never go wrong with Perry Como or Johnny Mathis. And if I am invited to sing Christmas Carols, please, let us sing the whole song, not just the first verse. And if there is a version in Latin, you better provide those words as well.
Christmas Movie: A Muppets Christmas Carol. The version with the sad song in it.
Honorable mention goes to any number of Its a Wonderful Life copycats.
Best Gift I ever recieved: I think over all the best gift I ever got was a Mrs. Fields Easy Bake oven. My friend Jeff gave me this when I was 19. (yes, 19). I spent that evening making snacks for my family. And literally it took all evening to make what amounted to underdone mini (very mini) cookies and cakes.
Favorite Christmas Memory: In my family we have our big Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve. So, at the end of the evening, probably between 10:00 and midnight, I offered to start my aunt’s car for her(anyone who lives in a cold weather state can appreciate a warm car in the middle of Winter). I didn’t do this out of the goodness of my heart, I was going to play a joke on her. So I went outside and started her car, and proceeded to accidentally lock all the doors. This, by the way, was NOT the joke I had intended on playing. We called the police. It was freezing outside, but there we were, watching this very nice police man spend a fair amount of time not being able to break into her car. My aunt eventually had to call her soon to be ex husband (my uncle) to have him drop off the spare key she had at home. It was both awkward and funny. Actually it was hilarious, I’m laughing my butt off writing this. I think we were out there with the car running for about two hours. But it made for a very memorable Christmas Eve.
Favorite Christmas Ever: OK, To be fair, I do not have one. Two stand out in my head for bringing me big smiles. The first one was when I received all sorts of Barbie Doll stuff for gifts. I was kid. I say this is one of my favorites because it stands out to me. Most of my really early memories of Christmas just sort of blend together. The Christmases of the 1980’s were probably all the same as far as I was concerned, since I was just a little kid. Seriously all I cared about were the gifts. The second was mine and the Boo’s first Christmas together.
The last few years we have been lucky enough to be invited to our friends Hanukkah party. He makes awesome Latkes. And it’s always a fun time. We are gonna miss that this year. Not exactly a Christmas memory, but it fits with the season.
This year it’s just me and the Boo. We are going to make a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding. And we will do something special for our guests for breakfast on Christmas-I’m just not sure what. But I know it will be yummy!!
So I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas or Hanukkah (which I think starts on the 24th), or whatever else one wishes to celebrate. Be safe. If you drink, don’t drive. If there’s ice on the road, don’t drive. If you drink and there’s ice on the road definitely don’t drive. And if anyone wants to share there favorite things that’s cool. I post this on our Facebook page too, so feel free to leave something in the comments.
One final note, I don’t normally share youtube videos. So hopefully I’m not infringing on anybodies whatever. None of these videos are mine, I just shared them here.
Hopefully this blog finds everyone safe and healthy and happy. It’s been quite a crazy month or so. Not just on a worldwide level, but for us here at Yellowstone Suites. Last month we traveled to Chicago for a week. It was fun catching up with our friends. And eating awesome food. My plan before we left was to hit all of our favorite spots, including Pita Inn and Lou Malnatis (of course). So now that the big food holiday is upon us, I guess I am not all about the food so much. Well I am, that’s kind of a lie. But it sounds good. I am a foodie, that will never change.
But instead of writing about food, I am in fact going to write about what I have to be Thankful for. And I am writing this in list form, just cuz.
First and foremost I am Thankful for the Boo, and our furbabies. There is nothing better than going through life with someone who is your best friend and partner in crime. And well…. cats…. who wouldn’t be Thankful for them. Leo-our wonder boy, too naughty for words. Sal, our tiny old man. Scout, our little girl who likes to scold us… a lot and Batsu, our two year old chunky monkey. And Teddy bear our guinea pig 🙂 Sadly we lost Ellie Belle our other guinea pig a few weeks ago. But I am thankful to have her in my life for the short time she stayed to visit. To use a Leslie Knope reference, I found my team, and I like it an awful lot.
I am Thankful for our guests. Over the course of this summer we have met some really cool people. We absolutely appreciate all of our guests, but there a quite a few that just stand out. We laughed a lot and learned a lot, and I hope that when you left here, you left with a smile and a fond memory.
The milky way. Not the candy bar-although yum there too. I am thankful that on most nights we can see the Milky Way. For far too many people this has become an almost unattainable luxury. And that’s a shame. Its good to be able to see the vastness of what is around us. Its humbling to know that we are but a speck. That there are things so much greater than us.
I am thankful for this community. There are nice people everywhere, don’t get me wrong. The difference is this. When we lived in Illinois, we would say hi to our neighbors. Here we stop and chit chat…a lot. There is a saying that goes something like cities are built on organizations while small towns are built on people (this may not be exact, but you get it). Plus, there is some bank in this area that has a wreath made of money. I read about it before we moved here in the newsletter. I’m all about the money wreath. LOL
It’s so easy to get bogged down with negatives. It’s easy to forget that there are so many wonders out there and so many things to learn and see and do and be. So much out there that should make us smile and laugh. Don’t let the negatives get in the way of that.
Growing up in the midwest, when we would hear about wild fires, we were usually hearing about the big ones. Like the ones in California that cause immense property damage. Or the 1988 fires that burned a large portion of the park. Maybe now with the internet and social media and 24 hour news stations there is more coverage, but my point is I have always believed that any and all wild fires were a big deal. Until this year.
We have been told by both our neighbor (who is a fire behavior specialist) and the guy who works at the post office that this time of year in Gardiner is pretty hazy (smokey). The post office guy said that until fall it’ll be like this. They weren’t lying. Its very hazy (smokey). Its hazy from the fires-I think our haze may be coming from the Maple fire, but I am not sure. But the fires occur every year. Only when they go crazy-go-nuts are they really an issue. Otherwise they are monitored and people are redirected where it is necessary. That’s not to say people here don’t take them seriously. Fire prevention is of the utmost importance around here. Lightning strikes are one thing. Ding dongs who toss their cigarettes out the car window are another.
As you can see in the picture, electric peak is a little hard to see.
I’m not saying I really enjoy the haziness. It’s kind of odd to me. We were driving home from Livingston this afternoon, and I thought to myself that the smoke actually makes it look very wet and humid outside, even though it really is very dry. But it sparked a deep thoughts conversation with the Boo.
The fires going on are necessary. I knew that before I moved here. You need the fire to keep the forest strong. The lodge poles need the fire to open the pinecone so the seeds can begin new generations of growth. There are areas in the park where you can see the growth after the 1988 fires mixed in with the dead trees from that fire. These fires are just another reason I love living here. That connection with nature. That reminder that there are still things on this Earth greater than all of us. That still amaze. And I love that I get to live here. And learn here.
I love the Olympics. Immensely. I will love them even this year, in spite of the fact that I think they should be in Chicago. I may in fact be the only person from the Chicago area that wanted them there, and, as things turned out I am no longer in Illinois and would not be seeing them in person. But still…
In observance of all that is the Olympics and in the Olympic spirit, for the duration of the Olympic games, starting Friday, I will be making breakfasts based on traditional breakfasts from all over the world. Or at least what I can find on the internet, I am in fact not very well traveled. I have an idea for a German breakfast as well as a Greek breakfast. For the UK I think I will try my hand at baked beans-done their way, not ours- and maybe a fry up. We currently have two guests from England, I may pick their brains for ideas. I am also hoping to try non-European and North American breakfasts as well. Whatever I chose, I know it will be yummy, cuz all my food is made with love. There-now everyone knows my secret ingredient.
Aside from the plug for our yummy breakfasts, I would like to use this blog to share with you all some of my favorite Olympic memories. The first Olympics I remember were the 1988 Calgary Olympics. I don’t remember the games themselves, but I remember watching the first day of the games with my mom and my aunt and uncle. Not sure why they came over to watch them but there they were.
The year they were in Greece, I watched the opening ceremonies with my friends Nick and Jeff. We made pierogies and Saganaki. Yes, an odd combination, but it was fun and delicious. There may have been a salad in there somewhere as well. This is absolutely unrelated to the Olympics, but I remember this evening because me and my friend Jeff stood by his front door for a long while discussing road kill. If you don’t already get it, I’m a bit odd.
I was living in Madison, WI during the Sydney Olympics. Not the happiest of times for me. I worked second shift and I would watch them in the middle of the night when I got home from work-which actually meant I got to see them live because of the crazy time difference. My lasting memory of those games is watching Savage Garden perform the song Affirmation at the closing ceremonies.
By far my favorite Olympics memory is the party me and the Boo threw for the London games. I never appreciated English cooking until I cooked a party full of it. I must say this before I go any further, they had an outstanding opening ceremony, and while I am not English, nor do I have any English ancestry, nor have I ever been to England, Blake’s Jerusalem always brings a tear to my eye. Anyway, back to our party. We decorated our condo with flags from all sorts of countries drawn on paper plates with markers. I absolutely missed the boat with my Toad in a Hole. I precooked the sausage because I thought it would be too greasy, not realizing that the grease makes the bread AWESOME. And my bread did not poof up like yorkshire pudding. Aside from probably not being super duper authentic the food was great, and everyone seemed to like it.
And that’s really the important thing, and the point of this blog. I use food as a way to experience cultures I’ll probably never get to experience in person. The idea behind the Olympics is supposed to be a coming together of all of us, and while yes we will back our respective countries, we can still appreciate everyone there working their pants off(not literally that-would be awkward, and I believe there was a winter Olympics where a skeleton guy slid down the course without his sled, and did indeed lose a bit of his clothes). I will never be an athlete, but I can cook and I can share with my guests a little of who I am through my food. And if they leave happy, then that’s all I can ask for, and that does make me feel very Olympic.
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Before I begin extolling upon you the wonder that is our old boy Leo, let me just say this. We do not pick favorites among our furbabies. We love them equally. In total we have 4 cats and 2 guinea pigs. Our cats are Sal, 18 (soon to be 19) Leo, 18 Scout (our young lady cat), 17 and Bad Batsu Maru, 2. Our piglets are Ellie and Teddy. Our two year old boy has a condition called Cerebellar Hypoplasia. He wobbles a bit when he walks. It seems since we moved here we have also become aunt and uncle to a whole host of doggies belonging to our neighbors, and possibly one large cat who comes into our yard on occasion. I have taken to telling our guests, if they see two little dogs or a large cat in our backyard, they are very nice, but they are not ours. We don’t mind having an extended fur family. Dogs are high maintenance. This way we get all the fun with little to no responsibility.
Having given mention to all our babes, I remember this blog is about Leo. He goes by many names. The Boo named him for Leo Tolstoy. When I came along, he became Leonid, and eventually Leonid Breshnev. The Boo sometimes thinks he only answers to the name “No.” And that is quite possibly true. We spend a good portion of our time telling him to stop being naughty. His hobbies include knocking things off of tables and ripping up paper. When we aren’t talking to each other, me and the Boo spend an awful lot of time saying things like “Leo, stop that.” and “Leo, no.” Or my personal favorite, “\What is he ripping up now?” He doesn’t seem to care. You will notice on his portrait the piece of paper stuck in his teeth. Clearly he embraces who he is without shame.
Our wonder boy
None of our cats roam the main house. I’m just not cool with that. I would worry that they could get out, or ruin things; Leo isn’t the only naughty one in the bunch. Plus people have allergies and we like our guests to be able to breath. But when we have guests that want to see our cats-many of you have cats at home that you are missing-Leo is who we reach for to be that surrogate kitty. He LOVES attention. He LOVES to be pet and for the most part he likes to be held.
So, while Leo is probably our naughtiest cat, he is also our most lovable(to strangers). If you stay with us and happen to be missing your own furbabies we have no problem letting you snuggle our Leo. In the process you may even get to see Sal try to slink out of our apartments. He likes to explore on occasion.
When we moved here almost four months ago, we found ourselves chit chatting with our neighbor. I do not remember the specifics of that conversation except that she mentioned a food truck in Bozeman that had tacos. I thought that sounded super cool, since I love tacos. A lot(true story).
For anyone interested, Bozeman is about an hour and a half drive from Gardiner. Give or take ten minutes. We go out to Bozeman about once a month. These trips are, for the most part, all business, no fun. We go to Costco and Target and the pet store. Than we drive home. We don’t really have time to do much more. I’m perfectly happy about this, if we had time to chillax in Bozeman that would mean we have no business, and that’s very uncool.
Yesterday, we were lucky enough, and efficient enough, to spend a little more time in the big city. And I was finally able to get my tacos. OMG! YUMMY! I had two tacos, and they were both totally delicious. I had the Kim Jong, which has Korean BBQ beef and the Piggly Wiggly, which is pork. I am thinking to myself that if I had ordered more tacos, I could be enjoying one right now. Sadly, I did not. HMMMMM….. Maybe they could drive down to Gardiner once or twice a month. Or even Livingston. I’d meet them there with a big old smile and wad of cash. I’ll be posting this idea on their Facebook page. In the mean time, I highly recommend that you go and eat at Victory Tacos in Bozeman. Get the Kim Jong, it’s super yummy.
Our very nice hardware guy recommended to us Heap Burger-another food truck in Bozeman. Be forewarned Heap Burger-you are next on our food truck’s of Bozeman list.
Yesterday was creative ice cream flavor day. How exciting is that? I once read that in the Summer something like 10% of people eat ice cream as a meal. I don’t see a problem with this, in fact I would definitely encourage this. We currently have all sorts of ice cream in our freezer. And I recommend, if you visit the area, that you try Wilcoxson’s ice cream. It’s local to us and we like supporting local businesses.
I grew up in Greendale, WI. When we were kids (and by we, I am referring to me and my brother), we would often walk to the “Cone Shop.” It was a small ice cream shop that served soft serve cones and slushies. I don’t have any specific memories attached to this place, but I will always remember what it looked like, and it smelled exactly like an ice cream cone. It smelled not just like the ice cream, but the cone as well. It was a very basic place. Simple. They sold cones. And tasty ice drinks. I think, but I am not 100% certain, but I think my brother liked the graveyard slushies(all the flavors mixed together). I was a purist. A twist cone. Chocolate and vanilla. That was good enough for me.
In honor of Creative Ice Cream flavor day, go out and get a cone. If you can, walk to a local place, and get yourself messy. Let it melt on your hands and face. Pretend your a kid.
Or stay in air conditioned comfort and try out my recipe below. It is a rif on Medieval Madness, a flavor Blue Bunny does not offer and has not for years.
Medieval Madness-Katy’s version
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup malted milk powder (I use Ovaltine)
4-6 3 Musketeer Bars
A few squeezes of caramel sauce
–Whisk together the first six ingredients and pour into an ice cream maker. Follow your ice cream makers instructions. About 3-4 minutes before ice cream is done, add broken up 3 Musketeers. When ice cream is done fold in a few squeezes of caramel.
You can eat it right away, or put it in the freezer. Either way, you’ll enjoy it.
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So I have already established that I can’t garden. My popcorn was a flop-and while it has actually started growing, its just too little too late. We have six tomato plants now, and the growing season is too short. I haven’t killed my tomatoes yet, and I think they are growing so that’s a good thing. We also have some irises and another pink flower that smells like a rose, but looks like a carnation. I can’t take credit for these they just showed up in our yard. We are more than happy to have them, and as long as they need no assistance from us they should be fine.
I have decided that I do not like gardening. I don’t even like running the sprinkler(but I do). If it wasn’t so windy in our little corner of Earth, I would probably just put in a rock and sand garden. I’d especially love to go back in time and bring back my plastic Scooby Doo pool and put that in our yard. Ah, the good old days.
So, why am I writing such a seemingly negative blog? Because through my efforts to hide my distaste for gardening I have learned to love birds, and see them as a more than suitable substitute for whatever is lacking in my yard.
Last week me and the Boo went out and bought several bird feeders. We bought a boat load of food for them as well. Peanuts, seeds, sunflower seeds. I even bought dried meal worms, but the only thing interested in those seem to be June bugs. We currently have 5 birdfeeders, and a hummingbird feeder(the ants are enjoying that one). And what a hoot it is to watch all our feathered neighbors!
I have been consulting a birding book to identify some of our guests. Obviously we have robins (who doesn’t). But we also have yellow finches, and Eurasian Collared Doves. I decided that we have a LOT of Brewer’s Blackbirds and at least one Pine Grosbeak. I know we have other ones, but I haven’t been able to see them all as clearly. We also have one very sweet and cute chipmunk that frequents one of our bird feeders. I sometimes put peanuts on the ground for him(or her).
Anyway, I could literally sit and watch these birds all day. I bring out my binoculars and my camera and sit on the porch and just watch my little feathered acquaintances eating and flying around. And boy do they eat! I cannot wait to see what craziness ensues when I put out my homemade suet cakes. These birds are lucky to be living near an establishment that cooks a ton of bacon.
Lastly, I find this to be very, very serendipitous. Today on Google, their logo was dedicated to Phoebe Snetsinger. I have never heard of her, I am sure most people probably haven’t. In any case, she is a birder who documented over 8400 species of bird. Good for her, I say! Birds rock!
Our Brewer’s Blackbirds. This must be bachelor hour, their ladies are brown not black.
Some of our Irises and our platform feeder.
Our pretty carnation/roses.
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Every now and then I rummage through the drawers in this house. I don’t know what I am expecting to find. Possibly a treasure map…the meaning of life…who knows. I have yet to find much of note. The other day I did come across a second dustpan in one of the cabinets in the laundry room. That was a bit exciting.
Today, I was cleaning the Roosevelt room. I looked in one of the drawers and began paging through the old journals that we leave out for guests to sign. I had been planning to throw the old journals out. I like to think I am a firm believer in starting new, on a clean slate. But I realized something while I was reading through one of them. These journals really aren’t mine to throw out. Yes, technically they are in my possession, they belong to me. But in a way they belong to this house.
I was able to to look back in one of them and find when Julie bought the B and B. There were notes wishing her good luck and much success. A lot like the notes people are leaving for us. I feel like throwing these out would be like breaking a circle of sorts. These are part of the history of the house.
It’s not only that. These journals are a reflection on the people that have stayed here. They are a reflection of the diverse group of people that chose to visit-both us and this area in general. The most recent entry in the Journal in the Roosevelt room is in Chinese or Japanese.(I’m not entirely sure. I am pretty sure it isn’t Korean, only because I saw a lot of Korean writing when we lived in the AH). I don’t know what it says, but it is nice to know that someone took a few minutes to write something, even though they probably knew we wouldn’t understand it.
The year before last, I entered a contest to win a B and B in Maine. I had to write an essay and send in 125 dollars. Obviously I didn’t win, but that’s a whole other story. In my essay I wrote about being a caretaker of history, of the old bones of a solid house. Since we took on the responsibility to care for this place, it is important for me to know and preserve it’s history. I plan to do that, even if that history is something as simple and recent as a few guests book.
Just a few notes-May 28th is The Hells-A-Roaring horse drive. I am so excited we are making big bold breakfast burritos and a side for our guests.
And an update on our planting (from last weeks blog)-Our Petunias are meh. They are alright. The Boo never did use his jewelry box to plant anything. It is currently unusable as both a jewelry box or a planter. And the popcorn never even germinated. I know this because I dug it up yesterday. Watch for updates on a planned fairy garden in that space.