There are so many things in life that I wish were just a little better. Life is often not what we imagined it would be. By this time I was supposed to filthy stinkin’ rich and living the high life. On a more basal level I’d like to have less weight on this old body, I’d like to be an uber successful food photographer, I’d hope for some better things for some of my children, I want a bigger kitchen, a gardener and a maid. I wish that I didn’t have any debt and had invested better. I want more time, time to take care of that ‘to do’ list (or enough money to pay someone else to it), time to spend visiting family and friends…time, money and being a hot mama grandma. Yep that’s what I want.
The reality of life is so much different than what we think it should be. Life is work, hard work. Relationships take work, having a nice home takes work, having time takes work.
Nothing comes without work.
Things weigh heavy on the shoulders.
Then we go to the cabin, off the grid, to our little place. A wood fire burning in the stove and an apple tart cooking in the little camp propane stove. The snow falls from a grey sky, painting the trees and ground with a white wonder.
We have a cabin, a cabin in the mountains. A cabin on 40 acres of forested rocky mountain. I love our cabin, it’s where we spend nearly every weekend of the summer at. A place with out cable, internet and cell phones…a getaway.
Since McGyver and I play mountain man and mountain woman every weekend (hey, it’s not that kind of roll play), I really wanted to challenge my traditional cooking and go more old fashioned. I can’t say simpler, because cooking over an open fire or in a Dutch oven is not simpler. As a matter of fact it’s harder.
In my house I don’t have to deal with bad weather and I have dials and buttons and displays that tell me my temp, time, bake, broil or which ever. It’s just guess work out there. It’s guess work at first and then it’s experience.
I’m still in the guess work stage. If you remember my post about cooking a chicken over an open fire on a spit = epic fail, you know I’m definitely guessing! McGyver and I had a 4 day weekend, and the Baby boy was to drive up and meet us on Saturday for the rest of the weekend. Which meant that I had time (and help) to tackle some old fashion cooking.
I planned on baking a loaf of bread in a Dutch oven. If you follow me at all, you know I’m afraid of the yeast and really am not much of a baker. But I had this idea to bake a loaf of plain white bread and have sandwiches and toast for the weekend. I also planned on a meatloaf cooked in the Dutch and, gulp, my nemesis, the dreaded chicken on a spit.
On Friday, I mixed and made my dough and set it to rise. After one hour, it was looooking good! I punched it down and put it in my clay loaf pan (which had been soaking during the rise), while it was on it’s second rise I went out and lit my coals for the Dutch oven. Only it was real windy, after 22 matches the newspaper caught on fire and I was set (I was using a charcoal chimney).
Or so I thought.
Turns out that wind just caused my newspaper to burn up too fast to light the coals. I got more newspaper (brought from home, we don’t get delivery there…imagine that). This time I shoved it in as tightly packed as I could, my second dough rise was going on and I needed some coals! After another 22 matches, the newspaper caught on fire and I was set.
Or so I thought.
Really! That’s it, I’m a desperate woman now. I had it with the wind so I took my chimney and my newspaper and my matches to the only place that I have that isn’t windy, the cabin. I stuffed that charcoal chimney again with newspaper and after only 1 match it lit! I set it right on top of my wood stove. And. it. worked.
It worked so well in fact that the cabin was quickly filling up with smoke. I opened all the windows and ran my chimney outside (cuz it was really goin good..no fear of it going out) and caught some windy fresh air. Since I was sitting outside waiting for the smoke to clear in the cabin, I read that Kingsford charcoal bag (you do things like that when you don’t have cable or internet).
Do you know what it said?
It had a warning label on it, something about carbon monoxide hazard and it should only be used outside. Hmmm, I would have never guessed. Too late now.
Well, I baked that bread in that Dutch oven and it rose and rose. It rose so high that the top burnt to the lid. I went to check on it and lifted the lid and my loaf lifted straight out of the pan and stayed on the lid. Like it had some kind of magnet on it. What could I do? I’m holding a lid with this Dutch oven lid lifter, the lid is like 400°F and my “free” had is bare. I tried knocking that bread off and finally it gave in.
The loaf was a loss…but Summer didn’t mind! Normally breaking the bread is when you sit down for a meal with family and friends…not feeding it to your dog. But then again, Summer is family.
It took about 10 tosses and an entire roll of film card before she finally caught a piece.
The next day I made meatloaf, guess what? It was perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s right. I know it looks like a bunch of overly large turds covered in sauce on the plate but I cooked it in a ring to speed up the cooking time. It just wouldn’t come out of there in a ring.
Hey family, come and get some turd loaf for dinner
On Sunday I tried my hand at a chicken on a spit sans glaze (that was a bad move last time). This time I was going to be using some hickory wood and lightly smoke it. I had it on the spit and cooking shortly after 1:00 pm. I started it low and slow and utilized my stick trick for holding the spit handle in place. I dutifully rotated it every 15 to 20 minutes.
Whilst the chicken was cooking I enlisted the Baby boy to make some bread dough for me. No, I wasn’t going to try and make bread again. See the problem was, my Dutch oven wasn’t deep enough for a loaf in a pan, I was sure that was the real issue. Not to be conquered I decided on rolls instead.
I was busy sanding a table and some chairs, so the Baby boy helped out. He’s never made homemade bread before and I usually use a bread machine but my most recent endeavor left me feeling good about my recipe and the dough itself.
It turned out perfect! The Baby boy did a great job with the dough (with some coaching…) and I baked up some perfect rolls! IN A DUTCH OVEN! I knew I could, I knew I could.
If you are curious about the Dutch oven cooking, I used the Dinwiddie Method on the top and the coal count method on the bottom. My decision was based on recommendations from Toni over at Dutch Oven Madness (the goddess of Dutch Oven Cooking and my new hero).
As for the chicken…at 5:00 pm when I thought she was done, I pulled that leg and thigh out and looked inside. It looked done and the juices ran clear.
Nada. Nope. Not even.
Since I didn’t have any glaze on this bird, it was easy to put it back over the coals. Also, I only partially cooked my pan roasted potatoes so that when the chicken was ready I could just fire them up while it was resting. Another 90 minutes later, perfect. This time it was dinner at 6:30 pm and not raw chicken at 10:00 pm. Still some guess work but definitely better planning (experience). My rough estimation is that it takes about 1 hour per pound on an open spit.
Sunday Dinner, the old fashioned way.
I learned a lot this weekend and I finished painting my old orange table and brown chairs (I’m not sure if I like the red/white combo…maybe too café and not cabiny enough?). I also split and stacked a bunch of wood. I’m also happy to say that I finally learned how to use the manual mode in my camera (I used the aperture priority almost exclusively), I also learned how to use my remote and I borrowed a tripod and practiced with that this weekend.
Isn’t it amazing what can be done when there aren’t distractions?
Basic White Bread (Single loaf or pan of rolls)
1 1/4 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 pkg. yeast
4 1/2 tsp. sugar
4 1/2 tsp. lard or butter softened
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 to 3 1/4 cups bread flour
In a large bowl add water and then sprinkle the yeast and sugar over it, wait 5 minutes. Stir in lard, salt and 1 cup of flour. Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a a time until the dough starts to form a ball. turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
Place dough in into a large oiled bowl and turn to coat dough with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm draft free place until doubled (about 1 hour).
Punch dough down, then shape and place into a lightly greased 9×15 loaf pan or roll pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm draft free place until doubled (about 40 minutes). Bake at 375°F for approximately 30 minutes for the loaf and 20 minutes for rolls, or until the tops are golden brown and sound hollow when you ‘knock’ on it.
This weekend we went up to the cabin, like we do most of the Summer time. This time McGyver suggested we go for a stroll through the woods. A stroll through the nice shady woods on a hot summer day, who could resist. We loaded up in the Rhino and Becca was coming along (Summer dog is deathly afraid of our 4 wheeler) and we headed to where the state land begins.
We snaked through some barbed wire fence and went on a freaking 500 mile hike, okay maybe 50 miles, would you believe 5 miles? Right, it was only about two miles round trip. And let me tell you this, when you are going up a mountain, it no longer becomes a stroll it becomes a, gulp, hike. For all my huffing, puffing, wheezing and complaining, it probably felt like 555 miles to McGyver!
My calves were screaming and my lungs were crying…suddenly I became weirdly fascinated with moss. “Hey honey, look how the sun is making the moss look. It’s such a vibrant green, I really should take some photos of it!” I’m so sneaky, a person can’t take pictures and stroll hike at the same time, can they?
Turns out there was an ulterior motive to our little stroll, deer hunting starts in less than a week and McGyver was merely stalking out a place to put his tree stand. I made it to our destination without dying, but I was in no mood to go inspect every tree in the area.
That is when I decided to become the world’s foremost leader in thistle photography. Count yourself lucky that I am only showing a miniscule amount of what I shot. (I’ve been reading books on digital photography and I think I’m becoming obsessed, shhh, don’t tell McGyver, he knows that means $$$$ and time….)
Then I began channeling Georgia O’Keefe and that’s when McGyver noticed the crazy budding photographer look in my eyes and insisted we head back.
By now it was after noon and blazing hot (here in Montana that is anything over 80°F). I wasn’t the only fat ol’ gal who was panting and heaving. Poor old Becca dog was so thirsty (we are bad parents and did NOT bring water for our…well, we were just going for a stroll…). That poor dog drank out of the nastiest water I could imagine…so I had to take a picture…someone help me….
My old Becca dog was so tired, I don’t think we had walked 20 yards past her ‘drinking hole’ before she just decided to flop down and take 5. If I wasn’t so prissy, I might have done the same thing!
I am not used to exercise, so let me tell you, I was hungry when we got back. I needed protein and Gatorade quick! It’s tough to maintain this athletic body of mine…riiiiight. Fortunately I had done a little planning and had made up some Greek Style Chicken Salad ahead of time.
I need to share with you that this did not start out as a chicken salad sandwich. I originally shredded some cold rotisserie chicken, put in a pita half, slapped some spinach leaves in it, added tzatziki sauce, feta cheese and olives on it. Problem was, I was getting dry bites of just chicken in places and not enough feta cheese in every bite. My solution was to turn it into a chicken salad, Greek style, sandwich. It was brilliant, I choose not to mix in the kalamata olives because I enjoyed the occasional surprise of a nice briny kalamata olive.
Some recipes call for the yogurt to be drained for a couple of hours so that it becomes super thick and isn’t affected by the cucumbers breaking down. I prefer to leave my Greek yogurt as is, and salt the cucumbers and let them drain on a rack for 30 minutes to rid them of the excess moisture. This ensures a super creamy tzatziki! I also used mint instead of dill, it gave it a real pop! I heart tzatziki so much that I even piled extra sauce onto my sandwich…slap my hand…bad girl!
Budget hint: Did you know that a lot of grocery stores have cold rotisserie chicken in their deli section for up to 50% off? When the hot birds go over their time limit, they get put into cold storage and get reduced by 50%. The draw back? The breasts tend to be a little dry, reserve them for things like soup or creamy chicken salad!
Greek Style Chicken Salad Sandwiches
2 cups Greek Yogurt (I used Fage 2%)
1 medium cucumber
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 2 tbsp. chopped mint (or dill)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pita bread, halved
1 1/2 cups diced cook chicken
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
baby spinach (if desired)
kalamata olives (if desired)
diced red onion (if desired)
Tzatziki sauce: Peel cucumber, slice cucumber in half length wise. using a small spoon, scoop out seeds so that the cucumber looks like a canoe. Lightly sprinkle the cucumber with the salt and invert on a rack for approximately 30 minutes to remove excess moisture. Dice cucumbers into small pieces. In a medium bowl mix in the diced cucumbers, yogurt, minced garlic, mint and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Mix well.
In a medium bowl add the chicken and the feta cheese. Add approximately 1 cup of the sauce to the chicken and mix, if it isn’t creamy enough add more sauce in a small portions and add until you get the desired consistency. (I like mine super creamy, if you have left over tzatziki, it’s perfect for pita chips.)
Place the Greek styled chicken salad in a spinach lined, split pita. Top with Kalamata olives and diced red onion if desired.
The stroll hike wasn’t the only thing we did this weekend. McGyver made us a compost bin. I rocked the idea from Young House Love. Of course McGyver did the work.
McGyver decided to teach himself bow hunting so he got this cool bow.
He also spent a good amount of time ‘arrow hunting’.
We’re heading back up there for Labor Day weekend…I’m going to challenge myself with some outdoor cooking…stay tuned.
Wowser, it’s been a hectic couple of weeks. Finally our much anticipated visit from our granddaughter and her Mom and Dad was upon us. This was their first visit to Montana, a whirlwind chaotic visit to be sure.
You know how you’ve got things planned out? A sort of itinerary to keep focused. Let’s just say my master plan got a huge overhaul days before the visit. Our original plan was to stay in Great Falls one day, go to Glacier National Park for an over-nighter, spend two days at the cabin and finally one more full day here at home before shipping off Dan, Brandy and Taylor. The idea was to give a leisurely day right after they got here, and one before they left so that laundry and packing could be done, but….
It was also Grandma and Grandpa HoHo’s 60th wedding anniversary. That’s not a typo, 60 years together! Grandma and Grandpa HoHo spent their honeymoon in Yellowstone National Park with just them and 6 other family members. Romantic, right? They love Yellowstone! To commemorate their 60th Anniversary they decided to head back to Yellowstone. 60 years ago they had six other family members go with them (not exactly romantic). This year ended up being no different, believe it or not, they spent their anniversary with six other members of their family (again not so romantic).
Daniel loves his Grandma and Grandpa HoHo and they love him, they just couldn’t stand being so close together and not getting to see each other (Dan lives in Florida now). The Master Plan changed. Now we were doing two days upfront here in Great Falls, two days in Yellowstone, one day at the cabin and fly out the next day. Addition to the plan…Grandma and Grandpa HoHo will come up to the cabin with us and up to Great Falls and then spend a couple of days with us after Dan, Brandy and Taylor leave.
Montana is a large state, as a matter of record it is the 4th largest state in the U.S. Part of Yellowstone is in Montana, the South West corner to be exact. Great Falls is located North West (not too far from Canada) area, in other words the only thing between us and Yellowstone is a small mountain range called the Rockies. A lot of time was spent on the road…traveling through the mountains, with multiple cars, two dogs and an 18 month old. Can we say, adventure!
It was chaos & kisses the whole time, but worth every minute.
Here are some pictures to share. Now I’m off to shampoo spilt milk on carpets, vacuum dog hair, clean cookie crumbs and do mounds of laundry…the usual aftermath cleaning from a chaotic family visit.
Before I get inundated with a zillion questions about Grandpa HoHo and his Michael Jacksonish gloves. His hands are very sun sensitive, and these were the lightest weight gloves he could find. Plus when you are 82, you can wear any darned thing you want to.
Isn’t Grandma HoHo absolutely adorable in her pink hat and Diva sunglasses!
I love waterfalls, I must have taken hundreds of pictures of them. There is something about waterfalls that are so majestic and serene at the same time.
Up at the cabin…
I did a little photo shoot of my wonderful granddaughter Taylor. I’d love for you to tell me which photo you like the best. A little side note here, I take pictures of food, not active toddler’s. What a difference, my food doesn’t move…
Happy Birthday McGyver, how old are you? McGyver holds up his hand and starts with the thumb, 1966, then the index finger, 1976, the middle finger, 1986, the ring finger, 1996 and finally the pinky, 2006. Let’s see now it’s 2011, so 2006 to 2011 is 5 years, “I’m 55”. Isn’t it great that after decades have gone by we can still count how old we are on one hand (that is when you start counting by the decades). Actually that makes McGyver 5 and 1/2 right?
When we get older we start wanting different things; McGyver, what would you like for your birthday? “A weekend up at the cabin alone with my wife, wink, wink” With the change in my income, that sounded like the perfect gift for me to give him. The Baby boy is still in a cast and with crutches, so he wasn’t too keen on going anyways, I just arranged for his buddy to come over and stay the weekend, in case he needed some help. I just had to hope that the house would still be standing when we got back.
I’m still feeling challenged about my open fire cooking so I planned a special meal for McGyver’s Birthday dinner. A surf and turf meal of grilled lobster, roasted garlic stuffed rib-eye steak with a bacon and mushroom risotto.
While McGyver worked away, I prepped everything. I pan roasted the garlic, chopped it up and mixed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I split the rib-eye and smothered the roasted garlic inside. The lobster had been purchased on a whim awhile back, I really wasn’t even sure when I was going to serve it. I stored it in the freezer until the right time. It was still slightly frozen mid-Saturday although I took it out on Friday. With no microwave, and limited water, the defrost cycle took place out side. It worked quite well!
My plan was to get the briquettes going, make cocktails, cook the risotto, then throw on the lobster and steak in that order. Only we were low on briquettes, which meant that I would have enough to cook the risotto, which takes about 45 minutes and the lobster/steaks. Plan B, bring out the propane cooker. I started cooking the bacon on the propane cooker, I sat down with McGyver and chatted for a couple of minutes. When I got up to check the back, it was burned. Really, again…I seriously need to work out this outdoor cooking.
I quickly regrouped. I drained the bacon, fed it to the dogs who were very appreciative of my error. McGyver disposed of the hot grease and I chopped up some more bacon (so much for having it at breakfast). I turned the propane stove to low and cooked the bacon, this time not leaving it’s side. Success! I babied the risotto the rest of the time, unfortunately my coals were burning down…
Once the risotto was just a few minutes from being done, I turned it off, covered it and started the lobster. The coals were warm but not hot. I knew that the steaks would not work out, they needed a nice high heat to get a good sear. I lit the other side of my propane stove and added the grill attachment. Steaks were cooked perfectly. I ended up moving the lobster over to the propane grill to finish them off. I also put the risotto back onto heat, cooked in the last of the liquid and added parmesan.
Voila Finally a birthday dinner worth having. I am happy to say that the coals were hot enough to melt the butter for the lobster
To go with dinner I brought a Mirabella Plum Wine that McGyver had purchased last year when he went to Glacier National Park. The wine’s label features Polebridge, MT. A small town with an enormous population of 25, it’s located just south of the Canadian border at the West Entrance to Glacier. The great thing about this wine is the Mirabella plums which are grown specifically for wine and Brandy are grown just 45 miles south of Polebridge by Merle and Emogean Baldwin.
Flathead Lake Wineries, est. 2002, specializes in small batch, handcrafted unique wines from fruit grown or picked wild in Montana.
I noticed all week I’ve been rambling on and not sharing recipes, it’s not that I haven’t been cooking and taking photos, I’ve just rambled on for so long that adding a recipe seemed too much. Here I am again, rambling on about cooking failures and successes at the cabin, but this time I’m leaving you with a great drink recipe! If you like hard lemonade, then you’ll love this drink. It’s made from the new Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey, which ended up pairing perfectly with some tart lemonade and a splash of soda water to make it bubbly and refreshing.
Start with a tall glass filled with ice.
Here’s the star of the drink. Yes I know Jack…sorry I couldn’t help myself.
If you are a super talented blogger, you take a photo of yourself pouring the liquor.
If you are super uncoordinated blogger, you make a mess trying to be the super talented self photo taker blogger.
After the shot of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, pour in some lemonade, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup, leave enough room for the soda water.
Top it off with some calorie free bubbly.
If you don’t have any fancy stir sticks, you can go ghetto and use a butter knife. If you have a bar mixer, you can mix it all up and pour it over the ice. Up in the mountains, no one cares.
The result, a surprisingly light and bubbly hard lemonade with just a touch of tartness and a hint of honey.
Honestly, besides having a great meal with my hubby and some us time, that I know you don’t want to hear about, the best thing about the weekend was being able to take a hot shower. WooHoo, finally our hot water is working!
In case you are wondering about the light, it is a natural light. A tube is installed up through the roof allowing the natural light to come in without the use of electricity.
Honey Jack Lemonade
1 shot Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
1/2 to 3/4 cup lemonade
Splash of Club Soda
Lemon slices for garnish
Fill a tall glass with ice, add the Jack Daniel’s and lemonade, top with the club soda and stir well. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.
Rustic living means rustic entertaining. Our cabin has finally been finished off enough to be comfortable and McGyver, the Baby boy and I worked hard to get the outside area cleaned up.
Our motivation to clean-up? I had invited our year-round neighbors over for dinner. If you remember my last post, my spit chicken the night before was an epic fail. I did not want a repeat. For our “big” dinner, my menu consisted of traditional outdoor get together food, I planned BBQ beef brisket, cooked on the Cowboy Grill, Cowboy Beans, Corn on the Cob, and Apple Cobbler.
The beans, corn on the cob and cobbler would be a cinch, however I was worried about doing the brisket on an open grill. Underdone brisket would be tough and chewy. My action plan was to start it at 11:00 am and slow cook it for 7 hours over low coals and hickory chunks. Paulette offered to make some shrimp scampi, I told her that it was a great idea, I may need a back-up.
I pre-seasoned the brisket before we left, using my Aunt Louanna’s recipe, got the coals started early, and the brisket on by 11:00. So far so good. I checked on my brisket regularly, I started worrying that it wouldn’t get enough smoke flavor on the open grill, so I nabbed a lid and put it over the brisket to create a smoke box.
A couple hours into my cooking, I noticed that my brisket was getting pretty well done on the bottom. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t have used direct heat, no matter how low the heat was. I flipped the brisket over, covered and went to the cabin to prep my apples. After a bit, I looked out the window and saw flames! You’ve never seen a fat old lady run so fast!
If you give it some thought and you know a little something about a beef brisket, you’d know the top layer is cover in a thick layer of fat. Thick layer of fat + hot coals = fire. I removed the brisket very quicker and checked it out, I caught it in time…not ruined!
Back on the grill it went, covered and ready to smoke. Once again I left it, if you are trying to smoke something, you need to leave the cover on it. Ever time you lift the cover you lose some that tasty smoke flavor. I checked it again about 3:00 pm. Guess what, it was done. It was more than done. The bottom was like charcoal. Really? Will I ever get the hang of this open fire cooking?
Not to be out done by my meat, I sliced off the overdone part, sliced the rest of the brisket and decided to reheat it just before serving. My dogs ended up being very happy. I figured, with a good BBQ sauce no one will care.
When Jeff and Paulette came over, we had a great time. I showed off pictures of our Safari, and the boys, well they did what mountain boys do.
Once the boys were done playing it was dinner time.
Please note, the Baby boy discovered if he stands in just the right place, his text messaging works….so much for getting away from technology.
I discovered something about our neighbors…they don’t eat corn on the cob.
The brisket tasted great and Jeff and Paulette had no idea that it caught on fire and that I took about a 1/2” off the bottom.
My paranoia that my meat wouldn’t get done, meant that I went overboard with my next experience. I recovered from this near disaster and once again I learned what not to do.
Newest lesson: do not slow cook brisket over direct heat. Next time I will do it over indirect heat and plan 8 to 10 hours to compensate. Or I just grill steaks from now on.
Post Script: I learned something else, my work gloves are no replacement for pot holders.
Yeah, that burnt right through my glove. Don’t worry, after plenty of jumping around, blowing on my finger, kissing my finger and shaking the bejeezers out of it, my finger was fine.
Now that the Safari is done and weather is cooperative, we’ve been able to head up to the cabin. McGyver and I went up one weekend on our own and got it ready for this year’s use. It was a quick overnighter, nothing to exciting, just relaxing mostly.
While we were up there, I decided that I needed to challenge my outdoor cooking skills the next weekend. Sure it’s easy to grill a hot dog, hamburger, steak etc. I wanted to do some real outdoor cooking, like using the cowboy grill and Dutch oven. I made a goal oriented menu for the following weekend.
The next weekend we packed the cooler full of my ambitious menu and started our journey to the cabin. On our way up, we saw about 70 Elk cross our road. The photo is not great (I didn’t have my zoom lens on), if you look on the hill you can see some of the ones that I scared off.
It is so thrilling to travel up the mountain, to view wildlife, see the beautiful flowers and the view, ahhh the view!
We traveled up late Friday night, unpacked and went to bed. Saturday morning was a lazy morning. I made fancy pancakes fomr a Bisquick mix(which we rarely have), I made way to much batter, so I tucked it away for later use. Most of our day was spent cleaning up the outside area. Particularly the area that I have designated our future outdoor cooking/entertaining area. You can imagine McGyver’s excitement about more of my lofty plans—-not.
Our property has old telephone poles everywhere, particularly in my outdoor kitchen/entertainment area. McGyver worked hard moving the poles (which are not light), until they formed kind of an outline for my special area. It happens that this night I had planned on doing chicken on a spit. Old fashioned rotisserie chicken. The plan was to cook it over low heat and then finish it off with a rosemary garlic glaze.
Problem #1, McGyver underestimated the time it would take to clear the area, which meant I couldn’t start cooking until 7:00pm. (I did offer to start the coals myself earlier, but was told that he was going to be done soon so I didn’t need too, see how that one worked out.)
Problem #2, I don’t have the patience to sit next to a chicken and spin it for an hour and a half. Fortunately I’m a McGyverette and I used a stick to hold the chicken in place and rotated it every 15 minutes or so.
Problem #3, which wasn’t apparent until much, much later. I started the chicken too high. Sure it was a beautiful color and it looked down right delicious! However, it was taking forever to cook!
While the chicken was cooking, I also tried my hand at some Dutch oven cooking. I actually baked my potatoes in a Dutch oven!
By 8:45 pm, I was starving and becoming a little impatient. The chicken looked great, the legs were a little loose so I determined it was time to start glazing the chicken and cooking the beans.
At 9:15 I announced that the chicken must be ready, the boys were hungry and couldn’t hardly wait. We removed the chicken, I tried cutting into it and it wasn’t very forgiving. I started to get worried, I cut deeper and pink meat was revealed. Nooooooooo! You can’t eat pink chicken meat, ever!
Sadly the chicken had to go back on, this time we lowered it, I didn’t care that it would burn on the outside. I knew that would happen since I used a rosemary garlic jam as the glaze, we just wanted to eat.
By 10:00 my chicken was black on the outside, my green beans had shriveled up to nothing and my potato skins were like leather.
Guess what? My chicken still wasn’t done. 10:00 at night and it was still undercooked. I said screw it, probably because I had about 3 drinks on an empty stomach and I was feeling reckless and hungry. I cut off the done parts of the chicken, we ate only the insides of the baked potatoes, and the beans had bacon in them so the flavor was still good. Besides, nothings wrong with bean jerky when you are a starvin marvin.
Not the best meal I’ve ever made, however I’m not giving up and I will try again. So…lessons learned:
1. Start early, even if the chicken cooks quicker than expected, room temperature chicken is better than raw chicken.
2. Start low and then raise the chicken if needed.
3. Do not glaze the chicken unless you are positively sure it’s done, in other words, don’t let hunger be your guide.
4. Don’t be too eager to start your sides, again the chicken can set while sides are cooking.
5. Don’t be to stubborn, if you are hungry and the sides are done, eat them and have chicken for dessert .
Ever get that feeling, you know that niggling little feeling that something is not good? The feeling you get when you watch, lets say a horror movie, and the person is about to open the door…don’t do it, don’t do it, there’s something baaad behind the door. You know they know it, but they do it anyways. And you always think to yourself, why, why? They knew something baaad was on the other side and they did it anyways. I recently had that feeling, but first, lets go back a couple of weeks.
McGyver loves Montana, McGyver loves to hunt, McGyver loves the cabin, McGyver loves Thanksgiving. McGyver suggests, why don’t we spend Thanksgiving up at the cabin and I can hunt. I thought about that for awhile, I consulted several people at work, because I do love going to the cabin but I love tradition also, and I wanted to support either way. Traditional Thanksgiving weekend at my house includes a big feast and lots of lounging around on Thanksgiving, then spending the rest of the weekend decorating for Christmas and eating leftovers. I’ve done this for about 25 years now.
I love the cabin too, been obsessed with it for a couple of years (I blogged about it here). A conundrum for sure. After much thought, I suggested a big meal at home and then we would go up to the cabin after our meal and spend the weekend up at the cabin. I’d pack all the leftovers and not have to do much cooking and McGyver and the Baby boy could go find me an elk. Now fast forward to one week before Thanksgiving.
It snowed, and it snowed and it snowed. I know, it’s Montana, its supposed to snow; but when you have plans to go to the mountains, maybe not so good. McGyver went up the weekend before we planned to leave. It took him 5 1/2 hours to get there. It normally takes 3 hours. He went through Helena, the long way, and he had to put chains on, but he claimed it wasn’t that bad. That’s when I got that feeling, you know the feeling I was mentioning earlier. I started dropping heavy hints that it may not be such a good idea to go. Heard but dismissed.
I again consulted my co-workers, native Montanans and Rocky Mountain folks. They agreed, it’s just to risky this time of year to go, you never know what’s going to happen with the weather.
“Honey, maybe we should reconsider?”
I started getting a little pissy, I had a baaad feeling and I was scared to go. On Thanksgiving Morning, McGyver senses my pissiness and asks me what is my problem. I tell him I have a baaaad feeling about this. He hugs me and tells me he checked the weather, the road conditions and with our year round cabin neighbor who declared the road drivable, but if I didn’t want to go, that was okay with him.
Here’s the part where I opened the damn door. We went. See, I love McGyver with all my heart and I want him to be happy. He knew I was concerned about the weather and driving conditions so he checked on that. He knew I was worried about the cold (the remoteness cold) so he bought two electric heaters, extra propane heaters, extra tire chains, a winch, long underwear and gaters for the Baby boy. He really wanted to make sure we enjoyed our time out there plus he spent like $500 to make sure we would be comfortable and safe. Despite that baaaad feeling I consented. I love you McGyver and I trust you.
We had an early Thanksgiving meal, got packed up and hit the road about 3:00 pm. Not bad for a Holiday. Sure enough the roads were looking good, it had warmed up a little and the snow was melting. By the time we hit McDonald pass it was dark and the wind had picked up. It caused the snow to blow across the road like a low flaky fog, swirling around, very mystical like. We made it to our exit and started our climb up. A few miles in, on a nice level spot, McGyver and the Baby boy put front and rear chains on the truck. This was a bit of an effort since McGyver had limited experience (like he used them for the first time in years the weekend before) and the Baby boy had never used them, me either.
Once they were on, we started up and up and up. Really it wasn’t too bad, at first. Then we passed by cars parked on the side of the road. I’m talking about the cars/trucks that belonged to the people who live year round up there, including our neighbor Jeff’s truck.
“What is his truck doing down here?”
“He brought it down here because he was afraid it wouldn’t start”
“Oh” I said, I got this baaaad feeling.
We continued up the mountain, The truck squirmed and groaned, slipping and gripping through the snow and mountainous road. I got quiet, not a peep. Radio was turned off, Baby boy instructed to be quiet. When you have to concentrate, silence is needed. McGyver needed to concentrate. I needed a downer or a few stiff drinks, it was getting scary and my baaad feeling was getting worse.. We got to within 1/4 mile of the cabin, and folks, this is the most scared I have ever been in my life. We were climbing up, the headlights glistening off the white snow, the drifts of white, untouched snow that was covering part of the road on our right. To our left, a cliff, a big cliff, no trees to to catch our fall (if you know where my mind was going). McGyver tried to press through the drifts but the lighter rear end of the truck protested and started sliding precariously to the cliff’s edge.
McGyver stopped the truck. Through his ragged breaths he said “I need to check this out”. McGyver got out, relieved himself (before it happened in the truck, fortunately) and smoked a cigarette. He surveyed the treacherous corners and decided that we should be able to press on. We were so close and the alternative of backing down the mountain would have been more treacherous. He got in the truck, took a few deep breaths, clutched the steering wheel and pressed on the gas. I prayed, I’m not a praying type, I prayed but I made no promises about being a better person if I survived. I just prayed to not slide off the road and down the mountain.
The truck already in a habit, wanted to let that rear end slide off the cliff. McGyver stopped the truck, backed up just a smidge, pressed on the accelerator to go forward. Crunch, crunch, the chains stuck out their claws and gripped the snow and we moved forward without sliding sideways. Exhale. Not a word did I dare say, not a “I knew this was a baaad idea”, not an “I told you so”. Just relief. We made it the last 1/4 of mile and stopped at the bottom of Jeff’s driveway and called him from the On*Star phone in the truck.
We headed down our driveway to the cabin, a little squirrely but not bad. And certainly, no cliffs on either side.
First order of business was to light a fire. Unfortunately our batteries in the cabin were dead so we didn’t have any lights. I held a flashlight for McGyver, he asked me to stay still, but I couldn’t stop shivering…. McGyver got the fire started, then he and the Baby boy unloaded the truck. I immediately took both the electric heaters upstairs and plugged them in. McGyver plugged in the generator, now all we had to do was wait for it to warm up.
It was too cold to sleep, so we decided to wait for awhile, until it warmed up a little. In the meanwhile we decided to watch one of the movies we brought. We all sat down on the futon, with our winter coats, scarves, hats and gloves. And for me, a rum and coke, no ice please. I needed something to calm my nerves. After we watched “Tooth Fairy”, which was funnier that I think it normally would be (hysteria does that, so does a couple of drinks), we went to bed. I in my long underwear and jammies and socks!
By the middle of the night, the place was a hot box. Off came the jammies and the socks and the covers. Off went the electric heaters, yup, that warm. It’s tough when you don’t have a thermostat to regulate your heat.
We all slept in, McGyver decided not to go hunting but to install the winch on the truck…ummm it needs to be installed? You mean that it wouldn’t have helped us on the way up? Good thing I didn’t know that one, it would have just added to my baaad feeling. Our neighbor Jeff dropped in. We were eating a late breakfast and I was in my silk long underwear, my very thin silk long underwear. Good thing I had an apron on, good thing he doesn’t care. We chatted a bit, I asked probing questions on road conditions, drifts on the road….why is your truck at the bottom of the mountain and you are using your sled because????
Why are you just now telling us that you are the last to leave your truck at the bottom and everyone else left theirs down there last week? Why is your definition of drivable different than any normal human beings? Why for the love of God would you lead McGyver into thinking a non-mountain man should be driving these roads in these conditions? I didn’t say any of that, I just thought it…. Then Jeff proceeded to tell us about the bad snow storm that was supposed to be coming sometime on Sunday. When Jeff, how bad? I did ask those questions but he couldn’t remember. McGyver decided that we better leave before noon on Sunday so we don’t get caught in it. I thought about that.
After breakfast and our visit we went out and about. Oh boy, see all the snow on the picnic bench!
McGyver decided to install the winch. Only it needed a special bracket that was NOT included. To be fair the box said “Easily mounts to your trailer hitch”. Nothing about NOT included, I think I’m going to sue. I have a baaaad feeling.
It was so picturesque and beautiful!
The dogs had a blast playing in the snow, freedom, no fence. Summer is almost camouflaged in the snow.
Have you ever seen snow dingle berries?
McGyver even bought electric heated beds for the dogs. The baby boy is enjoying it also. He has also managed to furminate the bed with his hoodie!
It was starting to warm up and snow was melting. It slid off the roof, imagine the sound of an Avalanche, only smaller. It tried to fill our truck bed… Warming conditions means a weather change. Melting snow equals slippery. My baaad feeling was intensifying.
I thought about it. “McGyver, I think we should leave on Saturday in case the weather moves in quicker, you know how unpredictable the weather is. I have a baaad feeling”
McGyver didn’t argue.
We enjoyed our day there, drank a few too many adult drinks, ate leftovers and watched movies. The next morning we were going to get up, get packed and head back down the treacherous road before noon. While the snow would be cold and frozen, while there would be plenty of daylight.
I couldn’t sleep that night. Oh sure, a few too many drinks and I was numb. Fell right asleep then woke up to the truck sliding off the edge of a cliff. I tossed and turned. I played out every possible scenario in my head and what I would do. Phones don’t work up here, On*Star is sketchy, so it would be all us baby. I even had a plan for: if we survived, our neighbor Jeff could take us down one by one on a sled, we would rent a car and drive home and leave the truck, our gear everything. Except my purse and my camera, but everything else. I might need some extra warm clothes for the trip down, and my gloves and scarf and two coats and a hat, but that’s it! Survival baby!
I was up from 1:30 am to 5:00 am. I gave up on tossing and turning, went downstairs and read, trying to distract my mind. I went back to bed, had to pee, went downstairs, read some more. Trying desperately to push the baaaad feeling and images from my mind. After all, McGyver is a GOOD driver, we made it up and going down should be easier.
I went to sleep for a couple of hours, pure exhaustion. Worrying is a lot of work (don’t all you parents know it!). The next morning I made a simple breakfast of hard boiled eggs and grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. I ate the egg, but couldn’t eat my sandwich, couldn’t even drink the coffee. My stomach was in knots. I didn’t want McGyver to know I was so nervous, so I told him it was just too hot in the cabin and I didn’t feel like eating. We packed up.
We winterized and cleaned the cabin.
This is the least cluttered my front room table has been in 6 months.
We brought in the log splitter, chain saw and other junk that piled up on the front porch into the cabin. This is the cleanest our front porch has been…if it could only stay that way. Can’t you see a bench or a rocking chair on that front porch?
Good bye to our good luck horseshoe and the McGyver and Giggles plaque that I wood burned for our 5th anniversary. By the way, the claddagh is the pattern on our wedding bands (how sweet). I free-handed the claddagh design, a big accomplishment for me since I’m not an artist and this was my first (and last) wood burning project.
We set off by noon, just as we planned. This time I knew what we were in for. I also knew that McGyver had proved himself to be an excellent driver and I tried to comfort myself with the fact that it would be easier going down than up. But I just couldn’t shake that baaad feeling.
We slid and squirmed our way up the driveway. At the fork of the driveway, McGyver stopped and asked me: “Should we go up the drive and back up to Jeff’s place and turn around or should we try to go up the short way and cut across?”
I told McGyver it was up to him, last time (Memorial Day Weekend, I thought we could get down the driveway and we got stuck, so I wasn’t going to make this call). Please read about it here, it will explain soooo much. McGyver decided to take the short cut up. Only he didn’t realize there was a log under all that snow. And he didn’t know that our front tire would catch it and it would pull us so far to the right and that we would get high centered. And that our tires, that were desperately trying to get us out would dig us down to the axle in a matter of seconds. In other words, we were stuck. I had a baaaad feeling.
McGyver got out and surveyed the situation (are you getting deja vu yet?). He knew he’d have to dig us out, he said “why don’t you walk down to the cabin and wait?”. Ummmm, I don’t have snow boots (I know, what crazy person lives in Montana without snow boots?). I decided to stay and read in the truck while he and the Baby boy set to get us out. McGyver did some digging and decided, hmmm, may not be enough, then McGyver walked down to the cabin and got the Rhino and brought back some wood. The Baby boy, bless his young heart, continued digging. McGyver came back and dug and dug. He put wood behind the wheels, hooked up the winch on the Rhino to the rear end and gave me the job of releasing it as he got traction on the wood.
“McGyver, why the winch on the rear?”
“Hopefully it will keep the rear end from sliding as I try to get out of this hole we’re in”
McGyver got in the truck and (cross your fingers) hit the accelerator. The wheels spun and kicked the wood out. No movement.
All I could think of is “we’re fucked” (excuse my language…I’m panicking).
McGyver decided we needed more wood and said, I’m taking you and the dogs back down to the cabin where you’ll be comfortable. Read: I can’t stand the “I told you so” look, go to the cabin where I don’t have to be reminded of your baaaad feeling.
Back to the winterized cabin. I read my book. I furminated the burrs from Summer dog. I convinced myself that we were never getting out of here. I lit a fire in the woodstove so my boys would be warm when they gave up and came back. I got soot all over me. My fire burned out. I’m a bad mountain woman.
McGyver came down one more time to collect more wood. I asked “What if we are stuck here?” My first expression of my total desperation. McGyver says “I can’t think of that now” and heads back up to the truck to do what he feels so responsible for.
Then, 2 1/2 hours after getting stuck, McGyver drives back down as I am desperately trying to restart my failed fire and getting even more soot all over my adorable pink and camo polartech jacket. Honk, honk, woohoo, we are unstuck and it’s only 3:00 in the afternoon, time enough to get down. I can see McGyver’s elation that he unfucked the stituation and I am excited too, despite the road I know we have to travel. We are leaving on Saturday, before the baaad weather.
McGyver drives me and Becca up to the truck. Summer, will not get in the Rhino. Earlier in the summer, she was accidently run over by the Rhino. She has never forgotten and fears the Rhino. I thought she’d follow us up, but no way was she leaving that cabin. I mean, are you crazy? The cabin is safe and warm and fun! McGyver dropped me off at the now freed truck at the bottom of Jeff’s driveway, brought the Rhino back to the cabin and he and Summer would walk back up. Except half way up Summer decided “Are you crazy? The cabin is safe and warm and fun!”, she went back. So the Baby boy trekked down with the leash, nabbed her and brought her back.
We were all loaded up and ready to go. Ready as I could be. This reminded me of a time when I first was learning to ski, I conquered the bunny slopes and was doing the green runs with friends, no problem. Then, my more advanced friends got bored with the green runs and said “hey, do you mind if we go do some more advanced stuff while you work on your skills?”. No problem, I was getting pretty good, or so I thought. I hopped on the chair lift (easy to do) and rode up the “green run” only I didn’t realize that if you didn’t get off half way in between, the next stop was a more advanced run. I stayed on until I had to get off, at the top…. We went up, and up, the skiers started looking like ants and I got that baaad feeling. I got off at the very next stop….the last stop. It was not graceful. When I righted myself, I saw the sign for the run and knew I was in trouble. But once you were there, there was only one way down. I skied, crashed, got up again, skied and tumbled. Lost my goggles and hat. Skied, tumbled, got separated from one of my skis. Reunited with my ski, watched a 4 year old jump the moguls without poles and felt the fool. Got up, skied down (sort of), crashed into people at the bottom and promptly gave up skiing.
We were at the top and there was only one way down. I try to console myself with, it’s easier going down than up, but my skiing experience kept haunting me. I also tried to console myself with knowing that McGyver got us up here and he could get us down. We started down the mountain, of course the 1/4 mile from the cabin was the treacherous, snow drifted switch backs with a cliff hanging on the edge (this time my edge). McGyver navigated the corner, the truck seemed to have some horrible memory and the rear end started sliding to the edge of the cliff again. McGyver slowly pressed forward and the rear end would not cooperate.
He stopped the truck. Ragged breathing again. He was scared and I knew he felt the responsibility of the family’s safety on his him. He got out, he surveyed the situation (this time he didn’t need to pee..a good sign?). He got back in the truck and adjusted the side mirror so he could see how close to the edge we were. He had to back up. Tidbit at a time. He stopped. He took a deep breath. He pulled forward, we inched up and then the rear end, like a magnet, started to drift towards the cliff again. He stopped, he edged forward, then back, then forward. “Come on baby, come on”. It’s amazing how a little sweet talk with your vehicle will do wonders. We pulled through the worst corner/cliff.
It was all downhill from there baby… Actually my sphincter did not release until I saw the freeway and McGyver deemed it safe to remove the chains. We made it down, hallelujah! A weight should have been lifted, but when you have the fight or flight feeling, that racing heart and mind, that knot in your stomach, it just doesn’t go away so easily. I couldn’t even eat dinner that night, me, not eat?! I was so relieved when we pulled up to our little house. I was also so happy that I cleaned it before we left, it’s just a good feeling to come home alive to a clean house (I mean what if I died and the house was a mess?).
Home safe and sound, I texted everyone that knew that I was taking this precarious journey, to let them know I was safe. Then I had a few cocktails, I know, bad way to deal with your problems, but really? I do the best I can. I thought I would be exhausted. Collapse into a deep slumber, but I was still watching Food Network until midnight. I stumbled off to bed, only to toss and turn. My mind kept going through the what ifs. I got up, searched desperately for my Ambien (note to self to take up to the cabin….just in case). No luck, back to bed, snuggle with McGyver and finally sleep, real sleep.
We got up on Sunday morning, happy to be home. We took a look outside, and what to our wondering eyes should appear? Another foot of snow. As a point of reference, the truck had no snow on it when we arrived. The roads were clear yesterday, and now look.
Ummm, yeah, I need to take the fall decorations down.
We came home just in time. It’s a good thing that McGyver listened to my baaaad feelings or we would have really been in trouble.
On the way home McGyver asked the Baby boy “what have you learned from this?” The Baby boy responded “Not to drive up to the cabin when there is snow?”.
“No, grasshopper, the real lesson is to listen to your Mother!”
We had fun while we were up there, so you have to ask “was it worth it?”
HELL NO! Never jeopardize your safety for fun! This is coming from a woman who loves to ride a motorcycle, who loves adventure! But never without safety in mind first! Even crazy people who jump out of perfectly good airplanes put safety first.
Sorry about the mini lecture, I couldn’t help myself…
I never told McGyver “I told you so” but then again, I didn’t have to.
Now that our cabin is starting to feel like a second home, we can’t stay away! McGyver and I both had a three day weekend and the baby boy is on school break still, so we headed on up the top of the mountain again. We had some more furniture pieces to bring with us and a whole list of this and that’s to also bring. First order of business was to unload as soon as we got there and then McGyver set off to Bozeman (6 hour round trip) to bring back a surprise.
That left the Baby boy and I to unpack what we could. I got started on some small stuff and he got started on the cheapy futon I purchased at Wal-Mart to replace the daybed idea that didn’t work out. The Baby boy really enjoys assembling things so there weren’t any complaints from him. I helped hold a piece occasionally when needed. After the base was assembled he checked out the length to see if it would be a good fit. A little short, but with the futon unfolded he thought it would be fine.
He perseravered for as long as he could, then a small snafu. When it came to put the metal screws into the wire mattress frame, they wouldn’t go. I tried, he tried, I tried, I cussed, he tried, he didn’t dare cuss. But my poor Baby boy stabbed himself three times with the screw driver (accidentally of course).
That was that, he gave it up and decided to let McGyver handle the rest. For tonight, a mattress on the floor would suit him fine!
One of the nice things about being up at the cabin is the absence of life detractors. Take away errands, functions, work and hobbies and you suddenly feel like you have some time on your hands. So Baby boy and I played a game while we waited for McGyver to return.
The game is called MindTrap II, it consists of brain teasers, word/picture problems and puzzles.
It was fun but we never finished, we had Cow Chips on our minds, they were distracting, very distracting.
I realize that some people might just call them fried potatoes, some may even call them kettle chips. Here in Montana they are Cow Chips.
The ingredients are simple.
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper or seasoning salt of your choice.
Slice the potatoes as thin as possible.
If I were at home I’d use my mandolin.
But I wasn’t at home.
If I were at home I might have used my Furi knife.
But I wasn’t at home.
So I used a Chicago Cutlery ”ever sharp” knife that we received as part of a knife block gift set.
My slices were uneven.
If I had limitless water I’d put my potatoes in the water so they wouldn’t turn brown in the air.
But I didn’t have limitless water, oh well, they were going to turn brown when I fried them anyways.
Heat up your oil, hot enough for frying. I’m guessing I was on a med-hi flame.
I only had about 1/4 ” of oil because disposing of excess oil is an issue.
I fried a few taters at a time, flipping them over when they turned a nice golden brown.
Drain them on a paper towel and season.
Seasoning salt is especially good. You can add some cayenne pepper to make them spicy, or use Cajun seasoning.
Moving on up! Moving up 6,000 feet to be exact. Finally our cabin is done enough to move stuff in. Two years in the making and a lot of debt. But the time is finally here. A little background: Over three years ago, we found out we were moving to Great Falls, MT. We were excited because it was bringing closer to our roots. McGyver was originally from Idaho and I was from Washington State, Northwest folks to be exact. Because of the military we have lived all around the globe, and where we haven’t lived, we’ve traveled. After extensive traveling, sometimes you realize there is no place like home, and sometimes you find out there’s no place like the place your living at now. McGyver’s family had left Idaho, and believe it or not, decided to relocate to Washington State. The natural thought would be for us to settle in Washington State to be closer to both of our families, however, we both knew that Washington had become quite crowded and honestly the constant “grey” of Washington was unappealing to both of us.
We were super excited about the opportunity to move to Montana. It would bring us closer to family, but it was not a heavily populated state. I’m not a total country girl, I knew that I wanted certain amenities in life like a well stocked grocery store and Internet. Great Falls seemed like the perfect place. When we moved to Great Falls we decided to down size from a 3,000 square foot home to an 1,800 square foot home. That meant that we had an excess of furniture. About the time that we were moving here the American economy was doing poorly. We (mostly McGyver) were losing money on investments. McGyver had decided to pull one of his money market accounts and invest in land…..after all no one is making land. Because the economy was not doing great, realty was also in somewhat of a slump. We were able to buy 40 acres with most of McGyver had pulled out of his account. We knew that we wanted a cabin so we stored some extra furniture in the dreams of a cabin someday.
The property we bought has a small creek running through it and had a cabin started. Really the only nice building on it was the outhouse at the bottom meadow. So last year we had a contractor finish framing the cabin and do the outside. This year the concentration was on finishing the inside. Lucky for us our year ’round neighbor is a drywaller and construction guy. So we hired him to finish the inside. In an ideal world we would have built and finished the cabin ourselves, there is certainly a sense of pride that goes along with that. Problem is, we didn’t have the time, both of us working full time and having a family, and the real truth…..we just didn’t have the knowledge and skill.
Sure we could have figured it out and got it done, McGyver has the aptitude, but…..we wanted use it. If we did it, maybe in 20 years it would have been done. So much for making the most of our investment. Our rational was that the quicker we could get into it the quicker we would stop paying rent for space for the furniture in storage and vacations would be spent there versus elsewhere. Oh, McGyver and the boys would lap in luxury during hunting season.
The time has finally come, the cabin was finished enough to move some stuff in. The dogs were excited as usual to go. Okay, they are excited anytime they get to go for a ride, but they especially like going to the cabin!
First look through the door.
The mortaring for the wall isn’t quite finished but it looks great already.
The bathroom is the least finished…I didn’t care….the toilet was ready to use.
We had a composting toilet installed, which is very “green”, the compost will be used for a garden that I will have someday.
My mom and my sister had bought me this copper and brass light, probably six years ago. Finally it has a home. The cabinets I finished myself, they are supposed to look old and distressed. It was certainly a fun project. I’d like to commend by neighbor Jeff for the trim work. I just told him I wanted wood trim and I wanted it to match the cabinets. He did a perfect job and added the nice touch on the top of the windows and sliding glass door instead of just doing a plain square.
We have a small closet that holds the breaker box, water heater and will hold the batteries to power the house when the generator isn’t running.
He even stained our “stairs and the frame around it to match.
This is our bedroom, the walls are actually brown and dark beige….lighting is not ideal in our room but it will make for a cozy night sleep.
Please admire the hardwood flooring which we got for a steal. I love how it looks “old”.
The door that we bought at the “Restore” store here in Great Falls. It obviously came from an apartment. Jeff also set up the rails so no one would fall down the hole in the middle of the night.
He also installed some hand rails that are so helpful when coming up the stairs.
As you can tell Mcgyver is happy to have something to hold onto as he climbed up the stairs.
The view from upstairs.
This is our bedroom. A bedroom, wow, how great is that?
The cubby that we had niched out….because you always need more space, especially if you only have 600 square feet.
This is the “living” area. Again, we had a nook…I have a vision for that.
See the water container…I have a vision to cover that…..
Jeff came down while we were moving things in.
I can’t believe it…put water in the above tank….and you have running water!
This is our “instant” hot water heater in the only closet we have. It runs on propane and gives you hot water within a minute!
While we were moving stuff in and Jeff was going over all the logistics of the cabin, Becca dog was doing some discovering herself. Specifically she found a fresh cow pie from the free range cattle and rolled around in it.
Needless to she was tied up until McGyver could take her down to the creek and wash her up. The way she is licking her chops you’d think she was enjoying it. Ooooh gross, what is wrong with you dog?????
In order to get larger items up to the top floor we had to use a little McGyver ingenuity. A pully and a pick-up truck did the trick.
Unfortunately it was just McGyver and I which made the task a little more difficult.
Our dinner that night was a cold dinner of crackers, cheese and red wine. I knew we would be busy all day “nesting” so a cold dinner and a little cheap wine to celebrate would just fill the bill.
The next morning I utilized my kitchen for real! I cooked up some bacon and made coffee.
I baked some canned biscuits in my cast iron pan in the counter top propane oven.
Some how breakfast seems to tast better so much better in the cabin…see those lovely fried eggs, the pile of bacon and baked biscuits even if they are homemade!
The cabin is not fully decorated but I am working on it.
This is the front room with Dennis the Pheasant that McGyver shot, the old lantern, duck decoys and rocker from Grandpa and Grandma HoHo.
The dining room table was a freebie with the above hall table. I was in Tongeren, Blegium, doing my usual bi-annual visit when I ran across this fabulous hall table/sofa table from Sweden. I wanted it and the seller offered to through in the table with 4 chairs for free. I paid $100 for the lot. I used all pieces for years. The chairs were horrible so we got rid of them before we moved here. I am so pleased the other pieces are working out.
The china hut was purchased at a “bazaar” on base in Lakenheath, UK. The dishes are my absolute favorite; Henry Watson “for use at home or safari” from England. The blue plates made by Spode and a bunch of knick-knacks from Germany and copper pieces that I have collected over the years.
Another cold meal for lunch. Salami and cheese sandwich with some chips and a little coffee.
Mcgyver had his Cuckoo clock from Germany and a special picture he bought that we hung up in the “high” traffic area.
I added some of my copper collection to the wood stove area. Plus an old wooden sleigh…..just because I like it.
At the top of the stairs we mounted “Hamlet”.
Folks, this is why I really needed a cabin…seriously where else was I going to hang McGyver’s trophy?
Sometimes what you think, is not what you are going to get. We thought we would do a Daybed upstairs. So we bought a set of antique twin beds for $90. My idea was to put the two foot boards together to make the day bed. We did and we found out that there would be no room for a coffee table.
I am sad to say that the daybed idea is kaput and we will be purchasing a futon instead.
I know this post is lengthy but please bear with me because I am so proud of the chairs we have. As I stated earlier, we got ridh of the horrible chairs that came with my free table; last year on our 4th of July visit to Westport, Wa. Grandpa and Grandma HoHo gave us chairs. Chairs with a history. Grandpa HoHo had bought some chairs at a yard sale, the seller had told him that the chairs were from the original Yellowstone Lodge. We didn’t know if it was true or not, but we knew that they were beautiful chairs that needed some work. We took them to a local guy for restoration….well, he found a stamp on those chairs. They were made my a company that supplied all the original chairs at….you guessed it….Yellowstone Lodge! McGyver and I went on line and did some research, sure enough it was true these were original chairs from Yellowstone Lodge. Not only that but some reproduction chairs were going for $500 each!
Look we have a bed! The brass bed came from McGyver’s grandfather. McGyver had the quilt made in Germany. The throw pillows are Irish linen that I picked up. The mirror was thrown in free when we bought our daybed set up. The night stand was also bought in Tongeren.
Right now, this is how we get water up to our tank. Poor McGyver has to haul it up. Fortunately our neighbor Jeff has an established spring that we can get water from. We have 3 springs but we haven’t developed any of them yet…next year?????
Every move has it’s mess, this is just a small haul we were taking out with us.
This was a very long blog….but so exciting. I’d like to leave you with a picture of Summer who thinks that Becca is her personal fur covered couch….
Can that be really comfortable? Probably if you are a dog.
Hey, on the way home we stopped in Lincoln, MT at Lamkins Supper Club.
A couple of employees were looking up in a tree. We couldn’t resist and we had to look up also.
Poor little black bear. I hope he finds his way down soon, I mean after I’m not around cause I’m sure he’ll be hungry. I would be if I were stuck in a tree all day….