Friday, June 29, 2012

Bozeman Love...


I felt a little bad writing all about how much I love Missoula last time so I thought it appropriate to give Bozeman some love.  We get to live in an incredibly beautiful place with a fantastic community that I sometimes take for granted because I've grown up here.  This week we took full advantage of this sweet little city and all its summer splendor that it has to offer.  The weather is what makes summer so glorious here…mid 80's almost everyday, we made sure to spend more waking hours outside than inside because of this.  So here's some Bozeman love from the last few days...

Once a week there is a Farmer's Market here at a local park.  We went for the first time this year and it just made summer feel more official.  There's live music, lots of food, local produce and artist selling their creations.  And, of course the ice cream truck is there much to the girls delight.  It always draws so many people to it and you are sure to run into someone you know.  We chowed on fresh pizza made right in front of us and cooked in their wood oven, noodles with fresh veggies and to top it all off the most delicious cookie sandwich I have ever had.  Chocolate cookies on each side with a light cream frosting filling…oh so good.  The girls totally missed out by getting ice cream sandwiches from the ice cream truck, too bad for them.  

We hit another Bozeman summer tradition this week with Music on Main.  Once a week they close down a couple blocks of our downtown and it fills with street vendors, people and an outdoor stage for a local band to play.  There are activities and ice cream for the kids and cold beer for the adults. 

We haven't gone to this much in the last few summers because the girls were a little too young.  This year they enjoyed it a lot more.  We danced to the music, met up with Amy & Chad and their family and ran into old friends.  

We definitely plan on going to more of these as the summer continues.  This particular day we also got to go swimming.  For my little fish this is about as good as it gets.  Last summer Amy found a secret swimming place that we went to and with hot weather in the forecast we suited up the kids and headed for our first swim of the season.

Unfortunetly it seems as if our spot got discovered because we didn't exactly have the pool to ourselves.  However…this didn't matter, we splashed and played and swam the afternoon away.  I love that my best friend is a teacher…that means in the summer we get to have lots of playdates with the kids without that pesky work thing getting in the way.  

Earlier this week the girls and I decided to get a little creative and add a little color to our backyard.  Matt had to replace one of our fence posts and because the rest of the fence is over 8 years old, this new one really stuck out.  I thought…why not make it stick out even more?  We grabbed some paint, split the post into three sections and each of us went to town.

  
Each girl had a very clear idea of what they wanted their part to represent (myself included).  We wanted it to be summer things that make us happyI think it turned out beautiful and it makes me smile everytime I look at it.  

Here are other things that are making me smile this week…

1.  Afternoon snacks with cousins on the front porch

2.  Extra smiles for cherries being a part of those snacks

3.  Ice Cream every night for dessert

4.  Decorating our whole driveway with vibrant chalk colors

5.  Seeing my sister smile.  She has her good days & bad days, but through all of this she is keeping a positive attitude and proves what a strong chick she is

6.  Watching donations coming in for her benefit…we've been getting big donations, small donations, some from people we know & some that we'll never know where they came from.  What it means to me is that people are good & kind and that makes me smile

7.  New swimming pool for the backyard & watching my little fish splash around in it all afternon.  It was a little cold even with the 86-degree temperatures, but we all got in.  The girls kept daring me to get in further and further and then laughing hysterically when I exclaimed dramatically how cold it was.


8.  Fresh veggies!!!  This is our second year doing a CSA with a local farm and I LOVE it.  (Madison Meadowlark CSA)  We got our first share this week and it's like getting presents once a week.  It helps stretch my cooking imagination when I have things I don't normally get at the store.  Things like rainbow chard, beets, leeks and white radishes (I didn't even know there were white radishes!!)  Last night, inspired by the veggies I made a beautiful blackened salmon salad and I twisted my spinach pie recipe to use the rainbow chard.  Totally different taste, but still so good….

Like I said before, Bozeman is a great place to live and it deserved a little love from me.  As I sit here outside on this beautiful June day I know we live someplace special…we just have to remember to take advantage of all it has.  Especially this time of year, because it doesn't last long.  This weekend we are sticking around town.  We've been gone or camping or at the river the last few weekends and I'm looking forward to a bit of nothing.  Just low key plans of bar-b-q's with friends and neighbors, maybe some hiking and just enjoying our own backyard.
Happy Weekend!

Rainbow Chard Pies
1.  Make the dough like you would from my spinach pie recipe
2.  Finely chop rainbow or swiss chard and 1 or 2 leeks and a little onion.  Mix with some fresh shredded parmesean cheese, fresh chopped basil & rosemary.  Add some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  
3.  Fill and cook just like spinach pies.  So good.

Blackened Salmon Salad
1.  In a small bowl combine-1 tbls paprika, 1 tbls onion powder, 1/2 tbls cayenne pepper (more or less to taste), 1 tsp oregeno, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp thyme and some s&p
2.  Brush salmon with olive oil and sprinkle the above mixture on both sides
3.  Cook on a hot skillet (I do this outside because it gets smokey) just a couple minutes on each side until it is blackened.  If you want it cooked a little more...finish on a hot grill or in the oven...you don't want to scorch the outside too much!
4.  Serve over a bed of fresh greens & veggies...we did tomatoes, red & yellow peppers, snap peas, white radishes & shredded cheese.  Top with your favorite dressing.  (I like balsamic vinaigrette for this.  I like balsamic vinaigrette on ANYTHING)
Salmon this way is also delicious on a sandwich!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Missoula

I have always had a love for Missoula.  I think it started when Amy and I used to go there when we were in high school to visit her sister who went to college there.  We felt so cool, staying in an apartment without our parents and running around a town that wasn't our own.  I may have started loving it more at that same time just because my Dad didn't and at that age defying your parents was the cool thing to do.  I considered going to college there, even going and checking it out (again just another road trip with my best friend excuse)  When I was there for that trip, actually thinking about moving there, I got a weird feeling in my gut and opted to stay in Bozeman for college  (Much to my Dad's happiness...he thought going to U of M would turn me too liberal...sorry Dad, happened anyway!)  I like to think now that the reason behind that feeling was because I needed to go to MSU in order to meet Matt and I am so happy I did.  But, my love of Missoula has not changed and maybe has just grown stronger over the years.  I like their vibrant downtown, the river flowing right down the middle of the city, the big green trees and the total hippie vibe that you feel the instant you get there.  In Missoula anything goes and I dig it.  It reminds both Matt and I a lot of Portland, but with better weather, and we love spending a weekend away there.  Which is why I choose there to celebrate Matt's birthday.  It's the perfect place to get away, enjoy good food and night life and some relaxing together.  This is exactly what we spent our weekend doing.

I spent a lot of time trying to plan a fun birthday weekend away for Matt.  He does so much for me and the girls and I always feel like such a lucky girl...I wanted to make it special.  We go to Missoula a lot, and I wanted to do things we hadn't done there before.  We started by going to this adorable Italian deli for lunch...a little off the beaten path, but totally worth it.  We had  sandwiches that were full of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and the best olive oil.  It just melted in your mouth (Just a heads-up...I did no cooking this weekend, but there will be lots of food mentioned!!!)  After we stuffed ourselves there I took Matt out to the Big Sky Brewing Company.  We drink a lot of their beer and I thought it would be fun to see where it's brewed.  (The best was Matt trying to figure out where the heck we were going as we headed back out of town, towards the airport...I think I almost had him believing we were getting on a plane for somewhere)  We have a brewery here in Bozeman that we love going to, The Bozone Brewing Company, that is just a local, divey place with great beer.  This one we went to is a much bigger deal and had a much more touristy feel to it...not as much our thing, but still fun to see and try their different beers.  After such a big lunch and a couple beers on top of that it was time to go check in to our room for an afternoon nap.  (I'm not a napper, but this was Matt's weekend, not mine!)  

We are not usually bed & breakfast type people...however, I was trying to find someplace unique to stay this trip and I found an adorable little one right on the river by downtown.  It seemed really perfect so I thought we'd give it a try.  It did not disappoint.  Here was the view from our private patio...

You could hear the rushing river and see the mountains and old bridge in the background...very peaceful and relaxing.  We spent a good chunk of time just sitting out on the patio enjoying.  The perfect place to catch up from the whirl wind that life has become lately.  Inside our room was a little dated (the house was built in 1911).  The decor was part vintage funky, part felt like I was at my Grandma's house.

A little later, rejuvenated, we headed on to the next part of the day.  Again, it was so funny to have Matt try to guess where we were going as I headed up into the mountains, got lost (thanks to a road that was closed from my directions!) and finally got to our destination.  

For our ten year wedding anniversary a few years ago we went to Sonoma California and did a lot of wine tasting...it was a fantastic trip.  When I found out there was a vineyard in Missoula, I knew we had to go check it out.  We've had their wine before, but this was the first time we visited the place.  It was splendid.

Sipping wine while overlooking the growing grapes, nestled between the mountains...not too bad at all.  Add to that, live music and an occasional rain shower, well it just doesn't get much better then that.  It was just so beautiful and calm...I think both of us felt more relaxed then we had in a long time.  (The wine may have helped with that as well, you never know)  We left there after a couple hours because we had dinner reservations.  Last time we were in Missoula Matt had found this restaurant, Red Bird, which became one of my favorite restaurants ever...but I wanted to only do new things so I somewhat reluctantly passed on going there.  I did find another place that was great...kind of a tapas type place with food inspired from all over the world.  We tried coconut tuna ceviche from Peru, fried lemon ravioli from Italy, aracini in sunchoke sauce from Milan, truffle fries (don't remember where those were from) and washed it all down with some Lebanese wine.  It was like a party for your taste buds all these vibrant, unique flavors.  It definitely gave me some inspiration for some new dishes to try.  For dessert we decided to do good old American and headed to the best local ice cream place in Missoula...The Big Dipper.
I have had friends tell me we had to try it here and I can't believe in all my trips I hadn't discovered it earlier.  It was delicious...even though Matt teased me for my love of ice cream (he says I'm kinda like a 8 year old girl when it comes to dessert...coming from the guy who loves strawberry cupcakes).  This place will be on the agenda on all future trips.  

At this point we were sufficiently full and a little tired.  Sometimes when we are in Missoula we take advantage of no kiddos and stay out late, dancing or something like that.  I think this time we were just not in that mood, so we stopped in the store on our way back to our room, picked up some bubbly and took it back to enjoy on the patio while listening to the river and watching the stars...
The next morning we got to sleep in (if you consider 8 am sleeping in...with our early risers, we do!), eat a homemade breakfast of blueberry pancakes, and then went to catch the Farmer's Market and Art Fair that was going on in their downtown.  Now, Bozeman is great for having Farmer's Markets and art festivals and all that good stuff...but  for some reason Missoula just rocks it better.  There is so much, yet never feels overly crowded...just lots of happy people out just doing there thing.  I love it.  Then it was time to say good bye and head home to get our babies.  It is so wonderful to be able to leave them for the night and know they are in good hands, getting lots of love and having a good time.  I honestly don't think they miss us and know this because when I told Ava I missed her she said "I missed you too, but not really cuz I was having too much fun"  I didn't want to tell her that I felt the same way.  We aren't doing a big family trip this summer since we already did a vacation with Florida, but we did decide that we need a mini-family vacation and our going to take the girls to our favorite get away city in a few weeks so they can enjoy it as well.  In the mean time, I'm gonna try to slow things down a bit and try to get into a summer pace.  I think I've been rushing life a little, which is weird because I don't even have work to deal with right now.  It's like we are trying to cram everything into such a short time and every year I do this and end up just exhausting everyone.  This weekend reminded me that it is better to just slow down, enjoy what is happening at that moment and stop thinking about trying to get everything done. 
Have a happy week...it's supposed to be a hot one.  This means lots of water fun and ice cream.  In fact I think I'll have a little ice cream right now.  (Too bad it's not Big Dipper)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Summer.

First of all, I have to begin by saying THANK YOU for all the amazing support my family has gotten since I posted my sister's story.  I received so many messages and phone calls from people who were touched by the story and wanted to check in to see how we were doing and to see how they could help donate to her fund.  And, just the people who passed the story on, so maybe someone else could hear it and help out.  The kindness from friends has been amazing and I feel truly blessed to have you all in my life.  My sister and her family are so appreciative of all the help and support as well and she gets so emotional about it every time I tell her about another person who has donated or sent their best wishes for a speedy recovery.  So, a very heartfelt thank you.  I am going to keep her story on the side of the blog so people can continue to read it as it gets passed along and help out. 

Now onto other things, such as the first day of summer.  Which, in my book might as well be a national holiday.  

Yesterday was this blessed day and we did it up right.  It was a perfect summer day…no clouds, 80-degrees…the type of day that makes you so happy to live here.  (If it could just last longer than the three short months we get it)  We took full advantage of this longest day of the year.  First up…we gathered the cousins and headed to a park for a picnic.  The other day the girls and I made a list of all the parks in our town.  We posted it in our refrigerator and our goal is to visit every park this summer.  

I think the girls like coming home and crossing off the park on our list almost as much as the actual going.  Anyways…back to the picnic at the park.  It was lovely…Ava, Layla, Kim & Greg running around and little Jacob trying to keep up with the big kids.  They all love on him so much and want him to choose to go with them on the slide or the bouncy horse.  He's kinda like a movie star when he comes to town.  After playing we threw down a big blanket and everyone chowed.  And, we had cherries…so yummy.  Cherries are what I consider "summer" food.  Those along with watermelon, corn on the cob and ice cream (actually ice cream is a year round treat in my opinion!)  I don't buy these foods until summer hits and as soon as they start showing up at the grocery store, I get so excited.  After the park we headed back up to my sisters for everyone to chill out a bit before we did another very summer thing…sprinklers, slip & slides and pools.  




The weather continued to cooperate and the sun beat down making the cool water from the sprinklers very welcome.  The kids took a popsicle break...

And then back in the water they went.  To end this lovely day we had a very summer like dinner of lemon salmon, pomegranate quinoa and asparagus...so fresh and delicious.  

Then of course ice cream.  
I think having ice cream on the first day of summer ought to be some sort of rule for everyone.  It just makes you happy.  Speaking of making me happy…earlier this week Ava was going through her sock drawer and found a bunch of socks without mates.  What's a girl to in this situation?  Why, make puppets that's what!  She spent the next hour making a background and taping little eyes and mouths on her socks to create a puppet show for when her sister got up.  Let me tell you, it was quite a show.  Complete with a monster sock and running through a scary forest.  Of course, Layla found it fascinating as well and had to do her own right after.  Ava's show was very good and she worked so hard on creating it.  However, Layla is a lot like Matt and her show was hilarious.  She basically copied Ava's exact show but with a lot more drama.  After the shows were complete they had to leave everything out so they could do an encore performance for Daddy when he got home.  I totally love my girls creative spirits.  


Today was another glorious summer day and my little sister and I wanted to take all the kids on a hike.  With my Kori being stuck inside because of the nasty sickness, we wanted to help by getting her kids out of the house so she could rest and the kids could run off some energy.  Of course, getting 5 kiddos ready and out the door isn't that easy, so we ended up just going to a local trail instead of up to the mountains for a real hike.  They didn't even notice the difference.  It's a trail we have all done before and ends with a climbing rock that they all scurried right up.  It's funny how much they've changed from just last year when they all needed a lot of help getting up and down.  They still needed help, but this time it was more assistance then trying to heave them up to the top.  

It was a lovely day and great to visit with my little sister.  She has been staying with Kori, so I have missed out on our late night chats, but I know that Kori needs her more right now so I guess I'll share.  Next time she visits, I may not be so generous!  After another full day I came home to spend the evening with Matt & the girls and soak it up cuz tomorrow the girls will be headed to Grandma's for a sleepover and Matt and I are going out of town for his birthday celebration.  
Happy Summer!

Lemon Salmon
-Salmon
-Butter & olive oil
-Juice from 1-2 lemons
-1 cup veggie broth
-1 tbls flour
First season the salmon (remove the skin) with garlic, salt and pepper
Melt around 1 tbls butter and 1 tbls oil in a pan until sizzling.  Add the salmon and cook a minute or two on each side.  Remove from the pan.  Whisk in flour & broth.  Add lemon juice bring to slight boil, reduce to simmer and put salmon back in the pan and cook until done.  Serve the lemon gravy over top of the salmon.  
Enjoy!

Pomegranate Quinoa
Prepare quinoa as I did in this recipe
Mix 1 cup dried pomegranate, fresh chopped basil, 1 to 2 chopped tomatoes, 1/2 chopped yellow pepper and 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese together.  Add the prepared quinoa.  For the dressing mix 1/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbls honey, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 garlic clove, s&p, 2 tbls poppy seeds.  Add dressing to the salad and toss well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Sisters Story...

~Update as of March 2014...Finally, FINALLY!  My sister got health insurance and in January went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota.  They did test after test and concluded she needed surgery.  They wanted to do a temporal lobectomy to remove the portion of her brain that was having seizure activity.  On February 6th, we all held our breath and said our prayers as she under went the surgery.  She did great.  Came home earlier than expected.  She is now home and begins the long process of healing, physically and mentally.  We have waited years for this, yet her work is still just beginning.  We are trying to find patience as we navigate this new world or healing and therapy in hopes Kori makes a quick recovery.  We won't know the success of the surgery for many, many months.  To see if it was all worth it and she is in fact seizure free.  Thank you for the continued support and prayers.  

~Update as of September 2013...This summer Kori did get to go to another hospital for some further testing.  They confirmed that she was having seizures and what side of her brain they were coming from.  It was a very expensive test to confirm what they pretty much knew.  The doctors are suggesting surgery to remove the portion of her brain they believe is causing the seizures.  Because of her lack of health insurance getting to a hospital to actually do this type of surgery is not possible at this time.  They are waiting to decide their next moves.  Trying to regulate her seizures with medicne, but they continue on a daily basis.  We continue to "wait and see" and hope she can eventually get to a bigger, more specialized hospital.  Find answers and give her hope that her life can return to normal one day.  

~Update as of January 2013...Since I first posted this in June things have changed and yet stayed the same with Kori.  She spent the summer fighting the infection with massive antibiotics.  By the end of the summer she was supposedly infection free and dealing with brain swelling that could take awhile to heal.  Through out the Fall she did a lot of "wait and see"  but not getting better.  There were a few more trips to the ER for weird things, but no one answering why they were happening.  Finally this last month she went to a new neurologist for another opinion.  He confirmed that all the "waiting and seeing" was a waste of time as NOTHING had improved and he had no idea why.  Now, we are back at the scary place of NOT knowing what is going on in her brain.  They have suggested she go to a bigger hospital and we are hopeful this will happen soon.  Because the battle continues so do the medical and living expenses they are facing.  I will continue to update this page as we know more.  Thank you for reading her story, maybe passing it on or helping out in some way.  The kindness of those around us and from total strangers has been truly amazing. ***


In the last month, I've talked a lot about my sister and her health issues.  Now, I am telling her full story.  From my perspective.

Mother's Day this year was the last time I remember everything being "normal"  We spent the afternoon with my parents and my sister and her family at soccer games and then headed over for pizza and beer to celebrate Mother's Day.  After that we all went our own ways and all was well until a few days later when my mom called and said my sister, Kori, wasn't feeling well and her husband, Dave, was taking her to the hospital to get her checked.  At this point, I still was not worried...thinking it was probably no big deal.  Later we came to find they thought she had meningitis.  After a quick google search I found this could be either a somewhat minor illness, much like a bad flu, or really bad with a 25% mortality rate.  My family spent the week in and out of the hospital visiting, as she made her recovery.  During those days I had concerns for how sick she was, but felt that she was going to be okay and that in time she would turn the corner.  As we thought, a few days later she was able to come home to start her recovery there.  Things felt like they were going back to the way they were and the whole family even got together for a bar-b-q to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend.  We all left that Saturday night in good spirits, way past kids bedtime, feeling happy that my sister had gotten over this illness.  Oh, how wrong we were.  We hadn't even begun.

The next night I had just settled into a movie night with popcorn on the couch with my girls when I got a phone call from my mom.  Having already talked to her earlier in the day I ignored her call.  I did listen to the voicemail and my stomach dropped as I heard her frantic voice saying that my niece, Jaelyn had called and said the paramedics were on their way to their house for their mom.  I hung up the phone, grabbed my keys and was at their house just in time to see them shutting the ambulance door with my sister in it.  I rushed inside to find Dave and asked what had happened.  With a look of shock and tears in his eyes he told me Kori had started feeling really sick and then had two seizures so he called 911.  None of us will ever know what it was like to have to see someone you love going through something like that and I hope to never find out.  He left to follow the ambulance to the ER, I gathered up my frightened nieces and nephew and took them to my house before heading up to the ER as well.  That night will go down as one of the worst nights of my life.  By the time I got there they already had her intubated and had paralyzed to stop the seizures.  We all waited while they prepped her for a MRI to see what in the world was going on.  The look of worry in my Dad and Dave's eyes, the men that weren't supposed to get scared, was enough to let me know that this was some scary stuff happening.  I have never prayed harder or felt closer to losing someone in all my life.  We found out there were several abscesses in her brain that were infected and they were going to see if they could get her to a bigger hospital where they could cut into her brain, remove some of the pus from the infection to determine what was causing it.  We said our good byes, hoping she could somehow hear them, and watched the helicopter lift her away, all alone, to a bigger hospital.  Her husband was hot on their tail to be with her, while the rest of us tried to go home and get some rest to head up the next day.  Of course that night no one slept and we all might as well did as my little sister did and just drive through the night to get there with her.  The next morning, Kori went into brain surgery and after three hours of worry came out of it well and desperately trying to communicate with all of us.  Unfortunately, she still had a tube down her throat and could only write what she was trying to say.  She was scared.  She was totally freaked out about where she was, what was going on and how almost 24 hours of her life had passed and she didn't remember any of it.  We all tried to calm her nerves, explain everything that was going on and reassure her.  We also tried to convince her that the work she was worried about getting done for the end of the school year (Kori is a pre-school teacher at our local Head Start), would be handled by someone else.  We were all so relieved to see that Kori was still in there.  The rest of the week she spent fighting to regain her health so she could make it back for her sons graduation.  And, sure enough...she made it back and watched Steve graduate.
Kori with her oldest son, Steve

All was well again this following week and it seemed we were back on the road to recovery.  However, this nasty bacteria psuedonomas had other ideas.  Sudden head pain a few days later sent her back up to the ER and the next day what was supposed to be a routine check up had her on yet another airplane ride to an even bigger hospital due to swelling of the brain.  How disheartening it was for them and all of us to hear about this step back in her recovery.  I felt myself go back to that dark place of wondering "is she going to survive this?"  After some steroid treatment for the swelling in her brain and a change of medication, she was on the road to recovery again and back home.  And the roller coaster ride continued.

Now home, she is on an intense antibiotic treatment to find this infection.  Unfortunately it is not as simple as taking antibiotics for a sinus or ear infection.  The medicine has to be taken three times a day, intravenously and each time takes almost two hours.  This medicine is so aggressive to fight it that they have to constantly worry about possibility of more seizures and brain swelling.  This on top of the fact that it makes her nauseous, fatigued and emotional.  But, her spirits are high and she will fight this to the end.  Because she has too.  Not only for herself, but for her family.
Steve, Kori, Greg and Dave...all shaved heads in solidarity!


For the six children that are counting on her to survive it.
Kori, Dave and the 6-pack



For her husband.


He has been her rock through all of this and gone through so much that I can't even begin to imagine or try to describe how this has been for him.
For everyone else...Parents...
Kori, her parents and sisters 
Kori and Dave with Dave's parents



Sisters...


Nieces & nephews...
Kori and Ava..(1 of her 7 nieces and nephews)


And friends and co-workers who love her and can't bear to imagine a life without her.  So, she will survive it, because she has to.

The other unfortunate side to all of this, now that some of the worry is gone is the financial side.  Like so many people in this country Kori has no health insurance.  As you can imagine the medical costs for all of this are enough for them to buy a nice ocean side property.  One of the helicopter rides alone costs as much as a new car.  To give a little background on their family...they own a small local business that Dave runs and as I said before, Kori works as a preschool teacher.  Something she finds very rewarding.  On top of their busy work lives, they have six children between the two of them.  Dave brought two boys into the marriage, Kori a son and daughter and together they had another son and daughter to complete the "six-pack" as we call them.  Both are very involved in their children's activities with Kori volunteering as a Girl Scout leader & with Junior Achievement and Dave as a soccer coach.  With volunteering, jobs, a business and six kids, I find myself often thinking "I don't know how she does it"  But, they do it all and love it.  They are the all American, blended family, making it work on a modest income.  This is where all of you come in.  In some small effort to help, our family is trying to fund raise to ease some of the costs for them.  Through this entire ordeal we have been amazed and touched by the outpouring of support for my sister and her family.  People bringing food, starting prayer chains, checking in, flowers, cards...so much beautiful kindness.  Now, I am asking for a little more generosity...anything you can give to help with the astronomical amount of expenses that are coming their way.  We have set up an account for donations to be made in any amount.  Here is how you can donate:

1.  There is a benefit account set up at First Interstate Bank.  The account name is "Hope, Love & Funds for Kori"  To make a deposit you can drop it off to any First Interstate branch location or mail it to the bank:
First Interstate Bank
202 West Main St
P.O. Box 6370
Bozeman, MT 59771
Just reference the account name and the bank will get it in the right account
2.  If you prefer to mail directly to myself or Kori, just message me and I'll get you the correct address.  Any donations made this way will go directly into the same benefit account.  (Checks made out to Hope, Love & Funds for Kori)
*Please keep in mind that because you are donating to an individual not a charity, all donations are not tax-deductible*


Thank you for reading this story, and please feel free to pass it on.  I believe so strongly in the kindness of people and it has come shining through this ordeal.  Kori's hopes are to overcome all of this and then turn around and give back as so many have given to her.  That's just the way she thinks...always trying to pay it forward
Kori and her youngest, Kim



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Campers, Happy Father's Day...

Today is Father's Day and just as I find Mother's Day an appropriate time to gush about being a mom, I find Father's Day an appropriate time to gush about the father of my girls...

Oh, how I love watching Matt love these two girls.  I hope they realize just how lucky they are to have a Daddy like him.  He makes them laugh with his endless jokes, plays with them everyday (including letting them "do his hair" and make him "pretty"), is tough on them to keep them strong & make sure they are good kids and loves on them like no other. When I see them hug on their daddy, it makes my heart just melt.  I love that he makes sure they have a strong bond and know they will always be little daddy's girls.   Some guys may feel like they are missing out on something by not having son's, but not Matt.  He always says he is so happy he had girls and I totally believe that.  We celebrated what a fantastic dad he is today with camping, gifts, soccer games and homemade pizza for dinner.  Perfect way to end an awesome weekend.  

What made the weekend so perfect?  We finally got to take our favorite friends (The Frasers) to our favorite camping spot...

We have been camping with Amy and Chad long before we had kiddos.  Back then we'd throw tents in the car, some food & beer and try to find a good little spot to set up camp.  Since we've all had kids, the way we do it may change (campers & a little more planning) but most of it stays the same (campfires, s'mores & beer!)  The first time we all went after Dru (their oldest) and Ava were born was just a little trip up Hyalite and we didn't even spend the night.  Just dinner over a campfire and two little babies sleeping in their car seats with a mosquito net covering them up.  We did this just to get out into the mountains and feel like things would still be the same, even with babies.  The next year we actually spent the night and laughed as we watched two little toddlers feed each other dirt with a spoon.  And now, 7 years later, they seem all grown up...

And, we added a couple more with their daughter Graci and of course our Layla...

It was a wonderful weekend and I found myself saying aloud more than once how happy I was to be there.  To be with our best friends, watching the kiddos play in the dirt, splash in the stream, and just catch up with them.  To be camping in the place that holds so many childhood memories to me.  We usually see them on a weekly basis, but life gets in the way sometimes and this was a much needed weekend with them.  A weekend that can best be summed up in photos rather that words.



I talk a lot about my love of the ocean and warm weather and how happy I feel when playing at a beach or the taste of salt water in the air.  And, I really do hope one day to live someplace where a nightly stroll on the beach is a possibility.  But, I will always be a Montana girl at heart and my love of being in the fresh mountain air definitely ties with the feeling of listening to waves crash.  So, if right now I can't be standing with my feet in the ocean, I will be happy with them standing in a cool Montana stream...

We kicked off our weekend with a date night on Friday.  Another thing that we haven't gotten to do in the last couple of weeks.  Most date nights start with Matt and I cooking some new meal or an old favorite together.  It's a fun process cooking together that more often then not is me cooking, while Matt watches and drinks wine. (which is fine by me, I'm kind of a solo cook but like giving him the jobs I don't want like shredding Parmesan cheese or chopping onions)  Those are always fun date nights and the food tastes so good after all we put into them.  And then there are date nights that look like this....

Take out pizza and wine.

A night where no one feels like cooking and it can be here as fast as making a phone call.  This gives more time for talking and just being together.  Bonus...getting to eat it outside on a warm summer night.

Not that I didn't do any cooking this week.  One night I made fish tacos, with fresh walleye that Matt got from a friend and one of the nights, I made one of my favorites...pesto pasta primavera.
Here's the recipe:
Pesto Pasta Primavera
-Prepared pesto (1/2 cup pine nuts, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1/2 cup olive oil, s&p, 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves...all pureed in a food processor)
-Noodles
-Around 1 cup of each of the following:  chopped carrots, chopped broccoli, sliced pea pods
-2 garlic cloves, crushed
-1/2 cup grape tomatoes
-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1.  Boil some water and add carrots, broccoli and pea pods and cook for 2 minutes, drain and set aside
2.  Heat some olive oil in a skillet and add garlic.  Cook for around 30 seconds and add tomatoes.  Cook for a couple minutes and add other veggies.  Saute for a few more minutes.  
3.  Add cooked noodles, pesto and Parmesan cheese to the vegetables and toss gently to coat.  
Enjoy!

This is a hearty pasta, full of veggies that my girls gobble up.  Matt likes it to, but would probably like it more without the broccoli.  However, I'm a broccoli lover so he has to deal with it.  

Now it is Sunday evening, girls are sound asleep exhausted from the weekend festivities. I feel happy, tired and excited about spending a lot of time this week (my first week of "retirement" as Matt keeps saying) with both my sisters and all the cousins together. 

Hope your week is happy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Changing things up...

A few weeks ago my little blog hit 1,000 views and I was so excited.  I know in blog world, that is not a lot, but to me it seemed significant, people were actually reading and liking what I was writing.  When I first started this I didn't know what to expect.  I just wanted to capture a little part of our happy life and preserve it for the future.  Making memories for my girls that they can look back on.  As I watched the numbers inch up to that 1,000 mark I thought about wanting to re-vamp the blog to what I thought it had grown into.  Then we hit some family drama with my sisters medical scares and all those thoughts left my head.  Now, things are going in the right direction again with her so I started thinking about it more.  I started the blog on a whim one afternoon and didn't think very long about a title.  I thought of things I enjoyed and what I'd like to write about and of course thought of family and food and then threw in fashion and fun cuz I thought I needed a longer title.  Over the past couple of months I feel like it has evolved into what I want it to be and think I need to drop the fashion and fun part.  Fun in our life is just a given (you totally understand this if you've met my husband), it doesn't need to be in the title...you will find it in every post.  Fashion is something I love (I get several fashion magazines monthly and am like a kid on Christmas morning when I see them in my mailbox), however, have found I don't really dig writing about it.  That leaves family and food...two of my passions and two things I feel come through the most in this place.  Therefore...I am changing things up and am officially renaming this blog...This Delicious Life.  I think it fits...my life is simple...I don't need a lot to be happy..just my family, some yummy food, warm weather and throw in a good glass of red wine and I'm golden.  These are things I like to write about...the small, everyday moments with my girls and Matt.  So, there you go.  New name, same stuff.  Maybe when I hit 5,000 I'll change things up again.

Onto other things...yesterday we let the butterflies free.

Even though part of this process kinda grossed me out (5 giant caterpillars stuck in a tiny jar) the end result was really cool.  Layla unzipped their home for the past 2 months and we watched and waited for them to figure out that they could fly free...

One by one, they found their way to the top of the net and they were off...
The girls faces were priceless.  Chasing them around the yard while the butterflies actually flew for the first time in a space that wasn't so confined.  One of them even fluttering along the grass slowly and to the girls delight staying still long enough for them to "pet" it.  Ava said is was because they were used to us because we had raised them.  4 of the 5 flew away to live the rest of their short life.  We left one for later to set free when Matt got home because it didn't seem eager to leave.  It still didn't want to later so we told the girls we'd just leave it open and let it leave when it was ready.  Sadly, this one for some reason didn't make it.  I felt surprisingly sad when we checked it later and knew it was never going to fly.  I didn't have the heart for the girls to know this so we let them think it flew away on it's own.  I didn't want them to feel sad that something they had nurtured didn't make it.  They can learn about death when the fish goes.

Yesterday also marked an official start to summer for us...swim lessons for the girls!

When I was a kid every summer was marked with swim lessons at Bogart Pool.  They are some happy memories for me.  I absolutely love being in the water.  It can be a pool, the lake, a river, a swimming hole, the ocean (by far my FAVORITE!)...whatever it is I'm in.  I have passed this love on to my children.  They are little fish and I just wish there were more swimming options here in our small town.  We have a couple outdoor swimming options, just not enough time in the summer to enjoy them as much as we'd like.  Swim lessons are a good way for them to grow their gills and they love them every year just as I did.  I just wish I could get in the water with them, for some reasons the instructors frown on this. So, I just get to sit and watch and take in my little fish.

I still think about one day leaving this cold climate so we can spend every day in the water.  That, or figure out a way to get a swimming pool in our backyard.  One day.

The girls and I got to spend the day with my sister and her kids today.  We had a picnic outside, the kids worked on father's day gifts and I got to enjoy having my sister back home again.  (To stay this time, please)  It is just so wonderful to hear the noise of cousins playing around.  It is very loud and very happy and I love it.  Speaking of cousin time, we got to spend all weekend with them and as a bonus got to use our camper for the first time.  It isn't officially camping when we are at the future home of my parents river house and we are simply parked on the property.  But, we did have a campfire complete with roasted marshmallows so I count it as the first camping trip.  (and we had to back out of our usual first camping trip with the Frasers, so this one had to count.  Hopefully we will make it up this coming weekend!)  The weather was not exactly good for being at the river, so we took the kiddos into town to the carousel and for ice cream.  Fun was had by all.

Ever since the girls were born our summers have always been full of time with my sister and her kids and I look forward to more of the same this summer.  Throw in the added bonus that my little sister and son are coming to town next week and I start to feel like that kid on Christmas morning again.    Things are looking up.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fakin it...

This was a really good week to begin with, until my sister took a couple steps back and is now back in the hospital.  But, I can't sit here and write sad things about it cuz I just can't deal with it right now.  I know it's not fair because her and her husband are sitting there having to deal with it and that sucks.  For me, I need to pretend... for just the 15 minutes I sit here and write that everything is okay and happy still.  I'm gonna pretend everything is normal and write about all the happy things from this week that led up to being back in this sad, scary place.  So, I'm gonna fake it for just this post and then I'll go back to real life and deal with my emotions.  

We had many big moments this week...end of the school year for the girls, Matt's birthday and lots of celebrating these moments.  I'll begin with this...pink cupcakes.
Now, I know what you are thinking...it was already the girls birthdays, why are there pink strawberry cupcakes???  Well, these pretty little things were for Matt's birthday.  He prefers if you call them "man-cakes"  They were delicious whatever you call them.  Matt likes to keep things simple for his day and I tend to want to go over the top.  I try to find a good balance by going over the top with the food (cuz I know he won't argue with that) and low key with everything else.  (like it's just our little family doing the celebrating.  Here's what he requested for the dinner.
For starters....caprese, olives and tomatoes all drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
Then onto to the main course...Gnniochi with tomato cream sauce and fresh bread.
Here's the recipes for the dinner.  I find making homemade gnocchi a lot easier to make then homemade pasta and as Ava says, they are "little pillows of heaven"  You just have to make sure you don't overcook them.  I made this mistake once and we had gnocchi mush...not so good.  Once they start floating, count to 30 and they are done!
Gnocchi
-3 to 4 large potatoes
-1 cup of flour (maybe a little more or a little less)
-pinch of nutmeg
-1 egg yolk
-Salt
Preheat the oven to 425-degrees.  Poke a few holes in the potatoes and place them in the hot oven until they are soft (about one hour).  Remove and let cool until easy to handle.  Slice them in half and scoop the inside into a bowl.  Mash until they are smooth.  Add 1/2 cup flour to start, nutmeg, egg yolk and salt.  Mix until it starts to form a dough.  Place on a well floured surface and knead a little to make a workable dough.  This is where you will add a little more flour as needed.  Divide dough into four sections and work one at a time.  With your hands roll it into a long snake around 1/2 inch thick.  With a knife slice into 3/4-inch sections (these are your little "pillows!)  I then gently push down on each little one with a fork...makes them look pretty.  Repeat with all the remaining sections.
-When you are ready to cook them, add them to boiling water and when they start to float, count to 30 and remove them with a slotted spoon.  They are fragile, so do this carefully.  Top with any sauce and enjoy!
Tomato Cream Sauce
-1/2 onion, sliced
-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
-1/2 green pepper, sliced (optional...I like the flavor it adds)
-1 can diced tomatoes
-around 1 tsp of each...oregano, basil and sugar
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 tbls butter
-Saute onion, garlic and pepper in olive oil for around 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and spices and some salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for around 10 minutes.  
-Remove from heat and stir in cream and butter (and I add some fresh Parmesan at this point) and stir until butter is melted.  Return to low heat to warm it back up slightly then serve over the gnocchi.

It was some good food.  Matt's birthday celebration will be continuing with a weekend out of town...we just have to postpone it for awhile until things go back to normal (soon please...pretty please???)  He is tough to buy gifts for, so I thought a weekend away would be just the ticket.  I have lots of fun planned for it, but he reads this blog and I want it to be a surprise so you'll have to wait. 

Other big news was I now officially have a Kindergartner and a 2nd grader...
I was such a proud mama as these two finished their school years.  We got only praise about how well they both did from their teachers and it makes me so happy that they both love school.  This year they had such exceptional teachers and I was so sad to say good bye to both of them.  I love seeing them thrive in their school environments.  It's such an independent thing away from us and it makes me miss the days of just my two little girls and me all day long, but it also makes my heart swell with pride to see them grow.  I am so excited about this summer and having them home now.  No more homework, schedules or packing lunches for three. whole. months!!  And, after next week not even work for me.  For the first time since my last maternity leave I'll officially be a stay at home mom and I can't wait.  Of course it feels weird to leave the job I've had for the past eight years, but I know at this moment, it is the right thing to do.  We celebrated the last day of school with cousins and ice cream at Grandma's house.  Is there any better way?
Maybe catching butterflies...
I foresee lots of ice cream for the summer.

On Ava's last day of school, I realized it would also be the last day it was just me and Layla.  These last two years, she's been my little buddy everyday she isn't in pre-school.  Next year I won't have that.  I wanted to do something just us, so we decided to plant our flowers for outside.  Matt is the green thumb in this household, but I do plant a few flowers each year.  I do really well until the middle of August and then I get over it and start "forgetting" to water them until they look really sad and into the compost they go.  We went to the nursery and browsed the beautiful flowers and came home and played in the dirt...


She was a good little helper and now we have some added color on our front porch.  

So, despite how the week ended it was all good leading up to it.  We have to take what we can get and know that all this hard stuff will pass and more happiness will be there when it does.  I'm done faking it, now it's time for more prayers and sending positive, healing thoughts to a hospital room in Denver.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happy Days....


Yesterday was a very happy day indeed.  My nephew graduated from high school which in itself is a happy day.  What made this day extra special was seeing his proud mama watch him cross the stage to get that diploma.  Exactly one week before we all questioned if this moment would happen.  I have never been closer to thinking I was going to lose someone I love and it was a scary, emotional couple of days.  My family was all in Billings as we waited for the longest three hours while my sister was in brain surgery for them to remove some of the infected parts to see what was causing the problems.  The only reprieve during this time was my littlest nephew, who is almost 2, growling at everyone and making us smile.  She came out of the surgery and we all breathed a sigh of relief knowing the first of many hurdles was over.  At this point, I came back home to try to keep life as normal as possible for her little ones.  The next day the Doctors told us they were amazed at how well she was doing.  This did not surprise me because as my nephew said that very first night before she flew off in the helicopter…"don't worry about Mom, she's the strongest person we know"  She's a fighter and this week she fought like hell and she not only survived, she watched her oldest son graduate just as she said she would.  I am so happy to have her home.  Her road to recovery will be long, but she is home.  Her family is back together and we will all continue to rally her back to health.  What an amazing support system we have of friends and family and I was in awe of the kindness of so many this past week.  I felt so many things and even as I sit her and try I can't seem to express it all.  Usually writing helps me sort it all out, but I think I just feel gratitude right now so I'm just gonna stick with that.  

Even with all the emotion and ups and downs of the week, I got to enjoy having my niece and nephew spend the whole week with us.  Now, I wish it would have been under different circumstances, like my sister and her husband were on a beach vacation or something and not sitting in the ICU of a hospital, but it wasn't.  The kids were all aware that something was going on and that Kori was sick, but we tried to keep their week as normal as possible and the kids were awesome.  The four littles at their best and we got a taste of large family life.  You add just two more and you get a lot more noise, laundry, food and dishes.  Along with that you get twice the number of hugs, twice the number of "I love you's" and twice the number of giggles.  Not too bad at all.  Once the weekend came we decided to take the kiddos to the annual Hatchfest they have here at the Fish Hatchery.  The Montana Science School puts it on and there is all sorts of kids activities, animals and fishing in the stocked fish pond.  Fishing was a hoot…three of the four kids caught a trout, tender hearted Ava wanted nothing to do with that.  

Now, this little pond was stocked with 1,500 fish so it wasn't too much effort for them each to get one, but they didn't know that and they each looked so proud as they reeled their fish in.  

Then it was on to the fish cleaning station where Ava became even more disgusted as we watched them chop of their heads and clean them out.  After we were done with that we hit some of the kids activities and then saw the animals they had there.  There was a Grizzly bear, mountain lion and a bobcat…pretty crazy seeing them all that close and hope to never see them that close out in the wild.  
Hungry from the morning activities we took the kiddos to one of our favorite pizza places and chowed on a huge, super cheesy pizza.  Then it was home to chill out a bit before we fried up our fresh fish for dinner.  Good way to start the weekend, even better…that afternoon my sister got home and we got to finally go see her.  The last time I had seen her she had a tube down her throat, hands tied down and couldn't talk to us…so seeing her up and moving around hugging her kiddos was nothing short of a miracle in my mind.  There were a lot of prayers going around this week and they were answered.  

The next day we all got ready for soccer games, graduation and the graduation party....
It was a perfect, sunny June day as we cheered them on and then celebrated.  I came home that night to a house that was a little quieter and got up this morning and it seemed like something was missing (or two somethings were missing).  It feels nice to have things going back to normal a bit, but just feels a little too quiet.  Now, we are starting the last week of school.  I can't believe there are only a few days left and then it is summer vacation.  It truly will be a summer break because I made the decision to not work this summer.  There have been a few things that have led up to this decision and I look forward to embracing these next few months before both my babies are in school full time.  I want to help my sister, let the cousins play outside in the sunshine all day long, camp, hike, swim, be with friends, cook with fresh veggies from the garden and just enjoy.  I want more time to make giant monster cookies like the ones the girls and I made before all the chaos started….with 5 different kinds of candy in it.  I'm going to soak it all up.

It is now June and I feel like summer is officially here.  Everything is in bloom, windows are open and there is the delicious smell of lilacs floating through my house.  It is a new week, a new month and after all my family has gone through these last couple weeks we are ready for the fresh start of summer.  
Happy days are here again.