Wednesday, March 27, 2013


When we purchased the home "as is" it was functional but not ideal. I never heard back from the Plumber that came out to work up an estimate for us back in October. I can't help but think about that scene from the movie "Pretty Woman" when the saleslady refused to wait on Julia Robert's character "Vivian", while she was shopping on Rodeo Drive with Edward's money. The next day, Edward goes with her and gets her started on spending his money on a new wardrobe. Later, while shopping on her own, she returns to the same shop where she was snubbed previously, and they are practically falling all over themselves to wait on her, solely due to her appearance. She turns to the snobbish saleslady and asks,

"Do you work on commission? I was in here yesterday and you wouldn't wait on me....BIG mistake!"

This plumber made a BIG mistake in not getting back with me! Our Realtor highly recommended another plumbing company and we had them come out and do a major upgrade on our plumbing, install a new water heater as well as replace the pressure tank and add a filter system in the well house! The plumbing job at the house just wrapped up and we should be set.

The downstairs bathroom has the washer and dryer hookups as well as the water heater, which was replaced as well. Maybe next year we will go ahead and get a washer and dryer.

Tomorrow is a big day at the Montana House, (well I think it is anyway) the granite counter top company will come out to the house and do their measurements for designing the template. The first time I saw the kitchen I fell in love with the size as well as the layout; the "1980's" mauve colored laminate counter top, boring, white ceramic back splash tile with fruity border...not so much!

I love to cook and in our family, the kitchen is the heart of our home. Besides the Family Room, this part of the house will be a hub of activity and I wanted it to be a priority. We had our contractor bust out the ceramic tile backsplash and it will be replaced with Smokey Pewter Thermoplastic panels. When we chose the new appliances I had debated on stainless steel or black, this would also influence the color of the panels.

(In this picture, behind the plumber, you can see where the ceramic tiles have been removed.)

Another decision regarding the appliances was the new range. The house is designed for electric and although I am used to cooking with gas, we decided I would just have to adjust! I wanted however, another double oven range, (like the gas one I currently have down here) so I ordered the same exact brand. I had to get one that had the raised back and while it's not ideal, it's not a big deal because that is what I have down here in my island stove set up.

(The island before remodeling, the old electric range was nasty and sat flush with the counter.)

(The new range sits while awaiting the island transformation.)

I had a "vision" however and had our contractor build a back splash area in the island cabinetry to hide the back of the stove! We then had the electrician construct two outlets for us to the left and right of the stove that will be handy for crock pots, roasters, etc.

(The back side of the island BEFORE.)

(The remodeled back side of the island.)

(The front side of the island before remodeling.)

(The front side of the remodeled island with back splash and two new outlets.)

The new granite counter tops will hopefully be installed before or at least during my trip up there. The newly constructed island back splash will be covered with granite as opposed to the Smoky Pewter Thermoplastic Panels. There will be a countertop that will be just above the stove but it may be too high for bar stools. I had thought about having shelves built underneath but Dave doesn't share my "vision" on that one. I had thought it would be a good place to store my cookbooks and my kitchen antiques but now I think I will be looking for a sideboard to go underneath the kitchen window.

I am excited to see the transformation of this slab of granite into a beautiful counter top in our home!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


If all goes as planned, two weeks from today I will be waking up at the Montana House and not a moment too soon. Dave and I have spent the winter planning and dreaming and I am eager to see how some of our remodeling projects are turning out. We are blessed that our Realtor put us in contact with a quality contractor in whom we have placed our trust. He's been not only working on projects but he has gone above and beyond to help us with things like removing ice dams from the roof and finding us a guy to do our snowplowing. Living over 1,800 miles away, handling things remotely would have been an even bigger challenge if it weren't for him!

I feel a longing to get back to Montana, something bigger inside of myself that is calling me home and telling me that I've been away too long. I spend my time pouring through the photos that we have taken over the years and although the land is still entombed in ice and snow, I can't wait to get back there and place my feet on that terrain. I want to see that "Big Sky", the sweeping panoramic vistas of majestic mountains and be overwhelmed at night by the vast numbers of stars over my head!

(Hiking to Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park, July 2010.)

In less than two weeks, I will be heading out with my best friend Brenda on the mother of all road trips. Knowing us, it will be quite the adventure. The plan is to make it in two days, hopefully stopping in Nebraska for lunch to see an old friend and neighbor from long ago and then sleeping in Casper, Wyoming that night. The next day, I am hoping to catch a more recent friend in Billings for breakfast. I am also doing research, to see if there are a couple of quality antique stores we can hit along the way. I think we might hit the "Little Bighorn Battlefield" on our way back. Even a one hour stop would be better than just passing it by! Since I am taking the conversion van, I will be taking up a lot of things for the house. I will remove the back bench seat and if possible, the captain's chairs as well. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate with my plans.

(Old Man Lake, Glacier National Park, September, 2008.)

To quote John Muir:

"The mountains are calling and I must go!"

Monday, March 11, 2013


Dave and I REALLY like hiking! We have hiked a lot of day miles on our feet over the years and Dave has done many backpacking trips, his longest was about sixty miles over six days. I, on the other hand had never spent one night in the backcountry. I had been curious to experience it but I also figured I would probably slow Dave down. Needless to say, I was pleased when HE suggested that we try it in 2010! He planned it out very well, estimating distances he figured I could handle, two days, one night and him carrying the bulk of the weight. I would take my day pack and he would take his huge backpack so he could carry the tent and the bulkier items. He sent in his backcountry permit request for Upper Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park and we we were thrilled when we received confirmation that we had secured a campsite!

(Two Medicine Lake and Rising Wolf Mountain.)

(At the campground at Two Medicine Lake, Dave organizes his backpack for our backcountry campout.)

(The next morning, after a good breakfast in East Glacier we headed out!)

(The trail runs parallel with Two Medicine Lake before joining the Upper Two Medicine Trail.)

(7620-foot Pumpelly Pillar, a glacially carved, cone-shaped rock is named after Raphael Pumpelly, leader of the Northern Transcontinental Railway Survey party that crossed Pitamakan Pass in 1883.)

(Dave on the trail. The hike is considered moderate with an elevation gain of three hundred and fifty feet.)

(Break time, Dave estimated he was carrying a solid sixty-five pounds between camera gear and the heavier items!)

After three miles in, there is a side trail; roughly one-tenth of a mile in are the Twin Falls. A nice place to stop and take a break!)

We were all alone as Dave was photographing up on the hillside. I was doing my usual thing, on the lookout for bears when I spotted a Black Bear on the hillside above Dave. He couldn't hear me yelling "B-E-A-R!" over the sound of the waterfall so I did the Indian sign language for BEAR. He said at first he thought that I was kidding him but soon realized I wasn't. He slipped his can of bear spray out of its holster and looked around. The bear wanted no part of humans and quickly moved on. After Dave finished photographing the Twin Falls, a family with children came up and we gave them the heads up that a bear was in the area. We loaded our packs onto our shoulders and resumed our hike.

(Almost to our campsite, 8502-foot Lone Walker Mountain, to the right, is in sight!)

(Upper Two Medicine Lake, Lone Walker Mountain.)

(Our campsite was the nicest of the four available. We didn't have a beach to sit upon, it was mostly downed trees.)

Hanging our bear bag with our food and toiletries. I thought camping was time-consuming but camping in the backcountry is even more so! Water has to be purified, cooking and eating is done in a separate area and you have to plan ahead for things like brushing your teeth, etc so you don't have to take the bear bag up and down repeatedly.

After we had eaten a late lunch of Chicken Alfredo and our chores were done, we decided to explore the area. We had to cross over a log jam to get to an area where we could just sit and soak in the sights. We stayed for a couple of hours then made our way back to the food preparation area to eat some sausages we had brought with us and to sip some hot chocolate.

(Dave and Beargrass.)

We did our clean up and hoisted the bag back onto the pole then went back to our spot on the lake where we had sat earlier. Finally around 8:30 we went back to our campsite and crawled into our two man tent. I had forgotten to bring Yahtzee with us so we chatted about the events of the day until 9:30 and then called it a night in spite of how light it still was outside. It took a little while but the events of the day, the miles walked and the fresh air lulled me to sleep.

We awoke around six AM to brilliant blue skies unlike the clouds of the previous day. Since we were surrounded by game trails and had seen moose prints, Dave hoped to photograph a moose or some other animals in the area. I lingered in the tent a while longer and then began to stuff my sleeping bag and deflate my air mattress. Dave returned after having seen absolutely nothing and we made our way back to our spot from the day before and watched the sun light up the mountains. As the sun's rays warmed the water, we saw the ripples move towards us, breaking up the perfectly still reflection of Lone Walker Mountain. Knowing we had a leisurely morning to break camp and make our way back to the campground, we enjoyed the views a while longer before breaking down camp.

We went to the food prep area and as we waited for the water to boil, Dave went to the lake's edge to snap a couple more photos. While he was away, I tried to absorb the scenery around me finding it was just too magnificent to put into words. As I felt myself tearing up, a Bald Eagle flew over the lake. As I watched him soar high in the sky and swoop down over the lake I was overwhelmed by the wondrous sight I had just witnessed, what a way to start our day!!

We had our breakfast of Southwest Chili, cleaned up after ourselves and loaded up our packs for the five plus mile return trip. We admired the wildflowers along the trail and stopped once again at the Twin Falls where Dave purified some drinking water for us.

We made it back to the Two Medicine Campground around one-thirty...

My very first back country overnight experience was not only a success, it ended up being my highlight of our vacation, whetting my appetite for more. I couldn't wait to explore more of the backcountry in nearby Glacier National Park!

Monday, March 4, 2013


Dave and I have many dreams and goals regarding our "Sweet Montana Home". We have spent hours talking about the seemingly endless recreational opportunities we'll have before us once we make the transition to retirement. We don't mind the cold and the snow, unlike our Texas friends and neighbors who think we have lost our minds! I have a saying,

"In the winter you can always put on more clothes but in the summer, naked is as cool as it gets!"

I miss being able to enjoy my cute winter sweaters, bundling up, enjoying a nice warm fire and watching the snow fall. Down here the winters are mild and while I enjoy them, I know that the summer heat is right around the corner and being outdoors is a miserable experience!

While we were on our most recent vacation, (Christmas and New Year's in Yellowstone) we went snowshoeing for the first time. I found that I absolutely loved it! I started doing some research to find out more about snowshoeing and I even bought a book in the Old Faithful Visitor's Center on the subject! Dave and I have talked about going out on the trails in the wintertime on snowshoes and having a totally different experience from hiking in the summertime.

(Dave and I snowshoeing in Yellowstone, December 2012)

Another activity that we fell in love with was snowmobiling! Our first time to try this was in Colorado back in 2003 and now it's a regular activity every time we go to Yellowstone in the winter. There are designated snowmobile trails about a mile from the house and if it's affordable, we will buy a snowmobile! I envision us out on the trails, a thermos with hot cider or hot chocolate and a sack lunch. We'll come home at the end of our day to a steaming bowl of chili or soup that's been cooking all day in the crock pot!

I would love to finish the workshop above the garage and change it into a crafting/scrapbookig studio for me to work in. I could get lots accomplished during a good Montana winter!

I have always loved to read, since I first learned how to do it, I have enjoyed losing myself in a good book. My preference is biographies, outdoorsy or historical stuff, things that encourage me to research until I become more familiar and knowledgeable on a subject. I enjoy mysteries as well, the author CJ Box is a favorite of mine, he creates adventures about a game warden in Wyoming. I typically buy my books used and with the thought in mind that they will be books that I'll enjoy reading again and again. To house our collection of books, we have ordered 2 bookcases and they should be delivered next month while I am at the house for two weeks, doing some more work.

(Initially these will be pretty empty but will quickly fill up once we move permanently.)

While the snow falls down and covers the mountains and our home in a blanket of white, we will be busy, no boredom for us. We will be out enjoying the sights or tucked in all snug and safe living the good life!

Sunday, March 3, 2013


After enjoying a day off and going to church the next morning, I was back to my cleaning, painting and other chores. I measured all of the rooms, windows and doorways knowing that I would need that information down the road. I had originally thought of painting the family room a specific color but I changed my mind and decided to stick with the same warm, neutral color.The first time I saw the family room my mind came alive with all sorts of possibilities.All of these pictures are "Before" any work has been done.

The previous owners had left this room somewhat "undone" as well. Currently our contractor is working on remodeling this room for us. We had "chinking" redone in between the wood boards on the walls. It was only partially done before and what was there, was in bad shape. Next was staining the wood on the walls. I also had him paint the ceiling and the white portion of the walls for us. On the ceiling, the trim that covers the ceiling panels was painted a dark coffee color to add some contrast. There was trim work that had to be added as well and we purchased a wood stove which has been installed. This coming week, he will finish up the room by adding the stove and chimney pipe and laying the new hardwood floors. This room will be used a lot so we decided to follow our dreams and not skimp.

(The Jacuzzi tub in the downstairs bathroom is behind this little area that juts out with the shingled roof.)

I love the shelf that goes along the width of this wall. I have already gotten some ideas of how I want to decorate this area. I will put my Mom's old skates and skis here along with some other outdoor themed antiques. The new wood stove is in this same area where the previous owners had a gas stove.

The trip was winding down and I was still waiting on our remaining furniture to be delivered. Finally, thirty-six hours before I flew back to Texas, it arrived!!

(The aftermath! I had to break down all the boxes and make another run to Columbia Falls to get rid of them at the staging area.)

(I got to enjoy watching TV the last two nights in a real chair!)

I wiped everything down really well and thinking that I could assemble the new dining room table. Clearly I thought wrong and I told Dave that I am man enough to admit that this was not a one woman job!!

(The new area rug, my birthday gift from our kids! I don''t know if it will stay in here or go into another room.)

(Attempting to assemble the table. The slab top probably weighs two hundred pounds!!)

Although I didn't get to enjoy the dining room set, I am eager for my next visit when the kitchen has been remodeled! I covered everything up since our contractor is getting ready to start the next project: the kitchen which will eventually include a second wood stove to be installed in the dining room area.

Those two weeks that I was up at the house, really flew by! I feel like I got a lot accomplished, actually more than what I had originally thought I would! Currently the house is buried in the winter snows but spring is around the corner and soon I will be back up there once more, doing some work and making it more and more, our home!