September 29, 2010

Can't wait...

This photo just might be of one of the most exciting things I've seen lately:

The new Indian restaurant putting their sign up in anticipation of opening next week!

It's called Monsoon.

And I just. Can't. Wait.

September 27, 2010

Postal puppy

You know that cliche about dogs and postal carriers not getting along?

That doesn't apply at our house.

Rigby always runs out to greet him, but this isn't done with any growling, barking, or the ripping out of the seat of the postman's pants.  

And the postman always gives Rigby a nice pat before he turns back down the stairs too.

There are some dogs in the neighborhood that bark at just about anything - including the poor postman.

Our front porch?   A safe haven...

September 24, 2010

Butcher shop

Todd got back from elk hunting last night and the first thing we had to do was start butchering.

I don't like the word butcher.  It sounds so gory.

Speaking of gory, the first thing Todd pulled out of the bed of the truck was the elk head.  Rigby does not like, or doesn't know what to make of animal parts or animals that have been stuffed.  It's super funny how leery he is of them.

I mean, check out his eyes in this photo!  They are so big they almost look like cartoon eyes!

No dad!!!  Don't make me come near it!!

Ok, if you are right there I will come by you...

I wasn't sure what to expect when Todd said butcher.  How far along, exactly, was the elk in this butchering process?  Were we going to lay a full elk out on the kitchen counter and hack it into steaks?

Turns out it was pretty well taken care of.  It was just like getting a hunk of meat from the store.  This is an elk shoulder.  Notice the new food saver Todd bought last night on the left.  It vacuum packs and seals whatever we want! We didn't quite get to that though...

This is an elk leg... (I think we should have just left this leg whole.  I imagine pulling it out at a dinner party, wearing crowns, of course, and glugging wine that is sloshing out of a goblet while we rip into the meat.  Could you imagine the look on our guests faces?)

And this is us grinding our own meat!  How cool, huh?  I like the idea of pulling our own fresh meat from the freezer...

Look at how much burger we got!  That's a huge savings at the grocery store!  I always aim for the super lean hamburger or turkey burger at the store, which runs roughly around $3.80 per pound.  We got a little over nine pounds out of those two cuts.  You do the math!

So, here is the elk before...

And here is the elk after...

September 22, 2010

Bagel boo hoo

My mouth right now? Watering.

Just looking at the photo of the bagel with cream cheese and lox - and onion, tomato and capers - makes me salivate.

It is one of my absolute favorite meals.  I don't eat it a lot because I'd be the shape of a bagel, but every now and then I simply have to have one of these sandwiches.

Today was that day.  It was the first time I've wanted this meal since moving to Casper and I didn't know where to go.  I decided First Street Bakery sounded like a good bet.

But I was wrong.

The gal behind the counter told me they've had other people request it as well, but they don't serve it because "salmon doesn't keep."  Well, none of the things you make there does!  I didn't say that, instead I asked her if she knew of another place that carried it.

She didn't.

I ordered a different breakfast sandwich and promptly called around to other places when I got home.  Nobody seems to offer my bagel!  

I'm starting to panic.  How can I live in a town with no lox sandwich??

Can I make my own?  Sure.  But like I said, I don't eat bagels all the time, so it would be a wasteful to buy them and the cream cheese. 

I've submitted my question to the Answer Girl at the local paper hoping she will know where I can find my sandwich.  I've also emailed First Street Bakery to suggest they add it to their menu and have encouraged others to do the same.  

What more can I do?  

Make my own for now.  Hopefully I won't have to do this for long!

September 20, 2010

Caution: Disaster area

My kitchen saw an explosion of activity yesterday.  

I was in the mood to bake and also wanted to make something for Todd to take with him hunting.  I chose chocolate chip cookies for the hunting trip, caramel corn just cuz, spaghetti with homemade meatballs for the company we had for dinner, and breakfast burritos for Todd's first day of hunting.

And this is the end result:

Remarkably, my kitchen looks in better shape in the photos!  Guess you can figure out one of my chores for the night.

September 17, 2010

A bird in the hand

Or, I should say, a bird in the house, which is what we had a couple days ago.

Todd I were sitting peacefully working at the dining room table when whoosh! a bird came swooping through the dining room!  It bumped its way around the chandelier and our heads before flying off to the sun room.

We took off after it, including Rigby who was very interested in the lil' guy.  We found the bird resting on a window and...

We didn't quite know what to do.  We didn't have anything handy to catch it with, you know, like a net, but Todd found an old towel that we thought might do.  He sneaked up behind the bird slooooowly and ever so gently wrapped the towel around it and headed outside.

Todd sat the bird on the stoop to let it recover and do its thing.  Poor guy, he was stressed!  He was panting and didn't have the energy to even pull himself upright...

Finally, after a couple minutes the bird got it together and sat up...

Rigby had been watching the scene with extreme interest.  In the sun room he stood on point, staring intently with nostrils flaring, as Todd approached the bird.  And he wouldn't go inside until the bird flew off, which it did moments later.

Stay tuned for the next animal intruder story.  I saw a mouse in our kitchen!

September 14, 2010


What the heck is Picklefritz?

Well, after dating Todd for a while now and visiting Wisconsin a few times I am convinced Wisconsinites have a diet of mostly cheese, beer, and pickled foods.

Todd's not too picky and enjoys just about everything, and in true Wisconsin form he does love a pickled something or other, to the point that his grandparents used to call him Picklefritz.  

He really wants "us," a.k.a., me, to try canning, which I'm not opposed to and have always wanted to learn anyway.  His mom even gave me all her old canning stuff so I have no excuse but to get my can on.

So, over the weekend, I decided to try my hand at it.

I chose a quick pickling recipe I've had hidden away in my recipe books for a while now.  It's called quick pickling because it doesn't require the boiling of the jars and all that jazz.  You just throw it all together in a jar and let it sit in the fridge for a week magic!...pickled...whatever you chose.

In this particular instance the recipe called for green beans, which we had in Old Fashioneds at his grandma's house last year.

It is super simple, too!  

The beans as they're getting snapped and thrown in the jars...

Beans swimming in spicy pickling juice.  This recipe calls for LOTS of garlic and some dried hot red chilis...

And Todd can't keep his hands out of them!  To really "pickle" they're supposed to sit for a week, but he keeps sneaking beans.  I have no confidence they will make it to the end of the week.  But I can see why.  This recipe is truly fantastic!  And, as I mentioned, amazingly simple!  

I highly recommend it!  You won't be disappointed.

September 12, 2010

New look

I'm sure you probably noticed the change in the blog.

This is going to be a gradual change done in stages.

First, the name has changed. 

Next will be the look.  The current header is only temporary until (hopefully) my coworker can whip me up a really cool one.  This will be at least another few weeks, however, because he just left on a two-week honeymoon.

And after that - the URL, which is the most out-of-date thing about this blog.  It is no longer my Colorado Countdown and hasn't been for quite some time.  I just couldn't hit on a new blog identity - until recently.

I didn't want my new blog to have the same theme as the last one - "big city girl" returns to the West.  I wanted it to incorporate Todd more and it to be about our comfortable, happy little life.  

Peonies are one of my favorite flowers.  I love how old fashioned and homey they are.  Jeff M. will probably never read my blog (not that he does now) because of the peony reference.  I had a large peony in our garden in D.C., and he wasn't a big fan (I think secretly he loves it though...)  Peonies are also the feminine and pistols is obviously more masculine, representing Todd.  

Eventually, I am going to move the blog to Wordpress and find a place to host it.  Blogger is making me crazy and it's time to move on.  I want greater capabilities and pages and my own URL without "blogspot" in it.

So, the change has begun.

Please be patient as I make all these new moves.  It's going to take some time to get it how I want it, but I think it will definitely be worth it!     

September 7, 2010

Five alarm

I love fireplaces.

Ever since we moved into our new house Todd and I have been itching to try our living room fireplace.  This isn't a modern, new-fangled gas burner.  Oh, no!  This fireplace operates on old school chunks of wood.  I think gas fireplaces have their, well, places, but nothing beats the crackle and smell of a wood burner.   

The cool temperatures we've had lately gave us a good excuse last night to give it a go.  Here's Todd lighting it up...


The set up...


Success!  A very happy evolved man...


Rigby was not so happy.  He has a weirdness about fire.  He doesn't like it, or to be around it, or to hear it, or to see it...


But we were able to convince him to come near the flame with some well positioned dog treats.  Ok.  He still didn't really buy into it...


And then there was this...the smoke.  Being our first fire in this fireplace it's obviously a little trial and error, but I'm surprised our alarm didn't go off...


While Todd fixed the smoke I made dinner and dug in.  Whole wheat pasta with shrimp, olive oil, salt, pepper, halved cherry tomatoes, and sauteed onions, mushrooms and garlic...


And the all important wine...


I say again: I love fireplaces!

September 1, 2010

"Oh, there ain't no lumberjacks in the city..."

That was the first line to a song my sisters and I made up on a trip to the mountains once when we were younger. 

We had an entire musical going on complete with a picnic table as a Conestoga wagon, male and female singing parts, and typical musical dance moves like synchronized "cartwheels" across the picnic table benches.

Oh yes, we gave Rogers and Hammerstein a run for their money!

But, as proven by the following photos, there are indeed lumberjacks in the city: Todd being one of them.

Todd has spent a lifetime working with wood - marking, pruning, cultivating and cutting trees.  AND he's from Wisconsin.  All he's missing is a big blue ox.

He's been itching to go a cuttin' ever since we moved in to the Casper house, which has a giant wood burning fireplace.  So, he and my old friend Jeff S. went out a couple weeks ago on a "man date" to chop and bring in some wood. 

They got quite the load!  Jeff really wants to use their new fireplace as a main source of heat, while I think we're only going to have an occasional fire.  You know, the kind you sit around sipping red wine while the winter winds howl... 

Some action shots...

I just liked this shot of Todd's lumberjack boot with the wood chips spraying...

Once Todd got the logs into more manageable chunks he'd split 'em by hand.  He's got such amazing aim!  More times than not he landed that ax right in the same spot.  I'd be all over the place I think.  And yes, we are doing this in our alley.  We had several neighbors stop to chat - and admire our pile of wood!

A perfect split...

Rigby's not too fond of the chainsaw.  He ran to me several times because I wasn't making such scary noises...

He is, however, very fond of this "stick".  Look at his cute little tongue go!  

The swirly colors of the bark on this chunk remind me of the hot springs in Yellowstone... 

I was the stacker.  This is the beginning of our wood pile...

And this is the end result!  Todd proudly told me I did a good job stacking (which is apparently a skill in itself) and that I could be his LumberJILL...

Males: Oh, there ain't no lumberjacks in the city!
Females: Oh, there ain't no lumberjacks in the city!
Males: So, come on down and find a girl that's pretty...
Together: Cuz there ain't no lumberjacks in the city!

The choreography really brings it together...

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