Not only is my husband a great attorney (if you ever need a criminal defense attorney in Montana or California, he’s your guy, but I hope you don’t need a criminal defense attorney), he also took up salvage art.  I don’t know if “salvage art” is a real term, but I’m going with it because it is the best way to describe this emerging talent.


He found this red and white door in the dumpster at our office (thus the term salvage art) and brought it home.  I was thrilled and began to ponder how we could use such a simple but cool item around the house.  Next thing I know, he’s tied it to the aspen trees with a piece of old dryer vent tubing. 

And there you have it.  My husband is a salvage artist.  I sometimes wonder what our neighbors think of us… but that is a whole other post someday.

Categories: Andy, Art, Daily life, doors, Outdoors, Photography, salvage art, snow, the house | Tags: , | 3 Comments



Despite the fact that White Sulphur Springs had the worst breakfast in the world – all I can described is powdered eggs over cooked and grape jelly as the only option on toast – we stuck around for a little exploring before heading West.  This deer was following his friends through the fresh snow, and we thought he was a bit friendly.


Once we hit the road it was ranch land everywhere.  We were headed into the Big Belt mountains, but there was some flat land along the way.


Once in awhile we’d catch some color besides white brown and blue (see below) but really it was a very simple, uncomplicated looking landscape – and beautiful too!

IMG_5945smAfter we crossed the Big Belts we dropped into Townsend and then followed the Missouri River into Toston – practically a ghost town, but not quite one yet.  The bridge over the Missouri into Toston is an old one, and this is the spot where Tank fell into the Missouri last winter.


The water moves pretty fast, and there are ice islands floating throughout.  But what really caught my attention was that it appeared that the structures under the water were actually covered with ice.  Don’t have a photo to share of that, but it did amaze me – the idea of ice under water just doesn’t seem quite right.  It looked like moss covering the rocks, only it was greenish white and smooth like ice.


As soon as I saw Toston from across the river I knew I’d be outside of the car and Andy would be waiting awhile.  It was just building after building of decay and disrepair – all of the type that makes for some of the most interesting photos in my book.  But the funny thing was that half the buildings showed evidence of still being occupied – smoke coming from the ceiling, dogs tied in the yard, that type of stuff.  To honor the privacy of those folks, I tried not to point my lens directly at them.  But my heart was heavy to think that someone was in those structures when the temps were in the lower single digits because they just didn’t look weather worthy.


This one is right on the “main drag” which is a dirt road running parallel to the railroad tracks, which in turn run parallel to the Missouri.


A side view of that same building (couldn’t take the other side, which had like an old porch on the second floor, because it appeared occupied).

IMG_5988smThis little window in a small building next to the previous one, mystified me.  It looks so old and so abandon, but how do those curtains, fully exposed to the elements, retain their colors?  Is it recently abandon?  Where the colors once even brighter?  Did someone try to create privacy in there more recently than the rest of the decline in the building?  There is a story in there somewhere, but not one that I will ever know.

IMG_5996smNow doesn’t this look like it was once a real nice place?  Trees in the yard, still standing straight, right on that main drag I described earlier – beautiful views of the river by the way.  Another story I just won’t know.

IMG_6001smA cute little starter home for someone, once upon a time.

IMG_6002smI imagine this was some old single guys place, maybe an old crusty miner or something.

IMG_6005smThis beauty is actually right on the Missouri (across the road and the railroad tracks from the others.  Looks like it once ws very stately.  Probably not that long ago either – notice the light fixture on the pole on the left side, and the cross-hatch lattice boards along the foundation.  So sad that it is now in such disrepair.  Wonder if it flooded and that is why it was abandon – you can see there river there behind the shrubs on the right side.

The we left Toston and headed towards home. 

IMG_6028smthose horses aren’t real – sculptures.  The sign calls them Bleu Horses ( and they are by Jim Dolan who I think resides in our own Gallatin Valley.  You can click on the link to see one up close.  Unfortunately, I think last month one or more of them were stolen, but recovered.  Wish I could have hiked up there to get a closer look, but at that point Andy was just ready to get home, and I didn’t have good hiking-through-drifted-snow boots with me.

And that was our trip.  There are lots more photos that might show up someday, but these past few posts just give you a taste of the travel part of it.

Categories: Art, Montana, Outdoors, Photography, River, snow, Travel, Vacation, Winter | Leave a comment


A morning of harsh words happens sometimes. 

Especially after a weekend of on and off tensions.IMG_5262sm

Frustration abounds. 

Depression lurks and oppresses.

All is not lost, but there are moments where it feels like it might be.

Ever have that series of days?

Yeah, me too.


But there remains much to be thankful for :

1788.  Good dinner with triathlon teammates

1789.  Evening with old friends from far away and others who have stayed close.

1791.  Thinking about Andy’s strengths

1799.  Seeing Sandhill Cranes dancing for each other on the hill-top while out walking

1810.  Herbal remedy for minor health issue

1811.  Good water out of the tap – wonderful well, for which I’ve been thankful before.

1815.  Little purple flowers at the base of the big aspen trees.

1819.  J’s confidence in Red Lodge

1824.  Goat milk ice cream

1831.  Little boy’s imagination – Midnight Mission to space

1834.  Tank digging in his giant water dish and happily splashing water all over the place – oh the joy of that dog!

1839.  Time to talk with Janice Lambert and absorb her wisdom in raising boys.

1847.  J helpful to others – and others acknowledgement of that helpfulness.

1854.  Being strong in a pressured conversation.

1858.  J sleeping in the car

1867.  Good times with nice people in our home.

1869.  Rain for days making everything green and wet.

1871.  Time for some art.

1872.  Old photos of Andy when he was a child.

1878.  Wyatt walking and raising money for his cause.

1881.  Woodpecker in the tree across the road – and chance to watch it every time I go for a walk.

These are just the skim off the top of the vat of things written in my gratitude journal since the last time I posted gratitude.  A reminder to myself that there is much to be thankful for, and in being thankful, I’m not offering praise to the unknown, but praise to the creator and God of my heart!

Categories: Art, Daily life, Faith, gratitude, Multitude on Mondays, Outdoors, Photography, Spring, Thankful to God | 2 Comments


Jansse's river photos_0373editbwSM

Yes, I still blog.  Just not as often as I’d like in the past two weeks.  Haven’t been able to check out very many other blogs either – it has been a busy time (not complaining, just saying!)

Jansse's river photos_0312editSM

Yes, I still take photos.  But today the seven photos I’m sharing were taken by J and used in his school art show display two nights ago.  Jansse's river photos_0352editSM

They were a big hit, garnering complements from total strangers who sought him out after asking the art teacher who he was. One man even chewed out the teacher that J didn’t get an award for the best display of the show – that may have been a bit far, but it was a project that J was proud to display.Jansse's river photos_0056editSM

The confidence boost that came from this experience was beyond my wildest imagination – he even asked if we thought his grades would go up in general because he was feeling so good about himself (no filter on the question asking for that boy!).Jansse's river photos_0148bwSM

It has been a busy time with triathlon, dinner events, choir concerts, art shows, lots and lots of work, and finally some spring weather.Jansse's river photos_0222bwSM

I hope to have photos to share of some of our recent activities – maybe in the next couple of days!

Jansse's river photos_0165editbwSM

Remember, all these photos were taken by a seventh grader – now, got out with your camera and teach your kids – it is so fun!

Categories: Art, Black and White Conversions, Daily life, Family Fun, J, Photography, River, Spring, Winter | 6 Comments


A friend asked me if I would take some photos of cows for his business.  He had seen some on Etsy and wanted to have them at his food-based business.  In black and white.

I was willing to try, especially since this is calving season here in SW Montana, so there are some cuties out there.  But when I went out this a.m. the calves and their mammas were pretty darn shy.

The only bovine creature willing to engage with me was this mean angry bull, but he was willing to stick his tongue out at me, so I was willing to take his photo.   At least he makes for a fairly decent black and white conversion.  This is Tuesdays post after all, and Black and White Conversions are my subjects on Tuesdays. IMG_1032bwsm

Categories: Art, Black and White Conversions, Daily life, Outdoors, Photography, Winter | 7 Comments


– one –

Older photos  today (except the scrapbooking below) because this has been a week where I didn’t get out to photograph.  The photos here were taken last year in October, and the first two were taken in the area now closed due to fire.  My big hope is to get out tomorrow morning early and go to an open area and get some fall photos, because the colors are starting to change, and if I don’t get out soon I’ll miss them.  So, Lava Lake is my destination, hopefully with some company along the way as I’ve invited my two favorite men to join me (eh, that would be J and Andy, not necessarily in that order, but I’ll leave you guessing on that part).


– two –

So, I was assigned a mentee at church earlier this week, and wouldn’t you know it, that is just the week when I go all haywire and have a yelling screaming breakdown – basically behaving in a way that is absolutely not mentor quality and is really quite shameful.  I’m picking myself back up (with the help of a forgiving Lord and a forgiving husband), and trying to get back on track.  What a mess I am – and I suspect most anyone in the human category could say the same, but right now my focus is on getting myself cleaned-up and ready to be more glorifying to God. 

Life is often humbling, don’t you think?

– three –

I frequently post on a scrapbooking website (Studio Calico) letting the ladies there know I’ve blogged.  And usually I feel a bit self conscious because my posts rarely include the products of my scrapbooking.

Um, that would most likely be because I don’t do much scrapbooking these days.  Heck, it took me 3 or 4 months to do the page I’m sharing here (yes, I said months, not hours, not days, not weeks, indeed months).  I am so grateful to have a dedicated scrapbook space so that a project like this can sit for months, I can pass by, re-arrange the elements, do a little technique experiment, or whatever, and then walk on to do the other things that life is demanding of me.  Thus, a 3 – 4 month page process is possible in my world.

But the good news is that after finishing this last Saturday, I quickly (well, relatively quickly) punched out a single page layout, which was completed by the end of the day on Sunday.  I’ll share it next week sometime, because it is not photographed yet.


This page was inspired by a layout I saw on the Prima Blog some time ago – so long ago I cannot find it quickly.  But I do want to say I was inspired by their blog.  With two pagers I’ve always enjoyed having a photo that crosses the center split, because I use post albums, and when installed properly, that split is barely noticeable.  It just gives such better flow to the whole layout when I do this.  But it is not everyone’s “cup of tea.” 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this layout, particularly if you came here from Studio Calico and have noticed that I rarely blog layouts.  I’ll try to do better, but can’t make any promises.

– four –



We are so blessed to have our Bible Study families.  They are amazing.  I think I mentioned recently that we’ve been meeting with these couples in one form or another for 8+ years now.  And I have to tell you, they are just the biggest blessing to us.  We went camping with them, and yes, that was exciting and fun.  But the best part really is the weekly sharing of our lives as we study and talk about applying God’s word.  It really is the most enriching faith experience I’ve ever had.  I’ve heard some mighty good preaching in person and on the radio, but the small group experience just tops it all for me.


– five –

We were blessed recently by the gift of 24 packages (over a pound each) of ground bison – shot recently down in the Ennis area.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but that is like 2-3 months worth of red meat for our family.  Sure helps the budget out when this happens!  And it’s healthy (all natural/organic for sure).

Turns out the wealthy land owner who raises bison for the purpose of shooting it himself and letting his friends shoot them had his son take a 1600 pound guy in to be processed, and the son mistakenly had it all turned into burger, when the family prefers steaks.  Realizing it would just sit unused in their freezers (getting freezer burn) they kept some, but gave the rest to their chef, our friend Daniel, to distribute as he saw fit.  Guess who he saw fit?  Yep, we and many other families were blessed by the error of the young man.

Did I tell you Daniel is one of the men in our Bible Study group?  Yep, sure enough, he is. 

See you next week!

Categories: Art, Being a Godly wife, Daily life, Faith, Fire, Five on Fridays, Outdoors, Photography | 5 Comments


I am craving simplicity right now, even in my art.

Seems like so many things are complicated these days, running here and there to get to all sorts of activities, trying hard not to let anyone down.

I’m not complaining – we have some great people and activities in our life.  But right now I’m craving simple, uncomplicated, no frills.

I want to enjoy my family by laughing with them. 

I want to cook simple food – meat, veggies and brown rice would make me very happy.

I want to do simple things like pull weeds and keep a clean house.

I want to wear simple clothes like shorts and a t-shirt.

Ever feel that way? 

Like  you just want to dump all the complications and be simple?

It is not a hopeless goal you know, being simple.  I think I will purposefully focus on a simple life on Thursdays for a while – see where that takes me.

If you have ideas about being simple in your lifestyle, link me to them in the comments section!


Categories: Art, Daily life, Super Simple Thursdays | 3 Comments


1.  J and I took a little 20 minute walk around a local wetland area while waiting for Andy to finish meeting with a client a couple of afternoons ago.  It just off the frontage road, new a highway overpass, but still it is beautiful – although you can hear the cars and trucks zooming by.  J went there on a field trip with his 5th grade class, so he gave me lots of information – snails and freshwater shrimp in the water, snakes in the grasses (ewww!), that kind of stuff. 

We saw some birds I am unfamiliar with.  They are pictured below.  The males are bright yellow, on their heads, but the birds are not shaped or sized like finches.  The females have less color on their head and necks, and are a bit smaller.  I got a photo of each, although the one of the female is of a lower quality than the male – she does have a bug in her mouth but I’m not sure you can see it very well in this particular photo – hurrying before she flies away are not my best photography strength. 

All in all, a fun little quick outing together into God’s beautiful creation.

2.  First week of no school went better than I expected in many ways.  J was pretty responsible at home, and had some social opportunities as well – including going watching the Transit of Venus and camping with some friends from Bible Study this afternoon.  He also had one opportunity to work for someone else (for pay), which is something he really wants to integrate into his summer.

Only area I’m concerned about is he needs to earn his overnight camps this summer by doing chores off a list I’ve made that gives him points.  These are pretty big, unusual project type chores like moving a pile of dirt into a raised be, cleaning out part of the outbuilding that has been ignored for years, that kind of stuff.  A certain number of points are needed for each camp.  He’s procrastinating (not unusual for him) about getting going on those, and I will be sad if the ultimate consequence is he doesn’t get to go to camp, but I’m going to stick to my guns.  (By the way, when I say “I” here please know that these are things that Andy and I have talked about and we are on the same page here).  It may be that the best way for him to learn is to fail.  Painful to watch as a parent, but it isn’t about my comfort level, it is about him developing the character needed to be a godly and productive adult when he grows up.

3.  I am pleased that over the past week I’ve been able to do some scrapbooking for the first time in many months.  I don’t want to make it sound like a spiritual experience or anything, but it does me good in my soul to tinker with ink and paper and the like.  I think God just made me to have this interest and pursuing it is part of pursuing who He made me to be. Not that I want to put this interest above responsibilities or make a idol out of it, but to appreciate that He gave me this gift when he knit me together is important I think.

I’m generally pleased with my results (one of which is above) – I had expected to be rustier in my skills and creative ideas than I actually am.  I’m certainly out of touch with what is “stylish” or current in the scrapbooking world, but that doesn’t bother me much.  I won’t be running out to buy new papers or embellishments since I have no place to store them, plenty of old supplies, and no budget for such things at this time.  I’m just grateful that I have enough to do the craft without needing to purchase for awhile.

Funny thing is, here I’ve crafted for the first time in a very long time, and yesterday I ran into a wonderful woman (Vickie) who used to take classes that I taught at the scrapbooking store before it went out of business.  And she naturally asked me if I’d been doing any crafting.  It was great to be able to say “yes” although she was shocked when I told her it was a renewed activity.  I think she said something like “I didn’t think you would ever have a dry spell.”  He he he!  That made me feel good and confident in my creative skills.

4.  I need to increase my running frequency.  I’ve only run a couple of times in the past two weeks.  Not good!  I’ve got to get out there and keep up my schedule.  I really need to pick another race and do a full on training schedule for it so I have some structure to the expectations.

Meanwhile, Andy is signed up to be part of a team to do a triathlon half-Ironman in late July.  He’s doing the running leg, our friend Daniel is doing the biking leg, and a young woman they only know through the internet is doing the swim.  It is funny because these two over-forty guys got paired up with an early 20’s girl whose name is Keaton – she’s a college student at MSU who used to swim competitively in high school and wants to get back into swimming for time.  Daniel thought Keaton was a boy’s name and was shocked when he called her and she was not a he.  And she is so young.  They really feel like they’ve got to pick up their pace to do justice by such a young athlete.  Makes me laugh!  Daniel went on and on with her about how he and Andy were married with kids and real family men to make sure she wouldn’t get any ideas.  It should be pretty interesting when they actually meet her in person.

And J has been running at least a mile a day this summer.  Hoping to increase his distance in the next couple of weeks.

5.  I am really appreciating the chance to work with Andy.  Don’t mean to brag, but it is such a good thing for us and our relationship – at least I think so.  Sure, we butt heads from time to time on different approaches to things, but really we get along very well, and the work gets done so much better than when we didn’t address it together.  We have different styles in some things, but for the most part we can deal with that.  It is just nice that we are a team so very much of the time.  I know not all couples can work together, but I am so glad we have the opportunity to because it makes being married even better.

Categories: Art, Daily life, Family Fun, Five on Fridays, J, Outdoors, Photography | 3 Comments


Right here in our home (or on our home I should say) this beautiful etching of a meadow or forest  or wetland scene (depending on your imagination) came to be Saturday morning.  God is the most talented artist ever!


Isn’t it beautiful.

The window does have a crack (little boys and bb guns can do that), and there is some dirt on the window, but all the same, can’t you imagine little forest animals skipping through that scene?

Funny thing is, it was the only window in the whole house with frost on it (although the  outside temps were well below zero).  I think it has something to do with the crack in the window allowing moisture between the panes.

It stayed through Sunday, but was gon on Monday morning when it was much warmer.

Categories: Art, Faith, the house | 3 Comments


It is a rare thing for me to get a layout done these days, but I worked on this one on both Saturday and Sunday, and what do you know, here it is.

This was inspired by the work of  Natasha Naranjo Aguirre over on Donna Salazar’s blog.

I found Natasha through Donna’s blog, but when I looked at her site, I was in love!  And as I already said, inspired.  This really is the style I’m hoping to achieve with my scrapbooking.  I’m not as full of little bits as Natasha, but that is okay – the world already has a Natasha, so I can be me. 

In line with my earlier post today (see below) I gave it some thought as to why this is so my style.  Here are my two answers:

1.  I love the romantic softness, but I also love the distress, which allows me to scrapbook my boy and his dad and include the romance without being too girlie – a balance I’ve always wanted to master; and

2.   It allows me to use lots of techniques, and I get a real sense of satisfaction from using lots of techniques, trying new things, and being a bit adventurous.  Basically, I am not a product driven scrapper, but a technique driving artist (okay, artist may be a bit of a stretch, but it is my goal to create art.

Now, if I could afford all the product that you’ll see on both Donna and Natasha’s blogs, I’m sure my pages would have more on them.  But for now, the bits I’m able to accomplish make me happy.

Thanks for looking!  Comments and suggestions always welcome!

Categories: Art | 4 Comments

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