Saturday, March 31, 2012

Messy Business

Forget the mud and rain we've been having in profusion around here - even inside the house things are messy lately!  This week we baked a cake for our new neighbors (a zebra cake, black and white striped, which you can find here) and when the girls got to the batter bowl after the cake went in the oven it ended up something like this:
Why do we always need baths after we bake in this house?

Then, today we decided to dye Easter eggs.  How big do these girls look?  I can't believe it is their third year dying their own eggs!
We went with dyes we made this year, out of blueberries (for blue), tumeric (for yellow) beet juice (for pink) and mixes of these for green, purple, and orange.
It takes quite a bit longer to get color with these dyes, but the girls really had a fun time (especially squishing the blueberries in our blue dye!).
While we were soaking the eggs in their dye we attended to the greens we've planted to go on sandwiches.  We planted mesculen greens, and it has been so fun having them come up nice and green while it's looked so yucky outside.
We water them with a little medicine dropper - Clara and Elena think this is hysterical and entertaining for a good 30 minutes.
When we got the greens watered we took the eggs out of the dye, and ended up with this:
We think they are pretty, if a bit, um, interesting.  We now have the eggs all ready in their baskets for the Easter bunny. We did the same thing we did last year - we saved up our eggs for the last week or so, blowing them out instead of cracking them so that we could cook with them.  Now the Easter bunny can fill them with tiny things, glue tissue paper over the hole in the bottom, and hide them outside.
Only a week until the big day!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Steve's 40th

To celebrate Steve's 40th birthday this weekend we rented a house on the river and invited some close friends to stay and play with us.  Two of his roommates from his California days were able to come out with their partners (Ray, Kathe, Jana, and Sasha) and our in-town friends Steve, Caryn, and Charlie stayed at the house for the weekend as well.

When we first got there, Steve and Ray surveyed the area to assess where the good fishing and rafting spots would be.
Clara and Elena were MUCH more interested in the hot pool (hot tub) however, as this is one of their very favorite things in the world.  They spent most of the weekend right here:
Or here, changing in or out of bathing suits.
This house had a great kitchen, where we spent a lot of time and had a lot of laughs.
Strawberry girl!
Steve smiled this happily almost the entire time we were there - he deserved to be surrounded by love and fun and festivities, and we all enjoyed making that happen.
Here's Sasha swinging Clara around on the deck.
And then Lena gets a turn:
The little artists-in-residence spent quite a bit of time creating masterpieces (the house did have an easel and paints, but we stopped short of letting them use those).
The first night at the house we did a wild game feast- we had elk burgers and elk steaks, and Ray and Kathe took charge in the kitchen to make up some sauces to go along with these:
Whiskey sauce!

We followed dinner up with an evening out at the fire pit - it was cold this weekend, but at least it paused raining/snowing enough that we could go outside sometimes!

The next morning we all snacked on a fruit sculpture that Christina and Caryn made - we liked the symmetry of this picture, with a Steve on either side and a Yoshimura girl on either side.
Coffee time! (Well, for most of us - juice time for Lena).
Just as the fellas were about to head out rafting after breakfast we paused to take pictures - waders are such a fashion statement, aren't they?  Sadly, as soon as the pictures were done we had a little ice storm, so that brought everyone back inside instead of rafting.
After an hour or so things seemed to clear - overcast, but still a lovely day.
So the waders went back on, and the guys started to get the raft blown up.
They worked that pump...
...and worked it...but sadly, the pump was defective and after two hours the raft still wasn't fully inflated.  People fished in the river right outside the house instead, which was kind of nice since we all stayed together and were in and out of the house all day.
Jana and Kathe weather a bit of drizzle as we watched Ray fishing down below for his first time.
Elena and Sylvie were having such a blast goofing off together outside - they kept giggling and running circles around each other.

 Clara preferred to keep watch on the river from above, out on the balcony with Kathe:
A uniquely Montana experience happened when one of our friends, Ona, and her daughter Maeve arrived at the party house by boat.  They live close to this rental, right across the river, but driving would have taken them about 35 minutes since there are no bridges close by.  Instead they just walked their raft down the hill and paddled over!
Pretty awesome!
While fishing was taking place outside, Christina and Caryn were decorating inside.  Christina, Clara, and Elena had spent the past few weeks combing through photos new and old of Steve, and had gotten them all copied so that we could use them in a couple of ways.  Here was our big 40 collage:
And we strung others up with clothespins and twine all over the main floor of the house.
Christina had a vision of decorations all in blues and tan, and Caryn turned out to be GREAT at making these tissue paper puffs!
Party girls!
And the birthday boy with two Italian women - Jana was his roommate in San Francisco, and she was the most amazingly gracious help at the party - our source for everything from beer runs to decoration consulting!

We had 30 pounds of seafood flown in from Kodiak, Alaska.  We grilled, steamed, sauced, and broiled up salmon, scallops, crab legs, and clams.
We had to convince the crew in the living room to give up the hair styling party they'd started so that we could dig in, but luckily we didn't have to twist their arms TOO hard.

Plating up pasta as a bed for the seafood:
And digging in!

 Both Elena and Clara ate some crab, and a lot of bread and pasta.  They just really love being in a party zone, and were probably full on a lot of attention, too!
Steve requested his favorite Guinness chocolate cake again this year, so Christina and the girls had fun making that.  We found these sparklers to use in place of candles, which we were excited to try out.

We were a little worried about the fire hazard of it all, though, so the cake went outside for sparkling and singing instead of staying inside!

After we completely devoured all the cake we headed downstairs for pool and foosball battles:

Varying levels of competition were exhibited, but everyone had a good time.  You'll notice Clara and Elena are absent here - they were somehow stellar at sleeping through a lot of noise this weekend, and that was great.  We let them stay up later than normal, but they need their sleep and it was relieving to be in a house with so many levels where they slept upstairs and the party could continue downstairs.

And, the night wasn't complete without another evening out at the fire pit.

Here's the sleepover crew, just before we left this morning.  It was fantastic to have such a wonderful weekend with friends, and it was great to have the opportunity to celebrate Steve.  Happy 40th Birthday!