Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In search of "good" snow

Ian and I got in some skiing the other day. The snow was great in places and terrible in others. South facing slopes were icy but north facing slopes were great. I got to try out my new ski crampons and did a fair bit of side sloping on the way home. All in all it was pretty exciting to find nice snow weeks (?) after measurable amounts of new snow has fallen.
And, perhaps the most exciting find of the day, tracks leading to a kill. Not sure who left the tracks, we're thinking bobcat, and perhaps the prey was a squirrel or other small rodent. The was scat, fur and tracks! It was fun to look around for more sign and try to piece together the scene, it's been awhile since I've gotten to do that.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009

We celebrated Christmas this year with Ken, Mona, Maria, Dennis and Mom at Ken and Mona's house. We started off the day right with venison steaks, eggs and cinnamon rolls for breakfast followed a busy day of wrapping presents, looking at old family photos, playing games, cooking, playing with Frankie, opening gifts, drinking eggnog and a stroll along the Nooksack.
The highlight of the day was a game organized by Ian and I. We wrapped a box in craft paper, duct tape and plastic wrap and everyone had to try to open it with mittens on! It was hilarious and Ken won the grand prize. A chocolate bar.
It was a beautiful Christmas full of laughter, family and delicious food!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas tree 2009

Our first house warming gift has been transformed into a Christmas tree!

Friday, December 18, 2009

All moved in.....kind of

We're finally living at the house! It still kind of feels like a big workspace with tons of projects left to do, but it's great to be here.

Beautiful floors

The floors have been the most expensive part of our remodeling project, but we both love them. We have marmoleum in the kitchen (the color is called Donkey Island) and had the fir floors refinished. We did have to paint the floor in our bedroom, they were too buggered up to fix. So we painted them grey.


I feel like the trim has been the vain of existence for the last week. And, I realized one of the reasons is that it's kind of like a house accessory. I kind of think of it like earrings for the house, Ian thinks of it more like pants. Whichever you chose trim is alot of work and while it makes everything look nicer the house is functioning just fine without it for the moment.

Tearing the house apart

Monday, November 30, 2009

Local milk

I have always wanted to buy milk from a local dairy in glass bottles. Always! And now we can. Twin Brooks Creamery is located in Lynden and they sell milk at our grocery. They aren't certified organic but they are really close. I chatted with someone that works that and the main "unorganic" thing they do is use antibiotics if a cow is sick. I'm okay with that. SO, if you live in Bellingham check them out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


We started putting up drywall this weekend, yeah! The ceilings are pretty much done thanks to the super handy drywall lifter. I'm sure it has a more technical name, but.....whatever. Next, the walls!
Also, note the wide angle lens. Ian got a new camera for work and I got to try it out. I love it.
Also note the insulation! Two of the rooms are insulated and the rest will be finished soon. The insulation on the ceiling is brown because it's 80% recycled, which I think is pretty great.

A new fire pit!

We've been doing alot of indoor projects lately. Which, while completely necessary, are not as fun for me as outdoor projects. So this weekend Toby and I made a fire pit for our house warming party. We used rocks that were in the deep recesses of a blackberry bramble behind the house. The pit turned out great and later that evening we got to use it. Our house warming party was fun, relaxing and we burned a bunch of wood from the scrap pile!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Went skiing!

What better way to celebrate the first day of November than to go skiing?

It was a beautiful day. The weather was perfect. It was warm and sunny with blue skies. The snow was great! Sure it was icy in a few spots, but really it's November! Overall it was a fabulous day and I can't wait to get out again.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Angus is back!

About three weeks ago Angus disappeared and it was starting to look like we wouldn't be seeing him again. Going to the pound every week was getting depressing and heart breaking. Long-haired black cats all look the same! Then yesterday I received an email from a woman who lives in Deming, ~25 miles away. A long haired, black, male cat had shown up on her doorstep. I was like no way he got out there. She was persistent though and kept talking about how great this cat was. He sounded like Angus. She sent pictures and it looked like him. So I made the long drive out there and sure enough, Angus! We're not sure how he got out there but we're so happy he's home!

Cider pressin' time!

Last week we had our second annual cider pressin' with Betsy and Devin. We pressed ~20 gallons of cider, all destined to become hard cider! We learned a few things this year:
1. One large plastic tote makes 3+ gallons of cider
2. Some apples are way juicer than others
3. A Subaru carload of apples makes ~20 gallons of cider
4. There are lots of free apples in the Bellingham area, you just have to find them!
5. Hard cider tastes best ~1 year after you pitch it.
6. It's hard to wait a year to drink it.

Elderberry Wine

Finally, the Elderberry Wine is in bottles! It was supposed to happen a few months ago, unforeseen events stalled the process but finally, it is done! The wine isn't all that fabulous, but it looks nice in the clear bottles. Our next attempt at making adult beverages....mead. Stay tuned, it may be a few months.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My favorite new book!

My favorite new book is not a new book at all. The River Why, by David James Duncan, is a story of place, of loving a landscape, and there's a love story intertwined at the end. What's not to love! Below is my favorite quote from the book, pages 53-54.

“A native is a man or creature or plant indigenous to a limited geographical area-a space boundaried and defined by mountains, rivers, or coastlines (not by latitudes, longitudes or state and county lines), with its own peculiar mixture of weeds, trees, bugs, birds, flowers, streams, hills, rocks and critters (including people), its own nuances of rain, wind, and seasonal change. Native intelligence develops through an unspoken or soft-spoken relationship with these interwoven things: it evolves as the native involves himself in his region. A non-native awakes in the morning in a room in a bed in a building on a street in a county in a state in a nation. A native awakes in the center of a little cosmos-or a big one, if his intelligence is vast-and he wears this cosmos like a robe, senses the barely perceptible shifting, migrations, moods and machinations of its creatures, its growing green things, its earth and sky.
You don’t get native intelligence just by wanting it. But through long intimacy with an intelligent native, or with your native world, you begin to catch it kind of like you catch a cold. It’s a cold worth catching.”

If you haven't read it yet you should. It will make you wish you knew how to fish. It will make you strive to live as a native of your place. And, it will likely make you a fan of David James Duncan.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We started working on the house last week. Progress is amazingly destructive. But, the work of demo is nearly done and finally we get to start putting things back together!

Perhaps a little update on the 'plan' is in order as I'm not sure that everyone knows what a massive project we have undertaken.

Bedrooms: In both bedrooms we will vault the ceilings, repair framing, hang drywall, refinish the fir floors, put in new windows and paint.

Office: We really only need repair the drywall and paint!

Living room: We're refinishing the floors, painting, and putting in a slate hearth.

Kitchen: Well we haven't started so.....more about that later.

And, the whole house is getting insulated and rewired! And, the plan is to move in around November 15! Of course the house won't be done but hopefully it will be livable!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Glacier Peak Wilderness honeymoon

In true Ian and Jenny style we headed to the mountains for a honeymoon. We only had a few days before school started so we went to the Glacier Peak Wilderness for a three day backpacking trip. We did a short loop from White Pass to Blue Lakes, hiking a few little peaks along the way. It was beautiful. The fall colors were amazing, the nights were chilly, the trails were great and we didn't have much company. A perfect, last minute honeymoon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Went to the Enchanted Chapel and got hitched

It may come as no surprise to some of you that we eloped. Went to a funky little chapel in Seattle, the Enchanted Chapel, with the lovely Reverend Zady and a few close friends and said "I do".

Pictures by Jill Doughty

Many thanks to everyone that attended on a few days notice, our good friend Ryan Albachten who made our wedding rings at the last minute, and special thanks to our close friend Jill Doughty for the amazing photos.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Harvest time

We dug up the rest of the potatoes, picked all of the spaghetti squash and some of the delicata and butternut squash. The garden is slowly dying back and I of course am busy making plans for a bigger garden next year! Growing just a few things this summer was perfect, enough to make us excited about gardening without feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project. Although, I should admit that Mona did all of the daily upkeep of the garden, Ian and I just had to get everything set up and do some regular maintenance. Thanks Mona!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

2912 Cottonwood Avenue

We put an offer on a house! I am so excited. It, of course, needs a lot of work but the property is great, the house is solid and the location is perfect. We'll keep everyone up to date as things progress and perhaps we'll need some moving/remodeling/cleaning help!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Saying goodbye to the North Cascades

Kevin, Betsy, Aneka and I went for a somewhat epic hike at the end of the season. I wrote a really comprehensive blog on Chattermarks , or if you'd rather you can just look at the stats and photos. Enjoy.

Day 1: Canyon Creek Trailhead to McMillian Park (Stats: 6 miles, +3400ft,-400ft)
Day 2: McMillian Park to Sky Pilot Pass (Stats: 15 miles, +4600ft, -4000ft)
Day 3: Sky Pilot Pass to Buffalo Pass (Stats: 14 miles, +3700ft, -2700ft)
Day 4: Buffalo Pass to Horse Heaven (Stats: 17 miles, +3300ft, -5600ft)
Day 5: Horse Heaven to East Creek Trailhead (Stats: 10 miles, +2300ft, -4300ft)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Last North Cascades Wild trip of the season

My last NC Wild trip of the season was amazing, exhausting and ultimately very rewarding. We had an all girls trip, aside from Ben who was one of the trip leaders, hence our name, "Ben and the Burley Backcountry Babes". In retrospect it was a perfect way to end a field season that has been utterly fabulous!

Monday, August 3, 2009

North Cascades Wild/Round 2

Just got back home from my second NC Wild trip, it was so fun! The students were great, it was super fun to work with Kevin and Tasha and the weather was crazy/dynamic/beautiful North Cascades style unpredictable. The photos that follow are a few of my favorites. They also highlight some of my roses for the trip. I must admit you cannot see my only thorn, the intense heat!

At Rose Lake Resort getting ready to head out on our canoe leg of the trip.

We bush-wacked from McMillian camp to Tommy Rolands' cabin site. You can
make out where the old root cellar stood as well as two building.

YEAH, sailing!

Lightning Stock Camp is on of my favorite campsites. This picture is from the suspension bridge above Lightning Creek, 3 minutes from camp, on one of the only cloudless nights of the 12 day trip.

Tasha making us a bow drill fire!!! The students totally dug it and few tried it later.

A beautiful native grass on Ten Mile Island. We did some service work on the
island: erosion control, pulling Reed Canary grass (a non-native grass), and fish studies.

Looking north from Ten Mile Island, mid-day. It rained that day.

Lightning Stock Camp dock. The picture isn't actually that crooked, its the dock! The water was pretty low and the floats were on the ground.

Tracy on top of Desolation Peak. The weather was perfect this day. It was cool/cloudy in the morning and burned off by the time we got to the top. And, on our way down it dumped rain, it felt so great! We also got to meet Darby who is the fire lookout on Desolation this year!

Darby's kitchen! I am SO jealous.

Another beautiful sunset off of Lightning Stock camp's dock.

The day after the Desolation Hike we moved to Ponderosa Camp. A really nice site on the lake. As soon as we rolled into camp it started to rain, hard. We were soaked through. But, the following day we kind of dried out and got to watch a beautiful storm pass just south of it. It was so cool to watch the clouds morph, the rain sweep down the mountain to the lake and hear the thunder rumble from a distance.

Kat watching the storm.

One of our service projects was to move ~150 feet of trail because of erosion and to then build a drainage area. It all went very smoothly , it turned out great and it was fun.

All in all the trip was fabulous. Thimbleberries, black berries, service berries and some huckleberries were abundant; the weather was crazy beautiful; the lake felt amazing every day because of the heat and I could not have asked for better people to send 12 days with on the lake!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The last 30 days in a nutshell.........

As a disclaimer I have to say, these pictures are in no particular order. The last month has been such a blur that I'm not sure I could say what happened when, all I know is that this month has been beautiful, inspiring, exciting, crazy and kind of exhausting.
I'll start with the most exciting event of the month, hell the year! Ian and I are engaged! He proposed on a hike up Yellow Aster Butte. It was perfect. Oddly enough I didn't take any pictures of us that day, just the flowers. We were there scouting the area for a class I'm teaching in a few days on alpine plant adaptations. We don't know when we're getting married yet, we'll tell everyone when we sort it out! Which may be next week, or next month, or a few months! Planning big events, in the distant future, isn't exactly my strong suit.

Corn lily along the Yellow Aster Butte trail, kind of looks like an ear of corn doesn't it?

I was a crew leader for one of the first North Cascades Wild trip of the season. It was fabulous. We spent 12 days on Ross Lake; canoeing, camping, backpacking and doing service projects. The students are really great, the weather was beautiful and the entire trip exceeded all of my expectations. I'll eventually write an indepth blog on the entire experience, but for now here are a few pictures.

At Dry Creek we pulled Reed Canary grass, a non-native invasive grass species and chucked wood onto the shore to prevent erosion. We also dug a pit toilet at Hozomeen Lake, brushed trails, helped remove hazard trees from Spencer Island and conducted research on Red Sided Shiners (a non-native fish species that was introduced to Ross Lake a few years ago).

Looking south from the top of Desolation.

We also climbed Desolation Peak. It took us ~14 hours! The hike is 4,600 vertical feet in just under 5 miles. The views from the top were worth the effort. I told alot of stories that day, sang every song I know and was inspired by all of the students perseverance and joy.
Desolation Lookout with Hozomeen in the background.

Roughly half of the trip was spent canoeing while the other half was backpacking. I love my backpack, but I will admit that canoe camping is pretty plush. We had coolers, a Coleman stove, dish soap.......but at heart I will always be a backpacker. There is something about carrying everything you need on your back.

Pyramid Peak has been looming above my for almost a year now, I can see the summit from my back porch. Ian and I thought about climbing it this weekend, it wasn't to be. Weather was moving in (which created these beautiful clouds), I was worried about my ankle, and it's a grunt to get up so I was worried about re-injuring my ankle if I got too tired. So, we didn't summit. But the views from high camp were totally worth the effort.
Looking west towards teh Picket Range and Shuksan.

Pyramid Peak with dark clouds moving in fast.

....the garden! It's doing great, well, that's what Ian tells me. He had new potatoes, out of the garden, for dinner tonight! Sounds like the onions are kind of sad and the carrots are slowly being overtaken by weeds, but all in all considering our crazy busy lives I think the garden is thriving!
Our favorite salad greens, at the Farmer's Market, are EXPENSIVE! Which prompted us to grow our own, which as it turns out is equally delicious and so cheap it's ridiculous.
And finally:
The house hunt. We haven't found one, yet. We are still looking. A few have looked promising but we don't think we've found the perfect one yet, although there is one......I'll let you all know when we find one!

And that's it, the last month. Whew! Maybe next month I'll post more? I'll try.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cedar Creek Falls

We just got back from a weekend of camping in Twisp with my family. Ian and I learned how to play bollo, got schooled in a game of horse shoes, slept next to the river, played a silly backpacker game with everyone and hiked to Cedar Creek Falls. Standard Jenny style, we pretty much only have pictures of nature!


We finally got to eat something out of the garden! Carrots and they were delicious!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Soaker hoses????

Apparently potatoes are finicky. They can't have too much water, but they need some. They like certain minerals in the soil, but not too much. In an attempt to satisfy their water needs we put in soaker hoses, what a brilliant invention! Lets hope the potatoes agree.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Our potatoes have pushed their way into the world! How exciting. Only the fingerlings have come up but the reds and yukon golds must be close. We also planted a salad mix and had to thin the squash, which was pretty traumatizing for me. I felt so vested in each start and then I had to chop them! I realize its the way everyone does it but next year it might have to be Ian's job.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Islands are so cool!

A raven skull

We had class with Gene this week. We learned about island biogeography, which is fascinating and so relevant in our time, as well as biodiversity. To bring it all home and relate it back to the learning center we headed out to the islands to "discover" which species were out there and "count" them. There was no exact science behind any of it but it was so fun!
Aneka and I made up the "animal sign" team. We found a raven skull (above); a small bird skull and some bones; three geese nests with down, egg shells and goose poop; a full set of wings, which were still connected, that we thought were from a gull and a live alligator lizard!

This nest had the most feathers, although it was the smallest, perhaps 2'x2'.

On the island we also saw these beautiful douglas fir cones. Neither Aneka or I had ever seen fir cones like this. Now we are on the look out for pink cones on campus! We also found the first tway blade, a small orchid, of the season.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The bears are coming out.......

...I saw my first black bear of the season this weekend. Just minutes from my back door. I was with a group of Earth Corp volunteers, a few of whom had never seen a bear in the wild before. It was pretty exciting and now we know that bears around campus are officially out of hibernation!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Squash starts

I love growing things! Gardening, at least to now, is so fun. We have a tray of squash starts in the living room window and they are really starting to grow. We planted delicata, spaghetti, and butternut squash. I realized the other day that our families might get squash for Christmas this year, we planted alot of squash.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The science of gardening

Before we planted the potatoes today Ian did some reading on what potatoes like. This led us to believe that we needed to test the pH level of the soil before planting the potatoes, which we did with a really old test kit. The soil was either neutral or the tablets no longer worked! We planted the potatoes, we'll see how it goes!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dandelion Bread

The ingredients

The yards of Bellingham are filled with them, many gardeners hate them, why not eat them! Dandelions. I made my first Dandelion bread this weekend. It was okay. Next time I might add cranberries or raisins, it was pretty mild, but what a great use for a plant that many people consider a common weed.

We make everything in cast iron pans, it's a good thing we have so many of them!

Dandelion bread

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend paddling trip

Ian and I decided to do something different this weekend, we canoed. The plan was hatched over breakfast; fried eggs, tea and toast. It was too warm in the mountains, avalanche danger was an issue, what else could we do? So we borrowed Jenny Cloutier's canoe portage wheels (priceless) and headed up Diablo Lake bound for Ross Lake and ultimately Big Beaver campground.
Ian portaging the canoe.

The paddling was easy, the views were beautiful, and the weather was fantastic. Neither of us had spent much time on Ross Lake so it was great to experience it from the water. Which was way down. The lake is drawn down in the spring in anticipation of spring melt. We estimated that it was 40-50 feet below "normal", creating an interesting lake/shore interface.
Me looking at the Ross Dam, with Pyramid and Colonial Peaks in the background.

We got to Big Beaver late afternoon, early evening and had enough time to set up camp and wander up Big Beaver trail. The trail was covered with blow downs and where there wasn't a few inches of standing water it was covered with crusty snow. We didn't go far before we decided it was time for a campfire, dinner and wine.

The view of Jack Mountain from camp.

We paddled out the next day, against the wind. Its interesting, how predictable the wind is on a warm day. The lake is cold, so as the warm air settles the wind begins to blow north, up the lake. Of course we were headed down the lake. It was a long, tiring paddle back. But, on the bright side, I got to practice some new paddling techniques!
Looking at Crater Mountain.

Ian and I are unlikely to become avid paddlers, we both decided that are more inclined to hiking, climbing, land in general. But, it was a nice change of pace, and packing is so much easier when your in a canoe!