Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crown of the Continent

I just got back from a camping trip in Glacier National Park with my family.  I wanted to share a few pictures with you.  Glacier is currently celebrating it's centennial year.  It is such an awe-inspiring place.  I thought I'd share a few pictures with some words of those who have stepped before me.  Enjoy.
Far away in Montana, hidden from view by clustering mountain-peaks, lies an unmapped northwestern corner- the Crown of the Continent. The water from the crusted snowdrift which caps the peak of a lofty mountain there trickles into tiny rills, which hurry along north, south, east and west, and growing to rivers, at last pour their currents into three seas. From this mountain-peak the Pacific and the Arctic oceans and the Gulf of Mexico receive each its tribute. Here is a land of striking scenery. George Bird Grinnell, The Century Magazine 1901

“Get off the tracks at Belton Station [Now West Glacier], and in a few minutes you will find yourself in the midst of what you are sure to say is the best care-killing scenery on the continent.” “Give a month at least to this precious reserve. The time will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal. Nevermore will time seem short or long, and cares will never again fall heavily on you, but gently and kindly as gifts from heaven.”
John Muir -Our National Parks 1901

“There is no highway which will give the seer, the lover of grandeur of the Creator’s handiwork, more thrills, more genuine satisfaction deep in his being, than will a trip over this road.”
Governor Frank H. Cooney
Dedication of the Sun Road
July 15, 1933

Thursday, July 22, 2010

An Inspiring Chat with Penny Hall

I am pleased to introduce a member of the Big Sky Montana Etsy Team, Penny Hall. Penny has an inspiring story that I'm so excited to share with you.  Pull up a chair and pour a cup of coffee and enjoy this inspiring chat with Penny.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I came to the Madison Valley from Taos, New Mexico in 2000 with my husband who is an artist and fly fisherman. At the end of our two-month visit we decided to stay the winter and we are still here.
My first blessing bowl was created as a therapy project between eye surgeries. I was diagnosed as legally blind and wanted to prove to myself I was NOT blind. The challenges of changing sight and multiple eye surgeries required I find new ways to generate income. With the help of Blind and Low Vision Services my art business was born and eventually my sight was restored.

2. How did your Etsy Shop get started?
Although I had several outlets for my work I was looking for a way to display and sell online. A friend of mine told me about Etsy and I opened my shop in 2007.

3. What is a blessing bowl?
A blessing bowl is a container to hold all the good things in life. My journey through blindness to new vision taught me to focus on all the good things in life.

Prior to that time I was always worrying about the past, afraid of the future and not living in the present moment. Art is a wonderful form of therapy and self-discovery. The process of working

with the leather and creating the bowls taught me many things about myself. So, I fondly call them my “blessing bowls”.

4. What is the process of creating a hand sculpted blessing bowl?
I begin with a huge cowhide. It covers a dining table that seats six people and rolls off onto the floor. The shape is cut out of the skin-toned hide, soaked, molded and left to dry for several days.
When it is completely dry I apply multiple layers of stain and any adornments as well as a clear acrylic finish for protection.

5. What inspires you?
The natural beauty of nature gives me my greatest inspiration. Visiting art galleries and spending time with other artists keeps the creative juices flowing.
The shapes are often inspired by the natural cuts, brands, insect bites and character marks inherent in the hides.

6. What do you love about Montana?
Montana is alive. The breathtaking colors of the constantly changing big skies are a feast for the eyes. The abundance of flowing water and prolific wildlife blanket the magnificent landscapes and feed the soul.

7. Where can we find you?
My home studio is in Ennis, Montana. You can view samples of the range of my work at
My Etsy Shop is

My husband is currently working on our company web site

The following galleries and gift shops also represent my art.
Artquest Gallery
Hinsdale, Illinois
Artquest West
Ketchum, Idaho
B. Bar Ranch
Emigrant, Montana
Common Ground Western Art Gallery
Red Lodge, Montana
Creighton Block Gallery
Virginia City, Montana
District Gallery
Park City, Utah
Earthwood Artisans
Estes Park, Colorado
Earthworks Gallery
Waynesville, North Carolina
Ghostart Gallery
Helena, Montana
Kindred Spirits Gift Gallery
Kalispell, MT
Madison Crossing Home Room
West Yellowstone, Montana
Portiera Designs
Breckenridge, Colorado
Primary Elements Gallery
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Shining Mountain Gallery
Pray, Montana

Monday, July 19, 2010


My refrigerator kicked the bucket yesterday.  We were working in the yard and the kids went in for posicles - they came out with bad news and melted icecream.  Thankfully, we have a large chest freezer and a camper with a mini fridge, so I was able to save our food.  After finding the best deal in town, we purchased our new refrigerator only to be delivered more bad news - earliest delivery will be July 27th!  That's over a week!  To further complicate things I have company coming to stay in our home this weekend while we go camping for four days and return with more visitors. Can it get any worse?  I've learned long ago not to ask that question - because it always can.  What my current predictament boils down to is siple inconvenience. Isn't is something how upset we can get when life happens?  How annoyed we are when things don't work properly? Don't begin to get me started on Montana's current season - Road Construction!  The waiting in line, the detours .

Why not take a moment to see what we can learn from these minor incoveniences.  Put in some extra planning, a little extra time, maybe add a dash of creativity and often what you get is a pleasant detour.  While incovenient for a few days in the end I get a new refrigerator.  This morning I was dreading my walk to the camper's refrigerator to make breakfast.  As I walked outside, the beauty of the morning was upon me - the birds were singing, the deer were grazing and the the sunrise was beautiful.  Maybe life throws us an inconvenience once in a while to remind us to stop and take a moment to appreciate what is in front of us.  My wish for you this week is to find the beauty in the inconveniences that come your way.  Another benefit for me is that I have an excuse to share these great etsy items with you! Please stop by these shops.  For the mint chocolate chip soy candle (Yes, that's really a candle) visit
Culinary Chiq Concepts  For a pattern to make your felt yummy food refrigerator play set visit
Dearmykids.  To make groceries that will never go bad, visit Buggabugs.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Big Sky Montana Etsy Team

"I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love, and it's difficult to analyze love when you're in it." -John Steinbeck
I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to the Big Sky Montana Etsy Team.  What a wonderful group of artisans living in or longing for Big Sky Country.  This team is inspired by the beaty of Montana and the artisans here want to share their products and inspiration with everyone around them.
I will be featuring shops from members of the Montana Team over time.  In the meantime, please search montanateamon the Etsy homepage for many wonderful finds.  Here's a sneak peak of the products you'll find!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Seven-Year-Old Finished a Marathon Today

I'm so proud of him I just had to share this with you.  Now before you say a 7-year-old is too young to run that far, let me give you the details.  It was a kids marathon - ran in conjunction with larger marathon, half-marathon and 5k races in our community.  The rules of the kids marathon allowed for the youth to begin April 1st and begin logging twenty five miles.  There were no rules as to how this was done and many of the schools got involved and started walking groups at recess.  Sometimes my son would log 1/4 mile at a time and others up to 2 miles.  Watching my son progress with his training was such a joy.  He would join my speed workout group on the track. He would put his ipod on and run his own pace. The adults would give him high fives and encouragement as he completed each lap. As the summer has progressed, he began to complete a mile at a time with ease.  Today was race day. We went to the registration booth and he proudly turned in his training log.  He recieved his race packet, complete with t-shirt and race number.  #477 - he was so excited.   The course was lined with supporters.  One half hour before the race started all the kids warmed up together and the crowd was pumped.  As he took his place among the sea of participants he waved to me in the crowd.  And then the gun.  They were off.  Many sprinted away while others picked up a nice steady pace.  Many walked and some were tired after 200 yards.  All were doing it. They were each trying their best to complete their goal. 
Before long, I watched as my son rounded the corner on the last stretch home.  He was weary, but still going.  Just then he seen me and our friends that came to cheer him on.  He got a spring in his step and finished strong.  How powerful.  Have you ever had this feeling? To simply look up and make eye contact with someone supporting you?  It truly does give you a boost.  We all need to be there for each other. Sometimes just being present is enough. May you each be blessed with someone who is present in your life.  How does a child run a marathon you ask?  A little bit at a time.  Every day putting one foot in front of the other until finally each mile is marked off and the marathon is complete.  Couldn't we all learn a little bit from these kids and apply it to our everyday lives?

Does the art in this post inspire you?  If so, please take a moment to visit these Etsy shops.  For "Mile19" please visit Vetek Artist Maine. For the silver urban marathon pendant, please visit Saved By Love

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Bridal Shower

This is the year of the weddings in my family.  My sister and my sister-in-law are both getting married in the next few months.  While there will probably be more posts in the future regarding the weddings, today I want to talk about the bridal shower.  While there are several stories out there about how the bridal shower originated, the most accepted seems to be that the bridal shower originated in Holland when a young Dutch girl fell in love with a poor miller.  Her father disapproved of her marriage to the poor miller and refused a dowry.  The poor miller had spent his life helping those needier than he and when it cam time to get married their friends got together and showered them with gifts from their new home. 
To me, a bridal shower reminds me of an old fashioned quilting bee.  It is a chance for the women of the families of the bride and groom to get together and pass wisdom on to the next generation.  The thing I love about a "traditional" bridal shower is all the women, from great-grandma to the youngest niece are invited and welcomed to share their thoughts and experiences of life.  What a range of perspectives you get when women of all ages gather in support of the bride. To me, the true gift of the bridal shower is the wisdom and moral support that each woman brings.  Whether it be fail-proof recipes, tips on getting stains out, or advice on how to keep your your marriage stong, this wisdom that is passed on is priceless, no matter the culture. 
While today's bridal showers take all forms, I believe the intent of the bridal shower is one of support for the new bride.  It offers a fun atmosphere for the women of the bride and groom's families to get to know one another and to begin to form strong bonds.  I believe it takes so much more than a bride and groom to make a marriage work.  The friends and family of the bride and groom will have an impact on their marriage from this day forward.  Getting off on the right foot with a bridal shower is a great way to make the impact a positive, supportive one. 
Do you have a bridal shower coming up? Please take a moment to visit the etsy shops featured in this post.  For the vintage shower invitation, please visit Gwen Marie Designs.  For the vintage OOAK journal, please visit Stories Divinations.  For the beautiful vintage baking dish, please visit Art of LALS

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Creations Anew

I'd like to introduce you to a member of the Etsy HomeFront Team, Robin from Creations Anew. Please take a moment to read this wonderful interview - I hope it will move you and inspire you as it has me.

1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I've really lived a charmed life. I was born and raised and Army Brat my father was a career soldier and my mother, sister, brother and I revolved around the military. My parents loved to site-see and living in foreign countries afforded us alot of traveling. I remember many hours in a blue Volkswagen van and then an orange one driving around Europe.

I graduated from Karlsruhe American High School in Germany and then I married a soldier and we raised a couple of Army Brats. We spent a couple of tours in Germany and had several stateside duties, from Ft Leonarwood Missouri to the Presido in San Francisco.

During those years I homeschooled my boys and taught Bible Studies. Hubby is now retired from the Army and both boys are graduated from High School. Our oldest son will be a senior at a University in Denver and our youngest son completed his freshman year and is weighing some different options.

Today, I find myself in another transition going from a military wife and motherhood to the civilian world and an empty nest. I'm looking forward to this next of my charmed life. :)

2. What is the 100 photo project?
My 100 Photo Project is really just a personal photo journey. Up until about 5 years ago I was a point and click kind of girl and with these new digital cameras "point and click" could produce a beautiful photo. They are wonderful because I didn't have to think to much about the mechanics of photography.

Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to dig a little deeper with my art and I ran across the 100 Photo Project on line. There are no hard rules to follow we are encouraged to work at our own pace. The project is really about sharing and encouraging each other in our photographic journey's.

3. What is your favorite place/thing to photograph?
Well that is easy, if you've visited any of my sites you know that I love natural landscapes and florals. Things like mountains, lakes and wildflowers are on my list of favorites; they are always changing and yet ever the same.

Living in Colorado I enjoy all 4 seasons and so this year I've been shooting certain landscapes and trees in all four of the seasons; each seasonal photo has its own individual beauty and its own story.

4. What inspires you?
Other Photographers! I marvel at the things they see and their talent to capture them. By nature, 'm not artistic. I tend to see what is in front of me and obvious and forgetting to look deeper to what is really there. For instance, if I walk by a car, I see a car, other photographers see door handles, steering wheels, headlights, etc.
I've been working on training my eyes to view more than just THAT car!

5. What does the 4th of July mean to you?
I love America! I bleed Red,White and Blue. I'm so thankful to God for allowing me to be born here;to be an American. I've been blessed to have been able to travel world wide and I enjoy visiting other countries and learning about their cultures and their heritage but in the words of Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz,there is NO Place Like Home.

A few years ago, my oldest son befriended a German Foreign Exchange Student and I so enjoyed watching him view our culture. From small town football, (which is HUGE here), to American Flags waving in everyone's yard. He was mystified with our patriotic small town life; we are in the middle on no-where Colorado and yet when we say who we are, we say "We are Americans".

Last year,my youngest son went to small midwest college to play football and he enjoyed rooming with some inner city kids. When he came home, he shared with us that many of these boys did NOT identify with being Americans; their pride stemmed from which coast they come from...Truthfully, that bothered me, that somehow they had missed knowing that even with all of our issues,America really is the land of the Free and the Home of the Brave and that it's for them too.

6. Where can we find you?
I'm all over the place :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Homefront Team

Do you have plans this 4th of July Weekend?  Maybe you are attending a picnic or a parade, a rodeo or a car show.  Many of you may be attending an old fashioned ice-cream social or an outdoor craft show.  No matter what your plans for the day may bring, most of you will all find a quiet spot to sit and watch the fireworks, or throw a party of your to light up the sky.  Amongst all the activities, I ask this week that you take time to think about our men and women who are serving our country at this very moment.  Then I ask that you take a moment to think of their families. 

With the 4th of July upon us, I wanted to take a moment to share a special Etsy Team with you.  They are the Homefront Team.  The Homefront Team is comprised of etsy shop owners that are spouses and significant others  of members of the uniformed services.  
The Homefront Team Blog describes the team better than I can. "We are male and female, of all ages and several different nationalities and are located, quite literally, worldwide! Our one common thread is that we are personally involved in supporting our countries on a day-in, day-out basis. Without prejudice, or regard for religion, race, nationality or political views, we keep the homefires burning and our families together, no matter how far apart we are."

Whether you are Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, Coast Guard, Reserves or Retired, the value of having a strong support system on the homefront has been recognized and revered for decades.
So while you are hanging that American Flag with pride at your next picnic, take a moment to remember those who have served in the past and those serving now who have brought you the simple everyday freedoms that we so often take for granted in our day to day lives. 

Please take a moment to visit the Etsy homepage and search Homefront Team.  If you like like what you see posted here, please visit these homefront team shops: For the Freedom and Liberty flag, please visit WanderingWhimsies.  For the Proud Military Spouse Dog Tags, please visit TheTaffyBox.  For the adorable Deployment Bear, please visit camillam.