Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quest for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

With the kids that I work with at school, they have a reward system for good behavior. One of the prizes they can earn is a plate of cookies made by me. So far, that has been the choice prize of the Eighth Grade Class. I've now baked three plates of cookies for these kids. I told them they could choose whatever kind of cookies they want, and I'd bake them.

Two out the three who have earned a plate of cookies so far have requested chocolate chip. As I was mixing up the first batch about a week ago, it dawned on me that I have never actually made chocolate chip cookies before! Because of this, I didn't really have a go-to recipe, so I just went with the recipe on the back of the bag of chocolate chips. Trial by fire!

As soon as I took the first tray out of the oven, I knew this was not the right recipe.
They're flat, overly crispy, came out with holes in the middle, and stuck to the pan horribly. Something was wrong. I looked over the recipe again and discovered down at the bottom in teeny tiny print the adjustments for high altitude, and for leaving out the walnuts that the recipe calls for. Oops!

I picked out twelve or so of the least-offensive looking cookies and wrapped them up on a plate for the student, explaining that it was actually my first time making chocolate chip cookies. She didn't seem to broken up-- I think she was just happy for some free food!

Even though I was disappointed with my novice chocolate chip cookie attempt, Jeff encouraged me to keep practicing. He graciously offered to taste-test as many trial batches of cookies I thought were required until I found the right recipe. He even helped eat a few of that first ill-fated batch, you know, because we can't give away the broken ones. He pointed out that they still tasted fine, and the texture was not offensive when dipped into a warm mug of coffee.

This weekend, I tried again, using the same recipe on this time making the high altitude and no-nuts adjustments. The result was a much better cookie, aesthetically.
This time, they held together way better, didn't stick to the pan at all, and were a little softer. I'm much happier with presenting these cookies to the world, or at least to another Eighth Grader. Jeff tasted them and said they were fine, but that I could continue to do some research if I wanted to, and he'd continue to make the great sacrifice of trying sample after sample.

Even though I like how these ones turned out better than the first batch, they're still not the perfect chocolate chip cookies I have in my mind. When I think about the best-ever chocolate chip cookies I've eaten in the past, I think about a cookie that's softer still than these, and lighter in color, smoother in texture. I think of my Grandma Adam's chocolate chip cookies, and I also think of the chocolate chip cookies from Cookies, Etc. in North Grand Mall in Ames, IA. Those are my standards.

Grandma's cookies are the chocolate chip cookie of my childhood. She used to always have some in the freezer, it seemed, and we could just grab one whenever. I remember them best as a frozen delight eaten right out of the tupperware. How did she get them all uniformly the same size? What did she do to make them taste so good? Mysteries I must get to the bottom of.

And Cookies, Etc. Oh, man, did I have A LOT of their cookies back in my college days when I worked at the mall. It was a standard on my fifteen minute break to walk over and buy a cookie. The chocolate chips were best, of course, when they were freshly baked. They were moist and delicious and had something different about them that I couldn't place for a long time, but now I wonder if it was almond flour, perhaps? I don't know. I see on their website that they will ship, so I may have to place an order. You know, for research purposes of course. I wonder if Jeff's taste-testing offer would extend to cookies not made by me?

In my first two attempts, I haven't come close yet to either of my two golden standards. But, I'm willing to put in the hard effort and repetitive task of trying recipe after recipe until I get it right. I'm sure Jeff won't mind, either. One thing I have learned so far is that at about 3500 feet, I am at just enough of an altitude to require adjustments to flour and other ingredients for a more successful cookie.

In order to find the most perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, I'm willing to do what must be done. Practice and research must be performed. The right tools must be used. But first, I need a few more different recipes to try. If anyone has a favorite that they're willing to share, please send it my way! Likewise any tips, tricks, favorite brands of baking products, or family cookie-baking secrets. I'll take it all!

Stay tuned for further developments as the Quest for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe continues! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Going Funning in the Country

Sticking with running through the winter months is something I haven't been great at accomplishing over the past several years, but this year, I'm already making a better effort. We have a treadmill, so there really aren't any excuses not to get a run in, but I do love running outdoors so much more. So long as the Northern Montana weather isn't prohibitive, that is.

Friday morning, the weather was actually pretty ideal for some outdoor running.  It was a little windy, but I solved that problem by having Jeff drop me off somewhere so that the wind would be at my back for most of my run. The temperature was about 40 degrees and sunny. Wind at my back was definitely tolerable, and probably helped me out.

I referenced this blog post from Oiselle Tis the Season to Go Funning a few posts ago on my blog already. The gist of the post is to find ways to make cold weather running even more fun, aka "funning". This Friday morning run was the ideal time to get excited and take some photos along my running route. It's a route I drive often but have never run, so it was new to me in that sense.

Jeff dropped me and Harvey off at Mel's Corner, and we ran the rest of the way home. About 5.5 miles. Since I was going funning, I allowed myself plenty of brief stops for photo ops and dog petting. Those of you who are familiar with our neck of the woods will recognize some of the places and viewpoints. For the rest of you, I hope you'll find something you enjoy! Here's what I came up with!
Headed East on Road 200, right at the start of my run.
About a mile into my run, jogging past Merlin and Pat's house, Harvey and I were joined by their dog, Bella. She's a RezQ dog that they've had for a couple years now and is absolutely full of energy. She is the only dog we know of whose energy level exceeds Harvey's. She's a nice dog, though. She stayed with us for a mile or so, then turned around and ran back home.
Harvey and Bella :)
 After a few miles, this was the view looking back West:
Gotta love the Sweetgrass Hills!

Our new neighbors up here built this sign over the summer. I think it's great! As applied to my run, no, we had not gone far enough yet!
Dog-petting break! 
When we run around home, Harvey always runs off-leash. There are so few cars and really excellent visibility out on the flat grasslands that we don't have to worry about him getting lost or into danger. Plus, he typically stays pretty close to me or Jeff anyway. I am so thankful we live in a place where Harvey can pretty much roam free and sprint and run and play to his heart's content! 
Harvey leads the way!
He's wearing his blaze orange vest because it is still hunting season, so that's for visibility to anyone nearby who might be hunting. I wear an orange vest over my running clothes this time of year, too.
Running by Goldstone Church, the little country church where we sometimes attend Sunday services. It's about a mile and a half from our house.
 It took me 52 minutes to get home, with my barn welcoming me back!

What do you do to stay active outdoors in the winter? Or, is a book by the fireplace more your style?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Why Did The Cow Cross The Road?

To get to the other side, of course!

This time of year, the cows cross the road into a section of land we call Harry's. This is actually a field we crop, and also has some grass rows and tree rows. It provides excellent fall grazing on grasses and crop stubble. The only problem is that this field does not have any running water. So, this means that the cows feed during the day on Harry's, then at night they come back home where they have access to the watering fountains in the corral. In the morning, they are lined up at the gate, ready to go across to Harry's, and in the evening, they're lined up at the gate on Harry's ready to come back across to home. Back and forth, every day, they do this routine. This morning, it fell upon me to go to Tom and Carol's house to let the cows across the road into Harry's.

I got to the house about 8:00 a.m. By this time, a group of cows were already lined up at the gate ready to go feed.
Cows dot the feeding pasture, and some were already lined up at the gate to go to Harry's.
 I had no difficulty opening the gate to let them out. Sometimes the gates are really tight and hard to open, but either the gate wasn't as tough as Jeff told me it could be, or I'm getting stronger.  I'll go with the latter. Thank you, November Plank Challenge!
At first when I opened the gate, the cows just stood there and looked at me for a bit. I'm not the person who normally lets them out-- perhaps they noticed this? Then, they started walking single file across the road.
Sweetgrass Hills in the background. Such a lovely view from this spot.
 The never made a sound, and they knew exactly where they were supposed to go. For the most part, we had no issues getting across.
You lookin' at me?
 After the initial string of single file animals, a few larger groups came all at once. A few of the cows paused to take a glance at me or rip a mouthful of ditch grass along the way, but they all made their way across the road in their own time.
The last stragglers.
 As there were fewer and fewer left in the pasture, I hollered at them to come along. Eventually, they all made their way.
Only one cow decided she wanted to be different. Notice, if you can, that she is on the wrong side of the fence! I had Tom's pickup with me, so I drove down the road and got ahead of her, got her turned around, and walked her back down to the gate. No big deal. Thankfully, she had a pretty good idea of where she wanted to be, and didn't make a run for it in any other direction.
 Once she got back down to the gate, she saw the opening, and in she went.

The final step was closing the gate to Harry's. I had never actually closed this gate before, or any gate with a crank closure, in fact. But, with a little over-the-phone help from Tom, I figured out the mechanics of securing the gate. Morning mission accomplished!  The whole event took about 40 minutes.

As I was handling the herd on my own this morning, I couldn't help thinking about my job. Specifically, working with my group of Eighth Graders. These are the kids who continually have behavior issues in school, low grades, oppositional behaviors, etc. It's my job to help them raise their self esteem, teach them social skills, and generally how to be better citizens. We have a weekly group session-- me and five of these kids. I get asked sometimes how I can handle them on my own, how it is that they don't drive me crazy or run all over me. Things like that. "How do you do it?!"

See, working with cows, I have learned that you have to give them some space. You have to be gentle, calm, and above all, respect their movements, preferences, and tendencies. Cows are big, big animals, and they can't be controlled with fear or violence. If you're confident and respectful toward them, they'll likely do as you'd like. The best thing to do is to encourage them on the path they'd like to take anyway, and be positive. If I can handle 100+ large cows, then a group of five Eight Graders should be a breeze. Above all, treat them with respect.

Getting back to why I was doing this all on my own this morning anyway. Jeff and his buddy Jeremy and his wife Jacynta were out hunting for deer this morning, so Jeff asked if I'd be comfortable doing this cow chore. This was totally fine with me, in fact. And where were Tom and Carol? Well, they had a pretty good reason for being gone...
Our nephew, Brandon William, was born in the wee small hours of the morning on Wednesday, November 19. Tom and Carol were down in Bozeman spending quality time with the little Nugget and Katie and Josh. Welcome to the family, Brandon! Can't wait to meet you!

And, just for fun, I present you with these punny images:

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Racing Bucket List

Completing the Best and Worst Race Link Up I did recently got me thinking about some of the very cool races there are out there. This inspired me to create a Racing Bucket List. So, below you'll read a bit about some races I would love to do!

Bloomsday-- It's a 12K race in Spokane, WA. It's been going for nearly 40 years. Spokane isn't too far away. Who wouldn't want to run when lilacs are supposedly in peak bloom? Sounds great.
Photo credit: www.bloomsdayrun.org.
Bozeman Marathon-- And by marathon I really mean marathon relay. RELAY. Ha! You thought I was admitting to wanting to do a marathon, didn't you?! Bozeman Marathon runs in September in Bozeman, MT. I think it would be super fun to do it as a relay with three other people-- each of us running about a 10K. I'm in Bozeman all the time in the fall. The trick would not be getting there, it would be finding three other people to commit to doing it with me! The greater the challenge, the greater the reward... who's with me?! They do, of course, offer full and half marathon distances for those of you who don't play well with others. ;)
This photo has nothing to do with running, but this is me, Harvey (dog), and Jeff (husband), on the M trail in Bozeman.
I'm fairly certain it has not snowed for Bozeman Marathon in it's brief history, and also pretty sure the race route does not hike up to the M. 
Title 9K-- 9K (duh!) with a couple locations. This year, they did it in Boulder, CO in May and in the Bay Area in September. I love this company and what they're about and I think it would be awesome to participate in this event. Women only-- NO BOYS ALLOWED! ;)

Missoula Marathon--Again, I probably aint' doin' no stinkin' marathon! But what I would like to do is the 5K that they also offer and then stick around and cheer for all my friends who ARE doing a half or full marathon! This is a super popular race in Montana, so I know I'd have a lot of people to cheer for! Seriously, I am in awe of people who run that far. You guys rock. Hardcore. But I'm probably sticking with my 5Ks and 10Ks for now.
Missoula Half Marathon
Image source: www.missoulamarathon.org
Run to the Pub-- Around St. Patrick's Day in Bozeman, MT. They offer a half-marathon and a 10K. According to their website, this event was voted by Runner's World to be the #2 Half-Marathon in the country! Must be pretty awesome. The 10K probably is, too, which is what I'd be running. My sister in law and her husband did it last year with some friends and said it was great. I'm hoping to sneak down and do it sometime if I can (that's when we are calving!). But seriously. If it's that awesome, I should be able to make it down someday for this race, right? It'll happen. Someday.
Thanks to Katie S. for sharing this photo from after the run!
Bix 7-- Late July, Davenport, IA. 7 mile race. This is one that people always talk about in Iowa. As in, "Have you done Bix yet?" or, "Have you ever done Bix?" People just know what "Bix" is. Runners know what "Bix" is. I hear it's hot, hilly, and hard, but it just feels like something a runner should do. So, someday, I will do it. It's been running since 1975, so another one that's almost 40 years. Hopefully I will do this sometime within the next 40 years.

Icebreaker-- OK. I have done this one before. Twice. This is a great race because it's big and it's local, and it's staying on my list because I want to try to do it as many years as I can, as long as they keep doing it. I've only missed one since I've lived here, because I was sick. It kicks off the racing season in the spring and it's just a lot of fun. So the Icebreaker makes the list. They have 5, 3, and 1 mile races in April in Great Falls, MT. Next time I do it, I'd like to do the 5 mile.

Ulm Buffalo Jump Events-- No website for this one, but it's put on by RaceMT. The Buffalo Jump events includes a half-marathon, 10K, and 3 mile walk. Located at Buffalo Jump State Park, Ulm, MT. I was really close to doing this one last spring, but I was just coming off of being sick (which is why I missed the Icebreaker) and didn't ultimately feel I'd had sufficient training. So, maybe next year.
Buffalo Jump Races
Image source: www.getevent.com
Seriously. I would LOVE a tshirt with this bison on it!
Governor's Cup-- This one is a classic in Montana. Offers the full complement of race distances: fun run, 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon. I'd really like to make it to this race, held in Helena, MT in June, sometime. Just seems like something a Montanan should experience! Plus, I'm inspired by Heather Lieberg, who runs for Oiselle, is from Helena, runs in Governor's Cup regularly, and just finished with an awesome time in the Twin Cities Marathon! Read this article HERE to find out more about here.

Take Jeff to Dam to Dam.  Is it really fair to put something I want my husband to do on my bucket list? Fair or not, it is something I want to do with Jeff. This is one race that was always important in my family growing up. My mom did the 20K, back before it was converted into an official Half-Marathon. I've done the 5K a number of times. It's just a race that was always a classic in our family, and I'd like to bring Jeff to do it with me someday. Held in Des Moines, IA in late May.

Any race that ends in a football stadium-- I don't have one picked out for sure for this one, but someday I think it would be really, really cool to do a race that ends on the field of a football stadium. Bonus points if it's the Chicago Bears. I know they exist. Someday, I'll do this.
Image source: www.k2k5k.com.
My brother did this 5K in Iowa City this fall.
Not sure if finishing in University of Iowa's stadium is ideal, but I could probably make it work!
A race in Rudyard and/or Goldstone-- Rudyard is the town I live near (by near I mean 20 miles north of), and Goldstone is the name of our "neighborhood" out in the country. I would really like to run a 5K or 10K in either or both of those places, even if that might mean I'll have to organize it myself. There. I've written it in my blog. Now you all know that I have that pipe dream and you can hold me accountable for making it happen!!!

Half Marathon or Marathon?
I don't have any half or full marathons on my list because at this point. I'm just not interested in that distance. I like being in the 5K to 10K range, or slightly higher. I'm a natural sprinter, so distance running is not easy for me. I'm happy for now with the challenge of training for shorter races.

So, there's just a few! I see races all the time that look like fun, and I'm sure this list will grow! Any suggestions for races I should add to my list? Do any of you have a racing bucket list? What's on your list? Or, who wants to do any of the above with me?!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Winter Wonderland Photos

Two posts ago, I submitted a Call for Entry of sorts for photos from all of YOU of your snowy outdoor pursuits over the weekend! So, did you get outside over the weekend?

Jeff and I spent most of our weekend in Bozeman, for the last home football game of the regular season for the Bobcats. They took on Idaho State on a bitterly cold afternoon this past Saturday. We bundled up in layers upon layers of clothing and trekked to the game, being the loyal fans that we are. Game time temperature at kickoff was a brisk 8 degrees above zero. I am so, so thankful that our seats are on the sunny side of the stadium! With all my layers, I was actually quite comfortable up until the sun started to set at the end of the last quarter.

With the sunset came a Bobcat VICTORY, but man, was it a CLOSE GAME! The Cats barely held off the fierce Bengal offensive attack, as time expired. What a game. Jeff and I agreed that this game will go down in our own Top Five Most Exciting Bobcat Games We've Been To. Also included for me are the MSU v. Eastern Washington earlier this fall (Cats lost, but it was a helluva game and really woke us all up to the team they really could be this year!), and a few years ago the playoff game vs. New Hampshire (I think my heart stopped beating when NHU went for the last second field-goal...and MISSED!).

Again, Jeff and I arrived home just in time to do cow chores on Sunday afternoon. After making the 5 hour drive from Bozeman, and watching the sun shine and the temperature rise all the way home, I was getting really excited about the prospect of finally running outside, after a week on the treadmill. But alas, it was not to be. Everywhere in the state (or so it seemed!) was sunny and in the mid to upper 20s, but it was as if there was a wall of low pressure just north of Rudyard, keeping our farm and surrounding environs down to balmy low-teens with humidity and WIND! Ugh. We again fed the cows and bulls in about 15 degree temps, no sun, and biting northwest wind.

So, I powered through 64 minutes of running on the treadmill instead. Bleh.

But anyway. On to the real reason you're checking in on my blog today: PHOTOS! The request was in my blog two posts ago, read it HERE! Basically, the challenge was for people to get outside over the weekend and snap some photos of winter fun. Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope all of you enjoy the submissions!  I've included first names of people who sent images, their captions if they had any, and a link to their website or blog if they have one. I think there's some pretty cool images! Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Carol sent these two photos. The caption she sent was: On my way to the elliptical in the basement,  I snapped these photos. One of frost on the window pane and one of the decor on the front deck.
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Strangely, quite lovely! 
Kendra, a HiLine friend and neighbor sent the next two photos. No caption, but I think they speak for themselves!!! :)

Too cute! :)
The next three images are from my husband, Jeff's, phone. I'd say he sent them, but really what happened was I went through is phone and found some cool photos to upload.  He did not send me any captions, either, so I'm adding my own. :)
Great Horned Owl perched on our neighbor, Merlin's, combine. 
Anyone want to have a seat? 
Can you spot the bird perched on the straw bale? 
The next several photos are from my mom, Penny. She is an EXCELLENT photographer, and actually has a nice blog she just started up to showcase her work. Find it here: http://adamphotography.zenfolio.com/blog

Following are the four photos she sent, with this caption: Attached are a few photos for you to use as you like.  These are from past photo walks, wasn't able to get out this weekend.  One of Mrs Moore's barn you may recognize from last year's Christmas card. The three from Veenker go back a few years.  It snowed lightly all day yesterday and these are the shots I would have gone for, if able to get outside.  Enjoy!!

Next up, we have a really cute photo from my blogging pal Jessie from over at The Right Fits
This is the caption she included: Hi Katie,
Here’s a picture for your winter challenge. Tilda and I went for a nice long walk at a local off-leash park. It was definitely cold here in Minneapolis!
Matilda, or Tilda, as they call her, sure is a cutie!! Of course, I do have a weakness for vizslas! :) Jessie posts regularly about Tilda on her weekly Tilda Tuesday segment of her blog. Definitely check it out if you love cute doggie photos! :)

Last but not least, my friend Joellyn gave me permission to post this next photo:
This image is along the Missouri River in Fort Benton, MT. The caption she had for this was: If you can handle the cold, there is much beauty in it.  Agreed, wholeheartedly! Joellyn has a really lovely blog as well, which you can check out here: http://www.montanaprairietales.com/

So there you have it! I think we got some really interesting, funny, beautiful photos to enjoy. I agree so much with Joellyn's comment that there is so much beauty in winter. All you have to do is bundle up, get out there, and enjoy it.  I think often about how thankful I really am that I live in a place which has a discernible change in seasons, that we have all four seasons to appreciate.  Perhaps this photo project will become a seasonal blog post idea??  Thank you to everyone who read and submitted a photo or two! Which photos did you particularly enjoy? 

Friday, November 14, 2014

How Do Ya Like Them Apples?.... Part II.

Remember that post I did a few weeks ago about all those Honeycrisp apples? We're still chipping away at the box and I'm happy to report that we're now onto the bottom layer of apples! Hooray!

This past weekend, I made three more batches of dehydrated apple rings (used up 9 apples) and also started in on a batch of apple brandy (4 apples), and made apple oatmeal cookies (one apple). We've also been eating a lot of them plain, of course, as they're perfectly sweet and delicious all on their own. I'm almost to the point where I can fit all the remaining apples in the crisper drawer in the fridge, but not quite. 

Here's the apple brandy in progress: 
 First, you pour a bunch of not-your-best brandy into a large bowl, jug or other vessel. Then, you chop up a whole bunch of apples and toss them in, along with a few other ingredients.
Then, you just let it sit in a cool, dark place for two weeks, stirring daily. After that, you strain it out and pour it back into the original brandy bottles, or other containers of your choice.

Please note that this is NOT Apple Pie moonshine with Everclear. It may taste very similar in the end, but it's nowhere near as potent! This is different. 

For me, apple brandy is sentimental. When I did my college study abroad in Lyon, France, my host family had apple brandy nearly every evening after dinner as a digestif. Believe me, it burns the hole right down, but tastes good while doing so. Jeff and I made apple brandy for the first time two years ago and it turned out great-- very smooth. The apples themselves sort of suck up the harsh alcohol taste of the brandy while imparting their delicious apply flavor into the liquid. The end result is a smooth, tasty, applicious drink of yumminess. Many people on my Christmas List this year will be receiving a sample. :)

The apple cookies I made were apple-oatmeal, with honey instead of sugar, and I also added flax seed meal for extra fiber. They turned out great. Jeff and his friend Jeremy, who's here for a week or so for hunting, have been eating them right up. Harvey likes them, too. (Yes, I fed my dog a partial cookie...) And, they're healthy enough that I don't mind having cookies for breakfast!
 Before and after shots of the cookies. YUM!

For a savory, dinner-time variation on apple use, we made this dish a few times, too:
 I call it German Apple Dinner. Pretty simple-- we just dice up a few potatoes, one very large apple, some onion, and some German-style bratwurst and simmer with a little butter. Towards the end, add enough of your favorite beer to coat the bottom of the pan. Let that cook off and absorb into the food, add some spices, and then it's done! Meal in about thirty minutes! Yum. :)

So... now's where I make a secret confession.

I started on this post about two weeks ago, and just keep adding to it whenever I do something fun and exciting with apples. But if you've been doing the math, you remember from above that the apple brandy takes about two weeks of flavor-melding and stirring.

So that means....
It's finished!!! 
Jeff and I strained the apple brandy this morning and returned it to the original brandy bottles. We haven't sampled it yet because, well, it's only 8:45 in the morning and we have a long day ahead of us. We're planning on taking a bottle of this down to Bozeman with us for this weekend's Bobcat Football game against Idaho State. With highs for tomorrows game in single digits, I think a little warming from within thanks to apple brandy might be just the ticket!

What are some of your favorite ways to eat and enjoy apples?

Also, please click back to my previous post and check it out! I'm hoping to have a big post full of winter scene photos from readers on Monday, but it might be lame unless people like YOU submit a photo or two!  :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Winter Fun Photos-- Call For Entry!

With frigid winter temperatures happening in much of the US lately, it feels like winter time. This morning on my drive to work, my car said it was -18! Yikes. The first blast of winter always feels the coldest, and in this case, it's pretty dang cold up here in northern Montana! In this post, I'm going to ask all of us to look to the fun side of cold weather with some reader participation. Keep reading to find out more!

I've been a little bummed about it being so cold because, for one thing, it makes completing my November Fitness Challenges a little more mentally tough. I don't mind running outside in winter conditions, and in fact, I actually enjoy it quite a bit, but I'm a little bit more picky about exactly what type of conditions are tolerable for running. Here's some of my preferences:

  • Temperature above 15 degrees. Although, I'd go to a lower temperature if the next two qualifications are also met...
  • Minimal wind. This can be a tall order out here on the prairie. 
  • Sunshine, if possible. 
Some days, even just one of those three qualifications will be met and I'll head out for an outside run. But this week, it's not likely to happen. Our highs have been in single-digits during the warm part of the day, so by the time I get home from work and it's already evening, it's been below zero. Welcome to Winter!  Needless to say, I spend a lot more time running on the treadmill during the winter months. Ugh. So boring. Hence why I said this week's attempts to stay with my Funk~N~Run challenge have been a bit more mentally tough. I struggle with treadmill running. 

Then, today, I spotted this post on the Oiselle blog: Tis The Season To Go Funning! It's full of great ideas to make winter running more fun or at least more bearable. There were tons of really great, fun-sounding ideas that I would love to do, and in fact, I'm starting now.

One of their suggestions is to take a camera or phone with you while running (thanks to all those extra pockets in your winter layering scheme!) and snap some wintry images while you're out there. I realize that many of my readers are here to read about what we do on our farm, or about hunting, or life on the HiLine, and not all of you are interested in running. So, to make it more inclusive of my whole audience, I'm changing the rules to: Take a photo of something wintry while you're outside. If you happen to be out for a run, all the better for you! 

Here's your mission, if you choose to accept! 
  1. Get Outside and take a photo on your phone or camera! Go for a walk or run, do farm chores, spend time with your kids or dog, whatever. Bundle up and get out there!
  2. Mimimal Editing. We want these photos as real and as easy as possible. Don't worry about taking the time to tweak and polish. Try to go #nofilter, if you can. 
  3. Captions are Cool! Try to include a caption of what you were doing or where your photo was taken, just for a bit of context. 
  4. Send me your photo! You can email me at kra1984montana@yahoo.com or at my gmail address if you have that one, text me (if you have my cell phone # already), or post it on Pinterest or Facebook and tag me. 
  5. Deadline: Monday, November 17 by 10:00 a.m. Mountain Time. On Monday, I'll compile all the photos and do another blog post with all of your wintry outdoor scenes! So, this means you have the whole weekend to get out there!
There are no prizes or anything for this-- it's just for fun. Consider this your official call to entry! The idea is simply to bundle up, get outside, have fun, and share your photo! I'm hoping that by Monday, I'll have a whole big long post of fun outside photos that we can all enjoy viewing! If you submit a photo, I'll put it on my blog with only your first name and your caption--unless you want me to link to your blog or something like that!  

To get us all started, here's a photo of my barn, smiling in the winter sunshine:

Can't wait to see what you all submit! Until next week... :)