Brownlee Reservoir





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On the road to Brownlee, about 2 hours and forty-five minutes to go.  Nothing much to see.


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Oooohh.  Horses.  (Just a little reminder that we’re zooming down the Interstate at 75mph!) 

The Farmers didn’t have their usual toys for this trip so spying anything interesting helped minimize the “are we there yet’s”.



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The view started to change from flat and matted brown to hills, plateaus and rolling greens.


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There were cows.


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And a REAL live cowboy came galloping down the hillside.


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There were winding rivers and little towns


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with a grand hotel, motel, inn and coffee shop all in one. 


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I even discovered that I own a small ranch house and restaurant.


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The last bit of civilization before we started the climb.


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Our view from the top, a nose-bleeding height of 4,131' above sea level.


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Winding roads



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and lots of rocks


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until we reached the bottom.


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First on the agenda, find a campsite.


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There we these little shanty-town shacks all along the shoreline.


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Though the water was beautiful, it was very cold.

I loved the way the black rocks jutted out from underneath the carpet of green.


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It made the hunt for a campsite that much more challenging, but we found it.  Center-left is where we pitched our tent


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When we landed the bow on the somewhat sandy beach we found hundreds of butterflies flittering about and resting on the wet soil.  It seemed almost magical.


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Once camp was set up it was time to fish.  It started out a little slow until Dave caught a 2 lb. bass.





A mule deer came down for a drink near one of our Crappie hot-spots.



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With our tummies grumbling, it was time to head back to camp.  Devin started a fire and Dave set up the grill.  We had some fish to fry.



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The fishy taste of victory.  Chili cheese dogs on hand just in case the lines weren’t hot.


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With such success, the Farmers fished into the night and actually caught perch.


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(I should’ve brought my tripod… oh well.  A quick lesson in what not to do or should I say to do.)



When the last of the sunlight faded away, the stars took over and so did all the critters that hoot, howl and scurry – sometimes rather noisily. 

This was the first time we had camped so “rustic” and both Dave and I were a little nervous to say the least.  We made a huge fire and stayed up into the wee hours. 

The loss of sleep did have its benefits; shooting stars and an eyeful of twinkles we don’t have the chance to see in town.  Realizing that nothing was going to eat us or just too tired to care, we rejoined our snoring Farmers in the tent and tried to catch a few zzz’s.



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Up to take some flower shots while the sun was low.


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Just before the tent came down, the boat pulled from the water and we said good-bye to Brownlee.


The ride back was uneventful.  Well, I suppose there was a tiny event.  As we came back down the mountain, the drivers side window rolled down to take in as much fresh air as possible, a small honeybee lost it’s way and landed right between Miss Is’ thigh and her shorts.  She freaked, I tried not to freak and help her out without either one of us getting stung.  Who knows what happened to the bee, I never did find it again, but all was well.


Brownlee Reservoir – we’d do it again.

A Memorable Get-Together






A bunch of “us” gathered together at the home of the “M” family for a Memorial Weekend BBQ on Saturday evening.




The Hostess with the Most-est & the Grill Master.


Their home is beautifully decorated in Americana-Chic.  Not just for Memorial Day, but every day!  Very, very cool. 

It inspires me to finally frame and hang the reproduction copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence

I’ve been squandering away for the past eight years.



And the food.  The food.  THE FOOD!!  It was so wonderful, every bite of it. 

Broccoli, Fumi, potato and jello salads. Cakes and brownies too!




And the meat… the tri-tip steaks and slow-cooked seasoned pork loins. 

The young, tender chicken grilled to utter perfection.




No, we didn’t eat the fluff-balls.  They’re more like pets than a main course. 

Being the awesome fifth grade teacher that she is, Mrs. “M” hatched the little darlings as part of a class science project.


Everyone ate and had a great time. That is until a family fight broke out between Mrs. “M” and her sister “J”.

Good thing I had my camera handy to document it all just in case.  You never know when a good piece of blackmail will come in handy. 


Apparently, the scuffle began with littl’sis divulging a little too much information.  Of course, it was very entertaining for the rest of us.




Fantastic food, hot chicks and a cat fight.  The “M's” sure know how to party.

Lessons in What Not to Do: Getting “Mary-ed”





Last week I had the opportunity to do my first engagement “session” for Mary and Bill.  I did my homework.  Lots of homework.  Came up with a few ideas and things I would like to try, but most of all I was hoping – praying – not to screw it up.  We went to two locations, the abandoned rock house a just down the road and the green space around the corner.  Time was a factor so I’d rather snap than waste precious minutes driving.


The old house was great.  I’d love to officially get permission to trespass.  Did I say trespass?  I mean, observe the beauty at close range.  Multiple phone calls, a few neighbor visits and still no luck getting hold of the older gent.  Plead ignorance and beg for forgiveness, right? 


It was around one o’clock in the afternoon and the rock walls of the house face south.  Not the greatest lighting situation and it shows.  I’d love to try again in the early morning/late evening when the sun is just below/above the horizon.  Any willing victims out there?  Lesson learned, be more mindful of the light.


As always, the green space was a treasure trove of backgrounds.  On Mothers’ Day, I found a that our mega-bag of hotdog buns had sprouted and suggested that we feed the ducks, giving me the a chance to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather and make mental notes of the best settings.  Creek, boulders, trees, flowering bushes and green grass – what more could I ask for?


Things went really well, well… I think they went well despite my jitters.  Bill and Mary were great; cool as a cucumber and willing to do most everything I asked no matter how crazy it seemed.  It’s a whole different world taking pictures of people who can sit still longer than two seconds without squirming, picking their noses and all together vacating the framed shot.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the kiddos.  They have the best natural shots. 


Yeah, things went well – that is until I slid myself waist deep into the creek and then some.  Of course I was totally up for it.  It was my idea.  I’m already a major dork so taking it one step further isn’t much of a jump.  Like the difference between lilac and periwinkle, it’s still lavender.  I suppose it isn’t so much a lesson in what not to do as it is to just be prepared to get a little messy.  And on a side note, mid-rise jeans when wet morph into low-rise.  Keeping my pants hiked up was a challenge, kind of like the days of the ‘hook’.  You girls know what I mean.   Just F.Y.I. if you’re planning to jump in a creek with your clothes on anytime soon.


So we finished up the last of the shots, I couldn’t think of anything more and after two hours I think we all were a little tired.  The three of us started heading back to the car from the middle of the green space trail when I discovered that my keys were missing.  Two black headed, chunky-chip keys, a host of house/church keys, two large rings, a key fob for the Yukon and some how I missed placed all of that.  I checked my camera bag, no glory.  The reflector bag… no luck.  By now my jeans were sticky and there was no way the lot could be shoved into my pancake pockets.  Panic starts setting in, “oh crap” was right. 


The first spastic thought that jerks my mind is calling in the troops (you know who you all are) for an emergency extraction.  Good thing Bill reminded me to take my phone out of my front pocket as the water crept up to my hips.  It still works despite chucking it to shore, I can still call.  Unwilling to admit I’m a complete and utter idiot, I pushed the S.O.S. to the end of the line and tried not to sprint back to the the creek side location where I decided to take a swim.  No keys. 


Mary said that she’d return to our first locale and check there while Bill and I kept looking.  I should probably reiterate the fact that we were on a short time schedule, that Bill’s flight left at six and it was almost four.  Shortly after, we followed in her footsteps to find her heading towards us and shaking her head.  I was closer to making that phone call.  Checked the rocks, checked the trees.  “Are these it?”  Mary asked, holding up my current bane of existence.


Feeling about as bright as a burnt out bulb, I took them home, picked Miss Is up from a very “charitable” sitter and retreated back into my little hidey-hole of the world.  I hadn’t heard from the boys so I was hoping to find them engrossed in a video game or cartoon.  I guessed right and for the record, they had called.  It just happened to be during the frantic throws of stupidity.


Adding injury to insult, I slipped off my new pink slipper shoes to find bloody heels and swelling blisters.  Another lesson learned.  Don’t wear spiffy let alone new shoes no matter how put-together you want to look. 


Thanks Mary and Bill for letting me go snap-happy!


(Click picture below of a slideshow link.)


D Mary Bill Streamside 128 E

When Fluff is a Must!


In cruising the web for ideas, I stumbled across these pettiskirts as made famous by Kaiya Eve and thought they’d be good to have in my arsenal of photo-props, but at a whopping $130 a piece for the larger sizes, it was NOT going to happen.  Ebay and Etsy of course have them, but I still don’t want to pay.  So I did what I do best – improvise. In the Birthday Pictures post, Miss Is is wearing a bright red and a soft, baby pink pettiskirt that I had made.  I didn’t use nylon chiffon or crinoline as the Eve/Ebay/Etsy skirts do because I was after the “look” and not so much the softness for constant dress-up wear.  Besides, the chiffon is harder to find and takes more jingle out of your pocket.  Tulle, even the sparkly kind, isn’t more than a buck-fifty a yard.


So far I’ve made (in order) baby pink, ruby red, coffee bean brown with rose fluff, black with hot pink fluff and now this one for the tutorial.  I still have a butter yellow, purple with lime green sparkly fluff, another black and hot pink (I “donated” the other one).  I think they’re fun and can use the same concepts to morph them into different designs.


Here’s how I make’m! 


You’ll need:

  • Approximately 3 yards of tulle plus another 4 yards of the same or contrasting color.
  • 16” of 1” wide elastic
  • 32” of 1” wide ribbon,
  • 8” x 54” satin/sateen or taffeta
  • 1/2 yard of med. weight fusible interfacing
  • Either a 500yrd. spool of thread for a single color skirt or two 250yrd. spool of thread in the main and accent tulle color.


  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
  • Two bobbins
  • Pins
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Cutting mat and circular tool is optional, but it really helps if you have them.
  • Patience


Step 1:  Square up your 8” x 54” satin.  It’s never cut straight at the fabric store no matter how good it looks just eyeballing it.  Go ahead, just give it a trim.


Step 2:  Cut 1 1/2” strips of fusible interfacing.  How many will depend on what width you bought.  Cut enough to line the outside except for the salvaged edge.


Step 3:  Iron on the interfacing as close to the edge as possible  (length wise).  Make sure the bumpy side is down, otherwise you’ll gum up your iron and that’s just not fun.  This helps with fraying and gives the waist extra strength.


Iron on interfacing J 

Step 4:  With the right side of the satin down, fold the salvage (short side) edge back onto the wrong side of the satin and sew to make a nice finished edge.  Do the same to the other side.


Step 5:  With both salvaged ends hemmed, turn the satin over (wrong side down) and fold in half, bringing one hemmed edge to the other.


  • Sew a 1/2” hem.  Lock your stitch at sew 3 1/4” down the length of the hemmed salvage edge.  Lock your stitch again.  (That’s just hitting reverse and then forward again to sew a “knot”.
  • Lift the foot and gently pull the fabric 1 1/2” forward.  (You’re not sewing that section.)  Lower foot and sink the needle.  Start sewing again, locking your stitch and continue to the end.  Approx. 3 1/4”.

You should have a loop of black satin with a “hole” in the middle of the seam.  If you do, GREAT!  If not, keep at it.


Step 6:  Fold the loop in half lengthwise, right-side out, so that the interfacing edges match up on the inside.  Pin all along the edge.  You should still have a loop, just skinnier.  The “hole” should be up at the top.


Step 7:  Sew 1 1/2 “ hem just below the “hole”.  What were doing is making a sleeve for the waistband .


Step 8:  Once the first stitch loop is completed, slide towards the pinned edge another 1 1/2” and repeat.  This step gives the skirt something to hold on to without directly pulling on the waistband sleeve. 


Waistband 2_1 J


Waistband 3 J


Step 9:  Take your 32” length of 1” wide ribbon and cut a diagonal in the middle to create tie ends.


Ribbon Ends J

Step 10:  Sew with a zig-zag stitch the straight edge of one ribbon to the end of the 1” wide elastic.  Repeat.  Make sure to check that the ribbons are right-side up (or down) on either side and that the diagonal ends are “pointing” in opposite directions, peaks either at the top or bottom.  Thread the ribbon/elastic through the waistband sleeve leaving the ribbon ends exposed.  Tie in a cute, little knot so it doesn’t slip back through.


Step 11:   Spread out the interfacing (bottom) edge and set aside.


Waistband Ribbon Split J


Step 12:  Cut your “main” tulle color into SIX, 5” wide strips across the width of the tulle. ( Tip:  I use my circular/quilting set to accomplish this.  Make sure there are no wrinkles and fold over twice so the cutting strokes are shorter that if the tulle came straight off the bolt.)


Step 13:  Since your cutting stuff is out and the tulle lined up, go ahead and cut TWELVE, 8” wide strips and set aside.  Keep them separate from the 5” strips.


Step 14:  Go back to your 5” wide strips.  Sew THREE lengths together, end to end, with a 1/4” hem.  Repeat with the other set of THREE strips so that you end up with two, THREE length long strips.


Attaching strips J


Step 15:  Shirr (gather) each of the strips down their length 1/4” from the top.  I don’t have a shirring foot ($15 at Joann’s) so I use my tension (set to 6) and stitch length ( 5, as long as it goes) to do it.  Make sure the gathers are not too tight, but nice and fluffy. Sometimes I have to “help” the gathers by tugging on the threads from behind the needle just until I get the ruffle I want, then the machine does the rest.


Shirring Strips J


Step 16:  Grab the satin waistband.  Place one back edge (directly opposite of the ribbons) of the bottom, right-side up on your machine.  Slide in the top of one of the shirred strips between the presser foot and the right-side of the satin. We’re sewing the tulle on top of the satin.  (Tip:  Make sure that your hems that attach the THREE lengths together are facing down.)  Sew the shirred strip around the circumference about a 1/4” up from the edge, making sure not to catch the “second” bottom.  (That’s why we split the ends.)  Basically there is a “top” layer and a “bottom” layer to the skirt.


Attaching Shirred Strips 1 Layer JFirst Tier Attached J

(First layer attached)


Step 17:  Repeat step 16 to the other side.  Again checking to make sure the length hems are facing down.  Technically, there is not a “wrong-side” to the skirt if you make it this way.


First Tier Attached Back J (First and second layers attached to waist.)


Step 18:  Sew end to end SIX, 8” wide strips together to make two sets.  Just like Step 14.


Step 19:  Shirr each set along the top; the gathers should be tighter.   You’re basically adding twice as much fabric as you did for the first tier.


Step 20:  Make sure that your hems are facing down.  Only using one tier of tulle, place the top, back bottom edge under your presser foot and then place the shirred 8” wide strip on top, about 1/8” from the edge.  To get the poofy-ness we’re looking for, stitch the shirred second tier to the straightened first tier.  (I know, I’m making up words and not making a whole lot of sense.)  See the picture below; it’s worth more than all the above.  Try to sew along the shirred stitch to minimize lines.  Sew all the way around to the end.  Slightly overlap the end with the beginning and lock your stitch.


Attached Second Tier 1 J


Step 21:  If you have extra 8” shirred strip at the end, cut if off as close to the last stitched point, making sure not to cut off material needed for the skirt.


Remove Extra Length J



Second Tier Front J

(First layer of second tier.)


Step 22:  Repeat Steps 20 and 21 to the “bottom first tier”.  CHECK that your connecting, strip hems are facing down.


Second Tier Both J

(Both tiers and layers completed.)


Step 23:  Now for the fun-fluffy-stuff.  In this skirt I chose an electric blue as my contrasting color.  (Thus the bright blue ribbon.)  Cut up all four yards of tulle into 2 1/2” wide strips.


Cut Fluff Strips 1 J


Step 24:  Don’t be afraid of the monster-like pile of fluff.  It will be your friend if you know how to handle it.  Remember to change out your thread color if needed!


Cut Fluff Strips 2 J


Step 25:  Sew all the strips end to end, keeping the hems on the same side.  (Tip:  I start with one strip laying across my lap, fold the left end back towards itself and place another strip end on top of that and sew.  No need to lock the stitch.  With the newly sewn strip edge under the presser foot, find the end of the top strip, fold it back towards itself and add another strip.  Place under the presser foot and sew.  Repeat… a lot.  This keeps the hems on the same side and keeps you from having to lift the presser foot, cut the thread and place the new connection in three separate steps.  When you have four of five “connections” lined up, go ahead and snip them apart.  If you’re really good, there shouldn’t be any extra thread to trim off either.)  This is the fifth skirt that I’ve made and the above tip was born as the ‘better, faster way of doing things’ from that good ol’ mother of necessity.  Do what you want; this works for me.


Step 26:  Shirr the 2 1/2” wide strips down the middle.  Again, do this with your tension otherwise you’ll want to give up and curse me for even suggesting this tutorial.


Shirr 2

Shirred Fluff 1 J


Step 27:  On the top-side, bottom of the second tier, stretch-out the ruffle and sew the fluff-stuff to the top.  Just like what we did before.  Try to use the shirring stitch as a guide.  As always, make sure your connecting hems are down, though it doesn’t matter too much so if it’s not, don’t start over and please don’t cry. 


Attached to 2nd Tier J

(I help control the fluff by gently pressing it down so it doesn’t catch on the presser foot and wad up.

I can also see what I’m doing, but I can’t imagine why that would help!)


Step 28:  Attach the fluff-stuff all the way around.  Just keep going, just keep going…  and going.  Go some more.  It will be worth it.  I promise.  Lock your stitch at the end/beginning and hack off whatever is left like in Step 21. 


First Tier Fluff J

(First layer of fluffy-stuff attached.)


Step 29:  Repeat steps 27 & 28 with the remaining layer.  The one that isn’t cute.


Step 30:  Commence the happy dance of joy.  You’re finished.


Maddy Post 2RJ