Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jewels' Gems

You Are NOT Invited!
By Jewels Devine

Hello my darlings!  As summer truly gets underway, I find that my mailbox is overflowing with wedding invitations.  After talking with some of today’s brides, I am not sure how Big Daddy and I managed to get married without the aide of smartphones, Pinterest, and the help of online forums.  I have come to realize that the trends are a lot different now, from how we invited guests to wedding fashions and all things in between. 

I was raised to believe that the wedding day was all about celebrating the happy couple as they begin their journey as husband and wife.  It appears that is no longer the case.  We now have social media; which is a key part in weddings and a new way to entertain our guest while they celebrate the bride and groom’s union.  Really?!

After all these years, Big Daddy and I are still enjoying our honeymoon phase.  Technically I don’t have to keep up with wedding trends.  (But you know me my darlings; I have a burning desire to be ‘in the know’ and current on all things trendy and important.)  However, I couldn’t help but notice there are some new ones that are a bit on the strange side – at least for this Montana woman. 

I was helping my dear friend’s daughter fill out her invitations and her ‘your are not invited’ cards.  Yes, you have read correctly!  It appears that it is considered the socially polite thing to do to send out cards stating that the person is not invited to the wedding.  Yikes! 

I am not sure who came up with this brainchild of an idea.  I am sure it must have materialized after many drinks trying to plan the perfect wedding.  You know when too much wine and too little sleep makes everything a good idea.

I think it was probably designed for the people who learn that someone they know is getting married and find out they are not getting invited.  Imagine the person waits and waits for their invitation in the mail, as the date of nuptials draw closer, they realize their chance of getting that invitation is slim-to-none.  In hopes of avoiding this awkward moment, the “You’re Not Invited” card was invented. 

I recently read an article that said it was designed for the person who could possibly expect to be invited to a couple’s wedding and, for whatever reason, they are not invited.  They will get sent this card.  The article assured it’s readers that it is not supposed to be mean-spirited.  “Nine out of ten times, it’s because of lack of space – and the couple feels super guilty.  So, if you open up your mail to find a fancy envelope hoping it’s finally that wedding invitation you were hoping to get – don’t get your hopes up.”

It’s been a long time since I got married and I know that things have changed.  However, good manners and common sense should always survive the passing of time.   Hopefully this silly trend will not!

Ta Ta,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Petals, Projects & Pizzazz

Caring for Fresh Cut Hydrangeas

By Lisa Levandowski

Hydrangeas are a popular flower any time of year, but especially now. Unfortunately, sometimes they wilt within hours of cutting or purchasing them.  To enjoy a fresh and beautiful arrangement for as long as possible, try the following tips.

For starters, when harvesting flowers from your garden, take a fresh bucket of water with you and cut the blooms in the morning.  This is when the stems are most hydrated.  Immediately upon cutting, place them into the bucket of water.  Once you've gathered what you want, take the flowers inside.
Here are two methods that have been continually successful:
Method 1: Boil some water and pour it into a container.  Recut the hydrangea to the desired length and place the stem in the boiling water for 30 seconds.  Remove stem and put directly into room temperature water and begin arranging.  (This method also often works on hydrangeas that are already arranged and beginning to wilt).
Method 2:  Purchase Alum from your local grocery store (usually available in spice aisle).  As you
arrange, recut each stem, dip lower 1/2" of stem in powdered alum and place stem in desired location of arrangement.  This is the best method when arranging hydrangeas in oasis (floral foam).

From all of us at Glacier Wallflower & Gifts happy arranging, and remember to stop in or visit our website for all your floral needs.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lipstick Logic

Back to Nature

By Betty Kuffel, MD

A walk in the woods and relaxing in nature improves health. For children, experiences in nature can also open new doors and set them dreaming. Serious health problems such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes may be the products of unmanaged stress. In the fast pace of the American lifestyle, both minds and bodies suffer. After a stressful day it is important to wind down and find peace. A recent scientific study found white blood cell levels, heart rate, blood pressure and the stress hormone, cortisol, all improved with a walk in the forest. Nature is healing for both children and adults.

With so many electronic gadgets available to entertain everyone these days, children and adults are less active. Children, in particular, do not experience nature as they did in the past. The author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv, links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation to some of the most disturbing childhood trends including the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

June is here. It is time to plan summer activities. The irises are up and the song birds are back. Squirrels and chipmunks that survived the cold winter are chirping and practicing new antics to get at backyard bird feeders. Kids will be out of school soon and have energy to burn. Do you want to feel young again and full of energy? Dream up some projects for yourself and the kids: build something, dig some dirt, plan some hikes, turn off the television and stretch your imagination.

Back in the olden days, not so long ago, we had no Internet, no social media, no Game Boys, and yet, as children, we entertained ourselves with no trouble at all. My friends and I would climb trees and explore forest trails. We’d be gone for hours. Our parents thought nothing of our disappearances as long as we made it home around dinnertime, and in the evening when the 10 p.m. whistle blew, we’d better be home. I think that is why I like to hear the nightly siren in Whitefish. It reminds me of my youth in Minnesota.

If you haven’t planted a vegetable garden, you might think about the healthful aspects of eating fresh homegrown vegetables and the fun of digging in the dirt. A friend of mine organized a community garden in her back yard for a group of grade school children. They planted new and interesting veggies: turnips and kohlrabi, white and purple carrots, and lemon cucumbers, along with common edibles such as leaf lettuce.

The kids came each week to weed and water. My friend talked to them about nutrition and meal preparation. Before long, their plants grew and they harvested their crop. She invited the children into her kitchen and gave them each jobs. They prepared beautiful nutritious meals and shared the food. Boys and girls alike enjoyed the classes, ate their vegetables, and brought home recipes to share.

Gardening presents an excellent teaching opportunity to help children learn about the importance of the vegetables they need to eat to maintain a healthy diet. The American Dietetic Association found children who gardened ate more fruits and vegetables.
If you are interested in gardening but not growing vegetables, dig in the dirt and plant flowers. If you choose straw flowers, the children can enjoy watching them grow in the summer and gather them for flower arrangements that will last all year.

Tending birdfeeders and planting gardens are not only fun, they are healthy activities that burn calories. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and makes bones stronger. It lowers blood pressure, relieves stress, improves circulation, lowers cholesterol and boosts the body’s ability to use insulin. Let the kids drag out the hose and use your wheelbarrow to deliver mulch to flower beds. They can hoe the weeds, dig little trenches for planting and drop in the seeds. Sprinkling the beds with water once the seeds are in the ground is fun for them, too.

Building bird houses is instructional and fun. It provides a teaching tool to help children learn to identify different birds as you watch them feed. When you walk in the woods, point out birds and forest creatures. Walking and enjoying nature provides relaxation and health benefits.

A daily walk will also help you sleep better. Sleep is necessary for physical and emotional health. It also improves memory. Help your children let go of electronic leashes and dream.
Another summertime activity in nature that captures the interest of young and old is star gazing. Check out and you will find the dates for some good sky watching in the northern hemisphere. The night of August 12th is one of the most popular meteor showers. It is as if the sky is raining stars. The Perseids shower is named for the constellation Perseus. Picking out constellations on a starlit night is another way to broaden horizons for kids. It might open their interest to astrophysics like it did for a girl I know who will soon complete her PhD in the field.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Keepin' It Real

By Cindy O’Boyle

In the early spring, the weather is fickle. One day is hot and the next could have a light dusting of snow. It is too early for tender herbs to survive the temperature fluctuations, but there are still plenty of herbs that won’t mind a chilly morning or two, and will still grow just fine.   Cilantro is one of my favorite spring herbs.

I grow quite a bit of cilantro from seed. To be honest, it is allowed to escape and reseeds in a specific area. That way, I get the earliest cilantro, AND the latest cilantro that the season offers. This takes the guesswork out of it.
Be sure to start your seeds straight into the ground now. The seeds will tolerate even a light covering of snow, and the minute it is warm enough, they will germinate!
Cilantro is also known as Chinese parsley.  I find that cilantro provides a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage.  Since it is highly perishable, fresh cilantro should always be stored in the refrigerator.  If possible, it should be stored with its roots still attached by placing the roots in a glass of water and covering the leaves with a loosely fitting plastic bag.  If the roots have been removed, wrap the cilantro leaves in a damp cloth or paper towel and place them in a plastic bag.  Whole cilantro will last about one week, while cilantro leaves will last about three days.

Cilantro may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers, yet should not be thawed before use since it will lose much of its crisp texture. Alternatively, you can place it in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews.


Mexican Spice Blend
If your family loves Mexican food as much as mine, you may end up making this mix quite often. It has just the right amount of kick that everyone can enjoy. Add it to ground meat for tacos, burritos and Mexican-themed soups and dips. Adjust the chili powder to get just the right heat.

1/2 Tablespoon Chili powder
1/8 cup epazote leaves, crushed
1/8 cup dried basil leaves, crushed
1/4 cup dried oregano leaves, crushed
1/4 cup dried coriander seeds, ground just before using.

    Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and mix well.
Transfer the herb mix into an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.

Cilantro Chili-Lime Cashew Pesto
Cilantro, parsley, chili-lime cashews, and lime juice are blended together in this spicy version of a classic pesto sauce.

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup chili-lime cashews
1/2 cup olive oil         
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese

1.         Put the cilantro, parsley, lime juice, cashews, olive oil, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and grated cheese into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is smooth, 8 to 10 pulses. If mixture is too thick, add more olive oil; if too thin, add more cashews.
2.         Pour into 4 one-cup freezer containers. Use one container within a few days; freeze the others for later.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

By The Verse

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

I WANDER’D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at one I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my hear with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Keepin' It Real


By Cindy O’Boyle

Saffron is the stigma of the saffron crocus flower and is largely cultivated and harvested by hand.  It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice and is considered to be one of the world’s most expensive spices, due to the amount of labor involved in harvesting.

The bright orange spice has a strong honey-like smell and taste.  Although most saffron is now produced in Spain, it is often used in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines.  This spice is popular with seafood dishes, risottos and paella to enhance the flavor. 

Saffron is available in threads (whole stigmas) and ground.  Your best bet is to go with threads.  Not only will they retain their flavor longer, but you will be assured you have purchased pure saffron.

Powdered saffron is not as strong, tends to lose flavor, and is also easily mixed with fillers and imitations.  Since so little is needed, you will find ground saffron sold in packets of about 1/16 of a teaspoon, and threads equaling about ¼ gram, or ½ teaspoon.  These seemingly small amounts will often flavor more than one dish.

If you cannot find saffron on your local markets spice shelves, try asking at the service desk.  Saffron is often hidden in the office to thwart would-be thieves. 

A Portrait of An Artist

 Karen Leigh
By Rena Desmond

On a cold wintery day in January I was determined to be one of the first in line at FVCC to register for the Senior Institute Watercolor class taught by Karen Leigh. In the past I always registered by mail. This time was different. Several people told me that this class fills up quickly. When I arrived there were a lot of senior citizens already in line. My only hope was that I was early enough to have made the cutoff. I finally arrived at the registration desk, paid my fee and held my breath while the young man put my information into the computer. He looked up and said, “You’re all set.” I have to say that it was all worth it. From the time the class started, I was transformed. I was amazed at how I was able to shut out everything else and concentrate on painting. I shared this with Karen during our interview and she said, “You have transitioned from the left side of your brain to your right side. This is very healthy.”

Karen Leigh is a 4th generation Montanan who has lived in the Flathead Valley near Glacier National Park since 1970. She grew up in Great Falls, east of the mountains. Her great grandfather was Cornelius Hedges. As a young attorney with degrees from Harvard and Yale, he headed west, leaving his wife and young son behind.  He hoped to find his fortune in Virginia City, Montana. He didn’t find his fortune there, so he moved to Helena, where he opened up a law practice and then sent for his family. He later became one of the most influential men in Montana history. While visiting Yellowstone Park with the Langford-Doane Expedition he suggested that it become a national park. It became the first one in the world. He was the first superintendent of schools for the territory of Montana and rode horseback to visit all the schools in his district. Cornelius Hedges elementary school continues to educate the youth of Kalispell and can be seen from Karen’s studio window. She is very proud of her history.

I asked her if anyone was artistic in her family. She said, “Half of my family is English and the other half is Norwegian. They were immigrants and they farmed. My mother had very good taste. She was good at decorating, she set a beautiful table and dressed with great style but didn't draw or paint. So, I really didn't know where the artistic part of me came from, but I always knew, even as a little kid, that it was what I wanted to do.”

About 15 years ago she visited a cousin of hers who lived in one of those old big houses in Helena. They were chatting about family history when he said, “I want to show you something.” She followed him upstairs and at the end of a long dark hallway was a watercolor in an old dark frame that was done in 1890 by Cornelius Hedges’ niece, Margaret Hedges Atwater. She was a part of the family that stayed east. Karen said, “The painting looked like I had done it, it was absolutely shocking.” Of course she asked her cousin if she could take it home to reframe it and have it archived, and he obligingly agreed. She still has the painting in her studio. On the back of the painting is written, Margaret Atwater, April 19th, 1890 Provincetown, Mass. This discovery prompted some research. Karen knew that Margaret had attended Smith College, so she phoned the archivist there and found out that Margaret and her classmates kept up a round robin letter for many years. Oddly enough, Karen and her sorority sisters have kept a round robin letter going as well. Smith College has copies of all these letters and pictures, and sent them to Karen.  Margaret studied in Paris for two years before returning to the states and continued painting for the rest of her life. For Karen it was really exciting to find out who she acquired her artistic talent from. She would say, “I didn’t choose art, ART chose me.” Art is her passion.

Karen’s parents were always supportive of letting her paint. She attended Montana State University and received a degree in graphic design. Her mother said she must also have a teaching degree. She remains grateful to her mother because she probably wouldn’t have done it otherwise. After graduation she moved to Seattle and worked for a screen printing firm. She realized quickly that she was at the bottom rung and she would never have a vacation of any length to fulfill her dream to travel. She then taught for 3 years in Great Falls, where she met her future husband. They lived in Germany for several years and in Helena until her husband took a job with the Forest Service in Kalispell. Karen had loved this area since she was a child, and besides, her sister and her family lived here. She has been here since.

Karen’s primary interest has always been transparent watercolor and she has studied under a number of well-known painters, including Irving Shapiro, Al Brouillette, Skip Lawrence and Joseph Zbukvic.  Always on the lookout for ‘accidental magnificence’, she is particularly interested in finding beauty in unexpected places.

She thought that one day she would like to teach a class in watercolor, so she carried a small portfolio under her arm into the Dean of Instruction's office at FVCC and asked if she could teach a summer school class. He agreed. The college at that time was located on Main Street in the old Elks building, where she taught her very first class. The college then moved her class to the Old Depot Building that now houses the Chamber of Commerce. When some of the classes moved to Central School, her favorite classroom was located on the second floor in the northeast corner of the building. She remembers the beautiful tall windows, the 18 foot ceilings and the north and west light.  Then the College moved to the new building on the present campus. And lo and behold, she is still there after some 40 years.

Over the years she has taught many different classes, such as drawing, calligraphy and design. Little by little she has narrowed it down and now she teaches just watercolor, her first love. She teaches classes in her studio occasionally for 1 or 2 students and does workshops all around the state by invitation. She has taken 2 or 3 groups overseas to paint. On her first trip she traveled with 12 women to France. Her daughter, an artist also, proved to be a very good interpreter as well. A visit to Monet's Gardens was a must. On Mondays the gardens are closed to the general public, but with permission from the Monet Foundation they let a few artists in to paint. Karen was lucky enough to bring her class and spend the entire day all by themselves in Monet’s Gardens. She describes the experience as absolutely magical. She has also traveled abroad to Venice, Italy with students, and had the privilege of taking in some of the most beautifully inspiring and historic scenery an artist could dream of seeing in person.

I visited with one of Karen’s students (Bill) who started taking classes from her when she was teaching at Central School.  Bill was in the very first class she taught, and lo and behold there he was in the class I took in January of 2013. She keeps up with what’s going on in the watercolor world. She is always bringing in new ideas. Bill has worked on several series. Her classes are always full but she tries to accommodate everyone who is interested in joining the group. She thinks everyone has the ability to make art and she convinces them that they can do a tremendous job. Certainly for FVCC she has been a real asset. Bill said that, “I’m certainly no artist, but she makes me think that I can paint.”

Inspired by the beauty and spirit of her native Montana, she has painted many landscapes. Although landscapes are beautiful and work very well for teaching purposes, she loves the city, urban landscapes and New York. Just give her a city with fire escapes, garbage cans and junkyards and she will find wonderful subject matter. In the summertime she loves to take her students outside to paint because they have the whole day. Some of her favorite spots include Schlegel's Heavy Equipment (down on Hwy 93) or Somers Antiques. She likes to make something beautiful out of things that many people would not normally find pleasing to look at, and looks for inspiration in unexpected places.  She thinks many artists go through different phases, such as the flower phase, the landscape phase and figure and portrait phase.

For ten years, in collaboration with calligrapher Gini Ogle, she produced an published a line of prints, posters, calendars, and note cards which were marketed under the name of Echo Designs.  Karen maintains a studio in the newly renovated Eastside Brick, formerly the local hospital constructed in 1911.  You can also view her work on her website at

One of the many other things she loves to do is work in her sketchbooks. I was honored that she brought 3 of them for me to look at. As I paged through them, I was transported to other places and times. She captured the history, architecture, and the warmth of the people in Venice and Romania. All her sketchbooks are done on location. She says sometimes she doesn’t get all the color but she gets the shape; I find all of her work beautiful.

The year 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of Karen Leigh’s career teaching watercolor classes at FVCC. Through her teaching Karen has helped countless students realize their artistic aspirations. Her work is included in the collections of Beringer Wineries, ConAgra Industries and the Smithsonian. She is a signature member of the Montana Watercolor Society. She received the Gold Medal in its 2006 National Juried Show and the President’s Award in 2008. She was selected to design an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree and was honored at a reception hosted by First Lady Laura Bush at the White House. She was also selected for inclusion in the 2008 and 2009 C.M. Russell “Masters in Miniature” invitational.

You can rest assured that I will be one of the first senior citizens in line at FVCC to register for Karen Leigh’s watercolor class. You know, she did make me think that I could paint.