A Walk in River’s Edge Park

It is a gorgeous almost-spring day today.  The sun is shining brightly, warming us through our coats. We decided to take a walk to River’s Edge Park with Murphy the Giant Puppy and the boys.  For its size, Columbia Falls boasts a number of nice parks (11, to be exact).  They contain playground equipment, picnic tables, etc…the normal park trappings.

862701_10151341441895886_728078854_nRiver’s Edge Park is special–it is a wide open space of nearly 30 acres and hosts approximately 900 feet of river front.  It is home to the Columbia Falls Community Garden, where I spend a whole lot of quality time during the growing season.889414_10151341449165886_11003922_oThere is a muskrat pond, two vast fields, and many winding trails throughout our park.889431_10151341417550886_1679454516_oIt is our favorite place to walk the dog.862853_10151341384630886_1497974652_nAnd to watch the birds.862749_10151341414350886_87816034_nTo sit and watch the river flow by.

862829_10151341420685886_91685741_n (1)To throw rocks into the water.

803975_10151341422765886_1868998929_nTo ride bikes.


To take the dog swimming.

Just another reason to feel lucky to live in the Flathead Valley.

Newfie = Dirt!

Murphy, our Newfoundland, is truly the most beautiful dog I have ever seen, but she is also the dirtiest.   If you have a Newf, you know that they are pretty much dirt and water sponges.  Most dogs bring in some mud when the snow starts to melt, but Murphy takes it to an entirely new level.


Baby Murphy in her pool last summer.

Newfies have what we call “feathers” on the back of their legs.  We may as well call them mops, because they collect every bit of moisture with which they come into contact–and hold it.  Murphy usually thinks this is a good time to try to sit on the couch or on your lap.  One cute thing–whenever Murph gets wet, her hair kinks up as if she had been left in a room with my old high school crimping iron.

Can you see the crimps in her ear fur?

Can you see the crimps in her ear fur?

Now, I understand that most dogs shed.  I am perfectly used to puffs of dog fur dancing around the floor each time the heat turns on.  What Murphy brings to the game is dirt.  When she gets up from the floor, left behind is a giant dog shaped dirt shadow.


Just a few hours worth of Murphy leftovers from our family room floor…

On our walk today. Murphy found one of the last remaining patches of snow and rolled all around in it, as she is wont to do.  It reminded me of a chinchilla taking a dust bath–when she arose (or was tugged back into the street for our walk), the clean white snow had a lovely, brownish doggie-shaped outline.


Yes, Murph–please wait until you are inside to shake! Love you!

Bits of dog biscuits stuck in her jowls are released onto her “napkin”, otherwise known as the rug in front of the hearth.   She is fond of putting her chin on your sleeve–and when she leaves, a nice slimy trail of dog slobber  undoubtedly remains.  Don’t bother wearing nice clothes to my house…Newfs also like to present their paws to everyone, and dainty, she is not.

854711_10151327074365886_574721225_o (1)

A nice shot of one of Murph’s hang out spots

She loves to get into the bathtub after the boys shower–and up on the sink to drink whatever is left in the sink.  It is never a secret when she does this as big muddy paw prints appear wherever she has been.  We try to dry off her feet before she gets too fair into the house or out of the tub, but tug-a-towel is one of her favorite games, which makes things a bit difficult.












There are myriad great reasons to bring a Newfoundland into your family.  However, if cleanliness is your thing, you may want to think again.

Murphy is our favorite great big, dirty, slobbery mess.  We love her to pieces!


Murphy surveying her domain–surprisingly, “her” deck is rather tidy, comparatively speaking. The window I am taking the picture through, however, is not. Newf finger painting!


A Beautiful Day for Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Today was a beautiful day.



It is starting to get a bit cloudy now, but earlier, the sunshine was brilliant–and warm.  That’s another thing I love about NW Montana–even in mid February, when temperatures are in the upper 30s or low 40s, the sun is still warm on your face.


Drying streets are a plus when walking a Newfoundland. Murphy’s feather legs didn’t get soaked today (yesterday she needed mudflaps).

After our walk, I started to make my soup for the work week.  It is such an easy soup, but so delicious, and filling enough that I don’t come home from work wanting to eat everything in my kitchen.  It isn’t complicated, and you could likely find a similar recipe online somewhere.  I like it because it low in calories, high in vitamins, very tasty, and I almost always have all the ingredients in the house.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

You will need:

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes

2-3 cups chicken broth

2 medium to large carrots

1 large yellow onion

3-5 cloves of garlic

3/4 grated parmesan cheese

3 T of chia seeds (these add protein and thicken the soup…I use white, but I’m not sure if it matters)

1/4 cup of basil (I use dried in the winter)

oregano, thyme, bay leaves, black pepper and red pepper (optional) to taste

First, chop up the onions, carrots and garlic.  Nothing needs to be uniform.  Did you know that if you chew gum or suck on a lollipop while cutting onions you won’t cry?  Seriously!

Brown the onions, carrots and garlic in olive oil until the onions are translucent.

A little bit longer...

A little bit longer…

Add the chicken broth, all three cans of tomatoes, the basil, and the rest of the herbs to taste.  I tend to go heavy on the oregano and sometimes I even add in more garlic powder.

Bring to a boil, turn the stove to low, and let the whole concoction simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender (Don’t have one?  Get one, especially if you like to make soup.  No more transferring to the blender!) blend the soup together.  Don’t worry if you have a few chunks left over.  Place the soup back on the heat, and stir in the chia seeds and the parmesan.  It will take a little bit for the chia seeds to soak up and thicken up the soup.  If you don’t mind the calories or the dairy, you can add a splash of milk and or some Neufchatel cheese.

The parmesan and the chia seeds.

The parmesan and the chia seeds.


Ready to serve!

One batch of this soup will provide me with five lunches for the week.  I have used a number of different recipe calculators, and all of them put the recipe at 150-200 calories per serving.

Hope everyone has had a great President’s Day!