June 7, 2013


Mid-May Montana Mountain Mayhem: A Mountain Man 40th Birthday Celebration

Hello fellow Little Fizzies!  I am TheMistressT (of Suddenly Surrounded by Taxidermy). Tiffany has consulted on and encouraged my preparations for my man's (a.k.a. The ManFlesh) 40th birthday party all the months I spent preparing for it.  I asked her if I could share with you and she accepted! What follows is the long story of Mid-May Montana Mountain Madness, a.k.a MV (pronounced "Em Five"). 

Please be warned that Mountain Men can have salty language sometimes and there are a few rather impressive cuss words on the invitation in the first photo; after that you're safe. 

Last autumn we moved from Portland, Oregon where I'd been most of my life and The ManFlesh has been since his mid teens (we're middle-aged now) to outside a small town in Montana.  He turned 40 this spring and we only know a couple people here, so to properly celebrate we needed "The Dudes" to come out for a visit, so I went about making a big production out of it to help tempt them.  And, get this, it worked.  YES!

We had lived in the city and now we live in the woods on a mountain, so we definitely had to go with a mountain man theme.  I found this PERFECT image via Fab & wished we could have afforded to buy everyone a t-shirt (we originally were expecting 7 guests, 5 men, 2 women +us), but we could not so I used it & this log font to print up these invitations.  Of course, they'd all be invited via text (like guys do), but we thought a cool looking paper invitation would be a better lure.

I wanted to do favors in a Mountain Man theme, but they needed to be Dude-friendly, fun/funny, inexpensive & moderately quick to make 9 to 11 of each (2 local friends might be joining our initial number of 9 including us).

 What I finally came up with:
Hats with detachable mountain man beards
Beer holsters
Navel Lint brushes (for the guys)
Leather keychains (for the ladies)
All in galvanized buckets (well, "cachepots" from Ikea)
    labeled with magnets using another image borrowed from the same artist as the t-shirts

First I made the hats!  I bought both black and brown costume fur for the beards and camouflage printed polar fleece for the hats.  I had shopped for a pattern all over the world (wide web) and not found one with as much contour as I wanted, so I turned a couple of our store-bought hats inside out and made a pattern based on those.  I can see where mine could use some fine-tuning if I keep making them, but they're just fine for mountain man-themed favors.  The ladies' beards had hot pink bows!



We ended up with 3 out-of-town guests having to cancel (both ladies and one guy) and our local friends didn't attend any of the festivities at the house, so the much anticipated group shot of the beard hats is just the 5 guys. I hope one of them has a shot of me in mine with the pink bow.  (They did, but you can't see the pink bow.  If you're interested you can see it here in the slideshow I posted on Suddenly Surrounded by Taxidermy.

As you can see, that is too much man for one hot tub; the water is overflowing.

I'm happy to say that the dudes wore the hats for many activities as it got cool here during their weekend stay and was told that "the hats saved [them]" on their rafting trip, especially the half-hour of rain/hail they endured on the river.  YEY!

The construction of the hats left me with a bunch of camo fleece scraps in diamond and triangle shapes.  Once I saw those triangles, I knew I had to make a bunting for the front deck!  So I cut most of the diamonds in half to make more triangles, dug up some plain ol' kitchen string and stitched the fleece to the string with a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine.


 I'm not entirely sure The Dudes noticed the bunting or realized it was an MV specific decoration, but The ManFlesh did and was appropriately appreciative and impressed. 

Next I whipped up these navel lint brushes based on one I picked up at a holiday bazaar for The ManFlesh.  They're just chenille stems glued into beads. I didn't find plain wood beads that were suitable (I didn't bother going to a bead store), but I did find these fake (and fake-looking) turquoise and bone beads which I thought were western/pioneer/mountain man enough.

The ladies cancelled before I made the key chains, so they didn't get made.  I do have the hardware, though, and a bag of cool leather scraps from a friend who designs furniture for an East Coast furniture company, so...

Next up, beer holsters!  I had originally thought I'd get canteens and make faux suede, fringed covers and had started the search for canteens which was proving difficult to get nine to eleven the same at a good price and preferably not plastic.  Then I happened upon a similar holster in leather, did a bunch of online searching and combined the features of several different sources to make mine... in vinyl to make it both economical and easy to work with.  Added bonus, they could go in the hot tub!  Alas, they did not.


 When I presented The ManFlesh with the idea he like it, but said, "what about cocktails?"  Good point, The ManFlesh, good point.  So I saved and cleaned beer bottles, cleaned off the labels, & etched everyone's initials into them.  It turned out that with our original cast of characters there were multiple people with the same first initials (2-Js, 2-Ms and 2-Gs).  Luckily, one of the Js goes by JP, so I just did double initials for him.  Another bit of luck was that one each of the Ms and the Gs were male and female, so I just did different fonts for the guys and the ladies.  They all took their bottles with them, so maybe they'll use them for cocktails or even for vases.  You know how dudes love vases.


 For labels, it seemed appropriate to take advantage of the ferrous quality of the buckets, so I printed them up on card stock and attached a magnet with 2-sided tape.  I borrowed the image, and added the speech balloon and name using the same fonts for the dudes and ladies as I used on the bottles.  The bear shouting the names cracks both The ManFlesh and me right up.  I wasn't expecting The Dudes to consider the labels as favors, but they did and took them home with them!  I bet a few will even stick 'em on their fridges.  I almost wish I'd used better magnets.


Aside from favors and bunting there were a few other party-details:

Of course, our dogs (a.k.a. the Beastie Grrrlz) are good hostesses and members of our crew, so they got camouflage Collar Cozies with safety orange top stitching to wear for the event!

This is Betty, our almost 3-year old. You can see Delia, our almost 2 year old, by following the slideshow link above.

I made Mavis, a ceramic deer head with holes for improvising antlers that is hanging in our living room, a special safety-orange fleece hat and let her wear the prototype beard. 


The ManFlesh and I worked together on a cornhole set.


He put it together which was extra cool since woodworking is not one of his hobbies and I have more experience with that kind of thing.  I filled and painted the tops using paint we had on hand (black & purple, his favorite color). And how serendipitous that I had appropriate fabrics in my stash to make the cornbags!  We got lucky and there is just enough room in our shop to set up the game when it is not sunny or warm outside!  It's just a few feet shy of the regulation 27 feet (d'oh!).  Two of our guests stayed up allllll night one night playing, drinking, listening to a hip-hop Pandora station, and smack talking.  Now that's a party.  And our view includes some pretty nice sunrises, so this way at least some guests got to see one.

When we were expecting to host 7 guests + the 2 of us, I realized the towel situation around here was inadequate.  I found a few on sale, but of course I wanted some that would go with our future bathroom decor which meant differentiating whose towel was whose could be an issue and despite what you may have heard, TheMistressT is not a gal who likes to share her towel with just any dude.  So I got the bright idea to make tags!


 I made big initials using MSWord and printed them out as patterns that I transferred on to vinyl scraps I had on hand.  Again, multiple people with the same initials, but different sexes so guys got "elephant hide" and ladies got "bronze".  Of course, with our final headcount it mattered less and made a less impressive photo with the tags installed on the stack of towels.  

To help minimize hostess and hosting duties, I went ahead and made labels for the bathroom cabinets so The Dudes would know where to find toilet paper.  No one claimed to have been jilted on the TP, but no one replaced empty rolls or staged a fresh roll when the current one was almost empty, either.  So I can't say if the signs worked or not.  Dudes. [shakes head]  The arrow version is the one as seen while seated.  Ahem.

 And since this is probably as close to a house warming party that we'll have, I did a thing that I had done for my last house warming party that people seemed to enjoy and also may have saved some embarrassment as to commentary about "when are you going to change that?" if we'd already changed it. [wink]  I printed up some before pics and taped them up so they could see the work we've been doing.
Here's the main post on Suddenly Surrounded By Taxidermy about this bathroom redecoration, the first project in our new place.
And finally, it seems there are 2 kinds of guests to our place; those that easily find it and those that don't.  It's really not hard, but I think that if you're not used to Forest Service- and private, unpaved, mountain roads it may be a bit confusing as to which is a road and which is a long driveway, etc.  So I put up a few signs at key "intersections" to guide them the last half-mile.
Under the names you can see a sign with MV and an arrow pointing left on it using that log font from the invitations.

Whew!  Thank you, Tiffany, for letting me share MV with your readers!  And for letting me finish off with a bunch of links to ME, ME, ME!
  • If you're interested in reading about a city lady's (mis) adventures in the mountains (i.e. redecorating my new-to-me 1970s house, getting to know the flora and fauna of the Bitterroot Valley, etc.) I'd love to have you visit my blog: http://suddenlytaxidermy.blogspot.com/
  • I make fun and funky things for people that I sell at craft shows and in my etsy shop: Bubble Off Plumb Productions.
  • I also make fun and functional things for dogs in my other etsy shop: GreatBigBeautifulDog 
  • And finally, I WAS IN A BOOK!  If you or someone you love or someone you're obligated to buy a gift for loves Star Trek and is crafty, consider this fine publication where you'll find my project, a Star Trek Dog Vest, on page 50!


  1. This is awesome! My favorite was, "You know how dudes love vases."

    (Side note: I say "dude" a lot. Like, enough that I've gotten teased for being a 30 year old east coaster that still says, "Dude.")

    I'm curious how TheMistressT fed all these dudes for the weekend. I'm guessing there were some hearty man-meals with meat and BBQ and all the manly things men like?

  2. Also, is TheMistressT serious about the ManFlesh's favorite colors? I have dude friends that would absolutely rock a purple and black corn hole game, but this is Raven's country. Purple alone, maybe not. Purple and Black means you are a Raven's fan. ;)

  3. Hiya Jenn! Thanks for commenting and gushing! I love gushing! Regarding your first question: Not only does TheMistressT not use just any dude's towel, she doesn't cook. PROBLEM SOLVED. Well, not really. Luckily, these particular Dudes are all foodie/wino/restaurant types, so The ManFlesh made this delish pork/veg chili that we serve over grits and top with a fried egg on their first night (it's a crock pot recipe and I think it's from a Cook's Illustrated issue this past autumn). They went rafting the next morning and picked up bites on the way to the river. The second night we went to this fab pizza joint that we describe as "the only Portland quality food we've found so far." The next morning a couple of The Dudes made breakfast (late) and then that evening we went out to a local bar/restaurant that has great sammies and claims to have great calzones although we haven't tried them yet. There were assorted snacks around for between times. For some reason lunch was unnecessary or I missed them. Had the weather been better we totally would have grilled out, though.

    Regarding the colors: I made a confusing sentence. Just the purple is his favorite. Luckily, he's comfortable enough with his manhood to love purple and not care if someone doesn't approve. I also love purple, so this works well for us! His second favorite is green, but he doesn't necessarily think they look good together in general. In that case, he is wrong. :)

  4. Do you have the direct link to the original graphic you used for the invitations? I've searched Fab and can't find it anywhere. And I really love it. :)

  5. Haha, that's really comic... i love the hats :D


Let's chat! Comments welcome :D