8 years: 8 giveaways

Eight years ago I started this blog as a place where I would document my gardening. It was anonymous and private.

I wrote:

I have journaled about gardening and subsequent life endeavors ever since I managed an organic tomato and grape farm in the Rattlesnake Valley in Missoula, Montana. In journaling I recorded things I would likely forget like…start beets earlier next year or don’t ever plant anything in the southwest corner of the garden because my lame neighbor’s unruly, weedy, eyesoreish tree will completely block the sun by June…that kind of stuff.

A blog seems much more permanent and less likely to be left in the arugula row during an April deluge. Although those crinkled, barely readable pages offer nostalgia, really the whole point is for the information to be available the following year. And who doesn’t love to save paper?

Every year I can’t wait for this day. The first day I get to dig in the dirt, count worms and hope for a great tomato year. It is exciting and disappointing–I always wish I had done something differently the year before.

This space has grown and evolved in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I published that post. This space gave me the courage and purpose to leave my museum work to write and make and – mostly – be home with my kids.

This space doesn’t exist without you. Thank you for your thoughtful conversations, your wit, your wisdom, your humor, your support of our family business. I say we are all in this together a lot and you, dear ones, are a testament to that truth. I am happy to be in this life with you, where we make our own definitions of Rich and Success. Where we strive for the most authentic, brave-hearted versions of ourselves. Where we notice, give, receive and love what we love. Thank you.

In celebration of 8 years I am giving away 8 things to 8 of you chickens! Simply leave a comment below by Friday, March 28. I will announce winners here! Sometimes it’s nice to have a comment assignment so here is one for you (only if you’d like!): Sincerely, how are you? How is your day going?

Winners announced next to each item below! xoxo

1. Jar of our plum jam, label by Margot.

WINNER: Tessa Gochtovtt-Stine
I’m a big fan of your blog, you, your family, and your chickens. Pick me because I just bought a little farm house and all of those things are calling me

2. Bag, handmade by my friend’s mom out of crocheted plastic sacks.

WINNER: Jesse B
Happy Anniversary! I am so glad you chose to start the blog…love your attitude about life & kids & the outdoors!

3. Handmade beaded earrings.

WINNER: Nicole Booker Reynolds
Your blog is such a special place. I truly cherish it. Blog on, sistah!

4. Set of two of my photographs (from my exhibit Sow, Mend), mounted on ironwood and ready to hang.

WINNER: Ann
Hi! What a great time it has been! I’ve found your site when Ruby was just born. I was searching for something about gardening and just stumbled upon you. I have never looked back. What a great experience it’s been for me to learn from you (apricot-fig bars) and admire your fun loving attitude! I’ve bought your beautiful handmade wares for our little cousins, too. Even when you lost dear Alice, our dog, Daisy, was in the last month of her battle with cancer. I cried right along with you. Thank you for sharing with all of us all this time.

Much Love,
Ann

5. Vintage linen tablecloth and 6 matching napkins.

Jessica says:
Today I spoke to my brother for the first time in two years. I’m a perfect mix of heartbroken, sad and at peace that I heard from him. He had actually left a little grocery bag of punch, brownies, bbq chips and Swiss rolls at my doorstep yesterday. I had peeked out the window when I heard the door knock but i didn’t answer it because I didn’t recognize the old pickup truck. My brother has never been kind to me. And a lot of pieces in my family have been broken for a long time. Once I saw what the bag contained, I knew in my heart who it was from. As silly as it sounds, punch and Swiss rolls and bbq chips are so “him.” I can’t get it out of my head… Picturing him buying each item at the little convient store across the street. And the way he perfectly placed it at my door step so the wind couldn’t blow it over. It was just so “him” to do that. I can see the kindness in his hard heart. So much of me loves him and forgives him but so much of me is scared too. I’m not sure if I can have a relationship with him anymore. He’s hurt me deeply. Which makes the punch, bbq chips, brownies and Swiss rolls all the more heartbreaking. I never thought I could look at a brownie and cry. Anyway, I decided to speak with sincerity. Thank you for asking, friend.

6. Book: Steal Like an Artist.

WINNER: Liz
I didn’t know I was the type of person to lose myself in a blog, like I did with yours right after I gave birth. I absorbed years of your life during those hours of early breastfeeding. I developed a strange lip allergy (?). I was dog-tired (SO TIRED). I got sick. My excema came back. Your blog soothed me. Thank you. I don’t know how I stumbled upon it but man did it help me. How am I today? Studying for yoga teacher training, mostly rested, waiting for my just turned one year old to wake up. Pretty damn good I would say. I LOVE the art. Thanks again.

7. Heart hot pad, made by me.

WINNER: Mica
Happy Blog Anniversary! I used to read many blogs, but you should feel honored that yours is the ONLY one I still read. I adore your little writing space and feel motivated and empowered by your words at times. ;) As for my comment assignment, I am doing great today! Sitting on my boys’ floor as they fall asleep.

8. $50 gift certificate to my shop.

WINNER: Catherine
I’ve followed you for 5 years. I love your words and the impact they have on me – encouraging me to think deeper, feel more fully and be more aware of my world. I have appreciated having your voice to come to. (And the inspiration for my novice gardening attempts!) And now being a mother I love your words even more. Your writing is so honest and refreshing. You have created a wonderful space and I enjoy visiting so much. Thank you for that. I think there are a lot of voices out there and I am so glad yours is one. Congrats on 8 years!
Take care! And PS your tomato pie recipe is a FAVORITE in my house!

With gratitude,
Nici

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A day.

It is only an hour time difference but it feels like the moon is tugging against the sun, a force that keeps me in bed. I am tired but I am wide awake. I get up.

Andy is up next. We sit across the living room from each other with our coffee. Sunlight creates a sharp warmth across the billions of pet hairs on the floor. We talk in the quiet, about big and little stuff. About how to be there for a friend in crisis, about planting spinach, money, chicken run expansion, our disagreement last night, skiing. Our pets vie for our attention. The sun spills across the entire room now. The kids wake up and nudge our thoughts into present tense.

Mom, make your hippie pancakes!

Blond bed heads, nightgowns, bare feet, bruised shins.

Margot immediately, furiously pens the book she’s been working on. It is called The Poor but Happy Village. She takes a break from that story line to spend some time copying several books for practice. I think about how her teacher says she is reading “below benchmark” and decided, again, not to think another thing of it. Continue reading

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LE BAM: 20-minute knit skirt

Yesterday, after many days with plans I put my foot down. I felt like my words enunciated and firm as my children bounced and asked if friends could come over for the fifth day in a row.

No playdates today. We are going home and hanging out. I pushed through the protests. Truth is, I am an introvert in that I recharge alone or with my immediate family and sometimes I short circuit over the number of children and continually hopping about in my kitchen. I love it and then I need quiet time.

It’s hard for me to admit that. Because I definitely, deeply appreciate that my kids and their pals love it here. And I love kids and loud-living-loving life and…I don’t need to justify this anymore. Every so often, I need a savasana in the middle of the asking and answering and dance parties and the snack making (holy shit I am pretty sure first grade girls are as hungry as 13 year old boys). What if I just busted out my yoga mat and corpse pose in the middle of a Katy Perry jump rope performance?

So, yesterday. Margot has been carrying around fabric, dreaming up a skirt in her head and we decided to go ahead and make it. One for Ruby too, of course. After snacks, of course.

I am all about simple lines, functional wear, no-fuss patterns and bonus if it is a quick make. My girls both prefer soft, stretchy knit fabrics. Margot likes capri leggings with tall socks, layers, tucking in and interesting accessories. Ruby likes very fitted leggings or tights, long sleeved shirts that end exactly at her wrist bone, a line skirts and changing her clothes every six minutes. They also prefer “slippery” skirts that don’t stick to cotton leggings.

This skirt meets every single one of the points in that paragraph up there!

*LE BAM*

Le Bam is our new phrase of choice, invented by Andy’s uncle because it is Mabel’s name backwards and it totally fits because she moves like a slinky, leaps like popcorn and does crazy things like jump off our second story deck (that really happened. she is fine.). 

The skirt. A simple knit skirt using a straight stitch on the sewing machine; any machine can sew this skirt. It’s only four pieces and only requires four straight stitchings. A raw edge at the bottom eliminates the need to finish with a turned hem. Continue reading

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nervously, wistfully, thankfully

Everyone says

Last year at this time we were skiing in the streets.

Either nervously, wistfully or thankfully. We might not have the adverb in common but we do have the noticing in common: it’s unusually warm for February in western Montana. My garlic is coming up, my fruit trees budding. People are jogging in shorts. There are rumors of early bear activity in the hills.

There is a new space to our days that we don’t dare fill up. Our kids pick out their clothes and dress themselves, unload the dishwasher, feed the animals, remind me to return library books, argue and work it out.

We revel in the gloriousness of existing in this state of funky symbiosis, this new place on our life map. Things feels easy in ways they weren’t for years: we aren’t needed like we were; our offspring play together for hours in imaginary worlds and help themselves to snacks. And things feel hard in ways they weren’t for years: navigating this world where my daughters are further away than on my hip or further away than I can shout, bounding up the hillside deep into their own, bright self-discovery.

Margot: OK honey, and what would you like to eat?

Ruby: Oregano Soup

Margot, whispering and out of character: No Ruby, it has to be something I can spell. Like Lucy Soup or Phoebe Soup or…

Ruby: Oh ok. I’d like Ellie Soup please. And a side of Daddy Ice Cream.

There are still plenty of MAMAAAAAs singing from their bedroom as they sort out who gets to wear the tall green socks or sob over Ruby drawing a kitty in Margot’s secret diary without asking. Continue reading

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Essentially: on our sweet smelling medicine cabinet

One of my most frequently asked questions is about our use of essential oils. I am learning as I go here (and obviously not a medical professional) but thought I’d share a bit about our use of oils, particularly to treat the flu last week. There’s an epic giveawy down there too! Additional resource, a piece I wrote for eHow: 9 Ways to Use Essential Oils to Improve Family Health.

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Like most kids in the 8os I ate antibiotics with breakfast. Anytime I felt any way other than great I feel like I took antibiotics. Noticing that my kids have each had antibiotics one time and that medicine in general seems different than it was when I was a kid, I asked my mom about it. Because my mom knows everything.

Me: What was medicine like when you were a kid? Did you take prescription medicine preventatively like I did when I was a kid?

Mom: No. When we were sick, my mother started with humidifiers, mustard packs, Vick’s VapoRub. She pushed fluids. We rested and ate popsicles on the couch and she kissed our foreheads.

Me: What is a mustard pack?!

Mom: Oh they were wonderful! I don’t know why I never gave them to your brother and you. Your dad grew up with them too, to treat his allergies. Hold on. Let me google it. Here:

Mustard Plasters (also known as Mustard Packs) have been used for centuries throughout the world as a natural folk remedy. Although they have been used to treat maladies from gout to sciatica, today we will focus on its usefulness in treating chest & lung congestion. As we enter the cold and flu season, if you get sick and can feel or hear phlegm in your lungs when you cough and you are finding it hard to cough the phlegm up and out, the mustard plaster can help.

Mustard is a rubefacient, which means it stimulates blood circulation through dilation of the capillaries, which, when applied over the lungs will help open them up and encourage expectoration of mucous that may be trapped. One of the reasons you want to stimulate coughing and moving the phlegm is that it can help prevent infection in the lungs and conditions such as bacterial pneumonia & bronchitis.

You mix dry mustard and flour and warm water and apply to cheesecloth and wrap the torso.

Me: How did your experiences with treating illness when you were a kid translate into your mothering of Travis and me?

Mom: I think when I was little I was taught by my mother (who was an RN) and my dad (pharmaceutical rep) that doctors where to be revered, almost God-like. Not to be questioned, we just accepted one person’s knowledge as the only solution. When you were sick I took you to the doctor to fix it, to make you feel better. I took my childhood reverence of doctors into motherhood. I didn’t really ask about other possible treatments when I was handed a prescription. It’s just what we did. My mom also worked her magic with some holistic healing – which I believe in all of us deep down – and I also took this into motherhood. I believe modern medicine definitely has it’s place, but Mother Nature’s medicine is also very powerful!

Me: Would you have done things differently if you knew what you know now?

Mom: Yes, some. There is power in learning, in understanding how bodies work, how medicine – eastern, western and everywhere in between. I have had many changes in my thinking as I have grown older: I now question information and seek different opinions. I am bold now. I am not timid in my questions. Today, your generation has the benefit of easier access to information and different opinions which I think gives you greater access to your confidence and greater trust in your intuition.

Me: So it is different but mostly the same: we do the best we can with the information we have. Thanks mom. You’re the best.

Mom: Love you Burb. See you on Sunday!

(my mama is coming to town for my birthday)

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Ruby had influenza last week. Continue reading

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