It’s hot. Make coconut rice with peas + sage.

It’s summer. I don’t recall a time when temperatures were 104 degrees in June, when fishing was halted for the season, campfires so cautionary, the creek’s water feels like August.

Tomatoes reaching to hold garlic’s twisted hand, kale leaning on cabbage’s shoulder. Flea beetles feasting on potatoes and beans. I plan to blast them with some chrysanthemum love this week.

I shared a photo on instagram a few days ago with this caption

Summer dinners must be ready in 7 minutes or less: fresh baguette oven-toasted with hummus, pesto, sharp cheddar. Piled with lettuce and arugula. Barely blanched peas, Cherries.

This season – with it’s sunset frisbee, playing at the creek until 9, falling into bed smelling of the sun and the earth – well, I don’t take much time to cook. Thankfully, this season – with it’s bounty of fresh food at the ready – allows for easy, delicious dinner in a few minutes. Maybe more than 7, but that’s a good thing to shoot for.

I am inclined to start a new series of Simple Summer Dinners but I think I have proven I am not much the serial type. There was Hump Day Nuggets, In My Grandma’s Kitchen, Heirloom Kitchen

I miss those series a little bit. I think I like the structure until I don’t. Or maybe I get distracted by other, more pressing things in my brain. The truth is I have piles of stories I’d like to tell, recipes I’d like to share, etc. Maybe someday everything here will be tidy and contain my thoughts as they unfold. But I don’t think so; really, that’s not honest for me. Life seems to tug me deeper into the woods, further down stream, higher up the mountain. For now, the woods, the river, the mountain — they keep my ideas safe.

Anyway! I made a simple rice number that got the thumbs up from both kids and grown ups, several times over. In fact, Ruby asked if we could have it every day for the rest of the summer. I told her it is a deal if she promises to pick up the 317 tiny pieces of paper she cuts and tosses all about the house every day. She’s thinking on it.

Coconut Rice with Peas & Sage
serves 6 as a side dish

2 cups jasmine rice
1.5 cups coconut milk (our favorite coconut milk)
handful chives, minced
2 cups peas – I used peas from the garden but frozen peas would work fabulously too
5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
olive oil

Place rice, coconut milk and 2.5 cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook until done. The secret to good rice is in how it sits after it cooks. Turn cooked rice into a bowl and do not stir. Let it cool for at least 20 minutes. 45 minutes is even better. The time to sit preserves the delicious, delicate clumps of rice. Stir too soon and you get gummy slop. Prep the rest while it cools.

a peek at our new kitchen floor!

herb scissors here

If using snap peas, devein (grab end that was attached to vine, snap off and pull to remove the string along the long edge) and cut into thirds with scissors. Place peas, chives, sage, a few tablespoons of olive oil and generous pinch of salt on top.

Fold ingredients into rice and serve at room temperature. Or chill; it’s great cold too. We like with with hard boiled eggs and a big salad of greens, kale, feta, sun dried apricots and apple cider vinaigrette. Try with scrambled eggs and sriacha the next morning. Or fold it into burritos the next night.

my favorite serving tool: the large flat saute made by my pal Earlywood; use code DIGWOOD for 10% off

After a quick, fresh and healthful meal, get back out there.

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what do you believe in?

Mama, what do you believe in?

The question fires from the backseat as I steer our car down the hill to town.

I believe in love and kindness and honesty. I believe my perspective and approach creates the powerful current I get to swim with.

Over the railroad tracks. Right hand turn. A woman biking with tattooed legs. Friends sitting with coffee. I stop for a family to cross the street.

I believe in nurturing a strong connection to nature. I believe in good communication, trusting your gut and dinner together every day. I believe is all kinds of things.

We stop at a red light. A woman in heels hurries across the street while laughing into her phone. Cars drive. North, south, east, west. People are heading places.

In the rearview mirror Ruby sits, tucked into her pink carseat. Her fuzzy blond halo catches the morning sun, her hands crossed in her lap. She wears her current favorite uniform of capri leggings and a tight-fitting shirt. We are on our way to gymnastics.

What do you believe in? I ask.

Oh I don’t know. I’m just trying to figure it out is all.

Last week I came across a photo of Ruby. It is one of the only photos I took of her in the hospital. I was afraid to document anything that might be too painful to look at in the future should she die. It also felt wrong to take pictures of her so fucking helpless. Instead I sat and stared at her, willing my dark thoughts and increasing detachment to brighten, reattach. Continue reading

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putzing: deck nuggets

We spend the cold months shut in our home, fire blazing, puffy coat layering, soup eating. It always feels like a miracle when we can leave the sliding glass door open all day, the scent of cottonwood a welcome guest in our living room.

Our home gives us plenty but sometimes we do feel packed in our small living space. When the sun is high and the air warm, we enjoy the ease of eating, sitting, living in our outside spaces.

And I just love putzing (as my grandma and mom say) around, arranging and readying the additional “rooms” we have for five months of the year. Just as the chives emerge and the bees stir, I can be found digging around our garden shed for pots and chairs.

I get asked a lot on instagram about where did you buy/what kind of plant/how did you make. I love these conversations as I pour a lot of thought and heart into my home and I enjoy interacting with others who do as well. There are so many good ideas out there. So, today I thought I’d do a little peek of our cheery deck! Come on. Have a seat.

Wait, first let me show you what our deck and living room look like right this minute. We are in the middle of laying tile in our kitchen – the exciting next phase of  our ongoing project.

When curating our outdoor spaces, I carry the same set of guidelines as I have for our indoor spaces: Continue reading

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On one bright sunshiney day last January, our family skied with our good friends. We aimed our skis into Snowbowl’s East Bowl without talking about it first. A few turns in I whispered that it was my kids’ first time in the bowls. It was their kids’ first time too. All four tiny humans held the tips of their skis together, their little quads straining against gravity as they talked and sang their way through the deep snow exactly like kids who grow up skiing together every weekend.

And then it all went south in the East. One child had to poop. One was suddenly unable to turn. One went too fast and out of ear shot. One crashed into another and tears rolled down the mountain with rogue skis.

All four parents sweated through it, taking deep breathes, taking turns with each others’ kids. Straining our backs, swallowing our swears. Using encouraging, coaching words. And the inevitable statement of fact: there is only one way to the Shirley Temple down there.

It took damn near forever to get off that slope. And then we hit a narrow trail through the woods that I swear was uphill. I am pretty sure it was my idea to make the cut over to Longhorn, thinking it would be a better run out for the tired offspring. My optimism was an empty hope. The adults lined up, each with a child holding on to a pole as we trudged through deep, sticky snow, literally dragging our moaning kids to Longhorn. They moaned all the way down.

We made it, laughing into the flats and unclipping from our bindings. Ever since that day “East Bowl” is a thing we say to each other. You know, if something feels like quick sand, like a shit show, like too much to handle at one time: we hold hands and EASTBOWL our way through it.

This last week included a broken appliance and floor, a conflict, an allergic reaction, a sleepless night, a death. This last week included a fixed appliance and floor, a resolution, a recovery, a restful day and plans for a whole lot of family to gather in eastern Montana this weekend to celebrate a life.

The thing is, there is probably at least one moment every day when we find ourselves skiing a pitch, wishing we weren’t there. We might fall hard or have to poop or make poor choices by not listening when our brilliant, usually-right mother yells STOP! We might feel angry about it, we might sit down and cry about it. But eventually we square our shoulders up with the fall line and link one turn into another turn. We know there are other skiers on that hill too. And they care about us. They want to give us a hug, help us get to the valley floor and buy us an age-appropriate beverage. We needn’t look beyond the ten feet in front of us because after we slide those ten feet, we can focus on the next ten. All the way to the end of the run and into the beginning of the next run, supported by the earth and each other. #eastbowl

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*disclaimer* Just in case somebody who knows Snowbowl sees that photo and thinks “that’s not the east bowl!”, you are correct. It is the outhouse trees. I couldn’t find a snap of the east bowl! ;) Continue reading

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rock paper scissors shoot!

I seem to remember (I say “seem to” because my memory is sometimes quite imaginative from when my kids were babies) people telling me – as I nursed one daughter, made peanut butter toast for the other and dreamed of a shower – that time would unfold with abundance for me in a few years. And I remember feeling like my baby orbit was already slow and breezy, as if I had cracked into a simpler pace. I know not everyone feels that way. I did.

It was the first time, since I lost my first tooth, that I wasn’t scrambling out the door with the sunrise to school or work. I was largely unflapped by mess and sleep schedules. I was so blissfully keyed into every gorgeous detail. Yes, there were HARD times but they were remedied by slow walks around the block while Ruby sucked on my collar bone and Margot counted sidewalk cracks.

Now, at 5 and 7, my kids play rock paper scissors to make their very own choices about who gets to sit on my right side when reading, who gets the flower bowl for oatmeal and who first gets alone time on the trampoline. Several times a day we hear it: rock paper scissors shoot! This system works well for them. They trust the process. It feels fair and they both win often enough to feel validated.

Life today is different than it was back then. It feels busier and I am constantly resisting the plethora of wonderful, alluring offerings to fill our time. I really dislike feeling spread thin and my kids dislike rushing from one activity to the next. It seems that in order to maintain the unstructured space we value, we have to be more and more intentional about it all. I cherish our slow walks to and from school. I like that we don’t have a tv. We gather around the table every night for dinner and try to take our time there. I have a strong desire to hold tight to these rituals and choices. Sometimes it is hard. I am human and motivated to be and do things and I can get sucked into the dizzying world of crammed hours.

I’ve been thinking about these words that I hear a lot lately: efficiency and productivity. And how it’s up to be to define these words for myself. Continue reading

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