hopped up on gratitude

In November, my already-friendly, neighborly town digs its heels into community. Smiles in scarves and puffy coats, kicking leaves for fun, gathering at breweries and arguing over who will buy the round. Everything slows to a lovely, loving pace.

Ruby is into three skirts over tights and socks these days

I always love where I live but there is a special twinkle around the holidays. Everyone is hopped up on gratitude, stretching Thanksgiving into several months. And its contagious.


Today, I share two simple events from my week that filled me with appreciation (and a sweet giveaway from a sweet company).

Ruby on my back, I hiked with a friend last Tuesday. We breathed hard on the ascent, snow coming down in thick, wet masses. We talked and talked and talked as our feet moved over the cold dirt. Every fourth step or so Ruby would say Mama? and then I’d say Hi Ruby and then she’d laugh. Mama? At one point I stopped in a sentimental, glorious, stunning moment, my feelings reciprocated by Caroline. We hugged and expressed thankfulness. It was so grand, that crisp moment.

The Day of the Dead Parade is an annual cherished event in our community. A beautiful celebration of life and death, Missoulians pour into the streets painted like dead people, performing, stomping and cheering in their aliveness. We hauled our family downtown to participate in the energetic honoring of those who have passed and to pay acute attention to our two feet on the earth.


The parade, a swirl of activity and life, is like Missoula, distilled. A community dedicated to merriment, uniqueness, culture, movement and family. When I am at events like this in my town, I feel so connected to this place, these people. The drums beating and everyone pulsing like one giant organism. Good stuff.


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And! I am so happy to tell you about new dig sponsor, Blue Q. This company sent me a generous pile of awesome stuff a while back and you’ve likely seen much of it in my photos as the bags (made from 95% recycled post-consumer material) come with us everywhere we go.

And inside every bag are more of their bags. We especially adore the overnighterthe shoulder tote and the zippered pouches.

I like all of it — the quality, the kind, funny people who work there, the adorableness and whimsy (Be a Better Parent tea, Mood Swing soap, Eat At Home dishtowel). And then, I read their About Us page and was more in love with their stuff. It is full of heartening, admirable things like they design and make everything. And they say, “Look, we all know that there is an unethical way to manufacture a water bottle, to sew a bag. We don’t do that. We couldn’t. We have a beautiful and long history with manufacturing our goods the right way.” Also, they print We Just Want You To Be Happy on their shipping boxes.

OK! The giveaway and deals for you chickens: If you had $60 to spend at Blue Q, what would you buy? Come back here and tell us in a comment and you might win it! Winner randomly selected on Tuesday, November 8. And! Get free shipping on orders over $40 using code ‘digthisblue.’ Last but so not least, right now, every purchase of $15 or more gets $23 of free non-lame stuff. Thank you, Blue Q!

Wishing you all a wonderful, wondrous weekend out there.


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all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com

68 Responses to hopped up on gratitude

  1. Kelle says:

    I am on my way out the door–not so much a brewery but still a place where we will fight to buy rounds. No snow but a whispering breeze. And my own version of “Mama?” coming from outside the window. I will toast to gratitude tonight…and friends, near and far away. xo

  2. Day of the Dead parade?! Sounds like my dream version of a parade (and how I love a good parade). Missoula is so unique, and I love how you spotlight how your family fits right in: creative, beautiful, encompassing.
    Saving for Knitting tin, Don’t stop Believin’ insulated mug, the Labs with Abs water bottle is amazingly hilarious, the Book of Whale Insults would come in handy on an island, painkillers pocket box — get the idea? I’ve just logged some serious time on this site. Love it all, and especially the little yellow bird vase.

  3. Meadowlark says:

    Chick! This is easy: i would spend all 60 bones on dish towels!! My family hasn’t used paper towels for a very long time. I always wait for a bath towel to get old, then cut it up for dish towels. This results in lots of frayed ends after washing. So, i could really use some of those awesome towels. Especially, the ones with veggies!

  4. The Glass Tea Tumblers are awesome.

    By the way, I love that you have posted more often this week. I know you’re busy, but it’s great to “see” you more often

  5. I love, love, LOVE your parade.
    And I also love three skirts over tights. How cute is that?

  6. stephanie says:

    Love this! We have family in Missoula and I have always yearned to visit. Microbrews, falling leaves, snuggly parades, sounds glorious. Love the Little white bird vase & the rainbow lantern (for starters!). Happy weekend!

  7. ctb says:

    Dig, Alice is slaying me these days. Thanks for the full-on front shot of her sweet sweet face! And dont think that reverse angle stick chewing shot escaped me for one minute :)

    And for BlueQ, skies the limit baby!

  8. magalways says:

    Thank you for this new sponsor! And for describing your town in a way that makes me want to up and move so I too can feel connected with neighbors. But for reals yo, BlueQ looks awesome! I’m putting together my wish list and am in love with the Buddha Toothbrush holder, the Bad Ass toothbrush holder, Vinnie’s tampon cases(how awesome is that! i am the only female in an office full of men)and the I’ll wash, you dry towel because in my home, it’s all about team work. Thanks for always bringing something awesome to my day.

  9. Cat says:

    Nici, I loved your Day of the Dead parade pics – that is a tough one to get good photos of for sure. F and I were just saying how that parade is one of the uniquely missoula things that we miss. Especially me. I want a drink from liquid planet then get some of that special bread they give from La Petite. ! Oh! I miss MT.

    Great sponsor! I LOVE the bags. If I win I would get a big tote bag. Matter of fact, I might just do it anyway.
    Cheers! Cat

  10. Jessica says:

    I would choose the factory second bags for eco grocery shopping and for my child at his sporting events. Also, a tea tumbler for my tea loving hubby! :)

  11. You had me at “hopped up”.

    Happy weekend, friendy.

  12. Jess B says:

    What is with our East coast towns and their lack of character? A Day of the Dead parade sounds wonderful! and Oh my goodness, the choices at Blue Q! I would nab the travel light overnighter, the moon garden shoulder tote and some hilarious dish towels (eat at home!).

  13. Becky V says:

    Oh my goodness the bags…I would buy so many. Especially those little zipper ones. I can think of about a million uses for them in and out of our house with two little ones. Thanks!

  14. Louise says:

    OMG, $60 is getting me pretty far. ‘Fresh cut flowers’ paper lantern is the type of dreamy house something that would make me smile. And the little bird vases are the pecfect place to hand my rings that I am forever misplacing much to my hubby’s dismay…wow, thats only $15!! Then its a toss up brwteen field study or flower field overnighter. Vinny’s tampon cases? Genius!A happy food shopper to top it off (OMG, how happy is that food?) Really cool stuff.

    I love your description of grabbing your friend for a hug because everything was beautiful. That’s what life it about. Wonderful post :)

  15. KTG says:

    Nest egg coin purse, hot mess soap,be nice or leave magnet,eat at home tea towel, little bird vase -white, night bird overnight bag and owl tote.
    I’m loving the bird stuff. And their company!
    And that’s a lot of cute goodies for $60.00 :)

  16. Kristianna says:

    Great shop, that BlueQ, I really am liking the water bottle that says Be Cool, and I’d probably buy an assortment of other shopping bags. My city is banning plastic bags as of Jan 1 and, while I have groceries down pat, I need larger bags for Target. I admit, I am a little worried about losing my super useful Target bags as waste basket liners and for cleaning up after the guinea pig, etc, but it’ll be a good change, I am sure.

  17. melody says:

    your family is so totally rad.
    um…can i please be you when i grow up? also i am majorly crushing on blue q’s insulated coffee mugs. among other things. also the “caffeine is a vitamin” dishtowel. love it!

  18. jen says:

    i am so in love with that camera tote … it’s kind of embarrassing.

  19. enmouton says:

    Oh my… I recently (and excitedly) found out I was pregnant …. And Christmas will be the earliest time I’ll be comfortable with sharing the news with the in-laws…. The look on my mother-in-laws face as she opened a box of any of the baby shower stuff would be totally worth the wait….

  20. enmouton says:

    Oh…. And the “use this toothbrush and I will break your arm” is pretty rad….. Thinking there will be a lot of Christmas shopping done from this site….

  21. I love the sentiment of this post! The pictures are great too! Blue Q’s has SOOOO much great stuff. But I am in love with: I Heart Water (Whale) Water Bottle, Don’t Stop Believin’ Insulated Mug, Bicycle Shoulder Tote,
    Glass Tea Tumblers-Yellow Squares

  22. TRB Holt says:

    I miss Missoula….I was so fortunate to grow up there…it makes heart soar knowing you are raising my grandchildren in my home town!

    BlueQ? What would I NOT buy!? You know me and “stuff”…I like stuff. LOVE the tin boxes…The butterfly lantern would be just the ticket for Rubes…laughed out load at the gum, soap & sticker brands…now back to look some more!
    Have a great weekend!

    Lots of Love, Mom

  23. Tina says:

    Ohhh my gosh… I would most definitely be getting the Mini Canvas tampon cases so that my daughters would stop going in my purse/diaper bag and coming up holding tampons asking if they can have some of my “candy”. Seriously. Pretty embarrassing (although hilarious) when you’re out in public. 😉

    I also love the shopping totes! I use our reusable shopping bags for everything and I’d love some pretty ones that aren’t as unsightly as my current ones.

  24. E says:

    Where to start? some dish towels, two new coffee mugs, the Italiano and the don’t stop believin, the wallpaper shoulder tote (I haven’t been adding…I may have run out of $ already) a glass tea tumbler?

  25. Oooh, ooh, I would probably spend all $60 on stainless steel water bottles because ours keep disappearing and now all of us are drinking out of Rose’s 12 ounce pink water bottle.
    Thanks for this giveaway, Nici and keep the good stuff flowing.

  26. Kelly Cach says:

    Love the shot of your girls and Alice relaxing on the floor. I want to join them :)

    Gosh! Too much CUTE stuff to choose from:

    Pencil cases–my boys have pencils strewn about the entire house.

    “My Treat” coin purse–MUST HAVE! My boys love it when I say they can have a quarter or two.

    The little bird vase in yellow or blue is perhaps one of the sweetest little knick-knacks I’ve ever seen.

    Zipper pouches, shoppers, dish towels, treasure boxes….somebody STOP me!

    With cold hands and a warm heart,

  27. lorri says:

    Gratitude. I feel ya there! So many things to be thankful for.
    If I won, I’d get a few of those big bags. There so cute! I’d keep one and give a few away for christmas.

  28. erin says:

    I really like the picture of Alice with your girls laying down, playing in the background. Reminds me of when I was little.

    $60.00 is a lot of merch! I would pick the camera shoulder tote, the tin bank “savin up for some good weed” lol, the rainbow paper lantern, and a few packs of gum : )

  29. Callie says:

    My sister would get a huge kick out of the Naked Men In Oven Mitts Magnet Set (Her husband though, I’m not so sure). I think we also need a Be Nice Or Leave Magnet. Maybe even two of those.

    Also, I love the Bitch Slap Those Germs Hand Sanitizer and the
    Cleaner Than Shit Hand Sanitizer. I’ve been to a whole slew of baby showers lately and think these would make a nice little add on for a gift.


  30. Love the three skirts :)
    Totally in love with the bicycle shoulder tote, and I’d get a 2nd for my friend for Christmas, she’d love it. Also like the little totes for lunches, how cute is that?! The owl one! So cute! Then I’d have to snatch up some dishtowels because they are super cute and mine are gross.

  31. enmouton says:

    The shopping bags are awesome! Love love love the vegetable heads…. The hand sanitizers would make awesome gifts for my sister-in-laws…. Would more than likely end up spending way more than $60….

  32. DeRae says:

    Hmm…I would get a Pretty Print Tote, a Woodland Overnight bag, a Lucky Star Coin Purse, a Wake Up Insulated Mug, an Arabian Lights-Candle Holder Set, and an I Heart My Stuff Zipper Pouch. Very cute stuff!

  33. Lindsay says:

    First of all, looking through the site to figure out how I’d spend $60 was SO much fun! Lately I have also been overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude…thanks for another reminder!!! Okay, so I would spend the money on a Quotes pencil case, an Airmail pouch, a lux Shoulder tote, an Art Supplies Tin Cigar box, and I heart water whale water bottle and a couple super awesome dish towels!!! :)

  34. mandijo says:

    oh to have a pint at the k-hole with snow falling! Here’s my list from the shoppy shop:
    1 Eat at home and 1 I’m not a paper towel dish towel
    Savin up for a new tattoo tin bank (we really have a peanut butter jar for this purpose)
    50 sad chairs :(
    flora shopper
    lux zipper pouch
    2 little bird vases (white, of course)
    ok that equals $61.92, but I’m willing to part with some change from my tattoo jar!

  35. I want to live in a town that has a Día de Muertos parade!

  36. ashley says:

    Both the landscape and the Woodland overnighter bag. Birds of America water bottle. I’m not a paper towel tea towel, And a fresh cut flowers paper lantern. That should do it! Love all their gear.

  37. Jenn says:

    Well, that’s it, I’m visiting Missoula at some point in my life. You make it sound so appealing, I feel like I am missing out on such a magical place :)

    My favorite picture is the one where Andy, Margot and Ruby are approached by a parade goer and they all have different expressions. You captured it perfectly.

    As far as gratitude, thank you for introducing me to Blue Q! That is a cool store, and will save me this Christmas for those difficult to shop for relatives. My favs are the Heavy Lifting Lantern for my boys’ room and any of the towels.

    Thanks again and have a great week!

  38. Karen says:

    True story: I clicked over to your blog and before I even read this post I clicked on Blue Q because that paper lantern was just to gorgeous to resist! If I had $60 to spend, I’d probably buy every cloth item I could. Where do they find those textiles?! So pretty.

  39. Lee says:

    Oh my, too many fn things to choose from! I’d start with an Air Mail zipper pouch (my hubby lost the diaper pouch recently) and then I’d get Xmas gifts… Seriously, who could I give the Man Bling tattoos?!

  40. I’d give overnighter bags for Christmas :) Thanks for sharing!

  41. aprilallard says:

    I am loving the overnighter and shopper bags! Especially flower fields. And I am digging the happy good town shopper. Um, and some soaps to give as gifts.

  42. Missoula sounds amazing for so many reasons.

    Oh the store. Goodness. Cute cheeky stuff. Love quotes pencil case. #5 shoulder tote, Johnny Lemon Shopper, Insufficient Funds or My 2 cents coin purse, random crap Jr. tin box. This stuff has me cracking up out loud. And I’m thinking this stuff could make some great gifts this Christmas.

    Thanks Nici.


  43. Keri says:

    i would def use the money to buy christmas gifts! i love the overnighter bag, the coffee mugs and the water bottles! the latter two would be awesome stocking stuffers! =)

  44. Kara says:

    Love the BlueQ bags! I need an overnighter, a shopper, a shoulder tote and about a dozen of the zippers. Thanks for introducing such a cool company!

  45. Ahhh…there is sooo much I love it is hard to pick…I have a few baby showers coming up so I love that section…As I explore their website, I see more and more I love…good stuff xoxoxo Love to you, Val

  46. Tiffany says:

    So, I don’t have to list what I would love to have, I will list what I just bought! Retro bicycle shoulder tote (for my eco-conscious-got-rid-of-my-car-and-now-I-bike-everywhere-sister), 4 packs of “I’m glad the fact that I am prettier and smarter than you doesn’t keep us from being friends” gum packs, one condom tin for above-mentioned-still-single-sister, the weed tin for my botanist-turned-entrepreneur-best-friend (read between the lines 😉
    and a few other small things. I love their stuff, thank you so much for introducing me! And just a quick shout out to this time of year…it hits home especially for my family this season as my father-in-law is dying of cancer. He is too young and had a lot of living left to do, and this is exactly the lesson I am taking from that. Every day is really and truly a gift and it is my job as a mama to two small-ish (1 and 6) boys to show them how to live life with no regrets. Have a wonderful day!

  47. Britta says:

    Love your gratitude spirit! I haven’t commented in ages but still read biweekly like I’ve been doing for years. Thank you for the giveaway!

    I’d get the flower field shoulder tote and the shopping bag. Plus another set of their choosing for my BFF (probably butterflies) and my sister (probably bicycles).

  48. C says:

    I love the Flower Field and woodland print bags, maybe and overnighter, a shoulder tote, and a couple shoppers. The tea tumbler is pretty cool too.
    I just love your blog :)

  49. C says:

    What is the minimum purchase to get free shipping with your code?

  50. OK chickens!

    To get free shipping, your order needs to be $40 or more. Sorry about that! Somehow I missed that info in our correspondence and I apologize. The awesome free gift stash is on orders or $15 and that is good through tomorrow, November 8.

  51. Marti says:

    The bigger problem would be picking what not to buy! I love the bags and tin boxes. And the LANTERNS!!! I’m going to be redecorating Ivy’s room after the new year and those would be so wonderful!

  52. Rachael says:

    Ooh, if I had $60 at BlueQ I’d definitely get the Marshall shoulder tote, some soaps, and the Cameras pencil case. Such a cool shop, I’d never heard of them before!

  53. Anna says:

    I love the paper lanterns and the dishtowels – particularly the one that says “emotionally unstable.” Everything is darn cute, definitely will be going back for holiday gifts.

  54. Kristin B says:

    I have used BlueQ bags for years, I absolutely love them and people always ask me at the grocery store where I got my cute bags from. I need to get the boss lady bag!

  55. Annie says:

    What a crazy variety of stuff at BlueQ! Sounds like I should pick up those bags for sure! I’d spend my $60 on a variety of the bags to give to my sisters for Christmas (and keep a couple for myself : )

  56. Bennett Abel says:

    I love the Happy Food Town Shopper, Birch Shoulder Tote and Woodland Overnighter. Oh and the Cheery Monkey water bottle for my son. Such cute stuff! Might have to do some christmas shopping here!

  57. dish towels, water bottles, t-shirts… the possibilities are endless!

  58. Jeanne says:

    I feel so wifey to say I would spend my gift card on dish towels. Gotta love the prints on them!

    You consistently make me wonder what I am missing in my town! Thanks for another great post.

  59. Oh I hope I win!! ADORE the bags. I am a big fan of collage art – I would get as many bags as I could if I won, especially the “veg heads” one – that is hilarious!!

    Love your blog Nici, I always look forward to the next post. :)

  60. I really love the second photo in this post. That outfit is AMAZING! She is precious! Barefoot Mama

  61. jenniwaka says:

    The dish towels are so cute! That would help our mixed home keep straight the drying towels vs. the cleaning towels, etc. without me sounding like a nag!!!

  62. Melina says:

    You had me at “sentimental, glorious, stunning…”

    I like the overnighters, in particular the Go Yummy Overnighter. I move around so much that bags are worth their weight in….well, silver at least.

    Oooh I hope I win!

  63. bigskyangie says:

    Tote, Overnighter, Tumbler…

  64. Jaim says:

    60 dollars will go along way! I like the shoulder totes, the overnighters, the free hugs zippered pouch…oh, I could go on and on! Plus, they donate 1% to the company my husband works for…yeah Blue Q!

    I’m so ready for enough snow to strap on the boards. I could do with out the wind, on the east side, though.

    Hope you are having a great week.

  65. Yeah, you can get lots of stuff for 60

    I might get a tshirt, glass tumbler and some overnight bags. There’s some really colorful bags and I’m always a sucker for them! :)

  66. CLP says:

    I love that Missoula has a Day of the Dead parade. I just got home from Oaxaca MX where Dia de los Muertos celebrated for multiple days. I think it is one of the most beautiful traditions I know of.
    Thank you for sharing so much on this blog.

    As for Blue Q, I would get two tea tumblers (one if each color) to use as gifts and a suitcase overnight bag, because I need a new overnighter.

  67. Bikini By 30 says:

    I cook all the time and try hard to use dish towels over paper whenever I can! I would totally use my $60 on rad dish towels!! My faves are: Keep My Skillet…, Fast Cheap…, and of course I Am Not A Paper Towel.

  68. I liked Just Ask on Facebook too!