Monthly Archives: April 2012

Fences and California

We are off to California tomorrow, er, today. It’s actually Monday as I type right now, having just packed my week’s items into my backpack. We couldn’t dig any luggage out of the garage but we did find our backpacking backpacks. Me: I’ve never dealt with so much laundry in all my life.  Andy: I’ve never washed so many dishes in all my life. Margot: I found thirteen more worms! Ruby: Wook! Worm! Oh, honey. The last time I travelled with this pack, like for days, seems like a lifetime ago. I measured and weighed each component, I rolled my one pair of pants around a toothbrush and rice. I shimmied my water filter in at the last moment and slapped my thermarest to the exterior. The last time I remember really using this pack for its intended purpose I carried my skis in the spring up Taylor Peak in Wyoming. Me: We seriously have SO MANY socks.  Andy: Yeah. We make a lot of dirty silverware. This time, after packing my kids’ stuff with exquisite detail, I muscled five days of clothes into that same space, under my faded sharpie name on the yellow webbing. I drank a gin and tonic while I dyed my hair, while I talked on the phone to my best friends we are going to visit, while noodles boiled, while I pulled laundry from the line, while the kids scooped sawdust into buckets, while Andy cleaned up from his third 12-hour day of digging fence post holes. Andy: Babe, I am going to bed.Me: Will you please pack tonight. I have to work in the morning before our flight.Andy: I am only packing a pair of pants, flip flops, hiking shoes and some t shirts. It’ll work out ok.Me (elbow deep in backpack, jenga-ing three pairs of shoes together): Aha.Andy (under-reacting to the several carefully packed bags already by the front door): You could totally do the same.Me: Yeah but then I wouldn’t be your foxy wife in mint green jeans. Andy: True. The purpose of our trip is to visit our old, best friends. I met Lindsay 23 years ago when she stepped on a frog. I met Paige 16 years ago in the dorm bathroom. The three of us fall into a perfect rhythm when together: we are hilarious, smart and unstoppable. They both settled in northern California where they fell in love with amazing men. And our men all love each other too. It really is perfect. Tomorrow (today), we unite for four solid days and get to meet Paige and Arann’s baby boy. Holy smokes I can’t wait. So we leave, a wake of activity in Missoula. Chicks and hens meeting each other and a garden being fenced in. We introduced Cup and Gold to the flock by placing all the hens in the new run we constructed. The space was new to all the girls; no chicken had clucked there before and I peppered the ground with freshly dug grass with lots of bugs. 16 Months (above) was the most fired up about the whole thing. The wee ones kept mostly to themselves and all went well.  Cup and Gold are still separated and will exchanges vows with the elders when we return. The introduction went well.  After eleven million conversations and an equal number of researching hours, we finally decided on a fence plan.  We scored a pile of reclaimed corrugated metal (from Heritage Timber) for our Epic Fence Project.  My strong man dug and dug and measured and cut assembles and dug all weekend long. Taking breaks to tie new swings for his daughters.  The man has mad knot skills. I dug two holes. Andy dug 32. I was blissfully distracted by the dirt. ALL THE SOIL LOOKED LIKE THIS. Oh man, y’all.  More fence stories soon. For now, a little glimpse. Also, my new garden plot is gorgeous and 24×36 feet of loamy, sunshiney promise.  And, hey, while I am in California, I’d love to meet you! A casual chin wag, cheers sort of thing at The Sycamore in San Francisco. I’ve never done anything like this before and it sounds fun as so many of my favorite readers hail from the lovely area. If you are around and into it, come on down between 5 and 7 tomorrow night (Tuesday, May 1). I’ll be the lady in mint jeans near two beautiful, irresistibly hilarious women. photo by Paige Green Read more on Fences and California…
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on kids and food bravery (minty stuffed peppers)

When Margot first ate food she swallowed everything we did, puréed. I proudly proclaimed I didn’t believe in kid food, that people food would do just fine for all members of our family. A year later something shifted and Margot, who once ate peanut curry, tomato pie and fish tacos, would suddenly only eat white food with a hint of color (thankfully, homegirl has always loved beets, carrots, peas and fruit). Tofu, bread, rice, yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, oatmeal, popcorn, noodles. White whitey white. What happened to my foodie? I wondered, bummed. Margot, six months old It was so easy for us to make her what she’d eat and we did get in that habit for a bit until we noticed Ruby taking notes and Margot burrowing into picky eating habits. We decided to reinstate our family food rule: one meal is made for all of us. Everyone has to try it. If they don’t like it there is a handful of healthy snacks to choose from (more on this below) but another meal will not be made. And you know what? It works for us. My kids try everything and like most anything. I have found a few tricks and, in response to many inquiries about food and kids, here are a few things that work for our family: :: When introducing a new vegetable, I often dice it up and include it in something they already like (for example, chopped brussels sprouts in a soup or diced mushrooms in rice) to allow my kids to try the flavor without psyching themselves out over what it looks like. Then, I pull out the whole vegetable and talk about it with them and we take bites. The kids gain confidence in food identification and taste. It demystifies the whole thing. :: I include my kids in meal preparation. They are naturally invested in something they helped to make. :: Trying food is non-negotiable. We all take a bite of everything prepared for us. This is a part of our mealtime culture and our kids don’t even question it. Sure, absolutely, they sometimes don’t want to try it. Sometimes, they writhe in their chair while painfully looking at dinner. In these cases, Andy and I say ok, you are welcome to have something else just as soon as you try it. Take your time. Not exaggerating: 99% of the time, they try it and like it. Sometimes they don’t like it and have a small selection of snacks to choose from: almonds, tofu, carrots and apples. Important: *It’s always the same so the snack option isn’t exciting or alluring.* :: We grow and harvest food together. Again, they are invested in and excited about a beet they planted from seed and yanked from the earth. :: I use herbs and spices and interesting ingredients in our food, I don’t dumb it down for the kids. This way they are used to a wide variety of flavors. Examples: add curry to tuna salad, add soy sauce to popcorn, add cilantro to soup. A few days ago, open windows and a hungry friend recovering from surgery inspired me to get creative in the kitchen. My foodie spirit was on fire as I made a meal out of ingredients on hand that turned out pretty great. It was easy and the whole fam loved it. turns out there is a GIANT mint bed at our new house Minty Stuffed Peppersserves 6 6 large bell peppers1 onion, choppedhandful fresh mint, finely chopped8 garlic cloves, minced3/4 cup pine nuts2 cups brown or wild rice, prepared2 6 oz cans tomato paste 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded saltcuminpinto beansjuice of one limedried oreganosaltplain yogurt Prepare the rice and beans. Or, open a can of beans. Although I cannot recommend freshly cooked beans enough. They will change your opinion of beans. We use a pressure cooker and make beans in 25 minutes that’ll knock your socks off. Also, we are headed to northern California in a week (!!) and are making a special day trip just to see the Rancho Gordo bean farm and store. Oh, and, I am thinking of doing a little meet and greet somewhere, being that I’ve ‘met’ so many dear Cali people through this online world. Are you interested? It sounds kind of fun to me. Anyway, beans! They can be epic. Preheat oven to 400 degree. Toast pine nuts. To “toast” pine nuts quickly, I toss them in a cast iron fry pan and cook over high heat, stirring constantly until brown and fragrant. Do this and set aside. Combine pine nuts, most of the mint, garlic, onion, a few teaspoons of cumin, a few teaspoons of salt and cheese in a large bowl. In a separate bowl (or rice pot), combine the tomato paste and rice. Don’t over-stir and make your rice mushy. You may need to add a bit of water to make stirring easier. Slice the tops off the peppers. Remove seeds and insides. Pop out the stems and chop the pepper tops. Ruby helped out with this meal.  Margot was busy parenting her chicks. Add chopped pepper tops to pine nut mixture. Combine pine nut mixture and rice mixture. Scoop the filling into the hollowed out peppers, overfilling a bit. Place stuffed peppers in a pan with a bit (like 1/4 inch) of water in the bottom. Cook for about 45 minutes. While the peppers are cooking, make the simple pinto bean side dish: Combine beans, lime juice, oregano, rest of mint and salt. Serve peppers with beans on the side, a generous dollop of yogurt on top of beans. Sorry no pic of beautifully plated meal (blogger no no), we gobbled it right up.Plus, the meal was easy and colorful to transport to our friends. How does your family approach mealtime and food exploration with kids? I’d love to know what works for you! Also, how ’bout raising a glass in Point Reyes or San Francisco? Let me know about that too. xo,dig Read more on on kids and food bravery (minty stuffed peppers)…
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sunny

Oh this last weekend! I am going to be a busy sewing sister this week so I am popping in for a few quick things before I head back out into the gloriousness of (almost) summer for the day. 1. It’s the experience I’m after, the quality of my days I am interested in. In this week’s mama digs I wrote about a shared meal I had a few years ago and how a friend’s words nudged me toward betterment. It doesn’t all have to be so epic. Click to read a shared meal.  2. dig this chick has been sharing shop and studio space with Piper & Paisley for the last several months. Owner/seamstress Jen and I were acquaintances before and are now dear friends, our five kids running wild around sewing machines, bolts of fabric and shipping supplies while she and I co-parent and co-create. I am moving out of that sweet space next month and, as a last hurrah we are having a sale together! * 20% off everything in both shops * through the end of Wednesday, April 25  Shop online. Piper & Paisley dig this chick Shop at our show room. We’d love to meet you. Tuesday, April 24 : noon-7pm snacks and wine 5-7pm 612 S. Higgins, Missoula, Montana Read more on sunny…
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nuggets: our everyday

nuggets: little bits of the season in photos and words, about the last week Margot asked me to get under the covers and hug her last night. I stood at the foot of my bed, in my kitchen, thinking about all the stuff I wanted to, had planned to do. Thing is, I can’t just crawl in there for a bit. These days, once I am horizontal, especially under covers, I am out until the next morning. I either go to bed at 8pm or 1am. Last night, it was an 8pm bedtime. I swept the day’s debris off our kitchen island/family bed and heaved my body next to Margot, who, even after spending the entire day by my side, kicked her legs and squealed with joy. Two feet away, we thought Ruby was asleep but then we heard her breathy grunts and “Mama? I want to snuggle you and Margot.” We arranged and rearranged until everyone was pleased: Me in the middle, Margot’s head in my elbow crook, Ruby on her belly with her cheek pressed into my belly. Tell us a story they said as Andy gave me secret spousal gang signs from the front door indicating he was going to paint in the studio and that Ruby’s pacifier was on the cat food bucket should she need it. Margot is really into bald eagles right now. We see them many times a week circling over our home and she is always the first to notice the awesomeness. “There is a bald eagle who lives way up in a tree in a giant nest at the bottom of a hill between the Clines and the Tiltons. Her name is Germaine,” I began. Ruby: What color is it?Margot: White and…Ruby: Pink!Margot: No, white and brown.Ruby: Wif a pink beak!Me: Do eagles have hands or hoofs or…?Margot: No. They have claws. Me: Yes, they are called talons. Well, Germaine, instead of having four talons, only has one talon on each foot, making her a super unique and special bald eagle. Margot: How does she pick stuff up?Ruby: Pick stuff up?Me: Well, eagles are so strong and…Margot: Because they feed their bodies well and exercise?Me: Exactly. They are so strong, they can even pick up big animals.Margot: Like Ruby?Me: Hmm. I bet an eagle could pick up an animal the size of Ruby.Ruby: No! Ruby no want to be pick up bald eagle.Me: No worries, Rubes. That won’t happen.Ruby: I need to talk wif daddy ’bout that. I have a question ’bout that. No bald eagle pick me up. That’s not kind.Margot: Eagles don’t pick up kids like you and me.Ruby: OK, Margot. Seconds later they were breathing heavy. I was still, a daughter on each side of me, noticing they are each more than half my body length. Amazing. nuggets. :: We had our first FULL day gardening. The girls collected worms, pill bugs, ants and millipedes for hours while I dug grass, moved rocks, prepared beds and found little indications of what once grew here. Lots of potential. If only my digging could keep up with my ideas. :: Morning spring light and steel cut oats. :: Our tiny home is insanely messy all the time. We regularly, thoroughly pick up and clean and approximately 11 minutes later, the shoe basket is overturned, the living room is a fort, the bed a ship and the sink full of dishes. I love this little studio apartment and I look forward to rooms. We move upstairs in one month! I am excited to share that space and our ideas with you. :: Tea with Alice. She’s almost ten, our beloved dog. ::  Rainy day errand running. :: Oh my stars! ::  Margot has been taking gymnastics for quite a while now. We attended a little performance last week and, there, watching my girl beam on a beam I about fell over with pride. :: I found a strange donkey basket while thrifting. Perfect for egg collecting. :: My Rhubarb. upcycled tee skirt :: Margot really wants Ruby to play this game with her as of late. Margot: Ruby, one person says yes and the other person says no. OK?Ruby: OK Margot.Margot: No.Ruby: No.Margot: No Ruby! You say yes!Ruby: Yes.Margot: No.Ruby: No.Margot: Aaaah, Ruuuubyyy. No, ok. I’ll say yes. Yes.Ruby: Yes. It eventually ends, Margot is super frustrated and Ruby is giggling. :: Walking up the mountain behind our house, I continue to feel over the moon about it. :: Welcome back to rockin’ business tart, as a dig sponsor! Tart is a boutique and contemporary art gallery (although they prefer the term ‘tartique’) located in the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture in Bozeman, Montana and online right here for your international shopping exhilaration! chickadee painting  ::  upcycled birdhouse  ::  appliqued flower hair clip  ::  pet id tag  Recently, the girls got their hands on the ABC (Animal Coloring Book) by tartist Allie “Gato” Buck. Now I am generally not a coloring book fan as I find they can be so unimaginative. But! This book! I LOVE and so do my kids. The drawings are exquisite and the quality (hearty stock) is awesome. This is my future go-to kid gift. And you could win one! Tart is giving three away. Leave a comment on tart’s facebook page telling us, dear ones, what is your favorite letter? Also, use coupon code ‘digthis’ and receive free shipping. Thanks, tart! One last conversation I overheard tonight, WAY past bedtime: Daddy? Dada? Dad?Yes, Ruby?I frilly want prassbooees.Raspberries?NO. I just frilly want prassbooees in bed.You really want Pirate’s Booty in bed?YES!!!  Sweet dreams. Read more on nuggets: our everyday…
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woodland fort

On the east side of our property stand 14 towering trees. Anyone know what kind of trees these are? I am thinking Engelmann Spruce? Or are they a kind of fir? Read more on woodland fort…
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