hump day nuggets: full-on(ly)

When driving up to Flathead Lake last weekend, Margot said,

I am totally, full-only so excited for this weekend.

(pronounced like full on lee)

And, just like that, full-only is my new favorite descriptor of commitment. The Full On! of the 90s needed to turn into an adverb.

Our good friends just got a boat and for two weekends in a row we’ve been the lucky tag-alongs. Perhaps it is their increasing strength and confidence in the water, perhaps it’s my increasing awareness of the preciousness of our cool, clean water, perhaps it’s because my life for the last seven years is about to change with my youngest starting kindergarten in two months. Whatever the case, I’m noticing it all. The strength, confidence, water, the time leading up to our daily rhythm changing.

I am so happy to have had Ruby at home this last year, schooling by my side. It went even better than I could have imagined: she thrived and learned, I thrived and learned. And, we have decided to enroll in public school this fall. I haven’t responded to many of your questions about our educational choices because it is a subject that belongs to my daughters and because we are figuring it out as we go — fully (full on-ly) aware (and expecting) that what feels right for our family can change. For now, our local school is right. We do plan to homeschool intermittently over the next years. And, of course – as my husband always reminds me when I am spinning out over what is best for us (oh I do think about and read about this all so very much) – we always school at home through our own love of learning and desire to be and grow with our children.


:: Mermaids.

:: Always the first one awake.

:: Over dinner a few weeks ago, we developed a family summer mission statement. In an effort to resist the constant conversational flurry of “Summer is flying by!” and “I am so busy!” I sought a slower-paced naming of what it is we want during this season of long days and bare-shouldered outdoor adventure. It started as a conversation but I grabbed a pen and started recording our thoughts.

I asked questions like

What is one thing you want to do with each person in our family?
What is one thing you want to do at home?
What is one thing you want to do away from our home?
When school starts, what feeling do you hope to remember about our summer?
What do you want to learn?

Our mission looks something like: camp, swim, garden, read, write, make art and play — just the right amount, while striving for peace and ease throughout our adventures.

The “peace and ease” goal is a reminder that we want a healthy balance of getting out there and hunkering down. Not stressy. Not hurried.

:: I love camping. Scouting a flat spot for the tent, living well with very little. Teaching my kids to sharpen sticks and dig holes. Sunscreen, beadhead, same clothes over same bathing suit. No mirror, no cell service. Kids contentedly playing for hours, days with rocks and sticks and water and imagination. Falling asleep so tired in the silent, wondrous wilderness. Waking to piles of feet and paws, sun rising inside our tent. Sharing it all with Mabel, missing Alice deeply. My husband’s perfect cup of coffee, and again. And his smooches when our headlamps clink.

:: Journaling.

:: I arrange rocks. Wherever I go, I collect and sort and move them around for hours. Always have. I worked on this piece for an afternoon and left it for the next next person who washes up here.

:: A special deal for you from dig sponsor Popina retro swimwear. Hands-down my favorite bathing suits, Popina specializes in vintage swimwear that fits and lasts. My swimsuit criteria: stay on my body in a strong river current, hold shape against jumping dogs and climbing kids, give support in all the right places (got boobs? Two thumbs up: VampGrace and Gina).

After trying three different suits (Popina’s customer service is outstanding!), I decided to go with another Vamp. The Jantzen bathing suits are tough to beat. I adore the sexy little skirt that gives a just a bit of butt coverage, the thick halter straps that don’t dig into my neck and the way that puppy doesn’t move around, even when I dive into a lake. Also a cool feature of the Vamp: a fitted mesh suit is under the top you can see; the fit is spectacular.

♥ Popina is giving one of you lucky ducks a suit! 

Simply leave a comment here for a chance to win. And, they are generously offering you 15% off with code CANUDIGIT. Go for it! You deserve to feel like a queen in your swim skivvies. You won’t regret your purchase. Thanks, Popina!

Comments closed! Coupon code remains valid. Randomly selected winner:

Congrats Becky!

:: “Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it.” – Lao Tzu

:: And on the note of the beautiful quote up there: I woke at 3am last Sunday morning to horrid screaming. NO! FUCK! GET DOWN HERE! over and over again. I was in our tent with my family, on an island. I woke Andy. He ran to get our friend and together they went to help whomever needed it. I thought we were the only ones on the island. Andy had grabbed our only headlamp; we forgot the others. I lay there listening to screaming and roaring wind but then realized it wasn’t windy. Our tent, perched up on a cliff top, wasn’t moving. That is water, I realized. Huge waves yelling into the night. Andy was gone forever. An hour? My phone was dead. An hour and a half? What if he fell in. What if that person was a crazy murderer. Oh the relief I felt when I saw his light ambling up the hill. He explained the scene: a big boat, on its side up against a rock, full of water. A woman pinned between a log and the rock. A man chest-deep in water with five-foot swells pushing him into the boat. A little girl watching in terror. Matt and Andy carried a full-sized driftwood tree across the island and levered the boat up onto land. They tied off the boat. It is destroyed. Everyone is ok. Our friends’ boat – the one we rode in on – on the other side of the island in a protected bay, didn’t even move. We spent hours the next morning getting ourselves and that family safely to land. Matt and Andy made a run to shore with gear and brought back Jim, a man they met who filled his boat with gas and motored out to our island to fetch the shipwrecked family. Their boat stayed behind, beat down by that soft, embracing lake with rainbow stones and rainbow skies.

:: Wildfire smoke is rolling into our valley. Before everything is clouded, I plan to take deep breaths, run on trails and study the clear sky. Full-Only.

my husband can fly 

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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.

On this day, at this moment, she seemed like a baby. She felt like my baby. Her eyes were wide and alert. She stared into me and I felt a volcano of strength and hope erupt into my heart. She stretched her legs like she’d done before RSV made her eyes close, made her body go limp and breathless. I took a picture.

I show it to my kids. Margot says wow! who is that?! Ruby studies the image on my computer screen with a troubled expression. I tell them it’s Ruby, when she was sick. And Ruby’s ocean eyes fill with tears. She jumps onto me and squeezes my neck and tells me that the picture makes her so sad. She says it’s weird but it’s like she can remember feeling that way.

It’s not weird at all, baby.

For the last few months, she wants me to hold her all the time. She wants to sleep with me, touching me. She wants to sit on me, eat on me. She wants me to trace her face. Again mama. She wants to hold my hand, sit on my hip while I cook, dig in the garden right where I stand. Watch this mama. Sometimes I get touched out. I want a break from the 43 pound primate dangling from my torso. I steady myself during those times of annoyance. Or, more likely, I steady myself after – with a little space from them. I step back and find my balance. I see my lifespan, important moments marked along a horizontal line. This is an important moment. This one where we both learn to loosen our grip on each other. Just a little bit. Just enough. And in order to loosen, we first tighten. We remember that feeling of wishing for hugs and face traces and hand holding. We remember being unable to touch for all those days. The fear and heaviness.

Tighten. Tighter.

Mama uppey!

I can feel her heart beat, her lungs full of air. She grips too hard around my neck and whispers into my hair

My mama. My mama.

The light turns green. I wait to see if she will expand on her thoughts about what she believes in. Mabel leans over her carseat from the back and pants, her pink tongue one inch from Ruby’s face. My daughter meets my eyes in the mirror and says

I think I know why some people only have cats and not dogs. I always want to have a dog but maybe some people like their homes to be, like, all peaceful and calm. Maybe some people just like a quiet home. And mama? You have two choices when I am done with gymnastics. You can either take the car through the giant car wash or buy me a baby turkey. You can surprise me.

At the gym she runs to her friends and coaches and turns to me. Watch this mama! She does a front flip off a high mat and lands, strong and smiling. She laughs. Bye mom! she shouts as she runs to the trampoline, not looking back.

Loosen. Looser.

I believe in feeling all the feelings. I believe in big dreams and small movements. I believe in seasons, skipping stones, skiing, strawberries, saying yes, swimming, sleep, sunrise, snuggling and swing dancing. I believe what you believe. I believe in you.




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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.

Today I am sharing a little peek at 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 hold myself to the same standards that I have for our indoor spaces:

  • I want interesting and beautiful things; I don’t want anything I don’t want to look at. Yes: this includes kid toys and functional objects like trash cans and brooms.
  • I use what I already have kicking around and only buy what I really want. Most things in our home are thifted or found. And the things we buy? We save up and get the thing that will last, the thing we love, the thing that adds joy to our ritual. I don’t want disposable things or cheap, cute things that will be in next year’s giveaway pile. I’d much rather wait. And usually, when I wait I find it or something even better. I am not a spontaneous purchaser. Unless we are talking about grocery shopping and then I am a different, impromptu-purchasing beast.
  • We live raucously in our space. We don’t always take our shoes off and our small kids jump and cartwheel through their days, usually with several pals in tow. I want the space we create to share with our loved ones to be joyful, comfortable, artful, restorative and not too precious.

The things that I bought new on our deck: plants, metal chairs & square table (Costco, 8 years ago), oil cloth for the tables, outdoor mat and the glass hummingbird feeder. Everything else was free or thrifted for less than $5.

People say you have the best luck thrifting! I don’t. I’m just patient and I enjoy the process of looking – I SO did not get all this stuff in one thrift/alley hunt outing. And the things I made didn’t happen in one night either.

deck detail nuggets!

:: The oilcloth booster seats were made from a pattern in One-Yard Wonders years ago and they are still going strong. And here is my tutorial for the DIY patio chair cushions I made last summer. Both are super easy to make.

:: I cut the oilcloth to size and to keep it from flying up with the wind, I attached some old curtain clips around the edge of the table. And! I found a use for all those mateless earrings I’ve been holding onto.

:: I always grab sturdy, old metal things when I find them, even when I don’t know what I’ll use them for. Andy loves this habit of mine! Like the chain that holds the hummingbird feeder (garage sale) and the ring that holds the hanging geranium (found buried in garden) and the horseshoes that hold the tablecloth down (free pile).

I chose a red geranium for the hanging basket next to the hummingbird feeder because hummingbirds like red and I don’t want to dye the sugar water solution. It works! We are getting lots of hummingbirds.

:: The plastic school chairs are one of my favorite thrifts from a few years ago. They are durable and comfortable and work well to disguise the red railing that we don’t love (we plan to do horizontal cedar boards like the other railing and like our garden rain wall.)

:: I get asked a lot about this outdoor mat. It is entirely effortless regarding upkeep etc. It is woven plastic! There isn’t a backer or anything that could absorb stains or water. The first time I saw a mat like this was at my mother-in-law’s house and she had picked it up in Mexico (I think?). Anyway, they are so lovely to sit on and water just rolls right through.

:: For container plants I like to do herbs and succulents and a few flowers. The herbs we use all season, the succulents become houseplants or gifts and the flowers just because they are jolly. For the containers: freebies, thrifted. I am always looking for plant vessels. Herbs I purchased: tarragon, rosemary, lemongrass, cilantro, sage.

:: My kids love to play kitchen and restaurant. They spend hours writing up menus, taking orders, mixing and baking. We used to have a little red kitchen but they outgrew it and, since then, their concoctions have been concocted on our table. I saw a $.50 mint bowl at Goodwill a few weeks ago and it called to me. The bowl whispered I want to be a sink. Make a kitchen using the existing bench on your deck! (that we can’t sit on because it is falling apart).

A cut hole, a few nails and an assortment of second-hand kitchen things and we have a kitchen play space. I put it together when the kids were at a friends house. When they came home Ruby said it was the best gift she’d ever received. Yes.

I love it because they love it and also because this bench was previously a dead, useless space. Now, it is full of life and imagination.

I am a meanie and won’t let them use real food for play so the kids mostly bake with sawdust and used coffee grounds. Occasional bits of pinecone, dirt, watermelon rind etc.

:: This grapevine is quite old and giant. I pruned the heck out of it this spring and cannot believe how much new growth is bursting out as a result. Do you have good grape canning recipes? I think we are about to be into pounds and pounds of grapes.

:: Our table centerpiece is an old pot in a serving dish atop a thrifted doily. We surrounded the pot with found colored glass, much of it seaglass – a thoughtful gift from my friend Tammi. Antlers are from my uncle.

:: And, the best part of our deck is the life that happens there. Lots of food to be shared around this table, forts to be constructed, naps to be enjoyed, birds to be watched. With handstand and roundoff breaks, of course.


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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, empathetic 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

:: :: ::

*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! 😉

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