hump day nuggets: harvest

hump day nuggets: bits of the season in photos and words

At the dinner table last week, Ruby leaned back and the entire top half of the chair crashed to the floor. She – with her bendy, snappy reflexes – was unscathed. The chair remained that way for a few days, the top and rungs in a sad heap on the floor. On Friday, I armed myself with wood glue and a drill and fixed that chair and the other three thrifted chairs that were also all wobbly and crooked. We now have four stable seats around our table.

After months of playing outside and several weekends away, it felt so good to button up, mend, fix and make our home this last week. I love ignoring homestead tasks in favor of adventuring and I equally love turning my attention to the details of our homestead. The seasonal change always lures my organizational muse in for a visit.


:: This old grapevine is nearly two stories tall and produces a ton of grapes every year. We’ve had two botched batches of jelly. This year, I’m hoping for success with the grapes we have left – Ruby has been training the chickens to catch grapes.

:: Our mild fall finally delivered a decent frost two days ago, officially turning all those bright blooms into carbon bits for next year’s crops.

:: We have been enjoying making Alice’s food. Except for the puréeing of bison liver during which time I think about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens while holding my breath. Broccoli has always been her favorite vegetable and our plants have continued to put out little shoots that we steam and chop up in her meals. Ruby calls first dibs though.

:: Margot’s favorite chore is collecting eggs.

:: I spent most of Sunday in the garden, with the rotating company of variety of domestic and wild creatures.

:: We harvested the last of the beets and holy smokes this year’s crop may have finally produced enough beets for our family for the winter.

:: Raking up leaves which we will lay over the garden after we weed and plant garlic. Sculpture by Nathan Tonning.

:: Inside, we tidied and cozied up the space in which we will spend more time during the coming months. The stove is on. The wool blankets are draped over chairs.

My friend started a new business – The Dharma Door – that designs & sources Fair Trade, sustainable homewares and lifestyle products. Their mission is to bridge the gap between ethical production and contemporary style.

She and her family are offering you all a coupon code, good for 15% off your purchases: DIGTHISCHICK.

The Dharma Door sent us a few items and, honestly, I am just in love with them all. We don’t have much storage space in our home so I am always interested in attractive, functional solutions. Functional meaning it works, stands up to kid use and lasts a long time. Attractive being the most important thing to me. I believe there is no need to have anything in my home I don’t love to look at.

Solution #1. Shoes! I try to keep it simple here but still, my daughters each have four pairs of shoes. And then slippers and winter boots. We seriously don’t have anywhere for them to go! Their small shared closet is full and we don’t have a mud room. I am so pleased with the Hessian Sack. It’s beautiful enough to sit in our living room (and smartly covers the giant vent in the wall) and conveniently stores the shoes.

Solution #2. Stuffies! My daughters’ room holds all their stuff, which includes dress up, art supplies, books, dolls, instruments and toys. I’ve discovered that frequent rearranging of their things encourages fresh play with forgotten toys so, I change up their room often. The stuffed toys are a big favorite and the Loomed Basket is the perfect place for them to live. It is generously sized, super sturdy and easy to drag around the house.

Solution #3. Untouchables! I keep certain art supplies out of reach. Like, pastels, puffy paint, the effing rainbow loom, clay and beads. The top shelf is for moms and dads to help. The Hessian Bucket Duos are perfect for storage — they are a great size and are adorable.

Want to win something? Yep. The Dharma Door is generously giving away a Loomed Basket and a Summer Stripes Tote (I also have this tote and LOVE it; it goes everywhere with me. See a snap of it in action here). Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win! Winners will be randomly selected on Monday, November 3 at 8am MST. And, support this lovely company; use code DIGTHISCHICK for 15% off.

*WINNER* of the Loomed Basket: lucky #8. Congrats Jayne!

*WINNER* of the Summer Stripes Tote: lucky #78. Congrats Barbara!

Thanks, Dharma Door!

I’m hanging up my gardening gloves this coming weekend. We will soon be in ski mittens. First, Halloween and Day of the Dead. Then a five year old’s birthday, Thanksgiving. A seven year old’s birthday, Christmas. We are entering a season of big celebration around here. We will be enjoying those mended chairs often, I’m certain.

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We are all in this together.

Last night I lay in bed with my kids and a sea of stuffed animals, talking about a new piece of art that hung in our kitchen.

Me: Are there things I always say?

Ruby: Maaaaamaaaa. You ALWAYS say ‘I love you.’ And we totally already know you love us!

Margot: When we are crazy you say, ‘Sisters. Take it down a notch.’

Ruby: And you always say Oh! Look at the beautiful mountains! Or look at the beautiful dirt! And we already know what it all looks like!

Margot: You are always yelling for us to shut the door so the chickens don’t come and poop in the living room.

It went on for a bit and made me laugh. The things we say over and over again.

Last month I saw an image of a piece of art on instagram and knew I needed to own it. It was meant for me. You’d think I commissioned it. I bought it. I hung it yesterday, in the heart of our home.

This piece resonates so deeply with me because I say these words to my children daily, usually more than once. When the girl’s room is covered in every article of clothing they own and it is time to pick it up. Inevitably one will say But I didn’t DO this. She did! And I say, I’m here too and we will all help. We are all in this together. When secrets and exclusion unfold during a many-child play date. Let’s find a game that feels good to everyone. We are all in this together. When hiking and we pick up somebody else’s trash. It’s not about who left it here or why. It’s about what needs to be done with it, for the animals who live here. We are all in this together. When on a road trip that feels too long for everyone. Take a deep breath my chickens. We are moving forward but it will take time. We are all in this together. When a person makes a choice different than the one we make. People are different and have different opinions. We get to learn from each other. We are all in this together. 


It is by Leah Boelman. She stitches yarn through wood and paints. It is easy to love everything she makes. Find Leah here: little green things / on instagram @littlegreenthings

We are all in this together. I believe it. We are a team. Our actions, our choices, the things we say – they are our vote for the kind of world we want.

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making space

We camp every fall in a valley southeast of where we live.

Cold, goldenrod trees against bruised sky.

No cell service, continually stoked campfire.

Everywhere to explore.

Brown trout dancing up river, fat bodies leaping up high to help shake eggs into the frigid water. All day, all night: plop, thunk, splash as their bodies reenter the current.

Our arrival, just as the sun set. A baby moose walking along the bank. Careful, be slow the mamas say to the excited kids who sit on knees across the river from the moose. The mamas know the moose mama was one of the tree shadows. The mamas watch and wait as one of those shadows stirs and slunks into the crimson dogwood branches, baby by her side.

Shared meals made on camp stoves. Mama, where are my mittens?  Easy, early campfire conversations about Halloween costumes, dogs and canning recipes. Spirited, late campfire conversations about ebola, gun control and taxes. Dada, can I please have one more s’more?

Morning air that shows breath, thick and cold. Hard to get out of sleeping bags so we stay a little bit longer and hope someone else is up making a fire. The men rise and leave for the fishing hole, before the moonlight gives into the sunlight. Nobody else is making a fire. So we do it. We can’t wait for the glory of that heat.

The kids play hard. The van is a ship, the snag is a castle, the cubby between the willows is a fairy classroom, the camper a space ship.

We love coffee.

A storm tumbles up the river. The sky is cement and then navy and then graphite. Kids and dogs wait in tents, giggling at the cozy drama. Aspen leaves rain as the grown ups grab and throw everything in the cars, stake down tents. We drive to a restaurant for dinner. It passes quickly into liquid onyx.

^ from our tent, slow shutter speed in the middle of the night ^

The second night is a few degrees warmer. I fall asleep with the kids after reading two chapters of Little House on Silver Lake. Hours later I wake to a loud rumble. A gallop, I decide. A big animal, I am certain. It rushes past the tent and I make sure I am really awake. I listen. I hear my heart in my ears. I peek out the tiny side window and in perfect foggy silhouette against our neighbor’s camper is a bull moose. He stands as tall as the camper. He stands still to make sure I can really see him. I wake Andy. We watch as he silently slips into the night. It makes a good story the next morning, many times. Tell us again mama!

I tell it again. Again. We squeeze a last few things out of this place and pack up. Say goodbye to friends. I wish we could stay for a few more days. We head toward the highway and our phones ding with missed texts and voicemails. I again have access to shop sales, emails, instagram. I resist it for a while, treasuring the simplicity of not having that access, allowing myself to ease back into those responsibilities. I remember I felt anxious, wound-tight when we left. I remember to feel thankful for this reset, for my softened headspace.

Getting out, looking up and breathing in. A river’s wake, an owl’s song. Campfire warmed faces, pajamaed bike rides. Fish stories, deeper laugh lines each October. New puppies, kids and old dogs. The adults are in the middle somewhere, on this life span, tending to it all, making space for the tending. Making space for space.

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In the last week

Ruby announced she is a vegetarian. Except she maybe plans to eat hotdogs once a year when camping with her cousins.

I remembered all those years I was a vegetarian as I made a huge loaf of buffalo liver, pork shoulder, squash, rice, egg, egg shells and carrots for Alice’s food for the week.

Margot lost two teeth in one day.

The sun shone so steady and bright and warm that it felt like summer.

We turned on the furnace to take the edge off those 35 degree mornings and it felt like fall.

We turned over garden beds to make room for garlic.

I found boots I loved. And there was one pair left, in my size and half off.

Andy made me coffee every morning when I forced my eyelids open for another day of squeezing computer work into every available nook of my day and night.

WE COMPLETED OUR NEW SHOP WEBSITE! I am so happy to share with you


>> We hand-cut and stitch every single state, country, province, island, continent, lake, etc. to your unique specifications. For the love of place. >> We use designer knit fabrics. Our appliqués do not fray; they hold shape wash after wash, wear after wear. >> Our wares and wears are made for roughhousing. We make things to be used and loved and passed along to little sister. Monkey bar approved. >> Our materials are sustainably sourced. We pay our employees a living wage. From packing materials to baby blankets to the businesses we buy supplies from, we choose recycled and organic and companies that share our values. >> The majority of our goods are sewn with my grandma’s Singer Featherweight sewing machine. >> It’s all made with love in a small Montana studio (usually with a variety of kids and animals underfoot). Click here to meet our team. We are gearing up for a big holiday season over here and would appreciate your help sharing our new shop website! Coupon code HECKYEAH will be valid until October 18. with love, dig

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bang bang

Margot had a nightmare a few days ago. That she was playing with a friend and an aggressive dog came at her, tried to bite her. She explained.

It was Alice. But I didn’t know her. I mean, she wasn’t our pet. I had never seen her before. But it was her. And she tried to bite me.

I wasn’t asleep when Margot pressed her body in between Andy and me in the middle of the night, telling us about her dream. I have had trouble sleeping since we got the news about Alice one week ago. She has chronic kidney disease.

My heart actually aches and tears come at really inconvenient times. I do not talk myself out of feeling sad but I sometimes wish I could pull it together. I’ve had long nights where, no matter how hard I try, I cannot turn off the painful and detailed imagining of life without Alice. I am very aware of the privilege we have in a diagnosis. And the privilege we have in not knowing much beyond right now, where she is happy and able. Oh and the privilege of so much information and easy access to it.

Andy went fishing with friends last weekend and I cancelled all plans. We stayed home, my daughters and me.


:: Watched the leaves change color and fall, the sky tumble from bluebird to graphite and back again. Changed from tank tops to puffy coats and back again.

:: Listened to the wind and rain, read books, watched Girls Just Want to Have Fun (twice), sold our couch on Criagslist and made a fort of the living room.

:: Argued. The girls either played together like the river’s current or like sparring elk. I either parented with a swan’s grace or that of a badger. We lacked middle ground and sat right in the real, messy feelings. We hiked many times, twice at Margot’s suggestion when things felt tight and hot, like we needed space. It worked. We spread out, took turns running, came back together.

:: Gardened. Piled weeds in the field and food on the kitchen floor. Canned roasted corn salsa, salsa verde and plum jam. Still so much to do.

^photo by Ruby^

Thinking about the seasons. In life, in a year. The bounty and generosity; the disappointment and unpredictability. I know it is popular to speak of ‘living in the moment’ and I know some roll eyeballs at the impracticality, inconvenience. But we must do it. We must pick tomatoes when they are ripe, walk up hills when our kids want to and kiss our dog’s fuzzy gray cheeks. And we must be gentle with ourselves and trust in the importance of when we have to ‘live in the moment’ of dishwasher unloading and bill paying and saying just one minute to our kids. Being present doesn’t equate joy or ease. Being present equates whatever it is we are.

I took the kids to the university homecoming parade last weekend. We stood a block from my dad’s childhood home and I remembered being my daughters’ ages, there. I noticed Ruby was holding her breath. I asked her about it.

Oh mama, when I hear drums and horns BANG BANG in real life I feel like it happens in my heart. And I can’t breathe. It’s so awesome.


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