Showing newest 4 of 13 posts from 03.10. Show older posts
Showing newest 4 of 13 posts from 03.10. Show older posts


hump day nuggets: craftiness with eggs and such.

hump day nuggets: little bits of the season in photos and words about the last week

Huh. I wonder if I might be that ridiculous mom who hands out raisins on Halloween and stuffs Easter eggs with spinach. I promise I WON'T do those things because I am married to a man who values chocolate like many value sports cars and also I remember the taste of all that candy on those special occasions when I was a kid and I just will not be the turd in that punch bowl. Also, I don't think I am ridiculous. In general. But holy smokes with the peeps and robin's eggs and pastel m&m's that everyone wants so earnestly to feed my toddler.

Do I need to loosen up? Yes.


I mean, my family doesn't celebrate Easter as a christian holiday, we celebrate the day for vibrancy, new growth, spring and a wacky excuse to drink mimosas on a Sunday morning and hunt for eggs full of soy nuts, er, skittles in the back yard.

There is a whole new and SO FUN aspect to holidays now that Margot is old enough to flip out over the magic of it all. And I love getting crafty an creative with what I have laying around, making our own traditions and magic that doesn't involve spending of the cash money and subsequent garbage.

:: I came home from our week in Red Lodge to 30 eggs and Andy had been eating two a day and had given a dozen away. Our happy hens are quite productive. (Holy hell I am so thankful I don't ovulate every day.)

We made our own egg dye (left to right: paprika, plum, tumeric, blueberry) and slowly beautified our brown eggs all day on Sunday.


Paprika did exactly nothing except look pretty for this photograph. That lone glass of dirt water at the back was my attempt at boiling some dandelion greens. Also, not pictured is coffee, which was my favorite (speckled egg, center, below).


To make egg dye, mix a cup of water with a tablespoon of white vinegar and add pigmenting stuff. For fruit, use salt instead of vinegar. I boiled the blueberries and plums (I actually used last season's plum butter!) with the water and pressed the liquid through a strainer.

The whole process was quite beautiful and very fun.


:: I've never been much for holiday decoration but I was completely smitten with this little nest I saw. It was a fabulous project for Margot who loves nothing more than the following: 1. glue 2. getting messy 3. birds 4. scissors 5. dipping objects into liquid.

So, to make, cut up paper into strips.


Mix a few tablespoons of clear-drying glue with a cup of water. Flip a bowl upside down and cover the bottom with saran wrap.


Immerse the paper strips in the glue mixture and coat the bottom of the bowl. Add a few dry strips to the outside when done.


Let set for a few hours and peel off. Let dry and that's one stinkin' cute nest.


And one stinkin' cute kid who is so proud of her nest.


And three stinkin' cute chickens who laid some sweet eggs to go in the nest.


We made two nests out of one paper bag. I thought we could find egg-shaped rocks to paint and place in the nest. I was certain Margot would be so excited for this. We went outside and I picked up a rock and said, Hey, bug, this looks like an egg. And she said, No. That's a rock, mom.


And so we just collected cool rocks. And she has no desire to paint them. So we have a nest of rocks.


:: I have been thinking on the plastic egg schtick for a while. I just don't want them but I enjoy the concept of them. I found these sweet crocheted eggs and coveted them and wished I crocheted but settled on sewing some egg bags for stuffing with CANDY and hiding all about. Also if I crocheted I'd make an Easter egg basket out of plastic bags but instead I think I will buy one of these beauties. Seriously, how fabulous is etsy??

Ok eggs. At first I used woven fabric, lined and turned. But, this mama needed something quicker than that. During a 3:30am breastfeeding session I remembered I had a ton of scrap felt from Margot's birthday party...felt=EASY.


I cut out two pieces of felt, embellished a bit or not, machine-stitched up and over the top 3/4 of the egg and then made a drawstring at the bottom with yarn.


These seriously took no time at all. You could really get crazy cute if you wanted...I was tempted but then I reminded myself it was midnight and these are egg bags.


:: I am working on a new shirt line of fruits and veggies. They'll be out by May. My trip across Montana was also for business and I gained a few new shops: The Natural Baby Company in Bozeman and The Glass Rabbit in Red Lodge. Perhaps a shop in Helena too...also, I just dropped an armload of Montana shirts off at Blackbird here in Missoula!


:: And now for the non-egg craftiness portion of today's post.


:: Virgin Harvest High Mowing Organic Seed Winners:
  1. Katie, Denver, Colorado: first pumpkin patch and first time canning food
  2. Heidi, Naples, Florida: first aero garden
  3. Jodi: first time starting own seedlings, all organic veggies, growing rhubarb, potatoes, broccoli
  4. Erika, Missoula, Montana: first garden
  5. DC, Fort Collins, Colorado: first time growing onions and celeriac from seed and a string bean variety suited to drying.
Congrats! E mail me at digthischick at g mail dot com with your address. Also, I'd like to try to customize the seeds you receive, so tell me what your heart desires. Or, if you want to be surprised, I can do that too! Those who missed out on the giveaway, you can still join the fun.

:: Black Dog Publishing sent me a copy of Kids in the Garden: Growing Plants for Food and Fun to review.


Oh this book is fabulous! It is super informative and fun, full of recipes, projects and great information about soil and plant structure, how to grow different veggies and fruits, birds and bees (not in that way). I really love it a lot.


***Black Dog Publishing is offering dig readers a 40% discount on this title; just enter 'dig this chick offer' in an e mail to jess at blackdogonline dot com.***

(This also reminds me that today is the last day to enter 'dig this' at checkout to receive 15% off your Sprout Pouch purchase.)

:: Paige is really proud of our compost.


:: Getting outside feels so good this time of year. A coat should probably be worn but it doesn't have to be. Our entire household is loving the thawed earth.


:: I talked about Mount Maurice being my favorite mountain, protecting Red Lodge. This old maple in our backyard is my favorite tree and the guardian of our little family. Love this tree.


My mom arrives in town today (!) and this Sunday we'll celebrate by gathering with friends, eating amazing bread and an egg or nine, dancing, singing, watching spinach grow and discovering colorful bags full of treats under this very solid, very special tree.

What are you celebrating right now?


moving earth

Well I came home to tulips doing sun salutes. The snow has melted, even in the always-shady areas of my backyard. The rich compost is turned and the rain barrels are open, ready to receive water. Barely visible, my spinach and lettuce will put meaty, sun-warmed salad on my dinner table in a few weeks.


I also came home to my giant package of High Mowing Organic Seeds! Oh the beautiful little promise rattles. Margot immediately grabbed the Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato, her little mouth forming and 'o'. Oh how she loves strawberry pillows. I find it thoroughly incredible that one priority mail manila envelope full of tiny freckles will feed my family for the next year.


Don't forget to become a Virgin Harvester by trying something for the first time this year! So far, there are 43 participants doing very cool stuff. This is great and all, but, really people, come on and sign up for the fun. And, leave a comment here or on facebook for a CHANCE TO WIN your very own selection of organic seeds! (if you haven't read the interview with HMOS, consider taking the time to do it. Good, inspiring stuff).

OK, Nici, how about your Virgin Harvest? Glad you asked.
  • My first time hunting. My uncle is taking me out this fall. This summer, I am taking hunter's safety and holding a gun for the first time in my life. I will be writing about this more...I am looking forward to ethically and sustainably harvesting meat for my family.
  • My first time growing long season fruit and vegetables from seed for my home garden. When I worked on the farm, I started 3000 organic tomato seeds every March. But without a greenhouse or grow lights at home, my seed starts have croaked when transplanted because they were too weak and leggy. This year I am borrowing space in my friend's greenhouse and doin' it up!
  • My first time putting up enough produce to feed my family for the year. Sure, we will supplement but our everyday staples of carrots, beets, cabbage, peas, tomatoes, beans, etc. will fill my freezer.
  • My first time growing so many new varieties! I am expanding my plot into my boulevard, nearly doubling my space. I'll post my to-grow list soon.

So, getting into the garden did my body and soul some great good last weekend. I had urges to just drop to my belly and roll around with worms in the thawed soil. Instead, I dug and turned and spread and sowed.

In this week's mama digs, I write about seeking and claiming uninterrupted time for me. Time where I get to do one thing for longer than seven minutes.

My back was aching, I was so thirsty and I had so much else to do. But there I was, digging dirt like my life depended on it. Click here to read the rest of this essay.



dig this sponsor: High Mowing Organic Seeds (giveaway!)

I am SO excited to brag about this month's sponsor: High Mowing Organic Seeds. This inspiring company describes itself as an independently-owned, farm-based organic seed company dedicated to providing high-quality certified organic seed to farmers and gardeners.


Started by Tom Stearns in 1996, the Vermont-based business has grown from a hand-made catalog offering 28 varieties to over 450 varieties of heirloom, open-pollinated and hybrid vegetables, flowers, herbs, garlic, potatoes and cover crops.

I believe it is now more important than ever to choose organic seed and food. As a consumer, I hold power in the future health of my community, my nation. Every time I spend a penny, I am voting for what my family values. And, we value nutrient rich food that was sustainably produced by farmers who value our planet.

I have used High Mowing Organic Seeds for years to grow food for my family and love them because:
  • They have a fantastic variety of seeds with great germination (including hundreds of varieties that grow vigorously in my zone 4 plot) that yield impressively flavored food.
  • They are a sustainable business, growing much of their seed on their 40-acre farm in Vermont and working with farmers and wholesale seed companies, both locally and across the county, to produce organic seed.
  • In their words, they believe in the importance of healthy food systems, which lead to healthy environments, healthy economies, healthy communities and healthy bodies. "Everyday that we are in business, we are working to provide an essential component in the re-building of our healthy food systems: the seeds."
Gourmet Lettuce Mix

I asked HMOS a few questions and the thoughtful and heartening answers make me even more smitten with my seeds. Yes, I have a crush on my seed company.
The boldness below is my own--parts I find particularly interesting and important.

Why are organic seeds from a reputable source important?

The importance of organic seed is often overshadowed by the importance of organic food. But whether or not seed crops are grown organically does have a significant impact on the environment and health of the surrounding communities.

Most crops grown for seed take longer to mature than food crops – the plant must go through its entire life cycle before seeds are mature, and even then there is often a period of curing or drying before seeds are ready to harvest. This lengthy process results in a greater window of time during which any number of pests and diseases can destroy the seed crop.
In conventional seed production, pesticides and fungicides are applied, often at much higher levels than are allowable for food crops. As the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association asks: “Is it fair for those [who support] organic agriculture to want our own farms and environments to be as free of toxins as possible, but expect seed production communities to carry a heavy toxic load so that we can plant cheap conventional seed?”

Need a few other reasons why choosing organic seed is important?
Varieties that are selected for organic seed production are ones that have proven success in organic growing conditions. In an organic garden, plants receive nutrients from complex fertilizers such as compost, so they need vigorous roots to seek out dispersed nutrients in the soil. Organic farmers and gardeners use less and milder applications for pest and disease protection, so plants are required to provide more of their own defense.

As more people use organic seed, the increased demand encourages more focus and funding on research and development of organic varieties, and allows continued improvement of current organic varieties.
When you buy organic seed, not only are you getting a “safe seed” and one that is grown in organic conditions like your own farm or garden, but you are supporting the future of organics.

Click here to read the Safe Seed Pledge

Your business has grown incredibly since it started in 1996. What are you most proud of and what keeps you doing this work?

I started the company out of a response to the negative trends I saw in agriculture and food systems in general: lack of locally grown food, loss of genetic diversity in our food plants, consolidation of the global seed industry, GMOs, the declining farm population and more. On this last point, the recent resurgence of young people farming and starting farms is very inspiring and gives me hope for the future. With the continuing surge of interest in local and organic vegetables, the market has never been better. At High Mowing we all feel truly blessed to be able to help our customers carry out the important work as growing food for themselves and their communities. Our customers are on the front lines of changing the way this country thinks about food. And because food connects us all so much, their work – your work – is also helping build strength in your community as well.

As a company we are very active in both our local community in Northern Vermont as well as in the wider organic and seed communities nationwide and even internationally. High Mowing is proud to support hundreds of community organizations and school gardens with seed donations, collaborate deeply with dozens of sustainable agricultural non-profits, and even fight for what we believe in with legal means (we jointly filed a lawsuit against the USDA regarding the release of GMO sugar beets). This involvement keeps us all hopeful that together we are making big changes in re-building our food system into something that supports self-reliance and true progress for our communities.

What advice do you have for beginning gardeners out there?

Starting small will allow you to supplement with veggies from the farmers’ market and feel confident in increasing the size the following year. Perhaps a raised bed for your transplants would be suitable for your first season.

Also, doing a little research about which varieties to grow will greatly increase your chance of success.
High Mowing Organic Seeds has identified over 85 varieties on our website as “easy to grow, indicating that these varieties are widely adapted to diverse growing conditions and climates, have great flavor, and are productive and straight-forward to grow.

With a little planning, a few materials and some seeds, you are about to embark on creating a sustainable food system for yourself. You will be saving money on purchasing the starts and saving on your food budget. In time you will be putting up your excess for the winter season. Happy Spring!

:: :: ::

And, the giveaway deets:

So, I mentioned last week that I was starting a Virgin Harvest: It's My First Time challenge for all of YOU out there:

This is the year you start a garden. Or, this is the year you grow heirloom tomatoes. Or, this is the year you put up enough carrots to feed your family through the winter. Or this is the year you grow basil on your window sill.

Anything, everything. Pick a thing, or a few, and grow it for the first time. Why not? It's guaranteed excitement and satisfaction coupled with epic nutrition and unrivaled flavor. Do it.

So, leave a comment telling me how you plan to be a Virgin Harvester and, for a little inspiration, I'll randomly select five people who will receive a generous selection of High Mowing Organic Seeds! (comments close next Tuesday, March 30, 6pm mst)

Also, to broadcast your participation, post the sweet little graphic I created just for your virgin self on your blog. Just click here and copy the image and paste in your sidebar. And, if you want you can link the image to this page where I will track participation.


hump day nuggets: Red Lodge

hump day nuggets: little bits of the season in photos and words about the last week

The girls and I had a great drive across this great state last week. I am often in such a hurry to get there to see my family that I don't absorb how surreally and serenely gorgeous the trip is. This time was different. No hurry, just a journey.

I could probably drive this very stretch of I-90 blindfolded. It's all valleys that open and close like deep breathes, some tight and s-shaped, some wide and o-shaped.

Mountains whisper from the north and sing from the south. Mountains moan from the west and beg from the east.

And, always storms are gossiping among the peaks and valleys.

And always the sky and earth kiss.

It was fun and empowering. Every time I do something with my kids that I haven't done before the act further proves that life with kids isn't remotely limiting unless you want it to be. Turns out seven hours singing the swimming song and looking for trains is totally doable and so fun.

And, since we arrived at grandma's house we've been:

:: Never tiring of hearing Margot intentionally call this animal poopypotamus.

:: Laying on the floor watching the sisters (and running interference).

:: Playing.

skirt above from our friend Casey and can be found here

:: Bathing in sinks.

:: Making.

:: Baking.

:: Rolling around with relatives.

:: Chewing, chewing on toys.

:: Watching snow fall.

:: And the the sun reemerge.

:: Seeing old friends and their kids.

:: Rolling over.

:: Afternoon martini-ing.

:: Walking around town. My favorite mountain in my whole world is Mount Maurice. It stands strong, but elegant at the south end of town. It holds a spiritual, grounded presence. I always think of it as Red Lodge's guardian.

:: Running with my aunt in her 'neighborhood'.

:: Jumping on beds.

:: Daring mama to get mad.

:: Wishing the toddler hair tease would last forever.

:: Jogging for fun.

:: Gazing adoringly.

:: Working but always making time for hugs.

:: Laughing (I couldn't ask for a more fabulously funny and loving mother-in-law. She's one of my best friends. Yes, I know how lucky I am.).

:: Romping in my aunt and uncle's backyard, with Mount Maurice watching over us.

:: Loving.

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