Showing newest 6 of 9 posts from 11.10. Show older posts
Showing newest 6 of 9 posts from 11.10. Show older posts


my life in snow


It's snowy here and when the snow flies so do emotions, ski wax and goggles. Ski season has arrived and with it comes many hours spent bundling and unbundling bodies. Also, most notably, with it comes our annual conversations about the reasonability of cyber-stalking storms and wishing we could teleport to Utah for the weekend.

Ah, skiing.

It's a huge part of our lives. I love it and my man loves it more. I wrote about a personal subject in this week's mama digs. See, snow and Andy's corresponding sport of choice are his religion. And, while I sincerely love him for his winter weather passion, sometimes I want to move to Hawaii so we can avoid the winter weather passion. Andy always reads what I write about him and I was a bit nervous this week because it's all about him. And, he read it and said we needed to talk. I thought shit, he's not into it but he told me to take out a section where I bragged about some of his skiing badassness (yeah, he is super sexy modest) and he said, "Jackson rarely gets five feet in one storm. You should change that to Snowbird." Swear. 861 words about him and he noticed my meteorological error. Yeah, love him.

Read all about all of this in chasing storms.

Also, for those who were busy brining turkeys, practicing touch football and fashioning napkin holders out of egg cartons, last week's mama digs is all about what I think of social networking. 


hump day nuggets: thankful

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

This hump day falls on the one day between Ruby's first birthday and Thanksgiving. And, really, I have just two nuggets today. The second nug, however, is a big ol' nug.

:: Nugget #1: Everyone seems to have opinions about social media, myself included. I think that in a world that feels bigger and scarier than it did when I was a kid, my online community shines light on life’s authentic beauty, the same beauty that motivated me to have children. Read more in my mama digs column, my social network.

:: Nugget #2: Ruby is one.

I was hanging with girlfriends the other day proclaiming my lament that the English language doesn't have a word that I need on occasion. There's blessed, lucky and fortunate. None these work for me. Heather immediately said thankful. At first I said no no that's not quite right for what I want to convey... but then she said, All those other words happen to you. 'Thankful' puts the action in your hands. Yes. That's it. That's why I don't like those other words. Those words say some other power or randomness sculpt my feelings and riches. But, thankful? Thankful says I own my feelings and define my riches.


I am thankful for Ruby Jane. My leapshin sweet potato pie rubes stinker chicken green bean rhubarb. Love her so.

One. It seems big. I know she's small. But, One.


11.22.10, 11:10pm
Dear Ruby,

I got home not too long ago. I was sipping wine with best friends. We went to leave the cozy downtown confines and stepped outside and then right back inside because the snow and wind blurred our vision and inhibited our good byes.

Now I sit in my warm living room, understanding more than ever before why it is called a living room. One year ago right this minute, I felt a shift and a gush and knew I'd meet you soon. Andy thought it'd still be a week or so but I thought just maybe...

It wasn't this blustery last year. Right now wind is audible even over our forced-air heat that hums as you, your sister and papa sleep. It's 10 degrees outside and dropping like a stone to a creek bottom.

I remember sitting up staring at the birthing tub in my kitchen, staring at my belly wondering who you were. I couldn't wait to hold you outside my body.


11.23.10, 8:23am
Dear Ruby,

A year ago Margot was at Laura's house across the alley and the day was just overcoming night, barely brightening behind the curtains in my bedroom. Labor was fast and intense once the sun came up. I leaned against my bed holding your dad's hands and stared into his eyes. He was so steady, he knew you'd wiggle out soon.


11.24.10, 6:47pm
Dear Ruby,

A year ago I fell in love with you more quickly than I had thought I would when I imagined meeting you. We spent the first days of your life within a few feet of the place you were born. Our village visited our home and they all said you were beautiful.

Yesterday we rolled and laughed on our bed and I couldn't stop thinking about how you were born on that same bed. I held you for the first time in the cool morning light on that bed.


We went to breakfast with friends at Ruby's Caf矇, a place I've never been but wanted to go since you were born. That afternoon you and Margot napped while Chelci and I rearranged furniture, spread paper and art supplies across the floor and cooked.

a hurried photo because our nostrils were freezing together

Last night we had a party for you. It was totally nuts with 25 adults and 15 kids huddled in our living space. It was the warmest night we are to have this week and the temperature was 1 degree. The pack of two, three and four year-olds moved quickly among the grown-up legs and you were mostly on my hip, in your dad's arms or on Pam's lap chewing a baguette. I was bummed the squash barley risotto I lovingly prepared all afternoon didn't cook up like it ought but everyone was cool with it. We ate it anyway and our amazing friends found compliments in the crispy porridge. They are good people, your people.

We sang to you and the noise boomed through our small home. At first you were startled and I touched your cheek with my one hand that wasn't holding a cupcake and you understood you were hearing the sound of love. You eagerly went to bed and we continued to talk and sip and watch the herd of three foot-tall kids remove clothing, draw all over their bodies and marvel at the newly discovered canvas of skin.

It was a really good day. I love you to the moon and back. I am thankful.


Happy Thanksgiving out there.


making art with my kids

When Margot was born, there were certain things I couldn't wait for. I mean I loved the whole wee baby thing but I daydreamed about her toddling around the garden with me and I couldn't wait to witness her uninhibited self-expression.

I love it: Margot visits her art table regularly throughout the day.

We lose that. I am not sure when but, eventually, we become self-conscious about making art. We start to compare our abilities to others, we decide we aren't "good" at some things. We stop painting purple amoebas and calling it grass. We start making vertical green lines at the bottom of the page because that's what grass looks like.


Art is really important in our home. We prioritize making it, looking at it and purchasing it. So, Andy and I really wanted our kids to have a dedicated creative space where they could have unguided art making experiences whenever they wanted. I don't want to be a freaky parent all crazy obsessed with my kids being creative geniuses, I just want my kids to have fun exploring art (although, honestly, I do swell at how Margot talks about the museum and how she recognizes the subtleties of different tones and knows how to mix her own black...).

The greatest art apron of all time: the tie and neck loop are all one piece and adjusts with one hand to fit any sized kid

So in the last three years, I have learned a lot about making art with kids and how to encourage without restricting, how to create space for expression. I have gathered my information from my colleagues at the museum and through trial and error. I rarely do 'how-tos' on my blog but I get asked about our approach quite a bit so today I am sharing some of what works for my family.

:: an art area ::

Having a designated art spot eliminates the time and effort of lugging out supplies, cleaning up and putting away. It's all always available whenever a mood strikes and since we created this space, the mood strikes many times a day. For more info about how we created this space, click here.

Buckets are out of reach for smallest kids and shelf is out of reach for small kids (or so I thought).

:: new supplies ::

Sure we always have a little supply of pencils and crayons but new tools generate new enthusiasm. Many of our favorites come from Walking Stick Toys and I am happy this cool, environmentally-friendly, family-owned, Missoula-based business is a new sponsor!


eco paint: it comes as a powder and Margot loves to mix it herself.

Also, it's handmade with flour, cornstarch, seaweed, natural and organic fruit, plant and vegetable extracts from beets, spinach, paprika, carrots, purple sweet potato, red cabbage, blueberries and tomatoes. In other words, when Ruby inevitably puts it in her mouth, it's totally ok. 

A lot of the time I just dig through what we've got. 'New stuff' doesn't necessarily have to mean brand new, purchased at the store. And while I don't might investing in high quality art supplies, I do not like buying craft store tsotchkes that end up in the trash. Ball point pens, dad's carpenter pencils, shaving cream with food coloring, fabric scraps, dried grass. It more about re-purposing something, finding new use. In the summer we take our paint outside and paint rocks (easy to do with paint made from food). Mudworks is a fabulous book with more than 100 recipes for making clay, dough and sculpting material. 

Speaking of sculpting material, play dough is a favorite in our home. It has endless possibilities for cramming into containers, shaping, cutting, stacking, stabbing. We just open up the kitchen utensil drawer and have at it. Play dough is never boring.

Best Kid Gift of All Time: Last year Margot received a birthday gift of homemade play dough and this play kitchen utensil set. Play dough is a snap to make. It lasts way, way longer than the store bought stuff and eliminates all that packaging. Best play dough recipe here.

:: blank paper ::

I won a Hello Kitty coloring contest when I was six and got to have BREAKFAST WITH HELLO KITTY. I loved coloring books just as much as the next kid...but...blank paper allows for so much more. Kids don't draw a sun like a circle and lines coming out the sides until they are told or shown that is what it is supposed to look like. I want to avoid this kind of imitation. I want to see how Margot sees the sun.


A side note: I am becoming increasingly agitated at all the pre-fabricated kid toys out there. Everything is a kit. It's hard to find a box of legos, you have to buy a particular truck and then build it just like the instructions tell you to. Remember legos and making up your own truck never to be duplicated? 

Anyway, we buy rolls of newsprint or banner paper and keep a piece always attached to the table. This also reduces waste because one piece is added to for many days. When it's done, it's wrapping paper.

Ah! Margot is so teeny here!

When on the go we love scrap paper from recycling and blank books.


:: create together ::

Margot loves to do what I do. Whether it's weeding, washing dishes, applying lipstick or skiing. 

I bristle a bit when people declare that they don't have a creative bone in their body or they can't even draw a straight line. Because I just don't believe it and, also, little spongey kids may start to wonder the same thing about's like all things with parenting (I have to remind myself daily), modeling is the best way to teach. You know, like, I should say thank you if I want my kid to say thank you. Same goes with art-making. When I sit and create, push myself alongside my kid. It's amazing what happens for both of us.


:: observe, ask questions ::

More than anything, Margot just wants me to notice what she's doing. She wants me to pay attention. Sometimes I don't need to say a thing. I try to be specific when I tell Margot what I like about her work. Instead of good job cutting! I will say I really like that shape right there. It looks like a flamingo to me. It encourages her to start looking more at art, both at her own and others. 

We LOVE these glass crayons. They are vibrant and fun and wipe off with a wet rag.

What do you see? is pretty much the only question I ask Margot when we look at art. It leaves a lot of room for many good answers. And, now, she asks me that question. We'll be in a gallery looking at a sculpture and she'll say, mama, what do you see? And I tell her and then she says, Oh, well, I's something.


Walking Stick Toys has a special deal for you: 20% off your purchase! Use coupon code 'DIGCHICK' at checkout. Baby toys, art supplies, books, dress up, instruments, games...there's something for every kid on your holiday list. Thank you, Walking Stick Toys!


hump day nuggets: soup, no soup

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

From the moment fall begins exhaling deep-hued leaves, we eat soup more than we don't. Before I can even think about what to have for dinner I have chopped an onion and tossed it into hot olive oil at the bottom of a pot.


I love soup in all it's wonderful brothy, stewy, chunky, smooth variations. Trouble is I am married to a man who enjoys dinners that are served on a plate and involve cutting and using a fork. To him, soup is the prologue, not the climax.


I have tried for 13 years to change his mind. And he's tried for 13 years to tell me his mind isn't changing. Our compromise is that a thick, nook-and-crany loaf always accompanies our soup and he smiles while gratefully eating the spoon-only meal I prepare. Also, he is a wonderful cook and never (like literally never, not even one time EVER) makes soup.

Ruby is signing like crazy! It is such a relief to know what she needs. Here, she is signing 'more.' See, she loves my soup.

I worked one college summer at a health food store and I made the daily soups. I think that's where my soup obsession began. See I was the $8/hour employee but the owner was gone a lot (and that's being generous) so I opened and closed the store, made the food, placed orders. It was such fun and I learned that a great soup can be made out of anything. Oh how I loved the challenge of a wilted bunch of spinach and sorry pile of ginger. I swooned over taking a neglected pantry and cooking up a mouth-watering meal.

So, yes, I love soup but I wish I wasn't so predictable with my cool weather menu. BUT soup is just such a *perfect* way to use all the food we grew this summer. And, one ingredient can inspire the greatest soup. Thai chicken with rice or beet carrot or squash sage....ah, like I was saying...

Mom, stop talking about soup.

A few weeks ago I set out to get some creative non-soup items in my winter recipe tool belt that:

- are easy
- use food we grew and preserved last summer
- every single person in my family will eat without grimacing

SO, after some trials and errors we have several new-to-us delicious meals that meet the above criteria. I'll share them little by little with you all, starting with one recipe this week. And, I would love to hear any recipes you have in your favorites file!

:: Every once in a while I am struck by a moment that I know will be one of those snippets I remember with warm, fuzzy nostalgia. Often, these moments occur as I am feeling depleted and hurried and then I realize my zipper has been down for five hours of errand-running. I am madly chopping and then I stop and look up to see one of those moments.


So the twitchiness melts and I watch my girls. Sisters. And then they catch my smiling eye and come screaming in the kitchen to help.


:: Yam and Black Bean Burritos :: serves four

I posted a what are you having for dinner? inquiry on my facebook page a bit ago and someone mentioned yam and black bean burritos. I seriously couldn't stop thinking about this brilliant flavor combination. We had an ok, could be better experience last week and, then!! Then I perfected the wrapped deliciousness.

- olive oil
- two cups black beans (Whenever I take the time to make beans, I am BLOWN AWAY at the flavor difference.)
- two yams, chunked
- one onion, chopped
- 1/4-1/2 cup water
- six cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp whole cumin
- salt
- cilantro, chopped
- plain yogurt (whole milk really is the best)
- purple cabbage, shredded
- flour tortillas

     *local food used: onion, garlic, tortilla, cabbage


Make beans or open a can. Add a bit of oil to a skillet with the cumin. Heat on high until fragrant, about three minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add onions. Cook until onions are transparent, about five minutes. Add yams and garlic. Add 1/4 cup of water, reduce heat and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or so, stirring often. You may have to add a bit more water to keep it steamy in there. Let it get gooey and caramely. Turn the burner off and let it sit while you put your kids to bed, even better. Add salt. Heat tortillas and layer this way: beans, yams, cabbage, cilantro, yogurt. The whole fam loves it.

:: Ruby yells all day long. Like, piercing screams. Sister likes her voice but Margot and mama are not so smitten. I call her my little pterodactyl.


:: Margot painted my toenails. Which it totally great with me. In fact, probs the only way I feel normal with paint on my toes is if they look like this. I am just not a colored toenail girl.


tartress, Anna Visscher

:: I adore our new sponsor, tart! Owned and operated by the tartress, Anna Visscher, tart is a boutique featuring handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories, art, pottery...tons of wonderful stuff, definitely something for every person on your holiday shopping list.

Speaking of holiday shopping, a few years back my family decided to give the gift of handmade for holidays. It's great fun to either make gifts or hunt for the perfect, handmade object to give. The smokin' hot tartress featured to the left makes it easy to directly support artists. Yay, tart!

The boutique is located in Bozeman, Montana and, lucky for you, online!

you could win me!
tart is offering dig readers a few fabulous opportunities:

* A CHANCE TO WIN! Visit the site, pick out your favorite item and leave a comment telling us about it for a chance to win the Drop Dirt Gorgeous Necklace, made in Bozeman by tartist Melissa Steinhauer, using real Montana Dirt as a pigment! You know I love dirt and here's a chance to wear dirt around your neck! LOVE it. (Comments will close on 11/21 and winner will be announced at the bottom of this post.)

* FREE SHIPPING! Mention 'dig this' and get free shipping through the end of November OR if you happen by the boutique in Bozeman, mention 'dig this' to get $5 off your purchase of $25 or more.

Thank you, tart!

:: A group of us mamas have this Thursday night happy hour thing happening. Last week it was at my house. Four mamas and eight daughters. I am still discovering purses full of play dough and baby doll shoes around my house.


:: Rhubarb playing peek-a-boo. She doesn't quite get that the peeking and booing happens because of hands over eyes. When prompted, she just sweeps her hands up to her head and then giggles uncontrollably.


:: Walked into the studio to snag my fam and this is what I saw:


:: A recent conversation:

"Mama, I want to watch a movie."
"Margot, it's not even seven o'clock. How bout we have breakfast and go to the library..."
"MAMA. I want to watch a movie. And drink juice."
"Bug, let me make some coffee and then we can..."
"This is MY life."

I laughed so hard. I asked where she heard that and she told me that she heard it from herself.


:: We did make it to the library.


:: I really can't get enough of the girls playing together. Although I'll be excited when Ruby can fend off Margot's steamrolling, dragging and tickling.


:: My little creative soul can often be found at her art table.


:: Next nuggets, she'll be one.


************COMMENTS CLOSED************
Random winner of tart giveaway:
Jennifer said...

Happy Birthday Ruby! Love your shit kickers. Margot - you're a force of nature that cracks us up. Love your style. Love your comments. Sending me to a store like Tart and asking to pick 1 thing is quite impossible. I will go with the get hammered belt buckle. Love, love, love upcycled jewelry. Now I gotta go back to the comment from Melinda and check out her 3 different soups! Love soups. Made a hell of a lot of squash-based ones so far. Yum. Have a great week. -Jennifer


nine to five

It's been nearly a year since I left my job at our local museum to be home with my girls and stitch together writing and sewing to create income. I was nervous for the change, totally unsure. Also, really excited and pretty damn sure.

Sometimes I feel like my generation is plagued with too many good choices. I don't mean to sound spoiled. It's just that all these choices and ways to experience success makes many of my friends feel claustrophobic. I have a friend who rents a small house that she shares with a roommate, works very little and travels a lot. She wonders if she should 'settle down.' I have friends who are rooted deep with kids in school, home and work who wonder if they should sell everything, pack up the family and save sea turtles in Costa Rica.


Married or not, kids or not, lifetime career or waitress/ski bum, homebody or world traveler...there are a lot of great, meaningful options for women and WOW am I grateful to the first and second generation feminists for that. One life contains many chapters. For a good bit I was burdened by I wonder if I would better serve the world if I ________. Now I am driven by a different spin on those thoughts: How can I best serve the world from where I stand right this minute? knowing I am always moving.

I just had this wildly creative, productive weekend in my studio. I know everyone can understand this other-wordly, whole-body possession. I had ideas and I had problems with simultaneous solutions. Thankfully, I am married to an artist and he totally gets it. Saturday morning I was hovering over our pancakes, my eyes sparkling with the need to make stuff and Andy said, babe, go. I've got the girls.

Last weekend, I wrote three essays, sewed on Margot's quilt that was intended for her second birthday but will now be a third birthday gift, ironed out the kinks in some new clothing designs, worked on a few concepts for my upcoming exhibit and cooked great meals. It was pieced together in and around cutting snowflakes with Margot, errands, replanting the garlic my chickens dug up and flung all over the garden, reading books, installing a new handrail and other chilly weekend activity.

What I am saying is that it wasn't consecutive hours of me and my laptop, sewing machine and sketch book. It was, however, even better. It was an entire weekend of being home with my family while the snow blew in. It was me slipping into the studio when I could, sometimes for 10 minutes and sometimes for two hours.

SO. Have you done all your holiday shopping? Perhaps some dig attire would suit the loved ones in your life? I have lots of new stuff and love to do custom orders. Click here to buy my stuff. All purchases from now through December will receive a complimentary set of my edible postcards.

For the state and country silhouette shirts, I have recently done all kinds of far-away places
like Zimbabwe, Pakistan, England,  Africa, United Arab Emirates. Also, I think I've done nearly
every state.  Michigan and California have the most fans, so far.

Since I left the museum I get asked a lot if I am happy with my choice. I talk about that choice and answer that question in this weeks mama digs, nine to five.

Daughters napping, black beans simmering, ginger tea in my favorite mug. It's a gray day. The rain just turned to snow.


hump day nuggets: tumbling tumbleweeds

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


I keep starting to write and then backspacing to blank. So, thoughts aren't easily forming words today and for some reason I have Tumbling Tumbleweeds in my head. And I am rolling with it (ha! rolling with it!)

I'm a roaming cowboy riding all day long
Tumbleweeds around me sing their lonely song.

I think my old definition of a messy home is kind of cute. I have a whole new understanding of mess.

Nights underneath the prairie moon,
I ride along and sing this tune.

Margot's Darker Pink Panda Bear goes wherever she goes. And, he is always prepared. He wears two
diapers and sits in a felted wool purse with three pencils. He is then swaddled in three blankets, one of
which is made from fabric Margot picked out just for him at the fabric store last week. The blankets are
secured with a pin on the right wide of the bag.

See them tumbling down


Pledging their love to the ground

Several have asked how we put our garden to bed for the winter. This is it! We pull all the dead
vegetable plants but leave them in the garden and then pile leaves on top. The plant skeletons and
leaves then decompose and nourish the soil. Also, in leaving all that on the ground, weed seeds
have a hard time germinating in the spring.
garlic in the ground!

Lonely but free I'll be found

Ruby and I literately rolled in these leaves for an hour while Margot napped. It was so beautiful and so
fun in that dang, life is so flippin' great way.

Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.


Cares of the past are behind


Nowhere to go but I'll find


Just where the trail will wind
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.


I know when night has gone
That a new world's born at dawn.

My girl loves rainbows and I love that.

I'll keep rolling along


Deep in my heart is a song

Ruby and Margot live in these leg warmers
Here on the range I belong
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

we adore our reusable snack and sandwich bags
Hooray for dig sponsor, Hip Mountain Mama! This very cool family-run business has a website full of wonderful, natural products for babies, kids and mamas. Some of our favorites are pictured in the two photos above.

Hip Mountain Mama has a few special offers just for you!

* Leave a comment for a chance to win a $30 gift certificate. Comments close Sunday night (11/14).
* Use coupon code 'dig' to get free shipping on all orders over $50.

Thanks, Hip Mountain Mama!

Funny that I haven't heard Tumbling Tumbleweeds in a long time. Years, probably. And, yet, it's in my head and kind of beautifully appropriate. I like imagining rolling along the range at whatever pace the wind dictates, collecting stray particles and gaining strength. Also, my hair kind of looks like a tumbleweed today so there's that too.

Happy hump day out there.

************COMMENTS CLOSED************

Winner of Hip Mountain Mama giveaway: 

Clove's Corner said...I love how even when "the words aren't forming" you still write something beautiful. LOVE your messy living room photo. And--Hip Mountain Mama! Cha-ching! We totally checked out that website a couple of months ago and have a few or so things on our wish list. Oh, and my daughter LIVED in baby legs until summer hit, and is now living in them again. We do EC (elimination communication) at our house, so baby legs make it way convenient.

Congrats and e mail me at
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