hump day nuggets: tend

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

Hello world.

I feel very alive today. Everything around me is stretching and surviving.

it really is remarkable how infrequently my child's shoes are on the correct feet

I'd say thriving but my damn spinach is in a desperate place of survival. It'll get there. Sometimes hang ups exist. In the roots, before the roots. We may never know the reasons for this pale, unfortunate hiccup.

It's the risk in a boulevard garden. Animals and people have at the space. No fences, little control. We'll diagnose the lame spinach issue (I think we have a nitrogen deficiency in one area), problem solve with blood meal and whispered well wishes. Hope for a turnaround.


We garden on very little space here in the center of Missoula valley. Our property is complicated in that it is bigish (two city lots) with giant 150 year-old maples and spruces. So, we punt. Eek out an itty beet bed in a sliver of light, surgically slice a path for basil. I know the details of every single fold in our yard like one might know their lover's nooks. How much sun it gets at every time of year, which way the green shoots lean, the dense clay patches, the loamy ovulating patches.


We barely get away with early season crops in some corners that, by the June leaf explosion, are in shade 21 hours a day. Sometimes (a lot of times) I crave a full sun space to just grow shit. But it is also kind of fun to really learn a chunk of earth and get better at tending her riches.


Craving the full sun is why we ventured into the boulevard. It is a bohemian, rogue move. Planting in the city-owned space is not allowed and exposed to anyone who wants to pillage. Thing is, that space gets sun all day long. I can handle sideways glances from the neighbors who love lawn (mowed weeds), I can let go of traipsing dogs and children. This tiny addition doubled our harvest last year.

And you never know until you try. This year I dug planted even more. The harvest will inform, tell a story.


:: Margot and I went shopping for some good summer romping shoes.

she picked darker blue with long rainbow laces

But her favorite part? "MAMA! There's chocolate on the bottom!"

on the steps of the Missoula Art Museum

:: Been just enjoying the heck out of warm mornings in our backyard. So much to see and hear and smell and taste. It's pretty dang wonderful.


:: And then there are warm afternoons. Meals in the sun's beams make me sing.


:: Margot hiked the "M" so she naturally wanted to hike the "L."


Yes, for those who inquired, the letters are giant white cement icons on the sides of our carefully preserved mountains. It's super weird. And yet normal.


The "M" is for my alma mater, The University of Montana. The "L" is for a private Catholic high school. The "L" was loose rock for years and it was awesomely, constantly rearranged into words like yo, lovemarry me, 420 and, my favorite, poop.


And then one bright day, the high school paid crazy amounts of money to cement in their hillside letter via a helicopter and buckets of cement. All of Missoula watched it unfold from the valley floor. So now, it's only an "L" with breathtaking views and funny memories.


One day last year I was driving over the Clark Fork River and Margot exclaimed, "Mom! Look! Is that my mountain with the "M?!" How could I say no? A few weeks later, with equal excitement, she said, "Oh and there's Ruby's "R!" It's true that a capital "L"looks like the mirror image of a lower case "r"…we went with it.

Ruby hiked an impressive amount on this steep climb (with grown-up propping, sister kept giggling as she leaned backwards. Amazing the trust that she will always be caught. And she is. Always caught.)

It's true we've led our children to believe they each have their own mountain. Hope that plays out alright down the road.

Ruby, taking ownership of her mountain, waved and shouted "HI!" to
unknowing Missoulians several hundred feet below.

:: "Make us a nest in Ruby's crib!"


:: I am supremely excited for the opportunity to review some amazing books over the next few months. I got a small stack in the mail a bit ago and have loved combing through the new pages that inspire change and enthusiasm in our home.

Kids in the Wild Garden follows Kids in the Garden and we are loving it. In fact, we are compelled to grow a few mealworm beetles to be released into our backyard habitat (I'll keep you posted). Full of educational information and wonderful, interactive ideas for getting to know your yard and encourage biodiversity, this book is really engaging and interesting for adults and kids of all ages.

We keep a small area of our yard unmowed and undisturbed (buffalo grass). We made the choice for our cats who love to bask in the tall grass but love all the critters that are attracted to our little grassy habitat. 

A couple of things just for you:
+ Get 40% off both Kids in the Garden and Kids in the Wild Garden by emailing jess at blackdogonline dot com

+ Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Kids in the Garden 
Thanks, black dog publishing!

:: I really love Ruby's post-nap snuggles.


:: It was rainy and windy a few days ago, our garden tools abandoned like movie theater popcorn in the aisle. A loving indicator of some previous indulgent act, now stale and waiting to be put away.

Margot was grumpy, trying to wedge memory game cards into a small zippered bag.

"ARGH! Mom. It's just, like, not fair!"
"What isn't fair, bug?"
"All this wind!"

Turns out wind is totally unsettling to Margot. She later revealed her agitation and uneasiness about blowing curtains and clanging climes. Andy and I actually remembered a few times at outdoor occasions when she wasn't happy and it was windy. Our girl doesn't like the wind. I am so happy to know.

We ended up distracting ourselves making dishwasher detergent and laundry powder. Two things I've wanted to do for some time and finally researched and did. It was easy and fun and, holy holy, it saves us some money! And waste. I have been uncomfortably chewing on all that plastic in the recycling bin (not literately of course but that's funny to imagine).


The breakdown:

Previously, we spent $25 for 105 laundry loads and 90 dish washes:
Ecos laundry detergent: $19 for 105 laundry loads; Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent: $6 for 90 dish washes.

We now spend $12 for 54 laundry loads and 96 dish washes:
borax: $2.50, washing soda: $2, Dr. Bonner's soap (peppermint): $4.50, kosher salt: $.50, citric acid: $2

We tried both of these recipes and can say YAY! They work really well. And it's fun to do. The recipes:

2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
1 cup citric acid
1 cup kosher salt
white vinegar

Mix dry ingredients together well and store in a jar. Use 1 tablespoon per load. Add a bit of vinegar into the 'rinse aid' thingie.

LAUNDRY POWDER (from Making It):
2 cups finely grated soap (we used Dr. Bonner's peppermint and one 5 oz. bar = 2 cups)
4 cups borax
4 cups washing soda

Mix well and store in a jar. *They* say to use 2 tablespoons per load. We use 3 (and the costs above reflect this).

:: Sometimes I wonder, Can it get better than right now?


:: I know life will dance and grow. I don't know anything, really.


But it seems like my kids are growing faster than our peas, racing towards the sun. Thriving, surviving.


Gardening, parenting.


Sow, nourish, grow, bloom, evolve. Pay attention.


happy hump day out there.

ps I am presenting at the Get Published Conference in Bozeman in a few weeks. I am excited for the opportunity and look forward to learning from the other wonderful speakers.

:: :: ::

all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com


rebecca said...

,,,Sow, nourish, grow, bloom, evolve. Pay attention.,,,perfect reminder for a perfect wednesday, thanks!,,,

Meghan said...

Can we hang out? It's so weird. I'm really not a bloggy person, but I do get/feel inspired in this space.

Oh and one of my dogs DUG UP ALL MY CARROTS the other day.

Charity said...

I've seen so many bloggers making there own soap lately. And it has sat on my to do list. I really should put more effort into it, especially during these dirty summer months.
I love it when my youngest says filthy, his version is more like fe-fe. He's been getting better about saying it. But we now walk around using his word.

hayley j said...

awesome shoe choice margot! darker blue is my favorite color too :)

booksNyarn said...

The detergent has been on my "to make" list, but I hadn't thought of the dishwasher!

I try to eek out the sun I get in my yard and plantings. I think I do pretty well (although my southern exposure has been waylaid by a fence put in by the neighbor) and I try to mend and tend as I can.

CB said...

Your post makes me smile and decide to head home early to day - thank you
smiles CB

themarkfamily said...

Our garden is slowly but surely making it's way across our front yard towards our sidewalk. It goes where the sun goes. We leave the shaded backyard to be eatten and scratched by our hens. I'd love see pictures of your parking strip ("hell strip") garden. Ours really cooks here in VA but I hope to conquer that hunk of grass (weeds) too!

is the homemade laundry detergent okay for cloth? Thank you so much for posting those recipes!

Karen said...

Thanks for the great info on making your own soap. I will have to try it. I am very curious about those 2 books as my little one is now 2 and seems to like 'helping' in the garden. It would be fun to incorporate him more.


themarkfamily said...

cloth diapers...oops.

Katie (Mama May I) said...

:: Sometimes I wonder, Can it get better than right now?

That thought is running through my being like a cool, clear stream these days. I gladly accept it, too.


Prairie Mama said...

Oh me and Margot need to have a non-wind play date. I HATE the wind too. We live on the WINDY prairie in Wyoming and I can honestly count on one hand how many times we have got to play outside without knock-you-over wind.
Bless her little heart.
I'm excited to check out the books. So fun...

CMB said...

Your girls are so beautiful!!

Kelsie said...

Good job little ones, hiking to the M! I look forward to Wednesdays to read your blog. Thank you!

Tina said...

Ahhh post nap snuggles are among my favourite things as well. So serene and calming, and optimal time for relaxed nursing... as opposed to putting up with toddler acrobatics while my 15 month old is latched on.

We put small vegetable garden in this year in a spot I *thought* got enough sun, but I'm starting to wonder if I was wrong. Although the transplants seem to be thriving and it's been about 3 weeks since they were planted, I often look out the window througout the day and notice the entire patch isn't getting sun... but throughout the day, the entire patch does get it's turn to be smothered by sunshine. The problem is our big birch tree being so tall that now that it has leaves again, it's blocking the sun for a portion of the day. Here's to hoping my veggies turn out at least somewhat... time will tell!

Happy Hump Day!

Inspiração Inesperada said...

Great post...as always!
Sounds like a great book :)

Daniele said...

Thanks for the nice start to my morning with this post! Going to go enjoy a warm backyard morning with my girls right now too...

Courtney said...

Tell Margot I'm with here; the wind makes me uncomfortable and crabby too!

With the sidewalk boulevard, I'm glad you went for it! Our house faces south and I've tucked in pots for banana and bell peppers on that side of the house as part of the landscaping. I think it looks okay, but truthfully, I don't care what it looks like- I just want peppers!

Claire said...

If every child was led to believe they had their own mountain, I bet they would all strive to reach the top! I think it'll work out perfectly down the road. Thanks for another beautiful post!

Indiana in B'more said...

something i also want to make...questions - what is "washing soda" and does it work in a high efficiency washer? my parents gifted us with one when we moved in to our new-to-us house 2 yrs ago!

Heather said...

Is the laundry soap safe for cloth diapers? If so, I'm totally doing this!

Tonya said...

I love that Margot and Ruby think they each have their own mountain : )

I am jealous that y'all have mountains, we have swamp in South Louisiana lol

It is difficult to find good gardening areas in our yard as well. It is because we have so many trees. I love my trees, so it is worth the trouble. I grow my basil in pots on our deck. I have lots of basil, my family adores pesto and I have to make 6 batches every time we eat it. The rest of my garden is split up into sunny spots in my yard. No front yard garden, the shade from our giant live oak takes care of that.

Dana said...

Thank you for the perfect way to start my morning. your words are always exactly what I need

Lisa said...

I was told when I was very small that Mt. Jumbo was MY mountain and I just choose to continue to believe it. But it can be Ruby's, too.

oversewn said...

Great post Nici! We just got rid of the dishwasher. I, too, was chewing on all that crap in the recycle bin. I suppose my solution was a tad bit extreme - but oh I love it!!

Puget Sound Mama said...

A friend of mine with a 4th of July baby has lead their their child to believe the fireworks each year are for his birthday. No harm it is wonderful and we all make our own realities!!

Kristine said...

You have the coziest back yard....and I love how in tune you are to it and all it can offer. And I also love that you have a blvd garden. Is there a picture of it around, I'd love to see.
Love Margot's new darker blues. Adorable.
Good luck to your spinach!

Kelle said...

Beautiful pictures in this post.
Loving most: "garden tools abandoned like movie theater popcorn in the aisle. A loving indicator of some previous indulgent act, now stale and waiting to be put away."


Can't wait to hear about your conference. I know it will be lovely, inspiring.

Crystal Pence said...

My girlies think they have their own mountains as well, as long as we don't have another child, we are okay with this!

6512 and growing said...

1) Spinach. I have had a hard time growing spinach in the past, but this year I sowed seeds in March (protected under plastic) and I've never had such a bountiful, long spinach harvest. I think spinach don't want to get started in the heat.

2) Mealworms and darkling beetles! Col has his own little jar and you feed them oatmeal and slices of apple and they keep mating and morphing and dying and starting all over. He is charmed by the whole thing.

3) Durango is 7 hours south of Denver/Steamboat. It would be a trek, but with such goodness waiting for you here.


Mindi said...

Do they have Margot's shoes in big girl size? Love them!!
I love the post wake up snuggles too.. they are the sweetest.
Thanks for the great post!

Ani said...

I like that the girls each have their own mountain. That rocks!

Trendy Woman said...


What do you do for pests in the garden? Something is eating my plants (don't think it's snails either) and I'd like to do something natural to deter them.



Michelle Xo said...

What an exciting thought, to have their own mountain. I'm sure Margot is thrilled beyond beleif.

PunkRockChic said...

I've been itching to make our own laundry and dish soap for years but didn't realize how easy it could be. I also have two young, and messy kids, so I'm wondering how good this detergent works at fighting stains? Do you use a separate stain remover?

Annie said...

I love all the different nuggets. Your real-ness speaks to me.

Melina said...

In Woodstock Vermont where I grew up, there was a big light up star on top of our town Mountain, Mt. To. Best thing I ever did see was some creative highschoolers go up there and figure it into a star treck sign. So awesome.

Does it get better than now? Nope! I feel like you'll always think that about the Now- about every phase of you and your kids' life. I can see you when M is 11 and R is 9, and they're putting on skits for you and burning toast for your breakfast in bed and you'll write: does it ever get better than this?

Love the nuggets, love your lifestyle.


Melissa said...

Oh, I'm excited to hear about your conference. Just this morning I had a book idea (while seeing a patient, of all things) . . .

I love post-nap snuggles, too, the way they mash themselves deep into my body. It's the best feeling ever.

Our garden gets a ton of sunlight but I also like the idea of getting to know a space--I feel I am still very much doing that with our place, we all are; half the time I'm yelling at Leeor for pulling weeds that I don't think are weeks but then I don't really know, so . . . we are both going nuts in our yard. In a good way.

Loved this post.

kyndale_pease said...

It's funny. I'm not the type of person to read really long posts (from anyone) but yours makes me want to read on...I love all your pictures and those shoes! I think I might want my boys to get some of those with rainbow laces. We also have those letters on the hills where we live. There all over. N for Nevada, S for Sparks and then all the other areas of town have theirs too. It's kinda fun. ♥Kyndale

Lee said...

Those look like great books... maybe getting the kids better interested in the garden will cure momma's black thumb! ;)

erin said...

I really enjoyed this long post today. I have made the liquid laundry soap, but I'm going to try the dry stuff next. Seems like it will take up less room.

Whale With a Why? said...

I'm dissapointed to hear that they cemented the L into the mountain. I too remember the funny words that would find themselves spelled out for all of Missoula to see.
P.S. I just love your blog! You inspire me to garden, play creatively with my kids, and also to take beautiful pictures! Thanks.

KWQR said...

Lovely nuggets. Am so with Margot on the wind... it makes me cranky.
And this... I know the details of every single fold in our yard like one might know their lover's nooks.... brings on some major yard envy! Oh how I long to have ANY kind of land to play with & get to know in such an intimate way. Someday!
Happy week!

Jean said...

I love Margot's new shoes!

I think it's so cool you are a presenter at the blog confab. Can't wait to hear about that.

Catherine said...

I LOVE the picture of you with Ruby on your shoulders!

Kelly Cach said...

You said "poop".

My immaturity totally reveals itself whenever I hear it, say it, and dare I admit, do it....funniest word ever!

And now on a more mature note: "I know the details of every single fold in our yard like one might know their lover's nooks." Such a beautiful sentiment about your yard. We are getting there. I have boys that long to garden in a very tiny, shady yard. Just today, we transplanted a sunflower and spread Zinnia seeds in our itty bitty amount of sun.....we shall see :)

The photo of you and Ruby on her mountain.....so vibrant, so happy....wow! Must frame it!


Jeanne said...

"Make us a nest in Ruby's crib". That just delights me.
Great photos in this post. I especially love the tarragon shot. It is so majestical for an herb.

Thanks for the inspiration,

TRB Holt said...

Just to acknowledge my read...I am working on my post...love you tons!

dig this chick said...

We use the laundry detergent on our diapers and hang to dry. Several asked if it was 'safe' and I am not sure what you mean by that...We use it so I feel like it is safe!

dig this chick said...

Also, re: pest control.

It is really important to diagnose what exactly is invading your space. Different bugs hang out on different hosts. And different methods work for different bugs....

I really love this site for diagnosing issues:

I have had wonderful success with pyrethrins and insecticidal soap for a variety of issues: flea beetles, aphids, leaf hoppers.

Good luck!

Jill said...

I am so glad you shared your laundry soap recipe--it's on my summer to-do list. I'm also interested to see if you will get the bug you mentioned above to live in your garden. Very cool stuff! I really enjoy your blog. I don't have tons of time but I enjoy it so much I make sure I'm mindful and read slowly. :)

kate said...

Fun post. I triple love the story of your kids' mountains. I think it is WONDERFUL that they think the mountains belong to them. And why shouldn't they?! You are a charming mother and I applaud you!!!

Thanks for the post ... I'm going to try the laundry detergent.

Ellie said...

I love all of your hiking pictures, especially the impulse behind them--to get out with your kids--and especially the one of Ruby waving to all Missoulians below. Nothing wrong with believing you've got a mountain named after you. I've been reading a book that's made me think of you and yours a lot lately, because it seems that you'd score perfect on those guys' grading system for great parenthood (Hold On to Your Kids by Neufeld & Mate). On mine, too, but I've known that since I discovered your blog. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter, too; it's given me lots of food for thought on the whole raising-girls thing.

Claire @ Scissors Paper Rock said...

Sow, nourish, grow, bloom, evolve. Pay attention. LOVE THAT!!!
Thanks Nici....another amazing & inspiring post!
And gosh your girls are CUTE!!

Amy said...

Ok, I need to know what a "loamy ovulating patch" is!!!
I love that you have the boulevard garden - so economical!
Love love love the mirror picture. And the mirror.

ell.uu said...

I hear her on the wind. we live just east of the foothills south of Boulder. I wish I had known how darn windy it is here before buying this house. the wind howls, it is unsettling, makes me feel fragile.

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