Moscow Ultra Midnight Shadow is my cat. She likes the streets of New York as much as I do, although she likes to eat bits of pizza and bagel off the sidewalk, and I prefer to buy them. 

We call her Midge. She likes to attack any toes that dangle off the side of the bed while you're sleeping. She is literally the monster under the bed.  

And Now, A Communique From Nat The Rat, Checking In From The Mall, Where I Just Ate Panda Express:

Hi! How are things, you ask? Things are good! Like I said, String Bean Chicken and a large Diet Pepsi! I'm in between marathon job interviews today, on this lovely foggy Portland Tuesday, and it occurred to me that this might be fun. Smash-style super quick blog post don't overthink this Natalie. Let's see what all I can come up with to talk about in the next 10 minutes that I have before I have to jet!

Well, this is how ballet is going. Ballet is going so great. Oh gosh. I think the one thing I can definitely say for Portland is that it is NOT letting me down on this healthy extra curricular activities front, and to that I say THANK GOD. Something needs to be rad, and my ballet class is rad. I can't manage to remember how to convincingly pull off a pirouette, but I did finally get to a place where my fifth position and I are friends again, and that feels like something. This is what it looks like when I go to ballet. Clogs for the drive, leather ballet shoes for the tendus, stretchy layers for the plies, and a foam roller for the hamstrings. Not pictured: the kid who will be glued to this iPad/headphones set the entire 90 minutes I'm in class, because he is a patient dreamboat, and I have a pure and abiding testimony of the loveliness of screen time. Amen. 

Mirror selfies are still the raddest. Speaking of which! Alex! 

Alex moved back to Oregon and now all we are missing is Brother Blake. I keep asking her to give me eyelashes for free but she keeps insisting I have to pay for them myself and anyway, one of these days eventually I will have killer eyelashes. I'm banking on it. 

Oh, right right, I had a birthday. October is birthday month at our house. I got too old, Huck got too old, the whole thing was a mess, but my family surprised me with this hideously PERFECT DREAM of a birthday spread and did I get all choked up? 

I did. 

Huck's birthday was what he called his "BEST DAY YET," but then immediately after the following day he proclaimed it his "WORST LIFE EVER" when I made him eat a bite of the minestrone soup I'd just made. So, there are a few inconsistencies to being eight, it turns out. 

It was Halloween the other day, right? So this year I am super proud of myself because I have WATCHED THE SCARY MOVIES. I haven't willingly seen a scary anything in about 10 years (one of the benefits of being a grown up, I've decided: I don't have to ride scary rides, and I don't have to see scary movies, AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME), but this week I watched The Witch, Halloween (HALLOWEEN!!) and Uh, The Haunting of Hill House which is on Netflix and you NEED TO WATCH but do it all in one go and with all of the lights on and try googling spoilers first if you are a scaredy cat because it makes ALL the difference and the last episode of this one will make you cry ugly cries and then surprisingly feel like the whole world is just the sweetest little place. 

Okay now I have to go. Let's make this fun and have you all tell me what scary movies did you watch this Halloween and am I finally becoming brave now that I'm coming up on 40 and WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE THIS IS A SPOILER FRIENDLY ZONE FOR ALL US CHICKENS! K byeeee!



Oooohhhhhkaaaaaayyyy yousguys. We're gonna do this. It is the time.

Here is how I know it's the time. A.) We've got some weather going on out there, B.) the fourth season of Outlander is starting up this weekend, C.) I have an entire Pinterest folder chock full of DIY replica ClaireKnitsPatterns (I'm calling them that) that I've been waiting to share for just such a time as this! (They are all. the. way. at. the. bottom. of. this. post.) and, D.) no this post isn't sponsored (I wish CALL ME, STARZ!), but yes, I would like to drop some affiliate links up in here if I can manage it, and so there. Now we are all on the same page. 

Ooh! Also. Mostly these affiliate links are brought to you almost entirely by Forever 21, because that is just the way that it is. Okay!

But first we need to talk about this show. And how I haven't read the books yet because I don't want to start them until I've read something else first, because I need to be able to say that the last book I read before reading this book wasn't a part of the Fifty Shades of Gray series. Dee ye ken? But right first we need to talk about this show. 

Because. This show.

I think that Frank is lovely, to start. I'll watch just about anything containing a bodice in the wardrobe department, to continue. And lastly, my dad referred to it once as "Pornlander" when he was flipping through the channels on his TV one Sunday afternoon, which is the entire reason I decided to watch the show later on my TV once I was back home in Idaho, to finish. 

Recently single mom. Dee ye ken. After all, you know what they say:

"Come for the pretty bodices, stay for the ripping thereof."

... aaaaaand for the Red Jamie. 

Ok let's do this! CLAIRECLOTHES. (It's a page eater; so it's after the jump.)



Not to be extravagant about it (EXTRAVANAUGH ABOUT IT), but these last two weeks have been the pits and I am SO super over it.

How are you guys hanging in there? Are you doing okay?? It is supremely okay if the answer is No. Has someone brought you a potted plant yet, or made you some cocoa and told you everything was going to work itself out yet?

I've been seeing social media posts from allies and friends, basically saying, Go Easy On Yourself Right Now. Take Care And Be Forgiving Of Yourself Right Now. Don't Push Yourself Right Now. Take It Easy On Your Heart Right Now. 

I just want you to know that, ugh. Can Confirm 100%. It's been rough over here lately.

Nothing lately feels very okay, does it? And the frustration I feel with myself for how low I still feel, or for how little motivation I can seem to muster up for anything, or for how frequently I just feel like I need another napgosh. You know? You too??? I'm so sorry if it's you, too. 

I keep reminding myself it's okay that I feel this way right now. I'm not sure I believe myself terribly reliably, but, I tell myself, given the circumstances, this is normal and acceptable and I am not at all alone in this right now. 

But I'm still frustrated with myself. Oh to snap out of it and get on with life already and start making positive changes! . . . 

So here is my effort at piping in and saying, Hey. Here, too. Let's be Not Totally Okay Yet together. Today's post is a commiserative pout and a sloppy group hug and a Please Pass The Chocolate and a Which Meg Movie Should We Put On Next? . . . among other self-care notes. 

Here are a list of things to do (and not to do) right now:

// First of all, watch this right now (at 4:12 if you're short on time):

And then ASAP go rent or buy the Fred Rogers documentary. (You can stream it on Amazon Prime HERE)

// DON'T skip out on your vitamins, your anti-depressants, your veggies, or your mascaras right now. Okay? YOUR ROUTINE. Guys. STICK TO YOUR ROUTINE! Whatever makes you healthy normally needs to stay & keep making you healthy. Do NOT skip ballet. Give up the showers, fine! But not the vitamins! I've been seeing a naturopath lately who put me on a serious two-handfuls-a-day vitamin regimen, and over a two-day-long period last week I felt too irritated with life to be able gag them all down, and I skipped them. And friends. I NOTICED THE DIFFERENCE. It made everything unnecessarily tougher. So please. Gag down those vitamins. Brush your teeth, I guess, if that's your thing. But take your vitamins, is my thing. 

// Listen to the My Favorite Murder Podcast and really wallow in how shitty the human race can be sometimes. Actually, I'm not sure if that will help or make things worse? But sometimes you just really need to wallow in it. I did that for an afternoon while stitching uplifting quotes on tote bags, it was weirdly delightful. 

// Weighted blankets feel like a nice hug and have been recommended for treating anxiety, depression, Asperger's, and other spectrum disorders. These blankets can cost their weight in dollars, but after a lot of hunting around I found THIS ONE. Probably the best price I've seen. Yes I have one and I love it. Huck and I frequently argue over who's turn it is to snuggle under it during movie night. 

// Look, when worse comes to worst you can always rant and rave about it on social media, but I can't recommend this one all the way, personally. Like, I did it, I felt SO much better, for approximately three minutes, and then I regretted all of it . . . but like, look. If ya gotta do it, even for 3 minutes, do it. Doth get it outeth thine system. And if you're on the viewing end of someone's ranty IG story, give them grace you're gonna want someday when it's you doing the ranting. It happens to the best of us. (This is what I tell myself.) 

// On Twitter last year I saw a post about the best Netflix shows to binge on while being in the depths of the worst kind of depression. I couldn't find the post, but I do remember that it included Queer Eye, The Great British Baking Show, and Parks & Rec. I'd add in The Good Place, the new Anne With An E, The Last Kingdom, and may I also humbly posit The Vampire Diaries? Because that one got me through a real tough one in 2013. (Please contribute yours in the comments! I feel like we ALL could appreciate.) 

// If ever there was a good time for a paint-by-number kit, that time is now. I've been narrowing down my options on Amazon. I feel like a good P-B-N might really save me. Here's a few of what I've been choosing between, cause guys, I like it classy like this: 

guys not only am i still supes rusty at this, but my blog is also 35 updates behind, so this graphic here is the best I could do
one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten

If you extra love yourself, you get yourself one of these fancy easels bc babe u worth it.

Now here is where I say out loud the things I am doing right because I deserve it! 

1. I have stayed on top of the laundry and the dishes!! Even if I haven't necessarily brushed my hair. And even though I DO have a fruit fly infestation still. Uh. But I finally got the pet door for my sliding glass door that I ordered, so now no more can get in, AND I have already killed a ton of those suckers, SO WE ARE GETTING THERE! Plus, after I fed the parakeets this morning they gave me all these twirly chirpy happy noises. And that was really sweet. Though right now they seem to be arguing with each other about something. Screeching and occasionally quacking like ducks kind of, so, guys, don't ever get parakeets. Parakeets are not one-for-one substitutes for chickens. Just don't do it.

2. Last night while watching our nightly Great British Baking Show episode before bed, I made Huck this incredible offer: "Huck," I said, "Huck, I'll scratch your back during the Signature Bake if you'll scratch my arm during the Technical Challenge," to which Huck said, "Mom, you don't have to do that, I'll just scratch your arm for you now." And then, he did! Granted, it only lasted 20 seconds before he announced he'd changed his mind and yes he would take that back scratch after all. But still!

3. I had a lot of pizza this weekend, plus I got to watch both Clue and The Witches with my sister on Sunday. 

4. I still don't have a day job and I haven't been able to remember how on earth I used to make a living off this here Internet thing, but when I sit and search my brain for proof that I'm making progress on this one, it turns out I HAVE been making progress!  

5. Not to brag but I cleaned my car out the other day and IT IS STILL CLEAN. (Although there is still a 15-pound box of kitty litter in the trunk and I have still not brought it upstairs.) (Update since I wrote this first draft: It is now upstairs! This does not feel like an accomplishment. :/)

6. The last two weeks have been a nice (not very nice at all, but good) opportunity for me to provide a necessary filter for Huck on the news of the day and all the world's happenings. We've discussed consent, living through things that scare you, and mistakes. We've discussed what it means to be a good friend, a good ally, and a trustworthy person. We've discussed how scary honesty can feel, but how GOOD it can feel when you are. We've discussed how ugly and damaging deceitfulness can be, even when you feel certain you've been wronged. We've talked about the responsibility we have to each other when one of our friends has been hurt, even if we don't understand it. And we've explained to each other all the good things we can do for ourselves to lift ourselves up whenever we feel not-so-good in the moment. I am just hoping and praying that I did it right.  


The good news is, I think I'm nearing the end of the worst of it. You know how circumstantial depression seems to follow a certain arc? Oh! Wait! Is that this magical 'Stages of Grief' thing that professionals like to talk about?! Woah, Fun! Anger was my favorite phase. Can Confirm 100%. Depression is . . . alright. So long as you can convince yourself it's temporary. (Guys, in one way or another, the worst of the sadness is ALWAYS temporary. It HAS always gotten better.)

Anyway. Won't you please tell me, in the comments, what you've done Right this week, Despite The Shit. The middling and piddlier the better. And then also tell me what you do when it sucks. KTHX.

It's a work in progress, I think. And now, having reached the Acceptance stage of my grief, I will now sally forth into the Forgiveness stage of my Boot Straps And The Pulling-Up Thereof. Whew! Wish me luck.

I love you all and I have so many hugs. 



It starts like this. The other day, I got a flu shot. Afterward, while walking through the kleenex aisle, I suddenly had the goofiest, happiest feeling.

My shoulder was a little sore, was it that? And I was wearing one of my favorite gray sweatshirts. I was drinking a pumpkin spice latte, which I hadn't done in about forever because first of all they are gross and a cloyingly sweet, but also because they have been way basic lately and I do like to follow trends, although now apparently they are acceptable in public spaces again, according to Twitter. So there. The kleenex aisle is a surprisingly innovative little section to be in, now that I mention it. Have you seen all these newfangled dispensers?? I even had a tuna fish sandwich looming in my future for lunch. The whole thing rather delighted me, and I thought to myself, oh, life, aren't you just the cutest? and that of course made me think of the movie Overboard.

(Have you seen enough Overboard* recently? Lordy, it is one of my favorites.)

(*No, not the new one. I am sorry I cannot do the new one.)

I think the best things in the world might include a well-designed character wardrobe, and I suspect Goldie Hawn's wardrobe in Overboard is one of the all-time best. So we're going to start her off here with a series I'm going call,

STYLE ICON! // (Insert Character Name Here)

You seeing it??

(Seriously, pause your life now and watch this movie if you haven't already, because we're going to go through this one outfit by outfit, featuring Annie (Joanna?) Proffitt (Uhh, Stayton) *so problematic, these movies* and her perfection of a Coastal Oregon Wardrobe, Obviously All Second Hand From The Salvation Army.)

Forget Octobers, how great is it to live in a world where the Overboard costuming department exists??

(After the jump)



scroll down scroll down scroll dowwwwn

I think I'm finally ready to roll out my "fully committed dad gum it to blogging" already, all the way. Maybe. No, this time I mean it! ;) I think I had to fully rule out all my other options and choices, heyo Libras, but now I think I'm ready. No, now I know I'm ready! Full on! Editorial calendar and all! I'm going to focus on a series of... series, to start. Dipping the toes in lightly. So, chime in if you have a suggestion, 'cause I'm taking requests! Of both oldies and new...ies.

I was going to have a style post all raring to go, but I'd forgotten how long it takes to put them together, so here is a Friday post instead. All the things I've loved this week, to take you on into the weekend.


// The New Yorker is really pulling it off this week with the insect content. This one, When Bees Go Rogue, about bees, and this one, What Termites Can Teach Us, which has alerted me to the tragic under representation our termite population endures. #TermitesToo! (Did you know the New Yorker already has a section for these, titled "Annals of Etymology" ??)

// Dave Matthews Band, and Poopgate.  So good.

// If you don't buy this pajama set right now then I am going to have to, and I am not doing things like that right now, so please.

// Lately, before bed, Huck and I like to catch up on posts from The Dodo, this Instagram account that spotlights various animal rescues and heartwarming stories and super adorable pets. As a bonus, I've noticed the closed captioning has helped Huck learn to read more quickly and intuitively. Plus it helps him be a better and more patient steward to his many (way too many) pets. Two thumbs. Up. #snoutchallenge

// It's coming on Libra season, sweet moonbeams. Are you ready?? First, we have a New Moon in Aries on September 24th. This is our Harvest moon, kiddies, so set your early autumn intentions this week and then watch them as they come to fruition over the course of this moon cycle. 

// While you're at it, do read It's Decorative Gourd Season Motherf*ckers, as is tradition. 

// Maybe even better than that one though, is this one: Mr Autumn Man Walking Down Street With Cup Of Coffee, Wearing Sweater Over Plaid Collared Shirt. No joking, the last sentence will make you cackle.

// SPEAKING OF DECORATIVE GOURDS! It's that time. So here is theee pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe! (THEEEEEE Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!) It's right here. RIGHT HERE. Since you were about to ask for it. ;)

*By the way. It tickles me to no end that I've already getting tagged in a handful of #THEEEPCCC posts on Instagram. Please do that some more!! (I don't know, acronym-hashtag? Is that too much?)* 

// Finally, speaking of pumpkin recipes! My Pumpkin Sage Pasta is still a yearly favorite at this house. Tastes like fall in New York City. 


Ok kids, there we go. Now be good and do your homework, wash your hands, and get your flu shot! Oh it is so flu season rn. 



I think that a lot of my life might be marked by the curse of transition. Do you know about this feeling?

I've begun to suspect it might be part of my life's purpose to never stay still in one place for long enough for me to get comfortable. Maybe.

Maybe I'm like a robin, feverishly putting together a nest for a season that she knows will likely fall out of the tree within a week. Best case scenario, it keeps a couple of babies safe for a couple of weeks, and then they grow up and leave her, and then she's all, Now what?

I've moved around so much. I look around me sometimes and nothing feels like home. I've lived what has felt like so many different stories; maybe part of the same book series, maybe not, I'm not totally certain. I know it's all leading to good things, so I keep my wits about me, though a lot of the time it can be easy to feel a little bit frustrated about it.

But then I wonder, might this be coming from somewhere else, maybe? Like, somewhere I can't help. Somewhere deep. Somewhere in my blood.

To cross plains and back, that takes a certain type, doesn't it? To seek out a better life somewhere else, to accept missions and callings and willingly strap your wagon to someone else's horse? Maybe that's the pioneer heritage I carry with me, as a former Mormon. (a foMo.)

You know what we did, we sang as we walked, and walked, and walked, and then we planted shit.

Maybe your Mormon ancestors drove their wagons to Utah and planted fruit trees and beets. Well, my ancestors took their wagoneers down to Arizona and planted air conditioning units. My other ancestors in North Carolina planted a love of music, as well as moonshine in the bathtub. My Stanger great-grandparents in Southern Oregon used to plant their garbage in their back yard . . . but I think that had less to do with growing things and more to do with . . . well, something else.

Oh! Know what!? There's also a (long-debunked, I'm assuming) family legend about one of us Lovin predecessors who was traded to the gypsies for a sack of potatoes. For all intents and purposes, I'm calling that one gospel.

But I was thinking about this the other night as I was assessing the situation with my patio plants.

Look, it's not as if I'm a terrible gardener. This time around we all made it a full three months before totally crisping out! And am I so proud!? Yes of course I am so proud! Though now of course it IS a dead plant mausoleum out there, and I'm not sure how I wish to proceed just yet.

At the beginning of summer it was this lush and beautiful space. I was just getting a handle on our new place out west. The towels had found their closets, the spices made sense in the drawers they were in. It smelled amazing and sweet out there on that patio when I'd walk out into the chilly night air after putting Huck to bed. I'd feel maybe the smallest twinges of "NOW this is home," which is a twinge of a feeling I've think I've been ardently chasing for nearly all of my adult life.

This isn't my actual Portland home. Not in the slightest. It's a starter home, in a sprawling, slightly crummy apartment complex, and I'm wondering if I'll ever land in a house someday, or maybe an apartment downtown? And how terrible will it be when that day has to come when I have to pack up everything AGAIN and do this ALL. OVER. AGAIN? And how long do you think I can put that off, do you think? But how nice will it be when it's done and it's settled, and THIS TIME IT IS UP TO ME, and so that thought keeps me going.

And what if I could just chuck all these dead plants out over the side of the patio and forget they ever happened??

Three tomato plants, two baskets of lavender, one cherry tomato plant, a single pot of strawberries, and two bushels of blueberries. Plus an odd assortment of miscellaneous herbs.

Oh! And begonias.

The three tomato plants yielded four pathetic looking tomatoes the size of tiny apricots that should have tasted depressing but were actually pretty decent. The cherry tomato plant gave me six or so, they never even made it past the threshold of the door before being eaten. The strawberry plant hid her strawberries so well that they were always dried up by the time I even saw them, and then the itching after I'd pick them! Never again, strawberry.

And then there were the blueberries. Something like unto five heaping handfuls of blueberries I harvested this summer!! Blueberries in your cereal! Blueberries in your oatmeal!! Blueberries in your dreams!!!!

Blueberries the likes of which this world has never SEEN!

BTW, what is it with our president and that "the likes of which" nonsense? It fills me with so many questions whenever he says it (which is always). Is it wrong of me to assume that whenever I hear it from somebody else that they're probably KGB? It reminds me bigly of Tommy S. and his "eeeeeeven Jesus Christ" prayer endings, and the way it was quickly picked up by the rest of the apostles . . . .

Write your theories about this in the comments.

And then SMASH that Like button!

Huck is going to be eight this fall (dunking age!), and he is absolutely rocking the second grade. It was really hard for me when he was gone for the summer. I found my whole life schedule with him the day he was born, and ever since then life felt grounded. But any time he's missing now, I feel completely up in the air. All up, all up to me, nothing to tie me down, nothing to anchor me in place. Just wafting. It's very fun and freeing but mostly it is miserable.

He's been home now for the school year for two whole weeks. And it's been bliss. At night before bed we watch animals videos from The Dodo on Instagram, and then Huck will come up with some impressively dorky puns for whatever we're seeing. He's the wittiest kid I know, and sends me into genuine laughing fits at least once a day. He has terrible taste in YouTubers. He'll eat whole plates worth of asparagus and steamed broccoli, he loves Diet Dr Pepper, he doesn't like cheese, and he does his best to only pick his boogers and eat them when he thinks I'm not looking. I love this kid, oh my gosh, I love his freaking guts.

Huck still sometimes doesn't fully understand what it means to have divorced parents.

"Yeah, you're divorced, but you're still married . . . you just live in separate houses."

"Do you think that you and my dad will ever get un-divorced?"

"Back together plz," he texted his dad from my phone one night.

Divorce is the kind of thing that's easier to explain to a four-year-old, I suspect. You get to stress the family-togetherness and the awesomeness of having two whole bedrooms, and their follow-up questions are usually contained to, "will you still love me the same?" and, "can I get the new Paw Patrol helicopter?"

These days the follow up questions are more complex, and I feel a stronger urge than ever to give him the straightest, most factual answers possible, while also being incredibly aware that at almost-eight, while maybe the almost-age of discernment and accountability and all that, I guess, it is actually still so very fresh and so very young and so vulnerable and naive. And sweet. And kids who can appear so confident and understanding on the outside can actually in fact be this whole tempest of confusion and fright on the inside. And I'm so keen on honoring his questions without over- or under-doing it.

Maybe "married" and "parents" are the two key terms here; one of them being temporary and one of them being permanent, and try as I might, describing his parents' former union as a piece of paper meant mostly to give us tax breaks and simplify health insurance benefits just isn't cutting it.

But then I found a way.

It was moving to Portland (for the company that quickly folded), that made the urgency of a real explanation seem true. Suddenly he was without one of his parents for weeks at a time. He was switching schools, leaving old friends, making new friends, and living in a new, rainy as hell climate, and I felt a layer of guilt that I knew to expect but still didn't know how to handle.

Until, one day, this spring, when we were at the Costco.

(Like all of my best stories, this one begins at shopping.)


Well, to start, first we gotta talk about the thing about the Costco.

The thing about the Costco, is EVERYTHING is sold in packs of two. Twos! Twos! And yes, this is the point of the thing when you go there and want the actual bulk, and yes this is a complaint that I've lodged to myself in my head at least a million times, because YES I WANT IT BIGGER, BUT NO I DO NOT WANT TWO OF THEM, THIS IS WHY I CANNOT BUY MILK HERE! DO YOU KNOW HOW BAD I WOULD LIKE TO BUY MILK HERE?

Look, we eat a lot of Nutella, but seeing two enormous jugs of it strapped together in plastic in my shopping cart makes me feel all sorts of gluttonous and American.

DDP or Diet Coke in two flats of 36, on the other hand . . .

Earlier this year, during late spring, when Huck and I were making a Diet Dr Pepper run, the Costco randomly had these buckets of blueberry and strawberry plants hanging out in the middle of the refrigerated cheese aisle.

"Huck!" I said. "Huck, are you thinking what I'm thinking?!" He was busy picking his nose and not paying attention, so I grabbed a blueberry plant and figured, hell! I'll only end up killing it, but at least it'll be pretty in the meantime!

At check out, eight million years later, the cashier asked me pleasantly if I already had a blueberry plant at home.

"No . . . why???" I asked.

Obviously I'm a single girl now, so my first thought is, Is this some kind of come-on???
So uh, you already got a blueberry plant at home to snuggle up to?

"Well, they won't fruit unless you have two of them. Do you have a second? Do you need to go and pick up another one before you leave?"



EXCUSE ME! To quote Alex Jones. (<-- is="" it="" link="" p="" super="" that="" worth="">
A few minutes of furious googling in the parking lot later, and this is what I learned:

Yes, a blueberry plant will grow just fine on a patio on its own, solo. Just one blueberry plant, even a huge blueberry plant, will flourish when well-watered and sunned. The leaves will grow bushy and tall. But you aren't going to get any fruit.

None. No fruit.

To get fruit out of a blueberry plant, you need to have two of them, situated far enough apart from each other that they can establish cross-pollination. Male and female blueberry plants. Can't be in the same pot.

Suckers need their space.

"Huck, your mom and dad are the same way," I explained to him the next day after I'd gone back for a second blueberry plant. And you are our fruit. You are our sweet, round-cheeked, priceless little blueberry (huckleberry, he points out, yes yes). You come from us, Huck, and every year we make you together.

We just can't be in the same pot and do it at the same time.

To flourish, we need to be apart.

And Huck, we want to flourish.

You are SO GOOD when we flourish.

And there you have it.
And technically this is still August.

The end. 



As part of an all-out effort to avoid the paralysis of perfectionism over here at the Lovin -Holbrook household, Behold! Barrold the Great wishes to say hi. 

This is a blog post! It is going to be all over the place. 

There is an extension cord that is snaking all over the place in this photo, and I'm not even going to care. Hi, Barry from Barryville! Hi hey. 

Barry's been upgraded to the living room these days. At our old place in Idaho he was relegated to the south wall of my bedroom, where he had no one to talk to but his own glassy-eyed reflection in the mirror. Poor puppy. Here he is constantly getting screeched at by a pair of asshole parakeets. I'm not sure if he'd consider it an upgrade or not. 

You'll notice to the left there's an old Nugo wrapper left behind by Huck that I can't seem to want to throw away for the life of me because it reminds me that he lives here, even when he is with his dad for most of the summer, and because I am a ninny. 

Today is my first full day as Not-Momming Natalie. She's the part of me that doesn't have to find a sitter in order to do things and can afford to forget to pack a lunch before bed because there is nobody really to pack a lunch for. She is a funny lady, and continues to refer to herself in the third person.

But here's what I've been up to lately, I've been carding and spinning! It's messy work but incredibly meditative. You can see my earlier attempts up top on the left, my most recent attempt in the second ceramic pot (I've gotten so much better), as well as what a professional gig looks like, there in the spools of warping below. Underneath that, I've been using those old metal slide holders to hold embroidery floss. They're the perfect shape and layout for thread cards and needlepointing on-the-go, and I feel like I spot them at antique and thrift stores here constantly. I'm thinking of opening up a shop one of these days and putting some of them in there? But not on Etsy, it turns out. They're being dumb I've been told. 

Wow, this is a real stream-of-consciousness bit going on in here.

Hoo boy, did I mention my goal towards non-perfectionism? I said to myself this morning as I was making my coffee, Hey, my living room looks relatively tidy and well-edited today! Let's make this a blog post! 

But I'd forgotten how once you take a picture of a thing you get to realize how very wrong you were about mostly everything your eyes were telling you, because this living room actually is clutt-ERED, the lighting is terrible . . .  this will never do for a blog post. Also, it is grainy as hell, and I'd forgotten about that Pikachu hat that Huck put on the parakeet's cage about a month ago, even though I see it on there every day. But I'm posting it anyway.

Other things you will notice: there's a bag of llama hair to the right of the bird cage that needs to be carded and spun, and that pile of fabric behind the sofa there is the remaining t-shirt pile I have left to embroider. Guys I'm so close to being finished! Should be shipping next week! Probably I should have been Shipping Them As I Finished Them, but this seemed right to me somehow, at the time. 

On the TV you'll note the paused end credits of the most recent episode of Westworld. OMGthemostrecentepisodeofWestworld!

Oh, blogging. 

My favorite hobby right now is going to my mom's house and telling her all my more bizarre and involved theories about blogging and writing and the state of the Internet and what it all means and how I should do it, and whether I should have to know how to do it before I do it or not . . .  She is very good and patient with me although I am ridiculous and we all know it. But she issued the most fantastic almost-compliment-but-not the other day and it has been rolling around in my head ever since. "Natalie," she said, "if I had your following, your talent, and I looked like you, I'd be making so much money right now."


And now a portion of our program that I like to call


or, if you prefer


wherein I put out into the world some of the wishes I hold that I'm perfectly capable of doing, I guess . . . once I wrap my head around them (none of these things needs head wrapping around though, I realize this), either in here or in somewhere else (hint hint literary agents call me winky wink), in order to make a living off of . . . whatever this is. Again. (Meanwhile I am still hunting down full-time jobs.) (Should I be though?) Maybe you guys can help me do this stuff somehow. This is what I am thinking, anyway.

Ok. The new Anne with an E. I got some feelings about PTSD and how an outsize persona or imagination can work to minimize trauma. Also, why Anne Shirley is NOT Mary Poppins. She's the antithesis, but also they're sort of the same? I started to write this thing the other day but I did it with that rule where you're not allowed to erase anything, you just plow on through? So now I'm a little bit terrified of going back in there.

I also want to write about my prison spoons. 

I want to keep making t-shirts and tote bags and embroideries and weavings! So . . . imma keep on doing that. I do need to figure out how to streamline this operation and keep everyone in the know in a more organized fashion. 

"I've got a project that requires . . . tweaking" with my best friend Kara, Moon and Pine. Girl Scouts for grown ass ladies! We've been dreaming and planning this sucker for two years now, we had a sort of soft launch just before Christmas, but we're finally honing in on what it really wants to be, and I have my fingers crossed that it will take off once it's out there! Aaaaaaand that we can get it out there!

I want to write a bit of a thing on Losing My Religion. (Not the R.E.M. song.) I also feel like I have a beachy chick-lit type of deal in me, maybe memoir? Some kind of behind-the-scenes in blogging and influencer culture in NYC. I also feel like I have a twist on an Anne of Green Gables type of series in me somewhere, involving my chickens a lot, probably. (Oh I miss my chickens!) These feel huge to talk about and daunting to consider. Who wants to help me??

I wanna bring back The Great Beauty Experiment - any of you old-timey readers out there still in it with me? Representin' yo??? Does that belong in here??? It probably does. Probably one of the first things I should do is see if I can find that old mascara chestnut and drag it out of antiquity. Does Babble still exist?? I've always enjoyed blogging about style and beauty, it can be a good source of income, so I hope to continue doing that in here, along with occasional essays. Life / Style / Beauty instead of Babies / Nesting / Style? I need to update my categories. It's on my to-do list. Is it weird going all meta like this or what?

I've been sitting with the idea of social media 'influencing' and have decided not to blindly go with the swirling tornado of "No" that sometimes happens when I consider that stuff. Probably because that seems rash, and also probably because it could be done really well? 

There. I am going to call this blog post an accomplishment even though it is everywhere and rambling. Guys, life after divorce and job loss and moving too many times is weird and messy and sometimes it feels hectic and everywhere and nowhere at once. And I suppose I'm maybe here to do all that with you. We're . . . a thing. Some kind of thing, all of us. So thanks for coming along. This is a fun kind of experiment, isn't it? :) 



My personal style continues to change not a whit whatsoever, and yet, here is a style post, just the same! 

If it's jeans and a t-shirt, red lipstick, a straw bag, and sensible shoes, pretty much I'm in it. In fact, the other day as I was going down the stairs on the way to the car to pick up Huck, I was ruminating on how a style post would be fun, even though all I ever wear are jeans and a t-shirt still, and then I came up with this little ditty, to be sung in the style of Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits. Ya ready? 

Jeans and a T-Shirt... No Shit!

When I have my own line at Kohl's someday, that'll be the ditty they play in my radio commercials. (In this dystopian future, Kohl's is cool, television has been rendered obsolete, and you can cuss on the radio.)

Anyway, I do have some source updates. Since it's been a while.

// If you're looking for a good place to score your basic white v-neck tees, it's the Target! These are really. really. good. Go two sizes up for the baggy/boyfriend look. 

// Sephora makes the best all-day lipstick on the planet earth. I've been wearing it nonstop. My favorite shade is Chili Pepper

// I've abandoned wristwatches all together (for the time being) and instead I am wearing a small vintage pocket watch on a chain. I found mine on Etsy at two in the morning (as you do). I have to wind it every day or it won't keep time, and sadly it is too heavy to wear while jogging, which is something I do these days apparently. (Your guess is as good as mine.) Here are a few cute ones, if you're interested! here, here, here, here, here& here!

// The best place to find jeans happens to be the men's denim department of the Goodwill. I like to snatch up all the vintage Wrangler's I can find, because a men's 28 fits like a women's 24, they denim's got insanely good weight + heft, and ugh 501s are SO OVER or something like that (just kidding I love them) (but good ones are impossible for me to find!). I've never found a vintage Wrangler over eight bucks; inexpensive enough that I can justify having one pair for every possible leg length: one just past the ankle (for rolling), one right at the ankle, one just above the ankle, one just above that, and then one at that hideously weird yet alarmingly trendy length that I like to call the Suburban Dad Cargo Shorts length. Culotte-style. But the second best place to shop for jeans continues to be the Madewell. Oh, my Madewell, let me write you a sonnet! Their high rise jeans are my religion. I got these the other day and get approximately a thousand compliments on them a day.

// The best bar soap on the planet right now is called Herban Cowboy, in Dusk. It's got black walnut in it! I found it at Fred Meyer, because it turns out to be true, "you'll find it aaaaaat Freeeeed Meyer!" I love it when radio ditties turn out to be accurate.

// I've been really enjoying this scent. I found it at the Urban Outfitters. It's masculine enough without being overly so, as apparently these days, in the absence of actually having a man, I enjoy smelling like one. Shrug emoji.

// Every couple summers I buy a few new pairs of Bensimons. This summer I also got a pair of espadrilles.  

// Round straw bags are all over my Instagram feed and they're my favorite favorite favorite! Straw bags!! I've got this one here, here are some more! here here

And now, go forth with your late spring self! 


P.S. You better believe there are affiliate links up in this shit. :)



The other day I bought myself a skateboard. Probably because I'm having a midlife crisis. It has a skull on its belly and it cost me just a penny under fifteen bucks. It's still in its plastic wrapping at the time of reporting; it has declined to comment. It is currently residing in a large butter churner by my front door.

This is all a true story.


Now, contrary to what you might be thinking, I did not buy this skateboard at the Target! Even though I do live behind a Target. (I know, right?)

I actually got it at the Walmart. The Walmart!! Look at me already subverting expectations!

I definitely didn't go to the Walmart intending to get a skateboard. In fact, I didn't go there for any real reason at all, now that I think about it. I hadn't even been inside a Walmart since I left Moscow in February, and it is a matter well established that no one goes ten miles out of their way to get to a Walmart when one has a Target happening practically in their front yard. I mean, Chip and Joanna over the Pioneer Woman, I think this one speaks for itself. Maybe I was feeling homesick? But I digress.

The Walmart in question turns out to have the exact footprint and layout as the Walmart in Pullman, which was a rather weird experience. Kind of like the time I bumped into my ex at the Walmart when we were both there to buy milk for our kid. We reached into the dairy fridge at the exact same time, looked up, had an awkward moment, and then went about our way. I was getting 2% for my house, he was getting Whole. This must happen a lot, but it was quite the sensory flashback.

Just before landing in the toy section and momentarily getting caught up in the ridiculousness of a mode of transportation I just know I do not have the sense of balance for, I wandered about the place feeling quite like a Dolores or a Bernard, looking at the asparagus, casually questioning the the nature of my reality, wondering where I was... and when... truly, it could have been at any time! Diet Coke architectural displays are timeless! It made it so that every time I crossed the Subway in the front (which was a lot--I like for my Walmart trips to be as spiritually aimless as possible; the more times you can inefficiently criss-cross the joint on your way to get mundane things, the better), not only would I smell that overwhelmingly magical yeast-y Subway smell, but I swear I could also catch the faintest whiff of wheat fields wafting in from the automatic doors. Not to mention the vague aroma of knowing you've got nothing interesting around you to do for miiiiiiiles.


You know those scenes in Sci-Fi movies when some poor dummy gets sucked out into space and experiences that sudden frozen floatingness of dread? This is related, I promise. These scenes are all quite the same, aren't they. Something happens by accident or someone pushes a release button, and out they go! And then for the next thirty seconds or so you get to watch this one scene that all science fiction movies seem to have, that 'floating out to nowhere in space in slow motion' scene. These poor saps just ... floating there, one arm outstretched, their face a frozen mask of terror mixed with a weird kind of dawning acceptance. You know the one:


Like that. I like to call it the Slow Motion Oh Shit. (It's catchy.)

Anyway, I was thinking about this as I was contemplating skateboards, that weird sandpaper-y finish on the top, and whether or not I'd have to buy myself a pair of skater shoes now to go along with it, and what are the physics behind skater shoes anyway? And did you know that I am single and I live in Portland now? 

It's quite the tactile expression, I think. (We're back to space suckage now.) Almost immediately in those sequences I start to feel like *I* could be the one out there with nothing to hold onto, everything deafeningly silent, my pulse drumming in my ears, my mind a complete blank. It'd probably be pretty peaceful, actually, if you could wrap your head around it . . . all those stars and galaxies surrounding you, the relief of finally succumbing your own mortality, nobody nagging you for another bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch . . .  I mean, maybe. And it makes one wonder (shut up, yes it does) if that must actually BE the face you'd make if YOU got sucked out into space, too. Is there a science to this? Has there been a study? Probably every single person who's ever been sucked out into space has made this exact face so far... except how many people do you suppose have actually been sucked out into space before??? Is this just a collective unconsciousness deal, wherein we've all somehow silently conceded that this is how it would be like, if?  

And you know how sometimes the Universe keeps trying to tell you to do a thing, and you know what it is but you're willfully pretending like it doesn't make any sense because there's GOT to be a better way around it? And so you sit on your thumbs and do absolutely nothing about it instead???


Once upon a time I was married.

(This is how I was going to start this blog post, like, five iterations ago.)

Once upon a time I had a blog, and I was married. I lived in a city that I loved, I had a husband who loved me (enough... ish), I had a child who was spectacular (still is spectacular), and I had a blog that I wrote in whenever crazy creative juices were flowing, or else whenever we were strapped for cash.

I truly, naively believed it would always be that way, for better or for worse, even when it was the worst, and even when I knew it was unreasonable and it was killing me, and even when I knew that parts of it had become entirely untenable.

Until one day, April Fools Day, actually (how fun is that), all of that ended, and I got dumped.

Well, scratch that. Most of it had ended looong before that. My city was just a depressing memory by that point, and my marriage a complete shambles. The blog had become a kind of self-flagellating prison. By then all that was left was this overly tight grip we all had, a kind of desperate holding on to a thing that seemed to want nothing to do with us. White-knuckling a past future, I guess. Clinging to the final vestiges of expired dreams like a five-year-old clings to your leg at kindergarten drop off.

And anyway, I wasn't dumped so much as let loose on the world without any prior consent or preparation on any of our parts, and let me tell you, it has been TERRIBLY GRACEFUL.


You know, there's a certain kind of comfort in clinging, I suspect. It's a thing one can do when there's not much else to be done. It has a road map already, it's got a final destination, whether or not that destination is actually attainable or even preferable is another thing altogether, but all Wilson Phillips aside, I think I'll assert here that excessive holding on, for one more day or for any amount of time, really, isn't terribly good for anybody.

And so I was let loose, to, eerily, silently, yet oddly-gracefully (hah!) float off to nowhere, one hand outstretched, my face a reflection of my doom... Not to put too dramatic a point on it or anything!

Actually, at first it was liberating. All stars and orbits. My stomachaches went away. The sun seemed brighter. Rehashing in my mind old things that had been said that once hurt me . . . now they didn't anymore. They felt ok. I felt settled and final.

But then the dread sets in. Suddenly every planet you've known is out of your reach and disappearing quickly. Your surroundings are beautiful still, but your future feels grim and your face feels paralyzed and your limbs go numb. Your destination seems at once wholly up to you and entirely out of your control.

Obviously, the first thing I did was end my blog.

No no no. The first thing I did was move all my furniture and my kid into a tiny cowboy shanty on the edge of town that was built in 1890, had been moved around Moscow four or fives times since, and was currently perched on a foundation made of cinder blocks. How's that for a metaphor! I made that move all by myself, in the rain, over a day and a half. Fierce determination in the face of absolute confusion. That felt pretty good.

And then, I cried. I cried a lot, for a long time. Not for the loss of a person or a relationship, and not even for the loss of the future we'd white-knuckled for so long. I was grateful for that release valve, I was grateful to be floating. I think what I was grieving was that sensation of sudden unmooring; the overwhelming freedom of the destinationless.

That's when I ended my blog.


What happened next?? Well, here's what you missed. I threw myself into my kid and my chickens. I decorated the ever loving daylights out of my tiny house. I got a turkey, two ducks, and a very opinionated rabbit. I bought a gym membership and took barre classes, gained all these new muscles, not to mention a whole host of old lady gym friends. I read books and I went to counseling and I downloaded Tinder. I watched EVERYTHING on Netflix. I got odd jobs where I could and went thrifting with Kara. I did a lot of crying, made a lot of questionable choices, and did a lot of cracking-open. Really breaking the ribs and opening out, letting the oxygen hit me. Very slowly I started the process of getting to know myself after marriage.

I was able to muscle my way into a job here in Portland with a start up and, with Brandon's blessing, moved Huck and myself out west to start a new life! . . . Which then promptly tanked because start ups are assholes.

This was when shit all got real, and there I was again. Floating. This time it felt interminable, and frightening. It felt like a life sentence. I got back on my horse just the same and I applied to all the jobs. To ALL of the jobs. You know, health insurance and 401ks and reliable paychecks. Even the jobs that sounded horrific, I applied to them all with gusto. And over and over again, something just doesn't want that for me, something that's even more stubborn than I am and hellishly determined that I not take the sensible way out. I must have applied to thousands of those jobs. Millions of them!! Aren't you happy to see that my skills in exaggeration are still in fine form!!??! All the while I really, really struggled. It became oddly difficult to even take care of myself in the most basic ways, it seemed like everything was gone at that point, and I think that was when the finality of not having a family anymore, of not going to be having any more children, of not getting a clean start, of not being taken care of, finally set in. I really had to grieve it. The things I had cracked open before, I now needed to smash all to pieces before they could finally start to knit themselves back together, and it was hard, and it was lonely. I tried on futures. So many futures. I tried on futures, and I discarded them. I tried on other futures. They discarded me. Me and my future, man, we've been naught but goopy noodles of spaghetti getting flung against the wall. over. and over. and over.  

I suppose it is time that I just listen to that damn old Universe already and do what it's telling me. After all, nothing else is sticking. 

(Am I too al dente is that the problem???)

(Pasta metaphors!)


You know, being without the constant scrutiny and opinions of outsiders these last few years while also being finally outside the realm of critique that came with my marriage made it hard for me to know which source was the culprit of everything I'd gone through all those years ago, until suddenly, my mind was the culprit. Whooshing in, over and over, criticisms, insults, doubt, tearing myself down, reminding myself of failures and shortcomings, chiding myself over mistakes, my head becoming a hell of my own making. I guess you can outrun your captors, but that doesn't mean you've escaped your captivity. Maybe it wasn't always a hell of my own making, that old part of my life online and in marriage that was so toxic and hurtful to me, but by now any part of it remaining I had to own and accept as my own responsibility, a creation of mine and mine alone. Only I could produce that crippling self-doubt for myself, and so only I could destroy it. So, one by one, one false core belief at a time, I did. It took a lot of work to take them all down, and it was rough. I had to really claw my way through it, but I'm proud of myself for getting here, and still working to forgive myself for how long it took and for all the dumb choices I might have made in the meantime.

But back to to the skateboard for a minute. It's a pretty good idea, you know; learning new things, time spent outdoors with my kid, you know, brain wrinkles and things; unless it is a DISASTROUS idea. Remember, I once broke both my heels jumping over the last two steps on a staircase. But I've got band aids, a good stash of arnica cream, and a fair amount of bad judgment. I think I can do it. 

And on this: I'm certainly not going to get it right this time around, either, and I'm not at all sure what it's going to look like yet, or what my monetization strategy will be, or how often I'm going to write, or even WHAT in the damn hell tarnation I am even going to write about for bob's sake?! But I don't suppose that's ever stopped me before now has it? :) I get the sense that this is where I need to be, that it's time to let go of whatever's been holding me back, and just jump out there with the stars and galaxies. Slow motion "oh shit" face and everything. It's time to loosen my grip. I've got a finger on a release button.

It starts with p and it rhymes with "rublish."

Here's to the floating, kids.



I love the Target.

In fact, let's be honest here; I'd live at the Target if they sold beds like at the Macy's.

Truthfully, I can't make it out of the Target without spending at least $100 on wonderfully useless things. It is always surprising to me how quickly these cheap little things can become so very expensive, and today's Target day was a day just like that. 

Today's Target day was the same as always and yet so, so different, and discombobulating (a fantastic word), and disorienting, and so now, here is the story of today's Target Day,

Going Out The Way We Came In

Closure Is Important To Human Emotions

-but if you'd rather-
Let's Make A Target Sandwich


So, the other day I needed to go to the Target. 

Well . . . I didn't really need to go to the Target, but I did want some alone time. 

I also wanted to see this brass lamp that I keep on seeing all over Instagram. It is everywhere! It looks so classy!

You probably have one too, right?? Yeah, you do.

Whenever I see this lamp I always catch myself thinking it can never truly be possible that it actually came from the Target. Because it looks way too slick. It's probably not as great in person.

This was a theory I was willing to invest time into.

Mostly, however, the real reason I wanted to go to the Target that day was so that I could end this flipping blog already.


I have been ready to be done with this blog for something like ten years at this point.

And always, when I thought about it, I had this idea in the back of my mind that, this, someday, was how I was going to go out.

Which is to say, by going out the way I came in.

By which I mean, by writing about shopping.

Plus, I'd been having hella writer's block for a couple of months and I thought that maybe the long drive might crack something open.

(Well, it didn't.)
(Try picturing a Prius-shaped thought bubble hurtling towards the ever loving embrace of the closest Target, 90 minutes north of here, and you about got it.)

All the drive long I wondered and wondered.
What would I want to say in this, my very last blog post?
What are my messages? What are my themes?? Do I have any of those things??? What has all this been, anyway????
What does a reader even look for in a decent flounce post these days?

I definitely wanted it to be, like, MEANINGFUL.
An essay! You know, one of the good ones.
Make it mean something! On a treadmill! With Dave Chappelle!!

"I was eloquent! Shit!!"

But the more I thought about it, the more I knew. I am just way too over it at this point for something like that. I am just actually that ready.


So, this is it. 

Without pomp or circumstance or anything terribly exciting to go along with it, here it is. 

After ten years of blogging, I am closing up shop.


(This part is the part at the end where I say, "Hey, guys, thank you.")

Dearest People Of My Blog,

Hey guys. Thank you.

Thank you for always being incredibly fantastic and intelligent and fascinating and kind whenever we've been able to meet in person.

Thank you for your beautifully thoughtful comments and emails.

Thank you for your prayers! I've felt the them, I swear it. Every last one.

Thank you for your sisterhood, for sharing your experiences with faith, infertility, hope, and the hard things, and for letting me feel at times like I was your big sister. This has and will continue to give my life an insanely wonderful added purpose and meaning. It makes me want to cry anytime I think about it.

I'm so grateful for you, you weird little knuckleheads, for supporting me and coming along with me and for liking the same dumb things as me, and for asking me things like where I get my white t-shirts and clogs, and for buying my book, and f or showing up when I've held  events, and for always being so much stinking cooler than me.

Thank you.

Thank your, ladies and gentlemen!

And now for my parting words. My legacy! Get excited!

That lamp at the Target is EVERY BIT as rad in real life as it seems online.
Wouldn't it be nice if everything was like that?