Moscow has always been beautiful in the fall but I think this one takes the cake for longest, crispest, perfectest . . . bestest fall ever. Our area of town has the most gorgeous mature trees. You don't want to live here in a windstorm, but otherwise, dang straight it's pretty. The random 1800s houses dotted in between the random 1920s houses in between the random 1950s ranches gives the streets out here this funky haphazard feeling that I really love, and the fact that NOBODY rakes anything is making my entire life right now. Leaves shin feet high indeed.

Another thing I remember about Moscow in the fall is that it precedes the nastiest thing the universe has ever invented, Moscow in the WINTER. Ackkkkk turn around three times and spit. It gets dark here at 3 the minute Daylight Savings kicks in. It snows and then it ices and then it snows and let me tell you, the leaves stop looking so pretty by then. Sludge, gray, poop. Blech. And  you're trapped in it, you know, because you can't go anywhere. Like that pass in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers! You gotta wait for the thaw, man. 

I don't know I just find I am relating to that movie a lot these days? 

One year after driving to Portland for Christmas, we came home to a giant wall of snow in our driveway from all the snowplows that had come through. It was taller than our car. Like, keeping the white walkers out, that kind of tall. We had to park in the middle of the road and shovel out an opening so we could get inside. These aren't the kinds of things I tell you to complain, no no, this is not about sympathy. This is about BRAGGING. I SURVIVED THIS.

Anyway, so instead I'm doing what you do and pretending that winter's never happening, and I'm calling it Operation Braverman Backyard. You watch Parenthood, right? More than the cancer story lines I'm over here bawling over that landscaping. And the twinkle lights!! 

Maybe if I string up enough twinkle lights Moscow will just, like, cancel winter this year. 

Look out there's about to be a million pictures of my back yard right now. It's a progress report! 

Fire pit I'm laughably bad at lighting, check! 

Chickens pooping on everything, double check! 

We did a little test run for Huck's birthday party this week, and aside from the fact that none of us could get a good fire going . . . haha, it was a success!

We still need a picnic table, and about a million more twinkle lights. But we're getting somewhere.

The end for crying out loud!


1.) Take your inner introvert on a long drive through some crazy pretty scenery, 2.) Watch your baby sister sing her guts out on stage, 3.) Crash for the night in a motel room with her and a bunch of her touring drama nerds, slumber party-style, 4.) Blow your sister a kiss + watch board her tour bus + drive away, 5.) Take your inner introvert on a tour of downtown Walla Walla 6.) Drive home with some podcasts and wonder how on earth you missed that camel on the side of the road the first time around?

Pretty much, that's about what I did last weekend.

Hold up. I took that on my cell phone. Let's all marvel. Also Alex, my profile sends your profile twin kissies. 

Look at me pretending to be a concert photographer! 

So, downtown Walla Walla is adorbs. And there really is nothing better sometimes than going on a long walk with just yourself and your crazeballs hormones, breathing in some different air than what you're used to, and buying blueberry infused artisanal vinegar for whoever knows what reason. 

And looking in quilting supply stores! Quilting is such a foreign language to me. I've made a few quilts in my time, my baby brother even took one of them on his mission with him! Biggest compliment of my life maybe, but I still walk in these kinds of shops and experience a profound stupor in my soul. What do you DO in this kind of store? Is it not the most overwhelming?  Do quilt-y types go into these shops and look at these fabrics and see, like, completed quilts in their future? All I see are crazy patterns shouting at me, and inevitable geometry failure. 

The Country Store! Okay wait a couple of things about this place. Firstly, the dudes at the Farmer's Market were all adamant that I go. Secondly, I walked in and was practically accosted by the world's cutest little puggle shop dog monster named Chester who likes ear scratches. Third and most importantly, it was overwhelming in the way that sets your cells on fire, and it made me miss my mom, because she would SO kill it in a joint like this.  


The other thing the Farmer's Market peeps said I needed to do was hit the local Goodwill because it is supposed to be legendary. But I always wonder about tips like this, because doesn't it seems like if it was good once, it won't be the next day, because all the good stuff will have already been taken? If a local thrift store is really great, consistently, does that mean you are, in essence, just buying the same things over and over after different people have bought them and then donated them again? Is a local thrift store like a library? I dunno if I'll ever see such a fancy Goodwill ever again so long as I live. Thrifting is like some kind of magical renewable resource. I buy the stupidest stuff when I go to the Goodwill, I swear. 

Like . . . twelve dollar ice skates. 


Farmer's Market, cute as a button.

Old man, cute as a button. Look at that guy! I love him. Life goals. 

Sorry, from behind. Hee, overalls!

Whyyyy do I take so many pictures? I don't know, these are good questions. 

The end.



"Something you should know about Moscow in the fall is that Moscow in the fall is not kidding around. You wait your whole life for Moscow in the fall. Moscow in the fall will show you the meaning of life. Wading through a sea of leaves at least shin feet tall, cold noses and warm sweaters and glowing pumpkins on every doorstep. The smell of Moscow in the fall is like a direct one-way call with God."
 -- Me 

"It makes me want to buy school supplies." 
-- Joe Fox

A few scenes of autumnal craziness below, all from in and around our little Moscow house . . . 




I have this old recipe box I found at the Antique Mall (the Moscow Antique Mall: my reason for living). It's the perfect size for just the favorites--you know, the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, our favorite Banana Bread, the Curry of my dreams, all filed away in an easy-to-get-to and beautiful-to-look-at recipe box sitting on the counter. #clutter #i'mworkingonit 

Most these favorite recipes got a lot of play while we lived in Brooklyn and on the UWS, but then there are a few of those Holbrook favorites that only seem to happen under the right circumstances.  You know what I'm saying? Like, some feeling in the air that stirs a certain something, that then necessitates a sort of "I NEED TO EAT THIS [fill in the blank] RIGHT NOW" situation?? 

Such is the case with this forgotten old classic: The Mariner's Pepperpot Soup. 

It turns out all those certain soup-y feelings are still rocking it out here. Such is the way in Idaho. The way it feels when it's already dark at 6PM and Winter Is Coming is very soup-y. Or how when I'm at the WinCo and by muscle memory I retrace that same produce section root vegetable soup makings purchasing path that I always used to make through the store the first time around, back when we LIVED on soup, because, #students, and #poor, and because #idahoiscold. 

This has been a fantastic build up to this recipe, YOU CAN HARDLY WAIT I KNOW THIS IS THRILLING!

So here is the story of my Pepperpot Soup, and why (or why not?) it doesn't call for tripe in this version, and in fact it doesn't call for half the ingredients most other pepperpot soups seem to call for, which is confusing! The answer is: I don't know. I even had to look up "what the hell is tripe!?" after so many people on my Instagram asked me if I'd included it, and, so, I don't know what else to tell you. Except that back when I worked at Schweitzer, there was this wonderful lady who ExecSec'd with me (hahaa that sounds so fully weird), and she and I occasionally traded "Palouse Survival Tips" with each other. Such as for example: "Call your car a rig." Somehow this helps, I can't tell you why. For another example: "Simmer a pot of Mariner's Pepperpot Soup on your stove on a chilly Saturday afternoon, and you won't mind for a minute that you live in the blasted middle of nowhere and that it gets dark at 3 in the afternoon." So she brought me this recipe one day in a book that must have come from some great great aunt, it was that old and perfect looking, and then she made me up a photocopy and I've had it ever since. Well, it's always been too dark to read it very well, as well as it was printed diagonally on the page, which is MAGIC, if you ask me. Something about those kinds of recipes, you know? 

My friend recommends serving this soup with a side of sweet potato balls. Obviously I won't discourage you from that. 


1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs vegetable oil (i typically use olive oil)
2 celery stalks, washed and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped (i usually go with 4-5 carrots!)
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon (duh, i did 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. nobody ever appreciates the cinnamon enough! psh. not even a teaspoon what is wrong with you?!)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 cups of vegetable stock (it's smart to keep an extra 4 cups handy for when the soup inevitably thickens on leftovers days)

ONE / sauté onion and garlic in oil in a large saucepan or pot on medium high until translucent; about 5-10 minutes
TWO / add celery, carrots, green pepper and spices, stir to coat; let cook 5 minutes
THREE / add vegetable stock and tomatoes, bring to boil and then leave to simmer on low for 5-25 minutes

over brown rice! enjoy!

Ooooh by the wayyyy:

This time around I used some of the tomatoes I'd blanched, peeled + frozen from our day at the farm last month, which made this eeeeextra dorky and Suzy Homemaker-y and guys, that kind of thing on its own is already such a cure for whatever ails you, but next time! Next  time I'm going for 4 frozen tomatoes. Probably also even more carrots + celery.

Also worth noting: I tossed in a few stalks of frozen dinosaur kale (also from the same day at the farm), and hoooomg, I'm never making this soup without dinosaur kale ever again so long as I live.

Now that I'm here I feel like kidney beans would also have been a hit in here, too. The end.



photos from a birthday weekend spent picking apples at the wsu orchards, sprinkled in with a whole lot of nonsense, is about to happen in this post. are you ready?

this is the view of our house from inside the coop. lucky girls. 

I am happy to report that I am a new mama eight times over. Four hennies in the coop out back, and four chickies in the brooder in the basement. Yikes. I absolutely love it. As of now my ladies are finally clucking happily in their coop again after I (stupidly) let them out (way too soon) the other day for ranging and then had to usher them back up into the coop before nightfall the hard way. With a fishing net. 

My ladies are STUPID. Or else stubborn. Oh my gosh I just love them to pieces. 

The other day Linda gave me her very first egg. It was on the day when she was being the biggest turkey ever. I thanked her profusely, because that is the kind of thing I take very seriously. A woman's ovulatory output is a gift and not to be taken lightly. It felt like a "Hey, I like you! I don't hate it here!" greeting card from Miss Lonely Linda just for me. Of course it's Linda's egg. OF COURSE. Linda is the stubbornest. There's got to be a correlation. On the days she's allowed outside to range she immediately roosts up in the lilac tree behind the canning shed and she DOES NOT BUDGE. You can reach up there with the back end of a broom and poke her rudely in her bum and she does not care. It's all sneak attack grabs at her thighs with Linda and then she gives you THE LOOK as you carry her home. The rest I can catch with the net, after cornering them between the juniper shrub and the rose bushes, but Linda. Linda makes you work for it.

The guy at Tri-State was really fantastic when I went to buy that fishing net. Here's this dumb girl in the fishing aisle, worrying about net thread count or whatever because heaven forbid I trap my ladies with synthetic netting material, and the dude goes, "Goin' fishin'??" like it was the last thing on earth I would be doing (well, it is) and then I said, "Yes, I am. For chickens." He laughed and shook his head and backed away slowly, and there I was left to ponder whether I wanted a wood handled fishing net or aluminum? And then I drove through the McDonald's on the way home for a Diet Dr Pepper and got to reenact that exact conversation with another guy, the drive through window guy, because the net was too long to fit in the trunk so it was angled next to me through the passenger seat and he was like, "Here's your soda, uhhh, nice fishing net?" 

I was afraid that I had traumatized the poor ladies with that fishing net but ironically enough, every time I've had to play chicken hockey I've been rewarded the following day with a big fat egg. So, I mean . . . chickens, man.

Earl the Squirrel was outside running laps this morning across the top of our crooked old fence, back and forth from his oak tree at the edge of the lawn to some pot of acorn gold near the front that he must have discovered. I'm not normally one to name my backyard squirrels or anything, but this guy is just the funniest dude, you'd have done it, too.  

I love to watch Earl in the mornings. He is very intense about things. Occasionally he'll stop at the window and I'll glance in his direction from the work table in the kitchen and we'll have ourselves a real moment. That Earl is a soulful old dude. He knows what's cookin'. He scrambles so loudly with his nails against the wood as he goes back and forth in his duties that it's hard not to feel he's become a necessary fixture in our morning routine. "Hey, Earl," Huck says to the window when he comes into the kitchen for a waffle. He looks like he's in pretty good shape for the winter, that Earl; he's got his beady little eyes on the prize. 

I think my favorite thing about Idaho that my penchant for romanticizing the stupidest things gets fed out here like a king. ;)

Please to appreciate Huck's Lloyd Christmas hair. (I kind of miss the swoosh.) (But seriously is he not the cutest thing or what, crap.)

Giant sunflower meets giant sunflower seed addict, begets much pondering on the meaning of life, et cetera. ;)

The WSU orchards are open for the next weekend or so, if you're in the area you should definitely plan to spend a few hours there before the season ends. 

And there goes Earl again. He has easily been back and forth with at least 6 acorns since I sat down here just now.

I worry when I write posts lately that I might sound sad. This is a funny, funky time in the life of Ye Olde Natalie, and I'm not sad, per se, but I'm definitely feeling things. (And starting Clomid again soon, so, you know. WATCH OUT. ;)

I'm still figuring out how I feel about Idaho Round Two. You know, life in Idaho the first time around was marked with a whole lot of sadness, and that old sadness scared me when we first made plans to come back. I didn't know if it would find me again. But New York changed me more than I realized. The stress of my life in the city--the people, the keeping up, the competition, the games--it was a lot, and now that it's gone, it's noticeable.  It takes a certain kind of person to thrive in that environment, and while I loved it there--oh I loved the city--I definitely don't think anyone could ever accuse me of having thrived there. It wasn't a perfect fit. Dressing for the angles of a stressed out version of me was fun though, I admit. Clothes fit worried Natalie different than they fit healthy Natalie, and I embraced it as best I could, but I was hard and I was uptight and I was worried all of the time. Now I sometimes feel waylaid a little, but I never feel that New York edge, and I am so grateful to see it gone. I'm dressing for the softer me again, literally and metaphorically. It's good. It's an adjustment. It's hard for me, because this is my limitation right now in my life, but I'm happy. Sorting through things, yes, getting myself prepared for another round of fertility treatments, yes--another round of exposing my vulnerable hopes to the harsh air of possible failure--but I'm welcoming it. The different ways I experience myself and my life out here has been both melancholy and sweet. And the different decisions New York pushed me to make have made this time in Idaho so much better, so much easier, so much more whole. New York stretched me hard and fast and put me through the wringer, but it's made Moscow me a better Moscow me, and for that I'm so thankful.

And I guess I want to say for those following along, and for those especially who are maybe on a similar plot line as me, trying to navigate new-old changes and not sure how to label these feelings that swoop in and out when things get upended: I like it. I'm good. I am whole and I am raw and I am experiencing it all. And I'm in it for keeps.

There is no looking back.