Oh, Missoula!

We arrived in Missoula, Montana for the summer awakening this year. Flying in at midnight, the girls and I felt a chill in the air and a barely perceptible mist, rare for the dry climate. By the time our man arrived a few days later the thermostat had risen to 90. I quickly caught up with my friends’ sandal-tanned feet as we baptized ourselves in the Clark Fork River.

Splashing in the Clark Fork River, Missoula

Staying hydrated on the Clark Fork River in Missoula, MT

I love him!

My birthday came and went without too much fanfare this year. There were the fireworks of course… but 41 is not a big celebration year. 40 was good, thanks for asking. Better than I thought it would be.

Biking on the pedestrian overpass in Missoula, Montana

One thing that has struck me on this trip is how upscale Missoula has become. You can’t find a natural deer shed for under $15 in town!

Berry picking at Red Hen farm

But you can pick your own strawberries for three bucks a pound.

Ants in Montana

The critters are super-sized here.

Montana pink flower

Missoula has also been in the national news this past year—From the Time article about the University of Montana being America’s Rape Capital (though it’s no more rapey than any other university IMO) to the story about a Missoula man “setting a trap” in his garage and then shooting a foreign exchange student when he took the bait, killing him. I’m not sure what all this is about… maybe history will reveal more.

Missoula sky at dusk

After living in Missoula for six years and now visiting for two summers, I have honed my list of must-dos while in town.

Top ten summertime things to do in Missoula:

1. Dig through the piles of bikes and get geared up at Free Cycles. Bikes are free for kids 10 and under. Advice is free to everyone. Elbow grease not included.

2. Escape the afternoon heat at the not-so-secret spot on Rattlesnake Creek.

3. Shop for fresh, local veggies, fruits and meat at the Clark Fork River Market on Saturday mornings. Be sure to eat a tasty breakfast sandwich at Ninja Mike’s and bring home some hand-picked huckleberries starting in late July.

4. Get lost in four floors of vintage treasures at the Montana Antique Mall.

5. Feel the burn on one of the many amazing mountain bike trails, which offer varying degrees of strenuousness from mellow to hardcore.

6. Eat a lamb burger at Caffe Dolce. The wine selection is pretty good, too. Ask Jared for a recommendation.

7. Shop for locally-made, funky wares at the twice-yearly Missoula Made Fair. From hand-made clothing and jewelry to art and home goods, it’s a great place to find treasures and unique gifts.
(The holiday Made Fair is held indoors in December.)

8. Float the Blackfoot River.

9. Take an evening stroll to the Big Dipper for some ice cream. It’s worth the wait.

10. Share the fun with friends. The best part of being in Missoula is hanging with our familiars, who feel just as excited about the long, hot days as we are. The season is short in Missoula, and people take advantage of as much play time as possible.

Erin Vito takes a selfie on the bike trail

crush(ing) my gaming addiction

It’s a big joke these days that we are all glued to our phones. But it’s sad commentary on the human condition that we simply accept that people no longer make eye contact with the barista when ordering Caramel Macchiatos at Starbucks. (I wonder if the diminishing of eye contact will have a real, societal effect. Someone should do a long-term {READ MORE}

vintage metal outdoor chair redux

Remember this chair? You know, the one I bought with grand ideas of refurbishing it myself? Yeah, that chair. After scraping the flaky paint and rust spots off as best I could with a wire brush, I wondered if this was a job I could accomplish myself. There was a lot of rust still on the chair, and {READ MORE}

When inspiration (doesn’t) hit

As all creative people know, the waxing and waning of inspiration is a part of the deal. You can force it, but why should you (unless a deadline looms)? Instead of trying to coerce yourself into creativity, or beating yourself up for a lack of ideas, take the opportunity to be lazy. Watch an episode of “Mad {READ MORE}

vintage metal display letters

I have long dreamt of having a large-scale type installation in my home. Imagine a giant, white wall covered with vintage letters of varying size and fonts. Fantastic! Image: Reclaimed It makes a statement to visually define a space with type, spelling out words with the metal letters. I am especially fond of the “drugs” sign below. {READ MORE}

copper foiled watercolor easter eggs

When I began this Easter egg project I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Initially, I considered creating pattens with the copper leaf on the eggs by taping off a design and then removing the tape after foiling, thereby revealing the pattern in the white shell underneath. But applying metallic foil is delicate work, {READ MORE}

circus act

I don’t love the circus. Okay, I don’t love seeing the animals in the circus (sad!). But I do love the big top, the clowns and bright marquee lights announcing the show. I am inspired lately by primary colors, bright red lips and exaggerated proportions. And I’m not the only one. Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley’s collection {READ MORE}

passion

Flipping through Hemispheres magazine, I came across an article entitled, “Wish You Weren’t Here” about how healthy couples vacation separately. The luck! My decision to go on an expensive, solo trip validated by a few paragraphs in a travel mag. It was officially O.K. for me to leave my family and work for a week-long vacation and {READ MORE}

deer antler jewelry organizer

I’ve come across some beautiful and inspiring painted deer antlers at flea markets and on etsy. Most of the antlers I see are sold as tabletop art. Being a utilitarian girl, and also generally averse to clutter, I look for innovative uses for everyday (and not-so-everyday) objects. It occurred to me a mounted deer antler, {READ MORE}

valentine’s day cupcakes repost

Recently i was daydreaming about frosting and how beautiful it is when the food coloring is mixing in, before it’s fully incorporated. I wanted to try to recreate that as a finished look. So I made some valentine-themed cupcakes to bring to a dinner party. I have been into sweethearts as a source of creative inspiration (see also {READ MORE}