books

QUENCH

 

HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


Instagram

  • They will see us waving from such great heights. || Plotting his future treehouse from the vantage point of @shelterprotectsyou and @sheltercollective's matrimonial altar in our yard.
  • Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth. @biltmoreestate
  • I had the most profoundly memorable experience today. The cookbook club at Haywood County Library (the county adjacent to mine) hosted me, and by hosted, I mean 12 ladies selected recipes from my book
  • What better way to clear out a case of the Mondays than a giveaway?! See that lovely locally-made wooden bag dryer there on my wall? Want to win one of your own (you do, trust me)? Pop on over to small measure to enter. Link is in my profile.
  • This guy right here? While he might be growing bigger every day, the truth is that becoming a mother has helped me to grow. To be more present. To be more patient. To be more empathic. As I tell all my soon-to-be-mama friends, parenthood is the toughest work you'll ever do, with by far the biggest payoff. The lovin', and the learning, are so, so good. Happy Monday, friends.
  • Today was a good day. This view, from the top of our road, certainly helped make it so.
  • I think the 48-hour flu I've been fighting has finally succumbed to my assault of grapefruit seed extract, osha root, propolis, elderberry syrup, Oscillococinum, apple cider vinegar, rose hips, hibiscus, ginger/lemon/honey/cayenne tea, and neti pot with goldenseal tincture. I don't take getting sick sitting down. And now, a winter storm, possibly. Bring it, I say. Happy weekending, friends!!!
  • This guy.
  • I've been waiting, for a book like this, to come into my life. Whoa. Picked this up a few weeks ago at @screendoorasheville as a New Year's gift to @glennbenglish. Just started reading it myself and it couldn't possibly be more of what I need to see, right now. Completely on point, wholly attuned to what I'm presently sensing and curious about and inspired by, and infinitely humbling.
  • Warm enough today to play soccer down in our lower field, do a bit of weeding in the garden, and push a nearly-too-big 4 year-old in his
  • New year, new moons, new calendars. Right on, right on.
  • @shelterprotectsyou has been posting images of the wedding she and @sheltercollective had here in September all week. They built this altar for the ceremony, and it's still here, just past the house, on the way to the chicken coop. We pass it every day. Some days, I casually note its beauty and the way it feels like an outdoor church here in our forested cove. Other days I barely register it as I scurry about, doing this and that around the property. Today, though, in the stark, grey, drizzly setting, it was quietly regal. Happy to have had her visuals prompt me to stop, look, and listen to this physical testament to love.

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Love That Bag Dryer (+ Giveaway!!!)

Bag Dryer IRL 3Bag DryerBag Dryer 2
If you know me personally, then you can attest firsthand to my abhorrence of waste. I am a trash vigilante. From recycling toilet paper inserts, to sorting and recycling the plastic attachment and paper tag on new garments, to upcycling ribbon from gifts, I go to great lengths to keep things out of the waste stream.

Which is why Elana Kann’s “Love This Bag Dryer” is so amazing. Long time readers may recall my initial post about this item (formerly known as Branching Out Woodworks). I’ve been using the dryer for over 3 years now, and can attest to its durability, its unobtrusiveness, and its efficacy. In short, it holds up well, it doesn’t get in the way, and it really works. I am constantly drying bags out on it. I painted my bag dryer dark brown, to match the trim color on my moulding, but it doesn’t need it to work.

Made locally by Elana, a woodworker and artist, the dryers have a spruce base and birch dowels. There are two models to choose from, either countertop (shown in the second photo) or wall-mounted (shown in my house and in the third photo). They come in kits, easily assembled in about 5 minutes. Best of all, Elana has offered to give away a model of their choice (countertop or wall-mounted) to one small measure reader!

To enter, simply leave a comment below. You can write “Pick me!” or perhaps detail something specific that you’re doing to reduce waste and curb pollution. I’m ALWAYS on the hunt for additional ways to put the kibosh on waste. I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding next Monday, February 2nd, midnight EST. Open to those in North America only (sorry international buddies! That shouldn’t stop you from ordering, though!).

Even if you’re not the winner, now would be a wonderful time to purchase one of those bag dryers for yourself or a loved one, as local non-profit RiverLink and LoveThisBagDryer! are teaming up to keep plastic bags out of the French Broad River in Western North Carolina (which has the distinction of being the third oldest river in the world-it’s true!). To raise funds for its river cleanup, 14% of all sales of LoveThisBagDryer! through Valentine’s Day, February 14th,  will be donated to Riverlink for its annual springtime Clean Streams Day. The goal is to raise at least $400 for this purpose. Let’s help them reach that goal!

 

 

Pure Green Podcast

Pure Green Podcast
Friends, it’s already 2015! And the holidays have passed! And I feel like I’m finally coming up for air, just in time for an arctic blast to take my breath away. What about you? How are you feeling? Have things been wild and wacky and wonderful for you, too? I look forward to the stretch of days from Halloween to New Year’s Day all year. I’m overcome with emotion and activity when they’re upon me, reveling in their frenzy. And then, as though right on cue, I’m completely ready for them to subside and move on out and make way for something more still, more internal, more intimate as January appears on the calendar.

I have big plans for 2015. More books, more videos, more freelancing, more homesteading adventures, more kids (Maybe! Nothing cooking in that department just yet!). All kinds of new adventures. I’ve begun lately to think of life as more of an ever evolving, never finished endeavor than anything that can fully be managed or contained. The latter mindset just leaves me feeling like I can’t get all of the things I want to get done completed, which then spirals into guilt and frustration and self-doubt.

The thing I’m discovering is that it’s just fine for projects to always be “in process.” It’s as it should be, really. Life expands and contracts. It ebbs and flows. It’s always kinetic. You can’t get a handle on it, because it’s wild and fluid. But if you step into the current, and accept that you’re along for the ride, it’s much easier than trying to swim upstream. So, here’s to more coasting along and enjoying what comes and less worrying if my pantry is organized (it never, ever lets me get a handle on it, really), or if my upstairs craft/guest room/office is just so. Que sera. Whatever will be, will be!

In other news, I had so much fun chatting with Celine MacKay of Pure Green Magazine recently. We talked about homesteading and writing and community and so much more. You can check out the podcast here and learn more about Pure Green here. Thank you for having me, Celine!

Alright, if I’m going to make all of these big dreams for 2015 happen, I’d better get on it. After finishing up the picnic book, I took a bit of time to teach and entertain and host and decorate and enjoy the holidays. Now that they’re over, it’s back to work.

Sincerest wishes for a happy, healthy, love-filled 2015, from our home to yours.

A Holiday Toast, with Wassail

Happy Christmas Eve, friends! Can you believe it’s already here?! I know one little 4 year-old that’s enormously excited about what will occur this evening. So much so, in fact, that we presently have zero presents under the tree. He just can’t handle the waiting. I get it. All that wrapped up temptation. Better to just hold out and see nothing. But, man, I can’t wait to see his face in the morning! It’s entirely likely that I’ll cry, because I’m a complete and total sponge when it comes to other people’s emotional states.

What I want to share with you, though, before you, like me, move on with your merriment and gift-wrapping and fellowship and conviviality, is a little bit of holiday cheer. Our dear friends Rich and Jen Orris are golden. They have supported my career and been such solid, trusted friends and confidants since we met nearly 4 years ago. Not only do we share interests and pursuits and seriously goofy senses of humor, we’re now working on a project together.

With their ace help, Jen and Rich via their cheekily-titled business “What the Farm” created the first of what we aspire to be monthly “Small Measure” videos. Each will introduce a simple DIY project to do at home, based around food or crafting or homemaking/homesteading. Since it’s the holidays, a time when libations and laughter abound, our debut video is about making wassail.

The recipe comes from my book Quench, and was graciously provided by local Folklore expert Byron Ballard. I’m offering the recipe here for you, for creating your own holiday cheer this season. Thank you to Byron for the recipe, and massive thanks to Rich and Jen for, well, just being their wonderful selves (not to mention allowing me to use their home and property for the shoot!). From our home to yours, sincerest wishes for the happiest of holidays!

 

Wassail (excerpted from Quench: Handcrafted Beverages to Satisfy Every Taste & Occasion, Roost Books, 2014). 
At once a wish for good health, a hot beverage, and a traditional British ceremony that blesses apple trees for a fruitful harvest the following year, wassail covers many bases. This recipe comes from Byron Ballard, a writer, scholar, and expert on nature-based traditions and folklore. Don’t forget to wassail your trees, per her suggestion, by offering them the very first cup!
Makes: 10-11 cups.

You Will Need
-½ gallon fresh apple cider
-1 cup orange juice
-1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
-½ cup honey
-6-8 cinnamon sticks
-Whole cloves (a handful)
-Several chunks of fresh ginger
-Rum, to taste

To Make
Combine all of the ingredients except for the rum in a deep pot or Dutch oven. Whisk gently to combine.

Simmer the mixture over the lowest setting at least 3 hours, stirring periodically.

When you feel the flavors have all come together to your liking, remove the pot from the heat. If desired, stir in rum in an amount to your inclination and taste preference.

Malaprops Book Signing

Malaprops
Friends! Let’s meet and greet and sip something, real-time!

If you’re in the area this coming Saturday, December 6th, stop into Malaprops Bookstore & Cafe. It’s a day of author signings at Asheville’s much-loved independent bookstore. I’ll be there signing copies of “Quench” and offering samples of a warm beverage from the book from 4-5 p.m..

Come say hi! Have a drink! Get a hug (I’m a hugger)! Cheers, and happy holidays!

Ashley English Week at Rhubarb!!!

Rhubarb-asheville
If I had to sum up my overarching life mantra in one sentence, it would likely be “Follow the Golden Rule.” That is, treat other people the way you want to be treated. Glenn and I truly believe this and we say it to Huxley all time. Every day, almost, it seems. Let your behavior towards other people reflect the way you ultimately want to be treated. It is why I let other people merge into traffic in front of me, why Glenn and I try to be as generous with our time and resources as we can, and why we both promote businesses and enterprises when neither of us has anything direct to gain from them.

Sometimes, what you put out is returned. What goes around truly comes around. That recently happened for me with Rhubarb. Imagine your favorite restaurant. Your special place, the one you go to for big occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. THE place you turn to, time and again, because the food is sensational, the service is stellar, and the mission is one you’re on board with. That’s Rhubarb for Glenn and I. I’ve mentioned here before how much we love the place. Well, a few weeks ago, I received an email from Rhubarb, turning the love back in my direction.

I cannot begin to tell you how ecstatic I am to announce Rhubarb‘s offer of an “Ashley English Week.” That’s right. Week! It’ll start with a Sunday Supper December 14th featuring recipes from my books (I gifted the restaurant with all 7 of them this past Saturday). I’ll also be doing a book signing that night. Then, on December 18th, R Bar, Rhubarb’s lovely bar situated directly beside the dining rooms, will feature a list of beverages curated by me from Quench. They’ll be offering their “Tot-Tine” that night as well, which is a tater tot version of the famous Canadian dish poutine (essentially fried potatoes, gravy, and cheese).

Come join us, won’t you? I’ll be meeting with chef John Fleer and Ellie Wigodsky at the restaurant next week, to hammer out the menus. In the meantime, go ahead and put it on your planner! Hire a babysitter (or better, yet, bring the little ones with you to Sunday Supper!)! If you’ve been wanting to try out Rhubarb but haven’t, now is the time.

I mean, c’mon. How amazing is this?!!! Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine that a restaurant that I adore, that just celebrated its 1-year anniversary, that is being touted in the pages of Southern Living and Garden & Gun, would love me and what I do in exchange. That the recipes that Glenn and I developed and tested and re-tested and tweaked in our home kitchen would be served in a restaurant run by a chef named one of the “Rising Stars of the 21st Century” by the James Beard Foundation and listed as a three-time finalist for the James Beard “Best Chef in the Southeast” award? Who would’ve ever guessed that my patronage of a restaurant so seriously deserving of every accolade would want to celebrate me, too? The Golden Rule, y’all. It’s the only way to fly.

Details
What: Sunday Supper, featuring recipes from my books.
Where: Rhubarb, Asheville, NC.
When: December 14th, 6:30 p.m.
Cost: $26/adults and $13/children under 12 for multiple courses of a shared, passed dish meal.
Reservations: Required, call 828/785-1503.

What: Tot-Tine and a curated drink menu featuring recipes from Quench.
Where: R Bar, located inside Rhubarb, Asheville, NC.
When: December 18th, beginning at 6 p.m.
Cost: $9.50 for tot-tine, plus the price of the cocktails (prices will vary).
Reservations: Not required, first come, first served.