• Chatting about existentialism, and contradicting ourselves, and winter over on small measure today. || Into the woods behind our house.
  • Players gonna play. Huxley and his buddy Bay, doing their little guy thing today at the perennially lovely @thencarboretum.
  • The garden got blanketed with what I'm hoping was winter's last gasp this past week. I'm ready for those snow-covered strawberry beds in the foreground to start putting out juicy fruits, for Huxley to dig in his sandbox again, for cocktails at sunset on the pergola, and for conversing with soil and seeds once more. Spring is coming. Really started to feel it this weekend.
  • Scotch eggs of supreme deliciousness can be had on the regular at @kingjamesavl. @glennbenglish and I savored these beauties today alongside dirty rice fritters, gumbo with poutine, and @sunbursttrout smoked trout dip, all wonderful. There was also a pint of Appalachian Brewery porter that I have to have more of. Oh, and old school White Stripes on rotation. Great food, great atmosphere.
  • Confession: until last night, I had never had honest to goodness snow cream. @glennbenglish whipped up a tasty batch with vanilla and nutmeg, and we enjoyed it alongside @oldworldlevain's heavenly frangipane tartlettes with fresh cranberries, orange peel, and cinnamon. Snow-pretty AND tasty.
  • Scattered, smothered, and covered. Snowy day in the cove!
  • We three Englishes do so very much love snow. Forecast to receive between 3-6 inches tonight! @glennbenglish captured Huxley and I taking in the view on his way back to the house after locking up the chickens.
  • Woke up to overnight snowfall, always a treat. Then heard from my neighbor Lynn, a licensed massage & bodywork therapist, that the snow was preventing her from getting in to her clients in town and, as a result, she had an opening in her schedule and could give me a massage. Whenever she travels, I pet-sit her cat Sophie, and in exchange she trades me a massage. Not only is she a seriously stellar masseuse, she also is an aromatherapist, a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner (a kind of Japanese acupressure technique), and is certified in neuromuscular therapy. So when I get a massage from her, I receive this healing trifecta involving scent, body, and spirit. Plus, in all honesty, I feel like this woman is actually imbuing my body with love when she works on me. I left her house feeling light and bright, and nourished. She has offices in Asheville and Johnson City, TN (the home massages are reserved for family and neighbors!). If you're looking for a rich, wonderful, deeply healing massage, please consider Lynn. You can find her information at || I passed our bamboo grove and its tiny creek on my walk over to Lynn and Steve's; it somehow spoke to me of good things in store.
  • Woke up to this view. Some kind of wonderful!
  • Spotted Quench in the wild today.Always a thrill to see my books out in the big world, and rubbing elbows with friends @thejoyofcooking, no less!
  • Good day to be in western NC. View of Mt.  Pisgah from the top of our road.
  • You will not pass! || Our shorty with his soul sister Raeglan, adventuring in our woods two days ago. @thebriere4

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Monthly Archives: July 2010

Our House, Part 2

A few more scenes from our place (here’s the first round).

The last photo is of our back/front porch (you actually enter our house from the back door, which takes you directly into the kitchen; the “true” front of the house includes this porch, although it’s not a “used” entrance, as we’ve fenced off the yard for the dogs-sounds confusing, but makes sense in context…).

I recently re-upholstered the seats of the wrought iron table set (while G. gave ‘em a new coat of paint) and ran out of canvas staples, hence the bedraggled look of the closest seat.

It’s always a work in progress out here. Good thing I’m a go-getter.

Off-the-Grid Homes

Hi friends! My “Small Measures with Ashley” post is up on Design Sponge. This week’s topic discusses off-the-grid homes, those sensational dwellings that provide shelter, comfort, and refuge without the use of public and municipal utilities. It’s something that Glenn and I aspire to, without question. The Simon Dale House in Wales, pictured above, is one of my all-time favorite off-grid homes.

This past week has been jam-packed with family interactions, visits, and festivities. My two sisters, ages 23 and 19, flew in from Florida on Wednesday. After lunch at the Early Girl Eatery, they went off for haircuts at Adorn, and then we all reconvenied for treats and thirst quenchers at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge (Glenn ordered a chocolate/vanilla/coffee milkshake that was, hands down, the best milkshake these lips have ever slurped). Thursday saw us up and out early, heading to Charlotte to visit my older brother and sister-in-law and their new son, born July 1st (we stopped at the West End Bakery en route for their stellar homemade egg biscuits!). James Waugh Adams IV, more commonly referred to as either “Little Man” or “Baby James” or “LJ” stole the show with his adorable chicken leg arms and froggie legs and general adorableness. After that we popped into IKEA to check out their crib selection and other baby accoutrements.

Friday Glenn and my sisters worked their arses off, moving furniture, re-organizing, and painting Nugget’s room (more images on that to come). It’s so exciting to see everything start to come together. We’ve got 3 1/2 months to go before the little dude’s debut but, as a lifelong advance planner, I like to know that progress is being made and preparations are being undertaken. Finally, yesterday, after taking my sisters to the airport, Glenn and I attended a fantastic (and FREE!) class for beginning parents at Nest Organics home and child store in downtown Asheville. Topics discussed included: cloth diapering options, slings/carriers, sleeping arrangements, BPA-free teething toys and pacifiers, glass bottles, and much, much more. Sarah Easterling, co-owner and the class’s instructor, is a veritable fount of information on all topics related to natural child rearing. She’s also just a generally cool lady and one I’m immensely pleased to have in my circle of au natural mommas. We picked up a beautiful, gently used Moses baby basket and rocker (similar in appearance to this one), as well as a newborn sling, at Nest. Nugget will be comfortable and living in chic digs once he’s on the scene, that’s for sure!

Today I’m off to sling some cupcakes at Short Street in just a bit. May your week’s end be all you want it to be!

*Image from here.

Friendly Loot

I had a blast this past birthday weekend. The farm-to-table buffet brunch at the Grove Park Inn did not disappoint. In fact, if you live in Asheville, I highly encourage you to take advantage of this affordable, delicious endeavor the Grove Park is sponsoring. It’s only $19.99, and you get to eat as much as you’d like. The presence of local foods on display was truly laudable. Go soon, though, as they’re only offering the feast through July 31st.

Not only was the meal itself exquisite, but my mom, thoughtful woman that she is, had called ahead to inform the restaurant that it was my birthday. As Saturdays are their farm-to-table day, they informed her they’d be making me a cake with locally procured ingredients. She knew that would be just my thing, and boy, was it ever. A chef in a toque arrived from the kitchen at the conclusion of our meal to festoon me with a from-scratch cake, baked with local carrots, locally-made jam, local eggs, and even local butter. I was floored. I’ve got half of it left in my fridge and have gingerly nibbling away at it ever since.

Sunday, after putting in some time at the Cake Shop, I rushed home and helped Glenn get the food going for our build-your-own taco buffet extravaganza. At the risk of saturating my palette, I’d argue that every day should be build-your-own taco buffet day. In customary fashion, Glenn whipped up a multi-dish repast fit for royalty. Here’s what we gorged on:
-Watermelon agua fresca
-Guacamole with blue corn chips
-Local catfish stewed in a tomatillo sauce (with a hint of chipotle)
-Lime-cumin marinated local grass-fed flank steak
-Lavender-bluberry red cabbage slaw
-Lemonony-herbed jicama slaw with lemon balm, mint, marjoram, and cilantro
-Eggplant braised in tomatillo sauce with toasted cumin seeds
-Roasted local 8-ball zucchini
-Salsa made from local mixed heirloom tomatoes
-Refried beans
-Fried plantain rounds, cooked in coconut oil and sprinkled with sea salt
-Shredded Jack cheese
-Hard blue corn taco shells
-Soft corn tortillas

Afterwards, there was cake. I had a vision of exactly what sort of cake I wanted, so I whipped it up myself. Dubbed “The Lime In the Coconut” by friends that night, the cake itself consisted of three layers of coconut cake (I used Johnnie Gabriel‘s recipe), one layer of coconut cream, and one layer of fresh lime curd. I swaddled the whole thing in freshly whipped heavy cream and doused it all over in toasted coconut. I’m putting in my vote that every day should also be “The Lime In the Coconut” Cake Day.

Then there were some gifts. Enormously thoughtful, loving gifts. In addition to the gifts of $$ from family (always a welcome gift, oui?) and cake from mom, there was:
-Originally designed and printed gift vouchers for babysitting and housework sessions from Meg and Alisa, along with the most slammin’ cap for Nugget, fashioned from upcycled wool sweaters!
-Earrings from one of my favorite local designers, Sarah English, adorable canning fabric, and a subscription to Jamie Oliver’s magazine (which I love, love, love!) from Nicole.
-Engaging reading from Rachel (who, sigh, is moving her loveliness far, far away, to another coast; best of times to you, sweet Rachey, in California!).
-Locust honey, extracted from the thriving hives of my sweet buddy Jenny.
-An awesome book on gardening with kids, from Mary Ellen (who has started an experiential school here in Asheville well worth looking into).
-A truly lovely, and very large, hand-thrown ceramic pot from my sweet Glenn, for planting some beautiful something in to adorn our patio.

Thank you everyone! You’re such great people and I’m so very, very fortunate to have all of you in my life (as well as those of you who weren’t able to make it out that night).

Our House, In the Middle of the Woods

*Entirely optional viewing and listening whilst reading above post.

Sometimes I find that I’ve been viewing my life with blinders on. You know, grass-is-always-greener syndrome. Pining for life in a new location, feeling restless with my current set-up. While that often strikes during the winter, when we’re sequestered at home for long periods (and especially this past winter, which was particularly rough in the snowed-in department), it can happen at other times, too.

And then those moments come when everything is illuminated, to borrow from Jonathan Safran Foer. When you see things for what they really are, not what you imagine them to be. That happened to Glenn yesterday when I was busy slinging cupcakes at Short Street. A heavy rain had shadowed the property for several hours. As it began to clear out, he stepped outside and saw just how truly gorgeous this place we get to call home really is.

Pictured above are some highlights. The Mimosa tree at bottom graces our back porch. There’s also one standing silent sentry beside the chicken coop, emitting the most transcendent fragrance imaginable. Above it is a winged friend found taking a load off beside our front entry steps. In the middle you see the path I take each morning, generally a few minutes after 7:00 a.m., to the chicken coop, passing the bee hives and fenced-in kitchen garden on my left and the wineberry thicket on my right as I go.

That big soaking tub is where we’re hoping Nugget makes his debut. The forest outside (we live next to a 350 acre nature preserve; you can view it as you soak) should be cloaked in vibrant fall colors then, which takes this place from stellar viewing to downright swoon-worthy. Above that is, to the left, our two apple trees (one of which just shed its June fruit drop), down below is the grape vine, and beyond it, the bamboo grove and maple tree, one of the only flat areas on our property and a potential site for a future playground (it feels so weird to think that we’ll soon be the type of people who own things like playgrounds-oh, and babies!).

So, when we get cantankerous and restless, it’s good to look back on images like these and reflect on just how fortunate we are to live in this paradise (one of just a small, small handful of temperate rain forests in North America; the others are on the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest, the other place my heart sings for the most). Our house, in the middle of the woods, is a refuge, a place of solace, and an absolute gift.

Hand Fans!

It’s been hot as blazes here lately. Much warmer than usual for this mountain climate. Glenn and the dogs and I have been managing the heat as best as we can, at times better than others. As a nod to the general steaminess gripping the nation, I focused on using
hand fans to beat the heat on my “Small Measures with Ashley” post this week on Design Sponge.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. My 34th birthday is on Sunday. I’ve decided this is an auspicious year for me. For one thing, there’s a total solar eclipse that day (although it doesn’t seem to be visible anywhere but in the deep Pacific). Secondly, my books debuted this year. There’s also the additions to my family (both my own, with Nugget’s November 3rd due date, and my brother and sister-in-law’s, whose first child, James Waugh Adams IV, was born on July 1st!) that are happening in 2010. Plus, 3 plus 4 equals 7, and my mom has always found that number to be particularly indicative of good things.

I’ll be ringing in the occasion early tomorrow, with my mother, grandmother, and hubs, as we feast our way through the Grove Park Inn’s Farm-to-Table buffet. I just drooled on the keyboard. On the big day itself, I’ll be at the Cake Shop, slinging sweet wares, before returning home to host a few friends for a build-your-own taco buffet.

Wherever you are, whatever you do this weekend, may it surpass your wildest expectations!

*Image from here.