A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















  • Redhaired blueeyed fierytempered sweetsmelling wiggleworming cuddle bug glennbenglish took thishellip
  • Oh what lovely company to find several of my bookshellip
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  • Happy Friday! Happy Groundhog Day winter still going strong! Happyhellip
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  • Clearly charlottecooks knows her way around a cheese board Andhellip
  • It is taking every shred of willpower within me nothellip
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Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Final Countdown

I never was a metal head. Not even close. I adored a whole host of pop icons in the 80’s, transitioning later to an abiding passion for the Cure and other sullen, make-up clad introspectives, moving later to pining for a rotating roster of flannel-wearing west coast denizens.

Still, that said, as we approach Nugget’s due date, I can’t stop thinking about Europe. Not the continent, but the band, witnessed above, and their hit “The Final Countdown.” Who else thinks of their impending wiggler and immediately hears the tell-tale opening synthesizer notes of these long-haired Swedish dudes? Watch it for the leather pants and bad perms, if not for the occasional bits of scenery from their motherland.

We had a great nugget warming. It was full of good friends, beloved family members, raucous dogs, and spirited children. In another post, I’ll list what we ate, along with a few photos my sister Devan took. Suffice to say, it was tasty and I think our guests enjoyed gorging on the feast just as much as we enjoyed preparing it.

It threw me for a loop, though. I’ve always been a bit of an overachiever and carrying around a little dude on my stomach hasn’t seemed to put a dent in that. Of course, my body has a way of slowing me down. Completely. The day after the warming, I was nursing seriously swollen ankles, feet, and the ever-present, and worsening, carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. Since Monday, I’ve had a chiropractic session, been given a complimentary rolfing session by the extraordinarly gifted Kate Vermeer Wilson (a momma-to-be herself!), and started having contractions. That’s right, folks. I’ve been scarce around these here Small Measures parts because Nugget started getting wily.

I had horrific pain on the right side of my back all night Tuesday. Realizing that might be indicative of early labor, I called my midwife, who encouraged me to come to the hospital early yesterday morning, where she’d been up all night delivering two babies. I arrived, they took a urine specimen (to rule out kidney issues, since the pain was localized specifically on one side of my upper back), and hooked me up to a fetal monitor. Turns out I was having contractions.

After confirming I wasn’t dilating, however, they gave me an IV and sent me home with a prescription for a muscle relaxant to take and get some sleep with, in the event that “true labor” should set in (I’d need to be refreshed and well-slept to handle labor after having been up all night the evening prior). I returned home, ate some food, took a bath, swallowed the pills, and hit the hay, for hours. After a little dinner and some Q.T. with Hubs, I went back to bed.

I was able to sleep overnight, waking every one to two hours, still with the lingering back pain. On my way out to the chicken coop this morning, I had a massive contraction, still on that back right side only. Turns out, that’s my uterus expanding and contracting, getting me ready for the big event.

Nugget’s due date is November 3rd. I’ll be considered “to term,” however, on October 12th (I’ll be 37 weeks then). We’re really, sincerely, truly hoping he’ll keep on cooking until that time, as home births aren’t permitted to occur if you go into labor before 37 weeks. I know you’re all busy out there, cooking food, caring for your friends and families, working your jobs, and more, but if you think of it, if you have a free moment, I’d love some “Keep On Cooking, Nugget!” thoughts sent this way. He’ll be fine at this point, should he come, but it would be best for him physically to hold on a wee bit longer.

‘Til then, cue the synthesizer.

DIY Cleaning Products

Hi everyone! My “Small Measures with Ashley” post is up over at Design Sponge. This week I’m talking about making your own cleaning products.

We’re gearing up for our big “Nugget Warming” tomorrow. Should be a grand time. Now, if I could only get the pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome to leave my hands, all would be well. In the meantime, I’ve turned to acupuncture, BenGay, Tiger Balm, rigid nighttime arm braces, ice water soaks, and hand rubs. I might give chiropractic treatments, Rolfing, or whatever else I can find a shot next week. During one of the busiest times of my life before my due date, I’m seriously debilitated by what are basically crippled, frozen feeling hands. If any of you have tips or suggestions for handling carpal tunnel naturally, I’d LOVE to hear about them!

Otherwise, I’ll be back with pictures from our bash. Hope your weekend, whatever it holds, is just as glorious as ours promises to be!!!

*Image from here.

Bird Is the Word

Sometimes serendipity shocks me. Stops me dead in my tracks. Something happens, so perfectly aligned and harmonious and balanced that it takes my breath away.

That’s what happened recently with Amanda of Bird for Bread. Here’s the play-by-play:

1) About two weeks ago, I mentioned to my sister, Devan (who flies into town this Wednesday from Florida to visit and help prep for the Nugget Warming soiree on Saturday) that I wanted us to make some sort of natural decor or embellishment for the party. Something that could go up in his room afterwards, that was hand-crafted and played up on the “forest” theme we’re shooting for in the nursery. I told her that I didn’t know quite what I wanted, but for us to both put our thinking caps on.
2) Later that day, I checked my Twitter account, to see if anyone had sent me any messages or made any “@ashley_english” tweets I might want to reply to (I always try to reply to folks who mention me, out of courtesy, because I like to both express my gratitude and make myself accessible).
3) On Twitter, I saw that @birdforbread had mentioned recently purchasing my “Canning & Preserving” book. I sent her a return thanks, and then, because I am an inherently curious person, went to check out her own website.
4) It was there that I witnessed her garlands. “EUREKA!” They were exactly the decor I’d been looking for, but didn’t quite know how to visualize.
5) I wrote Amanda, who runs Bird For Bread, inquiring into the garlands and whether they were available for purchase, or in a tutorial format so that I might make them myself, with Devan’s help during her visit.
6) A little bit later, in my personal e-mail inbox, I received a message from Amanda herself. Turns out, she’s read not just my “Canning & Preserving” book, she’s also gifted her neighbor with my “Keeping Chickens” book. She proceeded to tell me that she’d like to GIVE me some garlands for the shower!
7) I write her back, detailing the above series of events, practically on the verge of tears, so moved am I by both her generosity and the auspicious, serendipitous nature of the whole thing.
8) She sends me the garlands, which are pictured above and are so, so very perfect, and then tells me she’s also sending along a mobile, to go above Nugget’s crib.
9) I am floored and humbled beyond words.
10) In a handwritten note, Amanda details the following: the acorns, black walnuts, and birch branch slices were gathered by she and her children during a stroll in the forest; the twine was hand-dyed with fair-trade black tea; the metal on the acorn tops and leaves is recycled scrap metal; and the oxidation finish used on all of the metal is obtained via an egg wash from her neighbor’s chickens, so as to avoid use of chemicals.

Stopped you in your tracks, too, didn’t it? Thank you, Amanda, from me, Hubs, and Nugget!!! Bird is the WORD!

GiGi Loves Nugget

That’s an “It’s A Boy!” banner billowing in the wind.

The view to the left of mom’s hillside-situated house.
The spread.
Hay ‘a plenty to the right.

The shower Mom (aka “GiGi”, her chosen grandma name) threw for Nugget yesterday was unbelievably touching. Her friends, many of whom I hardly know, showed up to celebrate her new role as a grandmother (twice this year!), offering their time, resources, and labor to pull off a truly lovely event.

We played silly games (can you, off the top of your head, name all five Huxtable kids AND all six Brady kids AND both Jetsons kids?), ate scumpious eats, sipped bubbly libations, opened some dear gifts, and feasted on a fantastic lemon cake, lovingly made from scratch by Mom’s friend Desiree’s oldest daughter. It was grand.

Afterwards, we lingered on the front porch, taking in the scenery and enjoying the light breeze. We then, as promised, pillaged Mom’s apple tree, making off with a sweet haul. She festooned everyone with parting goodie bags, filled with bottles of bubbles, body care products, sweet treats, and scented candles.

It meant the world to us. Our little man is coming into a life filled with a very far-reaching circle of love. Thank you, Gigi, and thank you, Gigi’s friends.

*To see more images of Mom’s house, and the shower, go here.

Inedible Egg

This video from Slow Food USA about the recent egg salmonella scare is pretty powerful.

I invite you to sign the petition I just did, encouraging Congress to make our food both safe and edible! You can find more information here.