A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















  • Oh what a long strange trip its been Exactly onehellip
  • Stay frosty Huxley but dont grow up too fast okay?hellip
  • Suffice to say Alistair dominated my feed in 2017 Seemshellip
  • Hello darkness my old friend The cold comfort of winterhellip
  • Cold as ice Hominy Creek which runs beside our roadhellip
  • In 10 days Alistair and I fly from Asheville tohellip
  • Happy birthday to this Brazilian beauty You know those kindhellip
  • The house has been completely imbued with holiday cheer inhellip
  • Raising the bar This hot chocolate bar from my Ladieshellip
  • When I think about my intentions and resolutions for thehellip
  • I went in for the coconut cake SO! GOOD! andhellip

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Monthly Archives: October 2011


Oh, my sweet baby boy! What a difference a year makes! I never knew I could love something so intensely, with such devotion. As I just told my sister Devan (who’s visiting from Florida), motherhood is the hardest, yet most rewarding work I’ve ever done. 
We’re off to an nearby orchard for a bit of apple-picking, donut-eating, cider-sipping, picnicing and general merriment. This is especially befitting for the little dude, as his favorite, and most often used, word is, you guessed it-“apple”!!! Photos to come! 
*We’re also throwing Huxley a “Wild Things” birthday party next weekend, a bit closer to Halloween so that costumes can be on view (also, Hubs is attending the annual Asheville Scrabble Club Tournament this weekend-send him “big win” vibes, if you’re so inclined…). Photos and full party details forthcoming!

Farm Anatomy (+Giveaway!!!)

Illustrator Julia Rothman is, and always has been, a city girl. Her husband, however, grew up on a farm. Visits to his family’s property piqued her urban interests, ultimately resulting in the creation of her gorgeous new book Farm Anatomy (Storey).

Even if you don’t pine for a farm of your own, Julia’s book will tempt you. From recipes on making Dandelion Wine to illustrations detailing the parts of a pig, from instructions on how to spin yarn to drawings on building a bean trellis, she covers the spectrum of agrarian pursuits. Whether you’re the dirt-under-your-fingernails type or the armchair observationist, Farm Anatomy is a captivating read.

The book is an absolute visual delight and, in my opinion, the perfect read to curl up with as we begin our long, slow climb into shorter days, longer nights and cooler weather. Julia’s publisher, Storey, has graciously gifted me with a review copy of Farm Anatomy as well as one to giveaway to a small measure reader. If you’d like to be entered in the contest, simply leave a comment below with your name and a means of contacting you should you be the winner, either via a link back to your own blog/website, or with your email address. Per Storey’s request, the giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only. I’ll run the giveaway for one week, ending at midnight EST October 24th.

Even if you’re not the winner, do check out Julia’s book. It’s obvious that she put an awful lot of loving attention into each and every illustration. Farm Anatomy manages to entertain, inspire and educate, all at the same time, which is no small feat. Well done, Julia. Well done.

*I’m part of the Farm Anatomy blog tour. While several blogs have already mentioned Juila’s book, others are coming up soon. Here’s a list of the full tour:

Monday, October 10, 2011: Mint

Wednesday, October 12, 2011: Growing with Plants

Friday, October 14, 2011: Things We Make

Saturday, October 15, 2011: print & pattern

Monday, October 17, 2011: small measure

Wednesday, October 19, 2011: SF Girl By Bay

Friday, October 21, 2011: Pikaland

Sunday, October 23, 2011: The Spunky Coconut

Tuesday, October 25, 2011: Reading My Tea Leaves

Wednesday, October 26, 2011: The Post Family

Thursday, October 27, 2011: Book By Its Cover

Friday, October 28, 2011: Design for Mankind

*UPDATE: Wow! You guys clearly liked this book! The lucky winner of Farm Anatomy, according to Random, is #23, Petoskystone. Thank you so very much to all that entered. I’ll have another giveaway coming your way next week!

Fowl Language

We had a lovely time chez English yesterday, spouting “fowl language” (again, I have to credit Kristina for this cheeky pun), noshing, and dishing all things poultry. Thank you so very much Natalie, Kirsten, Rebecca, Grace, Jenn, and Erika for making the trek out here and sharing your time, resources and lovely selves with me, Hubs and Huxley.

I thought I’d take a quick minute and show those of you that might perhaps be unfamiliar with, or new to, “molting” what it looks like. For most chickens, late summer/early autumn heralds the arrival of their annual “molt,” when, just like a snake sheds its skin, they shed their feathers.

They don’t look pretty during this period. Far from it. In fact, they look downright ugly, bless their hideous hearts. Some birds shed their plumage quickly, while for others it’s a more drawn-out process. During this period, they typically won’t be producing eggs, as the calcium that would otherwise be used to form an eggshell is going into the production of quill formation. So, don’t fret if you one day notice your otherwise glorious Brahma or stunning Welsummer start to look like a sad, scrawny bird. It’s totally natural. Pathetic looking, but natural, nonetheless.

In this photo you can see the barbed wire Hubs erected last winter, after a series of determined, intrepid raccoon attacks. We now refer to the coop as “Chicken Fort Knox.” It’s a fortress, pretty much.

Huxley decided he was tapped out on hanging exclusively with his Papa by this point in the day (we’d been chatting and eating for over 3 hours by then), so he joined me at the last leg of the coop tour.

I can’t begin to truly express just how much I’m enjoying teaching classes out here. It’s such a treasure to be able to put faces and personalities with some of small measure’s readers. Look for more classes in late winter/early spring, when we’ll do up some dairy and catch a buzz on beekeeping.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re up to, may it be grand!

Recession-Proof Pasta!

Like pasta? Like saving money? Hate wasting food? Me, too, to all of it.

Here’s a little wallet-friendly and delicious technique we employ chez English when we’ve a glut of pasta left-overs: we put ’em in a frittata.

Simply whisk together some eggs and a bit of milk, add the pasta, put the whole concoction in a buttered/oiled ovenproof saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the filling is set. Next, scatter some cheese of your choosing over the top, place the pan under the lowest broil setting of your oven and cook until the cheese is golden-brown. Allow the pan to cool slightly and then slice wedges, plate them and serve.

That’s it. Easy on the taste buds and the benjamins. 

Cake Ladies (+Giveaway!!!)

Some of you long-time readers may recall I spent April-September of ’10 working at my friend Jodi Rhoden’s store Short Street Cakes. Without question, that gig was one of the best places I’ve ever been employed.

Considering that I was almost 14 weeks pregnant when I first hooked up with Jodi and her crew of raucous bakers, and that I was sick as a dog for some time before and thereafter, being able to say I had a great time working for her is a testament to the sort of lady she is. Not only is she a totally deft, righteous baker, Jodi is simply a great lady. She’s long been active in the food rights/food security community, serving as a board member of the Bountiful Cities Project, amongst many other non-profit pursuits. She’s compassionate, sympathetic and hilarious. And she’s an incredible mama and wife. And friend.

If those traits alone weren’t enough to intrigue you about this lady (who has full-sleeve tattoos of the Virgin Mary!), her new book will seal the deal. Cake Ladies: A Southern Tradition, is Jodi’s journey into the world of cake, community, and love. Part of why she hired me was so that I could help out at the shop during the spring and summer months while she drove all over the southeast U.S., seeking out, soliciting recipes from, and interviewing women in various communities known for their go-to cake-baking prowess. She’s compiled those recipes into a lovely book, filled with her time-tested suggestions for expert cake success. Having served under her tutelage, I can personally attest to just how knowledgeable she truly is. When recipes say to scrape the bowl in between beatings, they really mean it!!!

To honor Jodi and all of the sweat, tears, and butter that went into her creation (with the help of my expert editor, Nicole!), I’ll be giving away a copy of Cake Ladies. To enter the contest, simply list your favorite cake (I’m a sucker for anything with caramel frosting and I’ve also never met a coconut cake I didn’t like).  I’ll run the giveaway for one week, ending next Monday at midnight EST. Lark will be sending the book out themselves to the winner and has requested the contest be open to U.S. residents only.

Even if you don’t win, do check out Jodi’s book. It’s a gem. And if you’re ever in Asheville, pop on over to the west side and visit her shop for some cupcakes or a slice. You won’t be disappointed. Her life in cake is epic, and, delicious! 

UPDATE: Oops! I forgot to mention that Ashley, lucky #91, was the winner of Jodi’s Cake Ladies book. Sorry! Thanks to all who entered! I loved reading all of your cake passions!