A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















  • Oh what lovely company to find several of my bookshellip
  • Today was some kind of wonderful From the myelementality necklacehellip
  • All my bags are packed Im ready to go Headinghellip
  • This guy If you didnt know hed been a microhellip
  • Redhaired blueeyed fierytempered sweetsmelling wiggleworming cuddle bug glennbenglish took thishellip
  • Tminus 3 months to liftoff and Southern From Scratch ishellip
  • Do you know how tremendously difficult it is to behellip
  • Clearly charlottecooks knows her way around a cheese board Andhellip
  • It is taking every shred of willpower within me nothellip
  • SUPER FUN Valentines roostbooks bundle giveaway happening over themakerie! HANDMADEhellip
  • If you cant join em eat em! Wait thats nothellip
  • Happy Friday! Happy Groundhog Day winter still going strong! Happyhellip

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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Recent Acquisitions

My knitting education begins tomorrow afternoon! I’m SO very excited for this new endeavor. I’ve got unstoppable visions of scarfs and mittens and hats and sweaters and so. much. more fluttering about my mind’s eye.

At this point in the journey, all I can tell you is that those are size 8 bamboo needles and the ball is 4-ply worsted weight Peruvian highland wool. And that concludes the scope of my knitting knowledge. Bring it, yarn! I’ve been ready for you for a long, long time!!!

*Candlerites-I picked up these knitting supplies at the well-stocked, super hospitable Yarn Nook on Smokey Park Hwy. Linda, the proprietress, is a dear soul, helping me get my needles and yarn, spinning the skein into a ball for me, letting Huxley curl up with a stuffed animal life-size cat in the window and sun himself (themselves?) while I shopped, and informing me that the Yarn Nook holds beginning knitting classes, also, every Wednesday and Saturday from 10:30-12:30 on an ongoing basis for $8/class. I’ve driven by this little building for the past 5 years and never stopped in before. That’s the end of that! I know I’ll be back, and you should give it a peek, too!

What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! I hope that a little love shined into your life this week, whether you were the one doing the shining or someone else brought the light.

I had a very inspiring lunch yesterday (at new Asheville eatery WALK-sweet potato tots! So! Good!) with a friend planning to open a homesteading supply store in the area. I can’t begin to tell you how happy that makes me, as it can be challenging when I’m hoping to make cheese or needing to add supers to my beehives only to discover I’m short on cultures or that I can’t make the hour trip out to the nearest apiary supplier’s place. As she gets closer to opening her store, I’ll provide plenty of pertinent information.

 Here’s a round-up of informative, inspirational, and intriguing this’s and that’s I stumbled upon this week:
*Miranda’s blog if full of great projects for both the Bigs and Littles in your life.
*Two sisters, one in the country, the other in the city.
*This show looks right up my alley.
*Look at these canyon photos!
*The purples of winter.
*Marisa details why adjusting for altitude matters.
*I need this magazine.
*Red brussels sprouts! Who knew? (via Camille).
*Essential oils, everywhere!

It looks like it’s going to be a gorgeous day here. Huxley and I are headed out in an hour to play with a friend and her 14 month-old daughter in town. Friends and babies-YES!

Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!

Digging Deep

Have you ever read an interview with someone you didn’t know, or seen them on a t.v. show like, I don’t know, Ellen, and thought to yourself “If we ever met in person, we’d definitely be friends”? I know it’s kind of far-fetched, but we’ve all done it, if we’re being honest. My little sister, Theo, says that, should she ever encounter Adele one day in a coffee shop in London, they’d be instant buddies. I think Tina Fey and I would get along swimmingly. Or Carrie Brownstein. We’d be tight.

The first time I ever came across Amanda Soule’s immensely popular blog Soulemama, I felt the same way. “Oh, now’s HERE’S my kind of lady!”, I thought to myself. The more I kept up with her writings, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. We love the same sort of things, similarly place deep value on moving slowly through life, are the same age, and both have husbands 9 years older than ourselves (hell, our husbands even look like bearded brothers!). When I reached out to her about sending review copies of my books, and then began a one-on-one correspondence with her, I knew we were some sort of distant kin. She’s a good one, this mama to 5. She’s a keeper. She’s true blue. No doubt about it.

I can barely contain my enthusiasm, then, in sharing with you today Amanda’s newest endeavor. Taproot has officially launched. A quarterly, independent, ad-free magazine, this publication is a collection of curated stories, projects, recipes, and ideas dedicated to “living fully and digging deeper.” Amanda contacted me months ago about the possibility of contributing to Taproot. “ABSOLUTELY” was my immediate thought. I’ve got a column in the magazine dedicated to exploring some seasonal edible and then rendering it into something delectable. The recipes are intended to both please the palates of adults while being easy enough to be created by children (with supervision, for some of them).

I’ve seen the pages of the inaugural issue. Let me tell you, you are in for a very, very big treat. Hop on over to Amanda’s blog to read more about Taproot. And check out the website here. She and her fellow contributors have done an amazing job with a much needed, visibly missing magazine. Kudos to you, Soule sister.

Sweet, Sticky & Lovely

Even if you don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, I hope today is going well for you. Over here, we love today, mostly because of this guy (from last year-what a little chubs!). I swear, ever since he came along, we’re positively overflowing with love chez English, all the time. It’s true. If I was friendly before, watch out now. If I would have just given a stranger a compliment before having Huxley, now I’ll hug them, too. Babies have a way of bringing out the love in us all.

To honor this festive occasion, we headed out to local barbeque powerhouse (and Obama haunt) 12 Bones Smokehouse. I’d been there several times previously, but never for any pork since, until not that long ago, I didn’t dine on swine. Oh. Boy. I had the Blueberry Chipotle ribs (the customer favorite), with a side of buttery mashed sweet potatoes and some transcendent collard greens served alongside their spot-on cornbread. Hubs went for the brown sugar dry rub (the staff favorite), with a side of smoked potato salad and some corn pudding.

Huxley, a true southerner, was an instant fan of all of it. He smiled at strangers (he’s my son, after all!!!), gobbled up his food with abandon and was so ecstatic, in fact, that he started head-banging in his high chair and promply mashed his left temple into the corner of the table. I scooped him up, went outside to kiss the injury, let his sobs bounce off the river outdoors, and then returned to nibble some more. 12 Bones knows what they’re doing, that’s for sure. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re ever in the area. Be aware, they’re incredibly popular and a line begins to form, running out the door, shortly after they open each day.

I’ve gotten into ribs at home, too. The other night, Hubs whipped up the Sorghum Roasted Pork Ribs and Fennel & Citrus Slaw pictured above. We’ve recently discovered a local sorghum supplier, Doubletree Farm (they’re a draft horse operation!), and have been experimenting with it in a number of dishes. Sorghum, a grass species, used to be the primary sweetener used in this area before the sugarcane industry pushed farmers out of business. I’ll share the recipes we’ve created with you in the next few weeks.

Today, though, is all about ribs. Because, really, what says “love” better than messy, unctuous meals best eaten with your hands (and a mound of cloth napkins at the ready)? If you’re not into swine, though, give the slaw a go. A cold weather crop, fennel is crunchy and sweet, and, paired with citrus and ponzu, provides a bright, zippy counterpoint to these dreary winter days.

Sorghum Roasted Pork Ribs
The Goods:
-1 rack of pork ribs
-A couple pinches of salt for the ribs
-Two 12-ounce bottles of beer (any brand and variety)
-1 cup ketchup
-1/4 cup sorghum
-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
-2 tablespoons prepared brown mustard
-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-A few shakes of hot sauce, to taste
-2 teaspoons granulated garlic
-1 teaspoons smoked paprika
-1 teaspoons salt (for the sauce)
-1 teaspoons ground allspice
-1 teaspoons ground coriander
-1 teaspoons ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-A few grinds of black pepper

The Deal:
1) Preheat the oven to 330 degrees F.
2) Sprinkle a pinch of salt on both sides of the ribs.
3) Mix all of the ingredients except the ribs and the beer in a large mixing bowl.
4) Put the ribs on a rack in a roasting pan, and brush both sides with the sauce (you’ll have sauce left over; this will be used to both baste the ribs several times and for dipping once cooked).
5) Pour one bottle of beer into the bottom of the roasting pan.
6) Roast for one hour, adding a little beer to the pan every 20 minutes or so.
7) Remove from the oven, turn the ribs over and baste the top side with the sauce again.
8) Return the ribs to the oven, and cook for another hour, adding beer every 20 minutes or so.
9) Remove from the oven again, turn over, and baste the top again.
10) Return to the oven, add some more beer to the pan, and cook for another half hour.
11) Remove from the oven, plate, and let them rest for several minutes.
12) Serve with any remaining sauce on the side.

Ponzu Citrus Fennel Slaw
The Goods:
-1 fennel bulb (with fronds)
-1 carrot
-1/4 cup ponzu sauce
-Zest of one orange
-3 tablespoons orange juice
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
-2 tablespoons oil (olive or sesame)
-1-2 teaspoons sea salt, to taste
-A few grinds of pepper

The Deal:
1) Shave the bulb and stalks of the fennel plant into small, thin pieces.
2) Chop the fennel fronds into little bits.
3) Cut the carrot into very thin strips, then cut those strips about an inch long.
4) Toss with the rest of the ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
5) Let  the slaw sit for at least an hour, tossing occasionally.

Flower Power

I adore a long soak in a hot bath. Add a page-turning novel or an inspiring magazine and I could easily soak for just shy of an hour, topping up on hot water as needed. Since becoming a mom, though, the reality is that my soaks are both fewer and shorter than ever. Accordingly, I treasure those “take me away” moments like nobody’s business.

Which is why I whipped up a container of bath salts the other day. I tweaked my original recipe, substituting sandalwood oil for geranium and adding in dried flowers. Having a jar of herbal salts always at the ready, placed bath-side, means that, once Huxley is out for a long nap or down for the night, Mama can get her soak on. Oh. yes.

These are ridiculously easy to make. Aside from the initial cost of purchasing the essential oils, they’re also incredibly thrifty to craft. They make a great anytime (or Valentine’s Day!) gift for friends, family, colleagues and anyone needing a little TLC. Such as yourself, or myself! I added in dried lavender buds and rose petals sourced and dried from our property. Most natural foods stores will have both items available in their bulk herbs and spices sections.

Flower Power Bath Salts
The Goods:
-2 1/2 c. epsom salt
-2 c. baking soda
-1 c. sea salt
-20 drops lavender essential oil
-20 drops rosewood essential oil
-20 drops sandalwood essential oil
-2 Tablespoons dried lavender buds
-2-3 Tablespoons dried rose petals

The Deal:
-Place everything except for lavender buds and rose petals into a food processor or blender.
-Process until mixture is uniform in size and texture.
-Transfer mixture to a medium sized mixing bowl. Add flowers and stir with a metal spoon until everything is fully combined.
-Store in covered jar until ready for use.
-When ready to use (or for gifting purposes), place about 1/4 cup into a small muslin bag (you can find these at natural food stores, often in either the body care or bulk tea sections). Secure the top of the bag and place into bath while it is filling.