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HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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  • Amazing night tonight over at Lake Tomahawk in Black Mountain with @entopticon, Huxley, good friends (@robinplemmons @jessicadebettencourt), Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, pizza, chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches, waddling duck families, and this crazy gorgeous light.
  • Our little fish is learning how to swim!
  • Local friends! I'm chatting about my book
  • Round and around. The goods tunes don't stop when Huxley's cousins Sam and Zeke are visiting (he calls them his
  • Such a thoughtful birthday gift from @melissaweisspottery. Been using it every morning to get sugar from the sugar bowl out for coffee. Thanks, sweet friend!
  • If you're going to help a friend with wedding planning, then this is totally the view you should have whilst doing so. Lovely afternoon sipping hard cider, eating hush puppies, and helping @shelterprotectsyou plan, with @thecuriouseye @forvillagers @toandfromwithlove and Claire Hummel at the Grove Park Inn.
  • Bonsais, I love you. @thencarboretum
  • Wild berries for breakfast, with French toast. So, so good.
  • Quilts of flowers, from yesterday's @thencarboretum excursion.
  • Misty, magical day for strolling at the N.C. Arboretum.
  • Happy Friday, friends! Got a new
  • The Land of Sky, indeed.

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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Food In Jars (+ Giveaway!!!)

You know those bloggers that, whenever they make a new post and it shows up in your inbox, you just can’t wait to read it? Marisa McClellan of Food In Jars is one such person for me. Soon as a new post from her appears in my email, I make a beeline to her site. Whatever new concoction she’s dreamed up, it’s always intriguing, and it’s always good.

Imagine my supreme delight, then, when she asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a copy of her new book. Packed with the best of the blog’s offerings and so much more, Food In Jars is an absolute gem. As we enter into high production season for all manner of foods put into jars, Marisa’s book is resource you will definitely want to have on hand.

The photography is sensational and the chapters offer something for everyone. After an introduction outlining the world of canning for newcomers, Marisa delves into jars to fill your entire pantry: Jams, Fruit Butters, Jellies, Marmalade (Blood Orange Marmalade, YES!!!), Curds & Conserves, Chutneys & Condiments, Pickles, Salsas and Relishes, Tomatoes, Syrups (Blueberry Lemon Syrup, OH YES!!!), Whole Fruit, Granola In Jars, Nut Butters, and Other Foods In Jars. She’s got it all, pretty much soup (-appropriate condiments) to nuts (-butters). 

Even as an experienced canner, I found myself learning from her helpful tips, delivered in her characteristic friendly “let’s do this!” voice. And the recipes presented here are right up my alley, mixing classics with modern twists. It’s a good one, this book, penned by an experienced, personable, true-blue lady.

Marisa and her publisher, Running Press, in addition to gifting me with a copy of Food In Jars, have offered one giveaway copy to a small measure reader. How very lucky for you! To enter, simply leave a comment below, listing something you look forward to putting in jars. I’ll start. Tomatoes. Plain and simple. We use a TON of tomatoes chez English and just planted 38 of the plants to grow, harvest, and can. If I never purchase another jar of far-away-grown-and-preserved tomatoes, I’ll be a very, very happy woman.

Please leave a means of contacting you in your comment, should you be the winner. This step is crucial. If there’s no link to a blog, or website of your own, or email address in your comment, then I’ll sadly have to draw another random number. If you’d rather not leave your email address public, simply leave an anonymous comment and then shoot me a private email with your contact information.

I’ll run the giveaway for a week, ending at midnight EST June 6th. Even if you don’t win, do check out both Marisa’s book and her blog. Whether you’re already a fan of the water bath or just about to get your lids wet for the first time, you’ll be equally smitten. She’s got a good thing going on, which will be evident immediately.


*Click on any of the images above to make them larger. 

UPDATE: Thank you SO much to everyone that entered! Anastasia was the lucky winner! Yay!!! 

Dirty Work

These days of mid-spring, they are so very magical, aren’t they? Everything is out of the ground, growing up so quickly and giving so much sensory stimulation. We’ve been out moving and digging and building and watering and planting and so. much. more in the garden, each and every day. I thought I’d show you a bit of what we’ve been up to.

1) The pea trellis (first and second photos) is going like gang busters. I adore peas, so here’s hoping we have a massive crop to eat fresh and freeze for later use.
2) Hubs built these risers to keep the tiny Englishman off of the pots, as he was sort of leap-frogging from one to the next across the garden. These 12 contain our sweet peppers (there are a mess of hot peppers planted in the raised beds; since Hubs would put hot sauce on top of a jalapeno, we can never have too many hot peppers for making hot sauce).
3) We added on to the pea trellis, making a long bed for trellising pickling cucumbers beside it. There’s 15 cukes planted there, and another 6 in a raised bed. In a few months, I plan to be swimming in cucumbers, and up to my elbows in vinegar and pickling spices.
4) The raised lettuce beds we made by appropriating plastic bins left by the previous owners (our property used to house an organic flower and herb farm when Hubs purchased it back in 2005, two years before we met). We drilled some extra drainage holes in them so that water wouldn’t pool inside when we have serious drenching storms. Having them raised also keeps both slugs and the tiny Englishan from easy access (see #2).
5) We’re excited about this sorrel bed. We figured we’d give it it’s own space, for perennial purposes. Can’t wait to make some sorrel and potato soup and enjoy all that lemony-flavored, nutrient-dense green goodness.

There’s also been some tomato trellising going on, which I’ll share with you soon. And, currently in the works (as in, right this very minute, as he’s out there with drill and wood screws and wood planks in hand), Hubs is putting a raised platform and pergola beside Huxley’s sandbox. The plan is to put our wrought-iron cafe table and chairs there and grow some native vine-ing edible something or other up the posts, creating an edible shade on top. If you’ve got any suggestions for something  that grows fast, produces prolifically, looks good, and tastes delicious, I welcome your feedback. And I’ll post some images as soon as it’s photo-worthy.

So much work. So much fun. Soon the dog days of summer will be upon us and we’ll be ready to just sit out there, watch the chickens peck, the dogs pant, the baby play, and the plants grow. It’ll all be worth the dirty work incurred to get it to that place.

What I’m Digging

 Happy Friday, friends! We’ve had an interesting 24+ hours, chez English. Due to a fire at the power substation near our house yesterday (how absolutely terrifying does that sound???), we lost electricity around 1 p.m. yesterday. Since our well is electrically operated, we also lost use of running water. To that snafu yesterday, you can add the following: two crone cats that elected to urinate outside of their litter box four times, a rabbit that met an untimely demise by our two dogs after trapping itself in the fenced in area off of our porch, and a financial kerfuffle that blindsided us. Whew.

Fortunately, all of those issues have now rectified themselves and the gentle ease that is more characteristic of our daily goings on is returning. Which is fine by me. The glass of chilled wine beside me as I type this is definitely adding to the calm. Which is also fine by me.

While we unload from that mountain of stress, on a brighter note, here’s a smattering of this’s and that’s that caught my attention this week:
*Constellation in a jar!
*You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream.
 *Speaking of ice cream, KC made peach lavender gelato with leftovers from my recipe.
*My friend Nicole went to northern California and her visit was a gorgeous one!
*From scratch pita.
*10 easy ways to beat weeds naturally.
*Yee haw! LA bans plastic bags!
*This book looks made for me (and Huxley).
*Sophie does it again (the photography is sensational, plus, she’s always impossibly lovely!).
*Marisa’s book is out (look for a small measure giveaway soon!!!), and it’s a good one.
*Issue #2 of Taproot is almost here and the preview looks incredible.

My little sister, Theo, rolls into town for over a week visit tomorrow. I can’t wait to see her! I always love it when my sisters come to visit. Plus, Hubs turns 45 next Friday, and our 5th anniversary is Saturday, so we’re thinking of taking our 1st ever date night since becoming parents Friday night. Theo is a super experienced babysitter, plus, well, she’s my sister and Huxley’s aunt. Win-win!

We’ve been invited to a South African food feast at the home of our veternarian and good friend, Heather Sinclair, tomorrow evening. Sunday will find us in Montreat, playing in the park and celebrating the 3rd birthday of Milo, the son of our close friends Faryn and Eli. Should be a good weekend, more than redeeming the screwy bit proceeding it!

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

Branching Out Woodworks (+ Giveaway!!!)

Not that long ago, I wrote about my feelings of waste here. In short, I loathe it. I’d rather rip up an old flannel sheet and re-purpose it into cleaning cloths, or move the stained rug (thank you cats, again…) onto the porch, or give a beat-up dresser a fresh coat of paint than to ever throw things out.

Plastic bags reserve a special place in my waste abhorrence litany. They provoke my ire possibly more than anything else. And so, I try to use them, and reuse them, and then use them again as much as possible when I find myself in possession of them.

The handy dandy tool pictured above makes getting them clean in between uses so very easy (you know you can click on the photos to make them larger, right?). Locally made by Branching Out Woodworks, this bag dryer is positioned either horizontally or vertically once assembled. You then simply place your wet (but clean!) plastic bag onto it, wait for it to dry out and then, BOOM! POW! It’s ready to be used again.

I love this device. It’s so simple and yet so genius, all at the same time. To spread the love around, today I’m offering one small measure reader a bag dryer to use, use, and then use some more! To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me some small measure of your own that you take towards reducing waste.

Please, please leave means of finding you, should you be the winner, via either a link back to your blog or website, or by leaving your email address in the comments (if you’d rather not leave your email address there, just leave an anonymous comment, and then send me a private email with your information; I’ve yet to figure out another way of doing this). I’ll run the giveaway through next Wednesday May 30th, midnight EST.

Together, let’s lay to waste plastic bag wastefulness!!! 

UPDATE: The winner of the Branching Out Woodworks bag dryer is Woolies! Congratulations!!! Thank you everyone for your entries. I loved reading about all of the small measures you’re taking towards reducing waste!

Weekend Review

Happy Monday, friends. We had a great time in Knoxville. Here’s a little round-up in photos of some of our weekend highlights:

*Gorgeous light in the cove after a massive downpour. 
*Chez English in the fading light. 
*Feeding my boy Cruze Dairy ice cream (Salted Caramel! Cardamom Lime Buttermilk!)
*Must get Hugh’s book
*Introducing Huxley to the joys of water jets. 
*Smallest shot put Olympian ever. 
*Toweling off cuddles. 
*The house down the road Hubs is in love with (built by hand from river rocks!). 
*Clover, stripes, boots, and grins. 

Hope your weekend was full of splendor, and may the week ahead be magical!