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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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Monthly Archives: April 2013

There’s A Possibility

Dandelions Violets
Maybe some of you look at these photos and simply see dandelions and violets. And while that’s true, you’d be remiss in only seeing the flowers themselves. What I see, more so, are possibilities. Wine, liqueur, jelly, syrup, fritters, candy, vinegar, and so very much more are all resting latently, silently, stealthily in these two bowls.

Oh, yes. Possibilities, possibilities.

*Yes, I referenced a Lykke Li song from New Moon. I’m a proud fan of both. 

 

Wet, Wild & Wonderful

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Hello, friends. Hope you had a lovely weekend. We had a wet & wild one. That’s right. It rained like the Dickens all weekend, cutting into plans I had for photographing a party for “Handmade Gatherings.” The theme was “Wild Things” and it was all about wild foods and botanical elements for decor and crafting. The rain didn’t get the memo about my wanting to throw the gathering at the UNC-Asheville Botanical Gardens, so we changed locations last minute and held a rather *cozy* get-together with 14 adults and around 10 children at our place yesterday.

Not only was it raining outside, it was chilly, too. So chilly, in fact, that we fired up the wood stove after the last guests left in the afternoon. I thought we were well past the need for wood stove warmth, but it just goes to show-when you think you know what’s up with the weather, think again! And then scramble and plan accordingly.

Despite the chill and the rain, we had a glorious time. It’s not everyday that your meal consists of things like chickweed pesto pasta, bamboo shoots with black walnut vinaigrette, wildflower risotto, morel frittata, pickled ramps, sautéed daylily shoots, violet lemonade, violet-topped lemon scones, and mini trifles with violet jelly, almond cake, and violet buttercream.

After we filled our bellies, we gathered on cushions on the porch and created boutonnieres and corsages with wild botanical elements we’d all collected in advance of the get-together. It was so wonderful witnessing children of all ages and men and women alike all get into the crafting. Glenn fashioned his with using a large wild mushroom he found as the focal flower, which is rather genius, in my estimation.

The final images show the “remains of the day,” bits left over from the party that I put into glass bottles and made a tablescape with after everyone left. And the ginormous haul on our picnic table is the cache of goodness we picked up at Kenny Any’s and Jack Young Greenhouse this past Friday. Suffice to say, I’ve got plenty of dirty work ahead of me, and I plan to love every glorious minute of it.

Here’s hoping the week ahead is filled with health, happiness, and harmony, for you and yours, from me and mine.

 

What I’m Digging

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Happy Friday, friends! Yesterday I travelled south to Charlotte with my Mom, Glenn, and Huxley. We went to visit my brother, his wife, their 2 year-old son, and their brand new baby, Mithcell Gray. Oh, what a sweet, soft, squishy, cuddle tiny guy. I still think of Huxley as our *baby* (and likely always will), but when I get a true baby in my arms, all just-shy-of-7-pounds of him, well, then I remember what a newborn actually feels like. Huxley was 5 pounds, 14 ounces when he was born, and 5 pounds, 5 ounces when we left the hospital 4 days later. Such a wee one! Congratulations to my brother and his family. Ain’t no love like baby love!

It’s Arbor Day today, one of my favorite holidays. Thank you, trees, for all you do! Treehugger, right here!!!! In honor and recognition of the occasion, I’ve got a Small Measures post up on Design Sponge, where I’m chatting about Tree Planting 101. Head over there, get schooled on what’s-what when it comes to planting trees, and get on out there and put down some roots!

In other news, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:

*Inspired by all the wild violets here in the cove, I’m working on my own version of this.

*DIY ceramic plant tags. Love it!

*Honey-sweetened sparkling lemonade.

*Jen has had some lovely little items in her three Spring Faves round-ups this week.

*Excellent post from Max on how to Recycle All The Things.

*Linda has updated her super popular Homemade Chicken Feed, now corn-free!

*Ramp pizza! Fist pumps!!!

*Watched SkyFall last weekend (That! House! In! Scotland!), and, inspired by Agent Q, am fairly certain that I *need* these glasses, or these.

*Homestead Act profiles my buddy Sharon!

*Sandor Katz and his work are spoiled rotten, and we’re all the better for it!

We’re off to some plant sales today. Growing In the Mountains is happening at the WNC Farmer’s Market and Kenny’s Perennials, located at Jack Young Greenhouses, is having a special $3.75 sale on perennials. I’m looking for bee balm, anise hyssop, and maybe some mints. Come Sunday, I’ll be hosting a party all about wild foods, which should be a delicious romp. Let the weekend commence!

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

*I always post a photo of Huxley here because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. Here he is in some photo outtakes for a post on building wild pollinator houses I’m working on for HGTV Gardens blog, part 1 of a five-part series I’m doing there on “Gardening With Children.”

 

Camp Lantern Creek

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Summer camp. Just the phrase evokes such strong childhood memories for me. There was that one camp where all we seemed to do was swim in the pool, diving down repeatedly for color-topped plastic sticks (do those things still even exist?!). There was that other camp that I will always associate with sandwiches filled with American cheese slices. And, perhaps most memorably, there was the camp that played a prank on our young lot during an overnight foray, releasing horses to run across the field after telling us the tale of Ichabod Crane (we were at Sleepy Hollow camp, after all).

There were camp T-shirts and bug bites and skinned knees in abundance, of course. And, naturally, there was so much fun. I’m excited about Huxley’s own camp adventures when he’s older (MUCH older, this wee one of ours!). So when Elizabeth Gates contacted me about Camp Lantern Creek, the all-girl summer camp she runs in Texas that places a strong emphasis on food and environment, I was all ears. When I learned that copies of Keeping Chickens and Canning & Preserving have been lovingly dog-eared in their office, well, say no more.

I thought an interview with Elizabeth would be a wonderful way to bring her voice and her camp to your attention. It sounds like such a magical place. If you’re a parent or caregiver to a girl between the ages of 7-17, I invite you to consider a summer session at Camp Lantern Creek. Anywhere that puts zip lines, canoeing, crafting, and growing in the mix is bound to be a very, very good time.

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1) What is Camp Lantern Creek’s mission?
Our mission is to create and sustain a magical environment where girls try new things every day while making lifelong friendships. We want these girls and young women to know that they can do absolutely anything and to have the confidence to try anything for themselves.

2) What age girls is the camp open to?
7-17 years old. We have a national class leadership program that starts when campers finish the 8th grade and it is an excellent way to build a resume for college applications, not to mention learn real world skills.

3) When is camp held, and where?
We have one Mother/Daughter Weekend every spring and summer camp runs from June 23 – July 26. We have two 2-week sessions and one 1-week session for parents to choose from. Many of our campers combine the sessions to stay for 3 weeks or a month at a time. Our camp is located in a tiny town called Dobbin, Texas. Because there is no postal service in Dobbin, we have a Montgomery address. We are just over an hour north of Houston and our beautiful section of the state is called the Texas Piney Woods.

4) What distinguishes Camp Lantern Creek from other girl’s camps?
What distinguishes us from other girls camps is our commitment to to the entire “girl experience”. We have programming that spans from singing, dancing, art, and sewing to power tools, changing tires, and high ropes climbing towers. We have invited a female soldier to come and teach the girls self-defence and have also invited working models of all shapes and sizes to come talk about being beautiful no matter what skin you are in. We also focus on incorporating change and mistakes into our culture. Change is a natural part of life and we are teaching the girls to use change as a catalyst for creative inspiration. As for mistakes, we treat them as a valuable component of success. We always say, it’s not the mistake that counts — it’s what you do afterward that matters.

5) How did you come to be involved in the camp?
My best friend, Sunni, and I grew up in the same neighborhood and started attending summer camp together when we were 7 years old. We went every summer – even into our college years – and always dreamed of owning our own camp. I took a director position at another camp to learn the ropes and after much planning and saving we found the perfect piece of property to start our own camp dedicated to the modern Renaissance Girl. Sunni handles the administrative side of camp from Houston, where she lives with her husband and children. My children and I live at camp and I run the operational side of things. It is the hardest job either of us has ever had, and it is absolutely the most rewarding. We eat, sleep and breathe camp.

6) Do you have any camp memories from your childhood that informed your passion for Camp Lantern Creek?
Attending summer camp as a child changed my life. I was a very quiet girl at school and I did not see myself as important, much less popular. Camp was the place where I learned that I could decide who I was going to be. It was an emotionally safe environment for me to test my voice, to try to make a difference. The social structure was different than school, and it still is. Everyone is allowed to be cool at camp. “Camp cool” is an inclusive thing, not an exclusive thing, and it can change the way a child sees her place in the world. It certainly did for me.

I found out who I wanted to be at camp. It took me years and years to learn to incorporate my camp self into the rest of my life and my mission as an owner is to assist in that process with this generation of girls so that it is easier for them to be who they want to be sooner. I have a note from one of my campers on my desk that reads: “It is impossible for the world to influence me badly because you influenced me first.” More than ever, the girls of this world need our help. We are not trying to tell them who or what to be — we are trying to hold the fog at bay so they can hear their own voice and then bolster their self confidence so they can weather any storm. Super cheesy? You bet it is. And it’s wonderful. The magic that happens for these girls at camp is addictive.

Sunni and I have poured our hearts and souls into this and have accepted mountains of debt and burden to get it going, but it is happening and we wouldn’t stop it for the world. We are small, but we are strong and we need help spreading the word so that we can succeed and be here for these girls for a long, long time.

7) What advice do you have for parents considering sending their daughter(s) off to camp for the first time?
Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. Parents should not be afraid to ask thousands of questions about the philosophy and programming of camp. Every camp is different and the magic is in the details. Then, we ask parents to take what we call a “reasonable risk”. We know that it is very scary to send a child away and we do not shy away from the fact that they are putting risk into their child’s life. Risk is necessary for growth — and reasonable risk is good. The kind of risk we are talking about is the kind that I had when I was a child. I risked walking a mile to and from school by myself in the first grade. I risked riding my bike without supervision all over the neighborhood until the street lights clicked on. I risked getting lost, I risked forgetting my house key, etc, etc. Kids don’t have much opportunity to learn from that type of risk anymore. They get that chance at camp.

Our staff is extremely well trained and knows how to supervise without hovering. Not a moment of camp life is unsupervised, but the camper feels like she is able to figure things out on her own if she wants to. She can get lost and find her own way to an activity all under our protective eyes. She can decide to stop and ask directions or take a chance on ending up in the wrong spot without ridicule or being unsafe. She can decide where to sit, who to talk to, what her schedule for the day will be. All of this risk plays into teaching them to think critically and creatively. The girls flourish in this environment. Make no mistake, they are never alone. And if they choose to go with the flow, to follow the group, they most certainly can do that. It is all up to them. Most of the girls do both. Sometimes they follow the group and sometimes they challenge themselves as they see fit.

8) What advice do you have for prospective campers (for the girls themselves)?
I want to make sure that prospective campers know that we welcome anyone who wants to have fun. We use the visual and performing arts as a platform to teach creativity, but we feel like every single person is creative. You don’t have to be an amazing artist to live a creative life. We want girls to know that they don’t have to have any inherent talent or skill before coming here – and they don’t have to take theatre or art classes if they don’t want to. There are no auditions and no judgement. All we want is for them to try something new everyday and to realize that making art can mean painting or singing, but it can also mean harvesting a perfect tomato or tying a beautiful knot. Everything we do at CLC is art… even the mistakes are beautiful. Come join us if you want to make a terrific mess, sing at the top of your lungs, dance until you fall down, and make the best friends of your whole life!

Everyday

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Hi, friends! I’m writing this to you today wearing a flannel shirt and wool socks, having slept in wool pajamas last night. The cold, it’s back! Just when I thought we’d licked it, the nights have been dipping into the 30′s and hooded sweatshirts and warm, cozy slippers have returned. I’m in too much spring fervor, however, to build a fire in the wood stove. “Layer up!” I say to Huxley, all Jimmy Carter-like. While he has no clue what this presidential reference means, he gets my point, usual after first refusing to do so first, though. Always on their terms, with two year-olds. Always.

And so, it’s Earth Day. I wish you a happy one, forever and always. Today and each day. Because, really, the thing about celebrating planetary stewardship one day a year is that it kind of misses the point, you know? Don’t get me wrong-I wholeheartedly support any and all efforts at raising awareness of ecological conservation and mindfulness. To really work, though, we have to maintain that mentality 365 days a year, not just one.

How do we hold onto that passion, then, that willingness and dedication to treading mindfully during our mortal days? By getting out in it, I say! I’ve long believed and espoused that you’re much more likely to want to be a steward of our planet if you’re actually engaging with it on a daily basis. Even if that simply means sitting on your stoop and soaking up a bit of morning sunshine with your cuppa (get that Vitamin D, friends!), or taking your dog for his morning’s constitutional, or watching all the flowers and buds popping out with scandalous ferocity right now in your local park, every little attempt at being part and parcel of the natural world helps. It’s a gorgeous planet we’ve been given the opportunity to c0-exist and co-create on; being out in it makes us want to keep it as glorious as it can be.

We got our flower & picnic on this past Saturday. Those annual pass holder tickets we picked up at the Biltmore Estate over the holiday season we such a wise move. Their annual Festival of Flowers is happening and, despite the throngs of people as equally thrilled to point and pose with the tulips as we were, it was a wonderful day. The mixed crowd was actually part of what made the day so great. I always joke (kind of) that I get more racial diversity in Asheville visiting the Biltmore for a few hours than I find in this otherwise lovely city year-round.

The flowers did not disappoint, nor did the lakeside picnic we had before visiting the gardens, the deviled eggs, pretzel rolls with Lusty Monk mustard, house-made pork rinds (!!!), and organic hard cider we sampled at Cedric’s Tavern, and the tractor & barnyard experience (Huxley’s highlight of the day) enjoyed as the final stop. We returned home, where I watered my seedlings, mulched some strawberry beds, and checked on the beets, carrots, peas, mache, haricot verts, red and yellow potatoes, and spinach planted in the garden. Like I said, nothing like interacting directly with nature to make you want to be a long-haul steward of it.

Here’s hoping the week ahead is filled with health, happiness, and harmony, for you and yours, from me and mine.

*A few Earth Day posts I wrote for Design Sponge, in 2010 (Earth Day Eating, Everyday) and 2011 (Earth Day Outings).