A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















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Monthly Archives: May 2013

What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you’ve had a great week. The weather here has been absolutely sublime. I’ve gotten pretty much everything planted in the garden, aside from a pumpkin and winter squash patch that’ll be going in this weekend. A riot of wild roses bloomed this week and standing outside these days is like being bathed in perfume-rich air. It’s a great time to be in the mountains of western North Carolina, that’s for certain.

I’ve got some fun news to share: I’m a guest blogger on HGTV Gardens! Check out my first post, on building wild pollinator houses here. It’s the first of a 5-part series on Gardening With Kids. I’m delighted beyond measure to be partnered up with the fine folks at HGTV.

In other news, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:
*Now’s the time for eating edible flowers (here, too).
*This is hilarious (and, if I’m not careful, how I sometimes find myself beginning to feel!).
*VW Van adventure!
*Definitely will be making Amanda’s popcorn.
*Gorgeous photos and delicious sounding jam.
*So much beauty here.
*Purchased one of these (in “truffle”) a few weeks back. I swear it makes our coffee more tasty (and nicer to look at!).
*These came in the mail yesterday for Huxley. He declared them his “favorite boots ever!”
*This little lady and her friends have become quite popular chez English as of late.
*Thinking a jar of this is in order, now that long, sunny days are upon us.

We’ve got quite a fun weekend ahead. My sweet Glenn has a birthday tomorrow, and our 6th anniversary is Sunday (he’ll never forget our wedding date, as he turned 40 the day before he got married!). We’re actually going to a wedding of some dear friends tomorrow, so we opted to celebrate Glenn’s big day this evening. Around 5 p.m., our home will be filled with friends, their children, and a mess of Southern foods. We’ve currently got a pork shoulder roasting (for pulled pork!), some cabbage & kale slaw is about to be made, and both (!!!) of the chocolate and peanut butter cakes (because you should never have to choose between favorites on your birthday, especially if you’re a Gemini!) I baked yesterday are about to get frosted. We’ll toast with homemade Peach Bourbon Iced tea (the recipe is in Handmade Gatherings), get a fire roaring in the fire ring, and celebrate the wonderful man I have the exquisite pleasure of sharing each and every day with.

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

*I post a photo of Huxley and I here each Friday because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. Glenn snapped some sleepy photos of us this morning, cozied up together like peas in a pod. 


At-Home Summer Nature Camp eCurriculum

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Each morning, the sun seems to flood my bedroom a little bit earlier. Each evening, darkness falls a wee bit later. The days, they’re stretching far and wide, long and open. And ever since Huxley put the kibosh on napping (unless we’re in the car!), the time spent keeping a toddler occupied is rather vast, as of late.

Which is why what Liz Sniegocki of A Natural Nester has created is so incredibly exciting. How does a budget-minded, 8-week, nature-based e-curriculum sound? One riddled with kid-friendly lessons, outdoor activities, indoor projects, arts & crafts, recipes, field trip ideas, book & media suggestions, and more in a full-color PDF you can read on your computer screen or tablet, or print out? It sounds supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, is how it sounds, friends. All of this for $39, minus a 15% discount for small measure readers (enter promo code: SMALLMEASURE at check out)!

Liz designed the program for children ages 5-11, but it’s completely adaptable for all ages. The curriculum is based around weekly themes of natural world exploration, including:
~An Edible Garden
~The Night Sky
~At the Beach
~A Spot in the Shade
~Ponds & Frogs
~Rain, Rain
~Wildflowers & Bees
~Sun Fun

For each of the eight weekly themes you’ll receive:
*A kid-friendly lesson to share with your children about the weekly theme.
*Engaging activities & projects for both the indoors and outdoors such as Batik Star Maps, a Shadow Sundial, a Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt, and more.
*Kid-approved recipes & kitchen projects including Honey Herb Lemonade, Farm-Fresh Egg Salad, Honey Popcorn Planets, and more.
*Fun and affordable field trip ideas, such as Take a Dip in a Swimming Hole, Blast Off to Space – A Virtual Field Trip, Take a Puddle Walk, and more.
*Step-by-step arts & crafts tutorials, including Raindrop-Inspired Watercolor Painting, Icarus Myth Peg Dolls, Local Fruit & Veggie Stamping, and more.
*Theme-related book & media suggestions to explore and enjoy.

Also included in your 8-week eCurriculum are two free bonus projects that can be used and added to all summer long!
* Keep a Nature Journal
A guide for how to set-up and keep a record of nature observations and reflections using the written word and images.

* Create a Curio Cabinet
Learn how to transform a wall cabinet, shelf, or even a shoebox into a naturalist’s cabinet for collected nature objects such as shells, feathers, insect specimens, rocks, dried flowers, and more.
I’m beyond thrilled to be included as one of the “camp counselors” in the curriculum. My fellow educators include:
*Sarah of Imagine Childhood
*Kara of Simple Kids
*Suz of Slow Family Online 
*Valarie of Jump Into a Book
*Heather of Shivaya Naturals
*Cerys of Nature and Play
*Linda of Natural Suburbia
*Leah of Skill It
*Amy of Mama Scout
*Stephanie of Wellness By Design
*Debi of Go Explore Nature
*Shawn of Awesomely Awake
*Liz of A Natural Nester
*Kat of Creative Playhouse
*Gina of Connecting Family & Seoul
*Erin of Exhale. Return to Center.

If you’ve got wee ones in your life and are looking for ways to keep them occupied while engaging their curiosity and aiding them as they learn and explore, do check out the curriculum Liz has created. She clearly has poured a great deal of passion and love into it.

Happy adventuring!

Weekend Review

I’d like to put in a request, right now, with the fates controlling such things that the sort of weather which swept into these mountains early Friday morning stick around all summer. Highs in the upper 60’s-low 70’s, with crisp blue skies and gentle, kissing breezes. Yes, please. If we could just skip over that whole so-hot-and-humid-and-muggy-that-I’m-ready-to-move-to-Vancouver thing, that’d be lovely.

This weekend, I joined Instagram (thanks for the tutorial, Nicole!) and I’m kind of obsessed with it. Make my photos look better with the touch of a few buttons? Oh, yeah. Saturday we popped over to Montreat Park to hang out with some visiting friends and their boys. Huxley went full throttle in the creek (squealing children! salamanders! wet clothes!) and we got in some quality creekside picnic time with our buddies.

A stop at an antiques store in Black Mountain yielded this vintage picnic basket, for a mere $20. I had a premonition the store would have just the basket I was looking for, and they did. Believe in your intuition, friends, believe. I snagged that leather bracelet in a little shop in Black Mountain, too, one filled with locally-made beeswax candles and vintage kimonos and aromatherapy and other goodies. We followed that up with cappuccinos and lattes (and orange juice for the tiny Englishman) at the Dripolator. Oh, Black Mountain. Love that town.

Sunday, Huxley and I played in the garden, digging a pumpkin patch, laying down compost, and lying on a blanket in the late afternoon shade. It was a magical weekend, this one. Here’s hoping for many repeats, all late spring and summer-long.

Have a great week!

What I’m Digging


Happy Friday, friends. A bit of a cold front blew in last night. I’m writing this on our entryway porch. There’s a gentle breeze blowing, the thermometer beside me is reading 58, the sky is punctuated with cotton ball wisps of clouds and stunning patches of blue, Huxley and I are wearing hoodies-things are good.

I’ve got a new profile up on Madesmith, of the actress/knifemaker badass that is Chelsea Miller. If you’d like to read profiles of other makers I’ve written about for Madesmith, check out Josh Vogel of Blackcreek Mercantile and Clair Catillaz of Clamlab. These makers all are based in New York (both the city and upstate) and are producing heirloom quality goods that are absolutely stunning.

Feel like creating a bit of natural color? I’m discussing this very thing today in my Small Measures post on Design Sponge, where I show you how easy it is to create a custom palette of watercolors. Color your world, friends!

In other news, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:
*Joy’s fruity summer striped ice cubes are calling my name.
*Loving the idea of Community Supported Kitchens.
*Well, hello there, dream home.
*So happy to see my buddy Karie featured on the Makery Project!
*Completely smitten with Anna Williams’ The Voracity project, especially How To Shoot A Wolf and A Princely Feast.
*You definitely should be listening to this playlist.
*Summer’s around the corner. Here are some tips for keeping your cool.
*Tim’s Strawberry Lassi will be happening in my kitchen, stat.
*Pickled mustard greens? Don’t mind if I do (especially since I planted 12 mustard green plants yesterday!).
*This northern California cabin is so beautiful.
*Naturally sweetened salty & sweet peanut butter chocolate cups. YES!

My editor at Lark Crafts and dear friend Nicole is coming over this evening for cocktails, pie, and a one-on-one tutorial with yours truly on how to cook a whole chicken. With the weather forecast to only reach 67, it should be one fine evening.

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

*I post a photo of Huxley here each Friday because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. Here he is exploring, with no fear, a hollowed out log on the grounds of the N.C. Arboretum. He and Glenn went there this past Monday, to check out one of their “Wee Naturalists” programs, which are geared towards children age 2-5. 

A Year of Pies (+Giveaway!!!)

You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? What I’ve been pining over, and hankering for, and otherwise consumed with? Pie. That’s right, friends. My thoughts, words, and, yes, even actions lately have been pie-related, pie-centric, pie-focused.

Of course, pie is great year round. That’s the overarching mantra of my book-that pie is a treat not to be baked up and trotted out solely during the holidays, when thoughts turn to pumpkin and pecan and apple pies, or during the months of summer, when blueberries and blackberries are practically begging to be baked into hot submission. No, no. Pie is a perennial palate pleaser (say that 5 times fast!), to be delighted in each season.

All that said, lately it’s just been what I want to bake and eat. I intend to do so tomorrow night, in fact, baking the Strawberry Crumble Top Pie from my book, but adding in rhubarb and serving it with lemon balm whipped cream for a dear friend who’s coming over for dinner. Maybe it’s all the strawberries I’m beginning to see at the markets, and the rhubarb, too. Perhaps it’s the smell in the air, laced with roses and grass and dew and moisture. Whatever it is, it’s pushing my pie button, and I intend to indulge it.

And so should you! To make sure you will be partaking of pie and doing your part towards enjoying this treat, I’m giving away a signed copy of A Year of Pies to one small measure reader. Pie, all up in your kitchens, friends!

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment telling me what pie you’d like to make. It can be one of my recipes, or your great aunt Edna’s, or Ina Garten’s, or even your own recipe. The pie’s the limit! I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding next Thursday, May 30th, midnight EST. Canadians, feel free to join in the pie fun! Please do leave a means of contacting you should you be the winner, via either a link back to your website or blog or by leaving your email address in your comment.

Go forth, friends, and pie it up!