A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















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

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Monthly Archives: August 2013

What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! I promise I didn’t mean to disappear again. There are plans, and then there’s life, and sometimes you just have to let go of plans and live. I’ve been swimming in work on the two new books, with editing and photo shoots and beverage making to prep for said photo shoots and so. much. more. It’s all good, all this busyness, it’s just a lot, all at once.

In other news, the video the folks at Dark Rye made of me last August is up for award at the Chicago Food Film Festival! The event is produced in partnership with the James Beard Foundation. How cool is that?!


Also, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:

*Adorable mushroom round up (thanks to Nicole for sending this along)!

*My cousin’s textile business Izy & Oly and our friends chocolate business French Broad Chocolates are both up for Martha Stewart’s American Made awards! Congrats, guys!

*Make jerky in your oven!

*Travel the world and get cooking lessons in folk’s homes. Amazing (thanks Faryn for the tip)!

*Allan Savory’s Ted Talk is definitely worth giving a listen to.

*Homemade strawberry-boysenberry fruit leather!

*DIY fruit fly traps.

*Homemade yogurt turning out wonky? Here’s some trouble-shooting tips!

*Interesting history of solar panels at the White House.

*The peach is the crisp? Brilliant!


Hope you have a great weekend. I’m off for my second forest class tomorrow, with plans to work in the garden and on my beverage book manuscript edits on Sunday. Next week I’ve got two more photo shoots planned, along with the third forest class. More important than those things, though, is my grandmother’s 88th birthday tomorrow! Happy, happy day, Nanny! I love you so, so very much!

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 Pap and I dig the most. He is VERY fond of hats, and he was working his dapper look on the playground this past Wednesday, until he got too sweaty chasing after older boys (his favorite thing!) and handed the hat to me as he ran by. 

You Know What’s Cool?

I’ll tell you what’s cool, to me, right now:

*Local Apples! They’re showing up, in our trees, at the market, in my mom’s tree, everywhere! I’m not typically one for superlatives, but, if I were backed into a corner and forced to declare my favorite fruit upon threat of dismemberment (it could happen…), it would, hand’s down, be apples that I would pick, for the win (limb?).

*Finding reference to something I wrote about Chelsea Miller for Madesmith in one of my most beloved environmental/social justice publications, YES! I can’t even begin to tell you how very, very cool that is.

*Lavender and chocolate! Longtime readers might recall my mentioning Stacy Brewer coming out to visit, with gifts in tow, last summer. Well, the always bright, sunny, industrious lady that does double-duty as both a school teacher to middle school students and blogger/urban farmer at Seattle Seedling just mailed me a heap of buds (lavender buds, that is), from her full-to-bursting plants. Alongside some born & grown lavender, she sent another Emerald City item, Theo Chocolate (a business I’ve long loved not just for their delicious wares, but because it’s my little sisters’s name, too!). Thanks, Stacy! You’re a goddess!

*Thrift Stores! That’s what’s cool, friends. Not that they ever weren’t, or that they really even needed Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to make them hella hip again, but, I haven’t frequented them terribly much over the past few years since Huxley was born. Well, no more! I found literal bags-worth of items for both the wee one and myself last week at Goodwill, and then this lovely Cortinarius mushroom print (along with many other scores, including a vintage glass punch bowl with 10 cups for $5.29!!!) today at the Western Carolina Rescue Mission. Goodness abounds at your local thrift shops!

Now it’s your turn. What’s cool in your world?

Weekend Review

Happy Monday, friends! It’s raining here right now, again. People are starting to joke that they’re beginning to mold. Some are only halfway joking, I think….

But all that rain makes for thriving temperate rainforests like ours. It’s also super conducive to editing manuscripts while sipping on Earl Grey tea and nibbling shortbread in a hoodie. There might also have been some very, very, very early planning/hoping/scheming/dreaming of a West Coast Handmade Gatherings book tour/family vacation next spring. Trains, planes, automobiles-I’ll take it all. I love road trippin’ and can’t wait to introduce Huxley to the Pacific, and sea lions, and redwood forests, and the Golden Gate Bridge, and Voodoo Donuts (for that matter, I can’t wait to introduce myself to Voodoo Donuts!) and Delancey and Pike Place Market and the San Juan Islands and Port Townsend. One way, or another, it’s going to happen. As God as my witness, we will head west (cue me in a Civil War era hoop dress instead of a hoodie doing my best Scarlett O’Hara)!!!!

Hope you all had a grand weekend. We sure did. There were waterfalls, and turtles, and Indian food, and shadows, and horses, and mushrooms, and Rudbeckia, and forest frogs, and sassafras trees, and more mushrooms involved. So. Much. Goodness. I’m feeling rather exploratory lately-creatively, culinarily, ecologically, geographically. Everything we did this weekend really helped to foster that sense of exploration, and for that, I am so very grateful. Speaking of grateful, mad props to Glenn, who both watched Huxley all day Saturday while I galavanted about in the forest and today, while I edited my beverage book. Rock star Papa, that man, I tell you!

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

What I’m Digging

Hello, friends! It’s an early morning for me today. I’ve been up for about 1 1/2 hours now, getting the animals fed and coffee made and, soon, a lunch and snacks and other essentials packed up for the first “Meet Our Appalachian Forests” class, which meets in just a few hours. This class is rife with information I’ve longed to learn, from tree, mushroom, and insect identification, to plant identification and their myriad culinary and medicinal uses. I’ve been picking  up small bits of such info on and off over the years, but never in a formal, intensive setting like this one. Time to get schooled!

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

*I’ve started to plan Huxley’s birthday party (it’s in October, and will have a pirate theme, yawr!!!!) and came across these fun natural-inspired party ideas for boys.

*Whole wheat cocoa nib sables? Say no more, I’m onboard.

*Put that jam in a cocktail!

*Loving Wild Honey Apothecary.

*Don’t feel like canning? Try out these 10 other ways of preserving food.

*It’s molting time for our fine-feathered friends, and Linda’s got tips for helping their grow back lovely plumage.

*Genius, simple hand built home.

*Stopped by the Compleat Naturalist yesterday to pick up a magnifying lense (hi Francis and Laura!) and saw that they sell my beekeeping book!

*Received a very thoughtful care package for the canning class I recently taught at Williams-Sonoma from manager Jon. It contained this custom gift tag stamp from Yellow Owl Workshop. It’s perfect! Thanks, Jon!

*Jen gave me this candle the other night as a belated birthday present. Heaven.

Alright friends, I gotta go get my nature on. Tomorrow is jam-packed, as well, with some book trailer work to kick the day off, followed by a Blessing Way for a soon-to-be mama friend, then a 2 year-old’s birthday party, and, lastly, a potluck birthday party for Eli. I’ve also got three flats of fall crops to set out in the garden. Phew. Busy! But good. All quite good.

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 each Friday because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. He couldn’t get enough of the rocks, falls, and water at Graveyard Fields! 

Weck Jars & Peaches (+ Giveaway!!!)


Sometimes I can be a creature of habit. It’s true. There are certain dining destinations in the area, with a vast array of delicious menu options, wherein I often end up ordering the same dish, time after time. Why mess with a good thing, I say? Fortunately, my spouse couldn’t be possessed of a more opposing mindset. He’s always dabbling, always down for a new thing, always game to experiment.

Which is how I’ve ended up using canning jars with metal screw bands and flat lids for years and years. They’re what I was used to, what I knew. Other options, with their glass lids, rubber bands, and metal clamps were foreign and, often, pricey. So it was, naturally, my husband, always down for something new, who proved to be the catalyst of change in my home canning endeavors. He returned one day last year from a stop to pick up chicken feed from our friend Natalie’s homesteading supply store Small Terrain with an array of Weck jars. Admittedly, they are quite pretty, and we both knew Natalie had a wonderful Weck selection, so it seemed like the time was nigh to move out of my comfort zone and try something different.

I’m so glad I took the leap. Weck jars come in a variety of lovely shapes and sizes, and just like the Mason jars those of us here in the states have become so accustomed to, permitted the jars don’t have scratches or nicks, can be used again and again. The rubber gasket/band does need to be replaced each time, though, which is also similar to the need to replace lids used in Mason jars per canning session.

And then serendipity struck. You all know how much I love serendipity. It’s as though the universe gently knocks on your door, whispering, “Hey, it’s alright. I know things seem chaotic and discordant and wonky, but there really is order permeating everything. It’s cool.” I received tandem emails a few weeks ago from Annie at Mighty Nest about hosting a Weck giveaway and Jamie at Sweet Preservation about being a canbassador again and receiving a shipment of Washington State stone fruit for preserving.

Since I’ve long been a fan of the two, preserving the stone fruits of Washington in lovely Weck jars seemed like a match made in canning heaven. If you’re not familiar with Mighty Nest, I encourage you to get to know them. Here’s their mission statement: Our passion is making it easier for families to live healthier, better lives. We are a one-stop online shop with 1,000+ healthy, natural products, while providing fun, educational content and fostering a community of caring parents. Sweet Preservation, as detailed by their website, is: a community-oriented endeavor of the Northwest cherry growers and soft fruit growers of Washington state aimed at promoting home preservation of Northwest grown stone fruits among North American consumers. The website serves as a go-to resource for canning and freezing stone fruits, offering how-to-tips, unique recipes, health information, customizable canning jar labels and more. See why I like the two so much?

Over the weekend, I put up batches of Honeyed Spiced Peaches (some jars got cinnamon sticks and whole cloves while others received a couple star anise-I love that I only used local South Carolina peaches, our own honey, water, and whole spices and nothing else here!) and my Peach Lavender Butter (the recipe is in Canning & Preserving). Most of the loot went into Weck jars Annie sent, but several also went into Kilner jars she’d also shipped to me, which are equally lovely. Clamp-top lids are so very pretty, yes? Yes!

But why keep all things lovely jar beauty to myself? Why not share it with you?! Yes! You! Today, in partnership with Mighty Nest, I’m hosting a giveaway for 18 Weck jars. Pictured in the Rafflecopter image below, the giveaway includes: Six mini Tulip jars (7.4 ounce volume), Six 1/4 Liter jars (12.5 ounce volume), and Six 1/2 Liter jars (19.6 ounce volume).

How exciting! To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below, saying what you’d like to can in these gorgeous jars, if they were yours. You’ll also see additional ways of increasing your chances of winning, as listed in the Rafflecopter below. The contest will run for one week, concluding next Monday, August 19th, at noon EST and is open to U.S. residents only. The Rafflecopter helps both Mighty Nest and I keep track of entries. It’s a new format for me, so we’ll just treat it as the experiment that it is.

Thanks to Mighty Nest and Sweet Preservation for their generosity! Here’s to serendipity, trying new things, and putting food in jars!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

NOTE: The giveaway is now closed for commenting. Thank you so very much to everyone that participated. The very lucky Claire Mueller was our winner! Enormous rivers are gratitude are flowing in the direction of Mighty Nest for sponsoring this epic giveaway!!!