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A Year of Picnics


 

The Essential Book of Homesteading


 

QUENCH

 

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: October 2013

Right Here, Right Now

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Happy Halloween, friends. Full Disclosure: I’m writing this from my bed, in my flannel p.j.’s, in the afternoon, as Huxley jumps and makes all kinds of ninja moves over my head, beside me, in front of me, and in every manner his little body can manage. Good times, albeit it seriously exhausted ones.

NYC was majestic, and intense, and frenzied, and productive, and totally and completely whipped my butt. Once upon a time, I craved that kind of life, full of dynamism, and luxury, and energy. I still love kinetic activity, but much, much more prefer the type made manifest through a wildly blazing wood stove, or a overflowing creek, or a sudden encounter with a toad in my garden. Call it age, or wisdom, or simply a different orientation to life, but my kind of perfect is found right here, just outside my doorstep. That said, New York was wonderful, filled with lovely meetings both professional and personal. I’m so glad I went, and equally happy to return.

Glenn is in the kitchen making pumpkin mac & cheese (yes, I married well). In a few hours, we’ll be donning our superhero attire as a family, and heading out to spend the evening with friends. A potluck meal and libations (fresh apple cider & bourbon, YES!) will be followed by trick or treating around Kenilworth, apparently ground zero for candy soliciting in Asheville. I’ve never gone, and can’t wait for the mischief, hijinks, shenanigans, and sugar to begin, if I can somehow muster the strength to get up off my travel-weary tush and get on with it (two nights of bad dreams and loud city surroundings do not make for a solid rest!).

Wherever tonight takes you, indoors or out, here’s wishing you and your loved ones a safe and splendid evening!

*We took these photos yesterday, after picking me up from the airport and taking a leisurely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway home. Such a late time for peak leaf viewing, but I’ll take it!

What I’m Digging

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Happy Friday, friends! A big burst of arctic wind blew down from Canada Wednesday evening, making autumn suddenly feel more akin to January ’round these parts. That first freeze of the season meant a mad dash to harvest all the remaining basil and peppers out in the garden. It also meant firing up the wood stove for its seasonal debut. My love of our wood stove knows no end. Whether I’m shoveling out ashes, coaxing kindling into flame, adding logs to the embers in the morning, or simply sitting at Huxley’s tiny table, in one of his tiny chairs working on my laptop while warming my back (all true), that burning hunk of metal makes me immensely happy.

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

*I think I might’ve mentioned Bee’s Wrap on here before, but it’s so good that I’m giving it another shout out!

*Pumpkin scones with brown butter glaze from my girl Joy.

*While we’re talking about pumpkins, how about 3 delectable ways to use their seeds?

*What’s better than hot cocoa? How about serving it in an orange?!

*If I wasn’t in Chicago, I’d totally be going to this book-signing at Villagers for Beauty Everyday and Southern Makers. If you’re local, though, YOU should definitely go!

*I would very, very, VERY much like to do as Molly did and stay at Hedgebrook. Sigh.

*The absolute cardigan of my dreams (but, alas, not my budget!).

*Ordered these boots for Huxley, a gift to him from my mom and grandmother.

*I’ve been waiting for this show to come back on and the wait is now over. Season premiere is tonight!

*My buddy Nicole introduced me to Bat Dad. Hilarious!

Glenn’s wonderful parents are coming for a visit from Florida tomorrow. They’re bringing his 12 year-old nephew, Sammy, with them. Huxley and Sammy get along famously, so the next few days should be full of good times. Considering that I’m heading to NYC alone for a work trip Monday-Wednesday, that’s good news to this mama (they’ll all still be here during my time in the Big Apple). While my time in New Hampshire last month marked my first nights away from Huxley, he and Glenn did make the trip up there with me before heading off to Maine. This time, I’ll be staking out on my own. I’m excited for the opportunity to focus on work without interruption, and to see some friends while I’m there, but I’ll definitely be missing my boys!

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. He’s very into being a tiny ninja at the moment, and found this “Bo Staff” during a forest stroll with Glenn the other day. 

Ninja Chicken Teas & Crafts (+Giveaway!!!)

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I first met Maria Muscarella in 1991. She was a senior and I was a junior at Owen High School in Black Mountain, NC (technically, Owen might be in Swannanoa, come to think of it…I digress…). Maria was tight buddies with some of my friends, including Eric Schweitzer, a close pal and confidant during those turbulent days of mid teenager-hood (and currently, a magician!). Even then, I knew she was an old soul, possessed of a joyful heart, a quick wit, a kind spirit, and a keen intellect.

Several years ago, I signed up for a free class on creating a winter herbal apothecary that was being offered for free by the local technical college, AB-Tech (GREAT programs are regularly offered in their Continuing Education department!). I walked into the classroom to find that Maria was the instructor! That auspicious encounter rekindled our friendship after years out of touch with one another. I came to learn that since we last hung out, Maria had become an R.N., working as a labor & delivery nurse at Mission, Asheville’s big area hospital. She’d also studied herbalism and had an established practice as an herbalist. On top of that, she’d birthed two babies at home, and was now homeschooling them. Righteous lady, right? Right!

While she’s no longer practicing medicine with the hospital, she is always, always passionate about herbs, as well as crafting (there is quite literally nothing in the craft, food, and homesteading arena that she can’t do). Maria recently took the leap and started an Etsy store selling her handcrafted herbal blends and other homemade items. Ninja Chickens is offering a tea club as part of its wares, featuring tea blends (many of them based around the seasons) handcrafted by Maria herself. In her own words, here’s a description of what Ninja Chickens is all about:

I’m a craft-happy Nurse-Herbalist who has always loved DIY. Before my second child was born, I crafted tea blends and herbal products for Doctor’s offices, herbal businesses, apothecaries, and individuals for over 15 years. This allowed me to do what I loved and provided a fabulous outlet for selling my wares. After Leif’s birth, I decided to close my business and homeschool my children. Unfortunately, this forced me to make my friends and family the guinea pigs for all my new creations. Once my daughter became interested in serious crafting, we decided to open Ninja Chickens. There will always be something new and different at our store. Herbal teas and remedies, knitting and felting, and making beautiful things helps us keep our hands busy and our days happy.

Maria has graciously offered to giveaway a 3-month tea club subscription to one small measure reader. Hooray for you! What’s a tea club subscription? Read on….

A hot cup on a cold winter’s night;
A gentle blend to soothe away your worries;
A calming sip to relax your mind before sleep;
A deep breath of rejuvenation;

A cup of tea is full of so many emotions. Is there any wonder that the ceremony of having tea goes back over 1300 years? There is something very special about the simple act of sipping herbs infused in hot water.

At the start of each month I will send you 2 ounces of my newest blend of herbal teas. Often the blends are coordinated with the seasons. Sometimes I have the urge to concoct something new and delicious. Either way, you will be enveloped in luscious aromas and flavors when you sip your monthly blend.

Your first month’s tea will ship when you place your order. It will include a large, reusable muslin tea bag to use when steeping your herbs as well as information on making herbal teas, infusions, and decoctions. Each month you will also get to learn a bit about the culinary, medicinal, and traditional uses of some of the herbs that are in your blend.

The teas in the above pictures are examples of what you may receive each month. They are all organic and gluten-free. Whenever I visit Maria, she’s always got bottles and jars on her kitchen counter, with something decanting, or fermenting, or otherwise infusing. Her bathroom shelves are laden with hundreds of homemade tinctures. Point being, she really knows her stuff. Whenever Huxley comes down with a health concern, it’s to her I first turn, then to his doctor, if necessary. Simply put, she’s amazing. May we all be so lucky to have wise women like Maria in our lives.

So, TEA! Let’s do this! To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment here telling your favorite tea to sip and savor, or a tea memory. I’m a huge fan of my “Fertili-Tea” (the recipe will be in Quench, my beverage book due next year). It’s a mixture of red clover, red raspeberry leaf, and nettles. I drank a quart of it every day for a year, before trying to become pregnant, as the herbs in it are all known for balancing the hormones. Considering that I got pregnant on the second try, and that I’d never been pregnant before, it quickly became my go-to green concoction for all things hormone related.

Now it’s your turn. Leave your comment below. I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding next Wednesday, October 30th, midnight EST. The giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry international buddies!). In your comment, please be sure to leave a means of contacting you in the event that you’re the randomly selected winner. You can do this by either leaving a link back to your own blog or website, or by leaving your email in the comments.

Even if you don’t win, do check out Ninja Chickens. Maria’s got loads of goodness brewing there that you don’t want to miss!

Three

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There was a point, in what now feels like another lifetime, when I thought I might not ever be a parent. My previous longterm boyfriend didn’t think he’d be capable of parenting well, and so, I resigned myself to the idea that having a child, and raising it, and experiencing parenthood might not be slated for me in this life. Thankfully, that relationship, and that resignation, ended back in 2006. Then I met Glenn.

Right away, he was certain about me. About us. About our future. He’d always wanted children, and with him, I was able to rekindle the fire I’d long ago extinguished for mothering. Huxley Wild English came into our lives on October 21st, 2010, at 10:20 p.m.. It wasn’t quite the birth I’d planned for, but that’s alright. He is definitely the child I always hoped to have, despite having given up on having the opportunity.

His name means both “Outdoorsman” and “a clearing in a field.” Considering that we live in a forested cove, and that he’s deeply enamored with being outside, the name fits. This tiny Englishman of ours is brave, and bold, and, yes, sometimes brash (I mean, he’s three!). He’s intrepid, and curious, and outgoing. He’s silly, and smart, and creative. Having him in my life is like having magic made present, every single day. I love him beyond words, and am delighted to get the chance to be his mother more than I could ever quite describe.

We pretty much spent the past few days celebrating. From the epic superhero party on Saturday; to brunch at Seven Sows (Go! And get the beignets with creme Anglaise, any of their four featured oysters, and the chocolate chip & praline pancakes!), a first time visit to the studio of our buddy Karie (she made Huxley an AMAZING backpack for his birthday, which is getting its own post on here), and balance bike-riding and foam sword-battling sessions at Carrier Park on Sunday; to a picnic up at Craggy Gardens in all its autumnal splendor on Monday, our three year-old has had three days of merriment, love, and gratitude for the light he shines on myself and his papa.

Parenting isn’t easy. It really is the hardest job, with the biggest reward, though. It’s worth all the sleep deprivation, and temper tantrums (managing theirs, avoiding yours!), and mind-blowing messes, and wet beds, and more. It has forced me to look beyond myself and tend to the needs of another while keeping in mind, constantly, that for him, this is all new. This is all happening for the first time. This is all amazing, all of life.

It really is, friends. It really is.

What I’m Digging

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Happy Friday, friends! Jen was over a little while ago, working on a magazine profile of me (slated for next October) and some final images for Handmade Gatherings (still trying to get just the right cover shot). I’m wearing flannel, my favorite, typing this on the patio. The leaves are audible now, crackling both underfoot and overhead as they take their final plunge. The air is crisp, the sunlight is dappled, things are good.

In other news, here’s some this and that’s that caught my attention this week:

*Got any green tomatoes left? Pickle them!

*Grounded is a new magazine for parents that’s right up my alley.

*Some of these 99 hacks that could make life easier are absolutely brilliant!

*Marisa has some wonderful ideas for things to can in autumn.

*Excited to get my hands on Lena’s Corwin’s new book, Made By Hand.

*Apples! My apple butter! Get some! Make some! Yeehaw!

*The daughter of small measure reader Brooke, Eliza, is opening a wonderful preschool here in Asheville. Read about the Open Hearts Village here and check out their fundraising campaign here.

*21st century gypsies!

*A short but sweet video made by Ollie, one of my Urban Farm School canning students a few weeks ago.

*AMAZING lunar calendar!

Tomorrow is our little guy’s big superhero party (his actual birthday is the 21st, and for that we’ll likely go to an orchard or for a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway before it closes down for the winter)!!! I don’t know who’s more excited about it, him or me and Glenn. Superhero super foods (think nori sheets, blueberry smoothies, root veggie chips, blueberry & chevre dip, flourless chocolate cupcakes, hot cider)!!! A multi-hued star-shaped pinata filled with natural treats! Mask and cape decorating! Obstacle course! FUN!!!! Also, did I mention that I’ll be decked out as Wonder Woman, Glenn will be Superman, and Huxley will be Spider Man? Oh, yes. It. Is. On.

I think I’ll take Sunday to recover, “officially” celebrate his 3rd trip around the sun on Monday, and then get busy writing up a chapter of my newest book proposal for my editor. Gonna hustle to get that done before I leave for two days of business meetings in NYC on the 28th. Going to the Big Apple all by myself! First time doing a business trip alone since Huxley was born. I know I’ll miss the bejeezus out of him and Glenn, but I’ll be there and back before I know it. Plus, I get to have dinner with Grace while I’m up there! And, did I mention it’s New York CITY?!!!!

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. He hopped on this moss-covered rock beside the chicken coop the other day and began making zooming noises before declaring himself to be a “pizza guy”!