A Year of Picnics


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  • All my bags are packed Im ready to go Headinghellip
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  • Do you know how tremendously difficult it is to behellip
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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Giving Thanks

Happiest of days to you, friends! My heart is absolutely overwhelmed with happiness (or, as the locals say, “full to burstin'”!) for all of the goodness that has come my way this year. I am thankful beyond measure for you, for this place, for this life.

From we three Englishes to you, Happy Thanksgiving!

Luna Grey Fiber Arts (+ Giveaway!!!)

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I keep a running mental list at all times of skills I’ve not yet mastered but fully intend to one day do. Highest on this list are the textile arts. In high school, I took a “Life Skills” class. Everyone did, actually, as it was required. Along with learning how to balance a checkbook and perform CPR on a dummy (“Annie, are you o-kay?”), we learned how to sew a sweatshirt. Later in college, while taking a costume design class, I added a bit more to my sewing tool belt, and made a satin sleeveless dress (slipperyest fabric of all time!). But that’s about it.

Either last winter or the year before, I signed up for a knitting class at the local technical college. I was so lost, though, in my attempts at casting on, that when the instructor had completed helping the other 12 students out and finally made her way back around to me, class was nearing completion. I threw up my needles in frustration and haven’t attempted to cast on since. The thing is, I really, really, REALLY want to know how to knit. And sew. And crochet. And quilt. And all of the domestic textile arts. It’ll happen, I’m sure. I think I just need to a one-on-one mentor.

In the meantime, there are others much further along the textile arts arch then myself. Jackie Vleck is one such person. Owner of Luna Grey Fiber Arts, a one-woman hand dyed yarn company based in sunny, western Colorado, Jackie knows her way around a skein of yarn, and then some. She started the company in 2012 after years of teaching knitting classes at her local yarn shop. Jackie wanted to create a place for knitters/crocheters to find one-of-a-kind, high quality, natural fiber art yarns, and Luna Grey Fiber Arts was born.

When it comes to knitting, Jackie is full of wit and wisdom on the topic. Here are some of her bits of insight, both when it comes to knitting and where running Luna Grey Fiber Arts is concerned:

*Knitting with hand dyed yarn is so fun! It allows knitters/crocheters to express their creativity through their yarn choice. No two skeins of hand dyed yarn are exactly alike. So, the end project will truly be one of a kind.

*Many knitters will attest that the craft is necessary for their sanity! It allows for a creative outlet as well as something to do with their hands (nothing better for staving off those late night munchies). Most importantly for me, after a particularly stressful day, a few minutes with some soft wool and two knitting needles and my troubles seem to melt away.

*I have recently added undyed/bare yarn to my shop. I wanted to make it easy for my customers to find their inner fiber artist by trying their hand and dyeing yarn at home.

*As an at-home mother of two young boys (pictured above!), I love the flexibility that my shop allows me. I can drop the boys off at school in the morning. Volunteer in the classroom for a bit. Then work in my studio until the end of the school day.

*Our shop is a family business in every sense of the word. My husband, Brian (shown in the last image with Jackie and her boys), designed and built my studio space using mostly reclaimed materials – vintage school house cubbies for yarn storage, an unused Home Economics class stove for heating dye pots and work tables made from oak pallets. The boys love helping to name the colorways. While most of their suggestions are wonderfully fitting, not all of their ideas find their way into the shop (such as Toad and Baby Poo).

*I welcome custom orders and truly enjoy working together with my customers to design exactly what they have in mind. Some of my favorite colorways come from customer collaborations.


In addition to lovely skeins of yarn for purchase, Jackie has also recently added knitting project kits to her shop. These kits include a pattern and the yarn needed to complete the project. I can’t think of a more wonderful gift for the knitters in your lives! Here’s a bit of information on the two kits:

*The White Dwarf Shawl Kit (second from the last photo above) was designed by accomplished pattern designer, Amy Miller. It takes just one skein of Orion yarn to complete.

*The Flambeau Cowl was designed by Sara Gresbach and takes just two skeins of Orion yarn.


Jackie, in addition to being a lovely small measure sponsor, has offered to generously give away a skein of her gorgeous yarn. The giveaway includes one skein of Titan Thick & Thin Merino Wool Yarn in the Sanctuary colorway. Titan is one of Jackie’s most popular yarns as it is super duper soft and knits up quickly. One skein will make a gorgeous cowl or cozy hat.

To be entered in the giveaway, simply leave a comment below listing what you’d most like to be able to knit. For me, it’s scarves. I adore them and could never have enough. In your comment, be sure to leave a means of contacting you should you be the winner, via either a link back to your blog or website, or by leaving your email in the contact form (this is visible only to me). I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding November 27th, 2013, midnight EST. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents open (sorry, international buddies!).

Even if you don’t win, you still do, as Jackie is additionally offering a discount to small measure readers. To receive 15% off your entire order, use coupon code: SmallMeasure at checkout. The discount offer is good through 11/30/13.

Happy knitting friends! And here’s to my resolve to one day be clicking needles with the best of ’em!

What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! This week, well, it’s been a doozy, to say the least. I’m not going to really share what’s been going on with me, health-wise, because, truly, it’s been gross, and kind of freaked me out. The worse part was loosing all sense of smell and taste from last Saturday night until this morning. A silver lining kind of gal, I did try to find the positive in it, thankful for those times I had to change the litter box, or take care of Huxley’s potty needs, or other less pleasant things in life and not have any olfactory awareness of the full, um, “extent” of their capabilities.

I also got pretty fascinated by the loss of those two senses, and what it would be like to have never experienced smell or taste, at all. If I never knew what eucalyptus should smell like, or garlic-laced vinegar should taste like, I’d never know the world included those things. So, with that in mind, think of the senses that humans lack, that other organisms possess, and how altered their worlds are with those senses, or ours would be, were we in possession of them. I’m thinking of the vast range of sounds dogs can hear, or the sonar that bats and dolphins use, or the ultraviolet light bees can see, or the way snakes can literally taste the air and obtain cues from it. Magical, truly, this world of ours.

Honestly, I stayed away from the internet this week. I really stayed away from most everything, since I felt so crappy (including people! Aside from going to the doctor on Monday, I haven’t gone away from the property since last Wednesday afternoon). Instead, I read. A lot. How refreshing, and low-fi. I cuddled with Huxley, a lot. I took a good deal of baths. I slept. I consumed my weight in herbal tea. I appreciated my husband and his ability to rally and help like never before. So, in lieu of my regular round-up, I’m instead listing the myriad things I appreciated, health-wise, this week:

*My amazing friend Maria. I’ve talked about her on here before, recently, in fact. Yesterday, though, she really came through for me, as a healer and a friend. Maria and her  daughter Kaia met Glenn at Goodwill (they’re making swants for Christmas, and needed sweaters!), and gave him a bag for me containing: Elder tincture that she had made and bottled, homemade fire cider (apple cider vinegar that has steeped for weeks with hot peppers, garlic, and other immune-supporting herbs and foods), homemade nasal inhalant stick, homemade soup, goldenseal tincture (to use in my neti pot, for cleaning out the sinus passages), and literature on winter wellness protocols she had written for both children and adults, including a host of recipes for medicines to make in one’s kitchen. Amazing, right? I’d felt really disempowered after I left the doctor on Monday, after being told there was nothing to do but ride it out. Maria proved that was totally not the case. I’ve always preferred the use of plant-based medicine and when, this morning, while drinking grapefruit juice and suddenly tasting it (and kind of freaking out when that happened), I knew that Maria and the protocol she’d suggested and that I’d followed yesterday had worked. So grateful for wise women and loving friends and healing plants!

*Throat Coat tea has healed my parched, sort throat like no other.

*Olbas herbal bath and shower soak. Even though I couldn’t smell it, I knew it was helping me breathe.

*Made On Acorn Hill Breathe Easy. I’ve been slathering it on both Huxley ‘s and my chest and feet all week. Tingly goodness.

*Taproot! Although I write for it, I’ve been so busy I hadn’t gotten around to reading the latest issue. “My Daughter’s Cowboy Boots” by Brett Stanciu had me thinking “I’ll read anything that woman writes”, as tears rolled down my face.

*My Woolrich flannel nightgown (mine is the Deep Ruby Multi). Glenn picked it up for me a few weeks ago, when he was out looking for work shirts and pants for himself. Warmest, coziest nightgown I’ve even owned, and I straight up feel like Mrs. Claus when I’m wearing it!

*Wild Comfort. The essays in this book are some of the most vivid, poignant, gorgeous bits of text about nature and the wonders and lessons it holds for us I have ever read. Highly recommended.


We leave next Thursday for four days in Chicago. We’re attending the Chicago Food Film Festival, where this video is up for nomination. I’m incredibly excited, and thrilled that my cold looks like it’ll be gone by then. Chicagoans, got any recommendations on places to eat, things to do? Huxley will be with us, too, so kid-related suggestions are most welcome.

OH! Katy is also doing a giveaway of all four books in the Homemade Living series. Pop over here and enter!

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

*I post a photo of Huxley here each Friday because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most! Glenn caught this image of our guy on the train tracks that run near the place he goes for toddler gymnastics (essentially, free play in a large, padded warehouse); the train that runs on these tracks only comes once a day, so he was totally safe ! 

Made On Acorn Hill (+ Giveaway!!!)

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Take two friends, a desire to make homemade holiday gifts, and a business that organically emerged in the process, and you’ve got Made On Acorn Hill. Ashley and Mandy started their Tennessee-based homemade body care company completely without intending to. Which is to say, the two decided to make holiday gifts together, which were met with so much enthusiasm by their recipients that demand for more resulted, which ultimately turned into an “Alright, let’s do this” situation.

Several months ago, I gave a shout-out to the company in a “What I’m Digging” round-up. I think I came across the business on Instagram, and was taken by their snappy yet simple packaging, all natural ingredients, and overall vibe. My mention was followed up by a direct email, thanking me and asking if I’d like to try some Made On Acorn Hill products out. A generous care package came in July and I’ve been enjoying their items since.

I can’t recommend their products enough. The soaps are creamy and gently fragrant, the lip balms are some of the softest I’ve ever used, the “Mama’s Kiss” first-aid salve has been my go-to balm to heal all the scrapes and scratches that toddler boys inevitably incur, and the “Breathe Easy” salve has been in regular rotation on our chests and feet since Huxley and I became sick last week, invigorating us with its menthol splendor. I also loved learning that the beeswax used in their hard lotion bars and lip balms is sourced from a Tennessee beekeeper. Way to keep small, local businesses even more local, and support other small-scale entrepreneurs in the process!

Well, small measure readers, it’s your lucky day! Not only did Ashley and Mandy make their company’s lovely products available to me, they’re going to gift them to you, too! Yay! One very fortunate small measure reader will receive a gift package containing the following items:

Breathe Easy salve
Breathe Easy soak
3 soaps (Breathe EasyRosemary’s Bloom, and Autumn)
Mama’s Kiss first aid salve
Hard lotion bar
Pep Your Step lip balm

In addition to the giveaway itself, Made On Acorn Hill is also offering a discount of 15% off all items to small measure readers. Just enter the code SM15 at checkout. The discount will conclude when the giveaway does, a week from today. Even if you don’t win the giveaway, you’re still winning a wonderful savings! Looking for loving crafted, all-natural holiday gifts? Look no further!

Okay, on to the giveaway! To be entered, simply pop over to the Made On Acorn Hill and comment below which product you’re most excited about. I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding next Thursday, November 21st, midnight EST. Do be sure to 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 in your comments.

These hard-working mamas (with 11 children between them!) have crafted a line of products that soothe, soften, heal, and renew. That’s something I can absolutely get behind. Here’s hoping you do, too!

I Prefer Thinking Of These Things


You know what I like to do when I feel completely crummy? When I’v been sick for 6 (!!!) days, and even a visit to the doctor (my typical measure of last resort) says there’s nothing to be done but ride out the snot-riddled nastiness? When I find myself up against a wall, or more like settling into my couch in resignation, I do two things: I look at pretty things, and I plan trips to fun places.

Because I’m a sharer, and because I’d much rather chat with you about the pretty things in my life right now than the goings-on of my sinus passages (UGH!), I want to share one the prettiest, and most personal, things I’ve come across recently. Several weeks ago, Cyn Thomas, of River Dog Prints, graciously sent me a care package. In it, along with a wonderful book for Huxley, were the canning and gift labels shown above. Just look at those honeycomb patterns! I mean, come on. How much more pretty, or perfect for my interests, could those labels be? As the holiday season approaches, if you plan to gift any home-canned goods, I suggest you stop by Cyn’s site and take a look. Loads of good choices there!

Secondly, I’ve been completely internet-intrigued by Helen, GA. In 1968, a few local businessmen decided, in an attempt to reinvigorate main street in the sleepy north-east Georgia mountain town, to renovate the whole of main street in the style of a Bavarian town. I! Know! Zoning laws were passed and now all buildings in Helen (or perhaps just in the downtown area) resemble chalets and Alpine inns and Bavarian brewhouses. Also, and this is the big clincher for me, Helen holds a Christkindlmarkt over two weekends over the holiday season. Styled after the holiday markets common all over Germany and parts of Europe, Helen’s Christkindlmarkt claims to offer “everything from unique gifts and decorations to an assortment of savory and sweet foods, drinks and candied treats” (per the chamber of commerce website). Also, there are things like freshly made stollen and Bavarian pretzels and spatzle and bratwursts there! Any of you dear small measure readers ever gone? Worth the 2+ hour drive, or all flash and no sizzle? I don’t mind if it’s touristy, I fully expect that. Is it fun, though? Does it feel authentic? And, most importantly, how are the pretzels?