A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















  • Happy Friday! Happy Groundhog Day winter still going strong! Happyhellip
  • Redhaired blueeyed fierytempered sweetsmelling wiggleworming cuddle bug glennbenglish took thishellip
  • Let me tell you something When it is 80 degreeshellip
  • It is taking every shred of willpower within me nothellip
  • In 44 days this rascal will be 1 yearold Hehellip
  • This guy If you didnt know hed been a microhellip
  • Do you know how tremendously difficult it is to behellip
  • Clearly charlottecooks knows her way around a cheese board Andhellip
  • If you cant join em eat em! Wait thats nothellip
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  • Today was some kind of wonderful From the myelementality necklacehellip

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Monthly Archives: February 2014

What I’m Digging

Huxley Shadow
Happy Friday, friends! For the first time in what feels like a looooong time, I feel like I’m on top of things. The sun is shining, the temperature here isn’t too severe, no one is sick, I’m at home, just wrapped up some freelance work, had a very cool in-house meeting with an administrator from Starseed. Things are good. Who knows how long that will last, but, for now, it’s enough. More than enough.

Have you noticed a change in the light lately? A shift away from winter’s harsh glare to spring’s gentle yet abundant light? It’s so encouraging! I’ve also seen testament to the profusion of daffodils that are about to sprout up all over, and new hellebore buds pushing sleepy heads up from their winter slumber, and a YARD FULL OF PURPLE CROCUSES! That last one got me really jazzed. It’s coming, friends. Spring. It’s on its way, no doubt about it.

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

*This dress. I can’t begin to tell you how much in love I am with this dress. Someday….

*I’m a one purse kind of lady. The one I’ve used for the past few years (a holiday gift from Glenn), isn’t wearing my constant use very well. I recently came across Moop and am head over heels in love with their waxed canvas totes. Thinking perhaps the Market Bag (in Gunmetal Grey or Rosewood, not sure yet…) might just be “the one.”

*Clean your house from your pantry!

*John Derian’s house is filled with wonder (thanks, Design Mom, for the link!).

*Five reasons to buy grass-fed beef, and where to buy it for less.

*I’ve been on a “Your Song” by Elton John kick lately. Two recent discoveries render me a weepy mess whenever I listen to them: this one from Ellie Goulding and this one from Northern Ireland cutie Janet Devlin. I dare you not to listen and sob.

*Blood Orange Curd, for the win. That Marisa. She knows what’s what.

*Picked up two navy and two orange enamelware mugs when I was in Austin. Can’t wait to put ’em to use picnicking!

*Locals, take note! The WNC Beekeeper’s Club is holding its annual Beginning Bee School this weekend at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It runs tomorrow, March 1st, and Sunday. Details can be found here. I took this school for two winters before beginning to keep bees and cannot recommend it enough.

*I met Matthew Dillon of the Clif Bar Family initiative Seed Matters in Austin. Amazing program, with a very important mission.

Got anything exciting planned for the weekend? I’ll be giving a talk on Backyard Chicken-keeping on Sunday at the Canton Library. Tomorrow is completely open, though, which is SO nice! We’re still working on our kitchen remodel, so there’s sure to be a bit of that action happening. Otherwise, I think I’ll make some french toast, drink some strong coffee, and enjoy the easy satisfaction of doing not a whole lot with those I love.

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

*I post a photo of Huxley in my “What I’m Digging” round-ups because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. Glenn took this picture of him at Starseed on Wednesday. Seriously loving that light/shadow/rock combination. 

Dark Rye + Pivot

Dark Rye
Heeeeeeeey, friends! Since we last chatted, I have: weathered a snowstorm, in two rounds, witnessed my sweet boy go from being happy and upbeat and making his father and I a pretend pizza at a restaurant to being 103.5 degrees F and afflicted with a sudden onset of stomach flu for 24 hours, and gone to Austin, TX and back. Things have been all kinds of busy.

And I’m busy again this morning. Snowstorms + stomach illness + unexpected travel plans= getting behind on work. I’m also about to wake Huxley up to get him ready for Starseed. I’ll write up a whole post about our experience there (I talked about it several years ago, right around when Huxley turned 2), but this will be his first real day there. He and I visited and observed the program three weeks ago, but today is his first full day. Starseed is an incredible Waldorf-based outdoor experiential preschool located in a yurt, and all over 90+ glorious acres, at Sacred Mountain Sanctuary. The best part? It’s literally on the mountain ridge behind our house! As the crow flies, it’s about 1/2 mile away. As the road rides, though, it takes about 6-7 minutes to get there. More to come!

Otherwise, what I really wanted to tell you about this morning, the reason I set my alarm to wake up early and am already drinking my coffee (chez English is typically a late-to-rise household), is that the episode Dark Rye filmed about me will be airing on the Pivot channel today! Dark Rye is Whole Foods Market’s online magazine and now, since getting picked up by the new cable channel Pivot, a t.v. show. It’s also the reason I travelled to Austin last week. Whole Foods was having a private event for all of their store managers nationwide. They host this event every three years and it’s a big endeavor, with talks, workshops, films, and demos happening all over the city.

Since Dark Rye made a film about me, they asked if I might be able to fly down and do some sort of DIY for the event. The word is still getting out about Dark Rye, even within the company itself, and they wanted to have some of their film’s subjects demonstrating for the staff whatever it is they do, or write about, or sell. I made butter! A lot of butter! And then I turned that butter into compound butters, including honey, orange & lemon zest, fresh basil, and fresh dill. Good stuff.

Dark Rye will be airing on Pivot each Wednesday, at 9:30pm EST/6:30pm PST . Meaning my segment, part of their “Gather” episode, will be on tonight. Exciting! If you have Pivot, check ’em out. Pivot is part of Participant Media, the company responsible for such movies as: Food, Inc., An Inconvenient Truth, The Cove, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana, Lincoln, and The Help.

Alright, I hear the sound of tiny footsteps on the stairs. Gotta run! Oh, and if Pivot isn’t available where you live, you can still check out Dark Rye online. Their newest issue, Revival, just came out for spring 2014. They’re producing some incredible profiles of folks, in a wide range of disciplines, from food, to jewelry, to furniture, to liquor, and so much more. The quality of their productions is ace, so much so that they won a James Beard Foundation award for “Best Food Group Blog 2013.” Kudos, guys! Job well done!

What I’m Digging

Huxley Bath 2
Happy Friday, friends. Here’s hoping this finds you all doing fantastic. Me, I’m nursing a bit of a head cold/tight chest/cough/body ache/watery eye something or other. It showed up Tuesday evening and I’ve been addressing it with herbs and tea and honey and baths and rest ever since. Just when I feel like I’ve got a leg up on it, it takes every ounce of energy to walk across the kitchen.

I think it’s just something going around, but it’s frustrating, nonetheless. I feel like I take really good care of my body, but, admittedly, since Huxley was born, and with it the traumatic birth I experienced, I’ve noticed I seem to get sick much more readily than I did before. I’m thinking that simply means that some deep immune tonic herbs are in order. Reishi mushroom, ashwaganda, astragalus, ginseng-you and I are about to start getting all kinds of up close and personal, regularly.

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

*These butternut thyme quesadillas will be happening in my house, stat.

*Really loving this oil lamp.

*Stunning images of sand grains magnified (thanks, Faryn, for sharing this on Facebook!).

*Want to pressure can beans? Want to make them super pretty, in Weck jars? Here’s how.

*The sweetest pixie bonnets for wee ones!

*Winter slaw with roasted garlic & thyme yogurt dressing? I’m in.

*Wonderful article on the importance of texture in designing children’s play spaces.

*These jam-filled chocolates from local business Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon sound sublime.

*Pretty much want all the things Delish General Store is selling (Buffalo Plaid Flannel Infinity Scarf!).

*I like the way Cider & Rye thinks about food and drink.

What are you up to this weekend, friends? We were supposed to go to a Russian foods-themed potluck to watch the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics tonight at a friend’s house, but this yuckus has me feeling more like lying on the couch in my p.j.’s all day. All weekend, really. Either way, I’ll be watching the t.v.. Although I’m not a real “athletic” type, in any organized sports kind of way, I turn into a huge enthusiast when the Olympics roll around. I especially turn into some gnarly-worded snow bunny when the snowboarders are on. I hardly even know myself then. “Totally righteous air, dude! That flip was sick!” I should just end while I’m ahead….

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

*I post a photo of Huxley in my What I’m Digging round-ups because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. During a recent bath, he color coordinated all of his foam bath letters and numbers. I always did feel like the number one was rather blue…”One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”



Linen & Leaves (+ Giveaway!!!)

lullaby 2apple crisp 2tonic
I love a good cup of tea. If you read my recent post about the English tea I experienced at the Biltmore Estate several weeks ago, then you’ll recall I’ve been enjoying tea since I was a child (although, admittedly, a good bit of the “tea” served at the tea parties of my childhood was composed of either water or my imagination). While I begin each morning with a cup of Joe (ever since Huxley’s arrival, I need a stronger jolt to get me going in the morning), I often enjoy an afternoon pot or cup of tea. I’ve been battling a bit of a head cold since Tuesday evening and have been sipping on a variety of herbal respiratory tisanes as part of my get-better-quickly arsenal. Tea-good for the body, the soul, and the fantastical inclinations of childhood.

Owing to my abiding love of tea, I’m really thrilled to share today’s giveaway with you. Stacy started Linen + Leaves, her line of handcrafted tea blends, after a medical diagnosis last year. In her words:

Last year I was diagnosed with Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease or more easily explained as Lupus. This was a big wake up for me to start living my life in a way that is more meaningful, more restful, and with loads more gratitude. I’ve wanted to have my own little tea shop for as long as I can remember and Linen + Leaves is the start of that journey. On top of my little online tea shop, I also now work as a wellness coach and fitness instructor. I’m enjoying a new start in the beautiful Muskoka region of Ontario. Here, surrounded by lakes and woodsy adventures, helping others find a way to a more physically active and healthy life, and sipping away on good quality loose leaf tea…I’m finally starting to feel like I’m finding the balance I have been looking for.

Stacy loves tea, and it clearly shows in her exquisite blends. Lucky for you, she’d like to share her beautifully and thoughtfully crafted teas with one small measure winner, in the form of a three-pack sampler. The winner of the giveaway can choose from any three of the teas in the sample pack offerings listed at Linen +Leaves.

All of Stacy’s blends sound amazing. I’m especially intrigued by her Campfire blend. I do so very much love anything smokey, and this tea sounds like the ideal beverage to sip while tucked into a wool cardigan, cozied up beside my wood stove.

To enter the giveaway, simply share in your comment your favorite type of tea. I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding February 13th, midnight EST. Do be sure to means a way of contacting you in your comment, should you be the winner.

Thank you, Stacy, for this wonderful opportunity to get to know Linen + Leaves. Happy sipping, everyone!