A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















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Monthly Archives: March 2014

What I’m Digging

Huxley ramp 2
Happy Friday, friends! I just realized that I always seem to start off this round-up with a bit of weather chat. So, let’s do it again! Crazy week here in the cove. Snow squalls out of nowhere on Tuesday night, black ice on the roads on Wednesday, sunny and hella windy here yesterday, and warm(ish) and rainy(esque) here today. Oh, spring. You just don’t know what to do with yourself, eh (which, apropos of nothing, makes me think of one of my favorite White Stripes songs)?

Weird weather, and then Huxley got a freak, very short-lived stomach bug out of nowhere around 4 a.m. yesterday morning. Poor fella. Five hours later, he was good as gold. Kids and stomach issues I’m quickly learning are quite common. He gets plenty of beneficial bacteria in his diet, but still, every so often, he’ll succumb to some something or other. He always rebounds super fast, but it’s torture witnessing it while it’s happening.

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

*Hanging swings. Around a fire pit. The best idea ever.

*If you’ve been nurturing seedlings, it’ll soon be time to harden them off. Garden Betty schools you on how to do it. 

*Love these garden stone markers/I.D.’s for the garden. The project is for kids, but could be done by adults just as easily. Simple, affordable, attractive. My kind of craft.

*15 household uses for honey. Sweet.

*Honey-sweetened lemon tart of dreams, right here.

*Creativity is invaluable. It’s not just for artists. It’s for everyone, everywhere, all the time. Physicists to athletes to graphic designers. We’re all just looking for solutions to life’s challenges. Love this essay from Marcie on why you should work on fortifying your own creative reserves every day.

*Rosemary & Strawberry muffins might be the best muffin pairing I’ve ever heard of.

*Hello, lovely apron.

*Dagmar’s Kitchen is a stunningly beautiful blog.

*This cello cover of Rhianna’s We Found Love is invigorating, to say the least. Broken strings! Audience clapping! Head banging! Foot stomping! LOVE IT!!!

I put some peas and beets in the garden this week, before the snow fell. Hoping this weekend might offer a chance or two to get in carrots and some lettuces and some brassicas, too. I’m ready to have dirt under my fingernails again, aren’t you?

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! Our little guy is already riding his balance bike on ramps. Such a daredevil, that wild one!!! 

Handmade Gatherings N.C. Events

Let’s meet up! With the upcoming launch of Handmade Gatherings quickly approaching, (April 8th, woohoo!), I’ve got two local events to chat about it in person. I’ll read some excerpts, discuss some potluck-hosting and attending tips, and then share a treat (or two) from one of the spring gatherings. It’ll be a good time, promise.

If you’re in the Asheville or Charlotte areas next month, I’d love to say “Hello!” (or, to use the parlance of the south, “Hey!”) and share my potluck fervor with you in person. Come on out!

Here are the event details:

*April 12th, Malaprops, Asheville, NC, 7:00 p.m.

*April 26th, Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC, 2:00 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

*Top image courtesy of Tim Robison, for Verve. 

What I’m Digging

Huxley Creek
Happy Friday, friends! I hope your week has been a good one. Ours sure has. Spring arrived, review copies of Handmade Gatherings started getting shipped out and its book trailer debuted (and a very sweet review of it appeared on Design Sponge earlier this morning-thanks a million, Grace!), flowers started popping up all over the place, we haven’t had a fire in the wood stove in a few days, and, in very exciting news, Jen Altman and I shot the first images for my new book. This book will be all about a topic very near and dear to my heart-picnics! I’ll share more details along the way, but for now I can tell you it’ll be packed with recipes, crafts, activities, and tips for pulling off 20 creative, clever, fun picnics, and will be published two years from now, in 2016. Also, you’ll love it. Promise.

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

*Lovely post about planting a bee garden from one of my favorite herb companies.

*This Vitamin String Quartet tribute to New Order’s True Faith rocked my world. I adore string instruments. Truth-hearing them often reduces me to tears.

*I’ve got some slowly fading bananas that would be perfect for this.

*Imagine Childhood’s spring catalogue is out and they’re celebrating the season by offering a lucky reader a $150 gift certificate!

*Grounded Magazine just launched their spring issue. I contributed an article sharing how having a child helped me learn to be a more patient person, which I thought I already was (I was not. I was SO not).

*Holy Lemon Heaven Cake!

*This article about letting children take risks and learn self-confidence and courage in the process really, really resonated with me.

*I paid my family doctor a visit about two weeks ago. I was due for a physical and I also wanted to discuss some concerns I had with her about two specific things. Turns out both were related to stress. My life is full of stress. It’s all good stress, and I wouldn’t want to change my life at all, but, still, it’s stress and all stress takes a toll over time on health. She suggested some herbs to help, and I picked up a bottle of Tension Release after our visit from Katuah Market, a new natural foods store here with a strong emphasis on local purveyors. I can’t recommend the product enough.  A blend of four herbs (passionflower, ashwaganda, eleuthero, and lemon balm), it’s calmed me in a very gentle way; in other words, I’m still totally lucid and focused and not tired from it, as I have been with other relaxing products in the past. I’m no doctor, but I can attest to the way Tension Release has greatly aided me since I started taking it. Side note=locals, Katuah is having a 30% sale this weekend on a huge amount of their supplements, including this one (look for products with a green dot on the price tag). Go support them, if you happen to need a supplement, and tell my girl Farra, the red-headed pixie that manages the supplements and body care department, that I sent you!!!

*Oh, YES! This idea of building a picnic table around a tree trunk is speaking my language.

*If you happen to be in Asheville on a Thursday evening, I highly, highly recommend you enjoy the Family Meal at Rhubarb (you’ll need to call in advance for reservations, as it only happens once right now, at 5:30 p.m., and seats around 23 people). A fixed price, 3-course meal (it’s between $15-$17/person) served family style (meaning communal bowls of food are passed) using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, Rhubarb’s Family Meal is quite possibly the best value for dinner in the entire city. We went last night, and I cannot really capture in a short mention here just how glorious the meal was. This was my second family meal, Glenn’s third. It’s amazing and such a wonderful means of connecting with other people over food and forging community. Go, please, and do tell them I recommended it to you!

This weekend, I plan to get seeds planted in the garden, spend some quality time with my boys, and get in a little coffee date with my dear Nicole. May spring shine its light and warmth on you. Wherever you go, 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. Our flaxen-haired wild child has been having fun playing in the creek that flanks the bamboo grove beside our house. Gotta break in those new rain boots one way or another! Thanks to Glenn for the photo! 

Tend Magazine (+Giveaway!!!)

Tend 1
Days with a toddler are loooooooong. Days with a toddler that is with you or his Papa 24-hours, except for the one day a week he’s at daycare for 4 hours, are especially long. So, once he’s all p.j.’ed up, and read a story or two, and snuggled down snoring gently in his “little guy bed” at night,  you know what I like to do? Nothing, that’s what! Nothing aside from read.

Tend 2
I put on p.j.’s of my own, slap some rose oil under my eyes and some coconut oil on my face, and sink into quite repose in bed. On my nightstand, a stack of books and magazines waits for me (taunts me, also, on those nights I am far too exhausted to read). Sometimes, though, my laptop accompanies me. That’s because my after-Huxley reading also includes blogs and online magazines. Tend is a new one that has me completely enchanted.

Tend 3
A UK-based quarterly publication based around the seasons, here’s how Tend describes itself:

This magazine hopes to nourish the head, the hands and the heart – by providing articles for our intellect, projects to keep our hands busy, and moreover beautiful, aspirational things to inspire our hearts.

Tend aims to nurture the bond between a parent and their child, between families and the earth, and between individual households to form communities, recognizing and nourishing our natural dispositions to care for and educate our families and communities in the ways that seem right to us. We aim to stir an awakening for the need to slow down, consume less and walk gently on the earth.

We aim to be aspirational and utterly beautiful and design-led. We like to grow some of our own food, support local farmers, eat as much healthy organic produce as we realistically can, gather with friends to enjoy home-cooked meals and to enjoy the bond of community.

We encourage the need to consume less and make more, to envisage homesteading and sustainable living as realistic aspirations. We seek to encourage everyone to walk in tune with the seasons and nurture and nourish an authentically mindful life full of mindful choices.

Tend 4

See why I like it so much? Not only is its mission laudable, its content and imagery are spot on and stunning. There are recipes (pickled dilly snap peas!), projects (blending your own herbal tea!), education (bird anatomy and classification!), book reviews (The Seed Underground!), and so, so much more. It is pretty much everything I love, in magazine form. And did I mention how gorgeous it is? Because that deserves a big high five.

On this first day of spring, I have a treat for you! Debbie, Tend‘s editor and a fellow blogger, contacted me last week, offering a giveaway. YES! One lucky small measure reader will be gifted a complimentary issue of Tend, their spring premiere. Also, because she is so very generous,  Debbie has offered to give all small measure readers a 20% off discount on subscriptions. The discount will last through the end of June. At checkout, simply enter code: SMALLM20.

So, to enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below sharing what you’re looking forward to doing in spring. Me? Planting peas, picking daffodils, putting together an Easter basket for Huxley, splashing in puddles, searching for toads-all of it! I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding next Thursday, March 27th, midnight EST. The subscription is digital, so it’s open to readers everywhere, domestic and international.

Whether you win or not, do stop by and take a peek at Tend. I think you’ll be as equally taken with it as I am. And if you happen to take that peek while wearing your p.j.’s, all the better.

*UPDATE: The giveaway is over. Congratulations to our winner, Anke! Massive thanks to all who entered. It was a pure delight reading about your spring enthusiasm. Don’t forget to pop on over to Tend and subscribe. All small measure readers receive a 20% discount through the end of June. Use code “SMALLM20” at checkout. 


Spring 4Spring 1Spring 3Spring 10Spring 5Spring 6Spring 2Spring 7Spring 9

AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! It’s here! Spring is officially here! I think I heard the forest surrounding our house audibly sigh this morning. Maybe. I certainly know we three Englishes are most welcome for the change of seasons. Although I adore my wood stove, I have to say, the romance was fading fast these past few weeks….

I’m off to pick Huxley up from Starseed. Thursdays are “soup day” and he brought parsnips to contribute to the pot this morning (he kept calling them ” ‘Snips, ‘snips!!!”). They’re having a little spring equinox celebration there today. I am beyond grateful to have found this little gem of a place! The fact that it is located on the mountain ridge directly behind our property makes it all that much more magical in my eyes.

Happy, happy spring to you, wherever you are, with much love from our home to yours.