books

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: May 2014

What I’m Digging

Huxley picnic 3

Happy Friday, friends! What a week it’s been! We are deep, deep, DEEP in the trenches of photographing the new book I’m working on, about picnics. While it’s obviously a whole lot of fun (I mean, picnics! In pretty settings! With good food!), it’s also been an enormous amount of work. I spent the better part of this past winter making notes and developing ideas and otherwise planning & plotting & scheming for this book, so I’m going into these 20 picnics with a pretty well carved out notion of what’s going to happen.

That said, there’s then the recipes to actually create, and shop for, and test, and re-test. There are props to purchase, or borrow. There are shoot locations to scout out. All fun, good things, but all things that take time and energy. We shot 5 picnics this month alone. Jen Altman, the book’s photographer, is also an author. She’s working on a new book of her own (also with Roost), about epic road trips. As such, she’s about to head out for all kinds of amazing travel this summer, including 10 days in Ireland next month with her best buddy, and the entire month of July away with her family. So, we’re hustling, getting as many picnics shot in and around both of our packed schedules.

Between all of that, and freelancing work, and promoting my other books, and caring for our garden, and pets, and Huxley, and the house, and trying my hardest to be a present spouse to Glenn, I am, in short, whupped. Tuckered out. Tiiiiiiiired. That’s alright, though. A rolling stone gathers no moss, right? Did I mention I have a mind to have a t.v. show, too? And a beverage book coming out in October? Oh, a children’s book series idea? And that we might like to have a second child? Gotta keep moving! Can’t stop, won’t stop this train!

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

*We attended the launch party last night for Asheville Grit, a new online magazine that serves as a collaborative collective of Asheville bloggers. I’m contributing to the publication, and am excited for all it offers. If you live here, plan to visit, or are simply interested in learning more about what people living here have to say, check it out!

*Totally have to pick up a copy of The Forest Feast.

*Gluten-free Rhubarb & Rose Cake (plus gorgeous images of flowers).

*Even if you don’t have children, this family swing project is such a good idea.

*Naturally banish bugs with these insect-repelling plants.

*Love these easy garden project ideas for kids.

*These brass hoops would go with anything.

*I love everything about Gather Journal. The writing, the recipes, the images, all of it. My sister Theo got me a subscription for my birthday last July and I’m thinking it’s a gift I’ll be renewing for myself, as well as gifting to others.

*Thinking of making boozy milkshakes this weekend (we’re having friends over tomorrow evening for burgers and shakes and a fire in the fire ring-YES!). Here’s a whole page’s worth of inspiration!

Alright, off to do a bit of housework and then hit the garden for some fertilizing love (seriously smitten with the results coming from the combo of fish emulsion and Harmony suggested to me by baker/farmer Tara Jensen). Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!

*I post an image of Huxley in my “What I’m Digging” round-ups because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. We photographed a forest-themed picnic yesterday (you can see more images in my Instagram feed posted on the left column here), and he was seriously in heaven!  

What I’m Digging

Huxley balloons
 Happy Friday, friends! I’m back in flannel and warm slippers today, but am still able to write this outdoors, from our porch (which, by the way, is being blanketed with the most heady aroma of multiflora rose imaginable-divine!). Intense thunderstorms brought in a heap of rain yesterday, alongside colder temperatures. No complaints here.

I was able to get pretty much the entire garden planted before the storms came, which is quite exciting. At present, we have the following planted: several types of lettuce, arugula, carrots (purple ones!), beets, peas, sorrel, rhubarb, asparagus, leeks, kale, a wide variety of tomatoes, collards, red chard, cauliflower, pak choi, red & green cabbage, fennel, hot and sweet peppers, several varieties of cucumbers, Japanese eggplant, okra, broccoli, zucchini, and yellow squash. There are some pumpkins and winter squashes and marigolds to plant, but otherwise, it’s all in. Oh, and there are scads of herbs, too-cilantro, several varieties of basil, chamomile, comfrey, lemon balm, yarrow, dill, sage, Mexican & French tarragon, thyme, marjoram, oregano, rosemary (our big plant beside the house didn’t survive the polar vortex, sniff), mint, lemon verbena, stevia, holy basil, epazote, and lavender. Also, planted some  sunflowers and borage flowers.

It’s a good, big time out here, these days. I’m even learning to love the heat and humidity that this week presented earlier. That always seems to be my hangup with gardening-the heat. I get everything in, and then the heat comes and I totally wilt. This year, though, I’ve got a nice wide-brimmed hat and good gardening clogs and the intention of working in the garden before the sun crests the tree line on the mountain ridge. That’s the plan, for now. I’m beginning to think that’s part of the secret to life, lately-to just adapt and adjust and move towards the change instead of resist it. For one thing, it’s less stress inducing, and, as a result, less taxing on your body, what with all the stress hormones unleashed when we gripe and moan and complain about whatever our current situation is. I’m not advocating complacency. More like a yielding, a gentle shift in perspective. I once read a bumper sticker here in Asheville that I have since adopted as my mantra: “Bless them, change me.” We can only change our perspective, and our actions, not those of others. So, instead of saying to Glenn for the umpteenth time “It’s SOOOOOOOO hot!!!!!!!”, I’m just going to roll with it. Iced herbal teas, some blousy men’s shirts to garden in, a dip in Huxley’s pool. Just call me Cool Hand Luke.

I have a few bits of other writing to share with you today. My post in Verve is up. This month, I’m chatting about mothers and cooking and more. Also, Debbie of Tend interviewed me about Handmade Gatherings and potlucking  and homesteading and entreating and such this month.  Lastly, my recipe for Rhubarb Buttermilk Bread (from Handmade Gatherings) was selected as Just Food’s Recipe of the Month. Whoop, whoop!

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

*Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars that require only one bowl to make? I’m on it.

*I have picnics on the brain big time lately, as that’s my new book subject. Loving this roundup of dreamy picnics (thanks for sharing, Sara!).

*15 refreshing sparkling drinks for spring.

*You’re never too young to begin working on building up your cognitive reserve!

*We have a good deal of shade here on our 11 acres. Loving these suggestions for growing shade-loving (or at least shade-tolerating) plants.

*Mata Traders is a wonderful company that produces ethically crafted fair-trade garments at a very reasonable price (especially their sale items!). Loving their current dress offerings.

*Succulent cupcakes that will blow your mind (thanks to Thistle & Fern for the link).

*Prescribing parks for health=YES! (Link via Roost).

*Very excited about the remaining classes this month at Villagers (especially the Fermentation Workshop next Sunday!).

*R. Brooke Priddy is a dear friend. She and her adorable and amazingly kind husband Ryan were the models at a picnic for my book this past Monday. In addition to being an incredible all-around lady (and a 3rd generation birder, too, making her quite literally THE perfect person for a “Birdwatching Picnic”!), Brooke is an amazing clothing designer. Her speciality is gowns, especially those of the bridal and social event persuasion. She made my wedding dress back in 2007, a red silk 50’s-esque number that I love. If you need a gown, she’s your lady.

It’ll be a working weekend for me, as I’ve got another picnic to throw on Sunday. Long time readers might remember this post from last May. That’s the setting for Sunday’s picnic. I can’t wait!

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 roundups because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. After a meal at Rhubarb recently, we headed outdoors and encountered a wonderful balloon artist. Our little man was in heaven! 

The Tiny Farm Co. (+ Giveaway!!!)

Tiny Farm Co. soap 1Soap giveaway 5Soap giveaway 1Soap giveaway 8Soap giveaway 4
Once upon a time, I was a Noxema girl. And a White Rain girl. And a Wet & Wild girl (also, a 3 Muskateers bar and Mountain Dew girl, but that’s another story for another day). This was years ago, when I was still in middle and high school and hadn’t yet had a fateful encounter with a friend who introduced me to a whole new way of living. That way of living and doing and being, it turned out, was an all-natural, chemical-free one.

That friendship, and the new approach it offered, left an indelible mark on me. After meeting Laura, I started paying more attention to both what I ate and what I put on my body. We parted ways when I was 16, and moved across the state with my mom and brother, but the lessons learned from her and her family’s orientation to life have left a lasting, life-long impression. I went on to work in a range of natural foods stores in my 20’s, and then later pursued a degree in holistic nutrition (as well as another in sociology).

These days, if you were to peek inside my fridge, pantry, bathroom shelves, or medicine cabinet, you’d find a whole bunch of realness. Real ingredients, and super simple ones, at that. My beauty regimen, if you could even really call it that, goes like this: wash face with water, pat dry, put on Burt’s Bees Repair Serum under eyes and Skin Fare during the day and The Dew (purchased from the recently shuttered Cisthene, sniff) mixed with pure coconut oil at night. Like I said, super, ultra simple. Make-up for me is a bit of Burt’s Bees Raisin Lip Shimmer and, if I’m feeling really fancy, maybe a tiny bit of mascara.

That’s why I love the products Ashley Smith of the The Tiny Farm Co. is producing. Based on a few acres in Arkansas, Tiny Farm Co. makes all-natural body and home care products, all by hand. Whether you’re looking for an all-purpose soap cleaner, pet shampoo, bar soap, lip balm, wooden spoons, knit goods (coming soon!), or fresh eggs or veggies (if you’re local), The Tiny Farm Co. has a lovely natural item for you. My personal favorite might just be their coconut oil bar soaps. Available plain or scented with lemongrass, sweet orange & pomegranate, or cedar wood, these soaps produce a thick lather and are deeply moisturizing. I speak from experience, as Ashley very generously sent me a package of goodies to sample, including three bars of soap, a tube of coconut oil lip balm (so, so good!), and some beautiful hand-burnished wooden kitchen spoons.

Now’s your chance to experience Ashley’s wonderful products for yourself! She’s offering a Tiny Farm Co. care package to one lucky small measure reader. The package, shown above, includes:  one bar of Coconut Oil Lemongrass Soap, one bar of Coconut Oil Tea Tree Soap, one bottle of All Purpose Liquid Soap, one tube of Coconut Oil Lip Balm, and one set of burned spoons. How fantastic is that? To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment sharing your favorite body care product. In addition to nicely scented body soap, I really, really love bath salts. So nice to slip into the tub and soak away whatever ails you.

I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding May 21st, midnight EST. Please be sure to leave a means of contacting you in your reply, should you be the winner (email addresses are visible only to me when you’re logged in for commenting, unless you write it as part of your comment).

Even if you don’t win, Ashley’s got something for you. On the website, she is currently offering a free gift with any order over $25. I’m telling you, those coconut soap bars are not to be missed!

Thanks, Ashley, and best of luck to you, dear readers!

 

What I’m Digging

Huxley Jack Young
Happy Friday, friends! Let the weekend commence, NOW!

Lately I’ve been thinking about the sublime. The divine. The ineffable. The awe-inspiring. The thing(s) that transcend explanation and move and shift us, tapping deep into the recesses of our brains and pulling us out of our stupor and into ecstasy, even if only for a fleeting second. It could be the dart of a hummingbird, or appreciating the ability of an ant to move amounts vastly exceeding their own body weight. It could be the fragrance of a Lily of the Valley, and its crescendo of tender white bells. It could be the sight of your child’s hair, messy and turbulent and everywhere, unkept and tangled and yet, balanced and, even, perfect. It could be a string cover of “Such Great Heights.” Whatever it is that jolts you, and stirs you, and moves you into a moment of silent reverie, that’s what I’m interested in right now. Being stirred, within.

In other news, here’s what caught my interest this week:

*Sarah’s recent trip to Europe definitely seems to have stirred her.

*The magic and appeal of outdoor schools (like Huxley’s!), or “You Can’t Bounce Off the Walls If There Are No Walls.”

*How to dry herbs.

*Want to eat the view? Here are 42 flowers you can eat!

*Oh, lavender, how do I love thee? Here’s how to grow it anywhere.

*My dress crush is on sale!

*Interested in helping the honeybees? These 13 organizations and initiatives are doing just that.

*Beth Kirby and everything she does and photographs are my jam lately. Check out her cinnamon rolls on Design Sponge!

*How brilliant are Wright Kitchen’s food gradient images?

*I really need this hat.

For those of you celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend, I wish you, and your mama, a wonderful holiday. Relationships with our mamas are wrought with emotion, aren’t they? Some are super fantastic, while others are best left unmentioned. No matter what yours is like with your own mother, or with your children, should you be a mother yourself, I wish for you a day filled with whatever it is that you most enjoy. As for me, I’ll be celebrating with my mom and grandmother tomorrow, hopefully via a picnic at Lake Louise in Weaverville if the weather cooperates. And on Sunday, Glenn, Huxley and I will be enjoying an early brunch at Rhubarb, who began serving Saturday and Sunday brunch only a few weeks ago. I can’t wait!

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. We visited Jack Young Greenhouses this afternoon, or what Glenn and I think of as our “happy place.” It’s so lush and abundant and affordable in there that we often go a bit crazy with our purchases. Our little guy has gone there so frequently that he seriously digs it, too. 

For All The Mamas Of the World

Handmade Gatherings coverHandmade Gatherings 3Handmade Gatherings 4Handmade Gatherings 6
Okay, friends. Truth time. This parenting gig? It’s hard. Really, truly, sincerely hard. Infinitely rewarding, though, because caring for them forces you, in the process, to become a better person, your “higher self”, if you will. That said, keeping your cool while they’re loosing their minds, or whining in a way that would make Urkel stand up and applaud, or just handling bathroom issues or blood sugar crashes or dirty, muddy clothes can be taxing, for anyone, even those super moms in our midst.

Because of that, I have a newfound appreciation for both of my parents, especially my mother. My parents split up with I was 1 1/2 years-old, and divorced several years later. That left mom caring full-time for both me and my 3 year-old brother (we’re 21 months apart). Caring for Huxley is challenging enough with Glenn around, but raising two toddlers, by yourself? Well, I can only imagine the tired nights and weary days mom must’ve endured. The upside is that she loved us to pieces, and still does (she likes to hold my hand and give me hugs and kisses in public, despite my protests of “Mom! I’m 37!”; I’m fairly certain I’ll be doing the exact same thing to Huxley until my very last breath).

Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday here in the states. I think Handmade Gatherings would make a fine gift to your hard-working mama, or grandmother, or wife, or sister, or baby mama, or any woman in your life with little ones, really. Shameless self promotion? Sure! But, also, as a hardworking mama myself, this is exactly the kind of gift I’d love to receive this holiday, had I not authored it.

Not only are the recipes tried-and-true, honed in my own kitchen, the entire spirit of the book is about collaboration. Busy mamas can still have epic gatherings and feasts, only in my book, they needn’t do it all themselves. Food, decor, crafts (if that’s your game-no big deal if not, just skip that component of the gathering)-it’s all pulled off together. Moms can have their get-togethers and not feel like they’re going to collapse from anxiety, fatigue, and an empty bank account once the guests depart.

To all the mamas of the world, I salute you. Mothering is hard work, and you deserve every good thing that comes your way!