A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















  • Redhaired blueeyed fierytempered sweetsmelling wiggleworming cuddle bug glennbenglish took thishellip
  • In 44 days this rascal will be 1 yearold Hehellip
  • Oh what lovely company to find several of my bookshellip
  • SUPER FUN Valentines roostbooks bundle giveaway happening over themakerie! HANDMADEhellip
  • It is taking every shred of willpower within me nothellip
  • All my bags are packed Im ready to go Headinghellip
  • If you cant join em eat em! Wait thats nothellip
  • Do you know how tremendously difficult it is to behellip
  • Today was some kind of wonderful From the myelementality necklacehellip
  • Clearly charlottecooks knows her way around a cheese board Andhellip
  • This guy If you didnt know hed been a microhellip
  • Happy Friday! Happy Groundhog Day winter still going strong! Happyhellip

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Monthly Archives: May 2016

What I’m Digging

Tossing Daisies
Happy Friday, friends! There is a gentle rain puttering down outside. I’m in a flannel shirt inside. These two things, in combination, are a total win, in my book.

We are about to head into town, so I’m going to quickly post a small smattering of this and that’s that have caught my attention recently:

*Did you know that the Edible magazine community also has a t.v. show? I didn’t, but, boy am I glad I do now!

*Fourteen ways to preserve strawberries, and a pie.

*I am totally captivated by my recent discovery of the Corryvreckan whirlpool, in the Scottish highlands, and have been geeking out on videos with Huxley for days.

*Speaking of Scotland, I love it so, and dream of spending time there in this amazing caravan someday (check out Canopy and Stars “Year Of Wild” while you’re on the site, too; brilliant!).

*The Simple Things magazine. Have I mentioned it here before? Can’t remember…in any event, it’s published in the U.K., and it’s all about simple living, and it’s just the best.

*10 sauna benefits that will blow your mind.

*My wonderful friend Claudia Lucero has launched a fantastic Kickstarter campaign. She’s trying to get funding for a new line of DIY Dairy-free cheese making kits, and she’s *this* close to reaching her goal. Let’s help her reach it!

Alright, time to close the laptop, put on my shoes, and grab the car keys. Before I go, I wanted to share with you how much I’m digging Lily and Addie, pictured above. Their herbal business, Tossing Daisies, is a venture they created to both expand their herbal knowledge and benefit others, as the business’s proceeds go towards supporting non-profits. I met them this past Wednesday, at the Asheville River Arts District farmer’s market. Turns out they’re fans of my books, and asked to take a photo with me, then offered to give me a complimentary item to try out. After I selected a face mask, they came over to where I was sitting a few minutes later and gave me two more items! How profoundly generous. These girls have hearts of gold! If you’re in the area, do stop by their Wednesday market table and check out their wares. They’ve crafted some fantastic items!

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


Fundamentals of Homesteading Series at Fifth Season (+ Giveaway!!!)

5th Season Classes
The more I write, the more I realize that, while I truly do love the writing process, I especially love when I close my laptop, leave my beloved cove (ugh, I am SUCH a homebody!), and head somewhere to do my next favorite thing, teach! I adore teaching. Whether it’s a class on pie-making (which I did this past November, in partnership with nearby Hickory Nut Gap Farm), or my regular gig at AB-Tech on “Backyard Chickens” (I think I’ve now taught this class around 16-17 times), or demo-ing how to make your own lip balm and other DIY body care products at a local library, I find great joy in sharing what I’ve learned through trial and error and research with others who are equally enthusiastic about homesteading and natural living.

To that end, I am especially excited to share with you about an upcoming 4-part series I’ll be teaching. In partnership with Fifth Season, I’ll be presenting a “Fundamentals of Homesteading” workshop in their Asheville Market location (across from the Asheville Mall). Fifth Season specializes in pretty much every area of interest to modern homesteaders. Whether it’s organic gardening, beekeeping, preserving, fermenting, beer-making (their beer-making equipment and ingredients selection is vast!), chicken-keeping, hydroponics, orchid-care, tea-drinking, or more, they’ve got you covered. From tools specific to the task at hand, to books, to decor, Fifth Season has a little something for everyone. You can pop in and purchase a fruit tree, a ceramic planter, a smoker for your beehive, some gardening shears, and a sunhat, and then stop by their bar for a cappuccino, kombucha, or glass of wine or pint of beer to sip while you look over your newly acquired items. Nirvana, right?

The Asheville Market location opened this past November (2015), and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I didn’t make it into the store myself until the end of last month. When I did, though, I was floored. Firstly, I had no idea of the size of the store. It’s massive! Secondly, I had no idea of its scope, which is to say its wide range of offerings. Pretty much every one of my homesteading interests and pursuits was accounted for there, including “nonessentials” that are nonetheless highly desirable, like decorative furniture for fairy houses and air plants!

What endears Fifth Season to me even further are their ongoing class offerings. It’s one thing to be able to purchase what you need for whatever project you’re pursuing. It’s another to be able to learn more about it from someone experienced in that field, or to learn a new pursuit altogether! From charcuterie, to beer-making, and beyond, Fifth Season‘s classes, and large classroom, jockey them as a valuable resource in the community. Speaking of communities, they have 6 locations, two in Asheville (their South Slope location, the flagship store, focuses mostly on hydroponic growing), one in Carrboro,NC, one in Raleigh, NC, one in Greensboro, NC, and one in Charlottesville, VA. But you don’t have to live in those locations in order to purchase their items, as they also maintain an expansive webstore.

For my classes, which will run each Monday in June from 7:00-9:00, I’ll be chatting about the 4 topics in my Homemade Living book series, Keeping Chickens, Canning & Preserving, Keeping Bees, and Home Dairy. You can opt to take all four classes for $90, or sign up for them individually at $25 per class. Here’s where you sign up:

*Keeping Chickens, June 6th

*Home Dairy, June 13th 

*Canning & Preserving, June 20th

*Keeping Bees, June 27th 

*Entire series, June 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th

Because I want you to experience Fifth Season for yourself, whether it’s at one (or all!) of my classes next month, or on your own time, the store has generously offered to host a giveaway, two, technically! To enter to win one of two $25 gift certificates, just leave a comment below telling what homesteading/DIY project you’re most excited about. It could be something you’re already doing (chickens! bees! pickles! yogurt!), or something you’d like to get into (beer! mead! butchering! composting!). I’ll run the giveaway for one week, beginning today and concluding midnight EST May 24th. Open to U.S. residents only. Once I select the randomly chosen winners, I’ll be in touch to obtain mailing/contact info for where to send the gift certificates.

Whatever the case, if you win or not, if you take one of my “Fundamentals of Homesteading” classes or not, do yourself a favor and check out Fifth Season, whether here in Asheville, in one of their other locations, or virtually. A wide selection of items, a knowledgeable staff, and an exciting roster of classes make this an ideal space for anyone interested in growing, learning, and living the good life!

Spring Eats

Carrot PieWhole pieRhubarb Buttermilk Bread 2Asparagus 1

Oh, this weather we’ve been having lately! While it’s been wreaking havoc on my allergies, requiring daily nasal saline rinses and doses of Tri-Ease, it has revived and invigorated my spirit and body, nonetheless. It’s also got me truly jazzed about springtime foods. To that end, I thought it might be fun to offer a little round-up of seasonal recipes that I’ve showcased here over the years. Happy spring eats!

From the archives:
Carrot Pie

Strawberry Crumble Pie

Rhubarb Buttermilk Bread

Pistachio-Crusted Asparagus with Feta Vinaigrette

Pea Trellis & Pea Frittata

Spring Compound Butters

Herbs de Provence Egg Salad (and best ever hard-boiled eggs)





Feel Good Book Club at Flying Cloud Farm

Flying Cloud 10Flying Cloud 3Flying Cloud 2Flying Cloud 1Flying Cloud 5Flying Cloud 4Flying Cloud 6Flying Cloud 7Flying Cloud 8Flying Cloud 9
You know when you’re with a group of people, and a certain moment occurs when you look around, and see everyone’s faces, and the way they’re interacting with each other, and it just all feels so fully right, so deeply comfortable, so very real, and honest, and sincere? That happened for me last night, with my Feel Good Book Club buddies when we gathered at club member Annie Louise Perkinson’s Flying Cloud Farm.

We’d planned to picnic out in a field in front of the new home Annie Louise and her husband Isaiah are building. As she gave us a tour of the farm and future home, we noticed the quickly advancing, ominously dark storm clouds to the west, and opted to skedaddle back to the house instead. We jumped into Molly‘s car, and as we bumped across the fields back towards Annie Louise’s 100 year-old log cabin, we chatted and laughed, and I saw Annie Louise brush a stray curl off of Cathy‘s forehead while they were chatting. That small, easy gesture, like something you’d do to your younger sister, or best friend, was what did it for me. It’s when I realized just how at ease I’ve become with this group of women.

What started as an idea for a book club involving books that made us feel good (and lacked, say, rapists, or drug addicts, or serial killers-those books can be great, don’t get me wrong, this just isn’t the book club for them) has turned into so much more than that. We always build a potluck meal around our selections, and as we gather together every few weeks to chat and chew, we’ve begun to nourish each other’s lives in ways far surpassing the sustenance we bring with us in covered dishes. The nature of our gatherings, focusing on a literary work, gives us a launching pad for rich conversation. Last night, as we discussed Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, talk moved from slavery, to racial equality, to racial profiling, to bullying, to the treatment of women in the workplace, to the current political race and political climate in the U.S.. We relayed anecdotes, and revealed personal challenges, and encouraged one another. I left with a very full belly, and an equally full heart.

If you’re in the area, I highly suggest checking out what Annie Louise, Isaiah, and their crew are doing. Flying Cloud Farm, located in Fairview, sells their items at three area farmer’s markets, offers a CSA subscription, maintains an April-December roadside stand on the farm, and grows a vast array of flowers available for U-pick as well as sold in bouquets (they do wedding design, too). Their farm is a happy, nurturing place, full of soul, and dogs, and farm interns, and bamboo forests, and bubbling creeks, and vintage bicycles, and snorting pigs, and galloping horses, and so very much more. If you stop by, tell Annie Louise I sent you!

I’ve had a good number of people ask about joining our book club. I’m incredibly flattered by that, that you like what you see us doing so much that you’d like to become a part of the fun. While we’re keeping things small and just between us friends, I encourage you to start a book club of your own, wherever you live. We’re all food-focused women in the Feel Good Book Club, so our meet-ups always involve a potluck. Using that as your template, survey a group of friends about their interest in forming a club, select a book collaboratively, choose your first date and who’ll host, and go for it! That’s what we did, with our inaugural meet up nearly one year ago. It just keeps getting better!

At the conclusion of each meeting, we choose the next month’s selection (the host for that month gets to suggest 3 options for the next reading), who will host next (we rotate hosts each month), and we agree on a date for the following month’s meeting, typically a week night, as weekends fill up so quickly for most folks. As we get into the next month’s selection, we start tossing around potluck ideas via email. It all coalesces pretty naturally and organically.

I’d LOVE it if you’d share book club ideas/themes/tips with me! This is the first book club I’ve ever been a part of. A lifelong, avid reader who sidelined her reading since becoming a mother to those books that I was either writing or reading to Huxley, it feels so, so very good to be delving back into reading for pleasure. I’m curious to hear about your experiences and adventures, snafus and mishaps. Share, please! And thank you, FGBC ladies, for filling my cup, every month, in ways both direct and mysterious.

What I’m Digging

Green coveSo much green here in the cove! We finally got a much needed rain shower this past weekend. Right this very minute, as well. It’s thundering outside, the sky is ominous, and my German Shepherd, Fly, who is otherwise ferocious at defending us (and herself) from perceived threats, is a hot mess, curled up under my feet, whimpering and pawing at me. Sorry, furry buddy, but we need this. Let it rain!

Here’s a quick little  smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this weekend:

*Roasted strawberries. Sacrilege or brillance? I’m going with brilliance!

*Research proves that women who live surrounded by nature live longer. Therefore, I shall live forever.

*Because I can never get enough natural oral hygiene tips in my life, here are 4 natural remedies for a healthy mouth.

*Picked up this book over the weekend at the Screen Door’s bookstore. Very excited to dive into it.

*Speaking of books, completely intrigued by From the Forest: A Search For the Hidden Roots Of Our Fairy Tales.

*Really digging the Plantfolk Apothecary Instagram account. Their website is being redone and will be back up this month. I’m especially drawn to the Lunar Bath Soak.

*I just want to give Birkenstock a big old “I LOVE YOU!” shout out. It’s been warm enough lately for sandals, and I’ve been wearing the Birks I bought last year all weekend. They’re the first I’ve ever owned, and they are, without question, some of the best shoes I’ve ever had the pleasure of sliding my feet into. Customer for life from now on.

*My friend Valerie has the loveliest little tooth pillows for lost teeth for sale in her Etsy shop. Perfect for tucking under pillows in anticipation of a certain nocturnal fairy!

*I’m as equally thrilled about treating my mom to brunch at Knife & Fork for Mother’s Day as I am about treating myself to brunch there!

*Speaking of Mother’s Day, Wake Foot Spa in downtown Asheville would be a lovely gift for the mamas in your life. I went last month for the first time, with my friend Maria,  and then I took my mom there for her birthday a few weeks ago. It is simply divine. Huge copper bowls filled with a foot soak of your choice. Hot neck wraps. Foot and lower leg massages (for an additional fee). Chill vibes. Hot teas. You booked your reservation yet?

Off to finish cooking for tonight’s meeting of my monthly Feel Good Book Club. We read The Invention of Wings, by beloved author Sue Monk Kidd, and are building a potluck around low-country foods. I’ve made a creamy rice pudding with orange zest and nutmeg, and am now heading to the kitchen to cook up some Gullah-inspired butter and bacon grease braised cabbage. Tonight’s meeting is going to be beyond.

From my home to yours, here’s hoping the week ahead is a great one!