Happy Friday, friends, and happy autumn, too! I’m wearing slippers again, and have enjoyed several bonfires recently, and there are now mums and pumpkins on our porch. I have been baking big time, all recipes for the picnic book, both because I have to and because the kitchen is now cool and pleasant whilst so doing, (Pumpkin Buttercream Whoopie Pies! Apple & Cardamom Crumbles in Jars! S’mores Brownies! Fig & Orange Skillet Cake!). I just bought two wool sweaters off of Thred Up today, a French Connection long cardigan and a Triple 5 Soul pullover with pockets that would’ve originally cost close to $300 and for which I paid $30 (semi-annual 40% off sale happening right now!). Autumn, I love you. Fist-pumping goodness abounds.
I am currently on the homestretch of writing my picnic book (which publishes from Roost in 2016). I can already feel the shift that happens when I near completion on a manuscript. For one thing, I kind of start dragging my heels. I always deliver, on time, and I’m hard on myself to do so. This will be the 8th book I’ve written and I know myself well enough to trust that the writing will always get finished and turned in by manuscript delivery. That said, I start to, well, just not want to do it anymore. I resist, I push it away. I’m so, so close to wrapping it up entirely, though. All 20 of the picnics are completely written, and all that remains is just the introductory bits and bobs. In tandem with that, though, comes a relaxing. I feel like I’m coming up to the surface again, after living in the trenches for months. I notice projects around the house I want to get to, and know that I’ll soon have the time to do so. I find myself getting really excited about cooking other people’s recipes. I feel lighter, looser, freer.
In other non-autumnal or book-related news, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that have caught my attention recently:
*The new issue of Grounded is out and looks wonderful.
*Love these floral project ideas for bringing fall home.
*Madesmith, for whom I’ve had the pleasure of profiling a number of artisans, has started an online school, Madesmith Academy. Learn directly from the makers themselves tips about product development, marketing, selling, and so much more. Small measure readers will receive 10% off through the end of December by entering “smallmeasure” at check out.
*I have a bowl of unripe plums sitting on my kitchen counter that I think will be meeting this preserving fate.
*I contributed to Farmer & Chef Asheville, a book highlighting Asheville’s culinary and agricultural landscape. It publishes in November and is now available for pre-order. Can’t wait!
*Really loving the jewelry of Agate and Elm. Fibonacci spiral earrings and necklaces, you guys!
*Truly inspired by the work being done at Tribe Alive.
Got any fun weekend plans? We’re making our way to our friend Tara’s bakery out in Marshall tomorrow evening. Smoke Signals makes pizza in a wood-fired oven on Saturdays, and bread and pies on Sundays. So pumped! Sunday, Huxley’s little buddy Hobbs is turning 4, then we’re dropping Glenn off at Villagers for a hand-carved butter knife and spoon-carving class before stopping in to visit our friends Meg and Alisa (this website’s designer!), who live just down the road. Back to writing on Monday, with Wednesday in my line of sight.
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. Two nights ago we hosted a “Twilight Picnic” down in our lower field. We lit tons of candles, strung up party lights, built a bonfire, and enjoyed a picnic atop rugs and blankets as the light faded. Huxley was totally into it, although he did keep asking if he could go back up to the house and bring down a basket of toys to show his friends.
I might be finishing up one book (due to my editor October 1st! It’s go time!), but I’ve got another one publishing right on its heels. Quench, an idea I dreamed up back in autumn 2011, officially publishes next month! Pictured above are some images from inside the book. They’re pictures of pictures, so they don’t do the real images justice. Trust me when I say, though, that they’re genuinely lovely. Jen really captured some beautiful images with this book, and I can’t wait for you to see them!
Currently available for pre-order, you can also give a go at winning one of 10 copies over on Good Reads. Ten copies, friends! Those are pretty good odds. The book is divided into two sections: Soft Drinks includes recipes for beverages considered “Refreshing”, “Invigorating”, “Satisfying & Indulgent”, and “Comforting” while Hard Drinks offers tipple designations like “Spirited”, “Warming & Fermented”, and “Festive.” There are also a host of guest recipes from well-known bloggers and food purveyors, as well as 10 essays all entitled “Quenched” which detail a recipe included in the book and when I considered myself to have been quenched by it. Because who doesn’t love a good anecdote alongside a recipe for kombucha or hard cider?
I’ll post recipes and more from the book as it approaches publication (which also happens to be Huxley’s 4th birthday, woohoo!). Until then, winning a copy sounds like a pretty good prospect to me!
When I first started blogging, I had no clue what I was doing. Like, none. Not at all. No one was there to guide me, or direct me, or steer me away from or towards certain avenues, including advertising/sponsorship, content, finding my “voice” online, and so much more. Sure, there were certainly courses on how to achieve blog success and to parlay a love of blogging into a viable career, but they were all away, one had to travel to get to them. Lacking both the time and resources necessary to attend such blog-schooling conferences, I considered them out of my league and kind of blundered my way through the process of crafting a career from blogging.
Fortunately for you, other options now exist, including a very exciting one being offered by my Canadian buddy, Karen Bertelsen. A former TV personality, Karen found a very successful way of taking her blog The Art of Doing Stuff from a hobby to a career. She’s ready to share the secrets to her success with you. There are very few folks I’d consider adept and skilled enough at such a topic to recommend to you. Karen is definitely such an individual. Time and again, she guides her blog’s readers with detailed instructions and a hefty dose of humor (which I very much enjoy) how to craft, build, bake, or otherwise create something. She’s a natural teacher.
Karen has created what looks to be a wonderful, information-rich e-course entitled “The Art of Building a Blogging Career.” It begins September 15th and lasts 5 days, for 1 hour a day. But what if your schedule doesn’t permit you to be in one place, guaranteed, for 5 days next week? No problem. That’s just when the class is live, should you wish to interact with other folks enrolled or chat directly with Karen. Otherwise, you can take the courses at your leisure, and there’s no expiration date on when to complete the program by. Pretty awesome, right?
The program is $250 for the full 5 days/5 hours of instruction. That might seem steep at first glance for some of you, but, really, it boils down to $50/session, an amazing deal for receiving first-person, thorough information from a highly trafficked blogger on taking your own blog to the next level. And you can do it all from home. In your p.j.’s, With a cocktail, even, if that’s your kind of thing.
In an effort at complete transparency, I’ll disclose that Karen has invited me to share her e-course on “The Art of Building a Blogging Career” as an affiliate. What that means is that for every small measure reader that signs up because of my recommendation, I’ll receive a commission. Honestly, though, I’d vouch for her whether I stand to make anything from her endeavor or not. Her tone, humor, style, and general body of knowledge draw her to me, and I think that she’d resonate with many of you, too.
Cheers to sharing skill sets and helping others become proficient at blogging and being creative, successful individuals! Best of luck in your course, Karen!
How’s the weather in your neck of the woods today, friends? Here? It’s muggy. Perhaps my least favorite word (there are others, naturally, but this place is a good, happy place, and we needn’t sully or tarnish it with those nasty words). Let’s think, instead, of what makes muggy weather bearable, dare I say, solicited, encouraged, and welcomed. That thing, dear readers, that balm to the soul when you’d otherwise likely languish from humidity so thick it haunts you, envelops you, seizes you in its grip, that blessed release comes via the stone fruits of summer.
For the past several summers, I have been asked by the fine folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission if I might be willing to be a “Canbassador.” Aside from bragging rights (“Oh, you created the Large Hadron Collider? That’s nice. But are you a Canbassador?”), this position provides a shipment of Washington’s finest stone fruits delivered right to my doorstep. In years past, I’ve received boxes of resplendent cherries, ambrosial nectarines, and, most often, heady, ripe peaches, which is what I was sent this year. In two shipments (as the first had gotten a bit overripe en route), I was generously gifted with lovely, perfectly round, fuzzy, immensely juicy peaches.
The jars you see above are what resulted. Batches of my peach lavender butter and peach chutney (appropriated from my recipe for nectarine chutney) now happily line my pantry shelves, ready to brighten days after the height of stone fruit season has passed. I’ve provided both recipes for you below, so that you, too, may endure the mugginess of summer with a smile.
Do visit the commission’s website, Sweet Preservation. It is absolutely loaded with helpful information, recipes, and even downloable labels. There are still several more weeks of summer left, and plenty of fruit available to preserve. My stovetop has had a pot of something simmering on it nearly every day recently, and will continue to do so for well over another month. Thank you, Sweet Preservation, for tapping me for another year! I wear my Canbassadorship with pride and honor!
PEACH LAVENDER BUTTER (recipe from Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need To Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More, Lark Books, 2010)
Makes: 4-5 half-pints.
You Will Need:
-3 pounds peaches
-1/3 cup water
-2 Tbsp fresh or dried lavender buds
-3 Tbsp bottled lemon juice
-1 ½ Tablespoons lemon zest
-3 cups granulated sugar
-In a large pot of boiling water, place 4-5 half-pint canning jars. Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat, and cover with a lid. In a small pot, place 1-2 inches of water and the lids. Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat, and cover with a lid.
-Put the lavender buds in a small bowl. Bring the water to a boil; pour it over the buds. Cover, and steep for 15 minutes.
-In a medium-large pot, blanch the peaches for 30-60 seconds. Immediately plunge the into an ice water bath. Once cool enough to handle, peel, pit and chop roughly.
-Strain the lavender buds from the water. Set aside the buds; you’ll add them in later. Combine the lavender water, peaches, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a heavy stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
-Once the peach mixture has cooled slightly, either press it through a food mil, puree in a high-powered blender, or puree using a food processor or immersion blender. Return the puree to the pan, add the sugar and lavender buds, and bring it up to a gentle boil over medium heat. Stir continuously until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes, until the butter holds it shape when mounded up on a spoon.
-Place the sterilized jars on top of a kitchen cloth on the counter. With the help of a canning funnel, pack peach butter into the jars, reserving 1/2 inch of headspace. Use a nonmetallic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles, and wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on the lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight. Using a jar lifter, place the jars in the boiling water bath. Process for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude as necessary.
PEACH CHUTNEY (from Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More, Lark Crafts, 2010)
Makes: 4 pint jars.
You will need:
-3 pounds peaches (can also use nectarines), peeled, pitted, and chopped
-1 large sweet onion, chopped
-¼ c. fresh cherries, chopped (½ c. dried)
-1 c. raisins
-½ c. golden raisins
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
-2 c. light brown sugar
-3 ½ c. apple cider vinegar
-1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
-1 ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
-Place all ingredients in a heavy large stainless-steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir continually until brown sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Stir frequently to keep from sticking. If additional liquid is necessary, add water in ¼ c. increments.
-While chutney cooks, sterilize mason jars, lids, and screw rings. Fill a canner or large stockpot with water and set over medium-high heat. Bring just to boiling point. Place lids in a small saucepan, fill with water, bring to a boil, turn off heat, remove from stovetop, and set aside.
- Place hot jars on top of a kitchen cloth on the counter. With the help of a canning funnel, pack chutney into jars, reserving ½-inch headspace. Use a non-metallic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles and wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight.
- Using a jar lifter, place jars in canner. Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remember to adjust for altitude.
Hello friends. I hope that wherever you are, all is calm, all is bright. Because where I am, all is some kinds of wild. I’m on the writing homestretch for the picnic book, I just received a copy of Quench (officially publishing October 21st, which is also Huxley’s 4th birthday!) and am completely smitten with how it turned out (click on the book cover on the top left corner of this page to pre-order, if you’d like!), I’ll be doing a photo shoot on Saturday (if the 80% forecast for rain holds off!), and I’m teaching not just one, but TWO classes this week, including one tonight. Like I said, wild times!
If you’re in the area and interested in learning the basics of keeping a flock of backyard chickens, come on out to AB-Tech tonight. You can find details on the Continuing Education page of the college’s website: www.abtech.edu. Then, Sunday, I’ll be sharing all that I know about getting started with home canning at my dear friend Natalie’s lovely West Asheville urban homesteading supply store, Villagers. A few spots remain, so come on out!
Lastly, I’m prepping for Write: Doe Bay in October. I talked a few posts back about how long I’ve wanted to head to the San Juan Islands. To get to teach there, and in such illustrious company, is a gift beyond measure. Here’s a bit about the event, from the event coordinators:
Write: Doe Bay Fall takes place October 9-12, 2014 at Doe Bay Resort and Retreat on Orcas Island. Write: Doe Bay features returning Best Selling author Claire Bidwell Smith along side New York Times Best Selling Author Jillian Lauren, popular Homemade Living writer Ashley English, and Seattle’s own singer-songwriter Erin Austin of OK Sweetheart. A very limited number of tickets remain to this always sold out and incredible workshop experience. Write: a Doe Bay Workshop is more than a writer’s workshop. At Write, narratives stretch across genres and stories unlock as an incredible group dynamic takes hold. Through shared meals and shared housing, a new vision for a writer’s retreat will take place. Community will flourish, walls will break down and love will flow. At Write Doe Bay, we are all storytellers and we all have a tale to unlock, whichever genre our words choose, and we’ll present the key to unlocking the raw narrative inside. Write: Doe Bay Fall will pair with The Orcas Film Festival (orcasfilmfest.com) to feature a screening of award-winning short films. At the heart of every great film is a great story, and at the heart of every great story is a powerful narrative. More information, including a link to Write workshop registration and ticket sales is available at www.writedoebay.com.
Hope to see/meet/greet/hug/chat with you at one of these three events, blog buddies!