Happy Friday, friends! Since my last round-up, a good deal of things have happened: Glenn had a birthday, we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, we photographed the 8th picnic for the book (which we actually happened to piggyback on top of Glenn’s birthday party-double duty, yo!), our friends Jen & Jon and their daughter Awynn came and stayed in their yome for 9 days, and Huxley completed Starseed for the school year. So much goodness!
Our little guy has been obsessed with all things ninja for months. Prior to that, he had a bit of a superhero phase, and prior to that, he was all about lawnmowers and trains and other things that go. Seemingly out of nowhere, about 3 weeks ago, he returned to his train love. Right around the same time, Jen gifted him with a massive collection of Thomas the Train tracks, trains, and characters that her daughters have since outgrown. Every day, for quite literally hours, he plays with those trains, sings songs from the show, and has entire conversations with the perennially cheeky Thomas and his cohorts.
I remembered hearing a long time ago about a Thomas the Train ride along one of the two local train routes. Thinking that perhaps that’d make a nice birthday gift for him in October, I checked online Wednesday afternoon. As fate would have it, Day Out With Thomas is currently happening up at Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock. So, we three Englishes hit the road yesterday, headed two hours north, and had an amazingly great time. I never thought I’d embrace character toys to the extent I have. But here’s the thing-Huxley really resonates with certain toys, and we’ve discovered, and quite quickly at that, that the more we resist his interests, or push against them, or try to re-route them or otherwise make them taboo, the more they turn into the thing that he must have! So, instead, we make sure there’s nothing completely out of line with our beliefs and the general paradigm to reality we’re cultivating with him. Once those criteria are met, we just sort of go with it.
In other news, Handmade Gatherings received a bit of love this week in the Huffington Post, courtesy of my friend Sharon Kitchens. Yay!
Otherwise, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention recently:
*Frozen treats to be enjoyed at home without an ice cream maker. It’s that time, y’all.
*Don’t mow that weed, eat/make medicine/drink it!
*Drink the Harvest=my idea of a perfect book.
*Imagine Childhood’s summer catalogue is out and it’s packed with wonderful items. To harken the season of heat, sun, and fun, they’re offering a $150 giveaway!
*Excellent idea for a DIY vintage classroom posters.
*Glenn loves both hot sauce and fermented foods, so I’m doubly excited to make him some Fermented Hot Chili Sauce once our peppers start coming in.
*Got a head of cauliflower? Here are 10 great ideas for what to do with it.
*No indoor air conditioning (like me)? No problem. Try out these ideas for keeping your cool.
Got anything fun planned for Father’s Day? We’re going out for brunch to celebrate. I wish my dad were closer. He’s in Florida, and will be here for a quick overnight visit at the end of July. Although we chat every morning at 9:30 sharp (and have since I was 5 years old, if you can believe it!), it’s never long enough. I’d love it if he could pop over for regular weeknight dinners and family jaunts. I’ll take whatever I can get, though. Now that I’m a parent myself, I value the work my own parents did raising my older brother and I beyond description. Parenting is no joke, friends. Happy day to the fathers in your lives!
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 round-ups because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. I was so overwhelmed with happiness for him when we arrived at the railroad yesterday that I nearly started crying. I’m such a serious sap. I get the same way at parades. When others have excitement and fervor, I vibe on it, big time!
I’m not going to lie. Sometimes, even for a seasoned canner like myself, well, I just loose my water bath mojo. My inspiration goes kaput, I stare at fresh produce wondering “what? how?” and nothing comes. Sure, things like apple butter and bread & butter pickles and sweet pickle relish and applesauce and the other usual suspects will forever be in production ’round here. No problem there. Something that switches up the routine, though, that brings back the sizzle and the thrill to the entire process is truly a godsend.
Enter Preserving By the Pint. Marisa McClellan, of the award-winning canning blog and book Food In Jars, has done it again. Just as I was when her first book came out, Marisa’s new book has me oohing, ahhing, and audibly declaring “I’m totally going to make that!” page after beautiful page. There is so much inspiration here. What I think I love the most about it, though, aside from the fact that the recipe yields are small (1-2 pints or half pints, mostly), is that it steps outside of just water bath-canned foods.
There are recipes for fermenting, for quick pickles, for syrups, for salts, for granola, for pestos, and for a medley of otherwise preserving foods in jars. There are, of course, numerous creative, delicious-sounding jams, jellies, chutneys, curds, salsa, pickles, sauces, and other water bath-canned delicacies. Also included are a number of “vehicles” for your provisions, if you will, including whole wheat biscuits, jam-glazed chicken legs, vinaigrettes, and more. It’s genius, really, and exquisitely photographed (the images shown here are photographs I took of the images in the book-they don’t really do Marisa’s photos justice, but you can at least get a sense of how lovely the real photographs are). And that Orange Cardamom Curd on pages 176-177? Mercy. Speaking my language, you are, Ms. McClellan.
I recently had the immense pleasure of jumping the digital to real-world fence with Marisa. She was on the southern leg of her book tour and made an overnight stop and demonstration at Villagers mid-April. Long proponents of each other’s works (she’s got a guest recipe in my forthcoming beverage book “Quench”, which publishes in October!), we thought it would be fantastic to give each other real world hugs and such during her stay. Marisa stayed overnight with us and even was game enough to play ninjas with Huxley, “sparring” with him, using his ninjas “weapons”, the works. She must be an awesome aunt to her nephew, Emmett, who’s right around Huxley’s age. Marisa is true blue. She’s genuine, and smart, and quick-whitted, and easy to talk to, and all the things you hope to find in someone you’re already quite taken with online.
And, best of all, she and her publisher Running Press have generously agreed to give away a copy of Preserving By the Pint to one small measure reader. Woohoo! All you need to do to enter is tell me what you’re excited to preserve. From strawberry jam (Marisa’s recipe for a honey-sweetened version has become Huxley’s jam of choice around here!) to fermented radishes (I love this recipe of hers; we’ve incorporated the slices into everything from sandwiches to frittata), I’m excited to can pretty much everything in Preserving By the Pint. This book is a serious keeper, for sure, and since it’s arranged around the four seasons, I’ll be finding inspiration year-round.
The giveaway will run for one week, concluding next Thursday, June 19th, at midnight EST. Please leave a means of contacting you in your reply, either by leaving your email address in your comment or in your comment information (which is visible only to me).
Happy canning friends, and thanks to Marisa and Running Press for helping me find my canning mojo again!
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!
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!).
*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.
*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!
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!