A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















  • It is taking every shred of willpower within me nothellip
  • In 44 days this rascal will be 1 yearold Hehellip
  • This guy If you didnt know hed been a microhellip
  • Redhaired blueeyed fierytempered sweetsmelling wiggleworming cuddle bug glennbenglish took thishellip
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  • Oh what lovely company to find several of my bookshellip
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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!

Let’s Raise Glasses Together! Beverage-Making Class!

Homemade Holiday Beverages Class

We are seriously moving into the holiday stretch of days, friends. I know that people have strong feelings about this time of year, many of them negative. As for the English household, though, we are all in. The three of us look forward to the stretch from Halloween to New Year’s Day with giddy anticipation and enthusiasm. From trick-or-treating to turkey carving, from winter solstice walks to cookie-baking, from selecting a tree to swilling eggnog, our household loves the holiday season. Clearly.

Our saving grace, I think, is that we do things simply. Our gifts are humble, our decor all-natural. When the trees drop their leaves, and the riot of color fades from the forested cove surrounding our mountain home, the landscape gets bleak, for months. To stave off a tandem dip in disposition and attitude, we bring nature and merriment indoors. From flickering votives to hot mugs of cocoa, we curl up inside (often in flannel p.j.’s), make things cozy, and get through the frostiest time of year by taking the abundance made manifest outdoors during the three other seasons inside.

Clearly, beverages factor into this time of year for us. I mentioned them twice above, and posted a photo on Instagram over the weekend of a Douglas fir needle, bourbon, lemon peel & juice, sorghum molasses, and nutmeg hot toddy we enjoyed at home Friday evening. We need to consume fluids all year, but during colder weather, when the air is dry and the humidity is low, we need them even more. If you’d like to learn a bit about making homemade holiday beverages, both for entertaining and for gifting, come out to Villagers in west Asheville this Sunday. The details for my class are above. We’ll sip, chat, and smile, together. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, if you let it be!

Write: Doe Bay

About four years ago, I wanted nothing more than to visit the Pacific Northwest. I’d been there once, for less than 12 hours, when I was traveling to San Francisco with my friend Bonner in the summer of 2002. We stayed overnight at a hostel in Portland and were up and out early the next morning. No, what I wanted was a full immersion. From the Columbia River Gorge to Astoria and Cannon Beach (Goonies!) right on up to the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands. So intense was my devotion and consuming desire of the PNW that I’d check the weather forecasts out there, especially when I was pregnant and it was sweltering here and I was miserable, but it was a cool, happy 72 degrees in July on Friday Harbor.

Well, friends. I’m here today to tell you that dreams really do come true. This October, I’m turning my compass (er, jet plane?) west, hopping on a plane (many planes, actually), and making my way to the place I have long dreamed of, pined for, and desired to tromp around in. Not only am I visiting it, though, the crowing glory is that I’ll be doing so while teaching. On Orcas Island. At a writer’s conference. Be still my heart.

The video above gives you a taste of what Write: Doe Bay is all about. Held at Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island, Washington,Write Fall will take place October 9-12, bringing together 25 participants and a handful of alumni. As detailed by the conference’s producers: “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. The workshop bridges genre gaps along the feather of storytelling, where songwriting presents as poetry, poetry as memoir and memoir as narrative song. At 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.” So, so good, right? Right.

Registration is about halfway full, so now is the time to claim the last few remaining spots. Myself, Claire Bidwell Smith, Jillian Lauren, and Daniel Blue will gather with Write participants to guide workshops in creative writing. While I’ve taught numerous classes on how to raise chickens, can preserves, make cheese, yogurt & butter, and create body care products, I’ve yet to actually teach about the craft of writing. This is a new direction for me, and one which I feel emboldened to embrace. I’m also wanting to dabble in other literary genres myself, and hope to learn a thing or two while there, in addition to teaching. The teacher is the student, and all that.

Come out to Orcas Island, if you can! I would so love to meet you! This event promises to be more than just a writer’s retreat in a gorgeous setting. From all I’ve seen and read, it looks like lives are changed here. Dare to dream, friends!

Home Dairy Class

Home Dairy Class
Do you enjoy the wonder and creaminess and deliciousness of dairy products? Want to learn more about them, and how to make them in your very own home kitchen? Yes, you do. Trust me, you very much do.

Well, your time is nigh! Come out to Villagers, in West Asheville (278 Haywood Rd., to be precise) and let’s dabble in all things dairy. Details are in the flyer above. Hope to see (and meet!) some of you there!

Into The Woods

Appalachian Forests
I’m still here! The rain didn’t carry me away. I wasn’t eaten by the bear on our property (the neighbors called last week, letting us know we’ve got ursine company). I didn’t fall into a ravine in our forests. I’ve simply been writing, elsewhere.

We leave on Saturday for a week in Cancun with my in-laws. My book manuscript is due August 1st. Between those two factors, and also the additional bit about tomorrow being my birthday and really wanting to head up to Pisgah Inn to stuff my face with pancakes while watching the fog roll past before going for a hike somewhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I’ve been spending a great deal of time clicking away on the keyboard. Just not here.

BUT, that’s not what I wanted to tell you about here. Really. I’m so not fond of whining, from myself, my toddler, or anyone, really. So, begone, pity! Hello, wonderful information!

Yes, friends. I’ve got some fun news to share. I’ve just sent in my first payment on a forest class of supreme and abiding awesomeness (not its real working name). From its Facebook page, here are the details:


Come Meet the Plants, Trees, Mushrooms, Birds, Insects, and many astounding beings of our forests!

*Designed to deepen our relationships with the life on our vibrant planet, and to grow our awareness of the special place we live, and our ability to steward it!

*The Forest will be our primary classroom and you can expect to discover new lush and resplendent trails and wild spots around the greater Asheville area.

*Runs two Saturdays a month – August through November, with an optional camp out.

*Our major focuses will be on Trees, Plants, Fungi, their ID, uses and roles in Southern Appalachian Ecosystems. Additional lectures/focuses will include: Birds and Bird Language, an Introduction to Insects, Mosses & Lichens, Key Principles of Ecology, and ,of course, Edible and Medicinal Uses of Forest Species.

*This class meets at the Asheville Botanical Gardens from where we will drive out to forest locations around Asheville.

*Details: About every other Saturday for 7 Saturdays as follows: Aug 17th and 31st, September 7th and 21st, October 12 and 26th and finally our Camp Out Nov 16th and Sunday the 17th.

*Tuition is $300.00, payment plan available.

*Space is limited to 12 students Please register soon!

*To Register: Please call: 804-384-2908 or email to: Checks may be made out to Luke Cannon, and mailed to: 47 Camelfield Rd, Weavervillle, NC 28787 after you have been confirmed.


Supreme and abiding awesomeness, yes? YES! I’d love to meet some small measure readers at this class. How wonderful to explore our stomping grounds together! If you do sign up, tell Luke I sent you, and that we’re super pumped!!!!