A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















  • Oh what lovely company to find several of my bookshellip
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  • All my bags are packed Im ready to go Headinghellip
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weekend review

Weekend Review

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Hi friends! How was your weekend? Ours was jam-packed, green, and, for the most part, outside. All good things.

The foraging walk and chat with herbalist and permaculture educator Keri Evjy on Saturday was a blast. Ten folks made their way out to our cove, gathered baskets, put on hats (it was chilly that morning!), and trekked off into the woods to explore, examine, glean, and learn. We thought we’d see if Huxley was up for the walk, but very, very early into it (as in, like, the first 10 minutes), he decided that this whole business of taking a few steps, stopping to look at a plant, and then sticking around to chat about it wasn’t the kind of walk he had in mind. So, he and I headed back to the house to play and prep for the lunch.

When the group returned, they brought with them a number of the wild edibles they’d discovered. All manner of greens went into a salad, while others were added to olive oil and garlic and seasonings for a “pistou”, a greens-based topping for soups and other dishes that’s based entirely on what is seasonally available.

Several guests brought items from their homes to contribute to the meal of vegetable soup that Glenn made, salad, and bread. Black walnut & nettle pesto, pickled fennel and orange peel, blueberry muffins, and rosemary chevre rounded out the feast. I also made a gallon of my friend Maria‘s “April Showers” tea blend. Composed of lemon balm, lemon verbena, spearmint, rosemary, hibiscus, and lavender, it is the liquid essence of spring personified. For dessert, we feasted on a spiced apple galette with maple candied bacon and some bacon blondies, both part of a freelance article I’m writing on, you probably already guessed it, “Bacon Desserts.” The weather was perfect, the guests delightful, the instructor knowledgeable, and the occasion celebratory. Spring!

Afterwards we headed over to Sacred Mountain Sanctuary, the site of Huxley’s Starseed forest kindergarten program. The community had been having a Working Bee that day, which we’d missed owing to our event. We rallied and made it to the potluck part of the day, though. What a trip watching Huxley run around, playing with sticks and swinging on the swings and mucking about the creek with his buddies. It’s fascinating to see his identity and personality emerging and yet, admittedly, it’s hard. He’s my little guy, and the bigger and older he gets, he pulls more and more away. I know, I know. He’s only 3. It’s not like he’s packing up for college next week. Still. It’s so encouraging to know we’re raising a child with the confidence to head out into the greater world and make friends and feel brave, and hard, too, to see him let go. Such is parenting, right?

Sunday we stopped by the UNC-Asheville Botanical Gardens for some photo shoot location scouting. I’ve got a shoot planned on Wednesday and it’s going to be so much fun. Two words: breakfast picnic. YES! After that Huxley and I headed north to my mom’s place. We picked up my grandmother on our way, and then settled in for a bit of play time with Huxley’s “granny nannies.” There was time in mom’s sandbox, and tickling sessions on her bed, and rock-throwing in her creek. It was wonderful.

I’m excited about this week. So much going on. So much to look forward to. From our home to yours, here’s hoping it’s filled with love, health, and happiness.

Weekend Review

Happy Monday, friends! It’s raining here right now, again. People are starting to joke that they’re beginning to mold. Some are only halfway joking, I think….

But all that rain makes for thriving temperate rainforests like ours. It’s also super conducive to editing manuscripts while sipping on Earl Grey tea and nibbling shortbread in a hoodie. There might also have been some very, very, very early planning/hoping/scheming/dreaming of a West Coast Handmade Gatherings book tour/family vacation next spring. Trains, planes, automobiles-I’ll take it all. I love road trippin’ and can’t wait to introduce Huxley to the Pacific, and sea lions, and redwood forests, and the Golden Gate Bridge, and Voodoo Donuts (for that matter, I can’t wait to introduce myself to Voodoo Donuts!) and Delancey and Pike Place Market and the San Juan Islands and Port Townsend. One way, or another, it’s going to happen. As God as my witness, we will head west (cue me in a Civil War era hoop dress instead of a hoodie doing my best Scarlett O’Hara)!!!!

Hope you all had a grand weekend. We sure did. There were waterfalls, and turtles, and Indian food, and shadows, and horses, and mushrooms, and Rudbeckia, and forest frogs, and sassafras trees, and more mushrooms involved. So. Much. Goodness. I’m feeling rather exploratory lately-creatively, culinarily, ecologically, geographically. Everything we did this weekend really helped to foster that sense of exploration, and for that, I am so very grateful. Speaking of grateful, mad props to Glenn, who both watched Huxley all day Saturday while I galavanted about in the forest and today, while I edited my beverage book. Rock star Papa, that man, I tell you!

Here’s hoping the week ahead is filled with love, health, and happiness, from me and mine to you and yours.

Weekend Review

Happy Monday, friends! Hope you had a lovely weekend. We sure did. What with elderflower hunting & gathering, and pie baking & munching, and crafty lady business visiting, ’twas a good one, indeed.

I’ve been eyeballing the elderflowers flanking our driveway (we live at the end of a 1-mile dirt road), watching for the perfect time to gather them, for a few weeks now. The buds needed to be open, but not too much so, and they needed to be dry (harvesting them wet diminishes the flavor, and encourages mold in the syrup). Living in a temperate rain forest as we do, it’s been hard to find a dry day for harvesting. Friday, though, the weather was ideal and the blooms had hit the sweet spot (clearly, as there were all kinds of pollinating creatures over them!). It really seemed like the ideal “Howdy Do!” to summer, gathering those blossoms. I came back to the house, brushed the bugs off the blooms, made a simple syrup with lemon zest and juice, and infused them over the next 24 hours. Ambrosial nectar all up in the house, y’all!!!

We popped into the Dry Goods Shop in West Asheville, also. My friend Meri Hannon, of Urban Olive goodness, had agreed to hem a new pair of pants I’d recently purchased (at 5’4, this shorty has a hard time finding off-the-rack items that compliment my height). While there, I had the pleasure of meeting Wheeler Munroe, upholster, maker of amazing leather gardening belts (which she’s modeling above), and, because that’s not enough, co-owner of a maple syrup farm, in western North Carolina’s High Country (I think she said they were in Ashe County). Several other makers/crafts rent out space at the Dry Goods Shop, which regularly hosts classes and events. Check ’em out, if you haven’t already. Goodness abounds.

Finally, Saturday evening, as promised, we stuffed our faces with pie. Pie, pie, and a bit more pie, because, why not? Note to self: choose the wine next year, not the beer, as your pre-pie bonanza beverage. Oof! Beer belly and pie upon pie just don’t mix. In other, happier news, my pie, a Peach & Plum Mint Pesto Tart (last image, the recipe is in A Year of Pies) won best in its category. Yay! And Glenn’s entry, for a Spicy Smokey Corn & Pepper Pie (in the cast iron pie pan above, based on the recipe for Roasted Corn & Pepper Pie, also from A Year of Pies) didn’t win, but it should have! That pie was some kind of wonderful, and garnered lots of groans of happiness from the folks consuming it whenever I walked by it. No worry-Glenn’s a winner in my book, always! My sweet and talented buddy Jodi, of Short Street Cakes (where I worked back in the day, when I was pregnant), was at the event, and wrote a wonderful post about it, which you can read here. I also met a wonderful small measure reader (hi Jessica!) and her husband and adorable curly-haired cutie, Iris, while Huxley followed around a precocious 3 1/2 year-old boy named “Cedar” with wide-eyed devotion. A good time, all around.

Here’s hoping the week ahead is filled with love, health, and happiness, from me and mine to you and yours.

Weekend Review

It doesn’t matter what the calendar says sometimes, you know? Sometimes you just *feel* that something is a certain thing, or way, or time, etc. Such is the case with me and summer. I know that summer is here each year whenever I attend the Lavender Festival at Mountain Farm, as I did yesterday, for Father’s Day. When I see that mountain view (THAT. VIEW!), and hear those goats bleating, and view that lavender, and smell its heady fragrance, I know that the days of much sunlight, and of heavy humidity, and of cocktails with sweat beads running down their sides have officially arrived.

We carpooled with Jen and her sweet family, and picnicked in an open field, going with an Asian theme for the meal. She made a delicious quinoa & chicken dish, some insanely decadent peanut butter 5-spice cookies, and lemonade, while I brought an udon noodle salad with haricot vert and peas from our garden cooked in ginger, garlic and onions and doused with ponzu sauce, as well as broiled apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and freshly grated nutmeg. So, so good.

After that, it was all about lavender labyrinths, and goats & alpacas & llamas, lavender-infused ice cream, lavender lemonade, kiddos playing in a tiny house in an herb & flower garden, and some silly time with the three Altman girls and my boy on a porch swing. It was sunny and warm and sugary and gorgeous and just the perfect introduction to the summer days ahead. And, of course, it was wonderful to spend time in a place I love so much with the man I adore, and the father that Huxley cherishes. Hope all you other papas had a great day, too. I chatted with my Dad, who is an ever present beam of sunshiny happiness. You can’t ever harsh my Dad’s mellow-it just can’t be done. He’s a good one, that Pop of mine. Love the men in my life!

Here’s hoping the week ahead is filled with health, love, and happiness, from me and mine to you and yours.

Weekend Review

Some weekends are so full, so profuse, so abundant with goodness and friends and food and love that it takes a day or two to recover from them. Such was this weekend past. When you pack house guests (my little sister is all grown up, having just graduated college and starting naval flight school this Friday-what the what???), a birthday party, a wedding, and an anniversary into three evenings and two days, you get a lot of a lot. You know what I mean? Ooooo, whee! I’m tuckered out.

My right-hand-man, my man behind the curtain, my P.I.C. (that’s “partner in crime” for the uninitiated), my ever-generous, always thoughtful sweet Glenn began another orbit around the sun on Saturday. As we knew we’d be at the wedding of close friends for half the day that day, we opted to throw a southern foods potluck with a handful of close friends here on Friday evening. See that spread on the table above? That is the genius of the potluck, dear readers. You get a mess of delicious eats and you don’t have to be the one sullying the kitchen all by your lonesome in order to do so. Well, that is, unless you’re Glenn, who opted to make pulled pork, a cabbage & kale coleslaw, pimento cheese (with bacon!!!), and an appetizer that involved a tower of twice-baked sweet potatoes, raw Appalachian cheese, andouille sausage, and pineapple. I told him it was his birthday, but he insisted, and I didn’t resist. Cooking is one of his most beloved things to do, and the end result was completely worth the wrecked kitchen.

Saturday’s wedding of our friends Luke and Katrina was stunning. Set atop a mountain on her mother and step-father’s property in neighboring Marshall, the vistas were sweeping, the breeze gentle, and the mood light and loving. As an accent note to the remote, country setting, right when they kissed, a shotgun fired (although this wasn’t a true “shotgun” wedding, if you know what I mean). Oh, and the way to keep a toddler occupied at a wedding? Share an apple with him before the ceremony begins, and then send him off with his Papa to the back of the hill, where a tangle of honeysuckle blooms lie waiting to have nectar sucked from.

Sunday we celebrated our 6th anniversary. Those years have flown by. It feels like we were just on our honeymoon. Every day with this guy is a treasure. Our meal at the newly opened Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder was one for the ages. The head chef, Michael Moore, and Glenn had connected on Facebook, but never met in person. Michael was at the restaurant while we were there and stopped by our table to connect in person. He then very, very, VERY graciously sent us three dishes, his compliments. Seven courses later (!!!), we were packed with some of the most delicious eats to have ever passed my lips. I’ll write up an entire post about the restaurant, but in the mean time, trust me. Go there. You won’t be disappointed. Get the brussels sprouts, and then think about their supreme deliciousnesses for, oh, the rest of your life, and then linger over the perfection that is their butterscotch pudding. Michael and his kitchen know what they’re doing, and you should treat yourself to their skills.

Like I said, it was a weekend to remember, truly. It’s also a weekend to recover from, so, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll go stretch my legs and amble around the property.

Here’s hoping the week ahead is filled with health, love, and happiness, from me and mine to you and yours.