A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading
















  • Hello darkness my old friend The cold comfort of winterhellip
  • Stay frosty Huxley but dont grow up too fast okay?hellip
  • Cold as ice Hominy Creek which runs beside our roadhellip
  • Oh what a long strange trip its been Exactly onehellip
  • In 10 days Alistair and I fly from Asheville tohellip
  • We made snow cream sundaes and hot chocolate and watchedhellip
  • Suffice to say Alistair dominated my feed in 2017 Seemshellip
  • Tminus 3 months to liftoff and Southern From Scratch ishellip
  • Snow day snow cream sundae making me all kinds ofhellip
  • When I think about my intentions and resolutions for thehellip
  • I went in for the coconut cake SO! GOOD! andhellip

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weekend review

Weekend Review

I’d like to put in a request, right now, with the fates controlling such things that the sort of weather which swept into these mountains early Friday morning stick around all summer. Highs in the upper 60’s-low 70’s, with crisp blue skies and gentle, kissing breezes. Yes, please. If we could just skip over that whole so-hot-and-humid-and-muggy-that-I’m-ready-to-move-to-Vancouver thing, that’d be lovely.

This weekend, I joined Instagram (thanks for the tutorial, Nicole!) and I’m kind of obsessed with it. Make my photos look better with the touch of a few buttons? Oh, yeah. Saturday we popped over to Montreat Park to hang out with some visiting friends and their boys. Huxley went full throttle in the creek (squealing children! salamanders! wet clothes!) and we got in some quality creekside picnic time with our buddies.

A stop at an antiques store in Black Mountain yielded this vintage picnic basket, for a mere $20. I had a premonition the store would have just the basket I was looking for, and they did. Believe in your intuition, friends, believe. I snagged that leather bracelet in a little shop in Black Mountain, too, one filled with locally-made beeswax candles and vintage kimonos and aromatherapy and other goodies. We followed that up with cappuccinos and lattes (and orange juice for the tiny Englishman) at the Dripolator. Oh, Black Mountain. Love that town.

Sunday, Huxley and I played in the garden, digging a pumpkin patch, laying down compost, and lying on a blanket in the late afternoon shade. It was a magical weekend, this one. Here’s hoping for many repeats, all late spring and summer-long.

Have a great week!

The Age of Asparagus

It’s that time of the season, folks. Time for the rain to pummel, and the wind to blow, and the tender, green stalks of asparagus to do their glorious thing. This is the dawning of the Age of Asparagus. Oh yes I did.

We hosted a baby shower Saturday for our friends Kristina and Ian, who are expecting a stork delivery sometime around the Fourth of July. Although my plans for a sunny spring shower on our patio were dashed (soaked?) by the rain, nonetheless, it was a wonderful time. The guests each brought a spring-focused dish to share. Naturally, asparagus was in attendance, making cameos in a scrumptious shallot and ricotta tart my friend Jenny made, as well as in a pasta salad riddled with asparagus, peas, feta, chicken, and herbs that Glenn whipped up. Rich and Jen made ramps empanadas and two types of foccacia, a savory ramp & bacon and a sweet rhubarb.

There was also a lovely fruit salad, a delectable pasta salad with broccoli and grapes, some deftly sautéed bok choy with shiitake mushrooms and ginger, a beautiful berry and nut platter, and a tasty corn salad. I made these cupcakes (Ian is grain-free and these were a perfect fit for his dietary needs, not to mention an ideal marriage of sweet and tasty). Their nursery is decorated with a hot air balloon theme, owing to their home lying in the path of a local hot air balloon business. With that in mind, I found some paper lanterns online as well as some handmade paper hot air balloon cupcake toppers from Etsy. The day was filled with silly games, tasty eats, and loads of love. Huxley had so much fun, and played so hard, for so long, that he completely collapsed in his p.j.’s in his tiny rocking chair.

Yesterday, all plans I had for an outdoor foraging class and chat were quickly laid to rest by the intense deluge that pounded the area for over 24 hours. I think every creek in the area turned into a river, including those that flank both sides of our house (thankfully we live on a knob, so all water flows down and away from us), and every river flooded its banks. It was crazy. Huge wind gusts, rain that found the one loose shingle on the roof and shimmed down into the ceiling in Huxley’s room (the roofer just repaired it and left about 30 minutes ago), and the need for a Cinco de Mayo fire in the wood stove, all of that happened yesterday.

Our friends Rob and Karie came over, braving the rain, equipped with their mini espresso makers and the fixins required to make us maple lattes. Glenn made his trademark Strata Frittata, a double layer of crepe-like sheets of omelets, riddled with wine-braised asparagus (I told you it’s the Age!) and cojita cheese on top, and smoked salmon, blue cheese, capers, and Herbs de Provence on bottom. Have mercy. We sipped our lattes, enjoyed some mimosas, noshed on the frittata, listened to the rain, and caught up with each other over a long, lazy, lingering brunch. Just like I like it.

So, while things didn’t go quite according to my plans this weekend, they certainly surpassed my expectations. If we can’t learn to bend in the breeze and enjoy the rain for the healing, restorative balm that it truly is, then we’ll always be swimming upstream. As for me, I’d rather ride the current and see where it takes me.

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

Spring Has Sprung

IMG_0501IMG_0396IMG_0205IMG_0260IMG_0158IMG_0510IMG_0173IMG_0432IMG_0531IMG_0440IMG_0203IMG_0409IMG_0388IMG_0283IMG_0347IMG_0477IMG_0195IMG_0415IMG_0338IMG_0270IMG_0578IMG_0592IMG_0584IMG_0602IMG_0608Here are a few of my (randomly ordered, non-rhyming things):

*Silk dyed eggs.
*Little friends on Easter egg hunts.
*Eggy dish spreads.
*Mamas in plaid, with giggling girls and mountain vistas.
*Toddler Easter baskets (with elf figurines!).
*Long-haired, checkered plaid boys enjoying candy.
*Lemon & Dill Deviled Eggs.
*M.C.-ing (as in “Mistress of Ceremony-ing) toddler egg roll games (redunkulous!!!).
*Hip mamas in fine threads.
*Little ones, rolling eggs with spoons.
*Egg nigiri.
*Little fellas.
*Strawberry & Lemon Curd Pavolva.
*Friends & their kiddos.
*Plates of eggy goodness.
*Naturally-dyed eggs.
*Goat cheese made into tiny “eggs” atop beets and pickles.
*Contemplative toddlers.
*Mischievously grinning little boys (more! checkered! plaid!).
*Caramelized Onion & Bacon Egg Salad.
*Double corn corn bread (gluten-free, to boot!).
*Brunch with friends and family.
*Slow-cooked scrambled eggs and fried apples.
*Noon walks in the woods.
*Not just one, but two black snakes, side-by-side, a clear indication that spring (and mating season!) is officially here.

I love my friends, I really do. Not only do they show up for all of the hair-brained, wild-eyed ideas I throw, they show up, you know? Dressed in their finest springtime clothes, equipped with their most splendid egg-tastic (oh yes I did) dishes, and ready to get their egg craft (dyeing with silk) and egg decor (nests, feathers, eggs, you name it) on, my crew brought the awesome yesterday. And how.

This gathering, entitled “The Good Egg” (one for my book Handmade Gatherings, due Spring 2014) proved one of the most beloved parties I’ve ever thrown. Maybe it was because it really said “Hey! Everyone! Spring is so totally, officially here!” Perhaps it owed to my finding myself, for the first time in my life, orchestrating the Easter egg hunts, and egg rolls, and egg tosses for the children gathered, instead of participating in them. Or maybe it was all that love, and goodness, and, oh, possibility on offer from the many joyful, exuberant (sugar-fueled) children in attendance. Whatever it was, it was infectious, and delicious, and I’ll take it!

Here’s hoping the week ahead is filled with health, happiness, and harmony, for you and yours.

Weekend Review

At this very moment, there is a strong, steady wind bustling through the cove. There is a toddler in his room, playing with trains, and refusing to nap. There are three men wielding axes, splitting chunks of wood into firewood in our driveway, Glenn among them. There is a lemon-suffused poundcake in the oven (the recipe is from that for Pumpkin Tiramisu Pie in A Year of Pies-which, by the way, is on serious sale right now), destined for tonight’s dessert, to be served alongside some spiced nectarines and plums I canned during the height of summer.

And there are many, many lovely memories bustling about from this past weekend. There’s all of the fun and deliciousness shared at the collaborative Indian-themed soup-making party I hosted at a friend’s house on Friday (think Stone Soup for adults). There’s the cover (!) and very sweet feature in Country Woman, which arrived on newsstands nationwide this week. And there’s a forest stroll, enjoyed just as much by the littlest amongst the group as the eldest.

May the week ahead bring health, happiness, and harmony to you and yours.

Weekend Review

Happy Monday, everyone! I’m coming to you today from our second-floor craft room/office/guest room. As hoped, I was able to make some serious headway organizing and revamping it over the weekend. Now I actually know right where my floral crafting supplies, glue tubes, paint brushes, rubber stamps, gift bags, wrapping paper, journals, craft books, scrapbook paper, stationary, and so much more are! Glenn made a gorgeous shelving unit for corralling everything in and, once the rest of the room is all tided up and presentable, I’ll share some images with you here. I love finally getting to a project that’s been driving me mad for some time. Move things around, tidy them up, and it’s like you’ve got an entirely new house, relocation not required.

My mom is downstairs playing with Huxley. With the new book, I’ll be needing some in-home care for the little guy once a week, so that I can have time to write the new book and work on recipe development without repeated requests of “Mama, come play in the cave?” (Huxley has a “cave” Glenn built into the attic space in his bedroom, done up with fur pillows, “cave”-dwelling stuffed animals, and faux rock motif paint on the walls) or “Can I go to my sandbox?” distracting me from the task at hand. Since Huxley is just as smitten with his “Gigi” as she is with him, it’s a win-win. Loving attention and direct playtime; can’t beat it.

This weekend was pretty quiet, just like I like it. That first image is of the “snow” that fell. I swear it looked fierce when it was happening. Soon as the sun fully crested the ridge behind the house, though, it was gone. Ephemeral beauty, at it’s best. Otherwise, there was much egg-eating happening (Glenn is the king of the “strata frittata”, his creation, and he’s been working on soft-boiled eggs with great success). I’m the kind of gal that like greens for breakfast, so we enjoyed eggs with broccoli as well as with creamed spinach this weekend. So good . As long as our flock keeps laying, we’ll keep getting creative with means of eating their offerings! And as evidenced from that pillow shot, there was ample time spent cuddling, hiding, and giggling. Perfect for weekends, or anytime!

Here’s wishing the week ahead is filled with health and happiness for you and yours!

A while back, I showed another of Glenn’s Strata Frittatas, and several of you asked for that recipe. Here it is, way overdue, but just as good as ever! 

Collard Strata Frittata

The Goods
For the eggs
-12-16 large eggs
-3-4 ounces of milk
-A couple pinches of salt
-A few grinds black pepper
-A dash of hot sauce
-Butter for the pan
-A tablespoon of dried herbs of your choice
-6 ounces grated melting cheese of your choice
-2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

For the greens
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 bunch collard greens, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped into small pieces
-1/2 cup wine (white or red)
-1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock

For the garnish
-A couple tablespoons of chopped, roasted red pepper
-A couple tablespoons of parsley or cilantro

The Deal: 
Cooking the greens
1) In a non-reactive pan, such as stainless steel, saute 1/2 onion in olive oil, for about 10 minutes, until they start to brown a little.
2) Stir in the minced garlic, and cook for another minute.
3) Add the greens, and stir well.
4) Cook the greens for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5) Add the wine and stock, as well as a pinch of salt and a few grinds black pepper.
6) Cook the greens, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has evaporated, then remove from heat and set aside.

Cooking the first layer of eggs:
1) We used a Lodge, square cast iron griddle pan for the eggs, but any large oven-safe pan will do.
2) Whisk half of the eggs, half the milk, a pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and hot sauce (if desired).
3) Heat the pan/griddle to medium-low.
4) Melt 2-3 tbs of butter in the pan, making sure to cover the entire inner surface.
5) Pour in the egg mixture.
6) Sprinkle half the dried herbs evenly over the top.
7) After about 5 minutes, when the eggs start to set a bit, remove from heat.
8) Place under the broiler for a couple minutes, till the eggs are almost set.
9) Remove the eggs from under the broiler and cover them with the melting cheese (not the Parmesan).
10) Place back under the broiler, just till the cheese is mostly melted, then remove from the heat.
11) Let the eggs cool for a few minutes, then invert them onto a platter.
12) Using a second platter, invert them again, so that they are cheese-side up.

Cooking the second layer of eggs:
1) Whisk the remaining eggs and milk with salt, pepper, and hot sauce if desired.
2) Butter the pan/griddle again, and add the egg mixture.
3) Sprinkle the remaining herbs across the top.
4) Cook for a few minutes, till the eggs start to set a little.
5) Grate half the Parmesan on top, and place under the broiler.
6) Cook until the eggs are fully set.
7) Remove from the heat and let the eggs cool for a couple minutes.
8) Spoon the greens evenly over top the eggs on the platter.
9) Invert the second layer of eggs on top of that.

Garnishing and serving:
1) Grate the remaining Parmesan on top, and sprinkle the red pepper and chopped parsley or cilantro across the top.
2) A pizza cutter works great for cutting it up into individual portions.