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HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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what i’m digging

What I’m Digging

Huxley sleeping
Happy Friday, friends! I’m writing this to you outdoors. There are flip flops on my feet. I am not, repeat not, wearing a sweater. The grass is the greenest I’ve seen it in months, our giant maple is putting out greenery that borders on chartreuse, and the dandelions, spring’s eternal bellwether, are popping up through the flagstone in our patio. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

This week has been amazing. Handmade Gatherings published, we photographed the second picnic for my new book (due out in 2016), I taught my regular class on backyard chickens last night at AB-Tech, we enjoyed some hang time with the ever lovely Joy Wilson (aka Joy the Baker) and her friend and assistant Jon Melendez, and so much more. Meanwhile, in the stew of life that has been abundant and profuse and intense this week, I’ve been working on sleep training Huxley to remain in his own bed all night. Whew. So. Tired.

Without planning to do so, at all, we ended up bed sharing with our little guy. We’d bought a Moses basket, and a crib, and that was the plan. Until he was born, and he was so very tiny, and it was so very cold outside, and I was struggling so very much to recover from his birth. Keeping him with us just seemed right. Until it wasn’t anymore. I transitioned him to a “big boy bed” a few months after he turned two. Every night, we’d begin in his bed, reading stories and cuddling and snuggling until he fell asleep and I’d retreat to my bed. And every night, at some point, he’d come get in bed with me. I never fought it until he began to assume what we’ll just call “the starfish position.” For those of you with children, you know just what I’m talking about. It’s the most bed hogging position imaginable. There’s also “the horizontal maneuver.” Inevitably, for the parent, this means you take a foot to the chin or a head to the nose on the regular. Not. Good.

So, even though I knew it would mean a great deal of haggard nights for me, and even though I knew that I was going to have one heck of a crazy, busy, work-filled April, I decided the time had come, for us all, to have him stay in his bed for the duration of the night. I’ve been working on it for the past week and a half, and I’m here, now, to report that it is working. Yes, there’s some crying involved. Yes, it involves a tremendous deal of effort to not go check on him. But, yes, it’s all totally worth it, in the final analysis. Separation is a part of life, and he wasn’t about to make the transition on his own. BUT! I’m here! I’m typing! He’s sleeping! YAY!!!!

In other news, here’s an article I wrote for Verve about, what else, potlucks!!!! There are NKOTB references sprinkled throughout. Consider yourself forewarned.

And here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:

*Fiddlehead ferns, nettles, and ricotta gnudi. Mercy.

*How to brew tea in jars and keep the dang tea bag in place.

*Six food groups that will protect you from the sun.

*Lemon Yogurt Poundcake from my favorite perfumers, MCMC Fragrances.

*My friend Gina wrote a lovely essay on mindful parenting.

*Baked Almond Pancake with Strawberries & Citrus. YES!

*Intrigued by Genevieve’s oil pulling, with an extra detox twist.

*Picked up a copy of The Simple Things magazine and am completely smitten.

*Very fun DIY geometric cement paperweight.

*Oh, Fog Linen. Could you possibly be any more amazing?!

Locals! So much going on this weekend. Tomorrow evening, at the same time that I’ll chatting about Handmade Gatherings at Malaprops Bookstore (7 p.m.-there will be fun readings! and Rhubarb Buttermilk Bread!), there will be a free lecture by Joel Salatin at UNC-Asheville and a wonderful benefit for Carolina Ground at All Souls Pizza. I’d love to meet some of you, but totally understand if you end up attending either one of these other worthwhile events.

Also, locals. Get this on your radar, please. The illustrious and imminently talented Marisa McClellan, she of Food In Jars, will be in town next week. She’s on the southern leg portion of her tour promoting her new book Preserving By the Pint. Marisa will be giving a free demo and book signing at Villagers in West Asheville. She’ll also be our houseguest for the evening. Yay!

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. This was from the other morning, after he got up from his bed and came in to snuggle with me. Sigh. Love that little bean! 

What I’m Digging

Huxley ramp 2
Happy Friday, friends! I just realized that I always seem to start off this round-up with a bit of weather chat. So, let’s do it again! Crazy week here in the cove. Snow squalls out of nowhere on Tuesday night, black ice on the roads on Wednesday, sunny and hella windy here yesterday, and warm(ish) and rainy(esque) here today. Oh, spring. You just don’t know what to do with yourself, eh (which, apropos of nothing, makes me think of one of my favorite White Stripes songs)?

Weird weather, and then Huxley got a freak, very short-lived stomach bug out of nowhere around 4 a.m. yesterday morning. Poor fella. Five hours later, he was good as gold. Kids and stomach issues I’m quickly learning are quite common. He gets plenty of beneficial bacteria in his diet, but still, every so often, he’ll succumb to some something or other. He always rebounds super fast, but it’s torture witnessing it while it’s happening.

In other news, here’s a smatterings of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:

*Hanging swings. Around a fire pit. The best idea ever.

*If you’ve been nurturing seedlings, it’ll soon be time to harden them off. Garden Betty schools you on how to do it. 

*Love these garden stone markers/I.D.’s for the garden. The project is for kids, but could be done by adults just as easily. Simple, affordable, attractive. My kind of craft.

*15 household uses for honey. Sweet.

*Honey-sweetened lemon tart of dreams, right here.

*Creativity is invaluable. It’s not just for artists. It’s for everyone, everywhere, all the time. Physicists to athletes to graphic designers. We’re all just looking for solutions to life’s challenges. Love this essay from Marcie on why you should work on fortifying your own creative reserves every day.

*Rosemary & Strawberry muffins might be the best muffin pairing I’ve ever heard of.

*Hello, lovely apron.

*Dagmar’s Kitchen is a stunningly beautiful blog.

*This cello cover of Rhianna’s We Found Love is invigorating, to say the least. Broken strings! Audience clapping! Head banging! Foot stomping! LOVE IT!!!

I put some peas and beets in the garden this week, before the snow fell. Hoping this weekend might offer a chance or two to get in carrots and some lettuces and some brassicas, too. I’m ready to have dirt under my fingernails again, aren’t you?

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! Our little guy is already riding his balance bike on ramps. Such a daredevil, that wild one!!! 

What I’m Digging

Huxley Creek
Happy Friday, friends! I hope your week has been a good one. Ours sure has. Spring arrived, review copies of Handmade Gatherings started getting shipped out and its book trailer debuted (and a very sweet review of it appeared on Design Sponge earlier this morning-thanks a million, Grace!), flowers started popping up all over the place, we haven’t had a fire in the wood stove in a few days, and, in very exciting news, Jen Altman and I shot the first images for my new book. This book will be all about a topic very near and dear to my heart-picnics! I’ll share more details along the way, but for now I can tell you it’ll be packed with recipes, crafts, activities, and tips for pulling off 20 creative, clever, fun picnics, and will be published two years from now, in 2016. Also, you’ll love it. Promise.

In other news, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:

*Lovely post about planting a bee garden from one of my favorite herb companies.

*This Vitamin String Quartet tribute to New Order’s True Faith rocked my world. I adore string instruments. Truth-hearing them often reduces me to tears.

*I’ve got some slowly fading bananas that would be perfect for this.

*Imagine Childhood’s spring catalogue is out and they’re celebrating the season by offering a lucky reader a $150 gift certificate!

*Grounded Magazine just launched their spring issue. I contributed an article sharing how having a child helped me learn to be a more patient person, which I thought I already was (I was not. I was SO not).

*Holy Lemon Heaven Cake!

*This article about letting children take risks and learn self-confidence and courage in the process really, really resonated with me.

*I paid my family doctor a visit about two weeks ago. I was due for a physical and I also wanted to discuss some concerns I had with her about two specific things. Turns out both were related to stress. My life is full of stress. It’s all good stress, and I wouldn’t want to change my life at all, but, still, it’s stress and all stress takes a toll over time on health. She suggested some herbs to help, and I picked up a bottle of Tension Release after our visit from Katuah Market, a new natural foods store here with a strong emphasis on local purveyors. I can’t recommend the product enough.  A blend of four herbs (passionflower, ashwaganda, eleuthero, and lemon balm), it’s calmed me in a very gentle way; in other words, I’m still totally lucid and focused and not tired from it, as I have been with other relaxing products in the past. I’m no doctor, but I can attest to the way Tension Release has greatly aided me since I started taking it. Side note=locals, Katuah is having a 30% sale this weekend on a huge amount of their supplements, including this one (look for products with a green dot on the price tag). Go support them, if you happen to need a supplement, and tell my girl Farra, the red-headed pixie that manages the supplements and body care department, that I sent you!!!

*Oh, YES! This idea of building a picnic table around a tree trunk is speaking my language.

*If you happen to be in Asheville on a Thursday evening, I highly, highly recommend you enjoy the Family Meal at Rhubarb (you’ll need to call in advance for reservations, as it only happens once right now, at 5:30 p.m., and seats around 23 people). A fixed price, 3-course meal (it’s between $15-$17/person) served family style (meaning communal bowls of food are passed) using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, Rhubarb’s Family Meal is quite possibly the best value for dinner in the entire city. We went last night, and I cannot really capture in a short mention here just how glorious the meal was. This was my second family meal, Glenn’s third. It’s amazing and such a wonderful means of connecting with other people over food and forging community. Go, please, and do tell them I recommended it to you!

This weekend, I plan to get seeds planted in the garden, spend some quality time with my boys, and get in a little coffee date with my dear Nicole. May spring shine its light and warmth on you. Wherever you go, 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. Our flaxen-haired wild child has been having fun playing in the creek that flanks the bamboo grove beside our house. Gotta break in those new rain boots one way or another! Thanks to Glenn for the photo! 

What I’m Digging

Huxley Bird Bath IG
Happy Friday, friends! And happy national Pi Day, and birthday of Albert Einstein, too. Commencement of the weekend + math + butter-riddled delicacies + the theory of relativity=a glorious intersection of things. Surely, this must bode well for the days ahead! Also, here’s a link to a post I wrote last Pi Day, which includes a recipe for my Frozen Strawberry Pie, because strawberry season is ‘a comin’!

We had seriously odd weather here this week. In the 70′s, sunny, and perfect on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, and then crazy windy (55+ mph wind gusts!) and snowy Wednesday evening/Thursday morning. Oh, spring, you fickle muse. Pick a side already, won’t you?

Our dear friends Jen and Jon, the ones that own the yome housed down in our lower field, are visiting from Decatur. Both school teachers, they’re on spring break this week. Of course, when they finally arrived, all the pleasant weather previously paying us a visit moved out, making way for chilly, windy wildness. Rain, wind, snow-it doesn’t matter when they’re here, though. It feels like we’ve got a neighborhood and I love it!

In other news, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my eye this week:

*Oh, these blankets. Their patterns remind me of Welsh motifs. I’ve got my eye on the rust & white one.

*I read about SHED in the new issue of Modern Farmer. Their wares and classes look fantastic. Yet another reason to get back out to northern California soon for a visit.

*Bay Leaf Poundcake? Totally onboard with that.

*This cover of Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box is phenomenal.

*Buttermilk Pecan Fudge.

*And some healthy selections to temper all that fudge sugar, via these 25 homemade healthy snack options.

*I received an advance copy of this book the other day. I’m already completely smitten.

*This cold brew irish coffee would be a fun way to get the morning started on St. Patrick’s Day!

*Locals: this “Meet the Vet” event coming up next week promises to be a wonderful means of learning first hand chicken care techniques. The fact that the vet, Dr. Heather Sinclair, is the vet we use, as well as a close personal friend and all around crackerjack lady even further ups the ante!

*Received a package of clothes from Thred Up in the mail this week. Though I’m used to shopping there for Huxley, they added adult clothing a few months ago and what a treat to shop for gently worn, used clothing for myself from the comfort of my own home! With my new book coming up (make that new, new, new book, as I’ve got two coming out before this one!), I knew I’d need to get a few items for photo shoots. Thred Up offers great items at a fraction of what you’d spend for new. What’d I get? Plaid, baby, plaid, naturally. A plaid dress and three plaid tops, all lightweight and lovely for warmer weather. I can’t wait for the days to get toasty so I can wear these clothes!

One other very important bit of news I want to share with you is that I received a complimentary copy of Handmade Gatherings this week. Oh, man. It’s difficult to really convey how I feel about this book. Sure I like it. I wrote it, after all. But it’s so much more than that. This book, it’s personal. Really, really personal. It’s filled with pictures of my friends, my family, my yard, hell, my own plates! All 16 potluck gatherings are introduced with an essay of personal anecdotes and reflections. Perhaps most importantly, Glenn (as always) is laced throughout the book, too. He’s what I refer to as my “man behind the curtain.” We collaborate intensely on everything I do, and this book was perhaps our most intense shared work yet. I’m over the moon about it. Can’t wait to share it with you!

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. We stopped by our friend Rob and Karie‘s place on Tuesday afternoon. Huxley found this stone bird bath in their backyard and opted to do a bit of ninja rock & roll on it. Rock on, baby! 

What I’m Digging

Huxley Swing
Happy Friday, friends! How was your week? Our little guy was working his way through a fever/cough/snotty nose something or other, so we’ve stayed close to home and kept things pretty chill. Just how I like it.

Huge thanks to Country Living magazine for giving some love to Handmade Gatherings, both online and in their April 2014 print issue. As a long, long subscriber, it was a thrill beyond description to see my book suggested as their “Recommended Reading” for the month. Woohoo!

My March column for Verve is live. This month, I’m sharing a bit about why I adore winter. Don’t get me wrong-I love spring peepers and tulips and daffodils and peanut butter eggs as much as the next lady. I just really love winter. Well, let me qualify that claim by clarifying that I love winter in western North Carolina. A Cancer, I’m really a homebody at heart. Staying near the wood stove, in comfy clothes, baking and cooking and sipping on hot beverages with my boys satisfies my soul.

In other news, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:

*The sound of tree rings.

*Jewelry made from fruit and vegetable peelings=crazy awesome (thanks for the link, Eliza!).

*My friend Janell is hosting this incredible Whole Earth Summit next week. Best part? It’s FREE!

*Just discovered Local Milk and am seriously smitten.

*My great-grandmother Lena May Law (“Mamaw” to me, the one whose eyeglass frames I wear) suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Accordingly, I’m always looking for ways of preventing it (although, to date, neither my grandmother nor my mother have shown any signs of the illness). This roundup of brain-boosting foods is super helpful in working towards that goal.

*Our local food coop is now certified living wage. Great news!

*Huxley needed some new rain boots. Ordered this pair and am very impressed with their construction and appearance. Nicely made and good looking? I’m in.

*I’m crushing hard on this pair of Clarks in Dark Brown, size 8 (look how much they’ve been marked down!).

*My dear sister, Theo, sent me a copy of Alys Fowler’s The Edible Garden. Alys is my lady crush, and this book has got it going on!

*I got a totally unexpected, incredibly thoughtful care package from Sara, creator of Roost Books and who I’ve taken a notion to thinking of as my “heart sister”, this week. So, so fun. It was filled with wonderful things, including a bottle of hand lotion, a bottle of body lotion, a bar of soap, and a tube of lip balm, all from Pangea Organics. Pangea’s creator is a close friend of Sara’s. Not only are the products ecologically and ethically sourced and produced, their packaging is attractive, recyclable, and, in the case of the soap packaging, growable-water it and a spruce tree will sprout! Companies that attend to all aspects of their product’s creation, from sourcing, to packaging, to distribution, and “end of life” cycle are not just attractive to me, they’re the future of commodities in general.

Huxley’s teacher from Starseed is coming over for a house visit tomorrow. Just to hang out with him, not to inspect our house, or judge our parenting style, or anything like that. Just to chill with him, and get to know him better, in his space. How cool is that? Sunday my sweet lady friend Nicole, who is also the editor of the 5 books I penned for Lark, is coming over to nosh, sip, and catch up. Can’t wait to hug her pretty neck!

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 as, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. When I was away in Austin, Glenn took Huxley up to Burnsville for a visit with his “granny nannies” (my mom and grandmother). There’s an amazing playground in Burnsville adjacent to the Yancey County Public Library. Huxley was catching air in the image above, swinging, one of his favorite pursuits.