books

QUENCH

 

HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


Instagram

  • Excited to see my first
  • What I love about ephemerals is that they force you to be fully present, fully engaged. What is blooming or on display today could be gone tomorrow. Ephemerals remind me to pay attention, to live more attentively and lovingly, every single day. || The exquisite blooming wisteria pergola, at its peek right now @biltmoreestate.
  • Sittin' in the mornin' sun, I'll be sittin' when the evening come. || Absolutely glorious day @biltmoreestate!
  • Views for days. @biltmoreestate
  • Currently, in our kitchen. || Wishing you and yours a cozy, comfy weekend.
  • Happy Friday from me and my mini me (image from spring 2014, taken by @timrobisonjr). || New
  • Green eggs & ham and buttermilk biscuits for work/lunch at home today. Made a ramp & wild garlic scape pesto with ramps from our patch and scapes from the property, then whisked it into scrambled eggs, as well as drizzled it atop. Going to miss those ephemerals when their time passes soon!
  • Taking it back to October 21st, 2011 for today's #tbt, when we celebrated our little guy's first birthday up at Sky Top Orchard. in Flat Rock, NC. We used to say his cheeks were made of jam in those days as they were so doughy and smooshy that they looked like jam-filled doughnuts.
  • Happy to call Hominy Valley home.
  • Because you know I'm all about that face.
  • Tyger, Tyger burning bright, in the forests of the night. || Inaugural spring burn on the patio this evening.
  • I've truly loved working on all 8 of the books I've done so far (7 in print, 1 coming out in 2016), but this new book, on creating a southern foods pantry, is so very personal as it closely mirrors the foods I grew up eating, but with a decidedly modern approach. Today @glennbenglish and I made Brown Butter & Bourbon Braised Cabbage (below) and Apple Butter and Cheddar Pork Chop Stacks (above). So many culinary ghosts of my childhood and youth came 'a calling with each delicious forkful.

my sponsors

Lucky-Design-7
budha hill natural toysImagine Childhood
Imagine ChildhoodBlissful Belly
Sponsorship Information

blog archive

  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008

what i’m digging

What I’m Digging

Huxley and Mama Steps

Happy Friday, friends! Right this moment, my mom and Huxley are upstairs giggling and whispering, our German Shephard Fly is on the floor to my left snoozing gently, and every tree within view just outside the window next to me is excitedly flapping courtesy of a robust breeze. It’s chilly out, not quite 60 degrees, with a fair amount of cloud cover but just enough blue peeking thru to let you know that warmer weather is in store. My stomach is full and satisfied, bowled over by “green” eggs & ham, scrambled eggs riddled with homemade ramp and wild garlic scape pesto served alongside hot ham and my buttermilk biscuits. I’m feeling fine.

Here’s a quick little smattering of this and that’s that have caught my attention lately:

*Glenn and I both have been completely captivated by Mildred’s Lane and everything taking place there since first hearing about it several years ago. The lineup of projects on offer for 2015 is seriously stellar, especially the Attention Labs.

*Want to check out some of these female podcasters Grace suggested.

*Introduced Huxley to Enya the other night (it was bath time, and it called for Orinoco Flow). Some loves never die, like my love of Enya. Watermark was pretty much the soundtrack to my entire 15th year of life.

*While I’m reminiscing about music discovered at a pivotal age, I’ll share this little gem that I listened to obsessively. Whilst burning Nag Champa. And often practicing Martha Graham or Twyla Tharp dance moves. Because, well, because that was me at 15/16.

*Very much liking this lovely little milk bottle match striker.

*Superfolk: Discover nature everyday. I would very much to become their best friend, and walk alongside them on their wild Irish shores.

*I think Quest Brewing Co.’s Smoking Mirror is going to be my spring-into-summer brew of choice. Smokey anything is my jam, but smokey beer? Now that’s just amazing.

*These earrings by Amy of Agate and Elm are so, so lovely.

*Been slowly savoring my friend Tara’s new book Orchard House for the past month. Lovely prose, vivid imagery, rife with lessons on growing, both ourselves and gardens. Treat yourself to a copy.

*Have recently discovered doTerra essential oils and am very much a fan.

This weekend is full of wonderful things to do if you happen to be in the area. We look forward to both the Asheville Herb Festival and the Artisan Bread Festival all year, and both are happening this weekend. Highly recommended, despite the heavy car and foot traffic and the inevitable complete emptying of one’s wallet that ensues.

Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!

*This photo Tim Robison took of Huxley and I is from last year. Amazing how much my little buddy has changed since then, and how much he’s also remained completely the same. 

What I’m Digging

DaffodilHelleboresHuxley Muscles
Happy Friday, friends! How are you? I’m up to my eyeballs in tax paperwork. Being self employed is no joke, come tax time. My calculator and I are becoming good friends. Best friends. BFF’s.

It’s been ages since I last did a round-up, so I figured no time like the present to get back in the saddle. These days it’s all about blooms and my buddy (showing me his “muscles” and his hair that I kept meaning to get cut and that has somehow, of its own accord, now morphed into a pretty amazing rendition of the hairdo Matt Damon deftly sported in Behind The Candelabra, yes? YES!). Those flowers and this face are all I need to get me out of the winter doldrums and back into my groove.

Here’s a smattering of this and that’s that have caught my attention recently:

*I am completely captivated with this blog. Scottish herbalist now living in L.A. that makes monthly special apothecary boxes like her March box about the sea. I. Know.

*If you use social media at all, you should read this post.

*These easy DIY flower print paintings would be a great way to brighten up a rainy spring day.

*Glenn and I are going to our first Blind Pig dinner tomorrow night. Blind Pig is a local underground supper club. Tomorrow night’s event is a tribute to Edna Lewis, pretty much the Grande Dame of southern cooking. We are over the moon excited!

*Not just for your morning cuppa: 15 household uses for coffee grounds.

*Turmeric is packed with anti-inflammatory properties, among other things. Try it in this chai!

*Hoping to score some fresh-off-the-tree Meyer lemons when we head to Florida next week. Would love to use them in this Meyer Lemon Ginger Concentrate for homemade sodas.

*Speaking of lemons, preserved lemons! (thanks to Molly for the link in her “She Knows” post).

*Really loving this moon phases necklace I purchased recently from Agate & Elm.

*Discovered N.C.-made Cackalacky beer a month or so ago. I’m not typically a canned beer fan, but this one has me in its clutches. I mean, it has ginger in it, so, as a equal-opportunity-ginger-lover, I pretty much have to like it.

 

It’s going to be close to 60 degrees here tomorrow. I almost don’t want to write that, as I know that a good deal of the country is still plowing thru winter weather. Hang in there!

Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!

What I’m Digging

Huxley Candles

Happy Friday, friends, and happy autumn, too! I’m wearing slippers again, and have enjoyed several bonfires recently, and there are now mums and pumpkins on our porch. I have been baking big time, all recipes for the picnic book, both because I have to and because the kitchen is now cool and pleasant whilst so doing, (Pumpkin Buttercream Whoopie Pies! Apple & Cardamom Crumbles in Jars! S’mores Brownies! Fig & Orange Skillet Cake!). I just bought two wool sweaters off of Thred Up today, a French Connection long cardigan and a Triple 5 Soul pullover with pockets that would’ve originally cost close to $300 and for which I paid $30 (semi-annual 40% off sale happening right now!). Autumn, I love you. Fist-pumping goodness abounds.

I am currently on the homestretch of writing my picnic book (which publishes from Roost in 2016). I can already feel the shift that happens when I near completion on a manuscript. For one thing, I kind of start dragging my heels. I always deliver, on time, and I’m hard on myself to do so. This will be the 8th book I’ve written and I know myself well enough to trust that the writing will always get finished and turned in by manuscript delivery. That said, I start to, well, just not want to do it anymore. I resist, I push it away. I’m so, so close to wrapping it up entirely, though. All 20 of the picnics are completely written, and all that remains is just the introductory bits and bobs. In tandem with that, though, comes a relaxing. I feel like I’m coming up to the surface again, after living in the trenches for months. I notice projects around the house I want to get to, and know that I’ll soon have the time to do so. I find myself getting really excited about cooking other people’s recipes. I feel lighter, looser, freer.

In other non-autumnal or book-related news, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that have caught my attention recently:

*It is the time of apples and this cake and this crumble pie are calling my name.

*The new issue of Grounded is out and looks wonderful.

*Love these floral project ideas for bringing fall home.

*Madesmith, for whom I’ve had the pleasure of profiling a number of artisans, has started an online school, Madesmith Academy. Learn directly from the makers themselves tips about product development, marketing, selling, and so much more. Small measure readers will receive 10% off through the end of December by entering “smallmeasure” at check out.

*I have a bowl of unripe plums sitting on my kitchen counter that I think will be meeting this preserving fate.

*How Color Influences Your Grocery Shopping.

*I contributed to Farmer & Chef Asheville, a book highlighting Asheville’s culinary and agricultural landscape. It publishes in November and is now available for pre-order. Can’t wait!

*Really loving the jewelry of Agate and Elm. Fibonacci spiral earrings and necklaces, you guys!

*Truly inspired by the work being done at Tribe Alive.

*Oh, this skirt. So sweet. And this apron. Fog Linen has got it going on something fierce!

 

Got any fun weekend plans? We’re making our way to our friend Tara’s bakery out in Marshall tomorrow evening. Smoke Signals makes pizza in a wood-fired oven on Saturdays, and bread and pies on Sundays. So pumped! Sunday, Huxley’s little buddy Hobbs is turning 4, then we’re dropping Glenn off at Villagers for a hand-carved butter knife and spoon-carving class before stopping in to visit our friends Meg and Alisa (this website’s designer!), who live just down the road. Back to writing on Monday, with Wednesday in my line of sight.

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. Two nights ago we hosted a “Twilight Picnic” down in our lower field. We lit tons of candles, strung up party lights, built a bonfire, and enjoyed a picnic atop rugs and blankets as the light faded. Huxley was totally into it, although he did keep asking if he could go back up to the house and bring down a basket of toys to show his friends.

What I’m Digging

Huxley Black Balsam 1
Happy Friday, friends! It’s raining and cool here in the cove today, a welcome break from the warmer temps we had this week. Really, though, who am I kidding, talking about “warmer temps” and other such nonsense? For my birthday last month, Glenn bought me a portable air conditioner, owing to how I get all kinds of crabby and wilty and otherwise unpleasant when really hot. It’s been so nice and cool, though, that we haven’t even had to fire it up! And halfway through the night, every night, we’re still pulling the comforter up around our shoulders. Even on the second floor.

When looking at my garden the other day, and feeling equally frustrated and guilty and anxious and discouraged and hopeful at its tandem successes and failures, several things occurred to me. To begin, four years ago, I was quite pregnant and it was also the hottest summer in 50 years, so the garden didn’t really happen. And then, over the past three summers, I have been writing books. When I’m working on a new book in earnest, there are some things that have to get sidelined in order to get the writing done while simultaneously take care of Huxley, and maintain the home, marriage, homestead, etc.. I’m also not a fan of the heat (see above). Finally, I still have so much to learn about organic gardening. I’ve been working on building up the soil, but I do live in a temperate rain forest, with its attendant plethora of insects. The challenges they present is ENORMOUS, people. Enormous.

It dawned on me that all of these things in combination have made it increasingly challenging to have the lush, verdant, abundant vegetable garden of my dreams come summertime. So I made a few decisions. For starters, screw the guilt. There’s an incredible organic farmer about 1/2 mile down the road from us that grows exactly what I’m working on here, but with multiple decades worth of organic gardening experience under his belt. At Hominy Valley Organic Farm, I can stop in on Fridays (open farm day), chat with Tom, and purchase some of the most beautiful, delicious vegetables I’ve ever encountered at a very, very good price. I can stick (for now) to growing what really works for me in the garden, and leave the battles with cabbageworms, squash vine borers, carrot fly, and more to him.

Secondly, my intuition keeps telling me that perennial gardening is where it’s at. Working with nature instead of against it and achieving a symbiosis is what I want. To that end, I recently purchased Gaia’s Garden. I’m getting all kinds of excited about implementing some of the perennial/permaculture techniques it details.Then I can have the garden I desire, purchase some crops from Tom, keep writing in the summer, and feel less crazy about the entire process. Amen to all that.

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

*The mason jar-use it for SO much more than just strawberry jam and pickled beets!

*Several weeks ago, when I was feeling a bit misanthropic (it happens to us all!), Glenn directed me to this. So, so good.

*When I was in college, I used to burn rosemary essential oil in a diffuser when studying for exams. Here’s why.

*Six reasons to love lavender.

*My friend Jenna Woginrich, fellow author and blogger, has launched a Kickstarter campaign. She’s working on her first bit of fiction, a novel about (as she described it an email to me) “a farm in upstate NY in 1920, a farmy-paranormal piece of mystery and a heck of a lot of fun.” Check out the video and help her realize her dream, if you can!

*It’s tomato season. Genevieve has 28 ideas for what to do with them.

*Very sweet idea for a DIY campfire candle.

*Speaking of fragrances, I picked up a box of these cedar incense cones as a gift to myself on Mother’s Day. I begin each morning now by burning one, to clear the air and enliven the kitchen while I feed the animals, get Huxley going, and prepare the coffee. Good stuff.

*If you’re a mother, you might enjoy checking out The Ma Books, a collaboratively written blog about what mothering means to each of us.

*My father, his wife, and my sisters gifted Glenn for his birthday with this amazing book about the oldest living things. Exquisitely photographed, it is a sensory feast, and a reminder that we’re not the only beings witnessing what’s happening on this planet.

I’m back to working on picnics this weekend. We photographed 10 of them before Jen Altman, the book’s photographer, headed out of town for the month of July. She’s back, and so we’re back in action, as of Sunday, as we’ve got 10 (!!!) more to go. Fingers crossed the weather accommodates and our shoot isn’t caught in a deluge. We’ll be high atop a mountain bald up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Should be epic if all goes according to plan!

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 posts because, truly, he’s what Glenn and I dig the most. This is him a few weeks ago, up at Black Balsam on the Blue Ridge Parkway. He said “This is a good hike, mama. I love this view!” 

What I’m Digging

Huxley Ice Cream
Happy Friday, friends! I’m writing you today from my dining room table, where the windows are open, rain is falling, it’s about 68 degrees outside, and I’m comfortably wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt. In mid/late July. The forecast for the next 8-9 days calls for more temps in the 70′s and low 80′s. While the mountains of western North Carolina are known for their temperate summers, this is proving to be an especially unusual one. But when I’m still sleeping under a down comforter at night, on the second floor of a house with no a.c. in the middle of summer, I have no intentions of complaining. I know parts of the midwest had mornings in the 40′s this week. Craziness. Meanwhile the Pacific northwest is hot and battling wild fires (sending these in the line of the blaze thoughts for safety and calmer winds and rain!). It’s a wacky summer, to be sure.

Since I last posted, I had a birthday. It’s funny, with the amount of entertaining I’ve been doing professionally, for my books, come my own celebratory day, I just want things to be as low key and chill as possible. We headed up to the Pisgah Inn for pancakes and stellar views, where several dear friends met up with us. Then, with our buddy Rich, we drove to Black Balsam for a hike. A mountain bald, that spot is my favorite of the hikes and views I’ve encountered on the Blue Ridge Parkway thus far. The summer I turned 30, I took a friend with me to the U.K.. After several nights in London, and one night in Glasgow, we travelled by train to the western highlands of Scotland. Pure magic, that place, and one of the few places I’ve visited that felt so very much like “home” upon arriving. Black Balsam reminds me of the Scottish Highlands (minus the black pudding and beans for breakfast, mind you). For the past three years, this has been my birthday ritual-pancakes at Pisgah Inn followed by a hike at Black Balsam (or Graveyard Fields). It is peaceful and fulfilling in a way that seems genetically appropriate-which is to say, my ancestors hail from the very part of Scotland I visited, and Scottish settlers called this region of Appalachia home long ago, so, it is well with my soul, to be here, in this place, on the day of my birth.

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

*The cabbageworms wiped out my brassicas this year, twice over. Next year (or maybe even for my fall garden), it’s all about the row cover.

*Karen Solomon has done it again, this time with a new book on Asian Pickles.

*Love the idea of making these DIY leather earrings for loved ones.

*Baking Tara’s blueberry crisp as soon as I publish this round-up.

*Got mosquitos? Battle them by planting and growing all-natural repellant plants.

*Easiest fridge dill pickles.

*Go immediately and enter this AMAZING giveaway, offering all of these things (including a full set of my Homemade Living books series!):
1) One $200 Gift Certificate to Local Harvest
2) One “Locally Grown” t-shirt, graciously donated by Fed by Threads
3) One Preserving by the Pint book, graciously donated by Marisa McClellan
4) One set of autographed Homemade Living Series books, graciously donated by Ashley English
5) One The Art of Gardening: Building Your Soil eBook, graciously donated by Susan of Learning and Yearning

*Wonderful blog post on the Evocative Power of Hands, by my dear friend Nicole.

*Tim’s Tabbouleh is infinitely adaptable to whatever inspires you at the farmer’s market or in your garden.

*Six ways to preserve summer’s bounty (there’s much more to preserving than just canning!).

*This lovely U.K.-based crafting blog is giving away 5 (!!!) copies of my book Handmade Gatherings!

*Just discovered Dig This Chick and am seriously enjoying getting to know it.

*I need some Sweet Cherry Chutney in my life.

The forecast for rain continues all weekend. Taking Huxley to a toddler ninja class in the morning. He’ll be pumped! Then we’ll likely make a beeline for the North Asheville Tailgate Market, and the Farm & Sparrow tent specifically. I dream about their pastries all week. Glenn’s younger sister, Pam, and her three children Sophie (15), Sam (12), and Zeke (8) are visiting, so the weekend will otherwise include much cousin hang time for Huxley. He loves those kids so much, calling Sam and Zeke his brothers, or, to be phonetically specific, his “brudders” (he’s remarkably gifted at enunciation, but there are a few works he says in the sweetest kid way, this being one of them. “Brek-tist”, for “breakfast”, is another. I almost don’t have the heart to correct him. He’ll say it right eventually, but for now, brudders and brektist it is!).

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 finally discovered our amazing community pool this week (after only 7 years of living here, sheesh!). This ice cream treat at The Hop was a post inaugural swim treat (not seen, my and Glenn’s banana splits-each of us-off camera). He begins swimming lessons there on Monday and is beyond excited to swim “like a fishie”! 

*When I’m working on a new book, as I am now, I sometimes just don’t get around to posting here as regularly as I’d like. Such is life. You can always keep up with me on Instagram, though. And if you’re not on there, you can still see my captioned images by clicking on the photos on the left column here titled “Instagram.”