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QUENCH

 

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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  • He may be a newly minted 4 year-old, but he still has a round baby nose and says things like
  • Hot dogs for the birthday boy at Montreat Park (from Foothills Meat), as requested.
  • Montreat. Amazing every day of the year, especially today, on Huxley's birthday.
  • On the eve of his 4th birthday, being the wild gnome that he is. My one and only.
  • Out on the patio. Definitely looking, and feeling, like autumn today!
  • One week ago today, Huxley, @glennbenglish, and I boarded a ferry and left our
  • Today was pretty rad. Any day that involves fall foliage, plaid flannel, good friends, vintage pickup trucks, pumpkin ale, twice -baked stuffed potatoes, roasted cheesy broccoli, and all beef chili is alright by me.
  • Back at it today. Photographed a
  • Good day, sunshine! Good day, sunshine! Goooood day, sunshine. Happy Saturday, buddies!
  • Drifting along. In an Orcas frame of mind.
  • Stairway to heaven-ly views.
  • Hey there, gorgeous.

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what i’m digging

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.” 

What I’m Digging

Huxley Arboretum 2
Happy Friday, friends! How’s it going in your neck of the woods. Ours is sultry, sizzling, and otherwise indicative of SUMMER! Starts tomorrow, officially, though when you live in a house without a.c., it’s felt like it for weeks now. I really can’t complain, though. At night, the temperature drops enough that between the attic fan we have constantly going to suck out hot air on the second floor and fans blasting in the bedrooms, it’s cool enough to still necessitate pulling the comforter up. So, no complaining permitted.

Historically speaking, however, I’ve never been much of a summer fan. The heat and humidity kind of make me cranky and crabby and, well, loose my mojo. I’m working hard to prevent that this year, though. I’m trying, really, really trying, to embrace the heat and be wise about working with it. A symbiosis is so much preferable to a battle, right? So, in with the ice cream, twilight cocktails, watermelon, creekside forays, kiddie pools, cold baths, and fans of every permutation and out with the griping. Can I get an amen?

To that extent, instead of my regular link-love round-up here, I’m going to share what I’m digging that’s helping me keep my cool when the mercury soars, both locally and otherwise. Here we go:

*Corn on the cob (extra butter, please!) and cold salads for dinner (both veg and meat).

*Ice cream sandwiches. We recently discovered the Three Twins and are big fans. Locally, hit up the Sunshine Sammies solar-powered ice cream truck for epic eats.

*Picnics! Yes, I’m working on a picnic book, but we also regularly picnic for pleasure. Whether a full meal or a snack of jerky, apples, chips, and iced herb tea, taking your food outside can really help change your perspective on those long, hot days.

*Huxley’s kiddie pool is pretty fantastic these days.

*The bugs have big plans come summertime, too. Here’s a great DIY for naturally repelling them.

*We hopped onto the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday for a quick jaunt. We were thinking of a hike at Graveyard Fields, but it’s closed for construction (I think they’re putting in restrooms!), Mile Marker 417‘s parking lot was crazy full (likely due to G.F. being closed), and by the time we reached Black Balsam (my most beloved post on the Parkway), it was pouring rain. No matter-the drive alone was worth getting out of the house for. The fact that the temperature at that elevation was 10 degrees cooler than that at our house made the trip exactly what we needed.

*The N.C. Arboretum was where we ultimately ended up after getting rained out on the Parkway. Such a majestic place, and a wonderful resource for learning firsthand about what grows well in our area. There’s also the permanent bonsai exhibit; I have yet to meet a bonsai I didn’t love. It’s $12/car, but only $45 for an annual pass. That’s a very reasonable rate for such an inspiring, ever changing, thriving, vibrant, learning environment.

*While not directly related to summer, I couldn’t not direct you towards my friend Melissa’s new website. I love pretty much everything this talented ceramicist makes, and think you will, too! Jen helped with the spruce up and I think it looks wonderful. Kudos to you both, friends!

*Lastly, summer calls for Ice Cream Socials! The San Jose Mercury News shared recipes from the social I included in Handmade Gatherings. If you want to make some of my Blackberry Mint Ice Cream, Boozy Maraschino Cherries, and Orange Caramel Sauce (and I assure you, you most definitely do), go check out the article (also, I want to mention that the photos used in the article are not those from the book-I think they made their own versions and took some quick photos).

Got any fun things planned for the weekend? We’re prepping all day tomorrow for a new picnic shoot on Sunday, then will be heading to our friend’s house for a cookout. After Sunday’s picnic, we’re headed to Rhubarb for the Sunday Supper I mentioned in the last blog post. If any of you end up there, please do come say “hi!” I love meeting small measure readers, and just folks that appreciate good food and the labor that goes into growing, harvesting, preparing, and serving it in general.

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. He was totally into the Arboretum yesterday. When a storm rolled in, cutting short our time there, he started really sorrowfully saying “I’ll miss this place, in the whole wide world, when we leave.” Our boy loves natural spaces just as much as we do! 

What I’m Digging

Thomas Train

Happy Friday, friends! Since my last round-up, a good deal of things have happened: Glenn had a birthday, we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, we photographed the 8th picnic for the book (which we actually happened to piggyback on top of Glenn’s birthday party-double duty, yo!), our friends Jen & Jon and their daughter Awynn came and stayed in their yome for 9 days, and Huxley completed Starseed for the school year. So much goodness!

Our little guy has been obsessed with all things ninja for months. Prior to that, he had a bit of a superhero phase, and prior to that, he was all about lawnmowers and trains and other things that go. Seemingly out of nowhere, about 3 weeks ago, he returned to his train love. Right around the same time, Jen gifted him with a massive collection of Thomas the Train tracks, trains, and characters that her daughters have since outgrown. Every day, for quite literally hours, he plays with those trains, sings songs from the show, and has entire conversations with the perennially cheeky Thomas and his cohorts.

I remembered hearing a long time ago about a Thomas the Train ride along one of the two local train routes. Thinking that perhaps that’d make a nice birthday gift for him in October, I checked online Wednesday afternoon. As fate would have it, Day Out With Thomas is currently happening up at Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock. So, we three Englishes hit the road yesterday, headed two hours north, and had an amazingly great time. I never thought I’d embrace character toys to the extent I have. But here’s the thing-Huxley really resonates with certain toys, and we’ve discovered, and quite quickly at that, that the more we resist his interests, or push against them, or try to re-route them or otherwise make them taboo, the more they turn into the thing that he must have! So, instead, we make sure there’s nothing completely out of line with our beliefs and the general paradigm to reality we’re cultivating with him. Once those criteria are met, we just sort of go with it.

In other news, Handmade Gatherings received a bit of love this week in the Huffington Post, courtesy of my friend Sharon Kitchens. Yay!

Otherwise, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention recently:

*Frozen treats to be enjoyed at home without an ice cream maker. It’s that time, y’all.

*Don’t mow that weed, eat/make medicine/drink it!

*Drink the Harvest=my idea of a perfect book.

*Imagine Childhood’s summer catalogue is out and it’s packed with wonderful items. To harken the season of heat, sun, and fun, they’re offering a $150 giveaway!

*Strawberry Crumble with Oats, Hazelnuts, and Elderflower.

*Excellent idea for a DIY vintage classroom posters.

*Glenn loves both hot sauce and fermented foods, so I’m doubly excited to make him some Fermented Hot Chili Sauce once our peppers start coming in.

*I first saw this hemp tunic on my friend Jenny. It’s pretty much everything I want in a shirt-natural fibers, durable construction, comfortable fit, and most importantly, pockets!

*Got a head of cauliflower? Here are 10 great ideas for what to do with it.

*No indoor air conditioning (like me)? No problem. Try out these ideas for keeping your cool.

Got anything fun planned for Father’s Day? We’re going out for brunch to celebrate. I wish my dad were closer. He’s in Florida, and will be here for a quick overnight visit at the end of July. Although we chat every morning at 9:30 sharp (and have since I was 5 years old, if you can believe it!), it’s never long enough. I’d love it if he could pop over for regular weeknight dinners and family jaunts. I’ll take whatever I can get, though. Now that I’m a parent myself, I value the work my own parents did raising my older brother and I beyond description. Parenting is no joke, friends. Happy day to the fathers in your lives!

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 round-ups because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. I was so overwhelmed with happiness for him when we arrived at the railroad yesterday that I nearly started crying. I’m such a serious sap. I get the same way at parades. When others have excitement and fervor, I vibe on it, big time!