my sponsors

budha hill natural toysImagine Childhood
Imagine ChildhoodWeaverville Art Safari
Sponsorship Information

blog archive

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

what i’m digging

What I’m Digging

Huxley Shadow
Happy Friday, friends! For the first time in what feels like a looooong time, I feel like I’m on top of things. The sun is shining, the temperature here isn’t too severe, no one is sick, I’m at home, just wrapped up some freelance work, had a very cool in-house meeting with an administrator from Starseed. Things are good. Who knows how long that will last, but, for now, it’s enough. More than enough.

Have you noticed a change in the light lately? A shift away from winter’s harsh glare to spring’s gentle yet abundant light? It’s so encouraging! I’ve also seen testament to the profusion of daffodils that are about to sprout up all over, and new hellebore buds pushing sleepy heads up from their winter slumber, and a YARD FULL OF PURPLE CROCUSES! That last one got me really jazzed. It’s coming, friends. Spring. It’s on its way, no doubt about it.

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

*This dress. I can’t begin to tell you how much in love I am with this dress. Someday….

*I’m a one purse kind of lady. The one I’ve used for the past few years (a holiday gift from Glenn), isn’t wearing my constant use very well. I recently came across Moop and am head over heels in love with their waxed canvas totes. Thinking perhaps the Market Bag (in Gunmetal Grey or Rosewood, not sure yet…) might just be “the one.”

*Clean your house from your pantry!

*John Derian’s house is filled with wonder (thanks, Design Mom, for the link!).

*Five reasons to buy grass-fed beef, and where to buy it for less.

*I’ve been on a “Your Song” by Elton John kick lately. Two recent discoveries render me a weepy mess whenever I listen to them: this one from Ellie Goulding and this one from Northern Ireland cutie Janet Devlin. I dare you not to listen and sob.

*Blood Orange Curd, for the win. That Marisa. She knows what’s what.

*Picked up two navy and two orange enamelware mugs when I was in Austin. Can’t wait to put ‘em to use picnicking!

*Locals, take note! The WNC Beekeeper’s Club is holding its annual Beginning Bee School this weekend at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It runs tomorrow, March 1st, and Sunday. Details can be found here. I took this school for two winters before beginning to keep bees and cannot recommend it enough.

*I met Matthew Dillon of the Clif Bar Family initiative Seed Matters in Austin. Amazing program, with a very important mission.

Got anything exciting planned for the weekend? I’ll be giving a talk on Backyard Chicken-keeping on Sunday at the Canton Library. Tomorrow is completely open, though, which is SO nice! We’re still working on our kitchen remodel, so there’s sure to be a bit of that action happening. Otherwise, I think I’ll make some french toast, drink some strong coffee, and enjoy the easy satisfaction of doing not a whole lot with those I love.

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. Glenn took this picture of him at Starseed on Wednesday. Seriously loving that light/shadow/rock combination. 

What I’m Digging

Huxley Bath 2
Happy Friday, friends. Here’s hoping this finds you all doing fantastic. Me, I’m nursing a bit of a head cold/tight chest/cough/body ache/watery eye something or other. It showed up Tuesday evening and I’ve been addressing it with herbs and tea and honey and baths and rest ever since. Just when I feel like I’ve got a leg up on it, it takes every ounce of energy to walk across the kitchen.

I think it’s just something going around, but it’s frustrating, nonetheless. I feel like I take really good care of my body, but, admittedly, since Huxley was born, and with it the traumatic birth I experienced, I’ve noticed I seem to get sick much more readily than I did before. I’m thinking that simply means that some deep immune tonic herbs are in order. Reishi mushroom, ashwaganda, astragalus, ginseng-you and I are about to start getting all kinds of up close and personal, regularly.

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

*These butternut thyme quesadillas will be happening in my house, stat.

*Really loving this oil lamp.

*Stunning images of sand grains magnified (thanks, Faryn, for sharing this on Facebook!).

*Want to pressure can beans? Want to make them super pretty, in Weck jars? Here’s how.

*The sweetest pixie bonnets for wee ones!

*Winter slaw with roasted garlic & thyme yogurt dressing? I’m in.

*Wonderful article on the importance of texture in designing children’s play spaces.

*These jam-filled chocolates from local business Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon sound sublime.

*Pretty much want all the things Delish General Store is selling (Buffalo Plaid Flannel Infinity Scarf!).

*I like the way Cider & Rye thinks about food and drink.

What are you up to this weekend, friends? We were supposed to go to a Russian foods-themed potluck to watch the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics tonight at a friend’s house, but this yuckus has me feeling more like lying on the couch in my p.j.’s all day. All weekend, really. Either way, I’ll be watching the t.v.. Although I’m not a real “athletic” type, in any organized sports kind of way, I turn into a huge enthusiast when the Olympics roll around. I especially turn into some gnarly-worded snow bunny when the snowboarders are on. I hardly even know myself then. “Totally righteous air, dude! That flip was sick!” I should just end while I’m ahead….

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. During a recent bath, he color coordinated all of his foam bath letters and numbers. I always did feel like the number one was rather blue…”One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”



What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! We’re moving into a weekend of temps that feel positively balmy given the weather we’ve been experiencing. The forecast calls for 56 degrees tomorrow and 58 tomorrow. That’s single pair of wool socks weather, friends! To say I’m excited about this fact doesn’t really do justice to how I feel. I. Am. Pumped!

In other non-frosty extremities news, my February column for Verve is up. Here I’m chatting about my change of heart, dietarily speaking, that happened several years ago. I also want to give a shout out to my girl Robin Plemmons. She has a feature in the magazine this month, and her story is one worth hearing.

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

*Ever wanted to make your own apple cider vinegar (I have)? Here’s how!

*Speaking of vinegar, here are some great ideas for using it around the house.

*This dome house is gorgeous, cost only $200 to construct, and is sited in a forest. I’m thinking it would serve as a perfect playhouse for Huxley (or home office for me!).

*Totally making this maple & dijon pot roast.

*This round-up of the best foodie films is pretty spot on.

*Joy’s DIY vapor rub will fix whatever ails you (stuffed-up sinuses wise).

*Tiny house, you sure are pretty!

*Our oven got hooked up yesterday (!!!) and now I seriously want to break it in. I’m thinking cake is the best thing for an inaugural bake. This one, or this one. Or both, because, you know, new! oven!

*Homemade citrus salt, y’all! Get you some!

*I have a bit of a girl crush on Lorde. I do so love a kooky lady. Did you see her Grammy performance (truth: I love awards shows-all of them. Don’t judge)? She killed it. Plus, she had on, you know, all of her clothes! I like a woman that can belt out serious tunes without feeling the need to strip down. Adele, anyone? Annie Lennox? Stevie Nicks? Barbara Streisand? Exactly.

Local friends, here’s a little tip for you: Fletcher Village Bakery is completely amazing. It’s out past the airport, off of Hendersonville Rd.. We were out that way today, picking up upholstery fabric at Foam & Fabric (new couch, with new cushions, scored from a Habitat for Humanity find), and saw it across the parking lot. We popped in (I had a serious hankering for a cookie) and left with so many goodies. All natural, from scratch baking. Can’t be beat. Do pay them a visit if you find yourself out that way. You won’t be disappointed.

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. The tree shown above is found in the woods around our house, and has a stream coming out of its roots. Glenn took Huxley for a hike up to it on Wednesday while I stayed home and worked. Huxley was bummed that I wasn’t along for the trek, until they got to the tree and found that “faeries” had left “magic” icicles for them to enjoy! That perked him up straight away! 

What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! Got anything fun planned for the weekend? We were slated to head to Charlotte with my mom and grandmother to visit my brother and his family, but his nearly 9-month old son, Gray, might have a bit of a stomach bug, so the jury is still out on whether we’re going or not. Either way, I’m looking forward to a wintery weekend. I feel my absolute best when there’s a chill in the air, and tomorrow’s forecast high of 32 suits me fine, whether we stay or go.

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

*10 fantastic winter activities (they’re suggestions for kids, but I know a load of grownups would find many a thrill in this list!).

*Oh, what fun to be a cat with this climbing set up!

*I love eccentrics, and niche concepts, and stories of human triumph, so this story about Giulietta Carrelli and her coffee and toast (and coconut and grapefruit juice) joint “Trouble” in San Francisco warmed my heart on multiple levels.

*Citrus season is upon us! Think ambrosia is cloyingly sweet, full of ingredients of dubious quality, and not something you’d ever consider enjoying? Think again! David Tanis will set you straight.

*Argyll Forest Park, I love you (via Imagine Childhood).

*These photos taken by a Russian mother of her two sons and their animals are breathtaking, and make me really, really wish I knew so much more about photography.

*Great tutorial for brewing your own kombucha (this is Part 1; be on the lookout for Part 2, which will cover creating flavored kombuchas!).

*My blanket crush this week.

*Fans of small batch preserving, Marisa McClellan’s new book Preserving By the Pint is available for pre-order, and it looks wonderful!

*Picked up a pair of these socks in “Loden” two weeks ago and they’ve been amazingly successful at keeping my feet warm (the listing says “Men’s” socks, but on the package, it lists the equivalent in women’s sizes).

This has been a busy week of play dates for Huxley. Tuesday he played at a friend’s house for three hours while I worked on the new book, tossing ideas off of Glenn over coffee at a bookstore (real! grownup! talk! without! chasing! a! wiggly! toddler!). We were worried he might have a bit of separation anxiety, as he’s almost never with anyone other than Glenn or myself. However, as we pulled up in the driveway, he said “You can go now,” followed by “Bye Mama, bye Dada.” Think he was ready? Oh, yeah. Totally ready for some independent play time. Yesterday, he went to my buddy Maria‘s house for a four & 1/2 hour play date with her kiddos while Glenn and I had an incredible adventure (I’ll be sharing it with you in detail next week!). He was a total champ!

It’s a strange, funny thing, parental intuition. Much like just kind of waking up and one day knowing I was ready to introduce solid foods, or fully wean him, or transition him into his own bed, or, now, introduce away-from-home (without us) play dates/childcare, it’s turned out he’s always been right there, right on board, just as ready as I to take the next step, transition to a new way of doing things. It’s so easy to loose sight of what’s right for us and our child. I’m not saying we should scorn advice or suggestion. To the contrary (I’m kind of offering advice of my own here, anyway, right?). Instead, I’m giving praise to the power of developing your own relationship with your child, or spouse, or partner, or pet, or whatever living creatures you’re in regular contact with, and trust that the paths you two choose to pursue, whenever you should choose to do so, are best for 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! This little adventurer is a serious force to be reckoned with on his balance bike. 

What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! As I type this, a warm wind is whipping around outside. The wind is so eerily warm, in fact, that I’ve got the windows in the kitchen open, my mom (who is upstairs laying out wooden train tracks with Huxley, God love her) is wearing a short sleeve top, the wood stove is cold, and I’m thinking about icy beverages to drink. The respite from frosty weather is seriously appreciated, just oddly placed. When you consider that this weather is going to pass tonight and usher in 48 degrees as a high tomorrow for what promises to be a very well-attended cookie exchange here, it’s a bit frustrating, too. I was kind of crossing my fingers for a day warm enough for the crowd to mingle comfortably outdoors around the fire ring, if they were so inclined. We might still, but there’ll definitely be a noticeable nip in the air then that’s conspicuously absent now. Oh, weather, you vexing, fickle muse, you!!!

I’ve got a new post up over at Verve. I’m sharing my love of all things cinders and ashes there, as it seems so many of us invite and celebrate the presence of fire to a greater degree this time of year than at any other.

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

*Hannah, the youngest daughter of Lynne Harty, the photographer I had the pleasure of working with on all five of my books with Lark, has started a college dorm-based cooking blog. Such creative ideas for taking dorm taking to a whole new level.

*Great ideas for simple, homemade holiday gifts.

*I’m kind of a sucker for all versions of “The Little Drummer Boy” (although I maintain that Bob Seeger and his raspy drawl takes the prize). This a capella version from Pentatonix is amazing.

*Our Eggnog Hot Chocolate got some love from Parade!

*Thinking this might just be the year the Geodesic Gingerbread House comes to life, chez English.

*Marisa’s got the 411 on canning turkey stock.

*Love hellebores, those stunning flowers that pop up when snow blankets the ground, offering silent testament that hope really does spring eternal (I do!)? Here’s how to grow them.

*The story of Charlotte & Jonathan is a great reminder that we must always, always, ALWAYS take great care not to judge people based on appearances (I wept both times I watched this).

*Bourbon salted caramels, for the win!

*I’m teaching a class on homemade body care products at a local library this Sunday. Folks attending will learn how to make (and take home samples of!) my lip balm, bath salts, and honey foot scrub, all great, simple items that also make wonderful gifts!

So, my weekend promises to be full and merry, what with ladies, cookies, body care product-making, and merriment in general. This stretch of days through the holiday season is one I look forward to all year long. We three are enjoying it to the fullest!

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

*I post a photo of Huxley here each Friday because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. This image of the two of us is from yesterday. Hominy Creek flows along the entrance to our road (we live in Hominy Valley), and faces our mailbox. Huxley and I love to toss rocks in the creek each time we walk down our dirt road to get the mail. Teaching him to skip them is up next!