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HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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what i’m digging

What I’m Digging

Huxley Jack Young
Happy Friday, friends! Let the weekend commence, NOW!

Lately I’ve been thinking about the sublime. The divine. The ineffable. The awe-inspiring. The thing(s) that transcend explanation and move and shift us, tapping deep into the recesses of our brains and pulling us out of our stupor and into ecstasy, even if only for a fleeting second. It could be the dart of a hummingbird, or appreciating the ability of an ant to move amounts vastly exceeding their own body weight. It could be the fragrance of a Lily of the Valley, and its crescendo of tender white bells. It could be the sight of your child’s hair, messy and turbulent and everywhere, unkept and tangled and yet, balanced and, even, perfect. It could be a string cover of “Such Great Heights.” Whatever it is that jolts you, and stirs you, and moves you into a moment of silent reverie, that’s what I’m interested in right now. Being stirred, within.

In other news, here’s what caught my interest this week:

*Sarah’s recent trip to Europe definitely seems to have stirred her.

*The magic and appeal of outdoor schools (like Huxley’s!), or “You Can’t Bounce Off the Walls If There Are No Walls.”

*How to dry herbs.

*Want to eat the view? Here are 42 flowers you can eat!

*Oh, lavender, how do I love thee? Here’s how to grow it anywhere.

*My dress crush is on sale!

*Interested in helping the honeybees? These 13 organizations and initiatives are doing just that.

*Beth Kirby and everything she does and photographs are my jam lately. Check out her cinnamon rolls on Design Sponge!

*How brilliant are Wright Kitchen’s food gradient images?

*I really need this hat.

For those of you celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend, I wish you, and your mama, a wonderful holiday. Relationships with our mamas are wrought with emotion, aren’t they? Some are super fantastic, while others are best left unmentioned. No matter what yours is like with your own mother, or with your children, should you be a mother yourself, I wish for you a day filled with whatever it is that you most enjoy. As for me, I’ll be celebrating with my mom and grandmother tomorrow, hopefully via a picnic at Lake Louise in Weaverville if the weather cooperates. And on Sunday, Glenn, Huxley and I will be enjoying an early brunch at Rhubarb, who began serving Saturday and Sunday brunch only a few weeks ago. I can’t wait!

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 visited Jack Young Greenhouses this afternoon, or what Glenn and I think of as our “happy place.” It’s so lush and abundant and affordable in there that we often go a bit crazy with our purchases. Our little guy has gone there so frequently that he seriously digs it, too. 

What I’m Digging

Easter Silk EggsEaster TableEaster CandyEaster basketEaster EggsEaster HuxleyEaster MamasEaster PlateEaster Mamas & Kids
Happy Friday, friends! Hope your week has been glorious. I’ve been reading, and writing, and planning, and cooking, and doing all kinds of things book-related and non. Mostly, I’ve been outside. The cold weather seems to have finally passed, so the garden and I have been having some serious one-on-one time.

There are now 20 strawberry plants, four big rhubarb plants, an asparagus bed filled with spears, sorrel that’s returning in force, and other beds containing pak choi, cauliflower, collards, red chard, kale, cilantro, and leeks. The peas and beets Huxley and I planted several weeks ago are coming up, and there’s still some red & green cabbage and broccoli waiting to be planted. All 17 of the blueberry bushes have flowers on them, and it looks like the 4 blackberry and raspberry canes will bear fruit this year. The garden is jamming and I am PUMPED!

I’ve been thinking a good deal about intangibles and indescribables lately. Those things that one simply has to experience to understand, that words fail to describe. I was talking about this yesterday with a longtime friend of mine, a fellow writer and mama. The irony that we were attempting to talk about the things that are nearly impossible to use language to detail wasn’t lost on us.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a parent, and to parent. None of the books you’ll read before becoming a parent quite prepare you for the intangible aspects of the task. Sure, you can read up on cloth diapering and nursing and homemade remedies for colic, but nothing describes just how tired you’ll be and how challenged and exhausted you’ll be and how amazingly, intoxicatingly in love you’ll be, because they can’t. Sometimes, I’ll see another mom looking at her child, or struggling to open the door to a store with a wiggling baby and a shopping cart, or managing a full-on thermal meltdown in public and I’ll simply know what she’s experiencing. Or I’ll look at Glenn when Huxley has done or said something incredibly kind or sweet or dear and know exactly that we’re experiencing the same, well, “heart swell” I think I’ll call it.

This also applies to relationships that aren’t parental in nature. When you meet a new friend and you just “get” each other (right, Sara?). Or when you and your partner/significant other are immersed in total silence and complete understanding as you watch a sunset. It’s a state of being, and less a state of mind. It’s when your heart becomes your head and you learn to experience life in an entirely immersive way. That. That’s what I’ve been thinking about. Again, it’s hard to think about because it’s such an epiphanic/revelatory kind of experience. Like when someone asks how you know you’ve found your true love, and you reply that you just know. I’d like more knowing, and less thinking. More oneness and less fragmentation.

Annnnnnd, in less inside the folds and contours of my brain news, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:

*Our garden has 14 raised beds (mountain clay and rocky soil don’t always make for the choicest planting!). I love these ideas for DIY beds.

*I’ve long been a Lillet fan. David Lebovitz explains the magic of this apertif.

*Great suggestions for natural remedies for embarrassing health concerns.

*This rhubarb galette will totally be happening in my kitchen.

*Speaking of rhubarb, Marissa has 10 suggestions for preserving it.

*It’s all too easy to take remarkable things for granted, once you’ve become accustomed to them. Watching these two senior women fly for the first time is so wonderful (tear jerker alert!).

*Leigh Anne is a waxed canvas ninja! Her lunch bags are gorgeous!

*Looking for a pair of open, low-heeled clogs to wear this summer with skirts and dresses. These are cute (got any other recommendations?).

*These Italian sodas are beautiful. Bet they’d be nice this summer, maybe mixed with a little  something-something for cocktail hour.

Locals! Tomorrow is the Hard To Recycle event. If you’ve got some huge pieces of cardboard, or batteries, or electric bits and bobs that you just don’t know what to do with, bring them here!

I’ll be heading to Charlotte bright and early tomorrow morning with my mom and Huxley (lucky Glenn scored Faryn‘s ticket to Moogfest, so he’ll be sticking around town and having a dad’s day off; more than a wee bit envious that he gets to see M.I.A.!). We’re going to my nephew’s first birthday party and then I’ll be heading over to Park Road Books for a reading and signing. If you’re in the area, come on out and say howdy!

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

*I typically 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 week, though, I decided to mix it up. We hosted our own personal book launch event for Handmade Gatherings here this past Sunday. The Good Egg is an egg-based gathering in the book, filled with potluck suggestions for egg-centered dishes, egg decor, egg crafting, and egg games. So, so much fun. 

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!