A Year of Picnics


The Essential Book of Homesteading















  • I like to imagine that in addition to we fourhellip
  • Babys first snow Underneath this bear suit are red andhellip
  • In the past week and a half I have bakedhellip
  • These are the days we wait for all year thehellip
  • Rough day yesterday Alistair has had a vicious head coldhellip
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Weekend Review

Happy Monday, friends! Hope you had a lovely weekend. We sure did. What with elderflower hunting & gathering, and pie baking & munching, and crafty lady business visiting, ’twas a good one, indeed.

I’ve been eyeballing the elderflowers flanking our driveway (we live at the end of a 1-mile dirt road), watching for the perfect time to gather them, for a few weeks now. The buds needed to be open, but not too much so, and they needed to be dry (harvesting them wet diminishes the flavor, and encourages mold in the syrup). Living in a temperate rain forest as we do, it’s been hard to find a dry day for harvesting. Friday, though, the weather was ideal and the blooms had hit the sweet spot (clearly, as there were all kinds of pollinating creatures over them!). It really seemed like the ideal “Howdy Do!” to summer, gathering those blossoms. I came back to the house, brushed the bugs off the blooms, made a simple syrup with lemon zest and juice, and infused them over the next 24 hours. Ambrosial nectar all up in the house, y’all!!!

We popped into the Dry Goods Shop in West Asheville, also. My friend Meri Hannon, of Urban Olive goodness, had agreed to hem a new pair of pants I’d recently purchased (at 5’4, this shorty has a hard time finding off-the-rack items that compliment my height). While there, I had the pleasure of meeting Wheeler Munroe, upholster, maker of amazing leather gardening belts (which she’s modeling above), and, because that’s not enough, co-owner of a maple syrup farm, in western North Carolina’s High Country (I think she said they were in Ashe County). Several other makers/crafts rent out space at the Dry Goods Shop, which regularly hosts classes and events. Check ’em out, if you haven’t already. Goodness abounds.

Finally, Saturday evening, as promised, we stuffed our faces with pie. Pie, pie, and a bit more pie, because, why not? Note to self: choose the wine next year, not the beer, as your pre-pie bonanza beverage. Oof! Beer belly and pie upon pie just don’t mix. In other, happier news, my pie, a Peach & Plum Mint Pesto Tart (last image, the recipe is in A Year of Pies) won best in its category. Yay! And Glenn’s entry, for a Spicy Smokey Corn & Pepper Pie (in the cast iron pie pan above, based on the recipe for Roasted Corn & Pepper Pie, also from A Year of Pies) didn’t win, but it should have! That pie was some kind of wonderful, and garnered lots of groans of happiness from the folks consuming it whenever I walked by it. No worry-Glenn’s a winner in my book, always! My sweet and talented buddy Jodi, of Short Street Cakes (where I worked back in the day, when I was pregnant), was at the event, and wrote a wonderful post about it, which you can read here. I also met a wonderful small measure reader (hi Jessica!) and her husband and adorable curly-haired cutie, Iris, while Huxley followed around a precocious 3 1/2 year-old boy named “Cedar” with wide-eyed devotion. A good time, all around.

Here’s hoping the week ahead is filled with love, health, and happiness, from me and mine to you and yours.

7 Responses to Weekend Review

  • amanda says:

    good grief, there’s a lot of goodness in this post! I’ll have to check out the dry goods shop, I’ve never even heard of it! I also didn’t know there was a sugaring operation in Ashe county. (we are still happily eating off our own 2 gallons of homemade Black Mountain, NC syrup!) I’ve so far just made your pumpkin pie out of the pie book, but this has inspired me to get crackin’!

    our weekend was mostly about hosting our third homemade/handmade goods swap:


  • Alicia says:

    I am love with that stove!!!! Wow!

  • Bee Girl says:

    It is so wonderfully green there! I think I forget that not everyone lives in the desert 😉 Um…and those pies! Holy cow! Pretty fantastic!

  • Jessica says:

    Thanks, Ashley! It was great meeting you and your family. And you’re right, Glenn’s pie SO should have won!

  • John says:

    Such excellent photos, I felt like I was walking down the country lane as well, thanks for sharing! And the pie pictures? That would have been a banner event to attend, that’s for certain.

  • Shanda says:

    In the photo of the white flowers (along your driveway?), those are not elderberry blooms, just so everyone knows. I do believe those are wild viburnum. Those two species bloom around the same time and have a similar flower structure but the leaves are vastly different. Viburnum is a simple leaf while elderberry has a compound leaf.