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What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! This week, well, it’s been a doozy, to say the least. I’m not going to really share what’s been going on with me, health-wise, because, truly, it’s been gross, and kind of freaked me out. The worse part was loosing all sense of smell and taste from last Saturday night until this morning. A silver lining kind of gal, I did try to find the positive in it, thankful for those times I had to change the litter box, or take care of Huxley’s potty needs, or other less pleasant things in life and not have any olfactory awareness of the full, um, “extent” of their capabilities.

I also got pretty fascinated by the loss of those two senses, and what it would be like to have never experienced smell or taste, at all. If I never knew what eucalyptus should smell like, or garlic-laced vinegar should taste like, I’d never know the world included those things. So, with that in mind, think of the senses that humans lack, that other organisms possess, and how altered their worlds are with those senses, or ours would be, were we in possession of them. I’m thinking of the vast range of sounds dogs can hear, or the sonar that bats and dolphins use, or the ultraviolet light bees can see, or the way snakes can literally taste the air and obtain cues from it. Magical, truly, this world of ours.

Honestly, I stayed away from the internet this week. I really stayed away from most everything, since I felt so crappy (including people! Aside from going to the doctor on Monday, I haven’t gone away from the property since last Wednesday afternoon). Instead, I read. A lot. How refreshing, and low-fi. I cuddled with Huxley, a lot. I took a good deal of baths. I slept. I consumed my weight in herbal tea. I appreciated my husband and his ability to rally and help like never before. So, in lieu of my regular round-up, I’m instead listing the myriad things I appreciated, health-wise, this week:

*My amazing friend Maria. I’ve talked about her on here before, recently, in fact. Yesterday, though, she really came through for me, as a healer and a friend. Maria and her  daughter Kaia met Glenn at Goodwill (they’re making swants for Christmas, and needed sweaters!), and gave him a bag for me containing: Elder tincture that she had made and bottled, homemade fire cider (apple cider vinegar that has steeped for weeks with hot peppers, garlic, and other immune-supporting herbs and foods), homemade nasal inhalant stick, homemade soup, goldenseal tincture (to use in my neti pot, for cleaning out the sinus passages), and literature on winter wellness protocols she had written for both children and adults, including a host of recipes for medicines to make in one’s kitchen. Amazing, right? I’d felt really disempowered after I left the doctor on Monday, after being told there was nothing to do but ride it out. Maria proved that was totally not the case. I’ve always preferred the use of plant-based medicine and when, this morning, while drinking grapefruit juice and suddenly tasting it (and kind of freaking out when that happened), I knew that Maria and the protocol she’d suggested and that I’d followed yesterday had worked. So grateful for wise women and loving friends and healing plants!

*Throat Coat tea has healed my parched, sort throat like no other.

*Olbas herbal bath and shower soak. Even though I couldn’t smell it, I knew it was helping me breathe.

*Made On Acorn Hill Breathe Easy. I’ve been slathering it on both Huxley ‘s and my chest and feet all week. Tingly goodness.

*Taproot! Although I write for it, I’ve been so busy I hadn’t gotten around to reading the latest issue. “My Daughter’s Cowboy Boots” by Brett Stanciu had me thinking “I’ll read anything that woman writes”, as tears rolled down my face.

*My Woolrich flannel nightgown (mine is the Deep Ruby Multi). Glenn picked it up for me a few weeks ago, when he was out looking for work shirts and pants for himself. Warmest, coziest nightgown I’ve even owned, and I straight up feel like Mrs. Claus when I’m wearing it!

*Wild Comfort. The essays in this book are some of the most vivid, poignant, gorgeous bits of text about nature and the wonders and lessons it holds for us I have ever read. Highly recommended.


We leave next Thursday for four days in Chicago. We’re attending the Chicago Food Film Festival, where this video is up for nomination. I’m incredibly excited, and thrilled that my cold looks like it’ll be gone by then. Chicagoans, got any recommendations on places to eat, things to do? Huxley will be with us, too, so kid-related suggestions are most welcome.

OH! Katy is also doing a giveaway of all four books in the Homemade Living series. Pop over here and enter!

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

*I post a photo of Huxley here each Friday because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most! Glenn caught this image of our guy on the train tracks that run near the place he goes for toddler gymnastics (essentially, free play in a large, padded warehouse); the train that runs on these tracks only comes once a day, so he was totally safe ! 

7 Responses to What I’m Digging

  • heather says:

    Ashley, your video is so lovely. Best of luck at the film festival!
    p.s. It was nice to hear your sweet voice :-)

  • erin says:

    I’m reading Wild Comfort right now as well and am really, really loving it. I find it’s taking me longer than usual to read this book because I keep re-reading passages!

    Good luck with your video at the film festival!

  • Lara says:

    North Carolinian living in Chicago here! There are lots of fun things to do with kids in the city. My nephew loves Millennium Park and the Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. The Field Museum and Aquarium at the Museum Campus along the lake are also popular destinations for families, but can get crowded on weekends. I also think you guys would really enjoy the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in beautiful Lincoln Park. If it’s still open (think it closes sometime in mid-late November), take a turn through the Alfred Caldwell Lilly Pool across the street from the museum. The museum is also close to the lake, and if it isn’t too chilly you could walk along the lakefront, which has great views south to downtown.

    As for food….I’m sure you’ll get many great recommendations, but if you want to get out of downtown, Logan Square (my own neighborhood, which I dearly love!) has a lot of great restaurants, including Lula Cafe and Telegraph Wine Bar. If you want a really wonderful kid-friendly brunch, I can’t recommend Tre Kronor (in Albany Park) highly enough. It’s a Scandinavian restaurant with wonderful danishes, quiches, smoked salmon, etc. Make sure to check out the Swedish Shop across the street–lots of great books, housewares, fabrics, and children’s things. It’s farther out than most tourists go, but so worth it!

    It sounds like your sickness was exactly like something that I had a few weeks ago, when I was visiting Asheville with my husband (who is also a native of NC). I also lost my sense of taste and smell for a few days, which was disconcerting! Needless to say, I was very unhappy about missing the opportunity to hike some of our favorite trails, but we managed to have some very good meals before I got too sick.

    I so enjoy your blog, although I must admit that it makes me homesick! Chicago is a great city, but North Carolina is home.

  • Alexandria says:

    Hey Ashley,

    How wonderful to see that you’re coming to Chicago! There are definitely plenty of places to check out and grab some wholesome food and in my area in particular I can recommend Uncommon Ground ( which is kid friendly and a pioneer of the local food movement. Musicians frequently play in the space and there are always interesting items visiting their food menu (they do wonderful eggs!).

    If I think of other things I will be sure to post. (FYI, if you’d like to stop for a cup of tea or latte you’re welcome to my cafe (Intelligentsia) at North Broadway and Belmont!

    Thanks for writing :)


  • JamieK says:

    Love the video. Much luck at the film festival!

  • Annie says:

    Swants! I want some in cable knit now to rock under my skirts and with my fluffy snow boots for winter commutes. We’ve been extra sick, too, and have just been holding it together with regular infusions of mint and honey tea with clove for the icky throat. A friend also told me about drinking baking soda? so we might try that.

  • Ania says:

    You should have watched “Perfect Sense” while sick – it would have made you feel better that you lost only 2 senses. It’s an interesting movie.