Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sweet Jumps Ahead

My sincerest wishes for each and every one of you that all of your wildest dreams will come true in 2009! 

*Image courtesy of 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hear It And Weep

I'm really loving this right now. Listen on a cold winter's night with something warm to sip and something soft to cuddle.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Yes We Can!

I'm looking for a few good canners. Each book in my series will profile folks who are doing whatever the book topic is about. In this case, it's home canning and preserving. So, if you're a canner, or someone in your family cans, or you have a buddy who's homemade pickles make summer worthwhile, I'd love to connect with them. Either post a comment here, or write me directly at: All it takes is completing a short questionnaire and sending me a good digital photo of your glorious face! Come can with me! (That last sentence seriously deserves strong consideration for "dorkiest blog sentence EVER!" Apologies.)
*Sorry about the hideous quality of the photo. I took it in my quite dark pantry. After, oh, about 18 attempts, this was the best I could capture. You get the gist of what I'm suggesting, though. 

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Splendor

An aromatic welcome.
A mountain of citrus from Glenn's folks in Florida.
Weighted beauties. 
Blueberry is helping me write the next book. 
A new tribal rug from India, since Dexter chewed up the old rug. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We Come In Peace

The Best of Everything

What a week it's been! We started last Sunday with a 10 course Feast of the Seven Fishes traditional Southern Italian meal at the home of our friend Ric Scalzo (owner and founder of Gaia Herbs). The food and company and overall environs were wonderful and truly appreciated. Then, there was the roof situation, which I'm happy to report has resulted in a grand new roof that imparts to our humble abode a bit of a thatched English cottage look, appropriately enough! 
Then, on Christmas Eve, we headed to the home of our friends Nick and Meredith and their 3 1/2 year old son, Miles. They actually live in a home that I used to live in, which was beautifully constructed from a number of different types of wood over the course of 10 years from timber on the 185 acres where the house is situated. It's truly a magnificent space. 
Nick is of Lithuanian descent and on Christmas Eve, which also happens to be his birthday, he engages in a traditional Lithuanian 12 course meal. The cuisine is variable, depending on what he fancies that year and what Meredith skillfully whips up in the kitchen. Glenn and I contributed a flourless chocolate torte and a bottle of Calvados for Nick. 
A scene from the feasting. We were probably around course 6 at this point. It was delicious, and ridiculously filling. And lots of fun!
Miles decided to leave Santa ham rolls instead of cookies. What can I say? He's an iconoclastic kid with artists for parents! 

Christmas Day didn't go quite as well. I came down with some kind of nasty 24-hour flu. I stayed on my mom's couch while Glenn and Mom slaved away in the kitchen, wondering if the end was near for me. The few bites I was able to enjoy were sublime. 

Thanks to everyone for such abundance and love this week. Now that the feasting is over and the roof no longer quakes from above and all is at peace in my stomach, I'm ready to get back to working on the Canning & Preserving book. 

Oh, I promised to mention some of the handmade items I gifted our families with this year. They included, but aren't limited to: salted caramels, herbed spiced pecans, salted chocolate chip cookies, pear apple ginger marmalade, apple butter and blackberry mint preserves. 

Today my brother Walker and sister Devan share a birthday, turing 24 and 22 respectively. Happy happy to the both a ya's and here's to thoughts of brighter futures ahead for all of us!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Bed

We're getting a new roof today. There are 3 men presently ripping off old shingles with glee and abandon, like roofers do. We've needed a new roof for a long, long time, but kept putting it off. Two weeks ago, during a long, hard rain, when we had buckets and towels set out to collect drips that were occurring all over the house, it seemed that we couldn't wait any longer. You try sleeping through a constant drip 12 inches from your bed, when pillows over the head, ambient music, and even ear plugs all fail to quiet the incessant noise. 

And so, here I sit, with 3 days until Christmas, trying to write a chapter for the next book, while the cats and dogs keep giving me looks of distress and bewilderment on account of the stomping and hammering and dump trucks delivering shingles and latino music blaring to give the roofers some solace on a morning with a wind chill of -8. There are cakes and cookies for the family to be baked, fudge-making to be attempted, fires to be stoked, and canning instructions to be written. Just another day in the life. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

When I Was Just A Little Girl

This is an old Christmas card written by my youngest sister, Theo (the little blond in the picture). Devan is the one with the weird grimace and I'm the 18-year old with too much eye makeup on. I love this card. It resurfaced recently after years of living in my "letters" box. I keep it on my desk for a quick smile. Never underestimate the power of hand-written cards and letters. I've tucked away many for posterity. For me, they have the transcendent power of scents, instantly transporting me back to people and places long ago. They help me see things with fresh eyes, where I was, where I've gone, who I am becoming, how malleable reality is. 

I've been busy lately, beginning the next book and brewing up homemade concoctions for holiday gift-giving. I can't reveal too much just yet, as the recipients haven't received their gifts and many of them are readers of this blog. All secrets will be revealed in due time, though, I promise. 

*Yes, I know it looks like I have a lazy eye. No, I don't.
**Yes, I too see the weird fuzzy stuff around the photo. No, I don't have any idea what it is.
***Yes, she spelled it Chirstmax. It's an Adams Family holiday, sort of like Festivus is for the Kostanzas. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kittens Roasting By An Open Fire

Hearts and Behinds Campaign

No one ever said keeping chickens was going to be a cakewalk. I'd noticed Uno's backside looking a little less than pleasant on Friday. Yesterday, I could tell something was up and this morning, upon closer inspection, well, suffice to say, things aren't looking too altogether bootylicious for Uno right now. For those who know chickens, her cloaca is prolapsed. She's the shrimpiest gal in my flock, so passing eggs must have caused things to move a bit too much, if you see where I'm going without my having to get technical (I know some of you have weak stomachs).

So, I suited up in the clothes I reserve expressly for dealing with messes and general unpleasantness and headed out to wash a chicken's butt. We made some headway , as I plopped her fanny into a large, warm bowl of water and then rubbed her bum with honey, which is supposed to heal the wound. She looked like a wet, sticky, frazzled chicken when we were all done. Fingers and toes crossed that things will begin to heal over. She's isolated in the chicken tractor right now until things are a little less red. Chickens can be cruel and are especially interested in pecking anything red-colored, be that an earthworm or a chicken's heiney. A chicken tractor, for those who don't spend all their time pouring over chicken books (although you'll LOVE mine, whether you have chickens or not!), is simply a mobile chicken housing structure. Glenn built the most incredible one for the book and I promise to post pictures soon. The photo above, by the way, is of Uno on the day of the big photo shoot, so a big thank you to Lark books for the image. If you believe in long-distance healing chicken love, I'm sure Uno would appreciate having some sent her way today.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Do They Know It's Christmastime At All?

I think this song speaks for itself. Cherish the simple things in your life, not just during the holidays, but always.
Love to you all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Put A Little Tree In Your Yard

Christmas trees have long presented many a quandary for me. Buy a cut tree at Ikea and in exchange they plant 10? Done it. Keep a mature live tree indoors, only to have it slowly, sadly lose its needles? Old hat. Well, folks, this year, things are going to be different, and unprecedented! This year, I'm starting a new tradition. From here on out, my plan is to pick up several small potted trees each year, keep them properly watered and misted, and festooned with silvery whimsical things, and then plant them around my property at the end of the holiday season. I'm starting out with two Dwarf Alberta spruces and one Sea Green juniper. That way, I can enjoy the nobility and greenery of evergreen trees indoors without them having to sacrifice their lives. Instead, I'll treat them like house guests, accommodating their needs, and knowing that eventually they will move on. 
Since the little guys don't put off as much scent as their mature counterparts, each night I've been lighting a Aloha Bay  natural essential oil candle called, appropriately, "Christmas Tree." It's scented with fir balsam, white cedar, and musk and makes me feel like I felt on Christmas Eve when I was 8 years old and my mom played Barbara Streisand albums REALLY LOUD all night long to mask the sound of our whining-puppy-Christmas-Day-jackpot-present that was alone and scared in the garage. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

So, Tell Me What You Want

As I write this, it is snowing sideways. The snowflakes are actually coming down horizontally. The Raising Chickens book is almost complete and I'm getting geared up to begin writing about Canning & Preserving. At present,  I am flanked by 4 of my 5 cats. The wood stove is ablaze and these cats know a good thing when they feel it. I was wondering this morning, when all 5 cats were surrounding me, why it is that, when people go crazy in their homes, there is often an unusually large number of cats to be found in the vicinity. Why don't people loose touch with reality whilst in the company of numerous dogs, or rabbits, or parakeets? Why cats? Well, I have 5 and though the sanity level in my home can be questionable at times, I feel as though my bearings are on fairly tight. But I digress....

The intention of this post is to conduct an unofficial poll. I'm looking ahead to the next two books in the series, and it was suggested by my editor's boss that I poll my readership, as well as the readers of several other blogs, to determine what book topics people are most interested in reading about. So far, potential future topics include, but are in no way limited to:

-organic gardening/edible landscaping
-cordials, elixirs, and bitters
-salting, smoking, drying, and cellaring
-herbal products for baby, bath, pets, and home
-growing your own flowers

So, what strikes you as most intriguing? What seems most timely? What is missing? Those of you who might read blog this regularly (or sporadically!) and have not yet commented (or "de-lurked" as it is known in blog-speak), please feel free to do so. In fact, feel free to poll your own readers, if you are yourself a blogger. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Welcome to the Jungle

The holiday season is upon us! Thanksgiving at my house included a veritable feast of culinary delights, amongst them: creamed chard, cornbread stuffing, parmesan black pepper biscuits, cranberry ginger tangerine compote, herbs de provence rubbed turkey, scallops with a lemon fig jam, mustard mashed potatoes, red pepper corn, butternut squash sage gratin, pumpkin ricotta cheesecake, and an apple pecan pie. Whew! Oh, there was also a smoked trout spread and a feta pimento cheese dip with chipotle sauce. 

I believe the highlight of the evening, however, had to be the cutthroat game of Cranium played by myself, my husband, four wonderful friends, my mother, and my 83 year-old grandmother, aka "Nanny." Mom, Nanny, and my long-time friend Nick made up "Team Sexy" while the rest of us fell into either "Team Indigo" or "The Pits." The Pits suffered no fools, winning by a wide margin, although Team Sexy justly deserved honorable mention. It was a truly wonderful day.

The "rein-goats" above are from nearby goat farm Spinning Spider Creamery. Moving in to chomp the camera, and making strange guttural noises all the while, is Izzy, while Suki's "you want a piece of me" disposition is fairly obvious, no? The lovely ladies were on hand for portrait taking at the downtown Asheville City Market, heralding the arrival of the holiday season. Truly decadent offerings were provided by Farm & Sparrow, including jumbo brioche and pumpkin & herb-filled pastry triangles. Another holiday-appropriate score was "Jumpin' Juniper" goat cheese spread from Three Graces Dairy. Check out your local farmer's markets, as everything from coffeecakes to fir wreaths to hot cider is most likely now ripe for the taking (well, for the right price...).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chicken Love

In advance of publication of the book series I am authoring, I will be doing a number of promotional videos, discussing everything from chickens, to canning, to shopping at farmer's markets, and beyond.

Below is the first video clip. It was filmed by my friend and editor, Nicole McConville, at my home earlier this month. I invite you to view it and pass it on to any friends of fine feathered friends that you may know!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A robe of one's own

It's pretty cold 'round here lately. Yesterday morning, the outdoor thermometer read 17 degrees. That's unseasonably cold for here. In addition to working steadfastly on the wood stove, we employ ample use of flannel chez English in our efforts at staying warm when the mercury plunges. 
The above image is of my new robe. It's plaid, it's flannel, and it's big, which makes it an instant winner in my book. It's also a men's robe. Turns out most of the colors I prefer for my wardrobe are not the colors clothing designers believe women desire. While my palette is admittedly on the darker end of the color spectrum, I don't think I'm the only female wishing to wrap herself up in something other than pink terry cloth snowflakes. 
This robe, created by the charmingly titled "Knotty Woodpecker" line, is a men's small. On me, it's a women's XXL. I love it, though. Paired with wool socks, a pot of hot tea, the occasional hot toddy, and the aforementioned wood stove, I'm making friends with Jack Frost. I'd really love to pick up one of these incredible hot water bottle covers from Toast, out of the U.K.. My hot water bottle, while fighting off cramps and warming toes with equal skill, falls terribly short of anything resembling "lovely." More like big, pink, rubber hideousness. Europeans have a good thing going with their ubiquitous use of hot water bottles. If you haven't done so yet, try out a hot water bottle. Get a plaid flannel robe of your own, slide a hot water bottle under the sheets (flannel, if you really want to gild the lily), and fall into a winter wonderland. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Catching a Buzz

Lately, it's all about the bees. I put honey in my tea and local bee pollen on my morning yogurt. In fact, I put honey AND pollen on my morning yogurt. I buy plain, organic, whole milk yogurt, scoop about 1/2 c.  in a bowl, drizzle it with honey, and sprinkle about 1 Tbsp. of bee pollen on top of it. Since I've been doing this, I have succumbed to neither a head cold nor seasonal allergies. And, yes, I'm knocking on wood as I write this. Give it a go yourself. Find some local honey or pollen, consume it regularly, and note your response. You'll be supporting bee keepers, helping bee communities to thrive, and heaping nutrients into your body all at the same time. 
I also took an introduction to bee-keeping class just over a week ago. I'll begin bee-keeping school in early February and hope to have a hive by this spring. The thought of being a keeper of bees enthralls me beyond description.
I've also been enjoying bee-related decor lately. This beehive cake pan was a gift I gave my friend Sharon for her birthday. As "Little Bee" is her nickname, it seemed appropriate. I've also enjoyed the jewelry of this designer. Her hive-motif pendants capture the innate magic and mystery inherent in the honeycomb. Perhaps some of you local folks would be interested in bee school as well? There's potential for pleasure, pain, and profit! 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Remember the Sabbath

It's Sunday, which means I'm doing things like piling logs into the wood stove (note the spectral reflection?), making a go of it at yeast-based bread-making, working on the Introduction to Raising Chickens, watching the sun set over the mountains from my office window, and looking over old letters from friends, including a correspondence with Ryan Adams from back in '91. It's funny, the people you meet, having no idea who they will become. 

The dogs are jostling for ownership of a random animal leg bone they found outside. That's actually an upgrade from the dead shrew Dexter was running around with this morning. I missed that he'd brought it indoors, where he unceremoniously deposited it beside the dining room table. Country living at its finest. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Assorted & Sundry

Sarah at saipua tagged me for some randomness, so, here goes:

-Lately, I've been really feeling Carly Simon; I listened to "You're So Vain" about 5 times on Sunday and then sang it in the shower, LOUDLY. Go on, do it; you know you want to. 

-I like to smell my cat's and dog's breath. Not so much the chicken's. Definitely not the turtle's.

-My inner hootchie is pretty strong; it evidences itself when watching youtube videos, 'specially this one.

-I've talked to my dad every day on the phone, except Sundays, since I was five (Hi Pop!).

-The sound of knives being sharpened is excruciating for me. Reminds me of having worn braces, twice.

-I am the person who looks in people's medicine cabinets. I feel no shame about this.

-Eventually, if we get close, I will nickname you; if we're really close, you'll get, like, 5 nicknames-terms of endearment, if you will.

O-kay, there you have it, complete and utter randomness. To do this next, list seven random things about yourself, that is, I tag:
Natasha at the Red Heart, Anna at Door Sixteen, Jenny at Wikstenmade, and Shari at the glass doorknob. Sorry ladies. I know you're all busy and that I unabashedly lurk around your blogs everyday, but a tagged lady's got to do what a tagged lady's got to do. Call of duty, you know?

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Sarah Palin Moment

Turns out, when I have my hair done up exceptionally fancy and loads of make-up on, some folks think I look like S.P.. This is a comparison I don't take lightly. 

While this is the dress I wore for my wedding, compliments of the lovely and amazing R. Brooke Priddy, my hair and face were considerably less chi-chi. I mean, I was married in a field and then danced lasciviously in a tent; there's no place for precious hair there. 

These photos are from a photo shoot I did a few weeks ago with Audrey Goforth, who is working on her portfolio. The flowers were by Aria Floral. Turns out, some of the shots will be in "Weddings With Style." Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be in such a publication. I find it hilarious. After the shoot, I came home, de-bobby pinned, scrubbed my face so hard it felt wind-burned, and went to see David Byrne, who soothes all wounds. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change Has Come

It's a new day, America. It's an historic time to be living in this country, participating in this experiment in democracy. We've got a long way to go, but at least it now seems like all hands are on deck. I've never seen so much awareness and participation in the shaping and formation of American government as I have in recent months. According to polls in numerous countries across the globe, this is the outcome that was hoped for. It's an exciting time. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Eggs & Gloves( & Voting!)

Originally uploaded by periphery...
Here it is! Evidence of the photo shoot that happened yesterday out here. This picture was captured by the lovely and amazing Nicole, the best friend and editor a gal could ever hope for. Lynne Harty and her intrepid assistant Daniel took some truly stunning pictures of chickens and eggs and their accoutrement in every assorted manner. I'm in a couple of them, too. And Fly and Dexter made a cameo! Chris, Lark's creative director extraordinaire, worked his magic later in the day. Glenn made a roasted veggie soup that is the stuff of dreams, which we wolfed down alongside equally rhapsodic egg-salad sandwiches and hard cider. The weather and chickens couldn't have been more cooperative. All in all a wonderful day.

Only one more chapter to complete this week and then it's just lots of little loose ends and short entries. Not that it's done, far from it, but most of the real nitty-gritty tasks have been stared in the face.
Let's hope today is just as magical as yesterday. Gobama!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunshine On My Shoulder Makes Me Happy

This morning, I woke up to the first snow dusting of the season. And good morning hugs from Blueberry (sorry about the shaky nature of the photo, but my left arm was otherwise indisposed). 

It's Dexter's first snow ever and he's running around like a maniac outside. I think I'm going to like today.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Great Pumpkin Patch Face Mask

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and it couldn't be more true than when applied to body care needs. Autumn, in all her splendor, has brought on the swift need for firing up the wood stove in my house, which is one of the housekeeping routines I honestly enjoy most. Makes me feel strong and capable and husky.
However, every time I blow on the first flickers, helping to fuel the flames, I inevitably get a big face full of smoke. Repeated numerous times, my fire-starter earnestness both warms the house and dries out my skin. Glenn, the dogs and the cats get a toasty abode while I get leatherface. 
To combat this, I recently took a cue from the bounty of pumpkins I've seen adorning both front stoops and fields. Pumpkins have loads of vitamins and antioxidants, plus they moisturize your skin to boot. So, I whipped up a mask, slathered it on, did the requisite bathrobed-pumpkin-faced-zombie-with-arms-outstretched-thing for Glenn's benefit, and enjoyed a rosy, smooth, complexion for the rest of the week. No more rawhide face for this country lady!

Home made Pumpkin Face Mask:
-1/4 c. pumpkin puree
-2 Tbsp. whole milk yogurt
  Mix together, slather liberally on your face and neck, leave on for 15 minutes, and rinse off with warm water. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Hugs & The Bees

Yesterday's Hard Lox festival in downtown Asheville proved to be the ultimate schmear campaign (I really wish I could take credit for such a witty phrase, but, 'twas not mine, 'twas the event's organizer). It was lively, fragrant, tasty, pleasing to the ear, and well attended. The highlight, though, had to be the Free Hug man. Nicole and I both partook. 
Local cultural and heritage celebrations can be a great way to meet and connect with folks in your community. Take a gander at your local news source and see what's happening in your town. You can also often find some incredible free classes and events in your community when you start looking. An upcoming workshop I'll be taking and couldn't be more excited about is on beginning bee-keeping. All you Ashevillians out there might want to consider this. Bee-keeping and stewardship couldn't be more timely or more vital. Happy communing, ya'll!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hard Times, Hard Cider

I meant to post again sooner, but, alas, life had other plans. Those plans, in no particular order, included: helping my friends make flower magic happen on 3 weddings, hosting my in-laws for 4 days, building a chicken tractor with my long-suffering husband, visiting the Biltmore estate for the first time since I was 16 and delighting in the Vanderbilt's contribution to the establishment of the Pisgah national forest, writing 3 chapters for my "Raising Chickens" book, visiting an apple orchard with my grandmother and mom, tending to an injured chicken, making a pumpkin cake with brown butter and caramelized walnuts (thanks Martha!) for my brother, baking goodies for my friend Nicole's fabulous birthday party (there was a 5-person accordion performance-need I say more?), buying firewood, and breaking in my new autumn coat. I also realized during this period that I am considerably less reclusive than I had imagined myself to be. I suppose I'd taken all my work-related social interactions for granted. 

To that end, I decided to "take back the social" and have ramped up girlfrienderly get-togethers. Which is how I came across the best Hot Toddy ever at local watering hole The Admiral. In all honesty, it is the only hot toddy I have ever had, and so, having no others to compare it to, the odds in its favor were considerably high. Nevertheless, this drink was good. Really good. Warm your toes, your tongue, and your belly good. What separates this hot toddy from the rest, I've since learned, is the inclusion of apple cider. And so, in the spirit of all things local and toe-warming as the weather chills and the stock market plunges, I encourage you to pick up a jug of apple cider(preferably from a nearby orchard), select your favorite bourbon, find a source of local honey (great for sweetening things up AND for keeping seasonal allergies in check!), and hoist a glass. 
Hot Apple Cider Toddy:
Serves 1
-3/4 c. fresh apple cider
-2 oz. bourbon or whiskey
-1 Tbsp. honey
-2 tsp. lemon juice
-pinch of ground cinnamon
*Warm the apple cider. Drizzle honey into bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add cider, bourbon, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. The top of the cocktail shaker may pop off a bit at the beginning as the contents expand from the warmed cider, so you may want to shake container over a sink. Strain contents into a glass and serve!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Leader of the Flock (One Day..)

This goes out to Buffy, my Buff Orhphington. Our German Shepherd, Fly, attacked her the other day. Somehow the gate to the coop wasn't properly latched and Fly saw the chickens in the yard at exactly the same moment I did. Buffy took a hit, but I think she's going to be alright. I never imagined I'd find myself sitting inside a large dog crate with a sequestered chicken, administering poultry antibiotic (it's cherry flavored, mind you..) by beak with a syringe. Her beak, not mine. She laid an egg last night, which promptly cracked on the bottom of the dog crate, but it's a good sign nonetheless. Godspeed you, little Fluff.

**True story: This song used to make me weep as a child. For no apparent reason. I was struck by its profound beauty, or something akin, I suppose. Completely true. Ask my Dad. Thanks for the memories Vangelis.

***Follow-up: Buffy is doing splendidly, albeit with a few less feathers these days. Thanks for all your mental chicken hugs!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Keep It Clean, People

I am an avowed recycler. Have been for over a decade. In fact, when I lived in an apartment in Washington, D.C. that didn't have a recycling program, I even hoarded my recyclables for 10 months (!!!) until a friend with a pick-up truck helped me get them to a recycling facility. Glenn and I recycle everything that we can now, from junk mail, to toilet paper rolls, to the more obvious glass, plastic, and aluminum. There are, however, on occasion, items I encounter which I become suspicious about whether their entire contents are recyclable. For instance, plastic spray bottles for household cleaning products. While the bottle itself, if imprinted with a #1 or #2 in the chasing arrows on the bottom, may be recyclable, what about the spray nozzle? Do I toss it in the trash, destined for the landfill, or leave it atop the bottle it came with, and toss it in the recycling bin full of wishful thinking?

Neither option has ever appealed to me, so I came up with what I think is the best alternative: make my own replacement cleaning solution to go right back in that now-empty bottle. Dilemma solved! Plus, in the long run, you save a heap by whipping up your own brew. The materials used in the solution are common, inexpensive household items, aside from a few essential oils. The oils, though, will last for some time as only a few drops are required with each batch. Once your ingredients are assembled, it takes only about 5 minutes or less from start to finish to prepare your homemade cleaning solution. It smells great, it's naturally anti-bacterial, it's inexpensive to make, and it eradicates the spray nozzle quandary.

Homemade, Dollar-Saving, Fragrance-Uplifting, All-Purpose Spray

You will need:
-1 empty 32 oz. spray bottle
-1/2 c. Distilled White Vinegar
-3/4 c. Hydrogen Peroxide
-2 c. Water
-1 tsp. Castille Soap 
-20 drops Tea Tree Oil
-20 drops Lemongrass Oil

*Place all ingredients in spray bottle using a funnel or measuring cup with a spout. Shake vigorously and use with abandon!
(Recipe Source: "Gorgeously Green" by Sophie Uliano)

Friday, September 26, 2008

And They Call It Puppy Love

Not to slight my 5 cats, but I think I'm becoming a dog person. It was pretty chilly here yesterday evening and my pooches and I snuggled on the couch. It was a 2 dog evening. They warmed me right up, plus, they have velvety ears I like to rub. A cat on the lap is pretty darn nice, but thermal mass isn't really their realm of excellence, you know?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Airing My Laundry

So, Buncombe County, where I live, is running out of gas, thanks to Ike. And bureaucracy. I haven't gone out much in the past few days, which is great when one is working on writing a series of books!
In recognition of the gas crunch, and my own dependence on fossil fuels, I've decided to, in the true spirit of "small measures", take back the air! Literally. What that means is that I'm returning to line-drying my laundry. With 5 indoor cats and 2 dogs, it doesn't do much in the way of remove animal fur from freshly laundered items, but it sure does cut down on the electric use. Plus, it smells all mineral-y and sunshine encapsulated. Or something akin. Go ahead. Don't take my word for it. Air your formerly dirty laundry yourself!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dark & Spicy

Here's a quick tip I've been intending to mention but just never seem to remember. I'm burning essential oil of peppermint, rosemary and roman chamomile at the moment, however, which allegedly help both memory and motivation, so, I figure this is the chance to write it down.
So, I do this little trick with coffee when I make it at home that renders it truly exquisite. It's easy, it's cheap, it's delicious, and it takes you places. What's the trick? When grinding up your beans, crack open a cardamom pod and drop the seeds in along with the coffee. Be sure to toss the pod into the compost; it's just the seeds you're after. 
Grind it up until you've rendered the beans to a fine powder. Add to your press or coffee pot, add water, and voila! Your own Turkish coffee facsimile, in the quiet pleasure of your own jammies. 
I haven't tried it out yet, but I think a bit of cinnamon bark or a whole clove would create an equally aromatic cuppa joe. Bottoms up!

Reading Is Fun!

For those of you who may not know, my husband Glenn plays Scrabble competitively. It's rather cutthroat, albeit it civil, from what I gather. Each Sunday, we kiss and part ways, he to spend the next 4 hours huddled over a Scrabble board at a big box book retailer, me to make a cake, scratch the dog, take out the compost.

This past Sunday, he returned bearing gifts. Unsolicited gifts. Not-my-birthday-or-Christmas gifts. He's like that. The generous gifter. In any event, amongst the book store gifts he festooned me with was a copy of "Gorgeously Green" by Sophie Uliano. I'm no stranger to the craft of greening home and body and community, but this book, well, it's got it going on. 

Covering everything from beauty to health to transport, food, travel, even appliances, "Gorgeously Green" is THE definitive tome for ladies who want to have, as she puts it, "one Jimmy Choo on the pavement, the other in the soil." Not that I wear Jimmy Choos, or ever aspire to (last shoe purchase was work boots!); not that I get manicures, or ever aspire to (my nails can generally be found with dirt underneath of them, thank you very much); not that I need glamour on a regular basis (although I did work on my chicken book wearing high heels at home last week because, well, I blame Sheila E.). 

Despite all the "not that's," this book provides an abundance of valuable information. If you're already a dyed in the wool "Gorgeously Green" lady, then get this book for your friends. It's powerful. If you still need convincing, consider that the author got Oprah and Julia Roberts to espouse vermiculture, complete with visibly slithering worms, on Oprah's show. 'Nuf said.