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!