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!