Gifts: Shopping-Free Gift Guide 2020

November 23, 2020

Each year, I think I’m going to be too busy to craft handmade gifts for the holidays. And each year, I end up doing it anyway. The idea of running around stores to the tune of holiday muzak and pouring money into stuff made thousands of miles away feels ultimately… Read more

Hand-made natural beeswax candles

November 5, 2020

These are pretty dark days. Let’s make some light! If you’ve never made natural beeswax candles before, now is a great time to give it a try. Handmade candles add magic and comfort to your fall and winter nights. You can also save money by making your own. But it’s… Read more

Local Seasonal Recipe: Butternut Squash Lasagna

October 14, 2020

Let me get straight to business. This is the meal you need to make this fall. No excuses. When our closest neighbors had a baby a year and a half ago, I made them this dish. They’ve repeatedly made coy requests about whether I might make it again. As in,… Read more

Garden-to-table Buckwheat

October 11, 2020

This weekend, we had garden-to-table buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. We ate them about 20 feet from the garden bed where said buckwheat grew. This buckwheat is my first real homegrown grain harvest, and it checks all the boxes for me: gluten-free, locally sourced and hands down delicious, with a distinctive… Read more

Rotational Grazing with Backyard Chickens

October 6, 2020

Rotational grazing — rotating animals across pastures — is a common practice in large-scale sustainable farming. Put simply, it means subdividing a pasture area into smaller paddocks with fencing, and moving the grazing animals from one paddock to another on a specific timeline. The idea is to create a strategic… Read more

naturally dyed yarn

Colors from the Garden: Growing Natural Dyes

September 17, 2020

How would you like to be able to grow your own colors in your yard? To have non-toxic, natural dye pigments for dyeing textiles, wool yarns, or even children’s art supplies and soaps? If you have a garden, chances are that there are already some plants there you could dye… Read more

Gather Nuts, Gather Community: Interview with the Asheville Nuttery

September 7, 2020

What if there was a food crop hanging from trees that line your neighborhood streets — delicious and versatile, rich in unsaturated fats, fiber and minerals? What if it was available for free, yours for the picking? And what if it also required minimal human input, fertilizers, or pesticides, created… Read more

Simple Herbal Remedies from the Garden

August 28, 2020

Making your own herbal medicine may seem daunting at first if you’re new to it. Medicine tends to seen as the domain of specialists — and for a good reason, as this year’s events attest. I’m not formally trained as an herbalist. I’m a gardener, a cook, and a maker,… Read more

Homemade Summer Drinks

July 29, 2020

Sometime in April, we ran out of the refillable carbon cartridges for making bubbly water at home. “That’s it,” I declared to my slightly dismayed partner and daughter. “From now on, we’ll drink plain filtered water — or we’ll make our own bubbles.” (Make our own bubbles. Doesn’t that just… Read more

Garden Tour Video

July 6, 2020

Welcome to the inaugural video garden tour of our urban homestead! Friends and family both far and near have asked me for a while to post a video tour of the garden. Here it is at last! On the video, I share how we transformed a 1/3-acre urban lot with… Read more

Ways to Support Racial Justice in Food and Farming

June 14, 2020

As the outrage over police brutality towards Black Americans, and the discrimination and inequities facing the U.S. Black populations, has washed over this country over the last weeks, we’ve been forced to examine the system that has led to this and our own part in it. Each of us needs… Read more

How to Get Started with Making Cheese

April 29, 2020

This week, I made my first-ever Parmesan cheese. Even as I try to eat an increasingly local diet, Parmesan will probably stay on the list of the almost-sacred imported foods we’ll keep eating at my house, along with chocolate and olive oil. But now that we’re all playing this game… Read more

DIY Natural Household Cleaners

April 21, 2020

I’m probably not the only one who’s become much more conscious about cleaning my home these days. But what to do when you run out of basic household cleaners, and are trying to avoid going to the store? DIY eco-friendly household cleaners to the rescue! I’ve been making my own… Read more

For the new gardener

April 18, 2020

Dear new gardener, If you’re planting your first edible garden this spring — first of all, thank you for taking this step. You’re taking responsibility for your needs and for your family’s needs. You’re taking responsibility for your food and how it’s grown, and that’s incredibly powerful in today’s world.… Read more

Staying Grounded in a Pandemic

March 25, 2020

If you’re going to name your website “Grounded Life,” you’d better embrace it when life gets, well, really grounded. Not just in the sense of earthy, rooted, close-to-the-ground, and balanced… but in terms of halted, unable to take flight or, as the dictionary puts it “not allowed to participate in… Read more

Homemade Ginger Beer

January 27, 2020

DIY bubbly drinks! Who doesn’t like the refreshing, popping sensation of fizzy drinks? We don’t drink a lot of soda in our house, but we do have a fondness… and a sometimes-addiction… to ginger ale. Homemade ginger beer is a really easy DIY version — and you can adjust that… Read more

Raising Nature-literate Kids

January 14, 2020

A is for acorn, B is for bluebell, C is for clover. My daughter is holding in her hands a “spellbook of lost words.” The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris captures this moment in time when we’re rapidly losing not only knowledge about the natural world, but… Read more

Winter Holidays: The Slow and Simple Edition

December 11, 2019

Welcome the winter holidays: a season of togetherness, festivity, and warmth — right in the middle of the gloomiest, darkest, coldest time of the year, when we most need a pause and a good dose of cheer. But too often the cultural and social expectations we layer onto this season… Read more

Climate-beneficial Wardrobe

November 27, 2019

Everyone is talking about the carbon footprint of food, and the search for the most “climate-friendly” diet sparks lively debates. But clothes, too, are something we choose and need daily. Clothing is an intimate matter. It touches our skin all day long, like only someone very dear to us gets… Read more

Energize Your Winter Days with Citrus

November 21, 2019

Food is medicine. Whether it’s winter blues or the common cold, you can find potent remedies among edible plants that really, really help. You don’t need an advanced degree in herbal medicine; some of the most powerful healing foods are available at the grocery stores and markets. And as the… Read more

Fall Garden Checklist

October 17, 2019

When the harvest season winds down and the abundance of the late summer and early fall has been brought in, it’s the time to put the garden to bed. Here’s how to prepare your garden for the winter and for optimal vigor in the spring. Harvest the last of… basil… Read more

Local Meal Ideas

September 23, 2019

“Eat Local” is a slogan many of us are ready to stand behind. Local food is cool on a hot planet: we know that freshly harvested food is more nutritious, eating local supports local farmers and growers, and there’s no fossil fuels wasted on insanely long shipping distances. Yet, in… Read more

Quick & Easy Ricotta Cheese

September 12, 2019

Blessed are the Cheesemakers! I don’t know which motivates me more to make cheese: the promise of the satisfying flavors at the end, or the process itself. The sweet smell of milk being heated and the way the cheese curds get transformed before my eyes makes me squeal inwardly with… Read more

How to Prepare for a Locavore Month

September 4, 2019

Does the idea of “local food” and “slow food” resonate with you? Are you curious to see what it would be like to eat only from your own region’s farmers and producers for a period of time? This month, I’m committing to one month of eating only from my bioregion… Read more

Play in the Dirt: The Potent Antidepressant Called Gardening

August 27, 2019

  Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.            – John Muir   A dear friend who’s going through a divorce and a lot of exhausting relationship drama has a place where it all dissolves and falls away. Her apartment building… Read more

Why Design Your Life?

August 9, 2019

I admit that I’ve tended to view the phrase “life design” with suspicion. Isn’t this just another by-product of our hyper-individualistic postmodern culture — this idea that we should design our lives? At its face, it seems self-absorbed and elitist. Surely, only people who have the privilege of ample leisure… Read more

The regenerative urban garden II: Sheet mulching

July 3, 2019

This is the second in a series of posts about regenerative gardening techniques. Read Part I on No-till here! If you’ve heard of permaculture, you’ve probably heard of sheet mulching. Sometimes it feels like the two are treated almost as synonyms: every Permaculture Design Course must include the initiation rite… Read more

The regenerative urban garden I: No-till gardening

May 16, 2019

I am an advocate of regenerative farming. But I am not a farmer myself. The piece of land I steward is 1/3 acre — still sizable for an urban lot, but laughably minuscule compared to what Real Farmers are working with. Yet, when I landed here last year and set… Read more

Wild greens in the spring kitchen

May 6, 2019

Long before those first, tentative leaves of lettuce in the garden are ready for harvesting, nature’s spring greens have already gotten a head start. No need to wait to start eating from the land! Here are some of my favorite wild-foraged spring greens and what I like to do with… Read more

How to deepen your sense of place

April 29, 2019

We all live somewhere. We’re all from someplace. What does it mean, then, for some of us to have a more awakened sense of place than others? Is a sense of place something that can be deepened, or nurtured, with practice? Sense of place is hard to describe; it’s often… Read more

Why the material life matters

March 29, 2019

Why am I writing about material life, the pleasures of rediscovering a connection to land through the things we eat and use and consume? After all, I was trained as a historian of the spiritual life, and specialized in the study of the kinds of people who specifically shunned all… Read more

Spring Foraging: Nettles

March 26, 2019

Nettles are a free superfood, yours for the pickin’ at the forest. It’s one of the most nutritious plants around: rich in vitamins A and C, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. Once blanched to remove the sting, they can be used in virtually any recipe that calls for spinach.… Read more