Our lives have changed a lot in the past 50 years alone. We regularly talk about the need to rediscover whole foods, natural beauty products, home remedies and living more creatively. But something else important is missing from our lives as well: a sense of community.
Creating Community is a new occasional series on VintageAmanda where we have a virtual “cup of tea and a sit down” with a kindred spirit.
We start off with this chat with Ashley English of Small Measure.
Grab a cup of tea, get comfortable and let’s meet Ashley…
Ashley English is a writer, mama to a 1 year old “wild child” and wife living in a small mountain community. She is the Author of the “Homemade Living” book series which showcases topics related to small-scale homesteading and some of the diverse ways people are reconnecting with their food and food communities and taking up sustainable food practices. Her fifth book, A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Homebaked Pies, is coming out in August 2012.
You might also know Ashley from her popular column on Design*Sponge, or her own blog, Small Measure.
Personally I’ve been a fan of her Design*Sponge column for ages, because we clearly share the same interests in kitchen experiments, natural beauty treatments, foraging, fresh herbs and whole foods! If you like VintageAmanda, you’re going to love Ashley’s column. Here are some of her posts you might want to check out:
Edible Spring Wildflowers (foraging!)
“Perfect is the enemy of good.” Just take the plunge!
Amanda: Ashley, I love that you do so many simple, practical, homemade projects – like herb-infused vodkas, homemade butter, etc. How did you get started making things yourself?
Ashley: I’m a big “just go for it” sort of person. I think timidity about doing things “just right” can be crippling.
There’s an old adage “perfect is the enemy of good.” I think it’s important to just take the plunge sometimes, and see what you come up with.
Also, many items I find myself interested in can be cost-prohibitive to purchase retail, so I’ve ended up experimenting with making them myself.
Handmade is empowering!
Why do you think it’s important that people learn to make things themselves?
It’s empowering! The more in charge you are of how something is grown, or prepared, or constructed, the more knowledge you have in your arsenal.
Navigating through life with a set of do-it-yourself resources comes in handy on so many levels, as there’s often transference between seemingly different pools of knowledge.
What is your favorite project of all time?
Oh wow, that’s a tough one. I love so many projects I’ve done, for some many different reasons. I especially love food projects I’ve done, like eating wild flowers, or making herbal sun teas, or making homemade butter. People seem to especially enjoy those.
How do you manage everything that you do? You do tons of writing including 5 books, your blog and your D*S column among others, not to mention caring for your 1 year old!
I do everything with, and because of, my husband, Glenn. Without him, there’d be no books, no blog, no recipes, no freelance writing. Between watching Huxley, our young son, helping with creative ideas and project development, doing recipe development with me, and all sorts of other property and house projects and tasks, he’s the grease that oils the “English” machine. His help is absolutely indispensable.
Ashley’s simple suggestion for a healthier life.
I often hear from readers that they’re too busy to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. What would you recommend for ONE simple change readers can make to have a healthier life.
I’d suggest growing some type of food. It can be anything, in-ground or in containers. This includes windowsill herbs.
Growing your own food, nurturing it, tending to it, and then incorporating it into your meals connects you in an incredibly profound way with the cycles and rhythms of the natural world. We’re part of that world, and I think we often forget and/or overlook that, as we’re often so divorced from food growth and food pathways.
Traits like slowness, gentleness, attentiveness and mindfulness are integral to growing food successfully; in turn, these traits enrich our lives.
Growing food benefits us, therefore, on so many levels. We nurture our minds, bodies and souls, simultaneously.
The ultimate healthy living tip.
Can you share any tips for readers who would like to live more natural, healthy, handmade lifestyles?
My favorite suggestion is simply to get outside.
Whether it’s to grow something, to go for a meandering, exploratory walk, to eat al fresco (either at home or at a restaurant), to visit a farm or orchard, to sit and read by a creek, to go for a hike on a mountain, to play soccer, what have you.
Getting outdoors more regularly makes you appreciate our planet more, and I’d argue, want to be a better steward of it in the process.
I couldn’t agree more. Thanks, Ashley, for your time with us!
VintageAmanda readers – please check out Ashley’s work and let us know what YOU do to live a healthier, more creative, handmade lifestyle in the comments!