I first "met" Ashley English when I discovered her Homemade Living Series at my local library when I was seeking tips for my backyard homesteading endeavors.
Since then, I have been inspired by many of Ashley’s wonderful publications, and I have the privilege of both meeting her in person (At the Taproot Gathering at Squam back in 2013) and sharing pages as a contributor in Taproot Magazine.
I am excited to share that Ashley has just published a new book!
It is with great pleasure that I am sharing my recent conversation with her as well as an opportunity for YOU to win a copy of her new book Homemade Living: Home Apothecary with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Create Natural Health and Body Care Products courtesy of Sterling Publishing.
A: I live on 11 forested acres in the small town of Candler, about 15 minutes west of downtown Asheville, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I share my home with my husband Glenn, our sons Huxley (age 8) and Alistair (age 2), cats Harold and Maude, dog Dexter, and a flock of chickens.
Glenn and I work together from home full time on books (of which there are 11), magazine articles, classes, lectures, workshops, and assorted and sundry homesteading projects. Huxley goes to the sweetest little Reggio-inspired nature school on an organic farm a few towns over, and Alistair is with us at all times (for now, at least!).
We work and talk and write about anything related to natural living and small-scale homesteading. Additionally, Glenn has an MFA with a concentration in color, so he also does work related to color consulting and information, as well as various art-related classes.
A. When I met my husband in 2007, I was working as a nutrition consultant and medical assistant at an integrative medical practice in Asheville, NC.
Glenn already owned the property and home where we live, which had been a certified organic edible flower and herb farm when he bought it in 2005. There were still several hoop houses on the land, and, as much as I loved the patients and staff at the doctor’s office, I thought about taking a big leap and maybe bringing back the farm.
I gave a month’s notice, and literally days before my final day of work, I got a call from a close friend, who also happened to be a senior editor at Lark Books at the time, asking if I would like to write a homesteading book series (later titled “Homemade Living with Ashley English”), as I was already doing all of the topics she hoped to include in the series.
So, I left work, took a month off, and then jumped headfirst into writing my first two books in tandem, “Keeping Chickens” and “Canning & Preserving,” which published on the same day in 2010. After that, I authored three more books with Lark, including two more titles in the “Homemade Living” series (“Keeping Bees” and “Home Dairy” which published in 2011), and a book on seasonal pie-making, “A Year Of Pies” (published in 2012).
I then pitched several books to Lark, but they were all turned down. Then, Amanda Soule of Soulemama and Taproot, reached out and asked if I’d like to write for Taproot, which she was just starting. We traveled up to Maine in March 2012 for the magazine’s launch and stayed with the Soule family. During our time together, Amanda asked what new books I was working on. I told her how things had stalled, and she asked if she could connect me with her editor at Roost Books, Jenn Urban-Brown. That connection turned into four books with Roost.
I also have since put together with Lark a collected edition of the first four books in the Homemade Living series, entitled “The Essential Book of Homesteading.” Additionally, the newest title in that series, “Home Apothecary with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Create Natural Health and Body Care Products”, officially publishes October 1st, 2019.
Q. What strategies do you use to balance your professional life with your family life and your role as a mother?
A. Well, as I joked when you previously interviewed me, when you work for yourself, you’re kind of always working, especially when you work from home, and even more so when there are little ones underfoot. It can be difficult to differentiate those separate spheres of captial W “Work” from home life. Fortunately, much of my paying work dovetails with home life. For instance, if I’m writing recipes for a magazine, then that takes care of dinner, too! Or, if I’m doing an out-of-town lecture but it’s at a location that’s not too terribly far away, the whole family goes together and makes a fun little exursion out of it.
I’m also fortunate in that I have Glenn around. Which is to say, there’s an extra adult on hand at all times, both for working with professionally, and for helping watch Alistair, who is 2 ½.
The back story on Alistair, though, was much more harrowing than the sort of cavalier way I’m mentioning him here. I’d had pre-eclampsia with Huxley, so we knew to keep an eye out for it with Alistair, as you’re much more likely to have pre-e with subsequent pregnancies. With Huxley, though, I made it to almost 39 weeks in my pregnancy. With Alistair, however, everything went sideways when I was only 27 weeks along.
As a result, he was born 13 weeks premature, weighing just a wee 1 pound, 12 ounces at his birth on April 5, 2017. He spent the next 79 days in the NICU at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC. Fortunately, since we work for ourselves, and since Huxley was being homeschooled at the time, the three of us were able to come to the hospital every single day during his lengthy NICU stay, offering skin-to-skin kangaroo care, and to even introduce nursing when he was only 30 weeks! It was a tremendously difficult time, suffice to say.
The following year was equally challenging, as the hospital staff told us to keep him out of the general public (at least indoors) for a year after he came home on June 23rd. An entire year! Phew. Well, we managed to keep him safe and healthy. Aside from emergency surgery on a herniated hydrocele he was born with last September, he has no residual health issues from his micro-premie birth whatsoever. What a miralce he is! And with a full head of red hair and a mischevious, rascally nature, he keeps us on our toes, from day one all the way on up to today!
Q: Tell us about your book.
A. My newest book, as mentioned above, is Home Apothecary with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Create Natural Health and Body Care Products. It’s the 5th book in my Homemade Living series, but it also works as a stand alone title. It continues the small-scale homesteading/DIY ethos of its predecessors, however, serving as a primer for getting into crafting homemade health and wellness remedies for you and your family. There are 20 remedies for Natural Health and 20 remedies for Natural Body, making a total of 40 DIY projects. They’re approachable, affordable, and just plain fun to make.
Q. What’s next for you?
A. Glenn and I have been working with a local film production company on an idea for a documentary-style tv series. It’s in the way, way early stages, but we’re excited for what may come. I’m also still hoping to create a series of online classes, some on topics related to my books, others on various subjects, including Glenn’s expertise in color and other topics.
*all photos from this post were used with permission from Ashley's instagram feed
*Want even more chances? Earn bonus entries by:
**Following me on Instagram
**Sharing a link to this giveaway on your social media
**Following Ashley English on Instagram
**Following Following Ashley English on Twitter
**Subscribing to Ashley's feed at www.smallmeasure.com
**Following Sterling Publications on Twitter
**Following Sterling Publications on Instagram
Just make sure, whatever you do, that you come back here and leave a separate comment for each entry option.
ex. "I just followed you on instagram", "