Welcome to grubbygirl.com!

Makers of hand-crafted soaps,  oils, and scrubs using all-natural botanicals grown locally on Meeting House Farm.

It’s time to get in the Holiday Spirit! To do so, we will be at the Charlottesville Holiday Market Saturdays 8am-1pm. Come see all your favorite crafters! We will also be participating in the Grand Illumination on December 4 on the Downtown Mall. AND can also come say “Hi!” at the Anytime Fitness Health Fair on November 30th 4pm-6pm. For a country holiday evening, come on out to Prospect Hill for a celebration of Holiday lights on December 18th!  You can stock up on all your favorite balms, scrubs and oils to keep you (and your friends & family) soft and comfy all winter. I have been working away to get soaps, scrubs, oils and balms all ready for the you. As always, my products are enriched with botanicals from the gardens and honey and wax from the bees. I am sorry to report that the 2015 crop of honey is sold out for the season, but there’s still granola! We wish you a happy, cozy and safe Holiday Season surrounded by friends and family.

For more than you ever wanted to know about growing up Grubby, check out our family memoir: The Kids are All Right.

For more information about Grubby Girl products or to order, please email me, or call: 540-270-5229. I look forward to seeing you soon!

–Amanda Welch

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Y’all Ready for This?



This is the time of year when everything starts to ache. All the planting, hauling, weeding, moving bee boxes. It can take a toll. And I have been used to just being able to DO. I have always been strong and capable and, much like a toddler,  didn’t need any help. But I have to admit it, I am getting older and losing some of my strength and stamina. It creeps up on you slowly and all of a sudden one day your back seizes after a couple of hours of edging or mulching and it takes you totally by surprise!

In the next month, I am going to need to pace myself because there are a bunch of fun (and exhausting) events on the calendar for September! Labor Day means Meet Yer Eats Farm Tour!

We will have the farm open again for this super fun event. Our neighbors Forrest Green Farm and Cygnet Hollow Farm will also be on the tour which makes a nice Louisa loop to visit. We will be having an Intro to Beekeeping talk and a Soap Making workshop here. Also, J&P BBQ will be serving their market favorite breakfast and lunch items. So bring your friends and family and spend the day out on the farm. The chickens & horses always enjoy visitors!


And if you’d like to spend part of the day as a volunteer, we’d love to have you!


Then, on the very next weekend is the Heritage Harvest Festival. This will be our first year participating and we are very excited. (Did you here that The Beekman Boys will be there?! And there will be about 100 varieties of heirloom tomatoes to taste?!) We’ll be having another soap-making workshop on the Friday and then be up on the mountaintop at Monticello on Saturday.




After that, I may be in traction, but I am trying to keep up with PT exercises and keep hearing that song they play at ball games in my head~ Y’All Ready for This!


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Got my mind on my honey & my honey on my mind~Snoop Bee

Honey in the hive

Honey in the hive

Honey is a bit late this year. I have been able to take some in the past couple of weeks, so I will have it at market or you can order it here. The bees have been very swarmy this spring and the weather has been cool and wet. When they swarm, there are less bees in the hive to collect honey.

Each hive has about 50,000 bees. Each hive has one queen, and 100 female worker bees for every male drone bee. The queen’s only job is to lay eggs and a drone’s job is to mate with the queen. The worker bees are responsible for everything else: gathering nectar, guarding the hive and honey, caring for the queen and larvae, keeping the hive clean, protecting the hive, building comb, collecting nectar and pollen and producing honey. Swarming is the way bees create new colonies. when they start getting the urge to expand, or feel there is a threat to their current hive; the workers select one (or more) eggs that are between 1-2 days old, build a queen cell and feed the larva royal jelly to create a new queen. A queen cell is very different looking than the rest of the brood cells, it sticks away from the comb, is much larger and resembles a peanut in its shell. As the new queen gets ready to emerge, the old queen and some of the hive population leave in a cloud of bees and alight in a nearby spot while scouts go look for a new home.

If you can get to this resting ball of bees, it is easy to place them in a new hive and increase your apiary. Too many times this year, the swarms were up high in trees, or left before I could capture them. Out of the 13 swarms that I saw, I caught 4 of them. That makes the current apiary total 19 hives. The oak that this swarm in the picture is resting in is a very popular place for swarms from my apiary to alight. I call it the swarm tree.

The bees left in the hive become loyal to the new queen. If there is more than one queen cell, the first queen to emerge goes around the hive and kills her rivals. If you find a hive with multiple queen cells, you can use these cells to requeen a hive that has lost a queen or create new hives with some brood frames and a queen cell. That is, if you can get to it before the new queen kills her!

I have not been as diligent about requeening my hives as perhaps I should have been, or in my record-keeping, so I am sure that many of these hives needed new queens. The hives that remain after the swarms of this spring are all doing well and appear to have vigorous new queens. There may not be as much honey this year, but the apiary is better for it.

Have a great day & Just BEE!


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Swarm of bees looking for a new home.


This spring has been quite a swarmy one. I have counted 13 swarms from the 15 hives and that’s only the ones that I have seen. Swarming is the bees’ natural way to propagate. As the hive gets too full, or some other reason, there are many, the bees start raising up new queens. When one of the new queens emerges, she kills any other queens still in their cells and the old queen leaves taking about half of the members of the hive and they go find a new home.

So  as the weather warms and the hive starts to get crowded, the bee’s thoughts turn to swarming. Even though I have made my best effort to reduce the possibility, it happens.  I have caught 4 of the swarms and they are all doing well. The remaining hives look good too! If you can catch the swarms, it is a great way to expand the apiary.


If you see a swarm in a tree, shrub or anywhere it is easy to reach and you live nearby, let me know. I’d be happy to give them a great home! If you’re not nearby, contact a local beekeeper to get them to a hive.

Enjoy this video of me hiving a swarm from a few years ago.

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Has Spring Sprung?

Winter woods

Winter woods

As the last vestiges of the snow melts here on the farm, I wonder: Is it over, is it spring? I saw signs of the red maples getting ready to bloom just the other day. And City Market starts on April 4th!

How did another winter get away from me?

Last week

Last week


Will the garden dry out soon enough so we can get in it to plant? Are the asparagus too wet? How will I get all those apple trees grafted? Why haven’t I started the luffas yet? Will all the soaps be ready for the first market? We probably should have built the raised beds in the garden during that brief dry spell at the end of January.  Well, let’s not dwell on the shoulda woulda coulda, let’s just get busy!

Bees were fed over the weekend, 15 hives made it through the coldest nights I remember ever having here on the farm. Let’s hope they ramp up quickly and we can make some splits soon. And I have been toiling away in the Grubby shop, making soaps and organizing the shelves.


Freshly made soaps on the drying racks.

Freshly made soaps on the drying racks.


Luffas will have to get started this week and the grafting will begin as soon as I get a hold of the rootstock (hopefully this week). I’ve already cut some of the scion wood from our Hewes Crab and Albemarle Pippin. I hope to get a hold of some Black Twig or Arkansas Black scion wood as well. Let me know if you know of a tree in need of a little light pruning!

If you see me running down the street with my hair on fire, please give me a cup of water. I hope to see you soon!

Namaste, y’all.


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What’s Cookin’?


I love cookbooks, I love trying out recipes and have developed the knack of being able to tell whether something will be good just by reading the recipe. I have an eclectic collection of cookbooks, many are my mother’s: McCall’s from 1963, the Silver Palate series from the 80’s, several from my brief stint as a member of a cookbook of the month club in the 90’s, sheets torn from magazines, and my more recent acquisitions from Deborah Madison and Madhur Jaffe. My most recent favorite is Plenty. This is a cookbook that has recipes from Jerusalem and it was the first one that I couldn’t really tell what things would taste like by reading, but once I tried a few of those recipes, I was hooked. It is good to know you can trust the author of a cookbook.  Julia Child, Deborah Madison, Madhur Jaffe and Craig Clairborne are always dependable. Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson, not so much, in my experience.

Meal planning has never been my forte, I like to be a bit more spontaneous. I check what we have in the garden, frig and pantry and then look at a few cookbooks to see what they have in mind for those ingredients. We try to keep a pretty well-stocked pantry, (you have to when you are 20 miles to the nearest grocery!) And it’s nice to try new things in different combinations. Sometimes, it can be a bit of a scramble to find substitutes, just last night I wanted to make a tomato soup and found a nice recipe in Madhur Jaffey’s World Vegetarian for Madras Curry Tomato Soup. Perfect, except that I didn’t have the potatoes, cream or curry spice called for in the recipe (and I am avoiding dairy this month). No worries, I had some cabbage to replace the potatoes, all the spices that normally go in a curry blend and coconut milk in the cabinet to replace the cream. Let me tell you, it was pretty tasty and I think healthier than the original recipe, no offense Madhur!

I have started keep a log of the recipes I am using over the year in hopes of making a collection of favorite seasonal recipes to share with friends and family. Let’s see how long I can keep it up!

What are your favorite cookbooks?

In winter, I really enjoy cooking soups and stews and I always make extra so we can have them for several meals, just in case I DON’T feel like cooking one night. Winter is also the time to keep an eye on the bees. When the weather warms on some of these winter days so that the bees can get out of the hives and stretch their wings, I take the opportunity to fill their feeders and get a look see into the hive, just to make sure everyone is making it through the winter. I had an opportunity on Sunday to do just that and have good news to report. All but two of the hives look strong and appear to be weathering the winter quite well. Let me tell you, the cold spell we had earlier in December had me worried, but the girls stuck it out and used their snuggle power to keep going. PHEW!


Good thing they are thriving, I am going to be counting on their honey to sweeten our granola, jams and possibly a few other items I am playing with this winter. My granola is a riff on Deborah Madison’s recipe, I honed it until it was just what I was looking for in a granola, nutty, not too sweet and wheat-free. The stores of honey we kept for ourselves are dwindling, but I still have enough to keep up with granola orders!  I am looking forward to the new crop of Spring honey.

Keep warm everybuggy!

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For the Resolutionists

Winter woods

For me January as purification month has become a tradition. I have been doing it for several years now (sometimes doing it in July too). I eat super clean, stay away from processed food, alcohol, coffee, sugar, dairy and wheat. After the excesses of the holidays it feels good to reset my body in this way. And I find it easy in winter to enjoy grains and greens and soups. I am thinking I will add this tonic to my regimen:

Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey

Over the years I have heard that people who have religiously consumed an apple cider vinegar and honey tonic, sometimes even several times a day! I have decided to add this simple ritual into my daily routine for the month of January.

Honey and cider vinegar are reputed to help with the following conditions:

High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Heart burn
Brittle or damaged nails
Premature aging
Heat exhaustion
Food poisoning
Chronic cough
Sore throat
Acid reflux
Common cold
Leg cramps
Lightening of age spots
Kidney conditions
Lowering of blood sugar
Bladder conditions
Joint pain
Aching muscles
Low energy

I will let you know if I notice any benefit from the tonic. I am so glad to have honey from our own hives with which to try this experiment.


Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey Tonic

What You Will Need

1 tablespoon raw local honey
2 teaspoons of organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
8-10 oz. warm water (not over body temp so as to not damage the raw honey effects)

What You Do

Mix together the honey and the vinegar. Pour warm water over the mixture. Stir or shake the mixture. Drink on an empty stomach (between meals).


Use water warm enough to melt the honey into your solution.
Do not use boiling water.
Stir well!
Do not worry about the “floaties” in the vinegar, they are good for you!
I plan on drinking this tonic once a day for 31 days.
Happy and Healthy 2015 to ALL!

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Sensitive Flower

A couple of weeks ago, a customer asked if my products were hypo-allergenic. I fumbled through an explanation of the ingredients and pointed her to the most gentle soaps (Sleepyhead & Cool Dude). She passed on the Grubby, but  just a few days later I was reminded of one of the reasons I started making my own soaps and bath products. I found that we had run out of Grubby Soap in the shower and I grabbed a bar from a hotel that was in the drawer. Big Mistake! I was itchy all day and my skin felt so dry. I had forgotten that I have super sensitive skin! Using Grubby soaps for so many years had lulled me into the false sense of normal skin.

As a child, I got rashes from everything, dirt, sweat, horses, chlorine from the pool, you name it. My ankles, wrists and crooks of my elbows were always itchy and red. Over the years I have learned how to avoid “heat rash”. Even though I spend most of my time outside and in the dirt, I try to keep it away from me. This how I developed my standard uniform of leggings and t-shirt in the summer/turtleneck in the fall (just add a polar fleece on the really cold days). I can’t wear shorts, the grass and dirt get on my ankles and the inevitable itchy rashes follow!

So the truth is ALL of my products are safe for most sensitive skin. I never test any of my products on animals, just me, my family and friends. Most commercial soaps are actually detergents and can be very drying, they use harsh chemicals to make their soaps lather and artificial fragrances (usually way too much) to create the scents.

We use only the highest quality ingredients, and never any chemicals to increase lather or create a scent. You can feel comfortable using our products on yourself, your children and even your pets. Our soaps are double -milled for long lasting bar that lathers well, we make our soaps with lye and a combination of olive, coconut and castor oils. This is our base. Then we mill it and add ingredients to create our own unique varieties: Farmer Person is milk, honey and a natural honeysuckle fragrance. City Slicker has coffee grounds, cinnamon & cloves and orange essential oil, etc. We pour the milled and blended soap in molds and set it on the curing racks for several weeks before our soap is ready to be used.

The same care goes into our balms, oils, salts and scrubs.

We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!


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Farm Living Is the Life for Me

I’ve had many people ask about how we came to Virginia. How we decided on farm living and about the name of our farm: ‘Meeting House Farm’.
You can come out and check it out for yourself on Labor Day on the Meet Yer Eats Farm Tour. There will be a chance to meet the bees, chickens, horses, see the gardens and find out about my soapmaking process. Click on the link for more details about the Farm Tour. Figure out which farms to visit, plan your route and have a great day!
I’ll post more specifics about who else will be at the farm on my Facebook page as we get closer and plans solidify.

In the meantime here is the story:

We moved to Virginia from New York, (New York City?!) actually I was living in Brooklyn at the time. I had grown up just an hour upstate in a relatively rural area, with horses, next to a dairy farm. The town of Bedford Hills was a couple of miles away. In elementary school, my friend & I would ride our ponies down to the candy store on occasion. (That brought some funny looks!) Some of my friends had horses or goats, or chickens, some of my friends lived in apartments, there was a rural feel to the area just outside of the towns. We could walk to the train station that would take you to Manhattan in 40 minutes. It was a pretty sweet situation.
At 16, when I was able to drive, I got a job at a horse farm in Brewster, NY. I worked there summers and some weekends during the school year. Then I went to college in New York at NYU and lived in the dorms in Greenwich Village, also a pretty sweet situation.
Family tragedies came along and switched up my plans. After my mother died and our house was sold, I tried to continue at school, but I just couldn’t make it work and I wound up living in Brooklyn and working in the city. (Details of this time available in our family’s book). After a couple of years, city life was wearing on me when the woman I worked for in Brewster called to see if I would like to help her move her horse farm to Virginia. That sounded like a super sweet situation!

So that’s how I GOT to Virginia.
My then boyfriend, now Grubby hubby, and I decided to find a farm of our own and put down roots. Central Virginia reminded me of the area around our childhood home. Dirt roads and farms and rolling countryside. Plus, property was much more affordable in Virginia than in New York. Our first farm was an old farmhouse on 20 acres, a V.A. repo, that needed A LOT OF work. It was perfect!
After a few years, the people across the street subdivided and built a bunch of houses right along the road. We wanted a more rural feel so we started looking around. I was studying Architectural History at UVA (trying to finish that college degree started in NY) and had discovered Green Springs National Historic Landmark District. Most of the farms there were protected by easements, so the land couldn’t be subdivided into small lots. That was the answer for us! We found a property on the edge of the District that was under easement and started building our farm.

We have now been at Meeting House Farm for 20 years and think we almost have it just the way we want it.
(Oh yeah, the name: as we were building, people asked us if we were building a church, so I thought Meeting House was an appropriate farm name. PLUS we love to have folks gather at our home, so come on out.)
Come out and see for yourself!

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Sunday on the Farm puts a SPRING in our step!

Eleanor & the aronia

Today is a beautiful day on the farm. This time of year is so wonderful, It’s cool enough to get a lot of work done outside. The grass is green and lush. The bees are getting going, the blooms just keep coming and there is so much promise in the air.

I was able to (FINALLY!) get all of the hives into the apiary organized in a orderly fashion. I had a couple of hives that were swarms that I caught (or caught themselves) last year that I have been painstakingly moving three feet at a time across the farm to get them back in the apiary. Queen LB is a swarm that decided to move into some old rotten equipment I had piled up in a grove behind the shed. I spent last season getting her into better accommodations and starting her move across the yard. We put her in a garden cart and started her move. Just a couple of days ago, she was moved off her cart and into place at the edge of the apiary! (You can move a beehive either 3 feet or 3 miles, if you move it 100 feet the bees will not be able to find it and keep returning in their old hive location.) Queen Phat Patty is another swarm I caught last year and her hive was just on the edge of the garden & just outside the apiary, and not in line with the other hives. Today was her last 3 foot move to be in line with Queen Diana. It is so much easier to work the hives if they are all together!

All is right in the beeyard! Queen LB is right front and Queen Phat Patty is at the far end.

Now I am going to head out to plant beans, corn & squash in the garden and enjoy the promise of veg to come.

This spring, we were able to get our tiller running and work up our garden spot this spring, so I am hopeful for a great harvest.

Garden row, ready to be hilled and planted.

Another encouraging image, our Hewes Crab Apple was in full bloom when we got a frost a couple of weeks ago and I was worried the fruit hadn’t set. But it HAD! I hope you are having as encouraging spring as we are!

Hewes Crab loaded with little baby fruit.

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