Welcome to grubbygirl.com!

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

Here comes the Honey and the cucumbers! This has been a super cuke year and I have been making pickles like crazy (and Cool Dude soap with the cucumber juice). We are also getting ready for the 2014 Meet Yer Eats Tour on Labor Day. I better get busy making the farm presentable and making Grubby Scrub, Lip balm and Horse-a-holic soaps! And all my other products enriched with botanicals from the gardens and honey and wax from the bees. Enjoy this beautiful summer and Treat yourself well!

Meanwhile, I will keep on making soaps & salts & scrubs for you. And now: granola too!

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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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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You gotta Be in it to Win it!

Bee packages arrived last week! Beekeeping class had just started and several members of the class came out to the farm Friday to see how to install packages and take a look in the hives. The bees were pretty calm considering the weather was unsettled and threatening rain. No one got stung, except Eleanor :(  The dogs are usually good about keeping their distance but the prospect of being petted was too strong a pull and they got in the bee-line.

I am into week five of my CIC workshop and am excited for the future classes. As part of the class, we were all encouraged to enter the Tom Tom Festival Pitch Contest. I did not make the final cut, but several of my class-mates did! I plan to go the the pitch night and route for them! As I am on a role for putting it out there, I also applied for the Beekman Boys Mortgage Lifter Grant. My theme for both the Pitch contest and the Mortgage Lifter is: “More Bees, Please!”

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

And any suggestions for naming the three new queens are welcome!

 

 

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Eggs-cellent!

Spring is upon us, the fields are greening up. The bees are working and the hens are laying! They take a bit of a break over the winter and slow down on the egg production. The timing is good for us too. Without a market to go to, we can get a frig full of eggs pretty quick. Good thing we like eggs! And quiche, and souffle, and lemon meringue pie.

Lemon meringue PIE!

But with the start of Charlottesville City market April 5th, we should find lots of home for all the girls’ eggs!
Here is a new favorite recipe from a recent issue of Bon Appetit:

 

Company Eggs from Bon Appetit Magazine Serves 6
INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 bunches Swiss chard, thick center ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 12 cups) Or any greens you like. We’ve made it with kale & spinach and both versions were delicious.
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 large eggs
2 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated (about 1/2 cup)

PREPARATION: Preheat oven to 400°. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8-10 minutes. Add chard to skillet by the handful, tossing to wilt between additions. Cook, tossing often, until tender, 8-10 minutes. Add cream and simmer until thickened and almost evaporated, 8-10 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Spread chard mixture evenly in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Using the back of a spoon, make 12 small, evenly spaced divots in the chard mixture. Crack 1 egg into each divot. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese over. Bake, rotating dish once, until egg whites are almost set and yolks are still runny, 15-18 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

When we were kids, our mom would make cheese souffle and biscuits with a salad and then lemon meringue pie for Sunday Brunch. SOOO good!

She used the New York Times Cookbook recipes for all three. I still have that edition (1961 Edited by Craig Claiborne)  and it is a go-to for so many of my favorites.
Here is the Cheese Souffle

Serves 4-6
1/4 Cup butter
14 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
salt
worcestershire sauce
cayenne pepper
1/2 pound of cheddar cheese (or other hard cheese)
4 farm fresh eggs- separated
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Melt butter over low heat, add the flour & stir with a wire whisk until blended. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil and add it all at once to the butter/flour mixture, stirring with the whisk continually, it should thicken right up. Season to taste with salt, worcestershire & cayenne.
3. Turn off heat and let mixture cool a couple of minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Beat egg yolks in one at a time and cool.
4. Beat the egg whites until they stand in peaks but do not over beat. Cut and fold the egg whites into the mixture. Turn into a 2 quart casserole dish (greased or ungreased). I usually do not grease. And bake 30-45 minutes until puffed and golden brown.
ENJOY!

And let me know how it turns out.

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You Gotta Be In It to Win It!

Bee packages arrived today! So there are three new Queens to name. Any suggestions?

Beekeeping class started last night and several members of the class came out to the farm today to see how to install packages and take a look in the hives. The bees were pretty calm considering the weather was unsettled and threatening rain. No one got stung, except Eleanor :(  The dogs are usually good about keeping their distance but the prospect of being petted was too strong a pull and they got in the bee-line.

The eight students are all enthusiastic about getting bees, a couple of them had tried a hive or two before but wanted to get a little more information about how their bees could be more successful. It is so much fun to share my bee experiences! The good and the bad, hopefully some of my cautionary tales will help this new batch of beekeepers to have a thriving apiary. For the new-BEEs, it was nice to be able to get into the bee-yard and experience that the bees are not aggressive and see first-hand how to work the hives.

I am into week four of my CIC workshop and am excited for the future classes. As part of the class, we were all encouraged to enter the Tom Tom Festival Pitch Contest. We’ll find out next week who the finalists are, I will be sure to let you know if I am one of them!

As I am on a roll for putting it out there, I also applied for the Beekman Boys Mortgage Lifter Grant. My theme for both the Pitch contest and the Mortgage Lifter is: “More Bees, Please!”

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

 

 

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Grubby Meet & Greet

This coming Saturday, March 22,  10-4, our local Charlottesville Whole Foods is having a local vendors fair.

So, come down and see me! I’ll have samples of my oils and scrubs for you to try and I just like catching up with folks and seeing people after this long winter. It will officially be spring by then! Let’s hope it starts acting like it. I know the bees are restless to get out and forage. Who isn’t?

Vendors are making a pledge of support to the Whole Planet Foundation to be a part of this event. The Whole Planet Foundation provides micro-loans to people in impoverished countries to help entrepreneurs pull themselves out of poverty. They currently have 330,000 micro-loan clients in 59 countries. So whether your out and about enjoying the Festival of the Book, or just taking care of your Saturday errands. Stop by and say Hi!



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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

And then warm and then cold again! Welcome to Virginia winter weather. It was in the single digits last night and over the weekend, it hit about 60 degrees. All this fluctuation in the weather can take a real toll on the skin. I have found myself reaching for the Horse-a-holic Bath oil almost every evening. And using my Grubby Scrub too!


BUT… Spring is COMING! The red maples are starting to bud (that’s the first nectar source for the bees and gets the queen started laying eggs that will turn into workers, and drones, for the coming year). Hopefully the snow that is melting now will be the last of it for this year. We were almost able to get the garden tilled last weekend, but we couldn’t get the tiller to start, so it is off to the repair shop, and will have to wait until the tiller is back and the ground is dry again before we can break ground in the garden for the spring plantings.

We have more bees coming this spring, by the end of the month we will have two more hives and start thinking about splits of some of the stronger hives. That decision is always a difficult one: Do we split the strong hives and maybe not get as much honey from it this year? Or see if that those will be the big producer and just hope they don’t swarm?

It really feels like the calm before the storm right now. I am trying to get prepared….

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Who Do You Love?

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I think about who (and what) I love.

I love my friends and family.

I love my dogs.

I love cozy days by the fire.

I love to cook for people I love.

I love watching the chickens.

I love working in the woods and the garden.

I love watching the bees working the flowers.

I love using the honey the bees produce, straight from the jar, in granola or in a scrub!

I love pruning.

I love crisp apples.

And of course, I love my Grubby Hubby.

There is much more I could add to the list, and I will try to remember to show that love all through the year and not just on Valentine’s Day.

What do you love?

 

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And now for something completely different

Sometimes the best thing to do is getaway.

Going to Cali

When an old friend calls and wants you to join in on a celebration, you should just go. Getting away from the normal can be just the ticket to spark creativity, recharge your passions and it’s FUN! So when I got the call to go to Joshua Tree for my oldest friend’s big birthday, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t want to spend some of this January somewhere warm and dry? Besides, I’d never been. And I could ride with another old friend from LA, see her family and catch up all around. So many birds with one stone. Using Kayak, my go to website for all things travel, I did manage to get a great flight from DC to LA on Virgin America, maybe the best flying experience I’ve had. The skies were clear over the whole country. I was able to see America pass beneath us. And even though it was supposed to be a full flight, there was no one in the middle seat, so I had a little room to sprawl.

Landed in LA to meet my good friend (sexybitch) and get whisked back to her cool and comfortable Westwood home. The next day we hit the road to meet the rest of the gang in Joshua Tree. The house was lovely. A great find on VRBO, a cute, comfortable three bedroom cottage with a great kitchen, hot tub and outdoor fireplace aptly named ‘Sunset Terrace’.

Sunset from Sunset Terrace

We had a great afternoon planning our next few days and catching up. On tap for the next morning?

A Sound Bath. OK, I’m game.

So after  lovely breakfast of amazing Greek yoghurt and some of my very own granola, we head through the towards the Integratron. Their pictures of the structure are much better than the ones I snapped, so check out their website to see the observatory-like building where the sound baths are held.

 

We couldn’t help ourselves as we drove through the barren landscape, we had to stop and capture the moment.

 

I arrived at the Integraton with an open mind. It certainly does look cool. The grounds had a hammock area, seating, patio space. The building itself looks like an observatory. In the introductory remarks, before the giant crystal singing bowls are played, the construction of the building and the location are discussed. Apparently, the Venutians told the builder where to put it and how to construct this perfect acoustical space using no metal fasteners on top of a natural energy vortex and it’s supposed to regenerate your cells.

Once we settled in comfortably on the floor, and the bowls were played. It was easy to get lost in the tones. I did feel a bit of  electricity between my hands and my belly. Was that my cells regenerating?

We spent the afternoon driving around and through joshua Tree National Park, honing in our hiking plans for the next day. We passed some amazing rock formations. It looked straight of the scene from Galaxy Quest with the pig lizard and the rock monster.

ROCK! ROCK! ROCK!

The next day we hiked to 49 Palms Oasis. As I was telling my friends along the way about my teenage disappointment on a trip to the Grand Canyon when I was 13 when Ribbon Falls, the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert did not live up to my expectations. I was trying not to set my hopes too high for this oasis. We passed over several rocky hills dotted with cacti (red-barrel cactus was my favorite) and came around the  bend to see, rising from the dusty gulch a group of large palm trees in the distance. (We tried to count, but couldn’t tell if there were really 49). It was pretty cool. And a lovely hike.

49?

That evening we celebrated the big birthday, hot tubbed & enjoyed the firepit. I can really get a blaze going!

The next day was our last at Joshua tree. It went by so fast!

On our way back to LA, we crossed through Joshua Tree and stop at the Cholla Cactus Garden, saw completely different landscapes AND caught a glimpse of the Salton Sea from the 10. I had such a great time catching up with my old friends. I hope we can do it again soon!

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming….

Don’t forget to get you honey some Grubby for Valentine’s Day!

And how great is this sign!

 

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