As we ring in a brand-new year, we're mixing up a classic winter drink with thousand-year-old roots in England. Both a traditional toast and the drink used for toasting, the term “wassail” comes from the Old English salutation “Waes Hail,” meaning “be you healthy.” In southern England, a region known for apple cider production, medieval farmers began each year by singing and toasting their apple trees with wassail—a mulled punch made using cider, wine, or mead. The ceremony was said to awaken the apple trees and scare away any evil spirits, ensuring a bountiful harvest the following autumn. The good-spirited tradition also spread to cities, where wassailers took bowls of warm punch from house to house or served it at New Year celebrations. Read on to find our favorite recipe for toasting a year filled with good fortune.


Christmas At My House

December 23, 2013

At Home

Take a peek above to see some of the special decorations that folks at terrain count among their favorite Christmas traditions.


New in the Nursery: Holiday Favorites

Though the Christmas tree takes center stage this time of year, holiday plants from mistletoe and holly to poinsettias and forced bulbs are equally indispensable for festive living décor. The terrain greenhouse is stocked with blooms, ready to add a last-minute touch of color to a holiday tabletop, doorway, or windowsill. Read on to learn about four plants that are making our nursery merry this season.

Poinsettia: Native to Mexico's tropical forests, the poinsettia is named for US Minister to Mexico Joel Roberts Poinsett, who brought the plant home from his post in 1825. Thanks to its combination of deep red blooms and green foliage, the classic poinsettia has been a popular Christmas plant since the early 20th century; this year, we're adding some fresh colors into the mix. Large blooms in a pale, peachy hue make our "Cinnamon Pink" poinsettia an unexpected pick that we love to pair with white or deep green. With eye-catching salmon petals edged in cream that stand out against its dark foliage, the smaller "Marble" variety adds another hue beyond traditional red. If kept in a frost-free environment with good morning sun and shade during the hottest parts of the day, poinsettias can continue to grow once the holiday season is over.


Vegan Superfood Hot Chocolate with Free People

With the season of festivities and feasts underway, we were thrilled when our friends at Free People shared a recipe to satisfy our sweet tooth and offer some healthy benefits. Their Vegan Superfood Hot Chocolate is packed with antioxidant-rich almond milk, energy-boosting maca root, and a few pinches of spice that enhance the immune system. They call  it superfood, we call it reason enough to blend up a batch tonight. See the recipe below, and then stop by Free People's BLDG 25 blog for more on the health benefits of this winter warmer.

Vegan Superfood Hot Chocolate
c/o Free People

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup soaked chia seeds
2 tablespoons raw cacao
1/2 tablespoon raw coconut sugar
2 teaspoons maca root powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
Pinch cayenne powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix on high until you reach an even consistency. Heat over the stove or in the microwave, pour into a pretty mug, and enjoy! This recipe makes one serving, but you can add in extra almond milk to dilute. You can also vary the amount of sugar as desired.


At the Loom with Swans Island

December 16, 2013

At Home

Crafted from carefully-sourced wool and all-natural dyes, a Swans Island throw is the gift we’d most like to find under our tree. Beautiful and useful, Swans Island textiles have gained a Smithsonian Blue Ribbon for Craft as well as countless fans around the world. We chatted with president Bill Laurita about the roots of wool production in Maine, the making of a Swans Island throw, and how the rugged landscape influences these timeless designs.

terrain: Though you work on the mainland today, you began crafting throws on one of Maine's historic “sheep islands.” Can you tell us about the history of wool production in Maine? 

Bill: Not many sheep are raised in Maine now, but the region was once home to many “sheep islands.” Maine’s coastal islands are a perfect environment for raising sheep because they don’t have any natural predators, and there’s no need for fencing. Many of the islands are also all pasture, which helps the wool stay clean so it requires less processing later.Our most special fleece, the natural and dark brown rare wool, still comes from island-raised sheep. Our winter blankets are made entirely from New England fleece-- the closer to home, the better.

terrain: Materials are key for a Swans Island blanket. What is unique about the varieties of sheep that provide the wool for your blankets?

Bill: While our rare wool does come from sheep raised on Maine islands, there isn’t a lot of wool to be found in New England, so we also source high-quality fleece from other places. Our goal is to get the best fleece possible, which can be tricky because we’re very particular. We work with only certified-organic growers, and always take into consideration how the sheep are treated-- that benefits us, too, because good conditions create cleaner fleece to work with. Some years ago, we started working with merino sheep, which produce a very fine, soft fiber. There aren’t any sources of merino in New England, so we work with organic farms in South America.


Gift Wrapping, Naturally

December 13, 2013

At Home
, How-To

As a finishing flourish for these understated packages wrapped in our new black kraft paper, we plucked adornments from the garden for a rustic yet elegant look under the tree. From frothy cotton and cranberry beads to gilded ferns and living succulents, these foraged toppers add a touch of natural wonder to the season's gifts.

From left to right:
Echeveria, secured with hot glue and garden twine
Natural cotton pods and garden twine
Clump moss and garden twine
Cranberries, threaded on baker's twine with a tapestry needle
Fern fronds, coated in gold leaf and secured with spray adhesive
Wide burlap ribbon layered with jingle bell ribbon
Eucalyptus stem and tailor's ribbon


A Snow Day at Terrain

December 10, 2013

At Home
, Outdoor Living

This week, we've been enjoying some wintry weather here on the East Coast, and watching the snow fall has certainly put us in the holiday spirit! Catch a glimpse, above, of our Styer's nursery in the snow.


As we picked our go-to bakers' gifts from the terrain kitchen, we couldn't think of anyone better to give them a test-run than one of our own favorite bakers, chef and food writer Aran Goyoaga. For something simple and delicious during the hectic holidays, Aran created this Cranberry & Pistachio Cake recipe especially for us. She says, "This is the type of cake I like to eat any time of the day. You can serve it as an afternoon snack, for breakfast, or for dessert. It's a great basic recipe that's very forgiving and very simple to make-- literally two bowls and a whisk. It's also gluten and dairy free, which is an added bonus in my case. Plus, the cranberries and pistachios make it very festive. I think it's especially good if you add pieces of candied citrus, then toast and serve with whipped cream."