The wedding industry is kind of bananas. As someone who had never been engaged, never had much interest in anything wedding related and honestly never even planned a party bigger than 15 people, once I started planning my own wedding, I was almost immediately turned off (and kind of disgusted) from the whole process. I put off planning my wedding as long as I could, because every time I opened my computer to research something wedding related, that foul taste and dull headache came back that made me dread having to deal with planning a wedding. The absurdly high venue prices, the extravagance of the wedding dress "experience", the incredibly high expectations that things should be "absolutely everything the bride has ever hoped and dreamed"... I'm sorry - but gag. I'm just not that into myself, and I definitely wasn't that into our wedding. I just kept going back to the simple reminder of why we're doing this at all: The hardest part was done - we had each other, and we wanted to get married. Someone wanted to marry me, and I wanted to marry him. That alone feels impossible on so many levels - but here we are, and we're choosing to have a wedding. Our wedding. 

So we had a discussion about what we really wanted from this whole process and stripped it down to the basics: 1) A small, intimate gathering of people, not a production, 2) Lots of time to sit and talk with EVERYONE who came to celebrate with us and be present with each and every person, 3) A comfortable venue for a small gathering, 4) No timeline or strict schedule for the day, 5) To keep it within a reasonably small budget, 6) Attention to sustainbility of our purchases and keep it as local as possible, and 7). At the end of the day - we'll be married and who cares if stuff doesn't happen perfectly. 

Finding resources for a small wedding is kind of hard to do. We had a list of 25 people to invite, and even with such a small guest list, we still got stuck on finding a venue that was (I'm not even joking) less that $2,000. Without a reasonable venue option, the rest of the planning kept hitting roadblocks. We ruminated and ruminated about this (which brought us pretty darn close to going to city hall), until one day in October of 2015, my sweet Aunt and Uncle offered up their (currently in construction) magical mountain house that they'd been in the process of building for the past 12 years. There was still a considerable amount of work to be done, but as soon as they made that offer, Greg and I just melted into the idea of having our wedding there, and practically fell to our knees in gratitude. We set a date for October 8th of the following year, and the rest was, more or less, pretty easy. We also decided to have a "wedding after party" at our house the following weekend, to invite ALL of our friends and family to celebrate afterwards...more to come on that party soon!

The one thing that really made our wedding special was that almost every single person that came played a role during the day which really brought to life the realization that our community is such a support in our partnership. My dear friend Leah married us. My best friend's husband Jake Hull played our ceremony music. My incredibly talented friend Renee did our photography. My friend Peter took some video. Greg constructed benches and tables for the guests. His mom made all of the linen vests for the groomsmen and all of the muslin tablecloths. His sister and brother-in-law took charge of serving and prepping the food. Everyone in our small wedding party made the mood so lighthearted, joyful and fun. My dad drew the most beautiful guest book tree...the list goes on. Everyone came together, and it felt just right. 

All this being said - we of course had moments of tension and disagreements about what we wanted to happen, but such is the case when we're planning something together - and we wanted it to be a together process. We had to keep in mind - it's just a wedding. We had a vision, yes, but flexibility was essential to that vision. For the entire week preceding our wedding (and for most of the wedding day), a hurricane was coming up the coast absolutely drenching the whole property in sopping wet mud. So, visions of the ceremony being in the woods by the river were dashed and indoors it was (and it resulted in some pretty freakin' gorgeous photos). There was construction equipment throughout the house and on the porches, and even a wonky crane towering over the front door. Industrial rustic is kind of our feel - and it was welcomed. More importantly, this is a place we'll be visiting for the rest of our lives, and we'll always be reminded that in that living room in front of the hearth - that's where we were married. And that house was christened with a lot of joy, and a lot of love. 






Photography by Renee Byrd : Wedding Dress by Reformation : Flowers & Arrangements by Perennial Culture : Handmade Guestbook, Curiosity Pouches & Stationary by St. Signora : Herbal Cordial Favors by Ginger Tonic Botanicals (yeahhhh!)

Location : Lexington, Virginia 

October 8, 2016

Nothing makes a picnic more cozy than crunchy leaves, wool blankets, deliciously baked goods, and a specially blended gathering tea that matches the energetics of the season. Autumn is my favorite time to have picnics, and I think it's because the atmosphere is just so crisp, so vibrant and so intimate. The outside environment sets the mood with little effort. When I pack a picnic, I often formulate a tea first, then set the menu afterwards to match the flavors, and of course - the weather. It's just becoming crisp here in Virginia, the leaves are changing and the sunlight is shifting in the afternoon to create that whimsical and magical mood of autumn. It's cozy afternoons like these that call for a hint of warmth and nourishment from our tea, while we indulge in savory sweetness from our foods. I can't resits stopping by Sub Rosa Bakery in Church Hill to gather baked goodies for my ideal picnic, and Ellwood Thompsons Local Market for fresh, seasonal local greens. 

My favorite go-to Autumn Picnic Gathering Tea consists of uplifting, joyful herbs that have a hint of warmth, spiciness and nutrient quality that's easy to drink while being long lasting and grounding us into the space we've created. It's the tea that keeps us there for hours - laughing and talking and playing while we refill our mugs again and again. The uplifting magic of holy basil, the nutrient quality of nettles, the delicateness of rose, the heart protecting affinity of hawthorn and the spiciness of damiana make this a truly unique autumn picnic tea that you can sip for hours. Throw these dried herbs together in a little jar and add hot water later, or prepare ahead of time, keep in a thermos and serve piping hot in your favorite mugs with your favorite people. Relish the bounty and briskness of autumn, and make sure not to rush...picnics should really linger a while. 

*Note - if you don't have access to these dried or fresh herbs, our Heart Rise Tea is a similar formula that's equally as delicious, and perfect for an Autumn Picnic Gathering Tea. 

Autumn Picnic Gathering Tea

3 tsp Holy Basil
2 tsp Damiana
2 tsp Nettles
1 heaping tsp Rose petals
1 tsp Hawthorn leaf and flower
Raw honey to taste

Mix all herbs together in a tea pot, tea strainer or mason jar and cover with 4 cups boiling water. Let steep for at least 10 minutes. Add honey to taste if desired. Strain, and store in a thermos for easy travel. Serve piping hot, and sip consciously. 


Photography by Renee Byrd

Taking herbal powders can be kind of challenging sometimes - which is a shame, because they're so awesome and effective. Traditionally. herbal powders would simply be placed on the back of the tongue and washed down with water, or mixed in a little warm water and consumed quickly. However, it's been my personal experience (as well as my experience recommending herbal powders to people) that folks need to have a good first experience taking powders, or they'll be hesitant to try them again. 

Previously, I posted my recipe for nut butter balls that make a fantastic carrier for almost any herbal powder. These lozenges are my second favorite way to take herbal powders - especially for the sore throats that come with fall and winter. These marshmallow root and slippery elm herbal lozenges are so easy to make, and so soothing to chew or dissolve when you have a scratchy or raw throat. Marshmallow and slippery elm are both demulcents, meaning they're extra mucilaginous and coat the tissue / lining of the esophagus to soothe inflamed tissue. I like to add some extra sweetness to the recipe with a little licorice, and also some wild cherry bark for it's anti-tussive and astringent quality (it's really ideal for dry, unproductive coughs). 

The key to making these little lozenges is to allow them time to dry completely. If there's even a hint of moisture left in them, no matter how you store them they'll mold rather quickly. I let mine sit out on the counter for about 2 days to dry out completely, and I've also used a dehydrator for quick prep and that works beautifully. They should look like unappealing little pieces of dirt by the time you're all done. You can adjust the sweetness by making your licorice decoction stronger or adding a bit more honey. Regardless, you need to keep the moisture level the same (1/4 cup liquid no matter what your desired sweetness) or they will not have the right consistency. Once prepared and dried, I store mine in a little glass mason jar in the medicine cabinet and use as needed. I'll either use them up in one season, or discard the remaining lozenges at the end of each season and prepare a new batch. The shelf life on these little lozenges is not super long - 3 months is often my max. 

Marshmallow Herbal Lozenges

1 tablespoon Licorice root
1 teaspoon Ginger root
10ml wild cherry bark tincture
2 tablespoons raw honey
1/2 cup Marshmallow root powder
Slippery elm powder

Decoct the licorice and ginger root in about 1 cup of water and let simmer for 10 minutes. Measure out the honey in a measuring cup and pour the licorice and ginger decoction plus the wild cherry bark tincture in with the honey until you have 1/4 cup of liquid. Mix together until the honey is melted and incorporated into the decoction. In a separate bowl, add the marshmallow root powder and make a little well in the center. Gently pour the 1/4 cup liquid mixture into the well and mix thoroughly together with you hands until you have a dry dough texture. On a clean surface, dust a small area with slippery elm powder and roll the dry marshmallow dough out to 1/4 inch thickness, coating each side with the slippery elm powder. Punch out small discs using a bottle cap or small cutter (get creative...) and set aside to dry completely for at least 24 hours, or use a food dehydrator. Once completely dried, store in a glass container for up to 3 months. 


Herbal medicine and nutrition is my expertise. Understanding plants, their properties, and their powers is my passion.


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