During the first week of January, I decided to continue with an herbal project that I hadn't done in several years. One of my first projects in grad school was to choose an herb I knew absolutely nothing about and get close and personal with it for a whole month. I came to call this: herbal dating. It was a perfect way to learn about the effects and energetics of herbs without the bias of learned facts about it. It was a completely sensory experience that involved only how the herb made me feel while using it, without clouded judgement about what I thought it should be doing. This of course was a fleeting time, as the months and years passed I learned more and more about so many herbal medicines, it was hard to continue this herbal escapade without preconceived expectations. But starting this month, I'm taking a new perspective on the herbal dating scene. I'm choosing to formulate an herbal tea every month, using herbs that I feel especially drawn to, herbs that I crave, or herbs I feel I could use their allied support. I'll be sipping on this blend for the entire month, several times a day, to really let it settle into my body and feel the effects of such a synergistic blend. Because, how else can we really truly let something in if we don't give it enough time to do the work? So we begin with the January Steep...

Five herbs really called to me at the beginning of this month for their nutritive, immune and calming qualities. I was really craving minerals and nourishment after the glorious bounty of the holidays, and this blend feels perfect to sip on hour after hour, and even to share with everyone who pays me a visit this month. Nettle and oat straw are packed with minerals and nutrients like potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium and chromium. Nettle has an earthy salty taste while oat carries a bit of sweetness. Dandelion, also rich in nutrients, favors the liver and immune system to gently support and cleanse any stagnation or sluggish movement in the liver. Astragalus, a deep immune tonic, carries a nutritive sweetness with a mild anti-inflammatory quality. Finally, my dearest skullcap, is something I always crave (it was my first herbal long term relationship), and just smelling it today makes me feel comforted. Skullcap is ideal for it's nervine and anxiolytic qualities, calming and soothing the musculoskeletal system. Once this month started, I was feeling overwhelmed with a packed schedule and catching up from taking 10 days off during the holidays. Skullcap takes the edge right off. 

This day in January feels especially perfect to be sipping on this richly nutritive blend. It's pouring down snow outside, and we're all staying indoors, bundled under blankets being absolutely lazy, reading new holiday gifted books, snoozing by the fire and Greg, as always, is cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Snowy and slow weekends in are such a rare gift. 

If you have local sources for these herbal ingredients that's always ideal. If not. Mountain Rose Herbs, Zack Woods Herb Farm, Starwest Botanicals & Frontier Co-op offer organically sourced herbs. You can also start your own Herbal Apothecary At Home this year if you're feeling to inclined!

January Steep

30 grams Nettle leaf
30 grams Oat Straw
30 grams Astragalus
30 grams Dandelion root
30 grams Skullcap

Combine all herbs in equal parts in a large bowl and blend well. Store in a sealed glass container for the month. To brew, steep 1 tablespoon in 2 cups hot water for 10 minutes. Strain, and sip consciously several times per day. 

For overnight infusions, take a 1 quart glass mason jar, add 3 tablespoons of the herbal mixture and cover with room temperature water. Cover, and let sit overnight. In the morning, shake well and strain. Sip throughout the day. 


Back in October, Greg and I had a really awesome and downright dreamy wedding - a wedding we later termed, the Micro Wedding. After our October 8th Micro Wedding, we threw a gigantic party in our backyard the following weekend and invited ALL of our friends and family to celebrate with us. This was the giant party we always wanted without the stress of actually getting married at the same time (and we high five to this often because we thought it was such a great idea).  Because we had such a tiny wedding, there were dozens of people we wanted to see and who wanted to congratulate us and celebrate with us who were not at the actual ceremony, and this gave us plenty of reason to throw an after party, and it also gave Greg his much desired dream of "LOTS OF PEOPLE TO COOK FOR". He actually really wanted to cook for everyone at our wedding, but that was probably the one thing I put my foot down and said "no" to (because Groom's are kind of busy with other things at their weddings...). But for the party - absolutely. Greg planned the menu, sourced all of the ingredients, and we built a weird make-shift grill in our garden the day-of for him to throw down an unbelievable amount of food. 

With our crew - we have the whole spectrum of dietary nuisances. Gluten Free. Vegan. Vegetarian. Diary free. Potato Free. Paleo. Carnivores. It's all over the place. But the fun thing about our crew is...when Greg is cooking - they want to eat EVERYTHING. I'm lucky that I married a guy who gets major thrills from cooking. He's incredibly good at developing recipes and cooking for crowds, while being equally badass at making his own sausage and cooking a pork tenderloin while he also has 10 mouth watering tofu recipes up his sleeves. I stock the fridge. He cooks. It's a good partnership. 

Our party was amazingly fun, and it just filled out hearts to have so many people we loved gather together at the same time. And much like our actual wedding day - we had a lot of help from from friends and family who wanted to contribute and make the day special. I can't stress enough how grateful I am for the friends and family that we're gifted to have. We're both so grateful that our families were so supportive of our small wedding desires and did their best to help make it happen. I would encourage anyone to have a small wedding and throw an after party, because to us it was just the best of both worlds. An intimate, stress free wedding + added bonus of a delayed massive party = prolonged celebrations and more cake.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year (and many years previous), and it's worth celebrating everyday in big and small ways. As the new year approaches tomorrow, I'm reflecting on all of the things that made me smile this year and setting an intention to celebrate more in the coming year. Celebrate the little things, the big things, the mundane things, and mysterious things and the unexpected things. I'm setting a meditation intention tonight to send out joy to people around the world who could use it so desperately right now. And I'll be sending out thoughts of gratitude to everyone who continues to support this blog and make it a fun and nourishing for my creative soul to continue. Gratitude to everyone around the world, and happy new year blessings...

Photography by Renee Byrd - love you!

Happy New Year. Joy filled blessings to the world....

The winter solstice has always been a magical night in my eyes. Being the shortest day of the year, it seems to feel dark for ages, and heralds in the first of many winter nights to stay at home, bundled up with the lanterns lit, snow falling (maybe), music playing, Christmas cheer permeating through the house, and slow moments of imbibed goodness with either tea...or something a little stronger. For moments or activities structured around some intentional act, I like to drink something that feels like it's offering something a little woo woo, or something that adds an etherial vibe to the moment. Every winter solstice, I craft a short list of things in life that are showing up really well, things that could use some positive improvements, and things that I'd like to work towards making a reality. Some might consider this a "manifestation" list, but I think of it of more as a gratitude list and an empowering way to make intentional changes and offer some glad reflection on the previous year. Drinking an herbal infused beverage also makes me feel powerful and curiously connected with the source, so these activities usually go hand in hand. For this winter solstice, I chose to imbibe Damiana (and some other warming winter spices), because for several months now I just can't seem to get enough of Damiana's spicy, earthy rich goodness that stimulates my (sometimes dormant) creative flow. Also, Damiana + Brandy is a dreamy combination. 

Damiana has a unmistakable peppery, zesty, flowery and aromatic aroma that smells and feels super stimulating. It just fills up all my senses when I take a deep inhalation of dried damiana herb or Damiana tea. Damiana should always be aromatic - if it's not, then you've got a pretty poor quality (or very very old) herb. As with most herbs these days, Damiana has kind of gotten pigeonholed into one category, and that's "aphrodisiac" and "libido enhancing". To it's credit though - it has been used for this purpose for decades, and there are plenty of folks who resonate with Damiana in that way. Personally - I've never had this effect, (bummer, I know), however Damiana has more of an effect on my mood than anything else. It has this gentle yet stimulating uplifting quality to it that's perfect for the despondent individual who always wants to hibernate but can't. A person who may feel a little creatively stifled, spiritually murky, or gets the blues in the winter time. That's why it's the primary ingredient in my Heart Rise tea, but it's also why I LOVE it infused into brandy to give it an even more powerful creative punch. 

Brandy is a beautiful carrier for a mix of Damiana, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom & nutmeg to carry all of the flavors of the holiday season with the added powerful flavor of brandy itself. This makes a strong cocktail that's delicious by itself, or combine with a spritz of freshly squeezed orange or diffused with a bit of sparkling water.  Herbal liqueur's can infuse for up to 4-5 weeks, and with this formula you can let it sit for that long, or do a quick infusion of 4-5 days and still come out with an absolutely delicious little herbal potion. Start now, and serve at your New Years Party!

Winter Solstice Damiana Liqueur

2 cups Brandy
2 tbsp dried Damiana
Seeds from 10 Cardamom pods
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 Cinnamon stick
1 star anise

Combine all ingredients in the bottom of a mason jar and cover with 2 cups of Brandy. Cover with a tight fitting lid and let sit to infuse for 5 days - 4 weeks. Shake at least once daily. Taste after 5 days and onwards to determine your ideal length of infusion. Once infused to your liking, strain out the herbs and store in an air tight glass container. Serve with a spritz of fresh orange juice, or sparking water.  


Joyful wishes and happy holiday blessings to everyone!

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


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