Now that it's porch sitting weather (at least here in the south), I've been craving the moments and sometimes hours during the day when I can sit on the front porch swing, surrounded by our newly potted herb plants and budding landscape to soak in some stories, some lilac scented breezes and sun filled moments. We're in the sweet spot in Richmond now where it's just perfect to be outside before the mosquitoes come in droves to eat us alive. I'm taking advantage of every minute. While spring emerges, I've been spending intentional time clawing my way out from the humdrum pit of winter hibernation and full blown uninspired mode. I've been reaching for books and people/authors that have some insight, some uplifting personal saga or reinforced notion that we can snap out of ourselves for a while for awesome things to flow through and out of us. And I've certainly found a few...

For the Body:

The Path of Practice; A Women's book of Ayurvedic Healing - It's no secret that I adore Maya Tiwari and all of her books and practices. I've mentioned several of her books in previous Book Nook posts, but surprisingly I had not read The Path of Practice until this very month! This book I know will be an ever serving ally for me as a practitioner, because I can sometimes get a little too methodical (and crunched for time) in developing my treatment plans that I lose sight of the foundational, spiritual and rhythmic undertones of the medicine. This book is the core essence of an Ayurvedic healing path and journey, and I'm so inspired reading her story and how she developed (and shares!) her path of practice with daily rituals, nourishing foods, spiritual connection and ancient wisdom. 

Mastering the Art of Fermentation - When the weather starts to warm up, I basically want to ferment everything and eat it all day long. There's something about the sweet, salty vinegary goodness of fermented foods I can't seem to get enough of in the spring and summer, and this book is loaded with unique recipes and tips to master my (sometimes lazy and unsuccessful) fermentation technique. 

For the Mind:

The Tree - A natural history of what trees are, how they live and why they matter. Because I'm a tree obsessed nerd and love learning about different genus and species of trees and how they exist in the world. I used to be ridiculously good at tree ID (thanks undergrad degree in Horticulture!) but I've fallen out of it since grad school so I need to brush up on my tree acquainting skills. Also, I need to constantly keep up with my tree obsessed nerd fiancé, an arborist, who is always quizzing me on the trees that we pass by...everywhere we go...

For the Soul:

Meditations - This is the journal of Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome from 161-180 and before you yawn with historical blasé I've always loved this rich, geographic part of history and I stumbled upon his Meditations in a used book store up in Pennsylvania several months ago. It's jam packed with simple and profound truths, how to examine life, emotions, dealings with other people, and how to be abundant and grateful on an ever generous (and also tumultuous) earth. Wise words, and some profound sutras flowed from his brain, and I'll definitely be reading this over and over and over again.

What's on your nightstands this spring season? I'd love to hear your book recommendations and what's inspiring you right now!

The days of hot, cozy tea sipping may be slipping away, but that never stops us from indulging in herbal tea goodness when the sun is our best ingredient during the spring and summer! There's something I find magical about sun infused teas. Maybe it's a nod back to my childhood, when I read stores about moon infusions and fairy dances during the twilight hours of the night. Mysterious and magical things can happen when you leave potions and offerings out in nature for a time....curious critters may fiddle with it and leave their etherial mark on your remedy. And that's half the fun, right? When it comes to sun infused teas, there's so much room to play and tweak the flavors, and the longer you let the sun work it's magic on your herbal infused goodness, the more full and flavorful the result. It's literally like you're drinking in a joyful part of your spring day. Magic.

This is a variation of my wonky early spring tea, when I start to just throw stuff in a jar and indulge in some liquid sunshine. I've refined it a smidge, and you can adjust the quantities of any of these ingredients (or add any new additions - this tea is super forgiving). Pick a bright sunny day, a patch of warm grass, and let the sun work its wonders on your Sunshine Spring Herbal Tea infusion!

Sunshine Spring Herbal Tea

1 teaspoon Orange peel
1 teaspoon Peppermint (fresh or dried)
1 teaspoon Rosehips
1 teaspoon Hibiscus flowers
1 teaspoon pink Rose petals
1 quart mason jar
2 tablespoons raw honey

Measure herbs into the mason jar and fill to the neck with room temperature, filtered water (about 4 cups). Close with a loose fitting lid, and place outside in a bright, sunny spot for at least 1 hour, shaking occasionally. It should develop a rich red color. After 1 hour, add 2 tablespoons of raw honey to taste, shake well, and enjoy with fresh mint, lemon, ice cubes or a spritz of seltzer water!


I sometimes like to eat brownies for breakfast. Ever since I saw the movie Practical Magic, I immediately found this totally acceptable and a little enviable. But having a super sweet, deep rich chocolatey brownie (for me at least), just doesn't cut it for a legit breakfast unless I make some concessions to the typical brownie recipes. I don't like being in a sugar high first thing in the morning, and I obviously feel fraudulent when I don't even try to eat veggies in the morning. But, as we all know - brownies are carriers for a great many things....and zucchini makes the cut as one of the best additions. 

Since I like to stick veggies in almost everything I cook (including spaghetti sauce, black bean burgers, turkey burgers, kitchari, whole grains, lasagna....the list goes on), it's become common place to find shredded bits of color in all kinds of desserts I make now a days. And I don't know about you, but when late spring and summer hit, I have so much squash and zucchini in my garden I literally can't even give it all away. I need to find places to eat it without getting sick of it. Once again, brownies to the rescue. 

These are richly hearty morning (or just dessert) brownies chocked full of chia seeds, protein rich nuts, coconut, and a little sweetness for the bright spring morning elevenses that happen weekly in my house. They're easily adaptable for whatever flour you have on hand, and you can substitute the brown sugar for 100% coconut sugar or maple syrup and still end up with a enviable morning brownie. Enjoy with a cup of your favorite morning tea! 

Zucchini Brownies

1 3/4 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pink salt
4 tbsp chia seeds
Combine in a large bowl
2 cups shredded zucchini (slightly dried)
Stir into the dry mixture.
1 egg
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plain, full fat yogurt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine in a separate bowl and beat with a fork. Stir into the zucchini mixture and mix well.
Spread into a greased 9x13 inch pan.
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Sprinkle on top of the brownie mixture.
Bake in preheated oven at 350F about 35-40 minutes.

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


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