This post is sponsored by my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs

Snow is upon us today. The perfectly fluffy, heavy and dense snow that covers everything like a warm thermal blanket but spares the roads. While writing this it's quiet and peaceful, just like a reflective early winter day should feel. My cat is lounging atop the radiator, secretly eyeing the birds frequenting the freshly filled feeders, and reminding me of how necessary warm cat naps are lately. Admittedly, I spend my fare share of time sitting on top of the radiators too, to warm up when I come home. It's bitter cold out there (at least, as cold as you might think it would be in the South), and warm and cozy is all I'm craving this month. Although I still have a few days more of this years work to complete, the sense of turning off and tuning inward isn't far from my psyche. 

During the winter, it's hard for me to find that energetic balance of warmth and moisture when it's so heavily cold and dry. I feel like I dry out instantly as soon as that radiator heat cuts on during the first chill, and my hands are often the tell tell sign that moisture is just flooding out of my body. I have Raynaud's which is always a challenge to handle in the cold months. Along with poor circulation, my skin gets incredibly dry, and herbal salves are really supportive to keeping my skin and cuticles hydrated for as long as the cold weather sticks around. I've experimented with lots of salves over the years and, as per usual, I often just end up making my own for either better moisturizing capacity or as a more cost effective option because I seriously go through some salves from December-March!

Since the summer, I've been experimenting with a new cuticle salve that will tide me through the winter and I finally settled on the perfect herbal mixture that's extra moisturizing and also therapeutic for my skin health overall. Salves are so easy to make, and I especially love formulating them because they're so flexible with all of the herbs I can infuse in the carrier oils. For this cuticle salve, I kept it simple and really focused on utilizing two integumentary herbs that work beautifully in the cold and dry winter months. 

Gotu kola and Neem are two of my preferred skin supportive herbs and they infuse perfectly in nourishing and rich macadamia nut oil. Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) is an herb I often use to support the outer most layer of skin that may become, dry, flakey or damaged from excessive dryness. In Ayurveda, gotu kola is considered a tridoshic herb, ideal for all constitutions and body types, and these are excellent herbs to consider when working with skin supportive herbs in general. Neem (Azadirachta indica) is also a favorite Ayurvedic herb that I love to use for anything skin related including soaps, toothpastes and infused oils. I included it in my cuticle salve recipe because it's incredibly effective to help with dry skin that is also a bit itchy, and in the winter months I literally can't stop messing with hangnails and scratching my cuticles from the dryness. I prefer using neem powder so more of the herbal goodness is available/exposed to infuse into whichever oil I'm using. In this case, macadamia nut oil is my preferred carrier oil because it's so similar to sebum - the oil naturally made by the skin and it's very easily absorbed. This trio has been a lifesaver for me since the weather has shifted, and I can definitely notice a long term difference in my cuticle health since using this salve for the past several weeks. 

With any salve, I always include some additional ingredients to not only help with the moisturizing quality but to also give it a perfectly creamy and smooth texture. In this formula, I included coconut oil and shea butter to add some additional healthy fats and moisture along with beeswax pastilles to help it solidify. The small pastilles I love using because they melt easily and quickly and they're way more convenient that grating a huge chunk of beeswax. I keep a variety of 1oz and 4oz tins around to store salves. I use the small tins to travel with, and keep the larger tins around the house and use constantly. Finally, I play with lots of essential oils when I make salves, but using juniper berry essential oil in this salve makes it absolutely perfect for winter time! All said and done, it's so much more economical when I make salves myself during the months when I go through them so quickly. Additional perk - homemade salves make for awesome little gifts and stocking stuffers too!

Salve making tip: When making any salve, very gradually add in the beeswax little bits at a time. An overly waxy salve is never a good feeling on the skin. What I often do is melt the ingredients together, slowly adding beeswax little by little, and testing it every few minutes. I'll pour a bit of the hot melted oil into a little spoon and stick the spoon in the refrigerator for about a minute to let it solidify and test the texture, I'll slowly add more and more beeswax and re-test the solidification until it's the perfect texture. Also, I recommend adding in the essential oils as your very last step after pouring the oil into the tins. If you add the essential oils too soon or while the ingredients are all melting together, those fragrant, volatile oils will start to dissipate and diminish, so do this at the very end. 

Gotu Kola & Neem Cuticle Salve

1 tbsp gotu kola
1/2 tsp neem powder
4 tbsp macadamia nut oil
1tbsp shea butter
1 tbsp beeswax
1 tsp coconut oil
juniper essential oil
Makes 6 ounces

Add the macadamia nut oil to a small sauce pan along with the neem powder and gotu kola. Heat together on very low heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. It's important to do this on as low heat as possible to prevent the oil for burning. After 15 minutes, strain the oil through a fine mesh cloth or strainer and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add that infused oil back into the small sauce pan along with the shea butter, beeswax and coconut oil. Heat together on very low heat, stirring often, until all ingredients are melted together. Test the oil on a little spoon placed in the refrigerator to see how well it's solidifying before adding in any more beeswax. Once satisfied with the texture, pour the mixture into small tins, filling almost to the brim. Add 3-5 drops of Juniper essential oil to each tin as the very last step. Let sit to cool completely. Store with tight fitting lids and label appropriately. 


This post is sponsored by my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It is my goal to use and recommend only the highest quality herbal products from companies that I wholly trust and fully support. Industry standards including sustainable harvestingquality controlorganic / fair trade standards and responsible sourcing are all things I care deeply about when working with herbs and herbal companies. I have been using Mountain Rose Herbal products for almost a decade, and have always been so impressed with their commitment to environmental stewardship. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this blog possible. 

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Simplicity is my favorite thing when it comes to tea. Single herbs taste so complex yet are so familiar faces you can sense even with your eyes closed. I like to keep little cork top jars filled with single herbs in my pantry so I can look at them every afternoon and see which one whispers to me that day. Chamomile. Peppermint. Skullcap. Licorice. Holy Basil. Lemon Balm....the collection usually ebbs and flows with the changing seasons (and admittedly gets a little out of hand in the winter time). In December, I never let my chamomile supply run dry, as this is my go-to tea to serve for a quick cup of tea when company comes around. I've never met a single person who didn't enjoy chamomile. I think it's because it's a comfort to everyone, even on a subconscious level.

There's something really special to me about holiday company. I love having folks in and out of my house in December. It's a communal respite from the chilly, bitter air outside and it makes our house feel so good when people stop by or stay over. Leave it to me to always have a hot pot of tea out to serve, and to Greg to prepare endless, delicious food to share. Even though we live in the south, I think it gets plenty cold, and a warm mug of chamomile + lemon tea is liquid aromatic heaven to snuggle into someones hands right after they've slipped off their gloves. Winter tea just exudes a subliminal message of, "Come in.....settle in and stay a while...."

I choose a simple chamomile & lemon tea in December because it's quick and easy and comforting and delicious and I always have the ingredients on hand. Flowering tea is a magical thing in the winter when everything else has gone underground and shriveled up. It's delicate and subtle with a hit of lemony citrus that excites your taste buds and makes you feel right at home. Medicinally, chamomile + lemon is a powerful digestive aid to both calm and stimulate digestion, easing the often overburdened stomach during the most overindulgent time of the year. This simple, two ingredient tea is perfect for kids to prepare for company too, and I'll sometimes shuffle the little ones into the kitchen to make the "company potions", and they feel like little wizards. Never too early to start formulating.

For this tea, just keep a jar of dried chamomile flower on hand along with a few lemons and, if you like, raw honey to sweeten.

Chamomile & Lemon Comfort Tea

1 tsp dried chamomile flowers
1/4 fresh lemon, sliced
1 tsp raw honey (optional)
2 cups boiled water
Serves 1
Add ingredients to a generously sized mug and pour hot water over top, keeping everything in there while sipping. Add a dollop of honey to sweeten if desired.

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For November, this recipe is my ultimate go-to breakfast as the days become busier and my house starts to fill up with visitors and guests for the holidays. This savory autumn porridge with fresh garden rosemary and pears is incredibly easy, affordable and feeds a crowd all in one go! Food is on everyone's mind this month, and as the beginning of the holiday season sets in, your house may have been the designated gathering place for friends and family towards the end of the month. With people to entertain, feed and visit with, breakfast is usually the last thing on your mind when you're busy planning and preparing more complex meals. That's why I love this quick and easy savory porridge. Made with steel cut oats, fresh herbs and seasonal pears, this is a one-pot breakfast that can feed a crowd, simmer on the stove and stay warm as folks roll out of bed, and feels like pure morning comfort on these chilly autumn mornings. I love using these simple yet fancy bowls from Suite One Studio + I always keep this stunningly gorgeous galaxy blue platter on my table during the holidays with fresh fruits, nuts, nibbles and snacks. Get the recipe on the Suite One Studio Blog this month ---> 

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

This post is sponsored by my fiends at Mountain Rose Herbs

Dreams are half of our lives. Our most personal and private lives. Tucked away between the twilight hours of dusk and dawn, the possibilities of dreams are limitless and never confined to the self imposed restrictions of waking life. I sometimes feel like if I didn't have any biological needs to be awake, I would stay in dreams indefinitely. For as long as I can remember, my dreams have been remarkably vivid, adventurous, and deeply emotional. My first dream journal entry is dated October 12, 1995. I was nine years old, and that night I went on a mysterious swamp venture through dark and murky channels, heavy hanging Spanish moss all around. Everything was green and gray, and there were castle ruins sunk to the bottoms of the swamp with a maze of broken walls jutting out of the bottomless black water. I was looking for a friend that was lost in the swamp without a raft, likely holed up in the bigger castle ruins that seemed so far away I'd never make it. I kept making wrong turns, hitting dead ends and would erupt in these surges of anger and frustration that I couldn't do anything right...I'd never make it no matter how hard I tried. My little raft was falling apart in little pieces every time I got angry. I remember having the feeling that if I didn't keep it together, I'd get lost in that swamp forever too, and no one would come looking for me. When I woke up from that dream riddled with failure, I wrote it all down. I read over it now and it's all just as vivid as the night it first happened. At the end of the entry, I noted that all I wanted to do now was continue going back to keep trying. I couldn't just leave my friend in that dark, abysmal subconscious swamp. And who was that friend anyway? I fell asleep every night for months afterwards trying to have the same dream, but it didn't happen again until February of the following year. 

In between, I wrote down all of the my dreams. I dreamt of carnivals, a cancelled Christmas, endless seas of white sand dunes I had to keep climbing, having to take a math test for a class I'd never been to, sailing in a green sea with Prince Caspian, being killed in a huge battle, flying kites at the beach, planting a tree on my own planet (shortly after I read The Little Prince, I imagine), and making a river out of crunchy fallen leaves. There were dozens of others, and I have them all written down. Hundreds of hours of my childhood are all document and I would never remember it otherwise. My dream life then (and now) was way more adventurous than my waking life ever seemed, and it was all mine. I never had to tell anyone what I was up to. Every now and then, I'd have the most amazing lucid dream. In the middle of some weird part of my adventure, I'd realize I was dreaming and immediately try to fly and it worked every time. I hoped I could do that if I ever got back to the swamp.

My cousin taught me a trick during that span of time to recognize when I was dreaming. Everyday, at least 10 times a day, I should stop what I was doing, look at my hands and ask myself, "Am I dreaming? How did I get here". I'd get into the habit so much  in waking life that I would eventually do it while I was dreaming, and soon enough I could do that every night in my dreams. I repeated this hand practice all the time at school, as practice of course, but also to remind myself that life wasn't always this boring. Around January, I would go to sleep at night knowing I'd figure out I was dreaming and be able to do anything I like. Finally, one night in February, I ended up back in the swamp on the same raft in the same murky maze looking for the same person. I was in the dream a long time before I remembered the trick. I had lost my temper so many times before then that I barely had a raft left to float on. Once I realized I was dreaming, I just took off flying towards that larger castle ruins (made good time, too) and abandoned my emotionally frail raft. I made it to the ruins and started looking around, through all of the corridors and empty abandoned rooms...the place was silent except for the sound of bullfrogs that echoed everywhere like a song. I looked and looked. There was nothing. Empty. The feeling of having something or someone to find completely left, and I was overwhelmed with disappointment. All that for nothing. Just wake up. You failure


....... but I did make progress. 

My cedar chest is full of old dream journals. I've kept them since that first swamp trip. They're packed with every spectrum of emotion, all of the highs and lows. Failure. Anger. Lust. Love. Fear. Elation. Longing. Hope. Hopelessness. Despair. Excitement. Dread. They are all just as real as waking life. I've just paid attention to thousands more hours of them. They're my stories. My whole life. Now that I'm older, though, that hand trick doesn't always work for me anymore. I'll just forget, or be so consumed by a dream I won't even consider it an option. But I still want those lucid dreams sometimes...and I eventually (and accidentally) found a new trick with a lucid dreaming herb - Mugwort.  

For the past few years as I've gotten to intimately know herbs, I've been crafting a dreaming tea blend that I drink before bed to encourage lucid dreams (although it doesn't always do the trick). It's a combination of mugwort, chamomile, passionflower, spearmintoatstraw and orange peel. The chamomile and passionflower help to relax my mind, calm my body and slow me down from the fast pace of a busy day. The oatstraw replenishes my body with it's building nervine quality and gentle nutrients. The orange peel is a hint of zingy aromatic flavor and the spearmint just smells like a dream. And the star of this celestial blend is the mugwort itself. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) has a mystical history as one of the most magical herbs - used for protection mostly, and named for the Greek goddess Artemisia, the goddess of the hunt and the forest and the hills. I've found that mugwort sometimes helps me to slip into lucid dreaming more easily...perhaps because as an adult, I'm more far removed from my ethereal imagination than I was was a child. This autumnal dreaming blend is one of my favorites to create. I blend up a large batch and use it up for several weeks. The addition of the celestial tea strainer is particularly fitting. 

When I imbibe in this dreaming tea, it usually always takes me to the forest with a swift stream and large, towering trees. It's become one of my favorite dreamscapes to visit. It's calm and beautiful and always autumn. I like it most because when I'm here, the only emotions I feel are happy and safe and calm. There are no tasks or expectations or fear or uncertainty. It's just my magical place. With mugwort, each person has their own experience, and I'm always curious where this dream blend will take you, too. 

Autumnal Lucid Dreaming Tea

2 tsp mugwort
1/2 tsp chamomile
1/2 tsp passionflower
1/2 tsp orange peel
1/2 tsp spearmint
1/2 tsp oatstraw
Serves 1

Add dried herbs into a tea strainer in your favorite mug and cover with 2.5 cups hot water. Let steep for 10 minutes, covered. Strain and sip consciously 1 hour before bedtime in a quiet and calm space, letting the aroma fill your senses and ease your mind. 


This post is sponsored by my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It is my goal to use and recommend only the highest quality herbal products from companies that I wholly trust and fully support. Industry standards including sustainable harvestingquality controlorganic / fair trade standards and responsible sourcing are all things I care deeply about when working with herbs and herbal companies. I have been using Mountain Rose Herbal products for almost a decade, and have always been so impressed with their commitment to environmental stewardship. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this blog possible. 

Photography by moon sister Renee Byrd

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

A few recents that have been brain splurges over the past several weeks...


Small Wonder: Book of Essays - Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite writers and I love every single one of her novels. Her book of essays I came across in a used book store several months back and absolutely fell in love with her short stories and essays. Published shortly after 9/11, her thoughts on international politics, human behavior, genetic engineering and ultimately big world catastrophes are so eloquently paralleled in her enviable ability to appreciate the little things all around her. Like the bees in her vegetable garden. Her daily challenges of motherhood. Her obstacles a writer. Her interactions with the living world. When the trajectory of the world is looking so incredibly grim (still, now), she adds a thoughtfulness and shift in thinking that puts a smile on my face, every time I read her work. 

The Balance Within: The Science of Connecting Health and Emotions - This has been a fun read (taken me a while to get through, but awesome nonetheless). It's a research based dive into how our emotional body is intricately and forever connected to our physical body and how imbalance and disease are undoubtedly closely tied with our emotional health. It's one of those "duh" concepts, and for centuries we've known this (and intuitively, every single one of us knows this to be true), but proving things (especially medical things) takes a while to catch up to human intuition. Seeing as how 99% of the people I see clinically have a huge stress component to their health story, this has been a spot on reference and resource in how we can support our physical body with emotional and stress therapy. Highly recommend. 

Outlander (Dragonfly in Amber) - I know, I'm way behind on this series. I've been traveling so much in September and October that Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber have been so fun to read in the car for hours and hours and during downtime. I read Outlander probably 5 years ago and forgot everything about it other than I thought I liked it, so I read it again and totally loved it. Obviously, I mean - historical fiction, Scotland, herbal medicine, time travel, adventure. It's a total brain escape...and I like excessively long book series' I can binge on for a few months. 

Walden: Life in the Woods -  I read this book every year in the fall, cover to cover, and have since high school. It's my favorite drawing inward book, perfect for this season when I start to feel more hermit-ish and crave being out in the woods by myself for days at a time. I adore this book and all of the detailed descriptions of slower life. #goals. 


Becoming Wise - After my total obsession with the On Being podcast it's been no surprise that I've been loving Becoming Wise. It has a similar theme but dives a little deeper into questions and actions surrounding how we create more thoughtful and intentional lives. Embracing our many differences, recognizing how trauma affects our inner spirit, tapping into our innate curiosities, cultivating compassion...every single episode and interview makes me re-think how I've been thinking about emotions and interactions my whole life. Also awesome - Creating our Own Lives

She Explores : Women in the Outdoors - Oh my gosh this podcast is amazing. For someone who has constant travel lust this podcast is so inspirational and encouraging to get out there and go it alone (if you don't have a travel buddy, that's OK!). It interviews women who have traveled all over the world, hiked the long trails and grow their souls outside. They speak on their fears, their courage, their challenges, their emotions and their epiphanies. Total badassery. 

What are you reading this fall? Do you have a favorite genre for the season? This is by far my favorite time of year to curl up with a hot cup of tea, a cozy blanket and my pup at my feet and dive into a few good books! 

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

This post is sponsored by my friends at Numi Organic Tea

Early mornings, that's when the quiet is the most appreciated and, to me, the most intentional. Everything wakes in their own time and has their own rhythm and pleasantries in the morning hours. In October, the morning light seems to come through the east facing windows later and later, and morning time feels like it extends far later into the day (so deceptively luxurious!). At the beginning of each month, I try to allow some quiet space in the earliest parts of the day to set a vision for how I want each month to manifest. It's my visual of setting some personal goals, boundaries and deadlines that I can realistically stick to and sets my mind at so much ease...


October is a time of great transition, both seasonally and energetically. I always feel a strong inward draw when October comes around, with that subtle chill in the air and darker mornings and shorter days and that kind of witchy vibe that accompanies the first full month of autumn. When I make my vision lists for this month while sipping on a warming blend the Numi Vision Teasan blend, clarity and creativity come from the first true flavors of warming gingery spices that truly reflect the seasonal change. Ginger, rosemary, nutmeg and cinnamon are very welcome seasonal companions for this month, and they warm me right through to my core with a stimulating peripheral vigor. The added hints of cooling spearmint, hibiscus and lemon verbena add an etherial sweetness that get my creative juices flowing as I sip on this hour after hour as the sun is rising. My pen barely leaves the page while I feverishly transfer thoughts onto paper...visions into reality. This is truly a perfect morning blend to imbibe for just a subtle hint of caffeine with added guayusa for mental stimulation and to get into that early morning creative flow. 

I blend up a full pot (for long, slow mornings) or a single mug of Numi Vision Tea while I work on my monthly vision journal or morning meditations and sip thoughtfully as the reality of my morning turns into mentally attainable daydreams. With the first chill of autumn, endless cups of warm, woodsy, stimulating tea basically become part of my wardrobe. Finding a blend that is so perfectly attuned to my morning ritual is an incredible gift, and sometimes when I sip on another herbalists' or another company's herbal tea, I feel completely tended to and taken care of. Like they made it just for me. Herbs are like that. Like little long lost best friends...turning up at just the most serendipitous moments. 

With such a gift given to me, one of my visions this month is to pay it forward. I'll be stocking a supply of Holistic Numi Teasans in my office to share with my co-workers and fellow practitioners, and making sure that I take at least 10 minutes every morning for a grounding and centering practice to put me in the best mental, physical, emotional and spiritual place to tend to my clients. It makes such a huge difference to a whole day - or even just a single conversation! - to share a space wth someone while being calm, compassionate and attentive. It feels good to receive that, and it feels good to offer that. 


VISION PRACTICE (10 minutes daily)
Find a quiet space and time to sit in ease. Relax your body, gently close your eyes and slow your breathing, paying attention to the rise and fall of your belly as you inhale and exhale. Bring forth an intention of creativity – a project, idea or vision you want to initiate. Like a daydream, allow whatever feelings, thoughts or sensations come to flow across your mind’s eye. Non-judgmentally and without attachment, allow your mind to travel. Enjoy the ride. Once complete (or even if still in fragments), write it all down and work towards manifesting your story. 

This post is sponsored by my friends at Numi Organic Tea. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  It is my goal to use and recommend only the highest quality herbal products from companies that I wholly trust and fully support. Industry standards including sustainable harvesting, quality control, organic/fair trade standards and responsible sourcing are all things I care deeply about when working with herbs and herbal companies. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this blog possible.

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


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