Sunday, April 18, 2021

I finally took this Sunday to wake up early, 5:30am, walk down to the river just by my house and see the Virginia bluebells in the predawn hour. They’ve been blooming for the past week, and stop me in my tracks every day I walk near them. When I go for woodland walks in the spring, I’m reminded of how alive with magical energy I always felt when I was a child playing in the woods. Every part of the spring woods felt ethereal, and spending time in spaces like this fueled my imagination and creativity. I feel endlessly lucky to have been a woods kid. To not even have the option of screens growing up was such a gift to my 90’s childhood. I use the woods as my soul reprieve still.

I go for woodland walks every day. In my backyard there are lush Appalachian woods, covered under snow in the winter, and blooming with Virginia bluebells in early spring. I’ve been eager to capture these Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) in the predawn morning light since the beginning of spring. They bloom here in the rich woods by the river in the first few weeks of spring, and are every day an invitation to stop and stay a while, and admire them while they’re here…which isn’t very long. Within a few weeks, they disappear. Left are the mayapples, soon to have little underside blooms for the turtles to feast on through the spring, and the creek to feed the river, soon to be warm enough for early morning and late evening swims…

Like many, I’ve spent the majority of the past year mostly alone. Having recently moved into my little cottage that took me a year to build, having this year to nest and settle into the incredible beauty of this space has been a quarantine dream. I’ve never minded being alone. Most of my life I’ve preferred it, but I do crave my deeply rooted friendship company and visits with my family. I never feel lonely here though. It may be the constant companionship of my dog. Or it may be all the time I spend outside, feeling so connected and absorbed in the embrace of nature. Spending time out here alone is predictably comforting. It teaches me to go more slowly and notice every single new thing that wasn’t there yesterday. And not miss too much the beauty that just vanished because I swooned over it as much as I could while it was here. Today is one of those days, spent outside with the bluebells, communing with the mayapples and resting by the creek. I hope each of you, in whatever season you’re experiencing in the world, have the time and space to connect with nature near you and bring it into your home and soul, too.

Read More: October in the Blue Ridge

Are you curious to learn how to identify and forage the herbs and flowers near you? Explore the Foraging Course from The Herbal Academy to get started on your botanical adventures in your own backyard.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

February can feel like quite the duo month. And lovely as that can be, it can be equally lovely to spend the last of the winter quiet alone, with just yourself. I create a February tea for one blend nearly every day this month, and enjoy it just for me, to sip on while I work, or enjoy in the peaceful evenings of quiet solitude. The practice of preparing tea blends for oneself is such a tender thing…to nurture to your own desires and tastes, or your own daily cravings and body requests. A simple act, but aren’t those the most personally impactful?

Read More: The Grounding Magic of Tea Ritual

Infusing herbs in my home office has become my favorite form of aromatherapy. I spend hours alone in this little corner of my home, dutifully typing away at articles and emails, and wistfully gazing out the snowy windows when my creativity starts to wane. A slow process since this past spring, I’ve taken plenty of intentional time making my home office a space I enjoy to be in. As one who is heavily influenced by my surroundings, it’s essential that my home nest feels like a reflection of my inner self – calm, ethereal, natural, orderly, and whimsical. Keeping plants and herbs in my space reinforces my desire for always tending to my connection with plants, inwardly and outwardly. Enjoying a purposeful pot of tea while I work and create is a little joy that I get to make for myself every day. And you can, too.

Hair tie from Ozma

In February, I gravitate towards flowers and spring colors, sweet flavors and mineral-y tastes to tide me until the coming of spring in a few short weeks. Pink rose, vibrant hibiscus, gentle purple lavender, and nourishing nettle is my tea-for-one craving this week, to fill my (heart and soul) cup, and infuse my space with delicious aromas.

Slow-cooker and crock pot recipes in the winter months are incredible. I’m always craving a one-pot warming soup on snowy days, and the slow-cooker option on my InstaPot lets me dump a hodgepodge of ingredients in there in the morning, smell it cooking all day long, and leaves me with several servings of delicious, nourishing stew for the week (or a few extra servings in my freezer). This recipe for everything creamy chicken & wild rice soup is slow-cooker friendly, and amenable to any veggies you have at the end of the week.

Veggie options: Onions, squash, carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, lentils, parsnips. You can also add chopped greens during the last 30 minutes such as kale, collard greens, chard or spinach.

Spice options: sea salt, black pepper, garlic granules, turmeric, ginger, fennel, basil, oregano.

Top with: Shredded parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, extra fennel seeds.

Taste More: Veggie Stuffed Portobello’s with Herbal Chimichurri

All of the goods go into the pot first thing (except the cream of mushroom condensed soup, which is optional but highly recommended) and left to cook for several hours. The cream of mushroom condensed soup gives it the last minute creaminess and an extra rich, nourishing flavor. Enjoy the intoxicating smell on a lovely snow day while you sip some of your favorite herbal tea and curl up with a good Sunday book.