Fresh Dill Pickles

I made this recipe using fresh dill from my herb garden and pickling cucumbers from the farmer’s market in Old Colorado City, just outside of the Springs. (We have a few cucumber plants in the garden, but they haven’t produced quite yet). I plan to can a bunch of pickles when we harvest our cucumbers later this season, but for now I just popped the jars in the fridge knowing they’ll get eaten up in no time. The recipe is pretty simple:

  • 1 lb Cucumbers, Sliced, Halved, or Quartered
  • 1 cup White Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Dill
  • 1 tbsp Pickling Spices or Dill Seeds

-Bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.

-Loosely pack sterilized mason jars with cucumbers.

-Drop in fresh dill and spices.

-Fill remaining jar space with warm vinegar mixture.

-Cover with lid and refrigerate for up to a month. (Refrigerate for a few hours before opening for best taste).

More to come from the fresh herb series, and look out for some canning chronicles and recipes coming to the blog this fall!

San Diego

Well, I fell in love again… with San Diego. An incredible little getaway with breathtaking scenery, perfect weather, and amaaaazing food. Luke and I made an impromptu trip to the west coast for a long weekend. It’s the farthest west we’d ever ventured, and we got to experience it together. We splashed around in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, enjoyed a picnic of street tacos and ice cream on the shore, rode bikes along Mission Beach, snorkeled with wild sea lions at La Jolla Cove, stared in envy at the thriving succulents and lemon trees, and explored the city, as well as some isolated islands and beaches. Soaking up as much sun, sand, and saltwater as we possibly could. We were completely in awe of our surroundings. We didn’t want to leave, but we ended our trip with a perfect dinner date in Little Italy. If you’re planning on visiting, here are some tips on venturing around:

Beaches

We were able to visit Mission and Pacific Beach, Shelter Island, and Point Loma. Shelter Island and Point Loma are smaller and more private, while Mission and Pacific are great for surfing, swimming, and soaking up sun. MB and PB also have restaurants, shops, arcades, etc. It can get pretty crowded, but you can rent a bike for about $10 a day and enjoy a ride along the beach until you find a less populated area.

La Jolla

Rooftop cafes with incredible views, cave swimming, wild sea lions… need I say more? La Jolla Cove was more beautiful than I could have imagined, and it felt so surreal to interact with the sea lions. I sat on a rock about 30 feet from one for a long time, just watching him sleep… with one eye open, on me. You can swim and snorkel with these babies, but don’t get too close. They’re protected, and will definitely bark and defend themselves if their space is invaded.

Nosh

The food in SD. Just. Wow.

We’re always on the lookout for vegan and vegetarian places, especially when we travel, and San Diego is full of them. Donut Bar offers vegan donuts, Civico 1845 offers a full vegan menu, and pretty much anywhere we went had some amazing vegetarian or vegan options.

San Diego is incredible, just beyond words, and I’m so thankful that we were able to go on this adventure.

Travel is necessary. Adventure is vital.

Moon Journal

The moon. La luna. It influences the tides, our bodies, agriculture, sleep cycles. I find the moon presenting itself in a lot of my expressive artwork, and I want to document how it affects me personally.  Last night was the Leo New Moon. I noticed how much it was affecting me, so I started looking more into its meaning, and realized that next month, at the end of this moon cycle, holds a solar eclipse. This is an important lunar cycle to pay attention to. Today, I created a moon journal to document my mind, body, spirit, and sleep for each day and night from the Leo New Moon, through the Full Corn Moon on Monday, August 7th, 2017 until the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st, 2017.

I would love to hear from and share this experience with anyone wishing to join me on this lunar journey!

Garden Compost

The garden is getting huge. In late spring, we planted tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, beets, carrots, pumpkins, watermelons, corn, okra, quinoa, beans, berries, onions, and a variety of peppers including purple cayenne, habanero, and jalepeno. The list goes on and on, and we just harvested our first zucchini! Shortly after we planted, I began composting using an old compost spinner from my landlord. (I’ve also created one in the past by drilling holes into a plastic outdoor trashcan). Compost can be a great additive to any garden, but it took some research to learn the best (and worst) things to add to my compost. Below is a guide on what I usually toss in there:

I make sure to NEVER add animal products or waste, oil, or charcoal. Being vegetarian, it’s easy to monitor what goes into my compost by keeping a big, airtight jar on the kitchen counter for food scraps. I just empty it into the spinner when it gets full. I also toss weeds and greenery in the spinner pretty often. It’s been so exciting to watch the garden take off, and I can’t wait to share more with you as the harvest continues!

Ice Infusions

While most of my herbs are loving the heat this summer, I’m using them to hydrate on these hot, dry days. After spending the day out in the sun nurturing the garden and clipping herbs, I’m in the mood for something cold and refreshing. I found a way to combine my cold craving with my garden goodies: infused ice cubes.

Just drop a few herb clippings and fruit of your choice in an ice cube tray filled with water, freeze, and pop a few into a glass of H2O. As the ice melts, the herbs and fruit start to infuse the water with amazing flavor. My favorite combinations are blackberry/rosemary and blueberry/mint. I’ve also been experimenting with herbal infused iced teas. Hydration is important, so be creative with it!

Floral Creamers

It’s wildflower season here in Colorado, and it’s unbelievably beautiful.

All of those gorgeous, colorful blooms and blossoms come and go so quickly, I had to capture them somehow. I’ve been creating some floral-based concoctions, and so far this is my favorite: floral scented creamer. This time of year, with the sun shining, birds singing, and adventure calling, it can be hard to stay focused, especially during those busy, early mornings. These vegan, sugarless rose petal, lavender, and orange blossom creamers are like a little morning oasis; a sweet summertime escape. Add them to coffee, tea, or perhaps a caffeine-free alternative, and start your day imagining yourself in the middle of a wildflower field.

Rose Petal Creamer

  • 2 cups Unsweetened Nut Milk of Your Choice
  • 2 tbsp Dried Rose Petals
  • 1 tsp Concentrated Rose Water
  • 1 tbsp Agave Nectar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and barely bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and let rest for ten minutes. Strain out rose petals and serve.

Lavender Vanilla Creamer

  • 2 cups Unsweetened Nut Milk of Your Choice
  • 2 tbsp Dried Lavender
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp Agave Nectar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and barely bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and let rest for ten minutes. Strain out dried lavender and serve.

Orange Blossom Creamer

  • 2 cups Unsweetened Nut Milk of Your Choice
  • 1 tbsp Dried Orange Peel
  • 1 tsp Concentrated Orange Blossom Water
  • 1 tbsp Agave Nectar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and barely bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and let rest for ten minutes. Strain out orange peel and serve.

Good morning, summertime!

Happy Place

Self-care is really about finding your happy place. A state of mind that helps you unwind, destress, and connect with your inner peace. There are countless self-care methods and daily practices out there, some to practice alone, and some to practice and share with others. Traveling and unplugging are huge for my personal self-care. I’ve traveled alone, which is a beautiful experience, but there’s something about sharing an adventure with someone I love that is infinitely valuable. My happy place. I found myself right in the middle of my happy place when we decided to pack up for the weekend and camp out near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The weekend started out with a pink, glowing sky, bringing us intentions of love and energy. The sand dunes were breathtaking, but since Molly is getting older and can be somewhat of a timid pup, Luke and I weren’t sure how she would react to the mountainous, rolling dunes. I now believe it’s her new favorite place on Earth. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen her quite so happy, rolling around in the sand and splashing in the stream that runs through the dunes. We were brimming with laughter to see Molly so excited. It was unforgettable. Ever since we moved to Colorado, I’ve been eager to get out and explore, to see more of the state and to venture further west. My list of destinations keeps growing. I was reminded this weekend that the real adventure is right here beside me, and that exploration is so much better with these unplanned shared experiences. We didn’t have an exact plan when we left the house that afternoon, and I never would have guessed that we would get to see Molly acting like a puppy, spot three baby moose, or stumble upon six bighorn sheep during our unpredictable trip, our unforgettable adventure, our happy place.

Photo Credit: Luke Cord

What is your happy place?

Superfood Smoothie Bowls

With summertime just around the corner, you might find yourself dreaming of cold, sweet treats. I definitely do. Fortunately, there are ways to fulfill this desire while still being good to your body. My personal weakness this time of year: smoothie bowls. In fact, I’ve been packing mine with extra nutrients by adding superfoods to the ingredient list. Here are some of my favorite vegan superfood smoothie bowl recipes:

(I tend to toss stuff in while blending until I get the taste and consistency I want, so the measurements are super flexible).

Featured Superfood: Blueberries

Smoothie blend:

  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • 1 cup Cashew Milk Yogurt
  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1/4 cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Blueberries

Pictured topped with frozen raspberries, frozen sliced strawberries, blueberries, and dried lavender.

Featured Superfood: Spirulina

Smoothie blend:

  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • 1 cup Cashew Milk Yogurt
  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1 tsp Spirulina Powder
  • 1/4 cup Frozen Blueberries

Pictured topped with sliced mango, fresh blueberries, chopped walnuts, and chia seeds.

Featured Superfood: Beets

Smoothie blend:

  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • 1 cup Cashew Milk Yogurt
  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1/4 cup Chilled Diced Beets
  • 1/4 cup Frozen Strawberries

Pictured topped with coconut flakes, chia seeds, and sliced banana.

Featured Superfoods: Spinach and Avocado

Smoothie blend:

  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • 1 cup Cashew Milk Yogurt
  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Spinach Leaves
  • 1/2  Sliced Avocado
  • 1/4 cup Sliced Kiwi

Pictured topped with sliced kiwi, fresh blueberries, chopped pistachios, ginger, and coconut flakes.

What are your favorite superfood-smoothie bowl combinations?

Elements

As I sit here writing, I notice the scent of tea tree lingering from my hair, slightly damp from my shower. I breathe in the warmth from the green tea in my favorite mug. I am safe. I am clean. I am comfortable. Unexposed to the elements on this unusually chilly night. I feel cozy tonight, but my mind wanders to a recent camping adventure in which I was almost completely exposed to the elements, at the mercy of Mother Earth. With the promising forecast of clear skies and decent temperatures, five of us headed out with our camping gear, unfazed by the unpredicted grey clouds looming in the distance. A few hours into our trip, tents built and campfire blazing, those clouds opened up and the rain began to pour. We ran into our tent and huddled up together, waiting for it to pass. These unexpected but temporary downpours continued on and off throughout our trip, producing the most beautiful sunset and sunrise. We were exposed to the elements with few options for shelter, nervously hoping that the tent enveloping us would hold up through the periodic storms. It is eye opening to get a glimpse of what so many people are forced to experience on a daily basis, exposed to wind, rain, cold temperatures. However, we were doing this for fun. We chose to wait out the rain and thunder for the joy of camping. There seems to be a common nomadic daydream among many in our generation. The dream of living on the road or off the grid, a form of chosen homelessness. There is something that feels so natural and primal about living in such a way. It feels magical to wake up in a forest, making your breakfast over the fire you’ve built, cooling off in a nearby stream, completely surrounded by nature. I feel that while living our chosen lifestyles, whatever they may be, it is important to remember that we are lucky enough to get to choose that lifestyle. As someone dedicated to a helping profession, I wonder how many ways we can find to reroute our daily activities in order to give back, to waste less, to show compassion? Volunteering, recycling, composting, donating, leaving no trace, etc… I would love to hear your thoughts on this! What aspects of your lifestyle are dedicated to bettering the planet, or what would you like to start doing and learning more about?

Growing an Herb Garden

After a few unexpected weeks of rain, wind, and even a little snow, the sun finally emerged and began to warm the earth around me. I graciously planted my bare feet in the dirt and, after much anticipation, started transplanting my herbs to the garden. Since I have been limited to small garden boxes or indoor pots in the past, I wanted to take advantage of all of the space in my new yard. I designated specific areas for different herbs based on the plants’ needs. Below is a guide on where to place plant babies and how to care for them.

Rosemary and lavender love the sun. They absolutely love it. Full sun is best for these plants. And they are definitely not needy when it comes to watering. Water is usually only necessary for these babes when the soil gets pretty dry.

I have a few basil plants as well as some varieties of mint. Basil plants can grow pretty large, so leave some room for them to spread out. Basil and mint prefer a lot of sunshine, but can also tolerate some shade. They’re a little more fussy and need to be watered regularly.

Dill enjoys full sun, but also doesn’t like to get too much heat. I’m still trying to find a balance for my dill plants. Dill also needs to be watered pretty regularly.

Sage, thyme, and cilantro prefer full sun and well-drained earth. Sage and cilantro may tolerate some shade. Make sure to provide plenty of room for plants, especially cilantro, to grow and grow.

Chamomile and lemon verbena seem to enjoy more shade than sunshine. They also don’t need a ton of water.

It always helps to do research before starting an herb garden. Some methods of growing and care may differ depending on types of herbs, as well as your zone.

As my herbs grow, I’ll be making all sorts of concoctions, potions, and recipes with them and sharing on the blog! See you soon, and happy planting!