On Being Present

My mind has a habit of drifting, wandering, and I find myself carried away. Either into a warm, nostalgic memory, or some vision of the idealized distant future. I love teaching and practicing mindfulness with my clients, but I have to ask myself, how often am I utilizing this technique for my own self-care? During a short visit to the Carolinas this past week, I had an insightful conversation with my grandmother. She asked me a simple question: “are you satisfied with your life?”. A question that I’ve been hesitant to ask myself lately. Living so far away from my birthplace, I was infatuated with this brief homecoming, basking in past memories, taking in the golden, feathery sunsets and lush greenery, gazing up at the massive old trees, comparing it all to the scenery of my new home. As if I were trying to decide which landscape I prefer, which one feels more authentic, which one reflects where I need to “end up”, or “settle down”. Which is why this question seemed so daunting. Am I satisfied? Expending energy hazy with nostalgia or hyper-focused on future plans, will I ever be? Life never turns out quite the way we plan or imagine (although sometimes, it’s even better), and obsessing over that can be self-destructive. In my graduate program, we often discussed a phenomenon called Destination Addiction. It’s the unattainable idea that whenever a certain goal is reached, happiness will automatically follow. We also discussed the theory that we remember events in a better light than when we actually experienced the event. These cognitions are what can keep us disillusioned and distant from the present moment, from current, ongoing happiness. Practicing mindfulness (being present and nonjudgmental in the moment), appreciating the little things that make us feel at home, and focusing on the amazing aspects of everyday life, these are a few basic essentials for self-care and feeling satisfied. Sunsets are beautiful anywhere, but we have to be present in order to appreciate them.

How do you stay present?

Rosemary Peach Jam

Rosemary. Such an amazing smell, and the heat-loving plant does so well in the summer, but the aroma usually takes my mind to colder seasons. Not anymore. I found a way to combine this savory herb with summer’s yummiest gift, peaches. I started making and canning jams last year, and they are always a favorite among my family and friends. Here is a recipe for rosemary peach jam, the best of both worlds:

  • 2 cups Peaches, Diced
  • 2 cups Stevia or Other Dry Sweetener
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
  • Champagne or Sparkling Wine

Combine the peaches and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Add a splash of the champagne while stirring frequently (I also add a little pectin if it’s not quite the consistency I want). Remove from heat when jam sets (scoop some up with a spoon and allow to cool slightly to test), carefully remove rosemary sprigs (optional) and pour into mason jars when almost cool.

Any healthy baked good recipes out there that you would serve with this jam?

Basil Pesto

Earlier this summer, my basil plants were looking super sad. I even thought they were done for good at one point. I tried altering my watering schedule, but to no avail. Then, one day, out of the blue, they were huge! I still have no idea what changed, but they are thriving now, and every time I clip them they basically grow back overnight. So what do I make with my new abundance of basil? Pesto, (what else?) and lots of it. This week I made my favorite pizza dough recipe, smothered it in this pesto, and added some fresh mozzarella and banana peppers from the garden. It’s so satisfying to create and cook with produce you’ve grown and nurtured yourself, and this pesto recipe is one of my favorites. Get it below:

  • 2 cups Fresh Basil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/3 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese (or vegan alternative)
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and that’s it! Pesto. 

Part three, coming up!

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!

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!

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!

In Bloom

The sun wakes me up a couple of hours later than it used to. I’m still astonished every morning to open my eyes and see Pike’s Peak looking down on me from outside the bedroom window. Everything is new.

Newness can feel daunting. It presents challenges, demands acclimation, and evokes uncertainty. It also offers fresh perspective, expanding knowledge, and beautiful, towering surprises. I turn a corner to find mountains before me. Looking up has never been more enthralling, or more often. Although, even in the grasp of change and newness, we still have our rituals, our traditions. Something to help us feel that we are staying the course, still on track. Clouds followed as our dog, Molly, led me through pathways and trails unfamiliar to us. Red rocks, waterfalls, flowers, and even more clouds surrounded as we breathed in our new atmosphere.

I crave exploration. I yearn for adventure. I needed this for my own self-care. Of course I have so many people who are close to my heart, yet now so far in distance. My love for them does not falter based on the location of my freshest footprints. I want to see more. I want to learn. I was drawn to this transition. Maybe it was to show those who are feeling stagnant how realistic such a seemingly drastic change can be. Maybe it’s okay to follow your heart, even if you’re not sure where it’s leading you.

Grow. Blossom. Bloom.

    

Carolina to Colorado, Part Deux

We did it. We moved across the country from Asheville, North Carolina to Colorado Springs, Colorado. From the Smokies to the Rockies. 1500 miles of driving, music, laughter, and anticipation. We are currently falling in love with our new home.

Change is good; growth is amazing. I can’t wait to show you (and myself) what is yet to come.

Stay tuned for more adventures out west.