Harvest

I was awakened by the golden glow from the Harvest Moon early this morning, sleepily gazing at the ghostly orange orb shedding its soft light on our blossoming garden. Along with celebrating the harvest moon, harvest has been our top priority so far this month, picking and eating fresh garden produce daily by the basket full. It’s so rewarding and humbling simultaneously, living off of the land, giving constant attention to our thriving plants, doting on those who prefer rainy days, exclaiming over a newly red tomato or a perfectly ripe zucchini. The nights into morning are beginning to cool off, and we will continue to harvest as much as we possibly can until the first frost kisses our garden. We pick more than we can eat, but what we don’t eat ourselves or give away, well, we have big plans…

Pickling and Canning

You can get one of my favorite pickle recipes here. I’ve been pickling our cucumbers, banana peppers, and green beans nonstop lately. I toss in garlic, peppers, and spices depending on the taste I’m going for with each batch.

I started using my new canner, a gift from my mom, on our plethora of produce from the garden. I’m still experimenting with it to perfect the technique. By the end of the season, we should be stocked up on homemade canned goods. If you decide you want to try canning, ALWAYS follow directions exactly according to the specific canner and recipes you’re using. Botulism is no joke.

Tomatoes

Fresh salsa with tomatoes, onions, and peppers from the garden? Hell yes. Here’s the recipe:

  • 4 Large Tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup Diced Poblano Pepper
  • 1/3 cup Diced Banana Pepper
  • 1/3 cup Diced Jalepeno Pepper
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar

Core and dice tomatoes. Add tomatoes to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 10 minutes. Add peppers, garlic, salt, lime juice, and vinegar. Bring back to boil and boil gently for 10 additional minutes. Serve chilled.

Drying

With cooler nights and mornings here in the Springs, I’ve been clipping my herbs and hanging them upside down to dry. We’ve also been drying out a lot of the peppers from the garden. 

As for Everything Else…

We plan to produce flour from the red corn once it’s ready, and the quinoa and root veggies will be harvested in the fall. Plus, the pumpkins are starting to ripen just in time for the autumn equinox. The squash is picked and eaten daily, and everything else will be pickled, canned, or dried for use throughout the year. 

How have you celebrated the Harvest Moon?

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!

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!

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?

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.

Retreat

“You gave me a forever within the numbered days…”

-John Green

 I recently experienced the loss of a loved one. As many resources as I have for clients experiencing grief and loss, I personally found myself unprepared for the impact. I have so many memories that I cherish with this person, and I needed time to reflect on them and to process this experience. I decided to take some time apart from everyone and everything on a personal retreat. I found a beautiful retreat center in the middle of the Pisgah National Forest called Mountain Light Sanctuary. The sanctuary offers multiple overnight accommodations including some that are open to the elements, and even a four post bed placed directly under the stars. Since the comfort of my home and the support of my partner have been so healing through this process, I simply chose to participate in a personal day retreat. I spent a lot of time reflecting, journaling, and meditating by the river. As I was longing to feel grounded and connected to the natural world, I walked around the property barefoot, rooting myself to the earth beneath me. It was a beautiful experience to reflect on loss while surrounded by the awakened life of blooming flowers and singing birds, as well as the company of a friendly little resident cat…

 Unplugging, connecting with nature, and temporarily retreating in such a way can be so revitalizing, and I would love to hear about any retreats you have visited or would recommend!

Express Yourself

Expressive arts can be an amazing method of self-care. What it is? It’s basically creating art, in any form of your choosing, to express feelings, promote mindfulness, and encourage personal growth. There are lots of resources available for expressive arts, as well as practitioners who facilitate Expressive Arts Therapy. I learned about expressive arts during a retreat, and it was such a powerful, meditative experience. Ever since, I have utilized expressive painting, music, writing, movement, and dance in my own self-care practices. There is something so freeing about creating art in a nonjudgmental way, to focus on the process of creating rather than on the finished product. Whenever I am feeling stuck, I combine expressive painting with music and rhythm. The process is simple.

First, try to clear your head using mindfulness/ meditation and breathing techniques: breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts, hold for four counts, and repeat. This always helps to silence my busy mind. Once you’re in a calming place, you can then paint, color, or draw to the rhythm of your breath, to the melody of music (if you have some playing in the background), or simply let the paintbrush guide you. So grab your favorite medium, or even combine them, and express yourself!

What other forms of expressive arts are you curious about? Comment below!

Blues

It’s inevitable. No matter how much we enjoy the snow, towards the end of the season, the winter blues are bound to set in. We start to long for warm sunshine and lush greenery, and the constant windchill and bare branches start to seem monotonous. This week, on a particularly cold and cloudy day, I decided to offset my winter blues with the blue hues of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as if to seek out my own pathetic fallacy. I grabbed our pup, Molly, and headed out toward Tennessee to a magical place called Roan Mountain. As luck would have it, the clouds slowly dissipated as we made our way up the winding mountain roads. One thing I’ve learned while living in the mountains is that gazing out at the endless ridges and visualizing how small we are compared to the earth  around us can really help shift our perspective, and, in some cases, even brighten our mood. Exploring the snowy forests and hiking the various balds of Roan Mountain was an amazing counterbalance for the winter blues. Molly seemed to be in good spirits as well, rolling around in the residual patches of snow and gazing out at the breathtaking views.

   

Of course, we are often stuck inside during these cold winter days, but even indoor comforts may offer an escape from the frigidity, like creating a cozy atmosphere inside to compliment the cold weather, or experimenting with different herbal tea concoctions to warm up during those particularly chilly mornings. Here is one recipe I’ve been loving lately:

  • Black tea leaves
  • Dried rose petals
  • Lavender
  • Cloves (optional)
  • Cinnamon bark (optional)

Simply blend ingredients, add one tsp to a loose leaf tea strainer, and steep in hot water for 5 minutes.

Salt Therapy

 Ever since I moved to Asheville, I’ve heard mention of the Asheville Salt Cave, a spa and gift shop in downtown Asheville, including a cave made completely of crystal salt. I love using my Himalayan salt lamp at home, and have been hearing so much about the benefits of crystal salt, so I finally decided to check out the cave. From the moment you walk in, the atmosphere feels completely calming and inviting. The cave experience starts with a guided meditation, followed by a gentle dimming of the lights and an invitation to silently meditate.
Using meditation and quieting my mind has always been a challenge for me, but recently I have been practicing both guided and silent meditation, gradually learning to let go, slow down, and just be. After some patience and determination, meditation has now become a magical part of my life. That magic was truly intensified in the salt cave. I could feel the expansion of my breathing, the calming of my mind, and the immediate relief of my tension. Following my 45 minute session in the cave, I felt completely at ease throughout the rest of my day. All of my stress was melted away. I wish I had visited the salt cave months ago to experience the wonderful benefits, and I will definitely be back.
What helps you with meditation? What are your thoughts on salt therapy? I would love to hear from you!
Best Wishes,
Emily

Contrast

Waking up to a blanket of snow feels like a dream when you live in Asheville. We usually only get a handful of snow days every year, and last week, we woke up to one of those days. Within the same week, we were greeted by 70 degree weather. Mother natures offers lots of contrast, as does day to day life. Major changes can happen overnight, and we can either try to resist such contrast, or we can embrace it. The idea of contrast and change has been coming up a lot in recent meetings with my colleagues and supervisors. One of my fellow counselors always tells me: “roll with resistance”. When unexpected changes come up, roll with it rather than push against it. The capability to roll with resistance can depend greatly on our ability to give up perceived control over our environment. In many cases, the only true control we have is over our own reactions and responses, which can be used to create flexibility and balance when we are faced with difficult or unusual situations. Additionally, my supervisor recently advised me to let go of my expectations of certain situations, and challenged me to find ways to change my perspective and create my own ‘silver linings’, which is something I have been working on. Even when we are faced with darkness, we can bring our own light into it.
Truthfully, I was hoping that the snow would last longer. I definitely appeased my inner child: sledding, playing, and just taking in the scenery. When my toes were nearly frozen, I warmed up inside with hot tea and spent some time wrapping crystals. I was enjoying the quiet, vast energy of such a short-lived wonderland, only to see it melted away so quickly. It was then that I reminded myself of my ability to take control over my own reaction to the contrasting weather patterns. Rather than ruminate over the loss of the beautiful snow, I took advantage of the unexpected warm weather. I visited some of the same areas that were covered in snow just days before to capture the contrast (pictures below). In the end, I know that I feel happiest when I am living in the moment; when I let go of my expectations and constant planning, and embrace the contrast that life, and nature, offer to me.

& what a difference a day makes…