Handmade Herbal Soap Bars

The herb garden is still flourishing, and I’ve been using and saving as much as I can. Today I’m making a bunch of herbal soaps.  They’re great to have around for guests, and perfect for little homemade gifts. I just use a basic soap base and add essential oils, herbs, and moisturizers. Each recipe makes 1 bar.

Thymely Rose

  • 1 cup Soap Base
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 10 drops Rose Essential Oil
  • Dried Thyme and Dried Rose Petals

Melt the soap base using a double boiler. Stir in oils and pour into soap mold. Drop in thyme and rose petals as desired, and let cool completely.

Citrus Spice

  • 1 cup Soap Base
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 10 drops Tangerine Essential Oil
  • Fresh Rosemary & Cloves

Melt the soap base using a double boiler. Stir in oils and pour into soap mold. Drop in rosemary and cloves as desired, and let cool completely.

Lavender Oats

  • 1 cup Soap Base
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • Dried Lavender and Oats

Melt the soap base using a double boiler. Stir in oils and pour into soap mold. Drop in lavender and oats as desired, and let cool completely.

Mintea Tree

  • 1 cup Soap Base
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 10 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • Fresh Mint Leaves

Melt the soap base using a double boiler. Stir in oils and pour into soap mold. Drop in mint leaves as desired, and let cool completely.

Lemon Verbena

  • 1 cup Soap Base
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 10 drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • Fresh Lemon Verbena

Melt the soap base using a double boiler. Stir in oils and pour into soap mold. Drop in lemon verbena as desired, and let cool completely.

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?

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!

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!

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?