All Hallows’ Eve

Sometimes self-care means taking the time to celebrate. To let go of the day-to-day monotony, to listen to the inner child, and to welcome mystery and spontaneity into life. Samhain, All Hallows’ Eve, reminds us to celebrate, to direct our attention to the darkening days and colder nights, and to welcome the wintery weather with a fresh perspective. This night invites us to look out into the dark sky with wonder rather than fear.

It’s no secret that Halloween is my favorite time of year, and I’ve been celebrating all month with vampiric literature, costume designs, and (finally) carving the pumpkins from our garden.

Carving and Photo: Luke Cord

Here’s a recipe from one of my favorite Halloween traditions:

Happy Halloween!

How are you celebrating?

Autumn Lattes

Autumn. Mother Nature’s beautiful, magical, colorful transformation. I’m getting my first true glimpse of fall in Colorado, and it is breathtaking.

Friday was the autumn equinox, a time for balance, transition, abundance, and appreciation. While planning a celebratory weekend filled with camping, fire dances, and Mabon festivities, the universe laughed as the sky opened up Friday afternoon, and the rain poured down. In an attempt to flexibly transition with the season, I packed up my camping mugs and moved the party inside. Cozily stuck indoors, I thought, what would be perfect for looking out at the rain? Autumn inspired lattes. Keeping with the blog’s coffeeless tradition, these easy lattes are the perfect cozy compliment to the cool weather and changing leaves.

Warm & Spicy Cacao Latte

  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 tbsp Ground Chicory Root
  • 1/4 cup Cacao Nibs
  • 1/4 cup Steamed Almond Milk
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Brew the chicory root grounds, cinnamon, and cayenne with water using a coffee maker, pour-over, or french press. Place cacao nibs in the bottom of a mug and add hot chicory “coffee”, stirring to melt cacao. Add steamed milk and top with cinnamon, cayenne, and nutmeg (optional).

Pumpkin Spice Root Latte

  • 2 cups Hot Water
  • 2 tbsp Root Tea Blend
  • 1/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 2 tbsp Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

Steep root blend in hot water for 5 minutes. (I use a local blend made with dandelion and licorice root.) In a saucepan, gently heat almond milk, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, stirring constantly. Add steamed milk to tea and top with pumpkin pie spice.

Green Tea & Ginger Latte

  • 2 cups Hot Water
  • 2 tbsp Green Tea, Yerba Mate, or Matcha Blend
  • 1/4 Steamed Almond Milk
  • 1 tbsp Ground Ginger

Steep green tea in hot water for 5 minutes. Add steamed milk to tea and top with ground ginger.

Happy Autumn, my loves

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?

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.

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…