Category Archives: herbs

Memphis in June

Or, at least, the South in June…

I can’t believe how quickly Summer is approaching – it’s been a busy Spring!

Between work (all three jobs, plus smaller side hustles!), my involvement with the Young Democrats of GeorgiaThe Young Democrats of Augusta-Richmond CountyThe Columbia County Democratic PartyRCSAS, school (all As, thank you very much!), and as a contributing writer for Live Your Dream, it’s pretty much non-stop all day, every day. I can’t really complain, though, as it’s all fulfilling, and on top of all of that, I also get to flex my creative muscles with weddings, cake baking, & personal writing, so the balance is starting to fall into place. Since my facebook and twitter feeds are already full of politics, I’ll not bore you here with it and instead share a few of the other things I’ve been up to over the past month and a half.

My mom and I went to the lavender farm in upstate South Carolina and came back with a plentiful supply! Lavender simple syrup was made first, followed by blackberry lavender jam, and I’m still filling jars full of dried lavender buds. The simple syrup was used to soak lemon cakes – one of which was for a Memorial Day low-country boil at a friend’s house and the other for Humanitree House.

 

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lavender infused lemon cake

 

Each cake was iced with a lemon buttercream and sprinkled with fresh lavender on top – all vegan, of course. I was really happy with how this recipe turned out – a nice combination of moist and fluffy, with just a hint of lavender that wasn’t overpowering.

Strawberry season started early this year (looking at you, global warming) and ended this past weekend, but I took as many opportunities as I could to hit up the u-pick. We’ve got jars of strawberry preserves stocking the fridge, which are even more delicious when spread on homemade strawberry loaf!

 

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freshly picked strawberries with honey from Duck Feather Herbs & handmade wooden spoon from The Hermit & Co.  plus mint from the garden

 

In between baking, I was fortunate enough to have two pieces of work published. The first was in WSU’s literary journal, LandEscapes, and the other was in a book produced by Weaver House Co. about textiles. There are still some books at Weaver House available, as well as some really beautiful weavings!

 

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There’s really nothing like fruits and veggies this time of year. We planted artichokes last summer, and they finally produced! I was SO PROUD of these delicious gals! It was *almost* too hard to eat them, but somehow, I managed. 😉

 

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One of my co-workers has backyard chickens and every Friday, she sells the most beautiful eggs. I don’t always eat eggs, but when I do (insert meme here), they are always fresh! Look at these pretty colors!

 

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I’m now salivating because blackberry season has finally started! I had wanted to pick my own, but they won’t let you do that at the farm with the strawberry patch due to snakes! Regardless, I got a bunch that were pre-packed, ready to make jams and cakes! The farm also has rows and rows of gladiola and zinnias and I can never leave without filling my car to the brim. I’ll save those for another post, though!

 

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ready to become blackberry lavender jam

 

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blackberry champagne cake

 

Finally, with the premiere of the new season of ‘Twin Peaks,’ I had no choice but to make a cherry pie. I know I wasn’t the only one enjoying a slice!

 

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I suppose I should have made something for the latest season of ‘House of Cards,’ which gave me LIFE. Also, Robin Wright in ‘Wonder Woman’ is seriously the greatest thing ever. I could wax poetic about her right now, but then I’d end up crying (again) so instead, I’ll just daydream about owning the Antiope Barbie doll.

In other news that will be detailed in the next update, baby Iris turned 1 and we adopted an 11-year-old deaf Boston baby named Spanky, who I like to call Spankmaster Flash. He is just the sweetest and they are getting along swimmingly! All the heart eyes for my babies.

Fingers crossed I can knock out another blog post by the end of the month. I’ve got a wedding this weekend, and am super excited about the flowers we’ve ordered – plus, the site is incredible. Now, if only I could decide what cake flavor to make next…any suggestions?

 

 

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Review: Soft Focus Mask by Wildcare

It’s no surprise by now that I love a good facial product. When Wildcare announced they were introducing a new face mask made from pineapple extract, coconut milk, and pearl powder, I just had to try it! With each purchase of this new release, they were offering a sample of their Wild Melon facial oil, a little potion created from watermelon seed, black currant seed, ylang ylang, and other intoxicating scents – a perfect follow up to lock in the benefits of the face mask. One of the things I love about the face mask is that it contains only FOUR natural ingredients!

The Soft Focus face mask has a fragrance to it that takes you back to bright summer days, lounging by the pool, freshly-squeezed juice in hand. It’s a nice little pick-me-up for a grey, rainy day but also a splendid way to refresh on a hot, sunny afternoon.

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Pearl powder has been used in China for thousands of years as both a dietary and beauty treatment. One of its benefits is that it can prevent the development of melanin, which is what causes freckles and dark patches due to sun exposure and aging. This is particularly helpful to me, as my Eastern European heritage has left me developing some hyper-pigmentation on my face as I age, and while I don’t hate it – it’s a symbol of who I am -, it’s nice to have a product that will help prevent it from getting out of control. I’m also a Leo-a fire sign, and a July baby, so summertime is one of my favorite seasons. This means spending as much time outdoors as possible, especially at the beach, and while I take precautions to protect my skin, one can never do enough. The pearl powder in this mask will help reverse any sun damage from those afternoons at the JCC and Hilton Head! It’s also extremely beneficial in preventative practices now, as I’m constantly out in the sun, tending to my gardens.

Combine this with pineapple extract, organic coconut milk powder (an added plus: it’s dairy-free!), and white kaolin clay, and you’ve got a face mask that will leave your skin feeling porcelain smooth.

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herbal tea, vintage peignoir, a weighty book, & a face mask = perfect evening!

As for the Wild Melon oil: I’ve added that to my morning routine, in between washing my face and smoothing on lotion. There’s always a bit of apprehension when applying an oil – will it leave my face looking greasy? But this one is quickly absorbed into the skin, leaving your face lustrous and soft.

I love that Wildcare is based on the therapeutic qualities of indigenous plants in the PNW, and a dedication to herbalism. That’s just another of the many things I love the most about the Pacific Northwest – everyone out there is so encouraging of their community, and creating & sustaining a beautiful environment. Being able to support brands like this is the best feeling – and now their Golden Hour body oil and Lemon Light hydrosol are next on my list of goodies to try!

 

Self Care

A lover of natural, herbal, & holistic remedies, I stumbled upon PDX apothecary, Duck Feather Herbs, a couple of months ago, and have had my eye on their Lavender lip balm, Sleeping Beauty tea, and an array of herbal tinctures ever since. Just after the new year, they hosted a giveaway with fellow herbalists, Tumbleweed Apothecary & Monarch Apothecary, offering a dreamy assortment of health and beauty goods. With a package full of soaking salts, perfume, incense, facial products and more, how could I resist entering?! I was fortunate enough to be chosen as their winner and I couldn’t be more enamored with all of their products. Even their packaging was perfect in its rustic simplicity!

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The Love Manifest perfume from Monarch Apothecary is altogether divine – a consummate marriage of various rose petal essences, rose geranium, bergamot, and ginger lily essential oils, & topped with their own farm harvested roses, it’s a delightfully feminine and romantic bouquet. After a hot bath with their Turmeric & Calendula Soaking Salts, enhanced by the air of Lavender & Sage incense cones, roll on some love-filled perfume and be prepared for an amorous evening!

Keeping my face dewy and lips soft is super easy thanks to Tumbleweed Apothecary’s oil-based facial serum, Stunner. With thirteen different oils, including rose hips, argan, frankincense, & jojoba (“you’ll love it – it has jojoba.” s/o to my theatre “sister,” Lauren!), I apply it after cleansing my face and before adding their ‘Spellbound’ Face Cream. Topping my lips with some Lavender & Mint ‘Peck’ lip balm, my skin is supple & kissable.

I stay busy between my full-time job at a local tv station, part time job at an art gallery, helping run a volunteer-based community art gallery, traveling, & my own artistic endeavors – painting, writing, baking, acting, & photography – so I’m always looking for new ways to relax and unwind. Sleep has never come easier with a cup of Good Belly Tea combined with some Have a Good Rest Tincture, care of Duck Feather Herbs. Adding a couple of drops of this chamomile, catnip, lavender, & bergamot mint tincture to an already quieting cup of mint & lemon balm herbal tea is a foolproof way to end a satiated day.

I’ve added some Elderberry Syrup to my wish list from Duck Feather Herbs, as well as some tinted lip balm called ‘Smooch’ and the ‘Siren’ facial steam from Tumbleweed Apothecary, and a tin of Cacao, Rose, & Rooibos (decaf!) Chai & Herkimer diamond gemstone essence from Monarch Apothecary. My ever-growing Etsy cart is taunting my bank account!

While I’ve linked to each apothecary’s individual shops, they’ve all got Instagram accounts that are equally as tantalizing as their products. Take a peek for yourself at @DuckFeatherHerbs@tumbleweed_apothecary, & @monarchapothecary!

 

 

Killer Tofu*

Before continuing to write about my PDX trip, I want to share with you some of the goodies I’ve been making! As a slight chill has begun to whisper its way into the season, it has moved me to create some warm dishes, full of rich color & flavor. I’ve been particularly fond of using fresh rosemary in both savory and sweet fare this past month. Having a kitchen stocked full of fresh herbs makes daily cooking even more enticing!

Root vegetables have taken center stage for me this Autumn. After enjoying a summer full of beet and peach caprese, it’s now time to slice up the beets -golden & red- and roast them with garlic, sweet potatoes, and carrots. I’m a big enthusiast of “eating your colors,” and there’s no better way than a jewel-toned dish like this one! Toss with fresh sage, parsley, oregano, and rosemary, and you’ve got some beautiful and delicious side dishes.

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roasted sweet potatoes, beets, & garlic with fresh parsley, sage, & oregano

An added bonus-they are completely vegan options! Another pantry item I can never have enough of  is olive oil. From sauteeing a mirepoix for soups and sauces to drizzling as a final touch on top of tomato pies, olive oil is one of those perfect ingredients that brings a recipe together. Not only that, it’s one of the healthiest fats you can eat! Nourishing for your hair, heart, skin, cognitive abilities, etc, it’s just about an ideal food.

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carrots & beets roasted in balsamic, olive oil, & rosemary

Root vegetables don’t have to be just roasted to be enjoyed – I’ve been using them for cozy soups, as well. I enjoyed a homemade parsnip soup in Michigan last Christmas, and decided to try my hand at my own version. This one included carrots, sweet potatoes, and apples, spiced with fresh ginger, tumeric, thyme, & roasted pepitas. Served with a steaming cup of mint tea (also fresh from the garden!), it’s an excellent meal to serve up on a grey, rainy day.

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root soup prep!

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finis!

What’s a dinner without dessert? I always, always have room for something sweet, no matter how big the dinner! I’ve been really in the mood for brownies lately, and instead of brightening them up with mint or orange, I made some with rosemary and sea salt. The recipe I found for these makes a chewy, wonderfully dense (I am not fond of cake-y brownies) brownie that surprises you with it’s hint of chili powder. Drizzled with dark chocolate and sea salt, the flavors compliment each other amazingly well. I did worry that the rosemary would make them taste…weird…but it was actually a pleasant surprise! The rosemary and chili powder heighten each other’s flavor profiles, while the dark chocolate balances them with it’s rich sweetness. These were dairy-free but they did contain eggs. I haven’t tried making them with an egg substitute yet, so if you do, let me know what works best!

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rosemary sea salt brownies

I really, really love the art of food – from the act of creating something delicious to sharing it with others. It doesn’t matter how tired I am after a full day of work, I still love to go home and immerse myself in the soothing process of making something from scratch. The change in the weather brings about a welcoming change in the process, too. It can be a little more complex as we begin to fill our refrigerators full of comfort food rather than the summer’s simple, freshly picked fruits and veggies, but the dishes created quietly warm your bones and your soul. Plus, who isn’t enticed by one’s kitchen becoming an indoor garden, those lush herbs begging to be eaten?

*props to anyone who gets the title reference!