beauty · nature · relaxation

Spring Has Sprung! Early Spring Blooms

I spent part of my week bemoaning the haggard look of my yard. With the warmer weather and more sunshine, my grass has been flourishing… And so have my “weeds”.

I’m inclined to quickly schedule someone to tend to the yard but, as a baby herbalist, I know that the new growth cropping up in my yard has a purpose. I also know that it’s to my benefit to be very familiar with local “weeds”, especially the ones in my own yard. So, before I get the first lawn mowing of the season, I decided to learn more about these early spring weeds.

My mini violet bouquet

I have a ton of purple dead nettle in my yard. These pretty little plants are among the first to shoot up when the seasons change. I harvested some and dried them, and I plan to try making a tea with them. These are purported to help with seasonal allergies and are also supposedly anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, diuretic, purgative, etc.,. Luckily, these plants – and their lookalike, henbit – are edible. Unluckily, I dislike the flavor of fresh purple dead nettle. I’m hoping that the dried leaves can be combined with another herb to make a pleasant tea.

A patch of purple dead nettle

I found a narrow leaf plantain coming up near my driveway. I don’t plan on doing anything that requires me to use plantain, as this is commonly used to numb the sting from stinging nettle and from insect bites and stings. But, it’s good to have it nearby, just in case I get a bug bite that needs attention.

Narrow leaf plantain

My yard also gets quite a few mock strawberries (snake berries) later in the season. These little devils are harmless and edible but they have no flavor. For now, I’m seeing their pretty flowers and sighing about how those little tasteless berries will be popping up soon. Though the resulting fruit tastes like water, the blooms are sunny spots in my yard.

Mock strawberry (snake berry) bloom

Finally, my favorite weed has appeared! Violets are all over one particular patch of grass, and I love it! These delicate blooms add such pretty colors to my yard. I have “confederate violets) a cultivated subgroup of the larger blue violet family. These are edible but I’m not interested in consuming them: I just love to look at them.

Blue violet

I’m looking forward to seeing what will bloom at the end of this month, and in May. I planted a few seeds, so I’m hoping that those flowers will be blooming in a few weeks.

Did you do any planting or foraging yet? I’d love to hear all about it!

health · life curation

Fibro Friday – Let’s Talk About Soursop

Happy Fibro Friday! I hope you all have had a great week. I’m recovering from a mild flare and I’m finally coming out of it, which makes me happy. This is one of those unavoidable things that comes with fibro: even when you’ve done your best to manage your symptoms, you may still have occasional flares. My flare was triggered by inconsistent weather patterns, because when the air goes from hot to cool to warm to cold, my body goes haywire.

Part of what really helps with my flare is getting enough rest, but, as you all know, rest can be challenging when you have fibro. One of the things I use to help get deeper, more restorative sleep is soursop leaf tea. There are a lot of benefits that you can reap from drinking soursop leaf tea, because it’s a highly nutritious plant. The fruit of the soursop plant is delicious and there is a strong case for it being antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anticarcinogenic. But we’re not talking about the fruit: the leaves are what interest me most (when it comes to fibro).

I first learned about soursop leaf tea from Debbie over at The Jamaican Cooking Journey. I’m inserting her video about soursop tea for your convenience:

When she mentioned that soursop tea is good for your nerves, I knew I had to try it! So I did, and I’m so glad that I took a chance on it. It helps me to sleep like a baby! Remeber, fibromyalgia is a neurological issue, not a musculoskeletal one, so by address nerve dysfunction, you can reduce or eliminate most of your symptoms.

Because I love science, here are some articles about soursop (graviola) that are worth checking out: WebMD article; Anti-microbial Efficacy of Soursop Leaf Extract (Annona muricata) on Oral Pathogens: An In-vitro Study; Anticancer Properties of Graviola (Annona muricata): A Comprehensive Mechanistic Review. I believe in doing due diligence and seeing what the science says, and I encourage you all to do the same.

I am posting my video that I did on this topic, and in that video, I share my results from consuming soursop leaf tea:

Please note, I am not a doctor and I’m not offering medical advice or solutions. That being said, I’ve enjoyed using soursop leaf tea as part of my regimen to encourage deeper and more restorative sleep. Try it and let me know your results!

life curation · relaxation · style

Making a House a Home

Happy Monday, friends! I trust that your weekend was safe, happy, and relaxing. It was another hot weekend in Virginia (my favorite type of weather!) so the weekend started and ended on a great note, as far as I’m concerned.

Today’s post is the first domestic one that I’ve done in quite some time. There would have been far more of these sort of posts this summer, but I ended up not planting my garden, so there were no flower or herb pictures to share. Also, a lot of my time during the pandemic was spent care for my grandmother and great-aunt. For that reason, I didn’t have much time to focus on the “fun” domestic activities that I’ll be talking about today.

That being said, my life is returning to normal. My grandmother and my great-aunt returned to their home, my health started to improve, and I finally had more free time to explore my creativity leanings. This newfound time freedom gave me the space to play around with craft ideas that, at one time, I didn’t think I’d have the time or energy to do.

So, in the upcoming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing all sorts of domestic posts and videos. I have an upcoming video where I feature a do-it-yourself autumn wreath that is beautiful, easy and inexpensive. I’ve also been tinkering with some foraging and wildcrafting recipes that I’m eager to share with you all. Today, however, I’m going to share a super-simple autumn-inspired tea recipe that I filmed last year, that will be perfect once the air starts to cool and the leaves start turning to red and gold.

I hope you all enjoy the video! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

reading list

Books Read in June 2021

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

Y’all. Y’ALL. I FINALLY read ten books in one month! That was my initial goal, but I fell short every month. It feels good to hit my target. Here are the books I read this past month:

Dr Joseph Murphy, How to Attract Money (YouTube audiobook)

W. D. Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich (YouTube audiobook)

Neville Goddard, Prayer: The Art of Believing (YouTube audiobook)

Florence Scovel Shinn, The Power of the Spoken Word (YouTube audiobook)

Dr. Joseph Murphy, Riches Are Your Right (YouTube audiobook)

Robert Collier, Be Rich! (YouTube audiobook)

Aromatherapy: A Comprehensive Guide to Get Started with Essential Oils by Jessica Thompson

Wicca Herbal Magic: The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Wiccan Herbal Magic (with Magical Oils, Baths, Teas and Spells) by Sophia Silvervine

Wicca Magic: Your Complete Guide to Wicca Herbal Magic and Wicca Spells That Will Fulfill Your Life by Vivienne Grant

The Hidden Power of Herbs: A Basic Guide to Herbal Magick  by Holy Santo

If you noticed the last few books I mentioned, you’re probably wondering,

Girl, are you a witch/Wiccan?

No, I’m not. But, I’m an aspiring medicine woman (AKA herbalist). In my experience, no one has a better grasp of the multifaceted power of herbs than people who use them in their spiritual practices. Beyond the instruction related to herbs, I didn’t focus on the other information (though there were a few passages here and there that I found useful).

The majority of my reading focused on upleveling my mindset and remembering the power of creating the world I want through intention, powerful affirmations and afformations, and believing that I deserve to live my best life. Believe it or not, I still have to work on my mindset as regards entitlement. I logically know that I deserve a wonderful life, but I’m still unpacking the programming that many of us have received when it comes to having financial abundance.

So many of us have been running a script in our minds, both denouncing “too much” money while simultaneously longing for MORE money to live more comfortably. It’s not impossible to have lots of money yet feel undeserving, but those emotions make it difficult to be comfortable with abundance. For that reason, I’m continuing to work on my mindset and increase my comfort level with the amount of money I want in my reality.

Have you all read any of these books? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

*this post contains affiliate links*

health

Fibro Friday – The Liptan Protocol

Happy Fibro Friday! In the coming weeks, I’d like to explore some of the varying treatment plans as proposed by various health experts. I’m hoping to glean some tips from each of these experts – ranging from medical doctors to herbalists and naturopaths to people that have documented their trials and errors on their fibro journeys – and see which treatments will work best for my specific symptoms.

I’ll be starting this series off with a review of Dr. Ginevra Liptan. Dr. Liptan is the founder of The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia and the author of three landmark books discussing fibromyalgia and possible paths to wellness. I became familiar with Dr. Liptan several years ago, and I even purchased the Frida Botanical Magnesium Cream (which I briefly reviewed here). I enjoyed her story because she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia while studying medicine, and she still successfully finished her medical degree, and turned her medical focus onto understanding and treating fibromyalgia.

Dr. Liptan has a YouTube channel where she has posted several videos about fibromyalgia, natural recovery options, and treating frequent comorbidities. I especially enjoyed this succinct description of the four pillars of fibromyalgia recovery – the “Four Rs of Fibro”. The video is less than 5 minutes long, and completely worth the watch.

I have noticed a drastic improvement in my symptoms when I can fully embrace “the Four Rs”. I love that she concentrates on the main pillars for wellness when treating fibromyalgia, and, by focusing on these four things, it is possible to isolate and treat any remaining symptoms. Along with applying the Liptan protocol regarding “the Four Rs”, I will be purchasing all of Dr. Liptan’s books, and seeing if I can craft a wellness plan that addresses all of my symptoms. Here are her books (Figuring Out Fibromyalgia, The Fibro Manual, and The Fibro Food Formula):

That’s all for today! I hope you all have a fabulous weekend, and I’ll be back on Monday. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

**The information in this post and on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. 

health

Fibro Friday – A Tentative Wellness Plan

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m feeling pretty good today, and I’m looking forward to a warmer weekend ahead. I think that most states in the US are anticipating some sunnier, warmer days, and I’m grateful for that. This is a happy Friday for sure!

I recently shared my experience with the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test, as well as my thoughts about at-home tests and their effectiveness. I used the food sensitivity test as a way to gather intel on how my body works. I’m combining the information that I gathered from that test with the results from the myriad other tests I’ve had over the years. I’m thankful for historical data from LabCorp as well as my insurance company: there’s no way I could have kept physical copies of every single test or doctor’s appointment I’ve had over the past three years.

Regardless of where you are on your fibro journey, becoming an expert on your body is a fantastic place to start. I can’t recommend it enough: get to know your own body! It’s crucial for your journey.

Anyhoo, I have formulated a tentative approach to resolving my fibromyalgia pain for good. As evidenced by the food sensitivity test, I’m starting with a diet-based approach, since I believe that this will provide the most immediate relief (as well as other numerous health benefits). I’m starting small, so I don’t get overwhelmed by the process.

I consulted two other sources for information on how to design a “get well” plan. I watched a video from the American Herbalist Guild last year, and I’ve revisited it. This video features a lecture by herbalist K P Khalsa, who has a fantastic herbal/natural approach to treating fibromyalgia. The video also refers to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum’s approach (one of his most popular books, explaining his program for eliminating fibro symptoms is here). This video is a ton of information to absorb, which is why I’m rewatching in small, 20-30 minute chunks of time.

Additionally, I’ll be implementing dietary changes in line with The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, CN. Addressing nutritional deficiencies is key to any wellness program, so I’ll integrate some principles from this book and see how it goes. I’ll probably do a review on this book soon, so watch out for that.

I suspect I’ll feel major changes just by implementing the recommendations from the AHG video and the Beauty Detox book. I’m excited to embark on this journey! If you’re interested in seeing my YouTube video on this topic, you can view it here (I’ve also embedded it below).

That’s it for my Fibro Friday post! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend, and I’ll talk to you all soon. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Friday – Trying St John’s Wort

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m so excited to end this week discussing one of my favorite herbs to help me treat some of my fibromyalgia symptoms. This post is also well timed, considering that January is National Hot Tea Month (I’ve done posts about this in years prior: see here and here).

Enjoying my Winter Wonder Tea

The herb that I’m speaking of is St. John’s wort. St John’s wort is a powerful herb, known for its pain-fighting ability. It works by inhibiting the “protein kinase Cgamma and epsilon activity” through the chemical hypericin (you can find more about that here). It also has the ability to relieve symptoms of depression. That being said, PLEASE don’t try to treat your depression solely with herbal remedies! Make sure to consult your doctor before trying any new regimens.

I’ve been using it as an ingredient in my Winter Wonder tea. I combine it with pau d’arco, cranberry, tangerine and cinnamon. I noticed an improvement in my pain levels as well as a better mood. I am currently taking prescription medication to manage my fibromyalgia symptoms, but I have not achieved complete pain mitigation. So I was excited to see an improvement in how I was feeling and will continue drinking this tea throughout the cold months. I made a video featuring my tea recipe. You can find the video below:

You can purchase St John’s wort here, and if you’re interested in recreating the herbal tea, you can purchase pau d’arco here, and you can purchase freeze-dried tangerines here.

health

Herbalism: My Favorite Tools

As a baby herbalist, I feel fortunate to have so many tools at my disposal. Plant identification apps, online herbalist courses, and countless hours of discussion on YouTube have really opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of the herbalism world.

Today, I’ll be sharing a few tools that I’ve found invaluable in my growing herbal practice. If you’re interested in taking your wellness back into your own hands, I implore you to research safe and effective plants that you can incorporate into your wellness plan, and then venture out into preparing those plants in different ways: as infusions (teas), tonics, tinctures, poultices, and more. The more that you experiment, the more that your knowledge grows. I hope this little list of tools helps you. Enjoy!

One of my first major investments into my herbal practice is my drying rack. I love using this when preparing herbs that I harvested myself, or when I purchase a bundle of fresh herbs at the store. This one by Adwaita is large, and can accommodate a lot of plant material. I use this almost every day, as I frequently find myself eager to preserve my fresh herbs.

After trying to crumble herbs by hand a few times, I knew that I needed a mortar and pestle. This one has a really nice weight and ergonomic design. I love that it doesn’t shift around when I use it: the weighted base keeps the bowl firmly in place. It also has a sleek look that I enjoy.

I regularly prep my herbs on this cutting board. It’s a large and attractive workspace: using it is always a pleasure. I sometimes use it to take photos of some of my herbs as I’m trying different blends. I love this work surface!

Eventually, I’ll be standardizing some of my preparations, so an inexpensive digital scale was a must. I purchased this last week but I haven’t used it yet: I’m looking forward to eventually offering my herbal mixtures and I fully intend to be consistent in my formulations.

These are my favorite herbal tools at this point, and I’m slowing growing my collection to include all of the tools that I need to create the herbal products that I enjoy using. That’s all for today: let me know if you use anything like the items that I mentioned above!

health · life curation

Preparing for Mid-Summer Gardening!

I have still been enjoying time out in my yard, and I’m considering what plants I can start in July (since I was SO behind the ball this season). For the record, I didn’t know that I was going to be so fascinated with gardening, flowers, and nature in general this spring. My fascination blindsided me, so I’m very LATE in garden planning. But that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost! There are quite a few plants that can be started in midsummer and still thrive with ease.

Dreaming of summer gardening . . .

Burpee’s website outlines all of the crops that can be started in July. I wasn’t interested in growing vegetables per se, but if I change my mind, I may try to grow squash. My preference is smaller herbs and maybe some flowers. I found this guide published on The Spruce to be the best one for planning the kind of plants I would like to grow.

The only thing currently blooming in my yard: my gorgeous gardenias!

I’ve very interested in growing cilantro, garlic, basil and (perhaps) arugula or looseleaf lettuce. I want to start small and then expand into bigger plants. I really enjoyed seeing my overall growing options over on the Old Farmer’s Almanac website. There are a lot of plants that can grow in my zone (zone 7) so I’m excited to see if I can squeeze in one more herb or maybe even a fruit (perhaps blackberries or raspberries).

I watched this fantastic video that also gave me some ideas for what I may grow in my zone in July. I like that this guide can be used for multiple zones, not just zone 7. Rare Seeds’s YouTube channel is a wealth of information.

Will any of you be trying some midsummer gardening? Let me know about it in the comments!

beauty · food

5 Ways to Enjoy Tea Without Drinking It

If you enjoy tea as much as I do, you will probably find yourself with quite a tea collection at some point. It’s also inevitable that, the more teas you try, the more likely you are to come across a tea that you don’t enjoy. Whether it’s too bland, too bitter, too strong, or just not very tasty, getting a tea that you don’t enjoy drinking is always a bit disappointing. And let’s face it: some of us just don’t enjoy the flavor of tea.

That being said, I have good news! All hope isn’t lost when you purchase a “dud” tea, or when you find yourself the proud owner of a tea that you won’t be drinking (whether you purchased it or it was gifted to you). In fact, it’s possible to use tea in quite a few different ways around your home and within your beauty routine. Of course, you’ll want to pay attention to the ingredients: certain teas shouldn’t be used near your eyes or allowed to sit on the skin unless you don’t mind having some discomfort (“hotter” tea ingredients, like ginger and cayenne come to mind). As always, use wisdom and discretion with any of these recommendations.

Without further ado, here are five ways that you can re-purpose tea leaves. Enjoy!

Bath/bath bomb additiveIf you make bath bombs (like I do), you can add some dry tea leaves to your recipe before you put the mixture into molds. It adds a little additional fragrance and beauty to your bath bombs. If you don’t make bath bombs, you can always just add the leaves directly to your bath. Certain teas, like mint and lemon balm, have invigorating scents and can be a refreshing addition to your bath. These teas can also be mixed with epsom salt for an especially relaxing soak.

Herbal facial steam – Similar to baths, you can use tea to make an herbal facial steam. Some teas (like rose and lavender) are known for their relaxing and beautifying properties. Do a little research on your tea and see if the ingredients are suitable for a face steam. Keep in mind, simple black, green or white teas (without added herbs or florals) are perfectly fine for most skin types. Of course, always proceed with caution, even when using “safe” teas.

Face tonic – Just like herbal facial steams, you can steep the tea in hot water then use it as a toner. Camellia sinensis (the scientific name for tea) is generally considered an astringent natural product. The tannins in it constricts body tissue, making it perfect for pore-tightening and giving the face a very toned appearance. The higher the amount of tannins (generally, these are more numerous in cheaper teas), the more astringent the tea will be. Try using a full strength tea tonic on your skin, then, if you find it is too strong, add water to reduce the potency.

Oil infusion – This is actually my favorite way to use teas that I don’t want to drink. Infusing tea into oil can create a luxurious natural product that can either be applied to the skin, the hair, or added to vinegar or another acidic item (like lemon juice) to make dressing. Infusions are simple: add herbs to as many ounces of oil that you want, let it sit in a dark (preferably cool) area for at least four weeks, and shake the mixture occasionally. Personally, I love adding inexpensive chamomile tea and other herbs to coconut or olive oil, then letting them infuse over a month or two. Once these are infused, I strain the oil, put it in a lovely bottle, then apply it to my hair and skin.

Hair rinse – Certain teas are great for rinsing the hair. You brew the tea as normal, then pour the cooled tea onto the hair after shampooing and conditioning. Chamomile is great for lighter colored hair, while sage is fantastic for dark hair. Also, teas that contain rosemary and lavender can be beneficial for dry, itchy scalp, so keep that in mind. You can also just add dried rosemary and/or lavender to the tea that you’re brewing, then you get the added benefit of those herbs for scalp health.

These are some of my favorite ways to use teas that aren’t so tasty. Do you have any recommendations for re-purposing tea leaves? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!