Winter Warmth, a Giveway

feather

Winter. A time for quiet reflection, celebrations, and gratitude. These colder months allow us to hole-up with loved ones, partaking in sumptuous traditions like baking pies and stoking fires. It is also a time when so many of us tend to let wellness practices slip, ever so slightly, in favor of the sweetness, the richness, the excitement of the season. We eat too many treats and sip on too many rich, alcoholic beverages. We move less, drink less water, eat fewer greens.

But our nature, our instinct, I believe, is to seek health, wellness. In the midst of these early-winter moments I’ve begun to notice myself seeking out warmth and vitality. Without question, I’ve been sipping on cocoa, but I’ve also been ravenous for big pots of collards and cups of bone broth. The chilly air and early sunsets have inhibited my ability to go on long evening walks, but I’ve been taking my practice indoors. Where once I’d ramble the neighborhood for hours, I now fold and unfold on the yoga mat.
It is with this loving search for wellness that I present to you, my dear ones, a little gift. I’ve worked with my wonderfully talented and sincere friend Amanda from Tales of a Potting Table to create this selection of handmade goods, from our homes to yours. We call it Winter Warmth, and we are thrilled to offer it as a gift to one one lucky winner.
giveway-whole

Sleeping Beauty Tea – We love to brew a pot of this before bedtime and sip with our loved ones. With floral notes of chamomile and lavender blended with sharper peppermint and catnip leaves, this tea will help you drift off into a winter slumber.

Bright Side Wellness Tincture – A rose-colored blend of elderberry, echinacea and rosehips to give your immune system a little boost. I carry a bottle of this in my coat pocket daily and add a few drops to my tea.

 A Pot of Honey – Infused with elderberries, cinnamon and cloves, a raw Oregon wildflower honey will give you just the sweet pick-me-up you crave.

The Collection of Handmade Maple Tableware~ offers one of my favorite designs…Amanda calls it the TIPPY CANOE  SPICE and HERB SPOON.  When she think of spices & herbs, she instantly think of warmth, bubbling pots and whistling kettles – scents wafting through the house, hands and tummies waiting to be warmed. The Tippy Spoon is a perfect pairing with Duck Feather Herbs’ tea blend. To accompany the Canoe spoon comes a little Honey Paddle ... perfect for drizzling your infused honey!

spoons

The Hand Dipped Beeswax Tapers~ amongst Amanda’s favorite primitive provisions to make. Mostly, because it connects her to the past…when she think about necessity vs. aesthetics…when candles were 100% relied on for light and not decor. The wicks are 100% Organic Hemp and the beeswax smells like a dream. As we cloister in during these darker months it’s important to keep our air as clean as we can, beeswax is the cleanest burning option for candles, it has been suggested that it also cleans the air as it burns.

The Olive Oil Bergamot and Chamomile Body Bars ~pure delight for dry winter skin. Simple Ingredients, Nourishing and Delightful to the senses. All Handmade and Offered to you…This Winter Season.

sticks-bars
Our winner will be chosen on Friday, December 9th.  To all our lovely international friends, we can sadly only ship to the Continental US.
To Enter:
*be sure to follow Duck Feather Herbs and Tales of Potting Table on Instagram
*”like” this post”
*tag a friend!
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“Be Well”, She Yelled

It happens every year. Every. Single. Year. And this year is certainly no different. The urge to tell people in my life how to stay healthy during a season of germs. Sounds innocuous, I know, but not the way I do it! I am notorious for taking over entire group conversations to pontificate on the importance of getting a good night of sleep and drinking hot liquids with warming spices and rosehips. I’ll spend twenty minutes spouting the Gospel of Elderberry and handing out unsolicited advice on how to get more greens in your diet.

I am sure that I’ve alienated more than a few friends and numerous co-workers with these passionate rants.

And I have to tell you, I feel a bit powerless at times to control myself. There are moments when I simply get so frustrated and confused about why people treat their bodies in such incomprehensible (to me) ways that I start to think that I am living in the Twlight Zone.

Yes, I am passionate. Yes, I care about health. YES, I try to treat my body with complete and perfect respect. But…here’s the truth: I am not perfect. I don’t always remember to take my rosehip or elderberry. And sometimes I don’t drink enough water. I even have been known to occasionally skimp on my veggies!

So, in thinking this through, I have to wonder what, exactly, compels me to be so vocal about the shoulds & should-nots of health. Why do I find it necessary to drill my message into everyone’s head? After all, it’s their body, why should I care if they treat it well or not, ESPECIALLY if I don’t always follow my own rules?

Maybe the real message is meant for me. Maybe I am trying so hard to do my best that I think that saying these things out loud will help me to stay the course.

Or, maybe it’s a bit of both ends: I want others to take steps to be healthy with me. I want my friends and family to be around as long as possible, and I want to be there with them.

That’s the real root of my drive to heal & nurture & care for those around me. I want to celebrate this life we are living together. 

I am certain that many of you live a similar balance. Afterall, what is love if not a sincere desire for health and happiness?

What are some ways that you like to take care of your family this season?

 

Coming around, again.

It has been nearly one year to the day since I posted my first few thoughts onto this little blog. This bit of digital land  has been severely neglected  for months in preference for my own plot of earth. It has been, without a doubt, a lovely and happy season of growth for me and my little garden. The chamomile bloomed with what seemed to be a desire to live forever, and the mint sprawled, seeking to fill the yard with it’s fragrant leaves. We had beautiful luck with garlic, corn and french pumpkins. The little backyard hens ate their fill of mustard greens and kale, and we’ve still got some lush looking cabbages to harvest.

But the days are shorter and the growing season is all but over. We’ve chopped down our mammoth sunflower stalks and saved the seeds. The beds are now filled with cover crops and cold-tolerant greens. And so my attentions now turn inward, into the home. It’s a place which often feels neglected during the summer, when we are more often than not out-of-doors, watering, tending, harvesting. Now it’s all about Autumnal sunlight and medicine-making, keeping the kitchen swept and roasting all the good things.

And with this inward-turn, I find myself rekindling my desire to be here. With you. Sharing thoughts, sharing fears, sharing triumphs (and probably cocoa recipes, too).

Till next time,

Kel

 

 

New Energies (plus cookies)

New Energies (plus cookies)

Winter is my time for solitude, warmth, calm. And, as it always has, this winter delivered just that. We’ve had calm, quiet days, and happy conversations with friends, nights snuggled up. Slow times. But there is a change in the air…spring is on the wind. We are no longer huddled up next to the fire, but gradually making our way outside, putting on a few less layers, and bundling up not-quite-as-tightly.

According to the Gaelic calendar, spring began just last week as we celebrated Imbolc, and it seems that our little homestead agrees. Bette Davis, our Barred Rock hen, ended her many months of rest by  laying a beautiful spring egg last Monday, February 1, the day of Imbolc.  Our lady-ducks have been quacking up a storm, a sign that their biological clocks are ticking once again. The garlic we planted in the fall has kick-started itself as has grown one inch in the past week. Change is afoot.

Now is the time to embrace that sense of newness, beginning. The ground is very slowly stretching out and taking deep, cleansing breathes of renewal. The nettles are here, and the bulbs are popping up. The hyacinths and crocuses are emerging, the snowdrops, even the daffodils and violets are making their way through the ground!

So how can we act in sync with the ground and the birds and the bulbs? To me, this time of year speaks of movement, breath, freshness. Perhaps this manifests itself in stretching, walking, and honoring yourself (a product of nature, to be sure).

One way that I quite like to honor myself is with long afternoon walks in the neighborhood. Seeing all of this slow beauty come forth in such a subtle manner is inspiring and refreshing. The details can be missed (and it truly is the details that make the beauty, don’t you find?) so take in the air and the sights with a rambling stroll. Notice the changes around you, the bulbs, the birds, the fresh air which almost smells like spring.

And when you get home, these ten minute Seedy & Nut No-Bakes are the perfect way to treat yourself (with no sugar added!)

Springing Forth Seed & Nut No-Bake

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds (shelled)
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (I use dried plums but dried cherries or cranberries would also work!)
3 Tbls chia seeds
1 & 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tbls coconut oil or butter
In a medium pot melt coconut oil or butter over low heat. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Add dry ingredients and stir until well mixed. Using the two-spoon method, drop no-bakes onto parchment or silicone lined cookie sheet. Let set in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Enjoy!

 

 

Spiced Cornmeal Cookies

Spiced Cornmeal Cookies

Generally, we try to keep the house stocked with our staples (flour, beans, cornmeal, rice, butter, etc) by way of our quarterly stock-up trips to our very favorite local flour mill, Bob’s Red Mill. This is a tradition that we started up several years ago with our dear friends (and neighbors!) Evan and Judith of Hive of Industry (Have you checked them out yet? They are up to some dreamy things!) These quarterly trips help us to reduce our food waste, and also trips to the grocery store. We have found that by intentionally shopping in this way, and relying on just a few pantry  staples instead of a lot of little “exotic” groceries, we are able to plan ahead and use our provisions more wisely (and save some money too!). Knowing what I have to work with (since we always keep those things in the house) has helped me to become a more organized cook…even when other things in my life are going hay wire!

Several years ago, before we began this intentional quarterly shopping trip,  I was preparing to head out to a meeting and thought “well, why not bring some cookies?” because, well, cookies. (side-note: My mother always presented cookies or other treats whenever she went to meetings, work, someone’s home, etc. It was (and still is!) her signature. So this has become a big part of being me: bringing a plate of cookies to share.)

On this particular occasion, as I went through the ritual of pulling out all of the ingredients one by one and lining them up on the counter top, I quickly found myself in a panic when I realized that not only was I low of flour (I only had about 1 cup) but I also had no butter (none!)to speak of. Since I am a “traditional” baker (gluten, eggs, butter, sugar) this was a big, big problem. With no time to run to the store, I started clumsily typing into Google to see if I could uncover some workable alternative. And boy, did I ever! I found what has since become my main-stay cookie recipe, complete with my own little tweaks and additions.

I give to you: Sugar Drop Cookies with Cornmeal and Olive Oil from the talented Julia of “What Julia Ate”.  These cookies are, to be true, the best! Every single time I have made them they have turned out to be tasty morsels of wonder, and every person (every. single. person.) who I have made them for begs for the recipe! Now that, my dear friends, is a winner!

I’d like to share Julia’s recipe here, and then I will share with you some of my small changes!                                                                  Sugar Drop Cookies with Cornmeal and Olive Oil-Julia’s original

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, not a finely ground one
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients, below, in a separate bowl.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of cherry pit liqueur or almond extract
Add the wet to dry ingredients, as you mix it will change from a smooth thick batter to a somewhat dry dough. Using a measuring tablespoon, scoop out balls of dough, roll them between your palms, roll them in extra sugar, and place them on your parchment paper covered tray. Use your measuring teaspoon to indent a bowl shaped pit in the middle of the cookie dough ball. Then use that spoon to fill with jam. Julia used a fig fennel vanilla jam, and a raspberry jam. Use a jam that’s firm, and not syrupy or it will seep into the cookie and not look as pretty. Optional: cover them with sliced almonds. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes.

 

Sugar Drop Cookies with Cornmeal and Olive Oil (Kelli’s version)

-I like extra “crunch” so I add extra cornmeal (1 cup instead of 1/2 cup) and less flour (1 1/2 cup instead of 2)
-I sometimes use vanilla extract…just use what you have on hand, I say!
-I love to add crushed coriander seeds and/or cardamom to these!
-Don’t tell anyone but I always add one or two turns of black pepper into the mix (for an air of mystery)
-If I am in a hurry, I don’t bother with the jam, I just make them into cute little balls of spicy-crunchy-sweetness.
I hope you will give these a try someday soon! They are some of my favorite little treats to share.

Sip tea, and breathe.

Sip tea, and breathe.

Now that we are settling into the cold (cold!) months and the days are at their shortest, I am finding myself with a bit more time on my hands than usual. More time for books, more time for sitting and thinking, more time to linger over the the things I love most. Of course, one of those things, and the most perfect thing to enjoy this time of year, is tea.

I have spoken about tea often on this blog so far, and with good reason. The very essence of tea is so alluring, so captivating and so damn useful that just about every culture drinks some form of tea or another. Tea is a great equalizer, truly. A myriad of plant life (roots, blossoms, stems, leaves) are used to make tea, and don’t get me started on the wide variety of preparations. With or without milk. Lemon. Sugar. Honey. Hot. Cold. Over ice. The list could go on for many miles. But the one true thing about tea is that there is something inherently comforting about this beverage, something so simple, and so nourishing, that whether enjoying with others, or alone, tea has the power to calm you, warm you, fortify you.

It is this calming, fortifying property of the drink that most often lures me into making myself a cup. In the mornings my husband and I gently wake our sleepy minds with a fresh pot of black tea. The hot tea, the sharp flavor of the black leaves, the warm cup in our hands, has a magic that allows us to slowly awaken to the day, focus in on what  needs to be done, what we’ll do with the time given.

One of my most favorite teas to brew up this time of year, and one that I would like to share with you all today, is my very special garden chai. I started making this last winter when the cold winds were creeping into my bones and I needed something to look forward too after a long day. I make this at least once a week, and I hope that you will give it a try!

Garden Chai

-3 cinnamon sticks

-2 teaspoons cloves

-2 teaspoons cardamom pods

-2 teaspoons coriander seeds

-a sprig or two of rosemary

-small bundle of sage leaves

-1 bay leaf

-2 quarts water

-honey to taste

Start by crushing cardamom and coriander in a mortar and pestle. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom, coriander and water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover with lid and reduce to “low”. Allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Add rosemary, sage and bay leaf and allow to simmer for 15 additional minutes. Strain and add honey to your liking.

Sip and breathe and enjoy!

 

 

 

November, nearly gone.

November, nearly gone.

This past summer was one of extraordinary change for our household. Not only did we decide to begin the slow journey of sharing our apothecary practice with the public at large (a VERY scary endeavor to take on!) but we also took in a stray, by which I mean my very adorable best friend, who was in a need of short-term room & board prior to a four month SE Asian adventure.

With all of this change and the fast-pace of our busy household, I was looking forward to easing into the colder months once the BFF departed on her adventure in early October. We thought for sure things would be slow and low-key for us. And…we were wrong. The past month has gone by in a flash of tea blends and chestnuts and tinctures and chicken funerals and music shows and friends and celebrations.  Our tiny apothecary has been busy filling orders and preparing for a busy holiday season (thank you!) and we’ve hardly had a moment of that peace we thought we needed so badly.

Autumn, as lush and lovely as it is, has been filled to the brim with “our kind” of business. We’ve been working the garden, sending our once-prized tomato vines to the compost and setting bulbs and brassicas into the ground, and bringing new baby chicks home. It’s a different kind of busy. It’s no longer about watering and worrying about the heat waves and aphids, nor is it the final rush around to harvest everything before those scoundrel crows get to it. Now it is about protecting our soil by way of cover crops (this year it’s clover, peas and radishes), going on slug-hunts, and pulling up carrots, turnips and parsnips one by one as needed.

At last, there is nothing else to be done in the garden, aside from marvel at the winter-hardy kales and collards, and we’ve worked in overdrive for so long that we are (fingers crossed) ready for the holiday mad-rush in the apothecary. After that, it might be time (and I hope this is not a jinx) to quietly ease into winter. So here’s to more soups, more chick cuddles, less “busy”, and (as always) more books. What are you most looking forward to in the quiet months?