Piñon Magic in the Clouds

     This past week has been pretty crazy weather wise for southern california. It rained non stop for 5 days which is quite rare for a place that sees sun 95% of the year. We sure do need it though! I always welcome weather like this as cold, wet weather is when magic happens. I can only say that this kind of weather creates the most surreal, mysterious and magical environment. I love that you can be hiking in the desert amongst cactus and yucca plants and see snow on the ground and clouds rolling by you just feet away. It was like we were walking through clouds all day. I tried to capture it as best as I could but nothing beats seeing it in person. 

   On the 1st day of my 30th year on this planet, I sought refuge among the trees. No matter what happens, being out in the desert grounds me like no other place. I spent the day hiking into the otherworldly clouds, almost reaching out and touching them then realizing I was already enveloped inside of their misty grasp. Just when we thought we would have to turn back because of the impending snow, the sun came out just while we finished our hike. This entire area is also full of piñon pine which carries so much magic unto itself. By the time we got to the piñon ridge, the sky was thick with clouds, so hazy you could barely see a few feet ahead. I spent the rest of the day up in a pine tree collecting its pitch. I love that this is a part of the tree you can take of without picking or harming it in any way. You simply remove the dried up sap that has either fallen to the ground or is running from its branches. While the branches tugged at my hair, I climbed higher while the wet air clung to me as my hands and fingers became sticky with tree sap. Soon enough it was time to go as the sky grew more ominous and the threat of snow was growing. As soon as we left, it began to pour signaling it was time to go. I love that what I like to do for fun has grown into something I can call my business, and I love being able to share photos of our foraging adventures with you guys to get a better look at how we collect our ingredients. 

Gem Show & Adventure Photos

     Its that time of year again- gem show time! Its something we look forward to every year. This is a time where we can stock up on crystals for all our products, and find inspiration for new things for the up coming year! I honestly did not take many photos, as its a whirlwind while we are there, and I really wish I had so I could share them with you but I did take a lot of beautiful scenic photos from our trip back. It was so beautiful, the transition from desert into mountain is always my favorite landscape. Having a mixture of cacti and piñon pines is such a unique combination.

     Driving through the mountains, we saw buckthorn cholla, california juniper, piñon pines, mormon tea, and yucca dotting the rocky backdrop. Piñon pine grows in the southwest, and only a few parts of California at higher elevations, which we drove through. I love making new products inspired by my surroundings. So I definitely made sure to harvest some piñon to work with for some new things in the upcoming months. It smells so amazing, I can't wait to share it with you guys! 

California Snow

    I'm not a big fan of christmas. I know, Im odd, but I do love winter. But living in southern CA, the holidays don't really feel very special when its warm and sunny outside. It reminds me of when they went to Florida on home alone when they said they can decorate a palm tree. The weather here can be unpredictable during the winter and it can be chilly but its almost 99% always sunny during December. So when we had really heavy rainstorms for a few days, I knew it would be snowing up in the mountains! If you live in Southern Ca you know its almost like an amusement park when it snows. Everybody is out in the mountains. And by snow, I mean like an couple of inches or so. I know when I post photos of snow for most of the US people are rolling their eyes like ya ya it snows here all the time and its freezing! But for us its like a novelty. Snow!? Lets bring out sleds to slide down a grassy hill thats barely covered in snow. But it was so beautiful! We spent the morning with our family so we didn't head out until the evening to see the snow. I was afraid it would be dark by then, but we got there about an hour before sunset so the snow was lit up with all kinds of pinks and oranges. It was truly a magical wintery day. I even got to collect some incense cedar for smudge wands.

The Plant Family

     So happy to finally be able to announce the Plant Family here on the blog! For those of you who aren't in the loop already, my friend & cofounder of the Plant Family, Jes, of Plant Makeup have created The Plant Family site. This is a long time dream come true. We brought together our fellow herbalist friends who also happen to be the top brands in natural beauty to create a sense of community among us online. It is not only a space for us to come together and collaborate but also a place where we can share our love of plants with the public. We have a large database of information on medicinal plants, DIY's, conservation information, supplies and much much more. It is one space where you can find out more about your favorite natural beauty brands, what causes they support, what credentials they hold, and their mission. If you are an herbalist, business owner, plant enthusiast, we do have an application page where you can sign up to potentially be part of the family! We have many amazing plans for the future, and I hope you enjoy the new website!

PLANT FAMILY MEMBERS

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Vegan Chicago Hot Dogs

     I love recreating recipes and adapting them to a vegan/vegetarian diet. This could not be easier. Its just a hot dog. The best hot dog ever. I like to pan fry the hot dog as vegan hot dogs have a kind of....interesting texture. If you do it right its nice and crispy. Hot dogs always kind of freaked me out, vegan or not, so frying them instead of boiling them makes them more palatable. Im not making this sound good am I? Well at least these hot dogs are less scary than real ones! These are my absolute favorite hot dogs and even meat eaters love them.

Ingredients

vegan hot dogs

hot dog buns (poppy seed buns if you can find them)

mustard

dill pickle spears

pickle relish ( I like dill relish also instead of sweet but I have a penchant for sour everything)

sport peppers

diced tomato

celery salt

poppy seeds (optional)

    By this point after reading the ingredients you might be thinking what the heck are sport peppers? They don't even look real. Electric yellow and perfectly shaped these peppers are kind of mysterious. If you go asking for sport peppers at the grocery store you might not find them. My jar of peppers just says "hot peppers". If you live near In n Out you might recognize these babies as the hot peppers they give you in those little plastic cups. When I first made these years ago I had to go to a few stores to find them. As for the celery salt, its not absolutely necessary as it can be crazy expensive, but I happened to find it at a discount store for $1 when it was $10-12 at the market. What is celery salt anyway? And the poppy seeds are also optional. Traditionally poppy seed buns are used but since I can never find any I just sprinkle some poppy seeds right on top. It adds a little something extra to the hot dog. 

    Let me know if you try making these! 

Monthly Plant Update: September

   I've really missed doing this series over the summer. I never realized exactly how crazy barren and dry it gets here over the summer. Everything is dried to a crisp. Color is just beginning to spring up here and there. Mostly yellows and a few touches of brilliant reds and lavender. The white buckwheat flowers have long since lost their bright white tone and morphed into a deep burgundy color that covers the mountains. They are everywhere here. The sage is small and wilted barely beginning to recoup from the summer heat. While its not a particularly pretty time for the plants its amazing to see flowers returning to the landscape little by little. 

Coyote Bush (Baccharis pillars)

Isocoma pluriflora (Jimmyweed/ Southern Goldenbush)

Epilobium canum (California Fuchsia)