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Archive for February, 2013

Yes, yes it is.

Design Festa Performance © 2006, Juniper Stokes

Design Festa Performance © 2006, Juniper Stokes

Taken at Design Festa, a celebration of weird Japanese art held bi-anually in Odaiba, Tokyo.

For more: アートイベント デザインフェスタ | Art Event Design Festa.

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Well, this is a bit late . . .  but what are you going to do?

This year, the Chinese New Year fell on February 10th, 2013, bringing us into the year of the water snake. Being a sucker for holidays, even ones outside of my own cultural traditions, I had a personal celebration. I decided to honor water snake by making a small painting, and I cooked up a bit of Buddha’s delight, a traditional vegetarian dish typically served during the Chinese New Year.

For my water snake illustration, I did an ink-blob sketch in my art journal. First, I dropped a bit of Dr. Ph. Martin’s liquid watercolor onto one side of the page. Next, I folded the page in half and pressed evenly in order to create somewhat symmetrical ink blobs. Then, I took out a black ink pen and let intuition guide me as a doodled a water snake.

Water Snake © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Water Snake © 2013, Juniper Stokes

I never really know what I’m going to end up with ink blobs and doodles, but I find the process so meditative, and I was happy to have a theme to inspire me.

For the Buddha’s Delight, I used a traditional recipe for inspiration but changed it up a bit to use what I had on hand and add a little health boost. First, I fried up some firm tofu in coconut oil and turmeric and set it aside. Then, I stir fried mixed veggies in coconut oil with garlic and ginger. For my veggies, I used shredded carrot, chopped celery, broccoli, rehydrated black forest mushrooms, mung beans, purple cabbage, and leeks. Yum. I used a wok on high heat to cook the veggies quickly and leave them a bit of crispness. While the veggies were cooking, I sprinkled on a bit of rice wine vinegar, tamari, white wine, sugar, and toasted sesame seeds. To serve, I topped everything with bit more tamari and toasted sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil isn’t a traditional addition to this dish, but I love its flavor and tend to add it to everything. The dish tastes perfectly good without it, too.

Buddha's Delight © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Buddha’s Delight © 2013, Juniper Stokes

For more detailed instructions, check out the following recipes:

Happy New Year!

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Time for a quick Photo Friday post:

Children's Masks, Japan © 2006, Juniper Stokes

Children’s Masks, Japan © 2006, Juniper Stokes

 

I snapped this picture while hiking, yes hiking, on Mount Takao, near Tokyo. It’s good to know that if trees aren’t enough, children  can also find colorful and slightly scary masks in the forest.

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I’ve been meaning to do a Mixology Monday post for quite a while, so when the creatives at Putney Farm sent out a call for “inverted” drink recipes, I knew it was the perfect time for me to participate. I decided to invert one of my favorite drinks, the dirty martini. I switched up this drink by using traditional ingredients (gin and olives) with new and surprising flavors.

mxmo

I’ve been a fan of dirty gin martinis for a long time (my name is Juniper; gin is my destiny) and I’m always down to support local business. So when I learned about Boulder’s own Roundhouse Spirits Imperial Barrel Aged Gin, I knew I had to give it a try.

Prospect-RH-Imperial-no-back-label

This stuff has the kick of gin with the oak of whiskey, earning it the nickname “ginskey”. It’s awesome. To complement the oak, I added smoked, rather than traditional, olives and juice.

I used Mezzetta’s Applewood Smoked Olives and was happy with the results.

applewood_lg_2

So, here’s my recipe for make a new, “inverted” martini:

  • 2 oz. barrel aged gin
  • 1 Tb. smokey olive juice
  • 3 smoked olives
Smoke and Oak Martini © 2013 Juniper Stokes

Smoke and Oak Martini © 2013 Juniper Stokes

Enjoy!

Check out the original post here: Announcing Mixology Monday LXX: Inverted

 

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Well, it’s February, the month of LOVE. And today, February 13th, precedes the day of love, Valentine’s Day. I may try to convince myself that Valentine’s Day doesn’t matter, that it’s an over-commercialized holiday pressuring all of us to buy Hallmark cards and chocolates. But the truth is that this day does influence our lives. Like it or not, Valentine’s Day reminds us that part of the human experience is relationship, and part of relationship is love and romance.

I find that this time of year influences that amount of time I spend reflecting on love in my own life, and more often than not, it seems that romantic love is missing from the equation. Anyone else? While Valentine’s Day brings attention and gifts to all the couples out there, there are still a few of us single people who need love too!

So what to do? I can’t very well force romantic love into my life, but I can give thanks for the other types of love I experience every day–love from my family and friendships, and love from myself.

If, like me, you are dealing with singledom this Valentine’s Day, and all the emotional issues it brings up, aromatherapy can help. While there are plenty of blends for supporting romance, there are blends for soothing loneliness, too. I plan filling this year’s Valentine’s Day with self-love, using a few aromatherapy blends to enhance the process. I have sparkling wine and organic chocolates ready to go, and will probably buy myself some flowers today (doing it tomorrow might be a little depressing). And I will treat myself to an evening of DIY pampering with herbal facials and an essential oil bath, followed by relaxing with a movie–but definitely not anything romantic. It will have to be the biggest blood-bath I can find . . . maybe I’ll watch a Walking Dead marathon instead ;)

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Anyway, if you’d like to join me in a day of self-love, there are a few aromatherapy blends that may help. These recipes are taken from Gabriel Mojay’s book Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, and excellent resource for healing emotions with aromatherapy.

Recipes for Loneliness

If your feeling bitter about your single status, try a blend of bergamot, chamomile, and everlasting essential oils. Bergamot is gently uplifting, German and Roman chamomiles soothe depression, and everlasting frees the spirit.

  • 2 drops bergamot
  • 2 drops chamomile (German or Roman)
  • 2 drops everlasting

Feeling disheartened or apathetic? Try the following blend of rosemary and ginger essential oils, both warming to the body and soul:

  • 4 drops rosemary
  • 1 drop ginger

If you’re truly lonely and forlorn, a blend of marjoram, rosemary, and myrrh can help. Marjoram is a sweet, nurturing oil that can help with feelings of sadness and loss, while sacred myrrh oil can help free the mind from preoccupation with single status.

  • 3 drops marjoram
  • 2 drops rosemary
  • 1 drop myrrh

Recipes for Developing Healthy Relationships

Sometimes, reflecting on relationships and love can make us aware of our personal blocks in this area. An underlying fear of commitment is often a culprit when relationships end, and I’ve realized that my fear of being completely vulnerable has probably prevented the development of a few of my relationships. If you’d like to begin the healing process with either of these issues, aromatherapy can support you.

For fear of commitment, try cardamom, caraway, and rose. Cardamom increases desire for intimacy and caraway for consistency, a good combination in a healthy relationship. And rose has symbolized love throughout time for a good reason; it opens the heart and allows all types of love to blossom.

  • 2 drops caraway
  • 2 drops cardamom
  • 1 drop rose

Healing feelings of distrust and fear of vulnerability can help prepare us for healthy relationships, as well. Lemon is a wonderful oil for developing trust, and palmarosa helps us with feelings of security. Combined with rose, these make a loving, healing blend.

  • 2 drops rose
  • 2 drops palmarosa
  • 1 drop lemon

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Any of these blends can help heal your spirit this Valentine’s Day. Mix the blends in bath salts or a carrier oil for a revitalizing soak (don’t add the drops directly to the bath water), or diffuse the blends throughout your home. Remember, never apply the oils directly to your skin. If you’d like to try a bit of acupressure or self-massage with these blends, make sure to mix them with a carrier oil first. Jojoba and fractionated coconut oils are great carriers, but even olive oil can work in a pinch. A good ratio is about 15 drops of essential oils per 1 Tbs of carrier oil.

Happy Valentine’s Day, single folks! Enjoy your day of self-love and pampering. And when a new someone special enters your life, check back–I’m sure I’ll be posting about love potions and aphrodisiacs soon. ♥

Rose

Rose (Photo credit: Oberau-Online)

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Crow, Yoyogi

Time to get back on my Photo Fridays!

Crow in Yoyogi Koen, Tokyo  © 2006, Juniper Stokes

Crow in Yoyogi, Tokyo © 2006, Juniper Stokes

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This tofu dip is awesome. Vegan, flavorful, healthy, easy . . . basically everything I love in a new recipe. Serve it with vegetable sticks, rice crackers, sweet potato fries, or whatever else you have on hand. Or realize it’s too delicious for its own good and just start scooping bites into your mouth, like I do ;)

Ingredients

  • 6 oz silken tofu
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tiny clove garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • 1 heaping tsp umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) paste
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Directions

Coarsely chop the green onion, garlic, and tofu, and throw everything in a blender or food processor. Viola! Dip is served.

Non-food processor version:

Sometimes, I’d rather make a lumpy dip than need to clean an extra kitchen item. Actually, this is true most of the time. If you feel the same way, try this version. First, mince the garlic and green onion to the best of your ability using a knife. Second, mush everything together until it’s as smooth as you can get it. Enjoy!

Ume-tofu dip

chunky-style ume-tofu dip*

*The recipe makes more than pictured. I just couldn’t help myself and ate half of it right away . . . .

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I’ve been studying and practicing aromatherapy for years and have always appreciated the healing potential of plant medicine. Lately, I’ve been adding herbal remedies to my repertoire. I truly believe that the Earth provides solutions for most of what ails us, and I’m excited to be expanding my knowledge in this field.*

One of my recent and successful herbal creations has been homemade cough syrup. Making this syrup was so fun and easy! And I love having an all-natural remedy for coughing on hand (have you ever read the label on a pharmaceutical cough syrup bottle? yikes.) So, I just have to share this and spread the beauty of natural healing. Now, I think the recipes listed below are easy and fun, but I understand that not everyone wants to keep jars of medicinal herbs on hand. If this is you, be sure to scroll down to the bottom and check out my super easy version of this cough syrup.

I learned how to make this syrup during a winter wellness herbalism class at Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary in Boulder, CO. This is a wonderful, locally owned herbal shop with a focus on quality and sustainability. I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area. And as a side note, I also recently took an herbal aphrodisiac class at Rebecca’s, so get ready for some Valentine’s Day posts ;)

English: Promethazine-codeine cough syrup

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Supplies

  • large pot
  • large glass/ceramic pitcher or bowl
  • glass bottles (for the syrup)
  • mesh strainer
  • muslin
  • measuring utensils (for liquid, kitchen scale)

Ingredients

  • dried herbs
  • water
  • liquid sweetener, such as honey
  • brandy (optional)

Ingredients can be flexible, and I’ve listed a few recipe ideas below. Basically, you’ll want to use about 2 oz. dried herbs per 4 cups of water and 2 cups of liquid sweetener. However, there is a bit of wiggle room here. If you’re unable to weigh out ounces of herbs, a general rule of thumb is 1 Tbs herbs to 1 cup water.

Most cough syrup recipes call for equal parts reduced herbal liquid and sweetener at the end of the recipe; however, if this seems too sweet and calorie-ridden, feel free to cut back on the sweetener a bit.

Adding a bit of alcohol, such as brandy or vodka, can extend the shelf life, but this is optional.

Directions

  1. Place the herbs in a large pot with the water.
  2. Mark the water level (perhaps with a wooden spoon).
  3. Bring the mixture to a low boil.
  4. Simmer the mixture down to half its original amount, which is 2 cups if you’re using the ratios above (this is why you mark the original amount on the spoon!). It’s best to simmer the liquid covered, as this keeps in those valuable essential oils. However, this version also requires 2 or more hours of simmering. If you’re short on time, simmering uncovered still produces an effective brew, and your kitchen will smell amazing.
  5. Once the liquid is at the halfway mark, remove it from the heat and strain the herbs into a large glass pitcher or bowl. It’s best to use a mesh strainer lined with muslin in order to ensure that no plant particles sneak through the straining process. Leaving plant matter in your syrup will shorten the shelf life and may lead to molding. Also, using muslin allows you to squeeze out all the excess liquid and potent medicine from the herbs.
  6. Stir in the sweetener. Add brandy or vodka if desired.
  7. Pour the syrup into bottles, label, and refrigerate.

Congratulations! You’ve just made cough syrup. The syrup should keep refrigerated for about 6 months.

Suggested Herbs

There are several herbs that you can use for your cough syrup, depending on the type of cough you have and your flavor preferences. Here is a list of just a few. I’ve included a few notes on the properties of these herbs, but if you have additional questions, an easy internet search or book on herbs should provide more information.

  • Osha: Also known as “bear root” because bears rub it all over themselves when they awaken from hibernation. Osha is wonderful for respiratory ailments; however it is also highly over-harvested and must be treated with respect. One way to use osha in a sustainable way is to use the same root again and again. Just rinse and allow the root to fully dry after each use. You can continue to use the same root until it is no longer potent.
  • Elecampane: A wonderful expectorant–meaning it will help you cough up all that gunk in your lungs!
  • Pleurisy: Also an expectorant, but especially good for dry coughs.
  • Licorice: Helps synergize all the other herbs and adds nice flavor.
  • Thyme: A great all-purpose germ killer.
  • Elder berries: Good for the immune system and antiviral.

Other recommended herbs: rose hips, marshmallow root, cinnamon, ginger, orange peel, fennel, garlic, coltsfoot, and peppermint. And there are plenty of others!

A Sample Recipe

This is the ratio of herbs we used in our class cough syrup:

  • .75 oz elecampane
  • .75 oz elderberry
  • .25 oz licorice
  • .25 oz thyme
Cough Syrup. made in class

cough syrup, made in class

When I later made more cough syrup at home, I replaced the elderberry and licorice with osha and ginger. And I got a little creative in my use of bottles . . . .

cloudy tequila? no, homemade cough syrup!

cloudy tequila? no, it’s homemade cough syrup!

Dosage

These recipe produces a fairly safe cough syrup. Take a few spoonfuls per day as needed, perhaps slightly less for children.

The Easiest Cough Syrup Ever

So, if buying up a variety of herbs to test your skills at making cough syrup doesn’t appeal to you, feel free to try out my super easy version!

Instead of purchasing a variety of herbs, let the experts do the work for you and simply buy some cold care tea. I like Gypsy Cold Care by Traditional Medicinals. The herbs are already blended for you, and tea bags replace the mesh and muslin strainers. Use one tea bag per cup of water, and follow the directions above. How easy is that?

Gypsy Cold Care tea

Gypsy Cold Care tea

*DISCLAIMER

I am not a certified herbalist, and all information here is to be followed at your own risk. I am a passionate amateur with growing experience, and I simply report here what I’ve learned and what works for me. That said, enjoy the healing power of plants!

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