it has been snowing in baltimore for two days. the first two days of spring.
it can be magical and cathartic to play outside when the snow is falling. when it's so quiet and everything is covered in a pristine, sparkly blanket. when you can connect to your inner child and the part of yourself that remembers that nature is scary and beautiful.
but snow days are also great for the cozy indoor stuff. things you might not let yourself do if you weren't "trapped" in the house. extra cups of coffee or tea. finishing a book. staying in comfies. wine with lunch. lighting incense. finishing that blog post...
snow days are a good reminder to slow down and go inside. reflect. feel the full weight of your body in that reclining chair. take a moment to feel truly relaxed. hold onto that relaxation. keep it like a memory in every muscle so you can bring yourself back to that feeling when you are tense. i can't tell you how many times a day i have to remind myself to put my shoulders down. relaxing is a good habit to get into.
i'm going to end this with a brief snow day chakra meditation. ready?
close your eyes and focus on the space between your eyebrows. your third eye chakra. deep contemplation lives here. intuition. self-reflection. a path inward. let yourself explore here, bathed in indigo light. go inside.
move your focus to your chest. your heart chakra. compassion lives here. love for others and for the self. breathe deeply, filling up with green light. or pink light. or both. breathe out any feelings of guilt or fear of selfishness that might be tied to self love and self care. breathe in kindness for yourself. stay there, in a gentle space where you are allowed to take care of you. go inside.
did you harvest or buy too much fresh thyme? me too. i have a habit of buying those little clamshells of organic herbs even though they always contain far more than i need for whatever i'm making. last week i used half in a roasted garlic and sweet potato recipe, but i didn't have anything planned for the other half. rather than composting or throwing them away, i decided to make a single herb tincture.
because of the alcohol content, tincturing is a great long-term way to preserve herbs without refrigeration. and it can be a very simple process. for a fresh thyme tincture, i gave the leftover herbs a good rinse, cut off any brown leaves or dead ends, put them in a sterilized mason jar, filled it to the top with vodka, and voila!
i like to put a piece of parchment paper between the lid and jar during the extraction process. this prevents the alcohol from corroding the metal lid which could leach into the liquid. i've found that it's a good practice to label my jars with the herb, menstruum (this is the liquid you're extracting in... sounds positively gynecological, doesn't it?), and the date.
i like to extract my herbs for 3-4 weeks, shaking every day or 2, and then strain through cheesecloth into amber bottles, with or without droppers (so specific, i know - but it helps to keep the light out, i swear).
so, i have thyme tincture in a bunch of little bottles, now what? i'm glad you asked. thyme is known for having antiseptic and antifungal properties, among other rad traits. i've added some to a witch hazel toner to help with blemishes, diluted some with water to use as mouthwash, and have mixed it into other single herb or compound tinctures for its amazing medicinal properties. but there are so many other possibilities! if you were so inclined, you could mix some with white vinegar and water as a surface cleaner, or even add some to a vodka cocktail for an herby twist (shout out to my genius wife Andrea for this idea which i will be trying asap).
bottom line, don't let fresh herbs go to waste (unless you like that sort of thing). find a recipe for a candle, a tincture, bath soak, essential oil, etc. or write me a nice note and maybe i'll do it for you! i've got the thyme.
is there anything scarier or more exhilarating than new beginnings? okay, probably. but right now, i can't think of any. all i can think about is this wild idea i had to start selling my tinctures. and, from that one idea seed, a hundred other wild ideas are growing. how about a website? i should start a blog! LLC? 5013c? podcast? try to grow all of my own herbs in a greenhouse in my back yard?! definitely get a second instagram account, at the very least. i need cuter labels. who will design my logo?! i know too many amazing artists (what an excellent problem to have).
i have been making various herbal preparations - tinctures, salves, teas, electuaries, oxymels, and more (sometimes without even realizing what they were) - for years. we can thank my first job, at a health food store in a small hudson valley town, for that. i was lucky, at 16, to be exposed to new kinds of medicine and healing, and to be open enough to let it all in. 18 years later (don't do the math) i have a growing book of reiki clients and 10 different tinctures extracting in a cabinet downstairs. i feel grateful for this light, this thread, which has followed me throughout my life. i'm excited for possibilities. and for sharing. and learning. and community.
let's do this.
Christina is a reiki practitioner, herbalist, and ordained minister living in Baltimore with 1 wife, 1 cat, and 1 day job.