For the Love of Cacao

This week in the Yucatan has reiterated how much I want to live in Mexico! I am in love with Mayan culture, the Caribbean ocean, and of course the warm sunny days!

What I also love is the hot cacao every morning with my brunch! No other culture may revere cacao as much as the Mayans. To honor their tradition of hot cacao I share my version with you.

Mayan (inspired) Hot Chocolate

1/4 cup raw Cacao nibs (melted)

1 tbsp Cinnamon powder

1 tsp Cayenne powder

1 tsp Vanilla bean extract

1 tsp Honey

Hot water 

Boil water in a tea kettle. Melt cacao nibs in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Add in cinnamon and cayenne powders. Once cacao is melted and powders stirred in, take off heat. Stir in vanilla bean extract and honey. Add 1/4 cup of melted cacao mixture to 1/4-1/2 cup of hot water. Stir well. Sip while hot. Honor the divinity within the cacao and within yourself.

 

For the love of plants,

 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Divine (Herbal) Intervention

The last few few weeks have been a whirlwind for me. I’ve traveled from California to Colorado, back to California and now to the Yucatan Peninsula. I guess I am feeling the stirrings of spring more than the deep retreat of winter.

With all of this moving around I have been trying to stay healthy, balanced, and sane. I’m doing my best- despite mega viruses, crowds, and societal drama. Besides my daily yoga/qi gong practice, drinking tons of water, and washing my hands like a maniac, I really give credit to my plant allies for playing a huge role.

I don’t leave home without at least one of my aromatic essence blends. My favorite one right now is a blend of Night Blooming Jasmine and White Sage essential oils in a carrier of Calendula infused Apricot kernel Oil. Divine! It keeps me clear and grounded- much needed in all my transitions.

What oils or herbs do you use to help you in times of change? If you aren’t sure, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and see what plant first comes to mind. More than likely, this is who you need in your life. Trust your intuition. You know what is best for you.

For the love of plants,

 cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Magnolia: Breathe Life In

February is my birthday month! Yes I take a whole month- it is a short one after all!

Since it’s the first day of my month long celebration, I want to start it off with a contest for a chance to win a copy of my (very) soon to be released book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine! To be entered into the drawing, sign up for my newsletter! The drawing will be on Chinese New Year, February 16, 2018!

Today’s recipe is one of from the first chapter, Magnolia: Breathe Life In 

Breathe in Life Spritzer

  • 6 drops magnolia flower essential oil
  • 3 drops rose otto essential oil
  • 1 drop vetiver essential oil

Mix the above essential oils into 2 ounces of carrier oil (olive, apricot kernel) and put into a 2-ounce spritzer bottle. Shake well and spritz yourself throughout the day. This is great for depression, to uplift the emotions and help transform and absorb the beauty of life.

Make sure you sign up  to enter the drawing to receive your free copy of my upcoming book, Plants Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Art Credit: Jason Garcia

 

Winter Musings (in a Redwood forest)

I have been in heaven the last few days. The medicine of fog and rain, mixed with a little sunshine and rainbows has been just what I needed. Although the grey dreary days of North Coast winters can contribute to seasonal depression, it is a great reprieve from the dry, cold winds of Colorado. My spirit needs moisture!

The weather is maritime and mild and many of favorite plants are thriving and saying hello, so I have been enjoying the walks around our land. We are only about a mile from the Pacific ocean and as I wander through the redwoods, I can hear the waves crashing while I harvest self-heal, yarrow, violet, and plantain leaves for my tea. The ocean being the Water element incarnate, I am even more nourished by this winter ritual.

Nature heals. If you aren’t sure about that, go take a walk among trees, sit at the edge of a lake or river, or gaze at the mountains in the distance. Take three deep breaths and notice how you feel. Are you more relaxed, content, or at peace? If not, take a few more deep breaths and reflect on what you are grateful for. Give thanks for every breath you are blessed to take.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Winter Wellness Recipe

So far I have scathed off any of the flus and viruses that are floating around the United States. On the plane from Denver to San Francisco, I was the masked person on the flight. Although I got many weird looks, I felt empowered taking my deep breaths as people coughed and sniffled around me, including the guy to my right.

In my cloth mask (thanks Willow!), I applied a diluted blend of holy basil, eucalyptus radiata, douglas fir, and pine. I also tried not to touch anything and I washed my hands religiously. That is the best I could do on a plane, but in the winter I rotate a daily preventative tea that is full of Vitamin C and antioxidants that will strengthen my immune system. This tea is not only nutritious, it’s also delicious!

Winter Wellness Tea

2 tbsp Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

2 tbsp Rose hips (Rosa centifolia

1 tbsp Citrus peel (Citrus reticulata)

1 inch piece of fresh Ginger (Zingiber offinicale)

Gently boil all ingredients in 16 ounces of water for 15 minutes in a covered pot. Strain out herbs and set aside for a second boiling. Cover and boil herbs with another 8 ounces of water for 15 minutes. Drink up to 4 cups a day as needed to prevent colds and flu. Stay well!

For the love of plants,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Live & Love Spritzer

I’m feeling a little bluesy today because of the news of three strong women passing in just a couple of days. The one that hit the hardest was the death of one of my best friend’s mom. I am extremely sad and still a little in shock. I am once again reminded of how precious life is and how important it is to live every day to the fullest.

Today’s recipe is for her. She was a feisty, strong woman with a love that knew no boundaries. Babs, I send this aromatic offering to you. May your journey into the unknown be filled with love, peace, and light. Big hugs to you on the other side from your J Jesser!

Live & Love Spritzer

3 drops Mount Shasta Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) essential oil

3 drops Rose (Rosa centifolia) essential oil

1 drop Angelica (Angelica archangelica) essential oil

Add all essential oils to a 1 ounce glass spray bottle and add spring water to fill. Shake well. Spritz yourself as needed to remind yourself how loved and supported you are. Give thanks to your angels and guides for guiding you on your path. Be grateful that you are alive!

Much love,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Finding a Good Herbalist

Yesterday I taught the Vitalist Chinese Medicine class at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism, as I have for the third year in a row. I just have to say how much I Love teaching about qi, the vital life force energy that encompasses all of life; transcending time and space; and taking herbs that help you propel your life forward. I mean how cool is it that I get to talk like that. And have people take me seriously! Even after I have them stick out their tongues at each other!

I love that so many people, including herbalists, are getting excited about Chinese medicine. I have heard more and more Western herbalists dappling with the concepts of Chinese medicine. And I think that’s awesome. I also find it concerning, because although there is a vague grasp of the theories, there is a deficit in understanding how to correctly diagnose the patterns that are causing the imbalances within the body. Giving or recommending an herb without the correct diagnosis can at best, kinda work, and at worst, exacerbate a condition instead of improving it.

I have clients come to me all the time telling me that they were given an herb or formula that either didn’t work or made their symptoms worse. It is usually because of two reasons:

  1. The client wasn’t compliant with the timing and doses given OR
  2. It was the wrong herb or formula based on their constitution and the root of the problem.

Chinese medicine shines in the ability to accurately diagnose patterns and get to the root of the disease. A lot Western herbal practitioners did not learn diagnostic skills, and therefore treat symptoms instead of addressing the cause of the disease. I noticed I lacked the ability to diagnose these patterns until I went to Chinese medicine school and spent years learning the nuances of the medicine.

Many Western herbal teachers are now teaching how to properly diagnose patterns that manifest in the body, but the information is slow to catch up with many herbalists. Most herbs are completely safe so not having the correct herb for someone usually does no harm. What it does do is perpetuate the thought that herbs don’t work. And we know that is not true! If you are an herbalist that works clinically, I urge you to please find a teacher that will guide you in the art and science of pattern diagnosis. If you want to find a reputable herb school or a registered herbalist to work with, check out The American Herbalists Guild directory (you’ll find me there!).  

You can also check out the first season of my podcast, The Herb Walk with Jessica Baker, where I interview some of my favorite herbalists!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Daily Nourishing Tea Recipe

I mentioned in the last blog that I had many plant allies to help me overcome my pain, fear and distraction last year. I shared my personal experiences with St. John’s Wort, Cannabis and Milky Oats. What I always find amazing is that it only takes an aroma, a touch, or a sip to feel a difference.

I’d love to share my essential nourishing morning tea recipe with you. May it nourish you as it nourishes me!

Daily Nourishing Tea

8 ounces Filtered Water

1 tsp Milky oats (Avena sativa)

1 tsp Rose petals (Rosa centafolia)

1 tsp Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

1 tsp Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)

Boil water and pour over plant material. Steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain, sip and enjoy! Drink 1-2 cups every morning as a nourishing tonic. The herbs can be steeped at least one more time.

For the love of plants,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

My Top 3 Healing Plants of 2017

Nine days into 2018 and I feel great! All of the political and societal problems are still here but I am taking a different approach to “stress” this year. Instead of getting wrapped up in fear and drama, I pledge to step back, take a deep breath, and let my words and actions be led by love. Not a passive, “sending love and light,” but with compassion, truth, and justice. It won’t always be easy to remember, as I can get easily angered, fired up and passionate. I have to keep this promise. My health and happiness depends on it.

The last few months of last year I felt like I was not accomplishing anything. I couldn’t focus or complete any project I started the last couple of years (my book Plant Songs, my essential oil blends, my new website). I realized I was paralyzed by fear and spun by all the confusion and turmoil in the media. Now that I recognize my fears, I have made huge steps forward on so many levels! I have moved into the final phases of production on Plant Songs and I have a renewed sense of faith in who I am and what I can do. I am ecstatic!

So many plants helped me overcome my fear and distraction. Without my connection to herbal medicine, I would be lost and I am forever grateful for their gifts. For me, these 3 herbs were essential the last 6 months and will continue to be there when I need them going forward.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)– I take a 5:1 tincture of fresh harvested St. John’s Wort flowers almost every day. It is essential in winter when there is very little sun and also for when I get discouraged, frightened, or frustrated by politics. I know it is time to start taking it again when I start beating myself up for not being enough. I also love St. John’s Wort essential oil blended with Vetiver and Rose Geranium and diluted in Apricot kernel oil, and applied to my temples or chest when I need some compassion, courage and strength.

Cannabis SativaHemp essential oil has been key to reducing the pain from scoliosis and an injury from a few years ago. Working with meditation, herbs and different physical modalities to change muscular patterns and dissolve scar tissue has taken a lot of energy and willpower. It has also exacerbated pain as my spine shifts and moves. A roll-on blend of essential oils of Hemp, Frankincense and Pine immediately applied to the top of my shoulders, and around my pelvic girdle has done wonders for my healing.

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)– My morning cup of Milky Oats tea starts my day off with the nourishment my nervous system needs. Avena sativa is a nervine and is sweet and nutritive, taking the edge off like no other herb I know. My favorite blend to ease the tensions of the outside world is Milky Oats, Rose petals, Elderberry, and Lemon Balm. It is nutritious, floral and delicious!

May these plants help you as they have helped me. May you give back to them in return.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: High Times

Medicine for the Soul Tea

I have shared this recipe before, but it is one of my all-time favorite teas. It is sure to nourish your body and soul, and help with any residual holy day blues you may be experiencing. Enjoy!

Medicine for the Soul 

2-3 tsp Milky Oats (Avena sativa)

2-3 tsp Hawthorn Berries (Crataegus spp.)

1-2 tsp Sage (your choice- Pineapple, White, Clary)

1/4-1/2 tsp Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)

Simmer Hawthorn berries and Cinnamon in 2-3 cups water for at least 5 minutes.  Turn heat off and steep Milky Oats for at least 5 minutes.  Add Sage the last 1-2 minutes of the steep.  Strain herbs and drink 1/2 cup of tea per serving.  Feel the herbs move through out your body and observe any sensations that may arise.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Bitter Herbs to the Rescue

Feeling a bit better today now that I’ve had a couple of days away from holiday treats. I haven’t felt the bloating and indigestion that can accompany eating gluten, dairy, sugar and other irritants. I credit my healthy digestion to Digestive Bitters. I’ve been taking Bitters for almost fifteen years, and now they are all the rage (with good reason!) Many of our digestive issues could benefit from taking Bitters before meals as a way to stimulate digestion, transform nutrients, and maintain the integrity of cellular membranes.

Digestive Bitters

1 gram organic dried Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) root

1 gram organic dried Gentian (Gentiiana lute)a root

1 gram organic dried Tangerine (Citrus reticulata) peel

1 gram organic dried Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) seeds

1 inch slice of organic fresh Ginger (Zingiber officinale) root

Add all ingredients to 8 ounces of Organic Vodka. Cover with lid and store in dark, cool location. Shake daily for 2-4 weeks. Strain out herbs and store liquid in dark colored, glass container. Take 8-10 drops of tincture before each meal to prevent indigestion or after meals to reduce gas and bloating.

I’d love to hear how this recipe worked for you!

For the love of plants,

 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Holiday Recovery Day

I am a little tired today, hung over from rich food and a little too much chocolate. I thankfully didn’t overindulge like I have in the past (last holiday season my stomach hurt for 2 weeks straight), but I still need a little herbal help today.

It is only around 15 degrees Fahrenheit in Denver so I started it off with a creamy, steaming hot cup of Spicy Chai. The warming spices of Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, and Fennel coupled with a frothy coconut milk did wonders for my mood this morning! To combat the lingering fatigue that can come with eating rich, fatty foods I took a dropper full of Milk Thistle tincture, along with my Medicinal Mushrooms and homemade Digestive Bitters.

Today I’ll try to take it easy on the gluten and sugar. Instead of feeling like I need to eat them all, maybe it’s time to give away the remaining holiday cookies that my husband’s mom makes for us every year. I will stay away from the last piece of cake and eat only like one piece of chocolate…

Regardless I will continue to take my Bitters and drink copious amounts of Chai.

Stay warm out there!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Winter Solstice Celebration

Winter Solstice is the celebration of the longest night of the year. It is a time to gather with loved ones and reflect on the past year. It is a time to honor what we have lost and gained. We celebrate the harvest and the cycles of the Earth. We honor our own cycles and what has transpired for us since the last dark night.

On Winter Solstice, we gather to write down what we need to get rid of before the return of the Sun. We go deep within and root out our darkest fears, so they can be brought to light, transformed, and released. Build a fire and write down these fears, throw them into the flames and watch them burn and be transformed into smoke and ash. Now write down what you want to cultivate in the year ahead. It can be cultivating kindness, community, or money. Tape your intentions to your bathroom mirror and say them out loud every morning. You will be surprised at how quickly these thoughts and words become reality.

As you hold your ceremony, you might want to have your herbal allies to help bring insight into your fears and intentions.

Herbs that Ground & Guide

Rosemary– spicy, aromatic, and stimulating, rosemary reminds you of who you are. Rosemary guides energy through all three burners (san jiao in Chinese medicine) and transforms dampness, bringing clarity to all situations. A sprig in 8 ounces of hot water will also help with bloating and nausea after eating.

Reishi mushroom– bitter and calming, reishi mushroom assists you in going deep. Reishi calms the mind and the spirit, making it an important herb in quieting an overactive mind and nervous system. One medium sized mushroom can be decocted in a quart of water for 1-12 hours as a medicinal tonic (take 1-4 ounces of decoction daily). The longer you boil, the more bitter the tea becomes.

Marshmallow root– cool and nourishing, marshmallow root soothes irritation in the digestive and urinary tracts. It benefits anybody that needs to be nurtured and supported. One tablespoon of marshmallow root simmered in 8 ounces of water for 15 minutes makes a grounding, earthy tasting tea.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Image credit: Annya

 

The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Jane Bothwell

I wasn’t going to release another podcast episode until next year and then I thought you might want one to listen to on your holiday travels! In this episode I speak with my very first herb teacher, Jane Bothwell.

We discuss her annual medicinal cannabis conference and her many herbal offerings in northern California and around the globe (she is taking small groups to Hawaii and Greece in 2018). Jane’s herb school, Dandelion Herbal Center, is nestled in the redwoods in beautiful and remote Humboldt County, California. An ideal location to connect with the spirit of plants! Through her Festival of Herbs series, she invites herbalists like Rosemary Gladstar, Pam Montgomery, Christopher Hobbs and others from across the U.S. to visit and share their wisdom to the herbal community. She is a gift to us all and I am so happy to share a little of her story with you!

Enjoy this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast and Subscribe today to catch up on all of Season 1 and find out when Season 2 is released next year!

Spiced Cocoa Love Recipe

Yesterday was National Cocoa Day, and although I didn’t know that was a “thing” I am always happy to sit down and enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

Here is my go-to recipe for an aromatically spiced hot chocolate.

Aromatic Spice Cocoa Love 

8 ounces of organic almond or coconut milk

1-2 heaping tablespoons of organic, fair trade cocoa powder or chocolate sauce

1/8-1/4 teaspoon organic powdered cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon organic powdered nutmeg

1 teaspoon dried organic rose petals

Warm the almond milk and stir in cocoa powder, cinnamon and nutmeg until milk powders are well blended. Turn off heat and steep rose petals for a couple of minutes. Strain out petals and pour cocoa into your favorite mug. Extra points for dunking in your favorite cookie!

For the love of plants,

 cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Image credit: Pinterest

Elderberry Dreaming on a Winter’s Day

December is here already and I am as shocked as everyone else. I’m back in Denver and the nights are cold and windy. There isn’t any snow in the city and I hate to say that I am glad!

I can hear people sniffling and coughing around me as I’m out and about. It’s a good reminder to keep my immunity strong! Small things like washing your hands frequently (many people don’t wash door handles or light switches) and eating nutrient dense foods like soups and stews will be a big help in staving off other people’s germs.

I also drink elderberry tea every morning, switching up the other ingredients depending on what I have going on.

My 3 favorite Elderberry blends:

1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Hawthorn berries, 2 inch piece of Citrus peel – I make this on those days of over-indulgence, where there may just be a cookie or two enjoyed

1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Yarrow flowers, 1 tsp Peppermint– This is my go-to when I begin to feel that chill or fever coming on and I need to kick it out

1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Rose petals, 1 inch piece of Citrus peel– This is my base tea on most days. I drink as is or add an herb or two that is calling me that day.

Steep herbs in 8 ounces of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink while warm.

I’d love to hear what herbs you like with elderberry!

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellnes grows

 

On the Road Again

I am on the road again. This time driving back to Denver from Northern California. I’m a little sad to leave my epic coastal home to come back to “Babylon,” but I am more than a little excited to see my Colorado friends. I’m also thrilled to finish up the first line of products for Baker Botanica….and hopefully have some ready for release in the next month or so! We’ll see how it all goes.

Also wanted to let you know that my book, Plant Songs, is in the production phase. This means that I’m working on the cover art and formatting for the book. I will have a printed copy of Plant Songs in hand in January 2018! Agh!!! It’s so exciting and scary at the same time!

It feels good to wrap up these projects by the end of the year (and to have put out the first season of The Herb Walk Podcast).  It has been a whirlwind year of intensity and amazingness! I look forward to a more mellow December to assimilate it all.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

Citrus Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce Recipe

I, like many people, love Thanksgiving although I hate that it is through colonization and genocide of millions of people that we celebrate this day of gratitude. Those that know me may grow tired of my tirades against all so-called holidays that have been turned into excuses to do nothing more than consume.

That being said, on Thanksgiving I do love to share my favorite foods with those I love and am most grateful for! One of my favorite dishes is homemade cranberry sauce. It is super easy to make, and tastes way better than that weird gelatinous canned version I grew up with.

Citrus Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce

16 ounces cranberries

1/2 cup orange zest 

1 cinnamon stick

3/4-1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Dissolve sugar in water and orange juice. Add cranberries and stir for 10-15 minutes. Add citrus peel and cinnamon (in muslin bag) and continue to stir for another 15-20 minutes. Add more liquid if cranberries thicken too much. Turn off heat when it is to the consistency and taste you desire. Enjoy on top of a big slice of pumpkin pie!

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Image credit:©Erin Clarke/Well Plated

Giving Thanks for Nature

These rainy Humboldt days have me pining for a little of that Colorado sunshine. I will be back there soon enough and then I will miss the grey misty coast. I will just enjoy the moisture while I can and give thanks for the opportunity to enjoy both places.

The thing I love most about being an herbalist is learning about plants that grow around huckleberryme, wherever I happen to be. Autumn in Humboldt means rain and that means mushrooms, moss, and lichens. The berries are almost gone and any lingering flowers have given up to the dark days ahead. It is beautiful!

If you get the chance, go outside today and see what is still growing around you. What is hanging on to the last days of summer’s warmth? Give thanks for the abundant life that surrounds you, even when it looks like the dormant days of winter are ahead.

 

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Feels So Good Foot Bath Recipe

As the days darken and the nights grow cooler I look forward to evenings cuddled up with a book, cozy blanket and hot cup of tea. A couple of times a month I make these nights even more special with warm foot baths. I blend together my favorite flowers, hydrosols and essential oils and escape into my own aromatic oasis. Foot baths are super easy to prepare and are more rewarding than you can imagine.

Ooh, That Feels So Good Foot Bath

Bring a stockpot full of water to a boil.

Turn off heat and add a handful of your favorite fresh or dried herbs

Let herbs steep for 10-15 minutes.

Strain out enough liquid for you to enjoy a hot cup during your foot bath

Pour the rest of the tea in a plastic or resin tub large enough to place both feet

If necessary, add more warm water to cover up to your ankles.

Once the footbath is at a comfortable temperature, add 1-2 tablespoons of Diluted essential oils to the water and swirl to mix with water.

Place both feet into tub, sit back and enjoy your cup of tea.

My favorite herbs for a relaxing foot bath:

Rose petals, Lavender and Calendula flowers, and Skullcap

I like to use coconut oil as my carrier oil for essential oils in most baths because it feels so yummy and moisturizing. It’s great for rough areas like our heels so it’s perfect for foot baths.

My favorite essential oils for a relaxing foot bath:

Lavender, Vetiver, Frankincense (ethically harvested), Hemp, Ylang Ylang, Rose Geranium

Only 1-3 drops of essential oils is needed per 1 ounce of coconut oil. Remember it takes a lot of plant material to make a small amount of essential oil. Use sparingly and respectfully.

This is a super simple recipe, yet relaxing to mind, body, and spirit. Take the time for yourself tonight. You deserve it.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows