Obsessed with sour taste

Although winter wasn’t strong this year, we expect another wave of frosty weather next week. My body is already exhausted from endless wait for spring and more and more often calls for sour taste.

On the scale of tastes I usually prefer the bitter one. Sweet probably occupies the second place. Salty is in the middle, sometimes alternating with the sweet. But spicy and sour are definitely in the end of my selection with the only exception. When spring slowly awakes from winter sleep, I am obsessed with sour taste. I need to add some acidity to every meal and it doesn’t matter if it’s sweet or salty.

At this time, sour taste helps me to overcome the last winter days, it keeps me enough alive. What coffee makes for mind in the morning, the sour does for body before spring definitely comes.

Now, the opportunity to really use what I’ve done before came.

Rosehip chips are simple, tasty and sour enough to keep you from eating so much of them. Actually, I made them by accident. I originally wanted to make jam, but I harvested more fruits than I had sugar. So I cooked and mashed the rosehips without sugar, pushed through the sieve, placed a thin layer on a sheet and dried in oven at low temperature. Efficiency isn’t high, but I don’t like to waste the harvest.

Except of lemon, what do you imagine under sour taste? Yes, vinegar!

Perhaps some or most of you have tried to make homemade apple vinegar. It’s nothing complicated as soon as you have apples, big jar and patience.

Based on the same technology, I made also other kinds of vinegar – from the hawthorn berries and from elderberries. And I must say – I love both of them!

Homemade vinegars are great as they are, or you can add some herbs to extend their taste and flavor.

I have three types of apple vinegar – with common wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris), rosemary and onion skins. They are great fresh or cooked, for eat or hair rising.

The hawthorn vinegar is a kind of medicine as well, having a tonic effect for heart and blood pressure. I divided the final amount into three parts – pure hawthorn, with sage and with speedwell (Veronica officinalis), which also helps to keep heart and veins in healthy condition.

But the elderberry vinegar, it’s a treasure! I love even to watch it! It looks like a good red wine or magical elixir. I feel the taste in every cell of my body, awaking me for life. I put it into porridge in the morning, into the soup at noon and into legumes in the evening. As I said, I’m really obsessed!

I’m going to make bigger amount this year, especially after I used the elderberry vinegar instead of lemon juice into the herbal candies. I mixed it with cloves, cinnamon and star anis and it became a heaven in the mouth! They were gone before I took a photo, so you have to imagine or make it yourself 😀

What kind of sour ingredients do you like? I would appreciate more inspiration for my actual obsession. Thanks in advance!

With love, Ivana

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Herbal magic for healthy hair

There are many useful herbs to improve quality of your hair. I took an example of my local herbs, divided in groups according to the type of hair. I’ve been testing them by myself and few of my friends.

Blond and/or thin

The key herb of the group is definitely Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla) from the family Asteraceae. Trying to sense the energy, it makes clear that Chamomile brings a floral softness and asterisk lightness into the hair. Don’t expect hair thickening from it! Chamomile is proud of its gentle quality and ready to share.

Other herbs could make a good company to Chamomile. Usually I choose a birch leaf or linden blossom. Both of them are a good companion for another group of hair too.

Red and/or middle

The leading herb of this group is hops, either alone or processed in beer. At least in Europe, using beer for strong and shiny hair has a long tradition. Try to imagine growing hops (Humulus lupulus) and you will see long lianas, richly covered by leaves and small green cones called strobili. They are highly aromatic, full of useful components for your hair and skin. No wonder, hops belongs to the family Cannabaceae and is completely legal worldwide.

Longterm use of hops makes your hair thicker (like lianas) and your scalp healthier. But it doesn’t make sense to use it for really thin hair. It seems to me that the strong aroma of hops and fullness of the compounds are too hard (aggressive) for thin hair.

Birch could be a reasonable support for thin hair thickening and is a good companion for hops too. If you imagine birch tree (Betula spp) you will see long but light branches with small, heart shaped leaves. The birch has a beautiful and lifted hairstyle and you can achieve that for thin and middle hair.

Rich look of your hairstyle could be also supported by linden blossoms (valid for thin and thin/middle hair). If you imagine a flowering linden tree (Tilia spp), it will be clear to you. At the time of flowering the linden tree increases its volume and beauty. Blossoms shine with color and scent, attracting attention of bees and humans. It can work for you in the same way – except of insects 😃

Dark and/or thick

This is the group of hair with a good quality, sometimes too strong or thick to style them. Could you imagine a plant with a similar energy other than nettle? The nettle has tiny stingy hairs in huge amount and is ready to share the same quality with you.

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is the leader of the group and it is probably the most famous herb for a hair promotion. But as I have mentioned several times, for some hair (or hair skin) types, the nettle is too rough. For example, my scalp every time turns red after using nettles and it doesn’t matter whether it was in a decoction or processed in soap. The stinging power of nettle is simply too strong for me.

In case your hair isn’t extremely thick or you have a problem with nettle, a suitable alternative for you could be the wild thyme. The purple color of its flowers is a good guide where to use this herb. Disinfecting aroma helps to remove toxins from hair and scalp, and sometimes also from the mind beneath. I like adding the wild thyme for the red hair blends in the winter when they need more protection.

Method

You can easily prepare decoction (like more concentrated tea) and rinse your hair after washing. Or you can even wash your hair with a special soap that contains a suitable blend of herbs. And because it is much more comfortable, I prepare such soaps at home from the herbs I personally gather. Then it is a great pleasure to wash my hair.

I must say that it might be tricky to choose the right combination for chemically colored hair. They usually don’t cooperate well with herbal soaps, decoctions could be fine.

My originally red hairs (treated with henna) are more than happy with the herbal soap (hops, birch, linden blossoms) for more than two years. Even my hairdresser confirmed improvement of their quality.

I’m curious about your experience if you like to share it.

With love, Ivana

Edible experiment

Few months ago I’ve been asked to prepare a sugar-based depilation mass. Preferably including herbs that heal and treat irritated skin. Oh, I like challenges!

At the beginning I decided to go for few ingredients only: sugar, figs, lemon and water. Having no idea about proportions, I had to try. The first attempt contained too many figs, the mass remained soft but delicious on a taste. So, I put it on a pie!

I served the pie with the story and got acknowledgment for both. Especially when I have everybody assured that the mass on the pie has not been used for original purpose yet.

The second attempt brought a much better result. The mass was still a bit soft and resilient, but effective for fine blond hairs. Fortunately, I have that!

The third time was lucky. I got excellent and effective consistency. I already used herbs, my very first choice were chamomile and aloe vera. It still tasted great, so I can depilate and satisfy the taste for sweet at the same moment.

There are a lot of herbal options for this edible depilation and I look forward to the next one. Do you have recommendation or experience? Thanks for both!

Oak tree: Repose and Relax

Speaking of the birch as a mental and spiritual support, I should mention the physical support of the oak tree.

Even if you have a big sized body, the oak tree’s body is much burlier. It takes all your heaviness if you want to share it.  Our ancestors knew the characteristics of the oak well and so they relied on the oak beds for daily rest and the oak coffins for the final rest.

With rapid development of technologies and general speed of life we have forgotten to respect basic energy of materials according to final products and their use. So remember, the first step for good sleep is an old reliable bed from the oak wood.

The oak tree doesn’t keep your heaviness for ever. It has a great ability to take your worries on its shoulders and later pass them deep into the Mother Earth. This ability remains unchanged for the oak wood although it’s no longer physically rooted to the ground.

Healing effects of the oak bark is based on the same capability. It brings you stability and support as well as it removes wide range of toxins and delusions. The oak bark is rough, but always reliable and trustful. Maybe it’s a little bit slow in results but finally they are longterm stable.

I love to use the oak bark in natural soaps, they look like dark chocolates and invite you to taste. Additionally they are great for problematic skin treatment because the oak bark is reputable fighter against eczema, acne and some skin fungus. And if you have no problems with your skin, a little detox can’t hurt you.

Being in touch with any kind of the oak tree energy, it means to be in touch with the physical dimension of life. It’s a true mirror of our Existence in traces of matter and time.

Nettle: Excellent Blood Purificator

Nettle is a plant growing in ordinary places, especially in less respected ones. It is so common that we underestimate its importance and quality. Additionally nettle punish anyone who approaches. It has appropriate arsenal of weapons always ready to use. Amount of small nettle hairs bites our unprotected skin and leave it with itchy spots. And even gardener beginner knows how persistent knapweed nettle can be.

Nettle is very concentrated. Sharp and spicy, better to use it carefully. Wise says that sharpness disappears after cooking or freezing. I must say “it depends how sensitive you are”. I remember terrifying experience with my rose-nettle soap when I used it accidentally in intimate areas. Believe me, I did it only once. I felt as if the biting nettles were fresh regardless of the saponification process in lye.

From the same reason I cannot use nettle in shampoo or hair conditioner, even many people love to do it.

Nettle is like red chilli in a green robe, it can inflame you white-hot. And this is why nettle is so useful for blood purification. It bites all lazy components to increase their functionality. Liver and kidneys work faster and waste products leave body more quickly. Then it can happen that high blood pressure is effectively adjusted.

Nettle likes and supports well vascularized organs such as heart, liver, kidneys, spleen and ovaries. Due to high mineral content nettle helps to maintain healthy blood inside of them.

According to my experience nettle can be a successful ingredient of the anti-herpes salve. Perhaps because of the vigor which expels harmful substances from the blood away.

Which kind of experience with nettle do you have?

Intensive Beauty of Violet

Even if you really love winter and white snow, the first spring sunshine and the first tentative flowers must cheer your heart.

Among the spring flower pioneers Violet has unique position. It has a power immediately hit your nose by penetrating sweet aroma. Later you will see a beautiful green carpet with tiny violet flowers.

You can be so intoxicated by the scent of violets that you start to eat them. You will find that violets are delicious! I love to add them into spring fresh salads.

Violets intensive aroma has also healing effects. For those who are little bit depressive after long winter nights, violets bring light and sweetness into their minds.

But there is one important skill of violets which can be successfully used in whole year. As much as the scent of violets is pungent, the healing energy can penetrate through the skin and treat various problems like acne, eczema or hemorrhoids.

In that case Violet likes to cooperate with deep earthy ingredients like oak bark or chocolate.

I do love my lip balm “Violets in chocolate” so much!

What is your favorite use of violets?

Plantain: Master of Surgery

I love rich juicy clusters of Plantain which are seen after a late spring rain almost everywhere. They attract to immediate eating or healing.

Looking to the shape of the Plantain leaf is easy to imagine the scalpel of a surgeon. And it works in a similar way – sharp, accurate and effective. You can use it for open wounds and rely on precise work and good result. The scalpel of Plantain removes pus including its originator and destroys many kinds of bacteria. After surgical procedure the scalpel converts to a soft plaster in order to complete healing of wounds. Its ambition is grow and let to grow.

Delicately sweet taste of the Plantain determines its performance in healing syrup. It is excellent remedy for coughs and colds. In this case our Master of surgery uses its scalpel against mucus inside of lungs. Because of the sweetness is widely popular not only among children.