Spring flowers syrup

Most of spring flowers are naturally juicy similar to the soil after snow melting. There was almost no snow in my area this year and now the soil is very dry even in the beginning of April. I was foraging violets and they had for my surprise really unpleasant taste. Later I realized it was due to lack of irrigation.

However, I wanted to prepare tasty syrup from spring flowers. After disaster with violets I foraged some young flowers (buds) of Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) even they were also rare because of drought. In my language, the name of Butterbur sounds like “9 powers” and this is something that can be useful. I have already mentioned its quality here Power of Butterbur, so we are kind of fellows some time.

But for the first time I decided to make syrup. Butterbur has very specific taste and you need to get used to it. I am happy with the result, the consistency is similar to honey and the final taste is emphasized with a little lemon. Now I have my 9 sweet powers for morning porridge 😊

My one small jar success made me hungry for another one. Yesterday I foraged Lungwort and I was lucky to find some really sweet violets. Feeling like an experienced master, I put them into the procedure. Everything looked good, but also according to the proverb “pride precedes a fall”.

When I poured the hot syrup into a jar, it broke and most of the hot and sweet liquid flooded the kitchen counter. I was lucky that only a few drops hit my hand, which I then treated with cold water and the oil from St.John’s wort. The great success of this attempt is: I have no blisters! 😋

Waiting for another experiment, Ivana

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Happy birthday, Hanka!

The post and the picture are dedicated to my friend Hanka, who celebrated her birthday by successful participation in the Prague Half Marathon few days ago. I have a strong respect for endurance and vitality, which she runs in her running and living as well.

Hanka, I wish you all the best for your birthday! You are entering the year 7 in your life path, so you can expect an important crossroad ahead. You will probably meet a number of opportunities for change, but it’s up to you to decide and accept. I feel a great challenge on the field of work, where change could bring a significant growth.

Seven is also the number of truth. Unfortunately, the truth is often revealed by breaking of myths under which it was long time hidden. It can hurt, but for a healthy future, the truth is a more stable base than a beautiful myth. I believe, you know the core of that truth. After you discover the whole story, you will move forward. And moving forward is another key feature of the seven.

Seven is touching our heart and soul. If it’s done with honesty and open mind, the Universe offers all we need for success and happiness. The seven wants us to stop sticking to old patterns and prejudices, and start opening to the offered gifts. And there are plenty of them!

With love, Ivana

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

Herbal candy, homemade

Several weeks ago I got a sudden idea to make herbal candies even though I’d never tried it before. But it cannot be so difficult, right? Sugar, herbs, water and probably few drops of lemon juice.

First time, I was obsessed with violets. No matter it was after midnight, I found a small amount of dried flowers from last spring remaining and this was a great opportunity to use them.

I made a strong tea from violets, which got after adding lemon juice a beautiful pink-purple color. I mixed it with large amount of sugar, cooked to thicken with constant stirring and poured into a silicone mold. They were yummy!

Before I could eat them, a friend came and complained about troubles with vocal cords – tension and too much mucus that needed to be released. So I offered her my new candies because I assumed that violets’ healing effects could complete their mission. I was right and happy when she confirmed that the candies did their job perfectly.

Then I made other batches – chamomile, elderflower, elderberry, pine, lavender – and always came somebody whom I gave most of them. I am still learning how to get the best consistency, but I don’t have complains about taste yet.

I feel like Columbus when he discovered America, even though it existed long before he arrived.

Today, I prepared a small batch from sage and wild thyme. Maybe tomorrow someone comes with cold or flu.

Do you have an experience with homemade herbal candy?

With love, Ivana

Frozen Snowdrops

Unlike other parts of the world we have a mild winter this year. In my place I have seen snow rarely, but I live at the altitude of 250 meters above sea level (about 800 feet), so this is the last place in the country where the snow arrives.

Until last week there was almost no frost, and my body was slowly preparing for spring. The same signals I saw in nature, among others a great number of beautiful snowdrops.

I love and admire these hardy flowers that pop up their white heads even under snow when their time comes. Year after year they assure us that darkness of the winter ends and sunny hope of spring starts soon.

I felt so happy to see the snowdrops a week ago, and I didn’t pay enough attention to weather forecast that reported strong frost. Unfortunately, meteorologists were right and the frost destroyed the living splendor.

Snowdrops are still in the place, white and green on colors, but you somehow know that there is a dry emptiness inside instead of juicy enthusiasm. I wondered how many of us did the same. Meeting crisis and still looking healthy, even though grief, regret or sadness are eating our soul.

And like the frozen snowdrops we need time to recover. A year could be just right.

With love, Ivana

Playing with the Elements, Part 4 – Earth

Earth is the result of all previous elements. It is a solid mass with internal structure and growing potential. Even if it’s cold on the surface, there is always a hot core inside. Like the planet and its hot magma.

Meeting rules, discipline and responsibility usually means meeting the cold surface of the Earth. We don’t like them, trying to get fruits of results even without them. Or we tend to take too much discipline and responsibility, trying to improve what is natural. In the first case, you see the effort to jump directly into the hot core without protective suit and suitable skills, while in the second case you see the effort to wear too thick protection that prevents access to heat. And the most important lesson of the Earth element is to learn how to balance it.

Growth belongs to the Earth for sure. Depending on the project, the growth can be microscopic or giant. Viability of the Earth is measured by growth not by the result in absolute value. So don’t be hungry for too much, the healthy growth must be reasonable.

The first and necessary condition for the growth is the roots. We easily understand if we talk about plants. But talking about the roots of us, we need to consider our own history on personal, family and/ or national level. Before we change anything, we need to accept our origins without hesitation. Then our roots are healthy and we can get a bigger harvest with less effort.

Harvest is the golden point of the Earth element. And it doesn’t matter if you want to harvest grain, money, children or houses. Always you need to follow specific rules and invest each of previous elements. And because we are all unique, there is no exact recipe how to proceed and how much to add. We have to try and learn from our own mistakes.

Talking about the harvest, there is another important lesson. Do not eat the whole crop and always save a part of it as a seed. Taking care about seeds is the promise of future harvest. And that’s why the protection of women and children is important.

So, how the element cycle works? First, we need a flame of interest and feed it with wood and oxygen, and later build a shelter for it.  Oxygen means Air and Air means thinking, moving and socializing. At this stage, we feed the original interest with information, share it with other people and flexibly adjust it. The warning point – don’t lose the origin because of too many influences. If you decide to give up, return and find another flame of interest. But be sure it is your flame and no one else.

Once you have your own flame with enough oxygen, let it bubble into the water. Water means emotions, dreams, intuition and time. Don’t hurry, let your heart and inner voice comment and slowly adjust. Don’t forget that water is lazy and quiet. You cannot listen while loudly thinking. Water often speaks through images or music, so don’t expect the same language like from the mind. Be alone with your project for a while. Let it sit and be sure on the level of water before you continue.

Then recheck that your original flame of interest is still alive, keep feeding it by appropriate amount of oxygen, and keep honesty of your emotions about it.

Pour this blend to the potential of your roots, and with regular work and patience you should harvest enough. Most of the harvest is for eating and living, you deserve to celebrate the success. Never skip the celebration! And part of the harvest is the wood and shelter for another flame of your interest. It is the seed for future.

And this is how the cycle works. Once you understand the steps and the order of them, you can apply it to anything in your life.

I would appreciate your questions or comments.

With love,

Ivana

In case you missed Playing with the Elements, Part 3 – WaterPlaying with the Elements, Part 2 – AirPlaying with the Elements, Part 1 – Fire

 

Playing with the Elements, Part 3 – Water

Water is lazy, quiet and cold. Therefore it represents sleep, silence, darkness and even death. Water cannot move on its own. Its movement is always caused by external forces such as gravity or Moon in the case of high and low tides.

So, why we do say that healthy water must flow? And that standing water is an opportunity to grow molds and diseases? Because the external forces of nature and the Universe never stop. And if the water stands, then something acts against those natural or universal forces.

We humans love to act like this. Here are some examples of how we block the natural flow of water in our civilized lives.

On a macro scale, I would mention a boom of concreted riverbed which didn’t respect the original streams and which, a few decades later, cause disastrous floods.

Inside of human body, we often block natural sweating, which is the most effective way to get rid of toxic substances through the largest body organ – the skin. Instead we massively use inappropriate deodorants that block the sweat glands and forbid them natural working, which is the exact parallel to the amount of concrete used in the artificial riverbeds.

I understand that the sweat can smell badly and we live close to each other, especially in cities. On the other hand, the amount and smell of sweat depends on what we drink and eat, how our metabolism works, and how much stress we live in. If we focus more on these improvements, we don’t have to use devastating deodorants, but only light natural versions.

Emotions like sadness or regret require natural flow of tears to overcome difficult situation. But the common social habits often demand to hold tears back. Again, it is close to the parallel with concrete riverbeds. If you block the flow of tears for a long time, there is born a retention tank of emotions that will rupture in future for sure. And then all the pain pours at once.

Sleep is another good example inside the water element. Naturally we are set up to sleep at night, silence and darkness. In such conditions, the body really rests and gains enough strength for the next day. How many of us respect biological clocks and go to sleep with the sun? First I admit that I am a night creature and I don’t want to get up early in the morning. Even though I know it is bad, and it spoils my metabolism and water levels in my body. This is definitely my weakness.

But that’s not all yet. Night sleep should be in silence and in dark. But where to look for them, especially if we live in cities? Unfortunately we live in constant light and sound smog, so darkness and silence become unachievable ideals. And so the water element is spoiled a bit more every day, and thus our physical and emotional health. In the long-term it is definitely worth to invest in the light and soundproofed bedroom.

I prefer to stop with negative examples now and present a few positive tricks how to improve the quality of the water in our lives.

Dreaming is a nice quality inside of water element. And it could be a lucid dreaming even though it seems very useless. Fantasy is an eternal ally of water, so use it as much as possible. You can start with drawing or painting, let be inspired by fantasy rather than reality. No matter of the outcome, the process is beneficial.

Being alone and in silence is always a tool for harmonizing the water element in your life. Therefore, prayer, meditation and relaxation techniques are so effective.

And how about influence of the previous elements?

Fire and water are of course opposites. But the life needs both of them. Water is quiet environment, which needs to get a fiery spark to create a fetus. Water represents woman, waiting for male (fiery) sperm. And do you remember that Air represents socializing? If a man and a woman socialize well, then they create a new life.

Frequent topic is the relation between emotions and mind, i.e. water and air. Take real elements for help. If you don’t saturate water with oxygen enough, your water environment would be dead, even it has appropriate temperature (fire). So using only emotions without oxygen of our minds doesn’t keep us alive. Then we could tend to stay alone, dreaming, without connection to other people. So much water takes the life spark out and we become more dead than alive.

In the case of too much oxygen in water you can see big bubbles, so the water looks more like soda water full of wild whirlwinds, where isn’t even one quiet thing. This is a parallel of overestimated mind and underestimated emotions, which means a stressful life without rest.

And both examples above worked with appropriate temperature. Imagine there is not enough fire, so the water becomes ice. And this represents situation, when emotional person doesn’t put fire into the water. From warm feelings, hardness or even cruelty become.

And that’s why we should maintain balance among the elements. Sometimes is useful to implement small tricks and so to change the sequence of other events.

Next, I will speak about the Earth and the mutual influence with previous elements.

With love,

Ivana

In case you missed Playing with the Elements, Part 2 – AirPlaying with the Elements, Part 1 – Fire