Healthy heart and blood vessels: Hawthorn

In this season, colorful fruits are ripening on thorny shrubs and trees, and the harvest of rose hips and haws is ongoing. I have already written about wild roses Wild Rose: Beauty among thorns, so today I focus on the hawthorn and even experimental products from it.

This year I’ve heard a strong call from hawthorn since blooming. Usually I’m not a big fan of hawthorn flowers because I don’t consider their odor to be quite pleasant even though hawthorn belongs to the same family as roses. Perhaps the hawthorn is a proof that not every rose must smell wonderful.

Listening to my call, I gathered hawthorn flowers and made a tincture or something between tincture and liqueur. Guided by intuition, I added a tincture from fresh roses to the hawthorn basis. Now, the result should harmonize heart on both, physical and emotional levels. Definitely it tastes great!

As soon as the first fruits became ripe, my intuition brought another input. Make vinegar! The rational part wasn’t against. There is enough sugar inside, the taste is similar to apple, and most of the effective substances can act from acidic environment. Since the vinegar preparation takes several weeks, my haws are still in the process of fermentation. Comparing with the apple vinegar, so far the haws are doing very well!  Perhaps vinegar could be another way how to use hawthorn for healthy heart and blood vessels. I would appreciate your experience if you have any.

Being inspired by Lydia with her Pear butter, I tried to make “hawthorn butter”. Since the first moment, it was even challenging or stupid idea. Although the taste of haws is similar to apple, the size is much smaller, and there is a stone inside! Finally I succeeded, but I don’t want to repeat it again! Pitting took ages and proved amount of yellow flavonoids, which has remained on my fingers up to day.

It might seem like I’m already fed up with hawthorn. However in my kitchen is still sitting another bowl of haws, which I gathered yesterday. So far I don’t know what to do with them, but they didn’t want to stay on tree!

Do you have any suggestion? Thanks for sharing.

With love, Ivana

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Keep smiling, show emotions!

Living in the virtual world is full of emoticons, and some of them are really weird! It’s easy to push the key on a keyboard and send the picture with a mood because nobody can watch your face and real emotions. Do we really laugh or love as much as the emoticons show?

I don’t have anything against emoticons! I’ve been using them since Windows had not yet existed, and we had to do it with alphanumeric characters only. It has always been a way how to make a cold computer communication more human.

However, it seems to me that we have already come to a strange extreme. We are using emoticons in the virtual world abundantly and often thoughtlessly, while in the real world we carefully hide emotions and, unfortunately, often even in front of ourselves. Are we giving so much effort to make computer communication more human, that we don’t have enough humanity or emotionality for the living outside the keyboard?

So I draw a picture to remind the importance of emotions, all kinds of them. Finally I have seen what I somehow know, that emotions are like water. They are deep and strong, flowing one to another, quietly or in turbulence, usually without warning.  And to survive as humans, we need emotions as much as water. Don’t you think so?

With love, Ivana

Handicapped nettle

Have you ever wondered where the name of dead-nettle came from? What is dead on it? And why is it called a nettle? Dead-nettle is not a nettle at all!

Although we can find visual similarities in plant construction, botanically they don’t belong to the same family. Looking at the inflorescence, even the beginner will recognize why. Here are no similarities at all. Nothing to say about that the sting nettle (Urtica dioica) grows in two polarities – male and female. Modest dead-nettle (Lamium album) does it with one as most of other plants.

Stop. Now I have joined the same game, comparing what is incomparable. The game has been playing for years, spreading the myth of handicapped nettle. I must say that in my language dead-nettle isn’t dead, only deaf. But the meaning is the same – we are talking about nettle which lacks the key feature.

Dead-nettle has its own features and they are many. Dead-nettle is an important plant and a flag-ship of the whole family Lamiaceae, which contains famous and effective plants like mint, sage, thyme, etc. Would you say about these culinary and medicinal herbs that they are dead or deaf?

I like to gather and drink dead-nettle tea even though I don’t have enough patience to pick individual flowers. Usually I harvest the upper fresh part with the first row of inflorescence.

The white classic is sweet like innocent child and given to tea it gently helps to release mucus from respiratory system. Women could appreciate the release of excessive white mucus from the intimate area. In my herbal soap experience, white dead-nettle is one of choices for the female intimate soaps.

As mentioned earlier Nettle: Excellent Blood Purificator, my body isn’t a big fan of sting nettle. But I love the white handicapped nettle which is not nettle. How about you?

With love, Ivana

Keeping courage

This week I drew a picture for myself, for my own encouragement and clear mind. I took color pencils into my hands and there began a strange heart to be formed, one heart from two opposite parts. There was a wide mixture of feelings – courage with hope, fight with faith, will with love, male with female. And it was their mutual cooperation which created the certainty that even impossible thing could be done.

Cooperation of the opposites is the key. In our everyday life we are naturally attracted into the groups on the basis of similarity. And it is also natural, that individual groups are opposed to each other. Sometimes it is only on a joke level and sometimes it can escalate into more serious fights. The same principle works in the big world of politics and adults as in kindergarten among children. Permanent focus on competition and rivalry gives the impression that nothing else could shape our identity.

And that’s why there must be an earthquake or other disaster from time to time. It’s an opportunity to check if malicious rivalry didn’t yet eliminate pity, mercy and solidarity. If there is still somehow kept the balance between Ego and Heart, if the common humanity is alive.

I pray in order to prefer voice of my heart to the cry of the ego and leave what is not essential. I hope to do it before some kind of disaster come also to my life. Unfortunately there are plenty of them worldwide.

With love, Ivana

P.S. I’ve been already told that the picture looks more like an ass than a heart….

Myrtle: Freshness of Love

In the place where I live, myrtle doesn’t grow except of gardens because it needs human protection during the winter months. Myrtle comes from southern countries around Mediterranean Sea and belongs to plants that were significant from ancient times.

Myrtle contains a high percentage of volatile oils mostly based on camphor, pine and lemon. Together it makes a very fresh scent to which you are almost magically attracted. That fact has been used for ages in fragrance oils for both, religious and secular purposes.

The ancient Greeks dedicated myrtle to the goddess of beauty and love, to Aphrodite. They had number of rituals with myrtle about purity, love and marriage. Some of them are still alive, they have become a tradition. In my country, no one can imagine a wedding without myrtle.

The newlyweds, each of the wedding guests and even the wedding cars are decorated by myrtle along with a white bow – both as a symbol of purity and fresh love. In some families, newly married couples put a young myrtle tree at their home. They say that marriage will be successful as long as the myrtle grows well.

Sometimes, myrtle grows too well, and then it’s better to shape it by trimming. The relationship should be also shaped, right?

Do not throw away what you cut. You can easily prepare the fragrance oil at home when you put myrtle into the carrier oil (olive, kernel apricot, etc.) and let it macerate for a few weeks. Later, when you have the myrtle oil on your body, you will feel the power of beauty and love like Aphrodite and no one will resist you 😊

Do you have any experience with myrtle – as a plant or as a symbol? Do you have any tradition with myrtle in your country?

With love, Ivana

Sweet smile of Raspberry

Many of us love these beautiful and tasteful berries. You can find a huge amount of cute pictures and amazing recipes full of raspberries. So today, I focus on the Raspberry leaf instead.

The leaf of Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) doesn’t belong to major medicinal plants but it’s a very common source of herbal tea which can be safely used pretty often. I remember it was either raspberry or blackberry tea I tested first like a small girl during camping in forest. I was really surprised that tea did not need to be bought, but it could be prepared from leaves that grow everywhere and enough.

Since that time I’ve been drinking lots of different teas. Mostly I had periods – the period of black tea, the period of green tea, the period of fruit tea. Always the best of! Finally I returned to the little girl inside, and for many years I’ve been drinking only herbal teas, mostly from the herbs I gather myself.

Among other herbs, Raspberry leaf belongs to those I usually drink in blends just for taste, not for particular healing. But that doesn’t mean it has no healing effect! Raspberry leaf contains high amount of tannins, reasonable amount of antioxidants plus pectin, which is suitable for healing tissues. You can use it even for cosmetics purpose.

From the same reason (high amount of tannins) people use Raspberry leaf for fermentation, which is the process in which the ordinary herbal tea became a substitute of black tea. It might sound complicated, but the principle is very simple. Just take fresh raspberry leaves, rumple them, leave them 2-3 days in their own humidity and then quickly dry them in the oven or dryer. And it’s done!

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the fermented tea. Maybe now it’s not exactly the period of mine. But recently I read the post from Katelyn how she made one. I became curious and wanted to try.

The process is really easy, the result tasteful. But I still don’t have the right period. Luckily I have friends and some of them are little bit tired of my always on table herbal tea. Now I can alternate and surprise them with new taste but stick with herbs.

What kind of tea do you prefer?

With love, Ivana

Walnut tree: Faithful and Reliable Friend

Walnut tree (Juglans regia) is a friendly tree, living close to people and having its own brain. How to call the nuts and their specific shape otherwise? I see them as small brains, enclosed in hard shells just as human brain is locked in the skull. Additionally, consumption of walnuts brings great benefits especially to our brain.

Even though I am excited walnut consumer, I mostly harvest walnut leaves for further processing. I like the young ones, still soft and little bit brown with intensive unmistakable aroma. They are the promise of all that a massive tree is preparing for that year.

Basic energy of them is warm. I sense it like warm arms of a friend, always ready for hug to make you comfortable. It calms your nerves because you suddenly feel better, more secure. As if somebody lights a fireplace in the middle of winter storm.

And because walnut leaves have a repellent capability, you can be more secure with them even in physical reality.

The most common use of walnut leaves is a tea. I like the specific taste and my blood vessel appreciates the effects. However it is still warming herb, so don’t drink it in such a tropical weather as we have in these days with us.

I love to make and use herbal soaps with walnut leaves because of their almost chocolate color and high skin care ability, which perfectly works also for problematic skin with itchy eczema or fungi. Even in the intimate area!

In the form of homemade salve or ointment, walnut leaves help with similar skin diseases. Among other herbs, I do use walnut leaves for the foot care. Why? First of all, the warming effect is mostly desirable. Second, adstringent effect helps reduce sweating. Last but not least, there is the evergreen of antifungal components, which might be a great prevention too.

There is much more left about walnut, I would appreciate your opinion and/or experience.

With love, Ivana