Liverleaf, Hepatica nobilis

Besides Lungwort, Liverleaf is another spring flower that blooms before new leaves are fully developed. As if they couldn’t wait longer, light purple flowers raise their heads from damp soil to the spring sun even in the shadow of forest.

I know the place where Liverleaf grows in abundance, creating incredible carpet of live wildflowers. The beauty of them takes my breath every time, and I am almost afraid to enter the place because those flowers are so fragile!

Yesterday, I found the first blooming Liverleaf. So far, it was the only Cinderella in the middle of nothing, but also it was a clear sign that the right time is coming and sisters are going to bloom very soon.

If you are looking for the place with Liverleaf before blooming, you can find it easily according to the evidence of last year leaves. They are very unique with 3 lobes, tough in consistency like an old alcoholic liver. No matter how long and hard the winter was, the old leaves stay in their place, so the young flowers could lean on them.

Similar to Lungwort flowers, I like to eat the Liverleaf flowers. As they grow close to each other and bloom simultaneously, they create beautiful and healthy mix of edible flowers, suitable for immediate consumption.

Even though I’m careful to keep the ratio in favor of Lungwort because Liverleaf is slightly poisonous as it belongs to the family of Ranunculaceae, But the main portion of active substances is contained in leaves, so the consumption of flowers is quite safe.

As the name suggests, Liverleaf (Hepatica nobilis) is used in cases of liver disease. Although I prefer to use other herbs for this purpose, I still gather some Liverleaf because I’m fascinated by the shape and tough consistency of its leaves. I admire the ability to overcome difficult conditions and hope to learn it, drinking the tea.

With love, Ivana

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Pink beauty for healthy lungs

It looks that spring is finally ready to manifest itself! Despite strong frosts and snowfall recently, sunshine calls nature to start unrolling buds. Even though it’s too early, I’ve been already checking my places and searching signs of new life among dry and brown last year’s leaves.

First what I’m looking each spring for, are wonderful flowers of Lungwort. I’m hungry for the moment when I see the incredible tenderness of pink and purple. In my daily life I always prefer yellow before pink, but the first spring flowers of Lungwort are probably the only exception.

I really love the unique colors of Lungwort, sweet to look and also sweet and juicy to taste. It’s like a promise that the whole season could be such sweet and delicious. Once I discover the first Lungwort flowers of the year, I gather them directly to my mouth and eat them immediately 😋

My second choice for Lungwort flowers is still eating them directly, but in more civilized way like adding them into salad or put them on potatoes with cottage cheese. It looks and tastes fantastic!

Lungwort belongs to the plants that bloom before their leaves grow fully. So you can enjoy the beauty and taste of flowers before serious harvest for healing purpose. And there is one big purpose of the Lungwort, clear by the name, the healthy lungs!

Lungwort has strong anticarrhal and demulcent effects, so you can successfully use it in case of cold with cough. It reduces unwanted mucus caused by pathogens and protects irritated tissues. The content of silicon and allantoin accelerates skin regeneration, so the Lungwort can be also used externally for longterm wounds even with pus. But the most common use of Lungwort is still in wide range of lung diseases like bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, etc.

Even though the Lungwort looks so useful and kind, there is one warning for all who have problems with blood coagulation (clotting) because the Lungwort slightly increases the level of it. A few fresh flowers should be fine, but be careful about longterm use.

I hope to see the pink and purple flowers soon and this year herbal season will really start!

Which plant is the sign of spring for you?

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

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

Seasonal clock

Even if the life seems to be ruined into pieces and difficult to fix, there are rules we can rely on. The all known universe works on the principle of regular repeating events. If you like to profit from it, observe. Be aware of what surrounds you.

Soon you find that everything has a rhythm. And depends on your inner tuning, through which rhythm you see the world. My tuning works with four beats, but there are systems built on three or five beats as well. All of them have a logic and even tradition, so follow your self.

My “seasonal clock” could represent anything what is repeated regularly and makes a cycle. It could be a year, a day, a month, a life, etc. For the picture above I have chosen the year, divided to zodiac signs in the inner circuit and illustrated by typical nature/people event on the outer circuit.

I have applied the 4 beats rhythm, so the circle is divided into 4 main parts (elements) – fire (red), air (yellow and green), water (blue) and earth (brown). Most people would probably orientate the picture upside down, because it is more common to see the fire and air above the water and earth. Both are OK.

Relating seasons with elements was quite easy. The hot summer belongs to the fire, while the cold and wet winter is represented by water. Autumn is the harvest time, so it fits to the earth, while the major sign of the spring is a fast move and change, so it fits to the air. Then the vertical line indicates solstice and the horizontal line indicates the equinox.

We can do the same with the lunar cycle and you see it on the picture too. The full moon is the place on the circle, where is the most light, so it corresponds to the summer solstice of the solar cycle. The new moon is the place full of darkness, so you find it on the same place as the winter solstice, while the quarters are placed like equinoxes. Do you see the trick?

If we talk about the day, so morning is spring, noon is summer solstice, afternoon is summer, evening is autumn, midnight is winter solstice and the night is winter. The same could be applied to the life: spring is childhood, summer is youth, autumn is maturity and winter is old age and also prenatal age (spent in water).

Once you comprehend the rhythm of the life and typical characteristics of each phase, you will be more stabilized, better choose the right timing and succeed more easily.

I have even started to read my body through the same clock. Still in a process, but there are some results! Hopefully I will share them soon.

With love, Ivana

Socks knitting addiction

As many of you have predicted, I am starting to suffer from a slight addiction of knitting socks. I watch myself robbing time from other activities (including writing and reading here) just to save it for knitting. Please tell me that the craziness will end as suddenly as it started!

The problem is that I am still discovering what to improve, so I have to knit more and more socks to apply it. And I like my knitting developments.

At the moment I am working on the first pair of socks for somebody else, so I put extra attention on it. Naturally, I wish to succeed but on the other hand I do not wish to create a geometric range of new socks requirements and support my knitting addiction.

I hope to keep my balance and cool head!
Ivana

When the winter asks…

I believe that in many countries, at least in the areas where the climate brings a big difference between winter and summer, exists similar proverb. When the winter asks what did you do in the summer? And now there is the time which is going to test the summer activities.

During windy weather last week I caught a small cold, so it was the first opportunity to check my tincture made in summer. It is a highly aromatic blend of herbs in strong alcohol, balanced to touch typical winter disorders. This one is better to use against bacteria based infections, but is usable against flu as well. Most herbs act antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, helping to cleanse the body and increase its own immunity.

I have used following herbs:

Oak bark: Oak is a symbol of strength and its bark is an effective shield against lot of enemies for our health. It protects against a wide range of viruses and bacteria, and if some attack the body, it can squeeze them out. Oak bark is ready to absorb redundant moisture and so relieve most of “wet” diseases. Additionally, it stimulates the energy circulation in the body and so accelerates whole process of healing.

Sage: Sage is a sign of wisdom and cleansing, often used in magical rituals too. It means there must be a power inside! I respect all the abilities of sage, but somehow I perceive sage as a provocateur, who only cares where that person is unable to do it. In other cases sage forces a person to act in order to protect himself. So, sage is a big help in various situations, but it is primarily a great teacher, who keeps us in bed if necessary.

Plantain: Unlike the previous herbs, Plantain is here to care directly for throat and lungs. It works like a good uncle who treats injured places and exchanges wet tiles for them.

Wild thyme: Thyme is known especially for its use in the kitchen, but it has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects too. It is a good supporter for lung and breathing.

Goldenrod: Goldenrod has yellow-gold brushes that sweep many afflictions out and increase immunity so they cannot easily return. If necessary, goldenrod has a strong vulnerary effect.

Lavender: Lavender is another sign of cleansing or better to say “cleansing with calm head”. One of big lavender’s hobby is to disinfect and bring its own energy instead. Lavender soothes and lets us for a moment forget that we are sick.

Clove: Clove is an active part among the herbs, even in small quantity. It is another from stimulants, ready to fight with microbial enemies. Clove works through the whole body, but oral cavity is a home base for it. And to be honest, mouth is often very touched by winter disorders.

I made a range of tinctures in summer, but I successfully used this one for the small cold of the last week.

With love for herbs and people,

Ivana