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Posts tagged ‘lifestyle’

Looking for wild things in the wild

Before I fly home, I definitely had to make some mushroom picking trips.

It’s something I miss a lot in Canada and which is plenty in Latvia.

It’s a land which has maintained its ecological integrity. Forests are quite wild and frequently not that much walked or travelled, although, large number of people would enjoy them, pick wild berries and mushrooms there. These natural forests are extra clean compared to highly developed countries.

It might sound like a walk in the park, but it actually isn’t. It’s not that easy to get over the fallen tree trunks and branches, bushes, thick young firs, aspens, birches and bushes. There is no path usually and one goes led by intuition or guess since wild mushrooms do not grow everywhere, but they are friendly neighbors of some particular tree and moss combination, as well as they like some grasses and dislike or never grow near others. King boletes love outskirts of the forest and can be also found near old roads. The orange-capped boletes grow rather in long grasses, but every forest is different and one has to figure out where they might be hiding.

It is a sporting activity that carries a lot of excitement, hence, finding a bunch of king boletes makes one happy and also proud.

The rainfalls and pretty warm weather this September definitely helped mushrooms grow fast and almost in every forest.

I regret I do not know such places in Ontario, but one should most likely drive for many hours in order to find a clean place where wild mushrooms love growing. It was just slightly out-of-town in Latvia, but we made lots of stops. Every ditch that separates road from the forest was full of water, and getting in the forest was a challenge.

I personally enjoy to a huge extent picking mushrooms, I like eating them, as well, but still: nothing compares to overcoming all obstacles and getting a full basket of nice and valuable mushrooms. King boletes belong to the most nutritious wild mushrooms and they are pride of everybody who takes a walk in the forest. It is believed they help conquering even cancer, not to mention that their protein content can exceed the amount of proteins in meat. Dried king boletes contain more protein than meat.

It is a wonderful food and can be prepared in very many ways: Latvians make mushroom sauces, soups of mushrooms; we dehydrate and dry them and use afterwards either as powder or spice; dried mushrooms can be added to broth, soup and any other dish. We pickle them and prepare delicious salads. Wild mushrooms can be prepared with salt for winter and then eaten any way one likes. They go into pies, and it is not only a snack, but a very delicious main course on many Latvian dinner tables.

Enjoy the pictures! Well, some picture-taking was very tricky since I had the basket on one arm, it was heavy, not less than 4 kg, I balanced myself on some small dry patch and here and there it was almost impossible to place the phone so that it would take a picture.

Golden chanterelle

The poisonous beauties: fly agarics or fly amanitas

The bright red poisonous mushrooms frequently signal that king boletes are not far

Small king bolete getting out of moss after rain

To get the close-up, I pushed moss down, a bit  larger king bolete

Orange cap aspen boletes, so lovely!

This family of orange cap aspen boletes was hiding in long grasses

Full basket of orange cap and king boletes

Absolutely delicious and extraordinary beautiful

They were so firm and so fresh

I took like 100 pictures, I couldn’t resist because I rarely have such an opportunity

I will catch up with my blog friends once I am back home. My trip will take some time and, unfortunately, there is large time zone difference, and that will require adjustment from my side.

 

Why to declutter your life now: the many powers of spring

Do you feel happier also just because it feels like the cold and snow seem to be gone? I do for sure. It is difficult to explain how much the dullness and darkness can affect us. It does this in so many ways: I hear people engaging into comfort foods, some just sleep over or hibernate and some other try to do their best to accomplish something. I belong to these who try to accomplish something, but it is so tough. I have to put pressure on myself all the time during winter months.

Why so many New Year’s resolutions fail? The timing is simply bad because we still have in us the ancient need to save energy for the spring awakening. That is nature; these are genes and our personal clock which dictate that.

Spring arrival is in so many ways better than the New Year: we finally get to do things that were postponed due to the cold and nasty weather outdoors. That includes even such routine chores as throwing out garbage or things we will never need, but are keeping “just in case”. Decluttering only our living and work space is not enough. We definitely have to declutter our mental space and mind also.

That is the energetic power of spring!

Chives: green despite the snow we had just 2 days ago!

We can go ahead with all the health ideas we have, in particular, because we will be able to put on our table the greens and early veggies we have managed to start and accommodate in tiny, small or larger back yards, balconies, front yards and anywhere where we can plant something. It does not have to be big in order to give as a huge spring vitamin boost. NO synthetic supplements can ever replace the nutrition from real sprouts and baby greens.

Therefore, your spring greens will not only make you healthier, but also give plenty of pleasant emotions. While we watch the seed germination and sprouting we become so aware that something tiny can have an insane power. The growing power.

What are the easiest and fastest things to start with? Any herbs, any green onions, chives, radish, lettuce and similar plants. They practically require very little care: we have to only provide them with sunlight and water after planting or seeding.

Strong and bright green nettle leaves; in fact, they can be added to the spring mix

It is a huge relief when the weather forecast puts us in a better mood: birds are singing so gladly and loudly, the sun is painting shadows on tiny grass stems, and there is a promise of warmer days being here soon.

It is also time to reorganize everything from our attitude and blog to contents of our wardrobe and different garbage hiding spaces in our living space. Decluttering is such a big matter because stuff just grows around us and we need to make space for fresh air to get a brain functionality boost also indoors.

You might consider reading the blog posts of your fellow bloggers instead of just clicking on “like” from your READER this spring. That is a wonderful blogging habit, and it not only shows your respect and interest in others, but helps discover different opinions and views on the same subject. You’d be surprised how many more returns via blog traffic and personal friendships one can make just by being an attentive blogger and leaving a comment here and there. I would imagine most bloggers are like me: if you never comment on my blog, I most likely will not engage in the comment section of your blog either. Think about that: blogger community is a place where mutual interaction is appreciated.

This is the best time to start with physical activities also because there will be less side-effects and it will happen seamlessly. It feels very natural to walk more and work outdoors in spring.

This is the best time to engage in new eating habits and to get rid of our bad habits. The seasonal change to a better weather makes any swift changes easier tolerable.

This is the best time to start loving oneself because we can change our outfits, switch to nicer colors and use some lighter make-up.

Tulips are getting ready to go, as well

All inspiration we need is right before our eyes: squirrels and chipmunks running around like crazy, birds singing, plants budding and grasses sprouting. Daffodils, bluebells, crocuses, wild anemones and tulips are up. That is a genuinely new beginning. Do not miss that.

The Mother’s tree

I have a box of memories. This box holds everything which I could take with me from my past life in Latvia after I moved over to Canada. It is amazing how little space can be filled with memories of 46 years, and that’s all I have from there.

As I’m going through yellowish pictures, some as old as I am now, some even older which makes them 70 or 80 years old, I’m having a look at my mom. She is so diligent, loves moving and doing everything so much that even now at 85 she is still busy in the garden and at the sewing machine. Her eyesight has worsened a lot, but that does not stop her. My dad was like that, too: always busy with something. We had a fantastic place over there in Latvia. It was a semi-detached house; quite honestly, it later caused a lot of problems just because it was not solely ours, and my dad built it practically from scratch, when we moved to this small town Saldus, it had only the outside walls and sort of main structures.

Mother's day

He and my mom worked hard to make it a lovely living space. My mom is a born gardener, somebody who genuinely understands the nature and character of every plant and tree, and I believe I have inherited this knowledge because I have green thumbs, too. We had a huge orchard, 2 greenhouses and many flowers and vegetables, all kinds of them. These, who know what life was like in the late soviet era, can recall how nothing was in the store, so most food which we had on our table came from our own garden. Thankfully, gardening was the greatest thing I could ever learn. I started helping early, we were just small kids: sister and I, but it was an unwritten rule that everybody has to participate in order garden and orchard received the attention they deserved.

My mom in her 30

My mom in her 30

In my memories, there’s always spring and blossoming apple tress in this old place which doesn’t even exist anymore. I suppose, that will be my most favorite time of the year for as long as I live. There were white and sweetly pinkish clouds of blooms all along the garden path as we walk down the hill. The house was at the top of a hill, so when standing there, one was overlooking the most beautiful scene imaginable. Cherries, apple trees, plum trees, pear trees, black, white and red currant and gooseberry bushes were on both sides of the path. I think it’s not a coincidence I love painting garden path images. Whenever I think back, I am seeing my mom under these blossoming apple trees. It is spring, it is warm and sunny and dad works in the small shed he built, as well.

Whenever I think about a mother and her importance in our life, I am seeing a huge apple tree, wide and strong and it carries its fruit through dry, rainy or stormy summers straight into the first frosts of the fall. Branches are so strong and flexible at the same time, but they are in a full beauty in early May. Mother and a blossoming apple tree are synonyms for me.

My mom working at greenhouses

My mom used to work in huge greenhouses, I was quite often with her, I was 4-5 since we didn’t have kindergartens 

I never developed extreme attraction or attachment to things one can buy, but I found an endless opportunity to express myself through things one is able to create. Therefore, creativity became my true existence. That is thanks to my mom who is the most creative person I’ve ever known. She created home decor, pillow cases and curtains, thousands of dresses, skirts, blouses, dresses, coats and jackets. She still loves designing and sewing aprons. She gives them as a gift to people who love cooking or doing work around the house. She could create any outfit one only can dream off. I took over this skill when I was 12; and when I was 13, I was wearing everything made by myself, that included coat, pants, skirts, blouses and tops. It takes my mom nothing to create the most beautiful flower arrangements, and I obviously am good at that, as well. I think my feel of good composition and balance within a space or image takes its origin right there: that is the way my mom would arrange things. Harmony and balance was the main feature of any of her creations. I’ve never eaten more delicious patties or home- made pies. Thanks mom for allowing me to become not a consumer, but so much more a creator of anything beautiful around us! I think it is a precious skill which carries me through life and makes my living so much simpler.

My mom at her sewing machine

Returning to the memory box: I was surprised how few photos I had from all these years. Well, cameras and smart phones were not available as they are now, so having taken a picture was a big deal. I cannot describe the heartache when these pictures didn’t come out as good as planned. It does not really matter whether I have only a few or lots of pictures. My memory has it all: the old house, the orchard and my mom under a blossoming apple tree. That’s all what matters.

My mom in Latvia

A recent picture of mom, just last year, she is 85

The soothing Sunday thoughts: late autumn midnight

Look how leaves are dancing and swirling around, and it is such a sad dance with wind whispers brushing our face and with colors fading away and making a room for the silence.

Autumn is here nature photography

The silence covers our daily struggles and doubts with weightless cloth of dusk as the darkness sets in to rescue us from the exhaustion. Or? Or to torture us with its deceptive softness and tranquility. Some of us cannot close our eyes and to say the prayer with hope that the next day is going to meet us with more enjoyable expectations.

The bare trees share our despair, but the cool sun tries to make everything looking better and more attractive. Or? Or our wrinkles are visible so well in the bright sunlight and there’s nothing else we can do about it. Not at this moment which takes so much away and leaves nothing instead.

I am finding that getting older has made me more moderate and more appreciative of half-tones; grey shades, soft shadows, fine lines and I can also see the entire autumn within just one leaf, I don’t need the whole tree anymore. Or? Or this is the experience reminding that nothing is here to keep. I am writing down this moment and splashing some paint over paper. Somebody might find it, and they would be speculating: who did this and why these colors are so strange and washed out?

Like a very late autumn day with just one leaf still not saying good-bye and not taking off the tree. Or my steps which get lost in the rustling layers of leaves. This is how the day walks away, too. So little done, no perfect memories remain, no bad pain, no huge achievements. Just small steps melting away in the rustling leaves. There is no one single color missing: the mosaic is complete.

Autumn is here nature photography

Soft and luminous

Autumn is here nature photography

Grey and soothing

Autumn is here nature photography

Tiny apples

Autumn is here nature photography

Late late autumn

Autumn is here nature photography

 

Garden is going to sleep

Autumn is here nature photography

Windy memories

Fruit flavored water ideas and how much water is healthy

It has been hot and very hot recently, we had a heat warning in place and I believe we are all aware how important it is to keep ourselves hydrated. People use all kinds of liquids to quench their thirst. However, using soft drinks, beer, milk shakes, especially the very sweet ones, will make us thirstier than we were.

Water is the most essential substance of the body, and therefore, it needs to remain within a healthy range in order to keep our body functioning properly. Our body has many signals, we just have to listen to these signals and replace the lost amount of water when we feel thirsty. However, that will depend, as well. Diabetics will feel thirsty always when the blood sugar is too high, that is a body signal to alarm that glucose rates are running high.

Moderate use of water is good for everybody, but the type of water is definitely a very private choice. People tend to follow all kinds of misleading advices; there are many very wrong ones on the internet, as well. Briefly saying, one has to know his own condition and use any substance responsibly, whether that is sugar, salt, water, juice or alcoholic beverages.

I would think that people who already have too much weight are staying away from sweetened drinks and especially in hot weather because their body already functions in a stress mode. We have to pay attention to heart palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, headache and similar symptoms; therefore carrying a bottle of water with us is a good idea for anybody, but especially for people with some disorders. Water has a very simple chemical composition and therefore is absorbed fast: the first portion already after 5 minutes, the main part within 15 minutes, but a complete absorption is achieved after approximately 1.5 hours. Our body uses pure water, and that explains why normal amounts of it decrease the feeling of thirst. However, we should always use water in moderate amounts. Our kidneys can only process a certain amount of fluids and water within an hour, when we are exceeding about half a liter in hour we are asking for trouble.

Testing brain response to drinking water, scientists found that our brain has a positive response and creates feeling of satisfaction only during the moment when we are quenching our thirst. Pressuring oneself to use more water than advisable (woman a bit over 2.5 liters and men about 3.5 liters during 24 hour period in conditions when activity level and sweat production is fairly high) makes no sense (I am not referring to people who do sports). Our kidneys will have to work in extreme stress conditions and when the amount noticeably exceeds the amount our kidneys are able to process we will experience a situation when the electrolyte (salt and mineral) content in the blood is severely diluted, resulting in extremely low sodium levels in the blood. This condition is called hyponatremia. The outcome can be fatal. One should never ever participate in any drinking competitions, even when it is something as innocent as water. If this person stays alive, kidney failure is inevitable.

Many conditions including congestive heart failure, liver and kidney failure, pneumonia and drinking abnormal amounts of water in a short period of time are commonly associated with a low sodium concentration in the blood. Therefore, be aware of how much of water is healthy for your personal health condition. Too much is never good, as we know keeping everything in balance never harms.

Will people who prefer just soft drinks fall in love with water? You could certainly try serving them as fruit water and slightly fruit flavored water. Kids especially love the multicolored fruit slices in their cups and glasses. It looks festive and attractive. I personally never use any sweeteners with fruit water or similar water based drinks. Citrus fruit adds so much freshness and flavor to these simple drinks that it is impossible not to try some. We can use different ice: freeze tea or diluted juice, place a mint leaf before pouring in water for freezing. I have taken very many pictures, I will continue with one more post how we can teach children to love water and how such a great habit makes our life easy.

Amazing water water with fruits

I prepared ice, mineral water and water and sliced some orange, lemons, limes and cucumber. I have mint and lemon balm in my backyard, so I got some leaves, as well.

Refreshing water

Such water looks great and is delicious and refreshing

There are always things one can add to enjoy such a simple natural drink

How to make water with fruit

Pleasure to look at, pleasure to try

Water with lemon, orange and lime

Lots of freshness

Amazing water millions of variations

I combined cucumber slices with lime, also adding a small bit of lime juice and some mint and lemon balm leaves here and there. There was no sweetness, but this water was extremely refreshing. The newest research tells us cucumber flavor alone is calming and makes us feeling more pleasant.

How to make delicious natural fruit water

Lemons, limes and oranges are simply fresh; I think this is always the brain reaction towards citrus flavors.

There are millions of options and combinations, and all of them are good!

Next post about mineral water and water for kids

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