trešdiena, 2012. gada 26. decembris

Winter Solstice and gift preparations- a little insight

I love the Winter Solstice with it's traditional songs, decorations. I also like the Christmas traditions. So here on green carpet we enjoy all of them mixed together as usual.
Last year I shared some Advent decorations, everybody knows how a Christmas tree looks like. So this time I decided to share some of Latvian traditional decorations, we call them "Puzuri":

These probably are the most eco-friendly seasonal decorations since only natural materials are used- canes, wool and some bird feathers or dried herbs. I remember when we used to make them with my mom when we were kids. We would do little ones, and she would create a wonderful large piece.. This year we revived this tradition and made them together again.

Our gifts as well were all planned to be handmade by ourselves with few additions of either eco-friendly items or experiences instead of things people wouldn't need.

Gifts we made mostly were:

  • selection of specialty jams and jellies- chilly, jalapeno, garlic & lime, red currant spice jam, rhubarb & ginger marmalade etc. 
  • selection of home made liquors- blueberry, red currant, raspberry liquors that we did together with my brother already during the summer
  • selection of home made sweets and confectionery- various chocolate truffles with walnuts, almonds, dried cherries and ginger, dried pineapples dipped in chocolate, green tea chocolate truffles, caramelized almonds etc. 

  • selection of home made cookies and ginger breads, served on a large plate made as Christmas deco plate with decoupage technique by myself. 

The last one actually was a double gain idea. I had a set of soup and dinner plates that were showing wear quite a lot already. And they were not looking that nice in my kitchen anymore. So I decided to use my decoupage skills and turn them into nice Christmas themed decorative plates to give as gifts, full of edible goodies.

Unfortunately I was so busy that I completely forgot to make pictures of all 9 unique plates I made.. Here's just one that I gave to my dad (I have easy access to it now). 
Many of the sweets and other gifts were also packaged into up-cycled boxes with decoupage technique. It is a truly wonderful skill to use in making presents. I even managed to make my liquor bottles all Seasonal and good looking! 

I still continue reusing many boxes, packages, bottles and other everyday pieces into nice presents or interior elements with decoupage! 

What gifts did you make this year? 

ceturtdiena, 2012. gada 6. decembris

Rugs and dusters

I spoke about some good deeds to make my life, home and country a greener place.
Well, one of such things that I've done recently is change from paper towels to rugs for 100% finally.
Often you really couldn't  find a paper towel here on green carpet since I neglect cleaning with such disposables that in addition soak in so little water and can clean only very limited surfaces. At least comparing to my rugs now!
My rugs and dusters are torn or cut from old bed linen or table cloths that my grandma gave me because they were unwashably stained or worn out with holes. Oh, linen cloths are the very best to clean up all liquids . Since we are not using diapers at home and sometimes elimination communication is not really working that well on busy moments, these rugs are gold worth.

And, of course, they are good on every thing else you need to clean- dusty places, bathroom sinks, floors, juice splashes or runny noses. Just take a clean one from the rug-bowl and put it in the bin afterwards. Once the bin is full, I wash them, hang them to dry and they're good to use again. And again. And again. Something you really can't say about paper towels.
Have you already switched to cloth rugs?

pirmdiena, 2012. gada 12. novembris

Baby cocoons

Although here on green carpet we support baby-wearing in a sling and just simple carrying in arms a lot, there are times when we also want to put our baby to sleep in bed or have a ride in a car.
What comes in very handy is baby cocoon.
My little princess spent a lot of her first autumn and winter day sleeping and car travels in this lovely cocoon. No need to dress her much for travel. No problems with a blanket that falls off when you put the baby in bed after cradling her in your arms. And no kicked off blankets.

Of course, this lovely piece with a hat is knitted by my own loving hands.

I enjoyed using it so much, that I also made this warming present when my cousins baby boy was born.

I have my fingers itching already to make another one for one of my best friends when her little one arrives!
Try knitting one yourself, it's super-simple!

ceturtdiena, 2012. gada 8. novembris

One good deed from me to make Latvia greenest country in the world.

It's been a while ago when I posted some comments on the Yale Uni's Environmental Performance Index, where Latvia scored as high as 2nd in the world and No1 in Trend EPI. After such news environmental NGO's, some policy makers and individuals in society had made their mind to turn Latvia to be the No1 Greenest country in the world. I proudly share that goal and passion.

I've been using organic cosmetics and eco-friendly household cleaning products for quite long time already. I figure- it's a good time to take a step further. Why not withdraw the shipping costs? And I mean not only my wallet, but the Earth as well. Why not support local economy? It is my country in the end that needs its economy boosted.

In Latvia we have several wonderful organic cosmetics producers, some of which have made it out in the world with great success like Madara. Madara is also my favorite Latvian cosmetics producer, quality is wonderful and I love the smell of natural flowers and plants it has.. a little bitter one, just like the flower Madara. Their products are also gender unrelated, deo is good for both me and my husband.  Additional green bonus of Madara is that they would take back the empty packaging and give you a discount for that!
I already bought the first few things I needed- deo and eye cream from them, and trying out some day and night creams and baby oil, which felt amazing.

There are several more Latvian organic cosmetics brands that I still haven't tested. By I aim to. Once I ran out of any of the things in my bathroom- the next one I'm buying is going to be definitely produced right here, in Latvia.
However, if you want to try some before me, here are a couple I'm going to look at when I next need something- Kiwi natural cosmetics and Bio2You biological sea buckthorn cosmetics.

The same plan refers to household cleaning products. No need to buy Ecover, Sonnet, Tri-bio and Frosch that until now have been 'usual suspects' in my kitchen and bathroom. Latvian manufacturers have had good ingredients list for quite a while, but now they have reached next level- Eco-certification. Eco Seal for nature is the next laundry detergent and dish washing liquid I'm trying out!

Buying organic and eco friendly is good. But keep in mind that being conscious consumer means also really thinking through whether you really need the product. Many things can be replaced with even more 'natural' things.

In cosmetics area my favorite is hemp oil, natural, organic, local and comes in ceramic bottle with a cork on top. It's clean, great both for cooking and as body oil for me and the baby. I've written about it here.
Olive oil and other edible oils offer similar uses. You don't really need to buy a body lotion in plastic bottles with additional ingredients, do you? Add them yourself if really want to- essential oils, flower essences.. your call!
And nothing is better on your skin than things that you would actually eat- masks and scrubs should be only made in your kitchen..

In cleaning area I have found that nothing works better than simple baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda cleans my bathroom and kitchen as no chemical, but it's kind to surfaces and my skin, and does not smell at all. If you put it in the drains, add a bit of vinegar, close them and after 10minutes pour some boiling water in, they're free from potential clogging. Your house is clean. And your family is safe and healthy. So, remember, no need to buy another bathroom cleaner, just have soda on hand!

So- good deeds to make Latvia greenest country in the world- buy local organic cosmetics, local household cleaning products. And where you can, replace manufactured formulas with daily kitchen stuff. Locally produced and organic preferably.

piektdiena, 2012. gada 12. oktobris

Green travelling for us and a baby- vintage bicycles

Using a sling to go around with my baby has been a common practice on green carpet for quite a while now. We just discovered an upgrade for that.

On my husbands birthday, me, my family and his mom gave him a present- a bicycle by his choice. I suggested we go for retro (vintage) bikes. And we both found great ones that we fell in love with!

We didn't want our little one to miss this fantastic feeling of a warm, sunny day, wind blowing gently as you cycle through the nearby forest to see the seaside..

So we used our lovely organic cotton/hemp sling and off we went!

Try it out and enjoy green travelling with a baby!

trešdiena, 2012. gada 19. septembris

Hempseed oil- superfood for your body

Well, everybdy talks about superfoods that can make you super-healthy, super-slim, super-energized and so on. When you eat them. But what about the superfood that you can eat AND cover youself with it to get more benefits?
Well, my personal favorite- hempseed or simply hemp oil.

I buy locally grown and manufactured hemp oil that comes in a beautiful brown ceramic bottle with a cork. But what's inside? Lovely, dark green, cold pressed oil.

Eat it!
Use it instead your regular oil or butter with food and forget about the fish oil supplements-  in addition to tasty replacement of other oils in your kitchen (apart from the one you fry things in, it's not supposed to be heated), it's richer. It contains omega 3,6 and 9 in their best possible proportion, therefore hempseed oil is to be considered the most valuable one. Take into account also that its manufacturing is ecologically clenaer than eg. fish oil. It will strengthen your heart and give some extra energy.
Fats from hemp oil are especially healthy for women. It contains a quite rare gamma-linolenic acid that is taking care of the feminine processes in the body (regulating hormones) and also 'feeding' the skin from inside and improving its elasticity. It also works as a natural anti-aging agent. Gamma-linolenic acid also activates calcium absorption, but vitamin E that is also found in this oil is a natural anti-oxidant that helps fighting free radicals.
It is a wonderful choice for vegetarians and also during prengancy and breastfeeding to enrich our fatty acid levels. that are so important to keep up for healthy mama and bebe.

If you really do not like the taste of it, try out roasted and ground hemp seeds that contain both the oil and proteins, carbs and fibres. You could actually survive from this and water for extended periods of time. Not recommended though! It's just to illustrate how much of a superfood it actually is. And it's really tasty. I like to sprinkle it over my salad. However, my real treat is a slice of bread, little butter or ghee and then really thick coating of grind of hemp seeds.

Apply it! 
Everywhere. It will smooth and moisturise your skin. I like to pour it in my bath with some essential oils. Or apply it on damp skin after morning shower and then let it dry. In winters when skin is getting drier due to cold weather and heating indoors, it's exactly what I need!
I also apply it on my hair as a mask. Comb your hair, apply preferably lightly warm oil throughout hair and skin of the head. For a quick one you can wrap your hair with towel (beware, it will be greasy!) or just tie it back for few hours before washing. I'm too lazy for that. I apply oil before bed and leave it there overnight for extra nutritients for my hair. Wash it in the morning! My hair have become much less frizzy, much less dry and much more healthy!
And, of course, feel free to use it as a part in your scrubs and masks!

I even have replaced my baby's body oil with this and her dry skin is thankful to me for that.

Find out where you can buy this dark green elixir of health and enjoy!

trešdiena, 2012. gada 1. augusts

Eco potty- Becopotty

Well, I have to admit that sometimes shopping for something is quite inevitable, especially when it comes to kids.So one of the most recent green consumerism proofs in our homes- Becopotty. 

Since cloth diapering mixed with Eco-nappies started to have another option- elimination communication, we needed a potty. Most of my friends asked me- why don't you just go to the nearest store and buy it for that little money. Most of them were very surprised when I told them that Emily's potty is... biodegradeable! 

Isn't that really cute when after the baby is done with baby potty, you can dig it in your garden and plant some flowers in it? However, I plan to use the potties (we have 2 of them since we still live in 2 homes) for all of my kids, as many my life will have.. It's still great, that I can then put it away and it won't cost the earth another plastic piece.

Besides- it is really stable and comfy. And even in fresh mornings it doesn't seem as cold as regular plastic for that little bottom!

Another green consumerism moment- even before Em started to use potty once in a while, during summer we used 'pee pants'. Just regular pants or leggings that she wore without nappies or diapers, simply on bare bottom. They are easier to pull off if I got the message for potty. And easier to change if we had a miss. She feels so much better in them than in cloth diapers that can be quite large and have the woolen overpants that are not so nice in warmer days.
How can buying many pairs of pants or leggings be green consumerism? It is when you choose organic and / or second hand. I opted for second option for pants and combined for tops. Just returned from the second-hand store with a batch of next size 'pee pants' for my little ones happy bottom :)

ceturtdiena, 2012. gada 19. jūlijs

Freeganism- Free Foods

Some time in winter a great blogger Tiffany from Nature Moms Blog with her post on Freeganism and Eating Your Way To A Healthier Environment got me thinking on my own Freeganism habits. One of them being fond of free foods. Now with summer here the topic is on the list again.
I'm not at all into Dumpster Diving, nor I have tried to talk to local shops or restaurants since lately I live most of my days in the countryside far away from those. I love free foods that grow out there on wild that just need some time in the forest with a basket and some patience. It may not be Freeganism according to the definition Tiffany posted, but I strongly consider it to be since it's truly free, it is 100% natural and it reduces food overproduction (and also your own food miles).
I grew up in countryside and it has been my legacy to go herb tea, berry and mushroom picking. I found it weird when I moved to other places, cities and countries, that people have no idea that they can eat also foods that are not coming in a plastic boxes on a store shelf. Loads of blackberries are growing in even in semi-wild parks and woods in London and people pass them by. Worse- they look at me as if I were some lunatic for eating them! So I just wanted to come up with a basic list of my very favorites of free food!

  • Wild strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cowberries (or lingon berries) 
  • Cranberries 


Teas you will find in this post- many are picked in wild.

I intend to expand my free food list next year and I'll keep you updated on it!

If you think you might like my favorites- or you know you like them from the shops before- learn them and remember them in summer. And believe me- they taste incredibly good, much better than watery farm grown and store bought. They have bright and warm sun, refreshing rains and natures best in them! And many of them last through the winter in your freezer or just in glass jars in your fridge. I know what I'm saying here, because I just popped a handful of fresh cranberries in my mouth that were picked in wild last summer and stored in my fridge. Be smart, be freegan and prepare for next summer!

P.S. - a special thanks to Tiffany for the inspiring post, I intend to try out some of the practices described in the post when I move to the city.

trešdiena, 2012. gada 18. jūlijs


Summer has been a busy time on green carpet- lots of outdoor activities, less computer is always good for everyone!
But warm weather has left us again for now and in the rain I cannot go through a day without my cup of tea.. actually several.. Lately noticed that my dear 8years old electric tea pot has started leaking way too much to be comfortable and safe with a kid always somewhere on the floor. Maybe it's a time for a new one?
An offer came on time... small, cute, electric ceramic teapot..
But as a smart consumer I took a step back and started to look around for all options which may be good for us.

I looove having a tea. Lots of it! But do I need a big teapot? No, because I need just one or two cups at a time. So no need to buy a big one. I like to have my tea quickly therefore I never fill the teapot, so my impatience here serves me and earth well without the risk of using too much energy.
Still, I did some comparison of potential use of cute electric that was on offer vs on the stove teapots. Price is not compared since the difference at this moment was not big.

+ easy to use and quick boil
+ has already particular place in the kitchen
+ beautiful pot that can be placed on table for guests, no need to have a "on table" tea pot

- uses electricity (not only less green if comes form fossils, but also more expensive)
- if not careful, people tend to overfill the tank and use more energy than needed for a cup
- sometimes we tend to forget that the water was heating and have to reheat it overusing electricity again
- small tank in case of many guests

On stove: 
+ gas is cheaper than electricity
+ larger if in need of more hot water
+ whistles, so impossible to forget the hot water
+ comes in colors that can be fitted in the kitchen

- takes more space in already small kitchen
- larger tank makes one want to put more water for heating so overuses resources anyway
- our stove has only two cook tops that are mostly used both at the same time, therefore no chance for a tea during cooking
- gas stinks quite a lot and is not very healthy to breath, especially so many times a day

So our family decided to go for the electric tea kettle that is only 1l tank (and still promising to continue only needed cup boiling water policy in our home) and ceramic instead of plastic. It will also be the white cute one on the picture above, so less 'stuff' at home since it's already beautiful enough to be placed on the table.

Ahh, I'm already looking forwards those peaceful tea evenings with hand picked tea of summer!

pirmdiena, 2012. gada 18. jūnijs

Big Ask

Just amazing video I wanted to share on green carpet. Might not be new, but it doesn't make it less true..

Rio+20 events

Online space is buzzing with events, actions, movements, discussions, conferences, blogs, news on Rio+20 topics. 13th June also held one such event here in Latvia- discussion on Rio+20 with political representatives and civil society. Thanks to homo ecos: for the event!
Some thought provoking moments, ideas and statements that were shared there:

  • Mr Edmunds Sprūdžs, the Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, says that Latvia has achieved a lot already, so his speech will most probably be selling 'ourselves', showing off the progress. He believes that Latvia could try a little 'aggressive' tactics when asking others to act towards sustainable development. Mr Sprūdžs hopes to give a speech that will make others to remember Latvia after the conference. 
Well, we don't even recycle properly here. We don't have hybrid or electric cars on our roads. We have hardly few places where renewable energy like sun and wind is collected.. I don't think we can rest on what nature has given us per se like biodiversity and forests. Latvia is a beautiful, green country and we try not to spoil it. But I would not say that we have progressed that much, even though Yale says so.. 
  • Both Mr Sprūdžs and Mr Jurijs Spiridonovs who also represented political side of panel, both agreed that most important for Latvia will be meeting other leaders of states, bilateral meetings with for example Japan, and meetings with various NGOs. Connections is going to be the biggest gain from the conference rather than a document or speeches. 
I could agree that meetings, connections are going to be most important, since I'm not so optimistic on either the necessity or content of a new document or those speeches there. It's all political blaaahblahablaaah that we are expecting from there, unfortunately. What I really hope for is that governments and Mr Sprūdžs himself as well are going to take on board what Civil Society has to say, what we, people, have declared we want for our future in documents like we created last July here, and thoughts that are played in videos, statements etc. 

  • Mr Jānis Ulme from Zemes Draugi- Friends of Earth in Latvia- had more down to earth approach reminding us about the various dangers on what's going on in Rio. One of them is talking about Green Economy that has no definition or real meaning, everyone uses this label on whatever he decides with no regulation, so basically it means just blahblahblaaa again. Negotiators on the outcome document can't agree on text yet, so that shows a lot. Another risky point is the perception that we need a new document. We don't, we haven't yet managed the previous ones, we just put them somewhere aside without saying. 
I can totally relate to all what Mr Ulme said in these terms. One of my university teachers once said- we don't need to start writing a new convention, we need to start implementing the existing one and it will have immense effect (we were discussing genocide, war crime, torture topics). What happened to conventions our predecessors agreed on 1992? What about the Agenda 21? The new document should be an agreement to bind us all together to actually implement those, fill the criteria. 

  • Mr Ulme and Ms Ērika Lagzdiņa, director of Regional Environmental Centre for Eastern and Central Europe, both had some discussion on the participation of the civil society in Rio and decision making processes on sustainability issues. While Ms Lagzdiņa mentioned that original Earth Summit was a revolutionary moment when finally public voice was taken into account, Mr Ulme reminded Copenhagen and latest occasions when NGOs and acting individuals were not only left out of the process but also denied the access and their right to express themselves. 
I must admit this was one of the most scary thoughts- that our ideas, our actions would not be heard, not taken into account? I felt so sure, knowing, that there's this buzz around Rio+20, events and actions taking place during at least a month, not just those two days in June... should we feel worried that our documents are never read, videos never seen, statements not taken seriously? I hope not and I am positive that this time 'they' will hear us. 

20 Years ago 'they' agreed that Climate change is real, environmental damage, depletion and poverty is real and it is time to change our habits, our lives, time for sustainable development. Unfortunately they did let the large oil money color their glasses, they let enormous TNCs (Trans-National Companies) to lead their greedy way instead. This is the very last moment to stop it. This is the last train we must jump in to be able to                                                grant our grandchildren their future. 
I don't want to be remembered by my kids as one of those people who "could have made a difference". I don't want to be one of those who let others make wrong choices that will destroy our planet and take the chance of life away from our future generations. 
We all have to do something. And some of those things are not going to be easy. That's why we have those governments "up there"- to help us do it. We just have to ask them. Louder and probably many times. But we should ask them as many times as it takes- we want sustainable future, fair, clean and balanced lives. 

ceturtdiena, 2012. gada 14. jūnijs

Twitter Storm #EndFossilFuelSubsidies

All the people on green carpet, it's time to act!
I have joined the Twitter storm


and I encourage you to do the same!

I love this time when the buzz around all climate, environment and sustainability issues are high on media, in civil society. The events are overlapping and there are more than you can attend or manage to follow due to Rio+20.
But this is such an easy one to participate and you do know that those little things brought together creates an enormous force, right? So this is one of the little things everyone can do to stop subsidizing things we want to delete from our future scenarious- climate change, dirty fossil fuels, unfair resource management...
Join the  Twitter storm here and make yourself heard, let the power players know that you want green energy, green jobs and simply - clean and green life for yourself and for your children!

On their Facebook page Mr Ken Winkel posted a Greek proverb, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” adding that  Now is the time and these are the old men who shall prove their greatness or their greed.

I couldn't agree more! But I also think that this is the time that we, all who care, especially young people, remind those 'old men' to make the right choice!

If you are still in doubt, check this info graphic by and think whether you really support it?

Make the right choice! Ask for the accessibility to greener energy. I still have to drive my regular car here in Latvia to get somewhere. I do car pooling, econ/ecol driving, route planning.. but it's not gonna help in long term. I wonder, when we will be able to feel some change in that...  Rio+20 might show the way to some! 

pirmdiena, 2012. gada 11. jūnijs

Home made yogurt

It was a while ago when I promised to share my experience of home made rhubarb yogurt on green carpet. It was after my trip to London and eating Rachel's super-tasty yogurts again.
Well, I must say- our home made version is fantastic!

We use the yogurt recipe my mom got in Ayurveda cooking lesson:

  • Take one liter of fresh milk (unpasteurized, straight from the farm)
  • 100g of natural yogurt (I used from dairy Daugava, use a good one that still has the neccessary bacteria)
  • Bring the milk up to the boiling point and remove from heat and let it cool until about 40 degrees C (to the point you can put your finger in it and hold it there)
  • Add the yogurt, stir and pour in jars
  • Leave the jars open on the table for 2-4 hours, depending how sour you want it to become
  • Eat it or close the jars and put it in the fridge

I like adding the flavors only for the portion I eat instead of mixing it all for one taste. 
For now I've tried such additives as blackberries, buck-thorn and maple syrup, pear jam and rhubarbs, of course. 
For rhubarb option just take fresh rhubarb, cut in small peaces, add sugar, let it soak, boil until rhubarbs soft and let it cool. Then add to the yogurt. Mmmm, perfect!
Note- do not add rhubarb mixture to yogurt before it has cooled, it will change the consistence from yogurt to rhubarb compote with cheesy bits! It still tastes good though, in case you still want to experiment... 

Home made yogurt is perfect for summer, since it's plain natural you can add either berries and fruits or put it in green salad, so I hope you try and enjoy this recipe!
Let me know if you have tried any interesting flavors and whether you liked the yogurt! 


ceturtdiena, 2012. gada 7. jūnijs

Sauna turned aroma spa

It was a while ago I posted on how to turn sauna to a perfect home spa where you can smudge yourself and your friends with various masks, scrubs, potions to spend a wonderful quality time plus have an amazing beauty regimen.. Well, we like to keep this sauna tradition, so I have something more to share on green carpet. This time additionally to all the previous goodies we turned our sauna into natural aroma spa.

We began by going out and getting our herbs:

Sweet flag (Acorus calamus) has not only wonderful aroma, but also antiseptic, regeneration properties. 

Lilac (Syringa) has lovely, romantic aroma that suppresses unwelcome bacteria and has positive effect on psyche and organism. Since it has also various medicinal properties, I collected some extra and dried for use in winter.

Apple-tree (Malus domestica) leaves have multiple medicinal properties when drank as tea; additionally to that apple tree in our traditions simbolizes motherhood. As a new mother I value that and add it to my sauna waters.

Linden (Tilia cordata) has a wonderful summer aroma, full of sweet honey. It also symbolize womanhood, therefore all it's parts are of value to our feminine endeavours. More info on Linden can be found here.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutrita) has this gentle smell of childhood and eases the mind. Since we're using it more for aroma and steam qualities rather than drinking, I won't go into more details, you can find them here. 

We placed this wonderfully smelling bouquet of leaves and flowers in a metal basin and poured boiling water on them. Then we placed the basin in the sauna room and enjoyed an amazing natural aroma bath. 
No artificial sauna scents needed (not mentioning they are expensive and not healthy, very unlike this collection). 
What are your favorite aromas for home sauna-spa? Try making some of your own next time ;) 

I also saved many of these for winter as dried herbs that can be used both as drinking teas and as similar aroma basins. 

Take a moment for your body and mind, enjoy your aroma spa! 

svētdiena, 2012. gada 13. maijs

Tea time II

Cowslip (Primula Veris) is one of the favorite teas on green carpet and it is the one we are going for during Spring season.

Spring time is a period when our bodies have been starving vitamins and all the goodness of natural greens. Cowslip are great addition to other Spring weeds that are so healthy to eat as salad, so try out some fresh as well!

But mostly we are collecting these tiny yellow flowers for winter tea cups when their sweet scent will release memories of warm sunshine. And not only that- they are one of the best natural remedies in cases of various colds, especially for children. They are also considered as light, calming remedy for sleepless nights.

Enjoy a cup of Spring!

otrdiena, 2012. gada 17. aprīlis

London souvenirs....

Recently there has been some traveling on green carpet.. unexpectedly I had to pack, take my always smiling baby and go to the lovely city of London. I must admit, I was a little afraid, but it all passed- apart from smells and smokers, London is very much baby friendly city, at least people are!
Not going much into detail, but just a note about what surprised me.. When I left London for going back to Latvia with its countryside goodies, healthy environment at least while we're out of the city, and all the natural stuff available here, I never imagined I will miss.... food stores in London... Honestly.
Even though I have much better veggies, wild berries, mushrooms, dairy products form nearby farms, there are still some things I really miss. Like Rachel's organic yogurts.. Like Whole Foods stores with such a wide choice of everything.. Like Yantra, the organic, vegan cafe near the Soho Square..
The variety of organic products in everyday chain stores in Latvia is growing so slowly, while, for example, Tesco now offers I think almost everything! In terms of selling organic, our stores here are still at the level London was at least couple of years ago, but I'm staying positive about their growth towards greener products on their shelves. But for now during winter I don't really trust the veggies and fruits there, so I really enjoyed having fresh organic salad while there.
Lucky for me, we now have Baltais Eko Jogurts in various tastes and of course Daugava's production. But I still miss Rhubarb yogurt. My plan this summer when our rhubarb bush is gonna be as huge as always- make my own. I'll let you know if we succeed!
Note for others living or visiting London- enjoy your opportunities to shop and eat organic, there are many and great!

trešdiena, 2012. gada 11. aprīlis

Spring delights I- Tree sap

Spring has been here for a while now and hopefully we all have managed to enjoy the goodness it offers. One of the favorites of Spring delights on green carpet is sap from trees. Or so commonly called- birch juice.
Here in Latvia we particularly like maple that is available very early in season and birch that comes a little later. Overall Latvian season for tree sap is April.

So what is the sap?

It is a fluid that is transported in special cells of a plant -xylem cells- they transport water and nutrients through the plant. Therefore the sap is a thin sirupy liquid and slightly sweet for it is full of mineral elements, sugars, amino acids, enzymes, proteins, fitohormones, vitamins.

Birch sap must be collected during a short period of the year that lasts approximately one month, depending on the species and climate. Start at the break of winter and spring when the sap moves intensively, but definitely before first green leaves appear.

Uses of the sap- drink it!
Birch sap is best consumed fresh and it is delivering it's best at first few hours of collection, so we drink it all day long. Suggestions vary from at least 2 glasses per day to at least 2 liters per day for about 10 days . To be on the safe side, I drink about 2-3 liters every day all the season, it is a fantastic detox tour after the long winter and especially after traditionally heavy Easter treats! Just be sure you have the availability of bathroom somewhere near. I don't call it "natural therapeutic irrigation" for no reason!
If you have lots of it, try using the sap instead of water for your tea, coffee, soup and other cooking!

The sap contains water that is encoded with trees energy, so when this energy is transferred to you, you might find yourself detoxified not only from physical toxins but also form anxiety, anger and all that replaced with positive senses.

My little one developed some fever due to teething and I also gave her a little of the birch sap that I recommend it to anyone suffering ills and fevers. It has more medicinal properties than that, you can rinse the throat with sap in case of angina and similar ills. Drink it and use it on skin in cases of eczema, psoriasis, other skin problems. It's normalizing acid levels in guts and helps dissolve various stones.

Besides, she totally loved it. And what's not to love! It tastes light and sweet, it refreshes you like water but brings some extra energy and extra goodies within it. It is one of the reasons I love the Spring and I can't wait to have some of our frozen sap later on!

Preserve it!
Birch sap can also be naturally fermented and is traditionally drank on hot summer days, however, this year we opted for something new- freezing! Since it stays fresh very, very short time and you can't possibly drink all that the tree gives on time, it's better not to leave it to go off, it is a total waste. So we filled large and small plastic bottles that were left at our household by our guests or occasionally bought on the way by our family (yeah, I know, it is terrible, but my parents keep forgetting that water bottles may be refilled instead of buying new ones). A little green bonus point for giving second life to these bottles as well. We just flung them in our large freezer and will get them out when the juice time is over and hot summer days are here.

Beauty inside out!

But wait, that's not all yet.. there's not only nutritional or detoxifying qualities of this wonder juice that makes you look good after a good Spring juice tour, it has some cosmetic benefits as well. I use the easiest and most basic one- I wash my face with it instead of using bought facial toner, it increases the elasticity of the skin and moisturizes and feeds the good enzymes right into it. Just remember to rinse it off, otherwise your face will be a little sticky due to sugars of the sap.
For those that wake up feeling swollen I recommend freezing the sap as ice cubes and then massaging the face with them in the morning.

It is suggested to rinse your hair in the sap, however, I haven't tried that yet, so if anyone has, let me know on the effects!
Oh, and really, don't doubt the properties, as I have heard that already internationally known Latvian brand of organic MADARA cosmetics, is using birch sap in its latest anti-age line!
It's not only beauty treatment, but also a natural remedy for skin diseases and itches, and due to its antiseptic properties can be used to wash cuts and bruises.

How to get it?

I'm not sure how many are familiar with this process, so here's the basic detail on how we do it

  • Find a healthy full grown tree and ask the permission and be kind to the tree, it is a living being and will be generous with its energy for you (full grown birch can produce even 20-30 liters per day depending on the temperature and  period).
  • Use a special hand drill to make a whole and insert a wooden tube in it (I don't like the modern plastic tube ideas, we use traditional ones).
  • Secure a bucket under the tube to collect the sap and depending on weather or insects nearby make some "shelter" for the bucket (some suggest plastic bottles, but I wouldn't recommend them since juicing is quite fast and bottle would be overflowing way too quickly).
  • When the juicing season breaks, repair the whole in the tree with wooden peg that fits tightly, cover it with clay, say thank you to your generous birch and let the tree continue it's natural life probably till next year if you will choose it then again.