U as in Urtica

U as in Urtica. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Urticaceae

Genus: Urtica

Species: Urtica dioica

Common names: stinging nettles, bull nettle Swedish name: brännässla

Urtica is a genus of flowering annual or perennial herbaceous plants. The perennial species have underground rhizomes giving them a weed-like growth. Many species have stinging hairs on their green parts and are often called nettles. Thanks to the stinging hairs, Urtica species are rarely eaten by herbivores, so they provide long-term shelter for insects, such as aphids, caterpillars and moths. The insects, in turn, provide food for small birds, such as tits. This makes Urtica valuable wildlife plants.

Urtica dioica is a perennial native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America. The species epithet dioica means di (two) and oikos (house) which indicates that the male flowers and the female flowers grow on different plants. Urtica dioica has a long history of use as a medicine, as a food source and as a source of fibre. In Europe nettles are associated with human habitation. The presence of nettles may indicate human and animal influence. Being responsible for elevated levels of phosphate and nitrogen in the soil, providing an ideal environment for nettles. Nettles are the exclusive larval food plant for several species of butterfly.

Urtica dioica. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Urtica dioica – stinging nettle

Description: Urtica dioica has widely spreading rhizomes and stolons, which are bright yellow, as are the roots. It bears small greenish or brownish numerous flowers. The leaves and stems have stinging hairs (trichomes), whose tips come off when touched, transforming the hair into a needle that will inject several chemicals causing a painful sting.

How to grow: Nettles are not usually grown rather seen as a weed. But you may purchase seeds from companies that sell herbal and medicinal plants. Before planting, think twice and chose a patch where you can keep it under control. It needs full sun or partial shade. A moist and nutritious soil. Tilling is the best way to keep it in place.

A weed with many uses

In folk medicine the stinging nettle was used to treat anemia, oedema, diabetes and arthritis. The whole plant was used but the green parts was said to be diuretic, blood building, and a weak lower of the blood sugar. The circulation in the skin was thought to be improved. The active substances are vitamin C, iron and in fresh plants histamine, acetylcholine and formid acid. The stinging nettle is also used to improve the appearance of the hair, and is said to be a remedy against oily hair and dandruff.

The neat spring sprouts can be harvest to eat. The stem can be use to make fibers reminding of the process making flax. Of the fibers a fine fabric was made, called nettle cloth. The root can be used as a natural dye for textiles.

In the garden it is a useful companion plant. Stinging nettles can be used to make nettle water which is used as nourishment feeding it to plants and vegetables.

Recipes:

Stinging nettle pizza. U as in Urtica. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Stinging nettle pizza. Photo: Theresa Carle-Sanders ©


© The photo is licensed by Creative Commons and some rights are reserved. License Attribution 2.0


Disclaimer: Be careful when using herbal remedies since the effects may be uncertain. I don´t recommend herbal medicine as a substitute for school medicine in any way. Always consult the professional health care.

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L as in Lavandula

Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Lamiaceae

Genus:  Lavandula

Species: Lavandula augustifolia

Common names: Lavender, common lavender, Old English Lavender Swedish name: lavendel, äkta lavendel

 

Lavandula is a genus of 39 known species of flowering plants, including annual or short-lived herbaceous perennial plants, shrub-like perennials, subshrubs and shrubs. It is found in a belt from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, via the Mediterranean and southwest Asia to southeast India. In temperate climates Lavandula is widely used as ornamental plants in gardens and landscapes, as culinary herbs, and also commercially for the extraction of essential oils. Commonly grown ornamental species are L. stoechas, L. dentata, and L. multifida. The most widely cultivated species, Lavandula augustifolia, is often referred to as lavender. There is a color named for the shade of the flowers of the common lavender. Commercially the plant is grown mainly for the production of essential oil.

L as in Lavendula. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Lavandula augustifolia.

Description:. Lavandula angustifolia is a perennial, grey-green subshrub with blue-purple flowers and small, thin silvery leaves. It has a characteristic aromatic fragrance. Lavender has many varieties and comes with flowers of different shades of blue, pink and white. Some common varieties are ‘Hidcote Blue’ (blue-purple), ‘Edelweiss’ (white), ‘Joan Davis’ (dark pink), ‘Martha Roderick’ (light blue). Lavender attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

How to grow: Lavandula angustifolia is a Mediterranean plant and flourish best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun. It needs little or no fertilizer which also keeps the fragrance at its best. Good air circulation is required since it may root rot if it gets to moist. Lavender may be pruned and trimmed. My recommendation is to cut it down quite hard every two years to avoid a scrappy look. It is suitable as a low hedge, edging or border plant. And belongs in every herbal and spice garden.

 

Natural beauty products

Lavandula angustifolia yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetics, and topical applications. The oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. The extracts of lavender are also used as fragrances for bath products and in aromatherapy. Bunches of lavender may repel insects. It was and still is used in linen cupboards to prevent moths. It is a nice craft to make small lavender cushions and put them in the closet to spread a pleasant scent.

Lavandula angustifolia is also known as a medical herb. To put lavender buds and flowers in your pillow is said to aid sleep and relaxation. An infusion of flower heads added to a cup of boiling water is used to soothe and relax at bedtime.

L as in Lavendula. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

I love the scent of lavender both in the garden and in my homemade natural beauty products. So I thought I would share a few recipes with you. Some I have tried others are on my to-do list.

 


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Friday Bliss

Friday bliss - My Green Nook

Friday is finally here and the weekend is ahead of us. Tomorrow it´s Valentine´s Day and many celebrate it. The day is devoted to love, friendship and people you want to show your appreciation to. But this evening is only yours. Take the time to celebrate your own being by taking extra care of yourself. A friend of my spouse use to say “When you worked hard you got to tickle yourself“. And that is exactly what I want to do on a friday evening.

After a long week walking and standing my feet are tired and a bit swollen. I use maternity socks (medical compression socks) to support the circulation and prevent varicose veins. They do their job but I want to give my feet even more care. So I started my weekend with a nice relaxing foot bath. To set the mood I turned off the light and lit some candles. Snuggled up in my comfortable armchair with a blanket wrap around my shoulders. Placing my feet in the warm relaxing water. Covering the bucket with a towel to keep the heat inside. The scent still manage to get through. I pour up a glass of cucumber water and lean back. Closing my eyes and letting go. Does it sound calming and inviting?

I do my own blend of bath water using:

  • Warm water
  • Organic jojoba oil ~ 1 tablespoon
  • Organic essential oils of lavender and bergamot ~ 10 drops each
  • Organic rose hydrolat ~ 1 tablespoon

I never measure but I wrote the amounts to give you a hint. I wanted a relaxing and soothing feeling so my choice of essential oils is based on that. Lavender is known for its calming and sleep inducing benefits. It also improves blood circulation. Bergamot is known for relaxing muscles and nerves which reduce the feeling of pain. It also reduce stress and improves blood circulation. Rose is used to balance emotions and lift the spirit. It is great for the female body and its various conditions.

Friday bliss - My Green Nook

If you are putting on your high-heel shoes and heading out on town you may want to use other essential oils. Peppermint for example is great to freshen up your feet. Want to read more about which essential oils to use?

Visit Nature Moms and learn more or go to your library tomorrow.

 


 

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An extraordinary day

What happened today that made my day so extraordinary – you may wonder?

I got accepted as a member of International Bloggers Association. It is a big step for me and My Green Nook. And it feels great. It is a quality certification only allowed to use after applying and passing the inspection of your blog. Both content, language and appearance is part of the judgement. So now IBA got a new Swedish blogger in their team. I will do my best and hope I will be a good ambassador of this awesome community. Thank you IBA and all members of the IBA board. I am proud to put your badge on my blog.

Have you ever heard of the International Bloggers Association? If not I recommend you to visit them. Just click on the badge and I take you there!

After I got this splendid news I took the train to Stockholm city. I walked to my hairdresser from the station. The city was covered with snow and beautiful as always. While I was on my way I noticed how stressed people were. They almost ran and seemed unstoppable until they reached their goal. I cannot help it but I am one of those who gets in their way. Walking slowly, looking around and savoring the atmosphere. Now I walk even slower with my big bump and heavy feet. I can imaging the frustration if you are in a hurry and get stuck behind me. Anyway I took the time to take some pictures of Stockholm winterland.

Mariatorget - My Green Nook

Mariatorget in Stockholm. Photo: Charlotte @My Green Nook

Södra station - My Green Nook

Södra station in Stockholm. Photo: Charlotte @My Green Nook

At Friekosör I got pampered by my hairdresser Dolly. I wrote about my first visit there in one of my earlier posts. It is an organic hairdressing salon with high standards. They make their own products and are also up to date with modern hairstyle. You feel that they care about you as a costumer and want you to return. Always offering the best service and that little extra. I purchase all of my hair products from them and think they are top-notch. Now I am about to try some new make up from Zuii, which I bought at the salon. Zuii is an Australian brand. Their cosmetics are organic and made with natural products. I will start with trying their foundation and powder. If it suits me Dolly told me they are going to get a whole bunch of new Zuii make up this spring. I will give you my review when I have tried it for a while. Have you any favorite organic make up brand? Any super products you recommend?

After my visit at the hairdresser I went to one of the more popular second-hand stores, Stockholm´s City Mission. Which  is a nonprofit organization that works to make Stockholm a more humane city for all. One of Stockholm’s City Mission engagements is to operate second-hand stores around the Stockholm area. The stores sell clothing, accessories, furniture, household items, and books donated by individuals and businesses. They focus on recycling and create opportunities for people to approach the job market. I searched the child section and found a pair of gorgeous baby jeans from Mexx. I bought them for 40 SEC (about 5 USD or 4,40 EUR) quite a bargain, don´t you think?!

Baby jeans - My Green Nook

Baby jeans from Stockholm´s City Mission. Photo: Charlotte @My Green Nook

You may also want to read Beautiful hair – get rid of the frizzyness

Life With Garnish
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Does it really work? DIY Natural Beauty Care

Homemade cerate and deodorant

Homemade cerate and deodorant

Two weeks ago I made my first batch of cerate and a deodorant using only natural ingredients. Having tried them for the last week I can assure you that it really works. The cerate is even better than some of those on the market and the deodorant managed the test. I have not been working out with it yet so that challenge stays uncleared. But for everyday life and regular walks it proves itself worthy a place in the bathroom.

So what do you need? This summer I bought stainless steel cookware and utensil at the flea market. They are great to use when making beauty products since it is easy to keep them clean and they stand heat. A kitchen thermometer is also recommended if you use essential oils which are sensitive to heat. And never should be added if the temperature is over 40 degrees Celsius. A scale is also necessary to measure the ingredients. Then of course you need to have some jars and boxes. I prefer to use stainless steel or glass of environmental and health reasons. Plastic containers may release toxic chemicals. And is harder to reuse.

So let us start the production! First you should clean all utensils and cookware with boiling water to make sure no bacteria or other contaminants destroy the products. Be careful though so you do not get burned.

Carnauba cerate

  • 62 ml olive oil
  • 26 g bee wax
  • 10 g shea butter
  • 2 g carnauba wax
  • Ev. essential oil for taste and fragrance, for example strawberry

Melt the butter and wax with the oil in a bowl over a water-bath on the stove. When all has melted completely take the bowl out of the water-bath. Let it cool while stirring. When the compound reaches 40 degrees Celsius you put in the essential oil if you choose to use it. Pour up in small cases or boxes. I used about 15-20 cases.

Recipe source: Guldet från växterna, Artaromaförlaget

Deodorant

  • 50 g cocos butter
  • 25 ml jojoba oil
  • 5 tablespoons bicarbonate
  • 3 tablespoons potato or cornflour
  • 0,5 ml essential lavender oil
  • Ev. up to 0,5 ml of another essential oil (I used ‘Paradiso’ from CreArome)

Just stir all the ingredients in a dish and make sure the bicarbonate and flour dissolves. You do not want any clots. Keep the deodorant in a 120 ml glass jar. Store it in the fridge if you want to have a harder consistency.

Recipe source: Organic Makers

Remember the scent from a summer breeze...

Remember the scent from a summer breeze…

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Sunday features

Hosts: Andrea and Denise

På upptäcktsfärd genom livet

Våra liv är under ständig förändring. Genom åren lär vi oss nya saker och omvärderar vår syn på andra ting. I ett välmående liv utvecklas vi för att bli de människor vi var ämnade att vara. Vi finner oss själva i vår innersta kärna när vi lär oss att lyssna. Genom att komma i kontakt med oss själva blir vi grundade och bättre förankrade när stormarna kommer. Hopp, tilltro och tacksamhet genomsyrar våra tankar. Även i de svartaste stunder kan vi finna trygghet i oss själva. För mig känns det som att det är denna inre frid som är målet och meningen med våra liv. Hur vi når dit kan vi bara avgöra var och en för oss själva.

Foto: PublicDomainPictures


Som en del av min vandring mot att bli mer sann mot mig själv och tillåta min innersta önskan att ta plats har jag gjort en rad nya upptäckter. Till exempel provar jag på nya saker och känner efter om det passar mig. Då jag varken röker, dricker alkohol eller äter sötsaker lägger jag istället lite pengar på att ta hand om mig själv. Några av mina utforskningar följer här nedan.

Zonterapi

En god vän till mig rekommenderad zonterapi som ett sätt att läka och finna avkoppling. Jag var skeptisk, naturvetare som jag är, och tänkte att detta bara är humbug. Men eftersom jag i grunden är öppen för alternativa metoder gav jag det en chans. Och det var verkligen en spännande upplevelse. Både skönt, avkopplande och bitvis lite smärtsamt. Jag kände att något hände i både min kropp och själ som jag inte kan sätta ord på. Därför bestämde jag mig för att prova några fler gånger och se vad som händer.

Reflexologi – zonterapi. Foto: Wikipedia

Yoga

Imorgon börjar min yogakurs. Tidigare har jag provat på enklare övningar hemma, men jag har aldrig gått på gruppyoga. Det ska bli intressant att se om det kan vara något för mig. Yogan jag valt är Kundalini då det kändes som en bra början. Inriktningen verkar uppfylla mitt syfte, inre balans och harmoni.

Bild: Hartwig HKD

 Det viktigaste i Kundaliniyoga är din egen upplevelse. Den träffar dig rakt i hjärtat. Inga ord kan ersätta din egen erfarenhet. ~ Yogi Bhajan

Skrivarkurs

Senare i höst kommer jag att gå en helgkurs i skrivandets konst. I hela mitt liv har skrivandet kommit naturligt för mig. Så länge jag kan minnas har jag trivts i tystnaden och lugnet. Förmågan att låta pennan löpa tycks vara medfödd. Kanske har det också varit min räddning många gånger. När vännerna varit långt borta eller orden inte hittat ut ur munnen. Där pennan och pappret fungerat som ett redskap för att ge uttryck för mitt inre. Jag känner mig nu redo att se vad jag kan göra med denna förmåga eller snarare gåva.
Min tankebok. Foto: Charlotte

SPA  

Ordet sägs ibland ha sitt ursprung från latinets salus per aquam. Vilket betyder ungefär hälsa genom vatten. Den sanna historien är att det kommer från den belgiska orten Spa, där några av de första berömda kurorterna fanns.
I höst bär det av till ett av Stockholms SPA:n för att få professionella behandlingar och avkoppling med varma bad. En väninna till mig följer med och förgyller tillvaron ytterligare. Under en dag kommer vi bara fokusera på oss. Inget som stör runtomkring och min väninna får några barnfria timmar att ägna åt sig själv. Det ska bli så skönt och trevligt.
För den som vill går det förstås att ha en dag med hemma-SPA. Det finns många fina ekologiska produkter att ta hand om kroppen med. Att skräddarsy sina hudvårdsprodukter genom att göra dem själv är ett kul pyssel som rekommenderas.
Foto: Heike Frohnhoff

Hållbart i badrumsskåpet

Idag finns ingen enhetlig internationell miljömärkning för kroppsvård och kosmetika. Istället finns en hel djungel av certifieringar med olika kriterier. Hur ska vi veta vad som gäller och vilka märkningar kan vi egentligen lita på?

Dessa frågor har inget snabbt och enkelt svar. Vi måste helt enkelt ägna oss åt lite googling och besöka respektive organisations hemsida. Där finns i regel all information vi behöver för att kunna göra medvetna val. Utifrån kriterierna kan du själv avgöra hur du tycker märkningen upplever dina krav. Det handlar om vad du tycker är viktigt både för dig, djuren och miljön. Jag listar här nedan de vanligaste miljömärkningarna och länkar till varje hemsida. Där kan du läsa vad certifieringen innebär och även vilken typ av produkter som ingår i märkningen. När du väl en gång satt dig in i frågan kommer du enklare kunna välja rätt när du står där i butiken.

Förpackningar

Hållbarhet börjar redan vid förpackningen. Den bör vara tillverkad av resurssnålt material, gärna återvunnet. Förpackningen bör kunna återvinnas eller återbrukas. För trä, kartong och papper finns följande märkning:

Forest Stewardship Council

Kosmetika och hudvård

Här finns en uppsjö av olika märkningar för ekologiska produkter. Vissa är internationella, andra är nationella eller regionala. Jag önskar att en enhetlig grundläggande internationell certifiering av ekologiska hudvårdsprodukter införs. Detta för att underlätta för oss konsumenter men även för att gynna de ekologiska producenterna. Vidare kan det även bidra till att öka ekologiska produkters andelar på marknaden, eftersom det blir lättare att identifiera dem. Jag vet att det är en kostnadsfråga för producenterna att ingå i en certifiering. Så självklart bör de redan inkörda märkningarna finnas kvar som ett komplement. Sedan finns det förstås små lokala ekologiska producenter som av både kostnads och administrativa skäl inte har någon märkning. Här får vi helt enkelt sätta vår tillit till god affärssed.

BDIH
EcoCert

 

Andra miljömärkningar

Dessa återfinns på diverse ekologiska produkter och tjänster. Däribland på textilier i kläder och inredning. Men även på kemiska preparat och rengöringsmedel.
Bra Miljöval (falken)

Vegan-märkningar

Värnar om djurens rätt och välbefinnande. Inga animaliska ingredienser är tillåtna och GMO är helt uteslutet vid produktionen av Vegan-produkter.

Certified Vegan
The Vegan Society

Rättvise-märkning

Socialt ansvar. Garanterar bättre arbetsvillkor och levnadsvillkor för de som arbetar. Och gäller i hela produktionskedjan. Högre transparens och mer medinflytande är två viktiga aspekter.

Fairtrade

Pust, pust…

Det var en kort sammanfattning av certifieringar att ta hänsyn till och lära sig mer om. Givetvis finns det betydligt fler. Har du något tips på schysst hudvård eller smink? Eller kanske tillverkar du egna produkter till försäljning?
Dela gärna med dig av dina egna erfarenheter och recept.