4 December 2014

More of natures' jewels: postcards!

I turned the best photos of the misty morning garden session into postcards. Perhaps you would like to use them as greeting cards? They are available here.

NB. the actual postcards have no logo on the photo side of the card.

13 November 2014

A misty morning

This morning it was very cold - and very misty.
As I was bringing my child to school with the bicycle, the shivers of cold soon melted into silent admiration.
The sun rose slowly above the horizon, surrounding us in white light.

On my way back, I had the idea of taking a look at the gardens of the local nature society. "But I'm cold!" I thought. And yet, the bicycle took a left turn where it should have gone right (according to my freezing toes).
I got to the gardens and I was struck with awe. And with regret of not having my camera with me.
In the following split second I was heading for my bike, raced home to fetch the camera (took some photos along the way) and arrived just as the sun came through the tree tops.

Tiny droplets hung on cobwebs, transforming the garden into a display of natures very own jewellery.
The dry, brown stems of plants with seeds on them (or not) were wrapped in watery diamonds and pearls. Perhaps I should carry the camera with me always, just in case.

As always, you're welcome to share on social media, just as long as you link your posts to this source. See "Important stuff" in the left column.

27 October 2014

Medicine making

I'm not sure which part I'd choose I love the most: the gathering, the preparing, the gentle stirring of the contents during the infusion time by rocking the jars between my hands, the filtering or the actual, finished medicine, labelled. It's one thrilling, utterly satisfying journey. Bottling smaller amounts into tiny glass bottles with pipettes. Putting some of them into our kitchen cabinet for daily use. A sigh of accomplishment and happiness - finally! Finally I'm doing this, what I was softly aching for my whole life. Turning plants into medicine, in collaboration, with the spirits of the plants. In it together.

2nd batch of herbal medicine

This time I finished making Plantain tincture, Plantain extract in apple cider vinegar, Mugwort and rose petal elixir, Mullein tincture, Mullein flower infusion in almond oil, Yarrow tincture, Elderberry elixir and Impatiens tincture.

My online study was going very slow for a period of time, as I was gathering and preparing the medicine and reading into the Plant Healer publications. Now back on track of the intermediate herbal course, enjoying it very much!

23 October 2014

Autumn at the future foodforest

The future foodforest - which is a field at the moment. 

The fruit trees are out there... And the baby walnut tree 'Chiara' :)
I was hoping to be able to make some paths into the high grass this time, but we only got as far as planting the trees, organic(!) flower bulbs and blueberries we had with us, and cutting the bramble around the field.


Here's the Elstar apple tree I planted this spring. I hope it will grow big, strong and abundant!  On the far right of this photo you can see the blue bucket of the next photo...

I admit, it is a messy photo. Jerusalem artichoke falling all over the place, a bucket to put the tubers in and behind the bucket the sugar maple that was looking so tall in my Amsterdam garden, now dwarfed by the surrounding wilderness.

 And here's some harvest! Herbs, roots and Jerusalem artichoke to take inside.

This was the second autumn for us there. Last year I didn't even make it to the edges of the field, the grass and brambles were in such a wild state until winter. This year I made my walk around and let sighs of happiness - hello Hawthorn, hello Elder, hi there Walnut and Hazelnut trees!

Hawthorn tincture is now steeping for its six weeks.

The hazelnuts had fallen out, the walnut tree stands in knee-high nettles...  Even though I was looking for walnuts, I couldn't find them on the ground. Maybe next year?

25 September 2014

Plant wish list* shortened

Last Saturday it was plant market day at the Hortus botanicus in Amsterdam. Could I stay away? Of course not. Whilst I'm not looking for a rare species of orchidee or geranium, I had a hunch there might be something special for me as well.

And I actually gave a tiny squeal of joy when I found seeds of Passiflora incarnata, and of Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). A grown-up giving a spontaneous squeal of joy, because of seeds? Yes, that's me.

(* You can find the plant wish list in the column, left. I'm all in for swapping seeds/small plants. Just drop me a line with your wishlist!)

Happy as a child I was eager to see if there were other great treasures to find. And as by magic, I was drawn to a stall with lots of tiny trees... Walnut trees. (and pecan nut trees, but let's stick to the walnuts now, shall we?)
But...eeh...we have a walnut tree already. And walnut trees grow huge.
"Hello. How big does a walnut tree get?"
"Oh, these will be about 7meters high in 30 years."
About a dozen questions later I walked away with our Walnut tree No.2 (on the photo on the left).
Because these, Juglans regia "Chiara" produce lots and lots of walnuts, with an oil percentage of 55%!  You can find the nursery through this link.

On my way out my eyes caught on a small pomegranate tree (Punica granatum), and after a short inner quarrel about its chances to survive the mid-European winter at 750m altitude the doubting mind gave in to the adventurous optimist and here we are, two trees more to fit in.

At the beginning of the summer holiday one tree didn't fit in the car because of all the other luggage (and plants). So I thought I'd take it along "the next time". Mental note: trees grow. Now we'll have to find out how we cram in this young sugar maple. ...It's looking quite flexible, don't you think?

20 September 2014

Elderberry syrup

With the crazy weather we've been having lately (cold mornings, hot afternoons), everyone in our little family is sneezing and wiping their nose every now and then.
Enter Elderberry Syrup!

At the end of August I was lucky enough to find lots of elderberries, and harvested some, leaving plenty for the birds to feast on. I didn't use sugar when making the syrup, but added runny honey instead at the end of the process. I'm storing the little bottle in the fridge, and will keep an sharp eye on it in case it should go bad. So far we've been very lucky - no one's really caught a cold yet (thank you, Elder!) and there's still plenty of the syrup left.

 Here's how I made mine:

1 part ripe elderberries + 0.5 part water (I didn't have much elderberries, maybe 250ml)
a little stick of cinnamon
1 whole clove
 2 tbspns chopped, fresh ginger

Simmer and stir occasionally for 1 hour+, or until reduced by half.

Add honey at the end, when you're done with simmering the syrup (I used 1 tbsp, it could use more).
Strain, bottle and label.

Store in the fridge.

You can take 1 tsp/hr when you feel flu coming on, or make a warm drink of it by adding hot water and some freshly squeezed lemon juice to it.

Please note: be very sure of what you harvest when wild-harvesting! If you're not 100% certain you know the plant, don't pick of it. With medical conditions always consult your medical specialist!

15 September 2014

Herbal walk

Today I enjoyed a herbal walk with Lynn from Urban Herbology at Park Frankendael. Lovely weather, a great group and a wonderful walk in a beautiful park - what more could you ask for?
We, the participants came from the Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland, UK and Finland (ahem!) and went back to our Amsterdam homes full with useful information. Thank you Lynn!

You can find more about Urban Herbology here:

11 September 2014

What's brewing?

This is what I bought home the first time during the vacation. Some Nettle roots (later I found a spot where I could harvest thick, long ones), Plantain (Pantago major), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Mallow (Malva sylvestris).

I like this photo, it is illustrating 'the first touch' so very well. Tentatively, I took home a few treasures to look at, hold and wonder upon.

Later I got more close with the herbs on the wild-grown land, and felt their generosity. And I saw the abundance! With gratitude, I picked of the plants above, and of Rose petals, Goldenrod, Mullein and Mugwort.

Some are now dried, stored in glass jars, and in my medicine drawer waiting for future direct use or medicine-making. Others are swimming in alcohol and/or honey, apple cider vinegar or oil. From 6th October onwards I will be filtering the goodness, transferring them into herbal remedy bottles.

from left to right: yarrow tincture, plantain tincture, mullein tincture, rose-and mugwort elixir and the next jar :)

The longer I'm in contact with this form of art, the more my intuition opens, and old knowledge surfaces, becomes accessible again.

As I read the books and online information on herbal medicine and am in contact with the herbs, the clearer it becomes to me: this is how it is meant to be. Our human bodies are a part of the nature of this planet. Why wouldn't the interaction with plants then heal our bodies and help us in balancing the energy flows in these bodies?

It is an ecosystem of its own, with well-balanced healing agents helping other living beings (humans, animals and other plants, in a symbiotic relationship) perfectly.

31 August 2014

Future foodforest and healing garden

Planning for the future starts with a grand dream. My dream is now nine years old, and started to materialize one year ago...hold on to your (good) dreams!!

At the moment the (hopefully) future food forest and healing garden is one big, bewildered field - many years ago it was a pasture for horses. There is also a smaller grassland with some fruit trees (and a house :) ).

Last year I started with planting some fruit trees into the field, and until now, every time we get to go there I take one or two trees with me to plant.
It has been a summer with lots of rain and warm, sunny spells - good for the growth!
On the edge of the field I had to cut my way through ferns, the ferns standing as tall as tall as I am, to get to my baby cherry tree... but all the trees were doing fine, what a relief.

It is a plum year! Some of the plum trees were so heavy the branches had broken...what a pity, and what an abundance.

The place is at 750m above sea level, something to keep in mind when planning for the plants.

I harvested some of the wild, clean goodness of healing herbs. Mullein (in the photo below), yarrow, plantain, nettles, rose petals and mugwort.

Feeling very blessed. And a little bit torn between two worlds. Here in Amsterdam I'm propagating and growing plants for there. And when we are there, one of the first tasks is to cut back the brambles creeping into the field...

It is a good lesson in patience for me. The joy of seeing such a dear dream come true gives me patience in the here&now, between two worlds.

Hold on to your dreams. They have a tendency to come true.

30 August 2014

An Update, at last - Animal Communication workshop with Anna Breytenbach

Field harvest in July. Inside the linen towel are nettles for dinner.

Hello there!

In these digital times it is not done to be off-line for the amount of time I did...but I did.

I do recommend weeks and weeks of off-line time - it grounds, gets you back to your roots, back to who you really are.

The updates will be in separate posts, beginning with ...


...Animal Communication workshop with Anna Breytenbach

these photos come from the All Is Energy Academy's blog

Very early in this year I saw the documentary of Anna, the animal communicator, on the internet . 
Tears of gratitude were rolling down my cheeks - here was my proof that inter-species communication exists!

Here is a trailer of the film    (for those viewing this post on Nina's Nature website, click on the header of the post to take you to blogger = see the trailer):

I subscribed to her newsletter, and by chance, two weeks later I got the announcement she was coming to teach in the Netherlands! I jumped at the chance, and got in, amongst an international group of enthusiastic participants, learning to "get out of our own way" with the guidance of Anna, in the first weekend of July.

Anna is a very gentle, firm, informative and gifted tutor, with lots of humour and compassion.
I recommend her to anyone who is interested in learning animal communication.

My own motivation was learning to communicate (better) with plants. I thought that animal communication and plant communication would not be very different. And indeed, it is all interspecies communication, and although after a weekend I can't fluently communicate with all other beings on this Planet, I'm happy to have a solid base to practise further on. (And yes, it works!)

You can find Anna via her website AnimalSpirit.org. On her site, on the media page, you can also find more information about the documentary.

27 June 2014

The Bee

bumblebee on self-heal, in my garden yesterday

Last evening I had the chance to see this documentary (Queen of the Sun) about bees...
It was life-changing. It is giving an insight to the nature of bees, our original connection with the bees and the state of the bees - and of us - today.

This year has been revolutionary to me so far, and it looks like the exploration to deeper levels of being-ness will continue for some time.

The herbal study is going on, on many levels (reading, practical, spiritual). I'm enjoying daily herbal teas from the garden, harvesting generous plants for future use, and making St.Johns wort oil for the first time in my life. It is an intense time, with little room for sharing the new impulses with the rest of the world - I need to feel it all, filter it through myself, integrate it. Only then, when I have 'found the new ground under my feet', the communication about it can follow.

Wishing you a great adventure on your path of life. Keep your senses open!

27 May 2014

Elder ( Sambucus nigra )

As I bicycle my daily route along some fields and the edges of woods, the sweet scent of elder makes me want to stay there the whole day. It is inviting, intoxicating, playful and magical at the same time.
When I get back home in the sunny morning, I quickly pick up my flower clippers and a bag, and head  to the edges of the woods, where light and shadow meet, where the white flowers wink to me, the origins of the sweet scent.

I'm looking for elder-trees that stand in the sun in the afternoon. I'm looking at the vitality of each little tree (they are officially bushes, but here they grow as small trees) : are they happy, vital, healthy, or small (young), a bit reserved, so-so? I'm making contact with them, approaching the ones I think they might be so kind to share of their flowers to me. They are all so beautiful, wonderful and some are truly abundant, having clusters of flowers the size of a 7 year old child's palm, offering their flowers towards me saying "take, take!".
It's as if giving their sweet floral offer is the most joyful thing they can think of - and I take, in gratitude, telling her how fantastic she is!


elder flowers, spread out to dry

 dried elder flowers

But there are also trees that are "closed", not feeling like communicating, and one elder very clearly stated that all her flowers, which will later be berries, are reserved to the birds.

I never take much from one tree, but move on, meeting and greeting many trees, having contact with a whole elder family as I gather the flowers. I only take the ones that push themselves to my attention, ones that are fully open, not in a bud, and not wilted... I'm aware I'm not the only one appreciating the gifts of elder - the bees (for the flowers) and the birds (for the berries) do too. 
I only take what I need.
And I give thanks, to every tree, to the whole elder clan. Happy, and dusted in light yellow pollen I return home.

Uses: I dry the elder flowers for tea. It is a great help to me when there is 'that pollen' in the air that causes me hayfever, and later in the year I drink a herbal tea with elder flowers in it if I catch a cold or flu, in order to soothe off the threat of sinusitis, to strengthen my immune system and to regulate fever. One could also make wine or syrup from elder flowers, and here in the Netherlands there seems to be an old tradition of elderflower pancakes - so much to try out!

25 April 2014

An update

Next to the herbal studies I am now in the process of starting a sustainability think tank together with a friend.
We're brainstorming walk-in meetings, workshops and happenings, with themes such as permaculture, local economy, local networking, crafts, healthy food and natural self care. Very exciting!

My seedlings are taking off, growing steadily and after a couple of weeks the first ones go into the garden.

In gratitude,

17 April 2014


As a child I loved to spend time in the woods and in the meadows, looking at plants, talking to them, listening to what they had to say, sometimes tasting them.
I wanted to heal with herbs. I looked in the kitchen cupboards of my mother - dried oregano, thyme...hmmm.
I got a book about Flower Fairies and tried to find them outside. Hmmm.
Later I got a book on withcraft and many books on healing with herbs. And a necklace with a calendula pendant.

And yet, it took a couple of decades for me to realise: this, herbalism, is what I'm supposed to be doing!

I wanted to find the best herbalist course there is, or, more accurately: the most fitting for me.

Pretty soon I found the online intermediate herbal course by the Herbal Academy of New England. After examining their (informative, abundant!) website and reading the reviews I decided to invest in myself, and thereby also on the health of those whose lives touch mine*.
I was particularly happy about the promise of high quality, in depth information and about the prospect of studying online, at my own pace.

Learn Herbalism Online with the Herbal Academy of New England

The herbal course consists of ten learning units, each consisting of chapters and a quiz - or, I would call it a test. Only after passing the test of the unit you have been learning you can move on to the next one. There is also an online community, and the people of Academy of New England are very helpful and friendly.

It was only when I started the first unit that I realized how solid this training would be! It is packed with in-depth information, full of useful plant portraits and liberally sprinkled with herbal remedy recipes. 

If you want to learn herbalism in depth, I recommend this course wholeheartedly!

* My personal motivation to practice herbalism is inherently connected with the life power of the plants. Nature is woven is such a infinitely intricate manner that for every problem there is a cure.
By returning to my roots - having a deeply meaningful relationship with the deva's of the plants - I'm closing a circle that was uncomfortably open... and now I can rise up this spiral again, helping those whose lives touch mine, with herbal medicine.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

At first I regarded the intensely orange calendula as a garden flower. It self-seeds readily, flowers through the summer and is an easy plant to grow. But as the years passed, my Very First Garden Ever turned slowly from a test field ("learn by trial and error" seems to be my preferred method) to a decorative-and edible garden and now the healing aspect is taking over. And healing is precisely what calendula does.

Calendula has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It promotes the healing of your skin, so it is great for healing (sun)burns, cuts and scrapes and soothes rashes.

Taken internally, as a tea, it calms heart palpitations, soothes the guts and heals wounds and irritations. It is even mentioned as an anti-tumor herb*.

Just by looking at calendula I can see/sense it is bursting with vitality and joy.
If you have calendula in your garden, you're lucky! Harvest the open flowerheads in the morning, after the dew has dried up. At the end of the season let calendula flowers mature and go to seed. Save seed or let your plant self-seed itself. As with all plants, treat calendula with respect and gratitude. Give it water in dry seasons, and a sunny spot were it can spread out. It will grow a long stem that lies on the ground with side stems and plenty of flowers.

You can make calendula oil by putting the fresh or dried petals in a jar and covering them with jojoba-, olive- or almond oil. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth and put it in a sunny place for two to three weeks. Sieve through a cheesecloth and pour in a clear jar with a lid. Label and store in a cool, dry place.

This is a great base oil for any skin improving ointments you may wish to make, or use it as is.
If you are in a hurry, you can also warm the oil gently in a double boiler / au bain marie, sprinkle the petals in, let the water simmer (not boil!) on a gentle heat for a minimum of 20 minutes and allow to cool. Then sieve through a cheesecloth as above.

* V. Raipala-Cormier; LuontoƤidin kotiapteekki (1997, Finland)

12 April 2014

Petition to the EU: save perfume's soul

This is our chance to let our voices be heard: please consider signing this well researched and formulated petition to the EU regarding perfume regulation
A quote from the end conclusion:
"In light of the highly manageable danger potential, we, the undersigned, wish to make our own decisions as to which perfumes, containing what ingredients, we shall use. There is no need to restrict freedom of choice for all consumers if the 1-3% affected by allergies are provided with sufficient information to enable them to knowingly avoid the risk of a skin rash. We want the variety of scent in perfumes to be retained, and to have a choice in the future."

8 April 2014

Wish scrolls - background story

"Wish scrolls. Or magic scrolls, from Ethiopia.
Containing a magic spell, or a blessing to cure someone who was severely ill. The contents of the scroll were cut to exactly the same height as the person who needed to be cured". That was roughly what I read, during my study BA Bookbinding, at Roehampton Institute (now Surrey University). The images I saw were long ribbons of vellum, with somewhat naivistic angels with big eyes, and text.


But I never saw the exterior of the scrolls, or the carrier of them. Now you google "Ethiopian magic scroll" and feast your eyes...but back then it was me and my imagination.

My adventurous husband went to the Sahara desert for a trek with camels carrying their gear, camping under the desert stars, singing with the nomads. I made a wish scroll for him to take with him, as a protective amulet, token of love, a talisman for great things to happen. He carried it against his skin for the trek, and when he came back I was amazed to find the scroll buffed to a high shine and darker of colour - but of course, leather is a porous, natural material and it will soak up the oils from our skin, thus becoming truly ours!

Since then I made many... you can find the ones that are currently available here.

Here's his scroll, now permanently living in the adventuremobile :

And mine, worn in times of intense wishing, here together with a wonderful Spirit Carrier-talisman from MiaIlluzia

PS. I found this blog post about Ethiopian magic scrolls, containing a little side-note to Indiana Jones (two reasons to add the link!) But seriously, it has a lovely written story and some inspiring illustrations, go check it out!