Ivan Chai – the tea that Hitler feared

The name of the tea “Ivan Chai” was coined by the Western World. “Ivan” is a traditional Russian name, while “Chai” means tea in Russian. It´s also called Kaporie Chai by the name of the village between Estonian border and St.Petersburg.

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Päävalurohu smudge sticks

sooksail.jpgRhododendron syn. Ledum palustre is a Eurasian relative of famous labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum). Leaves of  the plants that grow in Estonian marshes are tiny comparasing to the one growing in Greenland and North America.

As the plant has so many names it must´ve been used  frequently by all the natives in those regions where the climate and soils are challeging for all living beings. In Estonia it´s called “sookail” or “päävalurohi”(head ache medicine).

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Living according to nature

I visited my former science teacher Aivi Maandi(78) in her log house with a mossy rooftop on an exeptionally warm autumn day. She is an author of various herbal medicine and natural dyes´ books, which were so popular that it´s difficult to find a copy of them in the book stores. Aivi used to be a teacher of chemistry, biology and geography in Emmaste elementary school. She grew up in a talu(traditiona estonian farm house) in Järvamaa and has always  been drawn to forest as long as she remembers. And being an elderly lady Aivi still feels that way because working around plants is very important part of life as it boosts the energy and makes her happy.

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Growing and using lemongrass

Lemongrass(Cymbopogon flexuosus) grows naturally in tropics and lemongrasssubtropics but it is possible to grow it in temperate climate too.  Long fiberous leaves have a fresh citrusy smell and taste. Aromatic leaves of the herb are widely used in asian dishes, aromatherapy and tea infusions. Also the essencial oil pressed from lemongrass is an effective natural insect repellent. Growing lemongrass from seed can be a tricky experiment because they need constant temperatures over 22 °C. It is much easier to buy the stems from the supermarket or asian store and grow them vegetatively. Sometimes they already have grown little roots in the package.

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DIY mini greenhouse

March is the month of spring and time for sowing seeds, at least indoors or in a greenhouse here in northern hemisphere. I don´t have one yet and therefore I decided to create a mini version out of old cd-cases. I saw several DIY-s on the web, where they had cut the CD cases but I do not think that cutting plastic is that easy. Last time when I tried to make a smart phone hologram I went to through about 10 cases before I managed to make the right cut.

You need: at least 4 CD cases, glue gun.

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