Medicines from the Edge: a Tropical Herbal Convergence – Aguas Zarcas, Costa Rica

How fantastic would it be to attend a conference like this one? If you are in Costa Rica in March, how about you drop past?

anthropogen

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A friend, Stephen Brooks, recently contacted me with information on an enthnobotanical / medicinal plant convergence he is coordinating next March in Costa Rica. This will undoubtedly be a fascinating and highly educational event for anyone interested in ethnobotany and or related subjects (plants, permaculture, agroforestry, anthropology, ethnopharmacology, natural history, etc). Below I have posted some additional information on the event and relevant links.
Take a look at the website and feel free to contact the organizers at medicinesfromtheedge@gmail.com with any questions you may have.The information below is quoted from the Convergence website.

About:

An herbal gathering to celebrate the diverse abundance of medicines from the tropics. Termales del Bosque Hot Spring Resort, Aguas Zarcas
Mission:
To celebrate and educate herbalists and plant enthusiasts about the diverse and abundant medicinal plants found in Costa Rica.
Description:

March 28-31, 2014
Termales del Bosque, Hot Spring Resort
Aguas Zarcas, San Carlos…

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Wholemeal banana cake with chocolate chips

Delicious, fragrant and addictive.
Delicious, fragrant and addictive.

This delicious, generous sized cake is easy and quick to prepare. It is my usual adaptation of several recipes over time. My toddler loves to sit on the bench and help with mashing, pouring, mixing and sampling along the way! Yum. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine.

Ingredients

Spray oil to grease tin
2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
½ cup wholemeal plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup non-dairy milk
4 tbsp (more or less) dairy-free chocolate chips
2 free range eggs
80 g melted butter or dairy free spread or 4 tbsp rice bran oil
5 over ripe bananas, mashed

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 fan forced). Spray oil in 26 cm non-stick spring form pan to lightly grease. Line base with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Combine flours, cinnamon and chocolate chips in large bowl. In a medium bowl, stir well to combine milk, eggs, melted butter and banana. Add banana mixture to flour and stir until just combined. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  3. Bake in pre-heat oven for 45 or so minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and cake springs back lightly to the touch. Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes. Place onto wire rack to cool completely.
  4. If cooking with toddler, clean bench and toddler from head to toe!
Crystalised brown sugar is a nice texture contrast to the beautiful soft centre
Crystalised brown sugar is a nice texture contrast to the beautiful soft centre

Cook’s notes

This is my favourite version with chocolate chips but you can omit or substitute with nuts to suit your taste. For dairy free, substitute milk products with non dairy alternatives. For vegan, omit eggs. There is enough mashed banana in this recipe to not worry about substitution.  Coconut is nice too. Just substitute comparable amount of the plain flour.

I could have called this recipe banana bread, but really, we all know it’s a cake…

Atrax Track, Manorina and Jolly’s Lookout, D’Aguilar National Park

Palm groves make shady umbrellas
Palm leaves make shady umbrellas

The Atrax circuit is a fantastic walk for families with small children. It is only 750 m long with level, wide paths, timber bridges and stone steps.  It is accessed via the Manorina Carpark on the right hand side of Mt Nebo Road, 22 kilometres from the Brisbane Forest Park Information Centre (only 30 kilometres from the Brisbane CBD).

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This track leads through beautiful wet eucalypt forest. The tall, mixed forest offers a diversity of tree species providing dappled light to the rich understorey below. The path winds through little pockets of “fern forests”, past “mossy boats”, trickling creeks, small ponds, through the middle of a burnt out tree, underneath wonderful tree canopies with large epiphytic orchids (Dendrobium speciosum), little palm groves, secret little patches of terrestrial orchids, vines and grassy patches.

This forest offers a wonderful diversity of texture and colour.
This forest offers a wonderful diversity of texture and colour.
What's around the corner?
What’s around the corner?

This is a quality walk with plenty of Nature engagement opportunities. Allowing little people to take their time, run back, run forward, pick up rocks, turn over leaves, balance on fallen logs, play peek-a-boo, make leaf umbrellas, float leaf boats down the creeks, stand in the water, feel the different barks, look up at the sky, walk the brick entrance and jump up the path will have everyone’s heart singing.

The trees seem to reach all the way to the sky!
The trees seem to reach all the way to the sky!
A blackened tree trunk
A blackened tree trunk

There are no facilities apart from a car park, so we teamed this walk up with a picnic at the Jolly’s Lookout picnic area (a couple of minutes in the car back towards the city). The vistas are good out past Lake Samsonvale and beyond. There are toilets and bbq areas (no wood collection from the forest), and one large undercover area at the lookout.

What a Jolly Lookout...
What a Jolly Lookout…
A good spot for lunch
A good spot for lunch

Inormation on D’Aguilar National Park can be found at http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/daguilar/about.html

What a lovely morning out on a glorious winter’s day. A family member brought home a leech from this walk so maybe tuck the little peoples’ pants into their socks just to be safe.

Upcycling a sun shelter for winter garden fun

A new play station under some trees in our garden
A new play station under some trees in our garden

I want to live more sustainably. What better way than maximizing the uses for items in our own homes? I am on a mission to make do or do without. So we upcycled an old sun shelter and now have a new play station in our garden. It was retrieved from the garage and refashioned into a house!

Plenty of room for a small party!
Plenty of room for a small party!

This sun shelter represents lots of typical items in the modern home. It has a specific purpose, used seldom, takes up lots of storage space and when it breaks it gets dumped because it’s more cost effective to replace it than repair it. Why not increase its usefulness?

An old curtain remnant was strung up for the door. What a hit (open, shut, open, shut)! We laid an old cloth down for flooring and various other items have now found a new home inside.

We enjoyed afternoon tea in the new little garden home
We enjoyed afternoon tea in the new little garden home

A quick set up, easily maintained and a great activity for a sunny winter’s day at home. Have you got any similar play-based upcycling projects at your place? I’d love to hear about them.

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Turning parenting blunders into personal successes

Parenting blunders need not be obstacles, they can be opportunities for personal growth
Parenting blunders need not be obstacles, they can be opportunities for personal growth

As Captain Obvious would say, I am an imperfect person. There have times when I haven’t kept my cool and got shrill. It all came from fear. I find that I act out most when something is lacking (usually sleep) or I have overloaded myself (a tendency).

My children are little and deserve a peaceful mother. Raising my voice makes everyone feel crappy. Feeling remorseful about losing my cool is useless if I can’t back myself with more than just good intentions. This is personal work. It isn’t easy to share this with you, but maybe you can relate to my experience?

This is how I have turned parenting blunders into a plan for personal growth. My steps to becoming a better, more worry-free, peaceful human being are listed. It’s been working wonders.

  1. Let go. Will this matter in a year? Most of the time, my answer is no.
  2. Be honest with myself about why something is bothering me. What is the actual cause of my worry?
  3. Do something silly with my babies every day and have a giggle.
  4. Take care of myself better.
  5. Prioritize for a peaceful night. This means having dinner prepared so there’s no rush and bath my children early. If they are tired there is no need to race the clock if I am organized.
  6. Feel good so I’m nice to come home to. For me, this could just be a walk in the garden for 10 minutes with the children to brighten up before bath time.
  7. Have a cause. It’s amazing how little everyday worries seem to matter when I have an ear to the outside world. Personally, I care about animal welfare so am abreast of issues related to live animal export and factory farming.

    Having a cause is good for the soul.
    Having a cause is good for the soul.
  8. Do something I love most days. I love to play with my babies, cook, bushwalk and sew. Throughout the week, I usually do all of this. Here’s my quick sew for today. Pants for my little girl. I even put my Whistling Kite Collective label on the inside for her. I have a feeling these will be Christened her “bird pants” and there may be a special song involved when she wears them!

    Making a gift for someone special is fun
    Making a gift for someone special is fun and makes them feel important
  9. Don’t try to be an overachiever. Something has to give and it’s usually my sanity.
  10. Remember that I am exactly what my children need. By just being me, loving and respecting them as the individuals they are, they will thrive.
  11. Reward myself.

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