The Phantom Road.

George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Ladner, B.C.

There are many artistic outlets in this amazing thing we are all a part of, known as life. We don’t believe in limiting our outlet and we do believe in always expanding and learning to create new pieces of beauty to interject into people’s worlds and small ways to help in all kinds of ways! Along with sharing all of the adventures along the way, we look forward to showing our art and lifestyle experiences with everyone who follows along on the journey. Not only will this revolve around art but also our little loopholes to live a happy and healthy life! We certainly hope that anyone reading and continuing along with us enjoys and gets inspired to set the bar higher and do what it is that makes you, well, you!

Weeds? That’s what they all say. “Superfood” for thought.

One thing as I’ve learned along my herbalism journey is that there are a multitude of plants that are considered weeds but are very useful. Seen as “pests” and are, in my opinion, highly undervalued. I will touch on two of my favourites, Lamium Purpureum (red dead-nettle, purple dead-nettle, purple archangel.) and Taraxacum Officinale (common dandelion). It wasn’t until I started learning about these things I’ve noticed how truly abundant they are all over the place!

Lamium Purpureum. It is a beautiful plant! It has some really nice looking purple flowers that I personally find very pleasing to the eye. Not only that, but, they are capable of a wide variety of uses. They have edible tops and leaves, which I find to be quite nice in a salad as a spring vegetable. I use a sweeter dressing as they are some what bitter. I find that they have a really prominent taste that not everyone will like. I sure do, though. I also make my own tea out of them, amongst other things. As I continue my mission to learn the art and science of herbalism, the course I’m taking has led me down all kinds of rabbit holes when it comes to harnessing the power of plants. Purple dead-nettle is a very good pick, literally. Highly abundant in nature. Quite easy to wild forage, as long as yo don’t get it from places where they use pesticides and all of that type of thing. Very nutritious and also has medicinal qualities as well. An astringent, diuretic, diaphoretic and purgative. Also, it is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal plant. One thing that I think should be studied more is, they have been shown to reduce the symptoms of allergies. For anyone who hates “that season” might find this plant to be of some help! One thing I love and have seen first hand out in my yard is that bees love them! They spread “like a weed”, as they are considered. And they are a very good source of pollen for bees as they can be extremely plentiful if you let them, yet they are easy enough to get rid of if you like. I have my own growing and I use them in all kinds of ways. You just have to be careful to not over do it as they have been known to have a laxative effect in high doses. Which is good to know, just in case that’s the desired result. My main uses are tea and salad for this little guy. I use romaine lettuce, purple dead-nettle leaves and dandelion greens as my own little super salad mix. They are high in iron so it can help with anemia. I urge you to go forth and do some reading on this plant, I personally think it is incredible! I won’t be able to cover every benefit in this one area but I believe I have given enough information for you to take a deeper look. The more you look, the more you’ll find! I definitely believe in this plant as a huge part of my overall wellness regimen. The more I learn about the variety of uses for plants, the more I love them.

Handy dandy Dandelions. Another plant considered a weed that people are extremely quick to get rid of. Free food is my favourite food, especially with today’s cost of living. The abundance of this plant is amazing. Another one that makes a great tea, amongst my other selected plants. And as I stated above, it is part of my favourite home made salad mix. I love it paired with purple dead-nettle leaves and romaine lettuce. I usually use Caesar dressing and some lemon and lime squeezed in there. Or a nice Raspberry Vinaigrette. What makes dandelion greens so good is, they’re highly nutritious and they grow basically everywhere. High in various vitamins and minerals, they are definitely a healthy choice. Both the dandelion and the purple dead-nettle are a great source of iron. So, for people with an iron deficiency can benefit from this plant. Also, if you don’t like milk like some people I know, dandelions are high in calcium. They have so many applications. A few are dandelion wine, roots as a coffee substitute, jam, honey substitute and the whole plant can be eaten raw or cooked. One thing I’ve stumbled across is this; batter the flower tops in tempura batter and fry them. They are so good and mostly healthy. I mean, fried things always have their unhealthy aspect to them but I love it all so! So many uses and benefits from one simple and highly abundant plant. Another one I urge everyone to have a look at, and one I use very regularly!

I could sit and write for hours on the topic of these two plants, I just love them! I hope I’ve given enough information that might intrigue more people to look into them. I stand by my belief in their practical use as super plants. Two that I will be specializing in as I get farther into my herbalism journey. There really is an art to the practical use of plants and I believe my creativity will play a major role in how I use all of the knowledge I have accumulated and will continue to accumulate. With all of the strain on the healthcare system these days, I believe in preventative wellness. And plants as an overall wellness booster. It’s 2020, there’s so much information out there that is right at our fingertips, you just have to look! I hope I’ve given you some “superfood” for thought! If you enjoy my thoughts, remember to follow along for more of my useful tidbits! Thanks for reading!

Flowers: Life, uh, finds a way.

“Life, uh, finds a way.” -Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Jurassic Park 1993. And let me tell you, does it ever. It always finds a way to amaze me! All of the colours. Variations. Locations. Life finds a way to overcome, even in conditions where nothing lives but plants. Every day I see vibrant colours in all shapes and sizes. My wife and I go for our regular walks and we are constantly flower spotting. It’s fun taking a walk and seeing how they develop with the changing seasons, naturally. And it’s also fun to see when people add or change their gardens. It’s cool to see which flowers people choose for their collections. I’m always photographing these little beauties. Even if I’m taking pictures of the same ones, there are many ways to capture life’s beautiful little flowers!

Part of the fun, for me, is choosing how to capture what I see. I love taking each shot and making it into its own little scene. I feel that I am very creative, and I like to use that to my advantage and play with all of the variables that go into a good shot in my eyes. Nothing will ever turn out 100% the same. Especially with plants and flowers. The wind moves them. Dew forms. The leaves change colour. Lighting conditions change throughout the day. Light plays with the shadows and that all affects how the colours appear. There really is a science to all of it. And I will reiterate, the array of colours you find occurring amongst the flower petals and their leaves are truly amazing!

There are so many ways to be creative with the use of the camera, which is a tool. And the magic of editing! Part of being creative is knowing your tools and always expanding and learning. You can never know it all. Knowing that, I still try. I learn at least one new thing every day. I stay outside the box and analyze what’s inside. I take the book and add my own pages. I love learning how things are “supposed to be done” and finding ways to use my tools in ways that aren’t the norm. I like to shake things up. There’s always a way to achieve what you want out of an image. Being creative is easy when you’re just experimenting. Trial and error is something I love. And I do a lot of that while building upon my skill set always. Trying every day to move outside my comfort zone. When I’m out and about with my wife photographing flowers we select a little scene and start shooting. It’s amazing to see what each of us comes up with while using our cameras on the same scene or subject. Every person uses their tools differently. We all have a different “eye”. We all have our own personal perception of the different settings and controls on the camera. When my wife and I switch cameras and use each others we can always tell which ones were me and which ones were her. Evidently, we have our own “creative stamp” that shows itself in our photographs.

I feel so at home, so at peace in nature. My wife is the same way. That’s why we choose to surround ourselves with plants of all kinds. They make the air fresher. They make a room brighter. I feel as though I can pick up on the life force that they exude and they add another dimension of life to a room or even out in the yard. Not to mention the colours. Those add the most amazing pops to any space or place. Not only can they be ornamental, but, they can be totally useful also! But that’s a topic for another time. There is a never ending variety of plants and flowers, seemingly. And they still find new species. And cross species. Life truly does always find a way. Plants have a knack for overcoming all kinds of obstacles. Us humans do also, but there’s a lot to be learned from plant life. Go for a nature walk and as you walk and you start to look at the plants and flowers all around, you’ll notice there are many different ones all commingling and fighting their way to the sun’s kiss.

For anyone that made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my ramblings. There are plenty more to come so follow along for more art and life things! All kinds of neat tidbits coming up!

Artistic opinion. Black and white or colour? Why choose?!

I really enjoy the elegance of BnW. I like how the light and the shadows work together. I find that it can turn simple and otherwise drab images into bonafide works of art. Mind you, I can find beauty in anything, even that which is seemingly lacklustre to others. I may see a normal rock on the ground that has one little speckle of something that glimmers in the sun and it’s like gold. I adore all things art, and as I learn and improve on my own skills and abilities I keep loving it even more. I’ve found that I enjoy the processes of working with black and white images. I enjoy how you can take something as simple as an item or a flower which may already look awesome in colour but add a different feel to it. Play the shadows off the light and the light off the shadows! It is a lot of fun for me. -K.P.N.

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