Plants For Air Quality

With a certain amount of excitement on his part, and some natural trepidation shared, I delivered my son to university at the weekend – packed, prepped and ready to start his journey within the new academic arena of his choice.

We arrived … only to discover that my son’s allocated hall of residence had just been refurbished. The smell of paint in the stairwell was cloying. The smell of brandnew carpet and MDF furniture in his bedroom stuck in my throat and I felt it everywhere. The knowledge of the air pollution and indoor toxins burnt in my brain, but I refused to panic.

It was impossible to get the bedroom window open wide enough to freshen the air – my son figured out how to free it substantially, 24 hours later, thank heavens – and so we set to the great unpacking procedure, despite the cloying stuffiness. I tried not to worry, but knew that I needed to do something to rectify it or I would not relax, given what I know about these things.

Once unpacked and supped, instead of accepting the status quo, refusing to cave into fear of what the toxins were doing to everyone in the apartment block, I made a beeline for the nearest supermarkets in the town. They are located, thankfully, nearby – all other shops were closed by that stage anyway – and was relieved to find one that had a few peace lily plants. Of the four on the shop shelf,  I gratefully scooped up two in best health, in order to help clean the air of the apartment.

My children are used to this, used to my concern about indoor and outdoor air quality. They ‘get’ that it’s about health and wellbeing, as well as adding effortless hygge (a Danish term I learnt recently), something they’re accustomed to as well. They take it in their stride when I start placing plants everywhere, indeed even listening when I give care instructions for the healthy maintenance of the green. My children have grown up hearing about healthy spaces, they both understand that it’s worth considering the materials we use for renovations. Air quality can make a huge difference to our health or otherwise.

Four days hence, and my son has settled in fast … as I’m sure have the plants. It is just a shame that the rest of the building was not health screened in this way. His bedroom received special treatment. Lucky chap.

It is worth making the effort to use eco paints and install natural carpets, as well as choosing wooden, rather than synthetic, furnishings. Using products that do not contribute any harmful elements to the air that we breathe, would make the world of interiors a much calmer and safer place – for the workers and the inhabitants, alike. Renovators, designers, building managers, handymen and renovation rescue teams of television fame, take note! If in doubt, add plants … Or add them anyway, to suck up fumes from materials, as well as those from electronic devices of all sorts.

It pays to take care of our environments, both indoors and out. A penchant for plants is never wasted!

 

 

In good health,

Holly x

 

 


 

Pingback to WordPress “The Daily Post” – prompt: Penchant
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Courage To Be Real

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I recently received a message from someone I have never met, whom I learnt has had a very challenging life and has a very sad childhood story. The message was so heartfelt and so grateful  … it moved me beyond tears … this post is a result of receiving that message.

Apparently my ‘being real’ has been a blessing and has provided strength to this person, who has been following my writing (unbeknownst to me) for some time …

Why am I sharing this snippet into the ether?

Because I have a very important message for anyone who thinks that their life is meaningless, less than, unappreciated, unapplauded, unrewarded or is simply battling through the little and large waves:

You do matter. Being real IS allowed. You ARE precious. You DO deserve to be on this earth. You ARE worthy of love. It does NOT matter what you look like to others. It is NOT money or possessions that give people value. It is NOT anyone else’s place to make you feel bad about yourself. You DO have a role to play in the universe. You ARE allowed to be honest, frank, authentic, and even ‘cut and dried’. You MAY become a brighter, lighter, saltier, more fabulous and utterly authentic version of yourself. There is NOTHING that is impossible with God on your side, so do NOT allow ANYONE to rob you of your dreams, your true nature, your ambitions, your hopes, your desires. It IS OK to fall down and it is even ok to make a complete and utter fool of yourself … as long as you learn from the experience, keep learning, and allow yourself the freedom to laugh at life and to laugh at your own jokes! Laugh at yourself, laugh and laugh and laugh … And HUG yourself a lot, because there are times when no one else is there to hug you. So, always find ways to encourage YOURSELF. You are fully entitled to joy and peace and love and prosperity and abundance in every way that you wish and that would make your heart sing. You DO matter, and every single aspect of life belongs to you just as much as you belong to Life itself.

There is only one caveat to all of this, and it is:

Remember that it is in giving of ourselves that we give the most … money can never quite cut it in the same way … and if we wish to see our own lives blessed, we always receive a greater return for our investment when we help to raise others up first.

Be brave enough to be your AUTHENTIC self, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about you. It is NOT our business to try to dictate all outcomes or another’s thoughts, but it IS our business to BE REAL … and is the only SUSTAINABLE, healthy way.

If you will dare to step out of the box, you never know whose life you might save!

Be brave enough to LOVE, to be who you are, for real. You’ll shine, you’ll prosper, you’ll make a difference, no matter what.


With courage and love,

Holly x

 

 

Sunday Morning Mindfulness

Quietly and sleepily sipping my first cup of Earl Grey tea early this morning, I slowly and absorbingly read the pages of a beautiful hardback book given to me by my mother and stepfather a few years ago.  I think it was a Christmas present – there will be a note inside to tell me, as I usually note these things nowadays – and I remember being instantly delighted by the sight and feel of the book, when I received it.

The cover of the book is white, with fine black writing and an elegant picture of a blue flower on the front, details on the back of those writers whose work has been included and form the body of the book, and the inside cover is a lovely blue. Published by the Royal Horticultural Society, it is a collection of prose and poetry with lovely pictures, artist sketches, of the flowers and plants that have been written about.  A coffee table book in a sense, or one to simply pick up and feed your senses with … which is why I picked it up this morning.

I read the other day, in a most unlikely place, that Table Mountain in Cape Town has 1,500 species of plants – whereas the entire United Kingdom has no more than that, indeed less than.  The fact astonished me, as Table Mountain forms only one very small part of the vast and beautiful country of South Africa, a place rich and awash with abundant flora and fauna; a place I miss to my very soul, because of this.  It was, believe it or not, this morning that the realisation dawned on me: “I miss the flora and fauna of South Africa”. More than anything, I miss the sights and the sounds of the natural world … and that is saying a lot, as there is much else in that gorgeous rainbow nation which I miss very much as well.

The little book that I was dipping into this morning, is about plants that grow in Britain, many of which I have come to know since my return here from Australia in 2006, and mostly since purchasing our current property in 2009.  I have learnt a lot about the British climate and natural environment while living in Berwickshire, experiencing life ‘out in the sticks’ much of the time, observing what is going on in our own tiny patch and what is going on all around us.  The monocultures that are witnessed everywhere in the United Kingdom, concentrated in the areas of countryside, are a depressing sight to someone who knows and longs for the biodiversity of a beautiful, natural world.  Instead of focusing only on those sorry and disastrous states, however, I take my focus back to the beauty of individual plants and absorb the wonder of life wherever I see and feel it, plants being only one way (and a potent one at that) of feeling the connection, a tangible connectedness, with the source of all life.

This is another thing I have realised only within the last few days … I ‘drink’ from the beauty of plants and feel drawn into closely observing the presence of bees and other wild creatures resting on or feeding from plants, because I feel a sense of connection to them, a connection to something deeper than myself, something and someone who is my very source.  I am easily uplifted by the sight or smell of a flower, a plant that is in excellent and robust health, a bumblebee or butterfly supping from pollen laden faces or drinking nectar from the trumpets of exquisitely designed little or large flowers. These things really draw me in, momentarily, for seconds at a time even, but powerfully and satisfyingly.  No matter if they quickly pass, the next moment soon comes.

All of these things of nature, strange as it may sound, feed my soul … and yet, so does the sight of a beautiful painting in a gallery, the feel of a special book, the experience of seeing a magnificently designed building or a chic, sophisticatedly detailed car (I have been known to stop and stare, mid conversation, when a Ferrari or Lambourghini has been sighted), a fabulously crafted pen, a stunning dress or creations of our recent past, like blue and white crockery and Bentwood chairs, a cared for old Morris Minor, a mirror or bowl of beautifully crafted glass.  Anything that is beautifully styled for elegance, efficiency, for peace or for speed,  will always draw me in, like a honey bee to nectar or even a monkey to a scene of curiosity, I suppose! I am simply fascinated by beauty, simplicity, form, ergonomic and eloquent design.  I see all of this in nature, and in miniature form it is always communicated to me through a beautiful plant, tree or flower – or even in sand or soil, in sticks of all sorts, in pebbles, rocks and gemstones!

Thus, as I turned the pages of the book my mother had given me, reading with pleasure about primroses, plumbago, giant white lilies, meconopsis (delicate blue poppies), blue iris, hyacinth, and even dandelion, I appreciated every word as one who closely knows the subject that she is reading about.  I feel the essence of a flower so easily … try it, next time you have the chance to inhale the fragrance of frangipani (in other climes), or jasmine, or the deliciously lemony tang of citrus blossom … you’ll connect with the source of all life that way too, I’m sure.

Digressing from my original subject of this piece, I realise, this issuing of invitation to others to feed on and drink from the well of life is a natural one to me too … I love to share what I have been blessed to know, to experience, to have for a season, to love, to learn from (good or bad), to achieve, to grow through, to expand within. There is so much joy in having others on the journey too and the invitation is usually a spontaneous one, invitation being something that has been a natural instinct of mine from a very early age.  In recent times, living in a place so remote and far from most of my friends and loved ones, I have extended the invitation through publishing (mainly online as yet) many writings of my own. Everything that I write and share with others, is an invitation for someone else to share in the experience of, a form of hospitality, a hand outstretched, an open door of sorts. If anything I write helps another, that is a bonus and hearing about it comes always as an unexpected gift.

And so, back to the book and the early morning cup of tea which helped to waken me for the new day …  I looked into the pictures opposite each page of poetry or prose, I read the lines, I felt the scenes, I appreciated the closeness of observation that had enabled the writers to share their presence as they wrote about the plants, and I felt loved. Nature does that … whether out in nature, or in word, or in image, nature nurtures somehow, I find.   There is nothing quite like experiencing the real thing, the sights and smells and feel of life inside elements of plants, flora, or the quirkiness of the fauna of a place, but to read about it is a close thing at least.

As I closed the book for the time being, having finished my cup of tea and feeling that a piece of writing needed to be birthed, I held it briefly in my arms and felt my mother’s love. Knowing that the book had been especially chosen for me, not least I am sure because of its colour scheme on the cover, the white enhanced with shades of blue, for content and for sight, becoming freshly aware of this was another nurturing of sorts.  My mother was born in this country, in Edinburgh, and these are the plants of her country of birth which I am tending and reading about these days.

Perhaps I shall soon find a way to travel easily between the other countries and continents that I love but, for now, I drink in the beauty of elements of the country where I am currently based, as I dream of and plan for what can be. Always, I am grateful for what is and has been, and always I drink in the awesomeness of now, all around me.

It is in the plants, the flora, of a country that we read deep into her soul.  It is in the plants that I find my connection to my source.  It is in the plants that we find our nourishments, our medicines, our fragrances, our hope, so much life, the essence of so much that is sustainable and needed for healthy longevity, our groundedness, our environmental stability, and the source of so much joy and of so much that is meaningful in real life.

Holly x

 

 

 

 

 


~ : ~

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Delicious Tomato Soup

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I made this tangy tomato soup for a family lunch this week and it was delicious. As my son is about to head off to university too, his older sister having graduated last year, it seems like a good time to add to the recipes already noted on my blog so that he (and others) can refer to them for inspiration.

Please note that all the recipes included on The Holly Tree Tales are those which have been created in our kitchen at home, which I have used myself and, in most cases, devised the recipes for. As far as possible, ingredients sourced are organic and many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs included are / have been grown in my own organic garden.

 

Delicious Tomato Soup

Ingredients

1 medium onion – peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic – peeled, core removed, chopped
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

2 cartons / tins of about 390g each organic tomatoes (chopped)
Half teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (destalked)
About ten fresh basil leaves – sliced (reserve a few to sprinkle onto soup when serving)

About 1 litre filtered water
1 teaspoon seasalt (flakes)
ground black pepper to taste
1 heaped teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder (preferably organic)
1 teaspoon honey

Serve with chopped chives and sprinkle with a few slithers of basil leaf.
(can drizzle a little cream over too)

Method

1.  In a suitably sized saucepan over a low heat, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil, gently, until the onion is translucent (take care not to burn the garlic).

2. Add the chopped tomatoes and herbs, stir and leave to simmer for about five minutes, to enable the flavours to merge and intensify.

3. Pour in the water (add more later, if needed) and add the seasoning, bouillon and honey. Stir and leave to simmer a further five minutes.

4. Take off the heat, and blend with a hand blender (or place in a processor), until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if required.

Serve as suggested above.
Scrumptious accompanied by fresh bread, butter and cheeses.

 

Enjoy!

In good health,

Holly x


PS. Do let me know if you make the soup ~ I look forward to hearing that it was a great success!

Treats And Truths Of Country Living

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Our peaches are ripening! The bumblebees, and a little hand pollinating by feather, have done the trick. An exciting time in the rickety greenhouse on our organic acre in Berwickshire, UK.

These are the treats of country living that are hard to beat, a blessing so much appreciated, especially when one pays such a high price for living in the British countryside, surrounded by vast acres on which synthetic fertilisers, highly toxic sprays and huge machinery are employed to perform every task. It’s the little blessing that gives strength to the next hour.

It has been a journey learning to live in this cold and temperamental climate, living very isolated in a range of ways, learning to understand the lie of the land, to work with the seasons, to make sense out of some vicious hands that have been dealt. The eight years have been incredible in many ways, but they have also been eight of the hardest years of my life, pressed and crushed and shocked by all sorts.

With every squeeze, in every rocking challenge, I always take my focus back to the blessings, back to what is solid, back to what is beautiful, back to what is miraculous, back to what is even fleetingly lovely, back to what is simple and straightforward, back to what is truth, back to what is sustainable, back to what is real and utterly good … Always refocusing, always learning, always getting back up, always moving forward inch by tiny inch …

These peaches are quite symbolic, representing what is still reliable, what is honest, what is wonderful, what tastes and is pure and purely good. Nourishment for the body, nourishment for the soul. The taste of Summer, the taste of health, the taste of joy and delight. The taste of innocence, the taste of simplicity, the taste of hope.

I started this blog / website a few years ago, to record some of my experiences, poetry, recipes and thoughts, now and over the fifty plus years of my interesting life. The blog grows in hiccupy stops and starts, but there is a fair body of collected writing here now.

These peaches form part of the story of the last eight years, and so much more.

 

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Yours mindfully,

Holly x

[This post has been adapted from the original, which appeared on Instagram on 13 July 2017  Link: https://www.instagram.com/p/BWeocXsgLZQ/?taken-by=hollymaxwellboydell ]

Forgiveness Is Key

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On Forgiveness, in life generally and from a Christian perspective …

 

Forgiveness is the starting point of any type of success, and is necessary every hour, every day.

Forgiveness is one of the driving factors that prevent childishness, tantrums, delays, excuses, the laying of blame … and all other forms of behaviour or attitude that do not reflect the nature of God.

Every person on earth has the challenge of being the very best person they can be.

Those who soar like eagles, in all areas of their lives, are the ones who reflect Christ and who welcome correction where correction is helpful to take them to the higher levels. Forgiveness is tied in with that.

There is no success in life without continual self-examining, forgiveness, and steps in the right direction, learning constantly from and altering the steps that lead backwards.

 

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“Forgiveness is key to flow in our lives, and affects every area of our experience.”

 


Holly x

 

Test it all against the truth of Love

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While we whinge about aspects of our First World lives, so opulent in so many ways, babies are starving, people are aching for unconditional love, mothers are desperately trying to rise above the humiliation of poverty, business people are seeing the futility of the fast buck when they receive medical shocks … people are sleeping rough on the streets, children are crying and afraid, parents are carrying their children away from war torn conflict, the earth is heaving and groaning in agony as we treat it like a useless machine … Every man has a duty to wake up and examine himself. Every woman has a duty to forgive her peers and show them unconditional love … Every one of us has a duty to work on returning to what really matters and that is not One Upmanship … What really matters is how much we love. Love is an entire subject of its own. Love does not rob, covet, nor harm in any way. Love loves. That’s what brought us each into the world. That’s where we came from. That’s where we might return … To Love. How we live now determines how we’ll be then. Love applies to everything. Test it all against the truth of Love.

~ Holly ~

When People Talk About Others

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When people talk about others, remember that they are just as capable of talking about you. Be careful.

When you notice that people have slipped into the shadows, know that they have not collected their facts. Be careful.

When groups fall off the ledge of your life, know that they have been spreading rumour and gossip. Be mindful.

When people turn their back on you or walk away, instead of towards you with love, let them go. Carefully. Remember: they were never meant to be there for ever anyway, and their thoughts are none of your business.

Go mindfully through life.
Don’t gossip.
Gossip and slander hurts.
And it bites back
Always.
That’s just how the Universe works.

Appreciate those who love you, regardless, unconditionally.
They are the treasure.
Focus on them.
Practise love anyway.
It always wins.
That’s just how the Universe works.

~ Holly ~

 

Being Optimistic – A Quote

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“Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

~  Nelson Mandela

 

from his book “Long Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela”

 

 

~ : ~

 

Keep hope alive,

 

Holly x