Surviving winter with plant friends

I don’t know where you are in the world, but my neck of the woods has been hit with the worse winter I can remember: snow, extreme cold, rain, snow, icy rain, more extreme cold, and some more snow. Winter is nowhere near finished, yet I’m already daydreaming about summer, and days when the air doesn’t kill my face every time I’m courageous enough to get my butt outside.

As you might have guessed, I really am not a winter person. That’s fine. I get people who like winter: the magic of snow falling, the splendor of quiet forest, the brisk air… you enjoy it: I’ll be transforming my house into a forest!

For the last month or so, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to our houseplants. I had ignored them for a few years, and my boyfriend has been taking great care of everyone. However, with the cold setting camp, I just love the satisfaction I get from pruning, watering, dusting and generally fussing over our plants. I’d like to introduce you to some of my favourite plant friends.

Peperomia argyreia – Watermelon Peperomia

This one is probably the fussiest tiny plant we have. I killed one already, so this is my second attempt to keep a watermelon peperomia alive. However, I couldn’t resist buying a new one: look at these leaves! They are glossy and so pretty. I love the contrast between the very green leaves and the pink stems. I potted it in some cactus mix, placed it on a South East window and avoid overwatering it. It’s been living with us for three months, and new leaves are coming out: I’m taking it as a very good sign!

Ficus lyrata – Fiddle leaf fig tree

This one has been on my wish list for years! However, we already have pretty big plants in our home, so I couldn’t really justify buying a new three. About a month ago, I was looking for some new pots and saw this baby fiddle leaf. It looked so cute and was all alone: I simply had to bring it home with me! Plus, the price tag on this little one was a lot more acceptable for my tiny student budget.

Monstera adansonii – Swiss cheese plant 

One of my latest plant friends! I’ve placed this one near a sunny window but out of direct sunlight. I love these beautiful leaves, and I have to admit I’m spending way too much time just staring at this beauty. I mist it when I think of it and water it twice a week to keep it well and humid.

Pilea peperomioides – Chinese money plant

When I got the mother pilea, I potted it in a suspended glass container. This really looked cute, but it was a terrible idea as I tend to overwater my plants. The mother plant soon started to have very weird looking leaves: curled upwards, curled downwards. It just didn’t seem to enjoy life at all. So, I took out some babies, potted everyone in some cactus mix, moved the family to our trusty South East facing window, wrote a clear watering schedule, and all is well again! The babies are doing super great, and the mom is starting to make some healthy new leaves. I love these smooth round leaves: so cute!

Epipremnum aureum – Jade and pearls pothos

This one is a rescue baby: it was in a really small pot, jammed with a sorry phalaenopsis orchid in the clearance bin of our hardware store. So, I just had to take it home! I repotted this beautiful pothos in its own pot, and I just saw that a new leaf is coming out! This one is supposed to grow a bit slower than other pothos, so I’m glad so see new growth! As for the phalaenopsis, it has been repotted and is now chilling with our other orchids. I’m really curious to see it flower as I have no idea what colours the blooms are supposed to be!

Senecio rowleyanus – String of pearls

This one! Oh my! It is so stinking cute! I know I say this for almost all of our plants, but really, look at this string of pearls!!! How adorable! I have to keep a written watering schedule for this one as I really don’t want to overwater it. It’s chilling in our bedroom, and I love waking up and seeing these little pearls. So adorable!

Maranta leuconeura –Prayer plant

And finally, my shadow baby! My office has a North West facing window with high trees, so it doesn’t get enough light for regular plants. However, one of my books said that prayer plants could tough it out in darker corners. Well, this baby is happy as can be! It hasn’t stopped making new leaves, and I think it’s now working on some flowers! The best part is that it loves water, and so I can literally shower it with love (well, with some restraint of course). Plus, I’ve read that’s it’s great at filtering mold spores in the air, which is always a plus if you are mortified by molds like me. I just love how pretty and colourful it is in my bat-cave of an office!

So anyways, that’s it for now! Let me know if you’d be interested in a plant series as I would love writing about my plants some more. I’ve been nursing a concussion for that last week and having my plants around to look at and care for has been a great relief. Please share you plant babies with me as I’d love to see them!

Avataq and the most wonderful herbal teas + Giveaway! \\ Avataq et les meilleures tisanes + Tirage!

(La version française est plus bas!)

When I worked at the Botanical Garden, I would often pass through the giftshop to look at the books… and teas. I would often leave with a box of Inuit herbal teas called “Northern Delights”. These were a staple to my tea collection and became usual gifts for friends and family. What I loved about these teas was that they were made from wild plants harvested in Nunavik, the Northern part of Quebec, by Inuit communities. Well, last week, I got to meet with Jeannie Oh at Avataq and she gave me a much broader and larger appreciation for these little tea bags. Let me take you with me!

 

First, it’s important to know that the herbal teas are actually the tip of the iceberg of a much broader project. In fact, Northern Delights Inuit Herbal Tea is produced by Avataq Cultural Institute, an Inuit owned non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and advancement of the language, culture and identity of the Inuit of Nunavik.

 

Avataq receives its mandates from the Inuit Elders Conference of Nunavik, and operates a range of linguistic, heritage and cultural programs. Among others, these include the Inuktitut language promotion and preservation program, genealogy program, Nunavik museum program, Nunavik Inuit art collection, an artists’ support program, archaeology department, documentation and archives center, student assistance program, local cultural committees, traditional skills courses, as well as a research and publications program.

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Among many of Avataq’s projects was one that documented all the wild plants that were used in traditional Inuit medicine. Through this project, several trilingual plant guides were published, and they explained the different uses for the great variety of plants that can be found in this northern region. Flash forward a few years later, and the idea of creating a commercial Inuit herbal tea product that draw upon the knowledge of Inuit Elders that featuring Nunavik wild plants were born.

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The goal of the Inuit herbal tea product is to provide an opportunity for the Southerners in knowing, sharing, enjoying and enriching their discovery of Inuit culture and heritage. All profit generated from the sales of the herbal tea goes back to assisting Avataq in operating the cultural programs. The project also hired local Nunavimmiut (the people of Nunavik) in harvesting and drying the traditionally used plants to make the herbal teas. Five plants were selected and this is the birth of the Northern Delights Inuit herbal teas. Let me take you through each of these wonderful blends.

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The Labrador tea blend is rich and very relaxing. This plant is rich in vitamin C and was traditionally used for breathing problems and as a general health booster. It’s incredible to think that such a modest and common plant has wonderful properties.

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The Cloudberry tea blend is quite energizing and was traditionally used a tonic. This plant has a rich and layered flavour that is soothing and energizing at the same time. I love to drink this tea when I’m studying or correcting because it really helps me sustain my work.

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The Ground Juniper blend is my favourite. Juniper is quite an intense plant with a complex aroma that changes in intensity as you drink it. It has quite a distinctive flavour that can remind you of a soft mint or light bergamot. I love to drink this when I’m working on something complex because I feel like it helps me focus and stay on task.

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The Crowberry blend has the most amazing violet colour which goes great with its crisp flavour. I love to make this as an iced tea during the warmer months because of it’s beautiful colour. Its flavour is very fruity and reminds me a little of blueberries or jam.

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Finally, the Arctic blend feature Small Labrador Tea is the spiciest of them all and will please cinnamon lovers. This is the perfect herbal tea for a cold Fall evening spent sharing stories.

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I love that each one of these blends features plants that are used in the traditional Inuit herb lore. It is so important to preserve and promote this knowledge in every culture as it holds so much history and possible solutions. Another thing that is great about the teas is that because they are Avataq’s baby, they are made with a desire to involve and give opportunities to the Inuit communities. Each batch of tea is harvested by hand and dried by the local community, and the transformation process is closely overseen by Avataq to ensure that it respects fair trade and equity principles.

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Because these teas are too great not to be shared, Jeannie and I have decided to organize a giveaway. Three of you will receive a five-blend assortment box so that you can try all five amazing flavours and decide which one is your favourite. To participate to this giveaway here is what you need to do:

  1. Live in Canada
  2. Write down a comment below telling me which flavour of tea you are most excited to try out.
  3. Name of the communities living in Nunavik.
  4. Come back on the blog in a week to see if you won! The winners will also be announced on Facebook.

I really hope you take a minute to participate because these are such wonderfully yummy teas with a purpose. Not only are you discovering and appreciating wonderful local plants, but you are also encouraging the preservation of a rich cultural heritage. Cheers to that!


Lorsque je travaillais au Jardin Botanique de Montréal, je passais régulièrement à la boutique pour regarder les beaux livres… et les thés. Je repartais souvent avec une boîte de tisanes inuit appelées Délice Boréal. Ces tisanes sont vites devenues un incontournable dans ma collection de thé et ont souvent figurées parmi les cadeaux que j’offrais à ma famille et à mes amis pour Noel. Ce que j’aimais le plus de ces tisanes, c’est qu’elles étaient faites avec des plantes sauvages récoltées dans le nord du Québec par des communautés inuit. La semaine dernière, j’ai eu la chance de rencontrer Jeannie Oh aux bureaux d’Avataq. Cette rencontre m’a donné une nouvelle et plus grande perspective par rapport à ces petits sachets, et je dois dire que je les apprécie encore plus maintenant. Laissez-moi vous amener avec moi à la découverte de ce magnifique produit.

En premier, il est important de savoir que ces tisanes sont en fait la pointe de l’iceberg d’un projet beaucoup plus large. En fait, les tisanes Délice Boréal sont produites par l’institut culturel Avataq, une organisation sans but lucratif qui a pour mission de protéger et de promouvoir la culture, l’identité et la langue des Inuits du Nord du Québec, le Nunavik.

Avataq reçoit ses mandats de la Conférence des Aînés du Nunavik, et coordonne plusieurs programmes linguistiques, patrimoniaux et culturels. Ceux-ci inclus par exemple le programme de promotion et de préservation de la langue Inuktitut, un programme de généalogie, le musée Nunavik, la collection d’art inuit du Nunavik, un programme de support aux artistes Inuits, un département d’archéologie, un centre de documentation et d’archives, un programme d’assistance aux étudiants, des comités locaux, des ateliers d’artisanat et de savoirs ancestraux et également un département de recherche et de publication.

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Parmi ces nombreux projets, on en retrouve également un sur l’herboristerie traditionnelle des Inuits, où l’objectif était de répertorier les plantes utilisées dans la médecine traditionnelle inuit.  Par la suite, plusieurs guides trilingues de plantes médicinales nordiques ont été publiés et on y retrouve les différents usages médicinaux d’une grande variété de plantes qui poussent dans le Nunavik. Quelques années plus tard, l’idée de créer une ligne de tisanes commerciales destinées au grand public bourgeonne. Ces tisanes s’appuieront sur le savoir traditionnel inuit et tisseront un pont entre les peuples du Nord et ceux du Sud.

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Ce faisant, Avataq se munie d’une opportunité de plus pour partager la culture et l’héritage inuit au travers de délicieuses tisanes. Tous les profits générés par ces ventes reviennent à l’organisation et servent à subventionner leurs différents programmes. Le projet créé également de l’emploi dans les communautés des Inuits car on a besoin de Nunavimmiuts (les populations du Nunavik) pour récolter et préparer les herbes qui serviront à faire les tisanes. Suite à un processus de recherche, cinq plantes sont sélectionnées et les tisanes Délice Boréal voient le jour. Laissez-moi vous présenter ces merveilles.

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Le mélange du thé du Labrador est riche et relaxant. Cette plante riche en vitamine C était traditionnellement utilisée lors de problèmes respiratoires et comme tonique général. Il est incroyable qu’une plante aussi modeste possède de si grandes propriétés!

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Le mélange de la ronce petit-mûrier est énergisant et cela s’explique puisque cette plante était également utilisée comme un tonic. Sa saveur est riche et a beaucoup de profondeur tout en étant réconfortante et requinquante à la fois. J’adore savourer ce thé lorsque j’étudie ou lorsque je corrige car il m’aide vraiment à passer au travers de mon travail.

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Le mélange au genévrier est mon préféré. Le genévrier est une plante au goût intense et avec un arôme complexe qui passe par différents niveaux d’intensité au fur et à mesure de chaque gorgée. C’est un goût vraiment unique qui peut faire penser à une menthe très douce ou à de la bergamote. Je bois également ce thé lorsque je travaille sur une tâche difficile car il m’aide à rester concentrée.

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Le mélange à la camarine noire à une couleur violette qui est parfaite pour aller avec le goût acidulé et frais de cette tisane. Ce thé est parfait pour l’été en thé glacé. Il est également très fruité et me fait penser à des bleuets ou à de la confiture.

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Finalement, le mélange arctique contient du petit thé du Labrador et saura plaire aux amateurs d’épices et de cannelle. Parfait pour une longue soirée d’automne à se raconter des histoires!

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Chacun de ces thés est unique et met en vedette une plante tirée du savoir traditionnel inuit. Il est crucial de préserver et de promouvoir ces connaissances car elles sont porteuses d’histoires mais également d’inspirations et de solutions pour le futur. Comme ces tisanes sont le bébé d’Avataq, elles sont faites avec le désir d’impliquer et de donner des opportunités aux communautés du Nunavik. Chaque lot de thé est cueilli à la main et séché par les communautés, tandis que le processus de transformation est étroitement contrôlé par Avataq pour assurer que les principes d’équité soient respectés.

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Parce que ces thés sont trop bons pour ne pas être partagés, Jeannie et moi avons décidé de vous organiser un tirage. Trois d’entre vous recevront un assortiment des cinq saveurs. Vous pourrez ainsi choisir votre favorite! Pour participer à ce tirage vous devez :

  1. Vivre au Canada;
  2. M’écrire un commentaire ci-dessous pour me dire quelle saveur de tisane vous intrigue le plus;
  3. Me nommer une des communautés du Nunavik;
  4. Revenir sur le blogue dans une semaine pour voir si vous avez gagné! Les gagnants seront également annoncés sur la page facebook du blogue.

J’espère que vous prendrez tous une minute pour participer car ce sont vraiment de très bonnes tisanes! Vous découvrirez de magnifiques plantes locales tout en encourageant la préservation de l’héritage culturel inuit. Quoi demander de plus?