Top 10 Biggest Volcanic Eruptions in History

The recent eruptions of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland were a stark reminder of nature’s ability to bring human activity to an abrupt standstill. The cloud of smoke that drifted over Western Europe made aviation travel untenable, returning European skies to a quietude not felt for decades..

Luxury Dining Rooms Ideas

A lingering hint of contemporary gothic pervades these luxury dining room ideas by Cattelan Italia. Black and white color schemes throughout simply demand attention… hints of sparkle add glitz and glamour

Top 10 Most Memorable Celebrity Weddings

The upcoming Chelsea Clinton nuptials have provoked endless speculation – from whether she’ll opt for an Oscar de la Renta or a Vera Wang dress, to whether the former First Daughter will be serving anything other than vegan food to her guests.

Pirelli Calendar 2011

During a press conference in Moscow this past Tuesday, Karl Lagerfeld presented his rendition of the famed Pirelli Calendar for 2011.

Vogue Paris Calendar 2011

Mikael Jansson shoots the stunning new Vogue Paris 2011 Calendar featuring Daria Werbowy. Styled by Anastasia Barbieri and Jewels by Louis Vuitton.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Lingonberry: Uses and description

Binomial name: Vaccinium vitis-idaea


Vaccinium vitis-idaea is called cowberry in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland and lingonberry in North America. The name cowberry is derived from the scientific name Vaccinium, which comes from vaccinus, an adjective from Latin vacca “cow”.

The name lingonberry originates from the Swedish name lingon for the species. Other names include csejka berry, foxberry, quailberry, mountain cranberry, red whortleberry, lowbush cranberry, mountain bilberry, partridgeberry (in Newfoundland and Cape Breton), and redberry (in Labrador). Because the names mountain cranberry and lowbush cranberry perpetuate the longstanding confusion between the cranberry and the lingonberry, some botanists have suggested that these names should be avoided.


Vaccinium vitis-idaea spreads by underground stems to form dense clonal colonies. Slender and brittle roots grow from the underground stems. The stems are rounded in cross-section and grow from 10 to 40 cm (4 to 16 in) in height. Leaves grow alternately and are oval, 5–30 mm (0.2–1.2 in) long, with a slightly wavy margin, and sometimes with a notched tip. The flowers are bell-shaped, white to pale pink, 3–8 mm (0.1–0.3 in) long, and produced in the early summer. The fruit is a red berry 6–10 mm (0.2–0.4 in) across, with an acidic taste, ripening in late summer to autumn.


Vaccinium vitis-idaea keeps its leaves all winter even in the coldest years, unusual for a broad-leaved plant, though in its natural habitat it is usually protected from severe cold by snow cover. It is extremely hardy, tolerating as low as -40 °C (-40 °F) or lower, but grows poorly where summers are hot. It prefers some shade (as from a forest canopy) and constantly moist, acidic soil. Nutrient-poor soils are tolerated but not alkaline soils.

  • Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. minus
  • There are two regional varieties or subspecies of Vaccinium vitis-idaea, one in Eurasia and one in North America, differing in leaf size:
  • Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. vitis-idaea L. — syn. Vaccinium vitis-idaea subsp. vitis-idaea.
  • Cowberry. Eurasia. Leaves 10–30 mm (0.4–1.2 in) long.
  • Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. minus Lodd. — syn. Vaccinium vitis-idaea subsp. minus (Lodd.) Hultén.
  • Lingonberry. North America. Leaves 5–18 mm (0.2–0.7 in) long.



The berries collected in the wild are a popular fruit in northern, central and eastern Europe, notably in Nordic countries, the Baltic states, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. In some areas they can legally be picked on both public and private lands in accordance with the freedom to roam.

The berries are quite tart, so they are often cooked and sweetened before eating in the form of lingonberry jam, compote, juice, smoothie or syrup. The raw fruit are also frequently simply mashed with sugar, which preserves most of their nutrients and taste. This mix can be stored at room temperature in closed but not necessarily sealed containers, but in this condition, they are best preserved frozen. Fruit served this way or as compote often accompany game meats and liver dishes. In Sweden and Norway, reindeer and elk steak is traditionally served with gravy and lingonberry sauce. Preserved fruit is commonly eaten with meatballs and potatoes in Sweden and Norway, and also with pork. In Sweden and Russia, when sugar was still a luxury item, the berries were usually preserved simply by putting them whole into bottles of water.

This was known as vattlingon (watered lingonberries); the procedure preserved them until next season. This was also a home remedy against scurvy. In Russia this preserve had been known as “lingonberry water” and is a traditional soft drink. In Russian folk medicine, lingonberry water was used as a mild laxative.

A traditional Finnish dish is sautéed reindeer (poronkäristys) with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, either cooked or raw with sugar. In Finland, a porridge made from the fruit is also popular. In Poland, the berries are often mixed with pears to create a sauce served with poultry or game. The berries can also be used to replace red currants when creating Cumberland sauce to give it a more sophisticated taste.

Lingonberries are also popular as a wild picked fruit in Canada in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where they are locally known as partridgeberries. In this region they are also incorporated into jams, syrups, and baked goods.

Lingonberries are a staple item in Sweden, and at the Swedish retailer IKEA. It is often sold as jam and juice in the store and as a key ingredient in dishes. They are used to make Lillehammer berry liqueur, and in East European countries, lingonberry vodka is sold.

The berries are an important food for bears and foxes, and many fruit-eating birds. Caterpillars of the Coleophoridae case-bearer moths Coleophora glitzella, Coleophora idaeella and Coleophora vitisella are obligate feeders on Vaccinium vitis-idaea leaves.

Nutritional properties

The berries contain plentiful organic acids, vitamin C, provitamin A (as beta carotene), B vitamins (B1, B2, B3), and the elements potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. In addition to these nutrients, they also contain phytochemicals that are thought to counteract urinary-tract infections, and the seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.


In folk medicine, V. vitis-idaea has been used as an apéritif, astringent, antihemorrhagic, anti-debilitive, depurative, disinfectant/antiseptic (especially for the urethra), a diuretic, a tonic for the nervous system, and in various ways to treat breast cancer, diabetes mellitus, rheumatism, and various urogenital conditions.

Related species

Vaccinium vitis-idaea differs from the similar cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccus, V. microcarpum and V. macrocarpon) in having white flowers with petals partially enclosing the stamens and stigma, rather than pink flowers with petals reflexed backwards, and rounder, less pear-shaped berries. Other species of the genus Vaccinium include blueberries, bilberries, and huckleberries. Hybrids between Vaccinium viti

Friday, November 9, 2012

A baby is born with a need to be loved...

"A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it."
~ Frank Howard Clark ~

Friday, October 26, 2012

There is no key to happiness...

There is no key to happiness...
The door is always open...


Friday, October 19, 2012

25 Cute and Sweet Newborn Babies Photos

25 Cute and Sweet Newborn Babies Photos

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Legends and Myths About Pearls

In every culture which has had an encounter with pearls, they have been associated with great virtues, powers, healing powers, wealth and wisdom; hence incorporated into their mythology. Throughout their long history, pearls have endured as mysterious and highly cherished gifts of the deep, described in most ancient literature as dew from the moon, related to moon goddesses, and thus associated with the feminine. Due to the pearl’s circular or oval shape, ancient ones perceived the essence of the moon in the watery oyster which receives its dewy pregnancy from heavenly dew drops.

The Persian Goddess Astarte, also known as the licentious Ishtar of Babylonia, was represented as a moon goddess standing naked on the back of a lioness, holding a lotus and a mirror in one hand and two serpents in the other.

Greeks believed that pearls were formed when rain or dewdrops haphazardly fell into an oyster. In ancient Greece, pearls symbolized love and marriage; wearing them supposedly promoted marital bliss and prevented newlywed women from weeping. Drops of water that fell from Aphrodite when she emerged from the water were conceived as pearls. To date, pearls are often the best choice of gifts to brides at weddings or given for the first, third, twelfth and thirtieth wedding anniversaries.

The pearl has long been considered a symbol of love, protection, wisdom, purity and wealth and have been frequently used as love potions.

Tahitian black pearls are believed to symbolize hope for wounded hearts. Due to the mysterious aura surrounding the black pearl, legends attribute healing powers to what is known to be a gift of God. It is astonishing how myths surrounding the creation of pearls are the same in the most scattered parts of the world. From Persia to Tahiti, and from China to Japan and Ceylon, pearls are associated with heavenly dews, tears, the moon and the feminine.

According to one Tahitian story, the moon casts its light on the ocean to attract oysters. Once the oysters rise from the depths onto the surface of the ocean to bathe in the moonlight, the moon graces each oyster with a drop of heavenly dew. After the drop becomes polished, it shrouds itself with grey, blue, green, gold and pink shimmering garments, thus creating the dazzling variety of colors in Tahitian black pearls.

In another Tahitian legend, Oro, the Polynesian God of peace and fertility descended to earth on a rainbow to offer the “Te Ufi” oyster to humans as a gift. Once the oyster gave birth to a beautiful black pearl, Oro offered it to princess Bora Bora as a symbol of his undying love and affection.

Since the Tahitian black pearl was only worn by the royalty, it was referred to as the “Pearl of Queens and the Queen of Pearls.” Due to its many feminine attributes, the black pearl has been primarily worn by women until recently as more and more men are becoming seduced by this mysterious creation of the sea.

The Japanese equated pearls with tears of mythical nymphs, mermaids and angels. Man'youshuu, the oldest surviving collection of Japanese poetry, contains many pearl stories. The Shousouin storehouse of the Toudaiji Temple in Nara, preserved as a national treasure and opened to the public only once each year, also contains numerous pearl-decorated artifacts.

For some in the Orient, pearls came from angel’s tears. An ancient myth from Ceylon (present Sri Lanka) portrays a lake of tears created as a result of tears shed by Adam and Eve. From Eve’s tears, white pearls were created whereas from Adam’s tears came black pearls. Since men were thought to shed fewer tears than women, the scarcity of Adam’s tears is used to explain the rarity of black pearls as compared to white ones.

Conception of pearls as tear drops led Indian warriors to place pearls on their swords as a reminder of the pain and suffering caused by the use of swords.

Similarly, in Persian literature, pearls are often associated with pain and suffering resulting in tears and purification. Pearls were also believed to be the byproduct of the love affair between the fructifying heaven and the fertile earth when a rainbow meets the earth. In the famous Persian story of “A Thousand and One Nights” Sheherezade has made many references to the pearl. Irregularities in pearls were thought to be caused by thunder. Amongst Persian Kurds, the round flawless pearl stands for purity and virginity, while piercing the pearl represents the consummation of a marriage.

For Persian Manicheans, the pearl represented a conjunction of reason and spiritual feeling; thus valued as the ultimate talisman for warding off the evils of this world.

Other virtues of the pearl are to promote conjugal bliss and loyalty. It is also believed to quicken the laws of karma, create lasting bonds in love relationships and ensure the safety of children.

Some ancients believed that introducing a pearl into a dove’s womb and letting it gestate for a while would enhance the pearl’s iridescent orient.

As the only organic gems nurtured by a living animal, tales and superstitions abound surrounding pearls. Due to its birth in water, the pearl was used as a charm against fire in some folklore. Not having pearls as an ancestral gem was thought to bring bad luck. On the other hand, the powdered pearl mixed with water, was believed to cure lunacy.

Hindus associated pearls with the moon, wild boars, elephants, snakes, fish and only rarely with oysters. In Hindu literature, pearls represented love and purity. Legend has it that Krishna discovered the first pearl and presented it to his daughter on her wedding day. To ensure a happy marriage and prevent widowhood, many Hindu brides still wear pearl nose rings at their weddings.

Various Hindu deities preside over different pearls, depending on their color:

Black Pearls: Yamaraia
Other dark pearls: Vishnu
Fiery brilliant Pearls: Agni
Red Pearls: Vavu
Yellow Pearls: Varuna
White or cream moon-like Pearls: Indra

In ancient Lore, wearing black pearls helps you know yourself and become prosperous. Blue Shades help you find love. Gold tones bring wealth while pink tones will earn you fame and fortune.

Wearing different colors of pearls are also recommended depending on your social status or profession. Pure white is recommended to priests, teachers, scientists or intellectuals; white with orange hue is recommended for rulers, administrators and warriors; white with green overtone is suggested for bankers, businessmen and farmers; and finally black or blue is reserved for artisans.

The Goddess Lakshmi is believed to bestow a healthy happy long successful life of fame and fortune upon all who wear a perfect un-pierced round pearl. She washes your sins away and blesses you with virtue, vitality, wisdom, wealth, purity, patience, self-esteem and enables you to achieve a high position in life. Wearing pearls is supposed to help you find a suitable partner, create harmony and fidelity between young married couples, bring sons, and ward off evil spirits, grief and disease.

In China, the first Emperor of the Shin kingdom who believed that pearls could prevent the aging process, launched a great campaign in search of pearls. It is said that the secret to the beauty of the famous Chinese Yang Kuei-fei, was daily intake of powdered pearls. The famed Japanese pearl legend, Mikimoto, consumed two powdered pearls as a daily dietary supplement until the age of 92.

Not all superstitions about pearls are positive, however. Some folklore has it that wearing defective pearls with cracks, spots, blisters, lack of luster, thin nacre or internal dirt can bring misfortune. For example, wearing a spotted pearl is said to cause leprosy or loss of one’s children; a broken pearl will cause loss of livelihood. Wearing a pearl without luster can shorten one’s life span. Wearing a bird-shaped or coral-shaped pearl can result in loss of wealth.

For ancient Chinese, natural black pearls were created in the brains of dragons and fell from the sky when dragons fought. Chinese art and lore is replete with images of the dragon holding onto the pearl safely between its teeth or paws. Thus, the human quest for the precious “pearl of wisdom” required the long and arduous process of slaying the dragon. For the Chinese, attaining to the pearl was akin to achieving wisdom through the hard experience of a hero or heroine’s journey.

Just as you need to kill a live oyster in order to obtain a “pearl of great price,” you must surrender to the trials and tribulations of life and let go of old attitudes, identities, values and behaviors in order to obtain something of real value. For the spiritual seeker, standing before a vast, dark and cold sea, looking for the shimmering light that emanates from within the black pearl is the true test of one’s values, courage and determination. The question is: Are you willing to take the leap into the unknown to heal old wounds, purify your heart and mind of old and outmoded attitudes and behaviors? Are you going to stand at the shore and look at other brave souls with envy? Or are you going to turn your back to the gift of the goddess altogether and walk away? The choice is yours, and so are the consequences and rewards.

Whatever myths, legends, folklore, and fairytales are attributed to this precious gift of mother-nature, it is clear that the pearl has long captured the human imagination with its inner glow and outward beauty, rich spectrum of colors, dazzling shine, enchanting lustre, pure rarity and symbolic value, much like the alchemist’s philosopher’s stone. If you who have been on a spiritual quest for the elixir of life and the alchemical philosopher’s stone, have faith that the black pearl is the ultimate symbol of the Self; a gift of the Goddess; destined to live in your heart, shine its light on your path, and to adorn you with its stunning beauty, always…. 


Monday, September 17, 2012

10 Funny Love Quotes

Here are some funny love quotes to change your mood and giggle you for a while.

1. “Love at first sight is possible, but it pays to take a second look.”
– Anonymous

2. “Love can never give too much, but those of us who love can give in too much.”
– Alfred Stuart

3. “Love is grand; divorce is a hundred grand.”
– Anonymous

4. “Don’t try to understand a girl completely. If you do, then either you will go mad or you will start loving her.”
– Anonymous

5. “A cat does not want all the world to love her — only those she has chosen to love.”
Helen Thomson

6. “Love is like a Rhino, short-sighted, but always willing to find a way.”
– Anonymous

7. “Love is the only kind of fire which is never covered by insurance.”
– Anonymous

8. “Love may be blind but marriage is a real eye-opener.”
– Anonymous

9. “Love is the most important thing in the world, but shopping is pretty good too.”
– Anonymous

10. “Love is temporary insanity curable by marriage.”
Ambrose Bierce

Monday, August 27, 2012

Canada: Beautiful Landscape Photography by Kevin McNeal

Kevin McNeal is a Washington St. photographer focusing on grand colorful landscapes that reflect the most unique places on earth. Capturing moments of magic light and transferring this on print, images behold a combination of perseverance, patience, and dedication to capture the images in ways unseen before. The stories of how these images are rendered come across in the feelings the images convey. Traveling all over North America with his wife by his side, shooting diverse landscapes and finding remote places to bring the message to the public that this Earth is worth saving.

The Rockies are beautiful at anytime of the year. The grand landscapes of mountain vistas and pristine opal lakes are beyond words. Their is limitless places that will make you believe this is one of the nicest places in the world. Images range from the more popular places like Moraine Lake,Lake Louise, Mount Rundle , and Athabasca Glacier to less known places along the Icefields Parkway.

Kevin McNeal Official Site:

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