Wicked Wednesday….{No. 5}

Ok…who’s been checking their gardens for wicked plants lately?

I have several in mine….I shared last summer about our Bible Garden…..

You can read about it here and here.

I guess I have the flip side…a Wicked Garden, too…and didn’t even know it!

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Ever heard of Mandrake? It grows in Europe, has fruit that looks like small, unripe tomatoes; but the danger lies underground in its root.

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The Romans believed that it could cure demon possession. The Greeks used it for a love potion. In AD 200, in the northern African city of Carthage, Hannibal deserted the city and left behind a huge feast…..with wine laced with mandrake. It caused the whole army to fall in a deep sleep, he came back with his army and completely conquered them.

Shakespeare used it in Romeo and Juliet…..the friar made Juliet a potion with mandrake that would cause her to look “like death when he shuts up the day of life”.

Mandrake attacks the nervous system, slows it down, and induces a coma.

Go on Pinterest and search for Mandrake…..whoa!

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Oleander was once believed to be an antidote for a snake bite. But, alas….it’s no such thing. It is highly toxic…all parts. It is grown in warmer climates {like here in the South} prolifically….hence, there are many tragedies each year. It only takes a couple of leaves to kill an animal.

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Campers have tragically died by using the branches/stems to skewer their food and cook it. Many children have perished from eating the leaves.

Oleander suicides are not uncommon…especially among the elderly. It is grown quite often at many nursing homes……the elderly are quite aware of its toxicity. Sadly, in Sri Lanka, it is the most common way of committing suicide.

We have two beautiful ones in our garden. Please….if you come over…just look.

It is recommended that if you have pets or young children in your home or that visit often….do not have oleander in your yard or garden.

Heading out to put up warning signs in the garden…..

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Wicked Wednesday……… {No. 4}

Each time I type that title I break out into the song from Wicked….you know, the last line…

“I’m feeling wicked!”

If you have not seen the show…by all means…..see it! On Broadway preferably.

Superb!

When the settlers arrived in Jamestown there was a beautiful weed that seemed to flourish. Since other food was scarce…they thought they would add it to their diets.

They died horrible deaths….complete with convulsions and seizures.

The plant? Datura.

Commonly called Moonflower.

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All parts of the plant contains the toxic alkaloids…but the seeds are where they are most concentrated. A woman in Canada used the seeds in a dish she was cooking because she thought they were a type of seasoning….she went into a coma for 24 hours and was hospitalized for 3 days.

In the past many unwise individuals {teenagers} goofed around and made a tea with the leaves….it caused dangerous hallucinations for days, fevers high enough to kill brain cells, and failure of the nervous system….leading to coma and death.

Not only do I grow moonflowers in our garden each year….I give seedlings as gifts. Maybe I should put a warning label on them:

Warning: Do not chew on seeds, use in food, or make tea with any part of this lovely plant. Just look at it.

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Who knew that grass could kill you. There are actually many types of dangerous grasses.

A big one is Johnson Grass…..it grows throughout the U.S.

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It contains enough cyanide to kill a horse. Death is usually very quick….preceded by hours of anxiety, convulsions, and staggering. Oh joy.

Just read a caption on Pinterest that said…’Did you know you can juice Johnson Grass just like wheat grass?’ Yeah. Right.

No, thanks.

Watch what you munch on~

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Wicked Wednesday……..{No. 3}

One morning in 1978 a communist defector and BBC journalist was waiting at a bus stop when he felt a painful stab in his thigh….he turned to find a man picking up his umbrella and apologizing.  Not long after he had a fever, was hospitalized, began throwing up blood, and then he died.

When the doctors performed an autopsy they found hemorrhaging in every organ in his body and a capsule in a puncture wound in his thigh that contained extract from the Castor Bean plant. It was suspected that a KGB agent was the culprit.

Castor Bean PlantCastor Bean Plant  {source}

Castor bean is in a lot of our gardens…it is sold to deter moles and voles. It is sold at most garden centers in the U.S. It has very pretty foliage….and, yes, it is the source of castor oil. Mussolini’s men used to use castor oil on dissidents….they would grab them and stuff a bottle of castor oil in their mouth as a form of punishment…leaving them with a really bad case of you-know-what! Oh, yeah. That’ll teach ’em. With such great ideas you can see how some of these people become leaders, right?

Supposedly the deadly poison ricin has been removed before you purchase your bottle of castor oil…..but just be careful! 😉

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In the late 1800’s Sigmund Freud was quoted as saying:

“a cocainization of the left nostril had helped me to an amazing extent. In the last few days I have felt quite unbelievably well, as though everything had been erased…I have felt wonderful, as though there never had been anything wrong at all.”

{Hmmmm….and there are people that have trusted this man and have based the study of our minds on his opinions??? Someone not in their right mind tells us what is going on with our mind? Lord, help us!}

Coca PlantCoca Plant {source}

The small bush that had changed Freud’s life was the coca plant….or more commonly referred to as cocaine. {Here come my crazy hits!}

Cocaine is an alkaloid that is extracted from the coca plant grown in South America and was found in the earliest versions of the drink Coca-Cola.

Even though Coca-Cola’s recipe is a super guarded secret….supposedly coca is still used in the flavoring today…just without the cocaine alkaloid. Supposedly.

Hmmmmm…I wonder if that is why my great-grandmother had to start each day with a Coca-Cola in order to function? Hmmmmm………..if she only knew.

Anyone know of any fun wicked plant info for us?

Be careful what you grow……and chew on…..and swallow……….

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Wicked Wednesday…..{No. 2}

I hope you are having a Wonderful Wednesday…not a wicked one! But I have some more fun, wicked plant facts to share……

Did you know that the Greeks used hellebore in one of the earliest known instances of chemical warfare?

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Or that here in the American South kudzu has literally eaten buildings and cars? {I know if you live here….you already knew that one!}

Kudzu Eating a Building

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Kudzu Eating a Car

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Or that a killer algae escaped from Jacque Cousteau’s aquarium and continues today to smother the ocean floor all over the world?

Cousteau's Killer Algae

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Encountered any of these???? =)

Have a Wonderful Wednesday~

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Wicked Wednesday…..{No. 1}

Since I love to garden I have always enjoyed learning about plants, their habits, their uses through history, etc. I find it fascinating.  Over the  years I have learned so many fun facts…ones I had never heard before.  So many plants are wicked! 😉

I thought it would be fun to scour through my garden journal and share some of the fun Wicked Plants that I’ve learned about over the years….since spring is around the corner and those of us that like to garden are beginning to think about the plants we want to add to our yards.

Did you know that “Mary Wanna”…… I’m not gong to use the real name because I will get some crazy, goofy hits on my site!  Several months ago I was writing about painting a large _________-of-drawers…..and the word ‘large’ paired with the word ‘chest’ landed so many hits on our blog it almost shut down….I got some crazy followers….but they quickly unfollowed because they were definitely disappointed. ha! So, back to my story…..

Did you know that “Mary Wanna” was sold as candy on the streets of NYC from the mid-1800’s-around 1900? It was called ‘Arabian Gunje of Enchantment’.  Candy. On the street. To kids. ha!

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Monkshood {source}

Did you know that Monkshood/wolfsbane/leopard’s bane {Aconite} is commonly mistaken for an edible herb? In the 1800’s a cook went outside to get horseradish, accidentally picked monkshood, and killed 2 of the dinner guests by putting it in the food.  All parts of this plant are toxic. Nazis used it to make poison bullets. The poison attacks the nerves and eventually stops the heart. Even a brief skin contact with this plant can lead to tingling, numbness, and cardiac symptons. A Canadian actor died after encountering monkshood on a hiking trip in 2004. ugh! Look at that picture up there….it’s gorgeous! It would be just like me to pick this, come home, put it in vases all over the house and then keel over dead. ha! A big sacrifice just to want lovely fresh flowers in the house.

Do you have any wicked facts about plants that you were surprised to find out about?

Trying not to get poisoned~

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Just a Few Things I Like…….

There’s a lot of things that I like….but some things are very consistent. I’ve always been drawn to them for most of my life.

I love luggage.

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I find myself constantly in the luggage section of stores.  Even though I have tons of luggage, I thoroughly enjoy looking at it and imagining. I don’t need to buy anymore….I have every style and size imaginable.  Ones to fit my every need. So, I’m not really shopping, just drawn to the luggage section to wander.

I think I’m drawn to luggage because when I see it it says “ADVENTURE!” I love to travel and head out on new journeys and adventures.  So, I’m drawn to pictures of luggage, luggage, luggage departments in stores……other people’s luggage……

I also love signs.

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They tell you things. You know, things you need to know. {Or things that you really didn’t need to know…..but make you laugh.}

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I think we are always looking for signs…..and love it when we receive them.  Praying for answers, looking for signs.  Lost our direction, looking for signs.

The power of words are immeasurable…..spoken and written.

Yep, signs. I love ’em!

I also love doors.

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They go places. They peak my curiosity. They can keep me safe or give me freedom. They symbolize opportunity or a safe haven. And I always want to know what is on the other side. They can be inviting or repelling. They can be open or locked shut.

While in NYC last week with my son he got a kick out of me stopping all the time to take pictures of doors.  He finally got to the place that he would point out unusual and neat doors for me to see.  {Bingo! *wink* *wink* I got him looking for doors, too!}

Doors lead to new places and to cozy, familiar ones.

What are some things that you love and that have special meanings to you? Maybe things you have always been drawn to for much of your life….or something you’ve just discovered?

Opening doors, unpacking luggage, and seeing the sign of lots of laundry to do……..

Holding on to Summer {Before it Slips Away!}

Summer is quickly slipping away…but I am holding on for dear life!

For the weekend….some visions of summer that I’m holding onto……

Quiet wonder……

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Seeing the power and beauty in nature…..

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Farmer’s Market mornings…..total freshness!

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The best peaches EVER……

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Family fun at night in the yard……..

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Getaways and paths that lead to new discoveries……

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Diving in….no reserve……..

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Fun and laughter…..

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Afternoon berry snacks……

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Reflection on my many blessings…..they are more than the blades of grass.

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Beach days in the sun….and the shade…beach naps under the umbrella……

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Date nights outside……

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Lawn games and family fun…..

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Buying watermelon on the side of the road…..

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Movie nights on the lawn…….

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What are some summer things that you are holding onto???

I hope your weekend blesses your socks off….it’s too hot to wear them, anyway!

The Many Nuances of “Bless Your Heart”……..

I’ve been a southern girl all my life…so the correct use of ‘Bless Your Heart’ has always  come naturally to me. I’ve been able to read the undertones since birth. 😉

Recently on my trip to Atlanta I met some wonderful new friends at the Haven Conference…some from the south, some from the north.  {I love the North…..one of our favorite places is Vermont!}

When one of them was sharp enough to notice that when someone says ‘Bless Your Heart’ it didn’t always mean the same thing as it appears to on the outside….I knew a ‘Bless Your Heart’ lesson was in store.  {It can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, in other words.}

You see, here in the South we believe in being polite, even if it kills us…so sometimes when we really want to say something nasty, we just say “Bless your heart” because it makes us feel better.

I highly suggest that if you are not trained and well-acquainted with this powerful phrase that you do not use it…..many people have done that and, sad to say, never lived it down.

Here’s the quick lesson that some of us gave our new friends in Atlanta last week:

Some of the Many Uses of ‘Bless Your Heart’

Example:  When someone walks into a room wearing a distasteful outfit and someone says “Bless her/his heart” … it means: “That poor thing has the tackiest taste in the world!” or it could even be more specific as in “Good grief, those pants make her bottom look like it’s dragging the ground!”

When, let’s say, a family member calls and tells you of something stupid another family member has done there are several “Bless her/his heart”s and this means: “Well, even though they don’t have enough sense to get out of a wet paper bag, we still love them.”

When someone you love and care about gets hurt or has something bad happen to them and you say “Bless your heart”…. it means “Oh, I am so sorry you are going through this, I wish I could take it away and make things better.”

It can be a form of empathy and used as a big hug…. as in when a friend calls and tells you about how bad her job is, and the kids are going crazy, and the dog just destroyed the house….. we say “Bless your heart”….and it means:  “Honey, I hate that you’ve had a bad day, but I’m glad it’s you and not me!”

And then one of the biggest ways southerners use “Bless your heart”….is a way to identify each other.  You pretty much know where someone came from when they use this powerful phrase. You also know where someone came from if they use it incorrectly. 🙂 {And you appropriately say “Bless. your. heart.”}

Now, this is definitely an abbreviated lesson….just in a nutshell.  There are many other ways to use it, and the nuances are many….for instance: when it is said through clenched teeth, drawn out slowly, with a squeal, etc…..but, for any of you that are not familiar with it, I don’t want to overwhelm you.

I am proud to say that we had our new friend using this lovely phrase 90% correctly within two days.  She was a quick learner. 😉  Only a few stumbles…but we quickly said “Bless your heart!” and covered for her.

She also had a question about the phrase “Fixin’ to”……whew!  That’s a whole other lesson.  I’ll have to tackle that on another day.

Bless ALL of your hearts today~

{and I mean that in the best, most loving way}

{FYI}: What Do the Stickers on Fruit Mean?

I thought I would pass along some info that I have learned this year. You might be in need of some fun facts.

I always wondered what the sticker numbers on produce meant…..and I think everyone should know the actual meanings of those numbered stickers that we peel off before washing our purchases!

We eat organic and all-natural whenever possible. So these numbers have become very important…and quite an eye opener.  This information was shared with me via a friend that is a nutritionist.

  1. If there are only four numbers in the PLU, this means that the produce was grown conventionally with the use of pesticides here in the US. The last four letters of the PLU code are simply what kind of vegetable or fruit. For example: all bananas are labeled 4011.
  2. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with 8, this means that the fruit/vegetable is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable or GMO. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables override being organic. So, it’s possible to eat organic produce that’s grown from genetically modified seeds. A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be: 84011
  3. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with 9, this means that the fruit/vegetable was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic banana would be: 94011
Go for the 9’s, guys! Start looking at these important numbers….so many people think that they are buying healthy, organic produce; but if it has been genetically modified it is pretty much equal health wise  as the conventionally grown with pesticides.
Now you know…….the rest of the story.
PS Anyone else remember Walter Cronkite? I just loved him growing up……when he came on I knew it was almost dinner!

25 Things {No. 2}

I have wanted to do a “25 Things” post for a few weeks…..I think today is just the day to do it. If you’d like to read my last “25 Things” post you can go here.

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1. I think putting bananas in banana pudding completely ruins it.

2.  Banana pudding should have no bananas and extra Nilla wafers.

3.  I’ve never thrown up in my whole life.

4. {I’m not bragging….pride goes before a fall, and I really have no desire to fall in this particular area.}

5.  Overwhelming panic strikes me when I hear the garbage truck coming down the street and we have forgotten to take the garbage out!

6. I have learned that mascara is, in fact, NOT made of bat poop.

7. I wanted to share this knowledge with you in case any of you were worried.

8. I hang out with a crazy group of middle school girls on Wednesday nights……and they tell me strange things.

9. I worry about them sometimes.

10. It took me several weeks to convince them that they were not putting bat poop on their beautiful eyes.

11. After going without sugar for 40 days it is not a good idea to eat cheesecake with sweet tea and a cinnamon roll.

12. Not that I’ve ever done that, of course, I was just giving you a wise warning.

13. It could put someone who has never thrown up on the verge of doing so.

14. I am simple in needs, and extravagant in taste.

15. I think that is why I’m drawn to French and European things.

16. This is what I overheard in the car on the way home the other day:

Handsome: “That dirt was really yummy.”

12 year-old: “If I was an American Indian my name would be ‘Tricycle on the Highway’.”

14 year-old: “Can you be adopted when you turn 18?”

16 year-old: {while gazing intently into the straw of his iced tea} “I looooooovvvvvveee you.”

17. I tried not to ponder or think about the above comments too much.

18. It would have made me want to run far away.

19. In fact, when we stopped at the next stop light I almost jumped out of the car and did just that.

20. I had one of those “Where did I go wroooooooonnng?” moments.

21. I actually had 5 or 6 of those moments.

22. When spring comes around I have to get back int he habit of shaving my legs every day.

23. I get a bit slack in the winter. Sad, but true.

24. We were at one of my children’s concerts the other day and when I crossed my legs it was obvious I had not gotten back in the habit.

25. I think my family had one of those “Where did we go wroooooonnnnggggg?” moments.

Sincerely Yours~

Tricycle on the Highway’s Mom