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Sunday, July 25, 2010

What You Didn't Know About Chrysanthemums

How many times have you walked along and seen a chrysanthemum? They're all over the place and at least here in CA I see them in pots or bunches nearly every time I go to the grocery store.  And judging by how many types of chrysanthemums they're are, I've seen them more than I thought.

Chrysanthemums can be daisy-like, or look like pompons or buttons.  Did you know every time you see a Shasta Daisy, you're looking at a form of a chrysanthemum? 

The name  comes from Greek 'Chrys' meaning golden (the color of the original flowers), and 'anthemon', meaning flower.  Now they can be found in just about any color you can imagine a flower would.

It's said that the chrysanthemum flower symbolizes fidelity, optimism, joy and long life and different colors carry different meanings:
•A red chrysanthemum conveys love

•A white chrysanthemum symbolizes truth and loyal love

•A yellow chrysanthemum symbolizes slighted love
 
Of course I couldn't resist this little thing:
Like the rose, the chrysanthemum can be made into a tea that has some interesting properties. Chrysanthemums tea is one of China’s most popular Herbal teas. This tea is well-known for its cooling properties that help to decrease body heat and is recommended for those with fever, sore throat, and other heat-related illnesses.  So if you don't want to take acetaminophen to lower a fever, this is a great natural alternative.  Modern analysis shows that chrysanthemum contains among other things, vitamin A, B1, amino acids and flavonoid, . It is said to have inhibiting effect on bacteria, including the typical ones contained in the common flus and colds. 

Drunk with meals it helps to aid digestion, especially of greasy foods. It is also commonly taken to help strengthen the lungs and relieve head congestion.  Chrysanthemum flower tea also detoxifies the blood; helps with sinus congestion, high blood pressure, and can also calm the nerves. Chrysanthemum Tea can also be used to sharpen vision and hearing, and clear the brain. The calories of this tea almost zero if you don’t add any sugar or honey into the chrysanthemum tea, and best is, it does not contain any caffeine.  Here's a site where it can be found but it might well be found in a whole foods store as well.

So the next time you pass one of these seemingly common flowers, don't forget how it can be used. 


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sunflowers

Bright, cheery sunflowers growing along the road.  A memory I have of a road trip, though I can't place at what time of my life it was or where we were going.  Sunflowers always did impress me though, they grow so tall on that skinny stem with that giant, floppy head on them.

The tallest sunflower ever recorded grew to a height of just over 25 feet tall!  That was in the Netherlands.  They're fast growing as well.  They can grow 8 to 12 feet tall in rich soil within six months and require only 90 to 100 days from planting to maturity.  For impatient gardeners who want near instant gratification, sunflowers are definitely the way to go.

If you want to attract birds to your yard, guess what flower you should plant?  Yup.  You guessed it.  Birds aren't the only ones who like sunflower seed though.  We use sunflower seeds to make oil, and for snacking. They have lots of calcium and 11 other important minerals. They do have 50% fat, BUT it is mostly polyunsaturated. 

Sunflowers also are unique in that they track the sun.  The daily orientation of the flower to the sun is a direct result of differential growth of the stem. A plant-growth regulator, called an auxin, accumulates on the shaded side of a plant when conditions of unequal light prevail. Because of this accumulation, the darker side grows faster than the sunlit side so the stem bends toward the sun. 

Here are some fun facts:
  • The former Soviet Union grows the most sunflowers.
  • The sunflower is the national flower of Russia.
  • Sunflower heads consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base. The large petals around the edge of a sunflower head are individual ray flowers which do not develop into seed.
Here's a list of the larger variety:

Mammoth -This is the most popular of giant sunflower varieties. Mammoth grows 7-12 feet tall. These stately plants produce enormous, attractive heads over a foot across. If the birds don't harvest them first, the seeds are great for roasting.


American Giant Hybrid - Growers use this variety for competition, as it is among the biggest bloom, and the tallest of plants. Plants reach up to 16 feet, with 10 inch blooms and they have HUGE leaves.
Skyscraper - If you are looking for big blooms, Skyscraper sunflower is the one. The jumbo sized flower grows up to 14 inches across. The plant grows to 12 feet. The seeds from Skyscraper are big and delicious!

Sunflower seeds are a great source of Vitamin  E which is the body's primary fat-soluble antioxidant.  Vitamin E also has significant anti-inflammatory effects that help reduce symptoms of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a big role. Vitamin E has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, help decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women going through menopause, and help reduce the development of diabetic complications.

In addition, vitamin E plays an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.  It produces magnesium which counterbalances calcium, thus helping to regulate nerve and muscle tone. Not only that but it's magnesium that helps prevent headaches as well as muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue.

Sunflower seeds also produce selenium which help prevent the proliferation of cancer cells.  A handful of sunflower seeds can do your body of alot of good! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Etsy Artist Feature

Today I'm going to veer off from my usual flower information a bit and feature a new Etsy shop, Chocololic Knit & Crochet.  Just the name makes me want to get up and scrounge up some chocolate.

Chocololic's owner choose the name because she's a chocolate lover and Chocololic just rolls of the tongue and is fun to say!  Chocololic has been crafty since childhood, making collages and sculptures, and now has been knitting and crocheting for about 12 years.  She learned from her mom and filled in the rest by reading tons of books.  Practice makes perfect and now she simply makes her own patterns. 

Between playing lots of Sim games (she's competing against "Ellen" for world domination) she designs amigurumis and their patterns so the rest us can enjoy making our own.  (Amigurumi is translated from Japanese meaning  knitted or crocheted stuffed doll.)  This is quite a feat considering she has to stop quite frequently to write down the instructions.  When I have to interupt myself, I lose my mojo. God forbid I actually hold onto a thought.

Currently she makes darling little I-Pod cases which will keep your I-Pod cushioned, snugly and en vogue.  What's in the future for Chocololics? She's currently working on a main product line,  small elegant wristlet purses each made in a different colorful yarn in an interesting pattern or texture, and lined with fabric.  So check out Chocololics and keep your eyes peeled for upcoming trendy purses! 




Flower Fact:  Did you know that lifejackets used to be filled with sunflower stems?  Designs of Destiny's flower for this week is....you guessed it....sunflowers!  So come back tomorrow and read some really cool (and little known) facts about them!



Image by Don Gru

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wild & Wacky Wedding Gowns - Part II

We went to Benihana's tonight for dinner and I'm so full I can hardly think.  Good food though.  The best fried rice I've ever had!

Anyway, here are some of the interesting wedding gowns I've found starting with more denim dresses.  The rest of them sort of speak for themselves and don't need any narration from me.




Yup, the pic below is a wedding straight out of fairy tales.


I see a wardrobe malfuntion just waiting to happen here. 



Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name...Part II

This is a picture taken in a rose garden in Hartford CT.  Aren't they beautiful roses? 

Roses have other purposes besides being pretty to look at.  We usually tend to think of the rose hips used in Vitamin C.  In fact one cup of fresh rose hips has the equivalent amount of vitamin C in 60 oranges.

Green  tea has been touted for it's excellent  antioxidant properties and health benefits but rose tea is right up there in medicinal use.
  • It clears toxins and heat from the body and therefore has a cooling effect on the body.
  • It can relieve some cold syptoms such as sore throat, runny nose and blocked bronchial tubes.
  • It helps people prone to chest problems by fighting against infections.
  • Rose tea helps to fight infections in the digestive tract and re-establishes the normal bacterial population of the intestines - very similar to the effect of yogurt.
  • It relieves fluid retention and hastens the elimination of wastes through kidneys.
  • It can be a laxative. It works as a remedy for all liver problems including sluggishness and constipation.It cleanses the liver and gall bladder and promotes bile flow.
  • It has been said to have an uplifting effect on the nervous system and can relieve insomnia, depression and fatigue.
With all those benefits I think I'll give it a try myself!

Rose oil has many of the same benefits.  It takes approximately 60,000 roses to produce 1 ounce of pure rose oil or 2 ½ dozen roses for just 1 drop.  It's said that rose oil or tea can bring the female hormones back into balance and help with regulating the period and improving fertility. Used in a hot compress, it can be an effective relief for cramps as well. Cold rose compresses can help reduce swelling and is a good remedy for headaches.  To make a compress place 4 to 6 drops of rose oil into very hot or icy cold water, then dip a cloth in, wring it out & apply directly to affected area. 

Roses are also used in food.  Be sure you're eating ones that have no pesticide on them and never use ones you buy from a florist.  They may cause a bit of digestion issues at first since your body isn't used to them, so use them sparingly at first. Make sure you pull the white part (the base) of the rose away because it's very bitter.  Since roses pretty much taste the way they smell, you can get an idea from sniffing it.  It can be used in ice cream, salads and even spaghetti.   This Rose bread recipe just sounds so good I might have to try my hand at it:  Cooking with Roses: How to Make a Delicious Rose Bread with Rose petals

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name...

..is still a rose.  But is a rose just a rose? 

Roses perhaps more than any other flower,  have been used in a variety of ways and have a colorful history. 
They have been symbols of love, beauty, war, and politics. There are over 150 species in the Northern Hemisphere, from Alaska to Mexico and in northern Africa.

Cultivation of roses started in China.  In the Roman period they were grown extensively in the Middle East where they were used as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes, and as a source of perfume.
 Roses at War?
Heard of the "War of the Roses?"  What do roses have to do with war?!  Well, in the 15th century, the rose was used as a symbol for the factions fighting to control England. The white rose symbolized York, and the red rose symbolized Lancaster and there ya go... "War of the Roses.
Roses = Cash
Let's move up the timeline here to the 17th.  Roses were in such demand that royalty considered roses or rose water as legal tender, and they were often used as barter and for payments.  Too bad we can't uses roses as payment today...they seem to be much easier to come by than actual money!
 Roses on Parade
In 1890 in California,  a whole parade was dedicated to roses; The Tournament of Roses Parade.  The reason?  Former residents of the East and MidWest were so thrilled with the mild winters that they decided to showcase it.  The parade has definitely blossomed (sorry for the pun) through the years.  The rules are that every inch of float be covered in flowers or other natural materials.  They start a framework of steel and chicken wire and then spray the frame with a polyvinyl material.  This is then painted in the colors of the flowers to be applied later by volunteers.   The most delicate flowers are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one.  I went to the parade several years ago in the 80's and it's something I'll never forget.

I hope you've enjoyed this peek into one of the worlds most well known flowers.  Since the virtues and use of roses are so broad and many, there will be a second part to this post in a few days. We'll talk about the medicinal purposes of it and the use of it in food (and I have a surprising dish roses are supposed to add fabulous flavor to).


Monday, July 5, 2010

Wild & Wacky Wedding Gowns

Having a long weekend was great.  My poor hubby got some well-deserved sleeping in time. Got all the errands done today and even splurged and bought lemon drops and licorice.  I do believe I have a sweet craving going on. 

Everyone that knows me knows I LOVE weddings.  The radiance of it......the beauty of it....the romance and beautiful brides with elegant gowns...the cake.  I should have definitely gone into a profession more wedding related.  That said, I'm always looking in Bride magazines or browsing online.  After surfing the internet into the late hours of last night (Insomnia is holding The Sandman captive) I couldn't help but share my finds.  I discovered so many that I'll show a little restraint and share five at a time.  And I have some real doozies, so sure to follow my blog to see them.  :)

Have some blue jeans that don't fit anymore?  Here's what you do with them:   (Yes, they're made from denim)


Gowns with colors are making a huge splash on the fashion front these days.  These are so unique.  I think the one on the left is kinda pretty (though the one on the right reminds a little of Glenda the Good Witch on Wizard of Oz)

Now back to traditional white...ok, not so traditional.  This is a handy little combination of wedding night loungerie and wedding gown.  Why waste the time changing? So if you like ruffles and don't mind missing the front half of your gown, this one might be for you:    Pssst, I think Fredrick's of Hollywood might carry this.  I'd ask for a discount on account of the missing fabric in front)   I have no idea what kind of cake that might be.
In keeping with the multipurpose theme: Can't afford a gown and cake?  Here's your solution.  This one takes the cake.  (I know.  I'm sorry but it was begging to be said)

Last, but definitely, most definitely not least, is this next one.  You know no one else will be wearing this!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday's Feature Flower

Happy Friday! 

Each Friday I'm going to feature a flower.  I hope you enjoy.  Soooo...without further ado today's flower is:

The Water Lilly.  Why did I choose this flower?  Well, we're all familiar with birthstones, right?  Did you know someone has come up with birth flowers?  And July's flower is the water lily.

 The water lily is considered by many to be the jewels of the pond. If you’ve ever seen one it’s sure to have left its imprint in your brain. Here are some extra tidbits about July's flower:

  • There are over 65 species worldwide.
  •  They come in several colors ranging from yellow, pink, red, white, purple, blue and orange. Some species even change colors over the lifespan of the bloom. Several of them are extremely fragrant.

  • They come in a surprising size range; from teeny tiny pygmaea which come from China and are the size of a quarter to Victoria lilies that have pads so large (several feet across) that they can support a human!

Not only are the water lilies beautiful to behold but they also aid in the pond’s ecosystem. How so?

  •  They provide shade to keep the water temperature down during the summer months.

  •  They help to keep the algae growth down because they block the sunlight.

  •  Their shade shelters any fish that may be in the pond and hide them from curious kitties or other predators that are looking for a fish stick snack.

  •  They also absorb nutrients in the water that would normally feed these undesirable green plants (otherwise known as slimy green stuff), keeping the water clear and clean-looking.



Another fun fact: We’re all familiar with Monet’s “Water Lily” painting, right? Well if you absolute are in love with it, you might be able to scrape the change out from under the couch cushions and sweet talk the current owner out of by offering more than what he paid in July 2008; a mere 41 pounds. That’s well over $600,000 in US dollars!


That’s it for today, hope you enjoyed it. Oh, and don’t forget to enter to win a peony-inspired flowers FREE! (Rules are in post below this)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Grab A Black Light & See Which Flower Has Ultraviolet In It - AND A Giveaway!

 People have used flowers to express their feelings, enhance their surroundings, and to commemorate important rituals and observances.  They soften the moment and speak volumes in total silence.  And if you're in a room with people you don't know, at least you can start a conversation using them.
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 Did You Know?
  • That there are over 270,000 species of flowers that have been documented in the 21st century? That's a lot of flowers!  Throughout the centuries flowers were used to symbolize love, friendship and sympathy.  There is even evidence indicating the use of flowers during funerals by the Neanderthals who inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia.  
  • Moving forward in time to the Victorian era; in England the language of flowers was as important to people as being "well dressed." For example, the recognizable scent of a particular flower, plant or perhaps a scented handkerchief sent its own unique message.
How Do Flowers Get Their Smell?

  • Fragrance is created on the surface of plant petals, leaves and tissues by some 50 to 100 chemicals of some 1,000 identified by scientists. Roses generate more than 80 distinct fragrances. 
Why Do Flowers Have Fragrances?
  • It depends on what the flower is trying to attract: daytime pollinators such as bees and butterflies or nighttime such as a moth to a stargazer lily. And scent is directly related to lifespan.
  • Some flowers use color to grab attention.  For instance bright colour attracts the hummingbird, while the honeybee will head for yellow or purple.  Flies and ants lean to dark colours and bats couldn't care less as they can't see it anyway, but if it's big and white it will help them find it at night in the dark. The spots or stripes on tulips can serve as street signs, pointing the way to the nectar, and even more amazing is the fact that some flowers have ultraviolet rings, like the black-eyed Susan.
    Now that's an idea...have a few friends over who are admiring all the gorgeous flowers you got then flip on a black light. 

I reached over 100 fans in my Facebook page and finished my website.  I'm all done with my friend's wedding flowers so I'm thinkin' it's time to celebrate!  I'd also like to get a little feedback and for spending a couple minutes you're eligible for a free gift.  It's a soft yellow peony-type flower with hand painted details on the edges. The center stamen is two-tone - green with red tips. There are two velvety green leaves and a wrapped stem so it can be used as a flower for you hair or popped into a vase...whatever you you'd like to do.  Here are the rules for entry:

1.  Go to my website on the Shop and Gallery pages, decide what your favorite item is. 
2.  Become a follower of my blog and either in the comments tell me what you chose as your favorite. Please leave your email address so I can contact you if you're the winner.  (If you prefer not to leave your email publicly, you can email me your answer. Your address will not be given out.)

You can enter as many times as you wish.  I will notify the winner on July 31. 
 

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Crafting has always been a passion for me. I have yet to stick with any particular medium, as I love to switch it out and try new things. This blog is sort of a testament to that fact. Hope you enjoy...

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