18 Sunflower Facts You Never Knew

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 “Bring me the sunflower crazed with the love of the light.” – Eugenion Montale

Here Comes The Sun! From munching on the salted seeds packed in my Barbie lunchbox, to growing the gigantic beauties in my garden, I have always had a love affair with sunflowers. I literally skip when my seeds begin to sprout, anxiously awaiting the bright, canary-colored magical bloom! Check out these interesting facts that I never knew about my favorite flower:

The scientific name of sunflowers is Helianthus, Helios for sun and Anthos for flower.

Sunflowers are one of the fastest growing plants, growing up to 12 feet tall within six months.

The tallest sunflower (over 25 feet) was grown in The Netherlands in 1986.

There are more than 60 different kinds of sunflowers, including yellow, orange, red-orange, maroon, tan, peach and striped colors.

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.

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“Every friend is to the other a sun, and a sunflower. He attracts and follows.” – Jean Paul Richter

Sunflowers are thought to have existed 3000-8000 years ago. The Aztecs worshipped sunflowers.

Native American Indians used sunflowers for food, oil, in medical ointments, and as dyes and body paints.

Sunflowers are connected to the zodiac sign, Leo.

Kansas is known as the Sunflower State.

The sunflower’s flowering heads track the sun’s movement, a phenomenon known as heliotropism. In French, the word for sunflower is tournesol, meaning “turn with the sun.”

Mature sunflowers can have up to 40% of their weight in oil, which they store as a source of energy and food. Sunflower seeds are crushed to give us oil for cooking.

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 “The sunflower is mine, in a way.” ― Vincent van Gogh

Famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh did a series of paintings featuring and called Sunflowers.

One sunflower can have up to 2000 seeds.

There are two kinds of sunflower seeds: black and stripe. Oil is made from black seeds; snacks are made from striped seeds.

Sunflowers can also be processed into a peanut butter substitute called Sunbutter. In Germany, sunflower seeds are mixed with rye flour to make a type of bread (Sonnenblumenkernbrot).

According to folklore, it is bad luck to cut down a sunflower.

Another folk legend says that if you sleep with a sunflower under your pillow, you will become wise.

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 “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” – Helen Keller

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Resources include:  AmazingandWeird.com and SunflowerPlant.com

Shared with: Motivation Monday, Creative Mondays, Fiesta Friday, Plant Based PotLuck, Gluten Free Fridays, Real Food Fridays

50 Shades of Tomatoes {recipe}

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Curvaceous. Juicy. Bursting. Plump. Tempting. Exotic. Heavenly. Sinful. 50 Shades. No, this isn’t the sexy Hollywood movie. It’s 50 Shades of Tomatoes.

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My organic heirloom tomatoes are show stopping in spectacular shades, shapes and sizes with exotic names like: Black Tula, Principe Borghese, Large Barred Boar, Brandy Wine, Purple Russian, Big Pink and Green Zebra.

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 “Only two things that money can’t buy,  

that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.” Guy Clark


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“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”  – Lewis Grizzard


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 “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.”


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 “The tomato offers its gift of fiery color and cool completeness.”

  -Pablo Neruda


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“A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.”

-Laurie Colwin


Nothing screams “Summer!!” like just-picked tomatoes, sun-kissed and dripping with juicy ripeness.  To highlight your mouth-watering garden gems, keep it simple. Start by adding fragrant basil…

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“A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.”

– Sir Thomas Moore 


Add soft, fresh mozzarella cheese…

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Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a thick, rich balsamic glaze.

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Now, how sexy is that?


Caprese Salad

(Shhhh. The secret is the glossy balsamic glaze.) For a more dramatic presentation, vary different shades, colors and shapes of tomatoes.

Serves 8 to 12

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

2 Cups balsamic vinegar

3 ripe heirloom tomatoes, preferably organic

12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced

Fresh basil leaves

High-quality olive oil, for drizzling

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

Make the glaze: Pour balsamic vinegar into saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over low heat.

Cook for about 15 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the balsamic has reduced to a thick (but still pourable) glaze. Cool.

Assemble: Cut tomatoes into thick slices and arrange them on a platter. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Alternate tomato slices with mozzarella slices. Tuck whole basil leaves in between the tomato and cheese slices.

Drizzle olive oil in a thin stream over the top. Drizzle balsamic glaze.

Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, to taste.

***

Buon Appetito!

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“Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes

What would life be without homegrown tomatoes?

Only two things that money can’t buy

That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

– John Denver/Guy Clark

(click on link to sing along to “Homegrown Tomatoes”)

***

Photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Post shared with:  Fiesta Friday, Motivation Monday, Creative Mondays, Mix It Up Monday, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Try A Bite Tuesday, Full Plate Thursday, Gluten Free Fridays, Foodie Fridays, Thursday Favorite Things, Link Party Palooza

Do you grow tomatoes? What’s your favorite heirloom tomato?

Mangoritas! {recipe}

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“If life gives you limes, make margaritas.”-Jimmy Buffett

Calypso music. Breathtaking sunset. Sailing away. A Caribbean cruise with my BFF’s. Decked out in my floppy hat and movie star sunglasses, the only thing missing was a drink in my hand.

The bartender (impersonating Isaac from The Love Boat) tempted us with exotic cocktails, “Mango Tangos, ladies?” Of course we indulged, happily sipping the frozen concoction to the beat of the steel drums.

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Yuk! What promised to be a tropical tequila treat was nothing more than an overpriced sad slushie! I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and a worthless souvenir glass. Since that day I have longed for the perfect mango libation.

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It’s mango season in Miami, when neighborhood mango stands pop up on every street corner! Look at these gorgeous gems I brought home. (Check out my cool Mango Facts)

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With my ripe beauties on the kitchen counter, I brainstormed how to best use my magnificent mangoes to beat the sweltering South Florida heat.

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Then I recalled that disappointing cruise cocktail…

It was now blender time!

Mangorita22_seedylawyerMinutes later, (steel drum roll, please) ….Mangoritas!!

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Perhaps The Love Boat should hire me to bartend? My mouthwatering Mangoritas are silky smooth, tangy, not too-tequila-y, a bit sweet, refreshing, very creamy, exotic frozen goodness. Guaranteed to make you feel sexier than Tom Jones and dance like Mick Jagger. Whip up a boozy batch for your friends.

After all, it’s 5:00 O’clock somewhere.

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“One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.” – George Carlin

Mangoritas

Note: I am lucky enough to live where fresh mangoes are available. If mangoes are not in season or not available where you live, check out the frozen fruit section of your grocery store for frozen mango.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1 1/4 oz high quality tequila (You will thank me later!)

1 oz triple sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier

1 1/2 oz fresh lime or lemon juice (plus extra to squeeze on top)

2 oz simple syrup or sour mix

1 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

1 cup ice

lime garnish

sugar or salt for rim of glasses (optional)

Preparation:

Place ingredients into blender in the order listed. Blend until desired consistency. Pour into margarita glasses. Top with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice. Garnish with lime slice and a paper umbrella. Cheers!

*** 

What’s your favorite cocktail?

Shared with Great Idea Thursday, Wordless Wednesday, Full Plate Thursdays, Gluten Free Fridays, Foodie Friday, Fiesta Friday, Plant Based Potluck, Flashback Friday, Foodie Friends Friday, Link Party Palooza, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, I’m Loving It Party, Creative Mondays, Motivation Monday, Busy Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Munching Mondays, Totally Talented Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday, Try A Bite Tuesday, Simple Supper Tuesday

Photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer and Love Boat.  All rights reserved.

Garden Potato Salad {recipe}

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You know that scary yellow stuff staring back at you from the deli case? Eww! That’s what I always envision when I hear Potato Salad. Well this American classic has undergone a makeover and it’s now bursting with fresh herbs and a tangy vinaigrette.

Memorial Day weekend kicked off the (unofficial) start of summer. Although summer officially begins June 21, it’s not too early to impress your BBQ crowd with mouth-watering side dishes like my Garden Potato Salad.

WARNING: This is not your granny’s potato salad!

Start with, of course, potatoes.

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My organic potato plants

 “I love potatoes – they’re my favorite food!”- Trisha Yearwood

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Drop them like they’re hot!

 “I have these big piano-playing hands. I feel like I should be picking potatoes.”  – Sandra Bullock

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Harvest time!

“A lucky person is someone who plants pebbles and harvests potatoes.” -Greek Proverb

Then add garden herbs.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a member of the celery family.  Leafy dill has a slightly sharp flavor. This aromatic herb can be also used as a digestive tonic to calm an upset stomach. Perfect after stuffing yourself at a weekend cookout!

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Fresh Dill

 “The intense perfumes of the wild herbs as we trod them underfoot made us feel almost drunk.” -Jacqueline du Pre

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are related to onions, yet with a milder flavor. Easy to grow, chives bloom into beautiful purple flowers.

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Garden Chives

Toss the potatoes and herbs into a bowl with some celery.  Whip up a simple vinegar dressing and you’re done! How easy was that?  This tasty Garden Potato Salad is sure to be the Pride of the Picnic! Enjoy!

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“What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.” – A.A. Milne

Garden Potato Salad

Serves 6

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites

“Dress the potatoes while they’re hot; that way they are infused with the flavor of the dressing. These are delicious served hot, at room temperature, or chilled.”

Ingredients

5 cubed potatoes (Red-skinned are very attractive; I used white potatoes)

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons salt (plus extra for salting cooking water)

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup celery

½ cup finely chopped scallions or red onions, or freshly snipped chives

¼ cup minced fresh dill (can substitute other fresh herbs)

Preparation

In a soup pot, cover the potatoes with cool salted water. Bring to a boil on high heat, reduce to a vigorous simmer. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 7 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, in a serving bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and black pepper. Place the celery and scallions/red onions/chives in the bowl.

Once the potatoes are done, drain well. Add them to the serving bowl and toss with the oil and vinegar while still hot. Stir in the dill and season with more salt and pepper, to taste.

***

 

What’s your favorite side dish?

Photos by Seedy Lawyer. All rights reserved.

Shared with Fiesta Friday, Gluten-Free Fridays, Old Fashioned Fridays, Real Food Friday, From The Farm Hop, Plant Based Potluck, Foodie Friends Friday, Link Party Palooza, Simply Natural Saturdays, I’m Loving Linky Party, Simple Saturdays, Creative Mondays, Motivation Monday, Busy Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Munching Mondays, Tasty Tuesday, Try A Bite Tuesday

Sunday Driver, Yeah

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Maggie Valley, Western North Carolina

 “She was a day tripper

Sunday driver, yeah”

– The Beatles

All dressed up and no place to go. My brunch plans with friends were canceled. It was a chilly Sunday morning and I could have stayed warm under the covers.

Plan B. Get in the car and drive. Take myself to brunch. I decided to try my buddy’s new diner by the old truck stop. Still unfamiliar with all the country roads, it took me forever to find the place. Once I arrived, people were turned away (including me) due to unforeseen plumbing issues. So my brunch plans were also flushed down the toilet.

Plan C. Keep on truckin’. Next stop? The Swag. Since I was in the neighborhood, why not treat myself to a spectacular view and a killer meal? The sunlight kissed me through my sunroof as I headed up the mountain. I drove by old barns, farmland, and rushing creeks. Amazing.

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“Old Black Water, keep on rollin'” – The Doobies

From cows, sheep, chicken, and horses, I felt personally greeted by every animal I passed. I even stopped and talked to the animals a la Dr. Dolittle.

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Getting a kick from the donkey.

 

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B S-ing with the Bull.

After a very steep drive I finally reached the highest peak. With my appetite as grand as the mountain, I was so ready for my long-awaited lunch! The recording at the gate said, “Welcome to The Swag. We are closed until late April.” What?!

Plan D. Around and around she goes. Where she stops, nobody knows. “Time for a drink”, I chuckled, just as I drove by Popcorn Sutton’s home. Coincidence?  I nearly drove off the cliff laughing. Seems as though the sun wasn’t the only thing shinin’!

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I’ll shut up my mug if you fill up my jug with some good ole mountain dew- Gr’pa Jones

Cruisin’ down the mountain and into Maggie Valley I stopped by the Stompin’ Ground. This literally was my old stomping ground, where I learned to clog as a little girl. Oh the memories of me in pigtails hoedowning in my handmade patchwork skirt. Hee haw!! Yep, I still use those dance moves.

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Oh play me some mountain music like Grandma and Grandpa used to play -Alabama

I kept driving and saw a sign for Cataloochee Ranch. Oh yeah! Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep me from lunch over yonder! Climbing in my car, I arrived at last. How breathtakingly beautiful! But the signed posted on the door read, “Closed until late April.” Huh?! Okay, where is Alan Funt and his Candid Camera?

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Cataloochee Lodge, Maggie Valley

Alone, I walked around and gazed out onto the majestic scenery that I had all to myself. Starving, I sat on top of the mountain and ate my emergency granola bar from the bottom of my purse. Funny, it was not exactly the culinary experience I had pictured but somehow it now seemed perfect.

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“Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, Telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.” – Led Zep

Plan E. Exit, Stage Left! She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes! Since I skipped Sunday Mass for brunch, (don’t tell my Grandma) I decided to swing by my Church to give thanks for this unforgettable day. I parked and walked up the path. The Church was locked! On a Sunday?! Wow, even He has a sense of humor!

So, I bundled up and sat outside on the Church bench and prayed. The sun caressed my face just as the cold wind tossed my hair. A baby blue sky accented the fluffy clouds floating by like angels. The fragrant early spring flowers were blooming beside me. Now I know why the Church was closed.

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This Sunday I had a spectacular time driving and exploring Western North Carolina. You never know where life will lead you if you just laugh and go with the flow. I would never have traded this day to meet my friends for Eggs Benedict. Even for extra Hollandaise sauce!

Do you ever have days that go better than your original plan?

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Shared with Fiesta Friday, Gluten Free Fridays, Crafty Spices, Natural Family Friday

50/50: Fifty years of life’s lessons

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Me with Mom in Miami

You’ve come a long way, baby!

This is it!  The Big 5-0! Half of a century. Five decades.

Adios, youth.  Hello, AARP! Egad!

….Cue music: “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” 

Where has all the time gone? I act so silly sometimes that I just can’t believe my age. Well, I’m definitely older and maybe a little bit wiser. I have learned much over the past fifty years. But the lessons I have learned have not all been easy.

As I laugh myself into the next 50 years, I reflect on a few, okay, 50 things that I know for sure from 50 years passed.  Here’s my 50/50 countdown:

50.  You should always talk to strangers.

49. Diamonds Dogs are a girl’s best friend.

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My rescued dog, Dingo

48.  Cherish your family.

47.  Life’s too short to drink cheap wine.

46.  Friends are measured in quality, not quantity.

45.  Eat dessert first.

44. Never talk to Dad during a football game.

43.  I believe in angels!

42. Watching the sunrise can change your whole day.

41. Rainbows make me giddy.

40.  ’70’s and ’80’s music rocks!

39.  I will always be Daddy’s little girl.

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Dad, my first true love.

38.  Bees are beautiful.

37.  Laughter can cure anything.

36.  You don’t know how strong you are until you have to be.

35.  My mother loves me.

34.  I may be a little bit older, but I’m young at heart!

33.  The smell of rain intoxicates me. (Cue music: “Have you ever seen the rain?”)

32.  I smile at strangers. (You should try it!)

31.  My garden fills me with peace.

30.  Me gusta el café cubano.

29.  The ocean calms me. (Cue music: “Well I was born in the sign of water, And it’s there that I feel my best.”)

28.  I love the Autumn breeze blowing my hair.

27.  My 99 year old grandmother is amazing (and she wishes she was my age!)

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“A garden of love grows in a grandmother’s heart.” ~Author Unknown

26.  I could dance for the rest of my life! (Cue music: “I could have danced all night and still have begged for more.“)

25.  It is better to be alone than in bad company.

24.  A smile is a reflection of your soul.

23. No matter how bad life seems, remember: “This, too, shall pass.”

22. I love the smell of a wood-burning fire (and eating smores)!

21. If you have one true friend, you are rich.

20. Snowflakes make me skip!

19.  Mean people stink!

18.  Fall leaves are absolutely spectacular!

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17.  You should really, really listen to people.

16.  Sunsets rock!

15.  I sing along with birds.

14.  Sunshine on my shoulders really makes me happy.

13.  I love watching butterflies visit my flowers.

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12. Music moves me.

11. Trains are really cool!

10. I wish upon stars.

9.  Writing satisfies my soul.

8.  You are responsible for making yourself happy.

7.  A random act of kindness can make all the difference in the world.

6.  God loves me.

5.  A rescued dog rescues you right back.

4.  There’s nothing like a really great joke!

3.  A good, cold craft beer is totally worth the calories.

2. I would rather be in my garden than in the courtroom.

….and the number one thing I know for sure is…(drumroll please)….

1.  50 is the new 39!!!

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I’m excited to see what the next 50 years will teach me!  Stay tuned…

What life’s lessons have you learned?  I would love to hear them!

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Shared with:  Wordless Wednesday, Fiesta Friday, Great Idea Thursday, Natural Family Friday, Farm Hop, Home and Garden Thursday, Foodie Friday, Old Fashioned Friday, Real Food Fridays, Share Your Cup Thursday, Simply Natural Saturdays, Simple Saturdays, Full Plate Thursday, Craft Spices, Busy Monday, Motivation Monday, Creative Mondays, Mix It Up Monday, Totally Talented Tuesdays, You’re Gonna Love It Tuesday