Wicked Wednesday–The Best Trip

One thing the Wickeds have in common–we love to travel. Planes, trains, airplanes, and ships. I know it’s like choosing your favorite child, but give it up Wickeds–best trip evah. Give us a description that will make us drool with envy.

And there it is....General Sherman Tree himself. One giant tree.

Edith: I have traveled extensively, and have lived abroad in some pretty unusual places (can you say Ougadougou?). But if I have to pick one best trip, it would be taking my sons, 18 and 21 at the time, to Sequoia National National Park where I grew up camping every summer with my parents and siblings. The air is clear and pungent with evergreens. The giant Sequoias are majestic and drop dead gorgeous. The trails we used to hike on, the snow-melt creek we swam in, the night sky alit with zillions of stars in their constellations – I got to share it all with my children. And they loved it.

Liz: Barb, visiting you in Key West is right up there! But I have to go with London. It’s such a cool place, and I felt really at home there. Over the course of two visits last year, I did a Jack the Ripper tour – which was awesomely creepy! – and ate amazing Indian food, visited a boat-turned-bookstore parked in a channel and manned by a sweet dog, spent a lot of time in Neal’s Yarde at bookstores and organic shops, and took the tube everywhere. It’s nice to visit with a local, too, so you get to do different things. I really loved it.

Sherry: It’s so hard to choose, but I have to agree with Liz about London. We went a few years ago and it was a dream vacation. London was everything I hoped for and more. I almost wept when I was in Westminster Abbey. So much history! We also spent a fun day in Paris.

Jessie: I agree with Sherry! It is really tough to choose! I cannot decide between a trip IIMG_0007 took to Iceland in 2016 for the Iceland Noir conference or the visit I had with my son in Scotland and England last spring. I loved Iceland for the wind and the terrain and the lilt
of the language. I adored wandering through the streets and tow paths of Oxford, the alleys of London and Edinburgh, the twisting roads of Thame and the shoreline of St. Andrews..

Our window

Barb: I asked this question but it was almost impossible to decide. My husband, daughter and I had a wonderful trip down memory lane discussing which one to choose. I’m going with our 2014 trip to Paris. A friend of ours does an apartment swap every summer and couldn’t use the last two and a half weeks, so Bill and I took it. The apartment was a beautiful, huge place with views of the Musee D’Orsay and the Seine. Everyone said August would be awful, but the weather was perfect and Parisians have system of rotating vacations so every neighborhood has an open boulangerie, patisserie and grocery. We spent long days wandering through the city, and tracking down offbeat attractions. We loved it!

JAH Camel Ride 3-23-2010 11-23-30 AMJulie: I love to travel, both in the US and abroad. I’ve taken a couple of river cruises which were wonderful, but I have to say that my 2010 adventure is my favorite memory. I had always dreamed of going to Egypt, and I finally got a chance with a group of folks from Harvard. We had an Egyptologist traveling with us, and had regular lectures. There aren’t many folks who you can climb into a tomb with, and happily sit for forty-five minutes while the details of the space arJAH at the Great Pyramid 3-21-2010 1-55-35 AM 3-21-2010 1-55-35 AMe explained in great detail. One of the highlights was a three day cruise down the Nile. One of the best prep books I read was Barbara Mertz’s Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt. As Elizabeth Peters, her Amelia Peabody series is one of my favorites, and I thought about them while I was there. I’ve had other wonderful trips, but Egypt was a dream come true.

Readers: Tell us about your best trip–where did you go and why was it the best?

Wicked Wednesday: Dream Summer Vacation

Summer is finally, officially here. Wickeds and readers: if you had the time and the funds, what would your dream summer vacation be? Where would you go? What would you do? Who would you bring, or not bring? Let’s dream big, here.

IMG_2227_2Sherry: I would tour the British Isles. First to Ireland, then Scotland, and back through England. I’d love to stay in a cottage in a small village for a couple of weeks in each place and take day trips from there. I’d take my husband Bob and spend quiet afternoons in pubs on the days we were tired of wandering. We’d visit the Trinity College Library, look for the Loch Ness monster, and visit the lake district of England. Clothes and lots of comfortable shoes is all I’d need to take. I’d wrap up the trip in London and go to a couple of plays.

Jessie: I’d love to go on a knitting vacation with one of my beloved sisters. There are any number of places to visit, from Iceland to the Baltic and all sorts of places in between.There’s even a schooner offering knitting cruises off the coast of Maine. Most of these trips offer beautiful sights as well as behind the scenes peeks at some part of the knitting process like sheep shearing or wool dyeing.  And of course they offer a chance to improve your craft through classes and seminars taught by experts. For an avid knitter, it sounds like a perfect blend of fun and relaxation.

Edith: I think I’ll go to Italy. I’ll go a week early by myself and check into a Tuscany cooking school. Mmmm… Then Hugh will arrive and we’ll go north to Lake Como where Liviewe’ll visit Livie, the Italian exchange student at my California high school whom I became good friends with (and haven’t seen since), as well as two of the sisters in my Brazilian exchange family who ended up in Italy. We’ll go back to Tuscany for more

Photo by Markus Bernet, 07/13/2004

Piazza Venezia. Photo by Markus Bernet, 07/13/2004

good food and wine. Then we’ll visit Rome for a week, and end up in a village on the Mediterranean in the south. Could do worse, right?

Julie: I am actually going on one of my dream vacations this summer–a trip down the Danube. Italy is definitely on my list, as are Greece and Spain. Summer vacation dreams are so much more mobile than winter vacation dreams. In the winter, all I want is warmth and water. In the summer, I like to explore, to learn, to visit. And to rest.

Barb: So many places, so little time. Bill and I have a big anniversary next year and we’ve been talking about a trip to Scotland. I love Edinburgh, so we’ll definitely spend time there, and then maybe a second week driving. Up to the ancestral home in the Highlands? Don’t know yet. Half the fun is in the planning.

Readers: What’s your dream vacation? Staying home and reading? Trekking in Nepal? Finally hitting that beach in Fuji? Or spending quality AND quantity time with the grandkids?

Welcome Back Chrystle Fiedler, Author of the Natural Remedies Mysteries!

Liz here, welcoming back Chrystle Fiedler, who writes the Natural Remedies Mysteries. Garden of Death is her latest – and she’s giving away two copies of the book to  commenters!Garden of Death COVER!You all know me and my obsession with everything natural, healthy and organic, so naturally I love these books. Flowers are one natural healing area I don’t know well, so I’m delighted Chrystle’s stopping by to share her knowledge. Take it away, Chrystle!

Flower Power: The Gardens of England and Medicinal Plants that You Can Grow and Use!
By Chrystle Fiedler 

After a very cold, very white and very long winter on Long Island in New York, I was more than ready for spring to arrive with its warm breezy weather and beautiful blooming flowers and medicinal plants. My passion for flowers comes from my mother, Marion who was always outside tending her garden in the spring and summer. My mother actually grew up down east in East Machias, Maine, so I have a natural connection to all of you Wicked Cozy Authors from New England! I also attended college at Boston University and spent 4 years in Beantown, getting my degree in communications.

In 2008 I planned a trip so that my mother and I could visit the gardens in EnglanHampton Court posterd. We were to fly over the week after the 4th of July but then she got sick and couldn’t come (she’s okay now!). At the last minute, I decided to go anyway and I’m really glad that I did. I’d been to London before and I feel at home there.

Hampton CourtFor my first stop, I took the tube to the Hampton Court Flower Show, where I was wowed by the amazing displays and uses of flowers.

Here are three of my favorites: Giant faucetFairy tale garden

Rustic flowers






Even though it was raining it was all so beautiful! The show takes place on the parklands surrounding  Henry VIII’s castle right next to the River Thames where I believe that Wolf Hall on Masterpiece was filmed in part.


Next I visited the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. Established in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for its apprentices to study the medicinal qualities of plants, it’s mission is to demonstrate the importance of medicinal and herbal plants to health and well-being. Over 50,000 visitors pass through the gates each year.

I was especially intrigued by the section that featured a variety of plants for different health conditions. Chelsea garden medicinal plant sectionYears later, I was able to put my inspiration to good use, both in my non-fiction, and in latest installment of my natural remedies mystery series, the Garden of Death.

Medicinal plants can be very effective when it comes to common complaints, so here are 5 plants mentioned in the Garden of Death that you may want to consider growing and using. Usually, natural remedies like these are perfectly safe, but it’s best to discuss their use with your doctor first. I hope that you enjoy learning about beneficial plants!

Aloe Vera Aloe plant

Botanica Name: Aloe barbadensis
Medicinal Uses: Aloe is a handy plant that no household should be without. This juicy, succulent plant features spiky leaves that contain a thick gel that you can use topically to soothe and heal minor burns, sunburns and blisters and prevents scarring. You can also use it for insect bites, rashes, acne and other skin conditions like eczema, poison ivy and poison oak. Place this hardy plant on your kitchen window sill or plant in your garden. Just make sure your aloe plant has sunshine, well-drained soil, and moderate water and then, watch it grow and reap the many benefits it provides!

Chamomile plantChamomile
Botanical Name: Chamaemelum nobile (Roman chamomile; syn. Anthemis nobilis), Matricaria recutita (German chamomile; formerly Chamomilla recutita; syn. M. chamomilla)

Medicinal Uses: Since the times of ancient Greece, both types of chamomile have been used medicinally in the same ways. Tiny but mighty, chamomile is rich in nerve and muscle relaxing nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins that help promote relaxation, easing stress and anxiety, encouraging the movement of chi or good energy, and promotingsleep. It is has also been approved for use by the pharmacopoeias in many countries to treat inflammation, indigestion, muscle spasms, and infection. Chamomile is a useful herb those that are “bothered by almost everything.”

Garlic garlic
Botanical Name: Allium sativum

Medicinal Uses: Garlic is an edible bulb from a plant in the lily family, and one of the superstars of medicinal plants. It has been used as both a medicine and a spice for thousands of years. Antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial, garlic stimulates the production of white blood cells, improving immunity and helping to speed healing from colds and flu. There is a reason Grandma’s Chicken soup makes you feel better! Garlic also is effective at lowering high cholesterol and lowers blood sugar levels. You can eat garlic cloves raw if you’re feeling brave or add them to your next soup or stir fry.

Botanical Name: Borago officinalis

Borage plantMedicinal Uses: Borage leaves, flowers, and seed oil can help you feel happier and can even, inspire courage. That’s why in medieval times these flowers were embroidered on the mantles of knights and jousters, Borage was even sneaked into the drinks of prospective husbands to give them the courage to propose!

Borage leaves and flowers have long been used in treatments for anxiety, mild depression, grief, heartbreak and worry. As a flower essence, borage is used to lighten mild depression and ease discouragement. Borage helps bring joy, optimism, enthusiasm, and good cheer, improves confidence, and dispels sadness.

Calendula Calendula plant
Botanical Name: Calendula officinalis

Medicinal Uses: Calendula is a hardy, long blooming plant with radiant yellow flowers that will brighten your garden. But there’s more.  Calendula also has amazing healing properties.  Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, this flower helps to promote cell repair and growth. You’ll find calendula in many items at your health food store such as lotions, salves and creams that treat everything from cuts and scrapes, to insect bites, varicose veins and Athlete’s foot. Calendula also is a nourishing and cleansing tonic for the lymphatic system, which helps to improve immunity. It also aids digestion, helps to ease throat infections, and is used in children’s ear drops. Inside and out, this is a helpful herb that speeds healing and improves health.


Suspicion is unearthed when an outspoken surgeon turns up dead in Willow McQuade’s medicinal herb garden.

A bitter battle has sprouted in the village of Greenport on the eve of the annual maritime festival: Willow McQuade has transformed a vacant lot alongside Nature’s Way Market & Café into a beautiful garden of healing plants—as much a tribute to her late aunt Claire, the shop’s beloved founder, as an enlightening educational center. The town board awarded Willow the plot fair and square, but that’s not how some folks see it—including Dr. Charles White, who invested in plans to develop a high-end hotel on the property. When the belligerent surgeon publicly threatens Willow during the festival, Willow’s boyfriend, Jackson Spade, ratchets up the hostile confrontation to defend the woman he loves, sowing seeds of guilt that take root by the time Dr. White’s corpse turns up amongst Willow’s chamomile and ashwaganda plants. To prove Jackson’s innocence, she must dig deep to bring a killer to light.

Chrystle-Fiedler-and-Wallander-her-Detective-Dachshund-11CHRYSTLE FIEDLER is the author of the previous Natural Remedies mysteries, Scent to Kill, and Death Drops, as well as six nonfiction books on natural healing and herbal remedies. Also a freelance journalist specializing in alternative health topics, her work has appeared in Natural Health, Spirituality & Health, Mother Earth Living, Green Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Prevention, Vegetarian Times, and Remedy. She lives in Greenport, New York with her 3 dachshunds and 2 cats, three of which are rescues. Visit www.chrystlefiedler.com, or follow her on Facebook, and Twitter.

Readers, any experiences with flowers as remedies? Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Garden of Death!

A Lesson in Bartering on Portobello Road

By Sherry Harris

From Northern Virginia where the weather has more twists and turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

IMG_2539I’m not a big fan of bucket lists but as a garage sale enthusiast there are events I want to attend. The World’s Longest Yard Sale is held every year in August. It follows Route 127 for 690 miles, beginning 5 miles north of Addison, Michigan and ending in Gadsen, Alabama. Portobello Road market is in London and Marche aux Puces de St-Ouen is outside of Paris.

IMG_2543Last spring I finally made it to Portobello Road with my family and my daughter’s roommate in tow. It was packed with people, vendors and food stands — everything I dreamed it would be. As we squeezed through the crowds of people, we heard many different languages. Lots of people shared my enthusiasm for Portobello Road.

My daughter loves elephants and as we visited the various booths we kept an eye out for them. Finally about halfway down the street she spotted a painting of three elephants. We IMG_2545asked the owner how much he wanted and he said 30 pounds which translated to roughly 45 dollars. My daughter studied the painting, hem and hawed, and eventually set it down deciding she didn’t want to pay that much.

After we walked a few steps away, I pulled her aside and told her we could offer him less. She asked how much. I told her we’d try this: We’ll offer him 15 pounds. He’ll say no. I’ll ask what’s your best price and he’ll say 20 pounds. “Do you want it for 20 pounds?” I asked her. “That’s about 30 dollars.” My daughter agreed but asked me to do the negotiating.

We returned to the booth. “Will you take 15 pounds?” I asked. He clasped his arms to his chest and said, “that hurt my heart a little.” I said, “Mine too.” He laughed and studied me. “How about 20 pounds?” he asked. “Sold,” I said. I was shocked it played out exactly as I said it would. But I let my family think I was a bartering goddess.

IMG_3346_2My daughter and her roommate caught bartering fever. As we continued shopping they begin to ask for a better price. Sometime the answer was yes, sometimes no, some things were left behind. It was fun passing on the thrill of buying something and bartering for a better price.

Do you like to barter for things?