Squirrely Garden is the garden at Baby’s school (and was named by the preschoolers). I am the CEO of Squirrely Garden, but have taken a bit of a break from my executive duties as of late. We went to Colorado, had to spiff up Spy Garden for a magazine photo shoot and most of all: it has been 100 degrees for two weeks. Today was the first day I’d even set foot in Squirrely Garden since July 17th…
I meant to just take a quick look today, but confronted with this weedy jungle I was compelled to clean up least one of the beds.
The weeds are rampant, but the heat seems to have just about let up, which means the kids (and teachers!) will be back in the garden regularly. We made a plan to get the whole garden weeded in the next couple of weeks and the other good news is that more than just weeds are growing…
I will definitely be taking some lemon grass shoots for our garden from this mass next time I’m up there: lemongrass is such a great flavor (and the smell…mmm!)
This eggplant variety is called Fengyuan purple and I am so happy it is growing in Squirrely Garden; the ones I planted in Spy Garden have yet to fruit.
Downhill from Squirrely Garden…
Very interested to see how this solar dehydrator works out; might have to have Smoochie build one for us if it is successful!
Hope your week is off to a good start! A Squirrely Garden (the garden at Baby’s school) update is coming soon. In the meantime, I’m sharing a school-wide email with you as a little sneak preview of something cool in progress at her school (and because it’s hilarious)…
Dear Friends,Have you noticed the weird wooden box that’s been pretending to mind its own business by our front door? No, it’s not a penalty box for obstinate children. It’s a solar dehydrator! And it will help us reach our food goal of “all local, all year.”But there’s a catch. We need your cans. About 300 of them will do. We need them for the solar panel. Now we know that many of you would never own up to drinking soda or the various other…er…beverages that come in cans. But we all know there’s some in your fridge right now. So go ahead and tip ‘em back. Then put on a brave face and bring those cans to in. No one will judge you.Oh, and don’t feel bad about the type of…er…beverage the cans are branded with. They will all be spray painted black to absorb heat from the sun and protect the innocent.
A photographer from St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine! A photoshoot in our garden!
The photographer showed me some of the images on her camera’s screen; they were unbelievable! She said it’s all about the lens.
The Spy and I rolled these balls from clay/dirt from our garden in about twenty minutes. We have high hopes for making some true dorodangos, but these added a little something extra to the tomato patch for the shoot!
Smoochie and the Spy found this butterfly cocoon (aka chrysalis) when trimming some tree branches next to the garden. We carefully attached it to a cut stalk of a sunflower (with some spiderweb thread I collected!)
and yesterday it hatched a monarch butterfly! We still have the empty chrysalis. My photos really do not do the chrysalis justice; it was opalescent shades of blue and green with the shadows of butterfly wings beneath and accents of (what looked like) 24 karat gold: amazing!
The day of the shoot (Wednesday, August 20th) it was overcast and completely flat light all day. Just before the photographer arrived, the sun came out and cast it’s long, late-afternoon rays crisply through the garden.
I will be sure to let you all know when Spy Garden is featured in the magazine (it may not be until fall 2015).The glossy magazine world is a lot less instantly gratifying as glog-world, right?! So exciting and fun to share the behind-the-scenes with you all, if well before the publish date! Hope you are having a great weekend!
And Baby is three!
Our Delice de la Table melons are a French variety grown from seeds I saved in 2013. I imagine if Cinderella were French, her carriage would be a Delice de la Table melon.
Lemon cucumbers are also growing up this trellis.
They are crisp and fresh and have a perfect cucumber flavor. As a bonus, this variety never gets bitter (in our experience) and it is so easy to tell when they are ripe:
It definitely feels like autumn! The air is crisp and cool. I know it doesn’t technically start for awhile, but since it is my absolute favorite season, I’m going to go ahead and start enjoying fall now!
If tomato plants become too tall for cages or stakes and curve over, as in the above photo, it is best to leave them as they are (especially if they’ve but drooping over for more than a day or so). Attempting to stand/stake them back up makes the tomato branches more prone to snapping. Plus, we’re in St. Louis, so we can appreciate a nice arch!
I examined each and every winter squash leaf; especially underneath each leaf, which as you can see from the photos is where they often lay the eggs. Wearing disposable vinyl gloves I picked off (and squished) all of the eggs, plus some of the squash bugs that had just hatched. BLECH! Also spotted some adult squash bugs and squished them too. I estimate I decimated 500 eggs/bugs! Wooo! Victory! It is great when you can stop these (literally) stinky pests at this stage (without using any sort of pesticides!).
We visited family in…
Rest in Peace to Smoochie’s brother, who died at the young age of 55 on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at Sky Ridge Medical Center of complications of liver failure. He is survived by his wife, son and two daughters.
“It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.” (spoken by Augustus McCrae) Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove
The cold rain didn’t last too long…
Also saw a monarch in the garden today; those are my favorite.
Using straws and tape (and about a 60 minute time limit) try and build something that will protect an egg from dropping to the ground.
You can also use paper and bubble wrap (in addition to straws and tape).
And in other cool structures…
A windy, breezy, beautiful day!
Amaranth is a grain you can cook like quinoa. I love the magenta seed heads and stalks. The grain (little shiny black seeds) grow in the fluffy pink tops of these awesome plants. I planted this variety from Baker Creek seeds several years ago and it re-seeds itself every year. Amaranth is one of my favorite plants in the garden.
The Spy found all these bones (and many more!) in the woods at forest-school summer camp. Friday was his last day at camp.
The Spy is off to other adventures, but Baby’s new school year at forest-school begins Monday!
See the cave? And at the top of the hill is Squirrely Garden.
This past week we had Vacation Bible School at church every evening 6-8PM.
Each evening we sang songs, had a 30 minute class where we learned some stories from the Bible, then had snack…
and then did a craft. A very full two hours (and a very busy week)!
…never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Genesis 9:11
A rainbow is a sign of God’s promise never to destroy the earth with a flood again (Genesis 9:12-17). The caveat: with a flood. Hahhaha;)
On the last night the kids sang the songs they learned to the parents:
“Once when the world was very, very bad
God made it rain, rain, rain, rain rain” *
*excerpt from one of the world’s most catchy VBS songs. Haha
We have a tradition at our VBS where there is a water balloon fight on the last night.
Quite congruent with the flood-theme!
Indian Cave is in Meramec State Park, right next to…
Fisher Cave is a very large cave that is only open for 90 minute tours at certain times of the day. I believe it is closed in the winter because of hibernating bats. Fisher Cave is open for tours now, but today, we opted to explore the smaller Indian Cave.
We checked out the entrance of…
But couldn’t go inside…
The kids still enjoyed checking out the big, picturesque entrance to Sheep Cave.
Lots of action in the corn fronds and stalks…
Craning for a view of…
The above is a pumpkin called Rouge de Vif d’Etampes. They are growing up the arbor and I think I’m going to make some slings for them (a pumpkin bra!) to make sure they are well-supported. In other pumpkin news…
This one Atlantic Giant pumpkin is getting huge! I’ve always hoped for some freakishly large pumpkins, and we’re well on the way!
A fecund Friday to you all!
A little Squirrely Garden update…
I am the CEO of Squirrely Garden, the garden at Baby’s school (also currently, the Spy’s summer camp). This is the first year of the garden. A deer fence was in early discussions of planning this garden, but is not yet installed. The deer have been jumping the fence and nibbling a bit, but we’re still getting some great results for the first year (especially considering we got a late start).
Check out those rock borders. The little kids hauled ALL those rocks from about 50 yards away!
The chef uses the produce in the menu. The ultimate goal is to get 30% of the school’s food from Squirrely Garden. This year it’s mostly picking a few things here and there, but with the deer fence added and lots of prepping through the winter, next year Squirrely Garden should be unbelievable!
To facilitate a little glimpse into the philosophy of the school; here are some excerpts from an email sent out by the school yesterday…
We source locally grown food, we maximize sustainability by eating seasonally, we connect children to the food production process through our garden and the seed to plate approach. All of this is made possible by our incredible Chef Katie, and now Chef Katie needs YOUR help.
…Eating locally means eating in season. So what do we eat in January? Why food we bought and froze/dehydrated/vacuum packed/canned during the growing season, of course.
That’s where YOU come in! All that freezing/dehydrating/vacuum packing/canning takes a lot of prep, and Chef Katie just can’t go it alone. We need more nimble fingers to do all the slicing and dicing, chopping and cleaning. So we are calling on parents to help us stock up for the winter. Just let us know when you’re available, and we’ll put you to work. Squirrels do it for their babies, and so should you!
A little slicing and dicing so Baby can enjoy peaches and pumpkin (etc.) this winter? Sign me up!
An evening stroll through the prairie at Shaw Nature Reserve…
And the smell! Flowery, fresh summer; the most fragrant stroll!
Cool breeze? On July 15th?! It’s 70 degrees!
To see Shaw in winter click here.
To see the playground at Shaw click here.
To learn more about Shaw and the Missouri Botanical Garden click here.
In the wise words of Britney Spears…
There’s only two type of people in the world.
The ones that entertain and the ones that observe…
All of this garlic (probably about 200 heads!) was started with a small handful of seeds some of our friends gave us about four years ago.
For now, all of the garlic is hanging up in this small breezeway at our back door. Garlic needs to cure for about 30 days; the ideal place for curing garlic is shaded with good airflow.
While harvesting garlic, we also dug up some onions…
You can see the two types of corn in the picture above. The brighter green is sweet corn (“country gentleman”) and the darker, shorter corn in the background is ornamental “Wade’s Giant Indian” flint corn. The flint corn was planted three weeks after the sweet corn so that they won’t tassel at the same time (to avoid cross-pollination).
Some animals seemed to be celebrating too…
Then we were off to the…
We found a lot of really cool rocks. I’m going to take a picture of each one and do a whole post on them (so get excited). Rocks rock.
But of course, the main event,
We just got a couple bags of fireworks (about $40 worth) but they sure made for a good time and some cool pictures!
Hope you all are having a safe and happy holiday weekend!
Cilantro seeds are drying on the teepee for now, but the pumpkins are just about ready to climb it. We’ve added a few ornamentals in the garden, including this hibiscus in the foreground with dark purple foliage.
The Atlantic Giant pumpkins are very yellow! This one is about the size of baby’s head. In order to get the biggest pumpkins you are supposed to snip off all but one or two pumpkins per vine. I’ve been doing this and eating the little pumpkins as you would yellow summer squash. The garden is primed for some serious growing in July. We are hoping for the teepee and the arbor to be covered with squash vines in the coming weeks. All the garlic will soon be dug up and hung to cure. The only major problem we are facing right now are ants on the eggplant. I’ve tried coffee, garlic and baking powder and they are still all over the eggplants. Tomorrow, they die. Vinegar? Cornmeal? I’m going to try everything in the arsenal!
And now, for the concrete sculpture tutorial…
Lessons learned: start with smaller things. And if you try to make a ball, it needs to be set inside a box (like a cardboard box) so that the sides will be supported and it will be more evenly round. You can also mix portland cement with peat moss and perlite to make hypertufa and then your sculptures won’t weigh a thousand pounds but that route requires measuring and curing and googling ratios, which is why we went with the $7 bag of Quikcrete and just winged it. Haha. We shall see how painting these improves their sculptural worth.
Until next time!
It was a hot and bright Saturday at the ball field. It was the bottom of the fifth. The games have a time limit and there were only 10 or so minutes left to play (so it might as well have been the bottom of the ninth). It was the Knights last at bat. Two on, two outs. The score was fifteen to eighteen. We were down by three runs. Morale was low.
The boys were missing a lot of plays. Not a good day of fielding; the ball rolled and bounced out of gloves and between little eight year old legs. The Spy was making some solid catches and plays at first base,
but it just wasn’t enough. It already seemed like the Knights had lost. It was the last at-bat.
He stepped up to the plate.
It was windy and quiet.The wind up…ok, well there’s no wind up: it’s the coach dropping a ball into a pitching machine that spits out 38mph base balls. He swung at a low pitch: strike one! Another low pitch. A swing, a miss: strike two. Another swing: foul ball! One of the other dads said, “He’s got the wind at his back.”
He swings. Crack! Or in the Spy’s version it is…
“Kerboom BOOOM SSSshhhhh poughhhhhhh (explosion) (another explosion)”
The ball goes higher and higher and sails far over the fence.
Beaming, running the bases, cheering along with everyone, he pulled off his helmet and pumped his hands in the air and looked like the happiest person on earth. The whole team ran onto the field and met him at home plate. They were jumping up and down and so excited. The crowd went wild. The game was tied. They drove in one more run and the game was won! I was so excited I didn’t even take any pictures!
Fortunately, the following day, Sunday, was another game, and ANOTHER HOME RUN!
But first, the limbing…
This big branch was shading a large part of the garden; majorly affecting the growth in the teepee area. Sort of scary to cut it down…WHERE WOULD IT FALL?
It fell directly on the grassy path (seen in the photo above): pretty awesome!
It did do some damage to our new plum tree, but it should bounce back.
The shape of the cut looks like a crest. Maybe we can design and etch in a Spy Garden crest!
So that’s the limbing. All the wood has been cleaned up and…
As for the harvesting…Not my strong suit. I realize the garden is a vegetable garden so that may seem weird. But, the first few years I grew vegetables the deer did most of the harvesting. Then last year once the deer fence was in place, a new predator moved in. Baby took a bite of most every piece of produce and then she and The Spy enjoyed flinging squash and tomatoes around the garden. And we don’t compost (YET) (JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED). So, yes, we may have discovered the origin of the tradition of throwing tomatoes, but my harvesting skills still need fine-tuning.
This year, I’ve been making a much better effort to harvest and make my lunch everyday from garden goodies. My go-to method has been to: fill up the sink with water and put in the whole mess of veggies and swish it around: all the dirt falls to the bottom. Then dry it off, rough chop it, pile into a roasting pan with some olive oil. I’ve had a month+ full of salads, but the heat has finally turned the lettuces pretty bitter. I’ve heard that leaving them in the fridge a few days will remove the bitter taste, but I’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked in the past. I find roasting greens (yes! even lettuce) works well. Roast around 350 for 20-40 minutes (depending on the thickness of whatever you are roasting), then make a chiffonade of lettuce leaf basil, flat leafed parsley, thyme, oregano and purple opal basil (or whatever other mix of herbs you fancy) and garnish the roasted vegetables with it (and salt/pepper). Yum!
And a few more sights from around the garden…
Friday evening we visited Howell Island Wildlife area. We visited back in November, so here it is in summer!
Walking up towards the levy, Fick Supply Service Inc. is on the left. Fick’s has compost, mulch, sand, rock and many other things garden dreams are made of…
I am not sure if this is a native or invasive thistle. I think it is a “Tall Thistle”.
We were just “fishing” for some cool pieces of wood. Our friend met us there and she wore her…
The Spy is pointing with an awesome walking stick he found.
Hope you all are having a nice weekend!
lots trillions of ants in the garden. Usually they don’t seem to cause much of a problem but I am thinking of putting down some fake sugar (i.e. sweet and low) as I’ve heard that will kill them. If anyone has any other (non-pesticide) suggestions for getting rid of ants, please leave in the comments!
And now, a break in the A/C…
And back outside…
Check out our wildly exciting new addition to Spy Garden:
It has a toupee!! HHahaha
I find this ornament to be particularly fitting because the deer used to devour our garden until we installed our deer fence…A symbol of our conquest against the pilfering beasts!
The plot surrounding it is pretty bare, but hopefully soon will be full of climbing pumpkin vines.
Also among the garlic plants are a few onions that have gone to seed:
“Suckering” tomato plants is when you remove the branch growing in the crook between a leaf and the stalk.
The Spy loves kale chips and one of the things that often leads people (in internet world) to Spy Garden is this Russian Red/Ragged Jack kale chip post (that someone “pinned” on Pinterest). So here’s another kale chip recipe, with a different variety of kale: Tronchuda.
(That drawing at the bottom is the shapes of the garden plots: not including the teepee area or the new pumpkin patch)
They are so easy to make. Toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, spread out on a sheet and bake on 200 or less for 20 minutes or so until they are dried out and crispy.
The most recent dirt pile was delivered…
I made nine of those wheelbarrow trips up/down the hill today. The Squirrely Garden CEO (yours truly) is never afraid of a little manual labor! I also planted Malabar spinach and some peas.
More dirt to move, more seeds to plant: but Squirrely Garden is off to a great start. We’re a little behind the traditional garden planting schedule (since the rest of the property’s construction and landscaping has also been going on) but it is so exciting to imagine what this garden is going to become!
Woo! Summer officially began in Spy Garden the first of June. I know “officially” it starts later this month, but we make up our own rules about seasons around here. The Spy started summer camp today…at Baby’s school! It is pretty awesome that they have camp for a small group of school-agers there. Today was his first day; most of the day was spent in the woods (“and they don’t make us stay on trails!”) so basically the Spy is in forest-school-camp-heaven! His class is going to wear tie-dye for “uniforms” so tonight we…
Spray bottles of tie-dye. Genius. No dipping, no hot water, no rubber bands. Spray, dye, throw in the dryer: done! Usually I do things (or at least WANT to do things) the hard, involved, messy way. In my dream-world, I would make the dye out of some things like tumeric or flowers freshly picked from the garden (or black walnuts!). Then dye some amazing, one of a kind designs on some homemade t-shirts (made from cotton grown in our garden obviously)…But for a Monday night, this was perhaps a more reasonable approach! And besides, I’m not growing cotton (this year! haha). In other uniform news…
Call for white jerseys!
You’ve heard of Godzilla, but have you met…
Same photos, sans color:
A great place to visit! There are lots more sculptures we didn’t even get to, so we will definitely be returning!
School’s Out! But summer at Forest School is just beginning!
Squirrely Garden, the garden at Baby’s school, is looking great…
Most of the planting is finished, the teachers (and students!) have been working hard! One more dirt delivery and a bit more planting and she’s good to grow!
As the Garden CEO, my job will be to take frequent garden walks and communicate necessary garden “to-do’s” so the kids/teachers/parents know what needs to be done! First on the list today was: plant seed potatoes!
Back at home in Spy Garden…
Hope you all are having a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend! If you are looking for things to do in the St. Louis area, check out the St. Louis Post Dispatch Summer Fun Guide…featuring…
Check out the bottom row of photos, third picture from the left…It’s Spy Sister (Aunt Spy!) at the Missouri Botanical Garden (photo taken by yours truly)! Pretty cool! Back in our own garden…
We don’t use any pesticides and rely on lots of herbs and garlic to naturally repel pests. And lots of squishing and squashing! We have disposable vinyl gloves on hand (pun intended) for that job!
If I were a commercial farmer, I think I would chose to grow garlic: it is so hardy! Herbs would be a close second, along with certain greens…
We have lots of super spicy arugula volunteers throughout the garden. The other greens and lettuces growing don’t seem to be bothered by any pests…
I enjoyed a visit to my neighbor’s garden and we talked pest-control…
She has lots of marigolds planted among her crops to deter plants.
Her trellises were inspired by the obelisk we made last year! Trellising vining plants (like cucumbers) can also help with pests.
When it is time to harvest, she will just dump out the trashcans and hopefully they will be full of potatoes. It is her first time trying this. Ours are planted in our raised beds, but I think I will try this method next year. Maybe Smoochie can build some potato boxes! My neighbor and I finished up our lengthy garden chat with a little trade. I gave her a big bunch of crunchy butter lettuce and she gave me an…
Pest control would probably be lowest on my list of favorite gardening chores. I love weeding and digging, but watering just isn’t my favorite either. However…
Agree, Dexie, garden walks (and talks) are the best!
The Cards have various theme nights throughout the season; so OF COURSE, we had to go to Gardening Night (sponsored by the Missouri Botanical Garden). We arrived early to check out the new Ballpark Village…
Once inside the ballpark we immediately went to claim our…
But most importantly…
Spy Garden got some major upgrades this past weekend! We (and by “we” I mean, my husband) built these:
The Spy and I painted them.
They are very huge pieces of furniture. The Spy and I can both fit in the chair and the couch easily seats four. Huge, heavy garden furniture is a good thing in Missouri, where flimsy chairs and tables can easily be blown away by blustery winds!
The teepee served us well, but it never looked quite right and a couple of the pieces had started to rot.
A minimalist sculpture installation?
That’s a very good guess, but no: those are the poles for the new and improved teepee, coming soon!
The Spy and his friend had a fun day in and around the garden today. They spent a lot of time in the woods and also at the new Spy Garden…
Baby and I enjoyed…
I grew the yellow strawberry plants from seeds several years ago, now the plants are big, bushy and loaded with soon-to-be-ripe berries!
The variety is ever-bearing and they taste like a strawberry with a little tropical flavor.
In other extremely exciting garden news…
Baby focused on her yoga while Smoochie built it:
I wanted there to be a garden “living room” at the entrance to the garden, so this “couch” (way more than a bench!) is a step in the right direction.
Now we just need a coffee table, a few end tables, a chair and a TV stand with an empty frame on top so we can sit back, relax and watch the garden grow! Haha
I’ll share more about the orach soon. It can be eaten like spinach, and does look like spinach; magenta spinach!
We enjoyed checking out the different vendors. Purchased some delectable blueberry jam, bread from homegrown and hand-milled grains…
And of course…
After visiting the wildflower market we visited the playground at Shaw…
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
In true “We-celebrate-EVERYTHING!” form, I made some crispy-cheesey-beafy-bean-fajita-dillas for the kids and Smoochie. Spicy white beans with garlic, cornbread (3/4 C cornmeal, 1 1/4 C flour, 1/2 C Olive Oil, 1/2 t salt, 3/4 C water, 3 T sugar, 3 T applesauce, 2 t baking powder, 400 degrees for 20 minutes), caramelized onions, a pile of chopped Romaine, chopped black olives and tomatoes…and the piece de resistance: fresh cilantro right from the garden! Mmm! Oh, and everything doused in hot sauce!
We dined al fresco,
While we enjoyed the sights…
Bajillions of these whirly gigs:
floated down around us like little helicopters. Speaking of things that fly…
Yesterday we parked on a closed-road near where a big air show was going on and watched the planes for a few minutes.
After we got home, we were in the garden (naturally) and six of the blue angel jets in formation flew RIGHT over the garden! Literally right above our heads, they were so close you could see the details of the planes. The Spy was thrilled! He is also thrilled that the hose has been reconnected (we still need to attach the sprinkler head) because he loves a good soaking and it has been HOT! 90 degrees today!
Squirrely Garden is the garden at Babyzilla’s school. I am the CEO of Squirrely Garden (is that the best title ever?) and today we had some official business there.
The black garden fabric was placed on the shapes I spray painted onto the grass. Today, we edged around these shapes. Soon there will be a very special dirt delivery and each of the shapes will be covered with lovely mounds of soil. Then we will plant. We are hoping that the roots of the plants will penetrate through the fabric. Should we punch holes in it?
We didn’t edge all of the plots, but they can be finished even after the dirt is placed. Edging will help keep the dirt in place. Also, it just looks good!
The landscapers were also busy today; digging, planting and laying sod.
The landscapers (playscapers!) have created some awesome play structures with all natural materials. It is going to be unbelievable when it is all complete!
I had never heard of the word “adiaphora” before until (adult) Sunday school a few weeks ago. I love learning a new word and this is a good one. Not only does it have a lovely sound, but the meaning is oh-so intriguing. Adiaphora is the gray of scripture. Many things are clearly good or clearly sin. Adiaphora? Je ne sais pas. You can choose. You can work in real estate or be a stay at home mom or a nurse. You can garden or paint or play the piano. The notion of adiaphora illustrates a great freedom in Christianity.
“…the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike.” (from The Augsburg Confession http://www.lcms.org/lutheranconfessions)
In other words, there’s freedom in choosing the formats of our celebrations, ceremonies and worship. I appreciate a liturgical service, stained glass, an organ, a small choir and a sermon that is more serious than stand-up. But this is personal preference. Five friends in a field of flowers chatting about Christ could be another lovely church. Food is deeply entwined in spiritual and cultural traditions, and in the discussion of adiaphora I thought about food as it illustrates the term.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
So if a vegan sees someone eating bacon, should they give them a lecture? Or is being sensitive to those around you more important than with what you choose to stuff your own gullet? If you know someone feels strongly about say, abstaining from alcohol, why not too abstain in their presence? Sample vegetarian fare in the presence of vegetarians?
What about eating what is served when you’re a guest? You can usually maintain any personal dietary habits without having to verbally make some declaration of “I DON’T EAT THAT.” Such proclamations can really make people uncomfortable and aren’t they sort of annoying? If you choose not to eat what is being served, how about just quietly don’t eat it?
“Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” Romans 14:20-21
Eliminate meat and dairy from your diet? Great, but let me not shout it from the rooftops lest I make omnivores uncomfortable? I mean, I’ve toted the nutritional value of quinoa like the rest of the annoying “health conscious” people. Come on! I’m a nurse! I can’t help it! And indeed, nutrition is a topic I frequently discuss with patients. What duty do I have to serve as an example to patients? To eat the optimal diet? Advocate the “healthiest” dietary habits supported by research? To not post recipes that aren’t optimally healthy on Spy Garden? I recently read this article on Medscape and I think it suits this topic well…
“Many people are turning to “Mediterranean diets” or “Paleo diets,” terms that are so appealing and meaningless that they have attracted millions of adherents.”
“Mediterranean” conjures up summery images of yachts and glasses of wine by the seaside. But the Mediterranean region is vast and diverse, extending from Spain across southern Europe to Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel, and across North Africa. The culinary traditions in these regions vary dramatically. For one person, a “Mediterranean diet” might mean more olive oil. For another, it means pasta. For someone else, it’s red wine, or maybe chickpeas or fresh fruit.
What these variants have in common is a reduced emphasis on animal-derived foods, which is in fact a step in the right direction. A traditional Asian diet would reduce animal products further, and a plant-based diet would remove them altogether — both more powerful than a “Mediterranean” pattern.
“Paleo” brings images of our loincloth-clad forebears whose mastodon-conquering adventures are far more exhilarating than microwaving a frozen dinner while listening to NPR.
“The Paleolithic period is popularly understood as the band of human history beginning with the advent of stone tools and ending before the development of agriculture.”
(Which is not necessarily accurate at all)
“So following a “Paleolithic diet,” we get to eat meat, but we shun grains and anything else that requires a green thumb.”
Heaven knows Spy Garden is not going to shun anything having to do with green thumbs!
“The most effective diet, by far, is plant-based. A plant-based diet reopens narrowed arteries, trims waistlines, lowers blood pressure, and is more powerful against diabetes than any other regimen…
Here’s how we do it with diabetic patients, but it works just as well with other conditions: When you see patients in your practice, invite them to attend an evening group session, which you schedule at a convenient time. Just as your office staff is turning out the lights at 5 PM, one staffer — a nurse, dietitian, physician, or health coach — turns the lights back on, puts the waiting room chairs in a circle, and welcomes 15-20 patients for a lecture. The staffer presents a simple class, or even easier, hits “play” on a DVD player, showing a short video. Twenty minutes later, the patients have learned how a plant-based diet works and the potential benefits it offers.
Ummm, thanks, if only patient education were so simple and straightforward!
Now that patients are intrigued,
(naturally) Who needs rapport? It must’ve been a great lecture haha…
…everyone is asked to jot down ideas for plant-based foods that they would like to try. Common breakfast choices are oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins, a half-cantaloupe, whole-grain cereal with soy milk, rye or pumpernickel toast, veggie sausage, or tofu scramble. Lunch might be lentil soup, split-pea soup, or white bean chili with crusty bread and steamed vegetables. Or maybe pizza without cheese, but with extra sauce and veggie toppings. Dinner could be a green salad and a bowl of minestrone, followed by angel-hair pasta with artichoke hearts, seared oyster mushrooms, and chunky tomatoes, along with spinach lightly sautéed in garlic. Over the next week or so, participants are asked simply to test out these foods to see which ones they like.
One week later, everyone comes back to the office to compare notes. By now, they have a good feel for plant-based foods they enjoy. The next step is a 3-week test drive. For 21 days, everyone sets aside animal products and keeps oils to a minimum, with weekly meetings for support.
After 3 weeks, many choose to make the plant-based diet a permanent lifestyle change. They recognize how simple it is and like the feeling of taking control of their health, and they want to continue eating the foods that promote optimal health. They also notice that their tastes are changing so as to embrace new, healthy foods. We have codified this program into a simple curriculum that we make available to clinicians anywhere.” (Excerpts from Medscape Neurology/Is Avoiding Grains a Mistake?/ Neal D. Barnard, MD/http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/820939_3)
It’s great that this particular physician has had success with this program, but I do question the assertion of a “simple curriculum”. Food, culture, emotion, spirituality, economics: the whole thing is far more complex than a simple matter of patient education. Really enjoyed this article and other plant-based diet diatribes and do agree with the health benefits of a plant-based diet, but still feel that spiritual health must be part of the equation. Introducing nutrition from the “It’s So Easy! So Simple!” angle may not be the most empathetic approach.
“So Spy Garden, are you an omnivore? A vegetarian? A vegan?”
You know the word vegan really has a terrible ring to it. It’s just not the most attractive sounding word. And diction and syntax are big concerns of mine. And unlike some people, I do not find my dietary preferences to be the most fascinating subject. I find shouting proclamations of what I chose to eat or not eat to be altogether unnecessary. But if I had to put a name to it, how about: I am an Adiaphoron? Hahah
In case you were wondering, an adiaphoron consumes honey. Lovely golden, sticky, sweet honey.
I mean, come on! These buzzing fuzzies are not marginalized or exploited:
I’ve been eating at least a teaspoon a day of local honey in order to combat the spring pollen cloud o’ the midwest from making me sneeze into oblivion. I think it’s working! Though I’m also taking Claritin daily for a few weeks. But normally the Claritin only fixes part of the symptoms, so I’m giving the local honey some credit.
“My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.” Proverbs 24:13
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24
If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” Proverbs 24:16
HAHAHahha so MODERATION is key! Got it!
As an adiaphoron I would also likely gun down…
If there was, you know, a zombie apocalypse in progress and the kids were hungry.
Probably I’d try to shoot a deer first as this fox (as seen from Spy Garden!) is pretty scrawny.
Thankfully we are not in the midst of a zombie apocalypse and can dine freely, out in the open.
If you’re interested in sampling some plant-based fare locally, Frida’s in Delmar Loop is delicious. Spy Sister and I checked it out and had a delicious lunch with some chocolate mousse (made with avocado) for dessert!
I especially loved the fact they had a little basil forest on the sidewalk and a huge mass of nasturtiums in the window:
They grow lots of their own ingredients right there! Pretty cool, right? Even if this is more your jam…
There’s loads of gray in even what things actually are adiaphora. The considerations and conversations that arise from our freedom of choice are part of the beauty of the word.
A few sights from this weekend accompanied by a few quotes from an article, “Beyond the Harvest: Five Ways Gardens Support Your Health” in…
“The garden possesses a rhythm tied to the weather and the seasons, and a connection to all living things, including other people.” Jill Metzler Patton
“Tiptoeing through the tulips to reach the hedge beyond improves balance and coordination, while lunging and extending to prune or weed brings increased flexibility.” Jill Metzler Patton
“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden
And got these two great shots of a skink in our yard:
“For many of us, a kind of magic arises in the garden.” Jill Metzler Patton
Usually skinks are pretty skittish, so it is pretty cool he got in that close!
My favorite quote, once more…
“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden
Cut all the pineapple flesh away from the base and let it dry out for a day or two, then put in a jar of water comme ca:
It can then be potted and it will grow a whole new pineapple!
In bringing out this and other pots, I came across…
Making our way out to the garden…
But don’t be fooled!
I believe the seedling pictured above is Orach, but I have planted so many things I’ve mostly forgotten what was planted where. But I’ll know just what they are when they grow up!
Our tulips are not quite as exciting as those we saw a few days ago at the Missouri Botanical Garden but still have a ton of personality. I’ve planted the herbs we bought while visiting the botanical garden, here are a few:
I also bought Rue (the purchased plant is not pictured here) but noticed it looks strikingly similar to:
I would like to start utilizing all the edibles (dandelion greens, purslane, clover, etc.) in all this grass:
Prepare for your retinas to be seared with awesomeness. Spring at the Missouri Botanical Garden…
Spy Sister (aka Aunt Spy) and I enjoyed tiptoeing through the tulips and…
There are many old and huge trees at the garden…
We also visited…
We have loads of herbs in Spy Garden but I was looking for some unique varieties…
Back in the garden, we skipped the
(since it was too pretty to go indoors!)
…with which we will soon be making violet tea (thanks Eliza for the tip) and having a proper garden tea party! Baby can’t wait. But first, these are definitely violets, right?