Featured post

A Zombie Story

Since today is Sunday and a new episode of The Walking Dead is on tonight, sharing the Spy’s zombie story he recently wrote seems quite appropriate. Well, it would probably be more appropriate to try and come up with a Sunday devotional. All Saint’s Day is in October, which is sort of about dead people…And zombies are dead…Ok, stop! Am I seriously trying to relate zombies to Christianity? I mean…that is pretty farfetched!

Or is it?

Or is it?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

This is not our church. Though I’m not judging. And maybe I should’ve gone to service here this morning just for material! We attend a more conservative (Lutheran) church and the sermons rarely involve zombies. So I will spare you a Spy Garden attempt at Jesus vs. zombies. Though it is sort of tempting.

The Spy’s zombie story is quite long: 1600 words!

The only thing I changed in typing this up were minor spelling errors. And twice I inserted my own comments in bold, for effect.

Enjoy!…

The Killing of the Zombie Werewolf by the Spy, age eight (written in fall of 2013)

One night I was walking in the woods. Then I heard a crack! I froze. Then I heard a big “grrrrrr!” I was really scared but I wanted to find out what it was. I started to get closer to the sound and when I got really close I saw two big red eyes. Then I got so close it started to walk toward me. I stepped back and it got closer. I could not tell what it was. But I could tell that it was a really big creature. I started to run and then I heard a giant “rarrrrrrr!” I was so scared that I tripped over a rock and started to roll down a hill and then I fell off a cliff and landed on my back.

I woke up about three hours later. I was still wondering what the animal was. I remembered seeing two red eyes. I was thinking so hard about it I could not feel the pain from falling off the cliff. When the sun came up I saw enormous footsteps. I started to walk after the footsteps. When I saw where they ended it was next to a big dead tree. There was a big hole in the tree and red blood came from the inside of it. I jumped down in the hole. I landed on a brick and I passed out.

I woke up six days later. When I woke up I was in a cage at the bottom of the tree. I saw a huge furry animal. I was right under a full moon. Now I knew what it was.  It was a werewolf. I was about to yell for help until the werewolf saw me. It ran to the cage and slammed into it. It opened its jaws and bit into the metal. I tried to climb up the tree and then I fell. I saw that the metal was starting to break. The werewolf could almost get in. I started to climb the tree again and when I reached the top I got out and ran. I spotted a rifle and grabbed it and I shot the werewolf. It kept running after me but slower. Then it finally dropped to the ground. I went to the werewolf and shot it again.

I was feeling really good about myself. I went to the road and found a 1971 Dodge Charger. I punched through the glass and it had a giant sound. All you could hear was “Beeeep! Beeeeep! Beeep!” I saw someone coming really slowly. I saw some blood on his shirt and I was pretty scared but not that scared. I hopped in the car and I saw a screwdriver and I made it go into the key hole. The car was on and I stepped on the pedal and I went so fast.  I ran over the zombie and he went flying. I stopped the car and backed up and ran him over again. He was dead. His brain was splattered everywhere. Then I smiled and slammed the pedal.

I drove up a hill and at the top there was a million zombies. I turned around and they heard me. They went running slowly after me. I thought that they were so slow that I turned back around. I ran over about 600 zombies. I was laughing so loud that it was louder than the beeping.

HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH The car alarm is still going off?!

After that I stopped at a camp site in Atlanta. There was a bunch of people there with guns. There had to be a thousand guns. I got out of the car and they were pointing guns at me. I stepped back to my car and got out my rifle. I pointed it at them and said, “Put down the guns.” They said no and pulled the trigger. They missed me and I shot one of them. They surrendered and said, “Sorry for trying to shoot you. But we’re going to kill you anyways.”

I said, “Apology not accepted.” And I shot every single one of them. I took their guns and put them in the back seat. I drove out of the camp site and ran over some more zombies. It got really boring. I went for a little drive and then I saw another wolf but its arm was gone. I realized what it was. It was a zombie werewolf. I stepped on the pedal and then the werewolf zombie grabbed the car and threw it into the woods. The car landed in the middle of a giant mud puddle. I pushed the pedal and it could not get out. I pushed the pedal really hard and it finally got out of the mud. I drove out into the road again and the werewolf zombie was eating a man. I went the opposite way the zombie werewolf was. The werewolf zombie saw me and ran after me again. I pushed the pedal and it outran the zombie werewolf. It was so fast that I couldn’t even see the zombie werewolf.

I turned on the radio and the news was on. I turned up the radio and put a song on. Then zombies came running after me but they were running slowly. I turned around and ran over them all. I stopped at a gas station and filled up the gas in the car. Then I went in the gas station and saw some food. I realized I was really hungry. I ran to the food and put it in my car. I was eating gummy worms. I was going 200 miles per hour. I had “We will rock you” on.

HAHAHAHHAHAHA

The front of the car was busted so I fixed it up and then I saw a truck. It had a plow with spikes on it. I took the plow and put it on the front of the Charger. Then I got in the car

I imagine the 1971 Dodge Charger now looked something like this. And hopefully that infernal beeping had stopped!

I imagine the 1971 Dodge Charger now looked something like this.

Or this...

Or this…

And hopefully now that infernal beeping of the car alarm had stopped! HAHhahaha

…and the zombie werewolf was in the road. I ran over the zombie werewolf and it died. Its body was split in half. I drove over and over the zombie werewolf. It was shredded up into a million pieces. I drove back to where I killed the werewolf and I went to where I shot it and it was gone. I knew what happened to the werewolf. It was eaten by a zombie.

I climbed down the tree and I climbed through where the hole in the cage was. There was nothing but dead people. Then I left the tree and went home. The next day the earth was back to normal. There were no werewolves or zombies or zombie werewolves. There were a lot more people then when there was the zombie werewolf apocalypse. I was wondering why there were more people then when it all happened. I asked my neighbor, “Why weren’t there any people in the apocalypse?” They said because the apocalypse was so easy to survive that they all hid from everything that happened. I said “If it was so easy, why did you hide?” They didn’t answer and ran back home. I said, “Wait.” And they went faster. One of them went into a cage and threw meat in. I ran over but they were already gone and there was a zombie.

I went home. I turned on the tv and watched a movie then I heard a “grrgrgrgrgrgr” and I was so scared I ran for my life. I went out the door and got in my car. I stepped on the pedal and ran over a zombie. Then I got out of my car and saw 1,000,000, 000 zombies. I realized how many guns I had and got a mini gun out. I blew up a million zombies and there was still like 50,000,000 zombies left. The zombies were coming like a freight train off the tracks. I saw the giant bullets from the gun were gone. I went to get more ammo but there wasn’t any more left. I got out a bazooka and demolished all of them.

Then I went back to where I shot the zombie. It was gone. I went in the house next to the cage. The house was completely empty. I checked all over the house. There was no sign of a zombie. I went outside and looked in the woods and saw the zombie. It was split in half and burned. I saw that its guts were splattered all over. I wanted to know who the person who did it was. There was a track of car tires. I followed the tracks until they ended. They ended at a jail in the middle of the woods. There were zombies with their jaws off and their arms gone. They were in chairs and they were tied to scare crows. Then I heard a car coming there was a nuclear bomb attached to the top of it. Then I ran behind a bush and watched what he did. A guy got out of the car and he took the nuclear bomb out. He chucked the bomb and set it on fire. Then I ran for my life. I got to my car and pushed the pedal as hard as I could. I was going 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles per hour. I was slowing down the gas was almost empty. The then car stopped. I was next to a big giant pile of gas tanks. I got out of the car and filled up the car. I got back into the car and drove all the way to China. When I got there, there was 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 zombies. I took a machine gun and killed 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 zombies.

FINI

We had our yearly parent-teacher conference last week shortly after he wrote this. I met with his teacher and by that point had only skimmed through part of this story (which he wrote at school). I said “Uhhhhh yeah I think his story was pretty gory.” She cheerfully replied “Oh yeah, they were supposed to be scary stories, it’s all good.”

Then he got a glowing report on all fronts. Reading, math, behavior, all stellar.

I didn’t have to explain about why we let our kid watch The Walking Dead or his sense of humor or have any other awkward conversations about guns or gore. When you excel at academics and keep up social graces subversive expression is really quite charming.

It’s a lesson I learned in school and a lesson I’m glad to see the Spy is learning as well.

DSC_0809 (500x332)

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Tree Climb

Oak Tree with Ropes

Oak Tree with Ropes

Baby noticing some pretty striped acorns.

Baby noticing some pretty striped acorns.

Ropes

Ropes

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Baby while getting hooked up, "Do you like my manicure?" BAhahaha

Baby while getting hooked up, “Do you like my manicure?” BAhahaha

Baby and the Spy ready to climb

Baby and the Spy ready to climb

Going up...

Going up…

Weeee!

Weeee!

The Spy learning the ropes (you know I had to say that)

The Spy learning the ropes (you know I had to say that)

Figuring it out

Figuring it out

This is high enough!

This is high enough!

Heights are the Spy's kyrptonite. He stopped at about 20'

Heights are the Spy’s kyrptonite. He stopped at about 20′

Baby didn't seem to mind!

Baby didn’t seem to mind!

Kids (and adults) in the tree

Kids (and adults) in the tree

Baby...

Baby…

being lowered...

being lowered…

...down!

…down!

Other kids in the tree

Other kids in the tree

Brought to Baby's Forest School by Adventure Tree

Brought to Baby’s Forest School by Adventure Tree

Featured post

Marigolds

October in the Garden

October in the Garden

As the squash vines die back and the tomatoes slow down; the marigolds take over…

We have about 5 varieties of marigolds...

We have about 5 varieties of marigolds…

Some are big and frilly, like the yellow marigolds on either side of the arbor.

Some are big and frilly, like the yellow marigolds on either side of the arbor.

Marigolds with 5 leaves; no frills

Marigolds with 5 leaves; no frills

The masses of marigolds are reminiscent of the changing leaves above them!

The masses of marigolds are reminiscent of the changing leaves above them!

I love these harlequin striped marigolds.

I love these harlequin striped marigolds.

Some of the harlequin striped variety are all red or all yellow.

Some of the harlequin striped variety are all red or all yellow.

An upper ground sweet potato beginning to grow (among the marigolds)

An upper ground sweet potato beginning to grow (among the marigolds)

Teepee

Teepee

Another upper ground sweet potato in the teepee patch

Another upper ground sweet potato in the teepee patch

Giant Cape Gooseberries and more marigolds in the background.

Giant Cape Gooseberries and more marigolds in the background.

The gooseberries look like little lanterns

The gooseberries look like little lanterns

Pineapple Sage

Pineapple Sage

Both the leaves and blooms of pineapple sage are edible.

Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes Pepper; hows that for a name?

Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes Pepper; how’s that for a name?

I think I actually chose those pepper seeds because of the ridiculously long name haha. Baby loves to eat these plain. They are crunchy and sweet and do not get bitter as sweet bell peppers often do in our garden. They will turn yellow if allowed to ripen further, but taste great green as well. Here is the description of the…

Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szente Sweet Pepper…

One of the truly great Hungarian peppers. Yellow, flat, ribbed, pumpkin-shaped fruit have the tremendous flavor that peppers from Hungary are famous for. The flesh is very thick, crisp and juicy. This rare variety was collected at a farmers’ market in Matrafured, Hungary, but developed at Szentes, Hungary. A winning variety. (description from rareseeds.com)

Another favorite of mine in the garden right now is the…

Eucalptus

Eucalptus

This awesome plant (about six feet tall and gloriously fragrant) started off from a little seedling purchased at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s herb show this past spring. That link is for all you southern hemisphere-ers enjoying spring now!

Another view of the Euc

Another view of the Euc

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!

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October 14, 2014

Spy Garden October 14, 2014

Spy Garden October 14, 2014

Lots and lots of rain here in St. Louis this past week!

Dexie taking a break from the rain

Dexie taking a break from the rain

It was raining when I took these pictures.

It was raining when I took these pictures.

Wet garden; flat cloudy light

Wet garden; flat cloudy light

Really looking forward to the next clear fall day to get some proper shots of the garden with good lighting. The marigolds have exploded and the backdrop of the changing leaves will be gorgeous when the sun comes out! For now, just a few soggy shots.

The pineapple sage is a late bloomer.

The pineapple sage is a late bloomer.

Soggy Skull

Soggy Skull

A few miles from Spy Garden; the Missouri River valley

A few miles from Spy Garden; the Missouri River valley

I heart homegrown garlic!

I heart homegrown garlic!

All of our garlic has been hanging in the breezeway by our back door (outside). I pull off heads as I need them for cooking. Leaving them outside hasn’t been a problem until now. They are a bit damp; as soon as it dries out I am going to get planting and save another bunch (indoors!) for use through the winter. Each garlic clove planed now will grow into a whole head of garlic by next spring/early summer. Garlic is one of the easiest things to grow and great for repelling pests in the garden.

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Gardening in a Zombie Apocalypse

First, I suppose I have to explain why we allow our son (he’s nine) to watch The Walking Dead (it’s a zombie television show). Our philosophy is that we can overlook a little (ok I know it’s more than a little) gore and violence. We make him shut his eyes and cover his ears (and sometimes leave the room) during any…um… “kissing” scenes (i.e. Shane and Laurie, Glenn and Maggie)…For the record he doesn’t own or play any video games (violent or otherwise). And doesn’t care too. Which I think is pretty wonderful. So watching The Walking Dead is one of very few (somewhat questionable) guilty pleasures in which he indulges. And in the wise words of Cher Horowitz, “Until mankind is peaceful enough not to have violence on the news, there’s no point in taking it out of shows that need it for entertainment value.” HAHAHAHahaha

So about The Walking Dead

The show is story-driven, not character-driven. Most of the characters are very annoying and make the worst decisions and brood around talking about their feelings, when they ought to be focusing on a perpetual water supply or planting a garden. And…

Are there no jokes in a zombie apocalypse?

Humor is vital in distressing times and the show is seriously lacking in punch lines. Despite these shortcomings, we just love to talk about what we would do in a zombie apocalypse and the show inspires these conversations.

There is something exciting about fighting against pure evil. A war against zombies eliminates all the tricky moral questions of real-life war. I think the appeal of killing zombies is that it is symbolic of destroying what is evil in the world, and ONLY the evil. When a zombie is shot, there is no question of, “Could he have been redeemed? Did the zombie leave behind a family? Friends? There is only the living and the (walking) dead. In non-apocalypse world, evil is so much more complex. All people do evil things in some capacity. Gossiping, judging, vanity…no one is innocent. But even the most horrific murderers could be redeemed (perhaps still punished for life, but forgiven in the eyes of God), at least I like to think so. I’d like to destroy all the corruption in the world, but is the expense of taking a life too high a price for the destruction of evil? A war with zombies is infinitely more simple than a war between the living.

The “Spy” (our son) likes the idea of destroying zombies. And I don’t find this disturbing, because the bullets and weapons are directed at something that is unquestionably vile, wicked and bad. The complexity of the human condition is entirely removed when a person “turns”.

Zombie Destruction, by the Spy 2013, age 8

Zombie Destruction, by the Spy 2013, age 8

Detail. The speech bubble says "Suckers" hahahah

Detail. The speech bubble says “Suckers” hahahah

If my kid was drawing pictures of tanks running over puppies, I would be concerned. But killing zombies? It’s basically being passionate about protecting what is good (life) through destroying what is bad (evil/death).

Drawn by The Spy, A Saint HAHahaha

Drawn by The Spy, A Saint HAHahaha

Once, after watching a couple of episodes (there’s often a marathon going on with all the old episodes) I was tucking him in and I asked “What is the main thing you’d want to do in a zombie apocalypse?” He replied,

“Find a ’71 Dodge Charger and just drive really fast down an open road.”

Me, “And that’s all?”

Him, “Well, it might be kind of hard to find a ’71 Dodge Charger, so a newer model Dodge Challenger would work. Or a Chevy Camero or a Ford Mustang. If I couldn’t find any older models. And I’d want to shoot zombies. It sounds evil, shooting zombies and stealing cars, but it’s a zombie apocalypse.”

As you can see, the boy driving this “Dodge Charger Zomby Killer” looks perfectly well-adjusted:

Ahhhhhh....the open road

Ahhhhhh….the open road

So anyways, though I can’t entirely relate to the enthusiasm the boys (my son and husband) feel about using zombies for target practice, I am drawn to other skills you would need in an apocalypse. Sewing, knitting, crocheting. Building a cozy fire. Cooking. Gardening. Though the world in a zombie apocalypse would make obtaining the basic needs for life more complicated, the focus would be entirely on those basic needs, and therefore simpler in some ways. Simple may not be the right word, just that our fundamental needs would get the attention they deserve. I deeply appreciate the simple things in life. Potable water, a fresh lemon, a hot cup of black coffee. It is important not to romanticize the notion of an apocalyptic world, because many people on this earth might as well be living in one. Pillaging and chaos and war and genocide and famines. The evils of such communities are very real and infinitely more complex than a world where zombies simply need to be destroyed. But I digress…

There would be a garden.

With a fence...

With a fence…

A bit sturdier that this one.

A bit sturdier that this one.

There would be weapons and stock piles of ammunition. But the garden…It would be a big garden. Chickens. Maybe some sheep. A cow? A few horses? In many ways, our ideal operation in a zombie apocalypse is pretty much my dream in real life (just sans walkers). Though in zombie-world there would be a bit more pressure for the garden to be productive and not just a pretty subject for me to photograph.

The season premiere of The Walking Dead is tonight on amc.

I’ll be watching to see if they plant anything.*

*This was originally published just before the season four premiere aired in fall 2013; and the first scene of the season WAS OF A GARDEN!!! Man, I really called that one; right?! This post has been republished for your enjoyment; as the season five premiere is tonight! So, once again, I’ll be looking to see what veggies they are growing. But I have a feeling those scary people in “Terminus” are no vegans.

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Hamlet for Babies

Cast

Baby is Hamlet.

Puppy is the First Clown.

And I’ll be playing the part of Horatio.

ACT V, Scene 1. A Churchyard.

First Clown

    [Sings]

    A pick-axe, and a spade, a spade,

    For and a shrouding sheet:

    O, a pit of clay for to be made

    For such a guest is meet.

    [Throws up another skull]

HAMLET

    There’s another: why may not that be the skull of a

    lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets,

    his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?

why does he suffer this rude knave

why does he suffer this rude knave

now to knock him about the

sconce with a dirty shovel,

and will not tell him of

his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be

in’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes,

his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers,

his recoveries:

is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt?

is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt?

will his vouchers vouch him

no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than

the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The

very conveyances of his lands will hardly lie in

this box;

and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?

and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?

HORATIO

Not a jot more, my lord.

SCENE

*      *      *

And truly our earthly life’s worth is nothing more than fine dirt. Perhaps if Hamlet were a gardener, he would not be so conflicted on the worth of a man, ha? For fine dirt is good enough for me!

BAHAHAhahahah

*this post was originally published in October 2013

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Halloween Inspiration

October is my favorite month of the year. I just love the brisk cool of fall, how the shadows get deeper and the sunlight and the leaves turn gold. The spooky sound of a blustery breeze blowing through corn stalks thrills me. I love October so much that I’ve become excessively poetic; in only three sentences.

Lion's Tail (also known as Wild Dagga) grown in Spy Garden in 2012; a perfect plant for October!

Lion’s Tail (also known as Wild Dagga) grown in Spy Garden in 2012; a perfect plant for October!

October in Missouri is chock-full of possibilities for fall fun…Pickle some yard-long beans to look like spooky, pickled snakes (or worms)? Or hunt for paw paws and then see what they taste like (I’ve heard a cross between a banana and a mango)? Baby’s school served homemade paw-paw ice cream last week (I missed out on a taste)! I found a paw-paw tree near Wildhorse Creek but haven’t gotten the chance to actually harvest any; maybe next year?! We could prepare something with the pounds (and pounds!) of persimmons falling from trees in our yard? Hunt for edible mushrooms? Visit Owls and Orchids at the Butterfly House or Spirits in the Garden Friday nights at the Missouri Botanical Garden? Apple picking at Eckerts? Celebrate the 100th year of Rombach’s Farm? Cheering on the Cards in the playoffs (WOOooo!!!) is a no-brainer!….How about visit to Hermann’s Oktoberfest? A haunted tour of Lemp Mansion? A walk down zombie road? Or how about…

Get some xrays?

Get some xrays?

Personalized...

Personalized…

Decor!

Decor!

The xrays weren’t exactly in the name of October fun; Spy Sister got in a car wreck a few weeks ago and broke her nose! OWWWww!! Not to worry, she is fine.

See? Here's Spy Sister taking selfies in the ER. HAhhHAHahhaha

See? Here’s Spy Sister taking selfies in the ER. HAhhHAHahhaha

You might think that I like Halloween so much, surely the kids would need new costumes every year? Not so! I love the tradition of using our homemade Halloween costumes more than once. How many uses can we get out of the pumpkin?

A little Spy

A little Spy

The pumpkin is just some orange fabric circles with an old towel sewed in between the layers (toastier and sturdier!) and then black fabric sewed on for the face.

Baby wearing the pumpkin costume (with modifications of eyelashes and bow!) and hand-sewn leaf-barettes

Baby wearing the pumpkin costume (with modifications of eyelashes and bow!) and hand-sewn leaf-barettes

Baby will likely wear this pumpkin one last time this year. And maybe next year she will fit in to…

This anatomically correct skeleton costume!

This anatomically correct skeleton costume!

The skeleton? When it is too small to be worn, I think I will hang it up and use it as decoration! I painted it on a pair of black sweats; using acrylic paint and outlining each bone with white puffy paint. The back is also painted. I used illustrations from an anatomy and physiology textbook as a guide.

For the Spy this year (and the past several years), he opts for my husband’s old Marine Corps gear…

The Spy's go-to costume

The Spy’s go-to costume

I am a big fan of…

Skulls for decor.

Skulls for decor.

Apparently so was Cezanne (source of image)...

Apparently so was Cezanne (source of image)

And Picasso! (source of image)

And Picasso! (source of image)

As an art history major (in 2005) I actually wrote a 30, yes THIRTY, page paper on the Picasso painting above. I don’t recall a single point I made in the paper but apparently the still life has been engraved in my mind, as I always recreate a version of it in my Halloween decor! So just remember, you need a skull in case you need to jazz up your still life!

Skull Decor

Skull Decor

I also love making eyeballs out of radishes and green olives…

Comme...

Comme…

ca!

ca!

Eyeballtini

Eyeballtini

These radish eyes are also great to add to veggie trays!

We have almost always followed the rule of; thou shalt only wear homemade Halloween costumes.

Except this one year when the Spy was the swamp-thing

Except this one year when the Spy was the swamp-thing

But two-month old Baby made up for it with this hand-sewn cupcake costume by www.crissypenuel.com

But two-month old Baby made up for it with this hand-sewn cupcake costume by http://www.crissypenuel.com

It's also fun to just have random costume dress-up things hanging around in October

It’s also fun to just have random costume dress-up things hanging around in October

Hope you are inspired to share some of your favorite October/Halloween tricks and treats!

Hope you are inspired to share some of your favorite October/Halloween tricks and treats!

Featured post

I Spy: Montelle Winery

Cheers!

Cheers!

There are many wineries in our area. Prior to the Civil War, Missouri produced the most wine of any US state. There are two winery regions in our area: Augusta and Hermann. We have visited Hermann several times…

The city of Hermann; kind of like visiting a little town in Germany!

The city of Hermann; kind of like visiting a little town in Germany!

A little Spy visiting Oak Glen winery in Hermann

A little Spy visiting Oak Glen winery in Hermann several years ago

Wine cellar at Stone Hill winery in Hermann

Wine cellar at Stone Hill winery in Hermann

But I had never visited the Augusta region. So Spy Sister and I checked it out this past weekend and took Baby to a blustery fall lunch at…

Montelle Winery

Montelle Winery

The large deck...

The large deck…

...at Montelle...

…at Montelle…

...has beautiful sweeping views of the Missouri River valley.

…has beautiful sweeping views of the Missouri River valley.

We enjoyed our view, the lunch, live music and…

a little wine (not Baby! ;)

a little wine (not Baby! ;)

Mmm!

Mmm!

And the beautiful, crisp, blustery fall day.

And the beautiful, crisp, blustery fall day.

Baby looking chic.

Baby looking chic.

Tres chic

Tres chic

The Augusta region was nationally known for its wine during the 19th century, but Prohibition halted the state’s winemaking for decades. Then, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a few pioneering souls began to refurbish the old vineyards and winery buildings.

One of these pioneers was Clayton Byers, who founded Montelle Vineyards in 1970. The winery was later purchased in 1998 by present owner and wine maker Tony Kooyumjian.

The secret to our success in producing outstanding wines is our vineyards. The Augusta area was chosen as the first viticultural area in the United States because of our unique soils, microclimate, and history, and it is our mission to produce wines that exemplify the uniqueness of this eleven square mile area.

Our philosophy is to farm our vineyards with a respect for the land and the environment. As a result, our wines are fresh, fragrant, focused, and well balanced, but most of all, express the uniqueness of our vineyards. It is this attention to detail that has enabled us to produce wines that are continuously recognized for their uniqueness and superior quality…We also aspire to reveal the pleasures of pairing fine wine and food. Therefore, our Klondike Café offers fresh, high quality cuisine to complement our wines. Choose from a wide selection of gourmet wraps, salads, sandwiches and pizzas to be enjoyed on our vast deck, where it is easy to lose yourself in a magnificent view of the Missouri River Valley.

The next time you have a meeting, event or just a weekend outing to plan, please keep “Missouri’s most scenic winery” in mind. (text and picture below from Montelle’s website)

It is a great time of year to visit Missouri’s many wineries. If you can’t make it, how about just reading the Bible? Might sound like a stretch, but I just had to share these…

The covers of recent bulletins from our church depicting vineyards

The covers of recent bulletins from our church depicting vineyards

Vineyards are mentioned throughout the old and new testament. Matthew chapter 20 (verses 1-16) is a parable (involving laborers in a vineyard) that invites a great discussion of notions of what is “fair” (temporally and spiritually). And in Genesis, the very first book of the Bible…

“Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.” Noah 9:20

And Noah lived to be 950 years old. Just saying! Soil, gardening, vineyards; these are good things. Spy Garden DEFINITELY needs its own little vineyard someday!

Featured post

Nine!

Nine years old!

Nine years old!

The Spy had a great birthday; he pitched at the second to last little league game of the fall ball season,

Enjoyed....

Enjoyed….

lunch....

lunch….

at Steak and Shake...

at Steak and Shake…

Hahaha

Hahaha

And he and his friend enjoyed playing in the yard for the afternoon.

What's this?

What’s this?

This big pumpkin had started to rot. It didn’t look like it would make it to Halloween and so…

They went at it with arrows, bb guns...

They went at it with arrows, bb guns…

And bats.

And bats.

More fun than a pinata!

More fun than a pinata!

And a lot messier!

And a lot messier!

Baseball cake!

Baseball cake!

Handsome Boy

Handsome Boy

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

 

Featured post

Early October in the Garden

Empty Pumpkin Sling

Empty Pumpkin Sling

Zinnias

Zinnias

Spent Mexican Sunflower (these are also called "Tree Marigold")

Spent Mexican Sunflower (these are also called “Tree Marigold”)

We harvested all the pumpkins, but here's a brand new Rouge Vif d'Etampes trying to quickly grow before the first frost!

We harvested all the pumpkins, but here’s a brand new Rouge Vif d’Etampes trying to quickly grow before the first frost!

Beautiful Fall in the Garden

Beautiful Fall in the Garden

Smoochie and myself in the garden

Smoochie and myself in the garden

The Spy (and Baby in the background...)

The Spy (and Baby in the background…)

Struggling with the "hold the pumpkin in front of your face" concept.

Struggling with the “hold the pumpkin in front of your face” concept. haha

"My face is too cute to hide!"

“My face is too cute to hide!”

Better! But not a pumpkin...

Better! But not a pumpkin…

It's a dragonfruit!

It’s a dragonfruit!

We didn’t grow this dragonfruit; I got it at the grocery. The flesh is NEON magenta with little black seeds. It tastes sort of like a bland watermelon. The looks are definitely more exciting than the flavor.

Skepticism

Skepticism

Black and Yellow Garden Spider (on Eucalyptus)

Black and Yellow Garden Spider (on Eucalyptus)

Beyond the garden…

We've been enjoying the last of the Spy's games of Fall Ball from the...

We’ve been enjoying the last of the Spy’s games of Fall Ball from the…

VIP Section

VIP Section (aka a blanket on the grass)

Brrrr! Spy Sister warming up. haha

Brrrr! Spy Sister warming up. haha

Featured post

Persimmons: Weather Lore

Persimmons are best enjoyed just on the cusp of rotten. It is a fine, fine line, one that probably reflects why you do not see persimmons at the grocery store. Unripe, they are hideous and offensively inedible. Overripe they are, well, rotten. But just before rotten they have a complex orange flavor that is slightly medicinal and weirdly artificial-tasting. They taste exactly like those cheap plastic sleeves of flavored ice (the orange flavor).

A Persimmon. Not-Quite-Rotten-Orange-Ice Flavored

A Persimmon. Not-Quite-Rotten-Orange-Ice Flavored

Normally we taste a few and let the rest fall to the ground and rot (plus the deer eat them). In a perfect world, we’d make preserves and sauces and other delicacies with complex flavor profiles by adding some calyxes of roselle. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Persimmons have a higher calling. They are meteorologists.

The persimmon seed: what will the future hold?

The persimmon seed: what will the future hold?

The past few years we have enjoyed the tradition of cutting into a persimmon seed to see what the winter will be like. A fork means it will be a mild winter, a spoon means lots of snow and a knife means cold winter winds will blow.

Get out the snow shovels!

Get out the snow shovels! (2013 seed)

I love winter, and snow is just so much fun and the more snow, the more wintering-garden pests will be killed off. I don’t really care what the weather will be in winter. Snow, no snow, cold, warm. It’s kind of like whatever, I’ll enjoy what I get. The weather changes drastically about every twelve hours in Missouri so I wouldn’t exactly buy a season pass to Hidden Valley on the sight of a spoon. I just think it is really fun to see the spoon, fork or knife (and we truly have seen all three!) in the persimmon seeds.

Note: If you do try and cut a persimmon seed be VERY careful. They are tough seeds so use a sharp knife and be very careful.

A green persimmon

A green persimmon

A ripening persimmon

A ripening persimmon

A not-quite-rotten persimmon

A not-quite-rotten persimmon…MMMmmm!

As for the upcoming 2014-2015 Winter? To be announced! The Spy collected a (specially chosen) persimmon seed for us to find out. Forecast coming soon!

Featured post

I Spy: Winding Brook Estate, A Lavender Farm

Baby with Lavender Goodies from Winding Brook Estate

Baby with Lavender Goodies from Winding Brook Estate

Winding Brook Estate is a 17 acre lavender farm in our area. They have thousands of lavender plants and make all the products from their own lavender. The products at the…

Lavender Shoppe...

Lavender Shoppe…

…are beautiful and all handmade. You can really feel the passion the owners have for growing and using lavender. Lavender chocolates, lavender teas, lavender wreaths; so many beautiful things!

The shop (shoppe!) is in a century-old farmhouse.

The shop (shoppe!) is in a century-old farmhouse.

The porch outside the shop.

The porch outside the shop.

You can see the lavender fields in the background of the above photo. The farm lost hundreds of plants this past winter, where we experienced weeks at a time of well-below freezing temperatures.

Beyond the porch. Love the rich purple umbrellas!

Beyond the porch. Love the rich purple umbrellas!

Survivors!

Survivors!

They hold events like luncheons, teas and happy hours. The menu on this bulletin board for the "Fall Tea" looked phenomenal.

They hold events like luncheons, teas and happy hours. The menu on this bulletin board for the “Fall Tea” looked phenomenal.

Lavender Tin Roof!

Lavender Tin Roof!

Click here for a list of fall events at the Lavender Farm.

The entrance of Winding Brook Estates

The entrance of Winding Brook Estate

If you don’t live in the St. Louis area, you can still support this wonderful business via their online shop! I was so inspired by all the lavender, I knew it was high time I harvest the lavender of Spy Garden! We have five “Provence” plants and one “Fringed Variegated.”

from left: Provence Lavender, Fringed Variegated Lavender

from left: Provence Lavender, Fringed Variegated Lavender

A close-up of the foliage of the "fringed-variegated"

A close-up of the foliage of the “fringed-variegated”

Baby's Painting Today, Inspired by Lavender!

Baby’s Painting today, inspired by lavender!

Our small, but fragrant, harvest

Our small, but fragrant, harvest

Enjoying our lavender goodies back at home (pictured with Spy Garden lavender;)…

Lavender Tincture

Lavender Tincture

Lavender Elephant!

Lavender Elephant!

The elephant has a removable pouch filled with lavender (pictured above) that can be warmed in the microwave. It smells divine! So far as I can tell the stuffed animals and sachets are all hand-made as well. I am certainly inspired by this lavender farm and think I will be digging up our lavender plants to rest safely in our Winter Cellar Garden of Dormancy (WCGD if you prefer;) in case of another frigid winter. And in the spring we will definitely visiting the lavender farm again, as they sell several varieties of potted lavender plants at that time.

Featured post

How to Make Black Walnut Ink

I’ve always wanted to make ink from black walnuts. I got the idea from Xplor magazine, which is a free publication issued by Missouri Conservationist. It’s a magazine about outdoor pursuits in Missouri, for kids. If you live in Missouri go here to request it. The instructions were pretty simple:

Gather a dozen walnuts. Unless you want stained skin, put on rubber gloves. Remove the nuts from their husks. Place the husks in a pot, cover them with water, and simmer on the stove for several hours. The longer you simmer, the darker the ink will be. Pour the ink through an old t-shirt into a quart jar. Add a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to preserve the ink, and it’s ready to use. (source)

We often complete step one. We have lots of black walnut trees near our house…

Here's one

Here’s one

…and often collect them for fun/for fall decor.

Black Walnuts in Husks

Black Walnuts in Husks

Once I thought to make the ink for a little after-school rainy day activity. I googled the instructions to double check a few things. Can you boil them whole? How long do they need to boil? I found A LOT of information. Information that quickly made me second guess the ink-making.

In my research five minutes of googling I also found out that black walnut ink isn’t black. It’s brown. This was a big disappointment. I mean, brown is ok in nature. Wood’s great. But brown as a color? Just not my favorite.

You need that jet black for contrast. (Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm)

You need that jet black for contrast. (Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm)

Because sepia can just be so wrong.

Sepia can just be so wrong.

I had envisioned the striking contrast of deep black ink strokes (by the Spy and Baby) on some thick watercolor paper. Pollock for kids; a perfect lesson. Knowing those strokes would be (an unknown shade) of brown really took the wind out of my sails.

But I don’t want to discourage anyone from making ink: from walnuts or any other source. I love the idea of “the old way” of doing things. I use the phrase “in the old days” quite often.

However, I rarely commit to the labor intensive process of ye olde crafts. Usually imagining days of ole’ is enough for me. For the most part we stick to bottled paints and pens from a box. So I’ve decided I’m just going to write about making the ink. I’m feeling quite satisfied in this decision and I think the various fabrics around my house will benefit immensely.

It was an easy decision, made quickly after invoking one simple vision: Baby, with a jar of ink.

Jarfuls of ink aren’t the best thing to keep on hand for art-time with a three year old. Or even an eight year old. Or even myself. In my creative quests I am quite impatient. I get lost in the process and make a mess effectively without the aid of liquid ink. Photography is a good for me. Lots of room for error. Hundreds of blurry pictures aren’t hurting anyone. Handling hot, incredibly permanent pots and jars of ink may not be the best match for my creative talents.

Heavily pigmented acrylic paints do stain. But they’re thick. They can only travel so far.

But liquid ink?

So I’ve decided against the ink making. But I’m still providing the best of the best of what I found so that you can stain your fabrics and ruin your kitchen make ink from black walnuts. Please do tell me how it goes.

You can follow the simple instructions at the beginning of this post. Or tackle the craft via these much more specific (and humorous) instructions that follow. All of the indented italicized blocks below are from various sites I found (one of which was fountainpennetwork.com)…

DSC_1877 (700x519)

Step 1:  Collecting the Nuts

I grabbed my coat and a rucksack and headed for the woods to try to find some walnuts the squirrels had overlooked. (source)

If you’re going to commit to walnut ink making, you ought to have a rucksack. I do not have a rucksack. Another tally under the reasons why I should hold off on the ink making.

I simply put them into my large canning pot and covered them with our well water. I homeschool, so I couldn’t do anything more with them that day. They soaked for about 24 hours before I could get back to them again. (source)

Walnut ink making apparently can’t be part of the homeschooling curriculum. So make sure you’re doing it on your free time (if you do homeschool..and if you’re going to make walnut ink you probably should). Tap water is out. You need well water. Preferably from a well you dug yourself.

I wore rubber gloves while I de-husked the black walnuts… Dehusking was hard on the gloves and they kept tearing on me… which is why I still ended up with stained fingers! (Yes, this stuff will stain countertops and everything else it touches, including the pots, strainers and other equipment that you need to process it with, so just be forewarned if you plan to try this. It’s best to set aside equipment just for this purpose.) (source)

“It’s best” to designate pots and supplies (and by “supplies” I mean, an entire kitchen) for the sole purpose of ink making. If you’re making that much of commitment to ink-making you’re going to want to have a lot of ink-using activities planned. So you can pretty much kiss blogging goodbye. Or write all your blog posts with the ink and then just photograph or scan the pages and post those.

I actually took the time to pick out the worms. I’m vegetarian and couldn’t stand the thought of bugs in my ink… it would’ve been a lot simpler just to boil the husks whole, but I knew a lot of worms would’ve been inside them and that would’ve bothered me to kill them. (source)

If you truly want to connect to the essence of the ink, you need to rescue the husk maggots. Black walnuts support these nonviolent creatures. If you fail to support these writhing gems, the ink’s harmony will be all thrown out of whack. Be one with the walnuts.

OOOoooooommmmmmm

OOOoooooommmmmmm

Step 2: Soak the Walnut Husks/Separate the Husks from the Nuts

The easiest way to obtain the husk material is to strew the nuts in your driveway and drive over them a few times. The shells are so hard, the weight of the car won’t smash them.

Let me reiterate: Drive over them A FEW times.

Several years ago we lived in a different house that had a huge black walnut tree. I wanted to get the meat out of them and eat the walnuts. I collected a big bucket full of the nuts. And forgot about it. So the nuts in the bucket became covered with rainwater. Which became a black stew that smelled like the fresh rot of a wet forest. Then someone told me about the “just run them over” tip. So I dumped the black liquid with the nuts onto our driveway. Then forgot about them. So we drove over them. Again and again. And again. For several months. Until all the nuts were mashed up and black stains covered our driveway in a gruesome (and quite unappetizing) mess. I don’t believe the stains ever came out. In remembering my success at these stains I realize, I’ve already made ink from black walnuts once before. Using rainwater. Which I believe trumps well water.

Step 3: The Cooking

After they are black, put them in a large pot for which you don’t have any great affection. (source)

This is a problem. I only have five pots. And while I don’t necessarily feel “affectionate” towards these stainless steel staples of my kitchen, I do use them quite often.

(Another warning: The walnuts, water, and ink all have a high capacity for staining anything they come into contact with. This includes kitchen counters, fingernails, dishes, wooden spoons, and your clothing.) (source)

I think we’ve established that.

I refer to the walnuts in disgusting terms, and they are pretty gross. They get slimy and moldy, and you’ll probably find all kinds of strange little bugs living in them. Don’t worry. It all cooks down to the same brown sludge. Except for those little pale brown beetle larvae. They stayed shiny and intact even after hours and hours of boiling. If the ick factor is too high, just remember that you must suffer for your art. So must those with whom you share your kitchen. (source)

I would argue that I’ve actually never suffered much in my artistic endeavors. I find painting or sculpting to be quite pleasant pursuits. My “sculpting” in the dirt has resulted in the occasional callus on my palm.

But this is not the hand of anguish.

But this is not the hand of anguish.

I’ve felt the sorrow in accidentally slicing a worm in half with my spade. Really, I do. But suffer? I just don’t know if I agree that we must suffer for art. I do think this particular ink-maker is being a silly nut. At least I think he’s joking.

Step 3: Preservatives

When it was finished, I added 8% alcohol by volume for a preservative (80-proof vodka, to be exact). In later batches, I went with 10% alcohol and 100-proof vodka, which is easier to figure out mathmatically. (For a 10% concentration of alcohol with 100-proof vodka, take the number of ounces of ink you have and divide it by 4 to obtain the amount of alcohol to add. Ex. If you have 32 ounces of ink, divide that by 4 = 8 ounces of alcohol to add). My cooked-down black walnut batches have never molded over, and some of them are 2 years old now.  (source)

Ink making tip #759: Vodka makes you better at math.

Step 4: Using the Ink

This ink is meant for dip-pen use only, and not for fountain pens. It would likely ruin a fountain pen. It is especially well-suited to glass dip pens. I recommend gold-plated metal nibs to resist corrosion by the acidic ink.

Step 5: Regret

What’s not to like? Two things:

1. The ink has no lubricity. Zilch. It feels like you are writing with plain water. The nib just drags along.

2. The ink reacts with iron. This wears out a steel dip pen nib much faster than other inks. After writing about 20 pages, a regular pointed nib has sharp edges and needs to be touched up on a stone. (source)

So your kitchen is ruined, your hands are stained and crippled from hand-writing 20 (20?!) pages of goodness knows what (probably instructions of how to make ink). You’ve got an entire colony of husk maggots to support and a rucksack to wash. You’ve gained a gallon of distastefully brown ink that’s unpleasant to write with and will ruin your gold-plated nibs and your kitchen smells like vodka.

What’s not to like?

HAHAHAHAHAHhahahjajaha

Featured post

Pumpkins and Reruns

Pumpkin Harvest!

Pumpkin Harvest!

Most of the pumpkins we grew this year are pictured above. The big light orange ones are called Atlantic Giant. I will definitely grow those again and try to get an even bigger one. The Atlantic Giant variety holds the world-record for largest pumpkin. Check out this link to see a TWO THOUSAND pound Atlantic Giant! Challenge accepted! hahaha The deeper orange pumpkins are a French variety called Rouge Vif d’Etampes. They did really well and set a lot of pumpkins on the vine so I will also seriously consider growing those again. I’ll pass on the Jarrahdales (the little grey ones) as they didn’t do too great. I’ll try a different blue variety next year.

Blackberries mmm!

Blackberries mmm!

Perfect fall butterfly!

Perfect fall butterfly!

A huge marigold-sized bumblebee

A huge marigold-sized bumblebee

Baby, as seen in her school newsletter

Baby, as seen in her school newsletter

Baby in the school newsletter, baking bread

Baby in the school newsletter, baking bread

Excerpt from the newsletter…

Every Thursday is Bread Day…During Bread Day, the children of the Nursery Collaborative work to count their ingredients, count their scoops, fill measuring cups to the brim, and use safe food handling practices. From chocolate bread to apple cinnamon bread, they’ve made it all. Thanks for the delicious snacks!

The kids at her school name their class each year. Baby’s classroom named themselves the “Cantaloupe Camels” hahaha Squirrely Garden is the name the kids chose for the school garden. They have “Ninja Rock” on the playground and name different areas of the school and woods. I think kids make up the best names. Which is why I had my son name this site “Spy Garden”!

I love yellow marigolds. Will be sure to save lots of these seeds (the flowers themselves are big clusters of seeds)

I love yellow marigolds. Will be sure to save lots of these seeds (the flowers themselves are big clusters of seeds)

Baby watching one of the Spy's baseball games.

Baby watching one of the Spy’s baseball games. The Spy plays first base and Smoochie (next to him) is a coach.

We prefer a blanket on the grassy hill to the bleachers.

We prefer a blanket on the grassy hill to the bleachers.

I love a good rerun. I can watch Seinfeld any time. I eat a banana and a spoonful of peanut butter for breakfast pretty much every single day. I bake bread at least once a week. These things aren’t boring. Quite the opposite; they can be enjoyed over and over and over.
Our perspective is always changing (like the leaves! Sorry, terribly obvious analogy!)…I digress. But I do love fall. And fall (and other seasons) are sort of reruns in and of themselves. Our perspective is always changing, so really, we’re always looking at the same “old” things with fresh eyes. At least I try to do that. Which is why I enjoy reruns. Appreciate the same pieces of art I’ve enjoyed for years, repeat recipes, why my kids get multiple years use out of homemade Halloween costumes, etc., etc.
I’m grateful for the yearly rerun of autumn. I feel most inspired at this time of year and have been kicking around the idea of a new writing challenge. Around this time last year I wrote 100 essays in 100 days. 100 essays in 100 days seems a little extreme right now as I am gainfully employed as a nurse and value my beauty rest. So I thought I would sift through my favorites of the essays and spend a bit of time editing them. Refining them and taking out all the references to “I’m writing 100 essays in 100 days” and the fact that they were written for a blog. So that they can stand alone; as just essays. I think the best reruns do that. You don’t need to have seen the previous Seinfeld show to enjoy the one that follows. A good rerun can be enjoyed for a second, a third, a hundred times. Probably you don’t want to read my essays a hundred times. But maybe twice? Especially with my fancy new edits? If you’re new to Spy Garden, they’ll just seem like new posts so you won’t even know the difference. So I’m not going to advertise them as reruns. I’m just going to repost them. Exciting, I know. hahahhaha
So the pictures in this post are not reruns, but from the last week or so in and around Spy Garden. Because I’ve been too busy with my free time watching reruns to post anything. We’ve discovered Homeland and have already plowed through the first and most of the second season; it’s great show. It’s about spies…CIA spies. Obviously I can relate; having a secret identity and all. Hahahahahjaha
Happy Sunday friends, have a great week!

 

Featured post

Monarchs, Hedgeapples and Friends

Monarch in Spy Garden

Monarch in Spy Garden

Monarchs are my absolute favorite butterflies and there’s loads of them flitting around the garden this year.

Monarch

Monarch

Monarch on Mexican Sunflower

Monarch on Mexican Sunflower

As for the hedgeapples…

Hedgeapples

Hedgeapples

Hedgeapples are also called Osage Oranges. Maclura Pomifera if you want to get fancy. They are not edible but have a wonderful fresh apple scent. I like them for fall decor and collect them every year. We don’t have hedgeapple trees on our property but I know where many good hedgeapple trees are around St. Louis (some are 50+ feet tall!)! It is a fun tradition we have to pull over on the side of the road and fill up bags full of the fallen fruits. It is a little early yet for a big collection (they start falling to the ground in another two weeks or so). Next time I feature hedgeapples in a post I’ll be sure to cut one open. They look even weirder on the inside and have a sticky white sap that looks like Elmer’s glue. I have friends who swear that hedgeapples repel spiders and put them in all the closets in their house. The wood of the trees is apparently perfect for making bows and the tree is also known as bowwood.

Back in the garden…

Things are very colorful!

Things are very colorful!

Perhaps the last shot of the hanging Rouge Vif d'Etampes...

Perhaps the last shot of the hanging Rouge Vif d’Etampes…

…As tomorrow we’re planning to harvest all of the pumpkins to celebrate the first official day of fall! We did already pick one of the Jarrahdales…

Umm...it looks like a big giant swollen tick. HAHAHA GROSS! haha

Umm…it looks like a big giant swollen tick. HAHAHA GROSS! haha

Corn Stalks and Dexie

Corn Stalks and Dexie at the entrance of the garden

Hibiscus Bud

Hibiscus Bud

Featured post

Squirrely Garden Gets a Grant!

Squirrely Garden is the garden at Baby’s amazing Forest School. And I am the CEO of Squirrely Garden (best title ever). As an (unpaid) CEO I think up many duties for myself such as the obvious (weeding, digging, wheelbarrowing) but also documenting the garden’s progress with photos and emailing the school with garden to-do’s.  I also designed the layout of the garden when we first dug the plots back in May. When the school wanted to apply for a grant from Gateway Greening, I helped them fill out the application and when it was time to tour the folks from GG with the school owners, I wore a baseball hat that says “Plays in the Dirt”. Clearly I take my CEO duties very seriously. Well, we cinched the deal and got the grant! The install date was today and Squirrely Garden gained four raised beds, six cubic yards of dirt, a slew of garden tools for little hands and the piece de resistance…(I’ll let that one be a surprise for the end of this post)…

A great turnout for the installation of the raised beds!

A great turnout for the installation of the raised beds!

Baby and her friend checking out the action

Baby and her friend checking out the action

Everyone helping; and check out that shiny new shovel!

Everyone helping; and check out that shiny new shovel!

Baby taking a break on the death-trap concrete slide soon-to-be ice luge

Baby taking a break on the death-trap concrete slide soon-to-be ice luge

Woo! Dirt Delivery!

Woo! Dirt Delivery!

Weeeee!

Weeeee!

In addition to installing the raised beds, we also edged some of the existing plots and moved some plants and harvested green tomatoes and lots of herbs.

Dock, sans leaves

Dock, sans leaves

Moving lemon grass

Moving lemon grass

Three big lemon grass plants were moved out of the garden down to the playground area. Lemon grass is a natural mosquito repellant.

Many helpers...

Many helpers…

Little helpers

Little helpers

Weeding

Weeding

Lots of dirt to move

Lots of dirt to move

The chef composts everything. This is a method for getting air throughout the pile of green manure.

The chef composts everything. This is a method for getting air throughout the pile of green manure.

Move over Richard Serra, Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer.

Move over Richard Serra, Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer.

Squirrely Garden 9.20.14

Squirrely Garden 9.20.14

What's that?

What’s that?

A little garden snake! (I think it is a juvenile black rat snake)

A little garden snake! (I think it is a juvenile black rat snake)

All the kids got to check it out.

All the kids got to check it out.

Weeding

Weeding..and what’s that in the background…leaning on the fence…?

The piece de resistance…

Check out the shiny new sign!

Check out the shiny new sign!

Thanks Gateway Greening!

Thanks Gateway Greening!

Featured post

Late September in the Garden and a Decade of Marriage!

Changing Leaves

Changing Leaves

Golden Fall Light

Golden Fall Light

Can you spy Spy Garden? I like this view because it's sort of hidden because of the slope of the yard.

Can you spy Spy Garden? I like this view because it’s sort of hidden because of the slope of the yard.

Teepee

Teepee

Another view of the teepee

Another view of the teepee

Love this eucalyptus. I am going to dig it up and put it in a big pot to bring inside for the winter (as it won't necessarily survive a hard frost).

Love this eucalyptus. I am going to dig it up and put it in a big pot to bring inside for the winter (as it won’t necessarily survive a hard frost).

Sioux Tomatoes

Sioux Tomatoes

Purple Opal Basil (and other varieties of basil) among the row of tomatoes)

Purple Opal Basil (and other varieties of basil) among the row of tomatoes)

Herbs and Marigolds

Herbs and Marigolds

Facing north in the garden

Facing north in the garden

Minimalist Corn

Minimalist Corn

We always grow corn; mostly for the ornamental value (gotta have corn stalks for fall decor!) This year the corn set only sad little ears with irregular rows of kernels. I think this is because it was in a row that just does not get enough sun.

Sunflowers and corn stalk decor in progress.

Sunflowers and corn stalk decor in progress.

Upper Ground Sweet Potato on the Teepee

Upper Ground Sweet Potato on the Teepee

Big...

Big…

Mushroom

Mushroom

Pure White (colored by the fall light)

Pure White (colored by the fall light)

Late September Garden

Late September Garden

The knockout rose bush in the foreground has done so well this year. I pruned it aggressively in the spring and always pick off the buds left after the blooms are spent; this encourages new growth and lots of flowers. I’m thinking of expanding this little plot to be a larger rose garden. It would obscure this view of the garden a bit (this view is looking from the front porch of our house). But that might give it a more secret-garden feel! Eventually, will there be any grass left in our yard? ahhaah

Knockout Rose

Knockout Rose

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

Hibiscus in sunset-light

Hibiscus in sunset-light

Rouge Vif d'Etampes getting more deeply rouge (red) by the day!

Rouge Vif d’Etampes getting more deeply rouge (red) by the day!

A few hundred yards from our garden…a hike in the woods across the street…

Hiking

Hiking

Woods

Woods

There are tons of these bright orange mushrooms in the woods.

There are tons of these bright orange mushrooms in the woods.

The Spy

The Spy

Clearing

Clearing

Very...

Very…

Prairie

Prairie

If you walk through the prairie...

If you walk through the prairie…

Back in the garden…

What's this?!

What’s this?!

My wedding dress! Ten years ago, Smoochie and I got married! Technically, it was one decade and one month ago. We were so busy digging and prepping for the St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine photo shoot on August 20th, we actually forgot our anniversary and both remembered later that night. But, not to worry, we’ll do something fun to celebrate at some point. For now, a few pictures of my dress will have to suffice! We eloped in a garden in northern Vermont; so really this is quite fitting.

Wedding Dress on the Teepee

Wedding Dress on the Teepee

After we were married we took pictures; a few with a scarecrow where we pretended the scarecrow was the justice of the peace marrying us. Hahaha. Perhaps Spy Garden needs a scarecrow in honor of a decade of marriage?! A reenactment?!

Wedding Dress Floating in Mid-Air (hanging on the deer fence ;)

Wedding Dress Floating in Mid-Air (hanging on the deer fence ;)

Happy weekend friends! Do you have any plans for your fall (or to my southern hemisphere friends, spring!) gardens? Baby and I are headed to her school garden (Squirrely Garden) for an exciting event. The Spy and Smoochie are off to baseball practice. Later, we’ll be doing some fall clean up in our garden. A writer from St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine is coming to interview us (they want quotes from the kids too!) tomorrow! There is no better excuse to deep clean your house (and garden) then someone from a home and lifestyle magazine coming to call, right?! hhHAhahhaha

Featured post

September in the Garden

Arbor

Arbor

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Arbor

Arbor

Chinese Red Noodle Bean

Chinese Red Noodle Bean

Windowsill

Windowsill

Baby

Baby

Painting

Painting

Pumpkin Costume

Pumpkin Costume

Still...

Still…

Fits!

Fits!

Fire...

Fire…

pit

pit

Longer shadows

Longer shadows

Teepee

Teepee

Jarrahdale and Upper Ground Sweet Potato winter squash on teepee

Jarrahdale and Upper Ground Sweet Potato winter squash on teepee

Ear Lick ahhahh

Ear Lick ahhahh

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin with Marigold Shadow

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin with Marigold Shadow

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Spy Garden iPhone

Spy Garden mobile…

Storm rolling in

Storm rolling in

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

Home Depot is very conveniently located near Spy Garden and cheaper than the non-big-box nurseries (that are plentiful near Spy Garden). And Martha Stewart likes Home Depot and has product lines there. And Martha Stewart is awesome. Ergo, prior to the St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine photoshoot I took a couple trips to Home Depot for fall flowers and plants. Here I am:

Home Depot's just so convenient.

Home Depot’s just so convenient. hahaha

The next time I’m in search of plants, I’d like to check out Fahr’s and Passiglia’s: both have been in business since 1950!

Swing...

Swing…

...ing

…ing

A painting by my very talented coworker.

A painting by my very talented coworker.

She paints so meticulously! After seeing her paintings it makes me want to gain patience when I paint. Since I always stick to the…

Lazy method of painting with jagged, spontaneous strokes and no attention to details. haha

Lazy method of painting with jagged, spontaneous strokes and no attention to details. haha

Garden Cat Nap

Garden Cat Nap

Weeee!

Weeee!

iPhone Garden Sunset

iPhone Garden Sunset

House in St. Louis (this shot is from Smoochie's iphone)

House in St. Louis (this shot is from Smoochie’s iphone)

St. Louis Art Museum

St. Louis Art Museum

Sightseeing. James Rosenquist. 1962 (at the St. Louis Art Museum)

Sightseeing. James Rosenquist. 1962 (at the St. Louis Art Museum)

James Rosenquist started his career as a billboard painter, creating advertisements and images of consumer goods on a monumental scale. His early training is evident in this work—vibrantly painted colors, block lettering, and enlarged details of recognizable imagery, in this case a bouquet of roses. Rosenquist drew inspiration for this painting from the back of a tour bus he regularly saw while painting signs in New York City’s Times Square. Sightseeing blurs the line between banal tourism and the supposedly elevated act of viewing art in a gallery or museum. (source St. Louis Art Museum)

Raindrops on Roses (knockout rose bush)

Raindrops on Roses (knockout rose bush)

Baby

Baby

Western clouds at sunrise

Western clouds at sunrise

Click here for a great article about protecting plants from frost by Maria from Sweet Domesticity. The picture reminds me of Christo and Jeanne Claude.

Featured post

September in the Garden

Mmm...

Mmm…

Blackberries

Blackberries

September Garden

September Garden

Smoochie, Baby and Spy checking out a...

Smoochie, Baby and Spy checking out a…

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

On the Deer Fence

On the Deer Fence

And who's this? Ewwww! (but good for the garden;) spider curled up for a nap on the deer fence.

And who’s this? Ewwww! (but good for the garden;) spider curled up for a nap on the deer fence.

Dexie Print

Dexie Print

Dexie, Spy, Smoochie, Baby

Dexie, Spy, Smoochie, Baby…and check out the pumpkins in the background!

Garden view from the garden living room

Garden view from the garden living room

Fall Ball!

Fall Ball!

#7

#7

A new challenge (Spy was hitting them over the 157' fence in the spring!) Woo home runs!

A new challenge (Spy was hitting them over the 157′ fence in the spring!) Woo home runs!

"The Reef"...but where are the fish?

“The Reef”…but where are the fish?

Swimming south for the winter! They are fish from South Florida, after all!

Swimming south for the winter! They are fish from South Florida, after all!

See you next spring!

See you next spring!

Snook

Snook

Very Colorful

Very Colorful

Can you spy two blue/green pumpkins?

Can you spy two blue/green pumpkins?

Jarrahdale Pumpkins

Jarrahdale Pumpkins

The other side of the teepee

The other side of the teepee

Eucalyptus, Asparagus, Lime Basil, Marigolds and Corn

Eucalyptus, Asparagus, Lime Basil, Marigolds and Corn

Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon

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Early Fall

Camouflage

Camouflage

Walking Stick

Walking Stick

It is getting blustery and chilly in Spy Garden: woooooo fall!

Target...

Target…

Practice

Practice

Target (a drawing of the Governor from the TV show The Walking Dead attached to a cereal box).

Target (a drawing of the Governor from the TV show The Walking Dead attached to a cereal box). HAhaha

Tomato that wants to be a pumpkin.

Tomato that wants to be a pumpkin.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin (Atlantic Giant; a small, 7ish pounder we picked)

After scraping out the seeds, I carved up this pumpkin into big irregular chunks (think tuna steak-sized) and added loads of spices (paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, ginger, a Jamaican-jerk seasoning) and salt and a drizzle of oil and roast in the oven (flesh-side down) on a foil-lined baking sheet at 350 for awhile until the flesh becomes translucent. Then slice the skin off and enjoy! I dipped it in hot sauce and Dijon mustard.  When roasted in this manner, pumpkin really does remind me of filets of fish; fresh-caught wild pumpkin-fillets. haha  I should make some sashimi and pumpkin sushi to further illustrate my point.

The seeds of the Atlantic Giant are also large.

The seeds of the Atlantic Giant are also large.

I washed all the seeds and added the same combo of spices/drizzle of oil on them and also roasted those too. Yum! I will also save some of this variety of seeds (from the largest pumpkin). These Atlantic Giant pumpkins were grown from seeds from Baker Creek. Here is the description from their website:

110-125 days (C. maxima) Lovely, giant, pink-orange pumpkins can weigh over 800 lbs, and do so every year, with some reaching almost 1500 lbs.! This variety was introduced by Howard Dill, of Nova Scotia in 1978, and has since broken all records. (source)

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch

There are seven Atlantic Giant plants and we had seven pumpkins; one small one rotted and we threw it in the woods and the other small one I picked and roasted (as described above). Five left to harvest; cooking, carving, curry, soup? So many possibilities for pumpkins. Winter squash is by far my favorite vegetable. So versatile.

A Jarrahdale Pumpkin

A Jarrahdale Pumpkin

Jarrahdale Bloom

Jarrahdale Bloom

Desription of the Jarrahdale from Baker Creek:

100 days. (C. maxima) Slate, blue-grey, 6-10 lb. pumpkins of superb quality. Their shape is flat and ribbed, and very decorative looking; also a good keeper. Popular in Australia; an excellent variety. (source)

Upper Ground Sweet Potato

Upper Ground Sweet Potato

Upper Ground Sweet Potato Leaf (with a tiny spider on it)

Upper Ground Sweet Potato Leaf (with a tiny spider on it)

Here is the description of Upper Ground Sweet Potato from the Baker Creek website:

(C. moschata) This heirloom is still grown by a few people in the South. An old, hardy type that grows well even in rather poor conditions and produces an abundance of medium-large, round-to-bell-shaped, tan fruit with moist orange flesh that is said to resemble that of the sweet potato, hence the name. Sweet, good quality, and it keeps very well. A really rugged variety that is going the way of the dinosaurs if people don’t work to save it. (source)

Giant Cape Gooseberry

Giant Cape Gooseberry

(Physalis peruviana) The cape gooseberry is native to Brazil and was grown in England by 1774. It was cultivated by settlers at the Cape of Good Hope before 1807. The delicious yellow fruit grow inside paper-like husks that are easy to peel. They are great dipped in melted chocolate or made into pies and preserves. Larger than the common ground cherry. (source)

Echinacea

Echinacea

Blackberries

Blackberries

Meyer lemons just starting to grow.

Meyer lemons just starting to grow.

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Pepper, eggplant and strawberry

Pepper, eggplant and strawberry

Mexican Sunflower

Mexican Sunflower

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Pumpkin Yoga and a Katydid

Atlantic Giant...

Atlantic Giant…

Pumpkin Yoga

Pumpkin Yoga

Sukhasana

Sukhasana on a Rouge de Vif d’Etampes Pumpkin

Rouge de Vif d'Etampes picked before getting rouge. I accidentally picked it while hunting squash bugs. Maybe it will still turn color?

Rouge de Vif d’Etampes picked before getting rouge. I accidentally picked it while hunting squash bugs. Maybe it will still turn color?

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

Stroller ("I want to be a baby forever" haha)

Stroller (“I want to be a baby forever.” says Baby haha)

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

Herbs and Peppers

Herbs and Peppers

Hartman's Giant Amaranth Stalk and a...

Hartman’s Giant Amaranth Stalk and a…

Mexican Sunflower

Mexican Sunflower

Echinacea

Echinacea

Ooo

Ooo

Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid

Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid

Antenna

Antenna

About to Jump

About to Jump

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Rainbow Swiss Chard

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The Last of Summer and The St. Louis Art Museum

Pictures of the garden on August 31, 2014

Spy Garden August 31, 2014

Spy Garden August 31, 2014

Rouge Vif d'Etampes Pumpkin

Rouge Vif d’Etampes Pumpkin

Facing South

Facing South

Facing North (on the other side of the trellis)

Facing North (on the other side of the trellis)

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch

Can you spy a pumpkin with a blue bow?

Can you spy a pumpkin with a blue bow?

Catching Bugs

Catching Bugs

Lemon Cucumber Stretching to the Sky (on the top of the trellis)

Lemon Cucumber Stretching to the Sky (on the top of the trellis)

See the tiny spider?

See the tiny spider?

Knockout Roses

Knockout Roses

Belgian White Carrot Seedhead

Belgian White Carrot Seedhead

Fringed Variegated Lavender

Fringed Variegated Lavender

Purple Opal Basil, Yellow Marigolds and Peppers

Purple Opal Basil, Yellow Marigolds and Peppers

And yesterday, a visit to the St. Louis Art Museum…

Columns with White Sky (St. Louis Art Museum)

Columns with White Sky (St. Louis Art Museum)

I was drawn to the classical painting and sculpture…

late 2nd century BC–early 1st century AD

Greek

Hellenistic period
(323–31 BC)

or Roman

Imperial period
(27 BC–AD 330) (source)

It’s all just a good guess really, I mean no one REALLY knows EXACTLY where these pieces were found or when they were made…It’s what makes ancient art so mysterious!

Spy Garden's own classical sculpture...in fire! (2013)

Spy Garden’s own classical sculpture…in fire! (2013)

Check out How to Sculpt for inspiration/instructions on how to make your own sculptures!

Matisse is one of my favorites…

Interior at Nice, Matisse, 1919 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)

Interior at Nice, Matisse, 1919 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)

I also like Frank Stella…

Marriage of Reason and Squalor, Frank Stella (photo credit: St. Louis Art Museum)

Marriage of Reason and Squalor, Frank Stella (photo credit: St. Louis Art Museum)

With a housepainter’s brush, Frank Stella methodically applied industrial enamel paint to the surface of this canvas. Thick black bands form concentric rectangles cut off along the bottom edge while thin off-white lines reveal unpainted portions of the canvas. The artist used an extra thick stretcher, a novel decision in 1959 that allowed Stella to emphasize that a painting is, in fact, a three-dimensional object. When asked about the content of his austere works such as this, Stella answered, “What you see is what you see,” underscoring the artist’s matter-of-fact, literal approach to painting. (source)

Richard Serra’s drawings to plan a large sculptural installation in St. Louis remind me of the Spy Garden deer fence plans:

Drawing Related to Twain, Richard Serra, 1982 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)

Drawing Related to Twain, Richard Serra, 1982 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)

Never underestimate a good sketch!

2013

2013

2014

2014

And the 2015 garden plan? Coming soon! But back to the St. Louis Art Museum…

DSC_0389 (700x634)

Andy Goldsworthy, Stone Sea

Andy Goldsworthy, Stone Sea

Andy Goldsworthy, Stone Sea, 2012

Andy Goldsworthy, Stone Sea, 2012

I also enjoyed the Native American exhibits…

Soft, warm cradleboards shelter babies from the wind and cold, and provide a secure place for mothers to keep their young ones safe while they work and travel. Children often become so attached to their cradleboards that they try to crawl back into them even after they have outgrown them. Family members create cradleboards and imbue these objects with love, symbolic power, and protection. This cradleboard is of exceptional quality and reflects distinctive elements of outstanding Tsistsistas (Cheyenne) work, a tradition noted for technical excellence, crisp, even beadwork, and design shapes that include outlined hexagons and stepped “tipi” triangles with interior square doors. (source)

With every step or rush of wind, the rows of diagonal fringe and metal cones encircling this dress would sway and make a pleasing sound. The creation of sound and a sense of movement are hallmarks of the Southern Plains style. The long sides and neckline preserve the shape of the deer’s hind legs and tail to emphasize the raw material from which the dress was made, and to invest the wearer with the spirit of the once-living creature. (source)

One more favorite painting from my visit…

oil on canvas, Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal) 1697–1768 (photo credit St. Louis Museum of Art)

oil on canvas, Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal) 1697–1768 (photo credit St. Louis Museum of Art)

Compositionally (if that’s not a word, file it under neologisms) similar, but back at home…

Catch

Catch

and a test…

Good job Spy! Though, I would give it a 99, he forgot to capitalize Tennessee. haha;)

Good job Spy! Though, I would give it a 99, he forgot to capitalize Tennessee. haha;)

Happy Wednesday, friends!

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Growing

Finally the teepee is getting covered with winter squash ("upper ground sweet potato" and "Jarrahdale pumpkins")

Finally the teepee is getting covered with winter squash (“upper ground sweet potato” and “Jarrahdale pumpkins”)

At the top of the teepee

At the top of the teepee

Hartman's Giant Amaranth

Hartman’s Giant Amaranth

Coneflower (Echinacea)

Coneflower (Echinacea)

Mums

Mums

Atlantic...

Atlantic…

...Giant Pumpkins

…Giant Pumpkins

Spirals

Spirals

A Heart Shaped Atlantic Giant

A Heart Shaped Atlantic Giant

Turtle Stretch

Turtle Stretch

Rouge de Vif d'Etampes...

Rouge de Vif d’Etampes…

Blooms

Blooms

Mexican Sunflower

Mexican Sunflower

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Late August in Squirrely Garden

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…

Squirrely Garden July 17

Squirrely Garden July 17, 2014

Squirrely Garden August 28, 2014

Squirrely Garden August 28, 2014

There is a garden in there, I swear!

There is a garden in there, I swear!

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.

For the record, these are not the proper shoes for impromptu gardening.

For the record, these are not the proper shoes for impromptu gardening.

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…

Watermelons! (There's about ten or so nearly ready to pick)

Watermelons! (There’s about ten or so nearly ready to pick)

And more teeny watermelons just starting to grow.

And more teeny watermelons just starting to grow.

Watermelon Blossom

Watermelon Blossom

The pumpkins got a late start in Squirrely Garden but they are growing well now!

The pumpkins got a late start in Squirrely Garden but they are growing well now!

The big grassy masses (among the weeds;) is lemon grass.

The big grassy masses (among the weeds;) is lemon grass.

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!)

And check this out!

And check this out!

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.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

Downhill from Squirrely Garden…

The playground awaits the kids (having breakfast in the dining hall in the background)

The playground awaits the kids (having breakfast in the dining hall in the background)

Playground Cave

Playground Cave

A view of the school from the playground.

Another view of the school from the playground.

Squirrely Garden is on the hill past the tree in this photo. And that corner of the school building is Baby's classroom (well, her INDOOR classroom: the real classroom is the forest/garden/great outdoors!)

Squirrely Garden is on the hill past the tree in this photo. And that corner of the school building is Baby’s classroom (well, her INDOOR classroom: the real classroom is the forest/garden/great outdoors!)

Seen on the bulletin board in Baby's class.

Seen on the bulletin board in Baby’s class.

But how nice to have a nice cool classroom when it is 100 degrees!

But how nice to have a nice cool classroom when it is 100 degrees!

Origami Mobile

Origami Mobile

Solar Dehydrator in Progress

Solar Dehydrator in Progress

Very interested to see how this solar dehydrator works out; might have to have Smoochie build one for us if it is successful!

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Late August in Spy Garden

Before (can you see the monarch wing inside?)

Before (can you see the monarch wing inside?)

After

After

Another After (and of course the monarch is flitting around the garden!)

Another After (and of course the monarch is flitting around the garden!)

Blazing Star wildflowers and marigolds

Blazing Star wildflowers and marigolds

White spider on the blazing star wildflowers

White spider on the blazing star wildflowers

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

(Purposely) blurry shot of the nasturtiums looking very painterly

(Purposely) blurry shot of the nasturtiums looking very painterly

Chinese long noodle beans. I didn't plant these this year, but volunteers are popping up in a few places.

Chinese long noodle beans. I didn’t plant these this year, but volunteers are popping up in a few places.

The variegated leaves are "upper ground sweet potato" (a winter squash) and the pumpkin is "Jarrahdale" (a blue winter squash). Both varieties are growing on the teepee

The variegated leaves are “upper ground sweet potato” (a winter squash) and the pumpkin is “Jarrahdale” (a blue winter squash). Both varieties are growing on the teepee

Yum!

Yum!

A green dragonfly

A green dragonfly

A perfect "early fall" shot!

A perfect “early fall” shot!

Evening Sky Over Spy Garden

Evening Sky Over Spy Garden

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.
Hahhaha
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Spy Garden Gets Glossy!

Who's this?

Who’s this?

A photographer from St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine! A photoshoot in our garden!

A great shot!

A great shot!

The photographer showed me some of the images on her camera’s screen; they were unbelievable! She said it’s all about the lens.

We got the garden in tip-top shape for the shoot.

We got the garden in tip-top shape for the shoot.

Onions, lemon cucumbers and tomatoes (and water with slices of lemon cucumber)

Onions, lemon cucumbers and tomatoes (and water flavored with slices of lemon cucumber)

We made dorodango for the tomato stakes!

We made dorodango for the tomato stakes!

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!

The photographer said she had never seen a chrysalis like this before (I'd love to see the photo she took of it!)

The photographer said she had never seen a chrysalis like this before (I’d love to see the photo she took of it!)

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 propped it up in the shade in the garden "corner office".

…and propped it up in the shade in the garden “corner office”.

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!

Can you make out the monarch wing details?

Can you make out the monarch wing details?

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.

The Reef

The Reef

Blackberries Blushing

Blackberries Blushing

Corn and Sunflowers

Corn and Sunflowers

Two Sunflowers

Two Sunflowers

Sunflowers have so much...

Sunflowers have so much…

...personality...

…personality…

Don't you think?

Don’t you think?

Facing Northwest

Facing Northwest

Facing North

Facing North

Hanging Rouge Vif d'Etampes Pumpkin

Hanging Rouge Vif d’Etampes Pumpkin

Another Rouge Vif d'Etampes

Another Rouge Vif d’Etampes

Whew! That was a lot of edging and weeding!

Whew! That was a lot of edging and weeding!

We also added some mums and asters for a bit more color.

We also added some mums and asters for a bit more color.

Can you spot Baby?

Can you spot Baby?

Asters

Asters

Marigolds Decorating the Trellis

Marigolds Decorating the Trellis

"Rosita" Eggplant

“Rosita” Eggplant

This area in the foreground is where the melons were and winter greens have been planted.

This area in the foreground is where the melons were and now where winter greens have been planted.

More of the kids...

More of the kids…

...being cute and...

…being cute and…

photogenic!

photogenic!

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!

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Three!

Happy...

Happy…

Birthday!

Birthday!

Eight and Three

Eight and Three

The garden was looking particularly festive today...

The garden was looking particularly festive today…

Lots of monarchs to...

Lots of monarchs to…

chase around!

chase around!

Aunt Spy and Baby

Aunt Spy and Baby

Mmm!

Mmm!

Baby and her entourage (our two dear friends from church!)

Baby and her entourage (our two dear friends from church!)

Woo...

Woo…

presents!

presents!

And Baby is three!

 

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Delice de la Table

Delice de la Table

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.

Or maybe a Rouge de Vif d'Etampes pumpkin.

Or maybe a Rouge de Vif d’Etampes pumpkin.

Lemon cucumbers are also growing up this trellis.

Can you spot the lemon cucumber in the lower left corner?

Can you spot the lemon cucumber in the lower left corner?

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:

Ready to pick when they look like a lemon.

Ready to pick when they look like a lemon.

Hartman's Giant Amaranth and you can see the pumpkins hanging from the trellis

Hartman’s Giant Amaranth and you can see the pumpkins hanging from the trellis

Blue Swallowtail (on zinnias)

Blue Swallowtail (on zinnias)

Autumn Beauty Sunflower

Autumn Beauty Sunflower

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!

"Falling" Sunflower

“Falling” Sunflower

"Blazing Star" wildflower

“Blazing Star” wildflower

Morning Sun Yellow Cherry Tomatoes

Morning Sun Yellow Cherry Tomatoes

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!

Atlantic Giant pumpkin and Dexie

Atlantic Giant pumpkin and Dexie

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch

What do we have here?!

What do we have here?!

Wretched squash bug (eggs).

Wretched squash bug (eggs).

Found lots of these sneakily-layed eggs.

Found lots of these sneakily-layed eggs.

Pretty, but deadly (to the pumpkins!)

Pretty, but deadly (to the pumpkins!)

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!).

Blazing Star Wildflower about to bloom

Blazing Star Wildflower about to bloom

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In Colorado

Sunrise in Missouri

Sunrise in Missouri

Windmill

Windmill

Bales

Bales

Oil Derrick

Oil Derrick

Kansas

Kansas

Kansas

Kansas

Colorado (Pike's Peak in the distance)

Colorado (Pike’s Peak in the distance)

We visited family in…

Suburban...

Suburban…

Denver

Denver

Window Garden

Window Garden

Williams

Williams

And Spy Sister (aka Spy Garden Reporter) checking out...

And Spy Sister (aka Spy Garden Reporter) checking out…

...third row seats at Coors Stadium.

…third row seats at Coors Stadium.

with her friend, who owns...

with her friend, who owns…

this...

this…

pig!

pig!

Pine

Pine

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.

Pine Cone

Pine Cone

“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 Spy

The Spy

Baseball Field at the edge of Arapaho National Forest

Baseball Field at the edge of Arapaho National Forest

Mountain Flower

Mountain Flower

In the Woods

In the Woods

Mountain Flowers

Mountain Flowers

Hiking

Hiking

Pine

Pine

In the Rockies

In the Rockies

Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose

Elevation 9,230

Elevation 9,230

Sunset

Sunset

Fairburn Mountain

Fairburn Mountain

Brrrrrr!

Brrrrrr!

Cold,

Cold,

Rainy morning at...

rainy morning at…

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Hiking

Hiking

The cold rain didn’t last too long…

Hike

Hike

Wildflower

Wildflower

Stopping to check out the view

Stopping to check out the view

Craggy

Craggy

Yellow Coneflowers

Yellow Coneflowers

Hiking

Hiking

A snake!

A snake!

 

Yellow Mosses/Lichen

Yellow Mosses/Lichen

Wildflower

Wildflower

Mountain Meadow

Mountain Meadow

Valley

Valley

Toes in a cold creek

Toes in a cold creek

Wildflower

Wildflower

Mountain Climb

Mountain Climb

Great hike! (2.5 miles!)

Great hike! (2.5 miles!)

Mountain Flower

Mountain Flower

Panorama Point

Panorama Point

Panorama Point

Panorama Point

Panorama Point

Panorama Point

Back at the cabin...

Back at the cabin…

Swing

Swing

Fresh Guacamole haha

Fresh Guacamole haha

I wrote this in third grade (the Spy starts third grade on Monday!)

I wrote this in third grade (the Spy starts third grade on Monday!)

Dessert

Dessert

Good morning!

Good morning!

Goldens near...

Goldens near…

Golden, Colorado

Golden, Colorado

Featured post

The Jewel Box

Baby painting still life of tomatoes and the Spy making a crack-proof thing around an egg.

Baby painting still life of tomatoes and the Spy making a crack-proof thing around an egg.

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.

Egg Drop Batting Practice

Egg Drop Batting Practice

You can also use paper and bubble wrap (in addition to straws and tape).

The Spy and his friend

The Spy and his friend

Yolk

Yolk

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Hahahaaa

Hahahaaa

Belgian White Carrot Seed Head

Belgian White Carrot Seed Head

Delice de la Table (melon; like cantaloupe)

Delice de la Table (melon; like cantaloupe)

Rouge Vif d'Etampes

Rouge Vif d’Etampes

7.30.14

7.30.14

Yellow Blooms on Red Romaine seed heads (and nasturtium in the background)

Yellow Blooms on Red Romaine seed heads (and nasturtium in the background)

Love in a mist (nigella) seed pods drying out and feverfew in the background

Love in a mist (nigella) seed pods drying out and feverfew in the background

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Red romaine blossoms (nasturtiums in the background)

Red romaine blossoms (nasturtiums in the background)

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

Red Romaine and Nasturtiums (and the garden living room)

Red Romaine and Nasturtiums (and the garden living room)

Harlequin Marigold

Harlequin Marigold

Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkin

Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkin

Dexie

Dexie

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Red

Red

Balloons

Balloons

Daniel Boone Bridge

Daniel Boone Bridge

Missouri River

Missouri River

Horses in Fog

Horses in Fog

Fog in Missouri River Valley

Fog in Missouri River Valley

Baby at School

Baby at School

Forest School

Forest School

And in other cool structures…

The Jewel Box

The Jewel Box

Blooms at the Jewel Box

Blooms at the Jewel Box

Built in 1936

Built in 1936

Awesomest green house: we need a (smaller) version!

Awesome green house: we need a (smaller) version!

Pretty Jewel Box

Pretty Jewel Box

Featured post

7.27.14

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Leaves Pruned (from Russian Red/Ragged Jack Kale)

Leaves Pruned (from Russian Red/Ragged Jack Kale)

From left: Corn/Sunflowers, "Sunset" Lettuce going to seed,

From left: Corn/Sunflowers, “Sunset” Lettuce going to seed and nasturtiums as ground cover

Tree pose on coffee table in the garden living room

Tree pose on coffee table in the garden living room

Garden…

Living

Living

Room

Room

Maggie and Spy Sister/Aunt Spy

Maggie and Spy Sister/Aunt Spy

Trellis

Trellis

Rouge de Vif D'Etampes pumpkins growing on trellis

Rouge de Vif D’Etampes pumpkins growing on trellis

Harlequin Marigold

Harlequin Marigold

Doodles by the Spy

Doodles by the Spy

Tassel

Tassel (corn)

Sunflowers in the breeze.

Sunflowers in the breeze.

Lemon Cucumber

Lemon Cucumber

Delikatesse Cucumber Blossom

Delikatesse Cucumber Blossom

A windy, breezy, beautiful day!

 

Featured post

Late July 2014

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

"Titan" Sunflower

“Titan” Sunflower

Mexican Sunflower

Mexican Sunflower

Clockwise from left: hibiscus, corn, yellow strawberry and purslane

Clockwise from left: hibiscus, corn, yellow strawberry and purslane

If canning is "fun" I wonder why all these jars have never been used?! hahaha

If canning is “fun” I wonder why all these jars have never been used?! hahaha

White Tailed Deer

White Tailed Deer

Garden Living Room

Garden Living Room

Marigolds, eucalyptus, hibiscus

Marigolds, eucalyptus, hibiscus

Blackberry Bush is getting very tall (on trellis on right side of picture)

Blackberry Bush is getting very tall (on trellis on right side of picture)

Rouge de Vif D'Etampes pumpkins, Lemon cucumbers and Delikatesse cucumbers on this trellis (and amaranth on the right)

Rouge de Vif D’Etampes pumpkins, Lemon cucumbers and Delikatesse cucumbers on this trellis (and amaranth on the right)

Hartman's Giant Amaranth

Hartman’s Giant Amaranth

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.

Little Collection of Bones

Little Collection of Bones

The Spy found all these bones (and many more!) in the woods at forest-school summer camp. Friday was his last day at camp.

Gift from school

Gift from school

It was a fun June and July at summer camp!

It was a fun June and July at summer camp!

The Spy is off to other adventures, but Baby’s new school year at forest-school begins Monday!

Baby's Classroom

Baby’s Classroom

Baby's Clay Sculpture (with the artist's explanation haha)

Baby’s Clay Sculpture (with the artist’s explanation haha)

View from windows in Baby's classroom

View from windows in Baby’s classroom

See the cave? And at the top of the hill is Squirrely Garden.

More sights...

More sights…

from...

from around…

forest school

forest school.

Maze by the Spy

Maze by the Spy

Purple Skies

Purple Skies

Shallow End

Shallow End

Deep End

Deep End

Featured post

Vacation Bible School 2014

This past week we had Vacation Bible School at church every evening 6-8PM.

The theme was "Let's Build an Ark"

The theme was “Let’s Build an Ark”

Hence the construction tape and animal masks.

Hence the construction tape and animal masks.

This was my class.

This was my class.

Pre-K Class

Pre-K Class

Each evening we sang songs, had a 30 minute class where we learned some stories from the Bible, then had snack…

played outside,

played outside,

and then did a craft. A very full two hours (and a very busy week)!

Animals for the Ark

Animals for the Ark

The Spy helping to build the model ark. That guy who is helping is 90 years young!

The Spy helping to build the model ark. That guy who is helping is 90 years young!

Ark Workshop

Ark Workshop

Painting

Painting

Our pastor reading the Bible to the kids

Our pastor reading the Bible to the kids

Fini

Fini

God keeps his promises

God keeps his promises

…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:

Singing

Singing

“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.

There were about seven big bins full of water balloons!

There were about seven big bins full of water balloons!

Ready...

Ready…

Go!

Go!

Quite congruent with the flood-theme!

Splash Action

Splash Action

For the elders (and photographers! haha)

For the elders (and photographers! haha)

Baby

Baby

Featured post

Cave Country

Field Trip!

Field Trip!

To…

Indian Cave

Indian Cave

Indian Cave is in Meramec State Park, right next to…

Fisher Cave

Fisher Cave

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.

On the half mile hike to Indian Cave.

On the half mile hike to Indian Cave.

Snail

Snail

The cave's up there!

The cave’s up there!

Nice and cool inside

Nice and cool inside

Cave dweller? AHHGGGHH!

Cave dweller? AHHGGGHH!

Reminds me of that scary cave movie.

Reminds me of that scary cave movie.

Right at home.

Right at home.

In and out of the cave

In and out of the cave

At the back of the cave

At the back of the cave

Inside the cave

Inside the cave

Inside the cave, looking out.

Inside the cave, looking out.

Little Explorers

Little Explorers

We checked out the entrance of…

Sheep Cave

Sheep Cave

But couldn’t go inside…

Closed for bats protection

Closed for the bats’ protection

The kids still enjoyed checking out the big, picturesque entrance to Sheep Cave.

Sheep Cave 2012 (One of my favorite photos I've ever taken, when we explored the cave when it was open)

Sheep Cave 2012 (One of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken, when we explored the cave when it was open)

Featured post

Fecund Friday: Mid-July in Spy Garden

Pumpkins and Cucumbers growing over the arbor.

Pumpkins and Cucumbers growing over the arbor.

Delice de la Table melon (tastes like cantaloupe) should be ready to harvest soon!

Delice de la Table melon (tastes like cantaloupe) should be ready to harvest soon!

Carrot Blossom (so glad we let some of the carrots go to seed, the flowers are very pretty).

Carrot Blossom (so glad we let some of the carrots go to seed, the flowers are very pretty).

Lots of action in the corn fronds and stalks…

HAhahhaha

HAhahhaha

Love is in the air

Love is in the air

Predators?

Predators?

Pretty little tree frog

Pretty little tree frog

A white butterfly (or moth?)

A white butterfly (or moth?)

Knockout Roses

Knockout Roses

Little "Short Stuff" Sunflowers (certainly won't be able to get any close up shots of some of the sunflowers; they're about 12 feet tall now!)

Little “Short Stuff” Sunflowers (certainly won’t be able to get any super close up shots of some of the sunflowers; they’re about 12 feet tall now!)

Craning for a view of…

Another variety of sunflower (called Autumn-something or another)

Another variety of sunflower (called Autumn-something or another)

Woo Hoo! The very first tomatoes of Spy Garden! These are "Morning Sun" yellow cherry tomatoes. Tastes like sunshine!

Woo Hoo! The very first tomatoes of Spy Garden! These are “Morning Sun” yellow cherry tomatoes. Tastes like sunshine!

Precarious Perch

Precarious Perch

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…

The Pumpkin of My Dreams

The Pumpkin of My Dreams

This one Atlantic Giant pumpkin is getting huge! I’ve always hoped for some freakishly large pumpkins, and we’re well on the way!

Another Atlantic Giant

Another Atlantic Giant

And another.

And another.

Mexican Sunflower

Mexican Sunflower

The petals are so velvety.

The petals are so velvety.

Eucalptus, one of my favorite plants in the garden

Eucalyptus, one of my favorite plants in the garden

Lots of blooms and looking lush!

Lots of blooms and looking lush!

A fecund Friday to you all!

Featured post

Notes from the CEO

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).

Baby in Squirrely Garden

Baby in Squirrely Garden

Check out those rock borders. The little kids hauled ALL those rocks from about 50 yards away!

For the record, kids love hauling rocks.

For the record, kids love hauling rocks.

A watermelon in Squirrely Garden

A watermelon in Squirrely Garden

Lots of little yellow squash in there (and note the nibbled squash leaves in the foreground)

Lots of little yellow squash in there (and note the deer-nibbled squash leaves in the foreground)

One of the teachers helping the kids harvest the squash

One of the teachers helping the kids harvest the squash

Picking squash from the other side (and check out that lush lemon grass!)

Picking squash from the other side (and check out that lush lemon grass!)

School in the background. Squirrely Garden is on a hill with a million dollar view.

School in the background. Squirrely Garden is on a hill with a million-dollar view.

Picking

Picking

One of the teachers encouraging the kids to twist off the ripe cukes.

One of the teachers encouraging the kids to twist off the ripe cukes.

Pretty good harvest!

Pretty good harvest!

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!

Squirrely Garden 7.17.14

Squirrely Garden 7.17.14

Featured post

Shaw Prairie Stroll 7.15.14

An evening stroll through the prairie at Shaw Nature Reserve…

So many different varieties of wildflowers!

So many different varieties of wildflowers!

And the smell! Flowery, fresh summer; the most fragrant stroll!

Shaw is one of my favorite places.

Shaw is one of my favorite places.

Wildflowers in the cool breeze.

Wildflowers in the cool breeze.

Cool breeze? On July 15th?! It’s 70 degrees!

Different areas of the prairie seemed to have different combinations of wildflowers.

Different areas of the prairie seemed to have different combinations of wildflowers.

In this one particular area there were tons of blazing stars (the purple stalk that looks like a pipe cleaner) just beginning to bloom.

In this one particular area there were tons of blazing stars (the purple stalk that looks like a pipe cleaner) just beginning to bloom.

Bright white blooms

Bright white blooms

We only saw a few of this type.

We only saw a few of this type.

Running through the prairie.

Running through the prairie.

And stopping to...

And stopping to…

watch...

watch…

the clouds.

the clouds.

These were some of my favorites.

These were some of my favorites.

Another view.

Another view.

More pretty white flowers.

More pretty white flowers.

There were lots of these frilly flowers.

There were lots of these frilly flowers.

Looks like and orange version of the milkweed in Spy Garden.

Looks like an orange version of the milkweed in Spy Garden.

Rich purple

Rich purple

Grass

Grass

The Rothko Shot

The Rothko Shot

Restroom Break!

Restroom Break!

Yes the green roof does look great and man, those bathrooms were sparkling clean!

Yes, the green roof does look great and man, those bathrooms were sparkling clean!

Be wery, wery quiet we're hunting wabbits.

Be wery, wery quiet we’re hunting wabbits.

Sneaky.

Sneaky.

Vibrant

Vibrant

Cheery Yellow

Cheery Yellow

Tons of variations of black-eyed-Susan-type flowers...

Tons of variations of black-eyed-Susan-type flowers…

Including this unusual variety...

Including this unusual variety…

Another.

Another.

Teepee

Teepee

Walking

Walking

These were awesome!

These were awesome!

Some of the wildflowers remind me of orchids

Some of the wildflowers remind me of orchids.

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.

Featured post

Just Like a Circus

Little...

Little…

Acrobat

Acrobat

Upside...

Upside…

Down

Down

Taming Lions

Taming Lions

Tamed!

Tamed!

Ferocity, Caged

Ferocity, Caged

Just a couple of...

Just a couple of…

Trapeze Artists

Trapeze Artists

Trapeze Artiste

Trapeze Artiste

Spy Sister

Spy Sister

AKA Aunt Spy

AKA Aunt Spy

Tricks over a pit of lions

Tricks over a pit of lions

We are ready to upgrade to a Mexican cloud swing.

We are ready to upgrade to a Mexican cloud swing.

No animals were harmed during the making of this post.

No animals were harmed during the making of this post.

Balance

Balance

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…

HAhahahahjha

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

Juggling Clubs

Juggling Clubs

Cirque de Jardin

Cirque de Jardin

Cirque de Jardin

Cirque de Jardin

What circus performers do after the show...

What circus performers do after the show…

Garden, of course!

Garden, of course!

Featured post

Seven Seven

Soaking it up

Soaking it up

Baby in the Garden

Baby in the Garden

Temptation

Temptation

Little Sunflowers

Little Sunflowers

Garlic Harvest!

Garlic Harvest!

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.

Garlic Seeds

Garlic Seeds

Garlic Seed

Garlic Seed

This particular variety of garlic has beautiful purple skins on the cloves (I will share more garlic pictures soon!)

This particular variety of garlic has beautiful purple skins on the cloves (I will share more garlic pictures soon!)

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.

Last year I tied it in bunches and hung it from twine, this year I just shoved it in between the spaces of this hanging planter; worked like a charm!

Last year I tied it in bunches and hung it from twine, this year I just shoved it in between the spaces of this hanging planter; worked like a charm!

While harvesting garlic, we also dug up some onions…

Jaune Paille des Vertus on the Left, Ailsa Craig on the Right

Jaune Paille des Vertus on the Left, Ailsa Craig on the Right

Cantare Green Beans: very tender and delicious!

Cantare Green Beans: very tender and delicious!

Jalepenos

Jalepenos

Red romaine, and Swiss chard in the background

Red romaine, and Swiss chard in the background

Baby demonstrates how to eat a Delikatesse cucumber.

Baby demonstrates how to eat a Delikatesse cucumber.

Hibiscus Buds

Hibiscus Buds

Many little Delice de la Table melons appearing!

Many little Delice de la Table melons appearing!

Dexie in the Garden

Dexie in the Garden

Blackberry Bloom

Blackberry Bloom

Upper ground sweet potato squash has pretty green and silver foliage.

Upper ground sweet potato squash has pretty green and silver foliage.

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

How big will it get?

How big will it get?

7.7 Last Year

Featured post

From the Fourth

The fireworks started early!

The fireworks started early!

Ka

Ka

Boom

Boom

There's a saying about corn: "Knee high by the fourth of July." Ours is between 4-10 feet tall!

There’s a saying about corn: “Knee high by the fourth of July.” Ours is between 4-10 feet tall!

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).

Baby ready for the festivities!

Baby ready for the festivities!

Helping to decorate!

Helping to decorate!

She said this is a drawing of a potato; she did it all by herself.

She said this is a drawing of a potato; she did it all by herself.

And I did this all by myself haha

And I did this all by myself haha

Woo USA!

Woo USA!

Some animals seemed to be celebrating too…

Festive Cardinal

Festive Cardinal

Skink

Skink

And...

And…

A fox!

A fox!

Then we were off to the…

Creek

Creek

Swimming

Swimming

Exploring...

Exploring the…

Creek Bed

Creek Bed

Baby found a vine.

Baby found a vine.

Rocks and Jocks

Rocks and Jocks

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.

Pitching and Catching

Pitching and Catching

Brrr!

Brrr!

Tomato Sandwiches: Summer's Greatest Food

Tomato Sandwiches: Summer’s Greatest Food

Snacking and Snoozing

Snacking and Snoozing

Zzzzzz

Zzzzzz

Zzzzz

Zzzzz

Beautiful Canopy

Beautiful Canopy

That X! Hope this huge tree isn't getting cut down!

That X! Hope this huge tree isn’t getting cut down!

Such a great place

Such a great place

But of course, the main event,

Our very own...

Our very own…

fireworks.

fireworks.

Light Show

Light Show

Glow Sticks and Fireworks

Glow Sticks and Fireworks

The Spy channeling Tron

The Spy channeling Tron

Sparklers!

Sparklers!

Woo MERICA!

Woo MERICA!

Baby's First Sparkler

Baby’s First Sparkler

We just got a couple bags of fireworks (about $40 worth) but they sure made for a good time and some cool pictures!

Finale!

Finale!

Looks like Space

Looks like Space

Far Out!

Far Out!

Hope you all are having a safe and happy holiday weekend!

Featured post

The End of June in the Garden and Concrete Sculptures

Facing North in the Garden

Facing North in the Garden

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 first cucumber (Delikatesse)!

The first cucumber (Delikatesse)!

Watering

Watering

The "Reef"

The “Reef”

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch and the garden in the background (facing west)

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin patch and the garden in the background (facing west)

I spy a pumpkin!

I spy a pumpkin!

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!

Baby showing off...

Baby showing off…

Our favorite...

Our favorite…

Umbrella

Umbrella

And now, for the concrete sculpture tutorial…

Bag of Quikrete

Bag of Quikrete

Add Water,

Add Water,

Mix well.

Mix well.

The Spy's facial expression foreshadows how well this project turns out.

The Spy’s facial expression foreshadows how well this project turns out.

Insert something about too many cooks here.

Insert something about too many cooks here.

Here's hoping for a planter (or a mini-firepit)

Here’s hoping for a planter (or a mini-firepit)

Alas, it was not to be.

Alas, it was not to be.

RIP

RIP

Moon Ball

Moon Ball

Well, its sort of shaped like a ball.

Well, its sort of shaped like a ball.

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!

Featured post

Home Run King

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.

They even required a pep-talk midway through the game.

They even required a pep-talk midway through the game.

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,

And some base hits...

And had some base hits…

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.

#7

#7

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.

157 Feet +

157 Feet +

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!

Home Run Swing

Home Run Swing

Rounding Third

Rounding Third

The Team's Reaction

The Team’s Reaction

Coming Home!

Coming Home!

To Home Plate!

To Home Plate!

Home Run II

Home Run II

Celebrating, again!

Celebrating, again!

Happy Team!

Happy Team!

Woo hoo!

Woo hoo!

Featured post

Limbing, Harvesting

Harvesting...

Harvesting…

But first, the limbing…

Timber!

Timber!

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?

Perfect Landing!

Perfect Landing!

It fell directly on the grassy path (seen in the photo above): pretty awesome!

Love this shot of the delicate love-in-a-mist blooms: spared by inches of the heavy falling branch!

Love this shot of the delicate love-in-a-mist blooms: spared by inches of the heavy falling branch!

It did do some damage to our new plum tree, but it should bounce back.

You can see from this angle how long the branch was!

You can see from this angle how long the branch was!

The branch broke off pretty jaggedly when Smoochie was cutting it.

The branch broke off pretty jaggedly when Smoochie was cutting it.

But he cleaned it up: hopefully the tree will survive: it was a pretty big limb.

But he cleaned it up: hopefully the tree will survive: it was a pretty big limb.

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…

Stacked!

Stacked!

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.

Not just a subject for photos anymore!

Not just a subject for photos anymore!

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…

Banana Plant, mid-planting (given to us by a neighbor)

Banana Plant, mid-planting (given to us by a neighbor)

Squash Blossom Puppet Show

Squash Blossom Puppet Show haha

Great

Great

Spangled

Spangled

Fritillary

Fritillary

A bee? A hummingbird? A moth!

A bee? A hummingbird? A moth!

Purple Flower

Purple Flower

Featured post

I Spy Howell Island Wildlife Area

Friday evening we visited Howell Island Wildlife area. We visited back in November, so here it is in summer!

Looking out towards the levy.

Looking out towards the levy.

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…

A big pile of logs at Fick's (seen while walking toward the levy).

A big pile of logs at Fick’s (seen while walking toward the levy).

Bee on Thistle

Bee on Thistle

I am not sure if this is a native or invasive thistle. I think it is a “Tall Thistle”.

Looking east (in the opposite direction of the levy)

Looking east (in the opposite direction of the levy)

We won't be exploring the island today!

We won’t be exploring the island today!

A few people were fishing off the "bridge" to the island.

A few people were fishing off the “bridge” to the island.

We were just “fishing” for some cool pieces of wood. Our friend met us there and she wore her…

River Shoes. Hahaha

River Shoes. Hahaha

We took a snack break.

We took a snack break.

And enjoyed the view.

And enjoyed the view.

Beautiful Sky

Beautiful Sky

Like a Painting

Like a Painting

The Spy is pointing with an awesome walking stick he found.

Pretty Sunset Walk

Pretty Sunset Walk

View from the levy

View from the levy

Sometimes "boring" weeds are so pretty!

Sometimes “boring” weeds are so pretty!

Hope you all are having a nice weekend!

Featured post

Summer Sights of Spy Garden

Yoga in the...

Yoga in the…

Garden

Garden

For the record, she picked out her own outfit.

For the record, she picked out her own outfit.

Lavender and Stripes

Lavender and Stripes

Lavender and what appears to be more yoga.

Lavender and what appears to be more yoga.

Nice shoulder stretch

Nice shoulder stretch

Love in a mist blooms

Love in a mist blooms

And another

And another

The love-in-a-mist flowers seen from a distance next to the teepee

The love-in-a-mist flowers seen from a distance next to the teepee

Butterfly on milkweed

Butterfly on milkweed

Hmmm...lots of ants on the eggplant

Hmmm…lots of ants on the eggplant

We have 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!

Super saturated nasturtium

Super saturated nasturtium

Can you spy our little garden statue?

Can you spy our little garden statue?

Cilantro Blossoms

Cilantro Blossoms

And now, a break in the A/C…

Desk and Windowsill in the Spy's Room

Desk and Windowsill in the Spy’s Room

Hahah

Hahah

The Spy's Room

The Spy’s Room

Little Kitchen, Big Kitchen

Little Kitchen, Big Kitchen

Spotted Shark, by the Spy (acrylic on wood)

Spotted Shark, by the Spy (acrylic on wood)

And back outside…

Sunflowers and the corn about five feet tall now

Sunflowers and the corn about five feet tall now

Check out this little guy...

Check out this little guy…

SEE THE ALIEN HEAD?!!

SEE THE ALIEN HEAD?!!

Picking...

Picking…

Mulberries, MMMmm (they taste like blackberries)

Mulberries, MMMmm (they taste like blackberries)

Eucalpytus

Eucalpytus

Weeeee

Weeeee