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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

Featured post

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!

Featured post

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
Featured post

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!

Featured post

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

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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

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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

Featured post

A Wildly Exciting New Addition to Spy Garden

Check out our wildly exciting new addition to Spy Garden:

See it?

See it?

KA CHOW!

KA CHOW!

Dexie found this in the woods and brought it up for us!!

Dexie found this in the woods and brought it up for us!!

It has a toupee!! HHahaha

Another view

Another view

I find this ornament to be particularly fitting because the deer used to devour our garden until we installed our deer fence…A symbol of our conquest against the pilfering beasts!

We've also installed the new teepee

We’ve also installed the new teepee

The plot surrounding it is pretty bare, but hopefully soon will be full of climbing pumpkin vines.

Garden twine on teepee ready for climbing winter squash

Garden twine on teepee ready for climbing winter squash

In this pumpkin patch...

In this pumpkin patch…

The Atlantic Giant pumpkin plants are living up to their name.

The Atlantic Giant pumpkin plants are living up to their name.

I planted marigolds and dill in this patch to deter squash bugs

I planted marigolds and dill in this patch to deter squash bugs

Garlic spiral; the garlic is still a few weeks away from being able to harvest.

Garlic spiral; the garlic is still a few weeks away from being able to harvest.

There's going to be a lot of garlic to dig up!

There’s going to be a lot of garlic to dig up!

Garlic grows so beautifully

Garlic grows so beautifully

Also among the garlic plants are a few onions that have gone to seed:

This one has a halo!

This one has a halo!

Like white allium

Like white allium

The first of the tomatoes have appeared!

The first of the tomatoes have appeared!

A few leftover Belgian White carrots from last year starting to bolt.

A few leftover Belgian White carrots from last year starting to bolt.

Fungus in the mulch...

Fungus in the mulch…

Or did some little creature chew one of these up and spit it out?!

Or did some little creature chew one of these up and spit it out?!

Electrified veins of Swiss chard

Electrified veins of Swiss chard

Popping the seed "balloons" of the love-in-a-mist flowers is always enjoyable

Popping the seed “balloons” of the love-in-a-mist flowers is always enjoyable

Bird-like Borage

Bird-like Borage

Bees are very attracted to these blooms.

Bees are very attracted to these blooms.

Featured post

Friday, the Thirteenth, of June

Happy Friday in Spy Garden!

Happy Friday in Spy Garden!

Can you spy the fish swimming in the garden?

Can you spy the fish swimming in the garden?

Milk Weed Buds

Milk Weed Buds

Baby stylin' in polka dots and...

Baby stylin’ in polka dots and…

Converse

Converse

Borage Buds

Borage Buds

Bubbles and Blooms

Bubbles and Blooms

The huge foliage of Atlantic Giant Pumpkin plants (see my foot for scale? the leaves are huge!)

The huge foliage of Atlantic Giant Pumpkin plants (see my foot for scale? the leaves are huge!)

Picking yellow strawberries

Picking yellow strawberries

Shirts are the most convenient harvest baskets.

Shirts are the most convenient harvest baskets.

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!

Featured post

Early June in Spy Garden and Tronchuda Kale Chips

Pepper Plant, by Babyzilla

Pepper Plant, by Babyzilla

Cilantro Blossoms

Cilantro Blossoms

Rainbow Swiss Chard, Sunset Lettuce, Nasturtiums

Rainbow Swiss Chard, Sunset Lettuce, Nasturtiums

Rainbow Chard is so vibrant (and tasty)

Rainbow Chard is so vibrant (and tasty)

Love-in-a-Mist Seed Pod

Love-in-a-Mist Seed Pod

Love-in-a-mist bloom

Love-in-a-mist bloom

Looks predatory: he's welcome to stay!

Looks predatory: he’s welcome to stay!

"Atlantic Giant" pumpkin plants are getting big! The leaves are like umbrellas for Baby!

“Atlantic Giant” pumpkin plants are getting big! The leaves are like umbrellas for Baby!

Dexie and Baby exploring the garden

Dexie and Baby exploring the garden

Taken at one of the Spy's games this past week

Taken at one of the Spy’s games this past week

Pretty Summer Landscape (near Spy Garden)

Pretty Summer Landscape (near Spy Garden)

First Lavender Blossom

First Lavender Blossom

Butterfly and Thyme

Butterfly and Thyme

So long sucker!

So long sucker!

“Suckering” tomato plants is when you remove the branch growing in the crook between a leaf and the stalk.

Eggplant Blossom

Eggplant Blossom

Dexie's Best Friend

Dexie’s Best Friend

Playing?

Playing?

...or is it destroying?!

…or is it destroying?!

Raining outside, painting inside

Raining outside, painting inside

Little Paintings

Little Paintings

Many of the plants are now taller than Baby.

Many of the plants are now taller than Baby.

Spy Garden Backyard

Spy Garden Backyard (looking down towards the firepit)

Mowing the lawn!

Mowing the lawn!

Kale Chips

Kale Chip

The Spy loves kale chips and one of the things that often leads people (in internet world) to Spy Garden is this Russian Red/Ragged Jack kale chip post (that someone “pinned” on Pinterest). So here’s another kale chip recipe, with a different variety of kale: Tronchuda.

He likes them so much he wanted to design our own bag for them!

He likes them so much he wanted to design our own bag for them!

(That drawing at the bottom is the shapes of the garden plots: not including the teepee area or the new pumpkin patch)

Spy Garden Kale Chips

Spy Garden Kale Chips

Yummy!

Yummy!

They are so easy to make. Toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, spread out on a sheet and bake on 200 or less for 20 minutes or so until they are dried out and crispy.

Tronchuda Kale Chip

Tronchuda Kale Chip

Featured post

Squirrely Garden Update

The path to Squirrely Garden: Much more fun than stairs!

The path to Squirrely Garden: Much more fun than stairs!

Wheelbarrow Trips

Wheelbarrow Trips

The most recent dirt pile was delivered…

Up there.

Up there.

See? Right up there!

See? Right up there!

Three cubic yards to go!

Three cubic yards to go!

Sights at the top of the hill.

Sights at the top of the hill.

Can you spy Squirrely Garden?

Can you spy Squirrely Garden?

There it is!

There it is!

This big pile of rocks is a great vantage point.

This big pile of rocks is a great vantage point.

School playground down below.

School playground down below.

Also seen from the top of the hill.

Also seen from the top of the hill.

Back to work...

Back to work…

I made nine of those wheelbarrow trips up/down the hill today. The Squirrely Garden CEO (yours truly) is never afraid of a little manual labor! I also planted Malabar spinach and some peas.

The school chef treks up the hill to bring kitchen scraps to the composter.

The school chef treks up the hill to bring kitchen scraps to the composter.

Lemongrass (and kids playing with butterfly nets on the playground below)

Lemongrass (and kids playing with butterfly nets on the playground below)

More dirt to move, more seeds to plant: but Squirrely Garden is off to a great start. We’re a little behind the traditional garden planting schedule (since the rest of the property’s construction and landscaping has also been going on) but it is so exciting to imagine what this garden is going to become!

Featured post

Spy Garden Summer Begins!

Ready for Summer

Ready for Summer

Woo! Summer officially began in Spy Garden the first of June. I know “officially” it starts later this month, but we make up our own rules about seasons around here. The Spy started summer camp today…at Baby’s school! It is pretty awesome that they have camp for a small group of school-agers there. Today was his first day; most of the day was spent in the woods (“and they don’t make us stay on trails!”) so basically the Spy is in forest-school-camp-heaven! His class is going to wear tie-dye for “uniforms” so tonight we…

Made some shirts.

Made some shirts.

In less than 20 minutes...

In less than 20 minutes…

With these bad boys.

With these bad boys.

Spray bottles of tie-dye. Genius. No dipping, no hot water, no rubber bands. Spray, dye, throw in the dryer: done! Usually I do things (or at least WANT to do things) the hard, involved, messy way. In my dream-world, I would make the dye out of some things like tumeric or flowers freshly picked from the garden (or black walnuts!). Then dye some amazing, one of a kind designs on some homemade t-shirts (made from cotton grown in our garden obviously)…But for a Monday night, this was perhaps a more reasonable approach! And besides, I’m not growing cotton (this year! haha). In other uniform news…

Little League Summer Games

Little League Summer Games

Call for white jerseys!

Best Seats in the House (Baby with two of our favorite friends watching the game)

Best Seats in the House (Baby with two of our favorite friends watching the game)

The Spy at First Base

The Spy at First Base

Back home in the garden...

Back home in the garden…

Sweet corn and sunflowers are getting taller...

Sweet corn and sunflowers are getting taller…

The garlic scapes are looking awesome...

The garlic scapes are looking awesome…

And tasting delicious. Chopped and sauteed with veggies MMmmmm

And tasting delicious. Chopped and sauteed with veggies MMmmmm

Roller Coaster Scape

Roller Coaster Scape

Infinity Scape

Infinity Scape

They just never get old to me, I love the look of them.

They just never get old to me, I love the look of them. (and the taste!)

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Laumeier Sculpture Park

Working on Triangle Pose

Working on Triangle Pose

On a...

On a…

Triangular Sculpture

Triangular Sculpture

You’ve heard of Godzilla, but have you met…

Babyzilla?!

Babyzilla?!

RRrhaaaaaahhhgggg!

RRrhaaaaaahhhgggg!

Little Yellow House

Little Yellow House

Yellow House, Yellow Dress

Yellow House, Yellow Dress

Blue House, Yellow Dress

Blue House, Yellow Dress

Tall...

Tall…

Column

Column

Rock...

Rock…

Sculpture

Sculpture

Mulberries!

Mulberries!

AEIOU

AEIOU

The "Pretend-you're-pointing-at-something" Shot

The “Pretend-you’re-pointing-at-something” Shot

Yoga and Sculpture

Yoga and Sculpture

Aunt Spy

Aunt Spy

Also known as Spy Sister

Also known as Spy Sister

One with the sculpture

One with the sculpture

Baby's got the concept down!

Baby’s got the concept down!

Sky Diver Pose

Sky Diver Pose

Inside a Sculpture

Inside a Sculpture

Looks like a forbidden city

Looks like a forbidden city

Baby with Blooms

Baby with Blooms

More triangular...

More triangular…

poses

poses

A Stage?

A Stage?

Round Moon, Round Bun

Round Moon, Round Bun

Mounds

Mounds

The stair are over here.

The stairs are over here.

Up the hill...

Up the hill…

At the top.

At the top.

Same photos, sans color:

Up...

Up…

the stairs...

the stairs…

At the top.

At the top.

At the bottom.

At the bottom.

A great place to visit! There are lots more sculptures we didn’t even get to, so we will definitely be returning!

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Late May in the Garden

Orach (new favorite plant!) It's like magenta spinach.

Orach (new favorite plant!) It’s like magenta spinach.

Rainbow swiss chard, this yellow one looks like its plugged in and lit up!

Rainbow swiss chard, this yellow one looks like its plugged in and lit up!

Pearls on Garlic (bug eggs)

Pearls on Garlic (bug eggs)

Pearly Whites

Pearly Whites

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

In the Grass

In the Grass

Colorful bug (not sure what kind) eating a catepillar)

Colorful bug (not sure what kind) eating a caterpillar)

Same action, different view

Same action, different view

Swath (of mowed grass) and Stump

Swath (of mowed grass) and Stump

Love-in-a-Mist Bloom

Love-in-a-Mist Bloom

Garden in the mist. Lots of rain this week: great for the garden!

Garden in the mist. Lots of rain this week: great for the garden!

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Squirrely Garden Sneak Peek

School’s Out! But summer at Forest School is just beginning!

Forest School

Forest School

Dining Hall

Dining Hall

In Uniform (school t-shirt; green, of course!)

In Uniform (school t-shirt; green, of course!)

Forest Finds

Forest Finds

Customized Forest Finds!

Customized Forest Finds!

Tools and Inspiration

Tools and Inspiration

Squirrely Garden, the garden at Baby’s school, is looking great…

Sneak Peek at Squirrely Garden!

Sneak Peek at Squirrely Garden!

Most of the planting is finished, the teachers (and students!) have been working hard! One more dirt delivery and a bit more planting and she’s good to grow!

The plots are numbered, to make "to do" lists easier to communicate. An important feature of a community garden!

The plots are numbered, to make “to do” lists easier to communicate. An important feature of a community garden!

As the Garden CEO, my job will be to take frequent garden walks and communicate necessary garden “to-do’s” so the kids/teachers/parents know what needs to be done! First on the list today was: plant seed potatoes!

Squirrely Squirrel

Squirrely Squirrel

Back at home in Spy Garden…

Things are a little squirrely here too!

Things are a little squirrely here too!

Check out that fur!

Check out that fur!

Orange Squirrel!

Orange Squirrel!

Sneak peek at the new teepee!

Sneak peek at the new teepee!

Toad in Spotlight

Toad in Spotlight

Toad Three-Quarter Profile

Toad Three-Quarter Profile

Pensive Toad

Pensive Toad

Toad Portrait

Toad Portrait

Toad, Snail, Nasturtium Leaf Still Life

Toad, Snail, Nasturtium Leaf Still Life

Hahaha

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Garden Walks, Garden Talk

Hope you all are having a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend! If you are looking for things to do in the St. Louis area, check out the St. Louis Post Dispatch Summer Fun Guide…featuring…

Spy Sister! On the cover!

Spy Sister! On the cover!

Check out the bottom row of photos, third picture from the left…It’s Spy Sister (Aunt Spy!) at the Missouri Botanical Garden (photo taken by yours truly)! Pretty cool! Back in our own garden…

Pest control has begun

Pest control has begun

Pre-squished Colorado potato beetle

Pre-squished Colorado potato beetle.

We don’t use any pesticides and rely on lots of herbs and garlic to naturally repel pests. And lots of squishing and squashing! We have disposable vinyl gloves on hand (pun intended) for that job!

Pest-Free Garlic

Pest-Free Garlic

If I were a commercial farmer, I think I would chose to grow garlic: it is so hardy! Herbs would be a close second, along with certain greens…

Arugula (Or Ahr-wiggala as Baby calls it)

Arugula (Or Ahr-wiggala as Baby calls it)

We have lots of super spicy arugula volunteers throughout the garden. The other greens and lettuces growing don’t seem to be bothered by any pests…

Baby loves eating the red romaine straight from the garden!

Baby loves eating the red romaine straight from the garden! (Manicure by Aunt Spy)

I enjoyed a visit to my neighbor’s garden and we talked pest-control…

She is having a similar problem with those little black flea beetles chewing up her eggplants.

She is having a similar problem with those little black flea beetles chewing up her eggplants.

She has lots of marigolds planted among her crops to deter plants.

My neighbor's trellises

My neighbor’s trellises

Her trellises were inspired by the obelisk we made last year! Trellising vining plants (like cucumbers) can also help with pests.

Her asparagus foliage isn't covered with stinky beetle larvae like ours was.

Her asparagus foliage isn’t covered with stinky beetle larvae like ours was.

My neighbor's potatoes.

My neighbor’s potatoes.

When it is time to harvest, she will just dump out the trashcans and hopefully they will be full of potatoes. It is her first time trying this. Ours are planted in our raised beds, but I think I will try this method next year. Maybe Smoochie can build some potato boxes! My neighbor and I finished up our lengthy garden chat with a little trade. I gave her a big bunch of crunchy butter lettuce and she gave me an…

Elephant Ear Bulb

Elephant Ear Bulb

Pest control would probably be lowest on my list of favorite gardening chores. I love weeding and digging, but watering just isn’t my favorite either. However…

Baby...

Baby…

...definitely makes it more fun!

…definitely makes it more fun!

First Knockout Rose Bloom!

First Knockout Rose Bloom!

Dexie demonstrates...

Dexie demonstrates…

bliss in the garden!

bliss in the garden!

Agree, Dexie, garden walks (and talks) are the best!

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Gardening Night at Busch Stadium

The Cards have various theme nights throughout the season; so OF COURSE, we had to go to Gardening Night (sponsored by the Missouri Botanical Garden). We arrived early to check out the new Ballpark Village…

Walking up to Ballpark Village

Walking up to Ballpark Village

Ballpark Village

Ballpark Village

Inside Ballpark Village

Inside Ballpark Village

You can see the stadium from most every angle of Ballpark Village!

You can see the stadium from most every angle of Ballpark Village!

Ballpark Village (seen from inside the ballpark); it's like an extension of the stadium!

Ballpark Village (seen from inside the ballpark); it’s like an extension of the stadium!

Outside the baseball museum in Ballpark Village

Outside the baseball museum in Ballpark Village

Grabbing a bite to eat at Ballpark Village before the game (with a great view of the stadium!)

Grabbing a bite to eat at Ballpark Village before the game (with a great view of the stadium!)

Views around the ballpark

Views around the ballpark

Once inside the ballpark we immediately went to claim our…

Garden Gnomes!

Garden Gnomes!

View from our seats

View from our seats

Pre-game (can you spy the gnome?)

Pre-game (can you spy the gnome?)

There he is!

There he is!

Gnome Run!

Gnome Run!

Matt Holiday

Matt Holiday

Beautiful Night for Baseball

Beautiful Night for Baseball

Cards Fans

Cards Fans

Go Cards!

Go Cards!

Of course, I had to find something that belongs in a garden! This was a HUGE beetle!

Of course, I had to find something that belongs in a garden! This was a HUGE beetle!

But most importantly…

They won!

They won!

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Building, Painting, Sculpting, Gardening

Spy Garden got some major upgrades this past weekend! We (and by “we” I mean, my husband) built these:

Garden Couch

Garden Couch

Garden Chair

Garden Chair

The Spy and I painted them.

Garden Living Room

Garden Living Room

They are very huge pieces of furniture. The Spy and I can both fit in the chair and the couch easily seats four. Huge, heavy garden furniture is a good thing in Missouri, where flimsy chairs and tables can easily be blown away by blustery winds!

Decomissioned Teepee

Decomissioned Teepee

The teepee served us well, but it never looked quite right and a couple of the pieces had started to rot.

What do we have here?

What do we have here?

A minimalist sculpture installation?

That’s a very good guess, but no: those are the poles for the new and improved teepee, coming soon!

Loads of tender crunchy lettuce: yum!

Loads of tender crunchy lettuce: yum!

Lots of nasturtiums in this corner of the garden.

Lots of nasturtiums in this corner of the garden.

I like the tattered look of this dianthus bloom, with three fresh buds poking out right behind it.

I like the tattered look of this dianthus bloom, with three fresh buds poking out right behind it.

By the Spy (like Kandinsky, but better)

By the Spy (like Kandinsky, but better)

Franken-Animal by the Spy

Franken-Animal by the Spy

And Frankenthaler (channeled by Baby)

And Frankenthaler (channeled by Baby)

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pre-squished caterpillar

Pre-squished caterpillar

Anyone know what kind of eggsack this is?

Anyone know what kind of eggsack this is?

Love-in-a-mist flower bud

Love-in-a-mist flower bud

The Spy and his friend had a fun day in and around the garden today. They spent a lot of time in the woods and also at the new Spy Garden…

driving...

driving…

range!

range! haha

Baby and I enjoyed…

Picking...

Picking…

Yellow Strawberries!

Yellow Strawberries!I

I grew the yellow strawberry plants from seeds several years ago, now the plants are big, bushy and loaded with soon-to-be-ripe berries!

Pretty yellow strawberry plants

Pretty yellow strawberry plants

The variety is ever-bearing and they taste like a strawberry with a little tropical flavor.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

One of my favorite smells...and shaping up to be one of my favorite plants too.

One of my favorite smells…and shaping up to be one of my favorite plants too.

The dog dragged this (partial) deer skull from the woods

The dog dragged this (partial) deer skull from the woods

In other extremely exciting garden news…

We have a new garden couch!

We have a new garden couch!

Baby focused on her yoga while Smoochie built it:

Yogi Petite

Yogi Petite

Downward Dog and Dogs

Downward Dog and Dogs

Planks and Plank

Planks and Plank

Level!

Level!

Entrance to the garden (we're still working on the gate).

Entrance to the garden (we’re still working on the gate).

I wanted there to be a garden “living room” at the entrance to the garden, so this “couch” (way more than a bench!) is a step in the right direction.

Bench Couch

Bench Couch

The "living room" is shaded all day, just getting the last of each day's sunlight.

The “living room” is shaded all day, just getting the last of each day’s sunlight.

Now we just need a coffee table, a few end tables, a chair and a TV stand with an empty frame on top so we can sit back, relax and watch the garden grow! Haha

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A Rainy Walk Through Spy Garden

Come out to play! It's only rain!

Come out to play! It’s only rain!

Top Secret Operation

Top Secret Operation

Shades of Dirt (and green!)

Shades of Dirt (and green!)

Rue

Rue

Orach, sneak preview!

Orach, sneak preview!

I’ll share more about the orach soon. It can be eaten like spinach, and does look like spinach; magenta spinach!

Garlic Spiral

Garlic Spiral

New Plum Tree! (A Mother's Day gift)

New Plum Tree! (A Mother’s Day gift)

Until next time!

Until next time!

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Shaw Wildflower Market

Members Only!

Tonight was the members-only preview of the Shaw Wildflower Market

Tonight was the members-only preview of the Shaw Wildflower Market

We enjoyed checking out the different vendors. Purchased some delectable blueberry jam, bread from homegrown and hand-milled grains…

Wine from a local vineyard...

Wine from a local vineyard…

Danced to...

Danced to…

the...

the…

music!

music!

Very fun!

Very fun!

Said "hello" to some chickens...

Said “hello” to some chickens…

Viewed a unique collection of handmade baskets...

Viewed a unique collection of handmade baskets…

Good times at the Shaw Wildflower Market.

Good times at the Shaw Wildflower Market.

And of course…

Marveled at the wildflower selection for sale...

Marveled at the wildflower selection for sale…

and other native plants.

and other native plants.

We settled on a couple...

We settled on a couple…

Rough Blazing Star plants.

Rough Blazing Star plants.

After visiting the wildflower market we visited the playground at Shaw…

Walking to the playground...

Walking to the playground…

We noticed many of the wildflowers we saw for sale!

We noticed many of the wildflowers we saw for sale!

Wildflower

Wildflower

Dreamy

Dreamy

A sign...

A sign…

Many colors in the prairie.

Many colors in the prairie.

So many different types!

So many different types!

I spy asparagus!

I spy asparagus!

Coming upon the playground, we got a drink...

Coming upon the playground, we got a drink…

found a forgotten toy...

found a forgotten toy…

And enjoyed more natural landscaping.

And enjoyed more natural, native landscaping.

I spy tentworms!

I spy tentworms!

Tentworms (ew!)

Tentworms (ew!)

Digging for bones

Digging for bones

The playground is in a lovely grove of old pine trees...

The playground is in a lovely grove of old pine trees…

Big pine trees

Big pine trees

The playground has many musical instruments...

The playground has many musical instruments…

Xylophone...

Xylophone…

Drum (can you spy the Spy?)

Drum (can you spy the Spy?)

Another sort of xylophone...

Another sort of xylophone…

And a…

Balance Area!

Balance Area!

Spy Sister

Spy Sister

aka Aunt Spy demonstrating the art of balance.

(aka Aunt Spy) Demonstrating the art of balance.

And the Spy too, balancing in a tree...

And the Spy too, balancing in a tree…

Climbing...

Climbing…

Perching

Perching

Another...

Another…

Beautiful outing at...

Beautiful outing at…

Shaw!

Shaw!

Goodnight! Happy Friday!

Goodnight! Happy Friday!

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Cinco de Mayo in Spy Garden

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco in Spy Garden

Cinco in Spy Garden

In true “We-celebrate-EVERYTHING!” form, I made some crispy-cheesey-beafy-bean-fajita-dillas for the kids and Smoochie. Spicy white beans with garlic, cornbread (3/4 C cornmeal, 1 1/4 C flour, 1/2 C Olive Oil, 1/2 t salt, 3/4 C water, 3 T sugar, 3 T applesauce, 2 t baking powder, 400 degrees for 20 minutes), caramelized onions, a pile of chopped Romaine, chopped black olives and tomatoes…and the piece de resistance: fresh cilantro right from the garden! Mmm! Oh, and everything doused in hot sauce!

We dined al fresco,

Wore...

Wore…

sombreros...

sombreros…

Pretty good evening!

Pretty good evening!

While we enjoyed the sights…

A festive yellow tulip...

A festive yellow tulip…

Dogwood Diagonal

Dogwood Diagonal

Bajillions of these whirly gigs:

DSC_9842 (700x698)

floated down around us like little helicopters. Speaking of things that fly…

Yesterday we parked on a closed-road near where a big air show was going on and watched the planes for a few minutes.

Airplane

Airplane

Airplane Shadow

Airplane Shadow

After we got home, we were in the garden (naturally) and six of the blue angel jets in formation flew RIGHT over the garden! Literally right above our heads, they were so close you could see the details of the planes. The Spy was thrilled! He is also thrilled that the hose has been reconnected (we still need to attach the sprinkler head) because he loves a good soaking and it has been HOT! 90 degrees today!

Watering begins!

Watering begins!

A much younger Spy watering a much smaller garden in a Mayo a few years ago!

A much younger Spy watering a much smaller garden in a Mayo a few years ago!

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Squirrely Garden

Squirrely Garden is the garden at Babyzilla’s school. I am the CEO of Squirrely Garden (is that the best title ever?) and today we had some official business there.

Entrance to Squirrely Garden: There will be an arbor connecting these two plots in the foreground.

Entrance to Squirrely Garden: There will be an arbor connecting these two plots in the foreground.

The black garden fabric was placed on the shapes I spray painted onto the grass. Today, we edged around these shapes. Soon there will be a very special dirt delivery and each of the shapes will be covered with lovely mounds of soil. Then we will plant. We are hoping that the roots of the plants will penetrate through the fabric. Should we punch holes in it?

Detail of edging.

Detail of edging.

We didn’t edge all of the plots, but they can be finished even after the dirt is placed. Edging will help keep the dirt in place. Also, it just looks good!

In Squirrely Garden

In Squirrely Garden

Didn't get to edge this one today. This teepee is temporary, the final teepee will be installed soon!

Didn’t get to edge this one today. This teepee is temporary, the final teepee will be installed soon!

Edged by the CEO ;)

Edged by the CEO ;)

The Spy Digging

The Spy Digging

Everyone digging!

Everyone digging!

View from Squirrely Garden, looking down at the playground.

View from Squirrely Garden, looking down at the playground.

The landscapers were also busy today; digging, planting and laying sod.

And taking breaks.

And taking breaks ;)

Looking down at the slope that leads up to Squirrely Garden

Looking down at the slope that leads up to Squirrely Garden

This cool thing is a composter, given to the school by the Missouri Botanical Garden.

This cool thing is a composter, given to the school by the Missouri Botanical Garden.

The landscapers (playscapers!) have created some awesome play structures with all natural materials. It is going to be unbelievable when it is all complete!

A turkey vulture watched us work.

A turkey vulture watched us work.

Squirrely Garden is Awesome!

Squirrely Garden is Awesome!

Dads

Dads

Sons

Sons

What a great day...

What a great day…

In Squirrely Garden!

In Squirrely Garden!

Featured post

Friday Night in Spy Garden

Tulip

Tulip

Tiptoeing through the tulips

Tiptoeing through the tulips

Favorite Flowers

Favorite Flowers

Woodchuck hanging by the fire pit

Woodchuck hanging by the fire pit

A wild boar?

A wild boar?

A dragon?

A dragon?

Headless Dexie

Headless Dexie

Baby in the Garden

Baby in the Garden

Smoochie

Smoochie

First Garden Mow of the Season

First Garden Mow of the Season

Aunt Spy and Baby

Aunt Spy and Baby

Dexie showing off yet another deer leg she found in the woods.

Dexie showing off (yet another) deer leg she found in the woods

Baby checking the placement of the tomato cages. Planting this weekend!

Baby checking the placement of the tomato cages. Planting this weekend!

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Adiaphora

I had never heard of the word “adiaphora” before until (adult) Sunday school a few weeks ago. I love learning a new word and this is a good one. Not only does it have a lovely sound, but the meaning is oh-so intriguing. Adiaphora is the gray of scripture. Many things are clearly good or clearly sin. Adiaphora? Je ne sais pas. You can choose. You can work in real estate or be a stay at home mom or a nurse. You can garden or paint or play the piano. The notion of adiaphora illustrates a great freedom in Christianity.

“…the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike.” (from The Augsburg Confession http://www.lcms.org/lutheranconfessions)

In other words, there’s freedom in choosing the formats of our celebrations, ceremonies and worship. I appreciate a liturgical service, stained glass, an organ, a small choir and a sermon that is more serious than stand-up. But this is personal preference. Five friends in a field of flowers chatting about Christ could be another lovely church. Food is deeply entwined in spiritual and cultural traditions, and in the discussion of adiaphora I thought about food as it illustrates the term.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17

So if a vegan sees someone eating bacon, should they give them a lecture? Or is being sensitive to those around you more important than with what you choose to stuff your own gullet? If you know someone feels strongly about say, abstaining from alcohol, why not too abstain in their presence? Sample vegetarian fare in the presence of vegetarians?

What about eating what is served when you’re a guest? You can usually maintain any personal dietary habits without having to verbally make some declaration of “I DON’T EAT THAT.” Such proclamations can really make people uncomfortable and aren’t they sort of annoying? If you choose not to eat what is being served, how about just quietly don’t eat it?

“Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” Romans 14:20-21

Eliminate meat and dairy from your diet? Great, but let me not shout it from the rooftops lest I make omnivores uncomfortable? I mean, I’ve toted the nutritional value of quinoa like the rest of the annoying “health conscious” people. Come on! I’m a nurse! I can’t help it! And indeed, nutrition is a topic I frequently discuss with patients. What duty do I have to serve as an example to patients? To eat the optimal diet? Advocate the “healthiest” dietary habits supported by research? To not post recipes that aren’t optimally healthy on Spy Garden? I recently read this article on Medscape and I think it suits this topic well…

“Many people are turning to “Mediterranean diets” or “Paleo diets,” terms that are so appealing and meaningless that they have attracted millions of adherents.”

Hahaha

“Mediterranean” conjures up summery images of yachts and glasses of wine by the seaside. But the Mediterranean region is vast and diverse, extending from Spain across southern Europe to Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel, and across North Africa. The culinary traditions in these regions vary dramatically. For one person, a “Mediterranean diet” might mean more olive oil. For another, it means pasta. For someone else, it’s red wine, or maybe chickpeas or fresh fruit.
What these variants have in common is a reduced emphasis on animal-derived foods, which is in fact a step in the right direction. A traditional Asian diet would reduce animal products further, and a plant-based diet would remove them altogether — both more powerful than a “Mediterranean” pattern.
“Paleo” brings images of our loincloth-clad forebears whose mastodon-conquering adventures are far more exhilarating than microwaving a frozen dinner while listening to NPR.

HHAhaha

“The Paleolithic period is popularly understood as the band of human history beginning with the advent of stone tools and ending before the development of agriculture.”

(Which is not necessarily accurate at all)

“So following a “Paleolithic diet,” we get to eat meat, but we shun grains and anything else that requires a green thumb.”

Heaven knows Spy Garden is not going to shun anything having to do with green thumbs!

“The most effective diet, by far, is plant-based. A plant-based diet reopens narrowed arteries, trims waistlines, lowers blood pressure, and is more powerful against diabetes than any other regimen…
Here’s how we do it with diabetic patients, but it works just as well with other conditions: When you see patients in your practice, invite them to attend an evening group session, which you schedule at a convenient time. Just as your office staff is turning out the lights at 5 PM, one staffer — a nurse, dietitian, physician, or health coach — turns the lights back on, puts the waiting room chairs in a circle, and welcomes 15-20 patients for a lecture. The staffer presents a simple class, or even easier, hits “play” on a DVD player, showing a short video. Twenty minutes later, the patients have learned how a plant-based diet works and the potential benefits it offers.

Ummm, thanks, if only patient education were so simple and straightforward!

Now that patients are intrigued,

(naturally) Who needs rapport? It must’ve been a great lecture haha…

…everyone is asked to jot down ideas for plant-based foods that they would like to try. Common breakfast choices are oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins, a half-cantaloupe, whole-grain cereal with soy milk, rye or pumpernickel toast, veggie sausage, or tofu scramble. Lunch might be lentil soup, split-pea soup, or white bean chili with crusty bread and steamed vegetables. Or maybe pizza without cheese, but with extra sauce and veggie toppings. Dinner could be a green salad and a bowl of minestrone, followed by angel-hair pasta with artichoke hearts, seared oyster mushrooms, and chunky tomatoes, along with spinach lightly sautéed in garlic. Over the next week or so, participants are asked simply to test out these foods to see which ones they like.
One week later, everyone comes back to the office to compare notes. By now, they have a good feel for plant-based foods they enjoy. The next step is a 3-week test drive. For 21 days, everyone sets aside animal products and keeps oils to a minimum, with weekly meetings for support.
After 3 weeks, many choose to make the plant-based diet a permanent lifestyle change. They recognize how simple it is and like the feeling of taking control of their health, and they want to continue eating the foods that promote optimal health. They also notice that their tastes are changing so as to embrace new, healthy foods. We have codified this program into a simple curriculum that we make available to clinicians anywhere.” (Excerpts from Medscape Neurology/Is Avoiding Grains a Mistake?/ Neal D. Barnard, MD/http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/820939_3)

It’s great that this particular physician has had success with this program, but I do question the assertion of a “simple curriculum”. Food, culture, emotion, spirituality, economics: the whole thing is far more complex than a simple matter of patient education. Really enjoyed this article and other plant-based diet diatribes and do agree with the health benefits of a plant-based diet, but still feel that spiritual health must be part of the equation. Introducing nutrition from the “It’s So Easy! So Simple!” angle may not be the most empathetic approach.

“So Spy Garden, are you an omnivore? A vegetarian? A vegan?”
You know the word vegan really has a terrible ring to it. It’s just not the most attractive sounding word. And diction and syntax are big concerns of mine. And unlike some people, I do not find my dietary preferences to be the most fascinating subject. I find shouting proclamations of what I chose to eat or not eat to be altogether unnecessary. But if I had to put a name to it, how about: I am an Adiaphoron? Hahah
In case you were wondering, an adiaphoron consumes honey. Lovely golden, sticky, sweet honey.
I mean, come on! These buzzing fuzzies are not marginalized or exploited:

They’re living in paradise! (Honey Bees at The Missouri Botanical Garden)

They’re living in paradise! (Honey Bees at The Missouri Botanical Garden)

I’ve been eating at least a teaspoon a day of local honey in order to combat the spring pollen cloud o’ the midwest from making me sneeze into oblivion. I think it’s working! Though I’m also taking Claritin daily for a few weeks. But normally the Claritin only fixes part of the symptoms, so I’m giving the local honey some credit.

“My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.” Proverbs 24:13
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24
If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” Proverbs 24:16

HAHAHahha so MODERATION is key! Got it!
As an adiaphoron I would also likely gun down…

this...

this…

wily...

wily…

creature...

creature…

If there was, you know, a zombie apocalypse in progress and the kids were hungry.
Probably I’d try to shoot a deer first as this fox (as seen from Spy Garden!) is pretty scrawny.
Thankfully we are not in the midst of a zombie apocalypse and can dine freely, out in the open.

quite leisurely, in fact.

quite leisurely, in fact.

If you’re interested in sampling some plant-based fare locally, Frida’s in Delmar Loop is delicious. Spy Sister and I checked it out and had a delicious lunch with some chocolate mousse (made with avocado) for dessert!
Mmm!
I especially loved the fact they had a little basil forest on the sidewalk and a huge mass of nasturtiums in the window:

Adjacent to Frida's

Adjacent to Frida’s

They grow lots of their own ingredients right there! Pretty cool, right? Even if this is more your jam…

lebowitz quote

Hhaha
There’s loads of gray in even what things actually are adiaphora. The considerations and conversations that arise from our freedom of choice are part of the beauty of the word.

Featured post

April 27, 2014

A few sights from this weekend accompanied by a few quotes from an article, “Beyond the Harvest: Five Ways Gardens Support Your Health” in…

“The garden possesses a rhythm tied to the weather and the seasons, and a connection to all living things, including other people.” Jill Metzler Patton

Who's picking the petals?

Who’s picking the petals?

It's...

It’s…

Babyzilla! And it's ok, tulip petals are pretty fun to pick and examine!

Babyzilla! And it’s ok, tulip petals are pretty fun to pick and examine!

“Tiptoeing through the tulips to reach the hedge beyond improves balance and coordination, while lunging and extending to prune or weed brings increased flexibility.” Jill Metzler Patton

Sunrise on the Missouri River

Sunrise on the Missouri River

A Horse

A Horse

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden

The Spy practiced a bit of photography this weekend...

The Spy practiced a bit of photography this weekend…

And got these two great shots of a skink in our yard:

Skink (taken by the Spy)

Skink (taken by the Spy)

“For many of us, a kind of magic arises in the garden.” Jill Metzler Patton

Skink (taken by the Spy)

Skink (taken by the Spy)

Usually skinks are pretty skittish, so it is pretty cool he got in that close!

Twisty vines on a tree (in Babler State Park)

Twisty vines on a tree (in Babler State Park)

A drizzly drive through Babler State Park

A drizzly drive through Babler State Park

My favorite quote, once more…

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden

Featured post

A Pineapple, Ring-Necked Snake, Toad and Some Herbs

No ordinary pineapple

No ordinary pineapple

A very fancy pineapple

A very fancy pineapple

Grip the base of the stem and twist and it pops right off...

Grip the base of the stem and twist and it pops right off…

Peel off several of the base layer of leaves...

Peel off several of the base layer of leaves…

Cut all the pineapple flesh away from the base and let it dry out for a day or two, then put in a jar of water comme ca:

And hopefully it will root!

And hopefully it will root!

It can then be potted and it will grow a whole new pineapple!

This is a painting of a pineapple I did a few years ago, it is one of my favorites. It hangs in our dining room.

This is a painting of a pineapple I did a few years ago, it is one of my favorites. It hangs in our dining room.

I painted this pot last year: reminiscent of the painting, don't you think?!

I painted this pot last year: reminiscent of the painting, don’t you think?!

In bringing out this and other pots, I came across…

Some seeds we saved. From left: marigolds, lime basil and Wade's Giant Indian corn

Some seeds we saved. From left: marigolds, lime basil and Wade’s Giant Indian corn

Making our way out to the garden…

It feels a little like...

It feels a little like…

stepping into...

stepping into…

a French impressionist painting.

a French impressionist painting.

But don’t be fooled!

There's a fierce...

There’s a fierce…

battle in progress!

battle in progress!

He doesn't stand a chance!

He doesn’t stand a chance!

Sneak (or Snake?) Attack!!!

Sneak (or Snake?) Attack!!!

Yellow Belly Defeated! (aka gently placed back in the garden)

Yellow Belly Defeated! (aka gently placed back in the garden)

And who's this?

And who’s this?

Monsieur Toad

Monsieur Toad

Evicted from his home (Sorry! I was turning over the dirt in the back nine!) but relocated by the Spy to the strawberry patch.

Evicted from his home (Sorry! I was turning over the dirt in the back nine!) but relocated by the Spy to the strawberry patch.

A lovely new home for Monsieur Toad.

A lovely new home for Monsieur Toad.

There are loads of seedlings popping up everywhere.

There are loads of seedlings popping up everywhere.

I believe the seedling pictured above is Orach, but I have planted so many things I’ve mostly forgotten what was planted where. But I’ll know just what they are when they grow up!

Definitely tulips ;)

Definitely tulips ;)

Our tulips are not quite as exciting as those we saw a few days ago at the Missouri Botanical Garden but still have a ton of personality. I’ve planted the herbs we bought while visiting the botanical garden, here are a few:

Silver Dollar Eucalyptus

Silver Dollar Eucalyptus

Curry (yes, smells JUST like curry!)

Curry (yes, smells JUST like curry!)

Grey Santolina (which I bought thinking it was Summer Savory: are they the same?)

Grey Santolina (which I bought thinking it was Summer Savory: are they the same?)

Variegated Fringed French Lavendar

Variegated Fringed French Lavender

I also bought Rue (the purchased plant is not pictured here) but noticed it looks strikingly similar to:

This plant (weed) which is all over the yard. I wonder if they are the same thing?

This plant (weed) which is all over the yard. I wonder if they are the same thing?

I would like to start utilizing all the edibles (dandelion greens, purslane, clover, etc.) in all this grass:

April 26, 2014

April 26, 2014

Featured post

Spring at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Prepare for your retinas to be seared with awesomeness. Spring at the Missouri Botanical Garden…

Spring!

Spring!

Many beautiful varieties of tulips.

Many beautiful varieties of tulips.

Tulips are Spy Garden's official favorite flower.

Tulips are Spy Garden’s official favorite flower.

The petals are edible (I've heard)...

The petals are edible (I’ve heard)…

They certainly look...

They certainly look…

scrumptious!

scrumptious!

Like candy!

Like candy!

Spy Sister (aka Aunt Spy) and I enjoyed tiptoeing through the tulips and…

The many sculptures in the garden.

The many sculptures in the garden.

Twisty Twirly

Twisty Twirly

Some are more modern...

Some are more modern…

Some more classical...

Some more classical…

I love these sheep sculptures.

I love these sheep sculptures.

And this angel is another favorite.

And this angel is another favorite.

The Linnean House is the oldest greenhouse west of the Mississippi.

The Linnean House is the oldest greenhouse west of the Mississippi.

Detail inside the Linnean House

Detail inside the Linnean House

And outside the Linnean House

And outside the Linnean House

There are many old and huge trees at the garden…

Many different textures...

Many different textures…

This one reminds me of an elephant.

This one reminds me of an elephant.

This one's sort of creepy.

This one’s sort of creepy.

Polka Dots

Polka Dots

Spiral Tree (and more sculpture!)

Spiral Tree (and more sculpture!)

Spring "Confettti" is Everywhere

Spring “Confettti” is Everywhere

Pretty Trees

Pretty Trees

Trees with big sweeping branches

Trees with big sweeping branches

Pink Dogwood

Pink Dogwood

Looks like a Fairy's House

Looks like a Fairy’s House

Same House, Different View

Same House, Different View

Phlox Moss (say that three times fast)

Phlox Moss (say that three times fast)

We also visited…

The St. Louis Herb Society Sale

The St. Louis Herb Society Sale

We have loads of herbs in Spy Garden but I was looking for some unique varieties…

Two types of eucalyptus were among my finds!

Two types of eucalyptus were among my finds!

Spy Sister got some too!

Spy Sister got some too!

Back in the garden, we skipped the

Climatron

Climatron

(since it was too pretty to go indoors!)

We interpreted some...

We interpreted some…

more sculpture...

more sculpture…

A Perfect Spring Day at the Garden!

A Perfect Spring Day at the Garden!

To learn more about the Missouri Botanical Garden click here!

Featured post

Easter in the Garden

Planted!

Planted!

Built!

Built!

Camofrog

Camofrog

Blooms

Blooms

Buds

Buds

The Spy

The Spy

Beyond the Deer Fence

Beyond the Deer Fence

The Best Brother

The Best Brother

Loads of violets in the yard...

Loads of violets in the yard…

…with which we will soon be making violet tea (thanks Eliza for the tip) and having a proper garden tea party! Baby can’t wait. But first, these are definitely violets, right?