Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship Part 3

meat_rgb2Have you ever thought about ending your relationship with meat?

Me neither.

Until I came home from an out of town trip two weekends ago and discovered J was already two days into a meatless diet. I was very surprised at this because meat is generally a staple in our meals. He didn’t demand that I stop eating meat too, but since I prepare most of our meals I knew it would be more time consuming for me to have to prepare separate meals so I decided to give it a try.

I’m not giving up meat entirely though. I’ll still probably eat it for lunch through the work week, when I’m not eating leftovers. But this basically means that meat will be eliminated from the majority of my diet and I’m okay with that.  I just wrapped up my first week being semi-meatless and I can honestly say I don’t miss it.

One reason is because I haven’t had a lot of practice cooking it. So most quick meals consisted of something prepackaged or something made with hamburger meat. I have never grilled out. I leave that up to J, but even then we probably only grill out once or twice a year. I’m not a big steak eater anyway. I prefer chicken or fish. Eating out usually means a hamburger, chicken, or pasta meal. I could go on and on, but the more I think about it, I know that my meat tastes have been limited my whole life. Now I do love me some chicken which is probably why I won’t give up meat entirely. But given a choice, chicken is much healthier than beef anyway.

By now many of you are probably shaking your heads with dismay at me and thinking this is ridiculous.  You could never give up meat!  And you are probably wondering why anyone would want to, right?  Remember what I have been saying for several months now: you have to change your relationship with food. For a long time, I’ve said I could probably go meatless if I lived on my own and didn’t have to prepare meals for someone else who does eat meat. So my decision isn’t political. It’s just another step in changing my relationship with food and the fact that the person I live with is doing it too makes it all that much easier.

The hardest part, but also the funnest, has been trying to find new things to eat. I like to try new recipes but meatless recipes can be a challenge.  You meat lovers out there are probably thinking I’m not going to eat anything but salad, but believe it or not, I haven’t had a salad all week. I do like salads though. I recently started making a Mexican lasagna that had meat in it. Last week I made it without meat and I added a few other ingredients and it tasted just fine. Tonight we are having stuffed bell peppers, another dish that I previously made with meat but whose recipe I’m now perfecting without it.

This past weekend we made a trip to the farmer’s market for fresh fruit and veggies. We also have a small garden in our back yard. So there’s no shortage of good healthy ingredients in our house.  Like I said, the challenge is just learning new ways to utilize them.

And that’s kind of the theme here overall that I’ve been experiencing since late March when I first decided to give up coffee.  You have to break bad habits one at a time and replace them with better habits.  It’s a slow process, but overall, you just have to change your relationship with food!

In the next few posts, I hope to share some of my new meatless recipes!  Are you meatless?  Or semi-meatless?  If so, share your thoughts or ideas or recipes in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

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Christians, Be Careful What You Say On Facebook

Shannon Yarbrough:

My thoughts exactly…

Originally posted on :

While the Bruce Jenner* controversy is at its peak, be very careful about what you are tempted to say about it on social media. Though your gut reaction might be to post a comment/article that articulates your disgust, I beg you to reconsider. Here’s a couple of reasons why.

  1. Many of you are either looking at porn, or something close to it. I know this because some of the pages and videos that you “like” on Facebook show up on my news feed. You probably don’t realize this, because you keep doing it, and I keep seeing it. Unfortunately, all sexual perversion is a result of human corruption. You have it, I have it too. But you might want to reconsider publicly shaming one perversion when you have another.
  2. Related to reason #1, you don’t understand the gospel. There is nothing wrong about outwardly expressing your disgust at sin. The…

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Notes on Consumption

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No, this isn’t a post about old world tuberculosis.  It’s about “consuming” or even “consumerism,” the concept that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy.  Or in my case, how that said consumerism caused my food pantry to get out of control.  Which in a way is like tuberculosis in that it makes me sick just thinking about it.

I’ve blogged about this before, and here we are again.  I’ve been dreading it for some time, but thanks to the rain keeping us indoors on Saturday I finally broke down and decided to just do it. I cleaned out the food pantry.

Now, guessing from the photo you probably don’t believe me.  But believe me!  Just come over and inspect the two bags of trash in our dumpster or the numerous cardboard boxes and plastic bottles that filled up our recycle bin when I was done.

I started by removing all of the bottles of alcohol and all of the boxes of tea, and there was a lot!  We have a small kitchen cabinet on the wall that contained mixing bowls, shot glasses, tooth picks, lunch bags, cloth napkins, coffee filters, and other various things that don’t get used often. Earlier last week I decided I wanted to relocate all of that and so I did.  Now I had a new space for alcohol and tea!  Never mind the amount of old tea bags and old alcohol that I pitched.  Or the amount that’s still in the pantry because my cabinet filled up quick (alcohol in the back of the bottom left shelf, and tea on the bottom right). But suddenly, an entire space in the pantry was empty! I hear angels singing!

After some quick decisions on what to put where…baked goods, seasonings, canned goods, breakfast things, chips, snacks, pasta, and so on, the fun part came from deciding what to keep and what else to pitch. This pantry is both tall and deep which has both its positive and negative connotations. Positive:  there’s lots of space. Negative: there’s too much space and things get lost in the back, bottom, and very top. We have a few organization caddies in there as you can see, but I was almost tempted to jump in the car and go to the local organization store for more!

Instead, I combined things…like the 3 containers of cocoa powder we had, or the 3 half used bags of powdered sugar and the 2 bottles of cooking oil.  How does this happen you ask?  Like I said, things get lost and forgotten back there so we just end up buying more.

Then came throwing stuff out!  Oh what fun this was! We had so much freaking candy just buried in there – including Valentine’s candy from 2013!!  Christmas candy. Halloween candy. You name it. And there’s more. Half eaten bags of chips. Old cereal. Half used bags of beans. Old flavored coffees from holidays gone by, also half used. I already mentioned old tea – I threw out about six or seven half used boxes!  There were also about 3 half eaten boxes of Wheat Thins. I thought about processing these to use for breadcrumbs but we already had two cans of crumbs in there that I also combined into one.

Now, I know what you are thinking. How wasteful!  Yep, I agree. I was ashamed not only that my pantry had gotten so out of control but by how much junk food and half-used things we had that we didn’t finish and were no longer good. Or I knew we wouldn’t finish them if we hadn’t already, so I threw them out anyway. And like I said, two bags of trash and half a recycling bin later, my pantry was somewhat clean again. Or at least now I had a mental inventory of what we had.

I’m sure some of you out there suffer from sad pantry syndrome too but I’m not pointing any fingers. I’m also not going to wrap up this post with tips on how to keep your pantry clean when that’s advice I haven’t even been following. I’d like to think I’m a smart shopper.  I don’t stock up on things greedily if I don’t have the room. I like to save money. I like to talk about good deals and saving money with my friends.

But maybe what I really suck at is keeping an organized kitchen, or just like I said before…consumption. And isn’t everyone like that to some point?  We want to try new things so we buy new things and we get them home and don’t really like the new things so if we don’t have children (Hey Mikey! He likes it!) or can’t feed it to the dog, then we put said new things in the cabinet for some reason when what we should really do is cut our losses and throw it out or give it away. But then we think we are being wasteful. We paid good money for those new things.  Yep, and we also made poor decisions by even doing that but how will you know unless you try.  Yep, and how will you keep your pantry clean unless you admit to your mistakes and throw that shitty new thing in the trash.

So, there’s a life hack for all of us….don’t keep it. Give it away. Donate it. Or throw it away. I would have gladly donated some of my stuff to a local pantry but who wants half eaten boxes of Wheat Thins and old bags of Cherry Sours?  So I threw it all out. No regrets. This. Pantry. Is. Clean!

Feeling Himself Forgotten – Cover Reveal!

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Did you think I had forgotten to update you on my next book?

Since my April 25th post where I let you know the book was no longer under contract I’ve been rereading the manuscript and preparing to send it to my editor. I hope to have it ready for them by the end of next week.

I’ve also been working on a face for the book! I had started a cover idea a few years ago while I was still writing the book. I always do that because it’s a fun way to do something else creatively while working on pounding out the story.  It also gives your work a face to look at and can help you with developing the story. You can “see” your book through the readers’ eyes, or at least the first impression of it.  And first impressions are everything!

That first cover idea involved bright splashes of paint, paint brushes, a fountain, and a pigeon. Yes, a pigeon.  Since Feeling Himself Forgotten tells the story of Auden, and Auden is an artist, I wanted the cover to really convey his personality. The fountain and the pigeon were to pay homage to Stealing Wishes. If you read it, you know how much Blaine loved the downtown park with the fountain in the middle and the pigeons all around.  But this cover concept was abandoned by the time I finished the book and it was under contract with the publisher.

I opened that file a few days ago though for the first time in two years and decided it wasn’t what I wanted at all. So I started on a completely new idea that had a more somber tone to it. No paint. No brushes. No fountain.  And no pigeon either. It was good but again, not what I really wanted.  I decided I wanted something a bit more theatrical – the reason being is Tennessee Williams himself plays an important part in the story! In fact, he’s a character in the book.  Well, his ghost is! I even thought about putting TW on the cover, but none of the photos I like of him are available for use.

And then I found the artwork you see above and fell in love with it.  I love the mood it conveys.  It could be TW or TW’s ghost or it could be Auden.  So I started toying around with ideas using the photograph and pretty soon I had the cover I knew I wanted. So here we are!  What do you think?

Stuck between a book and a hard title…

Two interesting things have happened to me this week.

First, I canceled my contract with the publisher of my upcoming book. There were no differences between us. No hardships. They are a micro publisher who only publish in Ebook format. My contract was signed over a year ago and due to delays often brought on by real life circumstances, they just haven’t gotten around to publishing my book. 48550518I’d been waiting patiently. I finally sought advice from a writer friend who told me what I wanted to hear. So, I sent an email asking if we could cancel the contract.

I got a quick reply that they were happy I sent the email they’d been unfortunately avoiding to send me. Like I said, no hard feelings between us. And so now, a book that I wrote in 2012 is finally free. I can do what I want with it. I can find another publisher. I can forget about it and sit on it a few more years if I want. Or I can get to work, reading it over again, giving it to my editor, polishing it, and ultimately publishing it myself.

And that’s what I’m going to do.

I think the last time I touched the manuscript was in 2013.  I’d forgotten most of it by now.  I wasn’t even sure if my heart was still in this book. Sure, deep down, I knew it was. It had to be in there if I wrote it. But sometimes when there is so much distance and time between us, the heart goes quiet.

I found the manuscript and read the last chapter a few nights ago and all the emotion kicked in and came flooding back. Yeah, there it is. I’m in this. My heart is in it. I knew it always was. So… let’s do this.

And so now I’ll proofread and polish it and turn it over to my editor in May. And while she weaves her magic, I’ll think about and work on a book cover (honestly, I’ve already started thinking about the cover). And when she’s done I’ll make the corrections she suggests. I’ll format it. I’ll send it to some beta readers. And then…I’ll release it out on its own.  And then I’ll celebrate. After three years of waiting, another one of my babies is all grown up and going out into the world to find its place in it.

Another good thing about doing it myself is that I can do a paperback version as well. The micro publisher only did E-Books.  There’s no money to be made in paperback books (but since when have I ever done this for money?) but it’s still nice to hold your physical book in your hand.  I also have family that don’t read E-books and prefer hard copies, so it’s nice to be able to do this for them too.

The second interesting thing that happened to me this week involves my work in progress that I started this year.  If you read my blog posts, then you saw me mention it in some of my Write or Wrong posts. I thought I was off to a good start but quickly lost steam and didn’t know what to do with it or where to go.  My editor suggested that maybe my thoughts were tied up with this finished book and what was going on with the publisher and all.  And I can see that. I definitely feel different about all of this today than I did yesterday.  So maybe that was affecting me creatively.

My biggest conflict this week, now that I am back on track with the work in progress, is what to call it.  I’m stuck between two titles and not even sure about either one of them at this point.  What do you think?  The first working title is “Late for His Funeral.”  It has a double meaning which would be revealed in the story.  The second is “If You Need Me” which is not as mysterious but also has meaning.  Any thoughts on which you like best?

I’m kind of hoping that as I continue to write it a brand new title will reveal itself to me and I can stop tormenting myself over choosing between these two.  But for now the working title is still Late for His Funeral.

So, I’ll have a new book out this year and I’m working on another one! Yay me!  Oh!  And I almost forgot to mention that this new book is the sequel to my second book, Stealing Wishes.  It tells the story of Auden and how he returns to Memphis to try to reconnect with Blaine.  It’s called Feeling Himself Forgotten. You can learn about it here! More news about it to follow as it develops!

The Last Pop Tart

Two days ago I ate my last pop tart. It was delicious.

We had a good time, you and I.

We had a good time, you and I.

It also contained 210 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 15 grams of sugar. And just before eating it, I devoured its packaged partner which was equally as delicious and bad. (Just because good things come two to a package doesn’t mean you should eat both of them but you usually do because the package is not re-sealable. Why not, Pop Tarts???  And after all, who eats just one Pop Tart anyway?)

I call it my last Pop Tart because if you’ve read my latest blog posts this week then you already know I’m taking baby steps to improve my health, my weight, and my relationship with food. This all came about after I read Amelia Freer’s book called Eat. Nourish. Glow.

Here are some other things I’ve done just this week alone:

– I switched to Pink Himalayan Salt, one of Amelia’s suggestions. We always had pink salt in the house and reserved it for steaks or salads, but we are now using it as a replacement to table salt.  Here is what pink salt can do for you:

  • Create an electrolyte balance
  • Increases hydration
  • Regulate water content both inside and outside of cells
  • Balance pH (alkaline/acidity) and help to reduce acid reflux
  • Prevent muscle cramping A
  • id in proper metabolism functioning
  • Strengthen bones
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help the intestines absorb nutrients
  • Prevent goiters
  • Improve circulation
  • Dissolve and eliminate sediment to remove toxins

– I’m trying to buy more organic foods. Yeah, they cost more so I’m being selective. I was recently told that if you only switch to 3 organic things, switch your milk, eggs, and chicken. I can do that!  The reason is because the same hormones they give to cows and chickens are the same hormones cancer feed off of, particularly breast cancer (both in men and women). I found organic, cage-free eggs at my grocery store for just $2.99. That’s actually cheaper than what I normally pay for eggs so I was happy with that.  I also picked up organic Amish milk and organic unsweetened Almond milk this week.

– I’m trying to cut down on my intake of sugar. That’s the reason for the last pop tart!  I stopped using sugar in my coffee and hot tea years ago, and as some of you may know, I even gave up coffee about a month ago. Amelia lives a sugar-free life and believe me, that’s tough. Sugar is in everything, particularly packaged and processed foods which Amelia also says you should give up.  Just read the label.  I never worried about sugar content before because I’ve always been a calorie counter. But Amelia says if you put your focus on sugar instead, then the rest like calories and carbs will balance out. And she’s right!  My organic Almond milk has zero calories!  Sadly,  my regular Amish organic milk had 12 grams of sugar per serving!  So, this step will continue to be a work in process but it definitely helps you in changing your eating habits.

If you cut sugar from your diet, your taste buds will change. And I actually experienced this last night. I made pasta for dinner. More about that later. And I used Ragu pasta sauce. The sauce tasted so sweet….I noticed how sweet it was more so than ever before. It was gross. I finished the pasta and tried to eat as little of the sauce as possible. I’ll definitely be making more of my own sauce this summer when my homegrown tomatoes ripen.

– I’m no longer cooking with olive oil. Yeah, everyone has preached the benefits of EVOO the past few years, but guess what?  It doesn’t react well to heat! Olive oil should only be used to make salad dressings, or use it by itself on salad. That’s it! It’s good for you that way, but not as a cooking component. You should use coconut oil, coconut butter, or regular organic butter for cooking. They taste better and are actually better for you. Coconut oil or butter or real butter even contain healthy fats that your body needs. I found a jar of coconut oil at my grocery store and have been cooking with it this week and it’s great!  And no, it doesn’t make your food taste like coconuts at all. I also picked up organic Amish real butter this week.

– I bought a veggie spiralizer, also called a Veggetti. It’s a nice little kitchen gadget that turns vegetables into veggie pasta. I tried it this week with a squash and a zucchini. I boiled them for about a minute and served them with basil pesto and it was wonderful. I’ll definitely start cutting down on my boxed pastas now because guess what…they contain sugar!  I do buy frozen ravioli and frozen tortellini for us sometimes and that’s what we had last night for dinner that I mentioned earlier. I was happy to see that the frozen ravioli contained no sugar and the tortellini only contained one gram of sugar!

So, that’s where I’m at as week one comes to a close. I still have some things to work on when it comes to what to eat for breakfast and lunch but I’m working on it. Amelia’s approach is slow, and I’m okay with that. She says you are NOT on a diet. You are just fixing your relationship with food. And I like the sound of that.  I’ve made dinner every night this week. We’ve had no fast food. I’m cutting sugar. I’m making other small changes like the cooking oil, milk, and salt. It all adds up, and it all equals healthier living.

More to follow…

Oh the people you’ll meet, the stories they’ll tell…

My business trips are over for the year until October! I only travel about 3 times a year for work, but it’s always for at least a week at a time and it’s a lot of hard work setting up for a trade show, working the show, and then tearing down and packing up. The week usually flies by but I frequently find myself alone – on the plane or in the evenings after work which I don’t mind actually. One plus side to traveling is getting to meet new people who are also at the show or even the locals.

Locals, like cab drivers delivering me from the airport to my hotel,  always ask if I am in town on business or pleasure, and I’ve always found it odd that their next question is how long am I staying, or when did I get here and when am I leaving. Almost every time!

Then they usually ask where I came from. Once I say St. Louis, they always want to talk about the weather or the Cardinals.  You can now add Ferguson to the list due to recent events. Yep, I covered all three subjects with one cab driver. These conversations bore me because I’m not really making a connection with a person. I’m just filling the air between us and the time with words and meaningless chatter. As a writer, it can get very annoying. I’d rather just be quiet and look out the window.

At the actual show I usually meet new customers or customers who I previously only spoke to on the phone so it’s always fun to put a face with a voice although I’m horrible with names and probably won’t remember them next year.

Then I get to meet other vendors who stop by the booth or who are in the booth right next to us. And while in Orlando last week, that’s exactly what happened to me.  A man from the neighboring booth, a company that sells chef apparel, came over to our booth to inquire about our pink ribbon merchandise.  I told him our story and about how we donate a portion of the net proceeds of each sale. We talked about the “pink ribbon” market and how it’s sadly become quite the industry with little donations actually going to research.

Then he introduces himself as a two time cancer survivor – pancreatic and male breast cancer.  His name is Harvey Singer and he runs a foundation called His Breast Cancer Awareness. He told me a bit about his story and his fight.

It was very inspiring to listen to his story. Sure, later on we talked a bit about Cardinals baseball, but not much. Harvey shared advice with me on switching my milk, chicken, and eggs to hormone-free organic produce because the hormones in these items are the same that cancer feeds off of. We talked about our pets. He even gave me a signed copy of his book at the end of the show.

And these are the types of connections I like to make. These are the names I remember. These are the stories I like to hear. Harvey has dedicated his life and energy to share his story with others in hopes of making male breast cancer a subject we aren’t afraid to discuss and that we won’t ignore. And I respect that. And that’s why I’m sharing this story with you now.  Check out his website in the link above or watch the video. Hopefully you’ll be inspired too.

So what’s your story?

Lone Writer’s Log Book: One Meal at a Time

Today’s trip to the grocery store, the first after reading Eat Nourish Glow by Amelia Freer.

  1. Tried out The Fresh Market, a new grocery/eatery that just opened here in St. Louis.  A bit pricey on some items. Couldn’t do all of my shopping here. But lots of good, new, and organic stuff that I want to try so I’ll definitely return.
  2. Bought strawberries, blue berries, black berries, and opal apples for breakfasts and fresh desserts. Had a bowl of fruit tonight after dinner with chia seeds, lemon juice, and some whipped cream. It was wonderful! Chia seeds don’t really have any flavor but they are a good healthy fat.
  3. Bought avocados, a healthy fat that I like but usually only buy to make guacamole. Will try it on salads and eggs soon.
  4. Bought Amish organic butter for cooking!
  5. Bought organic milk (also Amish) and unsweetened almond milk.
  6. Bought cage free, hormone eggs.
  7. Fresh Market stocks my new favorite tea – Revolution Tea – bought Earl Grey with Lavender
  8. I love Fresh Market’s deli counter. Picked out two pecan crusted chicken breasts for dinner.
  9. Went to my regular grocery store for other things including organic salad mix and other veggies. Found coconut oil for cooking, also organic!
  10. Cooked my pecan chicken breasts with coconut oil.
  11. Made pasta from zucchini, squash, and carrots using my new Veggetti Spiraler that I picked up at BB&B yesterday! Using a tool like this to make vegetable pastas was another suggestion from Freer’s books. It’s a healthy alternative to boxed pastas which are loaded with sugar and starch.
  12. Topped my veggie pasta with a Basil Pesto. Was going to make my own but found a nice one in a jar at Fresh Market.
  13. Dinner was awesome!
  14. Need to work on my breakfast meals now…incorporating a protein and green vegetable.

Eat. Nourish. Glow.

eatnourishglowOn Friday, while returning from a week long business trip in Orlando, I finished a book on the plane called Eat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer. I should point out that I don’t normally read self-help or dieting books. About the only non-fiction stuff I read is memoirs. As far as nutrition goes, I do love the occasional cook book from time to time but never use or read them cover to cover.

Amelia Freer’s book is not a cook book or dieting book, but I would call it a bit of a self-help book. And I read it cover to cover in just under a week! That being said, it’s not one of those books that is going to beat you up for what you do or do not do. Amelia is a nutritionist and gives you advice based on her own personal experiences with food.

It definitely helped open my eyes to my own relationship with food.  I’ve been a crash dieter, starving myself and counting calories. I’ve been a binge eater, gorging on sugary foods that I knew weren’t good for me.  I’ve been an addictive snacker, unable to put the chips or candies down until they were gone.

Amelia doesn’t beat you up for being any of these types of eaters. She does point out the medical issues you could face, but also offers advice on how to change those unhealthy food habits.  First, she tells you to convince yourself you are not on a diet. You can eat anything you want (in moderation). But you should change what you eat, how much, and how often.

Now, due to her own health issues, Amelia does not eat any processed foods, sugar, gluten, or dairy. She is a very organic eater and relies on fresh ingredients. Throughout the book, she reminds you that you do not have to give up gluten or dairy if your system is okay with it, and my system is actually okay with dairy and I enjoy it in moderation.

She also discusses another battle of mine which is time. Like many, I work all day and come home and don’t want to cook. I want something fast and easy. And it usually leaves me feeling sick or bloated and even more tired. And unfortunately, a quick meal like this is usually full of sugar and unhealthy cancer-causing preservatives also responsible for obesity and other problems. But Amelia encourages you to identify your problems, like time, and address them slowly.  You don’t have to change your entire life all at once. That can be overwhelming. But small changes over time can make a big difference.

A few weeks ago I posted about how I gave up coffee and started drinking warm water with lemon and honey each morning along with several cups of cold water. Well, I haven’t had coffee yet and I don’t miss it.  I wake up fine and don’t need the caffeine pick-me-up and I’ve had no issues with going to the bathroom. In fact, I’d say that experience is even “smoother” and seems healthier now.

Amelia actually says coffee is fine as long as it’s a high quality good coffee and you don’t load it down with sugar. She has it on occasion and puts coconut butter in it for taste!  While I won’t be going back to coffee anytime soon, Amelia had lots of other tips that I will be trying. Here are a few…

  • She says to cook with real (organic) butter or coconut oil because they do not burn so easily at high temperatures, like Olive Oil does. Yep, the cooking shows have told us to cook with Olive Oil because it’s healthier, but it also burns easily. Amelia says only use Olive Oil as a dressing or to make dressings. We’ve been convinced that butter is bad for us but good organic butter (not margarine) actually has healthy fats in it that are good for us.
  • If you have problems with dairy, switch to non-sweetened almond milk. Or if you have to have milk, buy organic hormone free milk.
  • For breakfast, think outside the traditional breakfast comfort foods. Try to have a protein, a good fat, and something green.  It will feel you up and keep you from snacking before lunch.
  • Add chia or hemp seeds to salads and fruits for healthy fats and acids.
  • When making a salad, try to make it a rainbow.  Green leaves, red peppers or berries, yellow squash or peppers, and even purple black berries or cabbage.
  • Avoid canned and boxed foods whenever possible. They are full of sugar.

I could go on and on, but you could just read the book! This is just a bit of her advice that I found helpful and that I’m going to try. Today I made a trip to the grocery store with a new list in hand!  I’ll tell you more about that in the next post!

Spring in the Lou!

cucumbersIt’s Spring in St. Lou and though there is a slight chill to the air, the temperature is climbing and flowers are just starting to bloom. And you know what that means?

It means my blog posts for the next four months will probably be devoted to pics of flowers or vegetables from our yard and garden.

We’ve spent the last two weekends cleaning out the dead leaves and brush from the flower beds. We pile it into the vegetable garden and burn it. The ashes add nutrients to the soil.

Last year I had saved seeds from our last cucumber so we planted those last Sunday in a potting tray. The photo to the right is how they looked yesterday…just one week later! And that’s just from sitting on the kitchen counter in the sunshine. No grow light. No fertilizer. Just water, soil, and sun.

Two days ago we saw our first bloom of the year!  Just some tiny daffodils but they are a welcome sign of sprint and a nice pop of color in the yard that’s been covered buttercupin a blanket of brown or white for the past few months.

I planted lots of new bulbs last Fall so I’m excited to see those already coming up. Unfortunately, the rabbits are excited too and have already taken advantage of the fresh salad bar in our yard. Some of the new shoots have already been nibbled back to the ground! I made a trip to one of our local nurseries yesterday to buy more daffodils to plant around them as a deterrent. Daffodils are toxic to rabbits so they won’t eat them. I also put out some rodent repellent hoping that might keep the rabbits away too and give the new plants a fighting chance to grow and bloom.

This year we are making plans to add a bean house to the garden, extending the garden another four feet. A bean house is a trellis made from PVC pipe and wire.  We’ll plant green beans and cucumbers to grow over it. This keeps the vegetables off the ground and away from rabbits and also makes them easier to pick.

Besides planting the garden and a few potted flowers along the pathway, we are hoping to keep the outdoor projects to a minimum this year. We’ll see how that goes once summer arrives!