You may need a weed. or dandelions, not just sunny face.


At the start of this years garden and yard cleaning season; I am thinking of all of the chemicals folks think they need. To have perfect lawn is not so perfect anymore, it come with its fair share of guilt. Doesn’t it? Round up, the most publicized weed killer, kills more than just the weeds, so we are finding out. It has been doing a number on bee populations as well. I was never one to use chemicals much anyway. Have you ever sat and watched your toddlers and young children frolicking on your freshly mowed lawn; only to have the sinking feeling come over you with a gust of hot air? Oh how lovely, look at my children rolling around in the poisons I just spread all over, is not a picture of parental bliss. Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah, weeds. Some how we have the silly notion that nature has this all wrong, and we need to correct this mistake. . How dare Mother Nature throw weeds willy nilly all over our lawns! For crying out loud.

Weeds need love too and weeds can be beneficial; they can add fertilizer to your soil, increase moisture content, attract insects, and repel insects. Some are good to eat, some have medicinal benefits, some have both. Take the dandelion for instance, honey bees love them, they are a natural diuretic, and they can be eaten in salads or cooked. You can even use the to make dandelion wine, for goodness sake. THey help less hardy plants as well, their tough tap roots bring nutrients to the surface for neighboring plants to use.
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Dandelion greens are packed with vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, E, & K, and calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium & copper. Dandelion greens are also about 14% protein, which is MORE protein per serving than spinach, Popeye’s favorite muscle-building food. Dandelion greens are especially beneficial for the liver and aid in flushing out toxins and remineralizing the body. It’s high beta carotene and flavonoid content also benefits the immune system and cardiovascular system. Dandelion greens are also one of the richest sources of plant-based Vitamin K and Vitamin A . If you pick them from a back yard, just make sure they have not been sprayed with any pesticides and wash in cold water before using. The leaves can also be dried and later used as a medicinal tea. So, go ahead, add a few dandelion leaves to your soup, salad, green juice, or smoothie.
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Or how about Purslane? I swear this stuff can grown in concrete! Purslane is eaten throughout much of Europe and Mexico. It contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. It can be eaten in salad, stir-fried, or cooked like spinach. Widely used in traditional Chinese medicines to treat infections and topically to soothe and heal sores. A great companion plant for tomatoes and peppers. It breaks up hard soil and hardpan, brings nutrients and water up from deeper than crops can reach, provides healthy ground cover, stabilizing soil moisture.
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Alright, could someone please help me down form this soap box? I’m done, I’m done, I swear don’t leave me here…
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Pint Sized Gardening.


I was asked a few days back for ideas around children’s gardens and gardening with children. Do reserve a space for “their” garden, do they help with small parts of the whole shebang, or do they have specific tasks? time to pull

My children helped with the whole thing. they helped start the seeds, they helped plant; well until they got tired. or hot, or thirsty, or hungry, or a butterfly fluttered past. You get the way things worked, right?
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downMy eldest daughter adored sunflowers, many were planted at our home and in her Poppa’s garden. She could not wait to pose for a picture with the humongous flowers towering over her diminutive, but oh so coordinated person. She was all of about 26 pounds upon entering kindergarten. Tiny but make no mistake – there is not a person or thing she was afraid of and she had a patented mad-walk to prove it.I think she could have registered that, holeh.

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Justin loved the berries, luckily they grew wild, I could never have planted enough for him. WHen we went pay per pound berry picking at a nearby field, I always thought they should weigh him as he entered and disregard the basket he carried. The blue smile and belly clutching upon exiting was a tell tale sign.

garden carrots Jenn’s favorite was carrots, and we rarely had a carrot grow to maturity, she checked them so often to see if they were ready for her soup creations. These soups [and keep in mind at this point in time she was 4 - 5 years of age], contained any number of things, though not very much of anything, an underdeveloped string bean, a carrot the size of a pen cap, a few peas, some water, and maybe some lettuce. I always was granted a taste. You can only imagine the look of guarded enthusiasm as I partook of this culinary delight.

I think my point here is ,isn’t every garden a child’s garden if we let it be. If we let go of the controls for a bit, let them dig in, as little or as much as they wish. No your rows won’t be as straight, your harvest may not be the envy of the neighborhood; heck you may have tomatoes in your squash! Sometimes I stressed more than now I think prudent..with age comes wisdom so they say. I will be planting many raised beds her at the PIcasso’s , and I am yearning for those eager little hands to help. Childhood passes so quickly,but, I don’t wanna grow up!
Will

We did have some child-like structures in our gardens over the years, like sunflower forts, pole bean tee-pees, and plants to attract butterflies, there was one year this was particularly important. 097
Fairy gardens would be fun for little ones to create, I think. Or brightly painted tires, filled with salad or salsa fix ins; easy to weed and fun to do!

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I am eager to start spring specials, put the soup pots up to rest; fill our plates with spring’s fresh bright culinary delights. Peas anyone?

Sharing a cup of comfort…


Do you feel it? The warmth of Christmas in the air; in your heart? It is in the chatter of children, as the excitement of gifts under the tree builds, it’s in the sweet smell of pine that fills the living room, it’s in mankind’s generosity, it’s in taste of a peppermint candy cane stirring your hot cocoa…yes, it is every where if you just take a moment to notice.

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It’s in the faith and hope that inspires us throughout the year. It’s in the shared Joy. A shared meal. or a meal given…We were on our way to NYC to bring Courtney to an appointment at the children’s transplant center at Mount Sinai Hospital. A trip interrupted; appointment was cancelled en route. (a clerical error, I won’t go into that, let it suffice to say, I was not happy, and her Momma?…well, you can imagine) We made the best of the day, driving to Rockefeller Center to see the festive windows, Christmas tree, and happy skaters (Courtney’s favorite part of the day). We ate our lunch at the Brooklyn Diner, She ordered a hot dog, when it arrived at the table we all had a good laugh. She ate about 2 bites of it, she wasn’t feeling too well.
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As we walked back to the car we passed a homeless young man with his dog, who donned a grey sweatshirt; sleeves rolled up over his paws, sitting on the side-walk, back to a tall NY, cold, stone building. As we passed, I overheard a bit of a conversation between this (boy really) and a concerned caring woman. “Have you eaten today?”, was all that I heard, I did not hear the answer. We looked at each other; Gina ( Courtney’s Mom, wondered if it would be ok to offer him Courtney’s uneaten Hotdog. We agreed, at least we could offer. Courtney and I walked over to the boy and his dog, and the girl awaiting a transplant to sustain her life; quietly handed the lonely boy her meal. She softly patted the massive dog’s head and walked back to her waiting Momma, not a word spoken; none needed.
NYC courtney

Have you felt the warmth of Christmas?

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The warmth of Christmas is felt in every act of kindness. I love Christmas.

NYC creche

Be Well,
Jess

Prayer and Love…


Love and Prayer are all we have, the only way that each can help the other…

Courtney (read here) needs your prayers.

Love is a force more formidable than any other. Invisible; it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform any moment, and offer more joy and relief than we could ever imagine.

Thank you, and Be Well.
Jess

The cuddle chemical effect….no, really.


Everything that lives, lives not alone nor for itself…

Blessed with animals in our lives…did you know there are actual health benefits? Real health benefits – lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduced stress levels, and better mental health. Attachments or bonding of any sort stimulates the limbic system; releasing the (oxytocin) “cuddle chemical” known for its role in facilitating trust and attachment. Bonding with your pet…is also associated with higher levels of vasopressin, and reduced stress and stress-related hormones. Going for a walk with a llama, bonding through the grooming process, going for a trail hike with friends, just providing everyday care encourages us to interact and to get out. We benefit from the exercise and fresh air that we may not seek out on our own. This does wonders for our health and emotions. I became acutely aware of life’s connections and the value of my beloved animals and friends this passed week. Some of us got together at Dakota Ridge Farm http://www.dakotaridgefarm.com/ to “finally” meet a new llama, to bring bring new llamas home and to connect as friends. It was a wonderful day, full of laughter, food, and sharing. A day that may not have occurred if not for the common connection and passion – Llamas ..well, animals in general really. I am still smiling.

For this I am grateful.

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Have you ever thought of sharing your favorite animal? Pet therapy is something many llama owners are involved with. You can actually see the positive health effects; both for those receiving therapy and those who bring in their animals to children’s activities and nursing homes. To see a nursing home patient light up when they see you and your llama or dog come through the door is an unforgettable experience. You may hear heartfelt stories of patients who haven’t interacted with or spoken for awhile- open up, relaxes, talking with, and interacts with a new friend…your animal. What a beautiful feeling. Can you imagine the impact your pet could make in a Children’s Hospital, or a visit with an autistic child? What a wonderful experience for the recipients of such a visit.

To get involved in pet therapy, please refer to some of the links below. There are national and local organizations. You could even become affiliated with a therapy organization. You may also wish to visit this http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/ beautiful blog; she visits with her dog Ton-Ton, and soon a precious lamb named Minty.

Also check out: http://www.wunsapanafarm.com/ Her therapy dogs have been registered/certified with Therapy Dogs International (www.tdi-dog.org). She says, “Wouldn’t trade this life of sharing my animals – dogs, llamas, donkeys, goats… for anything.” (Lots more under the Therapy Animals category in her sidebar.)

I just had to take a moment to add this to the post: It was a reply from Katrina of Dakota Ridge Farm, she says; “As far as pet therapy goes, we’ve been doing that for over 20 years and the smiles on the visitors faces as they pet the llamas and horses are worth more to me than words can say. I still get tears when I remember the day a blind girl wanted to know what a llama looked like, so I took her hand and traced the llamas profile, this girl was so happy, will never forget this day. ” As I read her comment I had tears trickling down my face. She is such a beautiful person with so much love to share. I just thought you would want to know!

http://affluent.net/sara/

http://www.akc.org/akctherapydog/organizations.cfm

The Delta Society (www.deltasociety.org)
“Improving human health through service and therapy animals.”
Angel On A Leash (angelonaleash.org)
Therapy charity of the Westminster Kennel Club

Is your animal appropriate for animal therapy ?
Does your animal enjoy interacting with and being touched by people?
Is your animal confident in new environments?
Is your animal calm around other animals?
Is your animal vaccinated ?
Does your dog reliably respond to basic obedience cues (“sit”, “down”, and “stay”)?
Is your dog/animal polite? (does not rush at, jump on, bark at, growl at, snap at, or kick at others)?
Important characteristics of a therapy animal are that they are confident, reliable, predictable, and controllable. A therapy animal should be very social.


“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France


Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to. Alfred A. Montapert


Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.
Albert Einstein


“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
― James Herriot

If you are interested in further information or if you are just curious, perhaps you work somewhere that could benefit from a beautiful animal visit…check out this site.
ASPCA Animal Assisted Therapy Programs
AAT.department@aspca.org
or your local shelter or human society

Be Well,
Jess