3.31.2011

The Food Dye Buzz

My new garden is so green that it's almost fluorescent! But today, I'm all fired up about another kind of fluorescent: the petroleum-based food dye kind. {Soap box time!}

Why use chemicals when God-given colors are so gorgeous?

Have you heard the buzz this week? From the Washington Post to prime time NBC {and just about everywhere else}, people are talking about the link between food dyes and behavior. Why all the talk? Because the FDA met this week to examine the issue more "formally."

You can bet the food industry giants are throwing a lot of money around...hiring scientists who claim there's no link, paying big bucks for studies that are inconclusive...all to protect themselves {and their bank accounts}. But what about our children?

I wish I could invite these "scientists" over to my house for a real life experiment. If the change I saw in my child within 48 hours isn't real and conclusive, then I don't know what is! And if they don't think I can reproduce the results, just watch what happens when I give her a handful of Goldfish {or other artificially colored and flavored snack}. She becomes a holy terror in a heart beat!

It would be awesome if the FDA followed the UK's lead and banned food dyes, but no matter what they decide, parents have the ultimate say in what they choose to feed their kids. We can vote with our wallets!

We can enjoy pink icing thanks to beet coloring.
{And you can't taste the beets...I promise!}

Before I step off my soap box, I'd like to share a story.
A few days ago, a precious boy sat down in the sunshine with a happy spirit, all dressed up in his baseball uniform, proudly clutching his new glove and a full bottle of Gatorade. A classic portrait of Spring, right?
But within five minutes of drinking only part of that Gatorade, his happy, boyish disposition switched. His beloved dog gave him a playful nudge, and he responded with all out drama. I watched as he threw himself on the ground, screaming, kicking and refusing to get up. 
His caregiver was confused. I'm sure he was, too. Poor little guy. What happened to the happy boy inside?   
Several years ago, I would've been tempted to blame the child for being unable to control himself or the parents for being unable to control their child. I was wrong.

After three years of my own "food experiment" {more on that here}, I'm convinced that the sudden shift in that precious little boy's behavior was triggered by the yellow dye found in his Gatorade {not to mention the artificial flavor}.

My girls would choose this all natural
green tea lemonade over Gatorade any day!

Yes, there may have been other factors overloading his system that afternoon {emotions, environmental allergens...it all adds up}, but a food reaction is unique. It's like stepping on a landmine {and the straw that breaks the camel's back}. Zero to 60 happens fast when you give a chemically sensitive child artificially flavored and colored food. It's a trigger like no other.

It took me years to figure out what was triggering such volatile, unpredictable behavior in my own child. {I thought it was sugar induced}. But once I figured it out {thanks to the Feingold Diet}, it only took 48 hours to see a remarkable, delightful change.

More naturally colored treats.

It kills me to know that certain scientists, food companies and even our government are turn a deaf ear to these real life stories. You'd think the rise in ADD, ADHD and all kinds of other disorders would be enough to get their attention! These are our CHILDREN they're ignoring!

{One of my Feathernest favorites.}

Change is hard. Trust me, I know.

But I also know with my whole heart that you are GOOD-HEARTED parents who want to DELIGHT in your children. If our big money food companies continue to add petroleum based crap {sorry, but that's what it is} to our food, you can become your own scientist and observe what happens when you remove artificial ingredients from your family's diet. {It just might shock you...in a good way!} 

This is where joining the Feingold Association will help you tremendously. The food maze is hard to navigate on your own, but they've done all the research and will give you all the resources you need to shop and eat well! {They give you a Food List that takes the mystery out of grocery shopping.} I'll even be your personal Feingold buddy if you need encouragement along the way! 

One of my blog reading friends has started the Feingold Program since I first posted about it, and she's already seeing big changes. Even the teacher has commented on the change in her child's behavior! So encouraging!

Real food rocks!

If you share my passion for this issue {or if anything I've written strikes a chord}, you'll want to visit my friend Robyn O'Brien. She's big time passionate! {And as smart and pretty as they come!} The New York Times called her "The Erin Brockovich of food!" {Read her story here.} Her book, The Unhealthy Truth, will light your fire! She's also the founder of the Allergy Kids Foundation. You go, mama of four! Thanks for blazing a broader trail!

Sweet Readers, I'm honored that you'd spend your time reading my words. Every now and then, my passion for real food just takes over!

Speaking of real food, I'm going to cut a little of my lettuce for a small salad this weekend! I hope it grows back the way I'm thinking it will!


Happy eating...happy weekend!
P.S. I didn't make it to Round Top and Marburger this week, but there's still time this weekend for those who need a dose of "beauty in the fields!" You can see my fall photos here and here. Or go visit Morning T to see what she spotted this week. She had a great time!

3.30.2011

Details Of Our First-Ever Garden

Considering the way we eat, it makes sense that we would enjoy growing our own food, but I didn't know just how much until now. My whole family is enthralled with our new garden! We can't stop admiring it!


The best part: we all worked together!

I read several books and talked about a vegetable garden for years, but my list of excuses was long until my husband said, "Let's do this thing!" {When he's in the mood, I've learned to take him up on it. He's a great helper!}

So when I saw these great looking plants at Whole Foods last week, I brought them home.


The beginnings of a perfect salad garden: mixed lettuces, radicchio, spinach, ping pong radishes and cupid tomatoes.

But where to plant them? We have a few "problems" in our back yard.

Problem 1: Our back "yard" is more like a courtyard. {We live in the heart of the city.} No grass. Just a deck stone pavers surrounded by greenery to make things cozy. A die hard gardener might rip out the landscaping for veggies, but I didn't want to give up our existing plants.

Problem 2: Not enough sunlight. Houstonians love their trees. We're desperate for beauty and shade in these parts! Finding a spot that would get the recommended six hours would be tricky.

Problem 3: We have a tailored, tidy landscape style {and interior design style...who am I kidding?}. Haphazard isn't my thing, so throwing lettuces in with boxwoods, red tip photinias, begonias and confederate jasmine just wasn't going to work for me visually.

Behold the neat and tidy garden!


{An aerial view of our new garden.}

Looks like we solved all of our "problems!" That's my husband's specialty. He's a fixer...of the human body {here} and now a garden! {I love that men are born fixers! A perfect balance to all of our over-thinking as women!}

And not only does my man love to fix things, but he's LOVES taking them apart! Good bye steps! We need your sunny spot for our garden!


The bottom step was rotting anyway. {Good thing we have another set of steps outside our back door!} And is it just me, or is there something extra admirable and attractive about a hard-working, hammer-swinging husband?

{I'm blushing!}

Back to the details of the garden! So we decided on containers, but you know me: the containers had to look good. The visual appeal of a garden is as inspiring to me as the taste!


Bordeaux wine boxes are perfect for this
French speaking wine lover!

Here's where I skipped a step for the sake of instant gratification: I should've weatherproofed the boxes. {You don't want to use chemicals on your food containers, so no polyurethane. One of my books suggested three coats of Danish oil and metal brackets to brace the corners.}

But this first attempt at gardening was meant to be a one-day, just do it kind of project. {Otherwise I'd still be reading, planning and giving up as I've done in years past.} I'll seal the next round of wine crates for sure.

Here's where we were really blessed: my sister made this platform for my husband's clinic years ago. He no longer needs it at the office, so he thought to bring it home for our garden project.

The perfect height!

I still need to seal the table and would love to line the top with a thin sheet metal. (Wouldn't weathered zinc be cool?!?!} My husband drilled holes in the table and in the bottom of the crates for drainage, and to lift the crates off the table just a bit, he cut wine corks in half and placed them underneath. Brilliant!

Enough tips from this amateur. I'll let the photos do the talking!














{Tip from Real Simple: use a bowl to amplify your phone speakers.}

If a vegetable or salad garden overwhelms you, try herbs.


Talk about a simple, fresh way to cook!
{See a sample dinner here.}

Rome wasn't built in a day, and I'm sure great gardens aren't either, but a one-day garden project was the perfect start for our family. Sure we had to skip a few steps to accomplish this in a day, but it was worth it for us. A little instant gratification goes a long way...especially with children. Now they're hooked!

As our patience and confidence increases, we'll try a few things from seeds {peas, arugula and more mixed greens sound good}.

If you've been thinking about a garden for a long time, here's your gentle nudge: GO FOR IT! Don't over think it.

And don't get too stuck on what to plant. My brain works best when things are organized, so it helped me to pick a theme {salad...because I heard lettuces are easy to grow}. Bottom line: plant what you love to eat! 

I still have lots to learn...like when to cut the lettuce? How many times will it grow back? Can I replant new lettuce in the same box or do I have to switch to something else? {Is that what "crop rotation" means? Or does that only apply to next season?}

I'm sure I'll learn most of these things by trial and error {messing up is good therapy for a recovering perfectionist}, but please feel free to share your successes, failures, tips and tricks! 

Hugs to you from a happy new gardener,

**UPDATE**
Read HERE for an update on year two
and lessons learned about protecting the wine boxes.

P.S. My favorite book during the preparation phase was Garden Anywhere. Now that the plants are in the ground, Grow Your Own Food is straight forward and simple. My oldest daughter loves Soil Mates.  {We flipped through it at Anthropologie. Cute, funny and practical.}

3.28.2011

I Have A Garden!

My first official garden! Just looking at it makes me smile!

I'll share the details with you soon, but for now, I'm off to my favorite restaurant with my mom where Chef Randy Evans will be sharing his passion for the farm-to-table food concept. Perfect timing!

Happy Monday, Sweet Friends!

3.26.2011

Time to Get My Garden Game On


I just bought yet another gardening book...



 ...to add to my collection!

{All from Anthropologie. Cheaper than clothes!}

I'm clearly one of those people who could research something to death and never actually do anything. The perfectionist whispers lame excuses to herself. And then I look at my backyard...uh, patio. It's a mess of tree pollen and cobblestone. Where exactly did I think this garden would grow?

I was ready to throw in the towel and wait until next year {again} until I stopped at Whole Foods on delivery day. Look at all of those perfect little vegetable plants! 


Spinach, lettuces, itty bitty tomatoes...did I buy enough?


Radicchio...maybe a little ambitious?

Can we really do this?


She thinks so!

Time to put the books down and get our hands dirty!
I'm not sure where to plant everything, but hopefully I can
keep these babies alive until we find/make a spot!

Happy Weekend!
P.S.
Sweet husband, I hope you don't have any big plans this weekend.
We just might have to build our own garden box!

3.24.2011

Unexpectedly Amazing

Between Spring Break recovery and Daylight Savings, I'm a little off this week. How about you? But I know it will feel good to take a few minutes and reflect on this year's Spring Break. It wasn't at all like I expected {I'm beginning to notice a trend here}, but it was AMAZING.

If you want to know how I usually handle the unexpected, just look at last year's Spring Break. I usually develop a serious attitude problem when things don't go according to plan. But this year was different. I am different.

There was sickness, a sudden and painful swelling of my foot {I could hardly walk}, very little sleep in a too-small hotel room, and a monthly visitor that arrived at the worst time {sorry to bring it up, but my periods are beyond brutal during the first 48 hours}. And yet I was not undone. I did not wallow in a pit of grumbling, complaining and wishing things were PERFECT and going my way.

WAIT...this is HUGE, Linsey!!! Don't miss it. God has been at work in me this year and here is the FRUIT! I was not undone and even more...I was OKAY! Instead of venting my frustration, I was able to accept each of these unexpected things as an opportunity to depend more on HIS strength and less on my own.

That, my friends, may be the most amazing part of the entire break. 
 
But there's more to remember...more to treasure. I had the joy of seeing my oldest daughter use her God- given gift at a very special choral concert in Minneapolis.


Such a happy girl! She always has a song in her heart.
{A huge thanks to our school's music teacher who encouraged
her to audition...then spent hours teaching her the music!}

I was beaming {and welling up with tears} as I gazed upon my little songbird on that great big stage. There were 100 children from 22 states, but my eyes were fixed on one little angel...with her fair skin, blonde hair and rosebud lips...forming heavenly sounds that gave glory to her King.

One of my favorite pieces was Vivaldi's Laudamus Tewhich means, "We praise thee." {You can listen a short snippet of their live performance HERE.} Is it just me or is that BEAUTIFUL?!?! Such mature and complex music, yet so pure when sung by children.

What an amazing opportunity and a sweet affirmation of my daughter's gifts. Oh, and guess what: we had blue skies and sunshine! Not exactly warm compared to Houston, but gorgeous for Minnesota in March! Thank you, Lord!

Laudamus Te! Good words to have stuck in my head this week!


P.S. My husband and youngest daughter had QUITE an adventure! 2,500 miles of driving and only two days of skiing {there wasn't much snow}, but our little one was sparkling and smiling every step of the way. She was thrilled to have the extra time with her daddy! It was a trip they'll never forget.

3.23.2011

Delighting in Daffodils


From me to you: 


Sunshine-filled daffodils.

His wonders never cease.

Wishing you life's simple joys today!

3.14.2011

Rainy Day Green

The garden plans are on hold {a tree-pollen induced head cold kept me in my PJs all weekend}, but God has provided marvelous inspiration from his own personal crayon box today: 

Rainy Day Green!

{boxwoods}


{strawberry plant}


{confederate jasmine}


{mint}

{rosemary}

Don't you just love the vibrance of new, Spring green? So full of hope and promise...especially on a rainy day! And for those who like a little more pop, how about an orangey-red trumpet to cheer you up?

{An unexpected surprise that found it's way
over to my side of the fence!}

I may need to revisit these pictures for the rest of the week, because I don't think Spring has sprung in Minnesota! 

I've never been to Minnesota, have you? My oldest daughter's singing voice landed her a spot in a national honor choir of some sort...and Minneapolis, Minnesota, just happens to be the host city for this year's concert.

To find fresh, fun and local places to eat and shop, I love the city guides over at Design Sponge. I was happy to find one on the Twin Cities...


...but it was written in 2007 and doesn't say much about Downtown Minneapolis {our hotel location}. Not that I'm opposed to exploring other parts of town, but if it's too cold, this Southern, Spring-spoiled girl won't venture very far from the hotel!

So...any scoop on Minneapolis, Sweet Readers? Any fresh and local restaurants, cozy coffee shops, good bookstores, neat stationery shops...things like that? Because while my oldest is busting out some seriously high Ave Marias in preparation for the big performance, I'll have some free time!

Wishing you and your family a fabulous week!

P.S. We're not big fans of separate Spring Break trips, but the choir deal isn't exactly close...or cheap...or exciting for a younger sister. So my husband and youngest daughter are road-tripping to New Mexico for some snowboarding and skiing. Prayers for safety on the road would be awesome! {My husband plans to drive 17 hours straight...each way. Gulp!}

P.P.S. To see last year's {unexpected and super fun} road trip, click here. I love my husband's adventurous spirit!

3.11.2011

Happy {Spring} Friday!

I love these kinds of "Be Still" days. The birds and squirrels are busy, the trees are bursting with new life, the water in my backyard fountain is trickling, but I'm just sitting still and enjoying the moment...with a few fun things by my side:


  1. Bible...though I hardly need it today, because the Lord is pouring forth speech in His Spring creation! So cool how He does that!
  2. journal...because I still love to put a pen to paper
  3. set of notecards...designed by me...just in case God puts someone on my heart today
  4. morning tea...switching to Blackberry Sage iced tea this afternoon
  5. water bottle...pink, of course!
  6. iPhone...with a cute "dancing in the kitchen" case from my husband
  7. gardening book...because all this talk about the way we eat has given me a desire to try a garden

I've been talking {and reading} about an edible garden for years. I think the recovering perfectionist in me needs to drop the books and just do it! Any tips on starting a simple garden that yields real food you can eat? I've got the herb part down, but what next?

I'd love to make this big city life feel a little more country, and I think gardening is just the thing! So I can't have chickens roaming around, but surely my girls and I can grow a thing or two in this city soil!

Happy Friday, Sweet Readers!

Update: I spent the whole day outside and missed the news about Japan. Oh, Lord, hear their cries for mercy.
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