Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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Outdoor fresh produce shopping starts

We're one day away from April,
which means tomorrow is opening day at

Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, friendly
market vendors, and the fresh air atmosphere of
rubbing elbows with your neighbors, shopping healthy.
(They've spruced up the place, with new produce bins
and a fresh coat of paint. So stop by and say howdy
starting tomorrow, April 1.)

Kirkwood Farmers Market is on Argonne, in downtown Kirkwood.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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Highway ZZ
Fanning, Missouri

(And you thought the world's largest ball of twine was cool . . .)

Monday, March 29, 2010

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These are actual motel cabins
along the original Route 66
(near Cuba, Missouri).

Still standing.
Permanent "Vacancy" status.
When traveling across the U.S.
on Route 66 was a true adventure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

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Renewed life in the wild
Crawford County, Missouri
Trees blooming.
Wild turkeys gobbling.
Sweet water cress at Richart Spring creek.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

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Treasures from the earth
on display and for sale Saturday & Sunday
at Machinists Hall Auditorium
12365 St. Charles Rock Road

Dealers, exhibits and demonstrations (10:00 am - 6:00 pm) -- mineral specimens, carved and polished gems, inexpensive jewelry, including fossils from Mastodon State Park. Rare pink rhodochrosite from Argentina, carved onyx bowls from Mexico, giant quartz crystals from Brazil and the most amazing fossilized gem ammonite shell from Canada. (This nautilus like creature roamed the seas 275-million years ago and, with time and pressure, became a fossilized technicolor opalized gem.)

Take the kids to this rock show . . . they'll love it, and kids are free.

Rock on!

Friday, March 26, 2010

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A REAL "Farmers Market" in St. Louis!

You may not know
Sappington Farmers Market
is the first "farmer owned" grocery store in St. Louis.

In 2008, a group of farmers and growers who call themselves FARM TO FAMILY took over the Sappington Market (8400 Watson Road), which makes it a REAL farmers market. This Missouri cooperative effort is attracting a lot of interest and attention as they stock locally sourced and organic produce and groceries, including ethnic foods, local brands and a full line of "gluten free" bakery products.

While we're all waiting for our favorite outdoor markets to open, Sappington Farmers Market is an indoor option, well worth a visit. Lots to discover here, including a variety of "seed" potatoes and onion sets, ready for planting.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

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these magnolia bushes
two days ago!

That was fast.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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A delicious and healthy spring vegetable
(and for some of us,
maybe a smelly issue.)

You know it's spring when fresh asparagus hits the markets, and we get to enjoy its unique and delicate taste in so many recipes. The tips of asparagus sprout up through the soil in March and April, and that's the best time to harvest this incredibly healthy vegetable. Recipes for cooking asparagus have been found in the oldest surviving cookbook (300 A.D.) Today it's enjoyed stir- fried, steamed (with hollandaise, yum) and grilled (brushed with olive oil, topped with parmesan cheese, yum again.)

In ancient times, asparagus was used as a medicine (diuretic), and today is appreciated as low calorie, low sodium, high fiber, high in anti-oxidants, and a great source of potassium and folate, as well as vitamins A, C, B6, E, K, calcium, zinc and niacin (nature's multi vitamin). It also contains the amino acid asparagine . . . which, when processed by the kidney, produces a sulfur compound in about 50% of the people who eat it, which . . .

gives the urine a unique detectable odor!
And doctors are still puzzled why

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

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Monday Night Music & Fun At LaSalsa in Kirkwood
And you thought nothing was cookin' on Monday nights . . .

There's 3 reasons to visit La Salsa Mexican Cantina los lunes (on Mondays):
  • Sexy, sultry Lisamarie performs (what a sweet voice) her own songs and lyrics.
  • It's "trivia night" with food and drink prizes. (Blackberry cheaters are booted.)
  • Food and drink specials won't kill your budget. (The food is muy delicioso.)

Well worth the visit.
Buenos noches.

Monday, March 22, 2010

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Rainy days don't spoil the beauty of spring in bloom.

Daffodil's bright yellow trumpets are announcing the arrival of spring. But did you know daffodils (narcissus) are poisonous, and can be harmful or deadly if eaten? Family pets are at risk if they ingest any part of the plant, especially the bulb. So just look.

There are many color combinations of daffodils, which (in North America) are sometimes called jonquils (which is the Spanish name for the flower). In England, it's known as the "lent lily."

The daffodil is March's birth flower,
and symbolizes unrequited love.
If your birthday is this month,
here's hoping you received a big bouquet from an admirer.
(Just don't eat any!)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

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America's newest backyard hobby!

Attendance was high at yesterday's beekeeping workshop at Maritz in Fenton, held by the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association. The "how to" workshop introduced beginners to this fascinating hobby which has hives sprouting up in urban backyards, not just farms and big producers anymore. (With the recent mysterious decline in honey bee colonies worldwide, there's increasing interest in studying and protecting our valuable pollinator friends.)

Now is the best time to start new hives, before the spring nectars start flowing. Participants learned how to assemble their new hives, position them safely near flowering plants (and safely away from human traffic,) and order their new colony of bees (usually 3,000 to start with one special queen to serve.) By summer's end, each hive will contain up to 60,000 bees.

The most popular hive design was invented by Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth in 1860, and has remained basically unchanged through the years, still serving 75% of the world's bee keepers. Each hive holds 10 side-by-side frames, with plastic screens which will hold the beeswax honeycomb formed by bees.

We wouldn't survive without our friends, the honeybees,
as we count on them to pollinate most of the foods we eat.
(For more information on beekeeping in your area contact

Saturday, March 20, 2010

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To be exact,
spring begins precisely
at 12:32 pm CDT today.

It's the measured mark of the VERNAL EQUINOX, when the sun will cross directly over the Earth's equator, at the one precise moment when day and night are equal in length. (Days start getting longer and warmer now, as spring turns to summer, and we put the winter behind us . . . except maybe for one or two days of spring snow which always seem to fall on St. Louis.)

Vernal Equinox
(Translates from the latin: vernal = spring, equinox = equal night.)

And for those countries south of the equator, it's time to gear up for the cooler days of autumn.

Friday, March 19, 2010

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Spring has SPRUNG!

If you've got daffodils in the ground,
they'll be saying HELLO to you today.

(Is this weather great, or what?)
(Saturday is the official "first day of Spring.")

Thursday, March 18, 2010

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The day after St. Patty's
Is what it is!

(Hope you didn't OVER-celebrate.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

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Whether you're Irish or not (even a little bit) . . .
a wish for you today:

For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

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All you need are 3 ingredients . . .

Here's how you can make this classic St. Patrick's Day meal a moutwatering "gourmet experience" . . .

Start with an incomparable American Kobe corned beef brisket (Straub's has them spiced and ready to cook. Stop by the butcher counter at Straub's Webster Groves, and Ryan will give you step-by-step instructions on cooking one at home, including a delicious brown sugar/mustard glaze.) While the brisket is cooking (2-3 hours), chop and boil a fresh cabbage . . . and enjoy some of those ice cold Guiness.

Now you're an Irish gourmet chef!

Monday, March 15, 2010

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"Beware the Ides of March"
. . . thus was the soothsayer's warning to Julius Caesar.

Since that woeful date -- which just happens to be TODAY -- it has forever been linked with a sense of foreboding. So watch carefully behind ye this day, for today be the Ides.

In Roman times the expression "Ides of March" did not necessarily evoke a dark mood -- it was simply the standard way of saying March 15. Surely such a fanciful expression must signify something more than merely another day of the year? Not so. Even in Shakespeare's time, sixteen centuries later, audiences attending his play Julius Caesar wouldn't have blinked twice upon hearing the date called the Ides.

It was Julius Caesar himself who devised the Julian Calendar in 45 B.C. and established the Ides as the midpoint of each month. Little did Jules realize he had pinpointed for all times the date of his "doing in."
And now for the gory bits . . .
There were 60 conspirators with daggers under their togas that day, led by none other than Brutus ("Et tu, Brute?"), but only 37 stab wounds at final count. A gruesome scene, that Ides.
Get in line boys . . . .

Sunday, March 14, 2010

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Don't forget to set your clocks ahead ONE HOUR!
Don't you feel sorry for clock shops this weekend . . ?
All their inventory has to be set ahead
(at least the clocks that are running.)

But if you're like the CLOCKMASTER store on South Brentwood, you don't worry about it. "We'd go crazy," they said, "if every clock was set to the same time. Can you imagine someone calling us at noon, and all our cuckoo clocks went off together!!!"

Daylight Saving Time was instituted in the U.S. during World War I as a way to save energy by taking advantage of increased daylight hours between April and October. Since then, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act which has standardized DLT across the U.S. (In 2007, Daylight Saving Time became 4 weeks longer due to the passage of the Energy Policy Act.) And it's caught on world wide . . . Kyrgyzstan is the only country that observes year-round Daylight Savings Time. (Good idea, Kyrgyzstan!)

Hey, how do I set my sun dial ahead one hour?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

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Ready for the St. Patty's Day parade?

  • Green hat? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHECK

  • Green shirt? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHECK

  • Green carnation? . . . . . . . . . . . . CHECK

  • Silly green glasses? . . . . . . . . . . CHECK

  • Umbrella? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHECK


Friday, March 12, 2010

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Shamrocks, and corned beef, and leprechauns . . .
OH MY ! ! !

(This can mean only one thing:
St. Patrick's Day is almost here.)

St. Patty's Day is fast approaching (March 17), and signs of this annual holiday are sprouting up everywhere. A great shop to help "get your Irish up" is the SHANNON SHOP (111 West Jefferson in Kirkwood). Proprietor Shelagh Clough (is that Irish enough for you?) has stocked her charming store with unique crafts and clothing from the Emerald Isle, including lots of t-shirts, hoodies and the most beautiful hand knit Irish "fisherman sweaters". You'll find the best selection of imported gifts and garb that will have you "wearin' the green" this coming week.
Shelagh has potted SHAMROCK plants for $5.50, in bloom and ready to give that special lad or lass.

In addition to the St. Pat's 5-Mile Run this Saturday (downtown at 9:00 AM), and the annual Parade on March 17, there's a local parade worth noting TODAY in Kirkwood . . . the 5th Annual St. Peter's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Join the festivities and "show your Irish" along the parade route, starting at 11:00 AM outside the church at 243 W. Argonne. (Parade Grand Marshall, Msgr. Jack Costello, will lead the parade along with his faithful basset hound Jonah.)

Erin go braugh!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

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Batter up!

Our spring weather is bringing hitters to the plate.
(Little leaguers need spring training, too.)

These 8-year-olds are gearing up for a new season at Kirkwood Athletic Association's "night diamonds" on Marshall Road, next to the Meramec River . . . some great "dad coaching" and perfect weather for our national past time (small fry version, that is.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

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Remember the "Lindsay Milk-A-Holic" E-Trade Super Bowl ad?
(Personally, this blogger thought it was the funniest one of the lot.)

It's the one where the baby boy and baby girl are chatting over a video camera, and he explains he didn't call her last night because he was taking care of his portfolio . . . and she asks, suspiciously, "And that milk-a-holic Lindsay wasn't over?" The boy replies, "Lindsay?"

At that point, a second baby girl enters the frame, in front of the boy, and asks "Milk-A-What?"
(Funny stuff. Great animated lip synch. And hands down funnier than any of the perrenially lame Bud Light ads!) Well, get this . . . .

Lindsay Lohan has filed a $100-million law suit against E-Trade claiming the ad was based on her ! ! ! Huh???

Don't flatter yourself, Ms. Lohan. There are lots of other Lindsays out there.
(Maybe Ms. Lohan is hitting the "other sauce." Geez!)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

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Can you pronounce TUONG OT SRIRACHA ?
No matter . . . just enjoy this amazing hot sauce
from Vietnam-transplant David Tran
that's catching on like wildfire!

Huy Fong Foods (Los Angeles, California) has captured gourmet fans from coast to coast with this puree of fresh red jalapenos, garlic powder, sugar, salt and vinegar, in the popular plastic squeeze bottle, that most just call hot ROOSTER SAUCE (love that logo.) Famous chefs and cooks swear by this Asian condiment which Mr. Tran says "burns your body, not your tongue."

SRIRACHA (pronounced SIR-rotch-ah) is showing up in recipes and kitchens from 4-star restaurants and Vietnamese/Thai eateries (Applebee's fried shrimp sauce is a mix of mayonaise and Rooster Sriracha sauce) . . . you can buy it at Global Foods, Whole Foods, and Wal-Mart!

Splash it on soups with a squeeze of fresh lime juice . . . in scrambled eggs . . . hollandaise sauce . . . tacos . . . crab cakes, onion rings, or straight on multi-grain snack chips. You get the idea . . .

Put some in your fridge. It will change the way you eat!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

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Bach Society Chorus & Orchestra
St. Francis Xavier College Church
Sunday Evening, March 7

(Incredibly beautiful church, acoustics and music.)

(Uplifting alternative to the Academy Awards.)


Sunday, March 7, 2010

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Outdoor Bulletin Kiosk, Bowls Plaza
Washington University, 9:30 PM

(What goes around comes around, especially in college.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

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To plant, or not to plant . . . .


That plot of sunny soil, that back porch container . . . the weather is finally saying SPRING, and they're begging to grow for you . . . growing, green things that declare our cold winter has gone.

Whether you sow your own seeds, or plant young seedlings, there are a host of plants that can handle cool days and cold nights. Your local nursery or garden shop already have them in stock.
If you do plant seedlings this weekend, take care to cover young plants if the mercury dips below freezing. Otherwise these are varieties that can handle cold nights . . .

Hearty cold weather vegetable seedlings include cabbage, spinach, lettuce, kale, and broccoli.
Vegetable seeds than can be sewn right now include beets, carrots, onion, turnips and all varieties of lettuce and spinach. Pansy plants are a hearty, cold weather flower that can be planted in gardens and borders alike.
Let your green thumb grab a shovel and hoe, and start tilling. Sure it's early, but it sure looks like ol' man winter has left us . . .

Friday, March 5, 2010

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A sure sign Spring is around the corner . . . .


Crocus are among the first flowers to greet us in early Spring . . . a sure sign of more blooms to come. But did you know the crocus flower gives us the most precious and expensive spice in the world???

It's SAFFRON that is harvested from the delicate red stigmas of a crocus flower, a variety known as crocus sativus. But this variety of crocus blooms in the fall, not the spring, and is just as colorful as our spring crocus bulbs blooming now.

There are 3 "threads" (stigmas) per flower bloom which must be hand harvested for this rare spice. It takes approximately 75,000 flowers (or 200,000 threads) to make ONE POUND of saffron . . . which has a market value of $5,000. (Luckily, a little goes a long way.)

Saffron is an essential flavoring and coloring agent in Spanish PAELLA (it gives the rice that rich yellow color), and has medicinal benefits of strengthening the heart, boosting one's mood and alleviating depression.

Just looking at spring crocus in bloom elevates my mood!