How to hide a whole salad in your front yard

Farmer Ted is a gentleman in our circa-1955 neighborhood who has converted nearly all of the property around his home into an urban farm. He has fruit trees, a small pond and some ducks in the back yard, and a grid of raised beds covers his fenced-in front yard. He has chickens, too, and he made an ingenious wheeled coop for them that he moves from raised bed to raised bed every season. I admire the whole set-up every time I walk past it, and I almost always notice a small detail or smart feature that I’d never spotted before.

The neighbors across the street from him, however, are not so impressed. According to Farmer Ted, they’ve reported him to the city for all sorts of infractions in an effort to shut down his sustainability efforts. I haven’t discussed the matter with them, but he says they want the neighborhood to look like it did 55 years ago — with a green lawn and some nice, tidy landscaping.

So Farmer Ted wants to grow his own food on his own land, but his neighbors want the view from their living room to be more landscape than farmland. Is there a compromise to be found? Well, maybe not for Farmer Ted and his neighbors. I’m pretty sure the neighbors listed their house for sale recently, so I guess Farmer Ted won that fight.

Angela England's "Gardening Like a Ninja"It may be too late for our neighbors, but you can avoid a lot of gardening-related contention with your neighbors by becoming a Ninja Gardener.

Angela England’s new book, “Gardening Like a Ninja: A Guide to Sneaking Delicious Edibles into Your Landscape,” tells you which edible plants are most easily hidden in your traditional landscaping and shows you how to arrange them to look picture-perfect, but it’s a great resource even if you don’t have cranky neighbors to assuage. The book contains impressive lists of edible plants, their uses and their ideal growing conditions. Angela shows you how to build your edible garden from the ground up — lingonberries or strawberries down low and lavender or persimmon up top, perhaps? — which is very helpful for gardening novices like myself.

The list of edible plants in Angela’s book is as eye-opening as it is informational. You’d expect a plant like rosemary to be in such a guide, but did you know you can eat parts of a hosta? Dice that into your salad and eat it. (Or wrap it in bacon and broil it, maybe. Angela says the tender, leafy shoots are somewhat asparagus-like.)

So far we’ve kept our gardening efforts confined to the back yard, but “Gardening Like a Ninja” has me looking at the long-neglected island bed in the front yard in a new way. There are two dogwood trees and a big bush whose name I don’t recall anchoring it, and there used to be a lot of lavender around the anonymous bush. As much as I’d love to have some fruit trees, I’m not going to take down the big guys already there to make that happen. The lavender is pretty well dead, though, and everything else out there is ornamental, so I’m going to spend some quality time with “Gardening Like a Ninja” over the next few weeks and see if I can’t come up with an appetizing way to bring that sad space in the yard back to life.

Disclaimer: Angela England sent me a copy of “Gardening Like a Ninja” for review.

I also re-learned how to make an animated gif

Happy February, friends. I learned two things yesterday:

1) If I already have a cold, I can dust without having an allergy attack. So that’s a silver lining, I guess.

2) Actresses Rooney Mara and Kate Mara are sisters, and they are football royalty. The maternal side of their family has owned part of the Pittsburgh Steelers since the team’s inception, and their paternal side has owned part of the New York Giants since that team began.


Monday: Cracker Barrel chicken tenders
I’m glad I scheduled these as a repeat occurrence on my computer calendar, because I really enjoy the recipe but I always forget about it when I’m menu planning.

Tuesday: Bacon, lettuce and avocado sandwiches
Avocado > tomatoe

Wednesday: Popcorn
It’s our 15th anniversary, and it is our tradition to see as many movies as possible on our anniversary. So we’ll be having movie snacks for dinner.

Thursday: ???
I’m not yet sure what Thursday has in the cards for us.

Friday: Pizza
I was sick last Friday and one of my preferred frozen pizza brands was on buy-one-get-one, so we had frozen pizza. I’m hoping to get my act together enough to make pizza this week.

Did you learn anything interesting this weekend?

More Monday Menus at OrgJunkie!

This week in homeschooling: A lot of tea and Vitamin C

Today we are celebrating our 100th day of school. I thought about doing an adorable 100th Day of School activity, but I’ve been sick all week and never quite summoned the motivation to find and prepare anything. So by “celebrating,” I mean we are saying “Happy 100th Day of School” and patting one another on the back.

US Geography

We started studying Mississippi this week, and we’ll continue it next week because we didn’t finish everything I’d planned to do. We did start making Matt Lewis’ Mississippi Mud Pie last night, but I need to get some cornstarch today so we can finish it.

Language Arts


We weren’t able to do much reading aloud this week, thanks to my cold, by Pete did read some of “The Jungle Book” to me and Poppy read a Steve Jobs biography. Two and a half times. She’s spent a good part of the week quizzing me on what Apple products we’ve owned.


We’re continuing to work thought “The Giggly Guide to Grammar.” The kids get a kick out of the goofy sentences in the exercises, and it’s a good review of the material they learned in the Michael Clay Thompson books.


Pete finished his second-grade math book yesterday, and that’s when I discovered that I’d only written down that I needed to buy a third-grade workbook. So he’ll be working on Teaching Textbooks until that arrives.

Wanna read more about homeschooling? Check out the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly linky thing!