Terri's Airy Fairie World

Musings on Music, Tea, Gardening, Food & Life…


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Why Paleo?

A few days ago I turned 57. I feel fantastic. In fact, I feel better now than I’ve felt in my entire adult life. Why?

Five years ago I made a radical change in the way I ate. After years of vegetarian/vegan eating, I gradually developed a variety of health issues. No matter how ‘good’ I was, I never really felt very good: Chronic fatigue, arthritis, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, poor digestion, horrible gut aches & gas, kidney issues, headaches, weird aches & pains, slow healing of cuts, and more. I kept gaining more weight each month, in spite of an austere way of eating.  I had given up sweets in my 20s, all milk products in my 30s, and yet my immune system was a wreck, with constantly returning migraines, bronchial issues & viral infections. I also lacked motivation & focus. In my 40’s I began to suspect gluten & other grains to be a problem as well.

I’ve been gardening for a long time, and as I started looking into and incorporating what I learned about permaculture, I also began to realize that no matter what I did, I couldn’t grow enough grains & beans in my Urban Garden to support my family throughout the year. So eating those things might not be sustainable for me. I also realized that all the Vegan dogma about meat vs agriculture only applies to Industrially raised meats, and doesn’t actually take Industrially raised grains into account, and on the whole, all industrially raised foods are wasting resources and destroying our land, groundwater, the economy, and lives.

Around the time I turned 50, I read a book by Charles Eisenstein called The Yoga of Eating. It’s a very interesting read that advocates learning to trust our instincts and our desires, to recover our authentic appetites, to let go of Dogma and learn to truly nourish ourselves on all levels. It’s a short book, but very thought provoking, especially if you have a history of eating disorders & self-judgement (I do). This book was a game changer for me, not just regarding food, but regarding all kinds of choices I make on a daily basis.

Yoga of Eating

Here’s a link to the book

Eisenstein asks, “What are you saying ‘yes’ to?” 

I’m saying yes to growing as much of my own food as I can, and nourishing myself, my family, and friends on simple traditional meals. I can build health in my garden by adding certain elements (like mulch & compost) that encourage biodiversity in the soil: Bacteria, fungi, and other supportive life forms that symbiotically help the plants to flourish. I can do the same thing in my gut, the soil of my body, by making and ingesting homemade cultured foods, because health really begins with a healthy gut, and a healthy gut is a microbiological miracle of symbiosis that enables your body to absorb nutrients and thrive.

I’m saying yes to a healthy local economy, animals who are allowed to do their natural animal things, whether it be grazing, pecking, or rooting, with humane lives & as little suffering as possible. Locally sourced food supports the economy, the earth, and quality control. When you buy a side of “grass fed” beef from the guy that lives outside of town, you are supporting his family & his community. He’s just another person like you. You’re also saying “yes” to a lifestyle that supports real people, living real lives, making quality choices. No middle men.

I’m saying yes to taking responsibility for my own health, the health of my little piece of Earth that is my Garden, which I call Terri’s Airy Fairie World, and this has also led me deeper into Permaculture and it’s principles. I am my own Science Fair Experiment. Counting my body as Zone 00, and using the first principle of Permaculture (Observe & Interact), I discovered that if I remove certain foods from my body, I experience excellent health. If I re-introduce those same foods (always one at a time), like clockwork old symptoms re-appear. Remove the foods that are suspect and health returns.

This process takes time. I’ve been doing this since I was in high school, when I realized that every time I ate bacon I got a 3 – 5 day migraine. This discovery initially led to my decision to no longer eat pork, and to become a vegetarian. Many years later I realized that the pork wasn’t the problem, it was the nitrates in the processed pork that caused my headaches.

This year I observed & finally accepted that all Nightshades are out for me. When all the Paleo people started saying “Potatoes are ok now!” I quickly discovered that potatoes are not ok for me. They cause major problems for my feet and hands (you can’t blame everything on gluten & dairy). Over the course of the year I’ve tested green, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, chilis, tomatoes. They all cause the same problems, with varying degrees. My plantar fasciitis returns with a vengeance, my achilles tendons swell up painfully, it’s like the muscles that allow me to roll up to the ball of my foot while walking are temporarily paralyzed, so I can’t walk right, & my ankles swell and stiffen. That’s not all, and that’s just my feet. It effects my hands as well, and being a musician, I can’t have that! When I don’t eat nightshades, all of these symptoms miraculously go away. Some doctor would probably say that there is no scientific evidence to verify my claims, I’m just some crackpot hypochondriac. Whatever. My body is my verification. That’s enough for me!

The amazing part? Every body, like every fingerprint, and every snowflake, is unique. Some people can eat anything & everything. Good for them. I hold no resentments. Enjoy!

I flourish on rich meaty bowls of homemade soup loaded with well cook root veggies, greens, oniony things, and some animal protein. I eat eggs, meat & veggies from mostly local sources. I like food that is mostly Savory. Occasionally I eat something mildly sweet, like a custard, rich with gelatin, eggs, and coconut milk. I know that coconuts don’t grow anywhere near St. Louis. Tea doesn’t grow here either, and I love full leaf black teas….sigh…nobody is perfect, and we don’t have to be.

Call it Paleo, Primal, Ancestral, AIP, or whatever…

I’m saying “no thank you” to guilt, dogma, processed foods, and poor health.

If you aren’t experiencing robust health, I encourage you to be your own Science Fair experiment! You’ll be amazed by the things you learn from and about your body!

I eat well. I feel fantastic, strong, energized, creative, and I’m grateful for my health.

Here’s today’s breakfast: uncured fresh bacon, sunny side up eggs, and sautéed brussels.

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January 2016 – Week One

Dear Friends & Family,

Two Years have gone by since my last post here. Excuses 1 – 17, 33 – 39, 79 – 85, and various other random reasons, mostly not enough time in each day, trying to do way too many things, and I think you catch my drift. (Note to self – create a post with a list of excuses :)

How long does it take to compose a blog post?

I’ll time myself and see.

I think the hardest thing about blogging is taking the time to sit down and do it. I get all these great ideas while I’m cooking, gardening, gigging, even knitting, but then I never get around to actually sitting down and typing something.

Add to that a simple fact. If I don’t use a technology or program regularly, I forget how to use it. This also applies to driving places & various other parts of my life…basically everything except music! So, knowing that I’ll probably have to remember how to navigate Word Press doesn’t help my level of motivation, but I’m setting an intention (notice that I did NOT say New Year’s Resolution) to post more regularly this year, maybe even weekly!

2015 started and ended very busily, all good, of course! So now on to 2016, because I have a feeling this is going to be the Amazing Year of Awesomeness!!

There’s something wonderful about January (other than my birthday). I love the beginning of the year. The hub bub of December generally exhausts me (this year I played 21 xmas gigs in 24 days).  In January I look forward to Winter weather, introspection, and relative quiet. Time to sleep in, restring my harps, drink lots of tea, make big pots of soup, start planning my garden, and recuperate from the busy-ness of late Fall.

As it turns out, I’ve played 2 Gigs this week, and booked 6 more! So January may not be quite as laid back as usual. I suddenly have a music stand full of things to work on, in addition to all the projects I’ve lined up for myself this year, including:

  1. Complete the Permaculture course I signed up for last spring…the clocks a ticking! https://www.openpermaculture.com
  2. Improve my skills with Logic Pro and iMovie, and get good at recording/videoing myself
  3. Plan my best garden yet!
  4. Keep up with my Bee the Wellness Group! I’m in better shape than I was a year ago, and I want to keep it that way! If you’re interested in improving your health on all levels & exploring the Paleo way of life, the Annual Free 21 Day Transformational Challenge begins on Monday, Jan 11th. Also beginning that same day are the 21 day Unveil Your Wellness Challenge & the 21 Day Meditation Challenge. I’ll be there!! https://www.vimify.com/app/discover
  5. Continue to get better at playing Jazz.

All of these things fall under the umbrella of my main intention for this year, which is to live a fully Artistic life, feeling  Creativity flowing through me all day, every day, in all of my endeavors.

Got any intentions for 2016 that you’d like to share?

I’ll close this first post of the year with a photo of my garden in winter. It’s kind of wreck! I got super busy in the fall, and barely could find time to go out there to collect produce once a week, but in spite of my neglect, it’s been an amazingly productive garden this year, with loads of sweet potatoes, and wonderful varieties of oniony things (garlic, onions, shallots, etc), root veggies galore, greens, herbs, berries, and lots of self-seeded things. We haven’t really had any actual Winter weather in St. Louis yet, so I’m still going out there Leeks, Greens, and the occasional Root!

Happy New Year!

BTW, this took 45 minutes to write, including the uploading part, which turned out  not to be as stressful as I imagined it would be. :)IMG_2738


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The Traveling Tea Box Has Arrived!

IMG_1055IMG_1056 I love tea! My most favorite cups are rich, mouthy, malty, full-leaf bold black teas, but I also love Oolongs, especially of the roasted Wuyi type, & a variety of Puerhs. I also drink green & white teas, herbals, etc. Really I’ll try anything once. I’ve loved tea for a long, long time, & have a pretty ridiculous collection of teas. I try to drink a cup of each one of them once a month. I rarely succeed, but I enjoy trying. Today (Labor Day) marks a year since I stumbled upon Steepster.com. I love Steepster. It’s a 24 hour a day tea party. It’s my favorite online community. I know that I have one thing in common with everybody there: I love Tea!

That's a lot of Tea

The Here’s Hoping TTB. That’s a lot of Tea!

One of the best things about Steepster is the tea swaps I’ve been involved in. I’ve had some pretty awesome trades with tea drinkers from all over the world! It’s like having a pen pal, only even better! I’ve also been involved in a couple of Traveling Tea Boxes (TTB). This one, the “Here’s Hoping TTB” arrived on Friday, just in time for the 3 day weekend! It holds a total of 98 tea samples of varying sizes & varieties, from 59 companies

As if that wasn’t enough tea, the BBBB arrived on Saturday! That’s a smaller TTB that includes myself & 3 other friends. We wanted a TTB that was mostly black & puerh teas, especially from companies none of us had ever tried before. Each of us adds an oz of tea (or 2 half oz) to the box for each of the other 3 persons. When the box comes back to you, you get 3 ozs of tea, plus occasional extra surprises. We started the box a month ago, & it just came back to me! Here’s what I got:

My bag in the BBBB! It's like a Birthday present!

My bag in the BBBB! It’s like a Birthday present!

What to drink with breakfast?

What to drink with breakfast?Here’s what I got in this box:

Ying De Black No. 9 – Canton Tea Co

Rizhao Black – Ali Express

Antarctic Expedition – Silk Road

Queen of the Hill – Sloan

Cherry Pu’erh – Nature’s Leaf

Tiramisu Puerh – International House of Tea

Scottish Breakfast – Int. House of Tea

Good tea requires good food! For breakfast I made gluten free mixed berry crepes with coconut whipped cream & a drizzle of maple syrup, & home made breakfast sausage patties. Healthy decadence!

Breakfast!

Breakfast!


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Haiku & Peaches!

A few weeks ago Stacy Lim, the owner of Butiki Teas,Image http://www.butikiteas.com, celebrated her birthday with a special sale & a couple of fun contests, including a Haiku contest. I have always loved the art of Haiku, so I spent the day honoring Stacy by drinking only Butiki teas & writing Haiku about them!  I think I submitted 6 or 7 Haiku, & I won!  Yeah!

My winning Haiku was written for  Khongea Tippy Golden Assam.  This is a rich & potent Assam, grown in the Brahmputra river valley of the Assam region in India, on the Khongea Estate, a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which focuses on sustainability and living and working conditions of those working at that tea estate. I love the mouth filling maltiness, the slightly tannic oakiness, & the boldness of this brew. It has a deep cacao bass, a hint of cloves & cinnamon in the middle, & a citrus brightness at the top, all combining to produce a nicely balanced cup that is perfect with breakfast & also really nice with those rare occasions when I treat myself to dessert. Here’s my Haiku:

Life can be bitter,
and yet bitter reveals sweet.
Life is bittersweet.

On the same day that I won the Haiku contest, we picked the last peaches of summer. Peaches are among my most favorite of fruits, & homegrown peaches are worth waiting all year for. We washed, sliced, & trimmed peaches all afternoon. I wanted to have a special treat to celebrate my success, & to end the Peach season with a bang!

What I wanted was Peach Cobbler, how I love Peach Cobbler!!  I’ve been gluten/grain free for almost 2 years now,  & after searching the internet, I found an enticing recipe that was amazing & delicious on Oven Love’s blog: http://www.ovenloveblog.com/grain-free-peach-cobbler-paleo-gaps/

The cobbler was cooked in individual ramekins. I substituted Maple Syrup for the honey in the original recipe.

I also made a batch of quick & easy peach ice cream using my own recipe.

3 cups fresh peachesPeach Cobbler1 – fresh or frozen
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/4 c Maple SyruIMG_0992p (opt)
Vanilla – 1 tsp or more

blend in the blender, dump in the ice cream machine, & let it go! Once the ice cream was ready, I scooped it into silicone muffin cups in a muffin pan, putting them in the freezer to firm up a little more.

A perfect end to Peach season, & an awesome celebration of my Haiku, the combination of the bold Assam & the delicious cobbler & ice cream was YUMMY! Special thanks to Natalie, for her awesome peach cobbler recipe. Additional thanks to Stacy as always for her wonderful teas!

A Tour of My Garden

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I love gardening! I love crawling around in the dirt with my clippers,  conquering weeds.  I love squatting next to a Tomato or Pepper plant & peeking into green bean & cucumber vines, like I’m on an easter egg hunt. I love clipping greens & herbs, making weird little hammocks for my big fat tomatoes, & pulling beets, turnips, & other roots from the earth. I love witnessing the emergence of freshly sprouted seedlings & recognizing volunteers that grew from last year’s plants that were allowed to flower & go to seed. I love being followed around the garden by robins who know me because they grew up in my yard. I love the sounds of all the birds that like to hang around, especially the Gold Finches, with their crazy canary calls & even crazier flying style. I love it when the sky is almost dark & the bats fly overhead.

The Earth is amazing! Every experiment in planting is like a miracle. Sometimes seeds don’t sprout. Sometimes cucumber beetles & squash bugs ruin everything. Sometimes we have a horrible hot droughty summer, like last year. Other times the weather is ideal & my garden is abundant, like this year. It’s awesome to walk out back with a couple of empty baskets & a pair of clippers, wander up & down the rows, visiting each bed to see what looks good today. I love bringing in baskets full of produce, & turning it into meals. I would be perfectly content to spend every day out there, breathing in the moment, witnessing the birds, insects, & other creatures, clipping weeds, talking to turtles, building trellises, & eating sugar snap peas off the vine. Here are some pictures that I took in my Garden this week. I hope you enjoy them!

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IMG_0948  IMG_1169 IMG_0082 IMG_0878 IMG_0881 IMG_0880 IMG_0882 IMG_0885 IMG_0934IMG_0940 IMG_0942  IMG_0939 IMG_0960 IMG_0964

This gallery contains 30 photos


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Hello? Is there anybody out there?

Welcome to my Blog!  Welcome to my first actual post.

I have talked myself in & out of blogging for years. I’d be gardening, cooking, playing my harp, sipping tea, or some other thing, & a great idea for a blog post would enter my mind. I’d narrate the whole thing in my head, it would seem brilliant! I’d promise myself I’d write it, but it never happened. I’d get sidetracked by life & the fleeting inspiration would be gone.

There was also that ever present element of doubt.
Who would read my blog?
Family, friends, & fans? Clients & students? Total strangers? Nobody?

What would I write about & would it be interesting to anyone?
Could I maintain some kind of continuity, or would this become another addition to my long list of unfinished projects, a reminder of my personal inadequacies?
I went into an avoidance pattern. More than once.
Then I realized it didn’t matter who read it, or if anybody read it. It didn’t even matter if it was interesting or lame. I just needed to do it.

On New Year’s day 2013,  I set up the blog page that you are currently looking at.
I was excited about writing my first post. It was the beginning of the year. I was going to document this year’s garden from start to finish. I was going to share some awesome food. I was going to upload a video of my music once a month. I was going to review teas that I love.

I didn’t write anything. Why?
Fear of not being good enough?
Fear of commitment?
Or just plain laziness?
Who knows, who cares.

Today, nearly 7 months later, I’m finally writing. It’s time.
In an effort to keep it simple, I’m going to aim for one post per week, alternating through my favorite things: food, tea, music, & gardening.

If you are reading this, welcome to my blog.

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