African American Heritage Celebration Feb 26, 2022

When we woke at 6 this morning to get ready for our volunteer assignment at a Habitat for Humanity site, we didn’t know that we would end up with a different assignment. We arrived with our lunches and snacks in our work clothes and closed toed shoes to learn that our tasks had to be postponed to next week. Such is the nature of the building trade, dependent on the shifting schedules of subcontractors.

Since we were already in Largo, we called our friend Kathlena to see what she had planned for her Saturday. She invited us to join her at the African American Heritage Celebration at the Botanical Garden in Largo.

Entertainment at the African American Heritage Celebration

We were able to engage with several local artists who were displaying their work.

We first met Chris Aikens, aka ROD for Rebel or Die, whose inspiring characters come to life with their piercing eyes and strength of spirit. His Wounded Phoenix again shows persevering amidst adversity. I also enjoyed his fashion sense and that of his wife, who was also beautifully dressed. Check him out on Facebook under Chris Aikens or Instagram @rebelordieart

Aikens’ gorgeous wife, Kim
Chris Aikens with his painting, Wounded Phoenix
Artist Brenda Bohannon with her work, Blessings

Another inspiring artist is Brenda Bohannon, who posed with her work, Blessings, an homage to her mother and her gratitude with being showered with blessings such as peace, love and joy. You can find her at

Shanita Allen with her charming children’s books

I met a special lady named Shanita Allen, a children’s book author featuring a young African American girl named Ari. I bought Let’s go Dreaming into the Stars with the accompanying coloring book as a gift for my friend’s grandchildren. You can find her at

The highlight of the exhibit was the works of local students. One of the first prizes was given to Josiah Brooks for his piece, Woven Together, and second prize to Bella Tolliver, both in grade 5 at Lealman Elementary

My companions, my sweet Nancy and our friend Kathlena, planting seeds in the virtual garden bed at the Tree, a life size tree woven with cloth. This was one of the fun interactive exhibits that you were encouraged to touch and share your reflections and wishes.

Final chapter of the Collard Greens saga: Caldo Gallego

Caldo Gallego soup

When I posted my abundance of collard greens, a friend suggested I make Caldo Gallego, a hearty Cuban soup. We had already invited the after church lunch bunch for black beans and rice with collards so I made a quick run to the grocery Sunday morning for Chorizo sausage.

I checked a recipe online for the basic ingredients, but here’s what I actually cooked: 5 small potatoes cut up and parboiled , a quart of chicken broth, 1 small onion chopped, 2 small carrots diced, 6 chorizo sausages cut into bite size chunks and browned before adding, 2 bay leaves. After soup had simmered long enough for potatoes and carrots to be tender, I added the collards that had been previously sautéed in olive oil with garlic. All this was done in a rush, while I also cooked rice, baked a pan of cornbread, and seasoned the canned black beans with onion, bay leaf and fresh oregano. Usually I cheat with Goya black bean soup in the red can because you get a nicely seasoned gravy.

While at the grocery Sunday morning, I couldn’t resist some showy colored spider mums and some sweet pink roses to cheer up a fading Valentines arrangement. This proved fateful to Nancy; she dropped the knife as she was trimming the stems. Of course it landed directly on top of her foot and bled profusely.

We managed to pull it together, get to church on time and hosted an extravagant Collard Greens celebration. For Nancy, no meal is complete without salad with fruits and nuts.

As you can see, Nancy’s axiom is that it’s not enough until it’s too much.

Soup, salad, rice and beans, cornbread, sautéed collards, sliced tomatoes and avocados and good company

Day in the Park

Pinellas County is full of rejuvenating places (natural garden spots) awaiting discovery.  A crisp clear Valentine’s Day was a perfect setting for a walk in nature. The original plan was to go to Moccasin Lake Park, a 51-acre nature preserve with trails under a canopy of mature oaks and wetland boardwalks. That plan was put aside when we discovered the park is closed on Mondays.

In its place, a jewel that I didn’t know existed was discovered- Abercrombie Park.  Located in the Jungle Terrace neighborhood, it is one of the City of St. Petersburg’s four archaeological sites. Abercrombie Park consists of 2.4 acres of uplands and 1.2 acres of submerged land. Within the archaeological park is “a Native American midden (shell mound). The mound is part of the larger Bayshore Home Site Complex, a pre-Columbian village occupied by Native Americans between AD 140 and 565, during the early Weeden Island period.” 

John Abercrombie, M.D. and his wife donated the first tract of land for the park for the “rest and refreshment of those who may be weary in body or spirit and to preserve for future generations an unspoiled bit of the native beauty of Florida…” They came to the area from Memphis, Tennessee in 1884. Check out the below plaque for more information.

The small park is full of interesting little historical and visual tidbits. I was curious about Pánfilo de Narváez, for whom the Florida Society Colonial Dames of the XVII Century erected a plaque. Interesting history, click on the Pánfilo hyperlink – if you are curious.

So, what did I enjoy the most about the park!  The old Florida trees, the entrance framing of the park. As you enter the park, you see old growth trees that create a tunnel walk leading straight to the Boca Ciega Bay.  You look to the right and see trees with limbs dragging toward the ground, begging children to climb. You walk inward and find a boardwalk that weaves through old growth. You look down and see pools of water teeming with tadpoles, minnows, or ??  and find Florida plants of medicinal value. As you continue and leave the boardwalk, you angle uphill to the midden (shell mound referenced earlier).

You may need a computer to view the video
Bidens alba. Great source of nectar for pollinators. Uses: soothes skin irritation. Leaves are edible and can be used as medicinal remedies. See your herbalist.

Returning you see people coming and going and walking their dogs. And realize this is their oasis for neighborhood gathering where they walk or sit on benches, chatting away catching up on the latest news. A homey feeling. A delightful day!

Tampa Bay Collard Greens Festival

The necessity of cooking collard greens on a Saturday night was precipitated by a visit to the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival. We saw people walking with large green bags and found our way to the Publix stand with stacks of boxes of super fresh greens. We were surprised to be gifted with two large bunches each and a bag to carry them.

It was a beautiful day in St. Petersburg FL and 22nd St. S was an exciting block party filled with food and craft vendors, local farmers and youth organizations. Check out the youth farm at www.

We admired the purple cauliflower displayed by the 15th St. Farm, located on a half acre near Tropicana Field. They offer hands-on organic gardening classes. Contact Emmanuel Roux at for upcoming events. I’m looking forward to the completion of their event barn and farm-to-table dinners.

Last but not least, we met a representative of the Woodson African American Museum who invited us to attend the Woodson Warrior Scholarships Gala on March 27 at the St. Petersburg Coliseum. The special guest speaker will be Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize winning creator of the 1619 project and a staff writer at the New York Times magazine. Learn more about how to donate to African-American scholars at

One of the 2021 scholars Charnecia Cummings

P.S. We were happy to see the League of Women Voters registering new voters. For more information, go to

How to cook collard greens Brazilian style

Brazilian style collard greens

I didn’t care much for collard greens until my friend Marilia showed me how she cooks them. First you must wash them thoroughly and dry each leaf. Then you cut out the stem to about halfway up the leaf.

Remove stem from collard leaves

Stack the leaves and roll from the bottom into a tight bundle. Slice into ribbons.

To sauté, you’ll need a large deep skillet. Place over high heat and when the pan is hot, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of good olive oil. Crush a clove of garlic and put into hot oil. Immediately add the sliced collards and stir to distribute the garlic and oil. You can add a little salt when the collards have wilted. They should be tender but still green.

This method of cooking will preserve the immune boosting vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is especially important for healthy T cells, a part of your immune system that attacks invading bacteria and viruses.

For more nutrition information, see my wellness website:

Shaklee Protein Shake Chocolate cake

Healthy chocolate cake

Found an excellent way to make a sugar free, dairy free, gluten free chocolate cake. We had extra chocolate shake after our demo at the Unity of Gulfport Expo.

At the Gulfport Casino Expo

Since I am an experimenter, I decided to try my hand at making a cake, using the shake as the liquid. And after a second try- Success.

The recipe:

  • 2 cups of Bob’s Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour
  • 2 cups alternative sugar ( I used Monk fruit combined with coconut palm)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • 3 teaspoons espresso coffee powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Shaklee chocolate shake (4 scoops chocolate protein powder and 16 ounces almond milk or coconut milk)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (avocado )
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract ( I also added a dash of maple syrup – don’t ask why – Just sounded good


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Use a butter/oiled bunt pan or two mine inch cake pans
  • Mix all dry ingredients, combining well.
  • Then added your liquids combing (whisking) well.
  • Place batter in cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overcook. Cake will be moist.
Click link below to purchase delicious plant based meal shake:

Triumph over cravings

Today we attended another inspiring workshop led by Rev. Linda McLeod at Unity Temple of Truth. After a discussion to determine our true values and purpose, we created vision boards to reflect those aspirations.

A little dessert to celebrate our vision boards
Vision Board workshop at Unity Temple of Truth

We considered stopping for pizza afterwards, but decided we had lots of fresh vegetables that deserved our attention. It would be criminal to waste such lovely Swiss chard. I put a tray of cauliflower, onions, peppers and sweet potatoes in to roast while Nancy prepared the chard, mushrooms, and green beans with fresh tarragon.

Roll your chard and chiffonade for a quick saute

Did you know that tarragon has a number of medicinal benefits in addition to it’s culinary uses? Two examples are it helps to keep bacteria in check and it can reduce blood sugar and inflammation.

Fresh tarragon adds flavor and improves digestion
7 vegetable supper with garlic and tarragon

64 Days of Non-violence

Unity Temple of Truth, 511 Prescott St. S,
St. Petersburg FL 33712

Each week, we end our service at the Unity Temple of Truth with the Peace Song. You know the one that starts with “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” How much of those lyrics are we carrying into the world in our daily lives.? If this is a challenge for you or you just want to reinforce this concept in your life, read on.

The Reverend Linda McLeod is kicking off The Season of Non-Violence, a program that was launched at the United Nations in 1998. It starts today, January 30, 2022 and ends April 4, 2022. The dates are significant because today is the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and April 4 is the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For these 64 days, we commit ourselves to the principles advocated by these two great leaders.

We start by learning how to be less violent and more compassionate with ourselves. We build the courage to speak and act with respect, honor and reverence for our own being. The very first lesson is on courage. Eleanor Roosevelt urged us “to do the things you think you cannot do.” Today, light a candle and accept the courage to practice the 64 ways to live non-violently.

Pictured above: the Rev. Linda McLeod, Deidre Lines, Omaka Zhenji, Nancy Neely, J Monique Baker

I continue to be inspired by the character of the people I’ve met at Unity Temple of Truth. Today’s meditation was led by Omaka Zhenji of the Sanctuary of Holistic Love Healing Center. Omaka is a Zen Master and a devotee of the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Sneak peek of Day 2 lesson from Thich Nhat Hanh: “if in our daily life, we can smile, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.”

So you see the lessons are easy, but it helps to have a structure to follow. Rev. Linda has provided the following link for a workbook to help us practice these principles in our daily lives.

Please join us as we work together as a community. You can find us on Facebook under Unity Temple of Truth Church. Sunday Service is at 10am at 511 Prescott St. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712.

For more information on the Season for Non-violence you can also visit or

Alesia: a family based Vietnamese-French resturant

If you like tasty pho, French pastry and delicious coffee, Alesia will soon be one of your favorite spots for lunch.

Alesia serves delicious French Vietnamese dishes based on original homemade family recipes of the The Lye family.

The Lye, a Vietnamese man, relocated to France after the 1975 fall of Saigon. His two daughters Erika Ly-Hsu and. Sandra Ly-Flores grew up on his flavorful complex broth-based dishes. The two sisters enlisted the support of their husbands to join their venture as partners, added their father as a founding chef and their mother as dessert chef.

Our meal today is pictured below, Bun vermicelli noodles with herbs and lettuce topped with egg rolls and vegetable pho. The vegetable pho broth is as rich as the bone broth and has lots of baby bok choy and mushrooms.

Our meal today


Alesia is located at 7204 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL

Special thanks is given to Kara VanDooijeweert. Her article in “I Love the Burg” provided background history on the establishment. For additional information on Alesia see:


Instagram: @alesia_restaurant


Spanish Point

Selby Botanical Garden Spanish Point is located on the Little Sarasota Bay in Osprey, Florida – south of Sarasota and north of Venice.

A beautiful cool sunny day in Florida beckoned us outdoors. So off we head to Spanish Point to spend time with a friend we had not seen in several months. Spanish Point’s history unfolded as we walked nature trails that wove through homestead buildings and archeological sites.

Spanish Point provides a little of everything on a small scale. By meandering through accessible nature trails, Spanish Point gives a brief glimpse of pioneer homestead seashore operations (1870s), an archeological indication of habitation from 5,000 to 1,000 AD and of course a butterfly garden.

Zebra butterfly
First thought the red object was a berry. Closer examination revealed it was a bug. So a quick step back, since we didn’t know what the creature was and are too familiar with biting insects.

The Selby Spanish Point campus is a 30-acre environmental and historical complex composed of native and introduced botanicals, marsh and bay ecosystem, homestead houses, prehistoric mounds and archeological dig.

Choke berry

Findings indicate prehistoric habitation of the site began about 5,000 years ago. Using the abundant resources provided by the Gulf of Mexico, prehistoric people living on Tampa Bay’s shoreline transitioned from nomadic hunters and gatherers to settlers. The site’s archaeological records indicate the prehistoric settlers disappeared sometime prior to 1100 AD.

In 1867, the John Webb family from Utica, New York established a homestead on Spanish Point overlooking Little Sarasota Bay. He gave the name “Spanish Point” to the land he settled to honor the Spanish trader who advised him of its elevation. The Webb family built their homestead house, planted citrus, sugar cane and vegetables and built a citrus packing house and boat yard. In the early 1900’s, the Webb family sold parcels of the homestead to new settlers.

Frank and Lizzie Webb Guptill House is furnished to depict the Florida pioneer era
The lawn of the Gupill House slopes down toward the Boat Yard.

Then in 1910, a wealthy Chicago socialite, Bertha Palmer (widow of Potter Palmer) purchased 350 acres around the Spanish Point homestead as well as thousands of acres for cattle ranching, citrus groves and real estate development. She preserved the pioneer buildings and connected them with lavish formal gardens and lawns. After her death in 1918, her family maintained the property and encouraged its nomination for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1975, it became the first site in Sarasota County to be listed in the National Register. In 1980, the Palmer heirs donated Spanish Point to the Gulf Coast Heritage Association. In May of 2020, it became a companion campus of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens of Sarasota.

Miniature aqueduct built by Mrs. Bertha Palmer to provide water to cascade over shells.
Snake plant: none of us had seen it bloom.

For me, I simply enjoyed spending a beautiful crisp, cool sunny day walking in nature with friends.  One of those days where you want to point your face to the sun, hold your arms out and thankfully say “What a Gorgeous Day.”  

Overlooking Little Sarasota Bay, surrounded by nature , Spanish Point is a perfect setting for a picnic lunch. Plenty of places to eat your sandwich or fruit and nuts and quietly contemplate the beauty of nature.