Monday, February 28, 2011

Five Years Ago Today....

Five years ago today was a beautiful, and strangely warm February day in PA, which gave me a strange desire to go jogging. 
I don't really jog, but that's how enticing the weather was.
Dancing is more my thing, and as was typical of me while I lived in the dorms, I danced in the bathroom as I got ready, and down the hall (because no one was looking). But somehow I did an axle and never landed it...and broke my ankle in three places. 

I certainly knew I had broken it, by the undeniable sound, and the feeling of course, but strangely enough my first reaction was not "How could I have done that?" or "Why is this happening, God?" but, a strange "Well this is interesting, I wonder how this will turn out."
   Well, first was the emergency room, of course. The doctor from there called my parents, and when they answered the phone apparently said in a telemarketing voice,"What would you do if your daughter broke her ankle?" Upon which they promptly hung up on him.
Luckily he called back saying, "Don't hang up! Don't hang up!" And told them what was going on, and that I would have surgery in a couple of days. That evening I told my Mom not to bother with the 10 hour drive, because I was fine and my amazingly organized roommate had all of my rides to the doctor's lined up with friends. I spent that night attended by three of my dear friends, as a single song replayed on my itunes all night, and I whimpered continually about how I could think of nothing but Calculus, and that my toes were going to pop (I'm really not sure how they did it, but they are truly wonderful ladies).

My Mom arrived two days later...and due to crazy amounts of swelling, fracture blisters, and hospital wait time, she left more than three weeks later when I finally got the surgery on the last day of spring break.

Since I hadn't been able to use Spring Break as recovery time from the surgery, I had used it studying very intensely for the second semester Organic Chemistry, Calculus II and a bit for Microbiology and Environmental Ethics. I was sure the chemistry was firmly in my brain.
So, two days after my surgery (because the professor insisted I couldn't put it off any longer), I took the organic chemistry mid-term, and was completely convinced that I and my Vicodin laden brain had performed magnificently. The day after that I took the Calculus II midterm and was not quite as confident.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I made some things.

Yesterday Nathanael and I went out to the garden to finish up some things we hadn't had the chance to complete during our busy Saturday. We made a few new rows, but it has been to dry to break the soil appropriately for planting (i.e. the soil is concrete), so I was writing some seed names on stakes, which required me to reference the seeds. About then, Nathanael and I both realized our seeds were just too disorganized. As you can see below, they were neither functional or manageable, but more or less in two large piles (though not spilling during transportation, which is a plus).

Thus, I decided that today's project would be solving this problem. I got a box (one of many from our move and the packages we receive from family), tore all of the labels off of it and went to work. As you may begin to notice, I never actually use scrapbooking paper for creating scrapbooks, but I love to use it to decorate. After adorning the box I used some cardstock (leftover from creating our wedding invitations believe it or not--though we only used the yellow for that) to create tabs, and voila! A recipe-box-like seed organizer.


Nathanael and I are both pretty excited about how much easier this will make our planting times. 

Also this week, I decided to make use of some of the blue jeans I have been collecting and make a thick, durable potholder. Nathanael's old black Singer sewing machine is pretty powerful to make it through all of these layers! Some parts of it required some seam-ripping and redesigning as I went, but I am pretty happy with the finished product and it is now listed in my shop. (See link at top left for shop listing and larger versions of the potholder pictures.)

 And finally, remember the rice bags I made at Christmas time? One of my friends really liked them and commisioned me to make one so she could use it instead of a heating pad for her TMJ. And since the rice bag has no plastic parts, it's a great way to reduce the footprint of an ailment. Here's what I created for her...

(The pictures taken on my jungle table cloth are of the rice bag before I filled it with some local popcorn rice.) I put some other little edible treats in the box too, because if you're going to pay for shipping, why not make it delicious, right?

Have you guys been creating or renovating anything this week?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter is for Gardening

There are our little garlic plants....back at the beginning of January actually. It is so strange to garden through the "winter". It is wonderful, I can't tell you how really wonderful; but between gardening and the weather in general, my internal clock just assumes that we are having the longest April in history. The other day someone told me the birthdays of two people and I made a comment about the birthday in August coming before the one in March.

A friend is letting us garden on her land, so back in November and December we measured out a 50 by 55ft plot (which incase you can't envision it, is huge), and slowly began our gardening. Really really slowly at first. We went to a farm and shoveled a whole trailer load of horse manure, but when we got it back to the garden it looked like just a tiny little heap.

Nathanael planted around one hundred garlic before we left to visit our families in December (each planted clove will yield one bulb in late summer), and we also had a neighbor till the soil with his tractor. It was a pretty serious job to break up the turf of what was previously just lawn. 
    When we returned in January we began to dedicate a little more time to gardening. For the first couple of Saturdays Nathanael used a big borrowed rototiller to break up the soil. He went over the entire garden twice (something I admire him for because I certainly would not have had the gumption). I wish I had more pictures to show you just how enormous of a job it was to deal with all the silty soil.

(Watch the gotee, it will disappear.)

Meanwhile, I was in the digging trenches, some of which will serve as the drainage (very necessary) and some of which will be the walking rows. The soil I removed from the trenches became the beds, which I then shaped with a hoe to prepare for planting. It did get a little cold on some Saturdays, and I did wear layers and a scarf, but it was never unbearable to have bear hands.
Even though I kept digging and digging, I usually only dug just more than one trench/row each Saturday. Why? Because 55 ft is pretty long. Yes.
 After a few rows I had a hard time keeping them from becoming curvy, so we put up a network of strings on sticks to help me out.

 So things started looking much more organized.

So we began planting other cold weather crops. First we planted snow peas, and now we have also planted spinach, broccolis (2 varieties), lettuces (4 varieties), carrots (4 varieties, 3 colors!), beets, parsley, dill, and coriander.
Here are some of the seeds we chose for this year (we also have some seeds we will be planting from last year, so this is about 3/4 of the plan). We will have 40+ varieties when everything is planted. We were so excited when this package came in from Baker Creek. I have a picture of Nathanael with his face showing the excitement from that night, but I think he'd rather I just stuck to this picture. (Click to look closer at the fun varieties.)

Since the snow peas were starting to peek out of the soil, we figured we should do something to keep out the deer and armadillos(!), but we didn't want to do something that would be too costly or too much of an eyesore. So Nathanael decided to drive posts in at the corners and string fishing line at 8 different heights to keep the deer out by making them run into an "invisible" barrier which will hopefully creep them out a little. 
Do you see it?
(If you look very carefully you can see a few of the lines on the left. And the levee on the right, beyond which is the Mississippi River. Sorry about the glare, though the strange light is the only reason you can see the fishing line. And yes, that's our car.)


Nathanael also put up steaks and twine as a trelis for the snow peas, and eventually we will do the same for the Thai Long Beans (Khew Dok) and Chinese Red Noodle Beans. (He is actually gardening barefoot in this next picture, but I didn't really capture it.)

So, now that the tilling and fencing trellising are mostly complete, Nathanael and I are taking turns digging, hoeing and planting. Right now we have about 40% of the garden dug and hilled, and maybe 35% of it planted (and also marked with neat little wooden stakes so we can remember the name of each variety).

We are so excited about our garden. The opportunity to have a garden has definitely been an answer to prayer; it was the main thing we were unsure of as we moved to another urban area, but God has blessed us with a very generous friend.
We are looking forward to sharing our produce with our friends and neighbors, and cooking with each of the international vegetable (and fruit!) varieties which are new to us. We also hope to be able to have some work days with some of our international friends so they can share the joy of gardening with us, especially once things begin to grow. 

Are any of you putting in seed orders yet, or making plans for gardens or potted terraces?

Are you jealous of our gardening hats?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Red: Memories of a Mismatched Day

Valentine's Day is such a funny enigma of a holiday. If it were National Write a Love Note Day than perhaps we would all know what to do with ourselves.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Look and Strawberry Cake!

I am not sure which is better, so it's a good thing I don't have to choose.Last week, and a little before, I was hard at work redesigning the blog, making it more streamlined and reader friendly, while still keeping it lively and colorful. How did I do? What do you think?
If you usually read the Harmless Color posts through a subscription, take a minute to come on out to the blog and check out the new pages I have put up. And, a little assignment for all of you: comment.
Leave me question to put up on my FAQ page, to answer in a post, or just say hi and tell me you're reading! I have readers over Thirty Countries, but I have only received comments from three countries, ever. Take a minute and say hello no matter where you are from!
And what better way to have a grand opening for the blog's new look than to share with you the cake I have had for my birthday since I was twelve? I can think of few things more delicious. (And for those of you wondering, I turned 25 in January, so that is more birthdays with this cake than without it!)

The story with me and the cake goes like this...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Organizing and Revamping


This week I have been reorganizing...everything really. 
It occurred to my last week as I was being bothered by an unruly shelf, that if I am a scientist and an artist, I should really also be an inventor, if even in very small things. And so, this week I set about reconfiguring things in small ways and solving problems in the most well designed ways(both functionally and artistically)  that I could think of on short notice. (Yes, it's true...we have guests coming and that is part of the sudden motivation.)
     In the bathroom, we have some built in shelving which once had doors (probably before I was born). For hours I tried to decide which fabric I would choose to sew little panels to cover the least used (most filled) shelves in a decorative way...but finally I came across some woven striped dish cloths we had never used. I hammered them up, and they are not revolutionary, but the bathroom looks much more tidy without exposed bottles everywhere.
    For the bedroom I am contemplating shoe storage options (let me know if you have some great ones), and considering one of those cloth over the door shoe racks. I have always considered them ugly, but I was thinking I could probably make one in a small amount of time, using some sturdy recycled khakis and some fabrics I would like to see every day. We will see if that goes anywhere.
      Now that the shop is open (check out the grapefruit marmalade added today), the blog too will be receiving a new look. So say goodbye to this one, and look forward to a little less *ehem* clutter, and a little more fun.
    And finally, (you may laugh) I did something about the plastic grocery bags that were slowly spreading through the kitchen cabinet like The Blob. Again, I considered making something, like one of those fabric bag holders, but just didn't have space for something floppy. So, I tore the wrappers off of two empty oatmeal boxes (the 42 oz ones) to reveal their simple cardboard brown, and decorated them a bit before stuffing them full of an unbelievable number of plastic bags. So even though it may sound silly, I though I would share with you how oatmeal boxes turn out to be quite attractive for storage.

 We make a lot of granola and hot cereal around here.


 ^This picture makes it look a bit like a cup of coffee from a cafe.^

So, simple and silly? Yes. 
But helpful too.

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