Dreaming of Spring and Love

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This past week February arrived in a flurry of ice and snow. While I appreciated the snow days the blizzard brought, I have reached the point in winter where I start dreaming wistfully of spring and looking for ways to add some bright colors (yellow in particular) to the house.

Valentine’s Day is also coming up this week. While I understand that some people really hate Valentine’s Day, complaining that it was created by Hallmark for the sake of consumerism, or that it highlights some people’s loneliness in painful ways, or that it tries to cram romance into a single day rather than spreading it out throughout the year like good relationships should, I have always loved the idea of taking a day to intentionally celebrate those you love (including friends and family as much as significant others). Every year I try to find little ways to celebrate the day, whether with special treats in the morning or handmade cards for friends and family.

So last night, wrapped in a sweater with snow piled high outside, I made this simple, cheerful heart garland to hang above our front window.

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I began by cutting a whole stack of hearts out of old magazine pages, specifically choosing pages that featured warm yellows, oranges, and pinks, as well as bright florals. I interspersed these with hearts cut from the old hymnal I bought at the thrift store two Christmases ago, arranging them in a long line on the table to alternate the colors and patterns the way I wanted.

Then I sewed them all together, adding hearts from the stack as I went along.

It was so easy! Once the hearts were cut out, the sewing part took less than ten minutes. I foresee more sewn garlands coming up in my future…

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(P.S. It looks pretty great with my homemade curtains — which I still love)

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Spring Break In Photos

Spring break ended a week ago (with five straight days of rain and all my classes packed into one week, as a matter of fact), but I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful weather and time off. Here’s some pictorial evidence of just that:

 

Garden Beginnings

When people hear that I have a whole week off of both school AND work, they typically ask, “Are you going anywhere? Do you have plans to do anything fun and exciting?”

The reality, though, was that my spring break plans contained more homework than anything else. Not exactly fun and exciting. But I did have one fairly big, non-homework plan: start our garden.

Since we first came to look at our apartment last summer, I’ve had my eye on the empty plot next to the building. We asked the landlords if they would be open to us planting a garden there and they responded that as long as we gave them some vegetables, we could do whatever we wanted. So I stared out the window at the open space, envisioning raised beds made out of recycled materials, tended by enthusiastic neighbors.

As February slipped into March, though, and spring edged closer, I realized that if I was going to make the leap from dreaming about a garden to actually starting one, my plans needed to get quite a bit more concrete.

But the space is actually pretty large and the more I looked at it, the more daunting it felt. It looks like there used to be a building there at some point so the space is littered with small stones (I suspect that it may need some compost and TLC to grow things). And dog poop from the neighbor’s dog, who roams free most days (and no, that’s not the kind of compost I had in mind). I knew that I would need to either clean out the stones and till the ground or build raised beds. And either way I would need to figure out some sort of fencing to keep out the dog.

Finally I decided that I just needed to start somewhere and see what solutions I could figure out. And with school and work taking up most of my time, spring break seemed the most likely time to jump into it. So I made a list of goals for the garden, a list of things that I needed to do, a list of materials I needed, and a list plants I wanted to grow (I’m a list person, remember?).

On Thursday I researched fencing options. At first I was looking at fences made from all sorts of recycled materials: old pallets, bed frames, bicycle parts. I found some neat ideas that I would love to try someday, but eventually concluded that for this year, what I really needed was something simple, temporary, and easy to install (since we are just renting and my building skills are pretty limited indeed). Home depot offers some fairly inexpensive options, like chicken wire attached to simple metal posts. I think I can handle that…

 

On Friday I called the landlord to confirm that it was still okay for us to start a garden (she said absolutely, as long as we gave her some vegetables).

On Sunday I made a flyer inviting our neighbor’s to participate in the garden and posted it by the mailboxes and in the laundry room (I haven’t heard back from anyone, but I’m hopeful that once the garden is visibly started, some people will jump in).

On Tuesday Derek and I went to the Kansas City Community Gardens office and signed up for a membership. Because we qualified as low-income, they said they could come and till the garden for us for just $8. We filled out the appropriate forms and left with an official green membership card and renewed hope that this garden thing would actually happen. Now I’m just waiting for them to call to set up a time to come till.

On Wednesday I snagged a shovel, hoe, and trowel for a few dollars from a garage sale down the street. The metal parts are rusty, but they’re still sturdy. And they opened up conversation with the neighbors down the street about the garden (they warned me not to plant watermelons or any of that sweet stuff, because that’s what people like to take around here). That same day, Derek brought home a big ceramic pot from work that I plan to use for herbs.

Now it’s Friday and though the garden is not tilled yet, I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty good start this week. I’ve done enough to assure myself that the garden WILL happen this year at least and the task feels a little more manageable now. This weekend I hope to clear out the rocks from the plot in preparation for tilling and perhaps sketch out a plan of the garden.

Once I finish the homework I put off for most of the week that is….

Breaking into Spring

As of 5:30 p.m. on Friday night, I have been on spring break, not just from school but also from work (both spring breaks happened to fall on the same week).

Saturday morning I started my break with a big breakfast, hosted by Justin Andrews. We ate delicious food, talked, and laughed. Then we meandered over to Anna’s going-away garage sale where I picked up a new bag (after straining under the weight of school books and notebooks for seven months, my old one finally snapped this week), a garlic press (hallelujah!), and an armful of beautiful fabrics.

From there Derek and I rode down to the library where I perused the shelves for some fiction to read (I find it so hard to find good fiction sometimes). Then we packed a picnic dinner and spent the evening at Loose Park, sitting under a budding apple tree. We ended the night with a movie (the second Jurassic park, if you must know; I’d never seen it and spent a decent percentage of it calling advice to the characters and gripping Derek’s arm).

On my list for the rest of this week off:

  • Go to the Kansas City Community Garden’s office and sign up for a membership.
  • Start our garden. I confirmed with the landlord this week that it’s still okay for us to plant one and posted a flyer by the mailboxes today inviting the neighbors to join me. My goal is to get the plot tilled and a temporary fence (to keep out animals — especially the neighbor’s dog) this week.
  • Start (and perhaps even finish) my observations for my child development case study (yes, I do plan on doing homework this week unfortunately).
  • Begin researching Reggio Emilio for my curriculum comparison project (and decide on my second curriculum focus).
  • Begin research for my program spotlight project.
  • Finish research for my risk factor project and write the paper.
  • Write eight activity plans for my curriculum class.
  • Write four activity plans for my internship class.
  • Set up my observations at Plaza de Ninos.
  • Finish reading, reviews, and application activities for my health, safety, and nutrition class.
  • Read fiction
  • Spend time outside (it’s supposed to be sunny and in the 70s for the first few days this week)
  • Catch up on letter writing (I have at least five that I’ve been meaning to write)
  • Make something creative (perhaps that toilet paper role wall hanging? Or some flowery branches for our dining room?)
  • Write a blog or two (maybe. No promises…)
  • Do laundry (and all that everyday stuff that still needs to happen).

Actually, now that I look at that list, I have quite a bit of homework to do. Ugh. But even so, I plan to spend time relaxing and enjoying break, too.

Unfortunately, my body seems to have it’s own plan of being sick this week….

Tomorrow….

We will be planting these…

In here…

Have I mentioned how excited I am to have a garden this year?