Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fresh Local Produce

We came home from church today with a little more than we were anticipating. A sweet older man came up to us after the service and gave us two grocery bags filled with fresh fruits and vegetables.

The first bag was filled with grapefruits - one of my all-time favorite foods. I've recently become obsessed with grapefruit smoothies. They aren't nearly as tart as you would think, and are the most refreshing drink to enjoy during a hot day at the beach.

He also gave us several sweet potatoes (with a bright pink skin) and a soft, brown fruit that looks similar to kiwi. I spent quite a bit of time online this afternoon trying to discover their true identity. The man who drove us home from church said the name, but we didn't know what he was talking about at the time, and neither of us could remember what he said by the time we got home. Either way, they smell heavenly, and he assured us we would love them.

The final bag was filled with peas (in the pod). And I've never seen such interesting pea pods in my life.

As you can see, they are not the typical solid green pods we are used to. They are varying shades of green and brown with lots of speckles and spots. The peas themselves look more like soy beans than peas. I read this afternoon that they don't have a long shelf life, and the best way to store them is by freezing them. So, I will be spending the rest of my afternoon shelling peas, then blanching and freezing them. I think I will keep out enough to use for dinner tomorrow night. A baked sweet potato with a couple juicy steaks and fresh peas sounds like a winner! I'm looking forward to finding new recipes to use these delicious fruits and vegetables.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Introducing Marigold Lane

I'm so excited to share my new knitting shop with you! I created a separate website/blog for the store so you can head over here to find my latest hand-knit designs or to order one for yourself. Don't forget to "like" Marigold Lane on Facebook in order to receive updates on the newest items, links to my favorite shops, and more.

Special thanks to my incredibly talented sister, Rachel, who designed all the graphics on my site.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Baby Sweaters and Birthday Gifts

I finally completed the two baby cardigans I was knitting, and I'm so excited to share them with you! The first is a super-soft deep blue cardigan with a hood.

I think it would look adorable with these little loafers I made a few months ago.

My second attempt at a sweater was this charming pattern I found for a cardigan with a shawl collar. It looks so sophisticated in a chunky gray heather yarn. I learned several new techniques with this project, and it was actually very quick to knit. It's not perfect, but I think when it's worn by an adorable baby, some of the flaws should be hidden.

Now, to find a cute pair of shoes or hat to make that will match this manly little sweater.

I am also branching out of my baby clothes rut and exploring a whole new world of accessories! Both of my sisters celebrated birthdays this month, so I made them each a purse and shipped them home a few weeks ago. Now that their birthdays have passed, I can post the pictures.

Rebekah's handbag was knit in a chunky dark gray heather yarn with a horizontal cable pattern. I made a matching flower, but attached it to a safety pin so she can switch it out if needed. The black handles were from A.C. Moore. I think I'm going to have to make myself one of these now!

For Rachel, I made a smaller clutch with a button closure. It uses a few different stitches to create an interesting pattern. I knit it with a strand each of pale blue and dark gray yarn held together.

I also made her a coffee mug sleeve for her Starbucks chai tea. It should also fit on a travel mug. It was extremely easy to make and would make a nice addition to a gift basket for a coffee or tea-lover.

I am definitely planning more bags for future projects. But first, I am finishing my mom's Christmas decorations. Check back in a couple months for the final product!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This morning, I spent a couple hours with little Rayden - keeping him occupied on the playground while the cleaning lady was at his house. We dug in the sand, played on the swings, climbed up the tree house, and chased away a little lizard by yelling "Hello, lizard!" in his face. He is such a sweet boy, and I always enjoy being with him.

A couple hours later, we walked back to the house, and his mom, Stephanie, and another friend invited me to go downtown to St. George's with them. This bustling city is the capital of Grenada, and is located near a beautiful little harbor. The town has a good-sized mall with a lot of the shops designed to attract the many people whose cruise ships are docked in the harbor.

We walked through the mall and admired some of the beautiful jewelry and clothes. The next stop was a small smoothie shop on one of the crowded streets. My orange-grapefruit smoothie was the perfect refreshment while walking in the hot sun. Just a couple blocks away, we came to the outdoor market, where locals sell all kinds of fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices. Stephanie stopped to talk to one lady that she knew, and as soon as we saw each other, she broke out into a huge smile and gave me one of the longest, tightest hugs. Stephanie asked how we knew each other, and this dear lady said, "She's my sister!" I explained to Stephanie that we go to church together.

I see this lady every Sunday, and sometime we even give her a ride home after church. She is always friendly, if somewhat more reserved. But seeing me at the market, we had an instant connection, and I was more than just the American that comes to their church - I was her sister. As close to her as someone in her own family because of our relationship through Christ. I was challenged to rethink my own views of the church family. I don't always look at the individuals in my church as brothers and sisters - saved by the same grace of God. Far too often I focus on the differences (culture, personality, standards) and fail to rejoice in the similarities (salvation, mercy, a loving Heavenly Father). But I'm thankful for the reminder today that we are all one in Christ.

Sometimes you just need a sister to get you back on track!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Two Strikes

The past couple weeks have been quite busy for me as I recently acquired a second babysitting job. Do you remember the students we met on our layover in Trinidad? One of those students is married, and he and his wife have a two-year old boy, and another one on the way. His wife will be leaving Grenada at the end of this month, and asked me if I would watch her son for a few days each week so she could have some uninterrupted packing time. They live just a couple minutes from campus and are right next to a resort, complete with pools, a beach, and a playground. So I have spent several mornings with little Rayden and absolutely love him! We swim, play in the sand, and chase lizards (well, he chases the lizards . . . I chase him).

Today, I spent most of the day with Rayden as his mom went downtown with a friend. I got home a little before 3:00, rushed to the grocery store with Ryan, and then prepared dinner as he taught his review session. I planned to do a couple loads of laundry while baking chicken. Normally those two things are pretty easy. But for some reason, living in Grenada got the better of me tonight.

A little background about our laundry faciliites . . . We live in a small "dorm" with 10 rooms (4 married and 6 singles). There is a washer and dryer near the stairs in our building. The school has had problems in the past with University workers or off-campus students using the washer and dryer because they are free, so they now lock the laundry during the day, and it opens each night at 5pm. This is much better than last year, when they only opened the laundry on the weekends, and we had to sign up for a 3-hour time slot.

So this evening around 5:30, I took the sheets off our bed and stuffed them into the hamper along with the towels in our kitchen and bathroom. I grabbed my key and the detergent, and lugged everything to the laundry only to find the door still locked. I dragged everything back to our room and called security, as they are responsible for unlocking the door. I was informed that the laundry will not be open today due to a water issue and that it might be open tomorrow but he couldn't promise anything. Of course there was no emailed warning or notice posted. So, I was left with no choice but to put the sheets back on our bed and hang up the towels again. I did shake the sheets out on our balcony (a necessity due to the amount of dirt and sand we track inside everyday). Definitely not ideal, but there wasn't much else I could do. If there's one thing I've learned living in Grenada, it's flexibility. Things often do not happen when you would like them to, and it's best just to go with the flow and make the best of the situation.

By the time I finished with the laundry, it was time to start dinner. I bought some fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and decided to bake them in the oven. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and basil, then drizzled them with olive oil and put them in the oven. I have made this dish more times than I can count (as it is very healthy and easy to prepare) and have never had any trouble. Today, my little toaster oven decided to be hotter than usual, and pretty soon I started smelling smoke.

One more piece of background information . . . you may remember from a previous post that there are no outlets in our kitchen. So I have the toaster oven sitting on my desk next to the bed. It is not directly in my line of sight while I'm in the kitchen. I heard the olive oil sizzling, but it has done that before. Fortunately, I decided to go check on the chicken, and was quite surprised to see little flames sparking in the oven. I quickly unplugged the oven and kept the door closed until things calmed down. Since I was already using our one skillet to saute summer squash, I had no choice but to cook the chicken in the oven. I transferred the chicken to another pan, drained off most of the extra oil, and put it back in the oven. Thankfully, that seemed to take care of the problem, and dinner was ready on time with no permanent damage.

I put the chicken, squash, and brown rice in a tupperware container for Ryan to take with him to his study group. He's spending most of the evening with a couple friends studying for their Parasitology exam on Tuesday. (I purposefully do not ask him for specifics about that class.) This will be his first test of the semester, so please pray for him next week.

I think the safest thing for me to do the rest of this evening is watch a movie and work on my latest knitting project.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Christmas 2010

Our time at home during Christmas was so full of activity and time with friends and family, that it would be impossible to write about everything. But here are some of the highlights. Within the first week of our arrival, we had two weddings at our church, so that kept us busy. I'm pretty sure I also had coffee or lunch with at least one friend a day for that first week. On top of all that, Ryan and I still had all of our Christmas shopping to do, so we were at the mall every chance we had. Then there are the necessities of every trip home - dentist appointments, washing the car, and going through our huge stack of mail.

A couple days before Christmas, we celebrated Ryan's birthday. While we were cooking dinner, my youngest sister, Rachel, called from her cruise to tell us she had just gotten engaged! Here I am with my middle sister, Rebekah, talking to Rachel on the phone:

We are super excited for Rachel and Kyle. Here is a picture of them on Christmas Day:

Mom made a delicious salmon dinner for Ryan - one of his favorite meals.

After dinner, Ryan opened his gifts, and then my aunt, uncle, and cousins came over for dessert.

On Christmas morning, we continued our tradition and had my grandparents over for breakfast.

Mom and Dad made the most amazing meal, as usual - egg casserole, homemade hashbrowns, coffee cake, and grapefruit.

Following our breakfast, we all made our way into the living room, where Dad read the Christmas story before we opened our gifts. I love our quiet Christmas mornings together as a family. I'm so glad we could be home for Christmas this year.

That evening, we looked out our window to see the most beautiful winter wonderland. Greenville has not had snow on Christmas for over 50 years!

Unfortunately, the snow meant that we had to cancel church the next day, and postpone leaving on our trip to Pennsylvania until Monday. I'll write about our trip in another post. But when we returned home the following weekend, we spent our final week at home shopping for a few things to bring back to Grenada and enjoying every minute with our families. It truly was one of the most special and memorable vacations we've ever had.

Layover in Trinidad

I'm finally getting around to posting about Christmas vacation. First, I wanted to tell you about our time in Trinidad on the way to South Carolina. We were able to buy tickets much cheaper by traveling through Trinidad and spending the night there. So after Ryan's last final exam on Friday (December 10), we boarded a small plane and headed to Trinidad. The flight was open seating (a new experience for us) and we landed in Port of Spain before we were even scheduled to leave Grenada! Apparently the flight schedules are not too important. We met a few other students who were staying at our same hotel in Trinidad and leaving for Miami on our same flight the next morning, and we enjoyed getting to know them.

The hotel sent a free shuttle to pick us up from the airport, and about 10 minutes later, we arrived at a brand new Holiday Inn. The hotel was gorgeous, and you would never know we were in a foreign country. In fact, what (little) we saw of Trinidad looked very modern. The highway was 6 lanes (compared to the half-mile long two-lane "highway" in Grenada). From what I've heard, Trinidad is much more developed than Grenada, but with that comes a sharp increase in crime. Our one night in Trinidad was uneventful, and we were able to enjoy more modern accomodations than we've been used to for quite a while.

We checked into our rooms, and then met up with our new friends for dinner. The shuttle again took us for free to the Mall of Trinidad which is the largest mall in the Caribbean. A lot of the stores were closed since it was about 8:30 at night, but we found a restaurant that was still open. It was called Bootleggers, but it was similar to a Texas Roadhouse back home. Ryan and I both had the hamburger topped with grilled pineapple, red onions, Monterrey Jack cheese, and a delicious tangy, sweet sauce. It was one of the best burgers we've had in months.

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel room and went to bed, since we had to get up around 4am to catch our flight to Miami. We had a wonderful time with our new friends, and enjoyed seeing a little bit of Trinidad at the same time.
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