Nicolas T., a Horticulture student at my work, came up with the idea for an herbal tea product during an entrepreneurship class. Over the past 12 months our department has watched his idea rapidly develop, culminating in a product launch at the campus food co-op last week.
Taking off on his initial product idea, Nicolas grew Tulsi, Skullcap, and other ingredients for his tea blend in the UMD Community Learning Garden. He then navigated the bureaucracy of both the University AND state food safety laws to create a market-ready product: Terrapin Tea. If you have ever worked for a state-run organization, then you understand what a significant feat of tenacity and perseverance this is.
In addition to his pursuit of product viability, Nicolas harvested tea seven days a week, worked full-time at an off-site internship, dehydrated and packaged tea leaves at the Maryland Food Co-op, and still made the Dean’s List.
In exchange for some of said product, Nicolas asked me to design his Terrapin Tea logo. When his product launched at the Maryland Food Co-op on campus last week, I jumped at the opportunity to take some photos.
My co-worker, Heather, wrote a very engaging article about the entire process. I highly encourage a read! The rest of the photos I took are available on Flickr.
Nicolas (right) describing his product to Larisa and Amy.
At Numi Yoga on November 3, I am leading a mixed-media mandala workshop. To prepare for this workshop, I have painted several mandalas and observed the history of these hypnotic images. Altogether this has been a new experience for me, and now I can’t stop drawing these! No two are alike.
The Sanskrit word “mandala” is loosely translated to mean “circle.” Hindus were one of the first people to use the mandala spiritually, but the mandalas that most individuals find familiar are ones made by Buddhists. In many cultures, the circle represents infinity, but a mandala represents more than simple geometry. Mandalas represent the infinite universe, and wholeness within one’s self.
The owner of Numi Yoga, Kelsey, and I brainstormed together for a painting party image that would reflect the restorative qualities of yoga. Not only is the mandala tranquil, but relatively easy as an art project. I want people to relax during this art experience!
The creation of a mandala can have significant meaning for any individual, especially those who enjoy meditation. For me, any type of painting or drawing activity is meditative. The purpose of our mandala-making at Numi Yoga will be relaxation paired with the fulfillment of learning a new skill. It will be an experience not to miss.
I will attempt anything for a friend, even if it means managing to draw straight lines with acrylic paint!
My friend Aaron Foster of Foster’s Flags and Wildfire Creations creates custom wooden flags in addition to working full-time as a Washington, DC firefighter and teaching fitness boot camps on the side. Let’s call him King of the Side-hustle.
Aaron has created many styles of flags, but this particular order came with a unique request in honor of a Vietnam veteran. The giver of the flag asked if Aaron could incorporate the recipient’s military stripes into the design. Aaron asked me to paint the stripes, and I was happy to oblige.
This flag was completed and given to the veteran at his surprise 70th birthday party. I am excited to have played a part in such a special and unique gift. If you are interested in ordering a flag of your own, check out Wildfire Creations on Facebook.
Near the end of fall, my friends Meredith and Hardeep showed me how to prepare and can green tomato chutney. Over the course of a day, we prepped, boiled, and heat-sealed enough chutney to send each of us home with over 20 jars apiece!
This chutney is special because all of the green tomatoes were harvested from the UMD Community Learning Garden, which Meredith manages. Hardeep and I were regular volunteers this summer. We had at least 100 green tomatoes remaining at the end of the summer and they all went into this recipe, along with locally-grown apples purchased from the Olney Farmers & Artists Market.
Everything else came from the Burtonsville Giant. Sorry.
Because the tiny jars are so giftable, I decided to design a Christmas-themed label. A 2″ diameter sticker nests perfectly on a standard-sized Ball jar lid, so I took advantage of Sticker Mule’s 10 stickers for $9 deal.
And then, my super-Seinfeld-fan-friend Hardeep requested a Festivus sticker. It seemed apropos. Hardeep requested a square 2×2″ design so that he could print at home and add in a custom title. He is a regular hot sauce connoisseur and has a need to label his many varieties of homemade hot sauce.
The way we cooked, canned, designed, and labeled together feels so rewarding! Thank you, Meredith and Hardeep for sharing your canning expertise and design feedback with me. Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus to all!
“Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way…”
Check out our crew in front of the fancy new UMD Community Learning Garden banner! We are but a few of many burgeoning gardeners who meet at 4 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays to learn about sustainable food production and help tend the raised beds and terraced plots.
Sustainable Ag advisor Meredith Epstein (middle, in teal) manages the garden and leads the work hours. When I started working with Meredith at the Institute of Applied Agriculture, the garden quickly became one of my favorite spots on campus. This summer I grew soybeans, pole beans, green peppers, tomatoes, kale, thyme, sage, and basil in my garden plot.
I was excited when Meredith asked me to design a 12×4′ banner for the garden. I had previously made a sticker design for the garden club, so I took this as an opportunity to build consistent branding by pairing the same colors and fonts with the provided terp/carrot logo.
The UMD Community Learning Garden is one of four campus gardens at the University of Maryland, College Park. Formerly called the Public Health Garden, it is nestled between the School of Public Health and the Eppley Recreation Center. You should definitely follow on Instagram.
I just bought tickets to my second Baltimore Rent-A-Tour experience, for this coming Sunday. The last one, a Christmas lights tour, was magical. Our group met at happy hour and then a charter bus drove us through the city while our tour guide, Chris, pointed out various historic sites.
This time it will be another tipsy tour, but on the water. We’re going to take a Water Taxi and Chris is going to narrate the pub-related origin of our National Anthem, describe the Baltimore-based forerunner of the modern sports bar, and tell us the history behind one source of many of my college hangovers, National Bohemian beer.
Looking forward to my second tipsy tour reminds me of a project I did for fun when I used to work with my friend (and Chris’ girlfriend), Jen. In the storage closet on Jen’s floor there was a pin maker that I always coveted but never got to use (it would have halted productivity). After having so much fun on the Christmas tour, I created these pin designs in Illustrator.
This recipe for onion salsa was taught to my boyfriend, Marc, by Ecuador’s culinary gift to the world (and Marc’s best friend’s mom), Leonor. You might not think you like red onions this much, but make this one time and you will be amazed. It’s like a pickled onion, but squared. It’s like an onion morphed into a space unicorn and drove Apollo’s chariot into your taste buds. Think of it as pico de gallo, but with a shift in the ratio of ingredients.
5 Roma tomatoes
3 medium red onions
1 fistful of cilantro – varies based on size of fist
1/4 cup Kosher salt
3 limes, for juicing
water Optional – 1 jalapeño
What to Do:
1. Wash your hands. I know that you have been scratching inappropriately.
2. Slice onions lengthwise, then thinly crosswise. Slice once more to achieve see-through onion half-rainbows.
3. Transfer your sliced onions to a mixing bowl and cover them with Kosher salt. It should look like your onions are blanketed in snow (scroll down for slideshow visuals).
4. Cover the onion/salt mixture with cool water. Massage the onions, salt, and water together for five minutes. Let the mixture sit for an additional five minutes while you dice your Roma tomatoes and cilantro (and jalapeño, if needed). Do not add these to the mixture yet.
5. At this point, the onions should be limp and somewhat translucent. If the onions are still hard, let them sit for another couple of minutes. Pour the onion mixture into a colander and rinse with cool water. Return onions to mixing bowl, add water, massage, and repeat the straining process. This will ensure that your onions are not overly salty.
6. Return the onions to the mixing bowl and use a fork to juice all three limes over the onion mixture. To get the most juice, roll the limes on the counter and apply pressure by hand before you cut them.
7. Add the tomatoes and cilantro to the mix. Fold the mixture with your hands. Taste the salsa and add more salt if desired.
8. Select desired Netflix program and proceed to stuff face. This salsa is delicious when served with black beans and rice, or on top of some grilled chicken. Or get some Tostito’s Scoops and just go to town.