Somewhere Between Homework and Fun

Sorry I haven’t been updating here much.  I’ve had a lot of homework, even if some of it is art (I’ll try and post pictures of some of my projects some day).  I had a class canceled this week, though; and to make-up the time, the professor gave of several options of  activities we could do and then post a brief summary on the class discussion board.  I chose the activity that we had planned to do in class that day: leaf chromatography!  I’d been excited to do it in class and had already picked several leaves, and I’d wanted to do it with Sister and Munchkin at home, too.  So, this is the results of my replacement option assignment as posted to the class.


Option E: Leaf Chromatography


– Leaves
#1 – Japanese Maple variety 1
#2 – Ornamental Plum
#3 – Japanese Maple variety 2 – back yard
#4 – Japanese Maple variety 2 – side yard
#5 – Maple
#6 – Apricot
– (6) Half Pint mason jars
– Pint mason jar
– 80% Isopropyl alcohol
– (3) Metal spoons
– Metal strainer
– Glass bowl
– Hot air blow dryer
– Coffee filters
– Clips
– Paper towels
– Black light
– Assistants – Munchkin and Sister


First, I collected five or six leaves of the same color from each tree.  The next day, with the aid of my assistants, we tore the leaves into small pieces, removing as much of the woody stem and leaves as possible, and put the pieces into the mason jars.  We added just enough alcohol to the jars to cover the leaf pieces and then mashed them with the metal spoons, cleaning the spoons with paper towels between jars.  We left the leaf mash mixtures to sit overnight, permitting the pigments to extract and the alcohol to begin evaporating.  The next day, we strained the leaves using a metal tea strainer, transferring the liquor into a glass bowl and then decanting back into the original jars, and left the jars overnight to evaporate further.  On day three, we forced further evaporation by agitating the mixtures and gently heating them with a blow dryer.  Then we cut approximately 1” by 5” strips out of the coffee filters.  The strips were placed in the mason jars with at most 0.5” in the pigment liquids and clipped to the top of the jars.  The filter paper strips were left in the jars for about 90 minutes.  We then removed the strips from the jars and clipped them to the outside of the pint mason jar to dry.  When the strips were dry we examined them for color bands under both room lighting (LED) and black light.


Results and Discussion
Some of the leaves started releasing pigment immediately as we mashed them in the alcohol.  The bright red leaves (#3) spread in the alcohol particularly quickly.  Others, like the yellow apricot leaves (#6), were more difficult to both soften and to see pigment starting to stain the alcohol.  Despite this, all off the mixtures developed clear bands of color on the filter paper.  At approximately the same distance from the bottom of each strip except #6, there are thin lines of yellow and yellow-green.  These should be from the chlorophyll remaining in the leaves.  In the same area, there is also a slightly wider band of clear yellow, which shows on all of the strips, which is probably the xanthophylls.  Further up in most of the strips is a wide, diffuse band of red, showing how far the anthocyanins travelled.  Again, this color is missing on strip #6.  The uppermost stain on each strip fluoresces brightly under black light.  On strips 3, 5, and 6, this edge shows yellow-orange but is only slightly yellow on the other strips.  The color is from carotenoids; but as this band of color coincides with the solvent line, the glow may be an artifact of the alcohol.  On a related not, the liquors for leaves #2 and #4, which otherwise looked olive green, glowed red under the black light indicating that those two leaves probably had the most chlorophyll remaining in the leaves.  They also had the clearest green and yellow-green bands.


“The Chemicals Behind the Colours of Autumn Leaves.”  Compound Interest.  September 2014.  Accessed October 13, 2017.  (

“Chlorophyll Lab.” Cynti, Laura.  C-Lab. December 2010.  Accessed October 13, 2017.  (

“Find the Hidden Colors of Autumn Leaves.”  Scientific American.  October 2011.  Accessed October 13, 2017.  (


Honestly, even if it was for homework, I had a lot of fun.  Of course, I got to do it with one person who is the target audience for the experiment and one person who is a professional chromatographer.  I guess maybe I cheat a little.


Welcome Fall!

Fall is in full swing here.  Munchkin has been back in school for a few weeks, the temperatures have cooled down, the leaves are turning, and the rain has finally come back.  I feel energized and ready to organize and make some changes.  I’ve spent so much of my life in school that I still tend to look at fall as the time of year of beginnings and resolutions.  That is absolutely true this year as I have made a new start by quitting my job and going back to school!  This week was the first of the quarter, and I’m already busy!  I’m new to the quarter system (my other schools were all on the semester system), so I’m a little weirded out that I have a full-time schedule with only three classes.  Two of those classes are hybrid on-campus / on-line courses, though; and it seems that I’ll certainly be spending the equivalent if not greater time on those classes at home as I would in class.  Lots of reading and writing assignments to make up for missing lecture time.  My new field / career choice is Interior Design.  I’m really looking forward to it, but I’m also nervous.  I come from a science background; all this art stuff is scary!  It does come with awesome school supplies, though, and I love school supplies.  I get to not only have pens and notebooks and highlighters, but sketch pads and paint and silk screening tools!

In other news, Munchkin is going to GeekGirlCon next weekend, so we’ve had to step up our construction process for the cosplay she’d already chosen for Sakura-Con next spring.  She’s going to make a really cute Akatsuki (Log Horizon), though, and the costume should carry her through both cons and Halloween.  Fingers crossed she doesn’t grow too much.  With football season  and cooler weather, I’ve also been knitting more, so I’m really going full steam with arts and crafts here!

It’s Fun to Try New Things

Even when you fail miserably.   A couple of weeks ago, my massage therapist suggested that I try Epsom salt soaks for my feet to relax some of the tightness in them with a side bonus of softening some of the calluses.  Okay, I can get behind that.  We already have Epsom salts in the house for baths when Munchkin has growing pains or one of us works out too hard.  Sister ordered me a small tub and voila! I got to soak my feet the other night.  Munchkin and Sister wanted to get in on that action, too, so we had a foot bath party while watching TV.  It also came up during the evening that it would be fun to make bath bombs (of which Epsom salts are a main ingredient), and a little internet research got us an easy recipe and a fun DIY idea for Christmas gifts.

We figured we should practice a little before that point, though, so we tried it out this weekend.  Sister had ordered that last ingredient we needed online, which arrived earlier in the week, and we already had everything else we needed.  Putting the mixture together was fun and pretty easy.  Packing the molds (we used silicone ice-cube and cupcake trays) was a little more fiddly but not hard.  We turned the finished products of both batches (small peppermint foot bath bombs and larger orange bath bombs) out onto cling wrap and left them to dry while we went out to get dinner and feed Mom’s cat.  We got home to puffed up, stickier-than-before, weirdly misshapen bath bombs.

Turns out you shouldn’t make bath bombs when the humidity is higher than 40%.  Umm, this is the Pacific Northwest, when isn’t the humidity higher than 40%?  Okay, maybe some of this past summer, but of course we tried making bath bombs for the first time on the first day in ages where there was precipitation.  Oops.  We tried popping them in the oven on low heat, but that just activated the baking soda and they puffed more.  We took them out, and they deflated, but have remained a little sticky.  We salvaged the larger, heat shaped, orange scented bombs, but ended up just crumbling the smaller, flower shaped, mint scented bombs into jars.  Both should still be usable if not quite professional quality bath bombs / salts, and it was absolutely still a fun project to do with Sister and Munchkin.

Sometimes, I’m A Little Crazy

I have had a very busy weekend.  I had two different groups of friends who wanted to do 5k races this weekend.  One was set for Saturday and one for Sunday, so I figured, “Why not?”  Actually, since we walked both, and I’ve gotten pretty used to the 5k distance, doing two races in one weekend wasn’t difficut.  What was difficult was getting up early both days.  I think there might be something wrong with my logic when my hobbies involve getting up earlier than I do for work.  Nonetheless, I had fun.  The Saturday race was The Bubble Run, which I did two years ago with the same friends.  Munchkin came along with us this time, and had a lot of fun.  She’s already excited for next year.  Today’s race was the Cosmo 5k/7k; a race that I did last year with a similar group to this year.  Last year was miserably hot and humid, but this year we got done while the weather was still nice.  Of course, we were also in a different location this year and opted for the 5k instead of the 7k.

Both races came with shirts.  The Bubble Run shirt was a standard logoed white t-shirt ready to get dyed by the colored bubble bogs.  I tested using a vinegar spray to see if I could get the dye to set this year, but it was only partially successfull.  There’s still a little bit of color on the shirt, which will make it fun in a t-shirt quilt, along with my Color Run shirt and 2015’s Bubble Run shirt.  I’ll also be using the back of this year’s shirt because we used Sharpie markers to write our team name.  Munchkin and I also put our actual names on our sleeves to make it easier to identify each other in case we got seperated.  That did not turn out to be a problem, though I did run over her in the green bubble bog.  Oops.  I’m very excited about the Cosmo run shirt that I got today.  Last year’s shirt is one of my favorite tech shirts to wear to they gym our out walking / running.  They provided really nice tech shirts again this year, but they’re even better because they’re long sleeved!  I’ve been trying to collect long sleeve tech shirts to encourage myself to continue to train outside even when the weather starts getting cooler and wetter.  As an added bonus this year’s shirt is a pretty light blue, though I’ve come to appreciate the eye searing pink from last year!

We did a thing!

A day or two ago, a friend on Facebook posted a meme that buying craft supplies and using craft supplies are actually two different hobbies.  (Absolute truth.)  I added that planning craft projects is a third related hobby.  (Also absolute truth.)  I am adept at doing all three hobbies quite independently of each other.  I have planned a beautiful matching cabled knit skirt and hoodie that had made it no further than my sketchbook.  There a numerous skeins of yarn in my room that I have no idea what to do with.  And then there are some actual projects in progress around the house – probably more than there should be.  Maybe finishing projects should also get its own category?  I am not the only person in my family to enjoy the planning hobby.  In fact, it’s a hobby Sister and I frequently do together.  Every year we think of projects we want to do in and around the house, particularly over the summer.  Every year, most of these projects remain undone.  Mind you, few of these projects are necessary for living and we generally ignore them to do other stuff as a family, but we can also be a little bit…lazy?  Slow to start?  However, we have managed to accomplish one of our projects!

Munchkin has a fairly prodigious stuffed animal collection, but we had never installed a really good way to store it.  Sister and I had both looked at “stuffy zoos” online.  I had looked at some easy to build versions using wood or PVC pipe to make a frame and rope or shock cord to make “bars” that are flexible enough to pull stuffed animals through.  Sister managed to find some pictures of version where people had threaded the shock cord on to bookcase frames.  Given that I have some old bookcases in storage, that seemed like a super easy way to get stuffy storage.  Admittedly, we came up with this idea months ago, fairly quickly after the Ikea trip where we bought the insert and supplies to construct Munchkin’s closet and “magic changing room.”  That may have been two years ago, plus or minus, but we determined we were going to do it this summer.

The first impediment and task was to get the bookcase out of storage.  My storage unit is close, but the bookcase is just big enough I didn’t want to try to manhandle it out by myself.  Thus, we had to find a time when we had enough people available and a vehicle big enough.  A couple of weeks ago, we managed to take Sister’s SUV and load it up.  Munchkin and I had bought primer and paint a day or two earlier.  Last weekend, they painted the outside of the case while I was off at a tea party.  At some point, Sister ordered eye bolts and mini bungees, and today we screwed in the bolts and attached the bungees.  BIL and I manged to get it upstairs, and we filled up the bottom to shelves with books and the top three with stuffies.  (We had fuzzy supervision, but she was too busy doing her own thing to help.)

This bookcase has actually been in the family for a long time, and kinda holds a special place in my heart – despite being a cheap, pressboard, piece of junk.  It was originally purchased (along with a second) to be the pantry in the house we lived in when I was between the ages of seven and eleven.  They have fixed shelves and are very sturdy, but no pretense was ever made that they are pretty.  Dad and I painted them a bricky red on the outside and white on the inside.  When the two bookcases moved with me to Montreal, I re-painted them a dark garnet red (all by myself!).  They were a featured part of my living room / office decor the entire time I lived in Canada and generously held a ton of books for me.  They’ve been in storage since I moved here, so I was happy to donate one to Munchkin.  It is now lime green but still has the original white paint inside the shelves…thirty years later.

Tea and Croquet

My office manager (who I am going to call BookFriend) and I ventured out today to check out the Alice In Wonderland Tea Party and Croquet Game held in Gasworks Park.  The location was perfect, all the old industrial plant remnants were perfect for the steampunk flair of the event.  There was plenty of lovely tea to taste and yummy food nibbles to snack on (it was a potluck event, so I brought some mini frittatas).  Sadly, with the heat and the smoke haze, some of the organized activities were cancelled (and I don’t think there were many to start with).  Neither BookFriend nor I are much for mingling with strangers, so we mostly kept to ourselves with only quick interactions – like complimenting people’s costumes.  Still, it was a ton of fun seeing all the clever and beautiful outfits and the food and the crowd.  We looked pretty good ourselves, a fact of which we are both quite proud since we put together our outfits from stuff we had on hand.  I finally used the ruffled blouse I purchased at least five years ago with steampunk in mind but had never put together a costume it worked with.  I also discovered that the capri pants I run around in all the time make adorable pantaloons under the bustle skirt I made for Oni-Con three years ago.  So successful day altogether despite the beastly weather.


Today was my birthday.  My family treated me to brunch at Salty’s on Alki Beach. That’s always a treat, and we had a fun little driving tour of West Seattle afterwards on our way to the Bellevue Art Fair. We didn’t stay for long but got to see some beautiful arts and crafts, including booths by our favorite kirie artist and a washi kimono artist.  I need more walls to hang art on (and more money to buy that art).  At home I got some lovely gifts, including a Garmin running watch from Sister and company, some earrings from Munchkin, and fun canning jars from Mom.  (I’m really excited; she found jars tall enough for asparagus!)

A couple of weeks ago was Munchkin’s birthday.  After doing her parties at a bouncy house place for a few years, she decided to return to the backyard theme party style we’d done when she was younger.  In some ways, I think Sister and I were as excited as Munchkin.  We always have fun designing activities and finding prizes and favors that match theme.  This year, Munchkin decided on a Pokémon theme, which practically planned itself.  Also, it wasn’t one of those times when we were a year ahead of the trend, so there was plenty of swag and decorations to find.  Of course, it was still a lot of work; but we had fun and the kids seemed to have fun, so it was a great success!

Out and About

This was a good week for going out and doing stuff with people.  Tuesday was my slightly delayed but regular meeting with my World of Darkness RPG group.  One of our members ran a D&D one shot for us that turned out to be a giant pun / joke.  That was a fun and relaxing session, and I got to dust off some of those seldom used D&D dice I posted about last time.  On Thursday, I went with an old neighbor to Stitch N’ Pitch – Mariners vs. Yankees and knitting in public.  Amazingly, after weeks / months of picking up projects only rarely, that wasn’t even the first knitting I did this week.  I’ve done a few more rows on my Scoreboard Blanket and accomplished several more cable repeats of the neckline for my bamboo Henley shirt while at the game…even though they never did turn on the lights for those of us up in the nosebleed section!  Today, Sister, Munchkin and I went to the zoo.  We went and saw some of the animals on a loop we don’t usually do – and they were out and active –  and then hit some of our favorite exhibits.  I got to see two different types of otters, so my day was complete.

My Dice! No Touchy!

(Note: Sorry for the missed weeks!)

I was sitting on my room reading the other night when Munchkin came home.  She wanted me to talk to, which was absolutely fine.  Then she wanted to investigate my World of Darkness dice bag (three or so sets of 10 sided dice), which was less okay.  I told about how it’s often considered rude to touch other people’s dice (which I only sometimes apply to my own dice), but I really couldn’t explain why.   We act like other people touching our dice will change their luck even though, intellectually, we know that there’s no such thing.  This got me thinking about gaming traditions, how they get started, and how these occasionally very odd behaviors bind gamers together as a group, a very widespread group.  There are dice shaming posts on Facebook with contributors from all over the country, or even world.  I, personally, have threatened to put my dice in the freezer when they’ve misbehaved (seriously! eight dice and no successes?!?).  We pick up behaviors and vocabulary (I’ve never had to deal with THAC0 tables, but I understand they’re a thing) from each group we play with and become part of a huge web of people over space and time.  It’s amazing really.

Of course, it’s not just role-playing games where a shared set of vocabulary and traditions and in-jokes bind together a far larger group of people.  All my crafts and knitting friends and experiences connect out into millennia of crafters – both professional and amateur.  We fondle yarn and knit in public and talk of frogging and SABLE and FOs, and thousands of miles away complete strangers are doing the same thing.  I’ve participated in the SCA with all of its traditions and culture, which have spread across the globe (aka The Known World).  My recent entry into the running community has certainly come with a new set of vocabulary (bonking and Fartleks, anyone?).  Even friends and families have sets of idiosyncrasies that create a personal feel to your own nearest and dearest but connect to other groups of people over distance and generations.

I love the feeling of inclusion when I start on a new hobby or meet new friends and start picking up habits and lingo.  You get a new tribe and find your people.  The only danger is that shared behaviors can also become exclusionary to people outside the group.  That big web of connections may spread far and wide but be isolated from other webs.  People are people, and we love to feel special, so sometimes we use our private languages and group traditions to keep other people out.  Each of us is part of a lot of different webs, which sometimes intersect and sometimes don’t.  Sister thinks my new-found desire to run is crazy, and probably doesn’t really need to know about some of our terminology, but I still try to share with her my excitement – hopefully without boring her too much with details.  That’s what I hope most people try to do, open up the edges of their web so that people can join or at least share.  True, sometimes you really “had to be there” to understand a reference or joke that keeps coming up with one group, but if we find other ways to connect between groups and people then I think it’s still okay.  And, wow, this is not where I expected this post to go.

Organization Re-Organization

It was a grey, sleepy, actually rainy Sunday today.  I did go out for a run with Munchkin in the mist this morning.  First time doing that; it wasn’t too bad while we were out there, but I felt kinda icky-sticky once I was back inside.  Anyway, as expected with guests in the house, I’ve been catching up with my reading and with some work in my room.  A couple of years ago, I came up with an idea to increase the book and craft supply storage in my room.  I’ve alluded to this storage solution in at least one other post.  The idea was to create both storage and a place for me to sit and read – that isn’t my bed.  I did a little research and got another PAX wardrobe case like I did for my closet redesign, except this one was even bigger.  The one I got fits perfectly in the outside corner of my room beside the front window.  I also got a matching piece to go under the window and use as a bench, with the side of the wardrobe case providing a back rest.


I stand by the idea, but the execution has been more difficult than I expected.  First, the bench is actually a the base unit of a TV stand.  It looks nice with three open cubbies and three drawers, but it wasn’t really made to take the weight of a person sitting on it.  I bought some legs to go on them, but they didn’t attach the way I thought they would.  I’ve tried a couple of other methods, but haven’t gotten anything to really work.  Mostly, it collects junk and clean clothes that I haven’t put away, not helped by the fact that I haven’t gotten around to trimming and covering the foam I bought to make a cushion.  I also had more trouble finding a way to maximize book storage on a deep shelf without sacrificing access.  I thought I’d be able to buy book / DVD size storage boxes, but I couldn’t find any that would go the depth of the shelves.  Being relatively crafty, I decided to make my own.  After searching on the internet and Pinterest, I found a blog where someone had made custom storage boxes out of foam board and duct tape.  So I bought some supplies, did some measurements, and started making what I thought of as “book drawers”.


They were a pretty neat solution, and I do like the ones I’ve finished.  They’re colorful and store over twenty paperbacks each.  With five shelves of seven “drawers”, I would have been able to store lots of my paperback books.  The problem is that it actually takes a couple of hours to make each box, and I can only make one at a time due to ergonomic issues (I have to use the floor for all the cutting and assembling).  With other projects and work and inclination, I haven’t made that many.  Furthermore, with the five I have made filled and sitting on one shelf, I’m not entirely certain the shelf is rated for that kind of weight.  I keep looking at the shelf and thinking that it’s got a bow in the middle.


So, it’s been a couple (a few?) years since I started, I’m nowhere near done with the project, and I’m no longer sure it’s going to work.  Thus, I decided I needed to make some changes to the over all project.  I am going to repurpose the wardrobe box to being craft supplies only.  I should be able to find larger boxes or tubs that will fit craft supplies while utilizing the depth of the shelves.  Actually, I already have some, though that particular brand / style has been discontinued.  I’m pretty excited by this concept, in part because the storage (TV) bench doesn’t hold nearly as much of my yarn as I thought it would (I have even more stash than I thought!) and in part because I will be able to finish the storage quickly.  Despite being proud of my clever “book drawer” solution, it was taking way to long to really be satisfying.  And with nothing really finished, I actually still have a bunch of stuff that can’t put away decently (as can be seen in the pictures).


The second change I’m making is too rearrange my room some to make space for more traditional bookshelves.  I currently have one short bookshelf in my room, which I will keep initially but eventually replace with a taller unit.  I’m going to move that bookcase, shift my bed over, line the entire side wall of my room with bookshelves, and shove the bench into the corner.  I won’t be able to look out the window from it any more, but it should be a nice cozy corner.  I have a wall quilt from BestFriend that will also be really nice on that wall and make the nook even better.  I am also considering moving my desk into the line on that side wall.  This will lose me bookshelf space, but seems like a nice idea.  I rarely use my desk where it is in the shared office, and taking it out would give BIL a place to put in more storage as well.  Of course, I may just be wanting to put it next to the craft storage because if I do, the cool “tea time” vinyl decal Sister got me will still show.