Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Simple Woman's Daybook - January 17, 2017

For Today...


Looking out my window...I see snow still covering the ground despite the warm day (34 degrees!). Compared to just a week or so ago when it was 15 degrees below zero, this feels summer-like.

I am thinking...about how peaceful it is in the country and how much I enjoy living in a rural area.

I am thankful...that the roads were clear today as I drove the girls to their homeschool co-op and Sophia to harp lessons; and I did many errands in between that time.

One of my favorite things...my pets. We have two dogs, three cats, and two horses now.

Cooper: German-wirehaired Pointer mixed with a Golden Retriever.

This is a low number compared to what we've had in the past.

Aspen: American Staffordshire Terrier mixed with a Siberian Husky.

Our remaining three cats all are seniors, and we're noticing some health issues with each of them. Hopefully they are with us for a while.

I am creating...a variety of things. Three projects are small quilting ones that I am completing including a pillow and two wall hangings. Purchased backing fabric for the three projects today. Hope to have everything sewn by this weekend.

I am wearing...comfortable clothes now that I am back home.

I am reading...three daily inspirational books in the morning. Each one has a different focus and has a one page reading with a quote, passage, and closing thought.

I am hoping...to hear back soon about Olivia's finding ad. There is a research company that specializes in locating finding ads for children who were abandoned in China. The company has the ad that was placed in the local paper for Olivia, but not Sophia. This ad (if it has a picture) will be a new one that would show her at only a few days old - something we do not currently have.

I am learning...to be more patient. Both Sophia and Olivia did 23andMe DNA testing earlier this month.

The results take 6-8 weeks before we will receive them.

At that point, we can upload the information to various sites for more specific information about their health and background.

One of the things that we all are interested in learning more about are which ethnic minorities each one has in her background. There are 55 ethnic minorities in China - all with different customs, food, language, clothing, and so forth.

Between the ethnic and health information, they will both have significantly more insight into their background than we have been able to provide to them to this point. It is very exciting for us all...yet difficult to wait for the results!

In my kitchen...my goal is to try a new recipe each week during 2017. I've tried quite a few new ones already this year which has been fun. Made lemon-mustard pork chops which turned out well; and a casserole that was almost like homemade spaghetti - except baked and with melted mozzarella cheese on top.

In the school room...we learned about Screech Owls and Red-tailed Hawks from the Warner Nature Center.

The raptors were at our monthly club meeting which was exciting. I had no idea Screech Owls were so small. They always look so big in pictures.

I enjoyed being able to see these birds up close. Their beautiful markings, feathers, and eyes were all so fascinating to look at from such close a distance.

In my garden...everything is covered with snow.

Board room...I will be teaching a workshop for 4-H youth on January 28th about Healthy Breakfasts. One of the things the children/teens will learn to make is Overnight Oats. There are several different recipes on this PIN. The youth will have a variety of fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, oats, and yogurt from which to create their breakfasts.

Post Script...in addition to the Healthy Breakfasts workshop, I'm going to teach a bookmaking workshop to 4-Hers. One of the books that I thought would be fun to make is on this PIN which leads to October Afternoon.

The book she made is shown above. It would be a fun book for the youth to create; and then they can enter it in the county fair in July.

Shared Quote...this is a quote that I came across today:

A moment from my day...actually it was a few days ago. Sophia,  Olivia, and I were at Northwoods Humane Society where Sophia plays the harp for the dogs and cats waiting to be adopted.

It is amazing to see the impact that music has on animals - especially ones who are highly-stressed, anxious, recovering from surgery, or elderly.

Normally we take the cats out and bring them to another room. However, on Friday Sophia played the harp right in the cat room so the cats could stay in the kennels where they feel safe.

They responded well - some were very inquisitive and were peering out of their cages at Sophia. We took a couple of the more interested cats out so they could get a closer look at the harp. They seemed to enjoy it.

Closing Notes....thank you for coming by and visiting.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Outdoor Mom's Journal - January 2017

During our outdoor time this week we went....

around the yard one day before another snowfall. I spent time noticing the flowers that were still on the plants, the milkweed seeds still clinging to some of the pods, and seed scattered on the snow for the birds that prefer to feed on the ground.

I stood by the Austrian Pine that my Dad and brother planted many years ago. It towers above me now. At the time they planted it, it could fit in the wheelbarrow.

The Austrian Pine has lots of pinecones on it. It's interesting to see how these pinecones differ from the ones on other pines here at the farm. Each tree seems to have a different type of cone.

Today, Sophia and Olivia went snow tubing which they enjoyed.

The weather was beautiful - in the 20s. It was over 35 degrees warmer than it was last week. Later this week, it will be near 40 degrees...or 55 degrees warmer. Such a wide swing in temperatures in a relatively short period of time.

The most inspiring thing we experienced was...

watching the birds. We have all the feeders filled now and there is a constant stream of birds at the feeders and sitting in the trees and bushes waiting for their turns.

The most common birds are black-capped chickadees, juncos, woodpeckers (different types), and blue jays. Occasionally, the male and female cardinals are making their appearances at the feeders.
Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)...

how much longer the beautiful oak tree by the driveway will survive. There are significant cracks and holes in it - some made by wildlife and other from age and the impact of nature.

I'm not sure how old the tree is...probably two or three hundred years old, I would guess. The width is impressive. It's a favorite landing spot of bald eagles.

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting....

nothing at this point. However, I did go through copies and clippings that I had pulled out last year about gardening and flowers. In it were sketches of all the gardens I had planted - filled with perennials, bulbs, annuals, and wildflowers. It will be interesting to see what comes up this year.

With a very cold winter and many days with temperatures and wind chills below zero, I'm hoping that the strawberries come up this year. They were spreading a lot throughout the summer and well into the fall thanks to very warm temperatures. If they survive, we should get quite a few strawberries this year!

I added nature journal pages about....

nothing yet. My goal is to do a page tomorrow and then another by the end of the month. Two pages a month would seem to be a reasonable goal.

I am reading...

Adrift by Steven Callahan. It's a true story about a man who is lost at sea for 76 days. It's a very interesting book. I can't even begin to imagine what he went through. It's a fascinating look at the power of nature, the ocean, and sea life.

There are fish the author calls Dorados which I never heard of before reading this book. Looked them up online and they also are called Mahi-Mahi (which I've heard of). They can get up to 90 pounds and are colorful fish. However, once they are caught they change colors.

I am dreaming about…

warmer weather later this week. Am looking forward to hopefully seeing some of the ice melt around the barn so we can chip it away and open the doors again. Right now doing chores is a bit challenging.

A photo I would like to share...

is one that Sophia took with my camera. It's a woodpecker sitting on the line by the driveway. It's waiting in line to eat at the feeder.

The birds have gone through almost a whole big bag of bird seed in less than a week. They've been working on the multiple suet cakes that are out too. Clearly, they are dependent on the feed we're providing for them. Hopefully we'll continue to see the variety of birds that we've enjoyed seeing.
Thank you to Barb the Outdoor Hour Challenge for the idea of doing an Outdoor Mom's Journal.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Visit to the Weismann Art Museum

Today we went to the Weismann Art Museum at the University of Minnesota.

We were supposed to go to the Physics Force Winter Show at Northrop, but the two closest parking lots were full and I couldn't find another one within a 10-minute walking distance of the auditorium. It worked out well because we enjoyed seeing the art at the Weismann.

The first thing that caught our eye was the glass fish. It used to be in the conservatory at the Walker Art Center. However, the Sculpture Garden is undergoing a renovation, so the fish was transported and relocated to the Weismann. I think it's going back to the Walker when the renovation is done.

Next was a gallery with unusual figures and drawings. One had a number you could call and listen to a poem (which is what Sophia is doing).

The exhibit was part of The Talking Cure. There were individual figures...

groups of figures....

and drawings.

One of the galleries had three-dimensional wood sculptures that we all liked. The colors were either bright or white with a contrasting, bright color.

There was an exhibit that you could walk into and stand by each door. As you stood there, a recording would come on that had different voices of people...

or animals. At the door where Olivia is listening, she can hear a dog barking.

There were sections about Korean furniture and accessories that we liked; an iron-poured sculpture of the Mississippi River and its tributaries; paintings; and ceramics.

There were both antique and contemporary ceramics from around the world.

After our time at the Weismann Art Museum, we stopped at Alliance Francais to get Sophia's French textbook and workbook.

Then we went to the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. We enjoyed seeing the wide variety of handmade books in the MCBA bookstore. Such creativity and beauty!

It was an unexpected day filled with art and inspiration.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Nature Goals for 2017

In 2015, I set and worked on 15 nature goals for 2015. For 13 out of the 15 goals, I either met and/or made progress on them. Had I not set the goals, I would not have done or enjoyed as much as I did outdoors as I did.

During 2016, I set 16 goals. Some were new goals, some were continuations of ones I enjoyed in 2015, and others were ones that I didn't have a chance to complete in 2015. I did not do nearly as well in 2016 with my nature goals as I did in 2015. An imbalance in volunteering - which took too much of my time - interfered with what I wanted to do in terms of nature exploration and appreciation.

So, in 2017, rather than set 17 goals I'm paring back a bit to the ones that I feel are realistic and meaningful to me.

1. Take 6 new hikes. Last year, the new hikes I did were in Washington and Idaho - two of the states that my sister and I explored in June. We purchased a state park pass that allowed us to visit many of the parks as we drove from Seattle to Coeur d'Alene (Idaho). It was a wonderful way to see the natural beauty of this part of the United States.

One of the many waterfalls that
my sister and I saw in Washington.

During  2017, most of the new hikes I take will happen when we are taking a trip to Arizona this year and exploring some new state and national parks.

2. Assist as needed with the Wildlife Project Bowl team for our 4-H Club which includes reading 6 nature books or publications. This is a transition year in that for the past two years I have coached a junior team (2015) and senior team (2016). Sophia coached the junior team in 2016 and will continue to do so this year. We are not doing a senior team.

After this season, we will pass on the baton to another parent who is interested in coaching in 2018 since Olivia will be too old to be on the junior team.

This year my focus is on writing more questions from Woodworking for Wildlife and Landscaping for Wildlife as well as some of the bi-monthly publication of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer.

3. Visit 5 state parks that I’ve never seen. I continue to want to visit several parks in Minnesota: Afton, Fort Snelling, Lake Maria, Frontenac, and Forestville/Mystery Cave. It would be nice to go as a family when possible, and take the dogs with us on some of the visits as we explore new trails and parks.

Fort Snelling State Park.

I'd also like to explore some state parks when we go to Arizona this year.

4. Visit 4 nature centers that I haven’t visited before. This can be done in Minnesota and/or Arizona.

5. See four National Parks, Forests, and/or Monuments; and/or Reservations. Most likely, these would be in Arizona.

Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona.

6. Do 1 entry per month in my nature journal. For some of those entries, identify and journal about 3 new types of wildlife and/or birds. I'll use the Handbook of Nature Study for information as well as the internet.

7. Go on a camping trip. We have reservations to go camping in a yurt at Afton State Park in May. As a back-up, I've also rented a camper cabin during the same time so the girls have their choice of places to sleep.

Camping at William O'Brien State Park
when the girls were much younger.

The weather can be unpredictable in May, so I thought having two options available based on the weather would be best. It also gives us two different areas of the park to explore and use enjoy.

8. Plant on our nature trail 10 trees and shrubs that are native to Minnesota. We used to have a closed-loop trail on the back part of the farm when I did an art and farm camp for children.
      After I stopped doing the camp and a development was built adjacent to our property, I no longer had a desire to walk back there. Now, after planting evergreens about a decade ago along the border, they have filled in quite nicely.
       Last year, we had someone come in with a large tractor and mower and mow a path twice during the summer. We will need to do this again since the pathway is still bumpy in spots from gopher mounds.
        Once the pathway is re-mowed this spring, I need to make a commitment to mow it regularly so that it is a walkable path.
        Both Sophia and Olivia also are doing 4-H projects about how to attract different types of birds that they like to one's backyard/farm. Based on what they learn, we would plant various trees, shrubs, and other flora that support these birds. I'd also like to see some of the trees and shrubs that are particularly beneficial to bees and other pollinators planted near the pathways since we have three beehives near the trail.

Beech tree - one of the trees that indigo buntings like.

9. Attend 4 workshops, classes, or activities at state parks. These could be information presentations or hands-on activities that build new skills.

10. Have 6 picnics when the weather is pleasant and we aren't battling with mosquitoes. We did some picnics last year early in the season which I enjoyed. However, most of the summer was so hot that it was not enjoyable for us to be outdoors. Spring and Fall are the best times for us to enjoy eating outdoors. I need to be more diligent in planning and having picnics either in the backyard or at a park.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge - Day 12

Today marks the final day of The Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge. I'm happy that I took the time to do this challenge and reflect each day on the questions posed.

On this twelfth day, the prompt focuses on the 12 Goals for 2017; or what you want to achieve throughout the year ahead.

- Revamp my wardrobe by donating clothes that I no longer wear, and getting clothes that fit well and that I enjoy wearing.

- Continue to watch American Film Institute's Top 100 Funny Movies.

- Do a Financial Fast once per quarter.
- Build retirement accounts.

- Do a crafting club – either work on an existing project, do a Pinterest project, or crafting with a purpose (e.g., for children living at Pine Ridge Reservation).

- Learn more crochet stitches.
- Try at least one new recipe per week.

- Go on field trips twice a month.

Take a 365-Day Challenge
- Do some form of spiritual practice for 20 minutes a day, every day for a year.

Travel – Domestic
- Explore Arizona and Colorado, with brief visits to Utah and New Mexico. See the Four Corners (where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet) and the Grand Canyon as well as many National Parks along the way.

- Expand the ways that I volunteer at Northwoods Humane Society.

- Complete the 52 Weeks of Baking cookbook that I began many years ago, but never finished. All the recipes are done and photos are taken. It just needs to be formatted and printed.

These are only 12 of many goals that I would like to work on this year. I truly want to see 2016 be a year of completion and of reaching goals that I have set in the past, but never have done.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 UFO Challenge

On All People Quilt there's a challenge for 2017 to finish one unfinished project per month during 2017.

The 2017 UFO (Unfinished Project) Challenge encompasses anything that you want to finish - whether it is quilting, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, painting, or whatever you have that you would like to complete.

By finishing projects, the space that the materials were taking is freed up. Perhaps in the process, too, of identifying which 12 projects to focus on that some UFOs can be let go. There may no longer be the interest or desire to finish them.

To participate in the 2017 Challenge:

1. Download the chart here.

2. Fill in twelve projects that you want to finish this year.

3. On the first of each month, All People Quilt will randomly draw a number between 1-12. That number will correspond with which number project you work on throughout the month. Fill in the description of where you were in the project before you start.

4. At the end of the month, fill in your progress on the chart and post pictures of the finished project for everyone to see using the hashtag #APQResolution. There's a Facebook page to share your results.

5. By the end of the year, you'll have 12 finished projects...or at least you will have made a significant dent in your stack of UFOs.

This challenge is timely for me because I have quite a few projects that I've wanted to do, but not made the time to do them. Volunteering, homeschooling, and - frankly - poor time management (at times) have resulted in bags and bins of projects waiting to be completed.

In addition, when my mom died, she had many quilting projects and sewing projects that were unfinished. I would like to complete these and pass them along to Sophia, Olivia, my sister, and brother. If there are more projects (once I go through everything), then they would go to nieces and nephews.

So, my 12 quilting UFOs are:
- Repair antique quilts from Mom plus tulip one on Sophia’s bed.
- Finish 1/4 of quilts that Mom started.
- Finish 1/4 of quilts that Mom started.
- Finish 1/4 of quilts that Mom started.
- Finish 1/4 of quilts that Mom started.
- Finish snowflake pillow, snowman & crow wallhanging, and horse and cabin wallhanging. (Done on January 18, 2017.)
- Finish fall table runner.
- Do ½ sensory/tactile quilts for CCHO.
- Do ½ sensory/tactile quilts for CCHO.
- Finish antique tulip quilt that’s in Sophia’s closet.
- Do 3 memory quilts with Dad and Mom’s clothing.
- Finish bear/northwoods quilt.

The concept of setting 12 specific goals to work on during the upcoming year is one that I thought would be good for other aspects of my life as well. So, while I was at it, I created several additional lists:

12 non-quilting/handiwork UFOs:
- Make padded hangers.

- Go through “Unfinished Projects” bin and complete projects I still want to do.
- Go through “WIP – Embroidery Journal, Quilt, and Doll Clothes” bin and complete projects I still want to do.
- Do embroidered dish towels.

- Make a pair of socks using the sock-maker and yarn I have on hand.
- Make aromatherapy products using up what I have on hand.
- Make items in “Patterns” bin.
- Make pre-printed Christmas table runner.
- Make Christmas stockings and donate to nursing home
- Finish felt project that Mom started.
- Go through bag of patterns and samples of things I want to make. Determine if I still want to do them. If not, use the samples rather than just keeping them in a bag.
- Finish going through bag of patterns and samples; and make what I want to do.

12 household UFOs (these are all indoor projects):
- Fix all antique clocks. Hang or put back clocks after they are repaired.
- Fix spindle on stairs and kitchen threshold. (Handyman needs to do this.)
- Replace all contact paper in cabinets and drawers.
- Replace heating vent and top in dining room. (Top done on 1/11/17. Heating company out on 1/17/17 to assess the job. Will be back to complete it by the end of the month.)
- Do wood filling and paint on stair area.
- Get blinds for upstairs bathroom.
- Paint upstairs bedroom and fix wall in the process.

- Find a lavender paint and cover plaster repairs in north bedroom.
- Help Sophia with stenciling her closet door.
- Put up curtain rod in Sophia’s bedroom after painting the window.
- Paint the kitchen.
- Get a screen for the south kitchen window so it can be opened during the summer.

12 decluttering UFOs/key areas I want to tackle in 2017:
- Clean mudroom. Donate or toss what no longer is needed.
- Go through bookshelves and cabinets in family room.
- Clean northwest office and remove anything that is damaged.
- Go through tablecloths, napkins, and cups in living room bureau and take out what I don’t want. Show my sister and brother to see if they want anything from Mom and Dad’s home.
- Go through Grandma’s bureau and donate/toss what we don’t need.
- Clean all kitchen cabinets and get rid of what we don’t need.

- Go through china closet and remove what we don’t use. If possible, add shelving in the basement and put infrequently-used items in bins or containers. Bring Christmas dishes in from hobby shed so all dishes are together.
- Go through blue room and donate toys and costumes we no longer want.
- Clean Olivia’s closet.
- Clean master bedroom closet.
- Clean both bathrooms. Toss old products.
- Go through books on my bookshelves in bedroom and donate ones I don’t want.

12 home office UFOs/key areas I want to clean in 2017:
- Files A-I gone through. Recycle what I no longer need or plan to do.
- Files J-R gone through. Recycle what I no longer need or plan to do.
- Files S-Z gone through. Recycle what I no longer need or plan to do.
- Clean west closet.
- Clean south closet.
- All paperwork filed and files off the floor. (Done on 1/15/17.)
- Go through items under desk.
- Go through photos and choose which ones to keep.
- Clean desk top and do the things that I want to get done.
- Go through personal files. Recycle what I no longer need or plan to use.
- Go through fabric. Donate what I no longer plan to use.

- Clean by the bookshelf. Find a place for everything so there’s nothing on the floor.

12 Outdoor Project UFOs (most of these need to wait until Summer):
- Fix numbers on mailbox.
- Dig up dead tree and replace it with tree from backyard.
- Trim front tree with red berries once the birds eat them this spring.

- Fix both ponds (by front door and backyard).
- Seal along the wall (exterior and interior) where drain tiling water discharges.
- Burn fire pit.
- Finish putting bark chips by back door and the black small fence; and revitalize the butterfly garden.
- Fix outdoor furniture (sofa) from Mom and Dad.
- Fix fencing in areas where it low and the t-post tops are missing
- Get rid of garbage, paint cans, etc. that are sitting on the ground by the wood pile.
- Replace swing set.
- Do simple repairs to the hobby shed (windows), mower shed (door), and barn (where there are holes); and then paint barn, sheds, and playhouse.

County Fair Projects (these only go from January-July 2017):
- Make a crocheted project.
- Write 2-5 poems and 2-5 short stories.
- Do a needlework picture (redwork, blackwork, needlepoint, or cross-stitch).
- Make a rug (braided, crocheted, or loom woven).
- Make 1 pair of pillowcases.
- Make a memory book or scrapbook.
- Make 1 guest or dish towel (hand-embroidered or appliqued).
- Make a hand-embroidered infant bib.
- Machine sew 2 potholders.

- Make a holiday decoration with yarn, fabric, or thread.
- Make a wheel-thrown clay object.
- Make a greeting card and envelope.
- Make beaded earrings, bracelet, and/or necklace.
- Do a decorative craft (e.g., silk screen, tie dye, mosaic, textile painting).

The Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge - Day 11

For The Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge, I'm on the eleventh prompt: "11 Memories From Christmastide Throughout Your Life."

The guiding thought is: "This time of year is often seen as one of reflection, so why not spend a few moments reflecting on your life so far and share eleven memories that occurred at some point during the various twelve days of Christmas you’ve lived through so far."

I looked back on photos I've taken throughout the years and put them in order by the December date (not the date of the year).

December 25, 2010 - Olivia, who is 7 years old, is being watched by Lucy. Every year, Olivia wakes up early on Christmas Day; and she and I open the gifts in our stockings. Often times, the pets are right by us curious as to what is in the wrapped packages.

December 26, 2011 - The girls enjoyed playing with their new toys and doing the hands-on activities of science kits they received. Here Olivia is using a hammer and chisel to reveal gems. Even though she was wearing glasses, she put the safety glasses on "just in case" something happened.

December 27, 2009 - Belated Christmas Dinner. There was a major snowstorm on Christmas Eve and morning that prevented us from leaving our farm on Christmas Day 2009. We spent the day shoveling out on the 25th and 26th; and Sophia, Olivia, and I were able to spend a nice belated Christmas with my parents and brother.

December 28, 2014 - Olivia decided it was time to cut her hair. Off came more than eight inches which was donated to Children with Hair Loss.

December 29, 2015 - Our 4-H club did a special multi-week program at the nursing home where the girls and I volunteer. The picture below is of Emily - who was 98 years old. She was an accomplished sewer and teacher. It was a joy to know her, and she always had a good story to share about her life. We learned so much from her during the time we knew her. She died on October 17, 2016. It was a loss for us all.

December 30, 2008 - Sophia's 8th Birthday. She wanted to be surprised about what her birthday cake looked like. So, in addition it to be hidden during the day, she wanted to be blindfolded as it came out. I'm not sure what we used for a blindfold...a napkin? A placemat? A piece of fabric? At any rate, it looks like we tied it with twine.

She had her favorite unicorn mug . The placemats we were using were actually napkins my mom made when she and my dad visited us when we were living in Charlotte, North Carolina.

There were fabric mills or outlets that we visited. You could purchase fabric quite inexpensively. It was fun to pick a bunch out and then have my mom (who enjoyed sewing) create tablecloths and matching napkins for our first apartment/home.

December 31, 2012 - Eagle in the front oak tree. This was a significant and meaningful bird to see on this particular day. It was the one-year anniversary of when I visited both my parents - my mom was in the hospital and my dad was in the nursing home.

Little did I know that the following day, I would be called by the nursing home to come in to visit. It looked like my dad was not doing well and wouldn't make it through the evening. It ended up that I stayed there for 3 1/2 more days until he died.

Seeing the eagle reminded me of one of my parents' favorite songs at church (On Eagle's Wings) and one of the songs we played at their 25th wedding anniversary (Wind Beneath My Wings).

January 1, 2013 - Annual Chinese dinner on New Year's Day at our favorite Chinese restaurant. We have gone out to eat at a Chinese restaurant on January 1st since we lived in San Francisco. It became a tradition that we have done each year since then (with the exception of 2012 when I was at the nursing home with my dad).

One of the things we encourage one another to do is to try one new thing that we haven't eaten before....or at least haven't eaten at that particular restaurant.

January 2, 2012 - My dad was dying on this day in 2012. I was by his bedside from January 1st through January 5th when he died. Family members and friends visited during this time period. We were with him around the clock to make sure he received the care he needed and that he was not alone.

January 3, 2011 - Crafting after New Year's Day. There's some time to relax and take it easy the first week of January. One year we made beeswax ornaments to hang in the window. They smelled so good and the sun illuminated the patterns of the ornaments which was beautiful to see each day...especially during cold winter days.

January 4, 2011. One of many meals that the girls ate at the granite table. It was a lower table so that Olivia's feet could reach the floor. It also was a suitable table at the time because we had dogs who were respectful of the food on the table and didn't try to take some for themselves.

When Olivia grew taller and we got a dog who was a bit too curious around meal time, we switched to the wood table.

I'm not sure why I took this picture. Perhaps it was because one of the girls made a new recipe for a homeschool project.

At any rate, it documents an ordinary day in our lives. Sometimes those ordinary days are just as enjoyable as the special days. It gives us time to connect as a family and relax.