Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge - March 29, 2017

For this week, the focus of the Wednesday Hodgepodge focuses on beauty and beasts...a nice tie in to the movie Beauty and the Beast that is in theaters now; and that Sophia, Olivia, and I saw on Sunday.

1. 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.'  What's something you've seen recently that you thought was beautiful?

The eyes of our pets I find beautiful. Each is unique and, to me, full of expression.

I like the dark brown eyes of the dogs (all our current dogs have brown eyes) and horses.

Eenie, our cat, has hazel eyes. They are so big compared to the other  cats.

2. Our culture and beauty...your thoughts?

I think there is way too much emphasis on physical beauty and not enough on inner beauty and good character.

It's important to feel good about oneself and take care of oneself. It's unhealthy, however, when that desire for beauty is taken to an extreme and/or a person tries to attain an artificial, air-brushed, photo-shopped look that is truly unattainable.

There was a quote that I found on Pinterest that I believe better defines beauty:

This is another quote that I like:

3. Age before beauty, beauty queen, beauty mark, beauty sleep...which beauty-ful phrase resonates with you today? Why?

Probably out of the four options, "age before beauty" would be most applicable.

I looked up what the phrase means on The Phrase Finder and it says, "Older people should be given precedence over the younger and, by implication, more beautiful. This is normally used jocularly, often by the older person in order to flatter the younger."

4. I read here a list of the top ten beasts animals that scare us the most: alligators, coyotes, black bears, birds (but pigeons in particular), sharks, bats, bed bugs, rats, rattlesnakes, and the black widow spider. 

Which 'beast' on the list scares you the most? What is the likelihood of you having an actual encounter with that particular beast?

Alligators and sharks scare me the most because they are large; and the method of injury and/or death is so violent.

The likelihood of me having an actual encounter with these particular beasts? Slim to none.

Did a movie contribute to your fear of this creature? Have you ever had a real life encounter with any of the animals listed?

More than watching a movie, it's reading books about nature and wildlife that have provided insight into what these animals are capable of doing.

Although I haven't had a real-life negative encounter with either an alligator or shark, I have seen an alligator both in the wild and in captivity; and a shark in captivity.

This alligator (below) was sunning itself on an island at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center that I enjoyed visiting on April 30, 2010.

This alligator (below) was at the Estuarium on Dauphin Island on August 31, 2009. The coloring of the alligator was a surprise to me. Perhaps it was its type or youth...I'm not sure why it was so vividly-green.

This Sand Tiger Shark snuck up on Sophia, Olivia, and I as we were observing one of the aquariums at the Minnesota Zoo on January 31, 2008. It came quickly around the corner in the aquarium and scared us all. Just out of the blackness, it seemed to come from no where.  We thought it had kind of a creepy-looking eye.

Check out the teeth on it, though. I was happy that we were on the other side of the glass from the shark.

5. Where were you when you last heard a bell ring? Was it alarming or musical?

The type of bell that comes to mind are the ones my mom used to ring. This isn't the bell I last heard. Rather, the ones I'm thinking about are the most memorable to me.

There was an outdoor bell right next to the deck door. When dinner was ready, and if we were out playing, she would ring the bell. We could hear that bell probably a good quarter-mile away.

The more delicate and quieter bells were kept in the kitchen drawer. These were sometimes used to let us know that dinner was ready if we were indoors - sometimes as a family or if we had company.

My mom also would give us a bell if we sick and needed something. In that way, we didn't have to get out of bed. We could just ring the bell and she would come to see what we needed.

6. What's your favorite carb? How's that for random?

See that far right column with the grains and sugary snacks? Yep...that's the column I would enjoy eating in unlimited quantity if there were no negative consequences. Cookies, brownies, well-made bread...anything along that line.

If I were to choose from the "great carbs" section - it would be the  berries and from the "good carbs" - it would be that pineapple.

So, it looks like I tend more towards sweet carbs.

7. Let's wrap up another month of Hodgepodging and life with an acrostic. Recap your month using the word MARCH.

Migrating birds returning: sandhill cranes, killdeer, and red-winged blackbirds
Announcing Spring are the frogs singing in the pond
Remembering the past by going through photos that belonged to my parents
Competition and preparation for the regional and state 4-H Wildlife Project Bowls
Homeschooling at home and learning-by-doing-seeing-and-volunteering in the community 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I had a weird dream on Monday night. I was driving the car on a very narrow bridge (not much bigger than the width of the car) that moved pretty erratically and widely as the wind blew.

The car could barely fit on the bridge - like this one.

I could see below, the water churning and high waves crashing into one another.

The bridge in my dream was very similar to this one that
Sophia, Olivia, and I walked across at Tettegouche State Park
on June 4, 2013.

Within a minute or so, the bridge broke and fell into the water. The car started going towards the water, slowly filling.

I knew conceptually what to do to escape, but was frozen. I couldn't move.

The water was filling the car and I thought, "Oh, that's just great. I ruined the car....and this is the good one." I started to panic as the water was up to about my chin level.

And then I felt a nudge from Cooper, the dog. He woke me up from the dream.

Cooper sitting on his favorite chair and
looking out the window.

He's done that before - and it's only when I'm on the verge of dying in a dream. I wonder if my body is reacting to the stress in the dream in a way that alerts him somehow.

At any rate, I looked up on Dream Sleep what dreams of drowning mean. The site said, "Dreams of drowning or struggling in treacherous waters may represent your fear of being swallowed by forces hidden in the depths of your unconscious.

"It may be helpful to talk your problems and fears through with a friend. They may be able to throw you a lifeline and help you 'keep your head above water'.

"The dream also shows how you are being overwhelmed by your emotions. You may fear sinking financially or be drowning in your difficulties.

"Do you feel that, in waking life, you are being 'sucked into' something you would rather not be a part of?

"Pause for a while and make sure you have your 'feet firmly on solid ground' before you make any major decision."

Well...I was finishing up on taxes prior to going to bed. Probably shouldn't do that again.


Anyway...a final image of something that I find beautiful: sunrises and sunsets. Until we lived at the farm, I didn't see many sunrises because of the direction the home or apartments I lived in faced.

Living on Bass Lake growing up, we saw amazing sunsets - many times enjoyed while we ate dinner together as a family.

At the farm, I've been incredibly blessed to be able to see both beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

A sunrise on September 29, 2007.
The cloud formations and colors were spectacular that morning.

I try to take photos of ones that stand out for some reason as often as I can.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Peppermint Bath Melts - DIY with Essential Oils

A while back I was looking at Natural Health Blogger and came across directions for making Peppermint Bath Melts.

The site says that, in addition to being both invigorating and energizing, "Peppermint contains Vitamin A that helps reduce excessive skin oiliness and strengthen skin tissue. Peppermint oil also acts as an astringent, making it very useful in treatment of rashes and pimples." They can be used in a bath (one or two per use) for a cooling aroma.

There are only three ingredients that are used to make these bath melts: cocoa butter, peppermint essential oil, and avocado oil.

I thought I had cocoa butter on hand, but it was shea butter. So, I substituted that ingredient. Had plenty of peppermint essential oil, but had to purchase avocado oil. It's kind of an expensive oil to use - especially since such a minimum amount is needed.

Had I read the original directions on Natural Health Blogger, I would have saw that sweet almond oil also can be used. The avocado oil will give the soap a green tinge whereas the sweet almond oil will not.

For one bath, I used two bath melts. These were not filled-to-the-top-of-the-ice-cube-tray bath melts- so maybe the equivalent of 1 1/2 bath belts.

At any rate, use some caution as you get in and out of the tub; and make sure to thoroughly wipe down the tub after using it. The combination of the shea butter and avocado oil make for a very slippery combination.

The bathroom smelled very nice when the bath melts were melting in the hot water. I didn't notice if it left my skin smelling like peppermint.

Since I use essential oils regularly, I don't know if I smell like peppermint or not. It's usually others who will comment about "something smells so good" or "are you wearing essential oils today" and then I know that the oils have, indeed, left their scent on my skin.


¼ cup cocoa butter (I used shea butter since that's what I had on hand)
10-20 drops peppermint essential oil (I used 20 drops which was very strong when it was in liquid form)
2 tablespoons avocado oil or sweet almond oil
Mold (e.g., small candy mold, ice cube tray)


Melt the cocoa butter in a microwave or double boiler. (Note: This took only about a minute. I melted it in 20-second increments.)

Once melted, allow the mixture to cool slightly before stirring in 2 tablespoons of avocado or sweet almond oil. Add 10-20 drops of peppermint essential oil.

Pour the mixture into the mold (I used an ice cube tray); and carefully place it in the freezer.

Remove the mold after 15-20 minutes at which time the bath melts should be solidified. Pop them out of the mold.

Note: Use the Peppermint Bath Melts as soon as possible or store them in the refrigerator.

Happy Homemaker Monday - March 27, 2017

The weather.....alternates between raining and being overcast. We haven't had rain for some time so it's good for the trees and grass. Perhaps it will make things more green and Spring-like.
Right now I am....planning the A to Z challenge that begins on April 1st.

I'm going to be going through my homeschool files and getting rid of papers that I no longer need or want; and then either doing projects or writing things about each of the letters. It's a way to use the files rather than letting them just take up space in my (home) office.

Thinking....about the fun time I had this weekend. Sophia and I went to an expo that featured local businesses on Saturday. There were tons of freebies, drawings, and free food sampling from Famous Dave's (a barbecue place). We're hoping that we win one of the drawings we signed up for at the expo.

On Sunday, we saw Beauty and the Beast at a movie theater that has reclining chairs. We have seats that we like to be in (there is no one directly in front of us because of an aisle; and we're in the center middle part of the theater) and had to search through all the different movie times to find the seats that we could reserve.

This is the only movie theater near us that takes reservations. It's the only way that you're guaranteed a seat for movies. At any rate, the only time available that had "our" seats: 9:15 a.m.! We've never gone to a movie in the morning, so that was a first for us.

The movie was very well done. The costumes were elaborate and beautiful; and the sets and special effects impressive.

One of the costumes from the movie.

There were some parts of the movie that I didn't expect - like the scene where Belle takes the Beast back to her childhood home in Paris. She wanted to know what happened to her mother.

The Beast discovered a metal mask that doctors wore in the 16th and 17th century when the bubonic plague broke out. Belle's mother had the plague; and implored her husband to take Belle and escape so she wouldn't be affected by the plague. Her father confirmed this when they returned to the French village where they lived. I knew about the bubonic plague, but for some reason didn't make the connection to France.

still moving along in Animal Dialogues. Got many new books from the library to read over the upcoming couple of weeks.

On my TV.....didn't watch anything from Thursday night to now. Probably won't put on the t.v. until Tuesday night for a few shows I enjoy watching.

Favorite blog post last week (mine or other)....we have been using the Handbook of Nature Study for many years now as part of our homeschooling. One of the sections in the book is about zoo animals.

On March 16, 2017, we went with our 4-H club
on a behind-the-scenes tour and got to see the bears' kitchen.
The buckets are the food for the three grizzly bears.
They had a lot of good-looking produce -
including lettuce and carrots.

In March 2009, Sophia and Olivia were able to
see a sea otter up close.

In addition to sharing some facts about ten animals featured in the book in the post, I went back and looked at photos over the past ten years that I took of my daughters and I at zoos and sanctuaries with animals; and/or animals in the wild. It brought back many good memories.

Something fun to share....I was looking through my Pinterest boards and came across one I had started about hope chests.

These were something that seemed to be talked about more when my parents were growing up, although I do recall wooden hope chests being advertised when I was a teenager. The advertisements encouraged parents to purchase one for their daughters and start putting things in them to give to them either when they married or went off to college.

There are ideas on the Pinterest board for creating items for one's daughter: recipe box with favorite family recipes, kitchen towels, washcloths, and other practical items that can be used when she is starting a new life - either at college or in a relationship.

One of the crafts I like is for a tea towel that is at Lil' Luna.

Perhaps this Spring or Summer I can get started in making some items for Sophia and Olivia.

Blog hopping (newly discovered blog)....I'm wanting to learn how to make soap with lye and came across Sun Drop and Roses which shows a variety of different soap and bath bombs that she has made.

On the menu for this week....some of these meals may be leftovers instead if there's extra food that we need to finish first.

Sunday (yesterday) - Spiced Pork with Sweet Red Onions and Black Beans (Blue Apron meal). The picture below is from Blue Apron because their presentation is so nice.

The dinner was amazing! So much flavor; and the quality of the food was exceptional. This meal came to us thanks to Marci at Stone Cottage Adventures who gifted us with two meals (the other one we had last Friday).
Monday - Sloppy Joes
Tuesday - Taco Pockets
Wednesday - Teriyaki Chicken Casserole
Thursday - Barley Soup
Friday - Savory Southwest Couscous Salad
Saturday - Pork Roast with Potatoes and Gravy
Sunday - Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

On my to do addition to homeschooling:

Monday - Sophia and I do our second volunteering one-on-one session with cats at the humane society where she plays the harp.

I'm assigned to spend time with El - a 12-year cat.

Olivia has her weekly gymnastics lesson later that afternoon. She's making very good progress between doing that and a private lesson each week. Her coach's goal is to move her as quickly through the beginner and intermediate levels so she can be in the advanced level and be with girls closer to her age and eventual skill level.

Tuesday - Homeschool co-op for both the girls and harp lessons (Sophia). Bring taxes in if I didn't do so on Monday.

Wednesday - Sophia and I go to a thrift store to meet with a fashion consultant. We filled out a rather comprehensive online form that describes our style and size; and then linked to our Pinterest boards that visually shows what type of clothes we like. She will pull clothes and accessories that fit what we are looking for which will save us time.

In the late afternoon, go to Fare for All to get food that is sold at a greatly-reduced rate. The program is open to anyone who wants to stretch their budget.

Thursday - Take Sophia and Olivia to the Wildlife Project Bowl practice. Only one more practice and then we're headed to the state competition. I may take a mixed media necklace class at a bead store and ask if they can teach me how to make earrings as well.

Friday - Olivia has speech therapy and a private gymnastics lesson. If the weather is nice, have a backyard picket and finish sealing cracks in the concrete foundation/basement walls and steps.

Saturday - Do some crafting for the county fair. Start a thorough spring cleaning of the house.

Sunday - Pick up any litter along our property and across the street from us that's in the ditch.

In the craft basket....I quilted the Christmas table runner which was both fun and challenging. It's a random pattern that I created as I went along. It's nothing fancy...yet it does its job of holding the top, batting, and backing in place.

I purchased the flannel backing for the northwoods quilt and have it washed and ironed.

Looking forward to this week....decorating for Easter on Sunday.

Looking around the house....I'm happy that we're continuing to get rid of things that we no longer want or need. It will make Spring cleaning easier.

From the camera....went to a new county park on Sunday that I didn't even know existed. It was a bit chilly out - 37 degrees - so I didn't stay long.

However, I want to return when the leaves are on the tree so I can see what the trails and pond look like.

There were a couple geese that were on the pond and then took off; and several beaver lodges. Might be interesting to see what type of wildlife lives there in a month or so.

Also linked to:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Zoo Animals - Outdoor Nature Hour

In the Handbook of Nature Study, there are two pages dedicated to Animals of Zoos and Parks. There are ten animals featured that were photographed by the New York Zoological Society. Of these, several are ones that we have been able to see at the Minnesota Zoo and Como Zoo in Minnesota as well as other zoos and locations during the past ten years.

Bactrian or Two-Humped Camel
=> This wild animal has been domesticated, and is used in northern Africa and western Asia for carrying loads and people.
=> It can go without water for several days because certain portions of its stomach serve as water reservoirs.

Bactrian Camels at the Minnesota Zoo.
March 16, 2017.

Two camels on the Marco Polo Trail at the 
Roger Williams Zoo.
September 6, 2011

The girls on a camel ride
Olivia and Sophia on a camel ride.
August 5, 2007

Malay Tiger
=> The tiger lives throughout most of Asia from southern Siberia south to Java and Sumatra.
=> The male, much larger than the female, may reach a length of ten feet including the tail.

Siberian tiger at the Como Zoo.
Taken on June 20, 2011.

Olivia's Hand Compared to Siberian Tiger Paw
Olivia's hand compared to a Siberian tiger's paw print.
Taken on June 3, 2009.

Nubian Giraffe 
=> They can reach a height of 20 feet.
=> Although it reminds people of a horse, it is more like a cow in that it chews a cud.

She Just Bent Down to Eat
The giraffe had bent down to eat some grass so
her front legs are in a wider position than her back legs.
Taken on September 6, 2011.

Sophia and Giraffe
Sophia had the chance to feed the giraffe several times 
which she thought was really fun. 
 Learned that giraffes eat 23 hours out of the day and 
they sleep 1 hour. 
 They sleep in 5 minute increments (for a total of 1 hour).
Taken on June 3, 2009.

Olivia Feeding Giraffe
Olivia giving the giraffe a snack. 
We were surprised at the color of a giraffe's tongue.
Taken on June 3, 2009.

Girls on Giraffe Statues
Sophia and Olivia on giraffe statues at Como Zoo.
Taken on October 17, 2007.

Olivia on Giraffe
Olivia on a sculpture of a giraffe at the Minnesota State Fair.
It was carved from a tree that had died.
Taken on August 30, 2007.

The Girls Ready to Go Out Trick or Treating
Olivia dressed as a giraffe and Sophia as pioneer
on Halloween.
Taken on October 31, 2008.

Polar Bear
=> Found in Arctic regions either swimming about in the water or roaming on ice floes.
=> Can weigh as much as 1,500 pounds and reach a length of nine feet.

Polar Bear Laying Down with Head Up
This polar bear was watching us for the longest time.
Taken on September 4, 2008.

One of the Polar Bears
This is one of two polar bears relaxing in his new enclosure
at the Como Zoo.
Taken on June 20, 2011.

Polar Bear Outside
The polar bear was walking outside.
The paws were so huge!
Taken on June 20, 2011.

=> They are members of the horse family.
=>  They are white animals with black stripes.

Zebra - Front and Back
The tail almost looks braided on the zebra.
It was still warm enough for the zebras to be outside in October.
During the winter they have to stay inside since
winter in Minnesota is too cold for them to be outdoors.
Taken on October 17, 2007.

Others were animals mentioned in the Handbook for Nature Study that we were not able to see at Como Zoo, but enjoyed learning about. Some are ones, though, that we have seen on other visits to wildlife sanctuaries and/or in the wild:

Wapiti American Elk
=> Actually moose should be named "elk" for they are a true elk.
=> The wapati lives in the western part of the United States and Canada.
=> It is chestnut red in the summer and grayish in the winter.

We saw these elk at the wildlife sanctuary in 
Oak Leaf Park in Glencoe, Minnesota.
Taken on June 8, 2012.

=> The word rhinoceros comes from two green words which mean "nose" and "horn."
=> They live in tropical portions of Asia and Africa.

=> This animal that has four toes, feeds mainly on aquatic plans and grass.
=> It lives in the rivers of Africa.
=> Its name comes from two Greek words meaning "river" and "horse."

=> This animal has powerful hind legs for jumping and short forelegs.
=> The immature young are carried in a pouch.

Ann and Kangaroos
I was able to feed and be up close with a 
bunch of kangaroos in Australia in 1996.
That one on my left side (or the right side of the picture)
was determined to get food from me. 
Had a couple of rather long nail scratches on my upper arm
thanks to that kangaroo.

Virginia or White-Tailed Deer
=> Only the males possess antlers which are solid bone and shed each spring.
=> Their food consists of buds, leaves, tender bark, and various other forms of plant life.

Deer at Feeder
We saw this white-tailed deer near a bird feeder at
Gooseberry Falls (north of Duluth, Minnesota).
Taken on February 26, 2014.

Deer Running
This is a deer we saw running down the road in Ely, Minnesota. 
The entire underside of its tail is white.
Taken on February 24, 2014.

Deer Track
This is a deer track that we spotted in the cornfield.
Taken on March 11, 2012.

Deer in Two Harbors
This was a small deer herd that was not far from us in Two Harbors, Minnesota. 
My father and mother accompanied Sophia, Olivia, and me to 
Grand Marais for a not-back-to-school trip.
We were able to get very close to them which was exciting.
Taken on September 7, 2010.

Deer at Camp Lakamaga
This is a white-tailed deer that we saw at Camp Lakamaga.
Taken on June 30, 2007.

As we looked back on this nature study, we realized that zoo animals - as well as wild animals that are commonly seen here in Minnesota but that others may consider to be zoo animals - have been a strong interest of ours for many years.

It was fun to be able to look back on pictures taken over the past ten years (or 21 years in the case of the kangaroo picture) and see the variety of places we have been able to see animals like these, and the opportunities we have had to interact with some of them.