Tuesday, July 31, 2012

12 in 12: July Update

During 2012, Sophia, Olivia, and I are doing a special challenge that we've named 12 in 12. We are doing 12 different activities that help people in need, animals, or the environment. 

This is how we did during July: 

- Take 1 bag of food to the food shelf. We donated 24 packages (two 12-packs) of Ramen Noodle Soup to the food shelf at church. This food shelf serve the local communities of Marine on St. Croix and Scandia.

The girls dropping off food for the food shelf.

- Volunteer 1 hour at a community organization that is chosen each month (can be the same one or different one). We now have collected 841 books to establish a library in Lesotho, Africa, through the African Library Project. Our goal is 1,000 books. This month we focused on storing the books safely here until we can ship them this fall to the African Library Project which will send them onto Lesotho. 


Sophia counting books and putting them in bins 
until they are shipped to 
the African Library Project this fall.

- Donate 1 bag of clothing to a second-hand shop. We had a small bag of of clothing that we donated to Family Pathways (see photo below). Sophia and Olivia found some clothes that no longer fit or that they didn't want to wear any longer when we cleaned out their closet this month.

- Donate 1 bag of toys and other non-clothing items to a second-hand shop. We donated ten bags of household goods and toys plus a guitar to Family Pathways. 

Olivia and Sophia with the items we donated.

We also donated five bags of non-clothing items to Goodwill later in the month. In addition, we brought two pairs of glasses that belonged to Ann's father/the girls' grandpa to the Lions Club collection box so they can be refurbished and given to people who can't afford a pair of glasses.

The girls holding two pairs of glasses and the cases
before donating them to the Lions Club for refurbishing.

- Donate 12 books that we no longer read to organizations needing books. We donated 101 books and 28 learning activities for students and teachers at the library we are collecting books through for the African Library Project.

Above: The girls with some of the books they've read 
that they are donating to the children in Africa.

Below: These are some of the learning materials we are sending
along with the books so the teachers in Africa 
can help their students learn to speak and read English.

- Donate $12 to an organization that helps individuals, animals, or the environment. We donated $12 to Northwoods Humane Society.

Sophia and Olivia with cash and Kitten Chow.

When we arrived, there was a woman who remembered Sophia, Olivia, and I when we adopted Gretel in 2008. She was so happy to be able to see Gretel (who we had in the car with us along with Montague), and recalled taking the photo of us with Gretel on the day we adopted her.

Three of the dogs who are eager to find a family.

She was grateful for our ongoing support...especially since they are trying to raise $60,000 by the end of the calendar year in order to keep the humane society open. It's been a challenging year for them since there are significantly more pets being surrendered and abandoned; and more difficult to secure donations since the economy is still in a state of recovery.

- Write 1 letter to someone who has made a difference in our lives. I wrote to a woman who was instrumental in helping me with my dad's funeral. She was a staff person at the church that my dad and mom attended.

She helped make sure that I had all the necessary components in the funeral (my dad was a deacon in the Catholic Church and there were components that needed to be included that were specific to his faith and role in the church).

She ensured that everything we were hoping for in terms of music (which was important to my dad) was in place.

Also, she coordinated a meal that met what my dad had hoped would be served (scalloped potatoes and ham...and "not rolled ham"...he wanted people to have the "good ham" and be nourished by the meal; and he wanted people to have ice cream with lots of choices of toppings).

Throughout the entire process, she was extraordinarily compassionate, listened, and shared the impact that my dad had on her life. 


While my mom was at the nursing home recovering from her fractured ankle, she would visit my mom regularly and spend about an hour each time listening and talking with her. This greatly helped my mom during what she described as the most difficult part of her entire life.

- Donate 1 bag of pop cans to places that collect them to raise funds. We donated a bag of cans to the collection container that the Lions Club has to support the local projects it does.

 Above and below: The girls donate cans to 
the local Lions club.

- Donate 1 bag of Purina Kitten Chow (dry) to Northwoods Humane Society. There are quite a few kittens at Northwoods, even now in the middle of the summer.

Sophia playing with one of the cats
at Northwoods Humane Society.

We were told how much they appreciate the kitten food that we bring each month. (See photo above of the girls donating money to Northwoods.)

Dougie is looking for a loving family
and a permanent home.
He's about one year old.

- Spend 1 hour outdoors doing projects that help wildlife. We filled the bird feeders around the farm throughout the month. During July, we did not put out suet since it has been very hot (both temperature and humidity).

Olivia filling a measuring cup
with bird seed.

We also have noticed birds that normally don't visit the feeder eating from it - like wrens. Normally, they find little worms and insects to eat. So, it was nice to see one of our favorite birds staying around the farm.

The girls are putting up a finch feeder
in the front yard. The goldfinches and
chickadees enjoy eating at this feeder.

The bird bath has been a favorite spot for many birds this month. The female cardinal, especially, visits quite frequently and takes a bath. The goldfinches, blue jays, and house finches enjoy drinking the water.

Olivia filling the birdfeeder with seeds.
This is outside the living room window where
we can see the birds fly from the feeder 
to the pine trees.

Because so many birds are using the bird bath, it has had to be scrubbed clean several times and the water filled about every other day.

- Make and randomly drop off 1 toy for a child to find as part of The Toy Society. I made a little stuffed owl from wool felt and wool from sheep I raised.

Stuffed wool owl I made.

We put the owl at a local museum called Gammelgarden

The owl in a plastic bag with a note explaining about The Toy Society
and that the toy is free.

The girls and I thought that putting it in a slide as a child came down would be a fun surprise.

A child will be surprised to find the owl 
at the end of the slide.

After we were done, the girls played for a bit on the equipment at Gammelgarden.

Sophia liked how high the swing could go.

It was a nice break after a busy day.

Olivia enjoyed walking up and down the slide.

- Share 1 time the gift of music (piano and/or harp) or singing with others.


Sophia played the piano for her grandma.

Sophia playing the piano at 
her grandma's home.


She also played the harp with another harpist at an audition for the local county fair. She and the other harpist were chosen to perform at the county fair in August.

Sophia doing an introduction to the piece
that she and the other harpist were going to play.

video
The girls playing "Edelweiss." 


No act of kindness, 
no matter how small,
is ever wasted.
~ Aesop ~

Black and White Photos

Today's focus for the Summer Blog Challenge are black and white photographs that I've taken.

These are some pictures that I've taken over the past few years that I like - either for reminding me about nature walks that I've enjoyed taking at state parks, that capture the spirit of living at the farm, or of special memories that I have of Sophia and Olivia.

One of the state parks that I like visiting is Interstate State Park. The rock formations and glacial potholes there are beautiful and intriguing.

Rock at at Interstate State Park
April 30, 2008

William O'Brien State Park is another park nearby that has a variety of nature trails - some are wooded, some are in the prairie, and others go by a lake and river. The picture below is on a wooded trail. The sunlight was peeking in through the trees and a plant cast a shadow on a rock.

Shadow on a Rock
June 1, 2008

Living in the country has given me some incredible views of sunrises, sunsets, and cloud formations.

Sunset behind clouds
August 21, 2007

It also has given me a better understanding about the hard work and sacrifices that farmers go through each year to provide food for other people and animals. Seeing large tractors and farm equipment on the roads and in the fields is common.

Tractor Tire
May 3, 2008


A highlight of living at the farm has been having both domestic animals and livestock. I like being able to provide space for the dogs to run and explore. One of the dogs we adopted is Gretel. The picture below was taken four days after she had been at home. It was a brief moment of rest for this high-energy puppy.  

Gretel was born on a reservation in Minnesota. She was in a litter of six. Two made it to Northwoods Humane Society at 4 weeks old. She and her brother went into foster care for a little over four weeks. Then, they went back to Northwoods to be adopted.

Gretel Resting with Bone
 March 28, 2008

Montague came here via St. Francis Animal Rescue. He's a Golden Retriever who was a runaway. He was very underweight when he was found and brought to the animal shelter. Since no one claimed him, he was going to be euthanized. St. Francis intervened and placed him in foster care until he was adopted in November 2003. He was about 1 1/2 or 2 years old at the time. This is Montague:

Montague in Black and White
September 29, 2007


Periodically, I photograph the girls in black and white. They prefer color pictures, so there are few black and white ones.

One of my favorite ones of Sophia is when she and her pony, Bailey, were spending some time together by the barn. Bailey had just been recently adopted after coming from a neglect situation at another farm. She was adopted through the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation.

Sophia and Bailey
August 13, 2009

When the girls were younger, we would go on walks down the road and they would look for "precious gems and stones." Anything that sparkled or had unusual markings would go in their pockets or container they carried. Olivia is five years old in the picture below and is carrying a little cone made from felt that she would place the stones in.

Notice the summer dress and heavy winter boots. These were the boots that were most comfortable for her to wear when she walked...despite the warm weather.

Olivia Looking for Rocks
June 1, 2008

These photographs give a glimpse into what I love and what surrounds me on a daily basis.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Creative Work I've Done

Today's question for the Summer Blog Challenge asks: "Are you an artist? Show some artwork or doodling you've done."

I enjoy being able to do a variety of crafts and things that allow me to express myself. The images below show a variety of things that I like to do and have made over the past several years: embroidery, quilting, snow sculpture, baking, nature journaling, needlefelting, origami, paper folding, quilting, coloring, doodling, photography, paper cutting, quilling, cake decorating, homeschooling/teaching, and playing the piano. 

ATC Traded - Embroidered Henny Penny Taking a Stroll
Hand-embroidered and appliqued artist trading card.
July 26, 2008

My Snowman
Snowman I made on Leap Day.
February 29, 2012

My Nature Journal
A couple of pages from my nature journal.
February 15, 2011

Take a Stitch Tuesday Journal
A two-page spread from my 
Take a Stitch Tuesday embroidery journal. 
Each week I put a personal reflection, 
list of five items for which I'm grateful, 
a collage of images that represents the week, and 
embroidery samples that show the new stitch I learned that week.
February 26, 2012

Rainbow Penguins - Learn the Color Wheel and Natural Play Toys
Hand-embroidered penguins that I made
to help my daughters learn their colors.
December 14, 2008

Mosaic of Needlefelted Alphabet ATCs and ACEOs - Tactile Art and Learning for Children
Needle-felted letters (each one 2 1/2" x 3 1/2") 
that I made when my daughters were learning the alphabet.
June 12, 2008

Summer Solstice Star Collection
Origami window stars.
June 7, 2009

Valentine's Day Meal - Felt Pita Sandwich Crackers, Cookies, and Tea
Hand-embroidered felt food.
Some of the items are from patterns, and
others are ones that I made up based on 
food I had in the kitchen.
February 1, 2009

Origami and Felt Valentine's Day Boats
Origami boats with felt sails 
filled with candy hearts.
February 12, 2008

Close Up of Journal Quilt
One of the monthly journal quilts I made.
Each month I created one based on what happened that month.
Every component in the mini quilt represents something.
They are each about 9" x 12".
April 9, 2010

August Journal Quilt without Border
This is another example of a journal quilt I made.
It is also about 9"x12".
August 24, 2010

Inspire the Artist Within You - Cut Up Secret Journal Entry
"Secret journal page."
I wrote a page in my journal, cut it up, and 
glued it onto another page.
March 9, 2009

Rainbow Mandala
I have a book with blank mandalas that I color
using Prismacolor Colored Pencils.
May 23, 2008

Floating Milkweed
Photo I took of Sophia when she was 6 years old.
She's pulling milkweed seeds from her pockets and releasing them.
The seeds are floating away in the wind.
September 29, 2007

"My Favorite Things"/Sound of Music Swap - Raindrops on Roses
Paper cutting with roses at the end of each point.
January 1, 2009

Sashiko Pillow
Sashiko pillow I embroidered and sewed.
July 17, 2010

Counting by 5s and 10s
Homeschooling/teaching requires some creative thinking when
new concepts are taught. 
In the picture above, Sophia was learning 
jump counting (counting by 5s and 10s).
September 25, 2007

Inspire the Artist Within You - Small Circles
Page of  circles I did with
Prismacolor Colored Pencils.
March 7, 2009

Finished Sensory and Memory Quilt (for my Dad's Christmas Gift)
Sensory and memory quilt that I made for my dad.
Each plain square of fabric is a different texture.
The white squares have pictures that my dad and 
I picked out shortly after he was diagnosed with 
\mid-stage Alzheimer's Disease.
They each had special meaning to him.
He slept with the quilt each night from Christmas time 2009 
until his death on January 5, 2012.
December 21, 2009

Quilling on Olivia's Hand
Olivia's photocopied hand with
quilling I did glued on top of the image.
February 16, 2008

Olivia's 8th Birthday Cake
Candyland cake I made for Olivia's 8th birthday.
She saw the image in Taste of Home magazine, and 
asked if I would make it for her.
This is the cake I decorated.
January 18, 2011

Couching Stitch on Felt
I learned how to do the couching stitch, and
used some wool yarn, cotton floss, and wool felt.
This was part of the Take a Stitch challenge that 
started on January 1, 2012, and goes until December 31, 2012.
March 5, 2012

Chevron Stitch in Spring Colors
This is another stitch I learned (the green and purple parts).
The other elements I added to make it 
more reflective of my style.
February 8, 2012

Me Playing the Piano
Sophia took this picture of me playing the piano.
The shadow in the lower right part is 
Olivia standing next to me.
I took lessons for ten years when I was growing up.
Although I don't play as much as I would like to now,
I still can sit down and play some songs which is nice.
January 31, 2008

Wool Felt Bears & Bunting
Two hand-embroidered bears made from 
a wool blanket that I machine felted.
They are holding a paper flag bunting.
They're small bears - they fit in the palm of a person's hand.
January 30, 2011

That's a sampling of the things I like to do. Am an artist? I don't term myself one. I just enjoy doing the things I have shown, and look forward to the times when I can do them.