Saturday, May 31 - We went to the Hazardous Materials Collection site and got rid of a lot of paint cans that had been sitting around in our home, basement, and hobby shed. In some cases, the cans had been there when we moved into the home in 1995. That's almost 20 years ago!
It was a great feeling to free up all that space and properly dispose of the paints and other hazardous materials.
After that we went to the Canine Carnival at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake.
We enjoyed seeing the owls and other raptors up close.
Some of the wolves - particularly two in one area - took a particular interest in Aspen, Cooper, and us. They came right up to the fence to check us out.
We were curious when we looked at the one with her/his tail between the hind legs. Usually that's a sign of fear or submission, and we would have thought it would have been the opposite way - that the wolves would have been confident if they walked up to the fence.
One of volunteers who has been with the Wildlife Science Center for over six years and who also works at the feed store where we get the horses' feed and wood shavings was there. He was holding an owl who took a very fond interest in Aspen. In fact, the owl swooped down towards Aspen (probably thinking Aspen looked like a good meal), but wasn't able to reach her since she was tethered.
Sunday, June 1 - Equine Vaulting
Sophia and Olivia had equine vaulting lessons in the afternoon. It was nice for them to doing vaulting again after a break during the school year when one of the instructors was away at college.
Monday, June 2 - Rose Floral in Stillwater
The theme for Mondays during the summer is "Make It Mondays" and so we visited Rose Floral in Stillwater to get a pot, plants, and some decorations to make a fairy garden.
Rose Floral had some large and small fairy gardens set up which were fun to look at and see all the different components and embellishments. Such a treat for the eyes!
Olivia came home and started creating her fairy garden using three plants, a walkway, and little animal figurines. She will work on it more on Thursday when I'm teaching a fairy gardening class through the local library.
Later on, I made Beef and Broccoli over Rice in the crock pot - a recipe that I had found on a pin on Pinterest that led to Table for Two. The recipe suggested two cups of broccoli, but said any amount could be added. So, I added four cups of broccoli.
Looking at the two pictures of the pin and my dinner, I think two cups of broccoli would have been better so the sauce didn't get as diluted with the water from the frozen broccoli. Nonetheless, it was a tasty dinner.
Tuesday, June 3 - Make dog agility equipment and a weather station.
After dog agility in the morning (for Take a Trip Tuesday), we spent the afternoon doing some hands-on projects.
Sophia made a dog agility jump using PVC pipes.
She used a scroll saw as well as a drill to cut the pieces to length and assemble the jump for Cooper and Aspen.
It took a while to built the jump because of all the cutting.
Yet it was worthwhile when we saw the dogs enjoy using the jump.
We want to continue building equipment so the dogs can practice agility at home.
Olivia made a weather station using a two-liter bottle, soil, plant, and weather-reading equipment.
After cutting open the two-liter bottle, she added some rocks, soil, and the plant. The we closed it up with duct tape.
She brought it outside and set it up so she can start filling in a weather log and track how the weather changes each week.
Wednesday, June 4 - Carpet installed in Sophia's and Olivia's rooms; and visit to Big Marine Park with Mary B.
The exciting part of the day was the removal of old carpet and installation of new carpet in Sophia's and Olivia's room as part of the re-construction project that began in March due to damage from an ice dam.
As the workers removed the carpet, we were pleasantly surprised to see the condition of the hardwood floors. These are in the original part of the house that was built in 1890. There also is an upstairs hallway and another bedroom that have hardwood floors under Berber carpet. We are debating whether to remove and get rid of the carpet given how nice the floor in Olivia's room looks.
In the afternoon, for Wet and Wild Wednesday, the girls went to Big Marine County Park to enjoy a picnic with Mary B.
It was still a bit too chilly to go swimming, but the picnic table was close to the Big Marine Lake, and the girls and Mary walked on the beach by the water.
We made a variety of soft food for my mom since several of her front teeth have fallen out because of complications from diabetes. So, we enjoyed tuna fish salad, egg salad sandwiches, pudding, lemon bars, crackers with homemade honey butter, and puffed Cheetos.
We brought my mom to a pretty place on a little hill overlooking Medicine Lake and had a picnic there. She could see the sailboats at the dock in the distance.
After lunch, we took my mom around in her wheelchair on some of the paved trails. She was able to see different parts of the park that she had not been to before which was a nice way to spend the day.
Friday, June 6 - Make a Candyland Cake.
On Fridays during the summer, the theme is "Fun Friday" in which we make something that we have seen on Pinterest. Sophia wanted to make a Candyland Cake like she has seen on Pinterest. However, none of them were exactly what she envisioned.
So, she looked at the ideas and then created her own pattern and creativity.
The cake is one of many 4-H projects she is working on during the next month and a half.
Saturday, June 7 - Go camping at Wild River State Park.
Sophia and Olivia have wanted to go tent camping for quite a while now. I used to go camping in a tent when I was growing up as well as when I was an adult in the early 2000s. That was until my last experience camping in a tent and a bear was just outside it walking in the woods. Being in a remote location with no cell phone service, a dog that was standing at alert at the tent door with hair raised on her shoulders and not making a sound, and realizing that only a flimsy piece of fabric separated Casey (my dog) and me from a bear that could rip us to shreds was enough to put an end to tent camping.
Until the girls kept asking to go camping in a tent rather than a camper cabin. Just once...just to see what it was like.
So, the DNR has a program called "I Can Camp!" that is offered at various state parks. I found one that was about 40 minutes from our home that the girls had not been to before. The DNR provides the tent, air mattresses, firewood, water, and all the equipment needed to camp overnight. The only thing we needed to bring were sleeping bags, personal supplies, and food.
We learned how to set up the tent and air mattresses and enjoyed a cold lunch that we brought.
In the afternoon, the girls wanted to learn how to fish and the guides for the "I Can Camp!" program led a little trip to a creek alongside the St. Croix River.
Both the girls learned how to bait a hook (though only Sophia will do it...Olivia will if she can use gummy worms).
They learned how to cast their lines and kept seeing how far they could get them. For the most part they successfully cast their lines into the middle of the creek.
At other times, the hook and bobber got stuck on the branches and trees that were the creek.
After a while, we went to the boat landing at the St. Croix River where the girls did some more fishing.
After an hour and a half, we went back to our campsite. The guides showed everyone how to make a fire, and then we built one at our campsite that we shared with two other families.
We assembled - with hope - our food for dinner: mozzarella sticks covered with crescent roll dough and a pizza log.
Unfortunately, we found out, that when you put food directly on the flames and fire, they tend to go from raw one minute to burnt and hard-as-a-rock in a short period of time. Needless to say, our dinner wasn't as anticipated. Olivia went with my back-up plan: roasting hot dogs.
What was a hit with us all were roasted marshmallows. We made s'mores with chocolate bars as well as peanut butter cups.
After we ate dinner, we relaxed, went on a hike on one of the equestrian trails, the girls played games with other children who were camping, and we spent time playing games around the campfire with two other families who were doing the "I Can Camp!" program.
It was such a fun experience!
Sunday, June 8 - Camping at Wild River State Park and Equine Vaulting
Sunday morning we were still camping at Wild River State Park. Although I heard coyotes in the middle of the night, there were no bear problems which was good. We packed up and were out by 10:00 a.m.
Since the container I brought the milk/butter/oil in for making pancakes broke on the way up to Wild River State Park, we didn't eat breakfast until after we left and stopped at the gas station. Found donuts to eat which was fine. That typically is what we eat when we've gone camping in camper cabins before.
In the afternoon, Sophia and Olivia had equine vaulting. It was a nice cool afternoon which made vaulting all that much more enjoyable.
Monday, June 9 - Do embroidery and etching.
Both the girls are working on 4-H projects, so Monday's theme of "Make it Monday" was perfect for working on projects.
Sophia worked on her embroidery project. She's stitching a trio of horses onto a dish towel. Whiel she was working, she had Aspen and Eenie sitting right next to her.
Olivia is working on a etching projecting. She has done etchings before and enjoyed doing them. This one, a wolf, is perhaps the most labor-intensive one she's done to date.
She is using a little light to illuminate her work as she does the etching. It makes it easier to know where to etch.
For "Take a Trip Tuesday" we went to two nurseries to get supplies for Sophia's and Olivia's fairy gardens as well as the class on Thursday that I'm teaching.
There were so many cute items that could be used in miniature gardens.
It would be fun to create a large-size garden like we saw at Rose Floral.
Until then, the girls picked out items that they wanted to have that would add a special touch to their gardens.
Wednesday, June 11 - Picnic at Big Marine Park with Mary B.
It was such a nice day for a picnic, and Mary brought sandwiches, potato salad, chips, and fruit so the girls and she could have a picnic at Big Marine County Park.
After they were done eating, they spent some time walking on the beach of Big Marine Lake. It's still a bit too chilly to go swimming in the water. Perhaps next week.
Thursday, June 12 - Conduct the fairy garden and food class through the library.
I'm offering several classes through the local library this summer, and the fairy gardening and fairy food class was the first one.
There were ten children registered and they each brought a lot of enthusiasm and creativity to the class.
It was fun to see the different fairy gardens that the children created. Olivia continued to work on hers adding some more decorative elements while
Sophia began work on hers. She has a garden arbor as well as table and chairs that we have to figure out how to position them so they don't sink into the soil. She was able to get some of her garden done, but also helped some of the other younger children who needed help.
We also made a variety of food:
=> toadstool mushrooms made from a plum tomato and hard-boiled egg;
=> fairy bread;
=> fairy fruit wands;
=> butterflies made from orange slices and red grapes;
=> miniature sandwiches made from cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, olive oil, and freshly-ground sea salt and pepper that was put into pita bread;
=> miniature cupcakes that the children frosted and loaded with sprinkles; and
=> miniature ice cream sandwiches made from two Andes Mint cookies around a center of vanilla bean ice cream.
It was a lot of fun, and the children went away from the class with the knowledge about how to do gardening in miniature as well as how to make a variety of healthy (and perhaps not so healthy) snacks.
Friday, June 13 - Do cat therapy at the nursing home in the morning and then spend time with Nana in memory of her and Papa's 50th wedding anniversary.
Sophia and Olivia took Eenie to the nursing home to do cat therapy. They visited six seniors who always enjoy seeing them as well as Eenie.
While they were doing that, I went shopping to get four more container gardens to my mom's deck. This is in addition to five flower containers for the front of her home.
In the afternoon, we went to my mom's home and enjoyed cake, ice cream, and punch. There are candles on the cake because we were also celebrating my birthday. Two of my nieces (Ashley and Addie) also have birthdays in June, but were unable to be there.
So, Mary, Jordan, Colton, Sophia, Olivia, and I all enjoyed dessert together. While we were eating, we noticed a nest of baby robins on one of the wooden beams on the front porch. It was fascinating to watch the little birds and how patient they were while waiting for their mother to return with food.
After we ate, I read something that I wrote for my mom to commemorate her and my dad's 50th wedding anniversary.
We then went on the deck to look at the flowers, take some pictures, and listen to my mom share stories about she and my dad and their early years together.
She was so pleased with all the flowers and color that are on her deck and by the front living room window..."right where your father would have sat and looked at them" she said to me with tears in her eyes.
It was a bittersweet day. Yet, one that was filled with love and good memories of the years that they shared together.