Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Many years ago I clipped a recipe from a free church cookbook for Ice Cream Sandwiches. On Memorial Day, I thought it would be a fun treat for the holiday and what was going to be a picnic. (It rained, so we ate indoors.)

The recipe is simple:

1 egg
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
Ice cream (any flavor)

To make the cookie part of the ice cream sandwiches, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Beat the egg, shortening, butter, and half of the cake mix until smooth. Then stir in the remaining cake mix until smooth.

Roll out the dough and cut into any desired shape or square. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Poke fork holes in when they are fresh out of the oven.

Put ice cream between two cookies and freeze.

Note: for a softer cookie, bake for 8 minutes and let the cookie sit on the sheet for a minute or two. We baked the cookies closer to 10 minutes which makes for a firmer cookie which is different from the softer store-bought ice cream sandwiches. Either way, they taste great!

Monday, June 3, 2019

My Favorite Photos - May 2019

Looking back at May, there were so many new experiences and milestones to capture in photos. Here are some of my favorite ones. The girls went to their first prom on May 4th. Normally for pictures, Olivia doesn't like to smile with her mouth open. So, I was thrilled when something funny made her laugh and it was captured on film.

The girls had their final piano recital on May 5th. Both did a great job with their pieces.

One interesting thing I noticed was that grand piano was in the center of a labyrinth. I looked up the name of the church on the Worldwide Labyrinth Finder and found out that it is a contemporary medieval 7-circuit concentric Circle of Peace design. It is painted in mosaic motif on a tile floor.

Another highlight for me was getting caught up on the Mystery Quilt I'm working on through Minnesota Quilters. I did both the April and May squares; and this time learned how to use a quilter's square ruler. I couldn't figure out how the other women who were participating in the challenge were always getting their corners to line up perfectly. Finally figured it out. I wish I would have known how to use the tool for the January-March clues. It's a learning process.

On May 10th, Sophia and I took a SAORI weaving class together at the Shepherds Harvest festival. While we were doing that, Olivia was taking a pin loom weaving class.

Afterwards, we went to the art center where they had some work displayed as part of a juried teen art show. Olivia is standing next to her photograph called "Blue Towers."

She also had a SAORI-woven scarf in the show.

Sophia had her red Russian lace necklace in the show.

On the 11th, we went to the Shepherds Harvest again, but this time to see the vendors and animals. We didn't buy any wool, yarn, baskets, or looms. We have plenty of crafting supplies at home that we need to use up first.

That afternoon, we put back a nest of newborn bunnies that we brought to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center that morning. Cooper discovered the nest, and we wanted to make sure that the rest of the babies were okay since they seemed a bit dehydrated when Sophia checked their skin. Sure enough, the vet said they were dehydrated, but to bring them back and put a laundry basket over the nest opening during the day. Mother rabbits only visit their babies at dawn and dusk to feed them.

On Mother's Day, I took Sophia to a church about a half hour south of here to perform during the prelude. It's one of the last performances she will have with this ensemble. At this point, she's one of the top harpists. There will be a major shift in age and experience once she and another harpist go to college this Fall.

For Mother's Day this year, I asked for gifts of service. So, the girls planted planters for me by the gate leading to the backyard.

They hauled dirt and put grass seed down in spots that were bare. 

Paige cleaned the grill so that I could make smoked barbecue ribs; and corn on the cob on the grill.

On the 14th of May, I got a spinal shot. This is not my favorite photo from a photography standpoint. However, it did relieve some of the pain I had in my neck for a couple of weeks. (I was rear-ended on November 14, 2018, by a driver who wasn't paying attention.) Unfortunately, on May 30th, I had to go to the emergency room at 5:00 a.m. because of shooting pain in my neck and a headache that was unbelievably painful. I truly thought I was having a brain aneurism. (My grandma died from one when she was only 54 years old.)

On a more pleasant note, on May 16th, in pottery class, I finished a platter I've been working on since the end of April. The base is a slab of  clay that I textured using the end of a painting brush. The top is a tree that I cut from another slab and then - with the help of the teacher and another student - transferred the tree to the platter so I affix them to one another. 

A couple days later, I was working on an order for a customer, and created a new window star. There are stars within stars which I like about this design.

On May 19th, Sophia participated in her last performance with the harp ensemble she is in at church. They did the prelude and postlude; and sounded great. It was a nice final performance. 

On May 21st, I volunteered in the morning to help set up the graduation reception; and prepare some of the food with the other parents. Since this is a homeschool graduation, all the parents either helped with the set-up or take-down of the event.

Afterwards, I set up Sophia's display. She knew about the display board (which she created) and the items in front of it. The balloons were my surprise for her when she got there. She liked them and it added a festive touch.

I had been working on a money lei for a few days leading up to her graduation. The origami money was easy. It was the braiding that was rather time-consuming. Initially, it was going to be a three-color lei - dark purple, light purple, and silver. Ended up going with just the dark purple and silver (the colors she chose for her graduation).

We had someone come to our home to do our hair and make-up since driving to a salon and spending time there would have taken too long. I needed to be able to get last-minute things done while Sophia was getting her hair and make-up done, and vice versa.

Sophia had her hair pulled up in the back and I had mine down with curls. I liked the back of my hair better than the front. My hair is definitely getting lighter and grayer as I get older. It used to be a dark brown.

Before the ceremony, Sophia stood by her display board. Each of the seniors had a section of a table to have a display board and other items.

Then there were the photos. Sophia and Olivia together:

Sophia and me:

Sophia, Paige, and me with Sophia's diploma. The parents hand their teen the diploma since they were the teachers. It is a very personal and meaningful part of the graduation.

The graduating class of 2019. None of the students could wear stoles or honor cords since they always want the youth to look the same in the photos. 

Sophia practiced her song before graduation since she was one of the four students chosen to either do a talk or perform. She was the only one who performed; and she did a wonderful job.

There was a reception afterwards, and then at home I gave her the money lei. There are nine dollars on it. In Chinese culture, nine is a lucky number.

The next day, we went to lunch at Jax Café for a special meal. It is a place that my parents would take our family whenever there was a very special occasion - an anniversary, an adoption, or a graduation. In a way, their legacy - their spirit - was with us as we ate lunch together.

May was a month filled with excitement, new experiences, transitions, music, and creativity. It was a definitely a memorable one for our entire family.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

My Favorite Photos - April 2019

This was a challenging month to choose photos since we took a trip to Seattle and Alaska as a pre-graduation celebration of Sophia's high school graduation. There also were other highlights from the month. This is a very long post with many photos. Feel free to skim through quickly. I had a hard time cutting down the photos from the 1,000+ photos I took in April.

These are the ones I chose as my favorite ones:

The girls wanted to go to a homeschool prom this year, so we got dresses for them a couple of months ago. April 4th was the day to get the dresses altered:


I'm not a fan of having my photo taken. However, this was the annual tea party at the homeschool co-op that the girls attend. Sophia wanted to go, so she, my sister, and I went there and had a really nice time. 

On April 9th, Olivia took this photo of our horses. They are inseparable; and I'm so happy that they have one another. They both came from abuse/neglect situations and met each other on the day they were both brought to our farm to start their lives over. It's been wonderful seeing them develop such a close bond with one another. 

On April 11th, we had a snowstorm that once again brought everything to a halt. The red-winged blackbirds had already migrated back for the Spring. We had a good 200 red-winged blackbirds along with grackles and crows looking for food during the prolonged Winter. We've never had that many birds at our feeder so it was exciting to see them gathered so close to our home.

On the 12th, Sophia played the harp for animals waiting to be adopted. The is one of two dogs brought over from South Korea. His destiny would have been being someone's dinner since he was part of the meat trade there. I'm thankful that there are people and groups who are willing to rescue the dogs from the overseas meat trade.

On the 14th, Olivia and I took a class at the art center. We learned how to paint Dala horse plaques. We will be hanging ours on our barn once it is painted and completed.

We went up to the top of Seattle's Space Needle on April 24th. There are plexiglass windows behind us in the photo below, and we are leaning against them. Sophia was very nervous about doing this. The next thing I knew, she was holding my hand and that gave her the confidence to lean back in the photo below.

There was an immediate flashback to when she was little and wanted and needed to hold my hand - especially when we were in public. Here she is 18 years old, and there's still a little part of her that is my little girl who needs that extra reassurance. It is one of my favorite photos from the trip.

Also on the 24th, we went to Chihuhly Garden and Glass which is next door to the Space Needle. The artistry and diversity of glass pieces shown there are phenomenal. This is my favorite part of the exhibit - the boat room:

Another intriguing part of the museum is that glass is integrated with the gardens. The color of the glass is also the color of the plants and flowers in the garden. The image below, for example, is of all black, white, and gray plants since the artwork is the same colors.

In contrast, here's the purple and white garden. It has a completely different look and feel to it.

Sophia pointed out that the colors are graduated when you look at the tip of some the pieces.

I was excited to see the Space Needle and the glass building at Chihuhly Garden and Glass reflected in a glass ball in the glass gardens.

Another place we visited on the 24th was the Museum of Pop Culture. My favorite part of the museum was the costumes that were worn in "The Wizard of Oz." I was so happy to see Dorothy's dress and what good condition it still is in.

Another part of the museum were items from Prince's life and performance career. Below is a replica of the motorcycle he drove in Purple Rain (I believe). The girls were excited that the museum let people sit on it.

On April 25th, we went on a boat cruise around the Seattle Harbor. We learned a lot about the area, the buildings, fishing industry, and boats. The tour guide also pointed out two sea lions that were pretty close to our boat.

On April 26th, we were in Anchorage. Our first stop was the Anchorage Art Museum. A cute little carving was of a Native American with a raven mask on. The gloves with the fur trim are typical of that area.

The artist who did the bear painting and magpie mobile had a couple other pieces in the museum as well. I like the cheerful colors she used.

We saw a lot of wood carvings and totem poles while in Seattle and Alaska. This is a small version of one that Olivia is standing by.

April 27th was a nature-filled day! We were driving from Anchorage to Seward and Sophia spotted a pod of beluga whales out in the channel. We pulled over (as did many other people) and watched about 25-30 whales. It was particularly exciting when their tails came out of the water!

The scenery - the mountains and water - were so beautiful. 

Olivia spotted mountain goats near the top of a very tall cliff. There were four goats somehow managing to climb over and across the rocky ledges. Below is a picture of three of the goats.

We found a place that did gold panning. It was interesting to learn about the history of gold panning and the gold industry in Alaska. The process to find gold (which all of us did...just a little though) gave us a much greater appreciation of the work involved.

In the afternoon of the 27th, we spent it at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. We were able to feed a porcupine. Olivia is feeding Kit Kat, the porcupine, a grape.

We also got to feed a young moose biscuits. Sophia enjoyed being able to get up close to the moose and feed him. He kind of reminded me of our horse with that big muzzle.

We saw a black bear.

There were two caribou females who had babies.

Some of the caribou were growing antlers so they were fuzzy/had velvet on them still.

Check out this cute baby who is getting more confident on his or her feet.

We saw a magpie. Didn't realize they had such long tails.

Got to see a beautiful grizzly/brown bear up close. It was swimming in the water so that's why his or her fur is wet.

On the 28th, we drove from Anchorage to Seward. Again, the mountains were spectacular. 

We stopped at Portage Glacier and saw a little iceberg. There was still about 8-12 feet of snow on the glacier, so we weren't able to see the blue ice of the glacier...just a lot of snow.

In Seward, we were able to feed puffins at SeaLife Center.

We saw beautiful waterfowl.

Saw ducks and puffins swimming.

And saw gulls up close.

At SeaLife Center, there were seals. It was interesting to see them eat from the bottom of the aquarium. To stay in place, like shown below, they cross their back flippers. When they uncross them, they float up a bit and can start swimming again.

We saw beautiful jellyfish.

The girls and I went on a drive in the evening. It was still light until almost 11 p.m., so our days were long which was nice. In Seward, there's a narrow road that eventually goes to the end of a peninsula. There, we saw about seven juvenile and adult eagles eating, fishing, flying, and watching the water. It was amazing!!

If that wasn't enough, on our way back we saw two otters in the ocean! They are very loud eaters. We could hear them munching away on something from the shore and they were out quite a ways in the water.

On the 28th, we drove back from Seward through Anchorage and then about 45 minutes north to Palmer. On the way, we stopped at McHugh Creek - it's part of a state park. There was a beautiful waterfall and small lake, and rocks we enjoyed climbing over. The wind was rather strong so it felt like it was three degrees.

We went to the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer. Musk ox used to live in the Ice Age so they their nasal passages are complex. It allows the cold air to warm up as it makes its way through the nasal cavities and before it reaches the lungs.

The musk ox horns and skull weigh about 45 pounds.

We were fortunate to see two babies and their mothers. This is one of them.

There are literally hundreds more I could have included as favorite ones. The scenery, the activities we did, and the memories we created were such a highlight of the month...and of the year.