Friday, December 7, 2018

Something that Made Me Happy - November 2018

When I look back on November, there were many things that made me happy:

- The 15th anniversary of Olivia's adoption day on November 17th.

- The 17th anniversary of Sophia's adoption day on November 26th.

- Spending time with my family on Thanksgiving Day.

- Spending a couple of hours on the day after Thanksgiving Day packing food at Feed My Starving Children.

- Doing new and traditional things on the Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. It was a bittersweet weekend realizing that it was the last one in which all of us would be together as a family (with the girls both in high school).

One of the things that we did in November as a family was go on a college visit to Bethel University in St. Paul. The focus of the admissions event was music, so they had a cake reception with music department professors and the dean of the college; a behind-the-scenes tour of the auditorium; and tickets to watch the annual Christmas performance by over 300 students.

Below is a picture of what part of the organ looks like behind the stage.

We heard the handbell choir before the performance. It was beautiful. I really enjoy listening to handbells.

Another thing that made me happy was our pets. Below are Cooper and Scooby resting on the bathroom floor. The floors are heated so the pets especially like resting in the bathroom during the winter when the house and floors all seem chillier.

The pets get along with one another which is nice. Eenie, the cat, and Danny both wanted to sit on Sophia's lap. (Yes, there are a lot of dishes drying in the sink and on the counter. It's right after the big Thanksgiving dinner.)

Another thing that made me very happy was getting an email from the African Library Project saying that the books we collected back in March-May 2018 had arrived in Malawi, Africa.

The 1,012 books we collected and shipped are now being unpacked at the school that serves 465 orphans and vulnerable children. The picture bellows shows some of the boxes being unloaded.

Of course, one of the things that always makes me happy are beautiful sunsets. The sun is setting now more towards the southwest as we move into winter. I like this time of the year because we can see the incredibly vibrant colors of the sky and clouds.

With the leaves of the trees, we can see more of the sunset as well. I wish these colors could be painted on my wall so I could feel like I'm seeing this sunset all the time.

My Favorite Photos - November 2018

During the past month, these were some of my favorite photos. As I look at them as a while, they focus on volunteering, family, traditions, and creativity.

I finished cutting out the pieces from blue jeans that were traced at the Service Project Sampler Day back in October. The pieces are put together in kits and sent to Sole Hope which then sends them to Uganda, Africa. In Uganda, tailors and cobblers create shoes that are given to people who have had jiggers removed from their feet.

Jiggers are microscopic insects that burrow into one's feet and can lay eggs. The egg sacs can get to be pea size and there can be so many eggs that it can be debilitating - preventing children and adults from walking, running, and playing. Kids no longer can go to school; adults can't work or take care of their homes; and the elderly are homebound.

So, our club was able to do 25 kits at the event. After the event, I cut out the remaining pieces that had been traced, but there wasn't enough time to cut out them out. Below are 8 of the 13 kits that I did after the event. All together, we did 38 kits so that 38 children will have a pair of shoes and no longer have to deal with debilitating and life-threatening jiggers.

The girls took a sewing class through 4-H in November and made earbud cases. They learned how to sew a zipper in a project as well as sew in a circle.

We celebrated the 15th anniversary of Olivia's adoption day. I made caramel rolls using a recipe that my dad used to make. We also had sausages for breakfast.

During November, Olivia worked on and completed a 3,000-piece puzzle.

We celebrated Thanksgiving at our farm. This is the adult and older-teen table. We had a table of my nephews and nieces who aren't teens yet.

On the day after Thanksgiving, we packed food at Feed My Starving Children. Our group packed 54 cases of food. Over 11,000 meals for children who are struggling to find food to eat each day.

On the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, we went hiking at Interstate State Park. It was a beautiful hike; and on a trail that we had not hiked before.

We also went to a Christmas tree farm. There was a dog there who Sophia and I enjoyed spending some time with as we looked at the wreaths and indoor train.

I spent time during November making some window stars.

I saw the patterns on Pinterest and wanted to see if I could make them.

It was fun trying some new patterns.

We have plenty of window stars to decorate our windows for the holidays.

There are some windows that I can use for upcoming holidays beyond Christmas - like Valentine's Day.

On the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, my sister, Paige, Olivia, Sophia, and I went to Vinterlights to see the town's lights be lit for the holidays.

We talked with friends; and had hot chocolate and cookies indoors before heading outside to see the lights and sing some Christmas carols.

On November 26th, we celebrated Sophia's 17th anniversary of her adoption day. This is the last anniversary that she is a child. Next year, she will be adult. How time went by way too quickly.

On November 29th, we went to Bethel University to see their annual Christmas concert. There were 300 students who sang or played an instrument. It was impressive and beautiful.

We all enjoyed the behind-the-scenes tour before the performance where we got to see the organ close-up and behind the stage. It is only one of four organs of its type in the world.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

ESG: Scavenger Hunt - November 2018

For the November photo scavenger hunt on Swap-Bot, there were five items to find and photograph. Below are my photos.

A turkey 

Earlier this year, a fire destroyed our hobby shed where we stored all our holiday items. Thankfully, one of the bins of Thanksgiving items was in the basement. The little ceramic turkey was painted by Olivia when she was just beginning to learn how to pain ceramics (Kindergarten or first grade). There are a few other things that the girls made that were in the bin. We have such a feeling of gratitude that these reminders of their projects from their early years are still with us.

The other turkey is one that I bought this year. It reminded me of the paper decorations my mom had when I was growing up. I was always fascinated at how the flat pieces suddenly become three-dimensional decorations.

Something wet

On the Saturday over Thanksgiving weekend, we went to Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls. There are some intriguing rock formations at the park. Some of them were made by lava that was in the area back thousands of years ago.

The rocks below are wet in some areas. Although it had rained earlier in the day, it doesn't make sense why sections are wet and others are completely dry.

During our time at the park, we went on the River Trail which is a new trail that we had not explored. We walked on about half of it and turned around since we weren't appropriately dressed for the chilly weather on the overlook. The views were spectacular, though, of the St. Croix River that divides Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Something obsolete or outdated

When we were exploring Taylors Falls on Saturday, we went to the historical museum at the train depot. In all our years of living in this general area, we had never been to the museum.

There were some interesting exhibits about skiing in the area. There were skis from different decades. One pair - from the 1930s - was close to seven feet tall. The base of the ski poles had a circular metal base about the size of a small dinner plate. (In comparison, the bases are now smaller than one's hand.)

Something that was outdated - by nonetheless cute in its own way - was this statue of a tomten.

Images and statues of these little people are popular in this area. This tomten moved his head and upper body forward and back.

Something clever

Olivia and Sophia took a sewing workshop through 4-H earlier in November. The workshop focused on making earbud cases and teaching the youth how to incorporate a zipper into a project and how to sew in a circle.

The cases use small pieces of fabric and batting; and can be made as any size circle by tracing everyday objects in one's home - a plate, bowl, cup, or food container. It's a great way to use up fabric scraps that you have on hand.

The zippers were much longer than the finished cases. The girls learned how to make a long zipper into a functional shorter one which was interesting. I didn't even know that could be done.

Something good to eat

I tried a new recipe for turkey soup. It has two containers of chicken broth, 3 cups of shredded turkey (leftover from Thanksgiving), 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 can of whole kernel corn, and 1/2 cup of salsa. The corn tortilla strips on top were baked in a 400 degree oven for about 7 minutes.

The soup tasted bland despite the salsa. We added some spices - like onion powder, chili powder, black pepper, sea salt, and red pepper flakes to give it more flavor. It was much better that way.

It was a good way to use up some of the leftovers in a different way than what we've done before.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The ABCs of Me

On Swap-Bot, I'm participating in a swap that is a bit of game or challenge: The ABCs of Me. The goal is to answer each of the following alphabetical subjects with a one-word or phrase answer.

AGE: 52. Some days I feel younger than that...and other days, I feel every year - if not more - of it.

BIRTHPLACE: Minneapolis - Abbott Northwestern Hospital (which is still around).

CURRENT OUTFIT: I'm wearing a sweatshirt that I've had for a good ten years, pajama pants, and fuzzy socks. It's still early in the morning before I have to go anywhere.

DRINKS: I'm drinking mostly water these days as well as hot chocolate in the morning and evening to get in some calcium to keep my bones strong. Every once in a while a Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi slips in when I'm tired and need to stay awake or drive.

EASIEST JOB: When I look back on my life, the easiest job I had was working at Hardees. I was a hostess so I made sure people's coffee was filled, I would ask people how their meal was and if they needed me to get them anything else, and kept the dining area looking nice. I would collect trays and bring them back to the kitchen to be washed.

FAMILY MEMBERS: My husband and two daughters (ages 17 and 15...soon to be 18 and 16); 4 dogs, 3 cats, and 2 horses.

GRATEFUL FOR: Having a loving family; being raised by compassionate and encouraging parents who had my best interest at heart; having my brother and sister living within 40 minutes of my home; and a home.

HOME DECOR STYLE: I had to look up online the different home décor styles. Based on our home (an 1890 farm home) and the furnishings, I'd have to say the home décor style is mostly Country. That being said, it's also a kind of eclectic home - with some modern pieces and artwork; Scandinavian style with white walls and light coming in all the windows (we have windows in each room with the exception of one room that is part of a two-room bedroom).

IN LOVE WITH: My family and pets. Life is full and rich with each of them in it. I couldn't imagine it otherwise.

JEALOUS OF: Jealousy isn't something that I feel. I think it's more along the line of "I wish" or "It sure would be nice..." - rather than the more negative feeling of jealousy. So, every once in a while I think it would be nice to be like people who have debt-free lives and have their retirement plans fully-funded; and don't have a care in the world.

KINDEST PERSON: My sister. She truly wants the best for others and is compassionate.

LATEST OBSESSION: Taking classes at the arts center. I'm enjoying taking a variety of classes in the visual arts - pottery, Saori weaving, and hand-sewing leather.

The arts center has graciously given our family scholarships (three per person per quarter) to take classes due to financial hardship during the past year. The only thing we have had to pay for is the material fee. The classes have been a bright spot in a very difficult year.

MIDDLE NAME: Marie. That's the name my parents gave me. Elizabeth is my other middle name. That's my confirmation name. It's not legally part of my name, but it is part of my identity.

NEXT PROJECT: I am working on a coil bowl in my pottery class. I have the general design done, but need to fill in the spaces with little balls of clay so that it is a solid bowl. The outside will be smooth because it has a slab of clay as the base/exterior.

I also have quite a few sewing and quilting projects that I have been wanting to do since August.

The other projects I want to work on relate to Sophia's graduation gifts.

As I write this, I'm realizing that creating a schedule or creative goals may be necessary to stay on track with all the projects.

OLDEST LIVING RELATIVE: Within my family (the family I grew up in), I am the oldest living person. If I look at my extended family (with cousins), it is one of my cousins who are in their 70s. I don't think any of them are in their 80s yet.

PROFESSION: Homeschool Educator to my daughters who are a senior and sophomore in high school. Sophia, the senior, also is doing PSEO courses, so I'm assisting at the college level as well by proofing her papers. It has been a fascinating journey - from infancy to college-level work since 2001.

QUIET PLACE: My bedroom. Well, actually, any place in our home and farm is quiet. It is very peaceful here. Even the dogs like to rest Aspen who burrows under the covers and uses the pillows like a human being.

READY FOR: Nothing. It seems like I have a lot of projects and things that need to get done, but never enough time to do them.

SWEET TOOTH CRAVING: I have been wanting to make an apple pie like my mom used to make. She used a combination of Cortland and Harralson apples which would get soft. My sister recently told me the types of apples my mom used. I never knew that. The apples in my apple pie never would get completely soft and I would be so disappointed because it wasn't like my mom's apple pies. Now I'm on a mission to find Harralson apples.

TIME YOU WAKE UP: This morning I woke up at 6:30 a.m. The days are getting shorter, so it's darker in the morning. I used to wake up around 4:00 a.m. and would start doing work. I'm not as energetic these days.

USEFUL ITEM: Toothbrush. I don't know why that was the first thing to come to mind....but it is useful with getting your teeth clean.

VACATION SPOT: My go-to spot for many years - probably more than a decade - was Grand Marais. We have gone hiking, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, ziplining, and boating along the Gunflint Trail.

I haven't been there with my daughters now for many years. I miss it.

My dream domestic vacation is to do a driving trip around the United States - go to every one of the continental states. I've already been to Alaska and Hawaii.

WORST HABIT: Eating food with sugar and flour in them. I know that's not good for me.

X-RAYS: I've had many x-rays. The most interesting x-ray I've had was a live one for the second toe on my left foot. I was able to watch the podiatrist put a needle into my toe and inject a dye which showed there was a leak in the joint capsule. Although I did have a local anesthesia, it was a bit uncomfortable.

I had to have surgery and have a couple of screws in one of the bones in my second toe now.


ZODIAC SIGN: Cancer...the crab.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

My Favorite Pictures of the Month - October

During the month of October, I have many favorite pictures that fall into two groups: fire recovery, retrospective, and "outtakes."


Back on May 5, 2018, we had a fire that destroyed our two-story hobby shed, playhouse, and 15 trees. The fire also melted, warped, or damaged the back of our home, the deck, the car, and 14 acres of farmland. 

So, my favorite pictures are ones that show progress and completion of projects that have been going on for almost six months.

This is what my view was as I walked up the driveway and firefighters were still putting out the fire back in May. There are multiple hoses leading to the backyard because there were many fires and/or potential or fires - the hobby shed, playhouse, barn, yard, yard furniture, deck, and home that needed to be addressed. 

Here's the view now of the new two-story garage. It is moved to the north a bit - where the fence line is (behind the trash cans). The trees that burned had to be removed. 


The view now looking to the west is more open. Thankfully, there are still plenty of trees for the wildlife to use for shelter and food.

The siding on the house and the kitchen window were warped from the heat. About a month later, we had flooding on the entrance to the cellar/basement. That all had to be excavated, a new entry created, and drain tiling put in. 

We had to get two new doors - one for the basement and one for the cellar doors. 


The photo above shows the before picture (taken on May 5th) and the photo below shows both of these jobs completed.

This is another view of the cellar entrance with all the concrete work that had to be done due to erosion thanks to heavy rains and to create a more accessible entry to the basement.

The new deck top (shown to the left in the photo below) was built this past week too. It replaces one that my brother built in 1995 when we first moved her. 

It's bittersweet replacing items that are worn and/or damaged that served us well for decades. So many people or animals have walked across those steps, sat on the edge of the deck, or laid down to read or rest on it. So many memories. 


With Sophia being a senior in high school this year, there are many "lasts." One of those was the last time Sophia would be going trick-or-treating. She asked that I curl her hair which I was happy to do. The picture below shows just the first round of hot curlers - 20 of them. It took 40 more curlers - 60 total - to do her hair. 


 It has gotten quite long over the past couple of years.

She said, as I was curling her hair, that it reminded her of the many times I would curl her hair when she was younger. We talked about the little wigs that the girls would wear to cover their buns when they sang in the children's choir. The black hair pieces had little pearls in them. They looked so cute. 

As I looked back on some past Halloween photos, I found two other years where I curled her hair. One was in 2007 when she was 6 years old. At that time, I used sponge rollers and bobby pins. Her hair was still fine enough to curl it that way.

By 2010, when she was 9 years old, it took 20 curlers to do her hair and we thought that was a lot. Little did we know that 11 years later, we would need three times as many curlers and a ton of hair spray.


For their costumes this year, they went as a bat and a witch. It was relatively warm, so they were excited that they could wear just a couple of layers of shirts and pants. No coats, boots, mittens, or winter hats this year!

The picture right before we took the one above is the one I took below. Although it isn't the photo you'd typically share with others, to me it one of my favorites because both of the girls are laughing. Their personalities and their great relationship with one another are reflected in the photo.

Another photo I like is Sophia with all our dogs. We finally got the dogs on the deck and either facing to the front or side. The dogs were all excited that we were back home from being at the homeschool co-op, so this was a major accomplishment in itself.

It was short-lived. Literally a second or two later, the photo below shows what happened. Dogs running off the deck, Danny getting whapped in the face by Cooper's tail, and Aspen wanting more attention. 

Scooby (the little cream-color pug/terrier) is 11 years old and he sometimes will chase Cooper around the backyard. It looks like he's headed out on a mission to catch Cooper. 

Chaotic and energetic is more reflective of the, again, it makes me laugh when I see this photo.

It's kind of a hodge podge of photos this month. Yet, each one has a special meaning for me as I look at it. The photos are not artistic in any way...yet they represent turning points and everyday life at our farm. To me, these are valuable and meaningful qualities when choosing my favorite photos.