Thursday, November 28, 2013

Great Horned Owl Embroidered Ornament - Art Every Day Month - Day 28

Today I hand-embroidered a Great Horned Owl for the 28th day of Art Every Day Month. The pattern came from Downeast Thunder Farm.

There are eight felt pieces in five different colors that are needed to create this owl. As I looked at the original, it appears that there may be a white and orange used for the eyes - even though the pattern notes that orange should be used for the eyes.

I think I like white - or even a very pale orange - compared to the orange I used. Also, I chose not to use button for the eyes. I didn't want any loose parts on any of the bird ornaments that I am making.

Having all the felt pieces - rather than having beads and buttons sewn on - will be safer when I use these around seniors in the spring.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm thinking about creating a wide variety of birds using the free patterns on Downeast Thunder Farm's website. I'll use the birds for hands-on activities with seniors at the nursing home where Sophia, Olivia, and I volunteer.

Countdown to Thanksgiving - Thanksgiving Day

Today marks the final day for the Countdown to it is Thanksgiving Day. This year is the first year in 18 years that I haven't hosted Thanksgiving at the farm (minus the two years we were in China over Thanksgiving for Sophia's and Olivia's adoptions).

My Mom wanted to have it her home since being a passenger on the 50-mile trip here is taxing for her, not to mention the challenges she has with mobility and vision in a home that isn't her own.

Needless to say, it didn't quite feel like Thanksgiving because I wasn't up early making my Dad's recipe for dressing, getting a turkey in the oven, and preparing salads, vegetables, and breads.

However, it was a welcome break in the sense that I could relax and not make a meal for 15 people. My sister, her sons, and Mom did that instead this year. It ended up being a really great Thanksgiving - lots of laughter and conversation. The girls and their four younger cousins sat together for dinner, and had so much fun talking and playing with one another.

Family picture on Thanksgiving.

So, we did our final activities for this year's countdown.

Activity for the Day: 

The focus of today was to help someone without being asked. Sophia and Olivia played with their cousins - essentially babysitting them for our entire time at my Mom's home.

I helped my Mom and sister with dinner preparations once I arrived at my Mom's home.

Thanksgiving Fact: 

Mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies, popcorn, milk, corn on the cob, and cranberries were not foods present on the first Thanksgiving's feast table.

Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast.

Gratitude Quote: 

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanksgiving Joke: 

Knock, knock.
(Who's there?)
(Dewey who?)
Dewey have to wait long to eat?


Make something to bring to the Thanksgiving meal. Since all the major components were taken care of by my Mom, I made two quick breads (banana and pumpkin spice). The banana bread is once I make each year and is from my Dad's mom. The pumpkin spice bread is a new recipe.

Banana Bread.

Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well-beaten
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 bananas, mashed (I used 4 very ripe bananas)
1/3 cup chopped pecans (I didn't add these)

Cream butter and sugar in bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs; mix well. Sift in flour and baking soda. Stir in bananas and pecans. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Yield: 12 servings.

Pumpkin Spice Bread.

Pumpkin Spice Bread

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
1 can pumpkin (2 cups)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
nuts and or raisins may be added (I didn't add either)

Cream together sugar, oil, and egg. Add pumpkin. Stir in flour, soda, salt, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 12 muffins and 1 loaf pan.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Embroidered Hummingbird Ornament - Art Every Day Month - Day 27

On the 27th day of Art Every Day Month, I made a hand-embroidered hummingbird ornament. The free pattern is from Downeast Thunder Farm where there is a wide selection of patterns of birds from which to choose.

There are six different felt pieces that I embroidered together to create the hummingbird.

The hummingbird I embroidered. 
It is sitting in the Christmas cactus plant that my Dad gave me many years ago.
It is just starting to bloom...right before Thanksgiving.

I followed the directions with the exception of the eyes. Instead of using a trio of black beads, I used a a few stitches of white embroidery floss to create an eye.

The beak is a toothpick that I colored with a black Sharpie pen.
It is inserted between two layers of felt 
once I was stitching the bird together.

At this point, I haven't put hangers on the birds that I have embroidered. I'm thinking that I may make quite a few different varieties and then do a hands-on type of bird activity at the nursing home in the spring.

In that way the seniors can touch the birds and perhaps handling the "birds" will help unleash some memories they have of feeding and enjoying them throughout their lives.

Countdown to Thanksgiving - Day 12

Today is the last day of the Countdown to Thanksgiving. Since we have had a busy week so far, we chose to focus the morning on homeschooling.

We read three things: a Thanksgiving fact, gratitude quote, and Thanksgiving joke as part of the Countdown.

Thanksgiving Fact: 

The pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers.

Knife and Pumpkin Innards
A knife and spoon...two things that Pilgrims would have used when eating.
(Photo taken on October 30, 2012.)

Gratitude Quote: 

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. ~ Native American blessing.

Tipi on Drive up North
The girls by a tipi on the way to Grand Marais.
(Taken on June 18, 2006.)

Thanksgiving Joke: 

What’s a pilgrim’s mother called? (Pilgranny)

Other Activities of the Day:

The girls spent part of the afternoon with their senior friend, Mary. She visits the girls each week and they do activities together. Sophia and Olivia enjoy their time with Mary; and I think Mary looks forward to her time with the girls as well.

Today they went to the library - both to return books as well as check out some new ones.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Homemade Thieves Oil Tutorial - Art Every Day Month - Day 26

For the 26th day of Art Every Day Month, I wanted to try making the homemade Thieves Oil that I had pinned on Pinterest. The pin leads to Heartland Renaissance which has some excellent ways to use the oil both in its diluted and undiluted form.

First, though, I needed to mix together the essential oils to create the blend. The recipe on Heartland Renaissance uses quite a bit of essential oils.

The five essential oils that are needed to make
homemade Thieves Oil.

In some cases, like with the clove and lemon, I would have had to buy three bottles of essential oils. So, I purchased 5 ml bottles which was more than sufficient for making half of the recipe.

1 Tablespoon (15 ml) Clove Essential Oil
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) Lemon Essential Oil
2-1/2 teaspoons (12.5 ml) Cinnamon (Cassia) Bark Essential Oil
2 (10 ml) teaspoons Eucalyptus Essential Oil
2 (10 ml) teaspoons Rosemary Essential Oil
A carrier oil of your choice (e.g., sweet almond oil, grapeseed, apricot kernel. I used almond oil)
Dark-colored bottles with droppers (e.g., 1-ounce size, some with regular screw tops and a few dropper tops)

I measured out five essential orders using measuring spoons.

Then put the measured amounts into a metal measuring cup.

The five essential oils blended together.

I haven't diluted the essential oil blend yet with the sweet almond oil. I still need to get some dark-colored bottles. Until then, I'll focus on how to use the undiluted homemade Thieves Oil.

homemade Thieves Oil can be used by adding:

- 1 drop per ounce of water for use as an all-purpose disinfecting spray, room spray, or fabric/mattress spray at this ratio
- a few drops mixed with baking soda for use as a disinfectant scrub (e.g., bathtubs, sinks)
- 1-9 drops in a bowl of just-boiled water or a humidifer for room purification
- a maximum of 8 drops in a bath or shower (more could be used for adults and less for children)
- 8 drops to a diffuser to clean the air (this is ideal during cold and flu season)
- 5-10 drops in a washing machine to disinfect toys or sheets
- a few drops mixed into the water of a steam vacuum
- 1-2 drops on a soft cloth to clean and disinfect items (e.g., computers, cell phones)

Almond oil that the essential oils will be mixed with.
In diluted form, there are many uses for 
the essential oil/almond oil mixture.

Diluted homemade Thieves Oil can be used topically:

- As a hand sanitizer
- By rubbing it onto the chest, neck, and ears to ward away the cold and flu and help open up the sinuses
- By dabbing a drop on one's temples to help ward away a headache
- By massaging it onto the bottom of one's feet to ward away a cold and flu
- By massaging it onto the small of one's back and the back of one's neck to minimize aches and pains during cold and flu season
- By dabbing a drop on an insect bite to make it stop itching

Heartland Renaissance also said, "Make sure that you clearly label your essential oil blends and keep them away from children. Yes, they are safe to use, sparingly on children, but they should be administered by the hands of a knowledgeable adult." That's good advice!

Countdown to Thanksgiving - Day 11

Today was the 12th anniversary of Sophia's adoption day.

Sophia's Referral Picture
Sophia's referral picture.

So, her special day - rather than the Countdown to Thanksgiving - was our focus for the day.

Moments after the nanny brought Sophia into the room,
she was placed in my arms.

Sophia holding up the cardigan that she wore on her adoption day.

However, we did read the Thanksgiving fact, gratitude quote, and Thanksgiving joke.

Thanksgiving Fact: 

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.

Gratitude Quote: 

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. ~H.U. Westermayer

Thanksgiving Joke: 

What kind of tan did pilgrims get at the beach? (Puritan.)

Other Activities We Did:

In the morning, we started with a breakfast that Sophia requested for her adoption day anniversary: an egg bake casserole.

Afterwards, she opened a couple of presents.

We took Cooper to agility training. He did very well.

Sophia with Cooper on the smaller, puppy-size walk.
He had a chance to do the taller, regulation size one 
which he enjoyed doing.

He was particularly excited about doing the A-frame ramp and walking platform.

Doing the jumps at the end of the class.
Another favorite activity.

Cooper was wiped out after the end of class.

Cooper resting on one of the back seats in the car.

Olivia went to the local elementary school to get some help with math, reading, and speech. After that, she went to her Learn to Draw class through community education. She's enjoyed taking that class for the past two months.

While Olivia was at school, I took Sophia to harp lessons. After that we stopped at the co-op at picked up some essential oil to make homemade Thieves Oil.

Five essential oils that are needed to make homemade Thieves Oil.

Then we went to the nursing home to check on one of the people we enjoy visiting. He had been in the hospital for several days with pneumonia and an infection. He's back at the nursing home so it was nice to see him a bit more alert and responsive. We also visited another resident who we have been seeing since November 2012.

For dinner, Sophia wanted to go to Applebees, so we went there and had a delicious meal to celebrate her adoption day.

Sophia and me at Applebees.

When we came back home, we looked through her bin of items that we brought back from China.

Sophia and Olivia playing Chinese instruments.

She chose two items from the bin to keep out and enjoy. One is a jade bracelet.

Sophia with the jade bracelet that she picked out.

The other is a sphere that is painted from the inside. The image is a dragon, and Sophia's name - both in Chinese and English are hand-painted on it.

The hand-painted dragon in the globe with 
Sophia's given and Chinese names.

The man who painted the image and her name had only one hand. It was impressive and inspiring to see him paint with such detail and only be able to use one hand.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Embroidered Black-Capped Chickadee - Art Every Day Month - Day 24 and 25

For the 24th day of Art Every Day Month, I hand-embroidered a black-capped chickadee ornament. The free pattern comes from Downeast Thunder Farm.

Black-capped chickadee I embroidered. 

I've made a couple of the bird ornaments from this website, and all are very easy to piece together and embroider.

There are five pieces of felt needed to 
create this black-capped chickadee.

The black-capped chickadee is a familiar bird here at our farm. It is a frequent visitor at the bird feeders, especially one on the mudroom room that is right outside where we homeschool. The little chirps always alert us that a chickadee is at the feeder.

Variety of Birds
The chickadees eat well alongside other birds at the mudroom feeder.

When they are done eating, they fly off into one of the pine trees along the driveway or in the front yard.

All About Birds has some interesting facts about black-capped chickadees:

- Chickadees hide seeds and other food items to eat later. Each item is placed in a different spot; and the birds are able to remember thousands of hiding places.

- Every autumn black-capped chickadees allow brain neurons containing old information to die, replacing them with new neurons so they can adapt to changes in their environment and social flocks even with their tiny brains.

Black-Capped Chickadee in Plum Tree
Chickadee in the plum tree.

- Chickadee calls are language-like and complex. They can communicate information on recognition and identity of other flocks as well as predator alarms. The more "dee" notes in a chickadee-dee-dee call, the higher the threat level.

- Chickadees like to live in mixed and deciduous forests, open woods, willow thickets, parks, and cottonwood groves.

- During the winter, chickadees eat about half berries, seeds, and other plant matter, and half animal food (spiders, suet, insects, and sometimes bits of meat and fat from frozen carcasses). In spring, summer, and autumn, spiders, insects, and other animal food make up 80-90 percent of their diet.

Black Capped Chickadee on Feeder
Chickadee eating homemade Amish bird suet that we made.

- At feeders, these birds like to eat peanuts, suet, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and mealworms. They peck a hole in the shell, and then chip out and eat tiny bits of seed while expanding the hole.

- Nest boxes are often used by chickadees, especially when filled with sawdust or wood shavings. To keep wrens out of boxes you want chickadees to nest in, place nest boxes at least 60 feet into a wooded area. The entrance hole does not matter at all, but chickadees seem to prefer an unobstructed path to the entrance hole, without leaves and branches in the way. Setting a nest box farther back from other branches and trees helps deter mice and squirrels from jumping to the box and eating chickadee eggs and nestlings.

Chickadee at Pumpkin Feeder
Chickadee eating from a pumpkin feeder
that I made one year around Halloween.

- Black-capped chickadees are one of the easiest birds to attract to feeders, for sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts. They don’t mind using tiny hanging feeders that swing in the wind, and also readily visit window feeders. Planting birch, alder, and willow trees provides future nesting habitat for chickadees.

**Note: All the photos of the black-capped chickadees were taken at our farm.**

Countdown to Thanksgiving - Day 10

Today was the tenth day in the Countdown to Thanksgiving, and for over half the day the girls were at the homeschool co-op. When Sophia came home she had a very headache and ended up laying down for the rest of the afternoon.

So, today we just focused on three things: the Thanksgiving fact, gratitude quote, and Thanksgiving joke. It felt like enough for the day.

Thanksgiving Fact: 

A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.

Thanksgiving Turkey
Turkey that I made on Thanksgiving 2012.

Gratitude Quote: 

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. ~ Oprah Winfrey

Thanksgiving Joke: 

What does Dracula call Thanksgiving? (Fangs-giving)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Countdown to Thanksgiving - Day 9

We are nearing the end of our Countdown to Thanksgiving. Here we are on Day 9 out of 12 already. Here is what we did today:

Recipe of the Day: 

Today we made Fruit Cornucopias. The idea came from a pin on Pinterest. The concept is simple: put a variety of fruit (like strawberries, grapes, and mandarin oranges) in a pointed ice cream cone.

Three cornucopias filled with strawberries,
mandarin oranges, and grapes.

If you wet the pointed end for 20 seconds and then put the cone in the microwave, you can turn the end around a pencil to make it look more like a cornucopia.

I had two small cones on hand, and then needed to use a larger cone to make a third cornucopia. In terms of serving size, the small cones had a more-than-sufficient amount of fruit in them.

The cones with their ends turned up to resemble cornucopias.
The smaller ones were easier to bend than the larger one.

I cut the strawberries and grapes into eights and halves respectively so a wider variety of fruit could fit into each cone.

Activities for the Day: 

We all played Thanksgiving Bingo. There are free Bingo cards and calling cards at Making Friends.

Sophia playing Thanksgiving Bingo
with Eenie looking on.

After printing and cutting out the calling cards, we were ready to play a few games of bingo after dinner.

Olivia using dry navy beans to mark the spaces 
on her Thanksgiving Bingo card.

We did four-in-a-row, corner, and cover-all bingo twice each. The cover pieces were dry navy beans.

The girls (with Eenie and Cooper - behind Olivia)
intent on trying to win the cover-all round.

The girls enjoyed playing bingo and are excited to bring some extra cards and navy beans to Thanksgiving, and play some rounds with their cousins.

Thanksgiving Fact: 

Native Hawaiians had their own Thanksgiving festival, one vastly predating the pilgrim celebration. It’s called “Makahiki” (meaning “year”) and lasts for four months, from October or November through February or March, making it the longest Thanksgiving celebration in history.

For these months, Hawaiians were forbidden to work, and instead spent their time dancing, playing sports, feasting or making peace offerings to the chief.

Gratitude Quote: 

Let us be grateful to people to make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~ Marcel Proust

Flower after a mid-day rain
Photo I took of a flower after a day-time rainstorm.

Thanksgiving Joke: 

Why can’t you take a turkey to church? (Because they use such fowl language!)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Miniature Thank You Cards - Art Every Day Month - Day 23

Today I started going through some "to do" bags I have in my closet. There are quite a few projects that I have in progress...just need to make some time to complete them.

So, first on the list were 11 sets of thank you cards. The cards were folded and the front decorative paper already glued on.

I just needed to cut the white pieces of paper, hand-stamp them, and then affix them onto the card using a three-dimensional foam piece between the white and decorative papers.

I'm going to start uploading them into my shop, Harvest Moon by Hand. It seems like around the holidays there is an increased need for thank you cards.

These little 3"x 3" cards that are blank on the inside make just the right size for a quick thank you note.

I'm happy to have all these sets of cards done. Now, I think I'll move onto embroidery.

Countdown to Thanksgiving - Day 8

Today we celebrated the eighth day of the Countdown to Thanksgiving by doing the following things:

Recipe of the Day: 

Today we made Turkey Muffins. The idea came from a pin on Pinterest that led to One More Hand.

Turkey muffins that I made.


• Pumpkin muffins or another type of muffin (I made cheddar muffins)
• Red apple
• Green apple
• Green grape
• Sliver of carrot
• Squeezable icing (for the eyes) (our turkeys didn't have eyes)


From each apple, cut a slice from the side of the apple. Set flat and cut squared-off, tapered feathers. Cut a small beak from a thin slice of carrot. Make a slit in the end of a green grape and dab off excess moisture. Insert beak into grape. Poke small ends of feathers into muffin and set head on muffin, resting on the muffin paper. Once assembled, add tiny dot eyes with icing and enjoy!

Note: The apple slices are significantly thinner than was shown in the original recipe. However, I had so many leftover from making the apple tarts that I wanted to use some of those rather than slicing a new apple.

We also made the turkey apple tarts that we were supposed to make yesterday, but didn't have enough time to do. Here's how they turned out:

Apple tart made to look like a turkey. 
The apples are the feathers, the raisins are the eyes, and 
the dough is the body. Made a mistake by using powdered sugar
rather than granulated sugar...thus, the blobs of sugar.

The recipe is on yesterday's Countdown to Thanksgiving.

Activity for the Day: 

Today we went to the Waldorf school for the annual Holiday Fair. We have gone every year since the girls were in the early education program there.

We always see interesting costumes at the Waldorf school.

When the girls were younger, they did many of the activities designed for little children - like the gnome cave; watching the puppet and staff plays; making beeswax lanterns, and decorating cookies.

Olivia taking aim at the knights.

Now, they do some of the activities for older children. Their favorite activity is using these foam-bullet guns where they shoot the knights off the castle.

Sophia figuring out what knight she wants to knock off the castle.

They didn't knock any knights off the castle, but they had a lot of fun trying.

I always enjoy seeing the handiwork that the students do. These three-legged stools were sitting in the hallway. They were all very well made.

Three-legged stools.

This year I saw a couple of these plaques entitled "Live Life with Love" - which is the school's Code of Compassion.

The school's Code of Compassion.

There were some interesting ideas and values spelled out for the students to read, remember, and live by - not only at school, but in their daily lives.

Thanksgiving Fact:

In 1939, President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would take place on November 23rd, not November 30th, as a way to spur economic growth and extend the Christmas shopping season.

Gratitude Quote: 

You have a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?” ~William A. War

Embroidered Thank You
Thank you card that I made years ago.

Thanksgiving Joke: 

What did the turkey say to the turkey hunter? (“Quack, quack, quack!”)