Friday, June 27, 2014

101 Days of Summer Fun - Update #5

Saturday, June 21 - The summer solstice was today, so we went out and enjoyed the summer weather in the morning.

After a quick visit to the Marine on St. Croix Farmers Market and the library, we walked to the Marine Mill site. The library is doing a special children's activity which encourages kids to visit three of six historic sites in Scandia and/or Marine on St. Croix. The Marine Mill site is one of those places. After visiting three sites, children earn a certificate for a free ice cream cone at the Village Scoop.

 The Marine Mill site was the location of Minnesota's first commercial sawmill which operated from 1839 to 1895.

Today, the remains of the stone foundations are visible and there are interpretive signs along a pathway to help people learn about the history of this once active industrial site.

Another place that we visited is about a half of a block from the Mill Marine site: the Burris Home. It is only open on Sundays, so we'll have to come back in order for the girls to get a stamp for their ice cream cone certificate.

At any rate, around the year 1851, Sven and Stava Anderson moved to America and built themselves a log cabin in Marine Mills where Stava gave birth to and raised three children. That cabin has survived almost a century and a half.

In 1938, the structure was moved to the Burris property in Marine on St. Croix for the centennial celebration and in 1996, the city bought the cabin.

In the evening, Sophia went over to a friend's home for a sleepover. Olivia and I had a quiet evening reading and watching Wonder Woman - one of the shows I used to watch when I was growing up. 

Sunday, June 22 - Sophia and Olivia had equine vaulting today which included a show for parents, family members, and friends.

They showed some of the activities they do while warming up on the floor as well as the barrel.

Then the class demonstrated some of the skills they have learned and have been practicing over the past few weeks.

This is a sport that both Sophia and Olivia have enjoyed and plan on continuing doing. 

Monday, June 23 - Today's main focus was on doing 4-H projects. The theme for Mondays during the summer is "Make it Monday" which the girls definitely did throughout the day.

For one of Sophia's food projects, she is making dried fruit. She's learning how to dry some fruit that she has never done before - like grapes and pineapple; and doing fruit she's done before - like apples and bananas.

She measured how much each of the items weighed before dehydrating and will do the same after they are dried so she can see the quantity of water in each item.

Olivia worked on making mint candies that had gum drops in the center. These are a no-bake candy that are easy to make. They just take a while since there is a lot of rolling and cutting.

She made 106 candies using orange, red, purple, yellow, and green gum drops. Everyone thought they tasted delicious and we'd definitely make them again.

Meanwhile, Sophia made peanut brittle in the microwave. While the peanut brittle was in the microwave, she had some time to choose songs to play on her iPod.

Aspen wanted to see what was happening on the counter. She's getting taller each week and can stand - and walk! - on her hind legs for increasingly longer time periods.

Sophia made two different types of brittle: cashew and peanut. 

Both turned out very well. It's nice to be able to make the candy in the microwave and not on the stove.

In the afternoon, Olivia and I went to the pastures to look at the two different wetlands and ponds.

There was a lot of creatures out there - especially tadpoles who are in different stages of growth (some with legs and others without), dragonflies, damselflies, and lots of interesting bugs that are on the surface of the water.

We also enjoyed seeing all the wild irises blooming this year. The patches of irises are getting larger with each passing year.

Then we went to the other wetland area that's new this year because of all the rain. It is filled with mosquitoes and standing water. It's more of a drainage area that a vibrant pond. Yet, at night there are sounds of frogs...just like the other pond. When there was more water in the new wetland area, ducks were swimming in it.

After we spent some time exploring that area, we walked along the trails by the pine trees. Olivia began noticing lots of mushrooms.

We saw fly agaric mushrooms which we've only seen in pictures...never in real life. There was like a little world going on at that level with mosses, grasses, mushrooms, seeds, twigs, and little forms of life that we could barely see.

Tuesday, June 24 - Originally "Take a Trip Tuesday" was simply going to be our weekly dog agility lesson. However, in the afternoon while the girls were swinging on swing set, the dogs came out of the wooded area in the backyard carrying a plastic bag and stuffing.

Initially the girls thought they just found something that wasn't interesting...until they saw movement. They ran over and saw two baby mice with their eyes still closed. They had fur, so they were older than newborns, but still very young. (Baby mice open their eyes at about 12-14 days old.)

Sophia put them in a little container with paper towels in it and sheep wool on it to help keep the baby mice warm. She feed them with an eye dropper and a little milk-soaked paper towel which the mice would suck on. (You could hear them sucking on the paper getting the milk out of it if you put your ear up to the container.)

She contacted the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville and they suggested bringing the baby mice in if she lived close enough.

On the way there, it was raining and then the sun came out. Told the girls to look for a rainbow. Sure enough, one appeared to the east of us as we were driving to the WRC. Upon first glance, it looked like a single rainbow. However, it was a double rainbow with the inner rainbow being brighter.

So, we drove about 40 minutes (one way) to the WRC to drop off the mice so they would receive better care. It was an interesting visit with lots of people dropping off wildlife - two different people had birds and someone brought in a rabbit. There was another person with a rather large box, but we couldn't see what was in it.

We all enjoyed our unexpected "field trip" to the WRC. It was a nice way to end the day.

Wednesday, June 25 - Today we tried a new recipe for smoothies so we could use some of the delicious strawberries that Sophia and Olivia picked with their friend, Mary.

Sophia and Olivia also continued to work on their 4-H projects for the upcoming county fair.

Thursday, June 26 - For "Thoughtful Thursday" we learned about ways to conserve energy and reduce our need for propane and electricity. A gentleman came with a fan and curtain that he hooked up to the front door. He blew air through the house and then went around with a type of thermal "gun" which could detect heat and heat loss.

This is one of the cats. 

In addition to learning where we can make some improvements to the home, he also showed Sophia and Olivia what a couple of the pets looked like on the thermal camera.

This is Aspen next to Sophia's leg.

We found out that our Duette blinds are trapping the air that we want in the house and preventing the air we don't want from the outdoors from getting inside.

Friday, June 27 - Today we volunteered at the nursing home and took three seniors for a stroll in their wheelchairs and one accompanied us by walking.

We had two more ladies who were walking with us, but they couldn't walk as far so we walked them back to the nursing home and then began our walk again.

In the evening, I made a deep crust pizza. It was a new recipe that I had clipped from Taste of Home magazine many years ago.

Although it was a very good recipe, everyone seemed to be picking something out of it that they didn't like (e.g., olives, onions). For that reason, I don't believe I'll make it again unless I can figure out a way to make individual deep dish pizzas so each person can personalize their pizza with the topping they prefer.

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