Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Outdoor Mom's Journal - January

During our outdoor time this past month we went....outside infrequently. It was frigidly cold during January with many days with double-digits below zero.

We started out the month with frozen pipes and a burned-out well pump which meant no water in the house or to the barn for several days.

Thankfully, there was a company that came out to replace the corroded pipes and well pump; and the electrician who did all the work for activating the new pump on a very cold day. After eight hours of working on the well, we had water.

In the middle of the month, we spent about an hour or so touring Northwestern University in St. Paul. It was a nice day to explore the campus.

We've been seeing flocks of turkeys along the highway. We originally thought that someone was putting seeds down for the turkeys. Realized it was someone with a manure spreader who was creating areas for the turkeys to feed. They pick out the seeds that aren't digested by the cattle.

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)...
how do you tell the male and female woodpeckers apart from one another? I learned that the female downy woodpecker does not have the red spot on the back of her head like the male does.

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting....nothing in terms of planting or harvesting. I want to look at improving two gardens in the backyard. Rather than doing small transplants or seeds, I want to invest in larger plants so that the garden is filled and weeds kept at a minimum.

There's a garden I pass each year that is all purple flowers. It's just beautiful; and many of them attract butterflies and beneficial insects. I'd like to do something like that - perhaps with a few more colors - so that we can see more butterflies.

I added nature journal pages about...winter colors and birds at the feeder. Was able to see a variety of colors - even in January - which surprised me.

For example, blue jays that visit the feeders a lot. There was a loud flock in the pine trees next door one morning. Red berries are still on two trees. If they last until spring, the cedar waxwings and robins eat them.

Many sunsets have beautiful shades of purple, blues, and magentas recently. The purples are, by far, my favorite color.

White clouds and snow: the snow has "diamonds" that glitter when the sun shines. Beautiful!

The sun is getting higher in the sky and gives of a bright yellowish-white glow. There's 21 more minutes of sunlight now (on January 17th) than on December 21st.

In terms of the birds at the feeder, the black-capped chickadees had the most visitors. Also saw the American tree sparrow, nuthatch, and downy woodpecker on the 13th-14th.

I am reading...a book about birds called Flights of Fancy. I've had it for a while now from the library and need to finish it soon.

I am dreaming about…warmer weather where things aren't frozen in ice.

This winter has been particularly difficult for me. Even temperatures in the 30s would be much better and easier to handle.

Of course, we can't see ice sculptures, but I'm okay with that. I'm ready for flowers and grass.

A photo I would like to share...on a day when it was bone-chillingly cold, we went to an open house at a local art center that's celebrating its 50th anniversary.

There were sled dogs that took people on short rides. Olivia had fun going on a ride.

It would be fun to have a sled for our dogs. However, I would imagine we would be going on a ride with death with Cooper who would be more interested in chasing squirrels and rabbits than taking us on a nice ride.

Thank you to Barb the Outdoor Hour Challenge for the idea of doing an Outdoor Mom's Journal.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

8 Days of Meals on the Whole30

Since January 8th, I've been doing the Whole30. It's basically a food program that re-sets the way that a person thinks about and consumes food. For 30 days, you are eating healthy, flavorful meals. There's no sugar, dairy, grains, corn, beans, and - for those who drink (which I don't) - alcohol.

When I've told people this, they say, "What's left?" Lots of food: meat, eggs, vegetables (with the exception of corn and beans, as I mentioned), and fruit. You can drink beverages that don't have any of the items noted above in them. Add in a wide variety of seasonings and fresh herbs - and there's plenty of food to eat.

To give an idea what I'm eating over the course of a week, I took photographs of some of the things I've made. Many of these are new recipes I tried as way to expand the options available on the Whole30. I've also included the recipes for each one.

Chicken, Kale, and Grape Salad
Thursday, January 18th 


2 cups skinless chicken breast (~1 lb.), cooked and shredded or cubed
1 cup chopped kale, packed
½ cup shredded or chopped red cabbage
½ sweet bell pepper, diced
½ cup grapes (can also use cubed mango)
2-3 green onions (white and part of greens), chopped (also can use a yellow or red onion)
3 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
2 avocados, cubed
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Sea salt and pepper to taste


In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, kale, red cabbage, bell peppers, grapes, green onions, cilantro, and avocado. Set aside.

Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Add to the salad ingredients and toss to coat.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: ½ avocado + ¼ of chicken salad Calories: 294 calories Fat: 19 g Carbohydrates: 12 g Sugar: 6 g Sodium: 150 mg Fiber: 5 g Protein: 28 g

Adapted from a recipe by The Real Food Dietitians.

Spicy Pineapple Jicama Guacamole
Friday, January 19th


3 large avocados
3 tablespoons lime juice
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
1¼ cup pineapple, diced
¾ cup jicama, diced
2 cherry peppers, diced (about ⅓ cup)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper


Remove pit from the avocados and place flesh in a medium-sized bowl. Add lime juice and cilantro and mix well until mostly smooth, but some chunks still remain. Add remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate. Use your dipper of choice and enjoy! Serves 6-8. (Recipe is from Eat the Gains.)

Whole30 Stuffed Peppers
Saturday, January 20th

This got a little darker than I would have preferred.
However, it was still very good.


4 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (preferably round in shape)
3 tablespoons cooking fat
 ¼ cup finely chopped onion
 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
 4 kale leaves, stems removed, leaves finely chopped
 1 pound ground meat (beef, lamb, bison)
 2 tablespoons tomato paste
 ¼ teaspoon cumin
 ¼ teaspoon chili powder
 ½ teaspoon salt
 ¼ teaspoon black pepper
 1 cup finely chopped peeled winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc.)


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a deep baking dish with parchment paper. With a paring knife, slice around the top of each bell pepper and gently pull up on the stem. Discard the seeded core. Place the peppers in the prepared dish. Bake for 10 minutes, until softened. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the cooking fat in a large skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat the bottom. When the fat is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Add the kale and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula or wooden spoon and stirring it into the vegetables, for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cook until the meat is mostly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in the squash and cook until the squash is slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide the meat and squash mixture evenly among the softened bell peppers. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the peppers look wrinkly and the beef is slightly browned on top.

Note: the preparation time and method for the peppers does not result in peppers that are as tender as we are used to eating. My mom used to boil the green peppers until they were soft so that they were easier to eat. They still would be firm enough to be stuffed, but tender enough to eat. I would opt for the boiling method the next time I make this recipe.

Salad with Fresh Vegetables, Blueberries, and Pistachios
Sunday, January 21st


Handful of organic mixed greens
Red onion, diced
Seasoned, baked chicken, cubed (see below for seasonings)
Cucumber, sliced and then quartered
Cherry tomatoes
Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Sea Salt
White pepper

Seasonings for 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (used on many salads): 

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder


Mix together spices for chicken. Spray a pan with olive oil and place chicken in pan. Cover the chicken with the spices. Flip them over and season the other side. Bake in a 375 degree oven until done. Slice or cube chicken for use in salads once it has cooled.

To make the salad, start with the mixed greens, add the onion, chicken, blueberries, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and pistachios.

Drizzles over the top the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with sea salt and white pepper.

Whole30 Classic Chili
Monday, January 22nd


1 pound ground meat (I used ground beef)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder (I used double that)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (I used a quart of tomatoes I canned during the summer)
2 cups beef broth (I used vegetable broth since it had a substantially lower sodium content)


Cook meat in a large pot until it is brown. Remove meat from pot, but leave the leftover fat in. Add the onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, mustard powder, and salt to the pot. Reduce heat to medium/low and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add bell peppers, tomatoes, and broth. Return meat to pot. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

Butternut Squash Soup
Tuesday, January 23rd


1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), baked and then scooped out
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (I didn't include this ingredient)
Sea salt
Black pepper


Bake the squash until it is tender. Scoop out the flesh and put in a bowl. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the roasted squash and turmeric. Add enough cold water (about 8 cups) to just cover the squash, and bring it to a boil over high heat. 

Reduce the heat a medium-low and simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes. 

Using an immersion blender (or, in my case, a VitaMix mixer), puree the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 8-10.

Salad with Whole30 Chimichurri Sauce
Wednesday, January 24th


1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Combine the vinegar, lime juice, garlic, and shallot in a food processor and mix on low speed. Drizzle in the olive oil while mixing; the dressing will begin to emulsify.

Add the cilantro, parsley, salt, and pepper and continue to mix on low until the dressing is uniform in texture and the herb pieces are chopped quite small.

Put the sauce over a simple salad made with spring greens, green peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cubed chicken.

Note: the sauce is thick here because it came right out of the refrigerator. However, the longer it sits at room temperature, it becomes more liquid-like (just like salad dressing). If the oil and vinegar separate, simply whisk it together.

Turkey Chili
Thursday, January 25th  


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups shredded chopped turkey
1 large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 cups vegetable broth (can use chicken broth also).
28 ounces canned and diced tomatoes, undrained (I used one quart of homemade canned tomatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste


Cook the olive oil, turkey, and onion for five minutes in a large pot. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and vegetable broth. Stir well. Reduce and cook 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Simmer another 20 minutes or so.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Olivia's 15th Birthday

Olivia's birthday this year was spread out over a few days. We kicked it off by going on a tour of Split Rock Studios which does displays for national and state parks, museums, visitor centers, and other organizations. 

There were several projects in the works that we were able to see. One of the projects is a new agricultural center that will be opening in Wisconsin. Some of the pieces were being constructed in the wood shop.

There was another job in which a big mural was being painted for a nature center. When it is installed, there will be wooden structures that come out in front of it that have hands-on activities for children to do.

There were intriguing sculptures around Split Rock Studios, including this one that Olivia liked.

We learned about 3D printing and the steps that happen before something is printed.

We saw another sculpture that was created by Split Rock. The level of detail from head to tail was impressive.

The girls spent the afternoon with Mary who is like a grandmother to them. We've known Mary know for at least six or seven years. It's been a long time. We went out to dinner with Mary and her husband, Art, at our favorite Chinese restaurant. This was an early birthday dinner that Olivia requested.

The next day, Olivia's actual birthday, was started with breakfast and opening gifts.

Sometimes - when there are gift cards involved - the item accompanying it might be practical or kind of an odd gift to receive on one's birthday. In this case, she received a box of Q-tips. She actually needs Q-tips so she thought this was the gift. We had to suggest to her that she may want to look at the underside of the box. She was surprised and happy to see a gift card there.

One of the gifts she received was a puzzle that had a Frank Lloyd Wright image on it. Between that and the other 3D puzzle, she's adding her to her puzzle collection.

Olivia received fewer gifts than past years because her big gift was the 2,000 piece puzzle that featured the wildlife of the U.S. being framed. So, the framed puzzle was Olivia's major gift for the year.

For lunch, Olivia wanted to go to the Lutefisk Dinner at church...not for the lutefisk, but for the meatballs. There were over 600 people who attended the dinner that was held from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. We arrived around 12:30 p.m. and waited for our numbers to be called to go to the dinner.

While we were waiting, we watched a slide show and listened to Don play the violin. It was a nice way to spend 45 minutes.

There were generous helpings and a wide variety for lunch. If people were still hungry, they could go back for seconds. The girls were the youngest ones there. Enjoyed seeing many people who we had nice conversations with before and during lunch.

Bill came up to chat and we told him that it was Olivia's birthday. He began singing "Happy Birthday" to her and then Sophia and I joined in.

After a very light dinner, Sophia brought out Olivia's birthday pie: a French silk pie from Perkins.

There were quite a few candles on Olivia's cake this year. Hard to believe that she is 15 years old already. Time has gone by way too quickly.

Holding back her hair, she's ready to blow out the candles.

She's blowing out the candles...

and there she's getting the last one.

The pie was topped with lots of whipped cream and chocolate swirls. We also had fresh fruit - pineapple and blueberries. Actually, that was just me who had the fruit. Everyone else had the pie. As much as I wanted to have a piece of pie, I also was on Day 10 of the Whole 30. Well, that just meant more pie for Olivia.

After dinner, we were told to look out the window on the second floor. The number "15" would be lit up in sparklers.

Weird thing was: they didn't want to sparkle.

After multiple tries - and a closer look at the package that they came in - we realized they were not sparklers. They were the "firecrackers" that, when a string is pulled, shoot out confetti.

No wonder they didn't sparkle like fireworks...they were just paper. Oh well. Talk about tricky packaging - they came in a container just like fireworks and were labeled with similar names. Next year, we'll purchase fireworks around the 4th of July and just hold onto them until the girls' birthdays that both fall in the winter.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

5,000 Questions (1-100)

There's a swap on Swap-bot that I'm participating in that focuses on a list of 5,000 questions. The hostess of the swap is focusing on 100 at a time. This post has the first 100 questions and my answers.

As a side note, when I numbered the questions that she provided, it ended up being 103 questions. I think some of the questions might have been meant to be together rather than separated.

At any rate, it took a long time to answer the questions and find some photos to accompany some of the answers. I'm thankful she has them divided into hundreds.

1. Who are you?

My name is Ann and I'm 51 years old.

2. What are the 3 most important things everyone should know about you?

- I'm an introvert.
- I deeply value and love my family - human and pets; and am grateful to be able to spend time with them at home as much as I do.
- Being genuine, compassionate, trustworthy, and forthright are qualities that I value in people and consider someone successful by more so than someone who is excessively wealthy, has a huge home(s), expensive cars, and "toys," but has no or few positive character qualities.

3. When you aren't filling out 5,000 question surveys like this one what are you doing?

I homeschool my daughters; take care of four dogs, three cats, and two horses; and manage the household.

Olivia with three of the four dogs (Scooby, Aspen, and Cooper.)

4. List your classes in school from the ones you like the most to the ones you like the least (or if you are out of school, think of the classes you did like and didn't like at the time).

I've been out of high school since 1984 and college since 1988 - so it's been a while. .In junior high school, my favorite classes were art: pottery, rug making, calligraphy, and drawing. Any class where I could creatively express myself I enjoyed greatly.

In high school, my parents chose the "college track" of classes for me. So, no more art classes because, in their eyes, being an artist was not a sustainable lifestyle - it was more of something I would do as a hobby than a career.

So, out of the ones I took, I preferred English and math - both came easily to me. Science and history were not courses I enjoyed - primarily because the teachers took an interesting subject (like science) and made it extraordinarily difficult to understand or made a fascinating subject (like history) boring.

In college, I enjoyed courses in my majors more - psychology, communication, telecommunication, and theater - as well as English courses, especially creative writing. The courses of least interest were statistics (in psychology) and biology.

St. Catherine University where I attended college. 
At the time it was called The College of St. Catherine.

5. What is your biggest goal for this year?

I'd like to completely go through the home using the Konmari method. I've already done the method with our clothes and books.

Over 500 books donated this past Fall to the secondhand store.

The next step is the kitchen. It's wonderful having only the items that are wanted and needed with clothing and books. With a more streamlined home, there will be more room, I'll have an easier job cleaning it, and we will be surrounded only by the things that bring us joy.

6. Where do you want to be in 5 years?

It will be 2023; and I will be 56 years old in 5 years. I want to still be living here at the farm and have pets. Sophia will be a junior in college and Olivia will be a freshman in college.

Because the girls are (most likely) living somewhere else during their college years, I will need to go back to work. I'm not sure what I would do at this point. It's very different being in your 50s re-entering the job market than it is being in your 20s or 30s. Actually, this is kind of a sobering thought because I am not sure what job opportunities are available in a rural area that would best use my skills.

7.What stage of life are you in right now?

I am in my 50s - raising teenagers who are preparing for college. I would consider my life heading towards the tail-end, so trying to make the most out of each day and experience.

8. Are you more child-like or childish?

I'd pick child-like because a child has a sense of wonder about the world, enthusiasm to learn, laughs often, and has a sense of joy.

9. What is the last thing you said out loud?

"What are you looking at, Cooper?" He was looking out the window at the trees and driveway. Not sure if he was watching a squirrel, rabbit, or birds. (Found out later that it was a squirrel at the birdfeeder.)

Cooper in the snow.
We will have had Cooper with us for five years on February 7, 2018.

10. What song comes closest to how you feel about your life right now?

Mendelssohn's Spring Song is mentally where my mind is and how I'd like the weather. There's one more double-digit-below-zero night coming up and hopefully that will be it for the winter. Waking up in the middle of the night to feed the horses is taking a toll on me this winter season.

This is what I look like when I go out on sub-zero nights to feed the horses.
Skin can freeze in as little as 15 minutes

11. Have you ever taken martial arts classes?

No, I have not taken a martial arts class. It's not something that appeals to me.

12. Does your life tend to get better or worse or does it just stay the same?

My life fluctuates - there are periods when it is good and periods where it is challenging. There are not entire decades or large expanses of time that are good or bad. There always seems to be some positives amid negatives and vice versa.

So, for example, when I had two surgeries close together in the mid-1990s, I also had my parents who helped and visited me when I was recovering.

When I was going through the times when Olivia was struggling through sensory processing disorder, there were a team of professionals who helped us with her (e.g., occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist, early childhood education staff).

Olivia doing therapeutic horseback riding when she was
seven years old. They rode backwards on the horse for one of the activities.
I can't remember the reason why they did that.

There will always be high and low points in my life, I just need to focus on what I'm grateful for during those low times.

13. Does time really heal all wounds?

As time passes, emotional wounds may get easier to deal with. They never totally heal, though. There is always some residual pain, sadness, or loneliness when there is a loss in one's life.

14. How do you handle a rainy day?

If I don't have to go anywhere, I stay indoors and get caught up on things I've wanted to do, but have put aside for whatever reason.

If I do have to go somewhere, I wear a raincoat, take an umbrella, and sometimes a spare set of clothes to change into once I get to my destination. I don't like to walk around or sit in clothes that are wet because of the rain.

Olivia and Sophia geocaching in the rain in May 2012.
The minute it started thundering and lightening,
we stopped the activity and went home. 

15. Which is worse...losing your luggage or having to sort out tangled holiday lights?

Losing luggage would be worst. The hassle of trying to get new clothing and personal care items while on a trip takes time away from the vacation - not to mention spending money that could be spent or invested elsewhere. If the luggage contained gifts or souvenirs, those items also are lost along with the memories (in the case of the latter items).

16. How is your relationship with your parents?

My dad died on January 5, 2012, and mom died on August 15, 2015.

Dad and me at St. Therese Nursing Home on a walk
in the courtyard/healing garden.
(Taken on October 15,2011.)

I had a great relationship with both of them, especially in their later years.

Sophia, Olivia, my mom, and me.
May 12, 2013 - Mother's Day.

17. Will you miss them when they are gone?

Yes, I miss both my parents on a daily basis.

One of many meals we shared with Mom and Dad.
My mom always made sure the table was set with a tablecloth or placemats;
and that the meal had a variety of colors in it.
This was taken in November 2009.

18. Do you tend to be aware of what is going on around you?

For the most part, I'm aware of what's going on around me - particularly if I am somewhere on my own that potentially could be dangerous (e.g., camping in a remote area).

19. What is the truest thing that you know?

I know with my heart that Sophia and Olivia were meant to be with our family and with one another.

Olivia's adoption day on November 17, 2003.

20. What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was about five years old, I wanted to be a hairdresser. By sixth grade, that changed to being an archeologist. In junior high I wanted to be a neonatologist. In high school, I wanted to be an occupational therapist. In college, I wanted to do something in the field of psychology, but wasn't sure what that looked like in the "real world."

21. Have you ever been given a second chance?

Many, many times. Each time I'm given a second chance I'm so grateful.

22. Are you more of a giver or a taker?

For the most part, I would consider myself a giver of time, energy, love, encouragement, and support. I enjoy making people feel happy, loved, and good about themselves.

23. Do you make your decisions with an open heart/mind?

I believe I make decisions with an open heart/mind. Sometimes it is difficult to do when I put myself first and what would be best for someone else second. However, this isn't done often.

24. What is the most physically painful thing that has ever happened to you?

It's a toss-up between ripping a ligament in my knee when skiing on Mt. Hood in Oregon, missing the last step on the staircase and shattering the bone in my left foot, or having degenerative disk disease.

See where the two black spots are between the disks?
That's where there is no cushion. It's totally gone.
The ones above it and below it also appear to be going away as well.

25. What is the most emotionally painful thing that has ever happened to you?

The loss of both my parents within three years and seven months of one another. Seeing my father's health and abilities decline because of Alzheimer's Disease; and my mother's health decline because of Diabetes and blindness.

26. Who have you hugged today?

No one. I'm not much of a hugger.

27. Who has done something today to show they care about you?

Paige found a friend who has a VCR and he has been recording old VCR tapes that I made from the late 1980s forward. The goal is to get them transferred onto DVDs so that they will be preserved forever.

28. Do you have a lot to learn?

Yes, I can always learn new things. Any field that I haven't studied - would be areas of educational growth for me.

29. If you could learn how to do three things just by wishing and not by working what would they be?

A. How to make wheel-thrown pottery - especially complete dish sets.
B. How to make enough money to comfortably live, travel, pay for medical expenses, fund the girls' college bills, and have enough for retirement.
C. How to beautifully landscape the yards to attract more birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds with a minimal amount of upkeep.

30. Which do you remember the longest: what other people say, what other people do, or how other people make you feel?

Although I still remember some hurtful comments that kids said to me in elementary school, I think what I remember the longest is how other people made me feel. Even before elementary school, I remember being loved by my grandparents and parents. I don't remember exactly what they said, but I do remember how they made me feel.

31. What are the key ingredients to having a good relationship?

The key ingredients to having a good relationship are trust; respectful communication; and time for fun and laughter.

32. What 3 things do you want to do before you die?

A. Write letters to Sophia and Olivia for them to read at different points in their life; and to share advice that they can read (and take or leave) based on what I have learned in my life. I wish my parents had done that for me, and hope it is something meaningful for them.
B. To know that I have lived my life to the fullest and made a positive difference in the lives of others (people and animals).
C. See the remaining four states and two continents that I haven't seen yet.

33. What three things would you want to die to avoid doing?

This seems like an overly-dramatic question. Wanting to die versus doing something means the task or what is posed to me has to be horrific. I'll answer this question instead as "what would you detest having to do?"
A. Doing something that requires hurting or killing people.
B. Scientific research that involves harming animals.
C. Slaughtering animals.

I can't imagine that I would feel okay with myself at the end of the day if I had to do any of these things.

34. Is there a cause you believe in more than any other cause?

Animal welfare really touches my heart. If I was able to have more space and an unlimited amount of money, I would enjoy having a sanctuary for neglected, maltreated, and/or senior dogs.

35. What does each decade make you think of:

The 19..
20's: Flappers.
30's: The Great Depression and when my parents were born.
40's: Swing music.
50's: Poodle skirts and drive-in restaurants.
60's: Hippies.
70's: My elementary school years at various schools due to moving and boundary changes.
80's: High school and college.
90's: Living in Charlotte (NC), San Francisco, Minneapolis, and finally at the farm.
2000's: Adopting Sophia and Olivia; and the start of our lives as a family.
2010's: Caregiving for both my parents, the death of my parents, and moving onto a new stage in my life.

36. Which decade do you feel the most special connection to and why?

Definitely the 2000s - it was a time of new beginnings, discoveries, learning, love, and fun. So many wonderful memories of time spent as a family together and with the girls' grandparents.

The girls with my mom and dad at the county fair.
Taken on July 31, 2008.

Nature walks, art activities, reading to the girls, field trips, trips to other many good memories. I loved this period in my life.

The girls swinging on the swingset.
Taken on December 2, 2007.

37. What is your favorite oldie/classic rock song?

Two songs immediately come to mind: ABBA's Dancing Queen and Queen's Under Pressure.

38. What country do you live in and who is the leader of that country?

I live in the United States and Donald Trump is the president.

39. If you could say any sentence to the current leader of your country what would it be?

Please have respect for other people and countries; and refrain from insulting them.

40. What's your favorite TV channel to watch in the middle of the night?

I'm not up in the middle of the night except to give the horses hay when the temperatures are -10 degrees below zero or colder.

41. What Disney villain are you the most like and why?

I had to look up a list of Disney villains because I wasn't familiar with all of them. Looks like I haven't seen as many Disney movies as I thought I had. So, I went back to the classic Disney films and picked the Magic Mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the villain I'm most like.

The website said, "Not much is known about the mirror except that his sole purpose is to serve whoever may own him at the time. Whilst he is antagonistic on various occasions, he is not intentionally evil, as he is forced to obey the Evil Queen due to being her slave. He does not hesitate to tell the truth to the Queen when it is revealed that Snow White was still alive."

I see my life as one of being of service to others (in a good way). If provoked or hurt by others, some of my less desirable qualities can surface, though nothing that I would consider "evil." Like the Magic Mirror, I have no problem sharing the truth if it is asked of me.

42. Have you ever been a girl scout/boy scout?

I was a Girl Scout for a few years in upper-elementary school. My mom was the troop leader. The arts and crafts, camping, and cooking activities were my favorite. I still remember making tiny pizzas with biscuit dough for one of the cooking lessons. We also did a show with marionettes and I was a princess. I remember my mom sewed the outfit for my marionette and I thought it was the prettiest dress. She made it from a lavender fabric (my favorite color).

Service also was something that was important. I remember making activity buckets for children staying at the Ronald McDonald House and visiting seniors at the nursing home.

43. If you were traveling to another continent would you rather fly or take a boat?

I would rather fly so that I could get to the destination quicker and spend the most time exploring an area I haven't been before. I don't have much of a desire to take a cruise.

44. Why is the sky blue during the day and black at night?

I had to look up this answer since I don't remember learning this in school (surprisingly). Found a website with a good answer: "During the day (daylight) the sky has a blue appearance because the Sun’s light (white light) is made up of rainbow of colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) of different wavelength. This means, all these different colors of light combine to give you what is called white light.

Sun and clouds.
Taken on June 22, 2012.

"When sunlight enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it collides with air particles that causes the scattering of sunlight around the sky. The light with the shorter wavelength is scattered more by this collision than light with longer wavelengths. In this case, violet light is scattered the most, but human eyes do not see this color very well.

"However, since the human eyes are more sensitive to blue light (the next most scattered visible color), you will see the sky as blue. This therefore means that the blueness of the sky is from the blue light that is scattered from the sunlight in the atmosphere which, then enters our eyes from all regions of the sky.

"The black sky at night that shows you the moon, planets and stars is due to the absence of the Sun’s light. The overwhelming effect of the Sun’s light reacting with the atmosphere blacks out (conceal) the blackness of the sky (outer space).
"This means therefore that because there are no scattered light to reach the eyes of an observer during the night (to conceal the viewing of outer space) we get a clear (transparent) view of space, which is black. So, the sky is black during the night because it is revealing outer space."

45. What does your name mean?

My first name, Ann, according to Think Baby Names, says "it is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Ann is "He (God) has favored me."

Baby Name Wizard said my middle name, Marie, is the "French cognate of Mary, which is derived from the Hebrew Miryām, a name of debated meaning. Many believe it to mean 'sea of bitterness' or 'sea of sorrow.' However, some sources cite the alternative definitions of 'rebellion,' 'wished-for child,' and 'mistress or lady of the sea.' The name is borne in the Bible by the mother of Jesus, the son of God."

46. Would you rather explore the deeps of the ocean or outer space?

The ocean intrigues me more because there is so much life and activity going on. I would need to be within a submarine or glass-bottom vessel if I were going to do this, however. I have tried snorkeling in Australia (on the Great Barrier Reef) and in Hawaii. Although it was fun to see the fish and giant sea turtles swimming around me, I did not like the apparatus that you had to wear to breathe. It was mildly anxiety-provoking for me.

Jellyfish at Underwater World.
Jellyfish have no brain, bloods, or heart.
Taken on January 18, 2011.

47. Word association

What is the first word that comes to mind when you see the word:

Air: sky.
Meat: chicken.
Different: orange. (I have no idea why that color came into my mind.)
Pink: feminine.
Deserve: a raise.
White: elephant.
Elvis: impersonator. (I saw one at a recent Lions Club convention I attended.)
Magic: exciting.
Heart: attack.
Clash: hurt.
Pulp: fiction.

48. If you could meet any person in the world who is dead who would you want it to be?

This implies that I have not met or known this person in my lifetime. So, I would enjoy meeting and talking with the grandparents who I never had an opportunity to meet: Olive (my paternal grandma) and Fred (my maternal grandpa). I would love to have some time with each one to learn more about them and their lives.

I'd also like to meet Jesus and spend time with him; listen to him talk; and see the impact that he had on those around him.

49. What if you could meet anyone who is alive?

I would like to meet either Jimmy Carter who has done a tremendous amount with Habitat for Humanity since being in office; and Barack Obama who I consider an eloquent speaker and memorable president.

50. Is there a movie that you love so much you could watch it everyday?

There isn't a movie that I would watch daily for the rest of my life. There are movies that I have enjoyed watching multiple times, like Defending Your Life, but I couldn't watch it daily. There are so many other things I want to do than watch a movie repeatedly.

51. You are going to be stuck alone in an elevator for a week. What do you bring to do?

Besides bringing water, food, a toilet, and portable shower, I would bring books, a computer, embroidery, and unfinished craft projects that I would like to complete.

Learning how to do the feather stitch in January 2012.

52. Have you ever saved someone's life or had your life saved?

No - never saved anyone's life or had my own life saved.

53. Make up a definition for the following silly words...

Fruitgoogle: the method of looking up the type of fruit that your body needs at a particular day or time.
Ambytime: being able to live both in the present and past; or present and future at the same time.
Asscactus: a person with a prickly or painful personality. Someone you wouldn't want to spend time with...ever.

54. What was the last thing you made with your own hands?

I made a chicken salad for lunch that had diced chicken, kale, red pepper, onion, grapes, avocado, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. It was really good! It's a recipe I found that I can have while doing the Whole30 from January8th-February8th.

55. What was your favorite toy as a child?

My sister and I enjoyed playing with the Sunshine Family and their home. They were kind of a hippie, organic, make-it-yourself family which was kind of like our family in a way. Maybe that's why we liked them a lot. They had a simple house - just four rooms - and we ended up making things to furnish their home.

56. How many TV’s are in your house?

We have two t.v.'s plus one t.v. that can only play DVDs since it isn't hooked up to cable.

57. What is your favorite thing to do outside?

When the weather is above 30 degrees and below 80 degrees, I enjoy taking the dogs on walks.

Girls and dogs on a walk at a park.
Taken on May 16, 2013.

I also enjoy hiking - especially to places I have never been, locally or somewhere in the U.S. I love to go camping - especially in a camper cabin at a state park or a rental home in Grand Marais where I can spend time outdoors relaxing, listening to the birds, and discovering another part of the state.

58. How do you feel when you see a rainbow?

I feel like I was gifted with seeing something special. It still amazes me when I see a rainbow - the beautiful blending of colors that stretch across the sky.

This was a sunset and a rainbow.
Taken on June 12, 2013.

59. Have you ever dreamt a dream that came true?

I've dreamed about running my own organization which did come true. It was a wonderful period of my life when I was able to offer farm and art camps to children that taught them how the arts, nature, and agriculture were all related. Artists came to the farm, teens helped guide the children as camp counselors, and there were hundreds of volunteers who helped with the children and maintaining the farm.

60. Have you ever been to a psychic/tarot reader?

Yes, when we traveled to New York back in the early 1990s and then again in the mid-90s before adopting Sophia and Olivia. In fact, one of the psychic readers I went to I had asked about how many children she envisioned me having. I was hoping she would say "five" because we were looking at a sibling group from Brazil. She said, "Two children. Girls."

I said, "Are you sure? You don't see some boys also?"

"No, two daughters."

It ended up that Brazil said that people from the U.S. could not adopt children anymore because the Hague convention wasn't signed. Long story short: ended up choosing China and adopting two daughters.

61. What is your idea of paradise?

The weather is between  35-75 degrees, a light wind, partly sunny (I like seeing the various types of clouds), no mosquitoes or flies, flowers in bloom, leaves on trees, and birds singing.

Eagle in the oak tree by the driveway on
December 31, 2012.

Add a deer or two jumping through the field...a fox ambling by...pheasants and turkeys walking through the yard...some eagles or hawks flying overhead or sitting in the tree...rabbits playing in the grass...herons, geese, ducks, and egrets in the pond - and that is my idea of paradise. I've seen all of these things at our farm...just not all at one time.

62. Do you believe in god and if so what is he/she/it like?

One of the things that my parents said was that you don't talk about religion, politics, or money with other people. It's something that is personal and you don't want to create friction where there isn't any. They took this so far as to not even talk with their own kids about these things which I don't know if I agree with that since guidance in money would have been helpful.

Although we talk as a family about these subjects, I've tried to follow my parents' advice about not discussing these issues with non-family members.

63. Do you believe in Hell?

See my answer to #62.

64. What one thing have you done that most people haven't?

I passed my private pilot's test and flew a single-engine plane for some time with a flight instructor. I never got my license, though, because I stopped taking lessons after a bad landing. When I landed, the whole plane started shaking. My instructor, who was just taking it easy in the passenger seat sat upright rather quickly. I was able to land and stop the plane safely, but it really rattled me. He had no explanation for what happened.

Having recently adopted Sophia, I did not ever want that to happen to me again and not know what happened or how to handle the situation. Being a parent changed my perspective on what risks I was willing take.

65. What is the kindest thing you have ever done?

In my eyes, it is taking care of my parents when their health was struggling and they were in the process of dying. I kept hearing from their friends and family, "Your parents are lucky to have you as a daughter" and "Most kids wouldn't do what you do for your parents." That made me feel good.

66. Are you a patient person?

I've been told that I am patient. It takes a lot to make me angry and frustrated with a situation or person.

67. What holiday should exist but doesn't?

Clara Barton Day should be a nationally-recognized holiday. She founded the American Red Cross; and there is still is a need for blood. In fact, every two seconds someone needs blood. On that day, people could donate blood, volunteer at a blood drive, or do something that helps those who need blood transfusions. If anything, a national holiday in Clara Barton's honor would raise awareness about the critical need for blood.

One of the women who donated a pint of blood
at the blood drive that Sophia hosted in December 2017.
The blood can the lives of up to three people!

68. What holiday shouldn't exist but does?

Columbus Day shouldn't exist; and it should be replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day.

69. What's the best joke you ever heard?

This isn't the best joke, but it's one I heard recently:

What did the father say to the son as he went off it college?


A herd of bison/buffalo about 10 minutes from our home.
Taken on June 29, 2011.

70. Where is the most fun place you have EVER been?

When I think of fun, I think of laughter. What comes to mind is Disneyland - both when I was 15 years old with my family and then again when Sophia and Olivia were young and we took them there. It was fun to experience the rides and park twice from different perspectives.

71. Is your hair natural or dyed?

It is natural. I like the variety of colors in it - silver, gray, blonde, and brown.

72. Do you have any deep dark secrets or are you pretty much up front?

I'm pretty much up front.

73. What is under your bed right now?

Nothing. The box spring is directly on the floor. Since moving to the farm in 1995, I've had the bed on the floor so that our older dog, Sydne, could get on the bed and sleep there. She was older and it was easier for her not to have to jump up as high. Even after she died, I didn't have a desire to put the bed up higher. It's worked well for all the dogs as they've aged from puppies to senior dogs.

74. If you were in the Land of Oz would you want to live there or go home?

As much as the Land of Oz had friendships and encouragement; and even the cool spa where you could get a complete makeover, there was always something missing: being home and being with the ones you love. I'd rather live at home than be in a place where I missed being with the ones I love.

75. If you drive do you frequently speed?

I've been known to go over the speed limit - especially when we leave late and have to be someplace at a particular time.

76. What is the world's best song to dance to?

I don't dance, so I don't have a song that fits this category.

77. What song was on the last time you danced with someone?

I don't even remember. It's been 27 years since I've danced with an adult. When the girls were little, we used to listen to Lawrence Welk; and they loved the singing, orchestral music, and dancing.

One of the many dance scenes on Lawrence Welk.

They often wanted to dance, so I would dance with them. They didn't care that I didn't know how to dance like the professional dancers. They just knew that we were having fun and they got to spin in the air as I would twirl them around.

78. Do you prefer Disney or Warner Brothers?

I prefer Disney movies on a whole over Warner Brothers.

79. What is the first animal you would run to see if you went to the zoo?

It would depend on the zoo. If we were in China at the zoo near where Olivia was adopted again, I would visit the pandas. Locally, I enjoy seeing the huge aquarium, monkeys, and grizzly bears at the Minnesota Zoo. At the Como Zoo, I enjoy seeing the polar bears and gorillas.

Three grizzly bears hibernating at the Minnesota Zoo.
February 13, 2009.

That being said, it is difficult for me to see animals in captivity. I would much prefer that all of them were in the wild or significantly larger spaces (like sanctuaries) where people didn't gawk at them.

80. Would you consider yourself to be romantic?

I think I'm more practical than romantic. Of course, I appreciate when thoughtful things are done for me.

81. If the earth stopped rotating would we all fly off?

Had to look up the answer to this question. Found it on, Universe Today:

"The first thing to think about is the momentum of everything on the surface of the Earth. You’re held down by gravity and you’re whizzing through space at a rotational velocity of 1,674.4 km/h (at the equator). You can’t feel it because of momentum. Just like how you can’t feel that you’re moving in a car going down the highway. But you feel the effects when you stop, or get into an accident.

"And so, if the Earth suddenly stopped spinning, everything on the surface of the Earth at the equator would suddenly be moving at more than 1,600 km/hour sideways. The escape velocity of Earth is about 40,000 km/hour, so that isn’t enough to fly off into space; but it would cause some horrible damage as everything flew in a ballistic trajectory sideways. Imagine the oceans sloshing sideways at 1,600 km/hour.

"The rotational velocity of the Earth decreases as you head away from the equator, towards the poles. So as you got further away from the equator, your speed would decrease. If you were standing right on the north or south pole, you’d barely even feel it."

82. What is the one thing that you love to do so much that you would make sacrifices to be able to do it?

Right now, it is staying home to homeschool Sophia and Olivia. We have made a lot of choices about what we can/cannot have and where we travel based on living on one income.

Teaching Sophia how to do jump counting using buttons.
Taken on September 25, 2007.
Now, ten yeas later, she is taking a PSEO math course
through Crown College
during her junior year of high school.

However, there isn't a day that goes by that I regret the decision to homeschool them. Going back to work now would be challenging - to say the least - and not provide them with the opportunities and learning style that they are used to having since they were in preschool.

83. If you (and everyone) had to lose one right or freedom, but you could pick which one everyone had to lose, what would you pick?

All the rights that U.S. citizens have are critical to having a democratic society. I can't even imagine not having the right to free expression, religious freedom, or the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

If I had to choose, I would lose the right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship. Ultimately, an employer has the final say in who s/he will hire. So, if they don't feel a candidate is suitable for federal employment for whatever reason they don't have to hire her/him.

84. If you had to choose would you live on the equator or at the North Pole?

That's a tough question because both are such extremes in terms of temperature. Although I'm used to cold weather and prefer it over hot weather, when it is frigidly cold (like double digits below zero), I'm less likely to go out and do anything outside. From a safety standpoint, it's not safe to be out in weather like that either.

At least with living on the equator you can be outside and get relief by swimming or being in the shade. When I traveled to Brazil, we spent time at the equator and I enjoyed it. It was hot, but bearable. It was such a fascinating part of the world.

85. Would you rather give up listening to music or watching television?

I could give up watching television. I don't watch a lot of t.v. now, so it wouldn't be a huge loss.

86. What do you think makes someone a hero?

In my eyes, someone is a hero when they go above and beyond helping someone else. They may put their own life and safety at risk to help someone else.

87. What cartoon would you like to be a character in?

The only ones that come to mind are The Flintstones and Tom and Jerry. Both of these cartoons made me laugh when I was younger.

88. Name one thing that turns your stomach.

Changing a diaper after a child has had diarrhea. The smell and mess are overwhelming for me.

89. What was the last thing you paid for?

Postage stamps.

90. Are you a coupon clipper?

No. A lot of the things I buy are generic labeled products - so they are generally less expensive than brand-name products purchased with coupons.

91. Get anything good in the mail recently?

Yes! Three rolls of washi tape from a woman in Costa Rica through Etsy. This was a surprise through the Wishlist group on Swap-Bot.

I also received a very long letter from a man I correspond with through a prison ministry program. I've enjoyed being able to write letters that help prisoners through a difficult part of their life and help them prepare for their parole and life outside of prison. It has been very rewarding to do.

92. Which would you rather take as a gym class...dancing, sailing, karate, or bowling?

I'd enjoy taking a sailing class. I sailed one time with a co-worker from a job I had while in college. He had a sailboat and took me out on Medicine Lake - about 10 minutes from my home. It was fun and invigorating sailing on the lake.

93. In Star Trek people 'beam' back and forth between different places. What this means is they stand in a little tube and their molecules are deconstructed and sent to another tube somewhere else where they are reassembled. Only problem is when the molecules are deconstructed the person is dead. When they are put back together it is only a clone that has all the dead person's memories. the person who gets beamed the same person on both ends?

It doesn't sound like they would be the same person. They would just be replicas.

94. What insects are you afraid of?

Hornets and wasps. We had hornets overtake one of our beehives. When Sophia and I checked on the bees in the fall, the hornets would come after us. They were aggressive and scary. They were relentless in following us - even as we walked away from the hive. This is NOT like a honeybee which we enjoyed working with for the past few years.

95. If you could print any phrase on a T-shirt, what would it say?

I would print the following quote: "Your life has purpose. Your story is important. Your dreams count. Your voice matters. You were born to make an impact."

96. What's the most eccentric thing you have ever worn?

I used to go to Ragstock in Minneapolis when I was in college and get vintage clothes. Some of my clothing choices and combinations, I'm sure, looked rather eccentric - even for a college student.

97. If you could pick one food that you could eat all you wanted but it would have no effect on how much you weigh, what food would it be?

Desserts - like cheesecake, apple pie, blueberry pie, tapioca, peach pie, cake with homemade frosting, cookies. Really, anything with sugar and flour...things I'm currently not eating while on the Whole30. I know that I truly shouldn't be eating these desserts anyways. Yet, they are comfort food and often times tied to good memories of my parents, grandparents, or special occasions.

98. What are your parents interested in?

When they were living, my mom (when her vision was good) enjoyed knitting; sewing clothing; making doll clothes; quilting; and hosting special events and holidays meals.

Mom wearing a sweater she knit using wool from our sheep.
Taken on October 28, 2012.

My dad enjoyed nature/the outdoors; birds (feeding and watching them); flower gardening; vegetable gardening; camping; creating personalized cards to send to his friends, family, and church members; and being a Big Brother to many Little Brothers.

Dad in front of my parents' home on July 5, 2010. 
He spent a lot of time outside taking care of the lawn, 
working with the flower and vegetable gardens, and 
enjoying the beauty of the lake.

They enjoyed being active with their church and doing things with other seniors - like going on trips, sharing meals together, and worshipping. They had deep friendships with other men and women who went through the Deaconite program with them. 

99. Have you ever caught an insect and kept it as a pet?

Not that I can remember.

100. Have you ever caught and tamed a wild animal?

No. The only thing that came close were two sheep that had been mistreated and abused. We took them in and had to gain their trust. They wouldn't eat anything from us initially and were quite frightened of anyone. They would run if they saw us and didn't come when we called them. Eventually, they began trusting us and became two of the most gentle, loving sheep. We named them Dacron and Woolite.

101. What is more helpful to you, wishes or plans?

Plans are more helpful to me because they are measurable ways to move towards reaching my goals.

102. When do you feel your life energy the strongest?

I'm not sure if this means when are you most alert. If it does, I'm most alert in the morning - between the hours of 6 a.m. and noon.

103. You are spending the night alone in the woods and may bring only 3 items with you. What do you bring?

I've done this before and I needed more than three items.

Camping at Lake Shetek in southwestern Minnesota.
The girls were making dinner over a campfire.
Taken on June 9, 2012.

Out of everything I brought when I camped, I would say having a tent and sleeping bag were essential as well as a source of light. Actually, if I had a cell phone it would have light as well as a way to call for help if I needed it.