Friday, November 30, 2018

Outdoor Mom's Journal - November 2018

During our outdoor time this month we went....outside rather infrequently. It wasn't until I looked back on the month that I realized that we didn't go out much at all.

On November 9th, it was snowing and cold. We watched the dumpster (from the construction that happened because of the fire on May 5th) be taken away which was nice. Finally...we don't have to look at a dumpster in our driveway.

On November 24th, we went on a hike at Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls. We chose a path that we had not been on before. One section was rocky and wound through tall pines.

There were sections that overlooked the St. Croix River.

Other sections had rock formations.

Despite the cold weather, there was still water coming from somewhere and running down the rocks.

On Sunday, November 25th, we went to the local Vinterlights celebration. We had hot chocolate and cookies in the community center. Then there was a brief presentation by the Lions Club president and mayor of the city. We sang a couple of Christmas carols and then went on our way.

My sister joined us which was fun; and I saw a lot of people I knew from the Lions and other activities. It was nice to see everyone.

We drove around to enjoy the lights. Below is the main building at Gammelgarden Museum.

The church was lit up too as were the evergreen trees.

The most inspiring thing we experienced was...going on a new hiking trail at Interstate State Park. The views of the river from the trail were beautiful.

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)...why does it feel so much colder as I get older than it did when I was younger? 

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting...
not much. Nothing for planting now - the ground is frozen; and nothing is being harvested.

I am thinking that it would be nice to have everything landscaped next May. The ground was graded (for the most part) this past year, but never sodded. There needs to be a bit more work done with grading in the Spring. It would be nice to have it sodded (rather than seeded) so the dogs can walk on it right away.

The flower gardens would be nice to have completed and looking beautiful. I added a lot of perennials this past year and bulbs last month in a few spots.

If we do a graduation party here for Sophia in the Summer, things have to look better. Maybe that's the reason and motivation of getting things planted. 

I added nature journal pages about...
yet another month with no nature journaling. Maybe 2019 will be better for journaling.

I am reading...
a couple of books, but they aren't related to nature. Next year I should find some books about wildlife and nature.

I am dreaming about…
walking without pain. My left foot is acting up again and is causing me pain when I walk. I'm hoping it goes away. Combined with neck, back, and head pain from the car accident on the 11th of this month, I've had better months in terms of pain. 

A photo I would like to share...
on the way back from our hike at Taylors Falls, there was a moss-covered rock surrounded by leaves. The green was so vivid and quite surprising at this time of the year.

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.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Volunteering at Feed My Starving Children

On Friday, November 23rd, I coordinated a volunteer group to pack food at Feed My Starving Children. We had 22 volunteers - youth and adults - plus 8 others who were at FMSC but were not part of my group.

The 30 volunteers filled two work stations. Below, Olivia is working on opening bags and holding them open while they are being filled.

Sophia did the same job at the other side of the table.

It was nice working together as a family on this packing activity.

My role was to take the sealed food packages and put them in 18 groups of two. I packed 36 packages in each box.

Our work stations packed 23 boxes.

The other station packed 31 boxes. They had mostly adults whereas our table had mostly youth.

After we packed the boxes and cleaned the stations, we could sample the food that is shipped to people around the world.

Collectively at the 12-2 packing session, 231 boxes were packed. That means that 49,896 meals were made. This represents 136 children for a year.

Below is a group of volunteers (minus two adults).

This was a meaningful way to spend the day after Thanksgiving. Everyone who attended the packing session was happy they came to Feed My Starving Children on their holiday weekend.

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.