Sunday, June 30, 2019

Outdoor Mom's Journal - June 2019

During our outdoor time this month we Interstate State Park in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, on June 1st. There was a lake that was carved out by a glacier thousands of years ago.

There were sections in the forest that were covered in moss. It was really pretty.

The St. Croix River was relatively calm.

The rocks were quite large. As a size comparison - Olivia is about 4'9" tall.

In the nature center, there were interesting exhibit and taxidermy.

On June 14th, my sister, Sophia, Olivia, and my nephew (Colton) went to a nature center at Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area. There were too many mosquitoes, so we opted to spend time inside instead.

There was a juvenile black bear. My sister is a little over 5' tall, so the bear is probably about six feet tall on its hind legs.

There was an interesting display of waterfowl and mammals typically seen in the area.

There was an area of raptors and other birds.

A drawer had a different types of squirrels and other small mammals. We have been seeing a lot of red and gray squirrels. The size difference is more substantial than I thought.

The most inspiring thing we experienced was...
having a variety of flowers blooming for Sophia's graduation party on June 29th. There was a lot of color and types of flowers for guests to look at when they came to the party. We have two lavender plants this year. The leaves are more fragrant than the purple flowers.

Our peonies bloomed this year which I was so happy about! Olivia and two of my nieces weeded the peony bed which also has tiger lilies in it. For the party, the peonies were in full bloom.

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)...whether a rock formation was naturally made or human made. When Olivia and I were on a hike at Interstate State Park, we came across this rock formation. At the top of the cliff, there looks like there's a profile of a face to me.

I'm not sure if it was carved like that or if it was naturally formed. Someday I'll find out.

In the garden, we are planting...various annuals and perennials. This is an annual that we had last year that grew to be over three feet tall. I'm hoping that this year's plants grow the same height. They were really eye-catching under the pine tree in the backyard.

I added nature journal pages about...I am keeping up-to-date with my Nature Observer journal. Each day, there is a small space to write on a calendar things in nature that I want to remember. Then there's a larger amount of space to write about a half dozen sentences about what happened that day and what I saw in nature.

This has been such a great way to pay attention to what is happening outside each day. I've enjoyed going back and reading what I've written since it triggers memories of seeing and hearing what I've written about.

I am reading...
issues of Birds and Blooms that were given to me. I love seeing the beautiful photos of the birds and learning about the different plants that benefit both birds and butterflies.

I am dreaming about…
seeing more of the gardens in bloom. I also am thinking about hiring a local farmer to mow the pastures so they look nicer and there's more grass available for the horses. The goldenrod has taken over both pastures. When the sheep lived here, they kept it looking like a golf course. We don't need it quite that trimmed...just enough so there's more for the horses to eat since they don't eat goldenrod.

A photo I would like to share...
one more photo of some flowers around our farm. These flowers are in a little container garden that also has moss roses - favorite flowers of my parents.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Many years ago I clipped a recipe from a free church cookbook for Ice Cream Sandwiches. On Memorial Day, I thought it would be a fun treat for the holiday and what was going to be a picnic. (It rained, so we ate indoors.)

The recipe is simple:

1 egg
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
Ice cream (any flavor)

To make the cookie part of the ice cream sandwiches, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Beat the egg, shortening, butter, and half of the cake mix until smooth. Then stir in the remaining cake mix until smooth.

Roll out the dough and cut into any desired shape or square. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Poke fork holes in when they are fresh out of the oven.

Put ice cream between two cookies and freeze.

Note: for a softer cookie, bake for 8 minutes and let the cookie sit on the sheet for a minute or two. We baked the cookies closer to 10 minutes which makes for a firmer cookie which is different from the softer store-bought ice cream sandwiches. Either way, they taste great!

Monday, June 3, 2019

My Favorite Photos - May 2019

Looking back at May, there were so many new experiences and milestones to capture in photos. Here are some of my favorite ones. The girls went to their first prom on May 4th. Normally for pictures, Olivia doesn't like to smile with her mouth open. So, I was thrilled when something funny made her laugh and it was captured on film.

The girls had their final piano recital on May 5th. Both did a great job with their pieces.

One interesting thing I noticed was that grand piano was in the center of a labyrinth. I looked up the name of the church on the Worldwide Labyrinth Finder and found out that it is a contemporary medieval 7-circuit concentric Circle of Peace design. It is painted in mosaic motif on a tile floor.

Another highlight for me was getting caught up on the Mystery Quilt I'm working on through Minnesota Quilters. I did both the April and May squares; and this time learned how to use a quilter's square ruler. I couldn't figure out how the other women who were participating in the challenge were always getting their corners to line up perfectly. Finally figured it out. I wish I would have known how to use the tool for the January-March clues. It's a learning process.

On May 10th, Sophia and I took a SAORI weaving class together at the Shepherds Harvest festival. While we were doing that, Olivia was taking a pin loom weaving class.

Afterwards, we went to the art center where they had some work displayed as part of a juried teen art show. Olivia is standing next to her photograph called "Blue Towers."

She also had a SAORI-woven scarf in the show.

Sophia had her red Russian lace necklace in the show.

On the 11th, we went to the Shepherds Harvest again, but this time to see the vendors and animals. We didn't buy any wool, yarn, baskets, or looms. We have plenty of crafting supplies at home that we need to use up first.

That afternoon, we put back a nest of newborn bunnies that we brought to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center that morning. Cooper discovered the nest, and we wanted to make sure that the rest of the babies were okay since they seemed a bit dehydrated when Sophia checked their skin. Sure enough, the vet said they were dehydrated, but to bring them back and put a laundry basket over the nest opening during the day. Mother rabbits only visit their babies at dawn and dusk to feed them.

On Mother's Day, I took Sophia to a church about a half hour south of here to perform during the prelude. It's one of the last performances she will have with this ensemble. At this point, she's one of the top harpists. There will be a major shift in age and experience once she and another harpist go to college this Fall.

For Mother's Day this year, I asked for gifts of service. So, the girls planted planters for me by the gate leading to the backyard.

They hauled dirt and put grass seed down in spots that were bare. 

Paige cleaned the grill so that I could make smoked barbecue ribs; and corn on the cob on the grill.

On the 14th of May, I got a spinal shot. This is not my favorite photo from a photography standpoint. However, it did relieve some of the pain I had in my neck for a couple of weeks. (I was rear-ended on November 14, 2018, by a driver who wasn't paying attention.) Unfortunately, on May 30th, I had to go to the emergency room at 5:00 a.m. because of shooting pain in my neck and a headache that was unbelievably painful. I truly thought I was having a brain aneurism. (My grandma died from one when she was only 54 years old.)

On a more pleasant note, on May 16th, in pottery class, I finished a platter I've been working on since the end of April. The base is a slab of  clay that I textured using the end of a painting brush. The top is a tree that I cut from another slab and then - with the help of the teacher and another student - transferred the tree to the platter so I affix them to one another. 

A couple days later, I was working on an order for a customer, and created a new window star. There are stars within stars which I like about this design.

On May 19th, Sophia participated in her last performance with the harp ensemble she is in at church. They did the prelude and postlude; and sounded great. It was a nice final performance. 

On May 21st, I volunteered in the morning to help set up the graduation reception; and prepare some of the food with the other parents. Since this is a homeschool graduation, all the parents either helped with the set-up or take-down of the event.

Afterwards, I set up Sophia's display. She knew about the display board (which she created) and the items in front of it. The balloons were my surprise for her when she got there. She liked them and it added a festive touch.

I had been working on a money lei for a few days leading up to her graduation. The origami money was easy. It was the braiding that was rather time-consuming. Initially, it was going to be a three-color lei - dark purple, light purple, and silver. Ended up going with just the dark purple and silver (the colors she chose for her graduation).

We had someone come to our home to do our hair and make-up since driving to a salon and spending time there would have taken too long. I needed to be able to get last-minute things done while Sophia was getting her hair and make-up done, and vice versa.

Sophia had her hair pulled up in the back and I had mine down with curls. I liked the back of my hair better than the front. My hair is definitely getting lighter and grayer as I get older. It used to be a dark brown.

Before the ceremony, Sophia stood by her display board. Each of the seniors had a section of a table to have a display board and other items.

Then there were the photos. Sophia and Olivia together:

Sophia and me:

Sophia, Paige, and me with Sophia's diploma. The parents hand their teen the diploma since they were the teachers. It is a very personal and meaningful part of the graduation.

The graduating class of 2019. None of the students could wear stoles or honor cords since they always want the youth to look the same in the photos. 

Sophia practiced her song before graduation since she was one of the four students chosen to either do a talk or perform. She was the only one who performed; and she did a wonderful job.

There was a reception afterwards, and then at home I gave her the money lei. There are nine dollars on it. In Chinese culture, nine is a lucky number.

The next day, we went to lunch at Jax Café for a special meal. It is a place that my parents would take our family whenever there was a very special occasion - an anniversary, an adoption, or a graduation. In a way, their legacy - their spirit - was with us as we ate lunch together.

May was a month filled with excitement, new experiences, transitions, music, and creativity. It was a definitely a memorable one for our entire family.