Monday, September 30, 2019

My Favorite Photos - September 2019

This month there was a shift in our activities since Sophia is now at college. For 13 days this month, Olivia was sick with an ear infection and pneumonia. We also found out that with the medications that she was on that she is allergic to penicillin. So, it has been a challenging month for different reasons.

I started out the month by completing the top (minus the border) of the Mystery Quilt that I've been working on since January.

We tried to keep some of the annual family traditions that we've done in the past even though Sophia is away at college. So, we went to Dairy Queen for a meal and dessert on Labor Day - the day before homeschooling began.

On the first day of 11th grade, Olivia requested pancakes for her special breakfast. In the bag are some gifts for the upcoming year.

I asked Sophia for a photo of her on the first day of classes at college. I was happy to see the photo she sent with her big smile...all ready for starting this next phase of her educational journey. 

 About a week after Sophia was at college, I put together a care package for her with a "We think the world of you" theme. It was fun to put together and it had about 20 items from a variety of different countries.

We continued to release butterflies throughout the month. At the beginning of September, there were still flowers on the butterfly bush. The butterflies loved the flowers and it seemed to give them the energy they needed before their flight to Mexico.

Sophia sent Olivia a package in the mail. She was SO excited to get a postcard with a message from Sophia on it, a box of Skittles, and a little stuffed lion keychain.

We loved releasing butterflies almost every day during September.

Sometimes we would release more than one butterfly a day which was exciting!

One of the highlights of the month for me was leading a group of volunteers from a local church in making about 20 shoe kits for Sole Hope. The kits are sent to Uganda where seamstresses and cobblers take the pattern pieces and make them into shoes for children who have jiggers.

We also created 20 health care kits that provide the supplies necessary for the children and families to do at-home care after they are treated for jiggers.

It makes me so happy to think that jeans that would have been discarded can be transformed into life-changing and - in some cases - life-saving shoes for children.

In early September, we had a visit from a black bear who bent one of our birdfeeder poles and smashed the birdfeeder to eat the birdseed.

I spotted a tiger salamander (also called a spotted salamander) on our driveway. These are Minnesota's most common salamander and they can grow up to ten inches long. They actually move quite quickly when they sense danger.

On the 10th of September, I took Sophia to the oral surgeon since she was having continued challenges with her wisdom teeth removal back in mid-June. Her face is still swollen due to persistent infection on both sides of her lower jaw. We enjoyed lunch together in the dining center at college.

Olivia and I had fun looking at the big costume head at the store. I liked this unicorn head. It seems super large on Olivia's petite frame.

Sophia had another follow-up appointment with the oral surgeon. This time after the procedure she needed to do an oral rinse. The antibiotics she's on cannot be mixed with any form of alcohol. It was very challenging finding a mouthwash that doesn't have alcohol in it, but Sophia found one!

On the 13th, we went for another visit. This one was a fun one because we played ping pong. None of us are great ping pong players, so the experience was one filled with lots of laughter. It was a great time together!

Olivia and I went to the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. There was a beautiful display of marbled items and murals.

Olivia released the last butterfly in the middle of the month. We felt so happy that we raised and released close to 40 monarchs!

My sister, Olivia, and I went to a fall festival that we had not been to before. The Wildlife Science Center was there and we enjoyed seeing the screech owl.

We enjoyed a lunch served by the Lions.

Olivia chose a duck from the duck pond. She said that she had never done a duck pond before. I never realized that. So, it was fun to explain what to do to a 16 year old.

We watched firemen use equipment to take apart a car - showing what would happen in an extrication.

I took Olivia on her first Parade of Homes tour of a few homes. She made herself comfortable at one home.

She really liked the room with the large stuffed animals.

There were cute chairs to sit on while you watched t.v.

I loved seeing the monarchs on the flowers. They liked the black-eyed Susans.

On the 17th, my friend, Karen, from pottery class came to visit our horses. She had a friend visiting from out of town (Beth) so she and Marilyn came with Karen to see the animals and have lunch together.

Danny and Cooper really liked spending time with Karen.

Olivia and I took another leather crafting class. Olivia made a leather bowl and learned a new stitch.

I've been trying to get a lot done before my upcoming spinal surgery on October 10th. As I was resting, two of the dogs and two of the cats were resting with me.

Danny misses Sophia. He is sleeping in her bed, probably hoping she'll come home soon.

Olivia and I went to the Marine Art Fair. These little purses and backpacks are made by a Hmong craftsperson. Sophia has the blue cat as a little purse. We were surprised that there is a backpack too.

Danny got a new sweater to keep him warm.

One of the things I've been wanting to do is get rid of a lot of stuff in the barn and small shed that we no longer want or need. We also had some items outside - like woven wire, bent t-posts, and plastic garbage cans from the previous owners - that I wanted to have cleaned up before the winter. We filled about 3/8 of the truck (there were things in the truck already from a previous job). It felt so good to get all this out of the buildings and farm.

My sister and I went to a booya at a church in a nearby community. I used to take the girls there when they were little. Last year, Sophia and I went to the booya. This year, they had an apple dessert, roll, and coleslaw along with the soup. It was a hearty meal (it was both my breakfast and lunch).

My sister was a good sport and put her face in the cut-out drawing of the grandma with the pot of soup.

It was good to do some new things this month as well as continue doing some things that are family traditions. I think as we navigate through this year, we'll seek out other new experiences and activities which will help us create new memories. It will be a healthy way of helping us cope with the changes and transitions that are happening as our daughters are getting older.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Holiday Dish Towel with Knife Pleats

Last year, I bought a dish towel kit at a local fabric/quilt shop on the Quilt Shop Hop. The kit included:

- Red Kitchen Towel
- Reindeer Fabric (4" x 22")
- Black and White Snowflake Fabric (3 1/2" x 45")

The towel was easy and fun to put together. To make it, iron 1/4" around the reindeer fabric to fit the width of the towel. DO NOT iron the towel.

Stitch 1/4" of the black snowflake fabric (width of fabric) and the two shorter sides. No need to do the top because it will be stitched down with the reindeer fabric.

To make the snowflake fabric pleated, you need to use a kitchen fork. Take one end of the unsewn edge of the fabric with the bottom tine of the fork. 

Twist it towards the feed dogs so that your fork will lay flat on the machine. 

Tighten the fork and fabric so that excess fabric is pulled towards you. This will give uniform pleats. 

Hold down the pleat and remove the fork before sewing. 

Repeat the process above for the remaining fabric.

Attach the pleated strip to the towel with pins; and then sew it in place.

Place the reindeer fabric on top and pin in place. Sew along the top and bottom edges (the width of the towel). 

Turn over the towel and fold the ends under. Pin and then sew along the edge of the towel to attach the reindeer fabric and place and give a nice, finished edge to the fabric.

The towel is finished!

This towel was easy to make and could easily be adapted for different seasons and holidays.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

5x5 - September 2019

This month for the 5x5 swap on Swap-Bot, there were five questions to answer - each requiring five answers. Below are the questions and my answers.

Besides Swap-bot, what are 5 websites you visit most often?

- and my page on Flickr

- The Lions Club with which I'm involved.

- Pinterest and my account on Pinterest

- Library

- Facebook

Name 5 places you'd take someone from out of town.

One of the places I would take someone from out of town who was visiting Minnesota is Split Rock Lighthouse in Silver Bay, Minnesota. After being retired in 1969, the lighthouse became the focal point for Split Rock Lighthouse State Park; and is a National Historic Landmark.

Kayaking on July 12, 2014.

The visitor also would be able to see Lake Superior which is a huge lake. The lake is so big that it could contain all the other Great Lakes as well as three more lakes the size of Lake Erie.

Taken on April 15, 2011.

Another place I'd take someone is Lake Itasca. It is a small lake in comparison to Lake Superior. However, it is the headwaters of the Mississippi River and one of the most important natural locations in the state of Minnesota.

Taken on September 5, 2012.

While seeing Lake Itasca, there is plenty to do and see in Itasca State Park, which is the oldest park in Minnesota. In addition to hiking, Sophia, Olivia, and I have enjoyed camping and relaxing at one of the historic cabins in Itasca State Park.

Taken on September 5, 2012.

While touring around the St. Paul area, I would take someone who is visiting from out of town to the Cathedral of Saint Paul which is a National Shrine of the Apostle Paul. A lot of people locally call it St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the state.

The copper dome of the cathedral makes it one of the most recognizable cathedrals in the United States.

The building, which is an example of Beaux-Arts architecture, is comparable to the great cathedrals of Europe. The cathedral is listed as a landmark on the National Register of Historic Buildings. This is also the cathedral where my father was ordained as a Deacon in September 1990.

One of my favorite places in Minnesota is Grand Marais and the BWCA. I have taken many trips up north with the girls, alone, and once with my parents. It is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Minnesota.

Taken on June 5, 2013

Although a lot of people go up north for fishing and canoeing, we have mostly visited this area to hike and do photography.

Taken on June 6, 2013, at Honeymoon Point in Grand Marias 
along the Gunflint Trail.

We also have had fun boating...

Taken on June 4, 2013.


Taken on June 5, 2013.

and horseback riding.

Taken on July 10, 2014.

There are deer, wolves, Canada lynx, bobcats, moose, fox, and black bears that live in the BWCA. One year when we were staying off the Gunflint Trail, we had a young black bear who visited us while we were having dinner. We heard some clamoring going on outside the door of the home we were staying in. The bear had gone through the garbage; and had walked up the steps to another area of the yard.

Taken on July 9, 2014.

A final place I would take visitors to is the Taylors Falls area where Interstate State Park is located. There are large rock formations throughout the park and along the St. Croix River (which separates Minnesota and Wisconsin).

Taken on May 25, 2013. 

The formations and deep potholes (25+ feet or more deep) were made by a combination of lava and glacial movement. This rock, pictured below, was one that the park ranger showed us as an example of how rocks could be smoothed through this process.

Name 5 books you've read or would like to read.

I went through my Goodreads account which has a list of books I want to read and books I have read. There are still quite a few books on my list that I would like to read. So, I ordered five books from the library on September 13th:

The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose
The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A True Story of Resilience and Recovery by Andrew Westoll
The Christmas List by Pete Nelson
Every Day Is a Holiday by George Mahood
The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

Some of the books the local library has on its shelves. Others need to be ordered from libraries throughout Minnesota. I'm excited to read these books over the next month or so.

Name 5 teachers you've had over the years.

Adama Sow - my pottery teacher who I've been learning from since August 2018. He has taught me how to make bowls and mugs on the pottery wheel; and given me guidance when I've needed it with hand-building.

Glazing leaves I found and pressed into clay on September 12, 2019.
I glazed each of the leaves a different color to see 
which ones showed the veins of the leaves the best.

Chaiki O'Brien - who teaches SAORI weaving. I've taken multiple classes from Chaiki which I've enjoyed. She is a patient and encouraging teacher.

SAORI weaving I did on May 12, 2018.

Eileen Gavin - my all-time favorite professor when I went to college. She understood that not all students are good test-takers and created alternative ways to test students' knowledge.

She gave me the opportunity to show my knowledge through my strength at the time: research papers. These were much more meaningful for me and I was able to share what I had learned through writing rather than showing what I could memorize.

Jonis Agee - a creative writing professor who I had in college. She pushed me to explore different forms of creative expression including short stories and poetry. I knew I had done a good job with one of my creative writing stories when I had many of the students crying. It showed me the power of words; and how they can take someone to another place and time in their imagination by listening to a story.

Sr. Eleanor Lincoln - one of my English professors in college. She told me when I was a freshman that my writing was not college-level writing and that I needed to use the Writing Center. Reluctantly, I went so I could learn to write and express what I was learning.

By junior year, I was an student-instructor in the Writing Center and writing for the school paper; and by senior year, I did an independent study with St. Eleanor about Shakespeare. My final project was a research paper on which I earned an "A." My writing, she said, "had greatly improved" during my college years.

I am so grateful for her honesty and encouragement during my freshman year. Because of her, much of my professional career was related to writing. I wrote countless proposals seeking funding for non-profit organizations in North Carolina, California, and Minnesota.

I was able to start my own non-profit because I was able to secure funding.

Through all these organizations, artists, educators, composers, high school students, and children all were served.  

List 5 words that start with the same letter as your First Name.


Taken on May 17, 2007.


 Taken on June 9, 2012.


Olivia raking leaves on October 14, 2007. 
She was 4 years old.


Sculpture at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesen West. 
Taken on July 7, 2017.


Looking at an x-ray of my neck injury after a car accident in November 2018 
with my chiropractor. Taken on December 7, 2018.