Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Giant Window Star

Every July and August, it is county fair time. Whether it is 4-H projects or open class projects, the girls and I have been competing in two local fairs now since Sophia was six years old - so 2007. 

For the past few years, I have chosen a complex window star from one of the pattern books I used to use when I sold window stars on Etsy. I haven't sold anything on Etsy since I was in a car accident several years ago and had serious neck and upper-shoulder issues which resulted in surgery.

At any rate, I looked at Pinterest to get some ideas for another window star pattern. I came across this pin which led to Conscious Craft

Window star I made. 
It took 512 folds to make this star!

There are quite a few window stars that are unique and beautiful on that website. The one that caught my eye is made up of 8 stars of varying sizes: 3 stars in the smallest size, 3 stars in the medium size, and 3 stars in the largest size. 

Each point of the stars uses the same pattern that has 8 folds. 

With 8 points (per star) multiplied by 8 folds per point multiplied by the number of stars in each grouping (see table below), it took a total of 512 folds to make this star. 

Paper Size      Number of Stars        8 Points x 8 Folds x The Number of Stars 

0.75”x1.5”                 3                                                192 

1.5”x3”                      3                                                192 

3”x6”                         2                                                128 

                                                                      Total folds: 512 

The smallest paper size is very challenging to fold. I have never folded anything that small - much less eight times. Needless to say, I was relieved when those 24 points were done. The medium paper size is easier to work with, yet still smaller than that with which I normally fold. The larger paper size is very easy to fold. 

To best see the folds and pattern of this star, hold it up towards the light.

Friday, July 1, 2022

My Favorite Photos - June 2022

June was a full month with lots of activities. It started with a family trip to London and Edinburgh to celebrate Olivia's graduation from (homeschool) high school. We were able to go thanks to points Paige had collected through business travel through the years. 

We came back to overly-grown grass and flowers blooming. From the 8th through the 24th, I spent a tremendous amount of time weeding the gardens, cleaning the house, and getting ready for Olivia's graduation party on the 25th. 

The month closed out with my birthday on the 29th and Sophia's half-birthday on the 30th. 

Out of the literally thousands of photos I took during June, I've narrowed it down to the following photos (which is still quite a feel free to quickly scroll through them). 

Olivia and I spent the morning on June 1st together while Paige and Sophia slept in and moved the luggage from one hotel to another one. This is Olivia on the Millenium Bridge with St. Paul's Cathedral in the background. 

We took a tour of the Globe Theater.

On the fence, there were lots of little animals:

Afterwards, we went to Tate Modern. I was able to get the last ticket for the Yayoi Kasama Infinity Mirror Rooms back in April when the tickets went on sale. While she did that, I looked around the museum. There was an intriguing exhibit that had all these tiny components that were connected. 

After we had lunch at Tate Modern, we walked over St. Paul Cathedral where we met Paige and Sophia. 

Every part of the cathedral was breathtaking - from the ceiling...

to the artwork on the walls.

Olivia and I went up the 528 steps to the top of the cathedral. The passageways were, at times, dark and narrow. 

There were a lot of spiral staircases.

Finally, we reached the Stone Gallery. This was 376 steps up.

People could either choose to go back downstairs or go up another 152 steps to the Golden Gallery. We went up another 152 steps. The view was amazing!

Before leaving, I lit three candles in memory of my dad, mom, and grandparents. 

The girls and I went to Chinatown in London.

There were these little pastries that had a cream filling. They are called taiyako.

On June 2nd - when the Platinum Jubilee parade was happening (with thousands of people crowding the mall), we went to the Tower of London. Here Sophia is with one of the Yeoman Warders, a ceremonial guard who oversees the Tower of London.

The buildings - built hundreds of years ago - were beautiful and rich with detail. This is a view of a ceiling and the circular light.

This is the White Tower that was built by William the Conqueror during the early 1080s. It is the castle's strongest point from a military view, and provided accommodation for the king and his representatives. There was a chapel in this building as well. 

There was a museum at the Tower of London that focused on the armor that the knights wore. This one even had protection for the knight's fingers. 

The Tower of London is close to Tower Bridge, which Sophia and I toured a couple of days prior to this one. We walked up one side of the tower, walked across both "upper bridges" that have a partial see-through floor, and then walked down the other side of the bridge. Lots of walking!

After our tour of the Tower of London, we walked a bit and found a place to eat. I had read that for part of the Queen's Jubilee that there would be a flyover. People were lined up all along the river and on the bridge. Olivia went back towards the river and was able to see the planes before they got into the "70" formation (to acknowledge the Queen's 70 years on the throne).

After that, there were nine planes (I believe) that had red, white, and blue smoke.

We took a boat on the river to get to another part of London. As we were going under a bridge, the guide pointed out that we were going under London Bridge. It's a rather unassuming bridge that has been rebuilt multiple times. 

There were a lot of seagulls, but no other waterfowl like we saw at St. James's Park (near Buckingham Palace) in late-May.

We saw the London Eye. About 15 people can fit in one of those pods. We opted not to go on the ride since we had already seen London from St. Paul's Cathedral.

While we were on the boat, there were people dressed in red, white, and blue as well as those carrying flags. It was a day of celebration and everyone was in a good mood.

The Houses of Parliament were beautiful - especially the top of the building.

Big Ben was nearby.

Before leaving the boat, I had Olivia stand by a cutout of the Queen.

Then it was Sophia's turn.

On June 3rd, we went to the Natural History Museum. This is the first thing that you see when you enter the building - an escalator that takes you through the Earth. 

There was a section about birds that was fascinating. Not only did they display different types of birds, but they also explained differences between them, things to note (e.g., how they hear), and if they were endangered or extinct. 

One of the things I was surprised to see were two of the Blaschka Glass Models of sea creatures. I knew that Scotland had a collection of them (which I would see later in June), but didn't know that London had some. These glass models are all handmade. The artists who made them didn't share how they were made, so no one - to this day - knows how they were able to make them.

We went to Harrods and found items that were both extravagant and expensive. This bed set and light caught Olivia's and my eye because it was over-the-top...not like anything we would see in Minnesota. The palm tree with "lavish hand-dyed ostrich feathers" was 2,200 pounds or about $2,660. 

We went to the bookstore at Harrods and came across this 10,000 pound ($12,094) book. I told Olivia that she should flip through it because chances are she would not be touching a $12,000+ book again. 

In the evening, we went to a service at Westminster Abbey. It was absolutely spectacular on the inside. They did not want anyone to take photos of the Abbey during or after the service which was understandable.

One of the fun things that was done in celebration of the Queen's Jubilee was the placement of artist-painted Corgi statues around the city. We happened to spot one in a park as we were walking back to the Underground station. 

On June 4th, we took the train from London to Edinburgh. We saw lots of sheep farms along the way. 

One of the first places we went after getting settled at our hotel was Calton Hill. There were quite a few unique, historical buildings there. This one is the Old Observatory House that was designed by James Craig, the planner of Edinburgh's first New Town. It was built in 1776 in Gothic-Scots Baronial style. 

This is a white-tailed bumble bee. I've never seen one before. They are black and yellow on the top half and white on the bottom half. 

This is the National Monument that was designed by Charles Cockerell and William Playfair. They were inspired by the Parthenon in Athens and wanted to commemorate Scottish servicemen who died in the Napoleonic War. Funds were raised for building it and work started in August 1822. Only the 12 columns that are seen today were ever completed. 

This is Nelson Monument. 

After spending time on Calton Hill, we took a bus to Portobello. We walked about a block to get to the beach. There were colorful doors to homes along the way.

We walked on the beach and got our feet wet in the North Sea. 

There was a metal marker on the beach.

And moss/seaweed-covered rock formations. Not sure the purpose of them.

On June 5th, we took the bus and then walked to Edinburgh Castle. The buildings along the way were made mostly of brick and stone.

In the Castle, the views were spectacular.

Edinburgh Castle was even larger and more impressive than the Tower of London. One of the buildings was a chapel that King David I built around 1130. He named it for his mother, Queen Margaret, who was said to have performed many acts of charity. She was canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1250. 

After visiting the castle, we explored Old Town. This is Victoria Street where there were a lot of colorful storefronts. 

Another view of Victoria Street. 

Many of the streets in Edinburgh were cobblestone. 

We heard bagpipe players. This one is tuning his bagpipe.

There was another bagpiper that we listened to also. Figured we wouldn't have opportunities to listen to live bagpipers anytime soon in Minnesota. 

We visited St. Giles' Cathedral. There were candles lit in memory of loved ones...

amazing stained glass windows...

and incredible architecture with bold, beautiful colors.

We went to the Scottish National Museum where we saw the Millenial Clock. It went off at 3 p.m. and all the different levels had activities on them. It was very impressive. 

The museum seemed like a hodgepodge of items. This dress was in the Fashion area. For a size comparison, Olivia is about 96 pounds and 4'8". She may have fit into that dress, but it would have been tight. The adult women back when this dress was made must have been super tiny.

This is another one of the glass sea creatures. The National Museum of Scotland had an impressive collection of these glass items.

On Monday, June 6th, we took the train back to London and stayed one more day. We each did our own things that we wanted to do. So, I took a walking tour that went from an Indian area to the Shoreditch district. It's considered the "cool" area of the city. There is art on the sides of building.

A chainlink fence full of locks. It was supposed to be a temporary exhibit about ten years ago. Looks like it became a permanent one instead. 

I liked this painting on the side of a wall. 

It was time to return home. This is my seat (or pod) on the plane. I liked the privacy and the fact that I could stretch out my legs and recline the chair. This is in business class and well worth the points that Paige had saved. 

We got the dogs on June 8th in the morning and they were so happy to see us. We brought them home and they were tired. Aspen slept much of the 8th. She knew she was back home and could sleep soundly. 

Scooby looked all clean and fluffy after getting groomed at the kennel.

Danny made himself comfortable on Sophia's bed while she was asleep.

And Cooper...he was just happy to be back home. He looked a lot better after having about two weeks on a non-chicken diet and a bath with medicated shampoo. He also had an allergy shot before we left, and I think his skin is doing much better now. 

When we came back home, the flowers were in full bloom. The bearded irises were at their peak or past it.

The peony in the backyard garden was blooming for the first time!

The honeysuckle was blooming for the first time too.

I love looking at the pattern of plants.

The wild columbine was covered with flowers.

The bleeding hearts, too, were blooming under all the pine trees in the front yard.

The lilies that I inherited from my mom and dad were blooming by the driveway.

The northern flag irises were blooming in the west pasture. The bumblebees were flying from one flower to another.

On June 20th, Olivia and I went to the Page Education Foundation's celebration of the 2022 Page Scholars. Olivia is one of them. (Sophia also is a Page Scholar from 2019 to now.) She is standing with Mike Elliott - the mayor of Brooklyn Center  and a Page Scholar Alumni - and Justice Alan Page. Justice Page was once a Minnesota Viking. While he was playing football, he also went to law school and became the first African-American on the Minnesota Supreme Court. 

On the 22nd, the Lions were giving away 200 native plants to anyone who stopped by our booth. We also collected a variety of items that supported our goals of vision (eyeglasses), pediatric cancer (pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House), and the environment (lead tackle to be recycled properly). 

On the 25th, we had a party for Olivia's graduation. Here she is with her speech therapist who she worked with for over a decade. Needless to say, Laurie and Olivia are good friends. 

The director of Gammelgarden Museum came in full Swedish dress after being at the Midsommar festival at the museum. She gave Olivia the opportunity to do some video work from January through April for the museum. Because of that, she now will be on the video/tech team at college!

Olivia is standing by her cake, graduation gown, and college pennant. 

The cake was for 96 servings. About half the cake was eaten at the party. So, we have quite a bit of cake we've been eating since the party.

Olivia made display boards with photos from her life. This is one of four boards that she did. People said they enjoyed seeing all the photos. 

One thing that we did for Olivia's party was hang up clothes on a clothesline: the little pink snowsuit we met her in on November 17, 2003; a black dress we bought in China that she wore around the age of 3; her First Communion dress that my mom and I made; a blue pioneer dress - one of many costumes she wore; her Tang Soo Do outfit that she wears twice a week when she does lessons; and her graduation cap and gown.

People brought their dogs to the party. This is Sophia with one of the dogs. 

Olivia is holding Howie who is 15 weeks old. 

Nessa, Ashley, Olivia, Sophia, and Lexi all will be at Bethel next year. With the exception of Olivia who will be a freshman, the rest are all seniors. They are all such great young women!

More flowers were blooming later in the month. I like this unusual one.

The shrub rose is still blooming.

The nodding onions are sending up their flowers.

The hostas, ferns, and bleeding hearts all are doing exceptionally well this year. I'll need to divide them next year.

One of my nightmare plants is thistle. It has been spreading in one corner of the pasture and in Olivia's garden she planted two years ago. I have been pulling it up during June. However, in the pasture, I left it and was surprised at the number of bees and butterflies visiting it. So, I guess it does have a good purpose.

Closing out the month, we got to see the second nest of black-capped chickadees be born. These are only a few days old and totally dependent on the mother. They don't have feathers yet and their eyes are still closed. 

So...that was June. July doesn't have nearly as much going on. So, there will be significantly less photos that I will be taking this month.