Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Rainbow of Photos

On Swap-Bot, there is swap called "A Rainbow of Photos." I signed up for this and went back through my photos to see if I had one photo in each color as well as some photos of rainbows. Sure enough, I found at least one for each category. 

Here's my favorite rainbow picture taken in August 2013. This is looking west from our driveway. I'm so grateful that I was there to take the photo. I don't think I've ever one large and in a perfect position like this over our west pasture. 

August 29, 2013


June 18, 2021

This red bridge is at the Japanese garden at Normandale Community College in Bloomington. The garden is peaceful and quiet, despite being in the city. 

This is called a Taiko-bashi - a drum-shaped bridge - and its leads to the Bentendo (a hexagon-shaped building on one of the three islands in the Japanese garden's pond. 

The name "Bentendo" is a combination of two words: Benten is a gooddess of fortune and Do is a suffix used to indicate certain kinds of buildings). The Bentendo does not have a function. It's just used for accent in a Japanese garden. 


September 13, 2007

My husband used to grow pumpkins each year and sell them. Sophia and Olivia would help him with the planting, and they enjoyed doing that when they were younger. They especially loved seeing when the pumpkins were ready for picking!


January 18, 2021

When Olivia turned 18 years old, it also was her golden birthday. So, I made 18 yellow window stars. These are 11 of the 18 I made for her. They are made from kite paper, and the points are folded multiple times to create different patterns.


August 10, 2019

This is a little frog that was on one of the shrubs in our backyard. I enjoy seeing the variety of frogs and toads we have here at the farm...especially these bright green ones.


December 3, 2011

Olivia and Sophia are peeking out from a sculpture at Franconia Sculpture Park. We visited the park in December when there are significantly fewer people out walking and exploring the sculptures. 


October 31, 2021

Olivia took a PSEO class focused on digital imaging during her senior year of high school. One of the assignments was to take photos during the "blue hour." What is the blue hour? It's the time of day before sunrise and after sunset when the atmosphere has a deep, dark blue (indigo) color. 

It's not really an hour. Its exact length depends on the time of year, weather conditions, and one's latitude. When taking photographs, the most important thing is that sun has to be below the horizon and the sky can't have a lot of sunset or sunrise should be mostly blue.


September 4, 2015

One of many flowers in our gardens at our farm. We have 16 gardens this year - each with a different focus and types of plants (with the exception of the 4 pine trees in the front yard that all have basically the same theme and type of plants - hostas, ferns, and bleeding hearts). 

I like purple flowers a lot and have many different types. My favorite ones in the late-summer and fall are Liatris (Liatris ligulistylis). We have had so many monarchs this year - much more so than in the past. It is common to see 4-7 monarchs on one of these plants. It's just amazing!! 

The monarchs we are seeing now are the ones that will journey to Mexico. So, it is vitally important that they have nectar sources for the long flight. Hopefully, people along the migration path also have planted nectar sources for the monarchs.


August 21, 2018

One last photo of a rainbow. This was taken in the late summer four years ago. It's only a partial rainbow because the other part was hidden behind the clouds.  This photo was taken from the driveway - just like the rainbow photo above. 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

My Oldest Pictures

Recently, my sister and I have been working on our family tree. We have been going through old photo albums and loose items that belonged to my parents, like yearbooks, newspaper articles, and loose photos. 

We are so thankful when the old photos are labeled with the name(s) of the people in them as well as a date. Even better is when the location is noted also. Sometimes we have no idea who the people are in the photos which is discouraging. 

The following ones are some of the oldest ones we found. I've included some "newer" old photos as well. I've labeled who is in the picture, when and where the photo was taken, and - if possible - a couple of sentences for each one. 

Standing on the train car on the back left is my great grandfather, John Krug. It looks like they were taking a break from working on the railroad. This was taken in about 1900 when the Brownie camera (an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera) became more readily available.

This is my paternal grandma, Olive Rinkenberger, with my dad, Don. This would have been taken during his first year of life, in 1932. 

This is a four-generation picture taken in 1932 of:

- my dad, Don Rinkenberger (the baby), 

- his dad/my grandpa, Burl Rinkenberger (standing on the right), 

- my dad's grandpa/my great-grandpa, Samuel Rinkenberger (standing on the left), and 

- my dad's great-grandpa/my great-great-grandpa, Peter Rinkenberger (seated...holding my dad). 

My dad had a close and loving relationship with his siblings. Here they are on one of their farms in about 1938. My dad is on the right. His sister, Marilyn Rinkenberger, is in the middle; and his brother, Richard Rinkenberger, is on the left in the cowboy costume.

My dad was active in 4-H when he was growing up. One of his projects was an Angus cow. It is shown here with my dad in the Summer of 1944. I remember him telling me how much he loved that gentle it was. He was devastated at the end of the county fair when his beloved Angus had to be slaughtered. Still to this day, the auction process is part of the 4-H experience for market animals. I just couldn't do it. It would be so sad. My dad never showed another cow or market animal through 4-H.

In October 1963, my maternal grandma, my mom, and dad were standing outside somewhere. When looking at this photo for the first time last month, I wasn't sure if that was my grandma since she appears taller than my mom in this photo. (She wasn't - she was shorter than my mom.) My sister went back on some old photos of my grandma and she had that same pose - with her arms folded over her stomach - in other photos. She also had heels on which made her appear taller than my mom. When this photo was taken, my parents were not yet married. 

On June 13, 1964, my parents got married in Minneapolis, Minnesota. From left to right are: my maternal grandma (Clara Grande), mom (Dorothy Rinkenberger), dad (Don Rinkenberger), paternal grandma (Olive Rinkenberger), and paternal grandpa (Burl Rinkenberger). 

My parents got married at Incarnation Church in Minneapolis. It was near where my mom and grandma lived. I remember walking to the church when I would stay overnight at my grandma's home. I don't recall it having a dome like that over the altar. I need to go back and see this church. Going to it now will probably bring back memories of earlier years in the 1960s and1970s.

Who could forget the 1970s and the polyester clothes of that decade? This is taken in about 1976 of my family including my parents (Don and Dorothy Rinkenberger), my sister (Mary), my brother (Jim), and me (Ann) rocking that pink and white polyester outfit. wrap things's a picture of me from 1967.

I am wearing a dress that my mom sewed. How do I know that? My mom loved to use rick-rack (the trim) on clothing. She put it on the neckline, the sleeves, and at the bottom of the dress. She sewed clothes for us well into junior high. At that time, she was making knit shirts for all of us kids. After that, I used babysitting money to buy clothes and accessories for myself since my parents had a limited income.

This was a glimpse into the hundreds of old photos I've been scanning recently. My sister has boxes of scrapbooks and photos that belonged to my parents, so I'll have hundreds more photos that I'll be scanning each month for the rest of the year. It is worth it, though, to have these photos in digital form just in case something happens to them or they continue to deteriorate. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Last week, the Washington County Fair was held and I entered many different baked items. One of the items was a blueberry coffee cake that I had pinned on Pinterest that led to Amanda's Cookin'.

The recipe calls for two cups of blueberries which is a lot for the thick dough. Because of the number of berries and how thick the dough is, it took a while to get all the berries evenly distributed...or distributed the best I could. 

My family loved this recipe and it was gone in a couple of days. However, the judge at the fair said the ratio of blueberries to dough was too high. I got fourth place on the blueberry coffee cake. It's not that bad considering that the judge only awards six ribbons for all the fruit coffee cake entries. If there are more than six entries, those who don't place don't receive a ribbon and cash award. 

Next time I make the recipe, I'm going to reduce the amount of blueberries to either 1 1/4 cup or 1 1/2 cup. I'll see if that makes a difference in the final product. 


2 cups all-purpose flour 

1/2 cup sugar 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

1 large egg, lightly beaten 

1/2 cup milk 

1/4 cup butter or margarine softened (NOT melted) 

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries 

For the topping: 

1/3 cup sugar 

1/4 cup all-purpose flour 

1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped (I didn't use) 

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine 

For the drizzle (I didn't make it's an optional part of the recipe): 

1/2 cup powdered sugar 

2 tablespoons milk, more or less, to get to a drizzling consistency 


Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray or grease a 9-inch square baking pan. 

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and baking powder. Cut butter into small pieces. Add egg, milk, butter and lemon peel; mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. You may need to finish mixing with your hands to get all the flour incorporated. the batter will be very thick. 

Fold in the blueberries. Because the batter is so thick, this may take a few minutes. Spread into a greased 9-in. square baking pan. 

For topping, combine sugar, flour, walnuts and cinnamon in a mini food processor or bowl. Add butter and process, or cut in if doing by hand, until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. 

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until cake tests done. 

For drizzle, combine the powdered sugar and milk. If too thick, add a few drops of additional milk at a time until it reaches drizzling consistency. Drizzles over the top of the cake and allow to sit until sugar solidifies. 


This cake has a very thick batter that will have to be spread into the pan rather than poured.

It's very important to make sure you are measuring your flour properly so that you don't end up with more than you are supposed to. Always measure flour using the "scoop and sweep" method. (Basically, it is scooping the flour out of the bag or container and lightly putting it on waxed paper. Take a spoon and scoop some flour up and then sprinkle it into the measuring cup. This ensures that the flour doesn't get packed.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Lavosh Crackers

Each year for the county fair, I enter a variety of baked goods. I never use recipes that are "tried and true." No...that would take away the element of surprise for me. I search Pinterest or my "want to make" files for recipes I want to try. 

This year, for the Crackers category, I made Lavosh Crackers from this pin that lead to Chef not Required. The recipe called for a Middle Eastern spice. I didn't have it, so I ended up using an "Everything" topping - the kind that you use on bagels. 

The number of ingredients is minimal and the process to make them very easy. I really liked how they turned they won a Reserve Champion award at the county fair! Not bad for a first try making this recipe. 

The only thing I would change about this recipe is to mix the topping into the dough so that it doesn't fall off the crackers. Lightly sprinkling a little bit of salt on the crackers would be good.


1 cup plain/all-purpose flour 

¼ tsp fine salt plus extra for sprinkling 

3 tablespoon olive oil, divided 

¼ cup water, plus more if needed 

1 teaspoon za'atar spice blend (I used the Everything topping instead)

¼ teaspoon ground cumin (I skipped this since I was using a different set of spices)


Preheat oven to 375F and set aside 2 baking trays (see notes). Combine za'atar (1 tsp) and ground cumin (¼ tsp) in a small bowl and set aside. (Alternatively, measure the everything topping and put aside.)

In a medium-size bowl, combine plain (all-purpose) flour (1cup) and salt (¼ tsp), making a well in the center. Add olive oil (2 tbsp) and water (¼ cup) to the well, and mix gradually until you have a shaggy dough (if it looks a little dry add more water 1 teaspoon at a time). 

Still in the bowl, use your hands to bring this shaggy dough into a rough ball then turn the dough ball out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough slightly to make it more uniform, about 10-15 strokes is all it should need. 

Divide this ball of dough into three even-ish portions. Working with one portion at a time, roll out the dough as thinly and evenly as you can - about 1/18" thick. Using a sharp pizza cutter, cut dough into your desired shapes (long strips, squares, etc.) then place the crackers on a baking tray. You don't want them to overlap, but they also won't spread as they cook. 

Using a pastry brush, brush the remaining olive oil (1 tbsp) evenly over the surface of the crackers, then sprinkle them evenly with combined za'atar and cumin. Finally, sprinkle with fine salt to taste. 

Bake for 6-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely on the baking tray. 


I divided my dough into 3 portions just to make it a more manageable size to roll out. I find this makes it easier to roll the dough thinly and evenly. The thinner the better for these crackers. These crackers don't spread as they cook, so you can put them pretty close together on the baking tray. 

You really need to watch these crackers carefully in the oven. Because they are so thin, a difference of 1 minute can leave you with very dark crackers! Check on them first at the 6-minute mark - because ovens vary and so will your dough thickness. 

The crackers can be stored in an airtight container once completely cool. 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

5x5 for August 2022

There's a swap on Swapbot that I signed up for called 5x5 in which there's a list of five things and you list five items for each one. Here are my answers:

5 websites you visit every week 

On a daily basis, I go to Outlook (to check and send emails) and Facebook. Other websites that I go to, but not on a daily basis are: 

Ancestry - I have been doing more with filling in my family tree recently. My sister and I have been working together to go through items that belonged to my parents who died in 2012 and 2015. We are in a much better frame of mind now to go through photographs and other memorabilia, scan the items, and then upload them onto each ancestor's record. 

My dad in his younger years.

One thing that we also have been doing is searching for information about how each relative died since Ancestry lists their age at their time of passing, but not the cause. My sister and I have ordered some death certificates for relatives (grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents) and are seeing a pattern in terms of health conditions. We also are seeing a lot of ancestors who died in their 50s and 60s which is rather surprising. 

My mom in her younger years. 

My favorite part, though, is definitely uploading photos and finding newspaper articles about ancestors. Reading and looking at their Life Stories paints a much better - more personal - view of who our ancestors were and what their lives looked like.

iNaturalist - I opened a free account in March 2020 and have uploaded photos of animals, insects, flowers, trees, and shrubs. So far, I have uploaded 1,371 observations which reflect 466 species. The most frequently seen things I've seen are: white-tailed deer (23 observations), goldfinches (19 observations), gray squirrels and black-capped chickadees (18 observations each), and ruby-throated hummingbirds, house wrens, and robins (15 observations each). 

Black-capped chickadee at the oriole feeder.

The most frequently seen amphibian I've seen is the American toad (8 observations) and reptile is the painted turtle (7 observations).

For plants, the most common thing I've seen is milkweed (11 observations) and red-berried elder (7 observations).

Pinterest - When I was homeschooling my daughters, I would use Pinterest to gather ideas for different subjects. There were so many creative ideas for hands-on projects that we've done over the years. I also use the website for ideas for projects for county fairs, holidays, birthdays, and recipes. 

Currently, I have over 13,400 pins. That's a lot. Will I be able to do them all? Not in my lifetime. What would be good to do is to go back on them and delete what I won't be doing and then start making more of an effort to try some of the pins - like this window star I made after seeing this pin.

5 people from history you'd invite to a tea party 

My first answer would be five ancestors - my dad, mom, and grandparents on both sides of my family. That would actually be six, though. However, I don't think that's what the question means. 

From a historical standpoint, I would like to invite five people from different times, beliefs, and faiths to a tea party. My five would be:

- Jesus - because of his commitment to his beliefs and wanting to share them with others, how he inspired others to lead better lives, and how his legacy lives on through the lives of people throughout the world.

- Martin Luther King, Jr. - Although he died at only 39 years old in 1968, he had a tremendous impact on the Civil Rights Movement.

- Mother Teresa of Calcutta - She was a Catholic nun who dedicated her life for caring for the destitute and dying in the slums of Calcutta (now known as Kolkata). She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and, after her death, was canonized as St. Teresa.

- St. Francis of Assisi - He is the patron saint for ecologists because of his boundless love for animals and nature. There's a quote that is attributed to him: "Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

- Betty White - Although she was a comedian, she defended civil right, condemned racism and homophobia, advocated for marriage equality, and advocated for animal rights and welfare. 

5 topics you'd like to know more about 

- Dog allergies and natural ways to address them. One of our dogs has allergies and the vet said that sometimes it can be an allergy to chicken. We've removed chicken from his diet since May along with giving him two allergy shots - one in April and the other in May - and he seems to be doing so much better. I want to see what other things we can do to further improve his skin (he has dandruff which can be a reflection of allergies) and coat. 

Endangered trees. When I was at Kew Gardens in England I came across a sign by a tree that was endangered. I had no idea that trees could be endangered. Animals...yes...but trees? I need to read more about what types of trees are at risk of being endangered in the United States and/or extinct.

- Utopian communities that existed in the United States. There were many Utopian communities set up in the U.S. in the 1800s. Only a couple survived into the early 1900s...with the Amana Colonies being the only one to make it to 1932. There were more Utopian communities started in the 1900s. Interestingly, there are a handful that still exist today.

- Photography and taking more "professional" photos. Ideally, I would upgrade my camera to one that has better clarity when printing photos. Currently, I have a Nikon D3400 which has 24 megapixels. However, I would like a camera that has more than 24. We'll see...with better quality comes a higher price. 

- Service as a spiritual practice. I ordered a book from the library called "Deliberate acts of kindness: service as spiritual practice" by Meredith Gould. I found the book on Pinterest and it piqued my interest. The book is basically a handbook for volunteers that explores the significance of service as an expression of spirituality, and provides advice on discovering the type of work that best suits you.

5 things you'd like people to know about you 

- I was raised by two parents who loved me unconditionally and provided a childhood filled with simple - yet memorable and meaningful - pleasures. It was the little things that truly created a childhood that I can look back upon with good memories. 

My brother, me, and my sister either in 1974 or 1975.
We had just moved into our new home that my parents 
worked with an architect to design.
Things were financially tight back then, 
yet I remember being so happy on Christmas Day. 
As I look back, there weren't a lot of presents, 
yet my parents made it feel like there were. 
It was these traditions that we'd return to and 
treasure with each passing year. 

- I have two daughters who were born in China and adopted by my husband and me in 2001 and 2003. They truly have blessed my life more than they will ever know. 

My parents, daughters, and me in Grand Marais, Minnesota.
September 8, 2010.

- I love animals - especially dogs - and having them be a part of our family. I can't imagine my life without having dogs. We had two corgis when I was growing up. 

Here's my brother with our first corgi. 
He was such a good dog.

Since 1990, as an adult, I've always had at least one dog. We have four dogs now which I like. I've never had that many at one time, but it is fun to see them all outside in the backyard or sitting nicely together waiting for a treat. 

Olivia and Sophia with Aspen, Cooper, Danny, and Scooby.

- Service is a HUGE part of my life and values. Growing up I volunteered and am thankful to my parents for integrating that into my life. When I began homeschooling Sophia and Olivia I made sure that service and volunteering was a significant part of their education. Since 2017, I have been involved with the local Lions Club and coordinate the majority of their service events.

One of the events I thought of during the pandemic was a 
drive-through breakfast with the Easter Bunny. 
It was so well-received that in 2022 we did a 
breakfast with the Easter Bunny again, 
but this time inside the community center. 

- I am an off-the-scale introvert. Consistently, whenever I have taken personality tests, I am to the far side of being an introvert. I am the complete opposite of people who are extroverted who get their energy from others. I find that being around others and having to talk (especially small talk) literally drains my energy. After any gathering, I need to spend time alone to re-energize myself and feel like I can interact with others again.

5 simple joys others might overlook

- A fire in the woodstove on a cold winter day.

Homeschooling in front of the woodstove.
Olivia was 5 and Sophia was 7.
January 19, 2008.

- A sunset or sunrise.

A sunset on November 22, 2021.

- A meal together as a family.

Mother's Day 2021.

- Watching butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and hummingbird moths visit flowers in the yard. 

Bumblebee on monarda.

Hummingbird moth flying towards monarda.
Look at the curled up proboscis. 

- Fresh produce from the garden - either eaten raw or steamed. 

Beans and carrots - just picked and cooked. Yum!

Friday, August 5, 2022

My Favorite Photos - July 2022

Below are some of my favorite photos from July 2022. 

The month went by so quickly. What's not pictured below is taking Sophia to and from volunteering at a summer school program for children who are behind in school three days a week as well as to work 5-6 days a week; taking Olivia to work multiple days per week; getting ready for entering my 46 projects in Open Class at the county fair; and teaching the girls how to drive. 

And then there's the mundane...the things that either happen daily or weekly: weeding the 16 flower gardens; taking care of the pets; making meals; and cleaning the house. 

It was full month...just not as exciting as May and June with Olivia's high school graduation, graduation trip to London and Edinburgh, and then her high school graduation party. 

Olivia received several scholarships for college during July. Here she's with some other high school graduates receiving a scholarship from the Scandia-Marine Lions. 

One of Olivia's 4-H projects was making recipes for her Global Connections project. She's making a spiced chicken on the grill. 

This was another grilled dinner that Olivia made for her Global Connections project. It was a recipe from New Zealand for grilled lamb.

Olivia's 19 1/2 year old birthday was on July 18th. We gave her some gifts to celebrate it...not as many as in past years, though, because of all the expenses for her graduation, graduation trip, and graduation party. She wasn't expecting anything...which made receiving the gifts a special surprise.

This year, the county fair was back to normal after the past two years being affected by COVID. Olivia entered 14 projects this year. Less than in past years, but she was juggling PSEO courses this year which took a lot of her time. She did really well at the fair with her projects.

Afterwards, just like we do each year, we went out for dinner to Dairy Queen. Sophia joined us, even though she is too old now for 4-H.

When she got home, Aspen was excited to see all of Olivia's ribbons. Danny was somewhat interested in the background.

At church, the pianist had COVID and the organist was busy, so Sophia was asked on Friday afternoon if she could play the piano for two services on Sunday. She took a look at the songs and practiced Friday and Saturday nights. She did a great job on such short notice.

On the Sunday of the county fair, we picked up projects. Olivia got top blue awards for two of her photographs. She was happy with that.

She got quite a few grand champion, reserve champion, and top blue awards this year!

I entered this window star in another county fair. I got a blue ribbon (1st prize) on it.

Made this bouquet of flowers for my step-father-in-law who is on hospice. The flowers are from our gardens and pastures - a combination of hybrid and native flowers.

This is another arrangement I made using yellow and orange flowers.

These are flowers that are growing by our back door. The holder is from my grandma on my mom's side. It is meant to hold flowers with short stems.

This is the backyard butterfly garden. It looks like a bunch of weeds, but it's not. It's actually a lot of native plants (though there are hybrid ones in there too). The native ones look more "messy" and some are very tall - over 7 feet tall for some plants!

This is lavender monarda and purple phlox. The bees, butterflies, and hummingbird clearwings (aka sphinx moths) love these flowers!

The prairie onions are blooming. A variety of bees visit these flowers.

This is butterfly weed. I like the vibrant orange.

These are lilies that my dad gave me from his garden.

This is another type of monarda that we have. It attracts a lot of pollinators.

These are coneflowers that are in Olivia's garden.

This is smooth ironweed that is growing in the west pasture. We haven't had horses now for 11 months and this year all these native wildflowers came up. These flowers are as tall as I am - about 5'4".

This is blue vervain. It's also growing in the pasture.

I was happy to see swamp milkweed coming up in quite a few areas.

The obedient plants started blooming. Now, in August, they have pink flowers all the way to the top of the plant. The bees - especially bumblebees - love these plants.

The Oriental lilies came up with their beautiful fragrance.

The black-eyed Susans are blooming in the backyard garden.

Cooper is standing next to the cup plant - another native plant - that's about seven feet tall. There are little yellow flowers on the top. Where the leaves meet near the stem, water collects (when we get rain or I water the garden).

This is an oxeye daisy. There are several of these daisies blooming at once.

This month, we've been hearing great-horned owls quite a bit. Olivia spotted this one in the oak tree in the east pasture while she was swinging. She got off her swing, came into the house to tell me to bring my long lens, and went back out to take photos. I joined her and this owl sat on the branch for a long time. There was a second great-horned owl on the other side of the tree. 

I liked watching it turn its head. It was also interesting to see how big its talons were.

The owl heard something in the grass below. It didn't end up flying down like I thought it would. Either it wasn't hungry or the animal is in an unaccessible area - like the brush pile we have in that pasture.

The bees love the monarda.

This is a hummingbird clearwing. It's a type of moth that overwinters in leaf litter. If people blow or clear their leaves away, none of these moths will be born. 

This is a blurry picture, but you can see how long its proboscis is for drinking from the flower, plus you can see its two front legs. They are fast-moving moths - just like hummingbirds!