Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

A Few Memories for Lois (Another Update)


Years ago, my sister began storing some of her personal belongings in the basement of the Dollar Barn, thinking they would be safer in waterproof tubs in a brick building than in a 100 year-old farmhouse…photo albums and all her Christmas decorations were what she cried for the most after the fire.

Before the official clean-up began, Lois, Steve and Jill poked through the rubble and managed to find something for almost every tenant–Randy’s grandpa’s gun, Deb’s mom’s silverware, John’s wallet, Jo’s necklace, Harley’s favorite clothes, Wade’s computer, and Justin’s letterman’s jacket were among the items found.

After three months under the summer sun and 7 feet of black, sludgy water, a few of my sister’s things were recovered.

The Water

The Workout Room

Lois' Stuff

Fire, Dollar Barn, Pajari Girls, Coca Cola, Christmas

The barn from her Coca Cola Christmas village.

Fire, Candle

And a candle. A candle!!

Family Photo

Great Grandparents’ photo album.

Mad Bird

Mad Bird 2

And the pictures of Mad Bird!! She had him 27 years, from our friend Rich W,. who passed away recently.

It’s not much, but it’s something. Now SHE can decide what to keep and what to throw away.

Playing With Water at -25F


One of my latest self-discoveries was that hating winter doesn’t make it shorter, and it certainly doesn’t make me any happier. So, after making ice candles, candle rings, and ice gems/marbles, I went hunting for more crafty ideas on Pinterest and found this genius named Tracy Lynn Conway who had pinned ice sun catchers using a cake pan and/or muffin pans. I was inspired.

The best thing about this cold snap is that I can stand at my kitchen door and watch water freeze. Shut up–it’s verry interesting. Stop judging me!!  Mr. Wonderful found it pretty chuckalicious too, until I sent him a picture.

ice suncatcher

Eat those words, Larry.

This is a fast, cheap, and easy way to fight cabin fever, depression, and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is also Parent of the Year stuff. Youngest Spawn is learning all about frostbite and how ice forms.

Tracy made her sun catchers in the freezer, but I had a blast watching the ice form outside. (And at -20, it was waaaaay faster. See her pin/blog for more on using the freezer.) My favorite effect is when the food coloring freezes while dissipating in the water…it looks like psychedelic snowflakes.

TIP: If you want to use multiple colors, wait until the water is almost ice. Otherwise, you will end up with brown sun catchers.

I’d tried making my ice marbles into hanging ornaments, but the curly ribbon always broke when I tried to remove the balloon. (And they were kind of heavy, which is tough on winter-brittle branches.) That’s where the muffin pan came in. I used magnets to hold the curly ribbon where I wanted it.

muffin pan, sun catcher, ice

I like the way the silver curly ribbon catches the light.

Like the other ice crafts, it’s all about catching the light. A Bundt pan has a ready-made hanging hole, as well as ridges.

ice, bundt pan, suncatcher

I only filled it 1/3 of the way..less weight for the string.

Because I didn’t want all the colors to bleed together, I didn’t add the drops of food coloring until it had started to freeze. Therefore, the color only shows from one side. I dribbled more food coloring on the other side like a glaze.

Glazed.

Glazed.

We have these sets of 3 plastic heart containers at The Barn ($.50 per set), and I just knew they would be good for something. Adding lace (also on clearance), and some foofy colored ice cubes I made from silicone baking molds…

sun catcher, ice, heart. rose,

Ice Valentines to hang in a tree.

Looking forward to seeing this in the sunlight.

Looking forward to seeing this in the sunlight.

On the thicker sun catchers, my color didn’t go all the way through, so I finger-painted a quick heart on the back of this one.

sun catcher, ice, valentine,

This is why my fingers are red.

Again, thank you to Tracy Conway for the great tutorial! Here are some other fun things to do with water in the winter:

ice marbles/gems

Make ice gems/ marbles with balloons. And spray yourself and kitchen blue.

Cool-Whip, Ice candle

Make ice candles with Cool-Whip bowls.

Bundt pan ice candle

Ice candle ring from Bundt pan.

Comments? Questions? Tips? Please “like”, share or Pin it! Better yet, vote to make me Employee of the YEAR!! Loveyabye.

Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy


Lois’ motto for The Barn is: “We’re not here to make money; we’re here to make friends.” So far, so good, lol! We have met some amazing and interesting people in the last 7 years–Miranda Lambert is right, everybody IS famous in a small town.

My sister Lois and I met Kathy Weiand (pronounced WHY-end) through the Dollar Barn almost seven years ago. She used to travel the 45 miles every Monday to shop our store, garage sales, and The Thrift Shop for treasures to add to her craft projects (mostly birdhouses).  In the summer, Fridays are a better day to hit garage sales along the way, so Monday Kathy became Friday Kathy. In the winter, Thursday is her town day, thus she became Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy. As nicknames go, it’s not the most succinct.  Too bad if you’re into the whole brevity thing. (Big Lebowski reference…keep up.)

Now her nephew Cory, of  World By My Design, has revamped her website, tweaked her Etsy shop, and added a blog! We are so excited for her we could just die! 🙂

shopping, holed up north, cook dollar barn, art

This is what she looks like every time she walks into The Barn. That smile! Those dimples! The pure JOY she radiates! Plus, she is usually carrying baked goods and lunch.

birch, lichen, foraging

Surrounded by thousands of acres of woods, there is no shortage of lichen and birch bark for her projects.

birch bark, birdhouse

In her own words:

“I’ve always been creative/crafty. When my husband and I moved up to Northern Minnesota (by the Canadian border) in 1982, we worked a lot at resorts and therefore, had our winters off (hence the ‘Holed up North’). So I started doing crafts to stay busy. A little over 10 years ago I converted our sauna into a wood working shop and started building birdhouses.

As much as I liked doing the other crafts I loved making birdhouses. These were not your ordinary birdhouses. I would scour garage sales, gift shops, and thrift stores to find small figurines or decorations I could use to make the most unique house for indoors or out. I would collect, wash, and varnish small stones from our road, cut alder brush and collect moss from our property to use on the houses. The houses are God-inspired and love-made with my hands.”

holed up north, birdhouse, ornament birdhouse, cook dollar barn, christmas crafts

I still can’t believe she made THIS with stuff from The Barn!

bamboobrasshouse

birdhouse, salon, holed up north, cook dollar barn

Her first blog post is the story behind this perfect gift for your stylist.

In the summer, this is her other job– her “real” job…she is a caretaker and all-around handywoman. One of her clients says this about her OTHER business, Lawn, Home, & Garden:  “This company has taken care of my property, lawn care and then some, for quite awhile ! The quality of their work coupled with fair pricing is unparalleled. In addition to property maintenance, they also have a team of artisans who design and render the most beautiful art such as glorified bird houses, etc… not to be hung outside as they are the most treasured of interior decor! Great company!”

Her other job

But that’s just a few parts of Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy…we love her not just because of what she does, but also who she IS.

In her spare time? She is a firefighter. True story.

Firefighter

Her OTHER other job

Her OTHER other job involves driving this beauty. (We both have a thing for semi’s.)

Employee of the Month, Cook Dollar Barn, Holed Up North

She has even been Employee of the Month at The Barn! And she doesn’t even technically WORK here!!

Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy worries about us because we don’t cook or eat very healthily. So she brings us a homemade, healthy, TASTY lunch every week (veggies cleverly camouflaged in bacon), and extra cookies at Christmas. For Inventory, she volunteers to count billions of tiny dollar store things and brings homemade BOOZE-FILLED CUPCAKES. (We get them for our birthdays, too!) I asked her to marry me for years, but she just laughed…which is good, because then I  found Mr. Wonderful.

She loves to be outside, creates beautiful art, is a volunteer firefighter, lives off the land, bakes, cooks, is deeply spiritual,  heats with wood, loves with words AND actions, and is an all-around Day Brightener. One of my life goals is to be as happy, joyous and free as Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy.

And we may never have gotten to know this wonderful lady if I hadn’t “ruined my sister’s life” by talking her into quitting her job with a Fortune 500 company and opening a dollar store in our home town of Cook, MN (pop. 574). Funny how things work out.

Now go say hi to Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy!! Please?

Fire Starters


Usually, our projects are like what we eat: fast, cheap, and easy. This is not one of those. The good news is that it’s way simpler than it sounds.

It’s fast if you have the supplies already and don’t have to gather the pine cones now and wait two days for them to thaw, warm, and open. Just collecting them was an adventure… (See that one here).

pony, pine cones, fire starters

He wanted to eat the basket. (He gets his head stuck in things a lot.)

It’s cheap if you have wax and a few common kitchen tools that can be dedicated to wax projects.

It’s easier than making candles from scratch.

You will need:

A large pillar candle

Candle, fire starters

This was a huge three wick coconut cake-scented pillar candle.

Double boiler (or a small pot and a glass 2-cup measuring cup, OR a small pot and a wax pouring pitcher)

melting wax

This is a wax melting pitcher, but a large glass or metal measuring cup will work, too.

Wick from pillar candle or pre-waxed wicks

Cupcake papers

firestarters, wax, pinecone, muffins

muffin papers from The Barn

Muffin pan/s (disposable aluminum pans from the Barn would have been smarter than using my real pans.)

Scented wax (optional)

Pine cones

Directions:

While the wax was melting in the double boiler thingy, I set up the papers and wicks.

pine cone firestarters in muffin cups

These are pre-waxed wicks, aka primed wicks. Leave two inches hanging out.

Pine cone firestarters

Also had some pre-made votive wicks with the little metal thingy attached.

pine cone fire starters

Next, I added the pine cones.

pine cone fire starters

Slowly, carefully, and gently pour the melted wax into the papers

pine cone fire starters

The cupcake papers came with foofy picks, so I added them, too.

pine cone fire starters

Let them set for a few hours in the pan, until hardened.

To use: place under kindling and light the wick.

Notes: I did two kinds; the larger fire starters are made with leftover green wax from an unscented pillar and a few balsam scented wax tarts, the smaller starters are made with the already-scented coconut cake candle.

These are easier than real candles because you won’t need to have the wax at a certain temperature or monitor the stearic acid content. They were made with pillar wax so they will hold their shape longer without needing a holder.

As usual, if you found this useful, or have something to add, share, like, comment or Pin it!

Loveyabye!

Christmas Adventure


Any activity outside when the high temp is one degree above zero and the low is 17 below zero is an adventure. Eldest Spawn and New Guy Clint took this lovely family photo on their way to their next Christmas, while  Middle and Youngest Spawn stayed in the house, and Lois, Big Guy and I watered and fed the herd.

middle finger, Pajari Family Wave

This is the Pajari Family Wave, aka “Say ‘Cheese’!” . PS: Thanks eldest spawn, for posting to FB…I can kiss the Parent of the Year Award away again this year.

big carhartts

I felt about 5 years old borrowing my sister’s husband’s Carhartt bibs. I’m an average 5’6″, but I still had a six inch roll on the bottom cuffs. The man’s a freakin Sasquatch..

winter clothes

This is my big sister Lois sporting her super warm South Park Kenny coat. She likes having her picture taken in this coat. Pretty sure she’s giving me the Pajari Family Wave; hard to tell with mittens though. Thanks, Husimann!!

South_Park_Kenny

Christmas 2012 022
Christmas 2012 024
kenny coat

Smile, Sissy!! And Little Bit.. 🙂

She said “Climb up here and blow in this wet, metal fitting.” It felt like a trick…

I was pretty sure this was gonna be me.

I was pretty sure this was gonna be me.

winter fun

…but I did it anyway. It was that, or fight with a hundred-foot frozen hose tomorrow.

Winter, mn

See Big Guy waaaaay down there? He is the shorter tree between the two pines. Said the water shot outta the end of the hose EIGHT FEET.

Walli Pajari-Williams and GusGus love the snow. Here’s a short video of Corgis in Winter.

Twin black Alpacas

The alpacas didn’t seem particularly grateful.

Great Pyrennes, ginormous white slobbering dog, winter, barn, homestead

I’m sure Jai is part polar bear. He loves winter, and was playing with the lovely ice candle ring I made for Lois and Big Guy.

Next, we decided the herd needed some extra calories for Christmas and cold weather. I made a short video of their approach. This bunch is VERY food-motivated. I was pretty sure this video would end up on a 48 Hours Special as my death sequence.

winter, farm, llama, goat, donkey, pony

Christmas 2012 038

barn, farm, winter The pines in the foreground are the windbreak where I found Narnia and pine cones for a craft project. You can just barely see the huge pine (in the background) we visited on our adventure the other night.

    After that, we needed a kettle of hot water for hot chocolate and Ice Hole Butterscotch Schnapps. And a little nap. Merry Christmas from our barn to yours!!

Fast, Cheap, and Easy Ice Candle Ring


Ok, so all my ice-cream buckets are toast.  The ice pushed through the bottoms instead of the tops. 😦 And I have yet to master the five gallon bucket or garbage can methods. However, I did have one experiment that turned out great…an ice candle ring.

You will need:

A bundt pan

about three quarts water

3 drops food coloring (optional)

winter or a  freezer

votive or tealight candle

long fireplace lighter thingy deal

Ice Marbles/Gems, balloons, ice candle ring, bundt pan, cake pan
I was multitasking.The knobby balloons made weird marbles, and tended to burst.

This is almost too easy. I should check the Thrift Shop for more bundt pans and jell-o molds… Anyway, I just set the pan outside and filled it with water. If you want to add food coloring, rock on. The first ring I made popped right out of the pan, but the second one was tougher, so I asked myself,” What would Lois do??” She said to place the pan in a sink of hot water for a few minutes. It worked like a charm :).

Add a tealight or votive candle, and it’s probably best to light it with a long grill/fireplace/candle lighter. Unless you like burns and frostbite at the same time. (We usually have the candles, food coloring, balloons and lighters at The Barn if you’re local.)

Ice Candle Ring from Bundt Pan
Bring a little light to the cold, dark time of year.

Short video clip of candle flickering here. It was COLD out (-15 F), so it’s a short video. I recommend placing ice candles away from your house, yet visible from a window. It’s very possible they will freeze where they are placed, so make sure it’s not a tripping/shoveling hazard. Safety first, people! Or top five, anyway.

If you think this is a GREAT IDEA, like, comment, pin or share it. Please? If you know a way to make this idea even GREATER, let us know that, too! Loveyabe, Laura

Adventure Number Two, Tuesday


Here’s part one in case you missed it.

My sister has been dying to share the adventure of walking the Ginormous White Slobbering Dog around the hayfield, but mornings suck and by evening the thought of walking a mile is a bit much for this arthritic 37 year-old. So, because solving problems is what she does, she used the Christmas gift we got her as a backup plan. She and Jill and Danny would walk the dog while pulling a big black sled. When I got pooped, I climbed in. We need a team of horses, but Lois and Jill work for now. 🙂

It gets dark here around 4 pm this time of year, but the factory next door has a really bright light that reflects off the snow and makes it possible to walk in the field at night. Also, the camera has a night function and a great flash, so I was able to get a few snapshots of our adventure.

Thanks, ladies! Click on the first picture to start the slideshow/ Gallery view.

Two Adventures in One Day!


Yesterday, I had two adventures at The Farm. On the first adventure, I took along a basket to collect pine cones for a craft idea and ended up walking down memory lane.

If you are new to the blog, you may not know that my sister and I live next door to each other; she and her husband and creatures live on the land (and in the house!) our great-grandparents homesteaded in 1900; and I in the house our Grampa Ralph built next door. When we were little, our grandpa’s brother, Uncle Uno lived in the Farm house, and we spent hours between both places while our parents worked. Every day, grandpa would go next door to visit his brother, who was housebound with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Several days a week for the last 11 years, I have gone next door to let assorted dogs out (or in, or whatever their little hearts desire). Our family has watched this land and the humans (& creatures) that live here grow, reproduce, mature, die, and begin again for nearly 113 years, and the land has watched us right back.

Come for a walk with me. I’m sorry the captions are in white….I can’t change that 😦

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ice Candle Tutorial


This is northern Minnesota. Bitching  Bragging about extreme winterness is in our Nordic DNA. When hell freezes over, Minnesota schools will start 2 hours late.  There are four seasons in Minnesota: Early Winter, Winter, Late Winter, and Road Construction. The majority of cars and trucks have block heaters, standard. And on and on…

I used to hate  detest  abhor dread winter. Winter can be cold, dark, expensive, depressing, and we love to complain about it.  However, as part of my ongoing quest for better health, personal growth and general serenity, I have been looking for ways to be more positive. I have come to realize that hating winter does not make it shorter, dreading winter does not prolong its arrival, and preparing for winter internally and externally reduces my stress levels about it. Less stress translates into less physical pain and reduces depression. This may be first-grade stuff to most people, but for me it was a revelation. Winter may never be my favorite season, but I can accept hate it less and find its unique moments of beauty and joy.

You will need:

2 containers of Cool-Whip

2 plastic tumblers

rocks or sand

food coloring

water

tea-light candles

First, eat the Cool-Whip. If you are from North Dakota, mix it with Jell-O and cottage cheese. If you are in Minnesota, combine it with a can of fruit cocktail and Jell-O to make a “salad”. Wash out the Cool-Whip containers, after licking them mostly clean.

I brought everything outside, having had a VLE (Valuable Learning Experience) while making Ice Gems/Marbles . I centered the rock-filled tumblers in the Cool-Whip containers, then filled them with hot water* from a teapot and added a few drops of food coloring. *I was told that the boiling water would make the ice less cloudy and add cool bubbles, but with a project this small, and my overuse of food coloring, it didn’t seem to matter.

Cool-Whip, ice candle

Freezing times vary, depending on climate. These small containers freeze faster than their traditional 5-gallon bucket counterparts. And I can lift these without hurting myself. Once frozen, I tapped the whole works gently and popped the tumbler out.

Cool-Whip, Ice CandleTah-dah!! Add the tea light candles for another craft that’s fast, cheap, and easy. 🙂 And hopefully, something to make winter feel a little less…blah.

Cool-Whip, Ice candle

ice candle

As usual, if you enjoyed this post, let us know.  “Like”, share, or comment. Loveyabye.

PS: This is just another glowing example of how I am working ’round the clock to help Cook Dollar Barn. This is Employee of the Year stuff, if you ask me. Vote for me here. Or send my sister a postcard. Better yet, bring us a plate of Christmas Cookies and tell Lois in person that LAURA ROCKS!

Ice Gems/Marbles; How-To-Not-To


Personal Note from The Baby: As the Employee of the Year at Cook Dollar Barn, I feel it is my duty to share not only my successes but also my epic failures. Mistakes are where I learn the most, anyway. And I make plenty of them. You’re welcome. Last night’s mistake Valuable Learning Experience (VLE) came as a result of multitasking. You probably don’t want to follow along. I am unsupervised much of the time, and looking back, I may have confused the ice candle tips with the ice gem tips. Whatever. I lived.

*************

ice marbles/gems

All day at work, creative women were in and out, gathering supplies for winter crafts. I was especially interested in the balloon ice gems and colored ice candle ideas floating around thanks to Pinterest. I did a few of the balloon gems last year, and apparently I’m not the only one who thought I could tweak them a little. This year I wanted to do some ice candles, too.

So I asked questions and tried to remember the answers.

Everything I knew last night BEFORE craft time in the empty nest:

Susie was going to try freezing curly ribbon in her balloon gems to hang them from branches. And glitter! And she also said putting the filled balloons in a bowl will keep them from getting a flat spot on the bottom.

Ericka said ice made with boiling water is clearer with lots of little bubbles while she helped DeeAnn pick out matching cookie trays and bags for a cookie exchange.

And hot water freezes faster than cold water.

Last year, I should have used more food coloring, and stretched the balloons out more before filling.

The only way I filled my balloons with water was out of the tap.

What I learned during and after craft time:

One craft at a time.

ice marbles

Don’t follow these directions.

Anything you want to add to a balloon ice gem needs to be put in FIRST. Before the water. Glitter, food coloring, a length of ribbon tied to a washer, etc. This led to the next lesson:

Water shoots out of a balloon really fast. Like, water-cannon fast. Even though I have the ninja reflexes of a mom, and squeezed the balloon shut and pointed it away from my face to the bottom of the sink, the water still shot fast enough out of the balloon to ricochet off the sink and all over  the rest of me. And the floor. And the kitchen table. Shit. I should have checked the ceiling…

Maybe lukewarm water is the way to go. It doesn’t hurt as much as super-hot tap water.

Also, for your first try, don’t add food coloring, glitter, ribbon, etc. Just practice filling a 12-inch latex balloon with the kitchen sink and tie it closed. Unless you want your kitchen to look like a smurf murder scene. I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture–I was too busy wiping it all up and then making the others so I could change out of wet blue clothes that started to freeze to my body when I brought the gems outside to freeze.

I hope this was helpful. Any hands raised? Please like, share, or comment to help friends Pin safely. Loveyabye.

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