Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

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 😦

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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.

A Foofy Bow Tutorial That’s Fast, Cheap, and Easy


I remember wishing as a child- and later as an adult- that I had half the crafting ability of our Great Aunt Martha. She made Martha Stewart look like an unimaginative slacker. And I LIKE Martha Stewart. (I also wish Aunt Martha had lived to see Pinterest–she would have LOVED it!)

In my twenties, I went on a wreath-decorating bender. Being flummoxed by the thought of making a fancy, foofy bow I almost gave up. I can’t cut a straight line. I can’t do origami. But that year, I found simple directions for a bow that changed my view of crafting forever. I have long-since lost those original directions (that were ON a roll of ribbon–genius!) but here’s the gist of it:

To make a bow that is approximately 5 & 1/2 inches wide and 5 & 1/2 inches long you will need:

46 inches of wide ribbon (with or without wire)

4 inch-long piece of craft wire or needle and thread (wish I’d thought of that sooner.)

scissors

PART ONE/ The Foofy Part:

First, cut 12, 10, and 8 inch pieces of ribbon. (This part is flexible; if you desire a larger bow, start bigger. Make three lengths that decrease in size by 2 and 4 inches. ie: 18, 16 &14 inches.)

Bow

Fold the ends of each piece to meet in the middle.

Bow

Part Two: The Constants

Cut a four-inch length of ribbon to use as a cover-up later, and a four-inch piece of craft wire

(OR use needle and thread. That’s what I should have done instead of the wire). It doesn’t matter what size bow you make; the wire and the cover-up are still 4 inches long each. You should have one 12-inch length of ribbon left. That will be the tail later.

Bow

Next, bend the wire like so:

Bow

Part Three: The Mechanics

Starting with the smallest loop, poke wire through.

Bow 6

Add medium and large loops to the wire. If you’re smart, you can sew all three together at once instead of messing with the %$@! wire.

Bow 7

Remember the other 4-inch piece of ribbon? The cover-up? Use it to hide the wire (or thread) by centering it over the wire on top of the bow and securing it on the back with the wires that are poking out.

Next, you should have a 12-inch section of ribbon remaining. Fold it like so (below) and trim triangles out of each tail.

Bow 8

Almost done! Attach the tail using the wire still sticking out the back of your bow. Twist said wire to secure it all together.

Bow 9

Fluff the bow to desired foofiness. TA-DAH!!

Bow 10

I swear, it took less than 10 minutes to make this bow. Writing this post took a lot longer. The moral of the story is:

Don’t assume only perfectionists can make cool stuff.

Another GREAT IDEA that’s fast, cheap, and easy…brought to you by the Pajari Girls. 🙂

As always, if you found this useful, please “like”, share, comment or Pin It!

PowerBall Christmas Shopping List


How fun would Christmas shopping be if I won the lottery?? (Seriously, follow the links–they are half the fun.)

 

My Big  Sister Lois would get a yak, which was Rachel C’s great idea…

Yak

…and a Hippopotamus For Christmas. Real ones. Complete with enclosures etc. And enough money that she could stay at home on The Funny Farm and play with creatures, her chainsaw, and shovel POO!  to her heart’s content, instead of going to The Barn every day. (The Barn vs. the barn.)

All of the Pajari Girls would get pink guns. Because it’s ironic. And badass. Check out these Google pics of pink guns.

Mr. Wonderful would get a private plane so we could visit his family whenever he wanted. And Pine-Sol. The company.

BigGuy: A custom Harley, with all the accessories including Vance & Hines pipes. And maybe a sidecar, so we wouldn’t have to fight over who gets the next ride. Of course, he will have to quit working so he has time to give me more than 2 rides per summer.

Firstborn Spawn: NOT a pole. I’d buy her the Minnesota Wild.

Unloved Middle Child: We would follow The Boss on tour, front row, backstage, etc. And pie. Scooter Pie.

The Boy: His own museum full of trains and dinosaur skeletons.

If money were no object, what is the wildest Christmas gift you would buy?

It Takes a Village…


…to keep a small business open.

Cook Dollar Barn Fall

Yes, some days we ARE sorry we’re open.

But I love living, working, and raising a family with a small town. Yes, I said with. Some days we call  friends in a panic, because a truck showed up early, my arthritis is kickin’ my butt, and Walli has to pee, all at the same time.

More than once a friend or family member has walked in to grab a snack or a pair of reading glasses and found us surrounded by boxes -almost in tears with the sheer overwhelming RETAILNESS that is having a small business- and pitched in. Thank you all!

Now THIS was a great idea… The 3/50 Project began as a blog post on March 11, 2009, asking, “What would happen if just half the employed population chose 3 local brick-and-mortar businesses that they would hate to see close, and spent $50 there per month?” The answer? $42.6 billion in revenue– 68% of which stays in the local economy! (More than that in many cases.) This is a great resource for small businesses AND their customers–please visit them!

Small businesses also support schools, clubs, teams, organizations and each other through donations of time, money, ideas, and volunteer labor. We work harder, stay later, and start earlier (well, Lois does…) because we love being a part of this community.

If you are in the Cook area this Saturday, November 12, stop by the local businesses for Ladies’ Night…we will be staying open late to show off Christmas inventory and thank you for keeping us employed and open! Wine, appetizers, drawings, and specials will abound, too. (More likely hard liquor at The Barn) Festivities start at 4 pm and end at 8 pm.

Also, the dogs of Cook businesses will be kicking off a fundraiser/pet food drive to feed local pets. More on that later.

As always, if you like this post, say so! Like, Share or Comment below. How else will I know if anyone is listening? 🙂

PS: If you found this to be Employee of the Year stuff, go vote for me! Peer pressure the heck out of my big sister!

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