Archive for the ‘Employee of The Month’ Category

Update


Holy hell have we been busy!!

As you probably know, we had a “catastrophic loss” of the dollar store and retail/residential building we (mostly Lois) spent seven years nurturing. Click here to read that post. That was over two years ago now, in June of 2013.

My sister already had quite the menagerie of pets–mostly “needs a good home” types, and now she had to figure out how to feed them.She’d always wanted to do animal therapy, but the store and life kept getting in the way. Now we had the time, and some insurance money that needed to be put to good use, so we went for it, and Cook’s Country Connection was born.

Last Labor Day was our first day open to the public (we’d been shooting for May, but you know how these things go!). We got a few field trips under our belts and worked out many kinks in that first two months of operation.

I also became a grandma in October of last year!! My Middle Spawn Harley had a baby boy, and he is the seventh generation to be on the farm! She is an awesome mom, nursing him and using (not to mention MAKING) cloth diapers.

Liam_Monster_Jammies-4

I love being a gramma, and helped a lot with babysitting his first few months while his mom worked midnights. Naturally I overdid it. Now we are easing back in, but wow is he faster and stronger than me some days!! The Toddler Corral is a great safe place to plop him when I am busy in the Farm Store.

LW and chicks at farm (8 of 8)

The Baby Exhibit!

LW and chicks at farm (6 of 8)

LW, perilously close to the poultry.

 

My Eldest Spawn, Bethany is getting married later this month! She has always been the party planner of the family, so of course everything is ticking right along on schedule. Her step daughter calls me Gramma, too, so that’s been arip.

I spent the winter being an artist…photographing and making jewelry which we sell at the Farm Store and the gallery in town, and writing. I even joined a writers’ group at the gallery, which helps force me to make time to write. Youngest Spawn has attended the group with me all summer, and it’s been really good for him, too. I always tell him how talented he is, but sometimes it means more from strangers.

I also signed up to teach a couple of Community Ed classes at the farm. Making a bowling ball gazing ball, vermiculture, and yoga at the farm. Yoga. What the hell was I thinking??? I was thinking that since my yogini moved out east, we could still do yoga at the farm if I taught it. Ugh. My procrastination is in high gear on that one!! Not to mention Imposter Syndrome! My rheumatologist thought it was a great idea, so we’ll see!

What else is new??? Mr. Wonderful would like me to tell you I’ve also been busy making him sammiches. I shouldn’t have to tell you that is BS. I have, however, made lots of jelly.

plum jelly-2-2

Loveyabye! Talk to you soon, and hope to see you at the farm!

PS: You’re welcome, Dawny B!!!

 

 

 

Cook Dollar Barn Update


Cook Dollar Barn

Dear Friends,

We can’t believe it’s been a month since we lost the Barn. It feels more like a reeeally long week. There are some questions that we can answer for you now and some we can’t… here goes.

First, THANK YOU!! For all the kind thoughts, prayers, hotdishes, hugs, cards, money, volunteerism, and general awesomeness.

When will cleanup start? Sorry to say, it will be weeks or even months. Until all insurance companies sign off, the scene is to remain “unspoiled”. Please stay back, and keep your kids off the rubble as well.  There is a 4,000 square foot basement filled with water and debris. If you see anyone messing around there, please let one of us know. Or call 911. Believe me, we are anxious to clean up what’s left of River Street Rentals, Cook Dollar Barn, Gilley’s Naturals, and the homes of 8 friends. We know it…

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Saying Goodbye To My Office


At least I was able to rush into play practice last night and say, “Sorry I’m late! I forgot my briefcase….IN MY OFFICE!!”

Cook Dollar Barn, Pajari Girls, Employee of the year

Read all about it here.

Promotion!!


WOOHOO!! A proud day! I can’t wait to decorate my new office!

Cook Dollar Barn

Yes, fans, it has finally happened. I got the office I have been petitioning for, AND recognition as Employee of the Month!

Take a video tour here!

Thanks everyone for making it happen! Lois finally caved in and did what her heart told her was right. I don’t even care that she is in denial about her motives. (She thinks she meant it as a prank, but I know that deep deep down she wanted to recognize my outstanding efforts!)

Please visit The Barn’s Facebook page if you don’t want to chime in on here. Thanks, everyone!! Loveyabye!

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Frost


Here in northern MN, bitching about the weather and the 9-month-long winter is a sport, a hobby, a point of pride, and a way of life. It wasn’t really working for me, though. I have found that hating things I have no control over hurts me a lot more than the thing I am hating. It doesn’t mean I long for -40F in July–I just try to spend less energy on stuff I can’t change and more energy on the stuff I CAN.  So I’m trying to hate it less. Prozac also helps. And a tanning bed. But I digress.

These are my favorite shots (so far) of frost this winter. They are of hoar frost on the Norway Pines and a couple windows in my house, taken on two different days. This lovely wiki article explains the different types of frost. “Hoar” -yes, pronounced just like “whore”…haha.- comes from an Old English word meaning “looks old”. I can hear the Spawn yelling “Nerd Alert!!” already. Whatever.

The window pics were taken during our week-long Get Inked with the Pajari Girls Tattoo Party when it was -30F and colder. (We felt sorry for the  Texan tattoo artist who had never been Up North, but he seemed to man up pretty well. Still working on THAT post.)

The outside pics were taken on a much warmer day. Good thing, too, or I wouldn’t have been outside to hear the cow bell on the Ginormous White Slobbering Dog Who Thinks the Gravel Pit is the Pyrenees Mountains telling the neighbors they are trespassing in their own yard. This is far outside his approved boundary, but he does not agree.

Click on any pic to start a slideshow. (They are better full-screen.)

Another cool slideshow of winter can be found here: Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate. I took those next door at my sister’s house-The Funny Farm- aka our Great Grandparents’ homestead.

If winter is making you want to kill something, seek professional help and/or this post I wrote for our new site www.cookdollarbarn.com. I’m Employee of the Year there. True story.

As usual, if you found this post amusing, helpful, disturbing , inspiring, or not a total waste of your time, please Like, Share, Comment or Pin this shit stuff. If you are raising your hand ‘cuz you fell behind, click the button to Follow Via E-mail. Then you won’t miss anything. These things let me know what you think is worth reading/writing about. Thanks!! Loveyabye.

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!

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

Liebster Award


Liebster Award

“The Liebster Award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  The word ” Liebster” comes from the German language and can mean the sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, most beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.”

Thank you Heather, of Ramblings of a Hedge Witch, for the nomination! 🙂 The toughest part was figuring out how many followers each blog had. There were a few that I couldn’t find any stats on, so I hoped and included them anyway.

Cliff’s Notes on how it works: I answer 11 questions, share 11 random facts about myself, nominate 11 bloggers, and write 11 questions for them to answer. (Full rules at the end.)

The questions I was supposed to answer:

1) Why did you start writing a blog?

Mary Conger told me to. Bossy Big Sister seconded. Motion carried.

2) What is your favorite work of fiction?

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

3) How would you describe your personal philosophy/spiritual path?

Seeking balance.

4) What has impressed you lately?

The snow llama. (https://pajarigirls.com/2012/12/16/weekly-photo-challenge-delicate/)

5) What has depressed you lately?

The Sandy Hook tragedy.

6) What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time ten years?

Can I make a joke about getting a defense lawyer instead of a divorce lawyer?

7) What are your vices?

Smoking, cussing, being late.

8) What would you like to achieve in 2013?

I want to be Employee of the Year at Cook Dollar Barn. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. But will my sister acquiesce?? Nooooo.

9) Describe your personal style.

In public? Jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts.

10)  What is your favorite city?

Philly 🙂

11) Name something that always makes you smile.

Playing ball with Walli; Corgi butts drive me nuts. That is funny stuff.

Questions for my nominees:

1.) Does YOUR sister pick on you, too? Nagging and such?

2.) When was the last time you shoveled poo?

3.) What would be the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery?

4.) How YOU doin’? (It’s just not the same without an up-nod and a bad Sopranos accent.)

5.) What do you want to be when you grow up?

6.) If you could live anywhere on earth (and take whomever you wanted along), where would it be?

7.) What do you admire most about yourself?

8.) What would you most like to change about yourself?

9.) What are you waiting for?

10.) Why did you start blogging?

11.) What is the most-watched movie/DVD in your collection?

11 things you might not know about me:

1.) I hate this part.

2.) I know how to harness and drive a team of horses.

3.) I have been a mom since I got pregnant at 16.

4.) I always wanted to be a truck driver/ heavy equipment operator.

5.) I can play 3 instruments, though not well: piano, trumpet, and guitar.

6.) The activity that makes me happiest is gardening.

7.) The first deer I shot was a 12-point buck. Really pissed off the Chicago boys lol.

8.) I have Rheumatoid Arthritis…I spent 18 months in a wheelchair and give myself a shot in the stomach twice a week to keep that from happening again. (There also a million other things I need to do to stay upright, but that is the one that seems to freak people out the most.

9.) We Pajari Girls speak in movie shorthand–if you haven’t seen The Boondock Saints, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, Practical Magic, and The Big Lebowski, you will totally miss what the hell we are talking about most of the time.

10.) I had the WORST taste in men. Mr. Wonderful endured a committee of friends and family members, as well as a 3 page application, a note from his doctor, and a background check. It was worth it. (PS I did the same for him, under orders from my bossy sister, aka Head of the Committee. )

11.) I am always out of the running for Parent of the Year by mid-January. (See #3.)

And the nominees are (in no specific order):

Quite Contrary

Hammer Like a Girl

Verbatim Gibberish

Everyday Gurus

Trophy Daughter

Catherine Holm

Rice River Ramblings

whiskeytangofoxtrot

momuverse

Blaise Lucey

Superkat Wins

Here are the RULES –

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (while making sure you notify the blogger that you nominated them!)
  • You write 11 NEW questions directed toward YOUR nominees.
  • You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated your own blog.

You paste the award picture into your blog, Google it or steal mine.

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