Archive for the ‘Employee of The Month’ Category

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.

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.

I Hate Pants.


Don’t get me wrong. Not all the time. Not every day. Well, usually at SOME point every day, I hate them…

Okay, maybe I should clarify that a little.  Maybe you fell behind and are raising your hand. By “pants”, I mean jeans or slacks. Pajama pants, yoga pants, leggings and long johns don’t fall under the Pants Category for me, because I wouldn’t wear them in public unless I were on my way to a sleepover or yoga.

Please don’t think I am saying ,”I don’t want YOU to wear pants”. I do. Please please please wear pants! I am not advocating public nudity…that’s just too awkward. Besides, this is northern MN. It could be -40 F any minute. Pants save lives!! Hell, I wear them every time I leave the house from November to at least May.

But they hurt.

Technically, my lower back, knees and hips hurt. Not just the joints; the other connective tissue (i.e.: tendons, muscles, bursae, etc.) hurts too, and pants just seem to make it worse.

pants

Also, I inject myself twice a week in the stomach with a mild chemo-type drug that kills the white cells that are trying to kill me. The injection itself doesn’t hurt much-far less than the arthritis- but sometimes the injection site is itchy. Which adds to the allure of pantlessness. When I first started this medicine years ago, I had the common side-effect of injection site reactions (ISR) which were still no biggie compared to the arthritis but made me feel like this:

Ferocious Beast

Maggie’s Ferocious Beast (photo credit: Tumblr)

But it’s ok. I don’t want this post to be a downer. Because I can (and do) wear pants for several hours a day. Most days, that is. I just feel the need to explain what I mean when I say, “I’m not wearing pants.” Or, “Today is NOT a pants day”. Or Lois says, “Laura isn’t here [at The Barn] today because she isn’t feeling so hot.” And you thought this post was gonna be about sex!! HA!

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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