Archive for the ‘Cook’s Country Connection’ Category

Our Etsy Store


Ta-DAH!! Our Etsy store is up and running, complete with credit card acceptance and PayPal! Go check it out and let us know what you’d like to see there; right now it’s a combination of antiques books, vintage comics from our playhouse, and items we make ourselves just for you.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/PajariGirls

Star Solar Light (1 of 1)

Bird Feeders (26 of 39)

One of the bird feeders we make from antique Mason jars.

 

 

 

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!!!

 

 

 

Solar Ice Candles


I’ve been experimenting with ice candles and ice suncatchers for a couple years now, so it wasn’t a huge jump to making solar-lighted ice candles.

 

First, I took all the molds outside and then filled them using pitchers of water. (This idea came to me last summer, so every time I saw a Bundt-shaped mold at the Thrift Shop, I snagged it. I’m happy to report that  even the plastic ones worked great, and have yet to crack.)

ice candles-1

ice candles-2

Then I did it all again so there were two of each design.

To release them from the mold, I ran a little hot water in the kitchen sink. They pop out after a few seconds. Sometimes, if the water freezes too fast, there will be a bulge in the ice. You can chip it off carefully, use a warm cookie sheet to melt it flat, or if you’re not a perfectionist, just build up the other side with snow later when you put the two halves together.

Solar Ice Candles-11Solar Ice Candles-5

Now here is the genius part: Solar garden lights will work, depending on their size and the diameter of the hole in your mold, but this Halloween, I found these awesome solar-powered jack-o-lantern lights at K-mart for $5. They change color, so I didn’t have to add food coloring to the water to color the ice!

ice candles-3

Ice pumpkin-14 Ice pumpkin-13 Ice pumpkin-12 Ice pumpkin-10

Now, of course you could use a real wax candle, too; but dang, that’s a lot of candles. And, you’d have to go out and light it. Solar lights come on automatically! Even regular white garden solar lights work, but they aren’t as bright as the one above.

Solar Ice Candles-12

 

Mr. Wonderful even admits this is one for the “Nailed It” File, so please Like, Share, & Pin away!

 

Another fast, cheap, and easy craft idea brought to you by the Pajari Girls. If you’d like a few more ideas, check this post out:

Bundt pan ice candle

 http://pajarigirls.com/2013/01/22/playing-with-water-at-25f/

 

Tea With Auntie Linden


What, you don’t name your trees? This is one of our favorite trees. Mine (Laura) shades my whole front yard in the summer. Lois’ shades the old wood shed/ice house at Cook’s Country Connection. Listen, if Pocahontas could have Grandmother Willow, we can have an Auntie Linden. And like Grandmother Willow, the Auntie Linden in our yard has smacked a guy or three in the head. So shush.

Linden, Basswood, tea, make your own tea

The last time I read Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, Ayla used Linden flowers to sweeten something. Finally! Something that grows in the near-arctic conditions of Cook, MN!! I searched Wikipedia to be sure it wasn’t just literary license, and discovered many other fun facts.

There is a Linden tree in Gloucestershire that is coppiced (omigod, I didn’t even know there was a word for that!! It means to harvest by cutting tree down to the stump, then letting its shoots start over. It’s technically the same tree) thought to be 2,000 years old. If you live up here, imagine a willow after attempted chainsawing.

coppice

Coppiced tree +1 year. Image Wikipedia.

The name of Linnaeus, the great botanist, was derived from a “lime” tree in Europe–what we Yanks call Basswood or Linden .

Linnaeus… You know, the guy who came up with a universal system for naming things. Binomial nomenclature. ie: Tilia americana. Ringin’ any bells??

There’s more.   “The excellence of the honey of far-famed Hyblaean Mountains was due to the linden trees that covered its sides and crowned its summit.” Beekeepers love Linden/Basswood/Lime trees! The first time I noticed a buzzing noise coming from the tree I park under (Auntie Linden), and looked up to see thousands of honeybees I called my sister in a panic. “Don’t come over!! You will DIE!!” (She’s allergic to bee or hornet stings.) She laughed and said ” They’re just doing what bees do. Leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone. Just don’t piss ’em off.” Roger that.

July2013 069

I read on:

“In particular, aphids are attracted by the rich supply of sap, and are in turn often “farmed” by ants for the production of the sap which the ants collect for their own use, and the result can often be a dripping of excess sap onto the lower branches and leaves, and anything else below. Cars left under the trees can quickly become coated with a film of the syrup (“honeydew”) thus dropped from higher up. The ant/aphid “farming” process does not appear to cause any serious damage to the trees.”

Well, that’s pretty awesome… and it explains all the ants in that area. And it doesn’t hurt the trees! Huh. Here I was all worried that the ants were a sign that one of my favorite trees in all the world was sick. Whew!

It’s also good for making guitars, and even clothing. You can eat the young flowers and leaves, too!

Linden, Bassweed, tea, make your own linden tea

But coolest of all, it has medicinal properties that my body needs, like fighting inflammation and healing the liver.

“Most medicinal research has focused on Tilia cordata, although other species are also used medicinally and somewhat interchangeably. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Limeflower tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the Tilia flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants) and volatile oils. The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.

“Linden flowers are used in herbalism for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), and as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. In the traditional Austrian medicine Tilia sp. flowers have been used internally as tea for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever and flu. New evidence shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective. The wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). That wood burned to charcoal is ingested to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat edema or infection such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.

Linden, Basswood, tea, make your own linden tea

Thus, last year I made tea from the flowers and the smaller leaves they were attached to. Honestly, I don’t know if it helped the Stupid Rheumatoid Arthritis. But I’m sure it didn’t hurt. 😉 And it tasted good. Want to make your own? Good. Here’s what I did:

  • when flowers are mostly open, gently pick them and the smaller leaf they are attached to from the bigger main leaves. This year, they are a month behind normal. Big surprise.
  • I spread them evenly on trays in my dehydrator and when crumbly I separated leaves from flowers and put them in old, airtight mason jars for winter.
  • Then, come January I added some Rugosa Rose hips for Vitamin C and voila! Yummy, healthy, tea for two.

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

As you can see, the tea has very little color to it. Go by taste- not color- to judge strength. 3 or 4 minutes should be fine for a cup to brew.

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

You’re welcome.

As usual, if you liked this article, please click “Like” “Share” “Pin”, or leave a comment. Thank you for reading! Loveyabye!

 

 

 

Hummingbird Moths


Sometimes, it’s the shots you DON’T get. A few years ago, I captured a hummingbird moth on my camera phone. It was mostly a blur, and I had never seen anything like it. It sounded like a bee or a hummingbird, and the wings moved so fast that usually I could barely see them with the naked eye. Plus, Lois and I were probably having daiquiris in the garden. Ever since, I have been interested in, and wanted to capture these bugs on film. All I had was this one blurry, crappy picture and it kinda drove me nuts.

hummingbird moth, nicotiana, tobacco flower

This spring, I was delighted to see them on my own lilac bushes. At first, the yellow and black stripes on their bodies reminded me of a bee of some kind. But when I sped up to 60 frames per second on the Nikon, I was surprised to see that the wings on these moths were … transparent!

 

lilacs butterflies and hummer moths 052keep

 

lilacs butterflies and hummer moths 052keep

 Also, the proboscis is funky! Their tongues just kind of curl up under the chin when not sipping nectar.

hummingbird moth, forget me nots, pajari

If you are as nerdy as me and want to know more, here is the wiki link I used.

Horse Driving– Another How-to Not-to


This story is embarrassing. But it’s also so damn funny that I can’t not share it.

It’s been two three years since I last harnessed up my mini horse for a drive. (This is Laura by the way, not Lois.) He recently came back to my house from Lois’ for some “retraining”. That means he was being a bully to the other, older animals. Click here  for part of that story.

 

miniature horse, pony, cook's country connection, pajari girls

The training has been going well–mostly re-teaching him manners with leading and doing some longe line work. Where before he was impossible to catch, now he comes willingly.

Ok. So. We had to walk him next door to have his shots for the Petting Farm, and Danny thought we should drive him instead. I decided we would see how he did with harnessing and hitching up to the cart first.

 

squirt harnessed

He had grown, so I lengthened the harness as needed and he stood just fine. So far, so good. Even without a sturdy hitching post, we were gettin’ ‘er done. I was feeling confident that driving a horse was similar to riding a bike; you never forget.  The bridle was tougher to put on (always has been with him) but I figured out how to make that bigger too, and was finally able to get it in his damn mouth. (THIS is why I have a mini instead of a Belgian.) I attached the lines -called “reins” on a riding horse-, so we had steering and brakes now too. Check, double check.

 

july-4-09-026pat lauraitchy

This is what I pictured: My Little Pony trotting up the driveway to Lois’s, with me and Danny riding comfortably. That is not even close to what happened.

Danny and I walked him down to the bottom of our driveway. There was a lot of traffic, so we waited patiently. I had the lines in my right hand and the longe line (aka emergency brake) in my left. I gingerly stepped into the cart and as soon as I sat down, I was flipping backwards. Next thing I knew, I was looking UP at the Norway pine, the sky, little hooves flailing and horse teeth.

My life flashed before my eyes, then I realized I wasn’t mortally injured– just banged up with a little road rash. When I regained my feet, there was the cart, with the harness and bridle and lines still attached, and the pony munching clover a few feet away. He looked at me like, “And you say I’M FAT??”. I became aware of cars passing and all I could do was laugh, now that nobody was dead.

This is what the cart looked like when I stood up:

driving horse 003

…except the harness was still attached. By some miracle, Squirt aka Elmer just slithered right out of all of it! I was sure I would have a terrified horse tied up in knots right there on the shoulder of Hwy 24. Or worse yet, on my head. Apparently I forgot something critical.

driving horse 002

Standing at the end of the driveway, all I could do was laugh. And laugh. And guffaw. And wave back at the cars passing.  All I could think of was the hearse from Disney World’s Haunted Mansion ride.

haunted horse

 

 

*HA! I almost published this without answering the question, “What the hell went wrong??” .

I forgot to snap the cart to the breeching. I think the strap I neglected is called the Tilbury Tug. Horseman Ed calls them  “holdbacks”. I now call it “don’tforgetthekeepthecartfromtippingnoverdumbassthingyclip”.

 

 

 

 

I Have Worms! Again!!


…and I’m happy about it.  A little over a year ago, I shared my passion for composting worms in a post called, I Have Worms. I took last winter and summer off, not wanting to bring the bins inside after spending the summer outside. I had hoped the worms would survive winter in compost bins and piles, but they didn’t. 😦

Luckily, I had shared worms with several friends, and Ms. J. still had some she was willing to share back.

worms, vermiculture, compost, recycle, fertilizer

I am still happy with the content of the original post, but wish there were more pictures. So this time, I’ll be keeping a kind of photo journal of the process. Welcome.

First, I keep my compostables (fruit and veggie scraps) in the freezer. It speeds up the decomp process and eliminates smell and fruit fly issues.

worms, vermiculture, compost, recycle, fertilizerAlso, the smaller the chunks, the faster the worms can break it all down. This Pampered Chef hamburger masheer thingy works GREAT to chop up frozen romaine.

worms, vermiculture, compost, recycle, fertilizerPlease note:  when adding compost to an indoor worm bin, thaw it out first or  the worms could die.

In order to separate the worms from their poo (castings) later, I’ve found the best method is to feed on only one side of a bin at a time.  When the pile gets near the top, I will start feeding on the left side only. The worms will move to that side, leaving their nutrient-rich fertilizer on the right. I first tore up a small brown paper bag into one by six- inch strips for bedding. Then I added an ice cream pail’s worth of fruit and veggie scraps (thawed to room temp),

worms, vermiculture, compost, recycle, fertilizerfollowed by more paper bag and finally 2-inch layer of black dirt.

worms, vermiculture, compost, recycle, fertilizerTa-dah!!

I am so excited to have worms again! I can make dirt and super fertilizer all winter. Also, I eat better (more fruits and veggies) and my fridge is cleaner because I am always looking for more worm food. And Mr. Clean (aka Mr. Wonderful) doesn’t even mind that they’re inside. Much. 🙂

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