Posts Tagged ‘Cook’s Country Connection’

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!

 

 

 

Another Mysterious Burrow


We have been seeing a new critter in the pit at the House On The Hill  and became mostly sure after consulting  my North American Wildlife book and Wikipedia that it was a pine marten or a woodchuck (aka groundhog, aka the critter who lies about winter almost being over EVERY. YEAR.), yet it moved like a beaver. However, when the trail cam captured the photo below, we all got a little nervous, thinking a woodchuck might not be the only new neighbor.

badger, woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

I tried and tried to zoom in with all the photo editing software at my disposal, but this grainy crop was the best that I could do; he was just too far away.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

I don’t know about you, but that looks like a badger to me. This made us all nervous, because badgers will eat your face off! (Plus, they don’t care; they don’t give a SHIT. This link goes to the Honey Badger video, but they are closely related to the regular badger, whose link is here.)

Then another mysterious hidey-hole appeared behind the barrage. (That’s a barn/garage combo.)

hidey hole

getting this shot made me nervous, because on

This was a little closer than I should have been, but the only way to see the hole through the equisetum. Threw out my ankle some, too. You’re welcome.

ANYWAY…I had managed to get a few grainy shots of this little guy with the Canon, so when I found the hidey hole I placed the trail cam on it to be sure it was him living there, not a badger.

woodchuck

 

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

He or she is very cautious, pausing regularly to stand up and take a look- and sniff- around.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

She or he seemed to have gotten used to us, and even has a shortcut through Squirt’s playhouse. The white metal to the left is his gate.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

Hiding in the Lupine…

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

And in front of the barrage.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

These are my favorite facts from  the wiki link.

  • weighs up to 10 pounds
  • burrows are up to 46 feet long and five feet or more underground, with several exits
  • the average woodchuck (groundhog) moves 35 cubic feet of dirt when making a burrow
  • they are perfect for Hep-B -induced cancer research
  • they do NOT chuck wood…the Native American word for them just sounds like “woodchuck”
  • that does not stop people from yelling out my back door, “Hey you dang woodchuck! Stop chucking my wood!!”

Which may or may not have something to do with why we haven’t been seeing it up as close to the House on the Hill, but did show up on the trail cam when we placed it near Pajari Pond. But that’s another story.

You wanna watch that Geico commercial now, don’t you? So do I.

PS: Do you have a trail cam? What kind of creatures have you seen on it? I’d love to see the pictures!

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”.

 

 

 

 

An Easter Adventure


I know, I know, you thought I was lost. But I haven’t been really lost; just preoccupied. My sister is opening a petting farm, and I am helping with the web stuff and taking photos. (AFTER you read this, you can go see what we are up to there.  🙂 )

We spent this Easter with Mr. Wonderful’s family in North Dakota. It was nice, low-key, relaxing, etc.

The one stuffing his face? That one’s mine.

 

Until the egg hunt. See, it took us a while to talk the spawn into participating. (They are hitting teen years.)

easter canon 001

By the time we got outside, there had been a thief in the yard.

 

easter canon 002

So we set up the trail cam, replaced the malted milk balls with sunflower seeds, and went for a walk. Six hundred sixty eight pictures later…

 

Trail Cam 056

 

False alarm

False alarm

 

Trail Cam 113

It was a big ‘ol mama squirrel…

Trail Cam 115

with cravings!

Trail Cam 160

Trail Cam 440

Trail Cam 611

Ok… NOW you can go to www.CooksCountryConnection.com

We’re Baaaaaaack!


Losing Cook Dollar Barn was one of the worst experiences we have lived through. It wasn’t just a store; it was an important social hub for the Pajari Girls, and our little town, too. Every day, the list of people and things we miss gets longer. And when people told us that there must be something even better around the corner, we KNEW they were lying.

Now, we are headed back. Back in “A Barn, if not “The Barn”.

So here’s the scoop: barring zoning, insurance or licensing issues, Her Highness The Queen of Poo (Lois) is hoping to open the Peterson family homestead as a petting farm/ event location this summer! Can we get a whoop whoop??

farm barnherd, pony, llama, goat, sheep

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pony, farm, horse. girl guinea hens, fowl, poultry bunny, rabbit, zip, hens, chickens, farm, eggs Flemish Giant, rabbit, bunny donkey, the farm, pajari girls

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