We Love the Fair

IMG_0295This is Hannah’s science fair project.  What is the best way to thaw raw, frozen chicken to prevent bacterial growth?  That was the question and she researched and tested and concluded that using a cold-water bath is best with thawing in the refrigerator close behind.  Don’t thaw on the counter…that’s where those 700 colonies of bacteria appear.

So research gave her the best answer, and she wrote up the entire procedure, cited background and graphed results.  That project took her to the Minnesota State Science Fair.  She was one of about 500 middle and high school students asked to display their work on individual scientific research.  IMG_0297

Isn’t she cute?  As a seventh grader she was unable to compete for state awards; these middle schoolers were there for experience and sponsor awards.  Food science businesses like Minnesota’s Land-O-Lakes and Institue of Food Technologists awarded Hannah money for her excellent research and hard work.  Food scientists are important in many businesses in Minnesota as our family found out this weekend.  We are very proud of Hannah and know how hard she worked on this project. She is a very deserving student.

She and her friend Becca spent the weekend at the Marriot along with the rest of the participants.  We took the girls out for something to eat at the end of the fair and before the awards presentation.  I’m sure this is a weekend neither will forget. Hannah has a bright future.IMG_0298

Making Birthday Gifts


I grew up on a dairy farm which meant work 24/7.  There was never a break, except on our birthday. That was the best part about our birthday; we never had to do chores in the house or in the barn. Nothing. No work. All day. It was a special day. All six of my sisters and my brother have all grown up and are off the farm so birthdays are different and gifts become more relevant in making the day special.

My mom crocheted and gifted afghans for many years.  She gifted 99 in her lifetime and she told me every time she made one she would think about the person for whom she was making it the entire time.  I know what she means.  I made this spring mug rug and two pin cushions for my sister Jo whose birthday was on the 19th.  I thought about her the whole time I was making these.  Jo embroiders. She does beautiful work.  She made me a table runner for my birthday.She was able to listen to 50 hours of Gone With The Wind as she sewed.  That’s a long time.  Of course, my simple little gift took just a few hours and cannot even compare to the gift I received from her.

But she has to know she is loved a lot and my thoughts are with her.  I hope she uses her mug rug as she continues her embroidery work.  And from one seamstress to another–who can’t use another pin cushion?

Back to the Sewing Room


A little boy I do not know will be using this quilt as he grows into a toddler.  While in California a Facebook friend invited those who wished to, to a long distance baby shower for her sister who now lives in Connecticut.  Both she and her sister were students of mine and I very much wanted to participate.  Best part was that I didn’t have to go to a shower, but could send a gift.  Of course, I love making quilts and baby quilts are so fun and easy.  I wasn’t home in time to get the quilt made and in the mail by the deadline, but I got it done and sent, not in time for the official opening of the gifts, but in plenty of time before the baby arrives.

The name of the pattern is Dapper, from Camille Roskelly. It’s a bit bigger than a baby quilt so he can use it as a toddler in a youth bed.  I hope he uses it for many more years than that…

I tried something new on this quilt; I used a stencil to mark and quilt a border.  I used a water soluble marker and stitched over the lines.  The first border I sewed isn’t so great, but once I got the hang of it, it went fine.  I used the border between the columns and around the edges. I quilted the pinwheel columns with straight lines spaced at various widths. I guess you could call them organic straight lines.  I love the way it turned out, and I hope Mom, Dad, and Baby know they are loved.IMG_1209

Hockey Weekend


This is the Coon Rapids-Champlain Park Rapid Rebels 12UB girls hockey team at the Minnesota State Tournament.  Aren’t they cute?  We spent the entire weekend with these girls and their families in St. Cloud Minnesota.  Hockey is serious business in Minnesota.

We started out the weekend with a Friday afternoon game.  The unfortunate 3-2 loss put us in the consolation bracket.  The opposing team scored the winning goal in the last minute.  Our second game was scheduled for 7:00 pm Saturday evening, but that didn’t happen.  The game prior to ours went into overtime–4 OTs to be exact.  It was a grueling game, and very exciting.  So our girls didn’t get out onto the ice until 8.  They played hard, and we were evenly matched again with a team from Buffalo.  At the end of regulation both teams had scored 2 goals.  Overtime again.  This time for 5 OTs.  Our goalie prevented 70 shots from going into the net. And after 83 minutes on the ice in three hours’ time we got a three-on-one break away to score the winning goal.  No one deserved to lose that game.

We got to play for the consolation championship.  We played Luverne even through three periods ending in a 1-1 tie. Overtime again. Really?  After playing the equivalent of two-and-a-half games last night, 12 hours later they are going into another overtime game.  It was too much.  Just a minute or so into the OT, a Luverne skater broke away and scored the winning goal.  The girls were crushed.

But what a weekend.  It had been 12 years since a Coon Rapids team had been to a state tournament; we are proud of our girls. And what an experience for them and their coaches.  Youth sports help form our kids’ lives.

This weekend gave us the opportunity to spend time with both of our grand-girls: Hannah mostly on the ice and Hailey because we had lots of downtime.  We met some great hockey parents and reminisced about Dan’s youth hockey teams from almost 30 years ago.  Those cold hockey rinks provide warm memories.IMG_1210


Our Last Few Days in the Desert

Now that we are home I want to document our last few days in Palm Desert.  The day after our visit to Joshua Tree we climbed another mountain.  It was not as high and not as long as Ryan Mountain yesterday.  At the end of this climb is a lighted cross. I don’t know the story of it, but it is visible at night in most places in Palm Desert.  It happened to have been Ash Wednesday, and when we reached the top about a dozen people were participating an an Ash Wednesday service.  Cool.

Kelly spent her last day basking in the sun; the sun was warm and the breezes were cool.  We relaxed in the hot tub and pool, drank a few beverages, and ate our last meal together el fresco.  John and I were as sad to see her leave as she was to go.

We found the cutest little par three golf course ever; you don’t even have to call for a tee time.  Just show up.  We walked the nine holes and carried our clubs at the foot of the snowy mountains.  Life is good especially when life is simple. Then we found a public golf course where we were able to play nine holes and got a complimentary happy hour drink.  It’s a course very similar to Mill Run, our home course.

We attended the Wildflower Festival on Saturday as the desert was just beginning to bloom.  We were told that by next week those hiking the hills will walk in a sea of yellows and reds and purples.  High winds plagued our Sunday so we shopped and drove around a bit.  Last days are bittersweet.

I can’t leave without showing off our mountain landscape. So much snow–more than we have ever seen in our 6 years here. The drought is over.  The Coachella Valley got 5.5 inches of rain in January and February this year; last year they had a total of 2 inches all year.IMG_0283

Joshua Tree National Park


This is a Joshua Tree, and it’s not even a real tree.  You can look it up if you want to know more about it.  I just want to record our trip to this park.  Geological formations abound.  Rock formations, mountains, desert, canyons, valleys: all are in this park, and some you won’t find anywhere else in the US.  How do I even begin to post pictures?

We went on a crisp, cool, spring day, perfect for hiking and seeing the sights.  We started out at the skull, a rock formation that looks amazingly like a skull, hence its name.  We explored some great little canyons around the area and traveled down the road.  We stopped at Ryan Mountain and Kelly made us climb it.  We were at about 4300 feet and the top of Ryan Mountain is over 5400 feet.  At the top you are over a mile into the sky, but you have to walk to get their.  John and I made it about 75% of the way; Kelly made it all the way.

We walked a hidden canyon where rustled cattle were once hidden, we watched a pair of climbers repell the Big Burrito, and we strolled through a cholla (“choy-a) cactus garden.  The most amazing part of all this is that this was Kelly’s first visit to a national park, any national park.  She is 37; we deprived her as a child.  But we made up for it yesterday.  Family time is the best time.

The Living Desert


What a way to start our day in the desert: feed the giraffe.  Look at that tongue.  She didn’t want to be petted, so she snatched the carrot with her long tongue and backed away.  Visiting the Living Desert while in Palm Desert is a must; the flora and fauna of the desert is on display.  We watched the cheetahs run, the baby warthogs play while mom and dad slept, and the hyenas sleep in the sun.  Kelly wants a pet fennec, the smallest fox in the world…I don’t think she’ll ever have one of her own, though.

Then we strolled through the butterfly house.  They put the cocoons on display; about 300 butterflies emerge every week.  It’s amazing. We saw three struggling out of their cocoons as we stood there.  It was a cool day so many of the butterflies reached for the netting to catch more of the sun’s warmth.  We only were able to snap pictures of a few that had lit on the flowers. Beautiful.img_0169

Succulents and desert plants abound in the park.  With all the rain in California this year, many of the cacti were blooming.  Pinks, purples, yellows, and lots of spines cover the landscape in the desert. It was a wonderful Sunday morning stroll in the park.



Steak and Oldies

Every Saturday is steak night.  When we first started his tradition we used to listen to an oldies Saturday night radio program.  The kids dubbed it steak and oldies.  We’ve been eating steak on Saturday night for over 30 years.  Last night was just another Saturday in that sense, but not in any other sense.  With a fire glaring on the patio, the mountains in the background, the cool desert air, and our grown daughter with us, it was a special night.

We are appreciating more and more moments like this: A beautiful condo, a beautiful daughter, a beautiful city.  We are, indeed, thankful for all we have achieved and can enjoy at this point in our lives.  Hard work and planning make for a great retirement.

Steak and oldies has turned into steak with the oldies.

Rodin at Sunnylands

Our friends John and Renae visited us in Palm Desert this weekend.  We usually golf with them but the weather did not cooperate with us this year.  Because it is Midcentury Modern Week in the area we toured a newly renovated midcentury modern home.  After having lunch on El Paseo we headed out to Sunnylands for a tour.

Sunnylands is the winter retreat home of the Annenburgs, a wealthy family from Pennsylvania.  They opened it up to Presidents, Cabinet, and Supreme Court justices for a retreat or peace summits.  Their 9 hole private golf course is also for them.  There is a public building and gardens for the public to enjoy and learn the Annenburg’s story and about their philanthropy.

The highlight of my day turned out to be all about a sculpture.  The Annenburgs acquired two August Rodin sculptures: Eve and  Eternal Spring.  Eve is at the residence which the public has no access to, but Eternal Spring is on display at the visitor’s center.  Isn’t it beautiful?  It is white marble and is placed is a window that bathes her in sunshine.  Sculpture is my favorite form of art and Rodin is my favorite sculptor.  To see this up close was wonderful.  No, it’s not The Kiss, but it is stunning.  If you ever are in Palm Springs, don’t miss Sunnylands.  Next year we plan to get tickets to take a tour of the private grounds and the 25,000 square foot midcentury modern home.

This is the second year in a row that President Obama is in Palm Springs when we are. Rumor has it that they will be winter residents here permanently.  They arrived today and Sunnylands was one of their stops.  We have never seen them in person out here; I don’t think we golf the same golf courses…