Going Back to a More Artistic Me?

I am sitting here listening to Lana Del Rey’s album, “Born To Die”, missing who I once was. For any of you that are not so familiar with Lana Del Rey’s music, I think I could describe only as, artistic. Perhaps weird, as many of my friends and family members describe her. I love her, though. I find myself having not appreciated anything outside of the “normal”, bland world I have lived in for some time now. The most I have exercised my creative mind recently was through blogging, which I have not used much imagination in yet.

I reminisce.

Spoonbridge and Cherry

Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen, Spoonbridge and Cherry, 1985-1988
aluminum, stainless steel, paint

Growing up around Minneapolis, a city of artists, I really have grown up with an appreciation for contemporary art. I remember my first field trip to the Walker Art Center (home of the infamous “Spoonbridge and  Cherry” piece) in 6th grade. I was captivated, learning the potential of the skills I had learned throughout life in art classes.

I had always loved art. I started taking community education pottery classes with a bunch of adults around the age of 10. I fell in love with this form of self-expression and loved to see others expressing themselves in the same way. I grew an appreciation for making our world more beautiful and interesting through these contemporary art pieces I saw around me.

I learned to love an absence of rules in art especially (perhaps this is why I really hated art shows and contests through school, which I never took part in). I guess I appreciated learning skills and rules in art, but the thought of binding one’s artistic abilities inside of these rules seemed suffocating and bland. We are human, each created different and unique. I still cannot comprehend the thought process of “art judges” or critics. One’s thoughts are only personal, and I cannot understand why anyone else would care to conform, especially not in the art community.

A friend of mine had taken part last year in one particular art “contest”. The “winning” pieces at this gathering were the

most realistic looking, not much out of the ordinary was appreciated. The judges panel, a bunch of self-proclaimed “artists”, chose for first place a drawing of Brittany Spears, which looked nearly like what she would look like if she were standing in front of you. Second place was a painting of a scene from “The Pirates of the Caribbean”, where a large squid-like creäture was taking over a ship. As the judges were explaining why they chose these winning pieces, one of the self-proclaimed artists grabbed the microphone and tried declaring that their opinions did not make any of the art more artistic or better than any of the other pieces, and that their feelings were just feelings, and did not make an impact on the greatness of any of the pieces. He was somewhat kicked off the judges panel, as all the other judges took his comment toward the students offensively.

I would just like to say, that is not an art community I would like to be part of. Judging art does not even make sense. Is it even really art, then, if one opinion matters over another according to some law?

Anyway, the Walker Art Museum had become a favorite place of mine, where I could live in a different world, where you could sit in a garden and make art and appreciate other people’s art pieces as well.

This is really making me miss Minneapolis. I hear San Francisco is similar in the richer neighborhoods, with an appreciation for art and the outdoors. Perhaps I should visit.

I guess what I meant to say in all of this is how I have been missing my interaction in the artistic community. Perhaps I will go read some Freshly Pressed artistic blogs. Perhaps I will soon invest in my dream of owning a wheel and a kiln. Anyone know where to find a cheaper one of either?


A Typical Day of Wonderful Work

Today is not a special day. But I think that makes it a great opportunity to blog.

I get to work today at Hope Central, a very inspiring circle of people in this petite community where I am staying.

The Hope Central organization offers services to Boonville, Indiana such as;

  • Manna Market- a shop-for-yourself food shelf, where families can take as much as they need and only what they’ll eat (also has toiletries when donated)
  • Bibs and Bottles Boutique- a free resource for moms of infants and toddlers, offering free baby food, bibs, sheets for cribs, and all sizes of diapers and wipes
  • Abba Clinic- a free clinic for offering services to people with no insurance, offers great pregnancy services with ultrasound machine and testing
  • Grace Garments Clothing Bank- a free clothing store for anyone who really just needs some clothes
  • Education Services- the organization offers financial classes, health classes, and fitness classes from time-to-time

I have had the wonderful opportunity of working in the free clothing bank for most of my time with Hope Central. It has been such a blessing. My most memorable moment in my short 2 weeks was the rainy, gloomy day 2 brothers walked in, ages 10 and 13. These boys had no shoes, shorts and t-shirts on, and drunken parents sitting at home. We found one boy a pair of shoes but couldn’t find shoes for the 10-year old (it was heartbreaking, but we found him some slippers). They brought home what would be their only pairs of jeans, their only coats, and some sweatshirts we found each of them. Somebody stepped up and gave them a healthy, hot dinner to bring home that they could eat for the night, along with the food they found in Manna Market. Their entire situation was just heartbreaking, though.

Now, I wear TOMS and believe I as a more privileged person should allow others the luxury of having a nice pair of shoes, just as myself. Not having shoes in the one boy’s size was such a heartbreaking experience. We live in a non-poor community. We live in America for heaven’s sake!! That these two boys were not going to school because they grew out of their shoes was not ok. It isn’t something I would have imagined to see as a problem for such young boys in America. It is something I imagine happening more in Africa or South America, but not here.

I guess it is situations like these, though, that God uses for us to show his love to the most broken people in our world. I am happy somebody informed these boys of us as a resource.

I can not wait to go in today and serve. Every time I do, it really is a wonderful experience. I am blessed in so many ways through being a vessel to bless others.

Want to help out at Hope Central through giving? Here is their contact information on their facebook page. Or, here is their website. They always appreciate gift cards to maintain their Bibs and Bottles Boutique and help keeping stocked up on baby food, wipes, and diapers. If you are close, it is a great place to give your clothes and shoes.

News Anchor Addresses Her Bully

I saw this video posted on facebook today. I love this news anchor’s reply to a bully’s comment toward her personally.

Beauty is more than skin deep. Every girl and woman needs to know she was created beautiful. Every one that has ever been bullied deserves to know that they are better than somebody’s comment of negativity.
I loved this bit of encouragement for today. I think it is inspiring that in less than 24 hours, she has received almost 2 million views, and touched so many lives so quickly.

October is anti-bullying month, I guess this is a great little tribute to the realization that bullying is not ok. I have seen bullying and its effects all around me my whole life, and it is a serious issue in this world. It is not a fake issue in our world that a girl is called fat to the point of wanting to kill herself. It is not a fake thing that a boy is called ignorant, weird and annoying to the point of skipping school twice a week. These two are examples that happened to people very close to me, I saw the harmful effect of people’s words on their lives. These kinds of words are unacceptable, and everyone needs to take a stand against bullying together to make a difference. I admire the example everyone has made banding together with this video.

We need to teach kids words of encouragement and courage for themselves, and that bullying is not ok. We also each need to set an example foremost.

I would love positive comments about if this video or post touched you in any way.

Metaphorically, What is a Dairy Princess?

Each of our 50 states in the United States of America have dairy farms in it, with a grand total of 51, 481 farms, 98% being family owned and operated.

Minnesota is home to 4,325 dairy farms, 99% of which are family owned and operated. Minnesota dairy farming is the bread and butter to Minnesota’s economy, with an economic impact of $1.8 billion annually.

Well, dairy princesses are the favorite bra for such a valuable asset as the dairy industry. We have everything one would want in such a support. We uphold first and foremost (some better than others, of course, but as a whole, we are wonderful at our job). We class up the situation with beauty, sparkles, and feminine appeal. Our tender touch creates comfort unlike other support systems for the industry. This is what we are for the dairy industry as princesses and ambassadors, and we are just a bunch of dairy farmer’s daughters.

 Our crowns are our platform, where we stand up for where we came from and have a say in the future of our livelihood.

Our farms are our sanctuary, our nest, our refuge. The dairy farm’s welcoming arms after a time outside is like a mother’s hug; familiar and warm. The work is our teacher, molding us into strong, hardworking women. The lessons are not like any you could learn in a school. We learn about the miracle, joys, and sorrows of life. We appreciate the Earth and God’ power to a heart touching extent. We become the best breed of women through our upbringing.

Protecting and supporting our haven is an honor. We suddenly become knights in shining armor when we take on the crown. We fight off the ignorance about where food comes from. We fight off negative views. We fight the belief that we don’t love our animals with everything we are. We fight the environmentalist attacking us (clearly we appreciate the Earth, we live from her and give back to her to be able to keep living from her).

We are mediators, showing the enemy thoughts how we treat our animals and our Earth.

We love the cattle. Ours eat grass all day long. They enjoy our voices, our touch.

My neighbor’s cows are like German Shepard dogs, loyal to only him.

There is a love between farmers and their herds that soothes the baby’s cries.

The herds know when to come in, they enjoy the time of relief and familiar comfort in their parlor.

The daughters tell of this love to the consumer as princesses. “A stress free cow is a milk-making cow!” Trust us. We grew up with the calf, we see them born, we see them grow, we see them make their own offspring when their time comes and then join the milking herd. Although the cow doesn’t know of her importance in feeding the world, we treat her that way.

We are also teachers. We go to schools and tell the kids crucial things about their world. The wonder of finding out where one’s food comes from can be like a baby seeing his hands for the first time. We have a burning for teaching people, especially young ones, about being healthy; about giving their body the fuel it needs to grow strong and stay active (Such as through Fuel Up To Play 60 programs). We create waves where we go.

One of my favorite parts of being a dairy princess is the influence I have as an author of positivity in young women’s lives. Their positive views toward my outward appearance give me a pen to write into their lives truths about how beautiful they were created. Girls look to me like a compass. They ask me, “what direction should I go?” I have the responsibility of pointing due north, to use my platform in a great way. I need to study and stay true beyond what others expect, because the wind of falsehood can blow the flower into the dirt.

I love my responsibility as a ray of sunshine. It is hard work overcoming the clouds of many people’s, “you are not good enough,” and “what you stand for is stupid.” I have the opportunity to rise above the clouds.

I have the teamwork of other princesses, dairy background and non-dairy background. We love our community, they are our soil and we the flowers. We came from them and we give back to them because now is our time to do so.

We are poised as statues, yet fun as a pod of dolphins. We know our manners, yet we can make a group laugh. We are politically correct, yet always smiling. We are positive and upbeat. It takes a special talent, a special woman. I can accredit my personality to the Lord first, and absolutely molded by my upbringing on the farm.

Now speaking more literally…  I am proud to be a dairy princess. I am proud of my ambassador platform. I get to show others who my dairy industry family is. I get to tell the world about the health of dairy foods. I get to tell them of the positive economic impact of our industry. I get to tell them that we love and respect our animals and our land. I get to speak truths into the lives of girls, young and old, as a strong, beautiful woman. How many other platforms could give such an honor to a measly farmer’s daughter?

I am honored to be a Mille Lacs County Senior Dairy Princess.

Fresh Pumpkin Pie Recipe (from scratch)

I don’t know what it is about this time of the year, but I have pumpkin fever! I have temporarily switched over to pumpkin spice coffee, and I have gone crazy roasting pumpkin seeds and baking pumpkin pies. I can’t say my family doesn’t appreciate my fanatic phase, though.

This is my favorite pumpkin pie recipe. I am never very exact with these things, so I hope this comes in handy without being too confusing. For this one, I used a “pie pumpkin” from Wal-Mart, for the convenience (I really needed something pumpkin, and fast). I have found a pumpkin weighing about 3-5 pounds makes the perfect amount of pulp for this recipe (of course, bigger doesn’t hurt at all). The sweeter varieties are the best.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pumpkin, at least 3-5 pounds in weight (1 can of pumpkin will do-15 oz)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • little salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter; melted to point of light brown, re-cooled to harder texture (sometimes I feel lazy and don’t melt the butter, and it still works great)
  • 2 Tablespoons shortening
  • 4ish Tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • ~1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (to your taste)
  • ~1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (to your taste)
  • a little nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup half and half (light cream or milk will do for a lower fat pie)

Baking a fresh pumpkin:

Start by preheating your oven to 375. If you are using a fresh pumpkin, cut it into strips (I do fourths or halves for smaller pumpkins). When preparing the pumpkin, I usually save the seeds for roasting later and pull the most stringy parts out and discard. Place pieces face-down on a cooking sheet so the rind faces up and cover with foil. Bake for about 1 hour, or until tender. Depending on the size of pumpkin, it may take longer or shorter. I usually pull it out when a fork goes through the rind without effort. It took about 48 minutes for the last 3.5 pound pumpkin I used.


The Crust:

  1. Stir together 1 1/4 cup flour and a dash of salt. If you would like, add a little sugar to sweeten the crust. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening and butter until chunks are about the size of a pea.
  2. With mixture in bottom of bowl, sprinkle a small portion of cold water on a piece of crust, mix it in, and stick the moist chunk to the side of the bowl. Repeat until all the crust is stuck to the side of the bowl, adding just enough water to make it stick. It should take about 4 tablespoons of cold water.
  3. When all the mixture is done, place it on a floured surface and roll it out to a circle with the diameter 3 inches larger than your pie pan’s diameter.
  4. To transfer to pie pan from rolling surface, I find it easiest to avoid stretching by wrapping the crust around the rolling-pin and rolling it out into the pie pan. I generally cut off whatever parts around the edges stick out too far and just add them to torn spots if there are any.
  5. Fold the edges over and press down with a fork. I generally don’t care if this part is too cute because it just gets cut up and eaten right away when it is ready, anyway. If you have any tricks on how to make the outside edge cute, I would LOVE to hear it! Cover the outside edge with a piece of tin foil for baking.

The Filling:

  1. When the pumpkin is done cooking and tender, scoop the pulp from the rind and blend in blender until smooth. When there is excess liquid, strain the liquid from the pulp. When the pulp is too dry to blend, try adding a couple tablespoons of half and half to get it to blend. You will want about 2 cups of pumpkin pulp, a little less a more won’t hurt. (Or you can just add 1 can of pumpkin, a little less than 2 cups)
  2. Combine the sugar, blended pumpkin, and all the spices you want in a mixing bowl. I usually do a bit different spice mixture each time. Beat the 2 eggs and add to mixture, then beating again lightly with a fork until mixed. Add the 3/4 cup half and half just until mixed. Don’t keep stirring.
  3. The easiest way to add the filling to the crust is by first placing the crust on the oven rack and then pouring the filling into the crust.
  4. Bake  at 375 for 25 minutes with foil on outside of pie crust, and then remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until knife inserted into middle comes out clean. Cool on rack or stove top and then cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. Or eat it warm if that is how you like it 🙂

The pie I made over the weekend. I am just a normal person, no special skills required. Who cares about looks when it is the most delicious pumpkin pie you’ve ever tasted?!

Writing a Letter to a Kid in Africa

I wrote my first letter to my sponsored girl in Niger this weekend. I am so excited to get to have a friend in such a different world and share a special love with her. I get to hear about everything going on in her life, and how my sponsorship touches her. I am so excited to send her gifts and share things that I love with her. I get to share my life with her of growing up on a farm, since her family also farms (of course, in a more desert-version). We also have the same number of siblings. I hope she will be excited to hear that someone so different may actually have many things in common with her! One large challenge is that she is living in a community where Christianity is not welcomed, and that if I write too much about my faith, I may not be able to send her letters in the future. Despite not being able to share with her my love for Jesus with a description, I pray she feels the unconditional love that I have received from my Almighty Father. 🙂 Keep my relationship with her in your prayers, that I can speak God’s love in some way that really changes her life in a way bigger than providing an education and health. Pray that God touches her heart.