Gotta love peanut butter – Gracie does!

Did you know that peanut butter’s good for more than PB&J sandwiches? Growing up, we used to hide pills in peanut butter to get my dog to swallow them; my parents heard this trick somewhere. Since then, we’ve discovered that it works well for the St. Anne’s yellow lab, Gracie, as well. In fact, yesterday, I was using peanut butter to clean a stubborn spot of the table, and Gracie followed her nose.

Gracie likes peanut butter
I don’t normally advocate dogs being up on furnature, but I’ve got to admit this was funny! (I did coax her on for the sake of a photo opp.)

You see, peanut butter is a great multipurpose cleaner (see below)

Sometimes you’re all out of a common product, but peanut butter will do the trick.  Also, it’s a more affordable alternative to some products. Here’s a list of handy uses for George Washington Carver’s masterpiece.  Peanut butter may be used as:

  • Shaving cream
  • Leather cleaner
  • Mouse trap bait
  • Ant bait (2 t. peanut butter, 1/2 t. baking soda, and 1 t. of borax)
  • Odor eliminator [(e.g., fish) Put a tablespoon of smooth peanut butter in the frying pan (once your dinner has been taken out!) and fry it for a minute or two.]
  • Squeak eliminator (instead of WD-40 on squeaky hinges or drawers)
  • Lubricant (e.g.,on lawn mower blades, saws, etc.)
  • Gum remover
  • Glue remover
  • Price sticker removal
  • Windshield cleaner (bug spot remover)
  • Wood scratch repair (on wooden furniture, doorjambs, bannisters, etc.). Put peanut butter on the scratch and let it soak in for 30-60 min. Rub it away with a cloth and the scratch will be almost impossible to see!
  • CD/DVD scratch repair (for a CD or DVD that keeps skipping, or won’t play, rub a little smooth peanut butter onto the scratch and wipe it away with a soft, dry cloth.
  • Bird feeder (Cover pinecones with peanut butter, roll them in birdseed, and hang them up in your yard. Watch the birds come stock up on food this winter!)
  • Butter substitute (in cooking)
  • Moisturize your hair (Follow it up with shampoo, and be amazed at how shiny your hair can be.)

(These suggestions were taken from:

Coming up….National Chili Day (February 26)

By Sister Christina Neumann

A visitor to our Home recently commented to our residents about having to “put up with institutional” cooking, but I really don’t think that applies at St. Anne’s.  Among other things, we have some of the best chili around.  As we approach “National Chili Day,” I thought I’d give a little information about this delicious meal and share a recipe.

P1010003People have been enjoying chili for a long time; The first recorded recipe for chili con carne was in 1519 ( quoted Wikipedia for this info.).  Did you know that “a green chili pod has as much vitamin C as six oranges?”   And, what is there, better than chili, for opening up plugged sinuses?

According to an article on the health benefits of chili, “the main component in chillies is a chemical called Capsaicin, which…lowers blood sugar levels, improves heart health, boosts circulation and protects against strokes…”  Chilies also  “can help burn fat.”  Chili powder itself has some interesting health benefits listed here. It a good source of vitamin A and C as well as some important minerals, according to

I’ve been enjoying chili for years.  We used to make it back home.  The recipe used here at St. Anne’s would probably make you a much bigger batch than you’d care for (we serve a lot of people), so I’m sharing with you the “Neumann Chili Recipe.”  I had to contact my mom for details, since I remember just throwing it together without any real recipe.

Hamburger Chili
2  pounds hamburger
1  large diced onion
1  tablespoon salt (or to taste)
3  Tablespoons chili powder
1  can tomato sauce or soup
2  14 oz. diced tomatoes (canned)*
3  15 oz. cans kidney** beans drained
Brown hamburger with onion.  Add spices and the rest of ingredients.  Let cook for at least half an hour. (Simmering on low for a while longer enhances the flavor.)
Great served with grated cheddar, onions, sour cream, and corn chips.
*Instead of the tomato soup and diced tomatoes, I remember using frozen, home-grown tomatoes.  It is fun to pull bags of tomatoes out of the freezer (that you froze the last Fall) to use in this delicious chili.
**We actually used a few different kinds of beans, which enhanced the recipe.
I have found that adding cumin and garlic powder really adds nice flavor as well.

February is Low Vision Awareness Month

Much of the information for this article was found at

This topic is very pertinent to us at St. Anne’s!  Three of our basic care residents, in fact, are totally blind.  Other people here, including myself, face less serious vision impairments.  People can be born with conditions that result in low vision or develop problems later.  In the United States, the most common causes of low vision are age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. AMD affects over fifteen million adults over the age of 50.

People with blindness can do all sorts of things, even bowling!

One of our ladies was born with sight but started losing it while in her thirties due to glaucoma. The doctors said her sight would not improve. For a time, though, she rode bicycle and worked at the hospital. Now living at St. Anne’s, she does very well for herself and even helps out in the community.

February is a good month to be aware of low vision and start making extra efforts to be helpful to those who face this challenge.  For us who live and work with the blind, we can be alert for them of obstacles which they are in danger of stumbling on.  We can guide them through an area that is cluttered or set up differently than they are used to.

If you yourself have low vision, magnification devices, electronic devices, and other technologies may be helpful to best use your remaining vision or you can learn alternative ways to do things. Here are a few practical suggestions:

  • Improve the lighting. This may not necessarily mean that you should increase the lighting or the brightness. Glare is often a problem for people with low vision. Experiment to see what works best for you. Special lights are available.
  • Use high contrast for reading and writing. Write in large letters with a broad felt tip pen on white paper.
  • Use large print books or books on tape, disk or mp3. Most libraries have a section of these. There are also special libraries for visually impaired. (I personally have taken advantage of these.)
  • Use a hand-held magnifier.

ND Vision Services here in Grand Forks is a wonderful resource.

Sr. Christina Neumann

Something special about ‘Nites’

Last week, I worked the night shift and had some thoughts to share about it.

Caught on camera!
I put our new surveillance cameras to good use.

Starting this past June, I’ve worked ‘nites’ a half dozen times.  Although our night staff are good at ensuring the health and physical well-being of our residents, they themselves are not immune to physical ailments.  When no other backup can be found, I’m called upon.  Through this, I’ve discovered: There’s something special about ‘Nites.’

Along with housekeeping and laundry, we take turns doing rounds throughout the night.  As I walk from room to room, checking on the (hopefully) sleeping residents, I am often struck by the specialness, almost sacredness, of this work.  People who can occasionally get on one’s nerves during the day are now so still, so vulnerable.  I realize that I am entrusted with the wellbeing of several priceless human beings.  They are all unique individuals who deserve my respect and my care.

I am most grateful for the opportunity to work the night shift, which gives me new insight and appreciation into the care of our residents.

I guess Gracie isn't always much help as a guard-dog!
I guess Gracie isn’t always much help as a guard-dog!

Home-made Pillows: A Hobby and Heart-felt Gift

Have you ever heard of making pillows out of hand towels and yarn?  Well, St. Anne’s resident JoAnn Beauchamp knows all about it!


She first got the idea during her school years in Langdon, ND, and after stopping for some time, she started up the hobby of pillow-making again about 20 years ago.  She was able to sell several and get a little extra spending money.  However, she has given many of these pillows away as gifts at no charge.

Pillow-making is a pastime JoAnn enjoys which also benefits others.  She has given these handmade treasures to many residents and staff here at St. Anne’s.  Now, around Valentine’s Day, she is using pretty pink towels and yarn for her pillow-making.  If you’ve been with her at Halloween time, you may have seen her working with orange yarn.  She gets some supplies from Shelly in our activity department.

I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to JoAnn for sharing her hobby with others!

~Sr. Christina M. Neumann

Elderly at St. Anne’s help teach virtues to young people

Guest Post by Lynn Lane (mother and organizer in the Club)

The past weekend Little Flowers Girls’ Club visited St. Anne’s Guest Home.  The average age of members is eight.  Generally at our meetings, the girls give a presentation on a saint and a virtue in which they have been working on.  The residents at St. Anne’s provided an excellent audience for our young girls to make these presentations.  From a six year old to ten year olds, these girls were not the least bit intimated by the kind people who reside at the Guest Home.  I was so pleased that the residents were interested in the girls presentations.

Learning and practicing virtues can be difficult.  Being with the elderly can teach these young girls about many virtues:

Faith…seeing our elderly brothers and sisters having confidence in their surroundings and caregivers.  Their past and current experiences can teach the younger generation about trust in God regardless of our state in life.

Hope…as the elderly reach a place in life in which possibility of death and eternal rest becomes nearer, they can demonstrate hope in the Lord for their eternal peace and salvation.  They can also demonstrate hope for their family who have gone before them and who will be left behind on earth with in confidence in prayer.

Love of God…the elderly can demonstrate to the youthful their love of God through regular Mass attendance and adoration which are so beautifully provided within their home.  They can also demonstrate this through the way in which they decorate their apartments or rooms and how charitable they are to others for the glory of God.

Love of Our Neighbor…living in tight-knit circumstances particularly after being independent and industrious for the majority of their lives can create hardships and more opportunity to show love of neighbor through compassion and patience for their neighbors.  Just as living at home with our families we sacrifice to make others happy and have patience when things can become annoying this is ten-fold in a living environment with multiple people.

Obedience…the elderly demonstrate obedience by following the rules established in the setting in which they are living, by being civic minded, by being good examples to the children through their interactions with others.  Most of all they demonstrate their obedience to God by serving Him, loving others and accepting help from those who are trying to glorify God through a ministry of love and assistance.

Piety…the elderly can demonstrate this by desiring always to do that which is pleasing to God.  They can express this through actions and conversations with staff, visitors and neighbors.

Humility…as our bodies age they can disappoint us through limitations and pain.  It is a humbling experience.  The elderly are phenomenal examples of persevering despite their bodies limitations.  They can show us how to glorify God through the things they are able to accomplish, especially creatively accomplish.

Industry…we can learn from the elderly and from the staff and leaders at the Guest Home.  They work hard to make the lives happy and healthy for those that are living there.  Doing their work to glorify God.

Truthfulness…when our elderly friends can share their experiences with us through dialogue.  The good times and the bad.  Reminding us of how God has been ever present in their lives.