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A Late Summer Walk – William O’Brien State Park

William O’Brien State Park, Minnesota

The William O’Brien State Park is one of my favorite places to go for a walk.

Choices … choices.  A stroll next to the St. Croix River or through the woods. This time, the walk through the woods won out and with very few people out walking, it made the walk even more peaceful.

The day couldn’t have been more perfect.  Sunny with occasional restful clouds floating by.

Sometimes I look at nature and it looks messy to me – grasses growing amidst weeds and flowers with an occasional bug flitting in and out of the mess.

Yet it reminds me that this is how life is also.  No day is exactly the same and sometimes the stress of illness, work or family drama all blends together.

William O’Brien State Park, Minnesota

And then … it’s as if someone pulls a blessing out of the sky and plants it right in your path. The heart goes back to breathing regularly, the drooped shoulders relax and the furrowed brows line disappear.

These are the small moments of blessing that I look for every day.

William O’Brien State Park, Minnesota

Sometimes ~ just around the bend ~ a large blessing stares me in the face.  Unexpected and breathtaking, it brings such joy to my heart.  Today, it was a pair of swans sitting on a beaver dam. Although the dam looks messy, the beavers spent much time putting those sticks in an orderly fashion.

William O’Brien State Park, Minnesota, Swans

And suddenly, my cares wash away as a field of grass lies before me.

William O’Brien State Park, Minnesota

And it’s enough. Enough to overcome any stresses for the day.

“He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth.”  Psalm 104:14

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Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry

Sweet Potato and Red Curry

Yeah so, this recipe is very un-paleo.  We’ve been cheating on the paleo diet quite a bit and my desire to have an Indian recipe led me to this very delicious recipe that I found in a Cooking Light magazine.

I did make a few changes to the original recipe so have re-written it below.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  The original recipe calls for it to be served over rice but we served it with slices of french bread.  Quite delicious!

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry

Category: Dinner

Cuisine: Indian

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry

Sweet Potato and Red Curry


  • 4 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups dried red lentils, washed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons Indian spicy grilling paste
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar


  1. In a slow cooker that's coated with cooking spray, add all the ingredients except for the coconut milk and apple cider vinegar and slow cook for approximately 8 hours.
  2. Add the coconut milk and apple cider vinegar then stir everything together.
  3. Allow the curry to sit for about 5 minutes then serve over rice, a sweet potato or with warm bread.
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An Early Minnesota Autumn

11 days from September and the leaves are starting to change color on both the trees and the hostas. They have called summer over. Now if only the weather would catch up — 84 today with a “feels like” temperature of 94 with oppressive humidity.

Yet an early autumn we will have as nature is always right.

Trees Changing Color

Summer Hostas Changing Color

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Of Deer, Repellant and Plants

Hosta Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

A couple or so weeks back, we went out of town for a few days. We had fairly nice weather at our Chicago destination but back “home” in Lake Elmo, it rained and rained.  And, rain in our area is not necessarily a good thing.

This year we decided to plant one tomato plant and surround it with marigolds as deer don’t like the smell of marigolds.  It should have been a good deterrent, right?  Wrong.

The deer hopped over our 3 foot mesh fence and ate the one ripe tomato from our plant in spite of the smell of the marigolds surrounding it.  It’s as if they reached right over the marigolds to get their fill of our tomato.  Sigh …

Deer Eaten Tomato Plant

So ~ I’ve given up.  No tomato plants next year. The sage and thyme plants weren’t touched as deer supposedly don’t like the smell of those herbs.

Deer Eaten Tomato Plant

Part of the problem is when it rains, you have to head outside and spray the outer area to keep the deer away.  Whether it’s hosta flowers (ugh) or tomatoes, the deer will chomp on things they find tasty especially if they don’t have repellent on them.

Deer Eaten Hosta Plant

And because we travel sometimes, we aren’t always home to spray the repellent on the hostas and surrounding area.

Deer Eaten Hosta Plant

So ~ no beautiful hosta flowers this year. No tomatoes.  The deer have won.  My garden will never look like this:

Hosta Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Next year, the hostas will grow where they are planted, we’ll spray when we’re home, then we’ll just let nature, er, deer, take their course.

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Reflections On Kabetogama Lake – Minnesota

Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

Staring off into the distance on a stormy day, the gray and white clouds on Lake Kabetogama in Minnesota mesmerized me.  My mind wandered into nothingness. There was no need to think.  Devoid of thought relieved me of all the noise that the world throws my way every day.

Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota Clouds

The darkening sky did not deter me from experiencing the peace the sky afforded me.

Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota, Clouds

So I kept coming back to this spot to observe the color changes in the sky.

Looking to my right, a mixture of light and blue skies filled the sky.  Such beauty.

Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

As I turned my head even more to the right, I continued to see more light. The contrast of dark clouds with blue skies made me reflect on humanity and how our lives ebb and flow with each day.

Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

Each person has their own journey ~ sometimes it’s clear and other times it’s stormy. Sometimes it’s both. But, outside of stepping out of this world, we must continue on the journey keeping our eyes fixed on the beauty that exists in our current moment.

It’s not always easy.

As I enter my “golden years” I find myself reflecting a little more each day on this life journey. I am a changed person from who I was 10 years ago or even 50.

Almost Sunset on Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

Stop. Reflect. Grow.

I wish I had had this wisdom many years ago as heartaches I held onto would have healed over quicker. I have learned though not to have regrets as each moment was a step to greater growth.

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Talking Trees

As I was visiting family in North Dakota, I decided to take a walk on a beautiful crisp blue sky day.

The crispness in the air mixes with the oxygen I breathe and my brain seems to function in a heightened sense of awareness.

And thus it was that I happened to come upon ~ the short birch tree.

The Short Birch Tree

The Short Birch Tree

I had never seen a short one before.  With its large branches so close to the ground I wondered why it was so different than others.  And then it hit me ~ pruning.

This birch tree had been pruned and it could still stand straight as others but its majestic~ness would be able to be seen from those on the ground. A much closer look reveals horizontal markings on the tree. Every flaw is open for inspection and/or observation.

I found it to be a reflection of our humanness.

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  John 15:2

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Of Falling Objects and God’s Protection

Fallen Treehouse

A couple of months ago we noticed that our very well built tree house was starting to lean. Every day it seemed like it leaned a little more and then a little more.  We were pretty sure the large tree stump that it was built around was rotting.

One morning I woke up to a semi cloudy day and wondered if I might be able to pull weeds.  Heading outside, I looked towards where the treehouse was and noticed there was weed pulling that needed to be done around and underneath it.  But then I looked at the sky and talked myself out of it.

Heading back inside the house, I started doing chores when suddenly I heard a loud swish and thump. It had been a little windy earlier and I thought “which tree fell this time?” Looking out the living room window, I noticed the tree house lying on its side on the ground with the tree trunk attached to it.

Fallen Treehouse

And … that’s where I had considered working.

There have been so many times when God’s protection shielded me and I was thankful that today was another one of those times.

Looking at the treehouse, a vivid memory came back to me of a movie I had seen several times called The Wizard of Oz.  In one scene, because of a tornado, a house is flying through the sky and then lands squarely on the body of the “wicked witch of the east.” But the only thing you see of her is part of her legs sticking out from under the house.

I shuddered to think that I could have been killed under this treehouse in the same manner.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”  Psalm 5:11


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Paleo Beef Shish Kabobs

Paleo Baked Beef Shish Kabobs

I’m still trying to keep my meal planning very simple so I can spend more time in the yard this spring/summer.

So ~ I made these marinated paleo Beef Shish Kabobs that took absolutely no time at all.  You don’t have to marinate the meat, however, if you do the meat will be a lot more tender.

But, first things first ~ I used wooden skewers and they have to be soaked so they don’t burn in the oven.  I soaked them in cool water for about 20 minutes.  That did the trick. (The knife was to hold them down as they kept floating.)

Soak Wooden Skewers

Now, besides onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, I use white vinegar to “soften” the beef. The longer you can marinate the beef the more tender it will be.  Today I only marinated the beef for a couple hours and it didn’t come out as tender as my mouth was watering for ~ I think my problem though was using too little vinegar so the recipe below uses more than what I used.  It will also depend on how much meat you have to tenderize so if  you use a little bit of beef, don’t use as much vinegar ~ more beef, more vinegar.

The pieces of beef below were marinated, trimmed of fat and then cut into smaller pieces for the skewers.

Tenderize the Beef

I only used peppers and onion to accompany the beef. Simple, right?

Vegetables for kabobs

Since I had cherry tomatoes on hand, I added them on the side so they could roast. I could have put them on the skewers but that sounded messy to me.

Cherry Tomatoes

The shish kabobs should bake for about 20 minutes IF you like your meat medium well. I took them out at 10 minutes just to see what they looked like ~ a little to red for me:

Medium Baked Beef Shish Kabobs

These came out much better ~ don’t you agree?

Paleo Baked Beef Shish Kabobs

Now for the recipe ~

Paleo Beef Shish Kabobs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Category: Entree

Cuisine: American

5 Skewers

Serving Size: 1 Skewer

Paleo  Beef Shish Kabobs

Paleo Baked Beef Shish Kabobs


  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup white vinegar (depends how much meat you have)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 - 3 peppers, cut into pieces to fit on the skewers
  • 2 medium onions, cut into pieces to fit on the skewers
  • Cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • Wooden skewers


  1. Prepare the beef stew meat by cleaning it, trimming the fat and cutting it into bite sized pieces.
  2. Season the beef with the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper then toss this all together.
  3. Add the vinegar to the seasoned beef, toss then cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours to marinate.
  4. Once the meat is marinated remove it from the refrigerator and allow to come it to room temperature (about 30 minutes).
  5. In a flat medium container, add cool water and soak the wooden skewers for approximately 20 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Prepare the vegetables for the skewers.
  8. Add pieces of beef and vegetables to the skewer alternating as you wish.
  9. Place the skewers in a casserole dish or a small oven rack to bake in the oven.
  10. If you're roasting cherry tomatoes, add them to the side of the dish next to the skewers.
  11. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (ovens bake differently so check the meat for doneness at 15 minutes).
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Then ~ enjoy!

For more paleo recipes, click here.

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Of Ticks and God’s Protection


I dislike working the outside perimeter of our yard because of the possibilities of ticks and mosquitoes. But this morning I said “I can do this. I will not be afraid.” And I prayed really hard for courage and protection. So, with weed whacker in hand, I headed out.

When I came back in, I showered and checked for ticks and found none so I made lunch, sat down and watched a little TV.

Then I happened to glance down at my arm and very quickly heading up my arm was a HUGE tick (well, okay, since I dislike them so much they look huge – this one was the size of a pregnant ladybug). I quickly brushed it away from me. Had I been smart enough (no comments here, hehe) I would have killed the evil creature.

So I spent the next hour vacuuming/hunting for the tick but it was not to be found. Fortunately, they die within 24 hours if they don’t have a water source.

I’m glad I prayed for and received God’s protection. I’ve come to realize that God doesn’t always part Red Seas for us as most of us don’t have those kinds of experiences. In the every day, mundane kinds of experiences ~ that’s where I see God at work.

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