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Winter to Spring in Minnesota ~ A Slow Process

Minnesota Spring

Although the calendar date for spring to begin has passed, it still looks and feels like winter.

Minnesota in Spring

A long brisk walk cleared my head as I took deep breaths of the cool air.

Minnesota Start of Spring

There is so much beauty that can be found when one looks for it ~

And the stories that trees tell when you take the time to really look at them.

The buds haven’t yet started to grow ~ not even an inch ~ but there is hope in the waiting.

Minnesota Start of Spring

Big blue sky country is not just in Montana either ~ Minnesota has it’s own beautiful big sky.

Minnesota Start of Spring

And then it happens ~ hope springs from the ground to satisfy the heart longing for the season of spring.

Minnesota Start of Spring

The transition from winter to spring is a slow one in Minnesota yet it will satisfy a heart longing for warmth and transition soon enough.

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Of Mailmen and Packages

Shortly after we purchased our house, the doorbell rang and I went to answer it.  A portly man with a smile on his face could be seen through the side windows.

Opening the door, the man said “Hi, I’m Bob and I’m your mailman.”

This was the first time a mailman had actually introduced himself to me.  Must be the Minnesota nice that people talk about here.

As the years rolled on, Bob and I became friendly.  We shared laughs about family and when there was no mail for us, he would put a note in the mailbox that said “no mail today.”

When Bob was going on vacation he always let me know.  I joked that perhaps I should put our mail on hold while he was gone.  I said it jokingly, but I had so many problems with the temporary mailpeople that I actually considered it.

One time a package was delivered to our unfriendly neighbors across the street.  I had been waiting for my package and saw when the mail woman arrived.  I then received notification that my package was delivered.  I called the carrier annex immediately and the mail woman said she remembered delivering it across the street.  In spite of their best efforts, the post office was never able to retrieve the package from the neighbor  so I never saw the package.  The company that it came from was kind enough to send me another one for free.

Such was life without Bob.  Sigh (laughing)

One day Bob came to the door and told me that he was going to be retiring in 6 months. I know, I know … one must not become dependent on someone so dependable.

I told him that he couldn’t retire but I knew it would happen.

A week before Bob’s retirement he put an invitation to his retirement party in the mailbox.  Unfortunately we were not able to make it.

A few months later, our new mail carrier arrived ~ John.  John was a little different.  He came at different times each day and did some of the oddest things.  For instance, one day I received a package and John put it on top of our mailbox since it didn’t fit inside the mailbox.  Hmmm … why not drive up to the front door and leave it there? I pondered.

Anyone could have driven up and taken the package with no problem.  Fortunately I saw what he did.  Unfortunately for John I called the carrier annex and issued a complaint. “Don’t worry, we’ll talk with John” they assured me.

Since John did not arrive around the same time every day, I didn’t wait to see when the mail arrived ~ 11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm ~ there was no consistency.

One day I was waiting for an Amazon package and the I received a message that the package had been delivered.  Heading to the front door, I peeked outside but didn’t see a package. So ~ I went to the mailbox.

And there it was.

Stuffed Mailbox Package

John had stuffed the package along with the mail into the mailbox so I couldn’t remove it. Even with my small hands, I could not put my fingers in at the sides to grasp the package.

Sigh, sigh and sigh again …

I went into the house and called the carrier annex.  What would possess John to shove this package in the mailbox so that it couldn’t be removed? I wondered. Was he lazy? Did he have an appointment that he was in a hurry for?

The supervisor at the carrier annex apologized and said someone would be out by the end of the day to remove the package for me.  Sure enough, as promised, the female carrier came to the front door with the package and mail in hand.  She apologized.

It seems such a small problem in life ~ a stuffed mailbox package, doesn’t it? Yet when a lot of small things happen and start adding up they can become large in our minds.

That’s why we have to keep our focus on the bigger picture and allow these smaller problems to roll off our shoulders ~ so they don’t become one large piece.

I’m glad that I can talk to God about both the little and the big things in my life and that He cares about all of it.  It lifts all of it off of my shoulders because I know that He will always have my back.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

And John?  Well, he hasn’t made any mailbox deliveries anymore ~ he brings them to the front door.

 

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Do You Feel Like You’re Sinking?

 

Turtle ~ Keeping Your Head Above Water

Do you sometimes feel that in spite of all your best efforts, you’re starting to sink?

It can happen anytime ~ people get in the way of your progress, procrastination creeps in slowly and then one day you barely have your head above water.

Here are some words of encouragement ~

Keep your head up, your eyes straight ahead,
    and your focus fixed on what is in front of you.

 Take care you don’t stray from the straight path, the way of truth,
    and you will safely reach the end of your road.

 Do not veer off course to the right or the left;
    step away from evil, and leave it behind.

Proverbs 4:25-27

Keep moving forward ~ even if it’s at a turtle’s pace.  Any progress is progress. You can do it!

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Mushroom Stroganoff with Spinach and Peas

 

Mushroom Stroganoff with Spinach and Peas

Today I decided to make a recipe from the Sun Basket website.

Have you heard of Sun Basket?  They are a company, similar to Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, where you can order meals by having the ingredients of that meal delivered to your home.  Then you can make it when you’re ready.  They send along a recipe book for all of the meals for that particular week.

I usually only order 2 different meals when I need a break from trying to think of what to make and want to try something new ~ which is not too often.

Like Hello Fresh, I’ve received food that is not good to use, mainly vegetables that have gone bad.  Sun Basket is good at giving me credit but the fact is, you don’t have the complete meal that you anticipated you would and you wind up having to substitute.

This Mushroom Stroganoff with Spinach and Peas recipe is not one that I ordered but it was in the recipe book and sounded interesting so I decided to try it.

I am not a mushroom eater ~ and I would never eat them raw.  But I’ve tried the cremini mushrooms in this recipe and they actually taste pretty good so ~ why not try a new recipe?

Surprisingly this meal came out quite good.  I say surprisingly because the cream is made with almond milk which is a little bit of a twist, wouldn’t you say?

Mushroom Stroganoff with Spinach and Peas

Although the recipe does not call for parmesan cheese, I shaved a little on top.

Here’s the link where you can find this recipe.  It’s pretty easy and makes for a filling meal.

Enjoy!

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A Blessing In Gerbils aka Gerbera Daisies

Dashing out to the store to purchase groceries, I remembered that someone had mentioned we needed flowers for a church program tonight.

Since Trader Joe’s flowers are fairly inexpensive, I picked up, what I thought, was a pretty bouquet.  “This will do” my brain reasoned.

When I arrived home, I picked out a vase, snipped the bottoms of the gerbils (flowers) to keep them fresh, added water to the vase then plopped the gerbils in the vase.

Before leaving the house in the evening, I wrapped the flower arrangement in a plastic bag to protect it from the cold air.

Arriving at church, I removed the plastic bag and set the vase on the entry table.

Blah, I thought to myself.  They don’t look good at all.  Yet I received compliments on the arrangement ~ who would’ve thought?

Since the program was for only one night this week, I brought them home and set them on the table. Droopy, I thought. Why did I pick this arrangement?

I pretty much ignored the flowers until Saturday morning when I sat down to breakfast and looked up at them as they were centered on the table.

Wow! I thought.  These are beautiful!

The bold pink gerbils with hints of yellow in the center bathed my brain with delight.

Gerbils

The white gerbils were just as beautiful with transient pinks in the middle.

White Gerbils

In my busyness, had I failed to see the beauty of these gerbils?

Sometimes that’s how life is though ~ you go through life running from one errand to another without noticing the blessings right in front of you.

Then, BAM!  God sends a blessing that you just can’t ignore.

That’s why I call Him my Friend ~ He’s always making sure I don’t miss out on what He’s sending my way.

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The Yellow Belly Cardinal

Yellow Belly Cardinal

While the snow was gently falling, a cardinal appeared at our bird feeder.

Although we’ve had the fully red cardinals appear, this was the first time this beautiful yellow bellied cardinal had made an appearance.

And it was the perfect time for it to visit as the snowstorm warnings for today had me a little anxious about what the day would bring.

Yet here it was ~ giving hope of a spring to come.

 

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Patricia’s Quilt

Winter Blues Design – Quilt

At the end of August, when trees were threatening to drop their leaves, I started feeling a little pain in my left shoulder.

Not worrying too much about it, I continued my outdoor yard work well into September.  The shoulder kept feeling worse and worse but I figured the pain would eventually go away with time.  Words of wisdom?  No, this time I was wrong.

In spite of the pain, I decided to start a quilt in October at the request of a friend ~ “just a small one to throw over my chair,” she said.

So I ordered a kit on the Craftsy platform called Winter Blues and started cutting out the fabric.

The fabric for this quilt is by Anthology Fabrics and the quilt was designed by Maria Pate of Airborne Heirlooms.

I’ve always had a hard time matching points on a quilt and this one required a lot of piecing but it went quickly.

Quilt Fabric

This is a photo of the middle of the quilt.  As you can see, a couple of the points are a little off, but as they say in the quilting world “no one will notice except for you.”  I have found that statement to be true.

Anthology Fabrics

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had a 25% tear in the left shoulder which was confirmed with an MRI.  Still, I was determined to quilt this on my own instead of sending it out to be quilted which was a bad decision and one that made me change the design from what I had originally envisioned.

Perhaps if I had a better sewing machine things would have fared better, but my small Brother sewing machine with a 5″ throat space was not ideal for all the finagling I had to do with this 55″x72″ quilt.

So, although I wanted to try my hand at free motion quilting it was not to be.

I ended up stitching in the ditch with a few curvy lines throughout.  But I still had large spaces that needed to be quilted.  So I decided to improvise on a method called “tying.”

With the tying method, a person would use knitting yarn and tie knots throughout the quilt spacing them equally apart.  But, I don’t like the look.  Instead I decided to use the tie method but use thread and not have the knot show but have it lay flat. It actually worked quite well.

Straight lines and an occasional curved line throughout the quilt made it a little easier to maneuver through the sewing machine.

Winter Blues Design – Quilt

Winter Blues Design – Quilt

Here’s a view from the side …

Winter Blues Design – Quilt

It came our pretty nice, eh?

Well, Patricia really liked it so I’m glad for that.

My next quilt will be a scrappy one ~ my first scrappy quilt. Can’t wait!

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A Creator’s Peace

“Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.”

From the book Steps To Christ by Ellen White

Most days, winter mornings in Lake Elmo are serene.

From the crunchy sound of walking on frozen snow to the snow laden tree branches, an awesome silence permeates the air.

An occasional early arriving woodpecker might make its debut early in the afternoon.

This is the time when the soul receives refreshment from above – refreshment as only a Creator can give.

And then peace fills my heart and readies me for the chaos of the day.

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Corned Beef Hash with Fried Eggs – Paleo

Corned Beef Hash with Fried Eggs

On this cold bitter morning, I left the house with a grocery list in hand with every intention of getting all the groceries at only one store. No grocery store hopping for me today.

Upon exiting the car, I was immediately hit with a northern wind that me feel that my face was going to freeze.  Spontaneously, my gloved hand raised and covered my mouth.

Brrrr.  Quickly walking to the entrance of the store, I picked up a grocery cart, swiped it with a cleaning cloth and proceeded to the produce section.

How does my husband do it?  I wondered.  Here I drive around in a Ford Escape that has remote startup and heated seats and the poor guy leaves home every morning in a 1997 Toyota Camry that has, well, heated nothing.  By the time he makes it to work the car has just started to warm up.  Then it sits all day outside and he has to get in the cold car for a cold trip home.

I decided I was going to make him a special dinner today for his daily sacrifice and since one of his favorite meals is Corned Beef Hash, I was determined to make it for him.  That would hopefully help his mood when he arrived home, right?

After finding everything on my list I was about to check out when I suddenly remembered, where’s the corned beef?  So ~ off to the back of the store I went.  I waited as the butcher helped another customer.  Asking for what I needed, he led me to the place where I could select the corned beef that I was looking for.

$25.00!!!!  Granted it was 3.5 pounds but I felt insulted.  No, no way am I going to pay $25.  Besides, I reasoned, it was too much meat and the recipe I had only called for 8 ounces.

So, I left the store after paying for my groceries.  Driving around, I decided to call another store and see if they had corned beef.  The first store I called was Lunds and Byerlys.  This should be the model store for all stores, well except for their prices.  The aisles are wide and you don’t bump into people, the store is organized so well and they always seem to have what I want.

I was transferred to the meat department and the woman assured me that “yes, we have corned beef but only have two left.  Shall I put one aside for you?”  Of course I said.  I asked if they sold it by the pound and she said yes. “How much?” I wanted to know.  $11.00.

So she put it it aside for me and I gleefully drove there to pick it up.

There’s a lot of love for my husband in my heart ~ the $33.00 I paid for the almost 3 pounds was more than what I was willing to pay before but I reasoned it was worth it.  Stepping into this store makes my heart soft which is why I don’t go in there very often.  Everything is packaged so beautifully, including the beef brisket.

And so ~ I have to say this “love” meal came out quite delicious. Although I had a recipe to start, I had to go out “on my own” and figure things out as I went along.

The ingredients for this dish are simple.  I started with a medium onion and a yam (or white sweet potato for paleo-ites).  I diced the onion and threw it in the oiled skillet, mixed it around until it was almost cooked through then added the diced yam.

Yam and Onion

This process doesn’t take too long but you do want to make sure the potato is almost cooked before adding the beef.

Yam and Onion

The only herb I used in this was tarragon as the beef comes seasoned.  You could use any other herb you like ~ I chose tarragon because it seems to be used in so few recipes and I like the flavor.

Tarragon

For the corned beef brisket, you just follow the directions on the label as to how long to cook it … well, that is, unless it doesn’t come with instructions.  The only instructions I had were to cook it until it was cooked to 165 or 170 degrees.  I’m glad I had a meat thermometer.  Whew!

Although I had 3 pounds of beef, I decided to halve it and freeze the other half for another day.  The 1.5 pounds I baked took almost 2 hours.

Corned Beef Brisket

I left it out to cool for about 15 minutes before I cut it into small pieces for the corned beef hash.

Corned Beef Brisket

But first I had to cut the fat off of it.

Corned Beef Brisket

Dice Corned Beef Brisket

Once the potato is almost cooked, add the cut corned beef brisket to the skillet and blend it to combine it all.

Looks pretty good, eh?

Corned Beef Brisket with Fried Eggs

And here’s the recipe for you to enjoy ~

Corn Beef Hash with Fried Eggs ~ Paleo

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Corn Beef Hash with Fried Eggs ~ Paleo

Corned Beef Hash with Fried Eggs

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb corned beef, cooked and cut in small pieces
  • 1 large yam or white sweet potato, peeled or unpeeled then cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons tarragon
  • 1 or 2 eggs, sunny side up

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, add the olive oil and heat through until hot.
  2. Add the diced onion and cook until almost clear.
  3. Add the potato and cook until almost soft.
  4. While the potato is cooking, cut the cooked corned beef brisket into small bite sized pieces then add it to the potato mixture.
  5. Stir everything together until it's well blended then stir again every few minutes until the potato is fully cooked. If it gets too dry, add a little bit of water to the mixture and continue to stir.
  6. Once the beef mixture is thoroughly cooked, fry your egg(s).
  7. Add the beef mixture to a bowl and put the egg(s) on top.
  8. Enjoy!
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