High Blood Pressure and the Thyroid Gland

The past week I have been feeling out of sorts and I wasn’t sure why.  My annual physical 3 weeks ago went great and my blood pressure was down to 118/79.  My doctor agreed that I could stop the blood pressure medication I was taking (it was such a low dose anyway — 25 mg). I was so excited.

A couple of days after my doctor visit, I received a call from the doctor letting me know that my thyroid numbers were way off.  Normal ranges are 0 to 5 and I was at a 7. Last year I was down to a 2 and I was optimistic that the thyroid medication could be lessened. But, that was not to be and my doctor gave me a new prescription going from .112 to .125.  Bleh! I wasn’t happy — no, I was not happy at all. She was surprised that I didn’t have any symptoms from my thyroid not working correctly.

It’s been 2 1/2 weeks since I started the higher thyroid dose of levothyroxine by the Mylan manufacturer. And guess what? My blood pressure has skyrocketed going up to 190/110 this past weekend. I felt compelled to go to the emergency room as the American Heart Association states that those numbers throw a person into a hypertensive crisis. It’s always difficult to decide if you should go to the emergency room — especially if you aren’t feeling pain but just “out of sorts.” But, since I’ve been taking my blood pressure for the past 5 days, I know there is a problem.

Still, I decided not to go to the emergency room. I continued to take my blood pressure every 15 minutes and eventually it came “down” to 167 over 95. Not good but not a hypertensive crisis. Yesterday, before I headed out to remove some of my overly populated ferns, I took my blood pressure again.  Arghhhh!   175/95  This was getting serious.

So, off to the doctor I went. I went extra prepared as my regular doctor is on vacation so I would be seeing someone I had never seen before. I had done some research online that stated that levothyroxine can cause high blood pressure and since the only “new” thing in my life was the increase of this medication I was positive it was the culprit.

The other thing I needed to discuss with the doctor was that they had changed my thyroid medication last summer from Levoxyl which is made by Pfizer and is a brand name to the Mylan generic. Levoxyl is a type of levothyroxine but the active and inactive ingredients are different — not by much, mind you, but enough to make a difference in how a body functions. They also use different dyes from the generics and some people have found that they are allergic to these dyes.

(Side note: Levoxyl had been taken off the market because some people reported a “smell” when they opened the container it came in. It has since come back on the market in March 2014.) Since my thyroid was fine last year while on Levoxyl (and actually getting better under the paleo diet), I can only assume that the reason my thyroid has more than tripled is because I am on a generic thyroid medication — levothyroxine made by Mylan.

In addition, a few years ago when they switched me from Levoxyl to Synthroid (another thyroid medication) I felt like my skin was crawling after one week of taking it and my pharmacist switched me back to Levoxyl immediately. Bottom line — in the next couple of days I’ll be back on Levoxyl. The doctor said it might take 2 weeks for it to take effect.

So — if I seem a little loopy (more than normal — hehe), please be patient as I hope to get back to “normal” sooner rather than later.

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Broccoli Slaw with Cranberry Orange Dressing

This Broccoli Slaw and Cranberry Orange Dressing taught me something new — another use for broccoli stalks (outside of slicing and steaming them). The broccoli slaw and dressing paired very well together.

The original recipe is not paleo but very changes had to be made in order to make it so.

Here are the ingredients you’ll be needing.

Ingredients

Ingredients (salt not shown) for the dressing

Ingredients

Ingredients for the salad

Besides grating the cabbage, the hardest thing you’ll have to do for this recipe is to grate the broccoli stalks. I have to say though — it wasn’t very hard at all.  Broccoli stalks grate quite easily.  Yippee!

Grate Broccoli Stalks

Grate Broccoli Stalks

Next you’ll be making the dressing.  It’s thick so one large dollop on the salad will be plenty. You can use any leftovers on other salads you have.

Cranberry Orange Dressing

Cranberry Orange Dressing

So — are you ready to try it?

Ingredients (for the dressing)

  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons dried sweetened cranberries, plumped up in warm water for a few minutes then drained
  • 1 teaspoon Spicy Brown Mustard (or a mustard of your choice)
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon orange juice (I juiced an orange and drank the leftover juice – yum!)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup paleo mayonnaise

Ingredients (for the salad)

  • 4 cups peeled and grated broccoli stalks (crowns removed)
  • 2 cups grated carrots (from 3-4 carrots)
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (Napa cabbage, green, or red cabbage)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt

Directions

  1. Peel the outer layer of the broccoli stalks with a vegetable peeler.
  2. Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients, putting them in a blender and pulsing them until it is smooth. Slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion. Then add the mayonnaise and pulse until it’s all blended.
  3. Add the grated broccoli stalks, carrots, cabbage, onions, dried cranberries, orange zest and salt in a bowl.
  4. Serve the salad with the dressing on the side or you can add it to the salad if it’s going to be eaten immediately (otherwise its best to keep them separate to prevent a soggy salad).

That’s pretty much it! It came out quite tasty and is on my favorites list.

Broccoli Slaw with Cranberry Orange Dressing

Broccoli Slaw with Cranberry Orange Dressing

(Click here for a list of other paleo recipes you can try.)

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Beginning to Sew and Quilt

I’ve been spending a lot of time teaching myself to machine sew and quilt — did I tell ya? I’m still searching for and making new paleo recipes but I’m doing those twice a week or so instead of trying a new recipe a day. So, hang on! More recipes are on the way.

Sewing is enjoyable to me — I’m surprised that I like it so much. And I’m learning the importance of making sure that when I follow a pattern and cut the fabric precision is very important — an 1/8 of an inch here or there makes a huge difference!

The first quilt I made was a lap quilt. The blocks were already cut (so easy!) and all I had to do was sew the blocks together, add the batting and backing and then sew the three together.

I did what is called “sewing in the ditch.” You simply sew in the same places where you pieced the fabric together. It takes practice to this so that only the thread on the back of the quilt shows. I later found out that I could have used “transparent” or “clear” thread — then it would have shown even less but as it was, my sewing was not as straight as it could have been.

Some other things I’ve learned as a beginner:

  • Get the fabric ready to sew by washing it if it’s not synthetic as it gets out the smell and/or chemicals that are on it and will also shrink if it’s susceptible to that (you want to know about shrinkage ahead of time).
  • Press your fabric to get the wrinkles out but don’t iron it. What I mean by this is use a steam iron and put the iron on the fabric without moving it around. Just “press.”
  • There are a couple of ways to press the seams — open or closed (aka off to the side). Everyone has their own opinion on this so you’ll have to practice on your own to figure out what works best for you.
  • Click here for a great site on getting your fabric ready to cut.
  • You can “pin” or baste a quilt. I have yet to baste but that what I will use on the next quilt I’m making.
  • I’ve been taking classes through a website called Craftsy. Some classes are free and some you pay for but if you sign up for their emails they occasionally have 50% off days and you can take advantage of those classes.  I really enjoy them as you can view the videos at your own pace, ask questions of the instructor (they normally take a day to respond) and make notes. (One note: make sure you read the description and FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) before you sign up to make sure the class is not too advanced for you. I had to back out of one class as it was too advanced for me.)

Here is a picture of the lap quilt that I made when I was putting it together, i.e. the top, batting and back were not stitched together yet.

Piecing a Quilt Together

Piecing a Quilt Together

Once I laid it out, I put all three layers on a table and pinned them together to get it ready for sewing. (This is where you can baste instead of pinning — you don’t want your fabric wiggling around while you’re sewing.)

Pinning a Quilt

Pinning a Quilt

Here’s what the quilt — in final form — looked like

Lap Quilt

Lap Quilt

I made the other side of the quilt beige-ish.

Lap Quilt

Lap Quilt

My  next quilt project was going to be a king size quilt as I took a class on how to make a quilt in three pieces and then sew it together but I decided against it because 1) I simply haven’t practiced enough and 2) I couldn’t find a good pattern that I really liked.

Instead, I am making a large “throw.” Want a peek at what that will look like?  I’ve already cut the fabric pieces and am in the process of sewing the top now.

Throw Quilt

Throw Quilt

Doesn’t look like much yet, eh?  Well, you just wait! (laughing)  It’s starting to look pretty although I really am learning the importance of making sure the fabric is cut precisely (I just can’t emphasize that enough.)  And no, I don’t use scissors for cutting the fabric — I find it’s essential to use a rotary cutter along with a cutting mat and a long ruler.

I must warn you — sewing and quilting can become a very expensive hobby. I’m fortunate that my neighbor is moving and has given me lots of fabric and batting that he was going to throw or give away to a second hand store.

Well — onward!

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Once, The Broadway Musical

Earlier this year I had asked my husband what he wanted for his birthday and he told me he wanted to go see the Broadway musical called Once which was playing at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.

“Once” features actors who are also musicians and play their own instruments.

So, we waited until the “day” and headed to downtown Minneapolis to get a bite to eat before we went to see the musical. There are a lot of parking lots around the Orpheum Theatre although you have to pay for parking.  Once parked, we walked around to find a place to eat.

We were surprised when we tried to get into a restaurant about 1 block from the Orpheum only to be asked “Do you have reservations?” We, unfortunately, did not have reservations so we walked across the hallway from that restaurant and headed into the American Burger Bar.  No reservations were needed here (although about a half hour after we arrived it got quite busy).

The food was pretty good.  I had the Philly Cheesesteak with skinny fries and my husband had the Meatloaf which he said was really good.

Meatloaf at the American Burger Bar, Minneapolis

Meatloaf at the American Burger Bar, Minneapolis

Philly Cheesesteak at the American Burger Bar, Minneapolis

After dinner we walked around the downtown area and found that they had a lot of skywalks that connected all the buildings so we went sightseeing to get out of the cold until it was time to head to the theatre.

When we finally arrived at the theatre, I was immediately disappointed for a couple of reasons — 1) there is no picture taking, not even before the show or in the lobby and 2) the seats are crammed together.  The Orpheum is an older theatre so perhaps that’s the reason while the seats are so crammed but they should have looked at that when it was renovated in 1993.

The theatre seats 1500 on the main floor and 1100 on the three level balcony.

Prior to the show and during intermission, audience members were able to go onstage and talk with the actors/actresses. Now, that was a nice touch!

The musical “Once” is about a Dublin street musician who is just about ready to give up on his dream of being a musician when a beautiful young woman takes an interest in him. There is a musical romantic connection between them although she is married and he has a girlfriend in States. Eventually they realize it will not work between them and they go their separate ways.

The singing is very nice along with the playing that the musicians do. I was a little disappointed towards the end when a couple of curse words were thrown out as it was not needed and didn’t add to the storyline in a good way.

Overall, the musical was very nice.

Once, The Musical, Playbill

Once, The Musical, Playbill

 

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Zucchini Saute with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Zucchini is such an easy vegetable to work with. You can bake it in a small amount of olive oil with herbs or saute it like in this Zucchini Saute with Sun Dried Tomatoes recipe which is both paleo and vegan. It tasted delicious for what one might think would be a ho-hum vegetable.

Here are the ingredients (less the olive oil).

Ingredients

Zucchini Saute with Sun Dried Tomatoes – Ingredients (less the olive oil)

After cleaning the zucchini, you’ll be slicing it and putting it in a skillet that has a tad bit of olive oil on the bottom.

Slice the Zucchini

Slice the Zucchini

Then you’ll be getting the rest of your ingredients ready — including the sun dried tomatoes. They come in a jar and look like this.

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Next you’ll be thinly slicing the tomatoes …

Thinly slice the sun dried tomatoes

Thinly slice the sun dried tomatoes

Next you’ll be putting them, along with the rest of the ingredients in the skillet with the zucchini and cooking them until the zucchini is soft but not soggy.

Add all ingredients to skillet

Add all ingredients to skillet

I especially enjoyed the flavor and texture of the kalamata olives in this recipe that went so well with the zucchini.

Ready to try it?

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes cut into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (fresh or dried)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the zucchini, cover and cook until softened, turning once, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cook 1 minute longer.
  5. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, parsley and lemon juice and cook until hot, about 2 minutes longer.
  6. Serve immediately.

And that’s pretty much it. I served this with Baked Cod — another simple recipe.

Baked Cod with Zucchini Saute with Sundried Tomatoes

Baked Cod with Zucchini Saute with Sundried Tomatoes

I found this recipe in the book 1000 Vegan Recipes and I’m hoping to post more recipes from this book as they look delicious.

(Click here for a list of other paleo friendly recipes.)

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Baked Cod with Zucchini Saute and Sun Dried Tomatoes

This Baked Cod paleo recipe is too simple — too too simple. But it was delicious nonetheless. Here are the ingredients — (I was a little leery of using Cayenne Pepper on fish as I thought it would make it too spicy but it turned out okay). I used frozen cod and thawed it. The instructions for thawing were really simple and took only 20 minutes. All I did was put the unpackaged cod in cold water for 5 minutes, then change the water and add the cod back in. I changed the water out approximately 4 times every five minutes. Then — it was thawed.

Ingredients

Baked Cod Ingredients

I used a glass baking dish and added the olive oil and lemon juice to the bottom of it.

Add oil and ghee to the bottom of the pan

Add oil and lemon juice to the bottom of the pan

Next I prepared the cod by first drying them on paper towels then seasoning them.

Dry the cod and season

Dry the cod fillets and season them

Next you’ll be adding the cod fillets to the baking dish along with the lemon peel, garlic and a dab of ghee on each fillet.

Add cod and lemon to the baking dish

Add the cod fillets, lemon and garlic to the baking dish

Next you’ll be baking it.  Ready to try it? Ingredients (you’ll be adding the amounts you wish)

  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Ghee
  • 2 Lemons
  • Salt
  • Garlic Pepper
  • Cayenne

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
  2. Drizzle enough olive oil and the juice of half a lemon on the bottom of a baking dish.
  3. Season both sides of the cod with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a hint of cayenne. (The cayenne gives the fillets a nice flavor — I only used 1/8 of a teaspoon.  Use more cayenne if you want it more spicy.)
  4. Squeeze the other half of lemon all over the cod, and put both halves of lemon — now juices squeezed — in the baking dish. Add about 6 whole cloves of garlic, skin off, into the pan as well.
  5. Put about 1/2 tablespoon of ghee on each piece of fish then cover the dish tightly with tin foil and place it in the oven.
  6. Bake until the cod fillets are cooked which is about 20-25 minutes — the inside temperature should be around 145° Fahrenheit (I use a meat thermometer to test it).

That’s it!  Easy enough, no? I served this with Zucchini Saute with Sun Dried Tomatoes.

Baked Cod

Baked Cod with Zucchini Saute with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Special thanks to Foodloverrocknroll for this recipe.

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Simmered Cabbage with Beef, Shan Style

A couple of years ago I was given a cookbook called The New Way to Cook Light. I hadn’t looked at it for awhile since I’m able to find a lot of my recipes online. But, sometimes you just want to “feel” something in your hands, don’t you?

So, I was able to find a really good recipe in this cookbook called Simmered Cabbage With Beef, Shan Style.  I changed it up just a tad to paleo-ize it. It’s a pretty good recipe and I served it with a side of steamed broccoli and sliced tomatoes in keeping with the “light” theme.

Here are the ingredients you’ll be looking at getting.

Ingredients

Ingredients (olive oil and salt not shown)

The hardest “labor” in this recipe will be chopping up the cabbage. Pretty easy, eh?

Chop Cabbage

Chop Cabbage

Okay so, now that you know it’s an easy and goodly recipe, are you ready to try it? (You can even prepare the cabbage ahead of time the day before and then it’s even oh so simple.)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly vertically sliced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 pound ground sirloin
  • 4 cups finely shredded cabbage (about 1 small head)
  • 1 cup thin plum tomato wedges (about 2 medium)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds

Directions

  1. Heat a wok or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the olive oil to the pan and swirl it around to coat the bottom.
  3. Add the shallots, salt, turmeric, and red pepper then cook for 3 minutes or until the shallots are tender, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the beef then cook for 2 minutes or until the beef begins to brown.
  5. Add the cabbage and tomatoes then toss well to combine.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low then cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the cabbage wilts and the beef is cooked through.
  7. Stir in the almonds then cover and cook another 10 minutes or until the cabbage is tender.

There are approximately 238 calories per serving in this dish (not including any side dish you may include).  That’s a pretty “light” dinner, no?

Hope you enjoy it!

Simmered Cabbage with Beef, Shan Style

Simmered Cabbage with Beef, Shan Style

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Balsamic and Rosemary Chicken Breasts

I thought I’d better post some of the recent recipes I’ve made before I get too far behind — especially since the weather is warming up, the snow is melting and I might be able to do some yard work soon.

This Balsamic and Rosemary Chicken Breasts recipe by Primal Palate is a recipe that’s a keeper because of it’s simplicity. Who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when they get home from work, right?

The ingredients are so ho-hum simple.

Ingredients

Ingredients

You’ll be preparing the chicken breasts and putting them in an oven proof dish.

Prepare Chicken Breasts

Prepare Chicken Breasts

Before you plop this dish in the oven, you’ll want to make sure you cover it with aluminum foil (that keeps the chicken breasts from drying out).

Cover the baking dish

Cover the baking dish

Then you’ll be baking them, preparing a side dish and in no time at all you’ll be eating.

Ready to try it?

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 boneless and skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 tsp Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Rinse the chicken breasts under cold water, pat them dry with a paper towel, and place them in a baking dish.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken breasts and lightly rub to evenly distribute the oil.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken.
  4. Press fresh garlic and rosemary onto the chicken breasts.
  5. Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes (convection oven) or until the internal temperature is approximately 170°F.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven and pour the balsamic vinegar over the chicken breasts.
  7. Serve with a side of vegetables.

That’s pretty much it!

Balsamic and Rosemary Chicken Breasts

Balsamic and Rosemary Chicken Breasts

I’ve also stuffed the chicken with minced garlic, aged parmesan cheese and crushed rosemary then put salt and pepper on the top. It came out pretty good.

Hope you enjoy it!

(Click here for a list of other paleo friendly recipes.)

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The National Eagle Center

On a beautiful sunny Minnesota spring day, we decided to head over to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota after we had breakfast. Where to have breakfast though … that was the question. We decided to drive towards Wabasha in search of a place and my husband located a restaurant in Prescott, Wisconsin that he thought might be good so we drove there only to find out it was closed. So, we drove onward to Red Wing, Minnesota where we ran into a restaurant called Bev’s Cafe.

Bev’s is like a greasy spoon cafe — small, quaint yet vibrant. There were many locals here — an older crowd mostly. The conversations were lively and we listened in on a large table of retired men as they talked of trucks speeding down the highway. Jocularity, jocularity — that was the mood (so unlike yesterday’s quiet breakfast at The Bad Waitress in Minneapolis).

We were greeted and served immediately. There aren’t too many interesting things on the menu — just the “regular” breakfast items — but it has just enough to make it worthwhile to eat here.

While eating breakfast, I noticed a man walk in and sit down. Peeking around the booth where we were sitting, I did a double take. The man was wearing an old fashioned hat with glasses. His face looked familiar and for a moment, and then another moment, I thought it was my uncle — Padrino. I knew it couldn’t be him because he passed away over a year ago. Still — it was kind’ve spooky. Has that ever happened to you?

Padrino

Padrino

But, I digress, — onward to the National Eagle Center on Route US 61 heading south. The drive took about 35 minutes or so from Red Wing.

The National Eagle Center looks small on the outside — and it is small on the inside also.

The National Eagle Center

The National Eagle Center

The National Eagle Center

The National Eagle Center

As you enter the front doors, there is a gift shop along with a place to pay your entrance fee. The place was bustling with many people and it appeared a group of children were here from a school (a small school, thankfully).

We arrived just as they were going to have an eagle presentation which is done in a large classroom with seats facing forward. The eagle presentation was done by a young woman and later she would bring an eagle into the classroom. How exciting!

I did not realize that eagles can see very clearly up to 2.5 miles. Nor did I realize that their wingspan is 7 feet wide.  I was definitely learning something here.

The presenter was very vivacious and geared her talk towards children with lots of jokes and questions. Laughs rang out when she told us that eagles can poop up to 7 feet away — so sorry for those who sat in the first few rows she said.  Oh, and please keep your mouth closed, she cautioned.  hahahaha

She showed us a piece of meat that she would be feeding to the eagle that she brought in. Care to guess what kind of meat this is?

National Eagle Center Presenter

National Eagle Center Presenter

If you guessed rabbit, you’d be right! The Center gets their meat, i.e. fish, rabbit, etc. from local area farms.

After some questions and answers, she left and came back with an eagle. This particular eagle had been hit by a car and would not be able to fly again nor will any of the ones who they have held in captivity here.

The presenter offered the rabbit meat to the eagle and he was not interested. Some of the eagles are very picky about what they will or will not eat.

Eagle rejecting rabbit meat

Eagle rejecting rabbit meat

The National Eagle Center

The National Eagle Center

One word of caution — although the eagle can’t fly, he does spread his wings and his feathers fly in the air.  One lady’s asthma started bothering her because of this.

After the 45 minute or so presentation, we headed back to look at the other eagles that were there because of injury. One eagle is 32 years old and has lost most of her sight — her name is Harriet. Most eagles can only survive 20-25 years in the wild but eagles in captivity can live up to 40 years.

Harriet

Harriet

The eagle below is Columbia who was feeding on dead deer back in 2001 in the state of Wisconsin when a car struck her and broke her wing near the shoulder. She had surgery and physical therapy but was still not able to fly.

Columbia

Columbia

Was'aka

Columbia, the eagle

Below is a picture of Donald, a golden eagle who was hit by a car in California. His right wing broke in two places and the California Raptor Center was not able to repair it so now he’s a member at this Center.

Donald, the eagle

Donald, the golden eagle

You can get quite close to these eagles although you’re not allowed to touch them. They have quite a firm grip and can squeeze up to 400 pounds.

The center has an observation deck and also sells binoculars (in case you forget to bring your own).

The National Eagle Center

The National Eagle Center

Here’s the view from the observation deck.

View from the observation deck

View from the observation deck

There are viewing binoculars on the observation deck and across the river you can see an eagle perched.  Can you see him?

View of Eagle across the river

View of Eagle across the river

Here’s a closer look at the perched eagle. See him now?

View of Eagle across the river

View of Eagle across the river

Another eagle tidbit I learned is that they are territorial and consequently nest about 1 mile apart from each other. If another eagle goes in their space they make quite a ruckus.

After we finished the eagle tour, we headed into town to get some hot chocolate and coffee and happened to go into the Eagles Nest Coffee House.  The place is quite spacious and the woman who took our order had a very strong accent which at first I couldn’t understand because I have difficulty hearing.

I apologized to the woman because I had to ask her several times to repeat herself. She was quite gracious and told me that she and her husband had moved here from Australia because this is where her husband wanted to retire.

This coffee shop has a cozy feel and everyone is friendly. Off in the corner I saw a few women meeting under a sign that said “quilting.”   We’ll have to stop here again if we ever drive back this way.

It was a perfect day for this trip and we decided to head back home along the Mississippi River but on the Wisconsin side along Wisconsin 25/State Road 35.

Mississippi River, Spring 2014

Mississippi River, Spring 2014

Mississippi River, Spring 2014

Mississippi River, Spring 2014

Mississippi River near Wabasha, MN

Mississippi River near Wabasha, MN

Happy thoughts to you!

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The Museum of Russian Art

So far, for our anniversary venture, we had breakfast at the Bad Waitress Restaurant, went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts then to the Minnehaha Falls and next we went to the Museum of Russian Art with dinner later at the Chiang Mai restaurant in Minneapolis.

First, I need to let you know that I don’t have very many pictures of the Museum of Russian Art as they don’t allow pictures (with or without a flash). I was disappointed in that “rule” but, it is what it is.

Having said that, this museum is amazing! It has a collection of Russian art from the 20th century, especially Soviet Art.

And – the art is beautiful! I could not believe how much I enjoyed the paintings — even more than I enjoyed the ones at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. They currently have an exhibit by Eva Levina who was exiled to Sibera during Stalin’s regime. Now — those pictures are “dark” in nature but that is to be expected because of the intensity of her feelings.

My favorite paintings were by an artist called Geli Korzhez. He had two paintings that depicted Adam and Eve — one as Adam carried Eve out of the garden of Eden after they were asked to leave and a second one of Adam and Eve in their elder years. Both scenes brought up strong feelings as if I could sense what they were going through. Quite powerful!

The gallery is not large but spacious enough to house quite a few pieces.

From the outside, the museum doesn’t look inviting but I must learn not to judge a museum by its building.

The Museum of Russian Art

The Museum of Russian Art

The Museum of Russian Art

The Museum of Russian Art

The Museum of Russian Art

The Museum of Russian Art

The museum is located at 5500 Stevens Ave S in Minneapolis. The staff is friendly and quite helpful. This is a must-see if you’re in the area.

After our museum tour, we headed over to a restaurant called Chiang Mai Thai in Minneapolis.

We arrived shortly after 4:30 p.m. so there was hardly anyone in the restaurant. Lighting is very low throughout the restaurant.

Chiang Mai Thai

Chiang Mai Thai, Minneapolis

Chiang Mai Thai

Chiang Mai Thai, Minneapolis

Chiang Mai Thai

Chiang Mai Thai, Minneapolis

We were seated quickly enough and our orders were also taken quickly. Then our vegetarian egg rolls were brought to the table and the waitress walked away. Uh, okay — how about some plates? We could not locate a waitperson and finally when a gentleman headed our way I started to ask him something but he said he didn’t work there.  He did offer to get someone for us and they came quickly and apologized for not bringing us the plates.

My husband ordered a salmon entree and I ordered a cashew chicken entree. They were both served on large platters so my husband and I were able to share them. Problem is, there were no cashews in the cashew chicken entree. I didn’t realize this until I had eaten my first serving (I didn’t think to check the platter to make sure there were cashews). So again, I had to flag down our waitress and she took the plate away and brought it back to the table. By then though the food was cold — but it had fresh cashews. Sigh …

Service should have been better as we were practically the only ones there having arrived before 5:00 p.m.  Oh well …

And that was the end of our first day of touring Minneapolis as an anniversary gift to ourselves.

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