All posts filed under “Glimpses of Life

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Paleo Pistachio Chili

Paleo Pistachio Chili

Motivation for a new and simple paleo chili recipe gave me the inspiration for this recipe.

The main spice in this recipe is chili powder. Sounds simple enough, no?

Chili Powder, Pistachio Nuts and Canned Diced Tomatoes

The handful of pistachio nuts were a last minute idea and I was glad I added them.  They gave a nice crunch to every bite.

The veggies I choose to use were cabbage, green onions, onion and green pepper.  I sauteed them in a tablespoon of olive oil to cook them through a little

Saute Vegetables

The chili is served on a bed of shredded lettuce which gives it a crispness when you bite into it.  I sliced the lettuce up, cleaned it with water then put it in a mesh holder to allow the water to drain.  After a few minutes, I take a paper towel and dry it to remove most of the water.

Prepare Lettuce

I like to use the Organic Ground Beef that I purchase at Costco.  It doesn’t taste grainy when cooked like other ground beef I’ve tasted.

Costco Ground Beef

Once the vegetables are sauteed, I added the ground beef to them until the beef browned.

Add Ground Beef to Sauteed Vegetables

Next I seasoned the beef with the chili powder and salt.  Then I added the canned diced tomatoes.

Season the Beef then add the Diced Tomatoes

Once everything is combined and cooked through, I added the pistachios, stirred and it was ready to serve.

Paleo Pistachio Chili

Pretty simple, no?  Check out the recipe and let me know what you think.

Paleo Pistachio Chili

2-4

Paleo Pistachio Chili

Paleo Pistachio Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3-4 green onions, diced
  • 1/4 head green cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • Handful of pistachio nuts whole or chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups loosely chopped lettuce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef

Instructions

  1. In a large warmed skillet, add the olive oil and allow it to heat through.
  2. Add the green pepper, onion, green onions and cabbage to the skillet and saute.
  3. Once the vegetables are soft, add the ground beef and cook it through until browned then stir it together with the vegetables.
  4. Season the beef mixture with the chili powder one teaspoon at a time until you get the taste you want.
  5. Season with salt.
  6. Add the can of diced tomatoes to the beef mixture and stir to blend it all together. Allow this to cook through.
  7. Lastly, add the pistachio nuts and stir.
  8. Serve in a bowl with chopped lettuce layered on the bottom.
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http://www.simplynorma.com/2017/01/19/paleo-pistachio-chili/

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A Large Heart Quilt – My Own Design

A Large Heart Queen Quilt

When I was gifted a sewing machine a couple or so years back, I needed practice as I had never sewn on a machine before.  Having YouTube videos to teach me along with online classes I take at Craftsy have really helped.

After I made my first king size quilt for my sister (it took me a year because when frustrated I just put it aside), I posted it on Facebook and made a statement to the effect of “anyone want something made so I can practice?”  Oh boy!  The people came out of the woodwork!  I had about 6 people requesting quilts. Unfortunately they all wanted queen size quilts.  Yes, I could have said no ~ well, come to think of it, I SHOULD have said no.

My sewing machine has a very small harp space and it’s hard to get the pieced quilt top, batting and back through the machine to quilt.  After taking a class on Craftsy on how to make a quilt in 2 or 3 pieces, I felt a little more confident. Not 75%, (or 65 or 50) but just a little more confident (laughing).

This quilt is my fourth and it didn’t come out too bad. Most of the quilts I see online are absolutely gorgeous and I admire them.  Then I found out that one of the quilters whose work I really admire sends her quilts out to a “long-armer” who uses a very large sewing machine to do the quilting.  Disappointment set in as I kind’ve feel that’s cheating.  She gives credit to the long-arm quilter who does her work for her but … still … it makes it seem almost an impossibility that any of my quilts will come out as beautiful.

I’m still hopeful though.

My niece requested a heart quilt ~ one large heart in the middle of the quilt.  She didn’t want smaller hearts surrounding it as she didn’t want anything to take the focus away from the large heart.  The colors she was interested in were purple (first choice), blue, red and possibly orange.

Since I could not find a template that was large enough for this heart, I had to create my own.  I did that by purchasing two large pieces of art paper and taping them together.  Then I folded it in half and cut a heart out of it.  An engineer friend of mine gave me this suggestion.

Next, I auditioned the fabric I would be using after cutting them into smaller pieces that would be pieced together.  Needless to say, the red did not make the cut.  Now I was left with the blue and purple.

Quilting Fabric

I measured the heart as if it were a square piece to determine how much fabric I would be needing.  Then I cut the fabric into smaller pieces ~ they didn’t have to be the same width as I wanted a random arrangement. This was suggested to me by a friend whose a graphic designer.

Once I had a pieced square made out of the fabric, I put the cutout paper heart on top of the square I made with the fabric.

Making A Large Heart Template

Then I pinned the paper heart template to the fabric and used my scissors to create a heart out of the fabric.

Making A Large Heart Template

I then pressed the fabric heart with starch.

Making A Large Heart Template

Notice the random fabric colors?  It came out really well …

The quilt was made in 3 parts and the heart was appliqued into the middle section.  I had approximately 6 inches on each side of the middle section which is needed to 1) take into account some shrinkage due to the quilting and 2) make sure there was enough fabric on the sides to sew to the other two pieces.

Making A Large Heart Template

I did not pin this quilt but used a basting spray which works a lot better for me.

Once the three pieces are quilted individually, they are hand sewn together.   Although I thought this would be hard, it’s really easy but takes time.

The seam is on the right in the picture below. I decided to use an angled serpentine stitch throughout the quilt but I left the space between the large purple stripe (I added one on each side) unstitched. This actually brings the eye more to the middle of the quilt.

Making A Large Heart Template

Once the three pieces are sewn together I hand sewed the binding on.  Now ~ THAT took a lot of time as it was my first time doing a binding by hand.  On this queen quilt, it took this newbie 7 hours.  It looks really nice though and I think it was worth it.

The back side of this quilt was made with one fabric color ~ purple.

Making A Large Heart Template

Here’s the quilt on a queen bed ~ it’s washed but not yet ironed so looks more wrinkled than the final quilt.

A Large Heart Quilt

Well, for a fairly new quilter who did her own quilting on a queen sized quilt with her own created heart design, I’d say I did pretty good, eh?

A Large Heart Queen Quilt

A Large Heart Queen Quilt

If you’re being challenged by a quilt you think you can’t make, hang in there!  My next project will be a star quilt.  Now that should be challenging!

Hope you have a peaceful and fantastic day ~

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Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

It may sound unusual to some people, but I had never tasted Mahi Mahi until recently.  And you know what?  I really like it!  I even like it better than salmon, halibut or cod.  It doesn’t seem to get dry as easily as salmon does.

When I first saw it, it looked a little odd to me ~ beefy. I had never seen a beefy looking fish.  hehe

Uncooked Mahi Mahi

Uncooked Mahi Mahi

I didn’t want to put too much seasoning on it, so I just sprinkled salt, pepper and a little paprika on top.

Uncooked Mahi Mahi

Uncooked Mahi Mahi

I decided to try it with a Mango Salsa.  It tasted great!  Simply easy ….

 

Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa

The Mahi Mahi doesn’t take long to bake ~ approximately 10-15 minutes.

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

I served this recipe with a carrot/parsnip side dish.

Truly delicious!  Ready to see the recipe?

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

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Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 Mahi Mahi Fillets
  • Olive Oil
  • Pinch of parika, salt and pepper
  • Mango Salsa Ingredients (below)
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomato
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped mango
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • Salt (to your taste)
  • 1 fresh avocado, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Prepare a casserole dish by spreading a little olive oil on the bottom.
  3. Put the two Mahi Mahi fillets in the casserole dish and season with the paprika, salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for approximately 10-13 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Internal temperature should be approximately 145.
  5. In a medium sized bowl, add all the ingredients for the mango salsa and stir it all together until it's well blended.
  6. Serve the mango salsa over the Mahi Mahi with your favorite side dish.
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http://www.simplynorma.com/2016/12/04/mahi-mahi-with-mango-salsa/

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Paleo Chicken Casserole

Every 6 weeks or so I head over to Costco and purchase the bulk items I need.  Then I pick up a roasted chicken so that dinner can be a little easier but we always have chicken leftovers.  And that is how this recipe came about ~ how to use leftover chicken.  This recipe can be used with any meat though but it tasted really great with chicken.

Using leftover chicken makes this a very simple and easy recipe along with the fact that it uses ingredients that most people already have in their homes.

Ingredients for Paleo Chicken Casserole

Ingredients for Paleo Chicken Casserole

I used Trader Joe’s Chicken Broth ~ just open and pour what you need out.

Trader Joe's Chicken Broth

Trader Joe’s Chicken Broth

And to thicken the sauce I use Arrowroot Powder instead of flour ~

Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot Powder

Then of course there’s your shredded chicken ~

Shredded Cooked Chicken

Shredded Cooked Chicken

Looks like a lot of chicken, doesn’t it?  This recipe is so good though that it will be gone in a heartbeat.  Alright, alright, not that quickly or you’ll choke.  hehe

You’ll basically saute the veggies, toss the tapioca flour over them, add the broth and stir  ~

Saute Vegetables

Saute Vegetables

Then add the chicken and whala!!!!   (You’ll notice the whala doesn’t apply to how wonderful the picture came out ~ not sure what happened there.)

Paleo Chicken Casserole

Paleo Chicken Casserole

But, that’s pretty much what you’ll be doing. I served this dish on a bed of mashed garlic sweet potatoes with a side of avocado.  Scrumptious!

Ready to see the recipe?

Paleo Chicken Casserole

Serving Size: 2-3

Paleo Chicken Casserole

Paleo Chicken Casserole

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless cooked chicken thighs hand shredded into small bite sized pieces.
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • Chives, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, pepper (options for seasoning)

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a medium skillet or cast iron pot.
  2. Stir in the celery, onions and green pepper then saute until mostly soft.
  3. Sprinkle the tapioca flour over the top of the vegetables and cook slowly for 5 minutes.
  4. Gradually stir in the chicken stock until everything is combined.
  5. Add the chicken and stir over low heat long enough to allow the sauce to thicken.
  6. Season to taste.
  7. Serve over sweet potato or cauliflower rice.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.simplynorma.com/2016/12/01/paleo-chicken-casserole/

 

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Almost Strangled By A Leaf Blower

Autumn Trees, Minnesota

Autumn Trees, Minnesota

On a cool Sunday morning while leaves were still falling, I decided to head out and leaf blow to gather all the leaves in one area of our yard.  Putting on a hat, a flannel lined shirt and wrapping a scarf around my neck, I grabbed the leaf blower and plugged it in.

Leaf Blower

Leaf Blower

Turning the leaf blower on, I did the back of our property and headed closer to the garage to work on the front.  From the corner of my eye, I could see my husband was also outside working with earphones on listening to music on his iPod.

“So many leaves,” I muttered to myself. “And this leaf blower is so heavy.”  We use an electric one so we don’t have to bother with purchasing gas.

All of a sudden, I felt my neck being pulled towards the leaf blower.  Looking down, I noticed that the end of my scarf had gotten sucked into the bottom of the blower. Holding down the leaf blower with one hand and the scarf with the other, I looked around and yelled at my husband who was behind me to unplug the leaf blower.  Alas!  He couldn’t hear me.

Unable to move without letting go of my scarf, I kept yelling and yelling for what felt like many minutes. I didn’t want to panic but fear was starting to creep up in my thoughts.

Yelling even louder, I finally got my husband’s attention and he went and unplugged the leaf blower.

Gathering my composure, I looked at the bottom of the blower to see why my scarf was able to get sucked in.  It had a cover on it but there were holes where the scarf was able to penetrate.

Leaf Blower

Leaf Blower

It’s interesting to me how I viewed this situation versus how my husband viewed it.  He was nonchalant about the whole thing whereas I look back and see that I could have been strangled by a leaf blower.  Not the way I wish to die ~ well, there really isn’t any way I really want to die.

A friend suggested next time I tuck my scarf inside my shirt or jacket.  Good idea ~

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The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Autumn Flowers, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Autumn Flowers, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is an amazing place to visit.  I was awed by the 1137 acres of beautiful plants and trees which includes a hosta garden and a Japanese garden which is quite spectacular!  Of course, I love Japanese gardens so I may have a slanted view.

There were very few people when we visited which made for a peaceful walk throughout the arboretum.

One of the places we spent a goodly amount of time at was the “tree” section. They had all varieties of tree ~ both small and large.

Northern Catalpa Tree, Minnesota

Northern Catalpa Tree, Minnesota

For some reason, trees seem to “talk” to me.  I know that sounds kind’ve odd but when I look at a tree my brain usually relates it to people and their journeys in life.

This tamarack really did a lot of “talking.”  (No, I’m not going nuts …)  It reminded me of how our lives branch out into different areas and yet each branch is connected to the main trunk.

Tamarack Tree, Minnesota

Tamarack Tree, Minnesota

Whether alone or grouped together as in a “family,” the trees all spoke of their journey in this world.

Trees, Minnesota

Trees, Minnesota

This vibrant crabapple tree with its branches full of berries reminded me how much we as individuals are able to give to each other from the experiences that we have.  Empathy, joy, compassion ~ so many things humans have to offer.

Trees, Minnesota

Trees, Minnesota

As in a deep color red, some of us have experiences that go far back in time ~ many of us can’t even understand why we do certain things in our lives yet ~ yes, yet, an old experience creeps in our daily lives unnoticed.

Crabapple Tree, Minnesota

Crab Apple Tree, Minnesota

I was surprised when we came around the bend and ran into a sculpture garden.  Although I enjoy looking at sculptures, many times they confuse me and I can’t wrap my head around what the artist was trying to convey.  I am definitely a tree person.

Harrison Sculpture Garden, Minnesota

Harrison Sculpture Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Harrison Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Harrison Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

So ~ what do you think the artist was trying to portray in the sculpture below?

Harrison Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Harrison Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Harrison Sculpture Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Harrison Sculpture Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Lastly (although there was much more to see) we walked through the Japanese and hosta gardens.  I could have stayed here for a long long time as it is such a peaceful atmosphere.

Japanese Garden Entrance, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden Entrance, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

I really believe that my genes are misplaced ~ I’m really Japanese instead of Puerto Rican.  hehe

Japanese Garden Gate, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden Gate, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Although “rock” seems cold to me, whenever they are placed in a pathway, they always make me feel “at one” with them ~ as if we are journeying together.

Japanese Garden Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The fountain in this garden is one I’d like to replicate in my own yard.  The sound of moving water is supposed to keep deer away also.  Interesting, no?

Japanese Garden Water Fountain, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden Water Fountain, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

More “falling” water …

Japanese Garden Waterfalls, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden Waterfalls, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

From the Japanese Garden we went straight into the Hosta Garden.  We have so many hostas in our own yard that they don’t excite me as much as they should, however, I do like the walkway on the path.

Hosta Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Hosta Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Such a beautiful arboretum ~ calm and thought encouraging.

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Cucumber Tree Magnolia Pods

We recently walked through the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, Minnesota which was quite a beautiful place.  The leaves on the trees here had just started changing colors and I noticed one tree in particular had large pods on it.  The name of the tree was a Cucumber Tree Magnolia and it also had pods on the ground that had fallen.

I had never heard of this type of tree ~ have you?

It was a beautiful tree with large leaves and, of course, these large pods. The tree can grow 60-80 feet tall with a 35-60 foot span.  That’s quite a large tree!

This magnolia prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade and needs deep, moist, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic.

Being adventurous, I bent over and picked up a pod thinking that perhaps I could plant the seeds when I returned home.

These trees obviously need a large open space to grow, but I wondered if it can be grown as a bonsai. That’s what I’m hoping although I’m going to try growing it both indoors and out.

After doing some internet research, I learned that these pods require a lot of patience to grow ~ even as much as a few months before seeing a seedling.  Well, why not?, I asked myself.

The first thing I had to do was let the pod sit on the table until it started to “pop” out these red seeds.  This requires the pod to get very very dry.  Not a hard thing to accomplish in Minnesota but I waited 2 weeks for the red/orange-ish seeds to start popping through.

Cucumber Tree Magnolia Pod

Cucumber Tree Magnolia Pod

After most of the red-orangish seeds start to pop out, I carefully pulled them out.  Then I had to remove this orangish cover to get to the actual seed which is a dark brown ~ almost looks like a coffee bean to me.

I took a paper towel and simply rubbed the outer cover off of the seed.  It didn’t take long at all.

Cucumber Tree Magnolia Seeds

Cucumber Tree Magnolia Seeds

Here’s a closer look at the seed.

Cucumber Tree Magnolia Seed

Cucumber Tree Magnolia Seed

Next I had to make a choice on how I wanted to get the seed to “hibernate” for the winter.  They need to be at around 40° Fahrenheit.

I decided to go the “refrigerator” route which required I put some wet dirt in a plastic bag, add the seeds and refrigerate.  The seeds should not get dry.

Preparation of Cucumber Tree Magnolia Seeds

Preparation of Cucumber Tree Magnolia Seeds

And now ~ the waiting begins. In March I hope to plant the seeds in small containers ~ one to try to grow as a bonsai and the other ~ well, I’m not sure yet as we have so many trees on our property that finding a perfect place for it will be tough.  But, who knows, some of our trees might be felled by the time this seedling is ready to be placed outside.

Wish me luck!

 

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Of Simpler Times and Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Not too long ago, we drove past a small town in Wisconsin called Pepin that had a museum in memory of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Do you remember her from the TV show Little House On the Prairie with Michael Landon?  Well, if you don’t recall, the show was about the life of a family who lived in the 1870’s and 1880’s.

The show covered topics such as adoption, blindness and alcoholism ~ just to name a few.  It portrayed what might be considered a “simpler” time in life.

We decided to pay the fee to go inside the museum.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Minnesota

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Minnesota

Once inside, we learned that the town was Laura’s place of birth.  It was a fairly small museum but had interesting stories and items.

The below is called a “prairie dress” and is typical of the dresses worn in her day.  I kind’ve like it.

Prairie Dress

Prairie Dress

One thing I didn’t know was that they had sewing machines “back in the day.”  No special stitches on these older models like the fancy ones nowadays that have 150 various stitches.  A more simpler time …

Champion Treadle Sewing Machine

Champion Treadle Sewing Machine

I’m not sure I would want to use one of these older stoves.  I really do like the convenience that mine has to offer ~ mainly electronic.

Old Stove

Old Stove

The quilt below is hand sewn although not from the period that Laura Ingalls lived in.  It’s a reproduction though.  As a fairly new quilter, I know it takes a lot of time to hand quilt these which is why I make mine via sewing machine.

Hand Sewn Quilt

Hand Sewn Quilt

The covered wagon below was built in the late 19th or early 20th century by the Rock Island Plow Company in Rockford, Illinois.  It’s typical of a farm wagon of that era.  In Laura’s stories (books that were written by her), the farm wagon was used as a temporary home as the family journeyed from one home to another.

Can you picture yourself in one of these?

Covered Farm Wagon, Rock Island Plow Company

Covered Farm Wagon, Rock Island Plow Company

Below is a picture of Laura in her older days.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Photo

Laura Ingalls Wilder Photo

And here’s a picture of Laura when she was 17 along with her husband Almanzo.

Young Laura Ingalls Wilder

Young Laura Ingalls Wilder

And here’s a photo of Laura and Almanzo’s Golden Wedding anniversary …

Laura Ingalls Wilder Golden Wedding Anniversary

Laura Ingalls Wilder Golden Wedding Anniversary

Laura wrote a series of “Little House” books that the TV show was kind’ve based on. As with all movies, they don’t always follow the book’s plot.

And there you have it.

A trip down memory lane with Laura.  It was interesting to go to this museum and read about her “real” life.

The TV show always ended on a positive note which is what I liked about it.  I know life is not always that way but sometimes how we look at things can make a huge difference.

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