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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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http://www.simplynorma.com/2018/02/01/corned-beef-hash-with-fried-eggs-paleo/

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Sabbath Reflections ~ The Lord Looks at the Heart

Puerto Rico

“Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” – the human heart, with its conflicting emotions of joy and sorrow; the wandering, wayward heart, which is the abode of so much impurity and deceit.  1 Samuel 16:7

He knows its motives, its very intents and purposes. Go to Him with your soul all stained as it is. Like the psalmist, throw its chambers open to the all-seeing eye, exclaiming, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23,24

Steps to Christ, Chapter 3, 34.3

Have you ever done something and afterwards had a sense of horror about what you had done?

Sometimes it’s as if we don’t really know what we are capable of. Yet, the God who created us knows every inch of our soul, every yearning, every defect of character.

That’s why when I read the verses above it touched my heart ~ I can go to God at any time because there is nothing I can tell Him that He doesn’t already know.

There’s a peace about this knowledge ~ He loves me even though He knows what my failures are and will be.  He stands with me and says “this is My child.” He opened His heart wide enough to be willing to die for me and all my defects.

Have I done enough? I hear Him say.  What more can I do?

And my response is, Nothing Lord.  You have done it all.  You took on mortal flesh, laughed, cried and guided us, gave up your place in heaven so you could die for my wretchedness.  You did it knowing that I might not even choose to love you back.

But … I do choose You. For there is no one else who loves me so completely.

Thank you for your sacrifice ~ thank you for for unconditional love.

 

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Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

These were one of the best Chicken Mole Tacos I have ever tasted.

I found the original recipe in a Better Homes & Garden Magazine and have searched the internet for it but for some reason it’s not found.  The original recipe was created by Robby Melvin but I have adapted it and you get to be the recipient of it’s deliciousness.  Yay for you!

Alright so ~ a disclaimer here ~ I don’t like very spicy sauces so you’ll need to add extra adobo sauce if you want it spicier.

One of the things that I normally do NOT have in my cupboard because I enjoy them way too much are tortillas.  In this recipe I used flour tortillas because the mole sauce is so juicy and the flour tortillas hold up much better.

Flour Tortillas

Here’s a peek at what your slow cooker will look like when the chicken is almost ready …  Uh, shoulda made more, eh?  Well, this is 4 chicken thighs for two of us.

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

It was, well, pretty close to perfection … 🙂

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

I decided to use Manchego Cheese which is a white cheese that I find at Costco but, you can use any cheese your heart desires.

Ready to see the recipe?

Here you go ~

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

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Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 14 ounce can unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 ounce semi sweet baking chocolate finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins (1 small box)
  • 1/4 chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp canned adobe sauce (from the chipotle chili can)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 chipotle chili, canned in adobo sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs with no skin (or remove skin once cooked)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 ounce cheese, shredded (I used Manchego)
  • Tomatoes
  • Flour tortillas

Instructions

  1. Make the mole sauce in a food blender by adding the following and blending until smooth:
  2. tomatoes, onion, almonds, chocolate, raisins, chicken stock, cumin, adobo sauce, cinnamon, chipotle chiles and garlic
  3. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper then place it in your slow cooker.
  4. Add the blender mixture over the chicken.
  5. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  6. When the chicken is ready, remove them from the slow cooker and remove the bones from the chicken.
  7. Shred the chicken into pieces and return them to the slow cooker.
  8. Discard the bones.
  9. Heat the tortillas on a skillet one at a time on medium heat.
  10. Add the chicken mixture, cheese and any other toppings you'd like to the tortillas and enjoy!
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http://www.simplynorma.com/2018/01/12/slow-cooker-chicken-mole-tacos/

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God’s Will and Obedience

Como Zoo Conservatory

A statement I read this morning while doing my devotionals had me pause and absorb its meaning:

“God does not require us to understand His will, just obey it, even if it seems unreasonable.”  Charles Stanley

It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to understand what God says and/or what He wants us to do in our lives.  Yet, He who made us knows what the best is for us.

We can try to “reason” with Him, as if we know what’s best.  Yet, in all the times I have “reasoned” with God for Him to let me do it my way, I have come out the loser.  Yes, He respects our choices but I can visualize Him shaking His head as we plod along in our decision. There are no “I told you so’s” that come out of His mouth when we finally realize that the course we chose was not the best. He waits until we come to our senses and helps us get to where we should be.

For His way is always the best even if sometimes it is the most painful for us to go through.

Trusting Him who created me, knows every cell in my body and wants the best for me is not always easy but I’m trying to live every day doing just that.

 

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It Feels Warm In Minnesota

Ahhh ~ from the negatives to 1 degree above zero Fahrenheit.  Yes!  1 degree!

Minnesota Temps

It’s really a mental thing, don’t you think?

From dressing with a coat, hat, scarf, thermal underwear, gloves and covering up your face when you go outside … to …

Coat unzippered, no hat, no scarf …

Yes, it’s definitely a mental thing.

The brain has a strange way of behaving.

Thankful for the sunshine and the above zero temps in Minnesota.

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