comment 0

An Early Minnesota Autumn

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

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

Trees Changing Color

Summer Hostas Changing Color

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
comment 0

Of Deer, Repellant and Plants

Hosta Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

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

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

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

Deer Eaten Tomato Plant

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

Deer Eaten Tomato Plant

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

Deer Eaten Hosta Plant

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

Deer Eaten Hosta Plant

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

Hosta Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
comment 0

Reflections On Kabetogama Lake – Minnesota

Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

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

Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota Clouds

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

Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota, Clouds

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

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

Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

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

Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

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

It’s not always easy.

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

Almost Sunset on Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

Stop. Reflect. Grow.

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
comment 0

Talking Trees

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

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

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

The Short Birch Tree

The Short Birch Tree

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

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

I found it to be a reflection of our humanness.

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
comment 0

Of Falling Objects and God’s Protection

Fallen Treehouse

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

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

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

Fallen Treehouse

And … that’s where I had considered working.

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

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

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

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


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
comment 0

Paleo Beef Shish Kabobs

Paleo Baked Beef Shish Kabobs

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

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

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

Soak Wooden Skewers

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

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

Tenderize the Beef

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

Vegetables for kabobs

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

Cherry Tomatoes

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

Medium Baked Beef Shish Kabobs

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

Paleo Baked Beef Shish Kabobs

Now for the recipe ~

Paleo Beef Shish Kabobs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Category: Entree

Cuisine: American

5 Skewers

Serving Size: 1 Skewer

Paleo  Beef Shish Kabobs

Paleo Baked Beef Shish Kabobs


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


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

Then ~ enjoy!

For more paleo recipes, click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
comment 0

Of Ticks and God’s Protection


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

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

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

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

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
comment 0


I received a call yesterday from a number I thought I had seen before that was a telemarketer. They called twice and left a message the second time that said “Stop calling me. I’m going to report you. Remove my number from your list.” The woman sounded upset.

So – I called her. An odd thing to do since she said “stop calling” but I hadn’t called her so wanted to see what she was talking about.

Come to find out the woman has been getting 6 calls or so a day from “my” number from telemarketers and collection agencies. She was so frustrated and didn’t know why they kept calling her.

I later found out that people can use other phone numbers besides their own to show up on someone’s caller id. It’s called spoofing and they even have apps for it.  What an unfortunate thing to have in our world ~ another tool for deception and pranks.

Bottom line: the number you see on your caller id may not be the number that’s actually calling you. You might be “spoofed.” So if someone calls you upset because they think you’ve been calling them, keep this in mind and be gentle with them.  Imagine how frustrating this can be.

I was able to calm this woman down and we talked for awhile. I’m thankful the situation worked itself out but imagine if I had reacted with an angry tone.  We both would have been upset and for no good reason.

Spoofing ~ man’s NOT best friend.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
comment 0

Spring Arrival in Minnesota 

Last week I was lamenting the light snow that was coming down from the spring sky. Yet looking back on some of my posts, late spring snow is not uncommon.

Unfortunately, the older I get the more cloudy sky’s seem to affect me.   Cloudy skies bring me down.

Yesterday I worked outside for a few hours in spite of the copious amounts of tree pollen.   Then I noticed these beautiful flowers that have erupted into their beauty.

First, the daffodils. Daffodils are one flower that the deer don’t appear to like or eat – which is good because I haven’t found very many flowers that deer won’t eat.

Aren’t these daffodils beautiful?   They bring sunshine right into the heart.

I was surprised to see so many different colored tulips which I don’t remember planting.

Deer love tulips.   Fortunately the deer have not been around lately.   I do spray them with Deer Stopper and since the deer don’t like the smell they tend to walk on by.

But look at these tulips.   First there are the red tulips.

This yellow and red tulip makes me think it’s part daffodil and part tulip.  I wonder if they’ve ever combined the two and made a hybrid?   Hmm.

And then … a gorgeous yellow tulip.   Wowser!

But not to be outdone is this magenta tulip.

These tulips give me some ideas for possible quilt colors.

Are you enjoying your spring yet? Colors sure do lift my spirit.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
comment 0

Baked Salmon with Cherry Tomatoes

Baked Salmon with Cherry Tomatoes

I always seem to have a hard time baking salmon so it doesn’t come out dry.  Does that ever happen to you?

Well, this recipe, adapted from a Martha Stewart one, is the absolute best salmon I’ve ever had. Seriously!  The salmon came out moist and perfect.  Moist and perfect baked salmon ~ what more could I ask for?

This paleo Baked Salmon with Cherry Tomatoes was also a welcome addition to my recipes as I had purchased a large container of cherry tomatoes from Costco (a warehouse store) and needed to use some up.  It was a fantastic way to use up a large amount of extra cherry tomatoes.

Cherry Tomatoes

It always helps when a recipe has garlic too.  Eh?  The original recipe called for one garlic clove.  Can you believe that?  Only one.  But not for me!  I crushed three garlic cloves in with the halved tomatoes that included cherry tomatoes, garlic, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and dried basil.

This mixture will be baked in the oven for approximately 10-15 minutes.

Baked Cherry Tomatoes

I use a convection oven at home and it cooks a lot faster than a normal oven.  In this case, it was a total of 10 minutes less from the original recipe.

I served this meal with a salad, steamed carrots and half of an avocado.  It was delicious and filling.

So ~ are you ready to see this scrumptious baked salmon recipe?  Enjoy!

Baked Salmon with Cherry Tomatoes

Baked Salmon with Cherry Tomatoes


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • 2 skin-on wild-salmon fillets


  1. Preheat the convection oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small casserole dish, add the oil, tomatoes, garlic and basil then toss together.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again.
  4. Bake the tomato mixture for 10 minutes then remove it from the oven.
  5. Lower the oven heat to 275 degrees.
  6. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the salmon, skin-side down, to the casserole dish with the tomatoes.
  8. Take a little bit of the juice and tomatoes and spread it over the salmon.
  9. Bake the salmon for 15 minutes (a thermometer inserted in the salmon fillets should read 120 degrees when it's cooked thoroughly).
  10. Note: If not using a convection oven, add 5 minutes to the times listed above.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin

For additional paleo recipes, click here.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email