Archive for February, 2016


For those of you who whine about “never having enough time” or “there are just not enough hours in the day,” this particular Monday is just for you. An extra day. A day to get something done that you had at the bottom of your “to-do” list…or a day to have fun and do something you’ve put off, because you knew you’d be too guilty to indulge when so many other things and people are screaming for your attention.

I don’t understand space, and time, and planetary rotations so this Leap Day thing is way over my head. I’m not even interested in “googling” it. But I do know that, if given an extra day, I want to live it fully. So take a moment (not right now – read the rest of this first) and write down three things you’re going to do with your extra day.

Maybe you want to call someone from your past who you haven’t heard from in a while…an aunt or uncle who would love to chat with you, or a friend from high school is isn’t on Facebook. How about learning how to make yeast bread (I’ll taste test, if you need someone) or pancakes  from scratch (Side note: we bought this wonderful raspberry syrup from Aldi last week and now I think I want to make chocolate pancakes. Doesn’t that sound decadent and delicious? Yeah, I thought so too).

Maybe on this extra day, you want to pamper yourself and do a spa day or get a pedicure. Spring is right around the corner and that means open-toe sandals and flip flops. How about a massage? Yes. Please.

Maybe this would be a great day to get off-line (wait! Read the rest of this first!) – and go tech-free for 24 hours. It can be done. I remember as a child (when Abe Lincoln was president, I think) when we didn’t worry about who was saying what or being seen with who in any given moment. CNN, Facebook, Instagram, and Google weren’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye. This extra day could be spent powering down with the electronics and powering up with mental and emotional energy.

How about spending today in the presence of God – take a walk outside, read completely through a shorter book of the Bible, study a characteristic of God, listen to some new worship music…The Lord loves to meet with you (no matter what day it is) and I promise, it will be the BEST extra day of your life!

Those are just a few spontaneous ideas about how to spend your extra 24 hours – I’d love to hear more from you!

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  I made this wonderfully quick, easy and delicious breakfast casserole for our church’s post-service fellowship. Except we couldn’t wait so we dug into it during Sunday School. For those who asked, here’s the recipe:

2 T. Melted butter

2 cans Pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing

4 eggs

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 t. Ground cinnamon 

2 t. Vanilla 

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup maple syrup

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Pour melted butter into ungreased 13×9 inch glass baking dish. Separate both cans of dough into 16 rolls; set icing aside. Cut each roll into 8 pieces and place pieces over butter in dish.

In medium bowl, beat eggs. Beat in cream, cinnamon and vanilla until well-blended; gently pour over roll pieces. 

Sprinkle with pecans; drizzle with maple syrup. 

Bake 20-28 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, remove covers from icing; microwave on medium (50%) 10-15 seconds or until thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle icing over top. 

Serves 12 (or just one person with a gallon of milk or pot of freshly brewed coffee).


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If you’ve followed me on any social media, you know I’ve recently embraced the concept of trying new things. I had a great weekend workshop about 2 years ago at which I discovered some amazing and some discouraging things about myself. I was getting older in my thinking, settling for the status quo and allowing tradition and fear keep me from experiencing all that life has for me. So I made a decision (that I make about every day) to embrace the journey of life, look for adventure and view each day as an opportunity to learn something new or make another friend. It has literally changed how I live my life. My husband calls it my “midlife crisis,” but in a good way. 

Two years ago I started running seriously (or as seriously as I do anything) and found so much satisfication in making and attaining goals. Then I took a whole month to try a new thing every day. I created art for public display, I discovered places in my town that I’ve never been, ate foods I’d never been brave enough to try, and saw my normal surroundings with new eyes. What a blast!


So as February winds down, I’m putting together another list of new things I’m going to try in March. It’ll be the perfect time – more daylight and a new hopeful season. I got a head start today by attempting Zumba at my Curves. It was fun and awkward and tiring. I’m going to keep at it so I can actually follow the instructor’s arm and leg movements at the same time. 

I am a follower of Christ and as such, I am a new creation. I will not allow fear keep me from my dreams or the adventures God has planned for me. Join me? 

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I love food. I especially love fruit and vegetables. Since I changed my diet pretty dramatically about 3 years ago, I’ve eaten a quart-size ziploc bag of raw veggies at almost every weekday lunch. And I eat an apple every afternoon at 3. My favorites are crisp, sweet and juicy…mushy apples are horrible. When I get a mushy or dry apple, I feel as though my day is ending on a bad note.

I found an article on the internet giving the Top 10 Reasons to  Eat More Fruit & Vegetables:

10.  Fruit and vegetables add color, texture and appeal to your plate.

9.  Fruit & veggies are nutritious in any form – fresh, frozen, canned, dried & 100% juice.

8.  They provide fiber that helps fill you up and keeps your gut happy.

7.  Fruit & veggies are naturally low in calories.

6.  Eating plenty of this good stuff may help reduce the risk of some diseases (like heart disease, high blood pressure & some cancers).

5.  Fruit & vegetables are rich in vitamins & minerals (another plus on the staying healthy bandwagon).

4.  There are an infinite variety of both fruit & vegetables…always something new to try.

3.  They are nature’s treat – easy to grab for a snack any time of the day or night.

2.  In their raw form, those fruit & veggies are fun to eat! Some crunch and some squirt. Some you peel and some you don’t.

And the number one reason to eat more fruit and vegetables?

They are nutritious and delicious!

By the way, on Sunday I’m giving the kids’ sermon again and this time we’re going to talk about the fruit of the Spirit. According to Paul, who wrote a short letter to a church in Galatia, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Paul says this fruit is produced naturally because we are living according to the way the Holy Spirit wants us to live. Just as a fruit tree doesn’t have to struggle to produce its fruit, so we shouldn’t have to strain to produce the fruit of the Spirit…it’s just a natural by-product of godly, Spirit-led decisions. And when you produce good fruit like the list above, then people will notice. They will see the fruit in your life and want to be like you or at the very least, find out why you are the way you are! So, if you belong to the family of God, your fruit will be evident, and as appealing to others as a piece of delicious fruit is to me! Don’t be a mushy apple!

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My taste buds are excited about next week. The Hungry Games are coming to Cedar Rapids.

Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week is March 1 – 6 and 29 area restaurants are going all out to draw us in and feed us great food, for a pretty inexpensive tab. Making it into a competition, participating restaurants are serving up special Hungry Games menus for lunch (only $10) and dinner ($25). They are hoping you’ll try more than one and then vote for your favorite. Check out the link to see all the restaurants and their offerings but, working downtown for the last 8 years has given me the opportunity to check out a lot of downtown eateries. So if you can’t decide where to start on your Hungry Games tour through food, I’ve compiled a Top 3 for various categories. I’m only listing those restaurants participating in Restaurant Week. Let the Games begin!

Top 3 Downtown Lunch Stops:

  1.  Need Pizza – so good that when my college kid comes home, it’s where he wants to go. They make your pizza any way you like it…truly.
  2. Rock Bar American Grill – great hamburgers, great price. FYI – The mechanical bull doesn’t run at lunch.
  3. The Lost Cuban – I’ve only been here once but really, really liked it. If the number of Rockwell engineer-types eating there is any indication, I’m not the only one.

Top 3 Outside of Downtown:

  1. Winifred’s – a special place to eat with special people. I have wonderful memories of my last time in the purple building along First Avenue. It’ll probably always be #1.
  2. Zeppelin’s – very good, very busy.
  3. Emil’s Hideaway – you’ve got to look for this one. It’s hidden behind the Taco John’s on First Avenue across from Lindale Mall, but it’s worth the search.

Downtown Top 3 I’m going to try (if not next week, sometime soon):

  1. Daisy’s Garage & Filling Station – ok, not right downtown, but I’ve been intrigued with this new restaurant since it opened last summer. The front door is a garage door which stays open on good weather days (which won’t happen here for about 4 more months). The menu is my draw: Steam pots, oil can burger, and Guinness shrimp.
  2. Popoli’s – more expensive and only open for dinner so it’ll have to be a “date night” try.
  3. Sauce – one of the many new restaurants in Czech Village. Located in a building slated for demolition after the 2008 flood, it was lovingly restored by the owners. I enjoy supporting local chefs who use as many local providers as possible.

I’ve personally eaten at 13 of the 29 restaurants participating in The Hungry Games so I have quite a few yet to sample. Probably won’t happen in one week but since eating is one of my favorite pastimes, I’m looking forward to a fun summer. Better get back to running!

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I took a new route today. And I’m better because of it.

Most of you know I try to walk every day over my lunch hour. Today I needed to run an errand on the other side of town, so I took the time and opportunity to walk a new path in a new park. The path was crushed gravel, and with our recent thaw, was more like mushy sand. But I enjoyed seeing new trees, discovering differences in the beauty of the same city I walk in every day.

The walking path at this particular park was a loop of about 1.2 miles…a nice length to get in a pretty quick two mile walk. But I found a fun bridge crossing a little stream, and a delightful grouping of machines for a healthy break in the middle. Even did about five push ups before continuing on my way.

IMG_2190  IMG_2191

The air was chilly, the breeze brisk, but I enjoyed myself immensely because I was seeing and doing a new thing. The only ruts I was in today were the bicycle tire ruts through the mushy gravel.

It really doesn’t take much to get out of whatever routine you’ve allowed yourself to get stuck in. Make the choice to search out a different park or a new coffee shop. Change your purse, throw a funky scarf over your shoulder, select an old CD for the car, call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while, visit a museum, take a new route to work or shopping…or here’s a real risk: try out a different grocery store and spend a little extra time discovering some new food to try.

You will never know what or who you could encounter if you never take the risk of getting off your beaten path and selecting a new way. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. His still, small voice is saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

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office exercise

I’m going to tell you right up front. This blog is stolen. At least most of the suggestions in it are “borrowed.” Okay – now you know.

Spring is coming…spring is coming! Yes, it’s still 34 degrees and windy but hey! It’s only a week until March and March means spring! So – spring IS coming!

I don’t know about you but I’m so tired of being tired. I’m weary of dirty snow and wind chill in the negative numbers. I’m tired of using excuses to sit around and munch on whatever junk I have in my house, but it’s too cold or miserable to go outside. I’ve set March 1 as my date to get back at that running thing I try every year. The mornings will be a little lighter and I hope the ice and snow will be totally gone. I don’t mind running in puddles (as long as they aren’t 3 or more inches deep).

But until next Tuesday – I’m going to commit to more movement during my day. I work in an office so sitting is an Olympic sport here. I have to be creative to come up with ways to move around…and this is where I “stole” some ideas. If you’re like me, and need an excuse to get up and out of your chair, here are a few suggestions to get you up and moving:

*Instead of emailing someone, actually walk to their office for a face-to-face conversation.

*Drink more water. (What?) By drinking more water, you have to use the bathroom more often! Then use the bathroom furthest from your office (or, if you’re like me and wait too long, then use the one you can get to fastest).

*Use the stairs instead of the elevator (and that’s all the time, not just in an office setting).

*Step outside for a breath of fresh air periodically.

*Take a walk at lunch instead of sitting with your sandwich and reading a book the whole hour.

*Park your car in the farthest corner of the lot.

*Do some laps around the building at regular intervals or walk around the block, if that’s allowable at your office.

According to Dr. Mercola on the fitness.mercola website, over 50% of American men and 60% of American women never engage in any vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week. Ten minutes a week! Come on, people – we can do better! Prolonged daily sitting can increase risk of diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Mercola goes on to say that the key is to make sure you move your body frequently throughout the day.

So get up and dance! Right now! Get up and move it…move it…move it! Or do that yoga pose with your toes on your laptop while taking a selfie and post it, please!


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