Dec 20, 2016

Julbord Tastings of Norway and Sweden!

Velkommen /vehl-kawm-ehn/

For years, Christmas time for me meant Lutefisk (lute-fisk) and Lefse (leff-suh); Krumkake (kroo-m-kai-kuh) and Grot (Groot). Both of my Norwegian and Danish grandmothers would make these traditional Norwegian dishes during the holidays. 

As a young girl, I loved the lefse and pastries, but you wouldn't catch me anywhere near the lutefisk. Lutefisk is a whitefish from the Nordic countries that is traditionally prepared by having the fish dried then soaked in cold water and lye for days until the fish is edible for cooking. More info on lutefisk here.

As the lutefisk is cooking, the smell alone is strong enough to make a Viking grab his Norse helmet and run. Of course, a true Viking or Norski would never do that. 

You might say the smell of its bark is worse than its bite! 

Dec 8, 2016

December's Picture The Possibilities

Basking in the Sun by Darcy Sime Photography -
Harmony Quote -

Are you feeling the tug between blending in or standing out? This, at times, can feel less harmonious than you’d like.

If you classify yourself as an introvert, you may be accused of being antisocial or have feelings that you don't quite fit in. You may feel comfortable blending in, but struggle to stand out when it matters; such as, in professional circumstances or when trying to make an impression within social circles. 

Extroverts appear to have preference in our society and it seems because of their boldness and aggressive nature they get better opportunities. 

Nov 28, 2016

Let's Simplify the Banana Mixed Messages

I've been in banana limbo lately. Is eating a banana healthy or not? 

How do we get past all these mixed messages about bananas? I feel like there's a whole lot of banana monkey business going on! At times, do you feel like a monkey swinging from one “Healthy Eating” headline to another?

I try to be informed with healthy food choices, but I must admit the almighty banana has probably the most mixed messages of all the fruits. Eat bananas. Don't eat bananas. Bananas make you fat. Bananas make you skinny. Bananas have too much sugar. Bananas have good natural sugar. Bananas make your stomach flat. Bananas make you bloated. Bananas can be shoved into a tail pipe. Oh, oops, that's for a different story. 

No wonder we've all gone a little nuts over bananas; don't even get me started on nuts!

Anyway, here's what I have gathered as somewhat the skinny on "banana logic." My source is Chris Freytag who I think makes the most sense. I may be a little biased as she's a Minnesota girl!

Nov 21, 2016

The Truth About Being On This Blogging Roller Coaster: What's Next?

Happy Blog Birthday to A Square Of Chocolate!  Come on in and bring your chocolate and cheers to celebrate 2 years!  I’m celebrating with a **Giveaway** but, please hang with me through the celebration tidbits first and then I'll unwrap the details for you.

For those of you who have been with me from the very beginning - can you believe it? 

It's been 2 years!!

I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart that you've stuck around to watch it grow and to follow along with all my silly amusing stories, easy recipes, adventures and moments from MN Living.

I also want to thank any newcomers and visitors that felt this was a fun and inspiring place to connect. 

I've been writing and publishing posts pretty much every week for two years and…

Here’s the Truth:

Nov 14, 2016

You Can Run, but You Can't Hide...From a Squeaky Wheel!

Depending on the day, a shopping trip to Target can be about as fun as cleaning the toilet on a Saturday morning before your first cup of coffee. It's just another mundane chore that needs to be done no matter what the mood. It's a day to cross off midlife necessities and household staples from the shopping list.  

A quick glance of someone's cart contents might reveal the truth of the person pushing the cart and, noticeably, what may be happening on that given day...ibuprofen, hair removal cream, hair dye, black cohosh, dark chocolate and a bottle of Metamucil. If liquor was sold at this Target you'd probably see a bottle of wine wedged somewhere between the chocolate and the Metamucil.

Trying to forget my numerous irritations, I continued the task of checking things off the list when in the far distance somewhere between frozen foods and the bread isle; I hear the consistent sound of squeaking. At first, it was something in the background you might not even notice, but within seconds, it was becoming annoyingly persistent and gaining ground. 

Image Credit: - falco

Trying to decide between a small loaf of high fiber bread or a large loaf with nuts and seeds, I was soon distracted with the irritating squeak, squeak, squeaking sound. Not sure what's worse, a squeaky wheel or nails on a chalkboard. 

It was getting inside my head and seemingly getting closer. My eyes shifted examining the isle to see if anyone else was agitated by the ear piercing squeal that was clearly motoring its way towards the bread isle.

Nov 8, 2016

Life Throws an Unexpected Curveball

The doctor nonchalantly asks, "so, do you know what you're having...a boy or a girl?" 

I remember this question often in different situations, but especially on this particular summer afternoon when everything seemed to be normal, routine and like any other day. 

I was mowing the lawn in the backyard while my kids played nearby in the sandbox. The only thing possibly out of the norm was that I was mowing the lawn and not Mister O. I'm all for sharing the household chores, but to be honest, this was not my normal household job. Mister O usually did the outside chores and I the inside. 

Photo Credit: - JerzyGorecki

However, on this Saturday afternoon, I don't recall why, I had the chore of mowing the yard on a sultry hot humid summer day while Mister O sat indoors in perfectly cool conditions watching TV. 

Hey, I'm writing this story! When he has his own blog, he can tell his side of the story!

Anyway, I just happened to be picking up the slack on yard work that Saturday afternoon when Mister O comes out onto the deck and hollers to me "hey where's.......

The roar of the lawnmower had deafened the sound of his voice and all I saw was his mouth moving and his hands waving indicating there was concern. 

Nov 3, 2016

November's Picture The Possibilities

American White Pelican by Darcy Sime Photography -
Happy Imperfection Quote -

Do you suffer from stinkin' thinkin'

Maybe you're not happy with your imperfections and here starts the cycle of stinkin' thinkin' ...the negative self-talk that settles in the mind and sometimes is very difficult to get past. You're focused on self-doubt, lack of know-how or the lack of confidence, so then you fail to move forward.  

Or, maybe you're trying too hard to live up to being too perfect and now you've set yourself up to anticipate problems that may never arise or you linger on the details. You're waiting for the perfect moment or situation that never comes and, therefore, you fail to move forward. 

Oct 26, 2016

Junie's Backseat Escapade!

Meet Junie the Bear. Junie is an extraordinary Teddy Bear and holds a special importance to a friend of mine. She was created at “Build a Bear” and was a gift to my friend with meaningful ties. 

If you're looking for a soft and cuddly children's story, this ISN'T it! So, turn back now if you want to keep your modesty intact. 

Recently, Junie was let out of the trunk to celebrate National Bring Teddy Bear to Work Day on October 12th

I had no idea such a day existed. Thank goodness this day exists for Junie. After what she's been through she deserves to have a day just to celebrate her. 

This day meant she could finally see the bright light of day, breath the fresh crisp air of fall and return to the outside world that she had once enjoyed. The confines of the car trunk may be a safer place, but it's dark, hot and lonely in there.  

Occasionally, she'll have flashbacks of happier times when she actually rode high and proud in the backseat

Oct 20, 2016

Pumpkin Spice English Muffin and Roast Beef Sandwich

Yes, it’s that time of year again!  The flavor that screams fall and seems to be everywhere…Pumpkin Spice! 

From pumpkin spice lattes to even our favorite snack food, tortilla chips, is jumping on the pumpkin wagon!  That’s right; I had a little sample at the grocery store of some pumpkin spice tortilla chips and, actually, they weren’t bad.

Other fall favorites are chili creations, soups and pot roast.  Which brings me to this creation that I pulled together to use that leftover roast beef sitting in the fridge that you don’t know what to do with.  Maybe you’re tired of that cold and blah-zay leftover roast beef sandwich, so instead the leftovers sit in a plastic container somewhere in the abyss of your fridge.

Well, it’s time to carve out a new smashing idea that combines roast beef and pumpkin spice English muffins. 

Wake up and smell the pumpkin! 
Just try this AWESOME and fall inspired sammie!

Oct 12, 2016

Rememberance: A Surreal Moment of Gratitude

Remembering the sweet crunch of a frozen chocolate chip cookie had served up a plateful of memories. 

It was this solemn and finalizing moment which caused a flood of childhood memories. Those random and simple moments that really didn't mean much then, but now surprisingly, opened up immense feelings of how grateful I was for those occasions. 

Photo Credit: Zipnon -

Death of a loved one can bring out vulnerabilities that you didn't know were there. It's an unfamiliar and uncomfortable feeling, but at the same time it gently whispers discretely letting you know you've been blessed. 

Oct 5, 2016

How To Discover Your Inner Tortoise

Do you need to slow life down? Maybe you're riding on the crazy train and you can't seem to get off. 

I'm guessing here, but I think most people do want and appreciate tranquility. 

However, sometimes this doesn't come easily for some. Inner peace and mindfulness isn't something you attempt when you're too busy working long hours, managing household duties, caring for kids, a spouse, or elderly parents. 

Additionally, you might be dealing with your problems, your family’s problems, your friend's problems or even your neighbor's problems.  

The crazy train keeps clipping along and not only are you riding, but you're driving it. 

Could you be denying yourself tranquility?

Sep 28, 2016

A Bus Ride Comes With a Shocking Climax!

Nothing had prepared me for this weird and unusual bus ride! NOTHING, I say!

No question, at times, riding the city bus is like watching the introduction to a cast of characters from a T.V. comedy sitcom. 

Many times with each stop, the doors open and someone will enter with a peculiar demeanor, a catchy outfit or an offbeat personality. 

Image Credit: - StockSnap

This was my mode of transportation for a few years when I first moved from my smaller hometown to the big city back in my younger days. 

The need for a car wasn't necessary; I usually bummed rides from roommates and for reasons of cost and convenience I'd take the bus into work. Bus transportation to work was usually made up of the same professional business people commuting to their 9 to 5 jobs. Passengers, maybe, would give a quick nod and smile as they boarded, but generally would keep to themselves during the daily commute.

Besides my daily jaunt to work, I'd occasionally, on a Saturday afternoon take the bus into the city from my suburban apartment to do a little shopping. On this day, the passengers boarded and exited in the usual fashion. It was a typical Saturday with only a half dozen on the bus at one time. Until.....

Sep 20, 2016

The Spam Museum: Revealing the Fun Facts

Before you say "eww Spam" or "they have a museum for this stuff?" Please hear me out on this one. 

Yes, Spam's history is so significant it has its own museum. The canned meat goes all the way back to 1937 and is a true slice of Americana. It's made a place in history, pop culture and culinary cuisine. 

I neither love it nor hate it, but Spam does hold a soft spot in my heart because it all began at the Hormel Foods Corporation based in Austin, MN, which just happens to be my hometown. 

I grew up seeing the iconic blue and yellow can in our cupboard and my favorite way to eat it is when my mom would chop it or shred it up fine then mix it with hard boiled eggs; like a Spam and egg salad spread on bread. 

Sep 14, 2016

If I Had a Nickel For Every Twinkie!

Go back to your school days for a moment. When you think of school lunches, what do you think of? Is it a fond memory, is it a horrid memory? Does it leave a bad taste in your mouth? Maybe it's the school cafeteria smell you remember. 

Image credit: -Wokandapix

Mrs. Bell was my 1st grade teacher in 1969 and I remember about a handful of things about 1st grade. I remember reading Dick and Jane books, square dancing in gym class, my little crush on Tommy and the unforgettable era with the Twinkie

Sep 7, 2016

September's Picture The Possibilities

Monarch Caterpillar by Darcy Sime Photography -
Accepting Change Quote -

September, what a month for song! Did you know that September is the one month out of the year that is used the most in song titles and lyrics? September seems to hold the record for inspirational song writing with April not far behind. 

The inspiration for “September” could come from many instances. 

Aug 29, 2016

Sloppy Greek Pitas with Creamy Cucumber Relish

It’s that State Fair time of year here in Minnesota and with everything, but the kitchen sink, being deep-fried, dipped or drenched, I felt encouraged to create a hand-held sandwich with a healthier twist. 

It’s a healthier remake of the Sloppy Joe and has a Greek Mediterranean twist. 

Our Minnesota State Fair, like many, has some unique and creative food concoctions transformed on a stick, in a waffle, between a bun or beside a mountain of whipped cream. So, if these don't sit well with you, here is my fair food creation minus the grease bomb gut feeling or the sugar laden high.  

Aug 2, 2016

August's Picture The Possibilities

Small Town Thunderstorm by Darcy Sime Photography -
Storm Strikes Quote -

I love when I hear stories of triumph over tragedy. 

Like the storm that rolls through leaving damage in its path, will you triumph to pick up the pieces and move on to a better day. 

This couldn't be more true than when you learn about Norman Malone's heartbreaking story that swiftly turns heartwarming. 

Jul 25, 2016

What's Cooking At The Red Barn?

It's true about the phrase, "If you build it, they will come!"  I know the actual quote is “HE will come.”  However, in this case, more than one WILL come.

I believe the secret is out and it's down a country road lined with cornfields and plush rolling hills on the outskirts of Northfield, MN.  

Red Barn Pizza Farm - Northfield, MN

Yes, it's all happening here at this big Red Barn that sits amid the farm fields, horses and chickens. So, what's getting everyone all fired up that they're willing to wait up to an hour in line?

Jul 18, 2016

One Pot Pasta With Shrimp and Asparagus

Summer is a great time for a quick and easy light salad.  The fresh asparagus and the citrus tang give this salad a bright flavor. Its simplicity will surprise you on how tasty it is.

I make this salad for lunch and enjoy it along with a few whole grain crackers and some slices of white cheddar cheese.

Not to mention, how can you not like something that can all be thrown together and cooked in ONE pan and then tossed in ONE bowl!

Jul 12, 2016

Why You Should Enjoy Being Alone: My Adventure to Minnehaha Falls

I took a day off with nothing in particular in mind to do, but to enjoy some "me time" after a Fourth of July weekend. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but knew I didn't want to clean, do laundry, run household errands or stare lovingly at the leftover Patriotic Trifle in the fridge! 

No sirree, I didn't want to hang out at home and, out of boredom, end up doing all of the above anyway along with licking the trifle bowl spotless. I needed to get a different view from the norm and recharge with a little nature walk. 

Minnehaha Falls - Minneapolis, MN

Usually, I venture to different spots, restaurants or happenings with Mister O, my kids or girlfriends. I don't normally explore a different destination by myself. However, in this last year, I’ve discovered that I need to do more of it and so I have. 

For instance, I had never before gone to a movie theater to watch a movie by myself. It's just something I had never considered doing. I have a couple of good friends that do this all the time and it made me think...yeah, why the heck not! It's one way to actually see the movie YOU want to see and you don't have to share the popcorn!

Jul 4, 2016

Feel Like Crying In the Fitting Room? Bring Frederick!

If you've never been pissed off in a clothing fitting room and you've never worked up a sweat-drenched frenzy just getting things tucked in and sucked in, then hells lucky for you! 

You must be resistant to fitting room dilemmas or you're one of those that has an ideal size and it just freaking works perfectly for you! Well, right now I'm not waving all five fingers to that nonsense!

I'll admit there are some clothes shopping days that can go on record as being pretty successful. I try to remember those instances of feeling on cloud nine and everything you took into the dressing room actually fit and graced over the bumps and curves with ease. Praise to the heavens, the only dilemma you have is deciding which item to buy.  

How often does that happen? Once in a blue I right? So, why choose? Hell, let's bag it all up Frederick and end the day with a Cinnabon! 

July's Picture The Possibilities

Darcy Sime Photography -
Tall On Pride Quote -

Happy Independence Day America! 

Celebrate life in the spirit of a Dachshund wearing Stars and Stripes. 

Short on doubt and worry, but tall on passion and pride. The tail wagging is optional, but it couldn't hurt!

Hope your day is filled with dazzle, delight, heart, joy and the freedom to find vibrancy in your life. 

Jun 27, 2016

Patriotic Trifle

Here's a post retrieved from the "Blog Vault" and featured today!

This is the best time of year to enjoy outdoor fun, food and, of course, yummy treats.

Thanks to Kraft recipes, I found this recipe for a perfect patriotic holiday dessert. Red, white and blue themed and so summery delicious. 

It's a great combo of angel food cake, vanilla pudding and berries. Here is the link to the recipe from Patriotic Trifle

Salute to the red, white and blue and the wonderful memories the holiday brings!

Pin It For Later

Jun 22, 2016

Fascinating Doppelgänger Discoveries

Do you think everyone has a look alike out there? Have you met yours or seen a ghostly image of yourself in the mirror?

Every once in a while I'll hear the comment "hey, you look just like someone I know." 

Or, someone might be more specific and say I look just like their aunt Beverly.

It would make me wonder what Beverly looks like. Does Bev have uneven eyebrows, a few chin hairs and a crooked smile? Then possibly Bev could be my sister from another mister. 

Jun 14, 2016

They Grow Up Fast On the Crying Corner

This was it. It was going to be an exciting day, but also a little heart wrenching at the same time. 

A special breakfast was made, the first day outfit picked out and a new backpack ready to go. This was the feeling about 15 years ago as we prepared for the first day of kindergarten with my little girl. Goodness, it just seems like yesterday.  

In the weeks leading up to this big day for my daughter, it certainly didn't seem like it would end up being such an emotional day. I had no idea the connections I'd make. 

My thoughts, at that time, would never imagine her being 20 years old and just finishing her second year of college. 

Who can even think that far ahead? Yet, almost 16 years later here I sit remembering that first day of kindergarten and her stepping onto the school bus. 

Time and years pass by without even a whisper of what's to come next.  

First, you’re adjusting to a newborn baby, diapers and bottles. Then, managing sleepless nights, comforting tummy aches and ear infections. Next thing you know they're standing in their new school outfit and princess backpack ready to take on the world. 

Jun 5, 2016

A Message in a Wrapper

All it took was just a one line message to stir up a funny thought that was followed by a flashback to a more naive and foolish time.  It was a moment that had been buried in my mind from years ago.  

It had been easily forgotten, but on this day it all came spilling over to remind me that I've gotten older and that spontaneity had been left somewhere in a time warp along with Marty McFly in "Back To The Future."  

When given the chance to let our mind wander it can change the thoughts and mood of an entire day. It can make you realize that even at an older age you can still dare to be free spirited.

Here's how this thought started.

Jun 1, 2016

June's Picture The Possibilities

Rainbows at the Falls - Yellowstone National Park by Darcy Sime Photography -
Daydreams Quote -

It can be very productive to daydream. They say if you imagine it and see what you want in your head, you'll do it. See yourself traveling to a destination. See yourself eating and being healthier. See yourself in a new car. See yourself in a different career. If you imagine wanting or having it, then it will most likely happen. 

May 19, 2016

Guilty Pleasures: Should We Give Them Up?

I’ve become very aware that my blog might be a guilty pleasure for some. After all, I don't claim to be an authority on literature or a master of writing epic essays. So, because I'm not either of those, you may have a sense of guilt reading my little blog.   

Maybe you keep returning and reading it because it makes you smile, you feel a connection, or it might be just entertaining enough to fill up a space of boredom in your day. 

What's up with Guilty Pleasures anyway? They usually bring some kind of personal excitement and entertainment that most others wouldn't understand.

It could be something that reminds you of a childhood memory. Possibly it's a feeling of something familiar, safe or sinfully tasty. 

So where does the guilt come in? Why feel guilty for something that brings pleasure? 

May 11, 2016

The Battle of Movie Choices: Men vs Women

When it comes to movies there's the male driven films packed with shoot 'em up action and thrill-seeking crash and burns and on the flip side, chick flicks brimming over with passionate romance and sentimental happy endings. The choices can become complicated when planning a date night with your mate.

At times, it can turn into a battle of the sexes if there isn't a compromise on what to watch. Eventually, someone will give in to spare a date night meltdown. 

There needs to be a movie truce, a happy middle ground or a trade-off. 

Without a doubt, Mister O has different taste in movies than I do. Occasionally we're on the same screen page, but he usually gravitates towards science fiction, action suspense and super hero movies. I'm more about rousing dramas, romance and comedy movies. 

May 4, 2016

May's Picture The Possibilities

Clouded Sulpher by Darcy Sime Photography -
Flower of Pride Quote -

Do you often catch yourself gazing at the green grass on the other side? By this, I mean, wishing you had what someone else has or maybe you're a little bit jealous that they seem better off than you. Or, that they're accomplishing greater things and you're wondering...what am I doing wrong?

Apr 30, 2016

Holy Guacamole! Would The Best Hiding Place Be In a Vagina?

In my 50 something years of being on this planet I've heard of some strange things, but stuffing a .22 caliber revolver in your vagina was a story headline that made me not only gasp in disbelief, but gave me an instant clenching reflex in my nethers area. 

Apr 23, 2016

Life Is Short: Let's Go Crazy, Let's Get Nuts!

What can a person say that hasn't been said already? Everything you've read and learned about Prince since his death has been shared and re-shared worldwide. Do you think he realized the affect he had on so many?  I hope he did.  That kind of influence doesn't come easily. 

Prince a creator and inspirational artist had it all figured out. He knew how to create from the heart and really expressed it with genuine and passionate feeling. 


The first time I saw him perform, I knew he was a unique guy. He was cool. He was funky. He had a charismatic kind of way. He exuded individuality and rocked it.   

It was 1982 and the song then was “Little Red Corvette.” Its funky rock sound and the explicit lyrics grabbed your attention. There was nobody like him. 

Apr 8, 2016

It's Spring, Let's Talk Turkey!

I had a turkey revelation today! Spring time is when flowers are blooming, the trees are busting with buds and titillating turkeys are doing their seductive strut. 

Up till now, turkey was something I served and brought to the dinner table for Thanksgiving. Quite often, turkey is my go-to Subway sandwich and then there's the occasional turkey breast thrown on the grill for summer BBQing.  I even paid homage to the turkey by participating in the Thanksgiving Turkey Day 5k. 

This was the only turkey I saw trotting on this day. Not the gentleman, but the hat. 

However lately, I've noticed that the wild gobblers have been wandering our neighborhoods. I'm talking the city urban neighborhoods! 

Apr 6, 2016

April's Picture The Possibilities

Curious Rabbit by Darcy Sime Photography -
Listening Quote -

This is April's installment of my monthly series called "Picture the Possibilities."  I'm teaming with talented photographer, Darcy Sime, who brings inspiration, beauty and wonder through her amazing photos.  I hope to share the inspiration and beauty by combining her photos along with my writing creations. 

We could take a lesson from our wildlife friends. Good listening is a necessary survival skill for these little critters. If they're not listening for clues of a predator approaching, they'll become rabbit stew. 

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