Making Moments

Don’t we all feel the squeeze of time?

Whether it’s hurrying from task to task or just wishing for an hour of solitude, it’s easy to get too “busy.” I say that in quotes because ultimately we bring busyness on ourselves. Right?

I know there are lots of things we need to do to keep life going on a normal, healthy path. Work probably tops this list, whether it’s your job, your own business, or the endless role of being a stay-at-home-parent. Making meals, washing clothes and dishes, paying bills, and dealing with leaves, snow, or unruly lawn (depending on the season) also come to mind. Because my husband and I farm, I understand the urgency certain times or seasons can bring. For us that usually means field work. When we are making hay, we MUST MAKE HAY. It’s ready, and rain is (probably) in the forecast. For planting season or fall harvest the same holds true.

With that background in mind, let me tell you this is not a post to encourage you to shirk responsibility, let your home and family fall apart, or let your job come to ruin.

This is, however, a post to encourage you to make and carve out and fight for the moments you value.

We all have twenty four hours in a day. (If you have more, please see my contact info above and let me in on the details.) We use those hours, and we choose how we feel in those hours. I know I’ve mentioned before I think finding joy is a choice. It doesn’t mean you are always happy, and it certainly doesn’t mean things always go your way. It does mean you look for the good. It means you know you can’t control everything, but you are always in control of how you respond. Carving out moments in each day to find joy and to do what you enjoy also helps you respond better in everything else you do.

I encourage you all to think about what you love to do. Make a list, and ponder over it for a few days. Maybe even a few weeks. How many of these things do you regularly do? Which are most important to you? Do you enjoying playing an instrument or a sport, but it’s been so long since you’ve done it that you almost forgot?

After I got married I have to admit I felt lost for awhile. I loved my husband, but I found myself in a small town with few connections and no friends close by. It was a stark reality after years at a large university where I lived with many friends and had endless opportunity for interaction.

For me, getting connected to a church was important. Not just attending but getting involved. I love God, and giving back through a children’s ministry was just what He had in mind for me. It just took a few years for me to listen to His call on that.

I have played piano since forever, and a few years ago my parents brought my grandma’s old spinet to grace my downstairs. I originally thought I didn’t need it, but I get joy out of those black and white keys even if I don’t play all the time.

Connecting with my family and close friends also gives me joy. Most work can wait if my parents or one of my four sisters needs to talk. I don’t make it to every event, but I rearrange things when at all possible because it’s worth it.

Working seven days a week has its draw backs, but I focus on the mid-day flexibility I usually have, the beautiful sunsets I take in, and the new babies I see every day.

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If you are a regular reader, I know you’re waiting for me to mention this next one. I run. I run to see progress and achieve goals. I run because I can. I run because nothing feels better than crunching over gravel on a crisp morning and knowing you are getting stronger with every step. I run even when it feels hard and dreary because bad days are part of reality.

When I started training for 5K’s, then half marathons, then marathons, I didn’t magically have extra hours in my day that needed filling. I knew I needed to find more joy, and I worked around the schedule I had to make that happen. It didn’t even mean cutting out anything major. It involved a little planning and sometimes lost sleep, but it was and still is mostly about being intentional.

At times when we can, JR and I love sitting around with hot cups of coffee just hanging out with our dogs, talking, and soaking up the morning sun through our huge south window. Usually there are 100 other things we “should” be doing, but often they can wait.
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I have plenty of other things I want to do, volunteer for, and see, and I hope I can keep incorporating them when the time is right. I don’t have the perfect mix, but I stubbornly insist on finding joy where I’m at anyway.

Remember that list I wanted you to make? Look at the things you wrote, and ask yourself if you’re doing any of them. I hope you can say “yes,” but if you can’t, then ask yourself why. Talk to your spouse, your kids, or your friends, and see if there is a way to make more joy happen.

What helps you find joy? Share it with me in the comments; I’d love to hear!

Posted in Boo the bulldog, Calvin, Christian Reflections, Running, This and That | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A Cooking Spot: Stuffed Mushrooms

What do farming and running have in common?

What about any form of work and any form exercise? What do they have in common?

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My answer to both is “food!” You need food to fuel everything you do. I usually have great intentions in the kitchen, and I’m also lucky to have a giant deep freeze full of meat, plus assorted frozen and canned veggies, fruits, and sauces. (Most of the produce is thanks to the hard work of my parents and my sister Linda because my garden was almost non-existent this past summer.) Our spice cabinet is always fully stocked, and JR and I rack up what I think is a ridiculous grocery bill for just two people. We love to eat.

Even being blessed with plenty of food, it’s easy to get stuck in a food rut. Combinations are endless, but sometimes I still go into panic mode because “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO MAKE!”

This anxiety is compounded if we’ve had a late night at the farm. Wondering what to make at 9:00 p.m. when you’re completely ravenous is way worse than 6:45.

We do share cooking duties some, just depending on who gets home first and who’s feeling inspired to make something. I try not to take my husband’s cooking skills for granted, even though they rarely extend to clean-up. :-)

If we plan ahead it’s usually me, and I’m also the one who mostly uses our beloved slow cooker.

The point to all this is I suspect I’m not alone when I stew about what to make! When I do have a good idea or just cook a tasty staple, I’ll try to share it here on the blog. Maybe it will be a dish you want to try, or maybe it will just give you ideas on seasonings or flavors to incorporate in your own meals.

I’m not promising there will be a “Cooking Spot” on a super consistent schedule, but watch for it at least once a month.

With that, I give you a mushroom creation JR and I collaborated on earlier this year. We made a big batch that almost doubled as a meal. You could easily halve this to serve with a regular meal or double it for a larger gathering appetizer. We used venison summer sausage because it was in our fridge, but bacon would also be excellent. Measurements on seasonings are approximate. Use your own taste as your guide!

Stuffed Mushrooms

16 oz. whole mushrooms
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 tube of crackers, crushed
1 cup cubed salami/summer sausage OR cooked and crumbled bacon
3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Lots of fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash mushrooms thoroughly. Break stems out of mushrooms, leaving just the caps. Set aside the caps. Chop up stems and put them into a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir to combine. If you like you can also add 1 tsp red pepper flakes for some more zip.

Set mushroom caps on a baking sheet greased or lined with aluminum foil. Fill each mushroom cap to heaping with the prepared mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are soft and golden brown. You can turn on broiler for the last few minutes of baking if desired.

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Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Cooking and Foods | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Winners!

Happy spring! I hope the vernal equinox brings you whatever weather you like best.

It’s mellow, cloudy, and brown here today, which suits me just fine. It is perfect cow weather and running weather. I can remember many springs that started with lots of snow!

Thanks to all who entered my Team Chocolate Milk giveaway. I have an old t-shirt that says “Winners drink milk,” and I think you are all winners no matter what. :-)

Only a few people can get the goodies though, and I usually use random.org to help me pick.

The first winner is Ellen, and the second winner is Lisa. Congratulations ladies! The first winner will get the shirt with her prize, and I’ll let the second winner choose which color hat she prefers. You can both watch your email for a message from me soon.

Spring has sprung, and I hope you can all get outside and enjoy your favorite activities.

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Mild March

Greetings on this fair Monday!

I suppose it’s not fair weather everywhere across the country, but here in the heartland it has been a mild few weeks. It seems hardly possible we were enduring 15 below zero during the first days of March because since then it has been sweatshirt weather — with short sleeve weather mixed in. Yesterday we nearly hit 70 degrees.

We didn’t have much snow to melt in the central part of Minnesota so the melt and accompanying mud has disappeared quickly. This is my kind of spring!

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IMG_2062 Boo and Calvin also have spring fever!
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You’d think I would be enjoying outdoor running more than ever, but instead I’m wondering why my body won’t cooperate. I started the year thinking a marathon and maybe even a 50K were in my future, but the past month has been a struggle. My hip flexors are sore, tight, and painful when I run too fast or too far. Then last week, I started having the same throbbing pain in my left shin that plagued me last spring.

Three weeks back I took almost a full week off, and I tentatively ran two miles the first day back. A few days later I went out for an hour easy run on the weekend. I felt better, but I know I’m still not 100%. It’s been up and down since then. I’m keeping my training at 2-3 easy to moderate runs during the week and going as far as I reasonably can on the weekend. I’m also doing some yoga, stretching, and core work throughout the week, which I should make time for everyday. I kept debating and assessing as I ran this past Saturday morning, but ultimately I knew I wanted to see how three hours felt.

The answer was not great. Nineteen miles and change later I had a very angry left leg, but my body and lungs felt in shape for the distance.

I wore my good compression socks in the barn (ug!) on Saturday afternoon to hug my sore shins, and I’ve decided this spring my race schedule will have to be “wait and see.” I’m not ruling anything out just yet, but some days I really wonder why I do this to myself.

The lows are hard, but I also know how glorious the highs are. :-)

On Saturday I journeyed far down the bike trail, and while I was running in short sleeves I saw some brave fisherman still enjoying ice fishing on a smaller slough. The ice near the shore is far too thin to drive over, but you can pack up your gear and walk to a spot to drill your hole. If you’ve never been ice fishing on a beautiful spring day it really is neat. No need for a house and a heater when it’s 45 degrees! The big game fish aren’t in season anymore , but you can still catch tasty smaller fish. JR actually went out last weekend, and we enjoyed sunfish later for supper.

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This weekend also included a quick trip to my parent’s farm for Sunday dinner. We got to see our fast-growing nephew, Adam, who gets cuter every time I see him.

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Wishing you all a great spring week! If you want to win some fun Team Chocolate Milk gear don’t forget to comment on this post by March 18th.

Posted in Boo the bulldog, Calvin, Family Fun, Running | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Spring Into a Fresh Start (A Giveaway!)

Your heart is pounding fast, and you know you’re pushing your body harder than it wants to go. Your legs are straining, burning even, and you look down at your watch. Is it possible you’ve only been running for five minutes? Your mind is focused on one thing — how much you want to slow down and walk. Cool dawn air blows over your sweat-soaked face, and you hope this is worth it.

Some time later…

Your heart is pounding fast, and you know you’re pushing your body closer to being the best it can be. Your legs are straining, burning even, but you embrace the hurt as you climb another hill. Is it possible you’ve already been running for half hour? Your mind is focused on one thing — how grateful you are to be able to take a morning run. Cool dawn air blows over your sweat-soaked face, and you know this is worth it.

Who is this girl so transformed by the run? Is she you? Is she me?

Is she in all of us?
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Running is hard. No matter how long you’ve been doing it, you’ll have days where you feel slow and tired and you downright hurt. The beauty is found over time. You will get stronger and faster if you keep putting in miles.

Whether it’s running, biking, swimming, or any type of individual sport, it offers this payback. You will get out of it what you put into it. It may be a long, winding journey with multiple roadblocks, but any step forward is a step in the right direction.

It doesn’t matter what level you’re at or how long it’s been since you have even thought about working out. TODAY is a great day to set a goal and take a small step toward achieving it. Start with five minutes or twenty. The number isn’t important; it’s all about believing.

Spring has seemingly come early to Minnesota, and the black fields and bright sun have farmers across the state thinking about planting.

I’m thinking about it too, but as a runner I’m also embracing springtime running. My routes are free of ice and snow, and I’m pulling out capris and short sleeves again. My water bottles will no longer freeze when I carry them with or stash them in my mailbox!

Whether you consistently exercise right now or not, this early spring is a great reason to get out and walk, run, or explore in the changing season.

To help you do that, I’m happy to announce a spring giveaway! First, a big thank you to my friends at Team Chocolate Milk

I’ve been a member of the team for several years, and I love being part of their vibrant community of triathletes, runners, cyclists, and even professional athletes.
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As a dairy farmer I especially love that they all believe in refueling with the quality protein and nutrients found in chocolate milk! The team provided items for me to share, and I also threw in a few goodies of my own.

What can you win?

I’m giving away one prize pack each to TWO lucky winners to help jump-start your spring training. Each winner will receive:

-Team Chocolate Milk headsweats wicking hat

-Team Chocolate Milk orange hair ties

-Team Chocolate Milk shoelaces

I’m adding in my favorite chocolate peanut butter gu (because it’s hard to send actual chocolate milk in the mail), and one of the winners will also get a Brooks technical running tee. The shirt is size small, so tell me in the comments if you’re interested in winning the shirt in your prize.

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How do you enter?

Entry 1) Leave a comment on this post telling me how you recover and refuel after a workout. Don’t forget to include if you’d like to win the shirt.

Entry 2) Tweet a link to the giveaway. Either tag me (@DairyCowGal) in the tweet or leave a comment so I know you’ve got a second entry. You can also tag @Chocolate_Milk.

I’ll leave the giveaway open through March 18 and announce the winners by the end of that week. I wish you all the very best in your spring activities, wherever they may take you.

Team Chocolate Milk provided some items for this giveaway, but I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.
Posted in Running | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments