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Family Friendly Things to do in the Twin Cities this November

November 1, 2016
things to do in the Twin Cities this November

If you’re looking for family friendly things to do in the Twin Cities this November, then you’ve found the mother lode of stuff to do. The weather looks to remain warmer than usual so be sure to get out and enjoy all that this great town has to offer. From the Autumn Craft Festival in Shakopee to the a make your own bird feeder event in Maplewood, there’s something for everyone. Of course, you could always spend your free time raking the leaves.

Family Friendly Things to do in the Twin Cities this November

Build a Bird Feeder
When: November 5th, 2016
Where: 2659 7th Street E
Maplewood, MN

Build a birdfeeder with reclaimed cedar fencing and learn which Minnesota native winter birds will visit your feeder. Explore stations to learn about different beak types and more. Your backyard birdfeeder will be a joy to you and birds throughout the chilly season! Fee: Prepay $5/birdfeeder by Tuesday, November 1. To register, go to maplewoodnaturecenter.com and click on the Register Online Go button. Call 651-249-2170 if you need help registering.

Jitney at the Penumbra
When: Now through November 13th, 2016
Where: 270 N. Kent Street
St. Paul, MN

It is 1977, and in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, city officials threaten to level a makeshift taxi dispatch office where neighbors have gathered for years. At a time when safe and comfortable transit was not guaranteed for black customers, Becker’s car service provided mobility and a modicum of respect for the community. Now his building has been identified as prime real estate for redevelopment, and he might be forced out of business. Meanwhile, his estranged son has been released from prison and wants to come home. As pressure mounts, Becker is forced to reckon with powers beyond his control. Jitney is an “explosive” and “gripping” portrait of African American life from the pen of one of America’s greatest writers. Join us for a riveting production brought to you by the nationally-known and critically-acclaimed creative team at Penumbra Theatre.

Eagan’s Indoor Winter Market
When: November 5th and 19th, 2016
Where: Eagan Community Center
1501 Central Parkway
Eagan, MN

Stock up on market favorites for the Thanksgiving and holiday season. Thanksgiving recipes provided featuring local MN produce and products.

Autumn Festival, An Arts and Crafts Affair
When: November 10th – 13th, 2016
Where: Canterbury Park
1100 Canterbury Road
Shakopee, MN

Hundreds of the nation’s finest artists and crafters display and sell their handcrafted works. Our Arts & Crafts tour of shows are consistently ranked in the Top 100 Shows in the Country by Sunshine Artist Magazine. Stage entertainment, hourly gift certificate winners, plenty of food & drink, lots of family fun, and free parking!

Cardboard Gallery
When: Now through January 1st, 2017
Where: Science Museum of Minnesota
120 Kellogg Blvd W.
St. Paul, MN

The Science Museum is devoting 3,500 square feet of space to cardboard-inspired ingenuity. We’ve provided hundreds of cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes and an assortment of tools and connectors, and visitors of all ages can turn their ideas into cardboard reality in a giant ongoing free build. Assemble forts, create creatures, design mazes, construct rocket ships—or build whatever you can imagine!

Hometown for the Holidays
When: November 18th – December 31st, 2016
Where: Historic Main Street in Stillwater, MN

Experience the holidays like you remember. Historic Main Street Stillwater is alive with Christmas decorations, lights, and traditional events for a month-long celebration from November to New Year’s Eve. Get in the old-fashioned holiday spirit! Downtown Stillwater’s independently owned unique boutiques and restaurants welcome you. Shop small and local throughout the season to support local businesses and Minnesota-made gifts. Find joy in shopping and dining during the holiday season with many free family friendly events in November and December.

Hip Hop Nutcracker
When: November 22nd and 23rd, 2016
Where: Ordway
345 Washington Street
St. Paul, MN

The Hip Hop Nutcracker is an evening-length production performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, DJ, and violinist.Through the spells cast by the mysterious Drosselmeyer, Maria-Clara and her Nutcracker prince travel back in time to the moment when her parents first meet in a nightclub. Digital scenery transforms E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story of a palace of sugarplums into a romance set in 1980s Brooklyn. The dance work celebrates love, community, and the magic of New Year’s Eve.

Holidazzle
When: November 25th – December 22nd, 2016
Where: Loring Park
Minneapolis, MN

Holidazzle creates a community gathering place and holiday destination for people of all ages to come together and celebrate winter in Downtown Minneapolis. This year’s Holidazzle features stories highlighting local people, products and places that showcase the food scene, art district, park system, active lifestyle, local entertainers and community groups that make our city and our region unique and special.

Events The Walking Dead Things I Really Like Things that piss me off

Where Does The Walking Dead Go From Here?

October 24, 2016
Where Does The Walking Dead Go From Here?

After last night’s brutal episode, where does The Walking Dead go from here? SPOILER ALERT!!! If you haven’t watched the series premier of episode 7 and don’t know what happened, then hit the back button now and back away. This post is filled with predictions for where the show will go and also filled with spoilers about what has happened so far.

You’ve been warned.

Without a doubt, last night’s The Walking Dead was the most brutally disturbing episode yet. Of course, it had to be with all the hype that’d been built up over the last 6 months due to the cliffhanger nature of the ending of season 6.

For 6 months I wondered and worried if Glenn was actually going to die, like he did in the comics, or if the whole fake Glenn death under the dumpster somehow rendered him safe.

Nope.

I had hope, for a little while. I liked Glenn, he was the heart of the show. He was the plucky pizza delivery guy who was always willing to do what was necessary for the group, with little thought of his own safety.

Problem was, he didn’t do much else beyond that. As expendable main characters go, he was the best choice. He was the only choice.

It doesn’t hurt that he got the bat in the comic as well.

I have read the comics, up to episode 100, which is where we are now. I don’t plan on reading it anymore, prefering the show on only one possible timeline. When the book and the show diverge, like they did with the death of Abraham/Denise it’s too heartbreaking for me.

I loved Abraham, he was comic gold and was great at relieving the tension created by the stress of living in the zombie apocalypse. I suspect Negan will now wear that mantle, I’ll just have a difficult time laughing at his jokes. There’s not much relief in that. If one is to laugh along with the bad guy (though, to be fair, Negan does not see himself as the bad guy, and there’s actually some debate on that title. Rick and his group sort of had this coming), one risks identifying with that bad guy a little comfortably.

Abraham and Glenn will certainly be missed, but they had to go. The writers and producers had hyped the show for months, they could not kill off a secondary character such as Eugene or Sasha (my pick). The only other character they could have sacrificed and maintained the hype, would have been Daryl. Thankfully that didn’t happen, though the writers did throw him under the bus when they made him the cause of Glenn’s death.

Where Does The Walking Dead Go From Here?

Obviously, wherever the comic goes, and like I said, I’m not bothering to read it anymore. I do hope the show spends more time with the rebuilding rather than these constant upheavals. The show is so formulaic it’s surprising anyone watches. The characters settle in a seemingly safe place and then a bad guy comes along and destroys it allowing it to get overrun with walkers and the group must find another place. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I’m hopeful that they will remain in Alexandria after they successfully defeated all the walkers that descended when the Wolves attacked.

Negan is the Problem

I want to see the people of Alexandria, and other communities, work to bring civilization back. That is the interesting story to me. I don’t care about the endless bad guys they have to slay. I’m not even sure they’re believable.

How sustainable is it when Negan takes half of everything from these communities that are producing?

It won’t work, it can’t go on for very long because they won’t be able to produce enough resources for those who choose not to participate, as this image from conservative artist, Sabo illustrates.

Sabo poster about Negan and Hillary Clinton

Negan said he wasn’t going to plant a garden when someone else could do it for him.

Those sorts of regimes never last, and of course, we know it doesn’t last in this story either.

I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan, he’s hot as fuck, but Negan is a chore to get through, much like The Governor was. Of course, I am not the target audience for The Walking Dead, and I have no illusions that it will turn into a real character study about what happens when the shit hits the fan. For the most part, the writers shy away from those storylines. The few times they have have been the most interesting episodes, but probably not ratings generators.

I want to keep watching the show, I think about this show and its characters more than any other show I can recall. I have to remind myself that it is just a show. And yet I worry I will lose interest sooner than later.

As the scene unfolded last night, I watched through my hands. I have not been able to get the image of Abraham beaten to a pulp, lying lifeless on the ground out of my head. Same goes for the image of Glenn with one eye popped out (though I stopped watching and just listened after that). I felt the impact of those deaths just as surely as the characters who witnessed it.

Negan has a very fine line to walk

If Negan is too brutal and takes so much, what is the point?

When he was driving Rick around, trying to break him, I kept wondering why Rick kept fighting. I get it, he has Carl and Judith to protect. He’s recently let himself fall in love with Michonne and has that to go on for. Other characters, most of them, don’t have something like that to hold on to. Negan can get Rick to do things because he has leverage. For people like Sasha, Rosita, and eventually Tara when she learns about Denise, they’ll have to find a reason to go on in a world that is so incredibly brutal the title was indeed prophetic.

The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be

The title was taken from dialog from the final episode of the first season, when Dr Edwin Jenner provides a way out of the death trap that is the CDC.

He probably never imagined anyone like Negan and his Saviors.

I’m still traumatized by last night’s episode. I wish both characters were still with us and I am trying desperately to not lose hope in the writing of the show. We shall see.

Where do you think the story will go and where to you think it should go?

74 Days of Positivity Dumb Shit I Do Minnesota Nice Things I Really Like Winter Writing

74 Days of Positivity

October 19, 2016
74 Days of Positivity

It’s almost Halloween which means it’s almost winter here in Minnesota so I’ve decided to have 74 days of positivity. If you’re missing the obvious connection, that’s okay. I’ll explain. When the days start to get shorter I start to get this overwhelming urge to hibernate. I don’t necessarily want to sleep, I just don’t want to do anything. I tend to get down. I won’t use the word depressed, because I don’t think that’s what it is. I tend to get negative, especially around the holidays. It seems to set in earlier and earlier each year. By the time How the Grinch Stole Christmas is on TV (usually before Thanksgiving) I’m so sick of all the heart warming bullshit I could just puke.

The holidays tend to suck.

I’m overworked, I’m tired, I’m crabby, etc… Every year I tell myself I’m not going to get all worked up about the holidays, I’m going to delegate some of the work, I’m going to chill the hell out and just enjoy everyone. I tell myself that, right around this time of year, and then as soon as Halloween is over I fall down the rabbit hole and don’t emerge until after Valentine’s Day.

I become more snarky during the holidays, and I’m sick of it.

74 Days of Positivity

I want to enjoy the holidays and all that this beautiful time of year has to offer. I love winter, but I hate the snow. The truth is, I don’t even hate the snow, I hate shoveling the snow.

I can do something about that. I have a child who is able, I can certainly teach her to use the shovel or the snow blower. Sure, I’ll have to endure all kinds of eye rolling, but I’m getting the eye rolling now. May as well make it worth her while. Or mine, as the case may be.

Truth be told, I haven’t fully examined why I hate this time of year so much. It could be that my family is severely fractured. I don’t like it, but I don’t want to fix it either. And, while I think I have let that go, it’s still bothering me so clearly I haven’t. It could be that I’m used to being broke during the holidays. While this has been true in the past, and might be this year too, the reality is I’m doing ok.

I think there are a lot of ghosts of Christmas Pasts that I just assume will make a show even though I have complete control over who shows up and who doesn’t.

It could also be that since I turned 50 I’ve been making a lot of big changes in my life and this is one I need to make.

I’m generally a pretty happy person. Sure, I have my moments and I tend to worry about things that are generally outside of my control, but for the most part I can laugh through much of it. Even if there’s a fair amount of anger underlying my laughter.

I’m tired of being angry. It hasn’t served me very well.

So, for the next 74 days, until the end of the year, I’ll be practicing more positivity.

It could take the form of yoga, going out with the girls (after I meet some girls to hang out with or wrangle the ones I used to hang out with before I isolated myself), it could mean taking time to read instead of doing the same old thing each night of watching TV and hanging out on Facebook.

I’m not really sure how this is going to work, I just know that I’m open to anything that comes along in the next 74 days and plan to look at any and all opportunities as just that – opportunities.

I’m going to actively enjoy life, dammit, instead of just letting it pass me by.

I also expect to piss a few people off while I do this. I’m not sure why, but isn’t that how it always seems? You do something good for yourself and it upsets the applecart?

Events Kids Minnesota Reviews Things I Really Like

Pumpkin Nights Twin Cities

October 14, 2016
Pumpkin Nights Twin Cities

It’s getting spooky out there at the MN State Fairgrounds! Pumpkin Night Twin Cities has taken over the fairgrounds and it’s pretty spooktacular!! Actually, it’s not that spooky, which makes it perfect for the little ones (and their parents) who want to get into the Halloween spirit.

Haven’t heard of Pumpkin Nights before? You’re probably not alone. This is the first year I’ve heard of them, so what is Pumpkin Nights?

Pumpkin Nights, pig carved out of a pumpkin

Pumpkin Nights Twin Cities

Pumpkin Nights is a half-mile long path of over 3000 carved gourds! They folks who put it together created 12 different and amazing worlds made out of carved pumpkin. From local sensations like the Vikings and Prince to an under-the-sea world, a south-of-the-border retreat and some ghostly ghouls, there’s bound to be many favorites.

As you walk the path of pumpkins you can rock out to some great tunes, too!

Stop and get a family portrait taken and don’t forget the Tater Tots, Karmel Korn and mini Corndogs!

The Festival is open today through October 31st, 2016!

Sundays to Thursdays: 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Fridays & Saturdays: 6:30pm – Midnight

Pumpkin Nights

Enter on Como, just off of Snelling Avenue. You can park (for free!) right across the street.

1719 Como Avenue, Falcon Heights, MN 55108

Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. Click here to buy your tickets online.

Get your costume ready! Carve yourself a pumpkin and bring it to the festival to be added to our Community Carving world. For every pumpkin you bring, they’ll donate $5 to Scares That Care.

Pumpkin Nights, Vikings logo carved into a pumpkin

This was a really fun outing for the kids. It’s dark, but it’s not scary. No one will jump out at you while you walk through the displays. The path is handicap accessible so wheelchairs and strollers will be just fine. Dogs are not allowed.

If you’re looking for some family friendly entertainment in St. Paul, come out to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for this once a year spooktacular pumpkin fun!

Advice Dumb Shit I Do Minnesota Things I Really Like Winter

Storing Geraniums over the Winter

October 13, 2016
Storing Geraniums over the Winter

Did you know you’re supposed to be storing geraniums over the winter? Did you know that these incredibly hardy plants can last for decades if stored properly? That’s right, there is no need to purchase new geraniums each year. Geraniums are actually perennials even though they are grown as annuals in many parts of the country.

I love geraniums because their blooms are bursting with color that seem to last well into the fall. Geraniums have a lovely, delicate fragrance and it’s really challenging to kill them. They can handle being over-watered and under-watered. If you have a cabin up north, you don’t need to worry about hiring the neighbor kid to water them while you’re away for the weekend. They’ll endure under considerable neglect.

Storing Geraniums over the Winter

Overwintering geraniums is pretty easy. There are three ways to store your geraniums: keep them blooming and growing, letting them go dormant and making cuttings from them. I prefer letting my geraniums go dormant because it’s the easiest way.

Potted Geraniums – This method is generally for geraniums that have been planted in the ground during the growing season. Dig up the plant and place in a put with ample room for the rootball. Prune it back a bit and water thoroughly. Keep the plant in a cool and well lit area in your home. You’ll want as much sunlight as possible so a southern facing window works well. There still may not be enough light so the plant may get a little spindly or leggy. You can use a plant light if you prefer.

storing geraniums over the winter

Make them go Dormant – This is my preferred method of wintering my geraniums, mostly because it is the easiest and because I have a cat who eats houseplants. Many sites will tell you to water the plant during its dormancy, and that may work. I don’t bother. I pull the pots in before the first freeze and place them all in a dark area of the basement. I actually put them in an unused shower in the basement so I can shut the door and keep the cat out.

I don’t think about the plants until spring. Let me repeat that. I don’t water them, I don’t hang them upside down and I don’t let them have any light. They are out of sight and out of mind.

When spring comes I bring them outside into the shade at first, and soak them as they are moved into more and more light. After about a week I put them back into direct sunlight and pretty much forget about them until fall when it’s time to overwinter them again. Of course I prune them each season and clip any dead blooms off the plant. I’ve used this method for over 15 years and have beautiful geraniums.

Storing geraniums for the winter

Cuttings – I’ve made cuttings from many plants, but not geraniums. I’m sure it works wonderfully because the plant is so hardy, I just haven’t had a reason to do it yet. Basically cut 3 or 4 inch cuttings and remove any leaves from the bottom of the cutting. Place into a pot filled with vermiculite. Make sure the drainage is good. You can place the cutting into a plastic bag to keep the cutting humid. Rooting should happen in about 6 to 8 weeks. Once they have rooted repot them into potting soil. Keep them in a cool well lit place until it’s warm enough to put them outside.

Pretty simple. Geraniums are one of my all time favorite flowers because they are so easy to care for, and their stunning blooms last and last.

Kids Minnesota Things I Really Like Winter

Easy Winter Accessories Organization

October 11, 2016
Easy Winter Accessories Organization

I love this easy winter accessories organization hack! In Minnesota we’re never sure when winter will start or when it will end, but keeping all the hats, scarves, mittens and gloves out gets sloppy and takes up too much room by the back door. So I created this easy winter accessories organizer and put it where we keep all the boots and coats.

Prior to this household hack I simply used an old Trader Joe’s shopping bag to store all the winter gloves, hats and mittens in. The problem with using a bag was that you’d have to dig through it each time you wanted a pair to wear.

That usually meant, especially if you are a smallish child, dumping the contents out, rifling through it all and then leaving with mismatched mittens because there was no way to know if the mates were in the bag when you only had seconds before you missed the bus.

Easy Winter Accessories Organization

I used a standard over the door shoe organizer and filled it with hats, gloves, mittens, and scarves. Mostly hats because those don’t get lost as easily as gloves and mittens.

As you can see, there’s plenty of room in each compartment to fit two or three hats and several pairs of gloves and mittens. I even manages to fit the dog’s sweater in one of the compartments.

This way, you can see which mittens have mates and which hat goes with which scarf or pair of gloves.

As you can see, I have several compartments left over. I was thinking I could put wool socks in those as well as hand warmers and ear muffs if I can ever remember where I put those last spring.

By keeping the organizer with the boots and coats, the kids are encouraged to keep all their winter gear in one spot instead of creating a trail of clothing as they walk in the door. Less to clean up and less to lose.

 

Events Kids Things I Really Like

The Teal Pumpkin Project

October 10, 2016
The Teal Pumpkin Project

I’m so thrilled to learn about the Teal Pumpkin Project! About 5 years ago I learned my daughter had severe tree nut allergies. Overnight everything became a lot more difficult and the worry never ends. She carries both Benadryl and an Epi-Pen with her where ever she goes. She is also an ace at checking labels and asking if food has tree nuts in it or been prepared around equipment that has processed tree nuts.

We’ve been lucky, we’ve never had to use the Epi-Pen. For the most part, her tree nut allergies haven’t interfered in day to day life. I make a few adjustments when cooking and baking and that’s about it. We’re vigilant at festivals, fairs and other activities where food is prepared for us (and hyper vigilant  at some restaurants that don’t label ingredients as well as I would like), but otherwise the only time of year it really sucks for her is Halloween.

Thankfully there’s the Teal Pumpkin Project! Click here to learn more.

As a result, Halloween can be extra scary if your child has a food allergy. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) came up with the Teal Pumpkin Project to create a safer Halloween for kids who have food allergies. If you put a teal pumpkin at your door it means you’re giving away non food items to your trick or treaters.

The Teal Pumpkin Project

FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project® is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all kids. Putting a teal pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available, such as glow sticks or small toys. This simple act promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions.

How to Take Part

  • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters
  • Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home to indicate to passersby that you have non-food treats available
  • Display a free printable sign or premium poster from FARE to explain the meaning of your teal pumpkin

Support the Project

Do you want to help spread the Teal Pumpkin Project’s messages of a safer, happier Halloween for all? You can support FARE and the Teal Pumpkin Project in a variety of ways:

Spread the Word

Enter your teal pumpkin in our contest by using #tealpumpkincontest and tagging us @FoodAllergy on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

People Things I Really Like

Traveling with Dad – London

September 20, 2016

Next week will be ten years since my father unexpectedly passed away. No one really saw it coming and when it happened it happened quickly. I miss my father very much. More than anything I miss traveling with dad.

But, we had issues. I’ve written about him many times over the years and it if you didn’t know him you might wonder how I could go back and forth between being angry with him and adoring him. I don’t know myself, I’m still working through a lot of it.

Day to day life with my father was difficult, especially when I was a child. As an adult it was much easier, although it still could be challenging. One area where it was easier was when we traveled together.

There was something about going through hell together that helped us bond. I have my father’s sense of humor, which is funny when you consider I didn’t think he had one until I was in my early 20s.

If you’ve read this blog before you know my mother had a stroke when she was 29 years old. It changed everything. She had severe brain damage and lost most of her short term memory and much of her mobility. That didn’t prevent my father from dragging my mother all over the globe.

My father loved traveling and he tried his best to show the world to my mother. They went on several cruises because those were easier, but he took my mother to Hawaii, Spain, London, and many other places I can’t remember. My mother suffered from anxiety in addition to her other ailments, but dad didn’t let her back out, even though she would have if given the opportunity. She looks back fondly on those travels now, in fact they are memories she hangs on to most of all.

Traveling with Dad – London

In 1988 we all flew to the UK for my brother’s wedding in Kent. After the wedding I traveled with my parents to London for a few days until they went home and I went on to Italy with a family friend. Neither of my parents admitted that my mother had any disabilities. My mother refused to be photographed in her wheelchair and my dad never made accommodations for someone who used one.

When we arrived at the hotel it became clear that the UK didn’t have the same laws concerning handicapped access as we did in the US. Dad had booked a room on the 5th floor of the hotel. It made him nervous to get rooms on the upper levels in hotels, but sometimes that’s simply all that was available. The hotel had two lifts but one was out due to water pipe issues and the other wasn’t big enough to fit the wheelchair.

No worries, the hotel manager said he would take of it and called a few of the bellhops to come and help. While the first one removed his belt and secured it around my mother and her chair, the other two grabbed on to the side of her chair and started to carry her up the stairs.

This was pretty standard treatment when we traveled, but especially in London. Everyone was always willing to do whatever it took to make sure we had access to anything and everything.

Mom was halfway up the first flight of stairs before she got wedged in the stairway. It was an old hotel and surely the building had settled over time. Not to worry, the helpful hotel managed instructed another man to remove one of the hand rails going up the stairs.

Mom was laughing, loving the attention, and not the least bit concerned that she was being carried precariously up five flights of stairs by three strangers speaking a language she didn’t understand.

Dad was just thrilled someone else was hauling her up the stairs for once.

At this point I’m standing in the corner laughing my ass off.

One lift is broken and no one an go up or down the stairs while mom is wedged in the stairway.

“How on earth are we going to do this every time we want to leave the hotel?” I asked.

My father, who was just as punchy as me, started laughing too. He came to his senses and asks the hotel manager to ask the men carrying my mother to bring her down. He was terribly sorry but this was just not going to work out.

I shouldn’t have said anything, we ended up staying in some castle that had only one room available. I ended up sleeping on a cot in the bathroom.

 

Food Recipes Things I Really Like

Instant Pot Shrimp Alfredo in 7 Minutes

September 14, 2016
Instant Pot Shrimp Alfredo in 7 Minutes

Have I mentioned how much I love my Instant Pot? This Instant Pot Shrimp Alfredo in 7 Minutes recipe is so simple even the kids could fix dinner. Of course, my kids won’t, but they will eat it up. So far the Instant Pot has not let me down. Without fail I forget to take something out of the freezer to cook for dinner. With the Instant Pot, thawing isn’t necessary.

Instant Pot Shrimp Alfredo in 7 Minutes

ingredients for shrimp alfredo

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/4 cup diced onions (red or white, I use whatever I have in the fridge)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 bag frozen, cooked shrimp

2 cups chicken broth

1 box pasta

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp flour

1 cup half & half, milk or cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Putting it all together:

Plug in Instant Pot and set to sauté.

img_3853

Sauté onions in the olive oil until lightly browned, about 5 minutes leave in Instant Pot. I had a few leftover chopped white onions from my Cheesy Smoked Sausage Hot Dish Instant Pot Recipe so I used them here and then added some diced red onion too.

shrimp-pasta

After you’ve sautéd the onions add the frozen shrimp, broth and uncooked pasta.

Lock the cover and set Instant Pot to high pressure for 7 minutes. Be sure the steam release handle is closed. It will take a few minutes for it to pressurize and will make some wheezing noises while it does. Once it is pressurized the timer will appear on the display.

When the timer goes off use the quick release method by turning the steam release handle to open. This will release all the steam in a couple of minutes making it safe to open the Instant Pot. You want to use the quick release method so the pasta doesn’t overcook (ever time you overcook pasta and angel dies, so don’t let it happen).

shrimp

Hit the sauté button again and add your half & half, parmesan cheese and flour, stirring occasionally as it thickens.

That’s it! Dish it up and call the kids down.

Instant Pot Shrimp Alfredo in 7 Minutes

 

Events Things I Really Like

Apple Upgrades the Apple Watch, iPhone 7

September 7, 2016
Apple upgrades Apple Watch iphone7

I’ve had an iPhone for years, I’ve had an Apple Watch for about a year. I love it, but it has some limitations. The good news is Apple upgrades the Apple Watch, iPhone 7. The big news is Apple Watch is now waterproof, though they are calling it water resistant to 50 meters. Whatever, it means I can now swim with it on, more importantly I can have the calorie count included in my daily activity.

In addition to being waterproof, the Apple Watch has included an emergency 911 feature in the event you need to call 911 . Because the Apple Watch has a GPS in it now, you can call 911 without your phone and the service will know exactly where you are.

They’ve included some new features to the software and the processing is 50% faster, but I haven’t heard if the Health app will play with MyFitness Pal or FitBit. I’m waiting for this feature, without it I am forced to wear a Fitbit so I can compete in challenges. I don’t understand why they choose not to make them compatible.

iPhone 7 looks completely different. It’s sleeker, also waterproof, and has a new camera – stabiliazation, editing, wide color… 7mp FaceTime HD Camera on the front, 12 mp camera on the back. It’s “the best camera we’ve ever made”. The iPhone 7 Plus has two cameras, one is a telephoto, the other is a more standard camera. Now includes a shallow depth of field feature (crisp sharp image with blurred background). It’s complicated, but actually pretty cool how they’ve done it. Smart Phone photography just got a whole lot better, and easier. I won’t have to carry around my DSLR for simple gigs anymore.

Stereo speakers have been added to the iPhone 7.

Earphones now work over the Lightening connector. An adaptor will be included for the analog headphone jack.

Air Pods, wireless earphones.

Apple Airpods

Small, pair easily, 24 hours of listening, connects to any Apple device like MacBook, iMac, MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, iPad, etc… They can be used as a pair or just one.

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Instant Pot – Does it All and More!

August 15, 2016
Instant Pot Does it all

Have you gotten an Instant Pot yet? Seriously, what are you waiting for? The Instant Pot – does it all and more! I love this thing almost as much as I love my children. It makes life so much easier and Amazon has it on sale again!!

Let’s back up a bit in case you’re like me, and had no idea what an Instant Pot was.

The Instant Pot is a really safe and polite pressure cooker from Canada. It’s got not just one, not just two, but 10 proven safety mechanisms. If you’ve cooked with a pressure cooker you know that they aren’t always safe. I’ve exploded a couple in my time. In fact, it was a rite of passage growing up. My dad gave me a pressure cooker when I moved out. The kind that goes on top of the stove. I’d seen him explode one once or twice so I was prepared. It didn’t help. Good thing I wanted to paint my ceiling again anyway.

So safety is important. Just look at how wonderfully safe it is!

Did I mention polite? It’s Canadian so it has to be. Still, the box cracked me up. American products are all like plug me in and hopefully I’ll work right. Not this lovely Canadian Instant Pot, it’s saying please and thank you all over the place. Also the instruction manual, it’s got a cheat sheet since it understands no one ever reads those things. It’s also got a website which is really helpful with tips, tricks and recipes.

Getting back to safety…. The Instant Pot pressure cooker is safe, it as a release valve on it so you can let out all of the steam and not burn off your face or blast beef stew all over your kitchen ceiling, two really important features.

You may have seen those infomercials on late night TV where the guy cooks a metric ton of chicken wings in about 5 minutes. That’s the Power Pressure Cooker, the American version of the Instant Pot, though truth be told the Power Pressure Cooker could have come first, I don’t really know. It is the pressure cooker I had before I got my Instant Pot. I loved it, it is a great product (you can see a great compare and contrast of the two pressure cookers here), but my son borrowed it from me when he hosted a group of friends and I haven’t seen it since. So instead of buying another of the same I wanted to try the Instant Pot, and I am so glad I did!

So, what all does the Instant Pot do?

Instant Pot – Does it All and More!

  • Slow cook
  • Rice
  • Soups
  • Chili
  • Oatmeal
  • Stews
  • Hot dish (casseroles for you non Minnesotans)
  • Yogurt (seriously, you can make yogurt in this thing!!!)
  • And basically anything you might cook on the stove or in the oven you can cook in the Instant Pot for a fraction of the time.

Cooking with pressure allows you to cook foods faster and to retain their moisture, unlike conventional oven cooking. Because you can do it all in one pot, you save yourself all kinds of cleanup. Because you can do it in a fraction of the regular cooking time there’s no excuse to feed your family healthy meals because you didn’t think ahead and pull something out of the freezer so now you’re grabbing your keys and heading to the nearest drive thru.

Life Changing Cooking Appliance

Instant Pot (and pressure cooking) has been a thing for a couple of years now, but recently Amazon put it on sale for its Prime Day at something like $69. Normally it sells for from $100 to $159 (with the Power Pressure Cooker running about the same), so at $69 it’s a bargain, hell buy two, you’ll use them.

I got the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W a couple of weeks ago (it’s the larger version, the one that makes yogurt) and have cooked in it almost every night. I’ve made pulled pork (20 minutes), Shrimp Alfredo (7 minutes), baby potatoes (7 minutes), and my favorite, a cheesy smoked sausage hot dish. All were delicious and so easy to prepare.

Instant Pot meals

The only drawback that I can see to the Instant Pot is that you cannot can with it. It’s too small at only 6 quarts (you need a 10 quart vessel to can properly). The Power Pressure Cooker does have a canning feature, so if that’s what you’re looking for be sure to check it out. I don’t can that often (though I would like to), so I’d use my huge ass canning pot if I needed to.

Have you gotten your Instant Pot yet? What did you think about it?