Daughter Nissa “suggested” that I maybe get off my Instant Pot high horse for a bit and give you loyal readers a rest in that department. My Instant Pot high horse said that I could do that for this week, but I will come back with one more Instant Pot session the following week. We do need to keep our tummies well nourished and happy.

What do we talk about this week? The weather probably has been well covered so maybe the question should be asked: how are you pulling off this new year? How are you doing so far in this new year? Are you gardeners working on the plans for the upcoming season? Do you have your seed orders in? Are your New Year’s resolutions working out? You work on the answer to those questions and I will share a bit of my new year.

First of all it is totally impossible that we are already into the second part of February, but here we are! On the home front, I finally got the Christmas tree down. I kept putting everything Christmas that needed to be stored away under the tree with the plan that when I packed it away everything would all be there to be put away at the same time. I did get everything packed but it still is awaiting the attic trip. I gave the Charles Brown tree a promotion and because of his good appearance this year I renamed him “Sir Charles Brown.”

I did make it outside the “cabin” enough to keep in touch with the real world. One thing I was not planning on was to get a new passion, but it found me in the form of “Organic Applique.” It's hard to define but involves more thinking than regular applique might be one way of explaining it. We are using hand-dyed wool fabrics as the basis of the nine-piece project that will become a quilt. (At least some of us hope so!)

The few out-of-town trips were fruitful and yielded lots of goodies. We were in Ellsworth, Wis., picking up some auction items (that part of life is also still alive) and Husband Larry asked if I wanted to stop at the Ellsworth Cheese Factory. I said maybe, so we stopped. We left with enough cheese curds of various flavors to host a very large party, a wide range of local wines, Spring Grove sodas and California bourbon made by veterans. Hear those curds squeeek!

To further stock the larder for any upcoming storms, we did a trip to Morelli's in St. Paul. This Italian shop is low in space but super high in wonderful meats and an ever changing wine stock. Their Italian sausage is divine and their olive selection is bargain priced. They have a big selection of pasta from Italy as well as sauces. No wide isles or fancy shopping carts but great people who insist they carry out all those heavy goodies you purchase.

Closer to home I ventured out to discover the “new” knitting shop in downtown Hastings. It is kind of like Morelli's in space but has beautiful yarns to keep our fingers busy. Big selection of many yarns including hand dyes by owner Sara Lawrence at 113 E. Second St.

One place that I have not made it to but really want to go to is the eating out under the stars option at the Lock and Dam restaurant. Only in Minnesota or similar parts of the world would we be wanting to eat outside in the middle of the winter. The “dining igloos” offer us that new experience. Call 651-319-0906 for information on how you can make this a part of your life.

Give yourself a review of the new year and I hope it has a lot more good things than the other direction. More light coming each day! Less mice! Don't have to worry about your ice cream cone melting outside!