Rainy day muffins…

Rainy day muffins…

It is 46 degrees and raining (again) this morning.  There are so many beautiful shades of green here in Iowa that I cannot complain about the rain.  Hopefully, all this rain will evolve into the amazing jewel tones of Autumn…my favorite season.  My farmer friends tell me, however, that they need more very warm days and sunshine to mature the crops.  So, we’ll pray for just that and an abundant, successful harvest here in the Heartland!

A couple of nights ago, I made these muffins and, to be honest, they’re even better two days later.  Something about all the flavors and the moisture of the prunes having time to absorb.  I wouldn’t say that they are my favorite muffins ever, but they were very good with a cup of fresh coffee on this rainy morning.

Now, if I’d put Banana-Prune Muffins in the title, you would probably have skipped on by, right?!  They really are good – try them!  

 Banana-Prune Muffins

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup butter (melted)

1 egg

1 cup mashed, ripe banana

1 & 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup finely chopped & pitted prunes (or chopped chunky if you prefer)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C).  Prepare the muffin tins with Pam, grease & flour OR use paper liners as I did.

In one bowl:  Combine and whisk all the dry ingredients together.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, melted butter, vanilla and egg.  Beat until smooth.  Blend in the bananas.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Stir just until moistened.  Gently mix in the prunes.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups.

Bake in preheated oven for about 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Enjoy warm with butter and homemade jam or honey!


Iowa, simply beautiful…

Iowa, simply beautiful…

Lately, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in the dentist’s office.  Each time I’m there, I actually hope I have to wait for a while in the waiting room since that gives me time to browse through a wonderful photo book entitled Iowa Simply Beautiful.  The photographs by Larsh K. Bristol and Curt Maas are absolutely amazing.  Some are breathtaking in fact.  I looked on ebay hoping to find the book there but could not.  What I did find though is Iowa Simply Beautiful II by Larsh K. Bristol, Curt Maas and Kent Foster.

Paging through some of the photos, I have to look twice to be sure that I am not looking at photographs of Vermont, Virginia, parts of Kentucky or the hills of the Tennessee Cumberland Plateau.  Beautiful rolling hills, exquisite squares of patchwork green farmland, rivers, waterfalls…all in Iowa!  For those of you who think Iowa is “flat farmland”, think again!  It’s time to start traveling and see as much of this beautiful state as I can.

I’m reconciled to the fact that it is going to take a while for me to get to the British Isles, France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland.  I may never get there, although I hope I do.  In the meantime, I’ve decided that there is very little standing between me and some of the places I’d really like to see in Iowa!  This is not an exhaustive list by any means! So here goes…

  • The Amana Colonies    Their 2014 Oktoberfest sounds wonderful.  I will actually be in Memphis the first two weeks of October this year but there’s no reason YOU can’t make it!  I definitely want to see The Amana Colonies.  Check out the link – it looks like a terrific place to visit.
  • The Iowa State Capitol  Here, I’ve been in Des Moines for almost two years and have not scheduled a tour of the historical, 23 karat gold leaf-topped, Capitol building!
  • The Blank Park Zoo   Also sad to say that this animal lover from way back has never been to Des Moines’ wonderful Blank Park Zoo
  • The Bridges of Madison County.  Have you seen the movie by that title with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood?  I’d love to see and photograph these famous bridges.
  • The Danish Windmill and The Danish Museum.  Just about an hour from here is The 1848 Danish Windmill and Danish Museum in Elk Horn, Iowa.  Since I love the old classic movie Foreign Correspondent, partially filmed in Holland, I’d love to see this authentic windmill!
  • Field of Dreams.  I enjoyed the movie and would like to see the setting for it in Dubuque County, Iowa.

This post may have to be without photos until I have and/or make time to wander the beautiful Iowa countryside and farmlands and capture some of what I see and love on film!  On my Pinterest site (Click Follow Me on Pinterest sidebar at right).  On the site, there is a board of photos for the Amana Colonies!

Note:  Sadly, I read that Curt Maas passed away on September 7, 2005 and Larsh K. Bristol died in 2006 in an automobile accident on one of his beloved Iowa river roads.

A promise of Spring…

A promise of Spring…

There may be snow on the ground – and evidently more in the forecast – but there is a promise of Spring on my table, a sweet gift from my precious daughter.   These are Long Life tulips from Bloomaker.  They will be a gorgeous shade of pink and I am looking forward to seeing them bloom!

My daughter purchased one for me and one for herself as she, too, looks forward to Spring and planting all 32 varieties of vegetables and herbs that she has ordered!  Her plans are to rent two large gardening plots in a local gardening co-op.  My beautiful, artistic, athletic daughter has turned into a homesteading, cooking-everything-from-scratch goumet cook!  She would love a farm on ten acres or more!  Maybe that will be in the not too distant future.

In the meantime, we’ll watch our tulips grow and wait for Spring in the midst of an Iowa Winter…

Snow days…

Snow days…

Little did I know on Monday when I made the dreaded trip to the grocery store and trekked up the two flights of stairs with bags and bags of groceries…that I would be glad on Wednesday when another snow storm hit!  Here’s the door to my humble abode.  Before I get to this point, however, there is a secure entry that I must unlock (and I’m really thankful for that).  Over the course of the past few months, I have figured out it’s faster to just go down to my garage, get the groceries, bring them up the two flights of stairs and leave them at the door.  Repeat the process as many times as required…then take them all in at once!  NOW, if I could just get motivated to cook for myself…

Snow photo above:  the view from my porch.  This photo was actually taken during the last snow storm but you get the idea!  I’m beginning to think:  you’ve seen one snowstorm – you’ve seen them all!  😉

When I was at my daughter’s house the other day, I noticed that Kiana didn’t seem to be feeling all that well.  My daughter said that Kiana had not eaten well for the past few days.  Kiana was clearly much more lethargic than her usual exuberant self.  My daughter took her to the vet the next day for an expensive office visit and tests.  Come to find out, Kiana has an extremely low thyroid and is now on medication!  The low thyroid explains why Kiana can’t seem to lose weight (I know the feeling) regardless of all that running (well, okay, so I don’t run).   Maybe now, I can give her treats again.

In the photo below, she is sitting in front of the cabinet (above the refrigerator) where the treats are kept.  She is one smart dog and she knows Grandmom will give in.  Kiana will look at me and then look UP at the treat cabinet and look back at me…as if to say “you know where they are – now get me one…purty please!”

The dining nook…

The dining nook…

When I posted “a little tour” of my new home, I mentioned that I would share photos of my dining nook when I purchased a table and chairs.  My daughter, her two youngest children and I ventured to the furniture store before Thanksgiving.  Grandchildren are very helpful and actually wise beyond their years (especially my 8 year old granddaughter) when it comes to selecting furnishings.  It “had to fit all of us for Sunday dinner” according to my sweet girl and she proceeded to explain how this would work.  There are two extra chairs in my storage room on the lower level.  The table has a hidden leaf which can be opened to an oval which seats six when needed.   We actually scoot in the computer chair too and it seats seven!  Otherwise,  the table looks like this.  Right now, there is a protective cover on the table and my sewing machine!  It’s the perfect place to sew and watch old classic movies at the same time if I so choose.  😉


In past years, I have used the shelves on the hutch for favorite dishes.  This time, I’m enjoying using it for photos framed in black.  I still have several more photos to frame for the buffet.  The perfect place to enjoy my family on a daily basis.

I have so many books that I needed one more bookcase.  Although I ordered the identical bookcase, the stain on the one on the far left was a little lighter.  After putting it together all by myself, there was no way I was returning it!  Come Spring, when I can open windows, I will try to darken the stain to match.  In the meantime, I really don’t notice the difference and am living with it!

I love this little setting.  The antique was a gift from my children’s dad on our twelfth anniversary…many years ago.  The angel was a gift from my daughter and her family.

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