Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day in Small Town Iowa

When I was a kid, my grandparents would take the family on trips to local cemetaries to visit the graves of our relatives.  I enjoyed walking the cemetary with my grandpa and dad, asking questions about our relatives.  I remember seeing the flags next to the graves of veterans, and even at a young age, I understood that they deserved a special honor for their sacrifice.

As I write this, I'm watching the Arlington Cemetary Memorial Day service, listening to the bugel play Taps.  Always brings tears to my eyes, thinking of the young soldiers who gave up their lives for our country's freedom.

As a woman, I'm especially grateful to our brave soldiers.  Because of their sacrifice, I'm able to make my own decisions on how I live my life.  I can choose who I marry, and where I want to live.  I can get an education.  I can choose to work in an office, raise kids or both.  So many women in this world don't have this freedom.  And I have to admit, I take it for granted most days.

So thanks to our vets and soldiers.  Your nation is grateful.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cookie Friday: Macadamia nut cookies

Hello, everyone!  It's Friday, and I think we should celebrate by breaking out the cookies!

My hubby came home from work the other day and said he had a craving for macadamia nut cookies.  Well, I didn't have all the ingredients to make them right away, but after a weekend grocery trip, I was ready to start baking.  (I got these TJ's macadamia nuts from a Minneapolis shopping trip.)

Found this macadamia nut cookie recipe on  The recipe calls for white chocolate, but I was feeling cheap and bought Tollhouse vanilla chips.  Just as delicious.

Unfortunately, our A/C is still out.  I tried to wait until the evening when the house cooled off to bake, but it was still steaming in the kitchen.  So these all-butter cookies were spreading on the pan.  I must have undercooked the first batch, because they stuck to the silicone mat. 

I used the '70s era plates from my childhood to pretty up the pic.  Nice!

My baking days will probably be over for a while until my house cools off.  That just gives me an excuse to buy ice cream!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sizzlin' spring

Wow!  I came home from work tonight and saw these beauties blooming beside the house.  I could smell their wonderful floral fragrance all the way from the street.

Looks like the ants love the peonies as much as I do.

It's been hot here in central Iowa. Sizzlin' hot!  A record 90 degrees on Sunday and Monday.  And wouldn't you know it, our air conditioner is on the fritz.  So rather than sitting around our house, sweating and feeling miserable, my husband invited me on a road trip to Rockwell City so he could pick up a boat motor he found on Craig's list.

After the 2 hour drive to Rockwell City, we were starving.  We didn't feel like eating at boring Subway, so we stopped at the only restaurant open in town -- Dangie's Diner.

I'm so glad we stopped there.  The menu looked a little boring, pretty much just hamburgers, chicken strips and French fries.  I played it safe and ordered the hamburger, thinking I'd end up with a pre-made patty.  But instead, the burger was made to order, with a toasted buttered bun and sauteed onions.  I really wanted to take a picture to show you, but my husband didn't want me to embarrass him :)

I did, however, snap a pic of the strawberry sundae I ordered for the road.  They filled the cup to the brim, and the sweet, sweet strawberry sauce was dripping all over.  So heavenly!

It finally rained tonight to bring a little relief from the heat.  I stepped outside to check on my garden, and I noticed that there's a lot purple going on in my backyard.  Funny how I never noticed that before.  I certainly didn't plan it that way.

Hope your gardens are all growing beautifully, too!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Local eats

Hello everyone!  I'm enjoying my first Saturday in more than a month with absolutely nothing to do.  Unfortuantely, I'm probably going to spend it cleaning.  But that can be kind of relaxing sometimes, too.  As I type, my husband is banging on our ceiling, trying to get our bathroom tub unclogged.  Just another joy of living in a 100-plus-year-old house with ancient plumbing.

Anyhow, a couple days ago, I picked up a few items from the Iowa Food Co-op.  It's a really neat program that connects local farmers with Des Moines area customers.  You just place an order in the online "shopping cart," and then once a month the farmers deliver the goodies to Merle Hall Mall in Des Moines for customers to pick up.

I signed up to get my hands on some locally grown fruits and veggies.  With my work and travel schedule, it can be hard to make it to the farmers' market sometimes.  And I love in-season produce.  Nothing tastes better than a just picked strawberry.

It's still too early in the season for locally grown strawberries and vegetables.  So I ordered a couple Iowa-made cheeses.  I love the Gouda cheese from Frisian Farms in Pella.

And I bought Feta cheese from Northern Prairie Chevre in Woodward.  I've never tried this cheese before, but I'm looking forward to using it as a salad topper.

Just for fun, I also bought a container blueberry plant.  Still trying to decide if I'm going to leave it in the pot or plant it by my gooseberry bush.  I can already see blueberry flowers on the stems.

On a side note, I can't stop bragging about my radish crop.  I harvested the last of my radishes last night.  I may be a little biased, but they are the most adorable radishes in the world!  Bright red with a snow-white center.  I'll definitely be planting more of these in the fall.

Have a good weekend, my blog friends!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Growing like crazy!

Hello everyone!  I'd like to introduce you to...


my early spring garden!
The radishes I planted in early April are almost ready to pick. The lettuce is growing slow, but it's looking good.  (The photo makes it look bigger than it is.)


The chives are bloomin'.

Our spring onion patch is thrivin'.  My husband got these perennial onions free from a friend.  We love these mild onions.

And there are old-fashioned Columbines growing everywhere, even in the cracks in the sidewalk.

Surprise!  I also spotted a morel mushroom growing under our deck. 

Yesterday, my hubby helped drill holes in a couple plastic buckets so I could plant a tomato and a pepper in containers. He found some gravel to put at the bottom of the buckets to help keep the potting mix from washing away when I water the plants.

I planted a "patio" tomato...

And an "Italia" pepper, supposedly a very mild pepper.  I also planted a bell pepper next to my lettuce patch.

Last week, I met a family that grows vegetables for a local farmers' market, and they gave me a six-pack of herbs to take home.  I planted them in a big, decorative pot.  I discovered that the herbs didn't have much of a root, so it was hard to plant them without burying them in the dirt.  Hopefully, they make it.

There's more rain in the forecast today, so I'm going to plant one more batch of lettuce before the weather gets hot.  I found out last year that lettuce doesn't grow very well in the middle of the summer.  The bugs really had a heyday with the lettuce I planted in July.

Happy gardening!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Iowa Road Trip: Freedom Rock

I found myself in Greenfield recently on a work-related road trip.  I slammed on my brakes and parked my car when I saw this Iowa landmark on the side of the road - the Freedom Rock.

Iowa is studded with many of these large rocks, left behind when the glaciers moved through the state during the Ice Age.  Often, you can see the rocks as you drive by on the Interstate.  Usually, they are painted with graffiti.

The Freedom Rock is painted every year by a local man, nicknamed "Bubba," as his tribute to U.S. soldiers.  It's a powerful memorial, conveying such emotion and respect.

 Visitors have left personal momentos behind, honoring their loved ones who gave their life to their country.

Bubba repaints a new tribute on the Freedom Rock every year on Memorial Day.  It's a generous gift to his community and Iowa veterans.

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