Friday, November 29, 2013

Giving Thanks: Time to Recharge

"No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap."
                                                                       --Carrie Snow
Could you use some rest and relaxation after preparing a large holiday dinner and hosting the event in your home?  Or, perhaps you spent the night snatching up bargains at some busy retail hubs and plan to decorate the house today.  Regardless, be sure your weekend includes a little time for yourself and maybe even a nap.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my favorite 'turkeys' and everyone else following my photo blog.  Enjoy the day.

Puff Daddy

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks: Family Fun

"Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the
charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
                                                               --Marcel Proust

Throughout the year we have enjoyed being in the company of family, including time spent on vacation with my group as well as with my husband's bunch.  Of course, we are grateful for those opportunities, and today I have included a few silly scenes from those fun times.

"Most smiles are started by another smile."
                                          --Frank A. Clark

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving Thanks: Nature's Hues

Old Faithful Yellow
Tulip Taffy
Nature's color palette includes all shades of the rainbow and more.  Since I enjoy photographing scenes from the outdoors and all its delightful colors, this topic is definitely something for which I am grateful.  And, with Thanksgiving in just a few days, this is a perfect opportunity to reflect on the blessings that enrich our lives, including those found just outside my door.
Docks at Dusk

Monday, November 25, 2013

Birthday Fun

So, today is my birthday and I decided to have a little fun using a picture from 1975 when I turned seven.  If you are family or a close friend, of course you recognize the other person in the photo as my godfather, "Tiny" / Donald, with whom I share a birthday.  Another person not featured but also celebrating a birthday is my husband's nephew Ryan.  To all the great folks born on November 25th, have a great day and eat lots of cake!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Go Hawks!

Although my husband and I are avid Iowa Hawkeye sports fans, I rarely mention that fact; however, with football and basketball seasons in swing, I simply couldn't resist.  For the weekend we are pulling for the Hawks on the grid iron (vs. Michigan) as well as anticipating a Hawkeye hoops victory.  Since there are no professional NFL or NBA teams in the state, the universities have loyal followers who are a bit fanatic about their teams and any athletic competition.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Duck, Duck, Swan!

Lots of "quackers" present in these photos plus feathers galore!  All of these feathered friends reside on the Cedar Memorial property in Cedar Rapids.  Since they have an annual photo contest for their yearly calendar, I was on the grounds taking shots of all sorts of things and being very careful about where I was walking as these characters know no boundaries when it comes to making messes.  But, as I finished and put away my equipment, fortunately I remembered to look at the bottom of my shoes and quickly changed into the reserve pair of sandals I brought just in case I needed them!  Anyway, their swans are beautiful and the one below was enjoying a little time in the water looking for something good to eat.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Brick Home on the Bluff

"He is the happiest, be he king or peasant,
who finds peace in his home."
                                                      --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This beautiful brick dwelling nestled in the bluff above the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa, is not my home; however, I was commissioned to photograph it and thought it was a good reminder to encourage all of you to photograph your homes as they are brightly lit for the upcoming holidays as well as during other seasons.  Of course, summer is a wonderful time to capture your landscaping and all the gorgeous blooms adorning the outdoor space but you might find that a few shots after a January blizzard also are fun to hang on the refrigerator and recall throughout the year.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


"Conscience is a man's compass."
                                                   --Vincent van Gogh

Monday, November 18, 2013

Got Junk?

According to these images, yes!  Take a look at all the 'stuff' in this junkyard.  Since I tend to discard 'stuff' rather than keep it, I was amazed at all the 'stuff' occupying a few acres.  While snapping photos and meandering through the mowed, grassy paths, I kept thinking about the effort it took to assemble it all and about what a laborious task it would be to get rid of all the 'stuff.' 

Friday, November 15, 2013

In Black & White

"There are always two people in every picture;
the photographer and the viewer."
                                                 --Ansel Adams

Thursday, November 14, 2013

More Acrylic Art

A few weeks ago I featured an image of some pretty neat graffiti that I found painted on the back of a business in small-town Iowa.  As noted in that post, I have a few more to share, including the photo below.  Of course, I am not going to attempt to interpret the messages contained in the artwork -- I'll leave that to you!  And, when you have it deciphered, please leave a comment to enlighten me!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Churning at Dusk

"Twilight fell:  The sky turned to a light, dusky purple
 littered with tiny silver stars."
                                          --J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

For me, this image conveys a sense of quiet and serenity as the sun has set and the sliver of moon and a few stars appear above the horizon.  To the right, windmill blades continue turning and the silhouette of these prominent structures resemble wings of hummingbirds constantly in motion.

Now, for the real story about trying to capture this image.  First, timing and adjustments to the camera settings are everything!  Ok, sounds manageable; however, the best view I could get was a few hundred yards from a farmstead on the shoulder of busy, hard-surface road with cars whizzing by and dogs barking loudly and jumping in my direction at the end of their leashes.  All the noise must have attracted the attention of the homeowner as shortly after getting the tripod set up and camera in focus, a man appeared to ask if I was having trouble with my vehicle....Well, anyway, just thought I would provide a little background about taking this beautiful shot of twilight and calm settling over rural Iowa.  Once finished and back in the truck is when I felt calm!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gotta Get Gourds!

So, the fact that I can't walk by many gourds without photographing them is not really a secret.  In the past few weeks I have included several shots of pumpkins and other varieties of these interesting hybrids in wonderful shades of orange, yellow and green along with unique textures (notice the gnarly bumps in the image below), shapes and sizes.  Anyway, I had some neat shots that I wanted to share and hope you enjoy them as well.  Plus, from several local vendors, these are still available and make great indoor and outdoor seasonal d├ęcor for not a lot of cost.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Iowa Boy

Although I took this picture a few months ago, whenever I see it I am reminded of all those IOWA BOYS who love the land, their equipment, tending to crops, caring for livestock and honoring the spirit of those who proceeded them on their family farms.  With a lot of corn yet to be picked in these parts, this post is a tribute to all the men and women working tirelessly to bring in a bountiful harvest in America's heartland.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tinted Trunks

"Wild is the music of autumnal winds amongst the faded woods."
                                                       --William Wordsworth

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


"It's not what you look at that matters,
it's what you see."
                                                           --Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Floating on Air

"The balloon seems to stand still in the air while the
earth flies past underneath."
                                                  --Alberto Santo-Dumont

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pan de Muerto

Yes, that translates to bread of the dead.  And, the term may seem a bit odd for those not familiar with the annual Mexican tradition of commemorating the deceased.  Essentially, in Mexico on November 1 and 2 many families go to great lengths to pay tribute to their loved ones who have passed, including cleaning and spending time through the night at the grave, and in homes, creating altars (ofrendas) filled with food and drink, candles, marigolds and favorite items of the departed family member.  Of course, there is much more to know about El Dia de Los Muertos but today's image features a loaf of Pan de Muerto which is also a mainstay in this custom of honoring the dead and creating a welcoming environment for their spirits who, it is believed, return annually at this time of year for nourishment. 



  1. Heat the milk and the butter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add them warm water. The mixture should be around 110 degrees F (43 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture then add the eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 1 to 2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf with a round knob on top. Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven let cool slightly then brush with glaze.
  6. To make glaze: In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with white sugar.