Nana’s Banana Bread

July 26, 2011

I always have bananas on hand because I like them on my cereal in the morning.  And when DD’s girls come to visit, they like the sound of “eating bananas at Nana’s house”.

Well, once in a while some of the bananas get “past” and I need to use them in baking or throw them away.

So here is a recipe for roasted banana rum bread that I tried last week and we really like.  (No, it isn’t diet, but I did refrain from putting butter or cream cheese on it.  That counts for something, doesn’t it?)

Roasted Banana Rum Bread


3 C. flour, sifted with baking soda and salt

2 t. baking soda

1 t . salt

14 T. butter, room temperature (1 3/4 sticks) (use the rest of the 2nd stick to grease the pans)

1 1/2 C. sugar

1 T. vanilla (yes, Tablespoon)

2 large eggs, room temperature

4 large ripe bananas

splash of rum (I think I used about 1/2 C.)

splash of maple syrup (ditto above)

1 C. plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt because I had it on hand)


1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Generously grease three 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pans and set aside.

2.  Place the unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast them for about 10 minutes until their skins are blackened.  Remove them from the oven and turn it down to 350 degrees.  Peel and mash the bananas and set them aside.

3.  Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl and set aside.

4.  In a large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer until creamy.  Add the sugar gradually, mixing well until pale and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and the eggs, beating well after the addition of each egg.

5.  Mix in the cooled mashed bananas, rum and maple syrup.  Add half the flour mixture and mix well.  Stir in the yogurt before folding in the rest of the flour.

6.  Divide the batter evenly between the three  well-buttered pans.  Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with crumbs, not batter,  clinging.  Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before turning out of pans.

We ate one loaf and froze the other two for future reference.  Next time I’m going to measure the rum and maple syrup that I put in because I’m not comfortable with “splash” as a measurement.  In fact, I was afraid that I had put too much in, but after tasting it, next time I would like to put a little more of each in.  And that would be so much easier if I knew exactly how much it was that I wanted to have “more than” of!

If you make this, I hope you enjoy it.  Happy Tuesday.

What goes up, must come down …

July 21, 2011

Susan E., a friend at golf, told me this story last week.

Susan’s young son was a Boy Scout and his troop was going to Colorado skiing.  They were looking for parents/chaperones to go along, so Susan volunteered.  She had skied up in Michigan several times, so she felt she could ski just as well in Colorado. After all it was all skiing!  But she was about to find out that there is skiing and then there is SKIING!

Her first reality check was, of course, how high the mountains.  But just because the mountains were wayyyy up there, didn’t necessarily mean that when you skied you went all the way to the top, right?

Sure, she could tell herself that, but she got a sinking feeling when the ride up the mountain on the ski lift took a half hour!  When they finally got to the top of the run, it was explained to her that the trip down the mountain was broken up by several rest stops, so she wouldn’t have to make the whole run at one time.  Ummmm.  Okay.  Maybe that would work,

But when she got to the first rest stop, she was exhausted.  The inside of her thighs already ached because she was constantly turning her toes in to put on the brakes!  Okay, this was enough of that.

She called the Ski Patrol.  She told them she needed to be taken the rest of the way down the mountain.  They asked if she was hurt?  No.  They asked if she was sick?  Well, no.  “Sorry.  We can’t come and get you just because you are afraid.”

The end of the story is that the Boy Scout Leader, an experienced skier, stayed with her and helped her down the rest of the mountain.  She said when she finally got to the bottom, her legs were so shaky and tired that she could hardly walk.

She didn’t actually say, but my guess is that after that she became a “snow bunny” sitting in the lodge and drinking cocoa for the rest of their stay.

Susan learned the hard way that, when you go up, you must come down, heart in your throat, or not.


a tape recorder, a calculator and a fife, yes … confetti, no

July 18, 2011

Our daughter DD was always a pretty creative kid.  And when she was about 10 years old she surprised me with this little talent I didn’t know she had.

She had been busy up in her room for a while.  Then she came down to the kitchen where I was working, carrying her tape recorder and the hand-carved fife we had bought for her at a local festival.

She plugged in the tape recorder and said, “Listen to this!”  She pushed “Play” on the tape recorder and then put the fife to her lips.  When the song Chariots of Fire started playing, she played along on her fife.

That was very nice, but who was playing the song on the tape recorder and what instrument had they used?

She then told me she had discovered that, because each key on a calculator played a tone, she could play a song on it.  So she used her tape recorder to record herself playing Chariots of Fire on the calculator and then she had the idea to accompany her recording on her fife!  I was much more impressed after I heard that!  What a fun surprise it was that our very young daughter had been so inventive.

DD was a child who loved to treat us to little surprises like this.  I remember another time she came down and asked me to come up to the spare bedroom for a surprise.  When I got upstairs the door was closed.  When I opened it, she “surprised” me by throwing a grocery bad full of tiny pieces of paper she had torn up into the air so that it “rained” confetti.  That surprise ended up not being as much fun for her as she had thought.  After I recovered from the confetti rain, I told her that that was very nice, but she would have to now pick up all the tiny pieces of paper.

When you’re a clever think-outside-the-box little girl, some times when you surprise your family with your creativity are bound to be more successful that others.

I love you DD.  And I loved most of your clever-little-girl surprises, but the confetti, not so much.

The Perfect Red Dress

July 14, 2011

Reading the obituaries isn’t always a somber event.  Sometimes I see one that brings up a great memory and even makes me smile. I recently saw one like that.

The mother of a long-ago friend, Eva, had died.  When I saw that I immediately remembered a sweet story that Eva had told me about her parents when we shared an office space at our first employer right after high school.

Eva and I frequently exchanged funny stories about our lives.  And, of course, since we were just out of high school, we still lived with our parents — so they were a frequent source of our stories.

Eva’s dad John worked for the same company we did so I knew him by sight.  He was a short, balding man with a friendly smile.  And Eva described her mom Sophie as a short, slightly chubby, stay-at-home mom.  It was obvious from Eva’s stories that her parents had a great relationship.  So as I remember this particular story that Eva told me, it went this way.

Sophie and John’s anniversary was coming up and he wanted to take her out to a very nice restaurant for dinner.  But it was always hard for him to get her to agree to do that because she usually said, “Oh let’s not go someplace so nice.  I just don’t have anything that dressy to wear.”

So this time he decided he would keep her from making that excuse — he would buy her a dress!

When he got home from “running errands” (really shopping for a dress) on the Saturday he had made a dinner reservation, he showed Eva and her sister the dress he had bought for their mother. It was a straight, bright red knit dress.  It was a pretty dress, but the girls were doubtful about how the dress would look on their  chubby little mom.  Oh, and as an extra little touch, he had also bought her a bright red lipstick the same color as the dress!  He was sooo excited, so his girls didn’t share any of their reservations about how well his little plan would work.  They just wished him luck.

Sophie knew they were going out for dinner that night but she thought it would just be to their favorite family restaurant.  So, she showered and dressed in something very basic like a skirt and blouse.  But when she came down to the living room and said she was ready, her husband presented her with a beautiful box and told her to open it.  She was shocked!  It was a beautiful red dress and he had even thought to buy her a lipstick to match!  He then told her that they had reservations at a very nice supper club, so she should go change.

A little while later, as her family waited expectantly in the living room, Sophia came down the stairs wearing the dress and the matching lipstick.

Ummm.  The girls weren’t sure what to think.  The dress didn’t exactly flatter their mom because, as knits will do, it clung to her chubby-ness in not a totally flattering way.  But she had a big smile on her face, so she must like it.

And their dad.  He just stood there and stared at her.  And then he said, “Oh Soph, you look so beautiful.”

It was obvious that neither parent was looking critically at how the dress fit.  Sophie was seeing it as perfect because her husband of many years had bought it for her.  And John was seeing it as perfect because it was on the woman he loved.  Then they left for dinner and had a wonderful time.

I guess I remember this story so well because it is such a great example of how love and loving acts can color our view of life.  And now that I’ve shared it with you, may the mental picture of that red knit dress on a slightly chubby little lady be a reminder to you too that even if the gift doesn’t fit perfectly, the love that is behind it is always perfect.

Urban Sand Castles

July 12, 2011

I have always marveled at beautiful sand castles that have required alot of creativity and work, yet are soon erased by the tide.

I am reminded of those sand castles when I go to the chalk art show at a local festival.  Last year was the first time I “discovered” this interesting event and I’m so glad I did!  It s fun to get to see people actually creating the art, as well as see the finished product.  But last year, the next day when that street had been reopened and I happened to drive down it, I was amazed at how quickly the art was disappearing as cars drove over it.  I give the artists so much credit for being able to create such lovely art, always knowing that it is only temporary.

























































When I was looking at this one, I happened to notice







… that her sketch that she was referencing was laying near-by.  It was interesting to see what she was working toward.

















I happened to notice after I had downloaded these pictures that this one was done by a young lady whom we have known most of her life.  She is a very talented artist, and even better, a really nice person!




















































































Just a box of inanimate objects until they’re in the hands of an artist.









Because the art itself is temporary, I especially like it that photos, mine and others, keep it from ever being entirely gone.

early Fourth of July fireworks …

July 6, 2011

…  compliments of God’s creation!

These are straight out of the camera from early morning on the Fourth.  I hope your fireworks were  as beautiful and you had a safe, fun day.

A Gaseous Robin?

July 5, 2011

I happened to look out the window one day and saw this robin sitting in a flower bed.  Something about how he looked made me notice him (her?).

When I first noticed him he looked a little fat, but right before my eyes he quickly swelled up as you see here.  After I took this picture I got distracted.  And a minute or two later when I looked out again …

… he was walking away looking normal!

Can anyone tell me what that was all about?

Update:  My young friend, Beth, at C. Beth Blog did some research on this and passed on the following info:  The Flame Robin is territorial, defending its territory against other members of its species and also Scarlet Robins where they co-occur…. The Flame Robin deploys a number of agonistic displays, including a breast-puffing display where it puffs its breast feathers.” From

She points out that the robin species might not be the same, but all robins might exhibit the same behavior.  Sounds logical to me!  Thank, Beth.

A Fortuitous Fall?

July 4, 2011

My knees are almost completely healed from their replacement last November … except, they still don’t bend quite as far as they should.

A friend had her knees replaced in May, but has just had an additional little procedure done by the doctor that broke up scar tissue that was keeping her knees from bending as well as they should.

So, that made me wonder if I had missed the boat by not asking about that procedure soon after my surgery.  I was thinking I might make an appointment (I haven’t seen the knee doctor since December) just to see what the doctor  had to say about my flexibility.

Then the other day (a very hot morning) I was watering flowers on the deck barefoot (which I don’t normally do) and discovered that that composite decking apparently really holds the heat, because it was reallllly hot on the bottoms of my feet, so I hurried to the two steps down to the yard to get off the deck.

But being distracted by hot feet and hurrying I missed the first step, lost my balance and fell, huge plastic watering can and all, face-first into the yard.  (The picture flashed through my mind of  people sitting behind windows in homes on the other side of the lake, sipping their morning coffee and chuckling at the free entertainment.)

I can’t decide if having the watering can in my hand was a blessing or not.  On the one hand, it may have broken my fall because it hit the ground first.  But, on the other hand, if I hadn’t been holding it, I might have done a better job of catching myself with my hands.  My knees hit first (oh-ohh) and then I went down on my face.  Luckily the grass somewhat padded the fall.

I immediately got up not wanting to entertain the neighbors any longer than necessary, if they were watching (ahh, vanity)) and was relieved that my knees still worked!  But I was also surprised that while the fronts of my knees had some small abrasions, it was the backs of my knees that really hurt!  So I went in the house, took a couple aspirin, and waited to see if they would get better or worse as the day went along.

They never felt any worse.  In fact, the next day they didn’t hurt at all!  And the big surprise is … they seem more flexible than they did before the fall!

So, I’m thinking my little unexpected fall may have done for me what my friend’s visit to the doctor accomplished.  And my version was free!   That seems to have turned out to be a very fortuitous fall.