Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Button, Button .... I've got the button.

Lots of little things going on. My camera is on strike two of the lemon product law. One more and its out!!! But until its return, no pictures of canned goods. I know............... you are upset!!

I have still been canning like a wild woman. Right now, there are over 80 lbs of tomatoes in the kitchen. Yesterday, I made 7 1/2 pint jars of roasted red pepper spread and 13 pint jars of salsa. This morning, I've already fired up the canner, the boiling water, the tea kettle and I have the tomatoes ready to go.

Pantry number 1 is filled to the brim. Pantry number 2 is packed. So I have moved on to pantry number 3. I'm taking over closets anywhere I can!!!

Honey and I went to a flea market on Sunday. We haven't been to one for such a long time. And as usual, I found a treasure or two.

I have been looking for some vintage sewing supplies ......... rolls of ribbon and lace. Boxes of buttons. And lately, I haven't found much..... let alone that some of the stuff has been beyond my skinny little budget! But I scored on Sunday! A box of buttons -- a 6"x6" box stuffed full of buttons ........................... for a dollar!!! I grabbed them quickly.

I have spent some break time (when the jars are in the canner) sorting buttons............ by color. Into old canning jars. Yes! Yes! Yes! I am a tad anal on that stuff!!! But you look for buttons by color........ and besides, it looks pretty. (And we are all about pretty here!) While digging through the buttons, I discovered 3 old glass marbles and a quarter. That made the price better!

I love old button boxes. They are full of memories. Maybe not mine, but some one's. This button came off a favorite winter coat ........ that one was from Susie's Christmas dress. Many of the buttons were just cut off shirts before they became rags. But some -- were a little more special and were tucked into little containers. My favorite was the little round plastic container that Coats and Clark's zippers came in ............. for forty-five cents.

So I have been digging through all these buttons. I hope I really use them. Many are quite beautiful. I found some fun rectangular red ones and a beautiful brown diamond shaped button. But of course, the sit-com sweater is done .............. and NOTHING looks good on it!! I will have to buy a real one for it!

I am somewhat disappointed. I have this need to touch "old". I don't do well with "new" stuff. Its why I spin ........ to touch the past. Its why I replace buttons on jackets and blazers with something less "generic". Its why I sew old lace on to linen guest towels for the bath. The world is moving quickly, the future seems to be so uncertain .............. and I guess clinging to the past gives me a sense of permanence and security.

As Congress debates our economic future, I will can more tomatoes for warm bowls of tomato soup and save old buttons for future-clothing repairs. Some how, I don't think we would be in this mess ....... if Wall Street bankers saved old buttons.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Of Mice and Men.

For the last couple of days, our refrigerator has not been working at its best. The freezer was running warm -- barely freezing ice cubes. And my milk was slightly cooler than room temp.

With the luck I have had with electrical devices this year, I thought I was looking at a purchase of a new refrigerator. But it was only 9 years old so I decided an independent repairman was the first step.

I love repairmen that get to the heart of the matter right away. He walks in -- opens the refrigerator door and states, "The fan on the condenser is not running." First thought through my brain was -- "Condenser=$". Ka-ching!!!

But he squeezes to the back of the refrigerator, opens it up ............... and finds a very petrified mouse (Ewww!) stuck in the blades of the fan. (And you, gentle reader, were enjoying breakfast!) "That will be $116." Pretty good money for less then 10 minutes of work. Well, it was better than my initial thought.

Now -- I am upset with the army of cats that I have. How could a mouse slip through enemy lines???

Uhh, yea. Loafing on the job. Patches Ann, you are fired! (Can't you see the look of terror in her face? Yea, they are spoiled.)

Speaking of being "fired", Honey and I had the last of the "Great Adventures" last night. Earlier this summer, we picked up a local weekly paper route. Three hours and 85 miles every Thursday night. We called it "date night". I'd pack some lunch, put some tunes on and we were off to deliver fresh news to rural Scott County.

I loved it! Three hours with Honey........ waving at people we saw....... beautiful countryside....... and we were helping ourselves recover from Honey's medical bills.

Well, we and many others were victims of our economy. The newspaper has now ceased rural delivery due to printing expenses and transportation costs. So back to square one!!

I am going to look to the girls to "help" out. We had our farm inspection for Animal Welfare Approved. We are hoping that we can increase egg production and build a new coop and run complex. Complex --- that's a pretty fancy word for a chicken house!!! Animal Welfare Approved certifies farms that care for their animals in humane sustainable ways. One point that surprised me --- they would like chicks to be born on the farm or picked up from local hatcheries. No mail-order chicks. Might be tough but we do have hatcheries within a few hours drive. The farm did well -- the inspector went through his findings but I have to wait for the final report.

And finally.......

I happened to catch a blog. And I really do try not to be political cuz some of my best friends are Republicans. And occasionally, even my own Honey votes that way. (I do my best to change that ............... Trading sex for votes seems to have been the most persuasive argument so far!!!) But athenainindy has a great post yesterday about some very confusing issues. I want to meet your mama! She is one brilliant woman!

OK -- that's all for now. More tomatoes await me. Talk to ya all later.

Mmmm Mmmm........ Good!

Why is it, when the air gets crisp and cool, I want more granola? Now, I eat granola 365 days a year. But in autumn, I crave it!

There are as many granola recipes as there are brands of cereal in the supermarket. But prepackaged cereals are over-priced, over-salted and over-sugared! So I make my own. Cheap, easy and delicious. I call it .......... Old People Granola!

4 c uncooked oatmeal (duh!! Can you imagine the mess with cooked oatmeal??)
1-1/2 c Wheat Germ (Old people ingredient number one!)
1 c shaved coconut (more fiber than grated)
1/4 c powdered milk (more calcium)
1/2 c flax meal (See! I told you .... old people granola!)
2 TBSP cinnamon (Yep! That's right and Saigon cinnamon is best)
1 TBSP brown sugar

Mix all the dried ingredients together.

Then microwave the following ingredients for 1 minute on high.

1/3 c canola oil
1/2 c honey .......... or 1/3 c agave nectar (its about twice the sweetness of honey and can easily be used by diabetics)
1 TBSP of vanilla

Stir into the dry ingredients until all the particles are coated.

Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees. Or if you are in a real hurry -- 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

When it has cooled, add the fun ingredients. 1/2 c of dried fruit; 1/2 c of nuts; 1/2 c of sunflower seeds. Some people like sesame seeds in their granola -- I don't care for those. But dried cherries, craisins, raisins, and dates are some of my favorites. I use a mix of nuts at times -- almonds, pecans, walnuts (All have good oil for us old people!) And this time of year --- pumpkin seeds can be subbed for the sunflower seeds.

I love my granola with milk (when it gets as far as a bowl! Sometimes, its straight out of the tub!) but Honey likes granola for dessert in the evening. A bowl of yogurt topped with granola crunchiness!

So if colonoscopies and PSA tests are words you know the meaning of --- you may want to try my version of granola. Your doctor would be proud!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My so-called idyllic life............

Why is it, when you have views like this, people think your life is nothing but a quiet peaceful lazy summer day??
Lately, I have had several phone calls from people that want to discuss my "lifestyle". Not really the work that is involved but the rewards. I appreciate the interest but they don't seem to understand that I don't sit around all day, knitting socks, spinning yarn and communing with my chickens!

On the other hand, there are those that think since I live on only two acres --- I'm not really working! Unless you punch a time clock, sit at a desk all day, or wear high heels ( that thought puts a chill up my spine!) you can't possibly work. Wow. Because after all, I am wasting my education!!!

It is 7 am and I have a load of laundry in the wash, my husband has had his breakfast, his lunch was packed and is off to work. I kneaded the bread I started last night and now, I've got everything ready for a double batch of salsa.

I have to get the coop ready for tomorrow's farm inspection and I need to run to the feed store for 200 lbs of feed.

Later this morning, after a couple more loads of laundry on the line ........ I get to discuss the joys of poultry husbandry with a woman that wants to start her own flock. I hope to get a batch of tomatoes in the canner after the salsa. But we will see how that goes. Customers that want flowers could drop in at any moment.

I have to dig potatoes for supper, get a roast in the oven and harvest and clean kale to serve as a side dish. All before 2:30, when I will head into town for 4 hours of providing retail therapy for other women. I would rather commune with my chickens!!!

But according to some --- I don't work! And according to some, I have an idyllic life! And then, I walk outside and I am greeted with little Lizzie, just being kittenish cute!
And I glimpse Honey's homemade socks, drying in the breeze.

And I walk into the house and am greeted by the scent of baking bread. I glance over and see the sparkling jars of salsa -- cooling on the bread board. And I realize that my life is pretty idyllic! Even if it is a lot of work!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

UFO's and other things that haunt me.

As you all well know -- I have a few too many hobbies. And they seem to be exploding in my family room right now. Waaay too much to do! Waaay too little time! And waay too many things look like fun!

So here comes a re-cap of what project is what ----- and what stages they are in.

Ok -- this one is about 90% done. It is the "sit-com" sweater from Knitty. I made this sweater before and just loved it! Then I under-grew it. I still wear it around the house on cold days but I loved the style and decided to knit it again. And since I've spun the yarn myself -- it is very personal. The Barnswallow cloud came from my friend Janette at Fae Ridge Farm. Love it!

Of course, I've been spinning as I knit ........ and now I need to spin, ply and set. It will be sitting for a few days.

Project number two............. the project from hell! 35% done. First -- why in the world did I think that knitting plaid socks could possibly be fun????? Second -- this yarn sucks!! It is a merino/cotton blend that splits like crazy! I hate it! But I am going to finish these ......... sometime. They were Honey's birthday present. He'll have another one. Birthday, that is!

And finally -- easy-peasy baby towel and washcloth for Addie. Wonderful yarn -- hand-painted cotton and linen (from my friend Janette again! Her shop is to die for!) So................... why isn't it done?? Because I have decided it needs a crocheted edge around it. Pretty and lacy. And I have to learn how to crochet to finish it! I only work with two needles......... one needle is like I've dropped something! OK -- I will learn.

So that's just a few of the current frustrations here at Miss Effie's. You will see more later!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An open letter to Wall Street.......

For all my regular readers (both of them!) --- there is a ranting coming on! So watch out and stand back!

Dear Mr. Wall Street Big-Wig!

For years, you have told me that you knew what was best for me. You told me through all those pre-approved credit card applications -- that I deserved to have all that I wanted. You told me that I deserved a trip to Paris or Mexico --- when in reality, I couldn't afford to go to Paris, IL or Mexico, MO!!! You told me that I could afford to drive the car that I dreamed of -- even though, I would never own it.

You told stockholders of corporations that profits were more important than individuals so just eliminate some of those jobs in the name of double-digit profits. And pensions!! Ha! We will trick the public into investing in their future........... regardless of the fact that investing can be a gamble. And you don't gamble with money you can't afford to lose.

So I ignored you ........ even though you continued to increase my credit limit to over 65% of our yearly income --- on one credit card. And when I got an equity loan to put in a new well -- you kept telling me how much more you could give me!!! And I stood my ground and said -- no, that is all I need. And I ignored the fact that I was nothing without a new car --- and continued to drive one that was paid for.

And you say that this is hurting the "ordinary" people on Main Street. Well, I am sorry but I think I am pretty darn extraordinary. Do you can your own green beans or spin your own wool or mend your own socks???? At least I know what I can afford!!! And obviously, for all your fancy MBA's ............. you can't see that I can not make payments that are more than my paychecks!

And now ......... after eating beans and pasta and canning my own veggies for years ...... you want me to bail you out for your greed!

Unfortunately, my say won't count cuz this is too big of a problem. And without the government help, we would see 1929 all over again .......... at least according to the economists. But at the moment, while we struggle to make ends meet -- not because we have gone deep into debt but because of rising health costs, energy costs and food bills ----I would like to see some Wall Street anquish!!

You won't give up your Park Avenue townhouses or your mansions in the Hamptons. And I know, giving up your private jets must have been painful. But could you possibly give up a few of the millions of dollar compensation bonus that you have recieved for screwing the American taxpayer???

And now that you are out of a job -- why don't you come and spend a day with me? You can help me clean the coop. After all, that's the crap you fed us!!

OK ............ to my friends --- its safe to come out now!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Miss Effie and her very own roadshow!

First of all, to all my friends that wake up early every Saturday morning to vend at the market -- wow! My hat goes off to you! I was only trying to get to the market by 7:30 and that was tough. No breakfast, no coffee, my bed wasn't made --- how do you guys do it??? And be cheerful all at the same time???? Maybe the coffee would have helped!

Ok -- a little background -- my friend Ed from Nostalgia farms emailed me one day and asked if I would consider doing a canning seminar at the market. TWO seconds. I had to think about it for two seconds!! YES!! I would do it.

I love teaching people how to take care of themselves....... whether it is canning, or cooking or knitting. Hey! Us nutball survivalists like the company! It can be lonely holed up in that bomb shelter! Ours won't be ............ Sheepie Neighbor is providing the desserts and Debbie and Jim are stocking up on dark red beverages. It will be quite the party!!!

So it was a fun event today ....... very successful. Lots of people and lots of questions. It was like playing Trivial Pursuit!! And only one stumped me. A woman asked about adding lemon juice to tomatoes -- her son is allergic to citric acid and lemon juice. And I did not have either an alternative or the politically correct answer for her.

Steve the Republican has now asked me if I would do other events for the market. So I am working on a plan. Steve is running for county auditor....... and don't faint, my friends ......... he may get my vote. He has done a fantastic job organizing the farmers market this year. And if that is any indication of his abilities.......... he deserve my vote.

And thanks to all my friends that donated supplies, gave hugs and pats on the back. My in-house roadie (Honey) and I really appreciate it.

I'm back in the kitchen now ------ did 14 pints of dilly beans tonight and started roasting tomatoes for spaghetti sauce. Tomorrow morning, I will do sweet corn. Life is so good here!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

X- rated tv........... or nearly-naked canning hits the air???

Don't worry ......... I'm keeping my clothes on!!!

For those of you that don't know --- my 1892 farmhouse has no air conditioning. And in August, when it is 90 + degrees outside, canning tomatoes inside can be pretty miserable. Boiling water to peel the tomatoes, cooking hot tomatoes, tea kettle on to sterilize the lids and the hot water bath boiling away --- it can get pretty hot. I have had my kitchen up to 106 degrees. So my attire is pretty skimpy --- a pair of shorts not meant for the viewing public and a tank top so shredded, it would be useless as a dust rag!

That is why there is an alarm on my driveway!!!!

Today -- I am doing a demonstration on live tv, making dilly beans. I am teaching a class on canning on Saturday for the local chapter of Buy Fresh, Buy Local and a local farmers market. So today -- I need to squeeze pickling knowledge plus promote the seminar .......... all in 4 minutes.

Should be a trick!!! We will see how many stupid mistakes I can make in 4 minutes!! Honey will remind me of all of them -- he will have it taped for posterity!

Yesterday, I could not face canning. The thought of looking at a jar made me nauseous. But then ........... I caught a glimpse of Sheepie Neighbor's post on apples. That is absolutely mouth-watering!! And I realized, I tossed away a day I could have been working on such wonderful things. Except ......... I really think a better plan would be to hang out at her house!!!

I did cook ........... a new soup creation. Sort of......... kind of. OK -- I stole the recipe from a couple of others and put them together! Everything for this soup came with-in a 10 mile radius. Local Local!!!

So here is my recipe for Cabbage - Bacon Soup.

1) Fry 1 pound of bacon and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings.

2) Chop 1 onion, 4 stalks of celery in the bacon drippings. Lightly saute 2 crushed cloves of garlic. Add 1 pound of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced and sauted slightly in the drippings.

3) De-glaze the pan with 1/4 cup of Balsamic vinegar.

4) I peeled and chopped 5 large fresh tomatoes but in the winter, I would use a pint jar of crushed tomatoes.

5) Then I added 1-1/2 qts of chicken broth (I used homemade but canned broth would be fine) and I simmered on the stove. I added 2 tablespoons of dried parsley and 1/2 tsp celery seed and seasoned with salt and pepper. I simmered it for over an hour.

6) About 15 minutes before serving, stir in 4 cups of chopped cabbage and the crumble the bacon into the soup.

It was so good and warm on a cold, cloudy September day. And yes -- this soup makes enough for an army. But that's how I make soup!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What I did over the weekend.

Survivalist tactics continue on the east coast of Iowa. I am now certain if there is a hell -- it is filled with buckets of tomatoes that need to be processed. Yea ...... it has been fun.

Ok -- Let me show you what all I have canned this weekend. Oh -- I forgot. My camera is in the shop. Hmmmmm??

Now you can see why my paintings are not in demand. Might also be the fact that I don't paint! Did you notice how the artist cut off the jar of sauerkraut??? Oh well, I can cook!

I started by doing 35 quarts of tomatoes, 18 pints of beans (both wax and Italian flat beans), 3 pints of tomato juice, 2 quarts of carrots and 2 gallons of sauerkraut made in mason jars. I look forward to that -- Greenhouse Gwen has made it like this several times with good success.

Next on the canning list is apple pie jam and we will have more tomatoes ripening this week. Those will be made into spaghetti sauce. Yummmmm.

My kitchen looks like a masterpiece, too. Tomato spatters, shredded cabbage, carrot tops, and tomato peels. Jackson Pollack has nothing on me!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dr. Phil, I think we have a problem.

If you have been reading this blog for a while -- or if this is your first post -- you have discovered that I have "issues." I am eccentric ...... unique ........ creative(?) .......... or as the majority of Americans would say ---- just plain weird.

In accordance to a 12-step program that I am certain must be out there ......... I will admit to the fact that I am a hoarder. Yep --- there I said it.

Now -- I am not the kind of hoarder that won't part with an envelope or has a ball of string 3 feet tall. Nope. I hoard the important things.

We all know I hoard chickens. Never used to be a problem. I was content with 25 or 30 pretty chickens. Then I met Sheepie Neighbor. She likes pretty chickens too. Fortunately, I no longer consider hoarding chickens a problem --- we are just creative entrepreneurial women trying to make a "Baaack" from selling pretty eggs.

I hoard books .............. I love books. Books on sewing, books on knitting, books on tractors, new books, old books. I love books. Don't ever let me work for Barnes and Noble. I would be dangerous.

I have always hoarded yarn --- now, I hoard hand-spun yarn. Yarns from Shetland and Dorset and Corriedale. Yarns made with silk and cashmere and alpaca. I love yarn.

And since I hoard yarn, I had to hoard darning eggs. Sixty-egg of them. All wood -- all totally different. You never know exactly what darner you will need to fix a hole in a pair of hand-knit socks made from hand-spun yarn!!!! (Yep!! I just justified that one!!!!)

But last night -- my hoarding instincts reached a new high. Or low. Depending on your definition of "issues".

I have lived through gas shortages, coffee shortages and Johnny Carson-induced toliet paper shortages. Please don't put me through a canning jar shortage.

Yep ..... it has happened. Canning is hip, cool, in .................... or those Chinese people that make all the canning jars have spent too much time watching the Olympics. We now have a canning jar shortage. OMG! What will I do?????

Sheepie Neighbor and I are on the phone. Farm and Fleet doesn't have canning jars, Fareway doesn't have canning jars, Hy-vee doesn't have canning jars. We are desperate women. I have 70 tomato plants ............ my buckets runneth over!! I need jars!!

I search and I search and discover that Iowa's Largest Privately Owned Discount Store (Paul's) has canning jars. So I have them set back a few cases. And then I rush up there ....... to grab all I can. OK -- all I can afford. (That is two different things!) I fill up two carts full of jars. While I'm in the aisle, I whisper to another jar hoarder ..... "You know, there are no more jars in town." And he rapidly stuffs his cart full of jars!!!

(While I'm writing this post -- I get a call from Sheepie Neighbor. She has found more jars. How much are they I ask. She doesn't know and like me, she doesn't care. She has apples to can!!!)

Now 10 cases of canning jars sit in my laundry room waiting to be filled with tomatoes, potatoes and apples.

So as Sheepie Neighbor and I sit on Dr. Phil's couch, I will try to explain to him that I am a woman that makes soup without help from Progresso. Do you think he will get it????

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Liberal Dose of Conservation.

I have spent the last couple of weeks, listening to both political parties. And I am totally pissed at both of them .......... one a little more than the other......... but both have me fired up!!

After listening to Tom Friedman talk about his new book.... Hot, Flat and Crowded , I am totally convinced that our federal government doesn't get it!

We are in serious need of new energy sources .......... not "Drill, baby, drill"! But until we have those energy sources -- we need to conserve. And I haven't heard one word about conservation since Jimmy Carter left office in 1980! Yea -- it might mean slowing down a bit on the interstate. Lord knows, the speed limit is 70, not 87 mph!

So what can I do????

Help me out, friends. I have a list of things that I can do ......... but I'm sure you have more ideas.

1) Wear more hand-knits to lower the thermostat in the house. And by wearing knits made from hand-spun, I am supporting a local farmer, taking less energy (just mine!) to make the yarn and less fuel to get the yarn to me. And I'm warmer and very chic!!!

2) Preserve more local produce. Better nutritional value, fresher taste, far less fuel to get it to my table. And some of the jars that I use are almost 50 years old! That's re-using at its best!

3) Try to eliminate paper and plastic products -- I can use feed bags as garbage bags, cloth napkins instead of paper, rags instead of paper towels. But someone has got to help me remember my grocery bags!!!!

4) Use my clothes line as much as possible. Hey -- wind is still free. And out on this hill -- there is a lot of wind! No.................. its not all from moi'!!! (No comments from the peanut gallery!! You know who you are!!!)

5) Bundle my errands. Try as I might -- it is 11 miles to the grocery store and I'm not walkin' it!!! But I can be smart about the trips I do make -- no quick run into town because I forgot sugar at the grocery store. Make a list, Clink ............. and don't leave it on the counter.

Ok guys! Add some other ideas to my list. This is serious business and somebody has got to do it. Great changes start with one little person. So be my inspiration.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Left. Right. Left. Right.

Those are the new kids. My bookend cats. Except they are sitting the wrong way. Its Right and Left.

I needed more cats. I know. I know. I have a lot of cats. But we lost Ditto -- Spooky wanders in and out. Noname' is getting old. And Henny lives in the chicken coop. I needed cats that love kids.

Thanks to my dear friend, customer and Miss Effie's very own cheerleader, Heather .... we have two new kittens. Fuzzy, adorable, friendly and almost identical -- Right and Left are the perfect flower farm cats. A little attitude -- good mousers -- and very ready for a hug!

So you get to be bored with my grand-kitten pictures. I promised I would only carry one picture of my grand-daughter at a time. I said nothing about my cats. (Yes -- I know. My vet said I was going to grow old and become the cat lady in my little town! Thanks, Fred!!!)

Left. Right.

Another sweet pose from Left. Could you believe these cats could get into mischief????

And one more ..............just one more. You can roll your eyes and everything cuz on a blog --- I can't see you! I will make such a perfect old crazy cat lady!!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Weekend Update!

There was an art fair in town today. I have enjoyed the art fair for years and when Honey and I met, we made it a pilgrimage every year. The last couple of years, we have been disappointed and walked away with nothing. We were planning to do the same thing this year. We were wrong!!!

We first walked into the art fair and saw the work of Marsha Becker-Kyle. Wow! We talked to her about her prints and debated back and forth for sometime. We looked at the Estate Sale and the Springhouse Nursery print. Fortunately, my friend Paula passed by and said -- Estate Sale.

It is so me. Vintage tablecloths hanging on a line, watering can, metal lawn chairs and a sign that says "Cut flowers"! So it will go into the fiber studio. The fiber studio is really shaping up ........ as far as decorating items! Its the walls and floors and electrical and heat that its missing!!

A little farther down the aisle, I see someone that looks familiar. I look for a name and sure enough, its the right name for the face. Robert Taylor. We were co-workers years ago, selling floorcoverings. Now he is selling photography that he has done. I am drooling over some of his barn photos.

Only one problem there .......... Robert couldn't remember my name! I mean, seriously! I thought I was obnoxious enough no one could forget me. He did remember where I lived and moving a beast of a clawfoot bathtub to install vinyl flooring for me. His mom did remember a party at my house ........ which is good. I barely remember some of those parties!

It was a great art fair and I will go back again next spring. I did find my Christmas present. An artist (Jim "Bo" Bodine) had great carved decoys. And these hand-painted frames that were so folk art inspired. I recognized him from antique malls -- now, he takes great old advertising and then puts them in his hand-created frames. They are charming! And of course, I found another piece of art work for the fiber studio. Cats -- thread -- yea, its a given!!!

I tell ya -- the fiber studio is filling up!

Honey has brought wiring to the fiber studio and is now digging the trench (by hand, mind you!) from the garage to the corn-zebo. The corn-zebo should have real "switch-and-outlet-electricity" by the end of next week. No more drop cords! And the chandelier (made out of a bushel basket ... it is the corn-zebo!) will light up the dining area. The outlets will also allow for the future addition of a mini-fridge to go with the kitchenette that has already been installed.

In other weekend news, survivalist activities continue. I canned 19 pints of green and wax beans and 3-1/2 quarts of tomatoes. If you are keeping track of the bean count -- I am there! Done! Over with! Except my friends at Nostalgia Farms are growing flat Italian beans. I'm thinking I will need 10-15 pints.

Ed and Joe grow some of the nicest lettuces and spinach around! They have a great ability to mix their lettuces in blends that are sweet and peppery and spicy ........ all at the same time. So last night was a Buy Fresh, Buy Local meal. Nostalgia farm lettuce, with a wonderful broiled prime Sirloin tip steak. Sweet 100 and yellow pear tomatoes surround the steak that was topped with fresh local feta cheese. All was produced by us, family or friends.

Nothing is better than knowing from where your food comes .............. or your art. Life is good when it is personal.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Square peg in a round hole world

When I was growing up, I swore that I was adopted. I just never "fit" within my family. But one look at my siblings, I knew that that wasn't true. We looked like we came off the same Xerox machine. One copy after another.

But we followed totally different paths. I am comfortable on my path and they are apparently comfortable on theirs.

A friend told me that "Wealth isn't about money". Greenhouse Gwen was right. A picture that a 4-year-old drew for "Miss Effie" is priceless. A hug from a 6-year-old that just held a baby kitten is priceless. A customer that drove out just "to visit" and sit with me in the corn-zebo is priceless. The customers that leave a CD of their daughter's music are priceless. We may not look wealthy or drive new vehicles, but we can sleep at night, knowing that we made a difference......... if only for a moment.

But insecurities die hard ......... and sometimes when you are in that "outside world", you look at what you do and question its value in a society that worships "things", not individuals.

But not yesterday! Yesterday was special! Yesterday, I got to celebrate my life's work and my personal worth! Some how, some where I stumbled on this blog.

I'm not sure who wrote it -- I think I may know. But it is good to know -- that Honey and I have touched someone's soul. Someone sees what we do as good and right and valuable, even if we don't drive a new Lexus. Heck! We don't even own a vehicle that was built in the 21st Century!! A life of simple pleasures is the path we have chosen and love. Yes -- today it is the road less traveled. But the fact that someone else finds it appealing ...... is special to us.

So Anonymous Blogger, I thank you. I am proud to be your egg lady. Thank you for appreciating what we do and who we are. And yea, I would take you as a unpaid intern.............. or a stalker.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Adventures of Walter-The-Duck!

Meet Walter. Walter The Duck. That's his name ........ it came on his box. You can't change a name when it comes on the box!

Walter is a crested runner. Ahh....... but there are no crested runners, you say. That is correct. Walter is a mutt but we say that softly. We don't want to hurt his feelings. So as far as Walter is concerned, he is a crested runner. He may be the only crested runner but he is one.

Back in May, I received a phone call late on a Saturday afternoon. "Clink, you have ducks, right? My neighbor came home with a baby duck and can't keep it. Can you take it?"

Like the poultry connoisseur that I am (?) -- I asked what breed the duckling was. "I don't know, its yellow." Why did I ask? I was going to take the duck anyway ..... I'm a sucker for fuzzy yellow things that go peep!

Julie brings Walter out in his official "Walter-The-Duck box". And Honey takes one look at Walter and decides its much too cold to put poor Walter out in the shop. Walter needs to be in the laundry room. So into the laundry room Walter goes ......... for a month!

In the meantime, Walter got used to the cats and seemed to imprint after them. He had a particularly favorite cat ............ Ditto.

Walter is my buddy ......... bugs as I weed, greets customers when they call. Walter starts quacking loudly when he hears my voice in the morning. When I go out to do chores, Walter comes running and lies down low, waiting to be picked up and hugged. And every morning, then and there, he poops on my shirt! But as Honey says.......... its just Walter's way of saying he gives a sh*t!

Walter is always up by the porch by dark, waiting to be tucked into his kennel. At times, he will peck at the screen door, quacking away -- telling us that it is time to go to bed! But last night, he surprised us. He wasn't there at 10 0'clock. I called ............. and no answer. We walked around ... calling and searching his favorite haunts .............. still no Walter.

Finally, we hear Whosit's soft peep, peep, peep. And behind the water tanks, stands Walter and Whosit. Walter is very quiet ..........totally unlike himself. He quickly lets me pick him up and hold him .................. never making a peep.

I take Walter up to the kennel and I am concerned because this is not how Walter acts. Walter is boisterous and loud ............... after all, he is my duck!!! So I pick Walter up and he cuddles up against me ........... quiet and scared.

Then Honey looks down in the kennel ......................... suddenly, there is a tiny round egg! Walter is a she .................. not a he!!!!

So as we debate Walter's name.......................... (How can I change it?? It was on his box!) we will watch Walter, smelling the flowers. Change comes into everyone's life. Accepting it is the key.