Sunday, November 30, 2008

To Market , to market..................

I am so NOT a mall rat. I have not shopped at a Walmart for over 15 years. I rarely walk into Target. And I have no idea what Victoria is keeping as a secret.

But I love to shop the market. And I am soooo thrilled that the city of Davenport has worked so hard at creating an indoor farmer's market. The Freight House Farmer's market (the indoor version) opened Nov. 1. And now, with the floors newly finished, vendors are setting up permanent booths.

So I'm going to give you a quick tour of some of the vendors. And lots of reason why YOU should be stopping by every Saturday to shop.

The above booth belongs to my dear friend, Bubbles. Bubbles created "Full Circle Soaps". She hand-crafts soaps, lotions, perfumes and bath salts. She has a couple of signature scents that are really popular -- My personal favorite is Sweet Mother Earth but my friend Marcia loves Margerita. I can't wait to see her booth after she finished fluffing! Bubbles has great style!!!

Next, ya got to meet the guys at Nostalgia Farms. I have talked about Ed and Joe before. These guys are marketers extrodinarie' . First of all, their produce is raised naturally -- no chemicals, no hormones, no pesticides. They sell poultry, eggs, lettuces, heritage turkeys, awesome early strawberries (love em'!!!) and great green beans.

But this time of year, Joe is busy in the kitchen with jams and jellies and baking like crazy!!! They also do craft items like marking stones for the garden and sell angora fleece from their bunnies. Guess what I have to spin??????

Joe has some really great jams for sale............ yea, I'm plugging the competitor!!! If you can't see it in your heart to buy Miss Effie's awesome jams......... buy Joe's!!! Fresh, local and made with care that Welch's just doesn't have!! He does pumpkin butter and one I have never tried, Pear cardommon. Doesn't that sound perfect on a slice of toast????

Speaking of toast -- look at all those breads next to Ed in the picture above. Yummmmm!

Ok -- Ya gotta meet my friend Greenhouse Gwen. Check out her site on the blog roll. During the spring, her booth is filled with bedding plants, hanging baskets and perennials. In summer she brings some of the freshest produce around. She specializes on awesome peppers. Green peppers, red peppers, sweet peppers and hot peppers (sounds like a Dr. Suess book, don't you think??) But in the winter......... Gwen fills her booth with yummy baked goods.
Pretzels and cinnamon rolls and ciabottia bread. And if all of these great baked items are putting on the pounds -- try her triple chocolate kisses. A low calorie chocolate delight.

And finally -- what would the market be without Honey buying some honey???
Yep -- as Phil told Honey, "your wife is talking. It will be a while!!" They know me all too well!!
Phil is our honey man. Crandalls honey for Honey's morning hot cereal and my homemade granola.

The Freight House Farmer's Market has lots of other vendors. Beef and pork, artisian cheeses and wines, flowers and salsas and beads and baubles. So toss away your big box store and go Local!! Experience shopping at its best. Go somewhere where everyone knows your name.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I am most grateful for..............

Honey. I am grateful for my Honey.

A little over a year ago -- my dear sweet Honey suffered a massive heart attack in the artery, commonly known as "The widow maker". This ........... after being diagnosed 4 years earlier with lung cancer.

There was significant damage done to his heart. His ejection fraction was 30% when a normal heart runs 50-55%. We were both terrified..... ok -- I was lost, terrified, frightened and scared to death!!!

There was damage to his heart but not his spirit. He went into cardiac re-hab with the fight and determination to be strong and healthy again. He walked -- he watched his diet --he took his medication -- he meditated and he prayed.

I grilled every nutritionist west of the Mississippi!!! How do I get the sodium out of his diet??? The doctors suggested 1500-2000 milligrams a day ---- the average American gets over 4500 mgs a day!!!! So I threw out anything that came in a can or a box or had even a glimpse of being processed! I bake bread -- eat nothing but dried beans, fresh veggies or home-canned or frozen products. We eat fresh cheeses and cheese from small artisian makers to control the sodium.

There were (are!!) times the diet and bills were overwhelming to me. I remember the first time I went to make tacos and I cried! But now -- mixing my own taco seasoning, soaking the beans and using homemade yogurt for sour cream come so naturally.

Today -- Honey is healthy. His ejection fraction was measured at 61%. I had two nurses repeat that 2 times so it would sink in!! (61% is better than 50%, right?????)

At the moment -- he is outside with his spade and chain saw, cutting out a stump. Not bad for a man with a bionic eye, a mended heart and 1/3 of a lung missing.

Yea -- I am grateful for Honey.

Honey -- I love you....... always and a day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Miss Effie on the road and at home..........

Sounds like a title to a Bobbsey Twins book! How would I know?? I have a complete collection of first editions pictorial cover Bobbsey Twin books!! Don't ask why.

Ok -- Miss Effie has her bags packed and ready to hit the road with lots of information for those innocent people out there. First, let's do the home stuff!!

On December 13, I will be teaching a class on making homemade pizza here in the Miss Effie kitchen! No -- its not Chef Boy-ar-dee! We will be making a crust in the bread machine and a crust by hand. Recipes for the home-canned pizza sauce and the gourmet toppings will be available. And be sure to bring a bowl to take home your own pizza crust. Class starts at 9:30 and costs $15 per person. I do have a couple of opening left. Just drop me an e-mail.

On January 8, a home-school group is coming for a spinning adventure. This is a hands-on spinning event so young people can get a feel of the fleece and the ease (or difficulty) of making yarn. We also will be dying yarn with Kool-aid for future knitting projects.

If you have a group of young prople that would be interested in the dying process -- I do have some time available after the first of the year.

January 17 and 18th is "Be a tourist in your own backyard" weekend, sponsored by the Quad-Cities Visitors and Tourism Bureau. On Saturday, I will be speaking at the Davenport Freight House Farmers Market on buying local foods, their impact on the environment and how to get more local foods into your diet.

And finally, on February 28th I will be at the University of Illinois Nursery School at the I-Wireless Center in Moline. I will be teaching a class in making soup from home preserved foods. If you can't remember when you didn't open a can of Progresso -- this is the class for you! We will be making tomato soup, corn chowder and butternut squash soup. Easy, quick meals that help you stretch your food dollars and get more local foods into your diet.

And in other household news.............

Last night, we seemed to mis-place Fuzzy Butt. Fuzzy Butt came into the house a week or so ago because of a cold. She usually is right under foot or asleep on the couch. She was nowhere to be found.

Finally, Honey looked into the food bucket.
Yep! There is my little kitten -- the one with the long, un-kept hair. Fuzzy Butt always looks like a bad hair day!

How dare we disturb her!! Note the cat food stuck to her face!! Yep.......... its always something here at Miss Effie's.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I am thankful for............

Good friends and good music!

Saturday night, our good friends Ironbelly and Cyndia invited us to join them at Tabor Home Winery in Baldwin IA.

First of all, Ironbelly needs his own blog. So if you are reading this ..... start writing!!! Ironbelly writes the most delightful "Thoughts from the Belly" for the Scott County Master Gardener newsletter. He has a wonderful garden filled with native plants and has worked with a lot of prairie restoration in eastern Iowa. Besides -- he is really funny and has a great sense of humor that comes through in his writings.

But back to the topic on hand.

Martha and Paul Tabor know how to throw a party. This was in celebration of the 2008 Foch Nouveau. The "house" band and one of our local favorites are Dalziel's.......... Scott and Michelle. They write a lot of their own music and do a lot of covers. Funny and witty -- Scott and Michelle are always a good time.

As you can see, Ironbelly and Cyndia can cut a mean rug! For those that are younger than I (and that's most of you!!) that means that they can dance! And dance they did!!! You should have seen them dance to "Mustang Sally"........... a perennial favorite at all Tabor events.

We really had a great time -- wine, song and good friends. What can be better than that?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What I am thankful for................

Winter picnics with Honey.

Seriously, winter picnics on the floor in front of the stove are wonderful! No insects -- no breeze to toss your napkins --- no noisy music that I didn't select! But most importantly, the best company I could ever have!

Last night we needed to re-charge the batteries. So home-made pizza and a couple of good beers just did the job.

I love making pizza ....... last night it was a whole wheat crust with Italian seasoning kneaded into the dough. Then a little sausage, mushrooms and black olives --topped with good cheese. Very basic but oh! so good!!! Some days, I make more of a gourmet pizza. Like three types of mushrooms roasted with garlic and olive oil. Yummmm.

And a note to Girlwithasword -- if you like stout --try Mackeson's Triple XXX. It is a milk stout --very very smooth -- great with pizza! But what micro-brew isn't???

Friday, November 21, 2008

Frozen Noses and Icy Fingers!

So I have been absent from the world of bloggin' for a few days. It is November in Iowa and the weather is chillier and chillier each passing day.

My old farmhouse has no heat upstairs. Oh -- there is the heat that passes through one vent in the ceiling of the living room. But no warm air comes streaming out of a floor vent. So it can be cold............

My antique oak bed is dressed for winter with heated mattress pad, flannel sheets, wool blankets, down comforter and a coverlet. As the temperature drops, afghans and quilts may be thrown over the top. And my wool socks may stay on my chilly feet all night.

Actually, sleeping in the bedroom is good--after I open the stairway door and say "Brrrrrr!" I then race as fast as a 50+ year-old woman can run up the stairs! I jump immediately into the warm bed and I snuggle down deep into the covers. And I nestled up close to Honey, snoring in his left ear as Patches Ann (our calico cat) snores in his right ear.

But that doesn't help the blogging. My office where my computer and Four Legs live is also unheated. I wrap wool blankets and throws over me as I type. And my fingerless wool gloves are useful. But my nose gets cold and my coffee gets chilly so posts will become shorter.

It is hard to be witty and brilliant and funny when your nose is cold. I have a heater at my feet. It doesn't help my cold nose. I am certain there is a direct line from the tip of my frozen nose to my brain .... freezing all logical thought!!

I thought I could fool my brain into thinking warm thoughts. I painted the walls a warm sunny yellow to brighten the winter ............... it doesn't make the room seem any warmer. Just feels .... yellow. Its actually a Minneapolis-Moline color of yellow. So it kind of feels like an old tractor. On a cold day. It may be a bright sunny yellow -- but it doesn't want to crank over!!!!Poor Four Legs tries to cope in her own cold little world and bask in a little sun for warmth.
Maybe I will join her ........ after I warm my nose and get some hot coffee!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I am not worthy!

Last night, we joined our friends, Debbie and Jim at their good friends, Helen and Jon's for supper. What a wonderful evening of friendship, conversation, music and food! Even though Jon banned the discussion of politics through dinner!!!

First of all ......... Debbie and Jim have always raved about Helen's cooking and Jon's talents with wood. And we have hints of Helen's good food at wine club ........ but to dine at her table!! What a meal! Goat's milk brie, dates and grapes for appetizers. And a salad from greens from the garden. I love eating food fresh from the garden and Helen served roasted potatoes and tiny tender Brussels sprouts with salmon fillets. It was wonderful!

And after lively dinner conversation, Helen took Honey and I on a tour of the house and her art work. Helen has been painting for quite sometime and has been focusing more and more on watercolor. She has some beautiful paintings......... one of my favorites was a scene of bright yellow and orange California poppies dancing across a turquoise blue sky.

Then she presented the card above. It's our barn!!!! The entrance to the future fiber studio!! And I love it!

It was such a generous gift. And I'm getting it framed ASAP!

Thank you so much.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Orange it great????

Youngest Daughter and I have always had differing opinions on color. She has great color sense --bright and bold but different than my love of sage and rose and coral. When she was a child, I dressed her in pink rosebud print........... play sets, dresses, nightgowns. She would out-grow one and I would buy another!

When she could express her opinion -- around 4!!!-- she made it known that she did not like pink rosebud print. She liked black. Lots of black. And if I was lucky, I could put hot pink, purple or teal with it. To this day -- she doesn't like pink.

Now -- she is a mom of a beautiful little girl. And I received a pink memo. No pink clothes. None. Youngest Daughter says she was over-dosed on pink. Hmmmmm?

So the above yarn is for a new hooded jacket for Addie. It is not pink. Not a trace.

You can see the cloud from which it was spun. Its vibrant and fun. And it is knitting up to be a beautiful jacket. The Debbie Bliss pattern is pictured below.
I'm making a few alterations on the pattern. I'm doing a seed stitch edging all around. I really don't care for the curled edges and that should eliminate that. And of course, being hand-spun, gauge and needles changed.

But just so Youngest Daughter doesn't think that I totally listen to her...........
Hot pink socks.................. after all, she needs something to go with pink rosebud print dresses!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Barnyard Fashion

As you all know, I pride myself for being a fashionista! Yep -- I struggle daily with fashion decisions that the well-being of mankind depends on. Do I wear the polka dot boots to the coop?
Or am I a classic dresser and go for the more traditional Northerner??? Decisions ....decisions.

Farmgirl style is a whole different breed of fashion! First of all, does Oxy-clean really think it can get out marking chalk??? I think not! That orange is there for a while! Eventually, the abrasion from crawling around in the garden will wear it off. Until then -- orange is a color that can blend with anything.

Particularly, grape or blueberry stains.......... enter the canning season. I have yet to find an appropriate color shirt that I can not ruin. If I have a pink shirt on --- I stain it with blueberries. If it is blue -- it gets spaghetti sauce. And if it is yellow, I mix a batch of flower preservative into a leaking bucket and the bleach takes the color out of my shirt!

Let's talk blue jeans. Did you know there are jeans that cost more than $24.99??? And you can buy jeans at other stores than Farm and Fleet?? Who knew? Not me!!!

I am a Lee/Riders/Levi girl. No frou-frou stuff. Boot cut --plain -- dark denim. It will get faded out fast enough. For a brief moment -- they look new -- presentable. But most of the time -- they look like this.....................Note the hole in the butt. I can't wear these in the summer but with a pair of longjohns underneath them -- they are now the perfect attire for coop scoopin'! I'm pretty certain this style of jean has been discussed on the show "What not to wear". Well --I would be certain about it if I had ever seen the show.

Yep -- you will know me for my fashion style when you see me. I am the one with the blackout square across her face.

For I am a Glamour-Don't!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Miss Effie's Mail Bag............

You know --- I love my job! I get tired and sore and I hate the weeds........... and I hate having to clean the bathroom everyday for guests. But I love my job!

So now that my season is over, I just received some wonderful thank-you's from a young 4-H club. This is the Clover Kids group, these children range in age from 5 to 8. A little tough to keep focused and on task, but they definitely remembered the kittens!

Here are some of my favorites!This one is a little tougher to read.

Dear Miss Effie, Thank you for letting me hold the chickens, make and eat and drink cookies. I had a lot of fun!"

Eric is quite the artist. I think that's a 4-H clover.

And finally ................. this makes it all worthwhile.
Yea --- I love my job!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Addie update..........

As many of you know, our granddaughter was born August 28........... 9 weeks early. She was a tiny one -- weighing 3 lbs and 1 oz.

Thanks to University of Iowa hospitals and Genesis hospital and the prayers of all my friends and customers, she is home and doing wonderfully! She came home on Sunday and Honey and I got to spend a little time with her last night. I think Honey may have a new girlfriend. I am just fine with that!!!

She is now 6 lbs 3 oz and adorable! And as I have said before -- she squeaks just like her mommy.
That is all for now. But it is definitely more than enough.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Invaded by Republicans............

I know -- you are going to tell me that the election is over. It is. For 98% of the country. Forty-nine states will not hear a thing about a presidential election until 2010.

But I live in Iowa ........... home of the caucus. And no one will ignore the caucuses for a while.

So while the rest of the country is celebrating an exciting time in American History......... First District Iowa has some new and familiar faces.

Mike Huckabee has never left. He loved Iowa in January so he stayed. He has been seen hauling corn at the co-op. Regular at Don's Pub -- drinking coffee, talking input prices and eating pork chop sandwiches.

Fred Thompson was seen at Del's the other day. A local said -- "Hey! Aren't you that guy on tv??"

Fred said, yes he was that guy. Local said -- "I just loved Hill Street Blues. Loved it when you said .... be careful out there.".

Thompson packed up his bags and was seen driving south on I-74 toward Tennessee.

Rudy Guiliani has been looking for the mayor's mansion in Davenport. He may not be America's mayor but he thinks Iowa's mayor may work. Mayor Gluba offered to sell him a house but so far, Rudy hasn't seen anything that suits him.

And finally, we were pretty certain that we saw the Palin brood the other day. After all, it is deer season and Iowa winters often resemble Alaska. We understand that the Palins are just like you and me and buy all their clothes at the local consignment shop and really like Joe Six-Pack (who ever he is???) So it came as no surprise when Todd and Sarah pitched a tent on the banks of the Wapsi. Just so that snowmobile of Todd's doesn't scare my chickens!

So for the next 3-1/2 years, the rest of the country is peaceful. But our phones still ring, our mailboxes are filled with literature and you can't eat a burger without shaking someone's political hand!!! And everyone wants to tell me what they will do to fix the country.

Yep, we need a new motto on our license plates. Iowa ..... where the election never ends.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Inspiration from .....................

a 1970 Ford Torino???? Yep! The things I do for Honey!!!

Last week I started a pair of socks for Honey. I had some hand-spun that I wanted to use up. A nice taupe color that I got from High Prairie Fibers. And some awful Louet super-wash merino that I cussed the entire time I was spinning it. I actually like its inconsistencies, once I started knitting with it. But I will never buy super-wash roving again!!!

But I started knitting a pair of ordinary striped socks. Three taupe stripes -- one cream stripe. Then Honey suggested laser stripes......... "You know....... like on a 1970 Torino. Or a 4440 John Deere." Yea ............. I know. Sure. Gotch ya. (I don't have a clue!!!)

But I figured it out and this is what we have.
And another shot!
Socks inspired by a muscle car..................... what will be next, Big Boy???

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weekend Update!

I know I should be cleaning the gardens, now that we have had our first hard freeze. But it was a beautiful weekend and Honey and I wanted to play. So play we did! We went to our favorite antique show!
I love this show. Its not a big show but really has some quality dealers. Its the Camp Courageous Antique show in Monticello, Iowa. I know lots of the dealers -- there are great primitives. The booth right above is First Brick Antiques in Mount Vernon, IA. Cheri is awesome -- she is a spinner and of course, we had to discuss that! I should have taken a picture but she had the most beautiful hand-knit bedspread.......... all lace knit.
This fuzzy moth-eaten thing is a muff. I can only hope it is the fate of the fox that is stalking my yard!!!! The gal wanted $10 for it. Not coming home with this girl!!!! I'm hoping I can get her another one for her collection! So Mr. Fox, if you are reading this .......... Look at your future!!!

Ok -- time for my buys!!
From Cheri, I bought the two pieces of old lace. I love old lace and one piece is almost 8' long. It will be used to trim an apron or on guest towels for the bathroom.

The wooden knitting needles were ......$3.00!!! Yea!! Old -- beautiful -- perfect and cheap!!!

And then there is the darning egg...... First thing I spotted when I walked in the show. From Smokehouse Antiques in Amana, IA........ hand-turned Amana made darner! Yes!! Old black paint-- good wear --unusual shape. Notice its ball-shape, not egg shape as most. And when you have as many as I realize how rare it is. An excellent addition to my collection. And I even use them!

Other weekend events included a visit to the Freight House Farmers Market. Now an indoor market -- it will be open every Saturday from 8am to 1pm. I'll be able to get my fix of farm fresh veggies and home-baked goods.

And finally, Saturday has become Souper Saturday. We have been inviting friends to join us for homemade soup. Last week, we had roasted butternut squash soup. Last night it was homemade vegetable beef soup with barley. It has been lots of fun -- very relaxing -- and very healthy eating.

So I wanted to show off the table setting. Doesn't this scream Iowa Farmhouse?? The plates are part of a set I inherited from my aunt over 30 years ago. The pattern is "Bride of the Barnyard" but they are known as the "chicken dishes". I was destined to raise hens!!!!
Time to go -- I have played too much. Time to start some supper.