Friday, January 30, 2009

Holding my breath...............

Its the last Friday in the month. Day before payday. And a horrible week for the working class in America. Through Thursday -- 100,000 jobs have been lost this week alone.

So when Honey emails that "Cost-cutting factors" are taking place, I take a deep breath ......................... and I hold it.

We have been through this before. And Honey has been through it BC (Before Clink!) And we know how hard it can be.

I try to be frugal .......... I re-make my clothes from the Thrift shop (ok -- I take that as a challenge!) I eat dried beans, bake our own bread, and can those hundreds of jars of produce. I carefully plan my trips into town. I hang my laundry out (in non-freezing weather!) And I really have nothing that can be considered a "modern" appliance. Neither one of our cars was made in the 21st Century. And my long underwear is getting a major workout so the thermostat can stay at 65! But we are AARP members ......... we have no time to re-cover.........AGAIN!

So in Washington --- the partisan bickering has started again while 100,000 people are "holding their breath". It looks like I can "breathe" again (Honey survived the cut).......... but how many can't. In the meantime, Congress fights over how to stimulate the economy. At this point -- just throw a dart at a board and try something!

Yea .......... many other shoes are dropping.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

White House Farmer

Ok -- this is another reason I love our new President! He wants a White House farmer.
So vote for your choice. I actually knew of several of the nominees .......... besides Alice Waters and Eliot Coleman!!!

Voting closes on Saturday -- Jan. 31. Hook the link to your blog and let's show the country that sustainable local food is in reach of everyone!!!

I've already voted ........have you?

100 posts..............

Most people when they hit 100 blog posts, they do something big! Something spectacular! Something over the top!

Me ............ not so much.

I will discuss a struggle of my life........feeding Honey supper. Now I know that shouldn't seem like a big deal. And it is a far bigger deal for me than him. Honey will say ......... "I don't know. Something simple like.......... a burger".

In my perspective, a burger isn't necessarily simple. Cold cereal ....... now that's simple. A bowl, some Cheerios, skim milk and raisins. And a spoon. Got to have a spoon.

That was my go-to meal when I was single all those many decades!!! I've got to eat. Its 10 o'clock at night. But if I cook -- I have to clean up. Which is why single girls eat cereal! The Special-K diet was made up by a single girl -- 2 bowls of cereal a day...... lose weight and have limited dishes to do! What could be easier???

I usually do pretty good coming up with a supper plan. But this cold weather has frozen the brain cells and my creativity is at an all-time low. So thank God for my bloggin' friends!!!

Girlwithasword saved my butt last night. She mentioned having eggs and feta and cheddar scramble. Ah ha! An idea!!!! I have eggs (or at least I can squeeze some from a hen or two!!) -- I have homemade feta (not by me!) I have supper!

I roasted some summer squash, mushrooms, onions, garlic in a little bit of Greek seasoning. Tossed in some cherry tomatoes that were in the freezer -- threw on a few kalamata olives with some feta. Then scrambled a couple of eggs with a little more feta and voila! ........ supper appeared and Honey was well-fed.

So .......... any one???? What's for supper tonight???

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I want a pastrami on rye!!

The adventures of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day continue. Today ..... I baked the deli rye.

This is the 4th or 5th bread that I have baked out of the book. The spinach and feta is awesome! And I love the master recipe. I wasn't totally thrilled with the European Peasant bread -- but I was just getting my ABin5 legs!!!

This book is a must have for anyone that wants to bake bread on a regular basis. If you want some dinner rolls for a special event -- stick with Betty Crocker. But if you want great bread at home on a daily basis .......... and still want to have a life ........ buy the book!!! In the last 18 months, we have bought one loaf of bread at the store and a few more than that at the market...... this is making baking soooo easy. If Zoe and Jeff ever create a fan club, I'll be their first groupie!!!

Greenhouse Gwen regularly sells the Potato & Roasted Garlic bread at the market. She also sells the Vermont Cheese bread -- which isn't Vermont Cheese cuz we're in Iowa and all about local! I think it needs a little more cheese. But the Potato & Roasted Garlic with some butternut squash soup .........yum!

The rye has lots of caraway seeds in it and on it. And unlike the master recipe where you sprinkle flour over the top prior to slashing it, the deli rye uses a cornstarch wash over the top. I have never used anything like this in the past and I am anxious to try the bread.

But they say to let the bread cool ............. which is why I am up here blogging away! Warm bread. How do you let it cool without a slice or two missing??

Monday, January 26, 2009

In search of................

I have this neighbor .... who will remain nameless .... that is frugal! Now -- I really admire frugal. I wish I was frugal. I have become "damn cheap"!

So my dear sweet frugal neighbor goes to the grocery store one day and the store has over-bought pumpkin. 29 oz cans of name-brand pumpkin are on sale for 25 cents per can. So she buys a can or two or...............sixty!

I'd make fun of her -- but note, I am the woman that planted 70 tomatoes for our own use and am worried about running out of canned tomatoes!!!

She kindly shared her bargains ......and being cheap, I was the proud owner of 8-29 oz cans of pumpkin. Now -- I might use 8-29 oz cans of pumpkin in 8-12 years. But the price was right so I can figure out what to do with 8 cans of pumpkin.

Pumpkin pie immediately comes to mind as does a wonderful recipe for sour cream pumpkin strusel cake. But both recipes have a widening effect on my butt. So I will skip them.

So what to do with all this pumpkin??

I have found a great cookie recipe to share .... ya might like it. We did. I have no idea on fat or calorie count but its really not too sweet.

So, here we go........ Pumpkin Oatmeal Drop Cookies

3/4 c butter
1-1/2 c sugar.

Cream butter and sugar

Add 1 c pumpkin
2 eggs
1 tsp.vanilla

And mix thoroughly.

Then sift together (Which mind you, I never do!)
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 c of whole wheat flour and 1 c all-purpose)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves.

And stir this into the creamed mixture.

Then it is goodie time!
1-1/2 c oatmeal
1/2 coconut
3/4 c chopped nuts
1/2 dried cranberries.

Bake at a 375 oven for 12 minutes.

Now the recipe says it makes 6 dozen. Not the size that I make. I got not-quite 5 dozen.

Good, healthy and it uses some pumpkin!

Mission Accomplished!

My mozzarella turned out..........edible!!! Ok -- it was really pretty good. I still need some work on it. I would love to have someone close that makes mozzarella on a regular basis so I could watch technique. I will have to keep searching for that.

But on a whole -- it was awesome! This pizza was a ground turkey and roasted mushrooms, onions and garlic. I roast the mushrooms (and other stuff!) for about an hour -- I've tossed them with a little olive oil and roast them at 375 or so.

I often use crimini (baby belles) for roasting. They have a lot of flavor. But morels -- even better! So I need to add to my freezer stock this spring. I've done a mix of mushrooms -- little white button, crimini and morels. Watch the timing. Morels take less time to roast than the others. Actually, I start roasting the white button, then move to the crimini and then the morels. But the mix of flavors makes for a really yummy pizza.

So -- I made the crust, the pizza sauce was canned this summer. And now the cheese! I am feeling most accomplished!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Observations on the number of hours in a day!

OK -- I went to Retail-Hell today. I am waiting on a woman that is buying olive oil and a "dipping set" to serve at a party. She stated that she needed to find some good bread.

Ah ha! It's Saturday morning and the market is open. I have the perfect answer....... Greenhouse Gwen makes great ciabatta......... perfect for dipping. So I was telling her about the 30-plus loaves of bread that Greenhouse Gwen bakes on Friday. And I quote ...... "She has too much time on her hands."

(OK -- most of you know, its time to take cover!) And I say, "No, she makes very good use of the time that she has".

So ....... here is my question......... if baking 30 loaves of bread is a waste of time, what would be a productive use of time management skills?

We know its not knitting socks cuz I've been told that before. Ditto the canning of 700 jars of produce. Making your own pizza -- not so much! And we don't talk about making cheese.

Now, being a mall rat --- that must count as productive. And manicures, pedicures and hours in a salon ....... that's productive. Weeding for hours in the garden -- very low on the productive scale.

I resent the honest labor of our ancestors being a "waste of time". Yes -- I realize that most of my endeavors are for personal satisfaction and pride, not absolute necessity. But I can do it -- and I'm pretty certain the woman I spoke to never held a raw fleece in her hands ........EVER! Let alone scoop poop from the coop! (I've been waiting to type that little bit of alliteration for ages!!!)

I get it from co-workers (Do you need Pizza Hut's phone number?) I get it from family (You know, they sell socks in a store.) But the last time I looked -- my clock had 24 hours on it -- the same as theirs.

So the next time, you want to tell me that I have too much time on my hands........ let me remind you that I do this out of respect and with the knowledge handed down from our elders. After all -- we ain't much more than a generation away from the outhouse!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Special Day for a Special Guy!

Today is Honey's birthday. This letter is to him.

Dear Honey........

"Thank you" seems so trivial for all you have given me. I say "thank you" when someone holds a door open for me or when the waitress fills my water glass. But I have no other words, so bear with me.

Thank you for welcoming me into your home and making it "ours."

Thank you for proving Eldest Daughter right. Not all men are toads.

Thank you for loving me even though I have gray hair, crows feet around my eyes and the formerly-perky parts of my body have taken a trip South.

Thank you for teaching me about check-wire, dimensional tolerances and difference between a JD-G and a JD-GP.

Thank you for eating polenta, goat cheese, couscous and dilly beans.

Thank you for rubbing my back, building a fire and keeping me warm when I feel pooohey!

Thank you for letting me have chickens, teaching our ducks tricks and crying with me when we lost Walter.

Thank you for loving me when I drink too much, laugh too loud and generally, just embarrass the hell out of a lesser man!

Thank you for listening to me when I said, "Let's go to the doctor."

Thank you for dancing with me when the "Powdered Milk Biscuits" song comes on the Prairie Home Companion.

Thank you for letting me drag you to ...... just one more!!.........political event.

Thank you for being the best roadie a girl could ever have.

And most of all............ thank you for loving me with all your heart and spending your birthday with me.

I love you forever and a day

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Easily entertained!

You know you live in Iowa ............ when you go to a wedding and the second song they play is the "Chicken Dance".

This, evidently, is the version from Miss Effie's. Compliments of Honey and the lovely Miss Black- Brown Araucana. Watch her head.

Wishin' and Hopin'......................................

Some women dream of new spring fashions........ pretty colored shoes, bright sweaters and floral capris. I am not one of those women!!!

Me .................. I dream of peeping baby chicks, arriving in the mail. I dream of buckets of brightly colored flowers, dancing in our perpetual summer breeze. So it is with absolute delight that I pour over the hatchery and seed catalogs during the dead of winter.

So ........... would the children that come to the garden, like the Blue Silkies or the Red Frizzle Cochins? Do I need more Araucanas for their beautiful green-blue eggs or do I need more Barred Rocks for their docile behavior?

Do I try the Chantilly snapdragons again ......... even though, they were a miserable failure last year??? How many flowers do I plant? (ok -- I have over 6000 annuals already ordered! And yes, there will be more!) Did I have enough tomatoes last year? After all, it is only January ........ and its a long time till August. Do I grow spinach .......... or do I let my friends at Nostalgia Farms do it for me?

These are the decisions that really matter to me. Not the fact that the shoes I wear are handed-up from my daughter five years ago or that my nails are perpetually a mess!

How do I live in a society that values looks and wealth over deeds and action? Hopefully (and yes, I meant hopefully) yesterday's events -- January 20th -- will inspire us to a world of personal responsibility. We will take care of ourselves -- feed those around us -- and toss aside the shallow values we have embraced. When people like Paris Hilton are better known than Norman Borlaug, we are living a sad life indeed.

Fortunately, many of you understand. Others, may not have a clue. Its ok -- there are many of us searching for the answer. Do I order Buff Orpingtons or Speckled Sussex?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Der Vinoschnarfers!

This group of elegant people are Der Vinoschnarfers!!!! Ok -- maybe we aren't that elegant. But we have a lot of fun!!

Saturday -- we hiked our way through the cold and snow to go to a wine tasting at the River Music Experience. We were hoping to drink a lot of wine. Evidently, so were the other 400 people that were there. Unfortunately, the venue planned for 200 people to be drinking wine.

I don't understand how they could not know we were coming??? We bought our tickets early. They had our names -- heck, most the wine vendors knew us!!! We are the Der Vinoschnarfers! The name says it all!! And our motto .......... No wine will be left behind!!!!

Well ........... that was true. We didn't leave until everything was gone. Of course, that was an hour and a half after the doors opened. But we hadn't schnarfed down nearly enough wine.

There was wonderful music.

But next time, we will stay home, eat our own wonderful snacks and food and drink better wine!!!! And a heck of a lot more of it!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold, not frigid!!!

I'm certain every blogger in the Midwest is showing pics of their thermometers. Well -- here is another. Yep -- it is 7:30 a.m on Jan 15th and here is the temp! Let's not talk wind chills.

I'm thinking I should have stowed away with my BIL and SIL when they left for Arizona!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is this heaven??????????

Yesterday ....................................
I don't think so!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lovin' that neighbor of mine!

I love living in the country. I think I have always been a farm girl, even though I was raised in a small town.

But I have to admit......... I hate the blowing, drifting, accumulating, piled-high snow! I don't want to go anywhere. I don't need to go anywhere. That doesn't matter. I still hate the stuff.

So it was wonderful when suddenly, this morning, I hear the movement of snow. Honey was at work. Chris (our shared-lane neighbor) was at work. I knew it had to be Mike.

Mike farms all around us on all sides. Its his corn that our male friends' insist on watering all summer. (Ya know what I mean!!! Seriously, I don't get it!!) Its his beans that draw the fireflies in June. Mike's grandparents built our house around 1892. His uncle built our neighbor's house in 1950. So I think he holds some sense of ownership --- so he will plow out our lane. You can see how it drifts in. (If you are looking at this picture,to the north of the fence, wonder what that is tan stuff in the field. It is corn. Never picked. Don't ask........ everyone has a crazy neighbor. That is ours.)

Mike doesn't take money for plowing us out. He will take a dozen eggs once in a while. He just does it cuz its the neighborly thing to do.

We set great store out here about being neighborly. Waving is an important act of respect. You may not know a person --but you always must wave. A line in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle has stuck with me. I love this line! Think locally, act neighborly.

Think locally, act neighborly. In a world that has suddenly gone so very wrong -- what could be better??? Eat local food, buy local products, shop local stores ............... and be neighborly when you do it.

So, on a cold winter day in Iowa, think of me waving to my neighbors. Hey, Sheepie!!!!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Road to Self-Sufficiency........

Honey and I have worked hard to become more self-sufficient all the time. It may not be "cool". It may not be "hip". And Lord knows, my mother refuses to "get it". After all, why preserve home-grown produce when there is a grocery store down the road???? Let's not even talk about "growing" the produce!

But that's not who I am, so I will continue on my little quest of being able to take care of myself.

Honey is good with a hammer and a screwdriver. He can fix almost anything built before the time of the micro-chip. After that, it gets pretty tough .............. Fortunately, we don't have lot of things with "micro-chips". And if my washer goes out again -- there is always the Voss wringer and the clothesline!

Me -- I am very domestic person. I sew. I knit. I spin. I can and freeze and make jelly. I love my girls that lay the pretty eggs and I marvel in the absolute beauty of heirloom tomatoes. I drool over seed catalogs like a buyer for Macy's drools over the spring fashion show in Paris. Just too much to buy!!!!

After Honey's heart episode (he calls it a little "episode". His cardiologist doesn't agree with that!) I started baking all of our bread. I can lower the sodium content since I am not adding preservatives so it can live in the bread box for a week. Of course, fresh homemade bread doesn't have a chance in this house. Its lucky to see nightfall!!!!

But my real step to self-sufficiency has got to be cheese-making. I need to conquer cheese-making. Some people want to lose 40 pounds, save money, get fit, remember important dates. My New Year's resolution --- homemade mozzarella --- made in my kitchen -- by me.

I have attempted to make mozzarella before. The result was a paste-y, grayish ball resembling a large ball of Elmer's glue. And it tasted about as good. Hmmmmm?

So I live in envy of you that blog about your cheese-making experiences. I google for tips and recipes. I lust over cultures and beautiful silky curds. And I hope ---- one day ---- the Cheese Gods will look down on me with pity and send me the perfect recipe, thermometer and technique.

When they do -- I hope its for gorgonzola!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dyeing to play with fiber..........

I taught a small group of home-schoolers the other day. They have taken up knitting as a project and wanted the experience of spinning and dyeing yarn. So ..... I was lucky enough to get to take on the task!

We started by learning about fiber ....... angora, alpaca, Shetland and Lincoln. They got to feel and touch and smell .............. just like I do when I am surrounded by great fleece and yarn.

We then went to my simple little wheel. I love my Kiwi! I have test-driven many wheels ...... I really would like a "sexier" wheel .......... but right now, for the money, I can't beat my Kiwi. Spins like a top. Does what I need it to do. But I sure would like a Reeves!!!!!!!

So everyone got a spin on the wheel. The first time you sit at a wheel -- its like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time! You are trying to treadle slowly and draft the fiber and keep the wheel moving and feed the fiber to the bobbin. Yea............ sounds easy, doesn't it? Not so much!!!!

Jess did an awesome job! She is hooked. We have a new spinner in our midst. I'm thinking her mother found the perfect Christmas present for her.

Blake also tried his hand on the wheel. He could develop the rhythm, given a little practice time.

We then dyed wool yarn with kool-aid. Great project. Very safe and very color-fast. We got some vibrant colors. We used the microwave method. But in the summer, I think using large glass jars could be a lot of fun. I'll be doing a re-play of this class in the corn-zebo come June!

Luke was mixing his green kool-aid with water and vinegar to great a dark green.
Luke was very good on the spinning wheel. Why can kids learn so quickly? That eye-hand coordination comes so naturally for them. And -- if you have had trouble learning how to spin -- let me make you feel even worse! Luke is 8 and in the 2nd grade!!

Amanda (on the left) is the knitter of the bunch. I hope she will take me up on my offer and come out and knit with me. She loved the palindrome scarf -- I think it would make a great 4-H project for her. And they have the hat to go with it. Perfect for a first year knitting project!

It was a wonderful day -- I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. So ...... if any home-school or 4-H group want to spend 3 hours playing with fiber with me............. drop me a line.

I'm game!

A little shameless self-promotion..........................

Hey! It's my blog. Get over it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This and that!

Well -- there have been a few things accomplished here at Miss Effie's. Damn few ..... but you take what you can get in January!

First of all, lets give props to Honey. He has had two projects going. That would be multi-tasking and Lord knows, he doesn't multi-task like he used to!! Oh .... that would be me.

Ok -- above is the rocker from Honey's curbside shopping spree. It is cleaned, repaired and re-glued. It didn't need to be stripped .... most of the finish was already off and the rest came off with a scrubbing. We originally thought it was oak ........ but after cleaning, it really looks like walnut. Seems a little light weight for walnut but it is very dry. Honey will do some stain testing in the next few days. I'll keep you posted.

Then the bathroom project continues. We needed to re-do the bath. We needed a new tub, a new shower, a new vanity, a new floor. Average cost of a bathroom remodel ......... around $20,000. HA! I don't have $20,000!!! So after convincing myself that I wasn't crazy...... I set a goal.

I would do the bathroom for $1500. Yep. That's right $1500. Now it has taken longer than we had hoped. Life, the gardens, the business, Honey's health issues have interferred with progress. We have had a functioning bathroom ... just not a completed bathroom.

The biggest project yet to do has been the shower walls. The last two years we have been bathing, not showering. We are ready for a shower!!! As many of you know....... ceramic tile is not cheap. But patience is a virtue (so they say!!!) and we got lucky ...... again.

Greenhouse Gwen somehow ended up with all sorts of bits and pieces of ceramic tile. And in the mix of pieces was some 6x6 matte white ceramic wall tile. Enough to do the shower........twice. Which is a really good thing cuz in cutting it ....... Honey is experiencing a bit of a learning curve. Actually -- he is doing great. Right now .... he has two walls of ceramic up and is doing all the major cuts for the wall with the shower valve..... @ the tricky wall!

Fortunately, our neighbor is a carpet installer with a wet saw. And we have a blade on our garden tractor for snow. Hmmmm. Funny how things work out!!!

So I'm thinkin' by the end of next week ......... we will have shower! And the cost...... a 6-pack of Left Hand Brewery Milk Stout for the ceramic. Plowing some snow for wet-saw rental! Right with in my budget!!!

Now ..... I have a few FO's. Couple of little things.

First .... I finished Honey's Christmas socks. I love these! Red, green, tan and brown. I wish I had bought a solid to do the heels and toes. But there is always another pair to do. So maybe next time.

And then there was the rest of the yarn from Sheepie Neighbor. Willow's beautiful warm fleece. Not enough for a hat or scarf ... so I made a neck warmer for myself. And I did it Palindrome style.... reversible cables. So I can roll-it down turtleneck style and stay cozy warm and fashionable!! Wait. Fashionable and me ......... there are two words that should not be in the same sentence!! But I digress!

And the final finished project. Another pair of Fetching mitts! Six hours! I made them in six hours .... from start to finish. If you are making these in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran ..... buy two skeins. Now ... I did these with one skein. But....... I went down a size in needles and I have hands that are smaller than most 5th graders. For an average person -- there is no way that one skein works.
One more pair of these to go......... and I will be done with the mitts for the year. But I love wearing these and what a quick easy knit!!

Well -- that's what is new at Miss Effie's home place. And yes...... I will post the recipe for the lentil salad. I wish I had taken a pic....... but it is really yummy and healthy so is a pic even necessary???

Talk to you all later.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

YouTube Trouble............

OK -- please note that I try to keep Honey under control. Now keep in mind, he is in engineering (a designer) and his mind is a tad warped.

He has spent the last 2 days putting up ceramic tile in the bath for a new shower. Since this is a new experience for him, you would think the work and the learning curve would have him exhausted at 9 p.m.

Not So Much!!!!!
From the right ................. battery, magnet, piece of bent copper wire.
Put them together........ from the bottom up -- magnet, battery, bent wire thingy!


Voila!!! (Or Viola! if you are from Mercer County, IL!!) An itty-bitty working motor. Yea. I'm impressed!

This is why Honey has a verrry loooong list!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A corner of my own.............

Virginia Woolf said that all women should have a room of their own. I don't really have a room... I have corners.

I like cozy corners. Probably because I spent so much time in corners as a child! And I think all corners should have a place to sit. Probably because I spent so much time standing in the corners!

So at the top of the stairs is a small little corner. Doesn't hold too much........ but it does hold a little shelf on the wall. Honey and I re-fashioned this shelf out of two pieces of old fluted pine molding from an old house. A Re-Store store purchase. Two pieces of molding for a total of $10 and a little paint............ and elbow grease. (We stripped the molding first)

It needs a little more work ........ a hand-hooked rug for starters.... and another picture, though we know that is the easy part. But this little corner of the house........ has some neat little things. The small red basket holds my Aunt Kate's knitting needles. Aunt Kate died in the mid-60's at the age of 100 or so. She survived the Great San Francisco earthquake, started a couture sewing shop near Chicago, and had little or no use for some men!! And she didn't hold her tongue about it!

There is my niddy-noddy that I can never get the handle of!!! Beautifully simple out of walnut ....... it is un-marked but was bought in Rick Reeves country. So I just imagine that he made it.

There is the book that all knitters should read ........ No Idle Hands. It is the social history of knitting in America. There is also my first ball of hand-spun......... yea, it will stay there. Yuck!!! How bad can your first ball be???? Well -- mine was pretty durn bad! The next skein I did was good enough to make a clip-on dreadlock ponytail for Honey. It was that bad and that was an improvement!

But it is a corner to wind my yarn and sit and relax for a moment. The little chair was from an aunt -- the seat was an Erica Wilson embroider kit from the 60's! It had a price tag of $2.98 on it!! My college roommate found the kit in her mother's stuff and knew that I would work it up. I love it! With the squirrel and flowers and butterflies ........ its perfect for a flower farmer's corner.

So occasionally, you may find me in my corner of the world -- reading a pattern, darning a pair of hand-knit socks. But I'll be sitting ......... not standing with my nose to the wall!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Living the artful life...........

Honey and I enjoy going to art shows, flea markets, street events and antique shows. But we are kind of lax when it comes to museums and concerts. Its not that we don't enjoy them .... we just have the tendency to keep on working. (yea .... if you are into sustainability, you understand!)

So Honey and I are trying to take advantage of inexpensive, enjoyable, educational opportunities around our community. Yesterday, we had an art-filled lunch date.

First of all, Mojo's cafe at the River Music Experience has a daily concert during the lunch hour.....FREE! Yesterday, Tennessee played blues and rock and country and bluegrass. We ate great pannini sandwiches and drank wonderful coffee. Lots of John Prine, John Fogerty and a little Guy Mitchell................. yea, I know you have never heard of him. Unfortunately for our friends, I have and can sing along with all of his songs. I am truly that old!

Then down the street to the art museum. At this moment, there is a show of the Decoys of the Illinois River Valley. Ok, history buffs........ here comes your lesson.

Duck migration to the Illinois Valley was huge during the later part of the 19th century and the early 20th century. A large carving industry was developed along the river, its heyday being from about 1880-1940. These carvers lived in Princeton, Henry, Peoria and Bureau. Names like Ellison and my personal favorite, Charles Perdew.

And if you don't know this about me -- I am a huge fan of folk art. And decoys are some of the best. So I was drooling. And breaking the rules............. not once, but twice.

They don't want you to take pictures in a museum. Go figure!!! So enjoy these pics before they find me online and haul me off!!! Hey ......... more people should go see this show! Consider my blog my gift-in-kind to the museum. (Do you think they will buy that?????)

The next two are fascinating. Robert Ellison carved these two pintail ducks twenty years apart. The back one was carved around 1900. He would have been around 25. But the one in the front of the picture was carved around 1920. Notice the change of the carving style around the bill and head. The older decoy to the back has a cartoon-like round head. Not the smooth elegant shape of the later and more realisitic duck.

Honey was surprised at the pure simplicity of form ........ both in carving and painting. A lot of the detail of the paint was done with a grain painting comb. Beautiful!

And finally........ one of my favorites. A Canadian goose. Just screams "American Folk Art". Great paint, form and detail.The thrill of being able to look at these few pictures ........ and to know I was really able to see them.............. was worth the scolding. Thank God, they didn't find my water bottle in my bag!!! You see ........... that's a no-no, too!