Monday, June 29, 2009

Can you believe it????

Yea ....... that bucket of flowers was $7.50!! Why??? Because Heather left a review on Miss Effie's FaceBook fan page. And she is an incredible stuffer of flowers. She has a plan ... what flowers are going where ... what vase she is going to use.

But she was almost out-done by a few others.
That's Anne and grand-daughter Mazie.
Twila picked a beautiful bucket of flowers! I love those pink lilies!! I think they are my favorite. But of course, my favorite changes as the blossoms change in the garden.
This was a very fun delightful group from DeWitt IA. I think DeWitt is one of the neatest small towns in America. And if it wasn't for some great women in DeWitt, I'm not sure if I would still be in business. They supported us every year and picked flowers time and time again.

Patti and her friends came out and had a wonderfully elegant delicious lunch in the corn-zebo. In spite of our "breezy" day!!!!

And look at those bouquets................ HUGE!! And I love it!!!!! That's what Miss Eff's is all about!

And can you believe it???? I still have flowers!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A challenge................

OK -- Kathy and Darlene are holding ONE bucket of flowers. They did awesome! I hope they send photos of all their bouquets. And Happy Birthday, Kathy!! Please come back again .... it was great to have you spend your special day with us.

Can you fill a bucket even more??? Come on, Heather ..........I know you are up for a challenge!!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Breathing ............ again.

As you may have surmised, Honey is the light of my life. There would be no Miss Eff without Honey. He is my whole world. He is the master digger, the mower, the major weeder, my roadie and my biggest fan. He has faith in me ......... when no one else does.

So when the oncologist looked at Honey's yearly CTscan and said "I want you to see your thoracic surgeon.", we both gulped and tried to put everything out of our minds.

You see, six years ago, Honey was diagnosed with stage 1-A lung cancer. Stage 1-A. Less than 1/2 of 1% of all lung cancers are found in stage 1. Let alone stage 1-A.

I had bought Honey a big bag of cashews and he developed a tummy ache. So bad that after several days of Pepto and Tums, he went to the doctor. Fortunately, the doctor said .... "Lets do a cat scan. It will show everything and it isn't invasive". And it was then, when they found the diverticulitis ................... and the lung cancer.

The next two weeks brought doctor appointment after doctor appointment. Lots of "ist-s". Like radiologists and oncologists. And surgery. And a great out-come.

They thought the cancer was back once but through the miracles that are God's alone, it suddenly disappeared as fast as it appeared. Even the oncologist calls it a miracle.

The last 5 years have brought a massive heart attack, two rounds of stent surgery and cardio re-hab. And just to keep me on my toes ..... and because I put my foot down about anything else ..... Honey had cataract surgery last summer!!

And now ...... there is a small aneurysm in the lung. GULP! Lung surgery is pretty major and fairly painful. Been there. Done that. This is my tanned, strong, healthy, happy Honey. Not again!!

But fortunately, the doctor says ..... it is little. Just send school photos every year to see how big it grows.

Yea .......... we are breathing again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yea .......... its hot!

I live in an old house. It has one bathroom. A small cellar.... not a basement or family room or rec room. I have a kitchen but no great room. There is no heat upstairs in the winter. And there is no air conditioning.

That one confuses me! Mention the fact that you have no heat upstairs and you get ...... "Don't you get cold?" and a few quick explanations later....... the subject is dropped.

Mention that you don't have a/c in muggy Iowa and you must belong to the stone age!! (Well, we do. But that is neither here nor there!!) I have had people offer window units. (Gave some away -- hate them!) I have had people question my sanity (OK -- I'll give them that one ........ but not about a/c!!!) I have had people say, "I could never live like that." Well -- your great-grandmother did. In long dresses instead of cut-off's and tank tops. And she survived!!!!

I work outside. If I had a/c ...... you probably couldn't drag me outside!!! Getting too comfortable makes people........... well, lazy. I might as well get off my butt and weed that bed cuz it ain't going to get any cooler in the house!!!!!

And if I had a/c ............ you wouldn't get to see these pictures.
The clematis ..... Blue Moon ..... has been outstanding this year and has gotten lots of compliments.
Ok -- this is one of my favorite daylilies. But I forget its name... it is not Blackberry Candy. Its throat is more red than purple. So if anyone knows what it is ....... let me know.
And today, an asclepias (annual butterfly weed.... actually, Silky Formula Mix) bloomed. These are not the best cut flowers. They will wilt immediately after cutting in this warm weather. But if allowed to sit in the cool water overnight -- they often bounce right back. Its still a little short but will grow taller as the season progresses. We grow them because Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the plant.

Yea ....... the first feeding for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I'll show butterflies later.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

OK -- I need your help again!!!

You guys always come through for me and this is sooo easy.

You know, I LOVE farmers' markets and the fresh produce and the atmosphere and the vendors.

I love knowing how my food is raised and who is doing it. I love the fact that Nostalgia Farms calls me and says "Cathy, I have spinach today. Would you like some?"

Or that Sheepie Neighbor lets me fondle the yarn while I drool over another salted nut roll. Or double chocolate chip cookie ................. those decisions are getting harder and harder to make.

Or Greenhouse Gwen says "Cathy, you have got to try this plant" or "Wouldn't this look great in your garden". Nine times out ten ...... she is right!

I love the fact the Darcy lets me teach canning classes cuz she knows how much I love to inspire a younger generation to preserve the freshness!!!

But most of all, I love the sense of community that comes from a farmers market that cares. A market that wants you to dance in aisles to the music, cuddle a lamb and feed the hungry. A market that wants to teach you about healthy options in your diet and yoga classes for exercise. A market that has dogs to adopt and healthy treats for those dogs.

I want to shop at place that has respect for the past, an appreciation for the beauty that is the Mighty Mississippi and yet, a forward progressive attitude.

For me ................I only shop the Freight House Farmers Market. And that is why I am voting for them. You can, too. Click here and help them raise the funds to help our community. Can you imagine the programs and the events that they will do ...... with money??? Look what they do with nothing!!!!!

You've heard me sing this song before, Sister. We are family ................. vote.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I've got flowers!!!

Boy, has that been a long time coming! We have had an unbelievable spring. April started with beautiful days...... lots of sunshine ......... great temperatures. And then ............. May arrived.

Now May didn't arrive with frost....... or snow....... or lots of storms. Just very cool comfortable temperatures and lots of rain. The cool comfortable temperatures are nice for us. But my flowers like lots of sunshine and a bit of heat. If I'm sweating, they are happy!

Then June arrived ................ and for the first couple of weeks, the cool temperatures and rain continued. The heat has now arrived and we get this......................Yea ......... wind, lightning, torrential downpour. All because I wanted some warmer temperatures!But look what I get from that warm weather! These lilies are Monte Negro...... the deepest darkest red available. Yummmmmmmmmm.

So the flowers are ready for picking.......... come out and enjoy. The lilies will only last a couple of weeks in the garden and they are blooming faster every day.

Unlike Izzie ........ who doesn't move too fast for anyone. Watch for him when you pull in the lane cuz he doesn't like to be disturbed when he is napping!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The peaceful nature of peas.........

Seriously, is there anything better in the world than peas right out of the garden? Many people grow sugar peas now because you don't have to shell them. Personally, I love the quiet peacefulness that comes from shelling peas.

The crack that is the opening of the pod -- the slide of the thumb, pushing the peas into a bowl where there is just the slightest of noise.

But peas can be very social. Kind of a veggie quilting bee. Woman and girls all sitting around talking and shelling. Forming the bonds that are only made by working and cooking together.

But me -- I sit on a bench. A bowl is on my lap -- the basket to my left and a bucket for the pods at my feet. I'm surrounded by the sounds of nature. The wrens, the robins, the sparrows and the frogs. A rooster crows and the kitten walking across my shoulders purrs.

Tonight -- as we eat creamed peas with potatoes and ham -- I'll remember how I feel at this very moment. Very very content.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thriftin' is a verb!

You already know that I am cheap. Dear Sheepie Neighbor is kind enough to say that I am frugal. I have never reached frugal yet. I am cheap.

And I have weird ideas. What is weirder yet -- people seem to respond to them.

Current weird idea (oh, and there are many!!!) is my tea tree. I decided to hang tea cups (not coffee cups or mugs ..... tea cups!!!) from my Prairie Fire flowering crab tree. You know -- tea cups would hang like apples from the tree. I hang them on the tree with ribbons ........ lots of different colors of ribbons. Whatever I find at the time! And I don't tie them into bows. I just let the tails flap in the breeze.
Originally, I thought 15-17 tea cups and the tree would look good. I have 31 and I'm not even close!!!!!!

So I hit the thrift stores when I can looking for tea cups. The trouble is ............... I'm finding other stuff!!!! Great stuff!!!

OK -- Ya know I LOVE old stuff! And linens are some of my favorite old things............ I picked up these. Not particularly old. Ok -- not old at all but lovely!!!!
Hand-embroidered with pearl cotton floss on the softest yellow linen. Beautifully done and not a stain or a tear on it. Its sad that no one wanted it.
This is not hand-done. There are two that match exactly but are done in different colors. But lovely, never-the-less. They will be perfect for a book club tea ......... or a ladies' club party.

And finally .......... bargain chairs!!! I got a glimpse of these yesterday when I left a thrift store -- I was in a hurry -- its a one-way. So I thought about them. $4 a piece! They are perfect!! Right color -- no repairs -- couldn't ask for more!Don't they look great flanking the stove??? What??? You don't heat your corn-zebo????

Yea ......... I love being cheap!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kermit update...........

I don't understand this at all. I am suddenly enamored with frogs. I like the sounds -- I like them in the water feature -- I even like them startling me in the garden!

I've been watching the tadpoles and they are growing larger -- most have their back legs. But we haven't become "frog-like" yet.

So I was delighted when we found this little guy in the water.
He sure is tiny!!!!! Nature --- just doing its thing at Miss Effie's.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Scenes from the farm................

Pretty busy at the moment but I thought I post a couple of pics from the farm.
This is my Summer-is-here! hug from Mazie. Mazie and I are buds! And as we say, summer is not really here until Mazie and her mom and sister come to the farm! Note though...... do you see any flowers in bloom?????Mazie - cousin Laughton -- Jenna and Charley with some of the chicks. We had some of the chicks escape. A few wing flaps can be a bit unsettling so off the chicks went. So we played hide-and-seek with the chicks for a few moments!!!!! Charley also has lost a shoe ............. one. We haven't found it yet but will keep looking for it! Knowing Charley -- we will find it near the kittens -- in a water dish -- by the cornfield. It could be anywhere!

And speaking of the kittens............. a couple of aaaaah moments.And just for Sheepie Neighbor -- this is what startled me when I picked up a flat of flowers.
Yea ............ I thought it was pretty cool!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This is embarrassing!!!

I take pride in being a pretty decent cook. Not the best in the world --no Julia Childs -- but a good cook. I will try a lot of new things. And a lot of old things.

As many of you know-- I like to can. I love the "ping" of the jars sealing. I love the bright pretty fruit and veggies sparkling in the jars. I love organizing the jars by color in the pantry........ what will look best next to each other? I like the pride and the sense of accomplishment that I get. And I like doing something that many people don't do any more.

I am teaching another class down at the Freight House Farmers market this Saturday - June 13th -- on strawberry jam making. I had planned to do my favorite strawberry jam recipe with strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. That's it. Just a great basic jam recipe. We will talk about gel points and sheeting and all sorts of pectins.

Then .... I was asked to do a demonstration on Paula Sands Live on KWQC. How can I make jam in 3 minutes???? It takes an hour of cooking time and then 10 minutes processing time. I can fake a lot of time for television but not that much time!!!

So I study and look and research and read and search ........ and I find Ball Simple Creations Freezer Jam Pectin. Wow! Fruit -- sugar -- freezer jam pectin. Stir it together for 3 minutes and poof!!! Jam appears.

Heck ..... it would take me that long to choose a jar off the shelf at Hy-Vee!!!

So ..... if you don't own a canner or jars or only have 3 minutes to live!!! ............ this is the jam to make. It has a clean fresh strawberry taste and will last on your refrigerator shelf for a month or in your freezer for 6 months.

But don't tell my friends ...... it is waaay to embarrassing to make something this easy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Recycling is for the birds..........

As many of you know -- I feel we have a social responsibility to re-use, reduce and recycle. OK -- I just like junk! You know -- that stuff that everyone else says ....."Why would you want that?" And if the truth be known, sometimes I don't know why I want it. I just do.

Lately, I have fallen in love with glass light shades. My favorites are three-holed molded glass light shades from the 1930's. They were made in pretty pastel colors. They often had clear glass ruffled edges on them. They hung from three small chains from the light -- shading the bare bulbs.
Now -- they hang from copper wire and beads. And they hold bird seed in the garden. I love this pink one!!!!
Another type of glass light shades were the single pole shades. One hole -- they screwed on to a single post in the fixture. This is now drilled on to a porch spindle -- filled with a little silicone. And instantly (!!!) you have a bird bath!!
Pretty and cheap garden accessories. All of these shades came from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore Store in Davenport. And not one was over $10 --- I think the last one was $2.50!!! Buy a bird bath for that!

Hopefully, the birds like the new bathing and eating facilities. I love the whimsical vintage look. My bank balance appreciates the price and I kept 3 adorable pieces of architectural salvage out of our landfills.

Yea .... I think that is pretty tweet!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I think my socks are in Indiana!

I am totally impressed with people that can multi-task. I can not. Ever. Not even the simplest of things. Currently -- I am having trouble doing laundry and anything else!

I want to be ecologically sound so I hang my laundry on the line as much as possible.

So I hung towels and blankets and Honey's hand-knit socks on the line to dry. And it rained. And they tried to dry again. And it rained again. So I continued to leave them on the line to dry.
And then ......... they went into an unscheduled spin cycle! And a snap and a crackle and a pop! And the clothesline was no more.

So not only are they wet -- wrinkled -- they now are dirty again.

I can't multi-task at all. But I do have a new clothesline!!!

Scenes from the garden..........

Just a few pictures from the garden...........
Flowers and frogs.............. now its time to go back and weed some more.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

So maybe I've got a few????

The last couple of weeks has been tough. Everyone is showing pictures of their beautiful flowers. And the flower farmer has none.

Well -- really that's not true. I have iris -- I have tulips and daffodils -- I have lilacs and peonies and snowball bushes. But I don't have quantity. At least not for the 60 to 100 people that can come here in a week.

But today ........ one of my favorite flowers is blooming. This is Baptistia -- or false indigo. It is a perennial -- it does seed slowly. It blooms roughly at the same time as my late-blooming peonies. Its seed heads will look like footballs later and can be used in dried arrangements.

But for now -- I love its rich blue color and its wayward arching stems. It won't be here long --- but its a beautiful show while it is here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mission ............ delayed.

We have a "water feature". Sort of. Kind of. Maybe.

Honey and I built a small pond several years ago with the dreams of pretty water plants, bubbling water and brightly colored fish swimming around.

Then .......... I got ducks!!! And my pretty dreams disappeared with the splashing and diving of my funny amusing waterfowl!!

Actually ..... I am fine with that. I still attempt to buy some water plants and goldfish only to have them eaten by the ducklings. But I love my silly ducks and I will put up with the lack of a "water feature" so they may have their swimming hole!

Early in the spring, we try to clean the pond. During the fall and winter it fills with leaves and branches. Basically, it becomes disgusting! This means throwing on the boots, a pair of really grubby cut-offs, draining the pond and scrubbing the liner.

This year, we just didn't seem to "get to it". So Sunday was deemed to be the day! We throw the pump into the pond and we are cleaning the area around it. There have been a lot of frogs around the pond but when we started, we didn't see any.

Then we spied this gal ............... intently staring at us. And not moving. At all. Hmmm?
Look!! Tadpoles!! Natural insect and mosquito control!!!!

Honey looks at me. I look at him. And we pull the pump out of the water. Some things should just wait for Nature to take its course.

So my "water feature" is still disgusting. No sparkling clear water, no pretty plants, no brightly colored fish. Just a grateful mama frog.And I am just fine with that!