Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Responsibility of a Small Businesswoman

The things I will do!

When you come to the farm to pick flowers....... I give you a one-gallon milk jug to stuff with as many flowers as possible. Now there are only two of us in the house and although we save jugs all winter...... it is never enough. And today, the un-thinkable happened.

Yes......... Miss Eff has run out of milk jugs. So there is only one thing to do.

Well -- besides beg.

I have got to get to the bottom ....... of the dumpster.

So if you want to save her the humiliation of diving among the beer bottles and cans.......... bring your milk jugs to her. Just give them a quick wash and a rinse. Don't bother cutting them. I am a professional jug cutter .... do not attempt that at home.

(Dumpster site will remain nameless to protect the innocent. And keep me from getting arrested!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm a Lumberjack...........

We have had quite the adventures the last couple of days. Friday night we had another storm go through the area with 65 to 70 mph winds and heavy rain. Even though -- we went out after the rain -- we never noticed this!

Yep .... pulled up by the roots, it was leaning on the neighbor's fence and had pulled down the power line to their well and a grain bin. REC shut down the power -- disconnected the wires -- and told me to call an electrician (on a Saturday, mind you. Cha-ching!!!) to hook the power back up.

So Honey and our neighbor get to work and everything is cleaned up and the power is back on around noon. No harm. No foul.

And then ........... there was yesterday.

Honey had been in the chicken runs and had checked for eggs and the water supply. He was then going to work in the tomatoes for a while.

Suddenly, he hears the rustling of leaves. He turns .......... only to watch a tree, ever so slowly land on top of the runs. It did no damage to the runs! No un-planned free-ranging chickens! Just a good size tree on top of the coop and runs.

It wasn't a huge tree by any means. But it left a lot of logs to be cut, split and dried for the wood-burning stove, kindling to be cut into smaller pieces and debris to be dried and then burned.

And then it left some damage to the roof of the coop. A significant wrinkle in the shingles. I don't like significant wrinkles......... I'm certain the coop doesn't either!

With two trees down -- several limbs from other trees -- and a lot sticks and branches in the yard-- the chain saw and the bow saw are going to get a workout.

So what do we say? We say .................. "Ohhhhhhhhh! I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok. I sleep all night and I work all day!"

(Psst! We may grow old ......... we will never grow up!)

Monday, July 27, 2009

To Answer that Immortal Question........

Don't your cats bother the ducks?

No .................... not so much!

How do I say thank you???

I had planned to take lots of pictures yesterday ...... but we all know what they say about the best laid plans.

OK -- First -- big shout out to my dear friend Gwen!!! I can't begin to say thank you for all the kindness and love you show. You are the best!!! And if you didn't meet Gwen --- she was the gal scooping out the french silk ice cream and the chocolate cake. Cuz I was too busy talking ...... not a surprise!!!!

If you don't usually follow this blog .... here's the scoop. Miss Eff turned 55 today so to celebrate (or mourn) entering Senior Citizen territory -- I decided to have a party. And what is more Miss Effie than an ice cream social? (Ok -- maybe a beer party but I digress!!!)

So we decorated the corn-zebo in typical vintage style .... baked 5 cakes and churned 3 batches of ice cream. I even baked a cherry chip-nut cake which was always one of my favorite. I made a seafoam frosting for it ...... a cooked sugar syrup frosting. It was good but it needed more cherry flavoring in it than what it got from the cherry juice. Gwen and I discussed it and I need to take a trip to Stringtown and pick up some true cherry flavoring.

I baked a Midwest chocolate cake that had sour cream in it...... it was a winner. Particularly with the french silk ice cream ...... the recipe was compliments of my friend Maggie.

We doubled it for our freezer but next time ........... I will make two batches! YUM! And as Maggie suggested ...... we increased the cocoa to 1/2 cup and I did decrease the sugar by an 1/8 cup.... I think I could have decreased it a little more but by that time --- I was too tired to deal with an ice cream that didn't thicken!!

Honey and I adopted two new daughters. Now .... we really didn't need two more daughters. We have two very lovely daughters already. But these gals will not put my sewing machines, spinning wheel and all my Peace Fleece knitting needles on a yard sale!!! So they will be getting the yarn and fleece stash. And they, too, feel like they were born in the wrong century. I like that in a person!!!!

But the big deal about yesterday was the $300+ that we raised for the CCC food pantry and Cafe on Vine. The $300 (final totals will be announced later this week) will be used to buy gift certificates for the Freight House Farmers Market. Then the CCC can use them year-round to buy meats, eggs, cheese and fresh, local produce when needed.

This is such a win-win situation. We not only helped feed the hungry but it will help keep a local farmer in his fields. And that farmer will spend his money ..... locally!

As I have said before ........... its all about helping our neighbors.

So thank you one and all. You made my birthday very very special. I received some wonderfully thoughtful gifts, some beautiful notes that made me cry, and got to hug a lot of very very special friends.

And a note to a very special little boy ... Oliver. Thank you so much for such a pretty picture. I put it on my refrigerator and I will see it today while I am making pickles.

I love you all!
Miss Effie

Friday, July 24, 2009

What's new???

Life has been busy here on the farm. I really don't seem to be getting a lot done ..... but so be it!

The ducks have finally discovered the pond. Cindy Lou Who is with Lorax and Lermik, trying not to get her hair wet. I think she needs a shower cap. But would I have to tie it on her?

The tea cup tree continues to blossom with more teacups. Now, they are easily seen by the deforestation of the leaves by the ever-present Japanese beetles! Ah ha! That will the purpose of the tea cups. To clothe the poor crabapple after the beetles have stripped it naked!

My customers have gotten into the "clothing drive". This adorable cup came from my friend and customer Renee.

Some of my favorite spots in the gardens are tucked in little corners. Here are a few.

I'm really happy with the window box on the potting shed. It's not going to be there much longer. The potting shed is soon to be a new chicken coop and part of the "chicken complex". Yes .... we are creating an upscale neighborhood for poultry-living. I wasn't sure about the layout but I have figured out some ways to "fluff" if up with an arbor and fencing and a new garden. (Who would have thunk it???) So now.... Miss Eff is happy.

One of my favorite areas is the self-seeded garden that is running amuck! Yea ... I planted snapdragons and celosias, zinnias and cosmos. I'm certain somewhere there are marigolds and petunias. And I did see the backside of an aster. But now the dill and the cleome have officially taken over.

I was certain I had lost the pretty pink cleome .... but one is blooming now. So there will be death to the person that cuts that one!!! (Or 10 minutes picking Japanese Beetles off my cherry tree!) It needs to self-seed.

And a first for me ..... I am happy with my bicycle basket!!!! This year I planted moss roses in the basket and I am thrilled with the results.

Finally ........ a gratuitous kitten picture. Have you noticed on the farm blogs ..... we always show cute pet pics??? The reason.............. you are not going to see our beautifully decorated homes or our stylish new shoes. At least, not in July. Maybe December ...... after we recover from the summer. And have removed the protective layer of dust on the furniture. And exactly who was the smart ass that wrote the date on my dining room table?????

But I digress........... back to Izzie.

"Mom! Can't you just go away??? And will you do something about that sun??"

OK --- that's what's new (note...... I didn't claim it to be exciting) from Miss Effie's.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gray skies..........

Here on the east coast of Iowa, it has not been summer. I've been hearing about the heat and the sun in the Southwest ..... and wishing that some of that sunshine might migrate here to Iowa.

It rains. They predict scattered showers. And it rains. A couple of weeks ago, two days of "scattered showers" produced 6+ inches of rain. Yesterday, it "scattered showered" for over 2 inches! And that doesn't count the fact that we are looking at the coolest July in history!

So besides the fact that the few tomatoes that I have on vine have blossom end-rot, most of the tomato plants are ........... sitting. Barely blooming, hardly growing.

This leads me to the zinnias. Zinnias are my hot weather flower of choice. I normally have beautiful large zinnias. The zinnias I have are fairly large, pretty nice ..... and absolutely no mildew! But they are slowly growing ..... about half the size of normal and the buds ......... sit there.

Kind like the writer of this blog.............. I find myself, wanting to ........... sit there.

My energy level seems low and I have to push myself to do ......... something! These gray skies have worked their way into my psyche and I hate it!

I weed ........ and then it rains ........ and I look ......... and the weeds are BACK! Like Arnold!! The grass is growing taller and faster than we can mow.

I clean ........ and then I track in mud and grass. I do laundry ........ and I am filthy again! Its a vicious circle of lack of accomplishment! I can deal with a lot of stuff ... but I NEED to accomplish something!

So today ......... I baked bread, I made blueberry jam and now, I'm ironing pretty tableclothes.

Yea ...... I can see what I have done. I am content.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A thief, a confession and homemade ice cream.....

OK -- I did a bad thing. I stole an idea........ a very very good idea. But I stole it none-the-less.

My friend Jill from Blue Gate Farm did a status update on Facebook one day. She was making homemade ice cream for an ice cream social on her farm for her CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members. Hmmmm...... I thought. That's a great idea. And I put it in the back of my mind.

Until the other day. We found a brand-new ice cream freezer on the shelf at the Salvation Army. No White Mountain ice cream freezer but the price was right!!! So we grabbed it and an idea erupted!

OK -- that was confession number one. Now on to confession number 2.

I do not dye my hair. Yea -- I know. You are surprised. You thought this color was "Silver Ghost #63". Nope ..... its mine, all mine. And with this glorious color of gray hair came the years to go with it. As of next week .... I am officially a senior citizen. (Seriously, when did this happen???) Now -- I don't qualify for Medicare or Social Security but I do get my very own AARP card. And ten cent coffee at McDonalds.

I know! I know! I know! This is making no sense! Yikes!!! A Senior moment!! And I'm barely there!!!! Well, let me wrap it up for you!

On Sunday July 26th -- Miss Effie's will be throwing a party for her customers. My birthday ... your party. Cake and homemade ice cream for everyone. Seriously! 1 pm to 3 pm.

BUT there are a couple of catches.

1) You must RSVP..... tell me you are coming. If you don't, there may not be enough ice cream. I can not stress this enough!

2) You have to help out our friends and neighbors at the CCC food pantry. We will have a donation jar. The donations will be used to buy Freight House Farmers Market gift certificates. The food pantry will then use those gift certificates to buy meat, eggs, cheese and produce when needed. This will help our local farmers and the food pantry. Every one deserves to eat nutritious local foods.

And to show you that I put my money where my mouth is .......... 50% of all Miss Effie's sales that day will go toward the food pantry.

So come party with Miss Effie!! My girls are laying beautiful eggs for the cakes and ice cream. Enjoy the flowers, the weather and the corn-zebo. Play with the cats and make fun of Eva, Zsa-Zsa and Liz.

Just remember to RSVP by Thursday July 23. You can leave a message here or on Facebook (either my personal page or Miss Effie's fan page) or you can go to our website and send me a message.

Honey and I hope to see lots and lots of you! After all ..... it's your party!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A little light reading ..........

I've been asked to give a presentation on the economic impact of local foods. It sounds soooo easy. Talk a little petroleum consumption, the BTU's spent getting an apple here, the cost of chemicals and genetics to get a strawberry that will survive a 2000 mile trek and the loss of flavor in that tomato on your sandwich.

But it so much more.

Food has deep social connotations. I remember horrible "graham cracker crust, DreamWhip, instant pudding and gelatin desserts" that my mother would make for community showers. They were the in-food, hottest recipes around. Better eating through chemistry??? What was in that stuff??? Processed foods were the way of the future. Making food from scratch wasn't as "progressive". I remember stating that "when I get married, I want plain old-fashioned strawberry shortcake". Didn't happen.

Food evokes great emotion. I went to a church youth party where the menu was hot dogs and baked beans. I, to this day, hate baked beans! I could not participate in the games until I ate the baked beans. I cried. For years ... I would not eat a legume. No pinto beans, no kidney beans, no split pea and definitely, nothing with the name lentils. Oooooh.

Now, I love them.

But I never thought food as a political agenda. I'm discovering that I was wrong.

My background is in home economics. Loved 4-H .... could knit and cook with the best of them! And food, food production and food processing has always been important to me. I toured large food processors as Monfort Meats and SaraLee foods. I watched Heinz make catsup from tomatoes that were grown less than 10 miles from the plant. And I saw the artisan cheese makers craft fine blue cheese in Nauvoo -- more than 40 years ago.

Somewhere ....... in the last 20 years ..... food changed. And we changed with it.

I did my first home-preservation demo, freezing green beans, in 1974. I remember the botulism outbreak in home-canned tomatoes. That stopped a lot of people from canning their own tomatoes ....... even though, that outbreak was far more isolated than the spinach e-coli outbreak a couple of years ago.

I can talk Buy Fresh, Buy Local. And I try hard to walk the walk. I have this 100-mile circle that I really try to buy my food within. But I love Greek olives and artichokes and great olive oil and bananas. Ain't gonna happen in Iowa!!!! Even peaches, cherries and blueberries can be difficult. We can raise the nice little white peaches ........ they are good. But not like a juicy large freestone peach from Michigan!

So now -- I'm reading and studying. And I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say on the subject. My stack of books is growing........ I'll re-visit my dog-eared copy of Fast Food Nation and try not to highlight every line of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. And I'm slowly digesting Food, Inc. And I am certain I will become intimate with Micheal Pollan's books.

But the more I read .... the more disturbing I find the facts. And the more questions I have. Including ......... how do I inspire change??


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Entertaining ......... corn-zebo style!

Yesterday was a busy day in the corn-zebo. My college roomie, her sister and her sister-in-law came for lunch in the garden. And hopefully, I achieved vintage garden style. This was so much fun! Yes .............. I was a tad over the top with pink. (Sorry, Youngest Daughter) But pink screams garden party!

I started out with a vintage 50-60's print table cloth and then I layered it with white linen placemats that had pink embroidered rosebuds. (Again .... sorry, Youngest Daughter!) I had picked them up at a thrift store. It is so sad --- they weren't hand-embroidered but lovely, almost un-used linens............ that someone didn't want to iron.

In the garden -- we don't worry if they get a stain -- that only shows that they were loved. I hate linens that were carefully packed away, never to be used. If linens are used -- that means they were at a table full of love and laughter. And they certainly were yesterday.

The dishes were a snack set of my grandmother's. Every plate and cup have a different flower pattern on them. There are only 7 ......... but we only needed four ........ so I was fine!

The stemware ........ Goodwill finds. And the silver are odds and ends of old silverplate that I find at flea-markets.

We had another event planned in the afternoon so we set up the cardtables to be ready for that.

Sometimes --- the corn-zebo sees a little too much action so we needed another dining area. Not as cozy as the corn-zebo, the gazebo now has a table and chandelier for intimate dining for two.

We could squeeze in four. I would like to put a brick floor in it........... maybe it will happen.

I think I need to train the clematis to grow more vertical to give a little more privacy.

I love the peace and quiet that we have here at Miss Effie's. Sometimes you can hear the train whistle .... 8 miles away. And the view.............. it is not a beach or a mountain top -- but it is Iowa's heart and soul. The rolling hills and the thousand shades of green. It's the new mowed hay and sound of the killdeer in the cornfield. Yea .... this may not be heaven, but it is definitely Iowa.

Some people like the hustle and bustle of the city. Dining at a five-star cafe on a busy street. But I am just as happy with a salad on an old plate in a corn crib, being serenaded by the roosters! Ain't life just grand!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How I spent my summer vacation ...........or 3 hours in Clinton, IA.

Since our 401K has become a 201K and Honey's employer thinks a 1994-sized paycheck will pay the 2009-sized bills, any thought of vacation has been vanquished from discussion! Yep ........ I canceled the European holiday. I put the cruise to the Bahamas on hold. And we said "Aloha" (good-bye version) to Maui.

Then ....... Honey's employer did a mandatory shut-down. No pay .... you can take vacation pay or if you had accrued DWOP-days (Days without Pay) you could use those.

It's summertime in Iowa and I grow flowers for a living so there is no leaving home for a B&B any place. So what does that leave us???

Yep ............ we are going to Clinton!!!! (OK -- we are easily entertained! After all, The Great Adventure last summer was delivering The Leader paper route on Thursday night. And we do date night at the Tuesday night farmers market!)

First stop.......... Paul's. Note ..... Paul's is Iowa's largest home owned discount store. And if Paul's doesn't have it ........ they don't make it. If you would shop Paul's and Farm and Fleet, you are covered!!! Paul's does not carry chicken feed. But seriously, that is about it!

You first walk into Paul's and you have to be impressed by the shear volume of plastic worms they carry!! Now ... I know nothing about fishing, but they had more worms than there are fish in the Mighty Mississippi! But I digress!

There is one major reason I love Paul's .......... the canning department!

Yep --- this is my idea of heaven! Every shape and size of jar available. I quickly grabbed some jars, a brush to remove silk from an ear of corn, new blades for my 40+ year old Korn Kutter and the ultimate prize ......... the new Ball Blue Book!!!! Yea .......I could have died happy right then and there!

I went through the gardening department, grabbed some re-useable traps for Japanese beetles (they have zip closures like plastic freezer bags!) and then went to the hardware department. I passed automotive department and the paint department.

Then on to the kitchen gadget department. Almost as good as the canning department. Yep ...... they have everything. After all, getting your fingers wet when retrieving a pickle out of a jar is embarrassing! What well-stocked kitchen would be without a pickle picker?? Actually, mine will be ....... I passed up that little beauty!

After discovering that Paul's also has a webbing replacement kit for lawn chairs (Do you know how hard it is to find those????) we were on the road again to our next stop.

Yep ........ we went back in time to the Smith Brother's General Store. So ....... ya need cast iron cookware?? Pieces for your stove pipe?? Maybe a new wicker laundry basket? This is the place to go. We were getting more spattered enamel dishes for the corn-zebo.

But I am thinking about a crock to do sauerkraut in (maybe one that hasn't had a previously job as a planter ...... which is why I do my sauerkraut in a food-grade plastic bucket!) And if I ever get into the moonshine business.......... they have the jugs to use!!!

Seriously, these are their shelves. Not much has changed in 75-100 years. I kind of like that in a store! They don't take checks ........ but unlike the State of Illinois e-pay for speeding tickets ..... they do take Visa! (Please don't ask me how I know that ........ it has something to do with listening to ABBA while driving!!)

A visit to the Salvation Army where we found a brand-new duo (both electric and hand-crank) ice cream freezer for $25 ................... we were on our way home to Donahue!!

So ........ I'm betting your vacation will be more exciting ....... but no more fun. After all, vacation is a state of mind and wonderful company. And I had it all!!

Do you have your bumper sticker?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A perfect lazy summer Sunday.........

It was a perfect summer Sunday....... warm, sunny, clear and peaceful. Just the type of day to hang out a couple of loads of laundry.

or gather some beautifully colored eggs..............

or just wonder at the beauty of the lilies.

Some of us just hung out..........

Some of were just goofy and playful..............

And some of us took a long lazy Sunday nap..........

But all of us were counting our blessings for a wonderful, lazy day and were thankful for a Lord that gave us such a glorious view.

We are hoping your Sunday was blessed with the memories of lazy summer days.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's my Blogiversary!!!!!

I have been blogging for a whole year now. Who knew that I would have so much to say??? Well ........... everyone that knows me, knows that I have a lot to say!!! Or I say it a lot.......... Whatever!!!

I have learned a lot in the past year. Somethings about myself that I really didn't know. Like .... I really enjoy writing. So ..... I will never win a Pulitzer Prize or get a big book deal. Who cares? There are personal rewards from just doing a task. I'm not a particularly good writer .... I write exactly like I talk. But I know that the woods would be silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. So my keyboard will continue to spew words.

Blogging has taught me some new words. Like blogworthy and blogable. "It was a great day. There were some blogworthy events." We all know that kittens, new yarn, great meals and chickens are always blogable. But sometimes -- something great (or disasterous!!!) happens in your day. And suddenly, you think --- That's great blog material!!

I now carry my camera everywhere. Most of the time. But in the past, a camera came out at a wedding or a graduation or maybe a family reunion. Now -- the camera comes out when we are driving to Stringtown for groceries. Or canning tomatoes. Or picking off Japanese Beetles. Or cleaning the chicken coop. My camera is the most fashionable accessory I have.

That's really not saying much!!!

But it is true ...... I have far more pictures of pizza, bread and yarn in my albums than pictures of Honey. "No dear, you can't eat until I get a good photo." And I'm talking about the plate ..... not him!!!

I'm constantly surprised at the number of people that read the blog. I was volunteering at the market and two friends commented on the chickens eating the Japanese Beetles. Another woman commented on the tea cup tree and wondered how cups stayed on during a storm. (No problem so far .... I lost one that was very cracked when I put it up but that's it!) I've had people that I don't know, jump out of their cars and ask to see a particular barn quilt or Cindy Lou Who the duck.

I like the fact that the blog holds me accountable. So -- if I start a project, you want to see the finished project. It makes me get those UFO's done!!! Except for a certain pair of plaid socks. I hate that yarn!!!! I don't mind the bobbins or the pattern. I hate the yarn. There may be one lone sock for a very loooooong time!

But most of all --- I love the friends I have made. Blogging strengthens my bonds with my old friends and introduces me to new ones. It connects me to my customers. Seriously, I have no idea why I call them customers. They aren't customers ..... Our flower-guests are part of our family. And most of them know far more than they ever wanted about our funky life!!! I hear them screaming ......... TMI!! TMI!!

But I will continue to blog the nonsense from the farm as long as you continue to read it. So its Happy Blogiversary to me!!! I really think that deserves a salted nut roll ............. if I only knew where to find one????? (hint! hint!)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Daydreams and Daylilies...............

For some silly reason, every time I look at a daylily, I think of the Monkees song, Daydream Believer. Maybe its because daylilies, like daydreams, only last a few hours. Maybe its because daylilies, like daydreams, make me smile.

I have gotten to the place in my garden that I only grow flowers that are "good cuts". Flowers that will last a minimum of 7 days in a vase ..... I prefer 10-12 days. So it always surprises me when I have to buy another daylily. But then I look at those fantastic blooms ....... and I know why.

Daylilies remind me of laying on my back in the grass on clear blue sky day. You imagine what it is like to float on those dreamy clouds as they pass by. Daylilies are like leaning back on a swing as you try to reach the sky with your toes. Daylilies are like sitting on a hill, sipping a cold beer and watching the flyflies light up the bean field below.

A daylily is the epitome of summer. It is absolute happiness in a flower. Seriously, how can you pass these by????

I know I can't.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Looking for a little independence....................

Sometime -- in June -- the bane of my existence arrives. I had never seen these little creepy things when I started Miss Effie's but after couple of happy years of flower growing, here they came. They invaded Iowa. Yes.......... I am talking about Japanese Beetles.

Now these aren't the oriental version of a mop-topped band (I would say the greatest band in history. Honey disagrees. And I still married him! Go figure!)
If there was one .. or two ... I could live with them. But noooooooooo! These little buggers have the best calling plan in America!!!! "Hey!! I found raspberries at Miss Effie's! Wanna party??" And suddenly they are all here.

Now -- they don't bite, sting or cause any problem at a picnic. That's because they are having their own picnic at your expense.
Yea --- they are definitely vegan. This is a wild grapevine. It has never produced a grape in the 13 years I have been hanging out here. But I do use it for wreathes and baskets. No more!! I whacked it down today.

So far -- I have eliminated "Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate" and porcelain vine from the garden. They were just gourmet treats for these buffet-grazers. I don't replace or add any roses. And if my non-bearing cherry tree bites the dust ... it won't be replaced! But my raspberries..... they love raspberries.

I have no solutions.

Since I grow organically/naturally, harmful pesticides aren't in my vocabulary. I know Tempo works well ........ but I just can't bring myself to use it. Traps may work ... but some say the traps just attract more. So I do my morning, noon and night routine. I gather the little suckers in a bucket of water. I use just plain water ... some suggest soapy water.
Disgusting little creatures, aren't they???

But they are God's creatures and it is time for the "If you can't say anything nice" moment.
They are an incredibly popular hors d'oeuvre with my girls!!!!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Whimsical ...........but why?

I have been asked several times ......... why are you tying tea cups to a tree? Until now .... I really didn't have an answer. Then last night, my friend Debbie gave me the answer.

She was looking at the tree and noticed a cup. "It reminds me of a cup that maybe my grandmother had". And then, I knew why I was tying tea cups to a tree.

So this morning, I dug in a back cupboard and pulled out a 75-year-old cup. My grandparents got these dishes soon after they were married. The dishes were a premium for buying feed. Nice wide 24 kt band of gold around the edge and pretty painted violets inside the cups and bowls.

When Gran moved in with my mother, we were cleaning out her home. No one wanted the dishes. The dishes had been stored and were very dirty. But I couldn't let them go.

I remembered all the fried chicken dinners that Gran would make on Sundays. No one fried chicken like Gran did. Maybe it was the lard ...... maybe the freshly dressed chicken. But the Colonel should have taken lessons from Gran!!! Then there would be the homemade noodles smothered in chicken gravy. Maybe a slice of ham and lots of vegetables.

Then there would be the desserts. Gran was an incredible baker. The BEST chocolate cake in the world. But my favorite was a yellow cake with a butter, egg and pecan filling. It was a refrigerated cake because of its filling. Its the reason I have hens..... cuz ya can't make that cake without really fresh farm eggs!!!!

In fact, she helped support the family in the depth of the Depression by selling eggs, butter, dressed chickens and the most wonderful cakes around. Later .... Gran decorated cakes. This was in the early 50's when Wilton didn't make "Big Bird" cake pans. She would make doll cakes, guitar cakes, piano cakes, train cakes.......... they would be our birthday presents and they were soooooo good.

But back to Sunday dinner....... all those goodies were served on the plates with the pretty painted violets. I couldn't let them go in the garbage.

So today ...... I tied one of Gran's cups to the tree. That's why I did the tree. I found the reason. To evoke memories of Sunday meals gone by........

Maybe you had fancy cups like these on Sunday or maybe like Gran's cups, they came with a bag of feed. But maybe you will look at a cup ...... and smile ..... remember.