Thursday, January 28, 2010

Getting involved.........

We often hear about small business being the heart of a community. For me --- the key word in that sentence is heart.

We have had a rough year around the country. Farmers are struggling with low prices and high inputs. Retail sales have slumped. And unemployment (and more so, under-employment) is taking its toll on our emotional happiness and our financial security.

But a wise minister and a not-so-subtle nudging from our Savior, gave ol' Miss Eff an idea and a mission. It is time to give back to the community. Its not really what I would call the right time but God isn't giving me a pass on this one. And I am here to serve the Lord.

So here is the deal..........................................

If you are a member of a non-for-profit organization and are looking for a fund-raising event, contact us. We will open our farm on Sundays to your event. And we will donate $10 for every bucket of flowers sold on that day to your cause.

So ........ if you work with children, or raise money for a life-threatening disease, or feed the hungry ........ you can have an event here at no charge.

Here are the rules ..............

1) This fund-raiser must improve our community and have a specific purpose. It can be as simple as raising funds for a new refrigerator for a food pantry or sending a missionary over seas.

2) It must be an event. Do a picnic, have a bbq. Create something fun.

3) You are responsible for the set-up, tear-down, the creation and execution of the event. We will post everything on our website, Facebook fan page and here on the blog. We would love to help you and will help as much as possible but Miss Eff is one person and she is a bit busy. This is your event.

4) It must be open to the community ... not a private affair.

5) And it must be on a Sunday from the hours of 12-3 in July or August. Unfortunately, rain dates may not be possible. We will do our best.

The only date taken so far is the last Sunday in July for Miss Eff's Birthday party and ice cream social. Proceeds this year will go to the North Scott Food Pantry.

Toss this around with your friends. Come up with some great creative ideas......... and let us know if we can help. This is an opportunity for us to come together (I'll get to meet some really neat people!) and build a stronger, healthier community and world.

After all ......... isn't that what it is all about?????

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's Obscene!

Dear Mr. Seed Catalog Man .........

Why do you send the garden porn (aka ... seed catalogs) when it looks like this?

Instead of when it looks like this?

Or like this?

Or even when it looks like this.

Please, can you help me explain my obscenely high seed/plant bill to Honey?

Thank you.
Miss Effie

PS. It might be because I want more of this.....................................

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What I did on my winter vacation...........

So .... it really wasn't a vacation but I learned a lot!!

I learned that I can get a lot done in a day without the temptations of Facebook, blogging, Internet cruising and deleting the invitations to start a farm at Farmville.

OK -- I got some help from an ice storm. I learned that I am not Dorothy Hamill ...... even though I am certain there is a picture of me with her haircut!! The bruises on the knees and butt prove that ..... there will be no pictures of those!!!

I learned that I can make a dent in the stash pile really quickly with a couple of needles. Four to be exact. So my Twelve projects out of stash resolution is doing quite well. Project number 5 is on the needles!

Sock pair number ONE ...... Poems yarn by Wisdom. Discount priced at $3 a skein. Then 40% off ......... made this pair of socks for the whopping price of $3.60!!!! The yarn is lightly twisted so not the best choice for socks. But for "dress socks", it will do just fine!

Next pair of socks .......... a 4x2 rib. Not as cheap as the last pair. But I love these!! A yarn called Ty-Dye.

I have no idea what yarn this is......... I bought it for $8 at my favorite thrift store. OK ... that included a basket. And a pair of size 8 needles. And a 1980's Lion Brand knitting pamphlet. And a cable needle, stitch gauge, point protectors, markers and a really icky skein of acrylic! For $8.

I made a flap style cuff and sewed the vintage buttons on it. I still have more of this yarn and its really pretty nice so I will try to create a neck warmer/scarf to go with the mittens. Or a hat. I still have 6 buttons..... it would be nice to have a set of some kind.

The library project is progressing. Slowly but progressing.

We are using stock melamine panels. We changed the square edged shelves to a rounded edge shelf to give some dimension to the project. There will be a shelf across the window. The shelf and the library units will be edged with a decorative molding. I've started some of the caulking and taping for touch up paint job. There will be a lot of it.

The left side will be done this weekend. Right now, outlets are being moved into the toe kick. Then around the corner to the south wall.

Honey needs a winter vacation!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Under the Weather............

We are down for the count here at Miss Eff's. Oh, no ........ not us. Our computer.

It started a couple of weeks ago when someone attempted to hack into our online banking page. Seriously. They want what information? My name and address and mother's maiden name and pin number and card number.............. are they serious??? And have they looked at the balance???? They might want to move on to greener pastures!!!!

Well -- after running several virus scans, setting new email controls, closing out and opening 4 new accounts (With four accounts you would think there would be money somewhere!!!! Not so much!!!) we re-set the online banking.

Only to discover, the virus is still there.

Currently, the entire computer is undergoing intense surgery to rid itself of this disease. So Miss Eff is currently without a voice for an un-specified time.

All is well with us. Hopefully, my loyal fans will not go into withdrawal.

And here's hoping that curing the computer will be less financially painful than our own healthcare. Computers may have a better plan.

Hopefully, I'll talk to you all soon.

Take care........

Miss Effie

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eggin' me on............

It has happened in the lifetime of every chicken hoarder that I know. You are suddenly overwhelmed with eggs! Yep ..... as much as we love our feathered friends and delightfully gather the colored orbs........... there comes a time that 18 dozen eggs in the fridge are 15 dozen too many!!!!!!

The Good Egg by Marie Simmons is the cookbook for just those moments! 200 great recipes for using eggs ....... from breakfast to desserts. This book has been out for a few years but there are sooooo many good cookbooks, sometimes you pass up a great one!!!

I got the book for Christmas and all I can say is Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! I really do love this book!!!

When it comes to inexpensive meals ... nothing can beat using eggs as the base. But Honey really gets tired of the frittatas and the omelets and scrambled eggs for supper. From unique egg salad combinations to quiches and souffles, there great recipes and even better, great springboards to creating your own recipes.

I don't know about you ...... but sometimes, I need a little push to try something new.

This book has new. We did a rice and egg salad one night. I enjoyed it as a main dish... Honey would have preferred it as a side with some grilled fish.

I loved the poach eggs on wilted spinach salad!!! Local spinach (Thanks, Nostalgia Farms) local bacon, eggs out the coop!

And this ..... I've done before .... a puffy Dutch pancake. I filled this one with Cinnamon apple ice cream topping (Yummo!) but next time, we will make a savory one. They suggest one with pancetta and mushrooms. Pancetta isn't too local in Iowa ....... I'll use bacon!!!

Tonight .......... goat cheese and sun-dried tomato souffle. I made the goat cheese. (Turned out wonderful, Deborah) I dried the tomatoes. Bread crumbs from ABin5 bread. And the eggs are compliments of the girls.

Should be good........... I'll let you know!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Where in the world is Miss Eff????

Currently, I am surrounded with piles of stuff ........ and I am under the impression that this is what they call organizing! Not so much!!!

But I am digressing already!

Every so often, people will ask me what do I do in the winter when there are no flowers. My stock answer is ....... breath. But most people would like to see me do something productive. So this is for them.

Well ....... maybe not. It might be for me. Someone told me yesterday that I needed a planner. I think I need a secretary. Now. To get me out of the house on time!!

This is where you will find Miss Eff .... maybe. Unless she double books .... or forgets. So remind her periodically. And if you booked an event with Miss Eff and its not her. She needs help!!!

Sat 1/16 ..... Freight House Farmers Market Davenport. Be a tourist in your own Backyard. 10 am, Miss Eff will be giving a speech on why shopping the farmers market is green.

Tues 1/19 ..... Healthy Eating for Less ... we will talk about pantry necessities, alternative shopping to grocery stores, baking bread, making your own spice mixes. We will finish the class off by making granola. Information.

Thurs 1/21 .... From sheep to scarf .... Fiber, spinning and knitting with Homeschooled 4-H-ers at Scott County Extension office .... 1-3

Tues 1/26 ..... Soup class from home preserved products. We will make tomato soup, corn chowder and roasted butternut squash soup. And finish it off with a demonstration and baking some ABin5 bread. Information.

Tues. 2/2 ...... Cooking with Cathy at the Freight House. 4 pm. Demonstration on using eggs in main course meals. Something beyond an omelet!!! I'll be using fresh pasta from Gwen and doing some quick easy dishes using eggs.

Tues. 2/9 ..... Cooking with Cathy at the Freight House. 4 pm. Beefing up your meals. Some new beef recipes using inexpensive cuts.

Fri. 2/12 ...... DON'T TALK TO ME day!!! We will be doing prep for Love your Local Farmer breakfast in my little old kitchen. What could possibly go wrong??? Maybe a snow storm??? Power outage??? Wait and see.

Sat. 2/13 ..... Love your Local Farmer breakfast at Nan's Piano Bar at the Freight House Complex. $12.50 per person. Reservations only.

This will be a fun event with awesome food. (See previous day calendar. I will be calm by Saturday. Friday, I will panic!!!) Crepes, stuffed french toast, egg casseroles, roasted potatoes and veggies, and a pastry table to die for!!!! Save your calories ..... this will be good!

And all proceeds will go to Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Quad Cities.

Sat. 2/20 ..... Market Manager meeting in Des Moines with the crew from the Freight House. I am comic relief..... I guess. I have no idea why I am going but they are too much fun and I would never say no!!!!!

Tues. 2/23 ..... Pizza!! Pizza!! class again. At first you don't succeed, try try again. Information.
6:30-9:30. And yes, we will be making cheese!!!!!

Tues 3/9 ...... Canning basics. Discussion of books, equipment, safety, planning your needs, and intro to freezer jams. This is a beginner class so if you have never canned before, this is for you! Information.

Mon. 3/15 .... Geneseo Garden Club 1-3 for a speech for Buy Fresh Buy Local.

Tues 3/23 .... Making your own Baby food. Information.

Tues 3/30 .... Rock Island County Master Gardeners. Gardening basics series. My topic ..... TBA (Which means ...... at this time, I don't have a clue!!!!!!)

Wed 3/31 .... Cooking series for Seniors with Generations. It will be at the Davenport Library (Fairmont Branch)

And in between all those little things ....... a few community events and meetings, church activities, a birthday party for someone's upcoming birthday(!!!) ordering 6000 annuals, baking bread, doing laundry......... and yea, my boss wants me to show up for work now and then!!

So if you see Miss Eff with a glazed look on her face....... spin her around and just point her in the right direction.

Wait till you see April's calendar............. its worse!!!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

255th St/ 130th Ave Scott County, Iowa

To whom it may concern,

Congratulations on the purchase of your new mattress. I am going to assume you only bought a mattress (queen size) since you didn't leave a box spring in the cornfield along with the mattress.

I don't know who you are but I feel like I know sooo very much about you.

I know you bought a new washer last summer. You were concerned about someone needing a used one so you left it on the very edge of the road..... not even bothering to toss it into the ditch.

I know that you change your own oil in your vehicles. We have found kitty-litter buckets filled with motor oil in the ditches. Oh .... I guess I know that you own a cat.

I know that you remodeled the bath a couple of years ago. Maybe we needed a roadside restroom....... that must have been the reason for the toliet and broken-down vanity in the ditch.

I know that your children outgrew their swing set and the treated lumber ended up our way. Along with a couple of nails in my tires.

I know that you rake your leaves and fill black lawn and garden bags ......... and leave them to compost in the fields and roadways. Takes a while to decompose that plastic bag!!! I'm sure the compost facility is much too far for you to drive!!

I know that you drink bad beer (Bud Light) and toss it out of the vehicle for me to get the 5 cent deposit. And you drink that beer while driving........... every day!!!

I know that you are frugal and won't pay for extra garbage pick-ups, city leaf bags and stickers but you don't mind if our property taxes go up to pay to clean the roadways. Oh yea .... my taxes went up, too. Thanks.

And I know that I will post a picture of EVERYTHING you throw out until you get the idea that the rural roads are our home .................... not your dumping site!!!! And once I find out who you are ....... I will deliver presents to your home....... just like you have to us.

Where in the hell is that sarcasm font when I need it???

Monday, January 11, 2010

City Mouse ....... Country Mouse.

Remember the story about the two mice that were cousins? One lived in the city and one lived in the country. The city mouse visited the country and found it dull. The country mouse visited the city and found it frightening and treacherous.

I got to thinking about the story the other day.

It was the day after the latest snow storm. With the drifts that you saw in the last post, and the frozen water hydrant, and 115 year old farmhouse ............ life sometimes seems tough. I was having "a day". Everything took longer than it should ........ everything was harder than it should be ....... it was one of those days. And on top of it, every time I started something, the phone rang.

So I was running late for work and when I got there, I was grumbling about my difficult morning.

One of my co-workers made the statement, "Well, you don't have to live there. It is all about choices."

These are not women that own long underwear wardrobes or knit their own socks. They don't use a pantry as they shop for a meal as they prepare it. They don't have flour in their homes as they never need it. (Let alone the 10 different flours in my pantry!!) And they don't realize the fashion statement that Carrharts and Northerners make!!!!

Nice gals ..... but they are city mice.

I was raised as a "city mouse". Even though I was raised in a very small town, my up-bringing was about image and reputation. My purse was to match my shoes. I wore white gloves and hats to church. My hands were soft and my nails sparkling clean. And I could balance stacks of books on top of my head as I walked ........... because that was what a lady did. I never did fit in.

I moved to "the big city" in my 20's and I tried to be happy. I tried to be a woman that "lunched". I shopped and I shopped and I shopped. And all those new shoes and blazers never made me happy. I decorated my home with the latest style and everything was just so. And I was so very sad.

And then I became a "country mouse" and suddenly, the life where I never measured up vanished. Farm and Fleet became my fashion headquarters. I went to tractor shows and fell in love with an Allis-Chalmers G (I'd look good on that!!!!) I wear muck boots and I shovel poop. I can tomatoes, bake bread and make cheese. I mend and darn and buy second-hand and do without.

And I am happy.

Throughout my gardens, there are signs that say Bloom where you are Planted. And that is true, we can bloom where we are planted. But to truly flourish and thrive, we have to be planted where our souls are.

And I am a country mouse.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Digging out.........

Oh -- you thought I meant digging out of this?

Not so much.

One of the big resolutions this year is to get organized. Really organized. Like most of us ..... stuff can take over our lives. Honey and I took a vow to living simply many years ago. And we do compared to a lot of people. But we do not live simple enough.

Honey and I live in a small house with few closets. Honey has added storage all over the place but it still is not enough. So for Christmas, I was given the promise of a wonderful gift........... a re-do of my office.

The big project will start slowly and progress in stages. But when it is done, there will be 20' of bookcases and two window seats here in my little 7-1/2' by 15' office.

Yea ..... I know. Most of you have closets bigger than that. But it is what counts as one of three bedrooms here at Miss Eff's. Eldest daughter slept in here all of her life. But now it is the worldwide headquarters for Miss Effie's Country Flowers. Yea. I'm impressed, too. (Where is that sarcasm font when you need it????)

But we do have one accomplishment. The behemoth of the desk is history. Well ......... it is out of the office. And is now for sale. Great table for someone that quilts or scrapbooks or needs a work space. It is just that a 30" x 60" table is too big for my little office.

The problem is ............... its a catch-all. I print something .... it lays on the desk. Package of labels used two weeks ago ....... still here. Scissors .... sitting. Retirement fund documents (losing lottery tickets) ........ piled up!

My hope is .... little is better. Its been my motto all my life. Little body .... little farm .... little money. Got a theme going here. So Honey re-stored an old kitchen table from a flea market that I have had in the potting shed for years. Its definitely more me. Old, banged-up, scraped, little wobbly ...... perfect!!!!

So wish me luck. I have lots of little goals set to get organized. A bag a week to the thrift store. Clean out the attic (actually, that is a huge goal!!) But my favorite ...... knit twelve projects this year out of stash. Twelve. That's one a month. And January's is done!

New socks. Sock weight alpaca from Argyle Fiber Mill. And with the current temperature of -13, they are feeling pretty good in this office that doesn't have heat. That heat-thing might need to go on the organizational list!!!!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Heating up the Bedroom...................

No! Not like that!!!

Though my mother would tell you that a sexy nightie is never a waste of money.

But I digress.

Nope ...... its my old house. Built in 1892, it sits on a hill. In the midst of a cornfield. In Iowa.

The heating system upstairs lacks something to be desired. Like heat. Yep! There is no heat in the upstairs of our house. Just the residual heat that drifts up from downstairs. So it is not unusual for water to freeze if sitting in a glass overnight.

We survive quite nicely ....... most of the time. Our bed is covered with flannel sheets, a wool blanket, a cotton blanket, a down comforter, a matelasse bedspread and a fleece throw.

And the all-important electric mattress pad.

Which is where this story is going.

Honey and I sleep in an antique oak bed. Full size. Not a queen. Not a king. Just an old-fashioned full size bed. And there is more than enough room for us ....... and Patches Ann, the cat. But the wonderful world of retail has deemed full-size beds only for children that have out-grown the crib.

Electric mattress pads for queen and king size beds have dual controls. Our current full-size mattress pad has dual controls. Our last two electric mattress pads had dual controls. But there lies the problem.

In the past 5 or 6 years, dual controls seem to have been eliminated from full size. We have searched and searched and searched to no avail. This is a crisis!

Seriously, you put a menopausal woman and a man with marginal circulation skills and put them in a bed with one control ............... and someone isn't getting out alive!!!!!

I get into bed freezing........... toes frozen from the 12 steps and the 4 seconds it takes me to get upstairs. I like the bed super super hot! Top of the scale! Burning with heat. A little more heat and I would be tan in February!

Honey, on the other hand, likes a warm bed to crawl into but immediately turns his controls down to keep a gentle warmth going all night.

Miss Eff is fine ........ until about midnight. And suddenly Mother Nature hits with a wave of her own Equatorial-like heat and the flannel sheets, cotton blanket, wool blanket, down comforter, matelasse bedspread and the fleece throw are tossed aside! Where is that glass of water with the ice on it????????

This lasts until about 1 a.m. And Miss Eff is freezing again! Honey........ why are you taking all the blankets???

I crawl back into the warmth of the flannel sheets, cotton blanket, wool blanket, down comforter, matelasse bedspread and the fleece throw. All is fine. Until 3-3:30 and that wall of heat hits again. Seriously, can I breathe?????? And again, the flannel sheets, cotton blanket, wool blanket, down comforter, matelasse bedspread and fleece throw bite the dust. Until 5 am when the alarm goes off and hypothermia has set in!

Now ..... I don't remember any of the above. This is all told to me by Honey. Who, by the way, is warm and snug in the flannel sheets, cotton blanket, wool blanket, down comforter, matelasse bedspread and the fleece throw.

Do you see why one control will not work??????

So in self-defense, I bought a new wool blanket. ($5 .... Salvation Army!) Well -- it is new. Never used. Tag is firmly attached. But it has been around for a while -- a little moth damage -- but it should hold the heat just fine. (Cambridge, Minnesota woolen mill -- I can find nothing on the mill. It is definitely closed but I can't find out when that happened)

And its mine............. all mine. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winter in Iowa ...................

My friend Jill spoke about the beauty of a frigid Iowa night. I am not that eloquent.

I didn't even write this. But it fits! There are 6-10" of snow coming, 15-20 mph wind gusts and sub-sub-sub-zero wind chills. You will find me curled up on the sofa, in front of the fire, drinking a cup of tea with 2 cats sitting on my feet for warmth.


It's winter in Iowa
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love Iowa
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut

Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave
Cuz I'm frozen to the ground!

I will see you in the spring!!!!!