Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Scraps of life ......



Yesterday, I drove to the grocery store.  OK -- I'm discovering it is soooo worth driving an hour and a half to go shopping at Stringtown.  I went to pick up Clear-Gel that I forgot on the trip last week.  And before I knew it .... I spent my entire grocery budget!  Not counting the meat market I stopped at .... and the cheese store .... and I needed milk to make some quark! 

Yea ..... it was a fun trip.


I went by myself .... and I needed it!!! Just those moments to drive and to think and to reflect.  Total silence. No CD's.  No radio.  No air conditioning.  Just the music of the countryside ... singing its oh-so unique song along the Iowa hills.

Saturday was our 11th wedding anniversary. And I was reveling in the magnificent feeling of love! How very blessed I was to meet Honey.  How I never imagined what a wonderful life we would have. How eleven years flew by so fast.  How eleven years felt like we have always been together. 

But along the way .... there are barn quilts.  And you know how I love a barn quilt!! (Or five!!! One more ... I promise just one more and I will stop!!!)




Quilting is a lot like a marriage.  We all bring in the scraps of life into it.  An old relationship, a previous marriage, our parents, the family down the street, our jobs.  Many pieces and scraps go into that quilt of a marriage.


Sometimes .... those scraps are at odds.  Pieces of pink and blue...  at odds with each other.  Standing separate, yet side-by-side. Seamed,  yet distant.  A union never truly sewn together. Two people ... living separate lives in the same home..

Thankfully, our marriage seems to be one where the pieces are blended together with a fine seam. Perfect points, square corners.... a price winning quilt.  The colors have become one.  Shades of not pink and blue, but lavender. Separate pieces that work together to become a warm and loving blanket. A blanket to protect each other from the chill of the winter and the harshness of life.




Happy Anniversary Honey.

I love you.

C

Saturday, August 28, 2010

FYI!

It's Back-to-School time for Miss Effie.  Yes ... even at her advance age, it is time to go to school.

Current class schedule is listed under the tab Class Schedule.  Yea ... I know ... that is brilliant.  Class schedule goes under the Class Schedule tab!  Duh, Miss Eff!!!!

But there will be more classes added .... including a Saturday Mozzarella class!! (Yes, Kim ..... just for you!!)

So keep checking .... and if I am other places, I will let you know.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This is why....



I rarely do bouquets.  I like doing bouquets.  But I am a bit of a perfectionist.  And bouquet making doesn't come easy for me. But this is for a special customer.  And I will do them ..... but be warned.

I agonize.................................. a lot.

I want to do bouquets that look like they came out of Martha Stewart's flower room ....... complete with farmhouse sink and Japanese cutting shears.  You know, how she cuts just the right amount of flowers and foliage and the colors are just perfect.  And the stem doesn't twist and turn ...... the wrong way.

Yea .............. that's what I want.

But instead ... I cut flowers.  I have a plan.  But the plan doesn't work out the way I want it to!  The pink is toooo orange.  And the salvia droops too much.  The zinnias aren't standing up straight enough.  And the hostas are sun-burned!  Yea .... that's how I agonize.

So I end up with this.


Un-used snapdragons, celosia, lisianthus and eucalyptus. Just on the kitchen counter with no place to go.

Cuz I totally changed my plans.  Yea ............ me!  I changed my mind!!!


But in the end ..there is a lovely bouquet. 

Courtesy of God's creative hand.  He is really a much better florist than I am.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eggs-actly!


The girls are feeling like quite the stars today.  They have been busy fielding interviews and prancing in front of news cameras.  Not really the time of year I like to do stories on the chickens .... but ya take what you get!!!

The egg recall has given the news media something to talk about .......... back-to-school is over, the fairs are over... and things are just a little slow on the East Coast of Iowa.

A local news anchor, Matt Hammill, has been here on the farm twice before.  In fact, he was here a couple of weeks ago doing this story.

When he was here he said, "You are really passionate about local foods and the lifestyle".  Yea .  I am.  And although, I eat lemons, bananas and drink coffee, we really try to eat at sustainably as possible. I believe in supporting farmers ... not middle men.  And I am willingly to drive to buy directly from that farmer.

Courtesy of Radish Magazine

But I digress. As the egg recall expanded, Matt decided to do a story on it.  And who does he call?  Yep ... that nut ball survivalist that he knows.  So if you want to see tonight's story about locally raised chickens and why it is so important to buy directly from the farmer, check it out here.

Courtesy of Radish Magazine
Just before Matt and Andy (the photographer) came, Kurt Allemeier from the Quad-City Times called and wanted a story. And you can read it here

I got the impression that he expected a backlash to the local producers.... which is definitely NOT the case.  People are smart enough to know that small local producers care for their hens and the eggs differently than a mega-farm.  He was surprised that people would drive an hour regularly to get eggs.  He was surprised to know that I don't have an egg available.  And he was surprised to hear that people will wait for the hens to lay a couple of more eggs to fill the carton.

Courtesy of Radish Magazine

So the girls are stars ..... the eggs are As Seen On TV.  Well ... at least for today.  And available only at the Summer Kitchen.  Well ... at the moment, they are available in my kitchen ..... but ya get my point!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So what is new?

The corn is turning golden brown and the air is crisp this morning.  Fall is coming fast. Although I know there is still alot of summer left, Miss Eff's 9th season is beginning to wind-up. It seems to happen when school starts ..... we suddenly slow down. 

And yet, I seem to speed up.  There is so much canning to do, gardens to clean, coops to scoop and projects to finish. The urge to knit and spin strike again and my fingers want to caress the fiber

And I have that itch to redecorate. Yea.  And I've got it B-A-D.  Fortunately, the Summer Kitchen is not done so I will be able to paint and sew and re-upholster to my heart's content. But that still doesn't stop me now from drooling over a re-furbished dresser or getting some ideas about new curtains.

Instead, I have been re-decorating the blog.

It's cheap ... not all that easy for me .... but it may be satisfying when it is done.  So bear with me as I flip colors ... move gadgets.... install new pages. Eventually, all the recipes I post will be easy to find and the class schedules will be online so you can find me!

And who knows, there may be a Flicker account for you to browse through.

So forgive the dust and the plaster in your sandwiches. I'll move the drop cloth so you can sit down and imagine the blog like I do. Oh ... forgive the plumber.  Just a little remodeling going on.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I have so far to go......................


Its just another day at Miss Eff's.  The canner and the pots of boiling water are heating up.  Why, oh why, doesn't my pantry look like this????

I have made some canning progress ........... the other day, I canned 12 pints of  Italian tomato sauce, 4-1/2 pints of catsup, 9-1/2 pints of pickled jalapenos and 4-1/2 pints of banana peppers.  Today, its another 3/4 of bushel of peaches to do.  And I did buy 10 pounds of blueberries ..... I'm thinking pie filling.

But there is so much more to do.  I haven't done any salsa.  We need more pizza sauce and catsup.  And the apples are coming on ... so there will be cider in the freezer, apple pie filling and all the apple jams and butters to do.  And there are only 15 bags of corn in the freezer .... we will need so much more.

But several have asked for a good catsup or ketchup  (however you want to spell it!) recipe.  I like this one -- I have used it for well over 20 years. 

One day, my cousin was here and we were comparing "canning lists".  I said I had done so many jars of catsup ....  so she asked to try it.  And an entire jar was eaten with a spoon!  No burger or fries were included!!

So here is the recipe I use for Thick and Meaty Ketchup (or catsup ... like I spell it!)

8 whole cloves
8 whole black peppercorns
4 whole allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick, about 3" long
1/4 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp. celery seed

10 pounds ripe plum tomatoes -- cored and quartered
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Tie the first 6 ingredients into a cheesecloth bag and place in a large pot with the tomatoes, onions and garlic.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove the spice bag and run the tomatoes through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins.  Return the pulp, liquid and spice bag to the pot and add the following:

1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar

Simmer, uncovered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Cool the mixture slightly and add the following:

1 tbsp lemon juice
salt, to taste

Can only in 1/2 pint jars for safety.  Seal in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Makes 4-1/2 pint jars.

(Note to the Corn Refiners Association, notice there is no High Fructose Corn Syrup in this recipe.  And people do eat it contrary to your emails.)

You guys knew I could never let that one go!!!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Year of the Jar................

Its that time of year.  If you are member of the nightshade family or a cucurbit, take cover!  Yea .... it is the year of the jar.

I swear, I buy case after case of jars ... year after year.  And they all get filled.  This year, one of my dear customers brought me 6 cases of quart jars.  Stuffed!!!


The pantries in the house are slowly filling up.  The main pantry is almost filled.  The pint jar pantry needs some work ... and the third pantry .... well, that can't be seen by the human eye!

But you thought 3 pantries would be enough!  Not so much!  
There is the Summer Kitchen to fill!!! And now, having been abandon by Emily who went to pursue a college education (!) ......... I am left to my own devices on that one!


Don't the shelves look great with the mix-and-match lace edging?  I love the look!!!  Thank you, Sue!!!!!!!


So for the next month or so ... you will find me standing over the stove.  Or at Stringtown, picking up Clear-Gel and pectin.  Or at Farm and Fleet, waiting for the Ball Jar delivery.

But come winter, you will find me safe, sound and possibly snowed-in, surrounded by my very own summer-in-a-jar.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

15 seconds of fame............

Tonight we officially get the Lujack Extra Mile Award for community activities.  So if you are hanging around the television at 6:30 tonight, check out WQAD and see Emily, Honey and I get a really big check.

Then you can watch the interview and see if I say anything stupid............. Like berriness.  (Yea .... I swear that is in a dictionary someplace!!!!)

If you are outside the sound of my voice (and grateful that you are!!!) you can catch the interview tomorrow
morning at this site..

Checks have been sent .... charities helped.... and I am now back to being broke.

Easy come .............. easy go.

Now .... its time to go weed.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Can I have some cheese with my whine?????

Last night, I felt I was back in school.  You remember when the kid that sat behind you in math class, hit you on top of the head with his text book?????  That absolute stunned feeling????

Yep ..... it was kind of like that!!

OK .... a little background. 

Several months ago, my friend Debbie asked me if I wanted to do the Beth Moore Bible Study on the book of Daniel.  (Confession time .... I have never done a Bible study in my life!!!  Which probably comes as no surprise to many!  But now I have.  And I will do another.  There! That shocked ya!)  And I said yes, I would enjoy going to a Bible study with her.

When her husband Jim found out about it, he said .... "Daniel?  Her first Bible study is going to be Daniel?"

Yea ... I, too visited the lion's den. I didn't expect a light-fluffy gathering of women, gently reading passages out of the Bible.  But I also didn't expect intense study, hard-to-remember facts, and head-spinning confusion.
Yep .... danger, prophecy, end-of-times, crime, greed ..... Daniel had it all!

Last night was the last evening .... 12 weeks of study. And suddenly during the final video, Beth Moore says, God doesn't want to hear you complain.

Yea ... God was sitting behind me with his textbook!!!!!

I complain about the rain.  I complain about being too busy.  I complain about being not busy enough. I complain about my road.  I complain about the traffic.  I complain about fixing supper.  I complain about the quality of the meal when I go out.  I complain about the laundry.  I complain about the dishes.  I complain constantly!!!!

I am done!

This is now a whine-free zone.  For the next month, I am going to break the complaining cycle.  No whine for me!!  Thirty days. This is it!! 

And YOU can call me on it.  And I expect you to.

But the first person that tries to take the "wine" out of "whine"...... is going to hear it.  I'm thinkin' I'm going to need a drink or so!!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Passing the hat..........................

When I started the farm 8 years ago ... I knew a couple of things. First, it had to be "my farm".  Not a vision of  some  place else.  It was going to be my farm.  I realize imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it is also not too creative!!! So succeed or fail, it is all on my shoulders!  And I can be proud of it or not. But it is mine.

I also knew that we needed to be part of the community.  And that means giving back.  Even if it hurts. So between cancer benefits and bake sales and school tours and hauling cider presses around the county, we did it because it is the right thing to do.

The last few years have been financially very difficult.  Between constant rain and medical bills and sky-rocketing expenses and salary cuts .... there hasn't been any extra money here at Miss Eff's.  But through it all, I kept saying ...... Support the community and the community will support you. There have been times that our community activities put us behind the eight-ball.

Last spring, I spent hours and hundreds of dollars working on a community breakfast. I juggled and juggled and juggled the checkbook, trying to make it work.  I could have been paid for what I did.... others in the organization were.  But I kept saying our mantra.....

A couple of quick updates on things that have happened here on the farm in the last couple of weeks and some news about where we are going.

First of all, we have the final totals from the ice cream social ..... $520 for this year's event.  In the last two years, Miss Effie's has raised $950 for local food pantries.  Every time, we have taken that cash and converted it into Freight House Farmers Market gift certificates and then took the gift certificates to the food pantry to be distributed.

This way ...... healthy wholesome food is available to all.  And it helps support my friends like Sawyer Beef and Brazy Creek farm that spend their time, trying to make a living off the fruits of their land.

Because of our farm's work with local foods, Buy Fresh-Buy Local, our fund raisers for the food pantries, the school tours and the classes we give .............. we were awarded a Lujack Extra Mile award this week.(Yea ... they haven't updated the website for a while!)  We received a check for $500 that was divided between the Women, Food and Agriculture Network and the North Scott Food Pantry.

So we have set a goal.  By the end of next year, we would like to have raised $2000 for local food pantries.

And we have a new idea.  And I think a fun idea!


See these hats?  I have a bunch.  8 or 9 vintage straw hats.  And always looking for more.  

So ..... these will be on pegs in the Summer Kitchen for you to rent for $1.00.  Yea .... browse my gardens, pick some flowers, look oh-so stylish and rent a hat for a dollar.  And all those little dollars will go directly to the North Scott Food pantry to provide more families with healthy nutritious foods.

I have been blessed with the knowledge and the ability to can and preserve and garden for myself.  So when Honey and Miss Eff have had tough times, we knew we always had something to eat.  And that is a blessing.  But so many have not learned how to cook, let alone can.  

So for your little contribution, we can make a little impact.  But that little impact can be huge for a hungry family.  

Are ya with me??  If so, I will pass the hat!!!!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

One lump or two................

I dream of a sultry summer day ......... gentle breezes .... the peaceful antics of butterflies, flitting among the flowers.  There would be no tomatoes to can.  No furniture to paint.  No gardens to weed.  Just flowers to cut and arrange in bouquets to decorate my corn-zebo.



I dream of black current tea with honey ..... raspberry cream scones Ala Emily ........ cucumber sandwiches with home-made cheese and freshly clipped herbs.


I dream of lace tablecloths, pink depression glass and chipped but dainty china.

I dream of having a tea party.


I want all my girlfriends there... some new friends, some old friends.


We would all wear our very best finery.


And I would have a new hat just for the occasion.


And I would sit at the head of the table ....... because it was my special day ....... and I would ask, "Sugar or honey with your tea?" And if you said "Sugar", I would ask "One lump or two?"


And my friends will marvel at the delights on the dessert tray.  "Ooooh, cream puffs".

Yes ............. I dream of a sultry summer day with my friends.

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Branding of Miss Eff's..............

When I started my business nine seasons ago, I knew I wanted the farm to have a unique and creative look to it. I wanted people to come to the farm ... pick some flowers, pour themselves a glass of lemonade, eat some homemade cookies and relax. I was smart enough to realize how very different we are from other farms and businesses. But I have to admit ........ I didn't have the marketing savvy  to call it "branding".

 Fortunately for us, my interior design background and Honey's creativity has helped us limp along.  All the colors used on the farm are from a palette that we will (eventually???) use on the house.  Classic-L farmhouses .. like other Victorian houses .... give us the opportunity to use lots of shades of colors.  So the five color palette on the house can change a bit on the Summer Kitchen, the barn quilts and the out-buildings and still coordinate.




Sometimes it is silly ideas that make Miss Eff's special ......


But from parties in the corn-zebo .................... (Seriously .... why doesn't spellcheck understand that corn-zebo is a real word??)


to a bed in the garden .............



to the chickens I choose to raise ..............




to the egg cartons I order .................

I have made conscious decisions about the farm.  Sometimes, I might not have known it .... but they all had to fit our so-called marketing plan.  Victoria magazine meets Hobby Farm magazine.  Tasha Tudor meets Mary Jane Butters.  Designing Women meets Little House on the Prairie.  (Or maybe that should be Green Acres!)  

Whatever it is ..... it had to "fit"!  I could never copy another farm or business style.  I can't stray from our look, our feel and what is right for us. I may be inspired by your farm or business.  I may see an idea that would work well on the farm. But I always make it our own ... in our own way.   A swoooopy roof wouldn't fit every farm (and after the trials and tribulations that Honey has gone through .... you would be crazy to try it!!!) 

So it is with delight and pleasure and out-and-out happiness ... I get to introduce you to the soon-to-be tags in the Summer Kitchen.  Inspired by a 1930's packet of canning labels that I purchased decades ago ... for $1 ... Brad Ellis from the Orange Guy has done an awesome job of getting me exactly what I want!!!!


So ..... after I get dimensions etc to her ... my friend Jen will be creating the sign for the Summer Kitchen.  Look through Jen's delightful blog and see the beautiful vintage look signs she creates.  And to make this extra special for me ... it will hang on a curlicue sign bracket that held my father's veterinarian sign.  Before that ... my great-grandfather's doctor's office sign hung from this bracket.

Old, hand-made, creative, whimsical .......... its all part of the story of Miss Effie's.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yea ... it's the humidity.........



For those of you not in the Midwest ............ this is what we mean when we say ....  

The air is so thick you can see it.

Welcome to August in Iowa.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trying to absorb the lessons ............

About this time every year, I start evaluating the season.  I'm to the point in the year that I look at the plants, their locations, the weather conditions, what the customers liked and didn't like and what I should do better next year.

I have to look at the garden with a very critical eye.  And boy, do I see the flaws!!! Every single one of them!! But then .... I have to stand back ........ and think ......... and look again.

So let's look at what worked........... why and what changes I would make in the future. 

1) Having an intern.  OK -- I can not say enough wonderful things about Emily. She has been an absolute blessing and a joy to have around.  She is a self-starter, hard-working and doesn't complain about the heat, humidity or lack of a/c in the house.  I want to clone her!!!!!!  Please, Please come back next year!!

What I have learned .... I need more hours from an intern.  I set up Emily's schedule and scheduled her for 18-20 hours a week.  I need either more interns or more hours from an intern.  I think more interns would be the wise move .... it is hard work.  It is hot and we wear out. (ok -- I wear out!) I feel 6 hours a day is a good amount of labor for one day when you are standing over a hot stove or standing in the full sun. (The garden doesn't grow well in the shade!!)  So next year's goal is to have two interns.

2) The Summer Kitchen. Even though it is not done, the Summer Kitchen is going to be a major asset for the farm.  It is cute, stylish and trust me .... no one else will ever have anything like it!!!!  I think it will give our customers a hint of the whimsy and charm that we try to show here at Miss Eff's.

What I have learned .... Honey and I don't kick butt like we did ten years ago. 90 degree heat and 95% humidity takes a toll on a guy with 5 stents, a plastic lens in an eye and a third of a lung missing!!!!  So again ... patience is a virtue.  We will never set completion dates again.  When something is done, its done.

And Honey says this is the last big project on the farm.  So he says..... now.  He will come up with another  brilliant idea one day and we will act on it.  Or we will win the lottery and hire it done........... Nah.. I don't think so either!!!!

3) The Contention Creek Plant Support System.  Again another stroke of genius from my darling husband!  These are working better than I could ever have imagined.  I can not believe what an asset they are.  And even though the initial cost is rather expensive, they are definitely worth it.


What I have learned...... the supports are going everywhere!! Even on plants that I never felt I had to support.  It will keep things in check and keep the aisles open.  So watch out Farm and Fleet, I will be buying cattle panels all year round!!!


4) Keeping my vision intact. This is really difficult.  I get a lot of suggestions from a lot of people.  Some are very good suggestions...... for them. But I am at the maximum work-load I can possibly handle.  We are open 5 days a week ... 38 hours a week .... for approximately 4 months out of the year.  Throw in a couple of evening special events or tours or classes on Monday or Tuesday when I am closed..... I'm pooped!

What I have learned....... Miss Effie's is a cross between two magazines .... Victoria and Hobby Farms.  And the look of the farm has to reflect those ideas. Yea ... I'm not sure what it means either.  I do know .. its not going to be putting lace ruffled pantaloons on my chickens!

Education is an important aspect of the farm and I want to continue that goal of sharing knowledge with others.  So there will be more classes but there won't be any display-only beds in the garden!  Nor will there be any new gardens in the future. Let me get these under control! (Yikes! That is easier said than done!)

5) Staying focused.  This is harder than keeping the vision intact! I feel ... the downfall of a business is when you think you can be all things to all people. Hey!  I'm a cut flower farm.  I'm not going to raise strawberries, pumpkins or bedding plants.  I sell jam and eggs but don't expect freshly-baked bread on a daily basis!  I may teach you how to make cheese but I am not going to sell Miss Eff's Homemade Mozzarella ... even if it was legal!

What I have learned ......... I am one person.  One.  And I can only do so much well.  And I have pretty high standards when it comes to sewing or knitting or baking.  Heck ... I was judged in 4-H so many times, I know a good loaf of bread when I see it.  And some days ... when I am stretched too thin ... a good loaf of bread is not possible.  So if you see something for sale at Miss Eff's ... you know its the best I can possibly do.  You may not see it for sale again.... if I am out ... well, that's it.

6) And finally, I really love my customers.  I used know everyone's name.  I don't remember every one.  I used recognize the face.  But I can't do that any more.

But I do remember the sweet notes that you sent me ... the emails ... the reviews on Face Book and Local Harvest.  I remember a child holding an hour-old duckling.... I remember women going through the teacup tree looking for cups that remind them of Grandma. I remember birthday parties under the willow tree and tea parties in the corn-zebo.  The  laughter that only comes from friends being together, made me smile.

The flower season is far from over .... there are lots more blooms to come.  But I thank each and everyone of you for your laughter and your hugs and your kindness.

You are the best.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Feeding an addiction................

OK -- remember the first time you ate a fantastic, wonderful steak and you swear you have never eaten a steak like that before???  Or maybe you bit into a home-grown heirloom tomato --- and you marvel at the richness of flavor.  Or maybe it was when you compared a really fresh farm egg to those wimpy pale yellow-yolked things sold at a grocery store.

It was at that moment .............. you became a foodie.

Now ... I have had different "ah-ha" moments with food................. a great blue cheese from Mineral Point, WI.  A duck salad at a now-defunct restaurant in Oakbrook. Mackeson XXX milk stout. My mouth waters just thinking about those tastes.

But then ... an addiction hits.  And you need it.  Not just want it ................ need it.

View my refrigerator.


Yep .......... I am addicted to Picket Fence milk. Who knew there would be a cult-like following for ...........milk???? Whole milk (Baby -- where have you been all my life!!) cream, butter and ice cream.  Even cream to make my own sour cream.  Yea ... I love it all!  And I'm not even going to mention the chocolate malt or the raspberry-chocolate ice cream.  (I need to find a gym ... hopefully, near Woodward!)

I've said it.  I am addicted. They say that is the first step in getting help. But where do I get help?  I looked in the phone book and I couldn't find PFC-Anonymous. 

So I looked for help any way I could get it.  After all ... who is crazy enough to drive 7 hours for ....milk???  (You are looking at her through the screen!!)






In a small town ..... a little back alley location in an unsuspecting residential neighborhood...... plans were made to swap the goods.  My dealer is warm and friendly.......  so unlike those in the movies when they trade for the "white stuff".

On Sunday afternoon .... at an undisclosed location in Eastern Iowa, the cooler was passed.  Money changed hands .  I was happy.  The fear of withdrawal was gone. Six glorious gallons of PFC whole milk now resides in my refrigerator.

A foodie has been saved.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cleaning out the pipes..........

When you get to a certain age of life, you are required to take a test.  Nope .... not the drivers license test.  Not an eye test.  Not an IQ test......... but that should be mandatory before they let you get the drivers license!!

No ... you get to have a colonoscopy.  Yea .... fun.

This is my story about colonoscopies.

A couple of years ago, I agreeably went in to have the test.  I eat well ... I get lots of fiber.... I don't eat junk food.  This would be a breeze.  I would simply consider it a fast.

As I was waking up, the doctor informed me that they found a polyp.  I still thought .... no big deal.  But it turned out to be an aggressive pre-cancerous polyp and I would have to have another test.

That test was clear and fine.  I was told I was good to go for five years.

Fast forward two years.

Last winter, Honey received a postcard in the mail, stating that he was due for a test.  I asked when I was due, thinking that I could get this little number in and done as my deductible was paid.  Oh, you aren't due for quite a while.

In April, the postcard comes.  You send me something in........ April?!?!?!?  Are you crazy????


So I did the rational thing ....... I ignored it.

In June, a reminder of the reminder postcard came.  You send me something in........ June?!?!?!?  Are you crazy????  Talk to me in October.


And I ignored it.

In July, I get the full-blown letter with a copy sent to my doctor.  Then my doctor's office starts calling .... twice.  Then my doctor called.  I'm pretty certain I had the test without the benefit of anesthesia!!!  I was told ... in no uncertain terms ... to make an appointment!!!

I made the appointment.

So ..... today I am on a liquid diet. No dairy ... no tomato juice .... no orange juice ... no alcohol.

I can have a Popsicle.......... but no red.....no purple. That leaves orange.  Not so much!!!

I can have gelatin........... but no cherry. No black cherry.  No strawberry

Are there any other flavors????  And don't say ......lime.  So-called lime gelatin has no resemblance to a lime!  The best I can say ..... it tastes green.  And not a good tasting green!!!!

So far today ....... I have been sipping coffee.  OK -- I've been chugging coffee.  Lots of coffee.  And its 11 a.m. 

And.  I.  Am.  s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g!!! I am a very-wired grumpy individual! 

Now .. don't leave me messages about how important this test is.  Cuz I know. The test is actually very very easy to go through.  But I am a little scared of the findings this time. This was a very aggressive type of pre-cancerous polyp and the chemo is the mostly deadly chemotherapy out there. Our family oncologist has already kicked my butt too! But I'm just a little busy and January would have been a better option.

But by this time tomorrow, I will be done. And you might be able to find me at the all-you-can-eat buffet, scarfing down everything in sight.  But most likely, you will find me at the Cafe Indigo.  Yum!

Can't go messing up that sparkling clean colon with a lot of junk food!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scenes from Miss Eff's ....... Part 2



We had a women's group from Grace Evangelical Free Church in Davenport come to the farm today.  They ate brunch .... relaxed in the corn-zebo ........ and picked flowers.  They had a really good time so I want to post some of the pictures of the group.
Enjoy.

Someone is having a birthday tomorrow!
This was a really fun group today ........ really everything I wish for a group to be.  The children were fun, polite and thoughtful and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.


We will see Elizabeth on Thursday ......... she is coming to next week's cheese class.  Maybe she will tell you how it goes!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hey! I didn't start this.

Yesterday, I was cruising along, thinking about the success of my first home-based cheese class.  I was trying to relax and catch up on the news of my friends.  I was relatively calm ..... not too twitchy for me ........ and actually contemplating the a new color of walls for my bedroom.

And then ..... I read this.

And now ... I'm hyperventilating.

OMG!  It is August!  Where has the summer gone???? And my list .... where is my list???

OK -- my list must be in the garbage can. Cuz that is what I feel like I have accomplished.... CRAP!!!  I have accomplished CRAP!!!

Major goals for the summer.........

1) Build Summer Kitchen ........ OK, its a work in progress.

2) Build garden loom.  Remember this???  It was a great thought.

3) Pave the floor of the little gazebo.  (I went instead for the natural green carpet look of weeds!)

4) Re-do Jenny's garden... Jenny's garden is an area that I had planted heirloom plants from 1892 era. It has always been a difficult garden to work with and keep weed-free.  We have not touched it this year!!  EVER!!!  Finest specimens of weeds you could find!!  Only thing that can possibly save it now ...... is a match!!

5) Keep the cutting garden weed-free. Emily will tell you the hours that I have had her laboring in the sun ... pulling and pulling and pulling.  Am I there???  HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!  And after a couple of rainy days and steamy heat ....... OMG!! There monsters out there!!!

6) Do brochure.... the good news on this one, I do have a meeting today with the graphic artist.
 
7) Get the larder stocked for winter. We have been canning fools here at Miss Eff's... but most of it is for the Summer Kitchen.  I have done no sweet corn nor have I touched tomatoes.  True, the tomatoes are just coming on.... but I am worried about having enough produce for the winter.

8) Build Mitzi.  Mitzi is my new art/scarecrow project.  Garden tools for hands, porch posts for arms, old springs for boobs, and beer caps for hair.  The good news is that Mitzi will have lots and lots of hair!!!  We will continue working toward the Rapunzel-look for her.

We have had lots of great accomplishments this year.  We have sold more jellies and jams than ever.  Egg orders and sales have been wonderful. And I actually have money in the bank for next year..... a major plus considering the last two years. Customers come back time and time again for flowers for their homes.

We were named an emerging partner site for Silos and Smokestacks so that is good. We raised $500 for the North Scott Food pantry and have other small, but hopefully, significant ways to add to their coffers during the rest of the year. The Sunday in the Garden with Miss Effie and Friends event was a huge success and lots of fun. And we made awesome ice cream!

We booked our very first on-the-farm wedding for next year.  And I have started with my home-based cooking classes. I will continue to teach adult-education classes at Scott Community College and have been asked back to Prairieland Herbs to teach a class or two again.

But the most important accomplishment has been all the wonderful friends that I have met.  Some through blogging or Facebook ...... some through classes ....... some from just coming to the farm to pick flowers.

So in the dead of winter .... when I'm writing that long list of the things I want to do next summer...... I will remember Catherine and Jen and Kim and Aprillynn and Carla and Sue and so many, many, more wonderful people that have touched my heart and have become part of this little farm.

I am certain .... that their friendships are number one on any list!!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ya know how I feel...........

I know I am preaching to the choir, sisters!  But your favorite farmers market needs your help.

Besides ... it doesn't get much easier than this. Go to the badge on the right... search your state or the name of your favorite farmers market.  And there are a bunch now.  In the last year, farmers markets have increased 16%!

Yea ... its because we are demanding fresh, local food out of the control of the big boys. We want salsa without high fructose corn syrup. We want ground beef that came from one steer.  We want apples that haven't been sprayed with every chemical known to man. We want tomatoes that taste like tomatoes .... not a piece of paper.

We want fresh eggs ... not eggs that can be as old as 9 months old in our grocery stores. We want baked goods with ingredient lists that don't look like Intro to Molecular Chemistry!  We want jam without preservatives.  We want fresh and local and we want it now!

So vote for your favorite farmers market .... today.  Do it in honor of National Farmers Market Week.

Tell them Miss Effie sent you!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's August in Iowa and what do we say?????????

It's not the heat .... its the humidity!!!  And today ... it was both.

When you can ... in Iowa ... in a house without air conditioning.... you develop some unique perspectives on the heat.



This was the outside air temperature.



And this was my kitchen temperature.


But Emily and I were true kitchen goddesses today.  She made 4-1/2 pints of Apple Pie Jam, 8-1/2 pints of Orange Marmalade and 3-1/2 pints of Ginger Mint Cantaloupe Jam.  Which is ..........interesting.

Now when you say ............ interesting....... it brings all sorts of things to mind. Like when they tell you that your blind date has a great personality........ yea, interesting. 

But that is the word to describe it .... you taste the cantaloupe and then the refreshing mint taste and then there is the sweetness.  Yea ..... interesting.  In a very yummy interesting way.

So that was Emily's contributions to global warming today.  Me ..... I did 5-1/2 pints of jalapenos and another 12-1/2 quarts of peaches for Honey.  If you are counting, that is 25-1/2 quarts of peaches in 3 days.  And he eats two quarts a week. 

There are a lot more steamy days to come.

So if you are in my neighborhood, call first before dropping in unexpectedly after flower hours.  Cuz with all the heat and humidity we create ... there may just be a full moon.  And not in the sky.

Nearly Naked Canning season has arrived!!!!