Sunday, October 31, 2010

Your Peanut Butter is in my Hot Chocolate???

Remember the Reese's peanut butter commercial?  Your chocolate is in my peanut butter!

Well, I have had a love affair with peanut butter and chocolate for years.  My favorite malt is a peanut butter-chocolate malt.  I love Nutella and other similar products.  And peanut butter fudge???  Don't get me started!

I have been working on a new hot cocoa mixes for the Summer Kitchen.  The Turtle cocoa mix we created last week was good.  But when a Reese's Pieces inspired a Peanut Fudge Cocoa mix...... well, it took me just a few minutes to do some culinary creating!

More like culinary magic, according to Honey.

Hurry fast ..... they may not last!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Color Me Happy!!!

Last Sunday, some of my fiber-y friends had a yarn swap at Prairieland Herbs.  Since I am so far behind here at home, I really didn't think I could spare the time for the trip to Woodward and back.  And in reality, I've got a lot of knitting projects going on here at home...... do I really need to swap yarn for more????

I tell ya ..... my friend Maggie has my back.  I get an email asking me if I would want any of the leftover cotton yarn for bags and dishcloths.  Yea ..... I could use some cotton yarn.

A day or so later, I get an email that ...... and I quote .....  exploding box of yarn, heading your way....:) !
So .... today the exploding box of yarn showed up!!

I was outside when Ms. Mailman pulled up the lane.  She handed me this heavy bulging box ...... and I told her that it was full of yarn.  That's too heavy to be yarn! she said.

There is heavy cabled cotton.  There is delicate fine cotton.  There is textured cotton.  There is cotton-acrylic blends and hemp-cotton blends.

But my favorite is this ......................

Brunswick Yarn .... Berber Tweed.  50% wool --- 50% cotton.

I have had a love affair with Brunswick yarn since I was 10 or 11 years old.  The first pair of slippers I made was a Brunswick wool with a mohair yarn, knitted together.  The first sweater I made was a Brunswick Germantown classic wool in Danish Blue heather color.  I made it in 1966 .... I was 12 ... it was the first alternate to the Illinois State Fair in construction.

Yea .... the Brunswick yarn will never make it to the Summer Kitchen!!!

Thank you, Maggie and all my fiber-y friends.  You will keep the ol' gal off the streets this winter!!!

So .................. what yarn should I knit first????

P.S.......... If you love to knit like I do, check out Maggie's hand-dyed yarn on her blog and at her Etsy store.  Beautiful!!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

What do ya know?

Normally, the answer is ........ not much!  But recently, I've been putting my teacher's apron on and hitting the road.

So I've been learning a little more every day ... as Martha would say, it's a good thing.

Wednesday night .... it was mozzarella cheese class in the sewing room/art studio/postal drop/ kitchen at Miss Eff's.  Three fabulous women looked past the dust bunnies and the fuzzy purring creatures that create them ... and made cheese.

Cheese making is, without a doubt, my favorite subject to teach.  You are standing there, watching milk in the pan warm .... which is pretty much akin to watching corn grow.  And suddenly .... Pop! ...... cheese becomes reality!!!  It is soooo frickin' magical!!

I never cease to be amazed!!!

So ... it is fun to see magic happen for others!  And you get to eat it! Yea .... it is all good.

But last night .... for Scott Community College .... I taught Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

The first thing I say (after I explain to every one that I am not a chef. I'm not a teacher. I am just a good ol' farm cook!) if you have never baked bread before ... GREAT!!!  If you have, forget everything you previously learned.

ABin5 (as we in the know call it!!!  Yea ... like I would be in the know of anything!!) has an extremely high percentage of water to flour.  It is going to be sticky.  And the sooner you accept that ... the better your final product will be.  There is no kneading ... proofing.... no keeping it in a draft-free area.  It's so different than traditional bread recipes.

I love making a traditional bread recipe.  One of my favorites is a Swedish Rye bread that takes 3 risings .... makes 4 loaves of bread ... and is incredible!!!!

But I can't find the time to do that every day.  And I still want incredible bread every day.

We tried a bread machine. First ... the mixes weren't going to make the cut.  I searched and searched for recipes that I liked.  I hated the hole that the paddle made.  I started using it to mix the dough and then bake in the oven... better but I still wasn't happy.

ABin5 gives me a product that I am happy to serve at anytime ... and its easy.

So its a joy for me to share that with others.  And share we did.  I used the Master recipe to make 7 different products .... and I could have done even more (if as they say on television... time allowed!)

We made ............

1) boule.
2) crusty dinner rolls
3) baguette
4) crusty sandwich loaf
5) onion and rosemary focaccia 
6) pita bread
7) caramel hazelnut sticky buns

And we ate and we ate and we ate.  And we spread Picket Fence butter on EVERYTHING.  Really.  (you're not surprised, are you???)

That was so much fun .... I still want to do another class at home.  But I also want to do a Brioche class.... you know, Blue Gate Farm honey, Picket Fence butter and Miss Eff's eggs.  Yea ...... This may be Iowa but that's heaven!!

So watch that on my class schedule..... and thanks again to 23 fabulous people that let me show a little bit that I know .... and you taught me a lot that you know!!!!!

So today ...... the answer to What do you know? has changed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

They had me at chocolate..........

Saturday night, Honey and I went to Once upon an Autumn Evening at the Mill Creek Cafe in Clarence Iowa.

I am not sure how many different ways I can say ......... Delicious!!!!

But I will try my very best.  First of all, this fits all my criteria for great eating.  Small, local independent eatery. Everything is made from scratch .... always. No boxes .... no frozen MRE's.... just good food.

Appetizers ..... meatballs, a chicken salad canape and awesome stuffed pastry with cheese and pepperoni (I think).  Notice there are two meatballs missing.....   Yea, we tasted those and instantly looked at each other and said "This is blog-worthy!"

No pics of the salad but just a nice fresh great green salad with mandarin oranges and an oil and vinegar dressing.  Simple but oh so ...good.

My meal was a pecan-crusted prosciutto-stuffed chicken breast with a mushroom spinach sauce.  Yea ... it was as good as it sounds.  The chicken was done to perfection.  Crispy on the outside, yet juicy and delicious on the inside ... and the sauce was incredible!

Honey ordered BBQ pork ribs.  No knife was needed there.  And the scalloped potatoes were tender and creamy.

And then .... the green beans.  A little bit sweet ... maybe a little brown sugar but when wrapped with the bacon and cooked ......... oh my!

And then the showstopper!!! Chocolate Hazelnut pie ....... and yes, if you can believe it.... it was even better than it looks.
Oh ... I almost forgot.  All of that food... all of it! .... plus a beverage ......... $30.  

So that's my local food update .....I'm hoping they will remind me when the next evening meal will be.  I'm reserving a table for my friends.  So a big thanks to my friend Jen (who was also a very perky waitress!!! Even after 3 sittings!) for sharing the goodness of the Mill Creek Cafe.

I'll be back!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A history lesson.......... Bedroom Re-do ... Day One!

Back ... when the earth was cooling ..... I did interior design work.

I had a decent eye for color.  I was great at making things work.  I loved using items in ways that were totally different than their original purpose.  I even had a motto...Just frame it and hang it.  Which leads to having 14 foot levels, silver spoons and plastic clothespins in places of prominence in your house.

I love this house.  Love it! Love it! Love it!  It is where I was meant to be. But it has always been difficult for me to decorate.

Maybe I toss around theories on the trying to listen to the house tell me what it wants to be.  Which is one thing I try very hard to do.  An old farmhouse should look and feel like an old farmhouse.  But its bones should feel like a farmhouse ... not all the cutesy stuff!!!

Reality is this ......... Honey and I both came into this relationship (and I came into the house!) with houses full of stuff.  Too much stuff.  And I like stuff!!  Too much stuff!  And as George Carlin would say ... I need now need places to stuff my stuff!

So slowly .. we are beginning to say ... we don't need this.  We don't want this. 

But there is still a lot of work to be done.  And today .... I am starting on the bedroom.  Honey and I decorated the bedroom when I moved in 14 years ago.  Things have not been static but I no longer see the room fitting our personalities.  Or more importantly ... the personality of the house.

The room faces the east and south ... it is warm and sunny and welcoming.  But the beige is just too.......... beige.  And as my dear friend Jill says .... I'm not much of a beige gal.

A change in color will happen.  Primary color scheme will be yellows and greens with red accents.  Yea ... that fits me. So the wallpaper is coming down.  Paint is being changed.  Crown molding will go up.  Carpet is staying. Louvers in the closet doors will be replaced by chicken wire.

But .......I am going about this .... ass-backwards.  

First ... I am shopping my house.  I am going to re-arrange the bedroom. I will flip furniture and pictures in and out.  And hopefully, decide what I like and what I don't like. Once that is done, and I know what holes to patch and what nails to keep...... I will start to paint.

As you can see .......... the pictures are as the room is today.

Stay tuned and by the end of the weekend......... maybe I will feel comfortable enough to give you ... day Two.

Friday, October 22, 2010

You knew this was coming.............

Background ..... The powers that be in the city of Davenport decided on Monday to give their full support to this project.

In the meantime, a steering committee of some 20-odd people (not 20 odd  people ... there are people that I don't know too well yet. :) I'll make that decision later!) has been formed to work out the details of the project.  And it is a huge project. 

It includes the expansion of the current extremely successful Freight House Farmers Market, the development of a food hub, a permanent retail food venue, class room space, commercial kitchen, banquet facilities and a  food cooperative.  Now ... these ideas take time to develop so don't engrave any of these statements in stone ... saying that Miss Eff says this was going to happen!

The steering committee is made of city employees, bankers, Extension professionals, grant writers, foodies and farmers.  And yes .... I'm on it.  And yes ..... I'm talking.

My income is based on the sale of locally-raised  flowers, herbs, eggs, and locally made jams, hand-spun yarn and hand-knitted items.  All planted, watered, weeded and picked with my two hands.  My hands!!!!

I live, breath and die local.  If you have read this blog at all .... you know that!

First ..... a definition .... a market farmer is one that grows fruits and vegetables for sale, often directly  to the consumer.  

This differs from a traditional farmer that grows corn and soybeans than are sold to the local elevator or at the river.

Today ... when I say farmer ... I am talking about a market farmer.

BUT  I know the limiting factors to our local farmers.  Farm land in Scott county is the most expensive farm land in Iowa.......... average cost per acre $6500. 

We have laws on the books in Scott County limiting the land you can buy.  You can't buy 5 acres to build a house.  It is to protect family farms and our very precious farmland ... which is a good thing.  But it also is a deterring factor as far as bringing in new young market farmers into our area.  I wouldn't buy 5-10 acres to market farm when I couldn't build a house on it.  Driving to a separate market farm is hard ... too much work to do ... too many hours.

The average age of Iowa farmers ... today, is 58.  Fifty eight!!!!  We've had an AARP card for a few years.... Honey is looking at Medicare in five years.  If I was a traditional farmer, you could not convince me .... at the age of 58 ..... to get out of my combine and take 5 acres and turn it into a market farm!!!! 

I would love more land to diversify .... I would love to have shrubs (in the industry, these are known as woodies... obviously, I am not going to tell you that I want to grow woodies!) by the acre.  I would love to grow more than a few stalks of broom corn.  I would love to extend my season with gourds and pumpkins.  But I am NOT going to borrow $25,000 at the age of 56 to buy more land! 

If we limit our market to totally local foods ..... we are limiting the supply tremendously.  At one brief point during the meeting ... local was defined at Rock Island and Scott Counties!!!!! Our local Buy Fresh-Buy Local chapter has 34 members.  14 of our members farm outside of those two counties.  That is well over 33% that would not be classified as local!

With the change in climate conditions ..... with just weather conditions..... we need to look regionally.  Iowa City is local!!!!  We farmers understand that!!!!   We need to be more creative ... we need more options .....but we are the professionals and trust me, I know what high-tunnels are and I know the profit that can be made with them.  It doesn't come as a surprise!!!! But I know, I know, I know ... we need regionally produced product!!!!

I will not be at the next meeting.  I will be teaching how to make a local breakfast at Scott Community College.  We will use locally-grown oatmeal, locally-raised beef bacon, local eggs, local veggies and local quark omelets and sour cream coffee cake .... where we make our own sour cream.

And I don't understand the importance of local??????

Those that farm .... do. 

Those that talk .......... well, I won't go there.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The mountains around us.

Currently charities across the country are feeling the pinch of reduced giving. People are giving less to help the needy ... and there are more needy to help.

A lot of us are feeling the pinch of tight budgets.  Honey has been at his job for 5 years .... he has been given ONE 3% raise which was quickly taken away with a 10% pay cut. The pay cut has been restored but it is still far less than he made 10 years ago. I made more per hour in 1995 .... doing the same job with less responsibility.... than I do now at my current job with Retail-Hell.

And that is life for many of us.

But we that have been blessed with roofs over our head, heat in our houses and a warm meal on the stove have a responsibility to help those that ........... don't.

I have heard the cop-out line over and over again .... I've got bills to pay.  I have groceries to buy.  Yea??? And no one else does????

I am seeing amazing stories of charity by people that know they need to make the world a better place.  I am certain, there will be Christmas gifts eliminated, cable services cut, a shopping trip delayed, a visit to the library and not the bookstore..... all in the name of God.

If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Nothing is insignificant. A gift can be as small as a mustard seed........ and it can move mountains.  A dollar here.... five dollars there.  An extra box of pasta in your grocery cart for a food pantry. Another cake for a bake sale.  An hour of your time.  A warm coat which doesn't quite fit ... but will fit someone in need.  Our gifts may be small ...........but together they will grow and flourish.

I have been inspired by some amazing women.  Maggie is giving $5 for every student that enrolls in one of my classes.......... again to go to the North Scott Food pantry. Her generosity also extends to women in business (Kiva loans) and abandon pets.  My friends Leslie and Tesi have tirelessly worked and danced  for Charity Water. (I personally like the drinking part! I have a talent for that!!)

And none of them are wealthy ........... except in spirit and kindness and love. Which really does make them the wealthiest people that I know!!!  I am honored to have their friendship and blessed by living in a world that they are constantly try to improve.

So I challenge you to move a mountain in your community. Join in with others... pick a cause and go for it!!! Be creative.  Find an unusual way to raise money.

Its a bit of time .... a bit of yourself.  Give.  And give again.

The world will thank you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Want your vote to really count???

If you are as tired of the arguing and the shouting and the political commercials as I am .... listen up.  I am giving you the opportunity to have your voice really heard.  Some one is going to hear what you say and take it to heart.

No ... they aren't in DC or Springfield or in Des Moines.

She's right here in beautiful downtown Donahue!

Its time to tell me what you want!

Seriously, I have been placing orders for next year and making plans.  And then I thought, "Hmmm... I wonder what my friends and customers might want??"

So its your turn to SPEAK OUT.  Tell me what you think.  So here we go..........

1) Hours ... Currently I am open 8-5 on Wed-Fri; 8-3 on Sat and 11-3 on Sunday.  Understanding the fact that this is a one-woman show and Honey still wants supper and clean underwear..... are there any changes in the hours that you would like to see? 

Would being open on Monday instead of Wednesday be more appealing???  I need one day totally off for myself ...... but I would like to schedule classes on a day that we are closed.

2) Flowers.... is there anything that you would like to see us grow?  Anything that I don't have enough of???
Any suggestions of things you would like to see???

3) Let's talk herbs ... do you want fresh herbs? Do you want to cut them?  Do you want me to cut and bundle them? And is there something that we don't have that you have been looking for?

4) What would you like to see sold in the Summer Kitchen?  Are baked goods of interest?  Do you want more craft items?  I am dedicated to totally local ... so don't say you want Vermont Maple Syrup or California wine!  Hmmm, I suddenly think a nice glass of Cabernet would be helpful right now..... (May have to re-think that one!!! Just for the owner!!!)

5) And what about veggies???  Remembering that I only have 2 little acres ... and 2 hands and 24 hours in a day (but I digress!!!) ............ would you buy veggies and what would you like??  I can't grow sweet corn ... lettuce is a little more time consuming than I handle..... but I would like to expand the offerings if you are interested!

6) And finally .... comments, questions and complaints.  What do we need (other than outdoor toilet facilities .. we know that one!) ... what would you like?

Thank you for taking my survey.  This time ... ya know .... your vote really counts!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Findings in the Summer Kitchen

It is Friday and as always....... the Summer Kitchen is open from 9 to 3!  We have made no progress on the inside of the Summer Kitchen.  But Wow!  The progress on the outside continues!

All four sides of the Summer Kitchen have been stained.

And the bottom completely closed in and stained and filled.  And you remember Honey's statement ... No more big projects.  Uhh... it wasn't my idea...... but a deck will go on the back side next spring, overlooking the cutting garden.  (I love the idea!!!!)

Two windows are being stained and will go on the backside and then there will be a bay/garden window on the other side.

My front entry...... we have a stoop!!!  This will eventually be blended into a ramp so the Summer Kitchen is wheel-chair accessible.

 And ...... Let there be light!  Well ... at least, light fixtures.  Wiring is still on the list.

But I couldn't resist decorating the stoop.  Time to step inside and see what is for sale this week.

We have a jar full of knitted scrubbies for your dishes.  As I continue to finish projects, I'll use up the cotton yarn.  Waste not-- Want not!  And besides.......... the cute Sheepie Dish Cloth is too cute to scrub burnt on messes off your pans!
 There will be more of these!  Perfect for all of my fiber-y friends.

Another market bag ......... this is in purple and green.  It will be the last of this style for a while.  I get bored knitting the same thing all the time!

A small crafty project ...... ok, maybe a little up-cycling.  Cute vintage hangers for little girls.

And as always, jams and jellies, bath mitts, dishcloths, cocoa mix and more.  Come out and see me.

Next week ............ tea cozies!!  Yea ... I know you are excited!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Four years ago ... three farmers got together and said .... Hey, let's get a lot of people to drive out from the city and look at our farmsThey will drive from farm to farm...... like you do at a pub crawl.  I know, we will call it farm crawl!

OK -- I took some creative license there.  Actually, I have no idea how the idea came about.  But what an idea!!!

And this year, 1300 people happily drove dusty gravel roads, parked in hay fields and along the road, to tour seven small  farms.  It was amazing!

I had one definite favorite farm.......... Blue Gate Farm.  And it wasn't because Peace Tree Brewery from Knoxville was giving out samples!  (Although ... that was a GREAT idea! OK -- it might have been why!! :) I really liked the Red Rambler!)

What Jill and Sean did for the crawl was nothing less than PERFECT!  Tours, posters, demos .......... they really showed people the inner-workings of sustainable agriculture.  I was incredibly impressed with the organization that went in to "showing off" their farm.

As farmers ..... we give tours.  And we talk.  But the interpretive story is often left behind by many of us. I have been guilty of this ........many times.

Now, Jill is a professional story-teller........... and she told a great story about the development of the BGF and their products.  I tried to look at the farms with an unbiased eye. (Which was really hard for me to do since Jill is my hero!)  But I finally got the impact of the message from all the Silos and Smokestacks speeches that I have heard....... telling the story.

The Farm Bureau says that more than 90 percent of all Iowans have never been on a farm! (Thank you, Kim, for finding that for me!!!)

And that is in Iowa!!  When you think Iowa ... don't you think farm??? I constantly forget that we are two and three and four generations removed from the land and the lifestyle. But that means statistically.....of the 1300 people that went on Farmcrawl .......... 1170 of them had never been on a farm!!!

So it was more than impressive to see someone really tell the story.

Fantastic job!  Hats off to Sean and Jill!!!!  All of my 15 billion straw ones!

You want me to tell you what????

My friend Tesi tagged me in a blog post............. 8 things about me.  Yea ... I am pretty certain there are not 8 things that you don't know about me!  Five ... maybe six ... but surely not eight!

But ... why not! So here we go!

1) What is your biggest pet peeve? At this very moment, its a cat wanting to come upstairs! No biggest pet peeve are people that talk but don't do. Committees may be great ... but I get tired of going to meetings and walking away discouraged because nothing is accomplished.  Just do it!

2) If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?  Here.  No place else. I know that isn't very original or creative but I love what Honey and I have built here.  I know the house has crumbling ceilings and I know the road is dusty but its ours and I love it.  Besides, where else would I find a swoooopy roofed Summer Kitchen and a Corn-zebo?

3) Have you ever been searched by the cops? Let's just say that I have the right to remain silent.  'Nuff said!

4) What is the one thing on your mind right now? Oh ... so many things. Yesterday, I had a fabulous exciting meeting on the education and the expansion of sustainable agriculture in the urban QC area. My mind is just racing right now and its soooo early in the discussions, I can't tell you anything.  What I can say ..... I am so thrilled to be part of this!!!!

5) Favorite song right now?  Great. I get to talk about my psychotic music selections.  Right at this very moment .... its anything sung by Leonard Cohen.  Where was he all my life??  I loved his songs but never had heard his voice! Gravely and sexy and over 70!!!

I actually had thought about this very subject on my trip to Des Moines this weekend.  I listened to The Tractors, The Guess Who (not to be confused with The Who that I also listened too!) Joan Baez, Abba, Patsy Cline and the Puppini Sisters. Yea . Psychotic.

6) What talent do you wish you had?  I can not sing or dance.  I have absolutely no rhythm and I can't carry a tune in a bucket.  Such is life! But I can make cheese and knit a mean pair of socks..... does that count for anything????

7) Favorite drink?  Last weekend, it was wine.  This weekend, it will be beer. I really really like milk.  But I have to say, my absolute favorite drink ..........  a chocolate soda with a cherry on top.

And finally.............

8) In one word how would you describe yourself? Passionate.  (although Honey may disagree about that description of his menopausal wife!)  When I care about something .... I care a lot.  I try very hard to look at both sides ... be reasonable .... but I try to plunge right in to correcting the problem.  I'm not a good sidelines person......... I want to be in the middle of the game.  And its nice to occasionally get to carry the ball.

Oh ... that takes me back to question #6 ..... add athleticism to that!!!!

Fun game ............ anyone want to play along? Consider yourself tagged!!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Who knew?????

Courtesy of Abby Glann - Spring 2010

I swore I never wanted to be a teacher.  I had no/none/nilch desire to work with kids and teach anything!

But in the last few years ... I have discovered I love love love  to share some of the knowledge I have scraped off the kitchen floor over the past few decades.

Cooking, like sewing and knitting, changed to a scientific art of perfection during the 50's.  Baking was soooo precise. Very careful measurements.  Just mix it exactly the exact number of minutes.  And don't open the door while its in the oven!!!!  Baking a cake was made intimidating by Betty Crocker and her friend, Duncan Hines. So let us make it easy for you, they said. 

So two and three generations of women walked down the cake mix aisle instead of grabbing a dozen eggs. a bag of flour and a wire whisk.

If you can't make something that is as easy as pie, why would you make cheese or bake bread or make your own pasta??? 

Let alone can green beans.  You know that pressure canner may blow up.  It did on great-great Aunt Hilda in 1924. Blew the ceiling right out of the kitchen and the green beans were spewed for a quarter of a mile.

But I digress........

All that detail to perfection ... left many of us scared and frightened to try anything new and different. Why, I might ruin it! What happens when it fails?

Ya know what happens if you ruin it???  You try again. 

And if it turns out really lousy, you order pizza.  And you try again. 

After all ........ you are going to eat again in 6 hours!  You are not going to starve!!!

It's not rocket science.  You don't need a PHD to make cheese.

Which leads me to why I love teaching at Prairieland Herbs.  Every time I am there, I am so impressed with the enthusiasm of the students.  They want to plunge in and make cheese.  And they want more.  Can we make pasta?  Can we do an all-day class and we make mozzarella, pasta and ricotta??

I'm not sure if Maggie and Donna are ready for a marathon cheese, pasta session in their classroom. I'm pretty certain that I would be kicking off the high heels I wear for classes.(otherwise I am waaaay shorter than the students and they ask where they found the gray-haired 10 year-old!  And ....... I trip on the hems of my jeans.  And tripping into hot whey is not good!)

Maybe I can get Dawn to teach hula-hooping while we are letting the ricotta drain?? I am sooooo there!!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I swear ...........

I've been knitting and sewing and painting so much, my fingers are going to bleed!!!

Just completed.......... new market bag.  Ya won't lose that one!!!! (So ........ I'm not much on beige!  Can you tell???)

First of many.............

I hope!

It's Summer Kitchen Friday!  Yes ... the Summer Kitchen is open today ... Friday ... from 9 to 3!

The offerings from the Summer Kitchen are small but will grow every week as we get further and further along on construction.  I hate to bring in merchandise from other local vendors when we are looking at drywall dust in the near future.

So for now ... the Summer Kitchen merchandise is currently hand-crafted by moi'!  Like this new market bag.

Or these vintage clothespin bundles.

Freshly baked granola .... Raisin-pecan and my personal favorite, date-pecan.  Miss Eff's granola is filled with  healthy goodness............ oatmeal, wheat germ, flax seed and Blue Gate Farm's honey.

And to scrub those dirty dishes ..... colorful, soft cotton dishcloths in a variety of patterns and colors.

And to remember your visit to Miss Effie's, Tim Tully photographed scenes from last year and put them together as note cards.  I love seeing the pretty ducks.

Of course, we also have jams, jellies, chocolate fudge hot cocoa mix and today, three dozen eggs are available!  Yep.... Pretty eggs from pretty chickens.  Only at Miss Eff's.

We still have beautiful zinnias, gomphrena, ageratum, Jewels of Opar and a few lisanthus for cutting.  And the blue salvia is gorgeous! Perfect for drying.  End of the season special for flowers ...... $10 a bucket.

Hope to see you today .............tomorrow, I am off to Prairieland Herbs to teach cheese making!  Will you be there????

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wow! What a weekend!!

Honey and I fled eastern Iowa last weekend.  After day after day, week after week, working and working here on the farm.  Seriously, a big-time-trip away from home was a trip to the ice cream shop in DeWitt! It was time to flea. 

As in flea market!

Did you know that I just love, love, LOVE me a flea market????  Do I ever!!!

One of my favorite flea market is in the little town of What Cheer, IA.  It is held the first weekend of May, August and October.

It has been a while since we have been there.  But it sure didn't disappoint!

 These bags may become aprons ......... or pillows ........... or both!

I loved these red ware plates.  Hand-made, folk-y, wonderful!  They are going into my kitchen.

These adorable child-sized hangers are getting an updated look and then will be for sale in the Summer Kitchen.

I bought three vintage hats that will be for rent next summer. The one on the right could use a little work from a milliner.  But who knows a milliner????  Gorgeous shape and in great condition .... except the ribbon needs some work. :(  I would seriously wear it.  A lot!

After we purchased a tractor seat and a lightening rod for the Summer Kitchen, it was on to Day 2 of  Honey and Miss Eff's big adventure.

Tomorrow .......... FarmCrawl in Central Iowa!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

I've just got to show you!

I have some super talented customers.  I'm in awe of some of the bouquets they create.This is one of my favorites from this year.........

It is a hand-wrapped tied bouquet of Amish cockscomb ... burgundy celosia with purple Verbena bonariensis in the center of the bouquet.  I think this is simple elegance at its best! Rich and regal looking.

And I love love love these!!!  Buttonnieres!  What a great lasting remembrance of a wedding! Obviously, their button jar is bigger and cooler than mine!  I only have tons of little white shirt buttons! 

And to carry the button theme a little further................... Buttons tossed like confetti!

(And just to let you know.... buttons would not stick to your underwear like confetti does.  I am totally aware of the sticking power of confetti!  Thanks, Nancy and Tom!!! :)  Eleven years of marriage and I still occasionally find confetti in my underwear drawer!)

A big thanks to Susan for sending the pictures to me.  I love seeing the bouquets and vignettes of the happy day.  And its wonderful to get great ideas that all of us can use!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Taking one for the Lord.................

As a small business (very small!) sometimes, you just have to do what is right for your community.

Some of my friends are involved in Kiva. Some are very involved in animal rescue sites.  I decided to get involved in local foods.

One of my first efforts was to help collect money and canned goods for the Freight House Farmers Market.  We collected over $850 which was converted to Freight House Farmers Market gift certificates and those gift certificates were given to local food pantries.

I loved the idea so to celebrate my Double-Nickel birthday, we had our very first ice cream social.  The final total was $320 to the Central City Community food bank.

Well .... if you have one ice cream social ... ya got to have two!!!  So this year, we decided to be even more local and all the proceeds went to the North Scott Food pantry.  Final total this year........... $570.

Because of those actions .... we were given another $500 that we split among several charities that are near and dear to my heart.  So another $150 went to the North Scott Food pantry.

I then came up with the idea of renting straw hats.  And yes, it does give me a reason to buy all those straw hats.  But it is a very good reason.

So ... ya know how I feel about the subject.  I've been pretty open about it.  But there are things I haven't said.

I used to live in fear of being homeless, being without money.  And I still have my moments.  But I try so very hard to realize that I was not put on this earth for me.  I was born to serve..... and I will. This life is not about me or a new car or a McMansion or a big-screen tv..  It is about the Lord and what I can do to serve him.

Whenever we give.......... my heart is full of peace.  It doesn't matter what we are facing.  The bills.  The health issues (and yes, we are both fine!)  The house crumbling around us.  We know that God will be there for us......... in just the right way, in just the right time.

It took me many years to learn that.  Today, I was given a refresher course by some much younger.

Trinity Lutheran School wanted to do an art/science field trip.  When asked how much it would cost the students ..... I said, Nothing.  No charge.  I'm pretty certain God looked at my checkbook and said ...We can make that work, Cathy.  Trust in me.

So I did ................. and for my trust, I was given faith and love.

They raised $103 that will go to the North Scott Food Pantry in the way of Freight House Farmers Market gift certificates.  They helped Miss Effie raise $1143 for food pantries in the last 2 years!!!

I am so proud and so thankful for all of you that have supported us.  And I am proud of two teachers and 20 plus students that live the Word of God.

Thank you.

Remember this?

Remember the box? I bought it earlier this summer from a roadside antique-barn-flea-market-type-thing near Clinton, Iowa.

It was one of those great shops with junk.  Pure junk.  But junk with potential.

And now ...........................

I have a perfectly antiqued box that blue mason jars fit into.  The box was $5.  The paint was $1 at ReStore.  I rubbed the box with a candle at the corners and along the edges so that the paint would come off easily.  They call this a resist method in the trade.  I call it .... paint don't stick'em!  Then I used a sanding sponge to rub the areas where I wanted show wear..

So far so good.  But it still looked too new for me.  So I coated it with walnut stain and rubbed that off.

It gives it a grubby, dirty look.  Kind of like my hands and knees in May.

Yea.  That grubby.

Then finally, a coat of paste wax and it is ready!  Anything that holds flowers and looks like this, is so worth the hour of work it took!!!!! Really.  An hour....... max.  Drying time is the big hold up.

Then there is the flouncing of the tablecloth.  I love long tablecloths but dragging on the floor outside .... its not cool.

So I flounced it.  I saw this before .... decades ago!!.... and did it for a Christmas party. (My old friends remember the parties in Moline ... bands, shrimp, crab, lots of wine ... it was crazy!!!)  But then .... I used a moire tablecloth and lace ribbons.

I love the look.

And I did broke down and bought chalkboard paint.

Seriously, this could be an addiction.  I think I am painting everything in sight!  I have a project I'm working on right now ... it won't be done until early next week.  But I did complete this.

And finally ..... Friday Oct 1st is the last day for BYOB at Miss Eff's.  The weather prediction is for a frost, possibly a hard freeze, over the weekend.

The growing season is coming to an end.

Bring Your Own Bucket and fill it up like Mary Jo did.

Yep .... all these flowers .... $10.

Damn, I'm going to miss them!!!!!