Monday, January 31, 2011


Honey and I went on a mission yesterday.  We were going to find door knobs, hinges, locks, and escutcheons for these doors.

Why is it .... you can see door knobs on every table, in ever box ..........when you don't need or want them???
Riddle me that one ... Batman!!!  Three of our very-bestest antique stops and not a door knob to be found!!

But don't you worry.  I relaxed a bit and found some new stuff that I just had to have!!! I'm good with junkin'. 
Cuz in amongst the tube socks, the paint brushes and boxes and boxes of swizzle sticks ...........

there are treasures.

Like a vintage Pyrex bowl for popcorn. And a cow cookie cutter ... a gift from Davis Baking Powder.

For some reason, I love old cookie cutters.  Not that I ever bake sugar cookies!!  But I am approaching 100 cookie cutters.  I have hearts ... lots and lots of hearts.  And chickens.  Lots of chickens.  And now .... a duck!!

I know ... when the auctioneer starts the bidding on Miss Eff's stuff in the very distant future .... he will say........ Miss Eff had a thing for hand made items!  Yep .. that's Miss Eff.  Love the history, the talent, the thriftiness of women's handiwork.  I know ... a pot holder can be made from a chunk of terry towel. It might match your decor and come straight from the dollar store.  But wouldn't you rather use the pretty crocheted flower one???  I know I would.

And I want to sleep on pillow cases with beautiful tatted edges.  They don't match.  Someone didn't finish the top one.  A UFO. There are certainly lots of UFOs around this house.  I'm perfectly fine with that.  And catch this ... they were a $1 for the pair.  50% off sale!!!!!

I came home with flower frogs to hold signage in the Summer Kitchen, a sewing basket .... because.

Well, because it felt like it really needed someone to love it .......again.

Like this rug.

Hand-knitted.  Garter stitch knit in tubes and sewn together with a feather stitch.  The knitter knit a few rows (about 8) .. changed colors and knit a few more to form those beautiful striped sections.  Then the solids turned the whole rug into a piece of art.

A practical utilitarian object that was made with love and care.

And it is mine.

For $35!!!!!

I love me some good junkin'!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I was blogged away................

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a writer at the Radish Magazine about my adventures in blogging.

I had a casual conversation with the editor about an incidence that happened earlier in the day.  I had called the gals at Argyle Fiber Mill looking for roving.  Now ... I had met the gals from AFM at the Driftless Fiber Fest a year earlier. My friend Laura and I bought some yarn, talked fiber, exchanged business cards ... laughed a bit ... and moved on.

Now ... I was calling about some roving. AFM deals with mostly naturally colored fibers from alpaca and Icelandic sheep.  At that time, they had no dyed roving.  I explained that my customers seem to be drawn to the brighter colors of yarn in my little retail store on the farm.

Is this Miss Effie???

Yep ... it was.  After I picked myself off the floor ... I discovered that Kristi and Kathy read the blog regularly.

That short and sweet telephone conversation led to this article.

It also showed me the reach of the words that I type.

Now -- I'm no Pioneer Woman, or the Yarn Harlot or Miss Mustard Seed.  But it is fun to know that tucked into the hills of WI, the offices in New York City, a government building in DC  (and are you reading this blog on my tax dollar time???) ............ someone may be reading this blog.

In many ways .... I felt very alone throughout my life.  I may have been surrounded by friends ... but few understood the magic of a moment when cheese suddenly appears.  Or when a pile of fluff slowly disappears and yarn fills a bobbin.  I don't enjoy the mall .... I could care less who Louis Vuitton is ........... and I will never own a Coach bag.  And I don't care.

Blogging has let me fill my life with friends that understand drinking a beer on the hill in the sunset.  They understand the loss of a feathered friend.... or the pain of a hail storm. Or froggin' a sweater that I worked on for weeks.

Blogging has given me a place in cyber-space to fit in.  And for that I am thankful.

Thank you my dear friends ............ where ever you may be.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Remember that I started this sweater a few of weeks ago??  Actually, I started it two weeks ago.

And it is within a day or so of being done.  Finished.  Complete.  In the closet. On my back.  Done.

So I try it on ..........................

And I am not happy.  I knit a medium.  And I think it is too big.  A medium.

It is a relaxed loose fit .... but this goes to sloppy relaxed loose fit.

I checked my gauge numerous times.  I did lengthen the sweater because it seemed like it would be too short.  Pattern said to knit 9" to the underarm.  Even for me .... that is pretty durn short.  I compared it to one of my favorite sweaters...... and added a couple of inches.  Mistake!  Nine inches might be OK.

(But I will still add an inch or so....... 57 y.o. muffin-tops need to be hid!)

Yea ..................

I'm froggin' it.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Opening Doors........

If windows are the eyes of a house.... a door screams "Come on in and make yourself at home!"

As you all know .... unless you have just started reading this blog....... I am an old house fanatic.

I have often said I was born in the wrong century.  And that is particularly true about houses.

I really like the layouts and style of a new house.  I like the convenient laundry rooms, the shiny granite countertops and the family rooms that open to the kitchen.  I like the master bedroom suites with a shower separate from the whirlpool.  I like an attached garage!  Why ... I might even like central heat!!! (We won't even mention air conditioning!)

But ..... I break out in hives!!

I would be be putting a rusty patina on the satin nickle fixtures.  I would be creating little tiny corners to hide, create and read within.  I would take doors off cupboards to have open shelving.  And I would make sure windows had cute little window lifts that looked like tiny little hands.

Or little belt buckles.

Yea ....... I would not survive in a new house. 

And it would not survive me.

Several years ago ... we decided to re-make the door to the parlor.  The etched glass had long ago been broken and replaced with a piece of plywood.  Unfortunately, getting two pieces of etched glass cut into an arch ... was not going to be cheap.  So ... some people said ......... replace the door.  But the door is an odd size so it would have to be custom made.

Fortunately, I met a guy that could do this.................

If you go to Eric's gallery ... you can see the door when something called the Sun was shining through it!  (Seriously --- when was the last time that the sun was spotted  in eastern Iowa??????)

So when Honey mentioned that a different door might be in order for the kitchen, I jumped on the opportunity to hit our favorite building supply store ............... Re Store.

What?????  Did you really think you would find me at Home Depot?????

 New door to open up into the kitchen.................

And look at this molding!!!

A little paint removed --- a little etched glass --- some awesome hardware.  It will be beautiful!!!!

So while digging through the stacks of old doors...... Honey spotted something wonderful.  And after careful measurements .............. (Yea ......... I can make this work!) We found a new door for the Summer Kitchen!

Yes ... the Summer Kitchen has a door.  But as I have explained to many of you .... we need to router out the panels and put in some glass to lighten the space.

Although it is missing the door knob, striker plate and escutcheons............ Look at this fantastic Russell-Irwin lock!!!!

Yea ... I know.  Our lists aren't getting any shorter.  The stacks of things to-do keep on getting taller and taller and taller.

But two glorious doors will have a proper place to live.  And I won't break out in hives!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I have a strange philosophy when it comes to education.

I know I learn more and retain the information if I have a good time.  If the presenter is dull or dry or very stiff -- I have a tendency to daydream.  Or doodle.  Or fall asleep.  Keep it interesting and entertaining, I'll absorb knowledge like I was a sponge!

Enter food classes.

The other night, someone in class asked me about extra virgin olive oil. And of course, my response was "Extra virgin olive oil is from good girl olives.  The slutty olives go into the less-desirable oil".

On the evaluation form was the comment .... The instructor was refreshingly informal.

That was an understatement!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Class Act

 I was an under-study for a "Healthy Eating" class. Last night, I got my chance to shine.

Sort of.

Seriously, do I look like I eat healthy???  Well, we do.  But as usual, I try to over-achieve.  I am a star with a fork!! Yea -- therefore, the 15 lbs. I need to get off my butt!!

But I have an awesome recipe for you today ....

If you wanted to add more whole grains to your diet, here is a recipe for Southwest Quinoa Salad that is great!  With onions, black beans, corn and red pepper..... it is full of nutrition just by itself.  But it would be wonderful with grilled chicken breast.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad
3 cups of water
Chicken Bouillon cube (or vegetable)
1 -1/2  cups of quinoa, rinsed
1/2 tsp sea salt

Juice from 3 Limes
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp ground chipotle chili powder (or cayenne)
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
4 cloves of minced garlic

1 can black beans, drained
½ cup fresh or frozen corn
½ red onion, diced
½ cup roasted red pepper, diced
1 T minced jalapenos
¼ cup cilantro
½ cup queso fresco (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot combine water and chicken bouillon and bring to a boil. Add quinoa and salt and boil for 10 minutes.

2.  Remove from heat and rinse quinoa and place in a fine metal sieve or fine colander. Bring a fresh pot of water to boil.  Place quinoa in the sieve over it. Cover with a kitchen towel and lid. Steam for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. Meanwhile make the dressing by combining lime juice, cumin, chili powder, chipolte chili powder, vinegar, olive oil and garlic. (You can do this in a small bowl or in a blender)

4. In a separate bowl, combine black beans, corn, onion, red pepper, jalapenos and cilantro.

5. After quinoa cools, combine with black bean mixture. Stir in cheese if,  desired.

6. Toss with dressing and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Try it .... so many of us wonder what to do with some of these grains.  This will be a staple in our home.  And it makes a lot.... so I am having it for lunch.  YUM!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Apologies to Dr. Suess

One layer..................

Two layer..................

Red layer ..................

Blue layer.................

Wool socks and long-johns................

Scarves, mittens and hats galore..............................

Please, Dear God..................................

Don't make me walk out the door!!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Virtual Junk Drawer of Posts................

This post is all over the place! 

Just try to follow along, if you get lost....well, I apologize but Welcome to my world! 

Since we last talked ........ I taught a pizza class at Scott Community College.  You would think a pizza class would be all about making pizza. 

Nope!  This is all about the magic of making cheese.  And that is a good thing ... cuz I can honestly say I made the worst pizza I have ever baked!  Cheese ... awesome!!! Pizza ... mediocre!  I'm thinkin' the instructor should pay attention to what she is doing!

But just in case you want to be part of the cheese making magic .... another class will be held on Feb 3rd.  You can get details for registration here.

Friday, of course, was 111 things in 1/11  And at one point, I had counted everything I had tossed and/or donated.  It was over 50 items ... but I forgot how many over 50!!!

One place I purged was the needlework supplies. 

I was a cross-stitch addict.  And like all addicts .... you buy and buy and buy until you can buy no more.  So Out! Out! Damn Cross Stitch!!  OK ... I didn't throw it all out.  Actually, I found a lot of cool stuff I might really do later.  But the pile above is now at a thrift store someplace!

Like all good addicts, I replaced the love of cross-stitch with the love of knitting.  Which had been previously replaced by the love of basket weaving and the previous love of cross-stitch.

Did you follow that?????

So I took the above-stated, current love addiction of knitting to the convent. 

A group of Dubuque area women, got together last year for a quilting retreat weekend at a former convent. My friend Laura asked me to go last year and I made the incredibly stupid mistake of saying no.  Well, this year, I went for the "Second Annual Quilting Retreat".  And I'm hoping they will sign me up for next year's retreat.

Yea ... I know.  I don't quilt.  I paint barn quilts but I don't quilt.  One addiction at a time!

But there was a knitting room.  And five of us spent roughly 16 hours a day.......... knitting.  OK -- I spent a lot of that time "un-knitting".  But from about 9 am to 1 am .... I knitted.  Or un-knitted as the case may be.

I would show you pictures ..... but we didn't get dressed in much more than pajamas or sweats.  We didn't do our hair or put on make-up.  We knitted.  And we talked.  And we knitted.  And we talked.

I was the old gal in the group.  I was knitting when knitting was cool in the 60's and 70's.  And I see serious differences in the knitting style of the new breed of knitters.  And I love it!!  They talk designer yarns .... designer patterns.... and I am familiar with some, but so many went over my head! 

(Truth be known .... I am very short.  Lots of things go over my head!)

We bought a pattern ... bought the exact yarn stated in the pattern ... and knitted it exactly as the pattern stated.  Period.  No variation.

So I am in awe of the creativity and adventuresome spirit of the current knitters and designers.  Don't like something ...... change it!

Which I should have done with this!

This is the sweater that I am knitting.  Love it!  Love the yarn!  Love the style of the sweater.  But the slip stitch rib pattern is driving me nuts!!!! 

You can see the bottom edging..... after a few rows,  I could at least see the pattern.  But the edging on the sleeve cuff is done from the wrong side so it can be turned.  YIKES!!!  But I do have sleeve number one close to completion.  So only one more cuff and a collar to go.

The rest of the sweater is fairly easy ........... in twisted stockinette. 

Next time, I'll pick something simple........... like a fisherman's knit sweater!!!!!!  No, the twisted stockinette is cool ..... I just wish I had chosen something that would fly off the needles.  That being said ... I started the sweater on Friday morning.  So I am pleased with the results.

And just a couple of other notes.... the convent is an incredible place to hold an event like this.  There were rooms set up for sewing ... actually 2 were filled with machines, and large tables to cut fabric.  The living room had sofas and chairs for the knitters to sit and relax.  The rooms were simple but cozy and warm.  Actually, I felt like I was back in college at the house.  It was wonderful.  And Sheepie didn't have to bail me out!

So that's my update!  Stay tuned for my next adventure!!!!  What ever that may be.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crawling along.......................

OK -- under the list .... was this item .... 

Explore interest in creating an eastern-Iowa Farm Crawl type event

Yes!!!  The first annual North Scott Farm Crawl will happen.

Three farms are on board.  We are working to add 2 more.  More on that in the future.

We searched out farms that had ..........

1) an interesting educational story to tell.
2) had product available in September.
3) had a safe, clean and organized area to tell their story
4) And were on an easily accessible  route.

So as we continue to add farms, guest vendors etc ... watch for the updates here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

So far, so.............................................

Who knows???

Am I getting there??? I don't have a clue!

Of course, I am talking about the list.  Since we are at the halfway point ..... I'll show you what is done!

Personal Enrichment
1) Read one book for fun!  Yea. For fun! It has been a long while since I have just sat down with book to read with no strings attached. Book is picked out and patiently sitting there for me.
2) Learn caning and complete one chair.
3) Select yarn and pattern for me to knit a sweater or vest at the Crafting at the Convent. Done
4) Schedule a "Pints and Purls" event with some of my favorite people at Peace Tree Brewing. Done but I don't get to go. :(

Health and Nutrition
1) Drink 64 oz of water every day.  Easy for me in the summer.....much harder in the winter. Still hard Does drinking lots and lots of hot tea count????
2) Prepare one vegetarian meal every week Done
3) Prepare one healthy fish meal every week
4) Lose 2 pounds. Sigh

1) Finish painting bedroom walls
2) Sew bedroom draperies
3) Sew duvet cover for comforter
4) Deep clean and organize all kitchen cabinets. Work in progress 4 are done and the cabinets and interiors are repainted.
5) Put an additional $50 this month into our savings account. (Actually -- staying out of the saving account in January would be a major accomplishment!!! I am trying to save 15% of our income to our emergency savings .. I am at 10%.  I need to cut expenses even more!) Might make it but not today!!!

Summer Kitchen
1) Sew 6 dishtowels
2) Spin 4 skeins of yarn 2 done -- working on 3rd.
3) Knit 12 dishcloths  Yes!!!!!
4) Make 4 batches of jam
5) Find and create a fun project for a new and different product for sale. HatsNot new or different but does it count???

1) Do lesson plan and handouts for the gardening section for the Homesteading Conference that I am teaching in April.  I am teaching four-90 minutes classes. In one day.  Yep. I am up to the challenge but what a lot of work.
2) Paint parking sign
3) Paint flower hours sign
4) Paint new barn quilt
5) Work on brochure for the farm.
6) Attend the WFAN conference.
7) Plan and create class schedule for summer classes.

1) Greet at church for the month of January  Not happening
2) Teach two classes for Scott Community College Actually, there will be three
3) Attend two Freight House Steering Committee meetings.... (This month, they are not scheduled the same night as my classes at Scott!) Nope .. see above!
4) Attend Buy Fresh-Buy Local Board meeting Can you attend a meeting by email????
5) Create the form letter and send membership forms out by the end of January for Buy Fresh-Buy Local Written and almost ready to go out.
6) Explore interest in creating an eastern-Iowa Farm Crawl type event. Done! Done! Done!  See this!

So not too bad for the first 14 days.  Hopefully next week ..... the sewing machine, the paint cans and jelly jars will magically appear!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Warm Fuzzies in the Summer Kitchen...................

Even though I am ordering flowers/seeds/bulbs and plugs like a wild woman, the temperatures are far from spring-like.

While I am holed up in my old chilly farmhouse, I'm engaged in aerobic knitting.  Yes!!  I do have the fittest fingers in town!! I'll put my fingers against any 20-year-old.  I can long tail cast-on with break-neck speed.  And wait till you see the strength of my bound off edge!!  And my ankles are toned and taunt from the continuous work on the wheel! (However, we are not going to talk about the condition of my ever-spreading butt!!!!)

Because it is still so cold .... I have created a few warm fuzzies for the Summer Kitchen.  

Above is the world's best hat ..... The very best!!  I do have proof of that.  I am sure you will see a testimonial to that fact soon.  Very soon.  Like as soon as she sees this post.  Hint!!!!

Its is made of Burly Spun yarn by Brown Sheep Company.  100% wool.  Great hat.  So great .... there are actually two for the Summer Kitchen.

Let me know if any of these items are calling your name!

There is a beret made of hand-spun wool.  And since we sold several pairs of fingerless gloves this past weekend, there is a beautiful pair of merino/silk mitts. Hopefully, I will get at least another pair or two done before Friday.

I now was feeling a little stash deprived.  I determined that I desperately needed a trip to a yarn store. Or two.  Maybe three. First stop,  Serendipity Yarn Shoppe in Muscatine. GREAT yarn shop.   I walk up to the window and here sits my friend and spinner-extraordinaire,  Abi  Yea .... I needed some roving.

This will keep me busy for a while!

After a fun visit with Francy and Abi ... I needed to find a little more fiber-fulfillment.  I made the trek to Iowa City and Home Ec Workshop.  Home Ec is funky and quirky in just the right way. Its a great mix of yarn, fabric, workshop space and coffee bar.  With seriously awesome peanut butter cookies.  I have no idea how I know this!!!  But I just do!!!

I am going to "Crafting at the Convent" this weekend. 

Sheepie.... stop laughing! 

Debbie ... don't giggle!!!

Cynthia ... we lived in the Virgin Room!  I should qualify for a convent!!!  (The Virgin Room is a very old 4-H House story!!!)

Yea ... can you tell my friends are worried about the structural integrity of the convent?????

Well -- I'm going.  And I am spending 3 days knitting.  Knitting. Knitting.  Knitting.  For me.  I needed yarn for me  and this sweater.

Now I started on a quest for a spring colored yarn.  I was set on aqua or coral or yellow.  And then this started singing to me.  And when a yarn sings to you ..... well, ya know it is coming home with you!

I really love a sweater that I can throw over any color of tank or tee that I own.  And I think this Malabrigo will be just the ticket.  I hope to swatch it today to see how it looks in the twisted stockinette stitch.

It is snowing again ...... it is cold in my old farmhouse.  But there are lots of warm fuzzies to surround me today.

Yarn, fleece and friendships.

Yea ..... it doesn't get better than that.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A clutter free zone..........................

OK ......... you have seen the list

One of the major items on the list is "deep clean the kitchen cabinets".  I knew to keep me on track ... I needed some accountability. So I joined Jenny's blog party to get rid of 111 things in 1/11. 

So this week ... I hung around garbage bags.  One for garbage and another for Goodwill.  I did not count the garbage fling results but 39 items went to Goodwill.

There were nighties and boots.  Aprons and Christmas tins.  Juicers and picture frames.

And a clock......... that would chime periodically.  And never on the hour!

I started the week by working on some of the kitchen cabinets.  I have 4 done.  Now -- in this effort -- it is not just cleaning and de-cluttering but painting and organizing. 

I painted the inside door of this cabinet with chalkboard paint.  Its a great place to write a grocery need.

Or to write a note.

But I am a little worried about taking down the door every time I go to the grocery store!!!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I updated the class schedule. 

I am sure there will be more classes coming directly to the farm .... but this is what is set in stone at this moment.

Yea .............

I don't know what to say either.  Obviously, no is not in my vocabulary!!!! 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I love the secrets that an old house can tell .........

Honey removed the stop on the door frame that goes to the stairway.  And here, in German is the word "Freppe".  Written in pencil .... in the type of hand-writing that just seems old,  "Freppe"

German for staircase.

And now I know.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wanna know why .............

I am no longer an interior designer???

Its confession time.

I can no longer make a decision.

Particularly about the simplest thing ......... color.  OK ... I talked about this before.  I paste paint samples on the wall .... and look........ and think ....... and decide ........ and change my mind.  And then spring comes and I go into the garden and  I forget about painting!!!

Three years ago .... Honey stripped the paint off  the door to the stairwell.  Three years ago.  And it has remained bare wood for three years.

All because I couldn't decide what color to paint it.

After three years .... I decided on a color.  Yeaaaaaa!!!!!!!! Victory!!!!!!!!!! A decision was made!!!!!!!!!!

And what color did I choose?


Yep.  I picked .............. white.  Actually, Natural Cotton.  But white, nevertheless.

Honey grabbed that gallon of paint so fast it made my head spin!  I couldn't change my mind on this one!!  Not now!!!  Not for 10 years!!! So we are off and painting all the trim in the kitchen.

During this process, Honey decided he didn't like the way the doorknobs fit in the door.  Too much play.  Wiggled back and forth too much for him.  So he grabbed our handy-dandy box of extra door knobs and hardware finds and proceeded to re-fit door knobs.

So now we have these knobs on the door.  That is the front of the knob.

And here is the back.  Pretty cool, huh?  (Another confession ... I love old hardware!!!)

So now .... if you come to my house in the next couple of weeks, you will find the contents of drawers and shelves scattered about the kitchen table.  There will be furniture pulled away from the wall and the floor will be covered with newspaper, plastic and painters tape.

A total lack of organization will be obvious.  Disorder will abound.  And it will be all my fault.

I made a decision.