Thursday, March 29, 2012

Snippets ............

Ahhhhhhhhhh.............. spring is here.

Yes ... it is March 29th and my lilacs are blooming.

Love! Love! Love! my white lilacs!

I never  ever ever remember lilacs blooming in March.  I barely remember lilacs blooming in April!! Ok ... that may be due to menopausal brain loss .... but I digress!

So .. Honey and I are busy working on projects and trying to make Miss Eff's different, unique, charming.  Dare I say ........ magical???

Honey is building a patio in front of the ever-chatty Summer Kitchen.  I'm pretty certain the conversation went like this.

SK ... I don't want a porch.

Honey .... But, Summer Kitchen,  that was always in the plan.  You said you wanted a little porch ... with a window box.

SK .... But not now.  I want a patio where people can sit and relax.

Honey ... With you around, no one gets to relax.

SK ... Like its normal to have buildings talk to you?!?!?!  No, I want a patio.

Honey ... OK ... I will go to Menard's and look at paver blocks.

SK ... Oh no you don't!  You are not going to use some common everyday run-of-the-mill paver block on me!!!  Who do you think you are talking to?????

Honey ... And exactly what do you want me to do????

SK ... I want you to make the blocks for me.  Especially for me. 

Honey ... Yes, Summer Kitchen ... I guess I can do that. Any thing to keep you quiet.

So that is why Honey has poured forms to make a very special patio.  I'm not going to go into details but I am pretty certain pictures will show up on here and on Pinterest in the near future.

In the meantime, we are still working on the laundry room because it should be 40 degrees outside and we should not even be thinking about garden work!  Not a lot to show you ... but I do have one pantry done. 



Yea ..... I am liking it.

That is progress.

And finally ... I am almost .... sort-of .... maybe.... getting done with classes.  Which ... mind you ... is not a moment too soon!  Tonight, I am teaching a crepes class.  Then I have a segment on Paula Sands Live next Thursday for the Gardening series for the Rock Island County Master Gardeners.  Saturday 4/7 .... I am teaching a "5 minute a day" bread class for the Fundraising committee of the Clarence Library.  And some where in April I am teaching a jam class, pickle class for Scott Community College and the "Grow it, Cook it, Bake it" class for the Master Gardeners.

Then  (say it with me)  ... I am done! Done! Stick a fork in me... I am done!

Well ..... until the next time. ;)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Somebody said ...............

It is truly official.

The first plant has been put in the garden.  The first seeds of the season  have been sown.

We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Miss Effie's.

When we started the farm .... they laughed.  They said that no one would drive down a gravel road to buy flowers.

Scared ... Uncertain ... Insecure ... I almost believed them.

I almost gave up.

But I dug in the dirt by hand ........ as  I still do.  I need that dirt under my nails.  I need to feel the life in the soil.  So the weeds ... are pulled by hand.  And each little plug of potential prettiness .... is gently put into place.

At the end of the day, my jeans are dirty.  My nose is its summer shade of bright red.  But my soul sings with a happiness that I had never known possible.

We started the farm with $1000 from the savings account.  And every year, I hope to put it back.  And every year .... I don't.

But we keep growing .... more and more gardens share their blossoms with those that come.  More people enjoy a summer day on an old swing or share their lunch in the corn crib.

I have seen customers grow up before my eyes.  I have lost some precious friends.  It is the circle of life ... the lessons of the soil.

I hear the words of my grandfather's favorite poet, Edgar A Guest, echo through garden.

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
     But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
     Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
     On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
     At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
     And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
     Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
     There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
     The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
     Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it.

I have a richness of life that I never imagined before.

I have re-connected with wonderful friends that I have known since grade school.  And laughed with sisters that I have known since college.  And embraced some new friends ... that fill my life with joy, giggles and fiber.

So ... we celebrate 10 years of growing flowers.  

I am now closer to 60 ........they ask when I will quit.  Doesn't your back ache?  Don't your knees creak? 

And I laugh ... and say yes.  It is an ache of hard work and happiness.  An ache that I celebrate and rejoice in.

I  will do this every day for the rest of my life ..... because it can be done.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Forgive me, Father .........

For I have sinned .......... lied ........... changed my mind???

I said no planting until April. 

No planting till April. 

No planting till April.

And then 10 days of beautiful warm weather came along. 

And I continued to say my mantra.

No planting till April.

I did stop into the garden center and bought some seed.  And we picked up seed potatoes to plant. 

But I held fast to to my decree.

No planting till April.

Until Monday.

And Grace sent me an email.

Grace represents a broker I work with to get plugs.  Grace is my friend. 

Well .... she's not as good as friend as Rhonda ... who works for another broker.  Rhonda's husband is two years older than I am and graduated at a high school 10 miles from where I graduated.  I still can't figure out how I didn't know who he was.  They now live 1000 miles away .... and Rhonda and I talk.  We talk plants, tomatoes, and flowers.  We talk weather, recipes and friends. 

And somehow .... I always order something more.

But I digress..............

Grace sent me an email with a 40% offer for perennial plugs! Forty percent off!!!!  Sign me up!!

It wasn't as easy as all that.  We had to really search for some good cuts .... things that would fill some holes in the garden.  I don't buy anything that doesn't work well as a cut flower.  Some cut flowers will do beautifully in a vase for 2-3 days...... but I want you to have fresh beautiful flowers for a week to ten days.

So in the end ..... I got some delphiniums, daisies and lavender ..... because I am always replacing lavender! (Iowa is not the best climate in the world for lavender!)

The orders shipped yesterday so hopefully, I will be planting today and tomorrow.  I'd like to get them in before the rain comes.

And its not April. 

Now .... on to the next order of business...........

Forgive me, Honey for I have sinned .......................... lied ................ changed my mind .

Oh heck!!  I ordered 15 of these.....................................

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


It is the first day of spring.

And wow! does it feel like late April!!!

It is 80 degrees, warm and windy.

The apricot tree is full of blooms.....

I am fearful that we will lose the fruit.  In the five years that we have had this tree....... we have yet to get an apricot.  And an early bloom like this year .... almost guarantees no fruit.

Fortunately, this Bradford pear bears no fruit. So when it burst into bloom tomorrow .... there will be nothing but pretty to worry about!

The daffodils are in bloom.

The chives are ready to be cut.

The list of projects continues to grow.  But this one ..... has a good start.

We normally plan on house projects this time of year.  But a new project has been put on the list.

A new chicken coop.

Cuz these guys will be arriving soon!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Damned if I do .................

It is March 14th .....

I am in a sweatshirt ... with the windows open..... and I am sweating.

Let's forget about the fact that I sweat at 45 degrees.  Let's concentrate that it is March 14th ... and its heading toward 80 degrees today.  And I am sweating.

We have bud break on the apples and cherry trees.  The curly willow is greening up.  The daffodils are popping through the mulch.  And there is absolutely no frost in the ground.

The chickens are laying like crazy!  My fridge is full everyday ... with 3.5 to 4 dozen fresh eggs gathered daily.  I do add a little light to the girls as feed costs are so high .... they need to somewhat pay for their keep.  But this many eggs .... this early in the spring........ is unusual.

So ... I read posts and status updates about everyone in their gardens ... planting away.

And I am not.

For the last several years ... we have had nice April weather.  I get my plugs in the ground ... they are happy and content. 

Then May comes.

And the warm, blissful days of April disappear and suddenly March has made a comeback in May!  Cold, damp, windy ..... the plugs hang in there. They struggle to survive.  And they do .... but they don't grow.

So this year .....I pushed back my plug orders.  I pushed some orders back as much as a month.

Last year .... I planted 875 lisianthus plugs the week of April 25th at a cost of $427.   Roughly ... 150-175 plugs survived the onslaught of cold, standing water.  They rotted in the ground.  They died of the cold..... and that was in May.

Now ..... I question my decision.  Was it the wise thing to do?  Should I have looked to the weather pattern of 12-15 years ago when spring arrived early in May??

It is heading to 80 degrees on March 14th.  And I am sweating.

But its not the temperature that is taking me there.

Farming 101 ... damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Done! Done! Stick a fork in me!

I am done!

Yes .... after about a week plus of loading pictures ... writing text ..... flipping pages around ..... and cussing a lot!  I have finished Miss Effie the webpage version 3.0.

Yes .... I might be getting better at this.

Or I might be drinking better wine.

So check out the new and improved webpage at

And talk to me tomorrow about it. 

I'm going to lie down now.  I have a headache! :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dear Mr. Limbaugh ............

Dear Mr. Limbaugh ...

The other day, you called a smart, confident, well-educated young woman a slut, a prostitute, a whore. 

And now you get a tongue-lashing from a smart, confident, well-educated old woman ... me.

First of all, I am not going to discuss her testimony on contraceptive insurance coverage at church supported schools.  I am totally in favor of women getting the prescriptions deemed necessary by their doctors.  I find it odd that all insurance policies cover the prescription Viagra .... but when it comes to pharmaceutical care for women it is handpicked and chosen by men. 

Obviously, birth control pills control .... future births!  But they also relieve the symptoms of acne, painful menstrual cramps and excessively heavy periods.  All symptoms that I personally have suffered through and would love to share the pain with you!  All symptoms that I suffered through during times of total abstinence.

But what I am writing about is your demeaning attitude toward women.

Slut.  Whore.  Prostitute.


You say your Talent is on loan from God.

You say that the right-wing Christian Conservative will be the saving grace of America.

I am a Christian.  And I would never call a smart, confident, well-educated young woman .... a whore, a slut, a prostitute.  And I am confused why right-wing Christian Conservatives would back a man that essentially called 51% of the population ....... slut.  whore.  prostitute.

We work hard to raise daughters that stand up for what they believe.  We work hard to raise daughters that think for themselves.  We work hard to give them confidence and strength. We work hard to raise daughters that are not afraid of bigoted old men like you. 

And with three words .... slut. whore. prostitute..... you tear them down.

I'm not sure when God loaned you talent.   But I am pretty certain that it was after Genesis 1:27 where God makes man and woman in his own image. 

The God that I worship loves women.  The God that I worship would never demean his creation.  The God that I worship did not throw stones and call names.

You owe Sandra Fluke an apology.  But more than Sandra Fluke, you owe all women an apology.  When you tear one woman down like that ..... you keep more women from speaking their mind.You keep bright, intelligent women from sharing creative thoughtful ideas.  You keep bright, intelligent women from serving our country.  You keep bright, intelligent women from reaching for the stars.

It scares me that none of the current presidential hopefuls really knocked you off your perch.  I've heard things like "not the words I would have used".  Seriously??  But were they the words they were thinking?

I hate to inform you .... women make up 51% of the population.  And slowly but surely, we are making progress toward that glass ceiling. 

But that just may be your idea of hell.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Random Thoughts and Disconnected Paragraphs...................

I think every woman from the Baby Boomer age is mourning the death of Davy Jones.  In an era of rock and roll ... Davy Jones was the guy next door.  The guy that maybe/really/ sort of .... might ask you out.

He was "geeky" enough to be nice to your parents.  He was cute enough to be a heart throb. You wouldn't have to sneak behind the bar, roll up your skirt, buy a pack of cigarettes .... like you would have if Mick Jagger had asked you out on a date. 

Yea .. Davy Jones was the dream date of a small town girl.

And always will be.


Tonight ... I'm teaching a brioche class for Scott Community College.  This is always one of my favorite classes.

And this spring ... it one of my favorites for a special reason.

It is heavy on eggs!!  Eight eggs per batch of dough!

OMG! This mild winter has kept the girls laying like crazy!!!!  Often .. I will gather 4 dozen eggs a day!

And I get to sell 8 dozen to the college tonight so for one brief moment .... my refrigerator will be empty.

As Honey says ..... Praise the quiche-less supper!!!


I think all rational behavior has left the Lafrenz household.

We are re-decorating/re-organizing the laundry/pantry/storage room.  Which means moving two freezers, painting, stripping wallpaper, repairing a ceiling and emptying 3 pantries of canning jars etc.  And then figuring out what kind of flooring I want vs what I can afford.

As unorganized as the room is .... as horrible as the paint/paper/flooring decor is ....... this is just absolutely crazy.  We have less than a month to pull this all together.

This is the point that you pray for me.

I will need it as the pantry shelves end up in the living room, kitchen, tv room and bedroom.

I'm just hoping I don't have to fill the bath tub with pickled beets.


So while that is going on ............ I decided to create a new website!!

I have been happy with the content of my latest website ... but the font, type size, color, layout .... has not thrilled me.  And it is really important to have a fresh, clean website.

So -- with adult beverages in hand --- I've been creating a new one. 

I'll let you know when it is complete and up.


And finally ........... if you are addicted to Pinterest............. (who me?????????) I have done a board for Miss Effie's Country Flowers. 

Now -- I have loved this pinning thing for several months.  But the creating a board for a business has been .... well, I don't know how it has been.

The best thing about the board ... it will help show people what is available here on this little old flower farm.  If they can find it.  This is the part that I'm not getting yet!


So those disconnected sentences are the essences of our lives at the moment.

We are in big trouble!