Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Deep sigh ...................

September is slowly creeping up on me. 

I don't even have to look at the calendar to know that fall is around the corner.

Suddenly, the farm is quiet. 

Oh .... I have beautiful flowers.  Actually, I think the flowers become richer and prettier in the fall .... their colors more vibrant .... their blooms more plentiful.

My summer interns have left the farm.

My fridge is full of eggs.

The children that chase and cuddle the kittens all summer, are back in school.  Yoda Jo is looking to me for attention.

But suddenly, I can briefly take a breath and think.  That's not to say that we aren't busy.

In the next three weeks, we are hosting a Girl Scout troop, a senior retirement home and an ag marketing association meeting. I am teaching 4 classes and participating in a Q & A panel at the Mid-America Homesteading Conference. I teach  Salsa Camp class at Scott Community College.

We have a bridal brunch with 30 women as they cut flowers for a wedding ..... and we are hosting a wedding with a 100 guests.

Somewhere in there, I am one of the organizers for the North Scott Farm Crawl on Sept 9th .....and we are having 7 guest vendors and hopefully, about 400 visitors to the farm.

And those 20 tomato plants that I put in late so the tomatoes would ripen later .... they are almost there!!!

Everywhere I look ... there is something to get done.

But the cooler mornings (not cooler temps!  I must be getting used to the 90+ heat ... I'm barely turning on fans!)  have refreshed my soul and brought me to planning for next year.

It is here I need your help and advice ........

When Honey and I started the farm, it was a way to have the lifestyle we wanted.  I could have my big vegetable garden and can and freeze and dry anything that didn't move!  I could knit all of our socks.  I could spin yarn galore.

Slowly, as we got busier, things had to go.  Housekeeping was the first sacrifice. ;) Then the veggie garden gave into farmers markets, produce stands and this year, a CSA. 

And then .... the other day .... Honey had to buy socks

That seems to have been the straw that broke this camel's back ..... and I got to thinking that something has got to change.

Sonya saw my frustration and brought up a brilliant idea.  She said that I needed a day off.

Say what????  A day off!  What a concept!

But I need your input .....  We are thinking about being closed on Wednesday.  All day.  Closed. So that means .... we would be closed Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday.  All day.

Photo ... compliments of The Farmers Table

However, to balance things out ..... what if we would be open every Thursday night until 8????  You can bring a picnic lunch .... hang out in the corn-zebo .... and really see the magic of the farm at sunset.  The flowers would love the late cutting time.  They would last much longer than when cut at the heat of the day. 

And Miss Eff's could truly be a family experience.

Comments???  Questions??? 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dear Honey ...................

Today is our 13th wedding anniversary. 

And it is my luckiest day ever. 

For today,  I can say I have been married to my best friend for 13 whole years. 

Tomorrow ..... will be my luckiest day ever for I will have been married to my best friend for 13 years and one precious day.

Thank you for walking through the joys of life with me .... and making me laugh.

Thank you for walking through the trials of life with me .... and holding my hand.

Love did not come easy for either of us ........ until we found each other.  The perfect piece to my missing puzzle.

Love you forever and a day.............................................

Monday, August 27, 2012

Classing up the joint!

I got a new sign!!!

And now ... for the story of how it has taken a village ... or at least, a whole lot of people ... to get that new sign!!

Last fall, my favorite sign maker asked if I would be willing to teach classes as a fundraiser for the new Clarence library.  My favorite sign maker offered to paint me a new sign.

To replace this one.

Hand-painted by moi' over 11 seasons ago.  Worn ....chipped .... hidden by flowers ..... and not quite the look I want now.

So it started with the desire to have a turned post.  Honey and I found the post and intern Kelly got to paint it.  Painting is not Kelly's favorite thing to do.  But she cheerfully did it .... as Kelly does everything cheerfully!

Miss. That. Girl.  (And she has only been gone a week!)

Then we were out flea-marketing over 4th of July weekend and found the awesome bracket at Barb's booth.

The bracket had the same feel as the bracket on the Summer Kitchen's sign.

That bracket originally held my father's and my great-grandfather's signs.  So I really wanted the same feel and charm.

But the bracket I bought needed a little cleaning up!  Honey and I had planned to do it .. steel wool and elbow grease.  But then Man Child came to the rescue and sand-blasted it for us!  A little paint ... and the new bracket was ready to go!

Then the fabulous Jen went to work on the sign that Honey constructed.  And hung.  And made level and straight and plumb.

And to say that I love it ..... is an understatement.

My old sign .... the hedge posts .... are history.  Well, not the hedge posts.  Hedge posts are never history.  They last forever.  But my old sign is gone.

So eight people had their hands in my little sign.

I owe the Clarence Library Board lot more classes!!!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This little house of mine..............

I'm going to make her shine.

For all you old house fans ... she is a Classic-L Queen Anne style.  Built on farms between 1885 and 1900, they were abundant in the upper Midwest.  The porch opens to the kitchen with a side door going into the parlor.  The porch usually faced the east or the south to keep the prevailing winter winds out of the house.

This is the old girl ....   circa 1927. 

She looked pretty good at that point.

Fast forward 83 years .... and looking good?  Not so much!  She needs a face lift!!!  What you can not see in that photo is the wind and the rain rushing through the house.  It has a good roof.  We re-built some of windows but the rain was forcing its way through the siding above the bay window, leaving a big wet spot on the living room ceiling. Which eventually left a big hole in the ceiling and lots of plaster on the floor. :(

My pretty red gutters removed.  I LOVE my red gutters!

The cure ... is to remove all the siding from the east side, replace the tar paper and replace or repair the old siding.

Yea ... we could knock off all the details and trim and put taupe-colored vinyl siding on it like every other house on our road. 

But we don't do things like every one else. 

The red gutters should tell ya that!!  When the 5 (maybe 6) color paint scheme gets implemented ... the gutters will rock the entire look ... as will the carefully chosen shingles.  I drove the roof guy crazy!!!!

So it is back to Old-House Journals and This Old House for inspiration.

Corner board was totally rotted.

If you look carefully ... you can see a bird's nest in the corner of the house.  There was quite the family compound built there!

Corner repaired and tar paper applied.

Some of you may ask why we don't use Tyvek.  Tyvek doesn't breath when used with wood siding.  It is perfect with vinyl siding but for restoration work .... old-fashioned tar paper is recommended.

We are using 8" cedar clapboards ... but we need 6" cedar clapboards.  So Honey is ripping every piece to fit. 

Rip. Sand. Prime. Repeat.

We are priming all sides ... front, back, edges.

The cedar siding that was there has lasted 120 years.  (OK -- the last twenty years have been pretty tough!)  We are working on the next 100 years.

Vinyl siding would be cheaper.  And quicker.  But wouldn't last 100 years.  And it certainly doesn't conform to the National Registry of Historic Places requirements.

We hope to get the east facade done this fall and hopefully, move to the north side next spring.

But our house is an elegant old gal ... and she deserves to be around for a while in all her glory.  I'll keep you updated on our progress!

I only wish  my magical tea cup tree was a magical money tree!!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Politics and me ..................

When I was a young girl, I wanted to be the first woman President of the United States.

Yea .... I talked about it.  I was poo-poo'd.  I was told it would never happen.

And it hasn't.

I have never been President ... but neither has any other woman.

I read stories about Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton and Dolly Madison.

But my heroines were Elizabeth Cady Statton and Susan B. Anthony.  Women that fought for the vote and equal protection of women under the law.

August 26th is Woman's Equality Day ..... a day set aside to honor and celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment ....the amendment that gave women the right to vote.

But it is also a day to discuss women's issues and to stay focused on the struggle for women's equality. We have made huge strides since the time I was in grade school.  No teacher would laugh at a young girl for dreaming of becoming President.

We no longer are relegated to three choices when deciding on a career..... secretary, nurse or school teacher. (Yea ... 40 years ago ... that was really, truly it!)

We no longer have to fight to be awarded child support.  We still fight to actually get it!  And with 25% of all Iowa children living on food stamps ..... the poverty that arises due to unpaid child support is still a major issue for women.

We can have money in our own name .... and our husbands do not have to access to it.  (Ask me about that one!)

We can own property.

We have health care options that guarantee that women can get the life-saving screenings they need .... without co-payments. 

Sexual harassment is a crime.  But it still occurs.  And it is still brushed over by corporate management at times.

And we still have men that believe rape never results in pregnancy.  REALLY??????

As a woman, regardless of your position on Roe v. Wade, you should be appalled, shocked and concerned that those ideas are still out there and some men really believe them!!!!

I am hosting an event on the farm for Woman's Equality Day ..and I am so honored to announce that Buffy Wicks is coming to moderate and speak at the event.  Here is Buffy's biography ........

Buffy Wicks is the National Operation Vote Director for President Obama's re-election campaign. Operation Vote focuses on registering, persuading, and turning out voters to re-elect President Obama. 

Buffy Wicks has a long history in grassroots organizing and civic engagement. Before joining the re-election campaign, Wicks was the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. She also served on the 2008 Obama for America campaign in a variety of roles, including California Field Director and Missouri State Director, and helped develop the national grassroots field strategy. She has also worked in the labor movement, fighting for better health care and wages for disenfranchised workers. She is originally from California and graduated with a double major in Political Science and History from the University of Washington. You can follow her on Twitter @buffywicks

Yea!!!  I am honored!!!

If you are like-minded progressive woman and would like to share your story ......

If you are an independent and are open-minded to President Obama's ideas.and to hear his policies on women's issues .........

But most importantly ... if you are a young woman ...please come hear the stories of your older sisters.

Join me in the garden on Sunday August 26 ....

The program will start at 1 ... we ask that you be here around 12:45.  Car-pooling is going to be helpful.

Snacks and beverages will be served.

Leave a note and tell me that you are coming or drop me an email.

Remember the sign on my barn????

Let's Rock It!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A letter............

Dear Popular Kids ...


Yes, you.  You that wouldn't let me hang out with you cuz I wasn't cool enough.

Yea ... I was short.   I wasn't athletic.  I wasn't the super smart kid. I never dated the football stars.  (Yea ... I know.  I never dated!!)

I wasn't cool.

Today.... I met the President of the United States and the First Lady.

I got to hug them.  I got to shake their hands.  I had my picture taken with both of them.

The First Lady said I was cool.

Yea .... she said I was cool.

I'm good with that.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Sing it, Sista' Aretha!!!!

Ok -- this is a rant.  If you don't want to hear me rant, please turn away from the page.

I am a Democrat.

There.  I said it.

I believe strongly in social justice.  I happen to be what is a rare-bird at this point in time.... a Blue-Dog Democrat.  Social Justice ... Fiscal Responsibility.  I believe they can work together. Not sure how .... but I think they can.

I have never shied away from my political beliefs but I will not cram them down your throat.

They are my political beliefs.  Like the clothes I wear.  The flowers I plant.  The life that I live.  They are my beliefs.  Although, occasionally I may share them .... they are still mine.

And I don't expect you to agree with them.  Any more than you would wear my clothes or or live my life.

You believe what you want to believe.  I believe what I want to believe.

 This is America.  And I thought political freedom came with religious freedom.

Yesterday .... I was "un-friended" by a "friend" because I told them that I was going to see the President of the United States.

It was a statement.
Not an invitation.
Just "I-am-going."

I'm going to see the leader of the free world and I am getting "un-friended".

And I am pissed.

Which leads me to my rant.

The vile hateful language that spews from Washington DC politicians and pundits .... is seeping into my peaceful, wonderful, friendly Midwest.

And I am tired of it.

It's not new.  Hamilton and Burr dueled over political differences.  And, once in a while, I wish dueling was still legal  in DC again so the political spin-doctors would realize what their hateful, out-of-context, out-of-control lies are doing to this country!!!

And I am not taking sides on that statement!!! It is happening on both sides of the aisle.

Over the next 90 some days, I will share with you a part of my life.

It is not a campaign commercial.  It is not a plea to join me.

It is a statement.
It is a part of my life.
It is who I am.

Like knitting, spinning, canning tomatoes, growing flowers and going to church.  It is part of me.  I have worked for a lot of campaigns in my life since 18 year-olds got the right to vote in 1972.  I will continue doing it.

I always thought that getting involved in the political process was just being a good citizen.

I will respect and honor your views.  I hope you will do the same.

You will not see political signs in my yard when I am open for business.  You will not see bumper stickers on my car.  I  might wear a "I was there Day One" t-shirt from the 1988 Gary Hart campaign.

If I could get into it. :)

Respect ............. pass it on.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Morning in Iowa ............

Home .... on a Iowa flower farm.

Oh,  What a beautiful morning ...............

Flowers galore!

Oh,  What a beautiful day!

My favorite ... Lisianthus Echo Champagne

I've got a beautiful feeling .........

Incredible blue skies ......... and sunshine.

Everything's going my way!

Dahlias have started blooming ... this is "Lagoon"

It is a good day to be Miss Eff.  Come and see us!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Say what??????????????????????

Ok ... we are going to be busy ....... busy ....... busy on the farm for the next couple of weeks.

There is a chicken coop to paint.  Benches to stain.  Tablecloths to sew. Weeds to pull. Flowers to .... well, make bloom.  Every corner of the house  ... every garden bed ... every feature .... cleaned, waxed, weeded and polished.

It is pretty pretty time at Miss Eff's!

Exciting things are happening. 

So exciting that I ordered this.

Yea ....

You know its big when I don't wear blue jeans!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Double time ...............

I was only in marching band for a year or so. 

I was not good at it.  At. all.

One term I sort-of remember is the term double time.  And if I remember correctly, it was when you would speed up and march really really fast.  Which of course, was really really hard for someone with very short legs. 

But I digress.

Double time seems to be the way my summer has been going.

Really really fast.

The heat and drought have added more and more chores daily.  Basically, in the watering category.   It has been,  water this ... this .... this ... today.  And then do it again tomorrow ..... and the next day .....and the next day.

Water. Water Again.  Repeat.

We are getting through the drought and heat.  And although we have sacrificed several gardens and the yard sounds like really crunchy potato chips .... we have lots of beautiful flowers.

The to-do list is long.  I focus on today.  Because if I look ahead, I am over-whelmed.  I respond to an email ... I visit with customers... I make a batch of jam ... I knit on a scarf.  It is a daily look at what can be accomplished... what needs to wait .... and what has to be done now.

We have had lots of events on the farm.

Blooms, Tunes and Brews

Lots of old friends ...................

And new friends ..................

The farm has been a place for friends to get together............

And a place for people to relax ...........

And all the time ........... I feel like I'm working in double time.

Until yesterday .................... when a cookbook arrived in the mail.  

I stopped.

I sat. 

I read. 

And I cried. 

For there was a little church cookbook.... from a small town that is not much bigger than a wide spot in the road.  


A small town where my great grandparents and my grandparents lived and where my father was raised.

A little church where my grandmother was chairman of the cookbook committee.

And tucked within an envelope were recipes .... including this one from my great grandfather for poison ivy!


Miss Effie's is open today (Saturday) from 9-3.  

But after 3, you will find me in the kitchen -- making a salad dressing that I haven't tasted in 40 years.

I'm wondering how much salt is in tears?????

Thank you, Muff.  

I heart you.  :)