Sunday, September 30, 2012

Falling ...........

behind, that is!!!!!!!

As always, I'm moving too fast and leaving a trail of undone projects behind me. 

But I did get something accomplished.  The class schedule tab on the blog has been updated. 

I know!!!  Shocked me too!!!!

There are a few more classes to add.  I'll try to get them in place next week but until then, there is enough to entertain you.

I'll catch you up on the news from Miss Eff's later.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Working on an old house is like watching Gomer Pyle on the Andy Griffin Show. 

Pretty soon the words ... Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! are going to be said.

OK ... maybe not with that kind of enthusiasm.

It's surprise! when you open up the plumbing wall and find lead pipe leading to the water lines.

It's surprise! when you find knob and tube wiring in a wall that supposedly had updated electrical. 

And it is always surprise! when you go to the home improvement store and discover that everything  you need has not been manufactured for the last 50 years!

But once in a while ......... when all hope of an easy restoration has left the building ..... the old house surprises you.

Yesterday, Honey was replacing the clapboards.  And the routine on the 8" wide clapboards (which need to be 6" wide clapboards) is rip, sand, prime and repeat.  Well, he was in the priming stage so instead of watching paint dry .... he decided to start looking at the bay window.

The bay is original with the original brackets looking like this .................

Solid ... original ... but crackled paint.

So after a little bit of scraping ... he discovered this .....................


Some great detail that will be perfect after a little highlighting!!!  

THIS was a great surprise!!!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When two worlds collide ........

This is the time of year that my two worlds whirl off their axis and I have no idea where I am going.

Yep ... it is that time that the education world hits the gardening world and tomatoes explode.  Or apples.  Or zucchini.  Or patty pan squash.

Whatever it is ...... there seems to be residue dripping all over the place.

I started out on September 1st speaking at the Mid America Homestead Conference in Joliet.  It was an amazing conference .... extremely well organized by my friend Deborah Niemann.

I know I am willing to go back next year.  And the conference may have a pre-conference canning fest!

Then we followed up a week later with the North Scott Farm Crawl.  It was a beautiful day with lots of great vendors and fun activities on the farm.

After those two events .... I attempted to sleep for two days but the zucchini in my CSA box wouldn't stay silent!  I grated and drained and rinsed and spun and bagged zucchini for its new home in my freezer.

And now .... I am back to teaching at Scott Community College

Tonight ... I am teaching salsa camp.  This is a fun event that I have done before in my kitchen.  Kind of like a quilting bee with jalapenos and tomatoes.  Everyone gets in on the fun ... chopping and dicing, blanching and peeling and after a while .... salsa appears.

Except .... this hot dry year has left the pepper crop small and some what shriveled.  So I am on a search for lots of peppers. 

I haven't found a lot of peppers but I did find strawberries!!!  Yep .... local strawberries are back and I will be freezing those today for Strawberry Balsamic Jam later this week!

So ... if you call to talk about flowers or classes ..... you may find me overwhelmed with getting everything put up for winter.  Cuz if my world is spinning out of control .... I'm takin' tomatoes with me!!!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

My new balls.

You know .... I make a lot of mistakes.

A. Lot. Of. Mistakes.

I fail.  Far more than I would like.  Ok .... I fail a lot.

I cry.  I cry some more.  And some how, I try to pick myself back up and do it again.  Sometimes, with success.  Sometimes, I am too frighten to try.  And often when I try again, I am rewarded with more failure.

My moments of failure are often pointed out. Usually with a big wide red sharpie marker for all the classroom to see.

Oh, Look!  She failed again. 


And its those big wide red sharpie markers moments that haunt my spirit. 

Those big wide red sharpie marker moments are there because I no longer live my life in the shadows.  I could park myself on the farm .... and no one would know that I am here.  I could be "under the radar". But I don't.  I voice my opinion.  I tell my story.  I try my best.  But my mistakes are out there for the world to see.

Those big wide red sharpie marker moments eat on me.  I have suffered from clinical depression for decades.  And those red sharpie marker moments, take me inside all my doubts and fears.  I want to sleep the pain away.  I hyperventilate. I want to hide.  But I'm not going to.

Not. Any. More.

Yesterday ... I caught an interview with Brene' Brown. 

And she quoted Teddy Roosevelt.  This is from a 1910 speech that was given in France.  This is called The Man in the Arena quote.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Yea. It's now pasted to my computer screen.

A neighbor once told me .... I don't take on more than I know I can do well.   And at that very moment, I thought, "How do you know what you are capable of doing?"

And I wonder ... when did perfection become the norm?  Why don't we acknowledge our efforts and our failures?  The garden that didn't get weeded.  The apples that won't make it into jam.  The second sock that is still tightly wound in a ball of yarn. Why does the pursuit have to be about perfection?

I will still be a loser.


But I will still be in the arena trying.

Dirty.  Sweaty.  Stinking.

Running late.

Running behind.

But running.

Still failing for the all world to see.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Holey Moley!!

For several years .... we have been trying to find the source of this leak.

Now ... it only leaks when there is a driving rain from the east with lots wind.

So we replaced the roof of the bay window and waited for the rains to come from the east.

And we waited.  And waited.  And sure enough ......... the ceiling developed its drip.

Drip ... Drip ... Drip.

And then .... drop .... drop .... drop .... as the plaster came tumbling down.

So then we repaired the windows upstairs and waited for the rains to come from the east.

And we waited and waited.  And sure enough,  the same story ... drip... drip ... drip.

We thought .... now what???  It's not the roof.  It's not the windows.

Honey decided it was the crumbling tar paper under the siding .... which started this project.

Until we discovered this .............

Yep!  That is a hole in the 120 year-old flashing!!!  It was tucked under the siding ... and when Honey brushed aside the debris that was held in place by rust ..... the hole appeared!

New flashing has been installed ... and we got a rain from the east.  Now the wind wasn't too strong .... but no leak!!

So maybe .... just maybe .... I can get rid of this AWFUL wallpaper that I have hated for 16 years.

Cuz I would hate to have geese with bows around their necks when they come back in style again!!!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Crawling with a superstar .........

This Sunday is the second annual North Scott Farm Crawl.

So as usual, I am hustling around the last moments trying to get all those loose ends tied up!

The list is long .... there is syrup to make for lemonade.  The Summer Kitchen needs to be dusted and cleaned.  I have bouquets to cut and make on Saturday.  Guest room needs to be cleaned and linens changed.  And the yard needs to be mowed and trimmed.

But it is all going to be worth it.

Cuz I get to hang with a superstar!

Yep ... my friend Deborah Niemann-Boehle is coming to the North Scott Farm Crawl!  Fresh off the Mid-America Homesteading Conference last Saturday and speaking at Will Allen's Growing Power Conference in Milwaukee this Friday ..... she is coming to Donahue!!!

Deborah and her husband Mike own Antiquity Oaks in Cornell, IL.  Deborah started teaching classes and speaking about homesteading several years ago and has been featured at the Mother Earth News Fairs in both Seattle and Pennsylvania.  Her first book, Homegrown and Handmade came out a year ago and later this month, her second book Ecothrifty will be released. And there is a third book on the way!!!!

Yes .... I did blatantly steal this photo from my friend Donna.  Deborah is the really tall gal in the center.  Really tall. Cuz I know Donna and I aren't that short! ;)

The cool thing about Deborah ... she has let some of us grab a hold of that superstar cape and come along for the ride.  I have been fortunate enough to teach at homesteading conferences that she organized.

That is truly the sign of a class act .... bringing everyone along for the ride!!! 

So Deborah will be hanging out ... signing books .... answering questions so stop by and see her.

And you will want to stop by cuz Miss Eff's is going to be a-hoppin'!!!!

We have the fabulous Dwarf Nigerian goats from Zen Goaties back again.

 Ridgeline Fiber Farm will be bringing some adorable English Angora bunnies.  (This is going to be hard .... I really want a bunny!)

Caden's Moon Alpaca will be selling homegrown and homespun alpaca yarn and fiber.  Seriously -- this is addiction-worthy yarn.  Ya got to get some of this beautiful stuff.  You don't have to knit it .... just touch, feel, caress.  It is that wonderful!!!

Smith Farms and the Little Red Hen will have her table full!  Kathy grows wheat and then grinds it to sell as flour, bakes bread, makes jam, and sells fiber and yarn from her Shetland sheep. 

We have Belinda Holbrook with her button bouquets, felted mittens and flower pounded cards.

Alisa Behrens will be demonstrating and selling her welded garden art.  Alisa has won several awards at the Iowa State Fair and has been nominated for a Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student award.  And she is 17.

Finally, we have Slow Foods Quad Cities selling fresh herb lemonades and tee-shirts!

The day is going to rock .... like our theme .... Local Foods Rock!

Five farms...... Behnke Poultry Triple Creek Dairy, Lost Grove Stables , Pride of the Wapsi  and of course, yours truly ..... Miss Eff's

Stop out and see us.  Park on the road because we will pick you up!  The event starts at 11 and ends at 4. (Pride of the Wapsi will be open from 2-7!)

Its going to be a great day!!!