Sunday, September 29, 2013


If you have been to the gardens in the last couple of months, it is a sure bet that a small black and white tuxedo kitten followed you.

Snapdragon ... as she was named by Olivia .... was a stray that suddenly appeared one evening.

She met us as we arrived home from an evening with friends, pranced down the sidewalk and steps .... and instantly purred as Honey picked her up.

She never stopped purring.

Snap was friendly, gregarious and absolutely tolerant of anything a small child could put her through.  She loved to sit on a soft lap and be stroked.

She loved to play and pose and dance through the garden.

She would pounce and startle our customers as they cut flowers ... playing with the stems that were suddenly moving away from her!

Earlier this week, we found her unresponsive.  I rushed her into the vet's office where they tested, x-rayed, and tried to determine what was wrong with our adorable kitten.  She was wormed, given antibiotics and fluids.

But still ....... no answer what was wrong.

We lost her today.




I know there is a season for everything.

I know that there is a reason for everything.

But for this little kitten .... and all the joy she brought to so many ...... the season seemed much too short.

I walked through the garden this morning.

And like Honey and I ..... it was crying.

Good bye sweet Snapdragon ..... you did life well.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Changing plans ............

I am a big advocate for business plans.

Not that you really need a plan engraved in stone or written down on toilet paper, but it does make you focus on a couple of key points.

Who are your customers?

How are you going to get your product in front of said customers?

And how will you make a profit after you sell your product?

Now I wrote a business plan on the back of an envelope .....kind of like the Gettysburg address.  And I knew, it would be YEARS before I saw income that was more than a nice addition to our family.  Like income that could actually support us. 

We still aren't there.

I have seen too many businesses need too much profit too fast to succeed.  And most of us know in farming, profits are only one flood/hailstorm/drought/pest-invasion away from disappearing.

So it is always nice to find another venue for bringing some additional income into the coffers!!

And never, ever, ever did I think my business would include this .........

Photo shoots.

To this day, anytime a photographer talks to me about using our property for a photo shoot --- it surprises me.

My back yard???

Because I don't see my yard looking like .............

Or the tea cup tree so sparkly and shiny ............

I don't see the lath house like this..........

And a bucket of flowers is never that magical.

But you help me see it that way .....

And for that, my soul and I are eternally grateful!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I am clearly obsessed ................ with old chairs.

I can tell you exactly when it happened. 

Christmas 1970.

My parents bought me this oil painting from a local artist and I instantly fell in love with the gentle curve of the bow back kitchen chair.


I was hooked.

And getting hooked led to the obsession.

Chairs are obviously the gateway drug to antique addiction!

I love old chairs!  An old chairs can suddenly transform even the coolest, most modern house to something cozy.  The warmth ... the feel ... can not be achieved in a new chair!

And the great thing about old chairs ........... they can be CHEAP!!!!

Which is perfect cuz so am I!!!

Which leads me to the reason that I currently have 10 chairs in my living room that have no seats.

Yes ....

I do. 

I truly do.

But today I will discuss these.

Oak chairs .... applied decorations on the backs. 

Originally they had cane seats .... pressed fiber seats were applied later to replace the cane.  And those seats were at least 70 years old.  One chair still has its fiber seat.

They are sturdy .... beautiful chairs that were purchased at Habitat for Humanity ReStore Store for ........

Drum roll, please.

$13.50 a piece!!!

(Jumping up and down in delight is happening now!!!!!!!)

Yea .... ReStore Store rocks!!!!

So Honey has started his own re-hab of the chairs.

He starts by scraping as much of the old finish off as possible.

Then he scrubs the chairs .... using denatured alcohol and steel wool to dissolve the finish.

They are then gently washed to get the residue off and they look like this!!!

Do I have to tell you which is the before and after???? 

But I will tell you to notice how the applied decoration is done.  Two chairs have right facing decorations and two chairs have left.


There is a lot of work to do on them ..... cleaning, scrubbing, and applying a new finish.  And then there is caning the new seats.

But at the moment ..... I am happy.

Cuz there are only SIX chairs in my living room without seats!!!!!

Yep ...... clearly obsessed.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Nesting .............

Autumn is approaching fast.

It can't come soon enough to suit me!

I am soooooo over summer!!!

I am ready for warm sweaters, crackling fires, savory soups and fuzzy slippers.

But more than anything else ......... I'm ready to decorate!

Yea .... I want to nest.

This is a first for me in a long long time.  After 10 years and $70,000 of out-of-pocket medical expenses --- we have NO medical bills!




At one time, 19.6% of our income went to pay medical expenses.  That didn't include medical insurance or prescription co-pays.  Straight out of pocket expenses.

But we have whittled and whittled and whittled.  It hasn't been fun .... and it sure wasn't pretty!!!!

But they are over, done, paid for ..... and we didn't declare bankruptcy!!!

So ..... I am decorating.

Sort of.

OK -- I have to go at this slowly!

First of all, after 7 years of plywood floor in the bathroom .... I will have a new - honest-to-gosh- real floor!

Yep -- ordered and in ..... I went with old-fashioned true linoleum.

Linoleum is made with limited petroleum products and is considered a "green" floor.   They last forever! Super easy to clean.  And is a fairly historically correct product for this house.

Yes ..... there wouldn't have been a bathroom in the house when it was built in 1892.  But when the bath was added in the late 40's ...... linoleum would have been the flooring of choice.

We are doing some touch-up painting  and then the floor will be installed.

You knew about the shades I ordered for the family room.  I am hoping they will help cool the room in the summer and maybe block some of the cold wind in the winter.

I ordered new curtains for the kitchen.  The current lace curtains were recycled from the living room.  After 17 years .... I'm not sure if they will survive another laundering.  So I ordered these.

And so .... some dreams have come true.

Now ...... what can I do about this one?????

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reflections .........

I love living in an old house.

The sticky window that won't open in damp weather, the squeaky stair tread, the tiny door to the attic ...... all have stories to tell.

Occasionally, I am blessed with stories that come from those that lived in this house.

Friday, an elderly gentlemen and his son pulled in the lane.  I asked if I could help them ......... and the son said, You will have to talk to my dad.

In 1942, at the age of 7, Marvin Gates became an orphan. He lived in a small town in southeastern Iowa.  It was the beginning of World War II  ........ and the eight brothers and sisters were alone. 

There was an aunt that lived in Davenport that tried to keep the family together but she could not care for all of the children.  Marvin was "farmed out" to a family in rural Donahue. 

He lived here in 1942 and 1943 until his aunt was able to care for him. 
So on a sunny Friday afternoon, he and his son came to visit the farm where he lived so long ago.

He told me about driving the wagon as they picked and husked corn ..... and the occasional ear of corn that would strike him as the ears were thrown against the bang boards of the wagon.

He told me of running through the pasture to go to the school just up the road.

He told me of a blind draft horse that died and the seven cows he was responsible to milk in the morning.

I heard a story about the time when he and a friend skipped school to play in Contention Creek for the day.  They were discovered and disciplined by the school teacher.

Later, Honey told me that my late brother-in-law would tell the same story.  They lived just a quarter of a mile from our home.

These were sad times for Marvin ..... but his memories of this farm and house were very special .... as Jennie and her husband cared for the small child.  He had seen Jennie in 1958 after returning from Korea and graduating from Iowa State, when he came to introduce Jennie to his new bride.

He was adopted by his aunt so his name is no longer Gates.

I let them wander .... I showed him old pictures of the house......... and we talked about the farm as it is today.

While they were here, Jesse, her son and her mother-in-law were enjoying the beautiful day.

Jesse took this wonderful photo which seems to say it all ............... for everyone on the farm that day and the memories of days past.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Harvest time!!!!

I'm not sure if this is the cutest tea towel ever.......................

But it does come close!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tea Towel Memories

I love it when a customer comments on a tea towel.

"This reminds me of my grandmother's house."  

Or "The cat on this one looks just like my cat."

Well, today is my tea towel memory.

When I was a kid, we would drive to my grandparents' homes.  Both set of grandparents lived 45 minutes to an hour away.

Which always seemed like an eternity when wedged in the backseat of my parents' station wagon with my brother and sister.

It was heaven if it was my turn for a window seat!


This is when my blog enters the dark ages.

This was before DVD players were built into the headrest.  No I-pads to watch the latest video, movie or television show.

There was no Sirius or XM radio.

No I-pods, Walkman, CD players, cassette recorders or 8 track players.

No FM radio.

And in our station wagon ...... there was no AM radio.

Radios were optional.  Which meant they cost more money.  Optional didn't happen at that time.

Sun visors on the passenger's side of the car were also optional.  Don't ask me how I know that!

So ... OMG,  how did my parents entertain us???  I mean, we were in the car and you have to entertain children!!  ( There soooooooooo needs to be a sarcasm font!)

We sang.

We sang patriotic songs.  We sang Sunday School songs.  We sang children songs.  We sang camp songs.

We sang.

We sang songs like Mairzy Doats and Sioux City Sue.

And we sang ...........

  And that is my tea towel memory!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Oh . Gross ........

Remember when your kids said that to you when looking at supper???

This really was gross.


This was my pond.



OK ... in my defense ... and Lord knows I need one!!!  Every time we went to clean the pond this spring, there were tadpoles.

And tadpoles were followed by frogs and more tadpoles and more frogs and still more tadpoles.

It was a vicious croaking circle!

Then August came ... and 90 degree temps and 36 days without rain.

You get ....... well ........... gross!

So I scooped that mucky messy crap out of the pond.  I discovered where all the mulch on the farm had gone!  Oh my God!!! 4 to 5" deep .... green, algae covered mulch!

I was stylin'.

And you have no idea the aroma that clung to those jeans!!

But after a couple of hours of scooping, weeding, cleaning and filling .........

we had this..............

Happy Ducks!!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Summer Kitchen Update .....................

With the extreme heat we had in August, I wasn't getting a lot done in the garden.

But work doesn't stop here .... it just changes.  And when the thermometer soared, the needles came out.

And they seemed to be smokin'!  I thought it was the sweat of my brow landing on the hot steel needles.  But I was wrong! :(

Tea towels continue to be drawing interest and I love doing them!  I swear I am going to do an entire set for myself .... some day!  But for now .... they all are for you!

This has always been one of our most popular towels.

I LOVE this towel .... this time in hot pink, lime green and navy blue.

It is Iowa ... it will get cold.  So I had to embroider this cute cup of cocoa.


I've been drawn to funky color combinations lately.  So this purple and red pie towel appeared.

And obviously, I have been drawn to pie!!!!

If you have ever been to Miss Eff's, you had to notice a couple of things.  We have a lot of chickens, cats and flowers.  Two of those things are joined together in this tea towel.

And finally ...... I found some fantastic art work online and this towel appeared.  Love the goat!!!

It is on a teal colored towel .............. a little different for me but you will see more in the future.

So that is what is new in the Summer Kitchen for today .......... maybe something else will appear tomorrow.

Wink. Wink.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Prop Laundry?

I had an odd/strange comment the other day. 

We had a delightful group of senior citizens out on the farm a couple of weeks ago.  When they were ready to leave, I overheard a woman say, "Do you think that's her laundry on the line?"

My first thought was ......... No, it's mine.  I don't take laundry in."

But then I realized that they thought it was prop laundry.


Once I was asked if I hung laundry out for effect.

Yes ... I do hang laundry out for effect.  The effect of drying.  Which is why I never hang laundry out on a rainy day.  Unless it needs another rinse! ;)

I also hang laundry out for another effect .... more money in my bank account.  Sunshine is cheaper than propane!  May be pennies but I'll take it!!!!

I know I am not the last person in America to hang laundry out.  Most of my friends hang out laundry. 

But seriously .... in the age of reality television .... we think nothing is real???  Everything is a prop????

Well -- I am coming clean!  Like my laundry.

This is my tee-shirt.  And I wear it.

Yep ... most of you would use this as a dust rag.  But this is the infamous "nearly naked canning" tee shirt.

Well-venitilated for air movement. 

Yea ... you will only get to see it on the clothes line.

Thank God for the alarm on the driveway!!!