Tuesday, October 29, 2013

For the price of a pizza

It is a happy month at the Lafrenz household.

We own our home.

No mortgage.
No second mortgage.
No home equity loan.
No home equity line of credit.

Regardless of any financial nomenclature --- we own our home!!!

Strike up the band! 
Let the balloons drop!
And listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Halleluiah!!!

Yea .... to say we are happy, is an understatement.

In 2005, as our mortgage had hit the 4 digit amount .... we needed a new well. 

We debated about taking it out of savings
We debated about a second mortgage.
We debated about a home equity line of credit.

And in the end, we rolled the small existing mortgage into a 15 year home equity loan and put in a new well and some new storm windows.  It was what worked best for our financial situation at the time.

Now -- that was a new roof, heart attack, 7 medications,  2 eye surgeries, D& C, a payroll cut and an economic down turn ago.

It wasn't a pretty time at the Lafrenz household.

We each worked two or three jobs.  We carried papers.  We ate a lot of eggs, pasta and beans.  We shopped GW and SA and other favorite thrift stores.  We cut expenses .... over and over and over again.

But every month, I tried to pay a little extra on the loan.

I paid $19.15 extra.  The price of a carry-out pizza.

Sometimes, it was the price of a latte.

But I tried to pay something more.

And this month .... it is paid.

6 years and 11 months early.

Cue the confetti!!!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blogging on ....

I have been blogging for over 5 years.

Five years!  Seriously!

And over that 5 years ... blogs that I have read, have faded into the that virtual life-ever-after.  And if you click -- next blog -- to peruse different, new blogs that you have never seen before -- often the last post is dated 2012, 2011 or 2010.

And you wonder .... what happened to them?  Where did they go?  Why aren't they in cyber-space?

And we all know why they aren't there.

Life happens.

The bloom may be off the blog.

Some blogs have become unbelievably successful.  Book deals have come through them.  They are personalities in their own right ... from blogging.  I find that exciting and thrilling .... for them!  Advertisers approach them ....Deals are made..... They have found success by writing a blog.

I am not one of those blogs.

Often, I am surprised anyone other than a few close friends ever reads this.

But that's not why I write.

I always liked to write.  I took journalism courses in college but putting the who, what, when, where down on paper .... took me a lot more words than the journalism-industry  wanted.

I wrote/ write like I talk -------- A LOT! 

I wasn't interesting enough to be a novelist or short story writer.  No exciting plot lines were ever ruminating in my dreams.

But I continued to like writing.

Then -- a few years after I started the business -- I read portions of diaries that farm women had kept --decades and even a century ago.

Those diaries were not terribly interested.  They talked about calving, family weddings, new pieces of fabric and churning butter.  They talked about weather, darning socks, baking bread and chickens scratching out their newly-planted vegetable garden.

They talked about every day life.

And that is what I do  .... talk about our life on the flower farm.  Scrapes, scraps and gray hair.

Maybe one of these days .... a box of faded articles and photographs will come up at an auction.  And someone will wonder who Miss Effie was.

And if they look hard, and dig through the cloud of cyber-information, they will learn about a mouthy aging woman -- who couldn't stop talking.  As boring and uninteresting as she might be, she might open a window into our times and the life that many of us led.

And that is why I blog.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Warm Fuzzies .........

Now that the flowers are crunchy ... people often ask, What do you do all winter?

Well -- I rest.
I relax.
I teach.
I bake bread.
I attempt to clean 5 months of dirt out of my house.
I find the bottom of the laundry basket.
I work on all the projects that I didn't finish last winter.  ie.@ laundry room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.  Yea ... the list is kind of long!


But most of all -- I play with fuzzy stuff.

I love fuzzy stuff.

I've been spinning .... which is kind of new for me. 

Well .. not new.  But the happiness level is there.  And that seems totally new.

I made a couple of small changes. 

1) I put a cushion on my chair.  Yea.  Since I am soooo short -- finding a comfortable chair is difficult.  I found a chair that fits great .... small, low, comfortable back.  But it has a hand-woven hickory strip seat that is not comfortable.  And since spinning is like meditation .... comfort is key.

2) Prozac.  See last spring's blog post.  Meditation.  I needed to relax. Slow down.  Mellow out.  Difficult stuff for me to do.  Prozac has helped tremendously!

And I finally got a yarn that is soft, beautifully balanced and not over-twisted..... and I am pretty happy with it.


I've been knitting for the Summer Kitchen.  Lately, fan and feather scarves.  Lacey ... easy ... pretty ... versatile.

This one is long ... wide ... can be wrapped, knotted and tossed.  I love this.

And this one is shorter and much narrower ... but the graduated colors make me smile.

And finally, I have been having fun with the merino felt.  This felt is 100% merino wool and is luscious!

It is so soft and easy to embroider.  The needle seems to slide right through it.  I used some multi-colored hand-dyed floss for the blanket stitch on the outside.  The center is done with couching stitches with two different colors of floss.

Now --- if I could learn how to make things out of the dust bunnies that seem to be breeding in my living room!!!!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

End of the flower season ..........

Done! Done! Put a coat of snow on me and I am done!

The flower season has come to an end ....and it will take me a few days to get over it.

It has been a wonderful season with lots of wonderful events and people.

My darling customers put up with more weeds .... but more time talking to me.  And for that, I so very grateful.

We are working on plans for next year.  Different flowers .... more things that bring us all joy.

The Summer Kitchen will be open Fridays throughout the winter, depending on our local road conditions.

But until May/June .... enjoy the vibrancy of the last rose of summer.

Our grateful thanks and love to all our customers and friends,

Honey and Miss Eff

Monday, October 21, 2013

Obessesion Progression ...........

These are looking sooooooooooooooo good!!!!

 Before .....

After .....

They have been stripped, scrubbed, stained with Minwax Special Walnut and then a coat of Minwax American Cherry ......

Then two coats of amber shellac went on next.

And you can still see the stain in the corner of the chair.

They look a little gold in the photo ---- the beautiful fall sky makes everything look gold this time of year.  :)

Caning has started.  Honey is ready to start step 5 of 7 steps.  This is a more accurate picture of the color of the wood.

And my new shades are installed!!!!

I know ... it is crazy to obsess over the correctness of window shades.  

But it seems,  crazy is the new normal in my life!

Don't worry .... I already have papers.  :) 

I didn't think I was asking a lot.  I wanted a cloth roller shade.  No plastic cords on the side.  Just a nice old-fashioned roller shade.  

And I am in love!!!  Really!!!  

The crocheted pull-ring truly warmed my heart.

Or maybe it was the new furnace.

Yea ..... it was the new furnace.


Monday, October 14, 2013

The heat is on ..........

The view from our backyard last evening.

Fall has been so incredibly lovely ..... beautiful blue skies, south breezes, rustling leaves and warm temperatures.

Friday, I cut zinnias for the living room.

And the lisianthus, scabiosa, and lavender went into the bathroom.
It makes it easy to forget that winter is only a few weeks away.

So .... it is cozy time at the Lafrenz household.  Time to snug up the house and prepare for snow, wind and cold.


The wool throws and blankets came out so I may snuggle under them.

I dressed the bed with the electric mattress pad, down comforter and an extra cotton blanket.  I can't bring myself to put on the flannel sheets. Soon but not yet.

Even tables that are usually covered in lace .... are warmed by pieces of wool.

I've been bringing plants in the house that I hope to save through winter.

The wood stove had thorough cleaning.  We replaced some chimney parts to prevent fires.  Through it all ....... I had hoped to see chimney sweeps dancing on my roof.  But alas ..... no dirty sweeps, kicking up their heels, singing.

But today is the coziest day of all.

And probably not a day too soon! 

The new furnace is here!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Making my List ............

I bet you think I am talking about Christmas.

Nope .... something far more rare than Christmas.  Christmas comes once a year.

This does not.

Honey is taking a week of vacation.

All at one time!!!

Yes .. yesterday he shocked his 25 year-old co-worker by telling him that he would be gone all next week.

But you don't take time off!

No .. Honey doesn't take a lot of time off.  Which is why he has accumulated 100+ hours of vacation time.

We are responsible adults.  And its killing us.

We are Baby Boomers!!! 

There has got to be some sense of irresponsibility still left in us!!!

After all, we are the generation that coined the word joint.  And now, its something that hurts in the morning when we try to stumble down the stairs.

We knew what a buzz was.  And now, its the irritating sound an alarm clock makes at 5 a.m.  Or maybe its the constant ringing in our ears from too many Head East concerts.

So next week ..... we will be irresponsible. 

We will sleep in to 6:30 a.m. .................. unless we wake up to go to the bathroom.

We will sit on the hill and drink beer ......... except for the nights I teach class.

We will stay up until midnight, watching the Late Shows on television so we can understand what everyone talks about at the water cooler.   We will be asleep, but we will still be downstairs!!!!

Yes ..... we will be irresponsible!

Wait ...... Honey is off for an entire week!  Think of all the jobs he can get done this week!!!

I'm starting my list ......... NOW.

I'm a Baby Boomer .... responsibility starts with a list.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Keeping me off the streets.

When the air becomes crisp, the nights become longer .... the same question echos through rows of dwindling flowers at Miss Effie's.

What do you do all winter?

Yes .... that immortal question.

What do you do with your time?

So ..... do you really want to know?

I sit on my butt, eat bonbons and catch up on Days of Our Lives.  Doug and Julie -- what a great couple!!!  (What do you mean they haven't been on for the last 30 years????)

Yea .... not so much.

The reality is that it looks like I will be taking up residency at Scott Community College Adult Education Classes.


They have heat.

No -- you know I have been teaching cooking classes.  And last spring, I started teaching basic sewing skills.

And beginning sewing classes morphed into beginning sewing two ... where either a zipper or sleeves are added to the sewing knowledge.

Then that morphed into my favorite type of sewing .... Home Dec ... where I will teach how to measure windows and figure yardage for window treatments, bedding and pillows... etc.

So when the coordinator for Adult Education Classes called and asked me if I knew of anyone that could teach Interior Design Classes, I said ......

Me! Me! Pick me!!  Let me teach that class!!!

Reaching back into the dark ages .... when Doug and Julie really were on Days of our Lives ..... I worked in interior design.  I designed window treatments, I sold floor coverings, I worked with furniture layout and construction and finally, I was a kitchen designer.  Yep --- about 30 years of my working career was spent in home decor in one sort or another.

And although, my house sure doesn't show it ..... I still read home dec magazines and books constantly.

And I am really excited to share what I do know.  But what excites me the most .... is helping people determine their personal home decor style.  Because style is different than fashion.

Style is timeless.

Fashion is fleeting.

Style is a quality sofa, wool rug and a worn but loved leather chair.  Style is a pile of vintage books topped with a brass candlestick.

Fashion is a  microfiber sectional with recliners, cup holders, and a fridge compartment for your beer.

And there is nothing wrong with fashion ..... but style is what makes your guests say "I love your house."

There was a trend many years ago with Bed in a Bag.  Instantly, you had shams, sheets, comforter and draperies that suddenly transformed your bedroom.  Everything perfectly matched.

But style is built in layers.  Beautifully embroidered vintage pillowcases on top of a duvet with a wool plaid throw at the end of the bed.  Doesn't come in a box .... but takes time to acquire.

Fashion happens.

Style evolves.

Hopefully, I will be able to share that with you ..........when I'm not eating bonbons!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Obsession continues ...........

I wanted to show you progress ........ small as it might be.

I need that sense of accomplishment!

Remember these?

Honey has made great progress with them.

All are stripped, scrubbed and two have been completely sanded.

Which is actually a misnomer  ......... because you try not to sand antique furniture.  So often, you rub them smooth with steel wool.  These are being buffed smooth with landscape burlap.

We don't know the history of these chairs.

There are signs of fairly rough turnings ..... like they were done on a hand-operated lathe rather than in a furniture factory.  The holes for the caning are unevenly spaced.

At one time in their lifetime, they had pressed fiber seats applied over the caning.  It was a much easier fix than re-doing the caning.  The nail holes that were left from nailing the seats in place, will remain as part of their history.

And then, there is this.

There is a stain in the right corner of this chair.  It won't come out with denatured alcohol or wood soap.  We might be able to bleach it out.

But I prefer to think of this...................

That was a farmer's chair ..... where he sat at breakfast, lunch and dinner.  He came in the house after doing chores or being in the field ..... and the dirt, grease and sweat on his  hands left this wonderful mark.  Right where he grabbed the chair to pull it out.

Day after day.

Meal after meal.

It is a mark of wonderful meals and good times.  It has been used.

And will be again.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Little things ....

It is all in the details.

Yep ... it is. 

You could be talking about sewing or embroidery or cooking or the garden.  I have always thought that it is the little details that make something change from ordinary to extraordinary.

Today ..... its decorating.

Which I am only so-so at.  I don't do holiday or seasonal decorating. 

Maybe its because I'm not a big shopper and I have little room for stuff. 

Or maybe its because I am lazy and I hate putting it all away.  Getting it out is fun!!!  Putting away ........ not so much.

So seasonal decorating means adding throws, tossing a new pillow, changing trays from pink to dark red.  Pretty boring stuff.

I have been trying to focus on purchases that make little differences in our home.  Better curtains, wonderful shades, new shelves. I am trying to focus on bones rather than fluff.

Today ..... its taking the windows back to 1890.

Now ... a smart person would wait until we could tear out the walls, replace the plaster, strip the woodwork and make everything original.  But 17 years ago .... we wanted to do that.  And 17 years later ... we are still waiting.

I decided to make a little change that no one else will ever ever notice.  But I will.  And it makes me happy.

Window lock prior to Saturday morning ................

Once upon a time in the 60's ...... they would have had a brass plating.

Window locks on Saturday afternoon.........

Solid cast brass with antique brass finish.....

Not antiques but made from original molds.

When we re-do the windows and the molding, the residue marks from the old window locks will disappear.  And that won't happen for a while yet.

But until then .... 

I notice them .... and they make me smile.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Flowers .....



I'm going to talk about flowers.

Cuz guess what?  This is a flower farm.

I know!!!  Who knew????

It is October 2, 2013 and I have flowers!!!


Now ... they are not the perfect blooms of June.  They have endured wet feet, chilly nights, steaming hot days and dryness that would turn all of us into prunes!

But they are still bright and cheery and they make my heart sing.

 Lizzies always make my heart sing.

Some will dry for everlasting bouquets.

Pumpkin-on-a-stick ..... 3 stems for $5.00
And some .... like these pumpkin-on-a-stick will brighten your autumn decorations.

Then there are the flowers that will brighten your daily life.

Hand-embroidered tea towel .... $15.00

Or little things ..... like these needle cases.

Handmade needlecases .... 100% merino wool felt .. $15.00

For the rest of the season .... all buckets of flowers are $10.  Yep!  $10.00

Walk ... clip ... enjoy. 

And finally ........ one last note about a favorite flower, our little Snapdragon.

Thank you so much for all the notes, comments and virtual hugs.  She was definitely a very special kitten.

Olivia .... who named Snapdragon ... sent me this very sweet poem.  I think you will enjoy it as much as we did.

On angel's wings you were carried away,
soft as a breeze on a summer day.
In our hearts there is a hole, for you were worth as much as gold.
The tears are still wet upon our cheeks,
but our love for you will never grow weak.