Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Baggin' it!

As I was packing Honey's lunch the other day .... I realized it was time for a new sandwich bag.

We have been using reusable cotton sandwich bags for almost 7 years now.

And I have a complaint.

Well ... actually 2 complaints.

1) The sandwich bags are often too small.

2) Since they are marketed for school lunches, the fabrics are often juvenile in nature.  Which is great for an 8 year-old.  My AARP card-caring husband would like something more mature.

So .... I've got this new fancy-dancy sewing machine and I've got my sewing room oh-so-close-to-organized..... it was time to solve my complaints.

First complaint:

Size .........

I bake our own bread and who knows what size of loaf it might be!!!  It might be too long, too high ... I might use a tortilla as a wrap or we may use a 6" hoagie for a sandwich.  And there have been times, that I have struggled to get the sandwich in the bag even after I have cut it.

And then ..... I end up using a plastic bag or wrap. 

That just defeated the purpose.

So the sandwich bags I made are 2" wider and an 1" taller. 

Complaint number 2:

Adult fabric choices....

I LOVE  fun, funky fabrics!  And these bags help me use up some scraps from previous projects.

This one has a rick-rack edging.

I think this is kitchy without being cutesie!  It reminds me of 1950's kitchen wallpaper! 

And I was there!!

I think any dog lover would love this bag.

So these (and a few more) are hanging out in the Summer Kitchen.  Brown bag essentials for the gray-haired crowd!

You ask about Honey's sandwich bag????????

Yea ............ maybe I'll make that tomorrow!!!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Glad all over......

I just finished planting about 300 of these beauties.

I never used to like gladiolas.  But some how, they have stolen my heart.

The colors are bold and bright .... yet delicate and lovely.

Here in the Midwest, we should dig these up and store during the winter.  I don't.  By October, I am tired and definitely bored with anything floral but fabric!!!! But often, they have come back faithfully ... year after year.

We had a particularly tough winter this year (I know! I know!  We are all trying to forget!!) so very few glads poked their stiff sword-like leaves out of the ground.

So .... I planted more!  Never a problem for me!

The gardens are coming around slowly this year.  I am eliminating a couple of very large areas ..... and re-building a couple of other areas.  I am trying to make the farm work better for us now and in the long run.

Since it is just me on the farm on a daily basis ...... all of this "re-do work" may take a while. 

I am seeing hints of blooms .......yes, spring will come.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The welcome mat ...

There are days I have no idea how much work it takes to get this place looking good.

I am certain we are waaaaayyyy behind. 

Then ... I realize that everything kind of looks like it always does this time of year. 

The lilacs have bloomed and are done.  The few tulips have faded.  The peonies and iris have tight buds that are loosening in the heat of the day.

Memorial Day is early this year so I struggle with the thought that we will




be ready. 

Yesterday ..... we made progress.  Not huge big progress, although we weeded, planted and mulched for over 6 hours.

The end of the lane is ready to greet you.

I have high hopes for this garden.  I always have high hopes for this garden.  The garden and I have had a love-hate relationship for years.  But I continue to plant ........... and plant .......... and plant things that I love.

Yesterday ... I planted 100 liatrus bulbs.  I'm hoping they can compete with the heliopsis "Summer Sun" which is MUCH too happy to be there.  The great thing .... Heliopsis blooms all season and its sunny yellow color does make me smile.

But so does this "Little Kim" lilac.

The gardens will be clean.

Mulch will be spread.

Flowers will be planted.

And when it is time .................

even the flowers will bloom.

There is a time and a season.

Monday, May 19, 2014

So excited!!!

I will readily admit that it doesn't take much to excite me some days.

But This. Is. A. Biggie.

Donahue has a restaurant.

Not a bar.  (Which we have.)  Not a pizza joint (Which we also have and is awesome!)

But a real downtown restaurant.

The Depot.

A place where I can refer our customers and be proud of the atmosphere and the food. 

A place where I can get a good homemade meal ... quickly and easily by driving a mile.

A place that I can proudly use as a landmark on where to turn to get to Miss Eff's.

I so wish I had Before pictures! The restoration of this building has been nothing less than spectacular!  And Scott County Preservation needs to take note.... it is that good!!!

Sam used 1918 photos of the building as his guideline for restoration.  And look at this interior!!!

They were able to save and restore part of the floor. 

They kept the Keppy's General Store sign.

And they filled the walls with old photos of Donahue and the railroad depot that was next door.

Now ... the important stuff...... the food.

First of all --- your meal is served in a vintage metal pie plate!  Loved that detail!!!

I ordered a "Black and Blue" burger .... Black Angus beef with Blue Cheese.  It was juicy and smothered in blue cheese.  Honey's hand cut battered tenderloin (And trust me ... he KNOWS tenderloins!) was delicious. 

We ordered fried mushrooms as a starter .....fresh mushrooms, battered and fried there.... not merely "dropped!"

Every order gets a deviled egg with it.  A nice touch ..... very "down home Iowa".

And that's the way The Depot feels .... down home Iowa.  Friendly.  Warm.  Home-cooking.

So -- a note to my customers -- you have wanted a good place to eat.  And now we have it.  Support it.  Have a glass of their 1919 root beer.  Relax. 

And tell them Miss Eff sent you! 

But there is a good chance you might just run into me!

Friday, May 16, 2014


It's the time of year that I get lots of questions.  And since it is cold ....... and rainy ........ and my kitchen table is covered with shelves that we are painting ..... I thought it might be a good time to blog the answers to some of these questions.

So ... here I go on some of the more popular questions.

What do you do?

I wonder that myself ... a lot!  I flower farm.  Flower farming is different than gardening.  You use lots of the same skills and knowledge but it is different. 

So please don't call me a gardener ... a gardener plants 20 snapdragons ... we plant 850.  And just to be clear ... we plant between 8000-10,000 annuals .... every year. And when I say we, I mean me.  Honey handles the mulch .... I do the plugs and the planning.

Instead of planting flowers in beautifully arranged beds ... we grow them in rows.  Just like an Iowa corn field.  Most farmers use 4' wide rows so they can easily weed across the row.  I am shorter so my rows are a little under 36" wide. 

Many people use grass paths between the rows so they can mow.  I use mulch ... mulch dries out a little quicker than grass, helps hold moisture and will eventually break down to add more organic matter to the garden.

Flower farmers also space their plants much closer than the tags recommend.  We are trying to get the tallest stems, the most stems out of a fairly small area.  So if the tag says to space 18" apart .... we may plant them 9" or at times even 4" apart.  This is intensive gardening and does not work with all plants.  It also requires incredibly fertile soil so we use compost, compost tea, chicken manure and other organic fertilizers to keep that soil working for us.

The average flower farmer can handle approximately one acre of flowers by themselves. 

Because of the intense planting, the use of plant supports .... most weeding is done one way.  On  hands and knees.

Want to join me????

How do you charge for flowers?

A one gallon milk jug full of flowers is $20.  Our average customer will get three large vases of flowers out of a jug.

If I don't think you have enough flowers .... I will send you back to the garden to get more.

Or I will stuff your jug for you!! 

Don't make me do that!  ;)

When do you open?

My stock answer is .... When God tells me to.

Seriously .... I really never know.  We always hope to be filled with flowers by June 15th.  But who would think that we would have frost in the forecast in mid-May???  So this year, it is totally a guessing game.

I usually have lots of flowers around the farm by the end of May.  Normally, those are peonies, false indigo, lilacs, clematis..... perennial flowers.  But this year, I think they will be later.  The buds are small on the peonies .... and I have barely seen the false indigo.

We look for heat degree days.  Days that seriously warm the soil.  If you have your a/c on --- my flowers are happily growing.  If you have a sweater on .... most likely, the flowers are shivering too.  But unlike you, my flowers need more than a day or two to re-act to warm temperatures.

What are your hours?

Starting June first ..... we are open Thursday -Friday from 9 to 5, Saturday 9-3 and Sunday 12-3.  We are closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

That being said ..... if I am home .... and if you stop by, I will happily help you.  But it is the time I commit to my friends, family and our home.  So please call ahead so I can plan.

Last year ... we started opening  Thursday evenings until 8 pm.  We need it to be light out ... so we are open Thursday evening from June 15th to August 15th.  It is the perfect time to bring a picnic lunch and relax in the Iowa countryside.

What about tours and groups?

I love having groups on the farm but I need your help to make it a successful event for you.  I need to know when you are coming and what your expectations are.  Surprise group tours are not successful events!

We are a business ... with an employee count of 1-1/2 employees.  So if you just drop in .... I may not have the time to give you the attention you want and deserve.  Please let me do that for you.

There are charges for group events and tours.  Please talk to me about your needs and I can give you the correct information.

So that's the FYI on the FAQ's for today.

Any more questions??  Drop me a note here .... or do the social media thing. 

Whatever that is!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Decorating Angst ..........

You know those moments ...

It's close .. but its not.  Sort of right.  But you see it in your guts that some work has got to be done.

It started out with extreme frustration .... my sewing area was my kitchen table.  And twice a week, I would pack up my machine, scissors, tape measures, seam rippers, bobbins, thread, marking pens and take off for class. And some projects would stay on the kitchen table.  And some projects would be completed. 

But there was stuff .... EVERYWHERE!

Toss in a cooking class every week  ... 6 boxes of plugs for the garden, two boxes of bulbs, taxes .... and 19 new chicks..... and lots of rain...........I had a melt down. 

I know ... I am a wimp.

As with all melt-downs -- ya got to get to the heart of the matter.  And the heart is ...... I need some organization.

Actually, I need someone to do the organizing for me but that's not going to happen.  Fortunately for me (not my garden!) it is cold and rainy and I might as well worry about organizing stuff.  Otherwise ... I will worry about the garden.

After debating back and forth for a couple of days ... we decided the office might be the best place for the sewing center.

So I have been trying to make my office into my dream sewing room.

I want it to look like .....


Or like this ............


Yea .... 

Not. Going. To. Happen.

Now .... there are moments of sort of  pretty.

But how do I make plastic look ..... pretty????

And it is Spring.

I bleed money in Spring.

So its all about making what I already have .... work.  And work pretty.

The room is incredibly small ..... most master bedrooms have closets bigger than its 7 foot by 15 foot dimensions.  It also is our office and library with a 7' wall and a 15' wall filled with bookshelves.

I've taken an antique stepback cupboard and converted part of it to sewing storage.  The bottom is filled with rarely used serving pieces.  (Anyone want a silver tea service???  Just kidding!)

And .............. its OK but not pretty.

I'll keep you informed on progress.  

Cuz there won't be any progress in the garden for several days!!!!