Friday, July 31, 2015

Rebeling Against Old Sayings

Have you heard this ......

Life is what happens when you are making other plans.

Well -- I certainly hope not cuz all I have been doing lately is making plans.  And trying to put them into action ... in little ways.

Our lives will be changing very soon.  In less than 8 months maximum, Honey is retiring!  (Cue the bands and the cheering crowds!!!)  To say I am excited is an understatement. Ecstatic ... Elated ... Euphoric may also be included.

You heard some of the kitchen plans.

Now ... it is time for some of Miss Eff's plans.

One of my goals is to give a sense of place and privacy to our home.  If you explore 19th century architecture in rural communities, you don't find wide open spaces around the house.

This is our house in 1927 ..... the photo I have shown 15 billion times .... but notice the fence.

Here is another picture ........ that I stole from this site.  It is interesting reading and it is totally why we live very successfully without air conditioning.

There is a sense of enclosure.

And that is what is missing from our home.  A sense of enclosure and privacy.

So I have been working with Susan Anderson from Urban Eden to create a historically appropriate landscape plan for the house. 

As I told her .... I want it to look like a flower farmer lives here.

I am trying to a develop a sense of public and private spaces on the farm without huge signs that say "Stay out!  This is mine!" or gates that lock people out.  Susan has come up with a wonderful plan.  I won't share it with you until I have time to go over it with Honey ..... we always have to think and mull over ideas.

I will share some of the new plants that will be going in the garden this fall for next year's cutting ....... maybe.

First of all ......... I ordered this new peony.

photo courtesy of Van Engelen

They describe it as very fragrant and watermelon-colored.  YUM! 

I am trying to fill a time gap that I have in early June.  So I am working on some new planting techniques and some new plants.

Alliums are some of them.  I ordered Purple Sensation allium.  Tall with 4" blooms, they should be a nice addition to bouquets without being as over-powering. (Yet nothing is as spectacular as Globemaster which get 10" blooms!)

Photo courtesy of White Flower Farm

We also have more lilies, more peonies and more bulbs coming in this fall to plant.  And next spring .... ROSES!!!!!!

The plans are going into place now ... but in a few weeks ..... there will be a lot of life going on!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kitchen Make-Over ..........

You have heard me talk about a kitchen make-over for .............. say, 2 years now.

You are lucky.  My poor sweet honey has heard about it for 19 years.

Yea .... you can feel sorry for him.

But it is happening.  Not until December but it is happening.  Between Christmas and New Years.  Because Honey is off work then and he doesn't have to mow in December.  If it snows .... he will get more done.

And if you want to ask us out to eat in the above mentioned time frame .... we will gladly accept your invitation.  Unless I go over budget ......... and then I will accept a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to go.

But between now and November ... a lot of decisions have to be made.  And I have made a few!

Today ... we will talk cabinets door styles and stain colors.

There were several things on "the list" that I considered important.

1) I wanted an all-wood cabinet.
2) I wanted 3/4" solid wood drawer box with dovetailed sides.
3) I wanted full-extension glides on the drawers.
4) And I wanted the "look".

Number four has been the tough one to accomplish.

Oh wait ..... then there was the budget.  But I did come within a reasonable range.  OK ... we came really close to nailing it!!!

So I decided on a company named Kabinart. They make a solid wood cabinet and I am happy with the quality.

 I chose a maple door with a recessed panel....... called Hampton.  I am doing painted finishes throughout .... this is a lovely ivory color that will be on the majority of base cabinets.  It is just a shade lighter than the Sherwin Williams "Blonde" paint that is on the walls.  We will also be painting two existing wall cabinets to match.

Then I am mixing it up a bit with another door style that will be on a baking center.   The door has a bead board insert.  And we are putting bead board on the back of these cabinets and the backsplash.  I want it to look like a piece of furniture.

There will be restoration glass in the wall cabinets.  Restoration glass is old style hand blown glass.  It is wavy and bubbly and perfect for my old house.

The cabinets in the baking center will be a light green (Willow) with a coffee glaze over it.  The door style is called .......Cottage.  Yea ... it fits.

The sink base will also be the willow green.  I think it will be nice with the farmhouse sink.

Now to move on to other matters..... floor, hardware, faucets and countertop.  Might be a while as I am struggling to find exactly what I want for the price I want to pay.  Yea ..... I will tell you about it as I figure it all out

But you knew that already!  ;)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The perfect diet .......

Or .... don't read while eating.

A few weeks ago, my boss at Scott Community College informed me that they needed more instructors for the ServSafe program.

ServSafe is the food sanitation program that is needed to work in more and more schools, hospitals, nursing homes and  restaurants.

Teaching the class gives me another chance to grow and learn .... and make some money.  So I was willing to go through the program.

THEN .... I get the call a couple of weeks ago.

We have a class starting on Monday.  Can you take it?  

Uhhhhhhh ........ it's July.  I have started with some canning.  And the weeds are reaching critical level.  And do I have the brain power to study and memorize right this very moment??

So on July 20 -- I settled behind a desk for 6 hours of instruction.   

And I did it again this past Monday.

I studied and studied.  I learned about e.coli and botulism.  I learned about hand-washing and equipment problems.  And I learned to use a thermometer .... over and over again.

I had Honey quiz me on terms and bacterias and parasites.

And then it was time to take  the exam ....................

And everything I studied flew out the window!!!!!  (Not really .... but I don't know the results of my test yet.)

Until this morning .... and I read this article.

 Cyclosporiasis!!!!  Symptoms include vomiting, stomach cramps, substantial weight loss ... etc, etc.

Yea ..... I might be living off water for a while!

Oh wait!!!!!  Contaminated water can cause e.coli or cryptosporidum or shigella!!


OK -- I might be living on love!  ;)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Starting my day off with a bang!

It is 6:45 am.

The breeze is gentle and the sun is comfortable as Honey and I sit on the patio, in the Gumby chairs.

It is early.  I am still in my jammies ..... my cup is full of Mississippi Grogg coffee from Dubuque.  The rich smell of hazelnut is slowly waking me up.

Cats are on our laps and sitting on the arms of the chairs as we discuss the plans for the day.

Projects and weather.  Sewing and supper. And those two home improvement shows we had already watched this morning. 

All those big important discussions of life. 

What color of shades to I buy for the bedroom?  Do we need a new coverlet?  Do we have enough bottled water for our customers today?

Crash!  Bang! 

And then that sound of breaking pottery and glass that no words can describe ........ but we all know!

Barefoot ... as usual ... I run into the kitchen to see ................

the floor.

Covered in  broken pottery, spilled cake flour, vinegar, and dented cans.  Pieces of wood hung mid-air ....with no visual means of support.

Well --- I really didn't see the floor.  I saw cans of corn and beans, pickles and spices.  Boxes of cocoa.  And lots of rice, mixed with shards of Pyrex.

The 35 year old wall cabinet ........ bit the dust.


Committed suicide by jumping off the wall ............ and taking my really cute tea-pot that looked like a chicken sitting on a nest ........ with it.

Smashed my beautiful snapdragons but fortunately, didn't break the water pitcher I was using as a vase.


Suddenly .... the tape measure comes out.  The shade samples get put away.  And I take another look at the coverlet .... thinking it could handle another dye job!!!

And the kitchen is suddenly sent to the top of The List.  
Unfortunately, my bank account doesn't seem to agree with that assessment.  So it will be done ... a few pieces at a time.

Wanna buy some flowers????

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Please don't call them wildflowers.........

The phone rings.

It is a bride, looking for flowers for her wedding.

I want wildflowers, she says.

I think to myself ............ You and everyone else that has been on Pinterest.

And then .... the internal war breaks out.

Do I???  Don't I??? Do I??? Don't I??? Do I correct them??

And I usually "do". 

Do you want orange ditch lilies, queen anne's lace, chickory and partridge peas???  Because I don't grow wildflowers.  I grow snapdragons and lilies and dahlias and zinnias and sunflowers.  And they don't grow wild ... they grow in rows with as few weeds as possible!  We call them "garden flowers".

Slow Flowers ..... locally grown fresh flowers.  Sustainably grown, carefully planted, staked, weeded and fertilized.  They are dead-headed and pinched and pampered.  This year ... they seem to only be watered by mass quantities of rain.  :(

Not wild flowers.

They are not wild.

I blame articles like this one for the misguided perception.

photo courtesy of Wedding Shoppe Inc blogger Hannah Arkelin

 Now ..... this is the line that really pisses me off.

  As “rustic chic” became popular, so did wildflowers. While I love the look, doesn’t it seem silly to spend upwards of $300 on a floral arrangement you can find in a field? It’s a bit excessive to send your personal attendants into the wild to find dream blossoms, but what about the local farmer’s market?

Wait???  You think these flowers grow willy-nilly in some roadside field???

Oh sista, spend a day in the heat and humidity, weeding with me and you will be paying that $300!!!

And then ... she posted a picture of the bouquet.

photo courtesy of Wedding Shoppe Inc blogger Hannah Arkelin

I love the bouquet!  I love that the flowers are local and were purchased at a farmer's market.

There are Asiatic lilies, sunflowers, zinnias, Blue Bedder salvia and snapdragons.  All grow in my cultivated gardens.

But I have yet to see a snapdragon or an Asiatic lily growing in the ditches along my gravel road.

I shouldn't pick on Hannah.

E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E is calling a loosely constructed bouquet made of naturally grown flowers .... wildflowers.

Not wild!

But realize .... these beauties take a lot of time and energy.

And love.

Still not wild!!!

We raise these beauties with love.

It's the secret ingredient!

Lizzies!!!  Love them!!!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Second Verse .........

Same as the first.
A little bit louder.
And a little bit worse.

(Now you, too, have that song stuck in your head!  Thanks Herman's Hermits!)

No ..... we are still in that awful weather pattern.

Rain ... rain ... and more rain.

We had 4.3" of rain on Monday.

Then we dried up on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday ........... only to have the skies open up again on Saturday.

We have cancelled book clubs, mom's groups, classical guitar recitals and basket weaving groups because of rain.

I am certain  .... if we schedule it .... it will rain.

And now it is Monday again ......... and more rain is on the way.  Along with some heat and the humidity that only comes from growing corn.

A little bit louder.
And a little bit worse.


We did have some great weather on Thursday.

So ...... here is the secret I have been holding for a month or so.

Iowa Public Television and the show Iowa Ingredient made a visit to Miss Eff's on Thursday!!!!

The. Most. Beautiful. Day of the Year.

Hands down.  Gorgeous.  Happy Dance Day.

Courtesy of IPTV

So -- if you know Honey and I at all .... you know that we are PBS fans.  Some would call us PBS addicts and junkies.  Yep.  I won't deny that.

I heart Downton Abbey.  
I love Call the Midwife.
I have a celebrity crush on Ken Burns,
Or Sherlock ...... I really can't decide. 
I learn a ton about science and history from Nova and Secrets of the Dead.
America's Test Kitchen improves my cooking skills and Nancy Zieman makes me want to sew.
I watch This Old House over and over and over again.

(And we named our new kittens after Norm and Tommy!  Already had Roger!)

So can you imagine how I jumped up and down with excitement when Iowa Ingredient wanted to come to Miss Eff's?????

So you want to know what ingredient does Miss Eff have????  Well ... we do have edible flowers if you would like but we were interviewed for a segment that runs at the end of the show called.... On the Side.

Courtesy of IPTV

 Just a small slice of what else is going on in Iowa's growing community.  

But don't look for us anytime soon.  The segment will air sometime late spring of 2016.

That made for a super cool Thursday on the farm.

Now my secret is out .... 

My farm looked good.  There is still a lot of things on the To-Do list.

But they won't get done today.

Cue the rain!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

First World Problems ...........

It would be really easy to have a pity party here today.

Last night -- a storm blew up and this was the result.


And of course, I kind of freak.   Like I should have been able to prevent this!  Now ... all in all, we had very little damage.  My huge big pots of petunias got cut back naturally and my lilies with open blossoms were deadheaded ... sort of.

The foliage on the strawflowers is a little worse for wear but you cut it all off anyway.

But no buds were damaged ... the lilies weren't flatten.  Almost all of our flowers will recover very nicely.

Yea ... it has been kind of  a tough year so far.  And I have admit.... I am glad that June is over and done. 

It has rained and rained and rained again.  The temperatures have been lovely ... if you are not a tomato or a zinnia or a sunflower and then you are craving for 85° to 90°.

Everyone wanted flowers in May ... and I didn't have them.

Now I have flowers ... and no one wants them cuz it is raining .............. again. 

So I moan and whine and complain that I don't know what I am doing.   And all the dreams that I have of a sparkling new kitchen are running down the creek with the latest thunderstorm.

I need a mule to kick me in the head!!!!

This is NOT a biggie!  This is a pain!  This is an inconvenience!  This is not working the way I wanted it to... but it is working!

Only in America, would we complain about not having a nice enough roof over our head!!!!

So this holiday weekend ..... I am going to try REALLY hard not to complain about the immense bounty of rain that we have had!  I am going to celebrate these beautiful flowers and the crisp blue sky even if it is full of clouds.

Because we are blessed...... very very blessed.

And I need to realize it and be grateful.