Friday, September 25, 2015

When dinosaurs roamed the earth ............

When I was growing up ......... we had an oak crank-style wall-mounted phone in my Dad's office.

Kind of like this one ..... but not as fancy.

It wasn't decoration.

It was a working phone.  We would crank the handle and Phoebe or Rachel would  answer.  I would tell them who I wanted to call .......... and they would hook me up.

(Yes ... before Friends .... Phoebe and Rachel worked as operators for New Windsor Telephone.)

It was an old phone when we used it ........ but it was sooooo cool!

I grew up in an era of no phone calls after 8 ......... Phoebe deserved a quiet evening.

I grew up in an era of party lines .... where multiple people shared the same telephone line.  The "ring tones" were 2 shorts ... maybe 3 longs.

Because Dad was a large animal veterinarian, we had a private line.  But most of my friends had party lines.

I grew up with 4 digit telephone numbers .... which I still remember!!  Two on 136.

Now .... I can't remember where I parked the car, why I walked downstairs or what I had for breakfast this morning.  But I can remember a phone number from 50 years ago!!!!

So in my lifetime .... I have gone from operators and crank style phones to dial phones to push button phones.

And now ..... the dinosaurs of Donahue have entered the 21st century.

Say what??????????????

Yea .......... the Lafrenz's bought cell phones.

I know!!!!  

Can you feel the earth cooling???

So you can follow me on Instagram now.

This may take me a while.  After all ......... I still put two spaces after a period.

But I learned to type on this typewriter!


Dinosaur. Honestly, a dinosaur.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Counting the days ............

When I started Miss Effie's, I planted a 20'x20' patch of flowers.

I had 16 chickens.  Barely enough eggs for ourselves and a few friends.

We had no ducks.

No shop.

And the garden had no weeds.

Just a little business that paid for the chicken feed and a few extras.

We hoped the business would allow us to have the lifestyle we wanted ........... home-canned tomatoes, hand knit socks and fresh bread rising in the oven.

And then ..... my little business grew.  The gardens got larger.  The chicken coop expanded and ducks roamed the garden, gobbling up the grasshoppers.

We built the Summer Kitchen .... and that suddenly went from a place to sell eggs and jams to stocking hand made aprons and hand embroidered tea towels.  Knitting went from the casual project of a pair of socks for Honey to hats and scarves and dishcloths and fingerless mitts. 

Do I have the latest style??  Are the colors current??  Is there a mix of pastel and bold and neutral colors? 


The work load exploded!

Then, I discovered that I enjoy teaching.  A lot.

But teaching has its own demands from working on recipes and handouts to grocery shopping and loading the car full of sewing machines and supplies.  And a 3 hour class suddenly takes 6 or 7 hours to prepare and complete.

And the gardens ............ the weeds grew well.


And now .... I am counting the days.

Honey will be joining the Miss Eff team full time next year!!!

And. I. Can. Not. Wait.

Because we will have home canned tomatoes, hand knit socks and freshly baked bread.

Count on it, Honey!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Ode to Annie Lennox

Yes .... "Sweet Dreams". 

Cuz if that doesn't get ya moving on this wet rainy day ... well, you must be dead.

Back in December, I wrote this post about home sewn pillowcases.

I have to tell you ........... I'm still in love with making pillowcases. 

Look at these cute little birds!

I have been trying to get the Summer Kitchen stocked for our Christmas Bazaar.  (Which will be held Saturday, December 5th from 9-3.  Mark your calendars!!)

This is going to take a while! 

Owwza!!!  It needs a lot of merchandise before then!

Sew ...... I have been trying to get my sewing mojo on.  During a summer of flower-growing and weeding, I only do very very very quick projects.  Like 15-minutes-at-the-sewing-machine type projects.

Pillowcases are advertised as a 15-minute project. 

Rick-Rack.  My favorite!

They lie.

I am certain I have no idea what part takes 15 minutes.

Ticking and Paisley???  Yes, please!!!

Choosing between all the gorgous fabrics available???  More than 15 minutes.

And piping!

Figuring out trim and do I have enough in the stash???  More than 15 minutes.

Antique linen lace on this one!

Digging through my stash???  More than 15 minutes.  Totally more than 15 minutes!!!


Making the perfect french seam?????  More than 15 minutes!

This set has such an elegant traditional look.

Pressing ... pressing .... pressing.  More than 15 minutes. 

Definitely more than 15 minutes!!

(As I tell my classes .... you must press well as you are sewing.  It forms the basis for a beautiful item later.  You will never get those seams to hang properly if you do not press them right when you sew them)

I think I could become a pillowcase addict.  Once you realize the beauty of some of the fabric that is available .... it is worth making set after set.

There will be some new looks coming soon.

But as I said back in December ..... not a single super hero or Disney princess will grace the Summer Kitchen.

Cuz I only sew for those that might remember the Eurythmics.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bad Blogger!


I have got to be the world's worst blogger.

I try.

But I seriously fail.

But here I am .... accepting the award for World's Worst Blogger.  Of course, there are no photos because I didn't blog about it!

Bad.  Bad.  Bad Blogger.

I have no excuse .......... okay, I do.  But life has been no more busy than usual.

Canning season has finally arrived at Miss Eff's.  Honey and I have been working it in bursts and spurts.

At the moment ... we have concentrated our efforts on apples and pears.

I have made caramel apple jam, pear jam, pear-vanilla jam, pear butter and apple pie filling.

And I haven't made a dent in the apple crop.

But tomatoes.

That shelf should be filled with tomatoes!

Filled! I say!

But instead ............ I have 50' of tomatoes that look like this ..........

And this .....

Oh .... there are hints of color.

But look!!!!

There is some red.  Some gold.  

But it is mid-September!!!!

Fried green tomatoes, anyone?????

Thursday, September 3, 2015

It's kind of like that ..........


Last night, we were eating with friends.  One of the women prefaced her comment with ... I know you are a home economist and you aren't going to like this.

And then, she proceeded to tell about a canning method that is so dangerous, I won't repeat it here for fear of introducing it to some people.

Darwin described this behavior as survival of the fittest.  We would say ....  get those idiots out of the gene pool!

But back to the conversation ...........................

I sat for a moment ... hearing my mother's voice say ..... If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

If you can't say something nice.......

If you can't say something nice .........

Oh, what the hell!!!!!

Don't you dare do that method!! It is a recipe to food-borne illness and at worst, botulism.  You can not get the internal temperature where it needs to be for safety.

And I tried to explain why it is dangerous .......... what research was done ....... what really could happen.

My words fell on deaf ears.

Because someone had been doing it for years and they are just fine.

The trouble with food-borne illnesses .......... you can develop a bit of an immunity to improperly processed home canned food.  Oh ... you may have a little stomach problem every time you eat your salsa but you think you had a few too many greasy chips when in reality ............  the salsa had too many low acid veggies or you under-processed it.

HOWEVER .......... food-borne illnesses strike young children and the elderly quicker and faster than it strikes healthy middle-age people. 

It hits the people you care about.  People with compromised or under-developed immune systems.

Universities and the USDA do constant research on safe methods of canning.  If there were easier and quicker and safe ways ..... they would tell you about it.

Because their lives .... their children ... their families are just as busy as you are.

Read the Ball Blue Book.

Follow the directions.

To a T.

Cuz not one of these men ... fell off the ladders. 

They all lived.

Wanna put your safety and your families safety in their hands??

Yea .....

It is kind of like that.

(PS.  This rant has nothing to do with the fact that I am teaching Canning 101 for Scott Community College. But this conversation occurred right when I am prepping for a class on Monday September 14 at 6pm.  So I will do a plug for it right now.  For more information, you can call 563-441-4100.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Scrappy ............


It has been 17 18 19 20  days since I blogged???

Where has the summer gone????

I'd love to make excuses like ........... the cat ate my homework.  But I don't think that will work.

Our life has been, well ........ busy. 

Which is good for us.

Bad for the blog.

One thing I have gotten done is some sewing.  Sort of.

I sew in a 7'x15' room that also function as my office and library.  And this little tiny room obviously is a spin-off storage area for an un-named craft store!

There are baskets full of yarn, a ladder full of folded fabric, boxes of thread, storage containers full of felt, jars full of buttons .......and shelves full of books, manuals and patterns.

A textile mill was bombed and everything landed in my sewing room.

(We won't discuss the fact that is it flower ordering time and there are catalogs and seed orders and scraps of notes EVERYWHEREEverywhere.  Really.)

So instead of trying to organize this disaster .......AGAIN(!!!)..... I made the decision to eliminate some of problem. 

I got scrappy.

Which really is the only way that a textile-based business can make any profit.  You have to get scrappy.

Like all good textile lovers  collectors hoarders .... I save every little scrap of fabric and yarn.  

I have been making sandwich bags ...

And tissue cozies.

And pennant banners.

The little tiny scraps left over from one yard of fabric that was used for this apron .........

became this pennant .......

And this tissue cozy.

And then .... I did the most. amazing. thing. ever!

I took those little bitty scraps ... the ones that are cut on the bias and curved edges and are less than 4" square................................

I threw them away!!!!

 I know!!  Who knew that it could be done???? 

So maybe two more days or sew of sewing all those little pieces into something .... I might be ready to dig into some aprons that are on the to-do list.

After all ..... I hit the fabric store yesterday and I have to put stuff away!


A collector.  I am a high end fabric collector.