Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Glamour Don't

If my kitchen was featured in Glamour magazine ...... it would have a big black band over its face.

Yep ... it would be titled "How not to wear pots and pans successfully".

Currently .... my kitchen has entered the adolescent stage. It is like being 13.  The awkward motions ... the braces ... the out of control hair .... the acne .....the tears .... it is all there.  But you know in just a short time ... it will be beautiful.  But it is soooooo hard to get through!!!  So consider this my kitchen's 7th grade school photo ..... as taken by a photographer that just wants to get out of the gym!

Yep ..... this is my functioning kitchen.

What??? You don't see a sink???  We call it multi-tasking.  The bathtub functions (on its time off from regular duties) as a kitchen sink.

Now ..... it is time to imagine ......

Let me walk you through the layout......

(I do this several times a day ..... dream, dream, dream, cry!!!  Dream, dream, dream, cry!!  I do have lists where EVERYTHING is going!  Lots of lists!)

Just to the right of the door will be a 12" cookie sheet base cabinet and an 18" dishwasher.  IF I had gone with a 24" dishwasher, I would have had lots of fillers and some wasted space.  With an 18" dishwasher, I gain a cabinet.  There are only two of us and the dishwasher will hole 11 place settings of dishes.

And I am going to white.

Yep.  I know.  I am breaking all the rules.  Kitchens in 2016 must have stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.  But not here. Not me.  I like white appliances.  Simple.  Plain.  Old-fashioned.  Cheaper. I would have liked to put a cabinet door over the dishwasher but it not available.

The majority of the cabinets are maple with an ivory finish.  They will have cast bronze bin pulls on the drawers and matching knobs on the doors.  The hardware matches the window lifts and locks and is a reproduction of 1885 Branford Lock Works hardware.

To the right of the dishwasher is my beautiful farmhouse sink.  Sigh.  <3 p="">
It will be mounted in a willow green cabinet with mocha glaze.  Instead of the brass hardware ... it will have glass knobs and pulls.

Then .... to the corner.  Where there will be NOTHING!  Yep.  There isn't enough room for a lazy susan.  So I would be stuck with a blind cabinet where a person only stores the stuff they never use.  IF I would make this a truly usable space, I would need a LARGE blind corner cabinet.  Which would totally eliminate the recycling cabinet and part of the pots and pan storage.

So I had what I considered to be a better idea.

Get rid of the stuff I never use and just leave the corner empty.
Nothing there.
Can't get to it.
OK ... there is a filler so everything will open properly and supports for the countertops etc.  But no functioning cabinet.

No ... it is not a sin.

My sink was under this window.   Looking into the neighbors fence.  By moving the plumbing to the other window, I was able to fit a dishwasher and really gain some great counter space.  And I get to look at my backyard.  Which I really like.

But now ..... there will be  the recycling center (two garbage cans), 36" drawer base and an 18" cabinet base.  The wall cabinets up to the stove will be my open shelf cabinet and the plate rack that Honey built me.

I will go through the rest of the cabinets at another time.

This weekend's plans are to paint.

That means the 13 year old's acne will be covered and everything will look soooooooo much better.

So .....  to make Honey and I feel better, this is what Honey has done since December.

Repaired ceiling and primed and painted.
Repaired walls with lots of plaster washers and drywall filler.
Insulated a wall, replaced broken lath and plaster with drywall.
Made new trim for windows.
Moved two light fixtures.
Added 2 new electrical boxes.
Rebuilt/ replaced 4 electrical boxes.
Replaced toggle switches with push button switches ... including a push button dimmer.
Removed all cabinets and set up a temporary work space.
Blocked holes and filled every little crevice with foam to keep things as tight as possible ..... in an 1892 farmhouse!

Now ... all the demo work is done.  We get to put everything together again.

So why am I going on and on about my kitchen update?

Well, News Flash!!  I will be teaching cooking/canning lessons in my kitchen in the near future.  Yes .. I will still be teaching at Scott Community College.  But by teaching cooking at my home, I can do smaller one-to-one classes ...............on Saturday.  Not every Saturday but watch for up-coming classes.

It is something people have been asking for and I think I can fill a small niche class.

I hope.  ;)

Monday, February 22, 2016


So .... you hear a lot of politicians talk about mental health.

They don't do much to help  .... but they talk a lot about it.

And if you listen to them, you would think that all mentally ill people are bat-shit crazy loons, roaming the streets of America, trying to harm everyone else.

Well ..... this is mental illness in my world.

I suffer from severe clinical depression.  I spent years in therapy and on medication.  (I personally believe it should be a combination of both ... not merely drugs .... but what do I know??)

The last several years, I have been off medication and have felt wonderful!!!

I know my depression gets worse in the winter (SAD) but with good friends, a loving husband, and spending time in creative endeavors ..... I have done well without meds.

Until this year.

This winter has become a bit of struggle.

Remodeling is a total disruption of my surroundings. I reach for a pan and remember it is packed away.  I turn to grab a cup of coffee .... and realize the coffeemaker is in the laundry room.

Boxes filled with  flooring and electrical boxes and appliances litter my living room.

So I have worked doubly hard to keep the darkness of depression away. And on the whole, I have done well.

Until last week.

And suddenly, I am being confronted with another problem that I have never had, anxiety.

Yep.  Twice last week, I had anxiety attacks ..... panic attacks.

It first happened on Thursday as I was getting ready for class.

I was teaching an Introduction to Interior Design class.  This has been a difficult class for me to teach.  I know the subject inside and out.  I have the resources and the knowledge but I have had concerns that I am not reaching my students.  Getting them to participate and share has been difficult.  I have tried projects .... asked questions ... and I feel I am not exciting them.

As I was going through my notes and my Powerpoint, it started.

My heart races .... I get nervous and upset.

And I brushed it off ..... What in the heck was that????

I took a couple of deep breaths and I was off to class.

Until Saturday morning.

I was speaking at Nursery School at the I Wireless Center.  And as I double check my photos one more time, just one more time ................. my heart starts to race.

I know what is happening and I try to control my breathing.  But it is much worse than before.  Deep breath.  Deep breath.  Just keep breathing deeply.  You'll be okay.  You'll be okay.

I try to talk my way through the panic and fear.  I am totally frightened and scared.

It is beginning to make sense.

All winter .... I have wanted to stay home.  I want to stay in the space where I feel safe. I need to feel safe with the people around me.  People that don't judge ... people that love me.   And now, I am beginning to know why.

Another phase of mental illness is striking me.  And as someone that does a lot of public speaking .... Wow! Anxiety can be debilitating. 

Back to therapy ..... back to medication. 

The struggle never seems to end.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How do they do it????

So ...... parts of my mornings, when I am spinning or knitting or embroidering, include binge watching HGTV shows Fixer Upper and Property Brothers on Netflix.

And I have to admit, I get discouraged.

I mean ... really????  You can totally re-do this house in 3 weeks or 4 weeks..... and have very few issues??????

Now ... I know there are many people working on those projects.  And they never show the bad stuff.  Well, not the really bad stuff that they can't fix in 15 minutes.

So ...... if you too, are addicted to DIY shows .... I am here to give you a reality fix.  This should be entitled ... So why did they do this????

This past weekend's project in the kitchen was to finish the wiring on the east wall.  The boxes needed to be moved.  Two outlets needed to be changed out to GFI's outlets and four pushbutton switches installed.

Honey had removed the cabinets earlier in the week and discovered plywood covering part of the wall. On Saturday, he removed the plywood to discover this ......

Plaster missing.

And although all this area is covered by cabinets ... we decided to repair it.  So off to the big box store that we hate .... and we walked the entire length of the store to buy a small sheet of plaster board.

THEN Honey tore into the wall ......

Evidently, there had been repairs before.   There is a line across the wall.  Upper part is drywall.  Lower part is plaster.  The nails on the lath are different.  The lath "patched" into place.  And the plaster is different from the rest of the wall and is the consistency of concrete.


OK ..... it is concrete.

So the plaster came off ....

The lath came off .....

And another surprise!!!  No insulation under the plaster!  Behind the drywall .... yes.  Behind the plaster .... no!!!


Back to the big box store we hate to return small sheet of plaster board and buy a whole sheet of plaster board.  That Honey had to trim off 1/4" to fit.   (If you have ever cut drywall etc .... you know, it is those tiny measurements that really are a pain to do.

And we found out what was done with the leftover concrete......

Dumped between two studs.   :(

This might have been a two frowny face moment.

So that is cleaned out .... the wall is insulated ... and drywall is put into place.

And I am cussing Joanna and Chip Gaines for getting everything done in three weeks.

This weekend, hopefully, the electrical will be done.  Once that is done, the walls can get painted, the floor can go down and some of the chaos will go away.  That also means the sink will go away..... but the cabinets are scheduled to be shipped next week.  So hopefully, we are putting things back together by the first of March.

In the mean time ..... rejoice with me on the beauty of my light fixture.

This is the light fixture that was in my parent's dining room in 1961.  I cried when they tried to throw it away.  So they stored it in the basement for a few years and tried to throw it away again ..... and I cried.  

And I hauled it around for years in the trunk of my car until I had the perfect house for it.  

Honey put it over the stove for me 16 -17 years ago.  But finally, I spent the time to polish it up. 

It won't look like this for long.  It is un-lacquered brass and it will naturally tarnish but for the moment, I can delight in its pretty glow of polished brass.  

OK ....  one more photo ...........

That is worth two smiley faces!!!  :)  :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

They will be Glad to see you ..........

Several weeks ago, I started working on flower orders.

This is going to be a very exciting year at Miss Eff's with lots of new stuff happening.

First of all, this guy is joining the gang at Miss Eff's (okay, he is joining me!) as head groundskeeper.

Thanks Trisha, for the photo.  It is one of my favorites!

Yep ..... 58 days till retirement.

OK .... we know the word "retirement at Miss Effie's" is code for ..........

OMG! He has never worked so hard in his life!

Poor guy.  Once upon a time, he needed something to do.  And then, he met me.  ;)  His Honey-Do list is longer than War and Peace.

But let me move on from there...........

For a couple of years, I cut down the number of flowers that I was growing.  I felt it was important to do what I could well rather than taking on too much.  And trust me, that didn't always work out the way I wanted it to work.

Now, I am back to ordering LOTS of flowers/ bulbs/ corms/ tubers and seed.  I really want to surprise you with everything that will be new.  But I think you need a sneak peak.

Usually, I order mix bags of gladiolas.  And I did again this year ...... bright and a pastel mix.  But I added some named varieties this year.    

One that I have grown for several years is Green Woodpecker.  And it is back again.  I love how crisp and fresh this color is. 

All photos are from Google Images

I think it is amazing when mixed with pure white glads.  Like Alaska.

If you have ever been to the farm before .... you know I am a sucker for pink.  If it is a pink flower .... I will buy it. I never met a pink flower that I didn't love.  Like this glad ..... Pink Event. 

Or this one ..... Tampico.

The darker pink eye has always made it one of my favorites.

And finally ..... something sunny for this cloudy gloomy day on the east of Iowa........ Yellow Emperor.

Honey and I are super psyched about the upcoming season.  There are new fences going up classes in the new kitchen .... face lifts on structures .... veggies to buy along with the flowers and eggs. 

And I hope you are as excited as we are.  

Cuz we will be really glad to see you!!!! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Challenge of DIY

I enjoy seeing the DIY Challenges that come up in the blogosphere.

Create a holiday centerpiece, do a 5 minute project, up-cycle a piece of furniture, remodel the bathroom in a weekend.   All proposed and supremely executed by others......not me.

Not that I am not a DIY gal.  I knit, sew, spin and embroider.  I make my own curtains, paint furniture and try to design thoughtful and useful spaces in my home. I kind of deal in the world of creating.

But honestly, I do Slow DIY.  Nothing is whipped up overnight.  Everything I do .... goes slowly.  It may look like I get a lot done in a day .... and I try to complete a project a day.  But those projects may have been started 6 weeks ago.

And so goes my kitchen.

I have learned that any kitchen remodel can take the most sane person over the edge.

And trust me ..... sane and Miss Eff have never been used in the same sentence.  Except now .... wink. wink.  But Slow DIY gives you a thoughtful perspective of the joys and struggles that happens when you remodel.

When I was six or so, my parents took a typical 1915 bungalow style and essentially, blew it up.

They moved every door in the house except the front door.  The staircases moved.... the bathrooms were moved and a 15x30 addition was put on the house.  All the existing plaster was removed and re-plastered.

The kitchen became the family room.  The family became the kitchen with the help of another addition.  The dining room became a bedroom.  And the living room became the hallway and a bank of closets.  The old staircase became a bathroom downstairs and closets upstairs.

And my parents lived in it .... with 3 kids under the age of 6 ..... while all the work was being done.  I remember the project taking almost a year .... but I was 6..... and time drags on forever when you are 6.

Dad did a lot .... but we had electricians, plumbers, carpenters and bricklayers there on a daily basis.  I remember Mom commenting about having no more plaster dust, just floating around.

It was an adventure.

And for me, it would be a training school for the future projects I would take on.

Like the our kitchen remodel.

Now ... unlike my parents ... Honey and I are insane enough (translation!) to do it ALL ourselves.   At the AARP age.  (translation ...we don't move as fast as we used to!)

And we are living in it ... and cooking in it.  There are cookbooks and dishes stacked in the living room and in the bedrooms.  The laundry room has become an extension of the shop.  Essential cookware is organized on a card table.  And lighting is provided by an old floor lamp.

For the moment ..... I still have a sink.  But later this week, the cabinets will be totally gone and we will work on the walls behind them.

Containers hold pieces of brass light fixtures that I am trying to restore to their past gleaming glory.  Paint trays wait to hold the primer that will go on the wall. Buckets of drywall compound sit on the counter.  Drop clothes hang over the top of the antique hutch until it can be pushed back into place .................. after the floor goes in.

It is not a pretty picture.

Progress is slow ..... but like the tortoise, it keeps moving forward.  Slowly and deliberately, everything is getting done and done well.

I've discovered I am not an HGTV gal that says I can do this project in 3 notes.  (Whoops!!!!!  Wrong show!!!)

But time allows you perspective to make those perfect decisions and re-think some you already made.

The cabinets will be arriving in a week or so.  We have a lot of work to do in that time frame .... or not.

We are not punching a clock .... or running an airline.  It is my kitchen ... and as long as I have a slow cooker and an indoor grill ..... it is perfect.

Oh ... and my coffee pot.

Please don't take away my coffee pot.