Chicken Blog by Natalie

{this moment} - 11 hours 5 min ago
A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

William, Maria, Max, and Alex... family night, at home, making sugar skulls, covering seats, and making a DVD.

T'was The Day Before Halloween... - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 08:06
And all through the house the creatures were stirring!

We have 45 sugar skulls. We have new seat covers. We have a baldric, a scabbard, and sword, a May Chang dress, britches, and a waistcoat. We have... a lot more to do before Halloween! It's kind of scary, actually. As for celebrating Dia De Los Muertos, which I feebly tried to rationalize... I offer this amusing example of how impossible it is to satisfy everyone's holiday-religious-non-denomenational sensibilities: From The New Yorker, "Dear Mountain Room Parents."

As for us, I say cheers for the foolhardy, the creative types, the makers and DIY diehards! It's all hands on deck and full STEAM ahead, with joyous abandon! We shall prevail.

The Gnomes Are In Their Garden - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 09:35

The gnomes I made last September have been hibernating in a box. Not quite forgotten, but definitely undisturbed. When I saw a tabletop greenhouse at Ikea I couldn't resist adding it to our cart, because I knew it was an ideal spot to bring out our gnomes. With some moss, foam for filling in most of the base, and two live ferns, we were ready to build a garden home. The ferns are in their pots, and lots of moss makes the whole scene look lush and full. We dotted the garden with our paper clay mushrooms, which are built on sewing pins, so they can stick into the foam. Then, the gnomes moved in. They seem quite happy. We put them on the shelf at the bottom of the stairs.

I made a mailbox, too. It began as a miniature dog house (Michael's craft store) and I added a stand and base, painted it our Beloved Blue, and gave it a painted address on the front. Those were my first mitered cuts! I was positively glowing with the success, when Maria declared that we would need a Little Free Library, too. Right she was, so we modified one more dog house, and now our new Little Free Library is open for sharing! Katherine, and her bookcase home are upstairs, but the gnomes keep the mailbox and library beside their garden. Deer have begun to gather there, too. And the smiling lady I made in 7th grade. Oh! And one more visitor frequents the spot! Mister Foo!

Five Good Things - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 07:13

That was a good weekend. Between cleaning streaks, many errands, and loads of laundry, I got to play quite a bit. Alex and Max are nearly finished painting the barn. It's Barn Red, almost. Don't ask me how I know, but it seems like when you get to the last details of painting everything takes more time, and gets harder, to the point where it *ahem* can drag on for quite some time. Yeah, but please, don't ask me how I know this. William has been battling the elements and materials to find a way to finish his scabbard, and last night, almost near another catastrophe, he hit upon a solution, and is probably only hours away from having a finished sword and scabbard. Plus! We finished the 18th century waistcoat! I can hardly describe the relief. Fourteen buttons, loads of hand sewing, and just all the customizing and troubleshooting. Totally worthwhile, I admit. I cannot wait to share pictures! He looks amazing in it. Geoff is finishing the wood recovery and leak issues of the deck, and that is probably tedious/frustrating work, but he took time out to do some fun and creative tinkering when Paul M Paul the Bearded One came over... it was great seeing them put their heads together over a welding project. {Random facts... We know a lot of Paul's, and I just realized we know two Paul M's.} I cleared the rose bed, and put in some flowers, started a scarf, made a friday dinner that fed us all weekend, and started another mushroom housing development. Also, I am in the middle of creating Maria's Halloween costume... yes, there is a pattern, but it's too small, and bears very little resemblance to the desired result... May Chang. Once again, I am altering and modifying, and bewildered. Fortunately, Master Foo, muse and amuser, is on hand to lend a paw. There was so much more... sewing lessons, Zombie shows, homework. Now, here we are, Monday, again. And still more to get done, but I have this pleasant feeling, this lovely impression that it really was a good weekend.

Good Things...

1. Last week we enjoyed Animal Misfits. And this week we were engrossed in a new Nature episode, A Murder of Crows! After chickens, these brilliant birds may be my favorites.

2. My iPhone. I just love this thing... it's handy, clever, useful, convenient, and good.

3. Cool nights. After weeks and weeks of enduring heat, complaining about unseasonal weather, we have weather I can embrace. I love it.

4. New pants for Max! At last I've found pants that Max feels comfortable wearing. This has been a two year quest, and it made me so happy to see the look of relief and pleasure he wore when he tried them on and found these comfortable, good looking pants fit his needs.

5. We are going to watch Meet Me In St Louis next Saturday night. This represents all kinds of goodness... it may rain on Saturday, it may be cold, Tootie Smith is a hoot, and watching this family favorite is one of the many annual holiday traditions we enjoy. I'm so excited about these prospects.

Halloween is nearly here. Oh, gosh. We are looking forward to all the friends and fun coming with that day. But there's so much to do! Are you ready? Ready for the new week, ready for next weekend? Anything good you'd like to share? Happy Monday, friends.

{this moment} - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 04:30
A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Bambi, with English homework, while Alex prepares for a calculus midterm.

Our Fine October Weather - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 08:58

It's not raining. Not like at my mom and dad's place, raining day, and night, on the Oregon coast. We aren't sitting in the dark, waiting out a Nor'easter! Stay safe, friends. But this morning, I pulled the quilt up to my chin, and saw that it was a lovely fifty-seven degrees Fahrenheit. Lovely, and cool-ish. Our days are still hovering around the mid-seventies, which is hardly seasonal, but as I was describing to Delia, we got so accustomed to temperatures in the eighties, nineties, even... now the these "cooler" days are just fine, thank you very much. I say "fine" in a relieved, and resigned way. I dread the prospect of a dry winter, which I have seen forecasted for California. I dread more drought, heat, wind, even the simple lack of interesting weather. Granted, I cannot say I covet anything as interesting as they are enduring in Maine, or Massachusetts.

This morning our lawn was bedazzled in dew, and it was cool enough to hold the droplets in place. As the sun rose, and every drop of water was backlit, the yard looked as though it were sealed in a light frost. It was beautiful. A worthy illusion of autumn, of interesting weather. And with William's tombstones set up for Halloween... the effect was marvelous. It is cooler than before, and we have these soothing coastal mornings. It's fine... fine for gardening, fine for walks, fine for painting, fine for our busy October days.

Miniature and Make Believe - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 04:30
Small, tiny, little, and wee. We are making miniatures. Maria and I have become so enamored of the hobby that I decided to add a new label to our side bar. Miniatures will include our Make Believe play with small dolls, tiny figures, little dishes, and wee projects. The label is new to Chickenblog, but the obsession with small things has been with me since I was Maria's age. I still have the tiny dishes, pottery, a knife, scissors, some dolls, even an iron, from visits to Olvera Street, the mercados in Guadalajara, Esquintla, Puebla. Small toys were not only affordable, but easy to keep while traveling, moving, living in small homes. Miniatures are adorable, and have always captivated my imagination. I like them for the challenges in imagination... how to make something small and realistic? I like them for the make-believe appeal... a manageable space, where we can enjoy enacting a story, creating a world all our own. I am feeling a contentment and delight about finally unleashing my mini-obsession!

Last month I saw a picture on Pinterest of a tiny door set near the floor of a home, and it was arranged to look as though a Borrower, or maybe Stuart Little, might at any time come out, grab the morning paper, and greet the new day with a friendly, good morning! Kate's Creative Space calls them Fairy Doors. I didn't want this to be another cute thing to Pin. I wanted to jump in and play! Ironically, I haven't actually added a fairy door to our home, but Maria has had two mini making classes, and she and I have combed our home and craft stores for 1/12 scale delights! And we've been making. We love to tinker, play, and make... and miniatures have inspired all kinds of rethinking, and imagination in our making skills. We are using paper clay, and making breads, rolls, cupcakes, and vegetables. I've made a mop, a feather duster, a pencil set, and chalk, with wood and paints. It's a lot of fun seeing what can be made from a toothpick, or a bit of fabric and thread. We splurged on some little dish sets, and an ironing board, sewing machine, and gardening tools, and fortunately many of these minis can be found second-hand.

As we collected, made, and found objects we added them to a pretty box. And as the box began to fill, we realized that as much fun as it was to bring out our toys and play with them, we were really looking forward to furnishing a little home. Maria and I found a tall book case, with six shelves... or, floors. Each floor will be a room in the house, including two for the barn and stable. For weeks we've had our dishes, animals, crates, books, and ironing board sorted on the shelfs. It looked like moving-in day! We chose our Penny Wooden Doll, to be the home's primary resident. And Maria named her Katherine, Kit. We rounded up farm animals, and Maria brought out a pencil and paper, and gave everyone names... like Radagast, the friendly billy goat, and his companion Gandalf the Grey bunny. Maria likes to have Kit check all the animals before bedtime, she goes down two floors, with her St Bernard, Lucerne, to make sure her little farm is safe for the night. Then Kit is tucked into her doll quilt bed, with her knitting on her nightstand, and Sherlock Holmes to read before she sleeps.

This weekend Maria and I found some long abandoned, old wood furniture pieces. Some were broken, at the bottom of a very deep box of wood blocks, another was in the garage, in a heap of sawdust. They were in pretty sorry shape, but we were instantly sure of one thing: These could be perfect for Kit's home! William gave me a sandpaper lesson. To clean and smooth the pine pieces we started with a 120 grit... a bit rough, good for evening out the surfaces, and clearing out splinters. Next we applied a 150 grit, and this helped to smooth the wood. The next sanding phase we went at with 400 grit, and this one was especially good at getting the wood as polished as possible, so that we can try a painting technique that will make the wood pass for steel. We will try making the oven and stove look like an old powered coated steel, white with red trim, I think. Wish me luck! We spent a long while sanding, scrubbing, and dusting. Cotton swabs make great dusters, and toothpicks were great for detailing. We felt so excited about our find, especially seeing them look better and better.



Maria and I decided on a blue kitchen, and mixed our own paint to get Beloved Blue. We combined a grey and a bright blue satin finish acrylics from the craft store. We both enjoyed painting the pieces, while discussing details we might add, and how soon before we could put things away in the little house. Maria gets these sweet ideas... like having a pastry bag with icing in it for the cupcakes I made, or making cotton candy! We are starting to talk about lighting options, making circuits, using LEDs. William wants to help us plan other furniture and cut forms with our small mill. Maria has already sketched some good ideas for a hutch. She is learning about scale. Our little make believe place is one inch high for every twelve inches in our everyday lives. She pointed out that this makes Kit a very tall woman, at six inches high! We agreed to not get too fastidious about the scale, or too strictly adhere to historic continuity... a make believe world should be enjoyable, after all. We are inspired by many things, like Tasha Tudor, Stuart Little, The Borrowers, and The Secret World of Arrietty. Even our own Candle Light tradition has been a source of inspiration.

Would you like to see our make believe home, and some things we've been making?

The very appetizing caramel apples Maria made!

Radagast, who is a "very friendly and kindly goat," and his dearest companion, Gandalf the Grey.

Lettuce and carrots, like the bread and hamburger, made of paper clay, then painted with acrylics.

Kit with Lucerne, writing letters, before she reads.

Like Maria, Kit has Sir Conan Doyle's works at her bedside.

We love the Make in Make-Believe~

Five Good Things - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:12

It was Red Ribbon Week at school, and though Maria kept forgetting to wear red, she did put her heart and creativity into her poster. "Healthy Me ~ Way to Be" was the theme, and Maria illustrated a girl surrounded by good ideas and suggestions for living a healthy life. She drew a border with books, gardens, play activities, and community building suggestions, like sharing from your garden, and cycling. I like the pictures at the bottom, of the girl reading, and Maria's message, "Reading is good for you! So many books to read! Read a book! Big, and small, funny and spooky... read it all!" I love that these ideas were her own, and that they are a reflection of her school's message... it's not just rhetoric from the week's theme, but the genuine spirit and message our school and community honors and supports in classes, and special programs, throughout the year. We feel fortunate to be here, that Maria can go to to a school with such a healthy vision for its students and community.

Good Things...

1. We have {finally} chosen our house paint color! The important thing is that it has a pretty name, too. We committed with the first five gallon bucket of "Arrowhead Lake." It's blue. And it's bluetiful!

2. It took us 10 months to decide on a house color, and only moments to unanimously agree to paint the barn red!

3. Paul, Janece, and Amira came over with Mediterranean food... and we feasted on the delicious food, and happy company.

4. We watched the Nature episode, "Animal Misfits," which was wonderful. Mudskippers are hilarious and deeply odd, and I want to save the kakapo!

5. Seam rippers. It's not good how often I need this tool, but thank goodness for seam rippers!

Thinking about Maria's poster, I feel inspired to enjoy a nice walk today, to spruce up our Little Free Library, and maybe get around to tending our veggie garden, too. Happy Monday, friends. I hope there are good things awaiting you this week~

Playing House - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 07:58
Last year Maria and I discovered paper clay, and we made mushrooms, and houses, and wee gnomes, and gave little ornaments to friends. It's a simple craft, and gratifying, too. Saturday, while Maria was in her class in miniature making {Oh, yeah! Awesome stuff happening there!} I sat outside with our box of paper clay making supplies, and kept myself busy fiddling with the clay. We hadn't down anything with it since December, but it all came back to me, and I rolled out a tiny collection of capped mushrooms. Then a bitty house, or two.

Mushrooms. Houses. What if... Mushroom Houses?

Still small enough to be built on a sewing pin, but bigger than the mini mushrooms, I built a fungi with a door and chimney, and basically fell in love with the whole concept, and so I made three more! With this paper clay, the larger the pieces are the more challenging it is to keep the clay from cracking, and maybe I should be playing with other clays (FIMO?) but this stuff is so affordable and I love that I can paint it, too. It helped to use a small paint brush, dabbing it in water, and gentle brushing the clay so it would stay pliable and smooth. Also, pieces that split after drying repair quite nicely with a dab of Elmer's glue.

Have you ordered your Paperclay, yet?

After they dried through, and this took a bit longer with the larger pieces, I brought out the acrylic craft paints. Now, I wish I'd made more Mushroom Houses, because this is too much fun!

Two coats of red, one coat of grey, and dabs of bark brown. The spots go on with the end of a flat headed toothpick. Spot. Spot. Spot. Later I will slip a little bit of white wool into the chimney... it will look as if a cozy fire must be burning inside!

I'm not very good at getting uniform shapes, so the houses are folksy little nooks. Charming cottages, with character.

And the Mushroom Homes... well, they have a lot of charm and character, too!

{this moment} - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 07:27
A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Our red barn~

Scarily Sweet Sugar Skulls - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 04:30

Maria's after school cooking class did something not quite edible, but totally kitchen-fun... they made sugar skulls, in the Dia De Los Muertos tradition. I should add "Easy" to this post title: "Scarily Sweet and Easy to Make Sugar Skulls!" Dawn shared the recipe, as well as the online shop where she gets her molds and supplies. I've already ordered the medium mold. The directions are emphatic about two points: You cannot do this on a rainy or humid day, and you want a good quality meringue powder. Dawn brought out a ginormo bowl, opened a five pound bag of granulated sugar, added a 1/4 cup of the meringue powder, and only three tablespoons of water. Easy. Then, bare hands went into the bowl and she mixed it all up. It feels like damp sand. I love the texture. Then it's like filling sandcastle molds at the beach... just pack in the sugar, pressing firmly, leveling the sugar. Have a plate, or cardboard square ready, and place it over the open top of the mold, and flip, so you can steadily raise the mold off the sugar skull. I was surprised at how quickly this all came together, and how easily it held. We brought ours home to dry, and after 24 hours they already feel hard.

Dozens of skulls were already molded, dried, and ready for the students to decorate. I'm sure you can make up your own royal icing, and color it to suit your artistic whims, but if you are looking for instant gratification grab those grocery store icing tubes, with the fun decorator tips and get busy decorating your skull! After the handling, and all those dense globs of dye, no one here is tempted to eat these... eew! There was foil paper for the eyes, and for a rectangle on the forehead, where, traditionally, a deceased loved one's name can be inscribed in icing. As Rosie noted, the students jumped in with wild eagerness to decorate their first skulls, but when that initial burst of enthusiasm subsided and when they were on to their second, or third skull, they settled into patient and fantastic creativity. We saw some cleverly decorated skulls, and some very thickly iced skulls, too. It was all good fun. Properly stored, Dawn says they will last for years... hers is that gorgeous one at the top.

Though my own heritage is Mexican, Dia De Los Muertos is not a tradition we celebrated in our family. For me, these sugar skulls are a craft, and I add a reverent nod for the respect it is meant to symbolize, the remembrances of love ones who have died. The history of Dia De Los Muertos is fascinating... the marriage of cultures, faiths, and art. Now that we have dabbled in this art... maybe in the spring we can try our hand at decorating sugar eggs!

Five Good Things - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 06:37
The Moon, October 7, 2014.

The full moon this month felt exceptionally beautiful. It was bright, and silvery, and really stirred my soul. Early the next morning, I caught some of the lunar eclipse, too. The eclipse was beautiful, but I think seeing the moon rise, the night before, was my favorite. Now, I am eagerly anticipating the October 23 solar eclipse... ten days away! Be sure you are prepared, either by purchasing viewers, or making some safe viewing devises yourself... has some helpful links and suggestions.
Hopefully the cool, grey weather I have been so wishful and eager for, won't finally arrive and interfere with us getting a full view of the eclipse!

Good Things...

1. The house is as messy as ever, because we are getting so much done! It's frustrating, but a reality... sometimes things get a bit crazier, before they get better. But repairs, improvements, and projects are making steady progress.

2. Our new washer plays a pretty little tune when the cycle is through: "Die Forelle," Franz Schubert. Poor little trout. The tune is pretty, but the lyrics are actually rather disturbing, and this amuses us to no end, so that's good, too.

3. I've been invited to tea, and in the same email was shown great, comforting, sympathy. Ha, I just saw it... "tea and sympathy!" I tell you, it can make a world of difference to my heart and soul when someone says, I understand!

4. Pumpkin dog treats, the ones from Trader Joe's, are a huge hit in the Little Free Library. Maria refilled the jar, again, yesterday.

5. It's foggy. Right now, it's cool, dark, and foggy. It feels so good!

Happy Monday... I suppose we all wish it were still the weekend, but I hope this will be a good day for you~

What's New At The Little Free Library - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 12:21

Never mind the books in the Little Free Library {there are many!} Today we are talking about the treats in the Little Free Library. If you haven't been to a Trader Joe's in recent days you may not know that they are featuring Pumpkin Flavored Everything! Maria and I brought home a box of Pumpkin Flavored Dog Treats for the neighborhood pups. Now, with the classic milk bones, our canine neighbors can enjoy a seasonal pumpkin biscuit. We also strung some LED lights, which look lovely and bright on these dusky fall evenings. I still want to raise some funds so we can buy a bench. My big hope is to host a craft and bake sale, with an interactive activity. {The only things standing in my way are energy and gumption... oh, dear, it may never come together, in that case! Do you ever feel like you're getting nowhere??} That's it. That's my Little Free Library update. I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

{this moment} - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 04:30
A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Liz, Delia, Kai, and Beckie~ A random, chance meeting, far from their respective homes~ My aunts, uncle, and mother, and their joyful selfie that makes me smile tearfully... Mono Lake, California~

*In honor of loved ones, our special moments, and memories, I am including this fundraising link for
Walk To End Alzheimer's.
We all want to remember these special moments.

Get Ready For Eclipse Season - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:20 is helping us prepare for an eclipse season! Today, our post is a visit back to one of the most amazing eclipse experiences we've ever had the pleasure to enjoy, and since it occurred during Maker Faire, it was even more fun... it was a fitting and beautiful finish to a weekend dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math and sharing! At the end of our second day at Maker Faire, the hot day began to cool suddenly, and shadows shimmered, doubled and turned every edge into crescent shapes. The sun slowly disappeared behind the moon, and everywhere people were pausing to marvel at the occurrence. We got our hands on some safety viewers, and looked up. We shared the viewers with anyone passing by, anyone missing out on the eclipse, and it was like sharing magic. It was like the whole of the rest of the Maker Faire experience, where everyone is sharing and learning, and there is a constant exchange between people who are teaching and learning, giving, and receiving... but in this instance everyone was enjoying the same event, the same science of nature. Somehow, there is a kind of tangible sensation when hundreds of people all direct their attention to a common purpose and all are reveling in the experience, describing, admiring, engaging with each other and with the almost surreal happening. It feels really good, it feels affirming of the positive, thoughtful, inquisitive nature of people. It was inspiring because of the power of nature to unify us in our curiosity and interest, our knowledge, and our eagerness to learn more. The entire weekend holds some of my fondest memories, for the people, the place, the things we saw and learned, and shared, and I hold these moments dear.

We are thrilled to have our photographs featured in Michelle Hlubinka's article, Packing For Eclipse Season. "The lunar eclipse Wednesday morning kicks off a series of blood moons..." and "then… when the moon swings around to the other side of the Earth in a little less than two weeks, most of the United States (and Mexico) get a peek at a partial solar eclipse on Thursday, October 23rd!" Michelle has suggestions and practical tips for enjoying this month's celestial show, so I hope you will follow the links to her article, and look for her kind remarks about our Young Maker's Club, Love & Rockets! We feel honored to be a part of the good things that happen in the Make community!

Alex, Maria, Bambi, Eli, and Max~
San Mateo, California, May 2012

William's shadow, and the tree's, with the crescent edges created by the partial eclipsing of sun, where a small bit of the sun, like a ring of fire, makes these strange, beautiful forms. Michelle writes,
"... you don’t need to use fancy equipment to play with and witness this beautiful moment. All you need is a tiny hole. Take a piece of opaque board or foil to project the image of the obscured sun, pinhole-style, onto a flat, white surface the right distance away. Forget your hole at home? You can even make a tiny aperture with a curled finger or fist (as William, of Maker Club Love & Rockets showed us.)"

Five Good Things - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 09:49

Alex and Sarah made costumes and props for the Viking Festival. It was Alex's first visit to any Viking Festival, and we were so engrossed and busy with helping him prepare, that we hadn't given the idea of joining them enough consideration... I had a duh-lightbulb moment after they left, and Maria looked at me incredulously... "So, are we going tomorrow?" she asked. It was Sunday afternoon, and this was a now, or next year situation, so we scrambled, and found our way to the Sons of Norway Lodge.

What a great decision, what a happy discovery. The Viking Festival, encamped in a mixed terrain nook, adjacent to an old hall building, among olive and pepper trees, was small, but rich in activities and sights. We wound our way through stalls and demonstrations, among Vikings, knights, crafters, and traders. We discovered new crafts, inspiring projects, and tempting trinkets. I bought three yards of embroidered cotton trim. I almost bought a drop spindle, because, you know, someday I might be a shepherdess! I still might order a sheaf of wheat, because, you know, plaiting my own straw hat is probably on my bucket list, too. Maria and I were at the traditional Viking foundry, when Alex and Sarah caught up with us. Sarah had to head out, early, which was a shame. Then Bambi was able to leave work, and she met us, so that was a nice surprise. In no time at all, Alex's questions and interest in the traditions and techniques of Viking foundry work earned him a position as an apprentice, helping to heat the little forge for casting Viking charms. Travelers' souvenirs, made in the old way, of plumber's pewter. The experience was fantastic. We have been collecting tools, parts, and knowledge for our own backyard mini-forge and foundry, and this experience was priceless, and fun. I was trying to memorize all the details... soapstone for molds, coke and charcoal for the fire, double bellows pumped in alternation, lead-free plumber's pewter. I am sure Alex remembers more than I do, and the exciting part is that he and Max are on the right course, and this DIY vision is highly attainable.

We were there for only three, maybe four hours. We took away such good ideas, and compelling plans, it was time well spent, and full, and we wish we'd been both days! We must build a Viking tent, and those awesome chairs, a village! I fell in love with the kitchen, the kettles over the fire, the mud and straw bread ovens, the A-frame shelters, the linen tunics and aprons, the many new-to-me crafts... why-o-why didn't I write down the name of the cord making craft? With a small wooden lyre shaped tool these women were turning yarn or string into a woven cord. It was almost like crochet, but not. Gah! I really want to try this, too! I am sure you can imagine, I am so glad Maria nudged me into going to the Viking Festival. Have you guessed? We all want to go, next year.

Good Things...

1. I am still giddy for our cover-goat! Ada made the cover of a local paper, and I beam everyone time I see her face.

2. Alex and Bambi baked chocolate cupcakes... a treat in honor of Bambi's birthday. The unexpected surprise were the kiwis they added to the buttercream frosting! What a tasty flavor!

3. I found consumer eye-candy bliss at Ikea, where all of their Christmas merchandise is on display. I was utterly smitten with all the Swedish colors and themes, and cheer!

4. Little Debbie, our little and elderly hen, was looking terribly out of sorts, but has rallied, and is looking spry and plucky, again.

5. Is this "good?" I dunno, but I seem to be acclimating to our awful weather... _oh, gee, it's only eighty degrees? Goodness, it's practically chilly. What lovely fall weather_ No. Nope. I cannot bear this. Maybe it's a good thing, that I am getting used to the heat, which is better than always feeling like it's too miserably hot, but a real good thing would be rain, and fog, and mountain snow, and wind, and clouds, and pie baking weather!

Are you getting pie baking weather? Have you ever been to a Viking Festival? What good things are on your mind?

Ada Lovelace Cover-Goat - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 11:36
She could not be more surprised, or modest. Ada Lovelace Goat made the cover of the local paper. I brought her a copy, and she glanced at it, but I think her elated expression may have been over her Timothy hay breakfast, and not about being a celebrity. Tasha was only interested in breakfast. Both goats were volunteers at the school district farm, both as greeters and weeders, doing their part to support education and the environment, both worthy of some veneration.

"Veneration? Seriously?" The chickens were even less impressed than Tasha, or Ada. They clucked to remind me of the selfless hours they spent greeting visitors as school farm ambassadors.

The chicas are sweet, though, and they don't harbor any resentments. Mako did demonstrate for me how good a chicken cover shot would have been. Later today, we'll celebrate all the good deeds and hard work of our Bird House farm family. There'll be black licorice for the goats, and chard for the hens!

Maybe the animals are taking this in stride, but I have been giddy over this cover shot. When we rode by the post office, and I saw Ada's darling face, I certainly squealed. Thankfully, I've had the good sense and restraint to resist standing in front of the market, pointing out the paper to the shoppers, smiling wildly, and letting them know, "That's our Ada. That's our cover-goat." That would be silly, right? Yeah, I know. Of course blogging about it, plastering FB, that's totally cool, right?

"Got Your Goat," the caption reads. We think it's all pretty funny.

A Whole New Wall - Fri, 10/03/2014 - 13:28
Something is missing. No one is more distressed about this than Mister Washburn Foo, because all his life there has been a massive screen at this end of the living room, not for movies and entertainment, but for him to scale, and hide behind, and make his sweet Ninja moves from. Now it's gone, and he's a bit traumatized.

Mister Foo wasn't even a fur ball when we put our plans into action and built our big screen. It had long been a dream of ours, and after less than one year in our own home, we made the dream come true, and started having our first movie nights in the carport. Episodes of Planet Earth were our early favorites to screen outside. And then we had our first big screening, when we celebrated Alex's birthday... it had to be Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow! What a blast! We were spread across the lawn and under the stars. It was perfect. Almost. For some horrid reason our yard is a mosquito sanctuary, and by the second, or third, movie night friends were begging us to move the party indoors. We tried all the citronella in the world, and of course, removing all standing water, but in the end, the mosquitos won. We "temporarily" moved the massive screen indoors, and believe me there were many assurances that this was a "temporary" solution. It was odd, at first, and lots of fun, too, when we filled our home with friends and watched favorite movies. After awhile, I even forgot that we had a wall, windows, a fireplace! Those movie nights were such a pleasure... whether for a winter party, or family time at home, we enjoyed our screen a lot.

Last night the entire screen keeled forward, slowed down, and torn a bit, by a chair. But that thing is massive, and we were so relieved that Max and Maria weren't in their usual spot, doing homework on the living room floor. Mister Foo was out of harm's way too. Actually, I looked at him suspiciously, but I don't think it was his doing. Now the screen is down. Our living room looks odd. Bigger, too. We will get around to repairing the screen, and we have other movie night ideas up our sleeves. And we do have a movie barn, don't forget! One way, or another, the Bird House will still be a movie house... But I don't think I'll be such an easy sucker for "temporary" installations in the living room, again!

Now, if only we had the kind of weather that inspires a nice, cozy fire...

{this moment} - Fri, 10/03/2014 - 05:12
A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Geoff and William experimenting with the homemade vacuum chamber~ Peeps in Interstellar Space!

Bird House & Barn - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 04:30
... a Farm Report~

Happy October!

Actual fall, seasonal weather, and classic events of the season, may soon be ours to enjoy. The hens have stopped molting. Those poor dears were looking scrappy, and egg production took a dip. Now the ladies are fluffing up again, laying gorgeous eggs, of gorgeous colors. Ten hens, and all but one is laying. Little Debbie is an old lady hen, and we are happy to see her enjoying her golden years. Kamen is another dowager hen, but she still issues forth an egg every now and then... such gumption and resilience, that Kamen!

Goats! Maybe I shouldn't try so hard to get "good" pictures of these two. Sometimes I'll just be content to show them in their true form... ravenous, mobile, darling goats! I keep watching them for signs that we'll have a cold winter, hoping to see them start growing nice thick and wooly coats. Their big adventure this week was going to the school district farm, to greet visitors at the latest and greatest in education. Schools + Farms = Fabulous Learning! Tasha Tudor Goat and Ada Lovelace Goat were well-behaved, and made good efforts at mowing weeds, and making new friends. Maria was as busy as the goats, making friends, making seed bombs, and planting cover crops in the newly plowed field. She is always thrilled to be living her farmer dreams.

I am still neglecting my garden. Sigh. But even without much trying, we find little treasures and surprises popping up! Let me see... Swiss chard, eggs... I think we may begin this new month with a Bird House & Barn quiche!