Chicken Blog by Natalie

{this moment} - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 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.

After school time with Maria, Leo, and Mister Washburn Foo... Miyazaki and popcorn, too!

Maybe Not Today - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:57

Mister Washburn Foo says, No bed making today, thank you. It's naps and baths, and more naps. That is all. You may be excused. 

When We Gather Leaves - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 10:25
When we gather the fallen leaves...

We bring them to Tasha and Ada Goat...

Then, whoosh! The leaves are gone.

Five Good Things - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 08:35
Our last lilikoi of the season. Maria loves her passionfruit, with a passion. They smell of Hawaii, taste sweet and tangy, and look alien and cool. And that's just the fruit! Have you seen the flowers on a passionfruit vine? They are enticingly, wondrously strange.

Good things...

1. Jelly jars, watered down glue, glitter, and candles... our craft gathering was perfect. We were a small group, but productive. And I think we should add a second event to our calendar, soon.

2. Hearing from friends, near and far {Australia, Spain, Florida!} who were crafting, too. I really love the connections and friendships I've made in this big, beautiful world.

3. Diana showed me how to rescue the stitches I dropped in my knitted thing. The thing may be more than I want to deal with, after all, but I was happy to learn a new trick.

4. Geoff and William labored over the small mill, and finally got it to do something very cool... it's carved, in wax, a small replica of the lion's head knocker on our bathroom door. Next up a carving in koa wood.

5. Sharing our home, our ideas, our manias, and projects with friends. Life is better shared.

Happy Monday!! Just kidding about the exclamation marks... I'm not that perky and go-get-'em about Mondays.

Happy Monday. Happy new week, happy fresh start. I hope you find plenty of goodness to enjoy, and share.

Bird House & Barn - Sat, 11/15/2014 - 09:23
... a Farm Report~

Can you tell Ada is bleating to beat the band? Seems it is the time of year when our dear Lady Goats, Ada and Tasha, are looking for romance. We've seen, and heard, the signs, before... long days of bleating, and when Tasha joins Ada in the cry, then we know it's a longing for some male companionship. I am sorry, dear Lady Goats. We haven't found any suitable suitors.

{Bird House & Barn now accepting interviews with handsome, fun-loving bucks, with family-minded intentions. Maybe next year... }

I expect to hear plenty from Tasha Tudor Goat and Ada Lovelace Goat through the day, and probably by tomorrow, they'll be over it.

The barn is really and truly a barn, now that it's painted red. Geoff insisted that we should paint it "Barn Red," but at the hardware store Kathy said that paint color would need many, many coats to get it right, and she led us to another section where we chose our own Barn Red, which Behr calls "Forbidden Red." We kept this minor detail on the down low, knowing Geoff was certain that only genuine "Barn Red" would do. Everyone, we must keep this paint secret under wraps!

"Forbidden Red?"


We painted our barn the truest, most genuine Barn Red.

We keep pretending it's autumn, here at the Bird House. Days are in the sixties, and at night, dip a bit cooler, still. We've had mornings so overcast and foggy we can almost imagine it's actually rained. Around town we've looked for fall color, like the four red maples next to the Taco Town. Janece captured some beautiful fall moments.

I watch our animals for clues, too. Seems a couple of the hens went for a last minute molt. Will they fluff up and feather out in time for a cold, wet winter? I am hoping for all of the above. Ada goat is the one I am really betting on, because her under coat is very wooly... we even felted her fleece! If she's starts to get more of that pale creamy fluff under her hair, then I will know we have a chance of enjoying some lovely winter weather.

They eat like winter is coming!

And not far from the goats, we find Little Debbie. All the other hens are on their side of the run, enjoying their dinner. And Little Debbie, the former queen of the barn yard? She has most assuredly {and deservedly?} been dethroned. Small as she is {think fat pigeon,} she really did rule the roost, hen pecking and chasing all the other hens. It was a bit mean, and awfully silly. Staying top hen among the chickens that towered over her was a full time job, that she relished in earnest. But I warned her, Little Debbie, be careful. Someday they'll realize they are four times your size, and then you won't be so high on the roost! But she was a chicken with conviction, and never gave her feathered sisters a break.

Well, no more. The tide has turned against Little Debbie, and it's not silly, or funny, or fair. Nine hens are chasing, pecking, harassing, and wearing out one wee little chickie. Poor dear. She earned it, true, but it's getting out of hand. There's talk of finding Little Debbie a cottage of her own. Exile, for the former dictator, where she can live out her golden years reflecting on her spotted past, and hopefully find redemption.

Ada, you darling goof. I love you, so.

And you, too, Tasha. Oh, these goaters of ours.

The barn was painted, and we chose paint for the Bird House, too. Of course, it may be another year before we can show you the after pictures. Two stories of house painting. Big walls. Oh my. But before we paint our house, Geoff is making improvements to the deck that leaks into the living room. He tore out rotted wood, and built an extension to hang over the porch. It's nearly complete, and the help from Paul made a nice difference. I love what it does for the look of the back of the house. The second story was a great expanse of siding, and the new little roof acts like eyebrows on a face... making a nice expression.

Except for a couple of flats of flowers I planted before Halloween, the garden is about as quiet as it was the last time I wrote about our neglected garden.

We do have three carrots, though. Salad any one? One. Salad. Small.

Let me wrap up this post, then I'll finish planting these Sweet William, and pansies. And honestly, how hard could it be to sow more carrots, add a row of spinach, and peas? I'll be so glad I did, come March.

You'd think we were in Maine, or Oregon. And seeing our wood stack, I must admit, gives me a comforting sense of readiness.

Come winter! Fall, at least. We want your rain, and wind, your, puddles, and rivulets. Welcome, seasonal weather, long nights, and muddy spots. We are ready for campfire eves, friends in the kitchen, and wooly goats.

The light, this time of year, is soft, pink, golden. It shimmers on the leaves, and makes everything glow. It's lovely.

{this moment} - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 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 and Alex set sail...

Looking For Fall - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 11:38
Last year we took our picnics and cameras to a park, looking for fall, and it was a lovely and low-key adventure, one I am sure we vowed to revisit soon, and often. Seems soon and often is in the realm of once a year. That's okay. I think we are destined to arrive on the finest day of the year. The clouds put on a show, the birds were flighty and full of songs. We even had the amusing honor of being visited by Duke, happiest free-ranging pup on the green! We discovered a small pond (If you are in a region not stricken by drought, please refer to "small pond" as "concrete lined puddle.") Basically, we enjoyed our sandwiches and veggies, had yummy cookies Janece baked, then we settled into leaf gazing, picture taking, and throughly enjoying the activities Maria and Amira invented. Their first success was in finding a terrific length of rope, and from there all manner of imaginary play took root and bloomed. We were treated to fall color, which was lovely to behold. All in all, an ideal afternoon... and really, we should do this again soon, and often.

Five Good Things - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 05:30

Janece and I took a neighborhood walk, down in San Diego... should do this every weekend! Of course not every weekend in fall feels like a day in spring! We had a nice excursion, discovered a yummy cafe, learned about a {tee-hee-snicker-snicker} funny {aptly?} named milk weed variety. And all giggling aside, this plant was amazing... full of Monarchs and ladybug beetles. Of course we have plenty of nurseries in our own neighborhood, but Green Gardens looks like a nursery worth a much longer visit.

Meanwhile, back at the Bird House, Geoff and Paul were making great strides on finishing the new overhang on the porch upstairs... this is all part of Operation Keep Rain Outside. Our leaking ceiling is oh-so-very close to being all dried up, and ready for El Niño winter. There really should be a picture, so I am promising myself to get the camera out there. Not only is the new mini roof going to save our living room, but it's giving the back of the house great visual perks. It looks really good. I already have plans for sleeping on the porch, next summer.

I made another pot of the veggie soup we had last week. Maria offered to name the soup, her new favorite, Confetti Soup! It's green, mostly but with all the heirloom veg we get in there, this time including red spinach! it's festively speckled!

Hey, is today really the tenth of November? Seriously? We are thinking of Maria's birthday, and Thanksgiving, Christmas in the city, Winter Solstice, and more nights like Saturday night... fog rolling in, friends gathered 'round, games at the dining table, and even a fire in the fire place. Absolutely perfect. So happy for the moments when we slow down, because things are moving at unbelievable pace!

Good things...

1. Maria and Amira enjoyed a craft class together, and came home with new skills, and some darling minis.

2. Max hosted a card game party... so successful, their next one is today!

3. My friend Diana discovered stickers on FB message, and I got about fifty Pusheens with Pancakes!

4. We have, mostly, completed the planning phase of our A-frame tent scheme, and have made lumber and canvas purchases. Extra good... I think we've wrangled Paul and Janece into our new mania!

5. Dear friends have welcomed two little ones into their beautiful family! I could not be happier ... No, wait I take that back! When I get to finally meet them in person, and hold them, too, then I will be satisfied!

Happy Monday, friends. Happy Veterans's Day. I am grateful for this day to reflect on the generosity, bravery, skills, and sacrifices made by our service men and women, by all who serve, volunteer, protect, teach, heal, and give for our greater good.

{this moment} - Fri, 11/07/2014 - 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.

Moments before the party began...

For The Love of Making - Thu, 11/06/2014 - 04:30

I am a dabbler. Quilting, wool felting, sewing, embroidery, crochet, beading, clay, painting, paper crafts, miniatures, orange peels(??) For as long as I can remember I have wanted to try a lot of different artsy-craftsy-makesy things. There have been successes, flops, total flops, and sometimes just quiet inner peace and contentment, which might be best of all. Some crafts I return to again, and again, like sewing and embroidery, crochet. Some I give a go, then let it go... knitting, weaving. I would love to get back to a potter's wheel! I think sweating copper is fun. I am eager to learn more about circuitry, wiring, and fiddling with LEDs. Did you ever make tissue ghosts, paper snowflakes, walnut shell turtles? As a young girl, I was never happier than when I had some glue, tape, glitter, and paper on hand! I feel quite fortunate to be as much in love with making as ever, and even better supplied! Geoff has been a wonderful influence, insisting that the right tools, and good materials, matter. That it's worth the time to do a good job. Instead of feeling like I was just fooling around, or that I should get by with what's on hand, he's allowed me to respect the process, appreciate the value of ideas, time, effort, and interest. That's a priceless gift.

I used to keep what I affectionally call my Scrapbook of Domestic Fantasies. I still have it... magazine clippings, ideas, hopes, pretty things to admire, all clipped and pasted into a notebook. These days, it's all about Pinterest. On my Crafty Board alone, I have over 200 inspiring ideas. Some I have tried, some I hope to try. And then there are the WIPs! Works In Progress. Oh dear. Unfinished quilts, samplers, projects, a weird thing that was my lazy attempt to crochet a shawl... now mostly a thing Mr Foo sleeps on. Either I lack the patience, or the skill, or I've lost interest, but there are loads of WIPs in my stash. I almost added "lack of time" to the list of my reasons for having so many unfinished projects, but I think that would be disingenuous. When I get interested in a craft, or project, I make the time. I steal, borrow, and obsess over having time to make. It's not pretty, but it's true. And still, I keep adding to my digital Scrapbook of Domestic Fantasies, still hoping to dabble in something new, return to the projects that bring me that quiet inner peace and contentment.

Am I alone? I don't think so. Certainly not in our house, where making, tinkering, and building are such strong passions we have a separate blog dedicated to sharing our projects and interests. Our Young Makers Club, Love & Rockets ~ Art & Engineering has had this wonderful influence on my attitude... making me feel less apologetic, less sheepish, about robots in the driveway, wanting to make "weird things," throwing our hearts and energy into mentoring, exploring, and celebrating STEAM... even the crafty bits! Manual labor, art, tech work, auto shop, wood shop, home economics, cooking, DIY... all of those took such a hard hit in schools, were cut out altogether in most instances, and in many ways our national culture can be very dismissive and unappreciative of making, of creating, tinkering, playing for the sake of playing, so that I was aware that I suppressed my interests, and tried to adhere to the mainstream ideals, and downplay my "hobbies"... but no more! I love making, and I love teaching what I can, I love experimenting, and I don't always have a reason, or plan. Sometimes, as Adam Savage so passionately explains, 'You have to make what you can't not make.'

Making, I have learned, is even more fun with friends. And so in a couple of weeks I am hosting a gathering around our kitchen table, and maybe out the back yard and into the carport... I've invited friends to bring their ideas, their scrapbooks, their WIP's, their questions, their concerns, their skills, their supplies, and share. We'll have time to make progress on projects we want to finish. And I am hoping, too, we can exchange skills, offer support and encouragement and learn from each other. I really hope someone can teach me how to crochet a granny square! I even invited friends I know cannot actually come to Southern California... sure wish they could! But maybe they'll host an event, too? Maybe we will start a home movement, and all of us quiet dabblers, wild knitters, hesitant painters, ultra talented welders, and artful photographers will get together and share, encourage, tinker, dabble, spill glitter, and play together.

Hold on... more deep thoughts and other musings keep coming! I like, too, the idea of going beyond the daydreaming on Pinterest, and actually doing things. I can get inspired, and also discouraged, by all the crafts, art, projects and accomplishments in the glossy magazines, the blogs. It can be so intimidating! There are skills I don't possess, there are those flops I've experienced, and if I let it all fill my head, and if I think about not being as good as... it's a loss, a waste. So, yeah... let's not concern ourselves with perfect outcomes, with making the cover of MSL. This is about learning, sharing, growing, playing, and exploring, starting over, and if need be... giving up! There are some crafts I may never conquer, and frankly, some I will never bother with... if I see one more "amazing-this-can't-be-a-toilet-paper-roll craft" again, I might blurt: But it is. It is a toilet paper roll, and I don't want it on my Thanksgiving table, because it's not 'Uh-mazing!' It's a toilet paper roll. With googly eyes. Stop."

{Sorry, but hey, we all have our crafty limits, right?}

Have you seen Pinterest Fail? "Where good intentions come to die." It's hilarious, and reassuring.

"Not all who wander are lost."
J.R.R. Tolkein

"Not all who Pin & craft are going to make the cover of "Martha Stewart Living," but that shouldn't stop us from making our journey!"
N. Chickenblogger

The Newest Cook and Her Super Frittata - Wed, 11/05/2014 - 08:43

Maria was the chef, and I was the sou chef, and dinner was super! And it's all thanks to her cooking class after school... what a boon! Thanks to Make and Take Dinner, Maria spent the afternoon in the school kitchen learning all the steps for making this frittata with broccolini and potatoes. All the cooks were invited to sit down to a hot and tasty sampling of their work before they took home insulated bags with the recipe, all the ingredients, plus the pan, to make dinner at home.

Seriously? Yup.

Even the eggs? The delicious Parmesan cheese, too? Yup. Even the cooking oil, and broth. All of it neatly packed and ready to go.

We got home, and Maria went straight to work. Apron on. Hands washed, and chopping potatoes. I loved listening to her recall little details from class, "Ms Snacky said 'slice it eight ways,' like this." As much as possible I hung back, and stayed clear, until I was called in to assist. But she was definitely running the show. Here is the recipe she followed:

Fall Broccollini & Potato Frittata
8 small red potatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
7 pieces broccolini, trimmed and halved lengthwise, and chopped into 2 inch pieces (Maria opted to chop them further... chef's prerogative!)
1 small onion diced (I was impressed to see her take on this part, too!)
8 eggs
1 cup (100g) grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Spray 8x8 pan with cooking spray
Wash potatoes and broccolini

Put the potatoes in a 10" skillet, and add stock. Bring the stock to boil, and cook for ten minutes, turning potatoes often.

Add the olive oil, broccolini, and onion to the pan and cook for one minute, turning the vegetables to coat in the oil. Cover and cook to soften the broccoli, 2-3 minutes. Check to make sure the vegetables are as soft as you would like them. If they are not, add 1/2 cup of water and cook until they are the desired firmness.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl lightly beat the eggs with half cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Add vegetable mixture to the bowl, and stir to combine all the ingredients. Pour entire mixture into the greased pan, and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, until the eggs are puffed and set.

We served our frittata with smoothies: A banana, mixed frozen berries, extra frozen blue berries, two cups of green cabbage, and apple juice... like a chilled salad in a glass!

Well, all four children cook, now. This means I must be pretty close to retirement, to a life of ease and luxury, and super dinners!

Chicken Tuesday - Tue, 11/04/2014 - 07:11

Noisy. Messy. Heedless. Disobedient. Bullying. Hilarious... when they run, when they dust bathe, when they announce an egg. Endearing... when they feather a nest, submit to a cuddle, follow me around the garden, help with the tilling and weeding. Calming... when I sit in a corner and watch them, pet them. I love my chickens, and their eggs.

My Veggie Quinoa Walnut Patty Tastes Better Than Ever - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 15:52

Dear Robin,

You are amazing. When Celine and James arrived, I looked around for you. I really thought you and Sean, Collin, would be there. Next time, okay? Then Celine handed me the bag, and the avocados were generous, and exciting, but what came next... well, you do know my weaknesses, don't you? Yeah, I was flipping giddy. How perfect is this plate? And how sweet are you to send it my way? Very sweet... is the reply. I hope you have one, too. This plate has me strutting like a rooster, and clucking like a hen. My lunch today was far more scrumptious than it would have been on an ordinary plate. Life is beautiful, chickens are a hoot, and you are a very kind friend. See you soon, I hope.

Natalie, The Chickenblogger

{If anyone is looking to improve their lunch, fancy-up their dessert, or just get flipping giddy... Robin found this Cluck plate at Marshalls. Good luck!}

Five Good Things - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 02:30

At last, soup weather! After Halloween we got a night of rain, and a blustery day that we spent cleaning, playing, and relaxing. It was nice. Real nice. For dinner, I made broccoli soup... funny, I took pictures of almost everything, but the broccoli. I started with leeks, and sautéed those, and carrots. I gave the fresh spinach a quick flash in the hot pan, too. The broccoli was steamed, and everything went into the blender with water. While that blended, I made a buttery roux, with a good dollop of cream. White pepper, salt, a handful of cheddar cheese, and a dash of crushed red pepper finished the seasoning. Alex and Max made a run to the market for a loaf of sourdough bread... and we got that warm and toasty in the oven. William made a salad. Everything was delicious. Maria had seconds, and Max asked for another soup dinner the very next day. I'd been thinking what a good leftover lunch this could make, but when dinner was through our pot was empty!

Good Things...

1. Friends who join the merriment, and share in Halloween fun.

2. Rain, and wool socks, and soup, and a fire in the fireplace, and reading aloud.

3. Someone (J.A.N.E.C.E.) who comes the day after the big event, and helps clean up. It didn't feel like chores. What a lovely gift.

4. Sitting around, as the party winds down, so happily engrossed in the conversation and good company, that it doesn't even feel like midnight.

5. Getting an email with a picture of your bestie on vacation. Thank you, Fred. Anna B: Pura Vida suits you!

Can you believe it's November? I took the Halloween playlist off of my iPhone, and added Christmas (evenIcannotbelievethis!) tunes! Is it too soon? Last night I drove to the market with twinkle lights on in my Jet Puff. I simply adore this time of year, so why not fill it up and revel in the joy? Happy November! Happy anticipation of seasonal delights. I wish you a very good week.

Halloween :: Well, That Was Awesome! - Sun, 11/02/2014 - 11:12
Early arrivers were seated at the sweetest banquet in town, either that or they were put to work, because getting ready for this event called for all hands on deck!

William has been envisioning, collecting and preparing this scene for at least a year.

There were lots of treats, and more and more as friends joined us with their generous contributions.

Decorating... all the credit goes to William, and Maria, and Alex, and Max. They took charge, and every bit of it was spectacular spooktacular!

All these months of wishing and begging for rain, so what do you think we had in our forecast?? We were spared serious downpours until well after the festivities. Weather-wise, we couldn't have had it better!

Yes. Yes, I do visit Pinterest. Why do you ask? This sausage and spaghetti gag still has me tickled. I'm so glad we attempted this!

Jacob and Alex made satellites with the vegetarian sausages. These were so fun to make, and when you boil the pasta, you get a platter full of sausages impaled with noodles!

Envy and May Chang, battle it out, while William the swashbuckling looks on.

All those posts about britches, waistcoats, pistols and swords? Yes, these are some of the creations William has been making.

Bambi and Maria are characters from Full Metal Alchemist. Not friends in the manga, but they put all that aside for the party.

Max, Bambi, Maria, and William. Before too many guests arrive, I have the sense to take pictures, and make people stand still and smile for me!

The Full Metal crew: May Chang, Wrath, Envy, and Greed. AKA Maria, Max, Bambi, and Alex.

John, Ruth, Maria, Max, Bambi, Alex, William, and Jacob.
Ruth's costume? Hands down the most original... she's the Paint Chip Fairy, and she's come to help us find the perfect shade of blue for our Bird House!

Here are Bella and Leo, all ready to join us. I borrowed some pictures from my friend Carol, which were too good to pass up.

William, Max, and Alexi. Besides tirelessly making his costume and props, cleaning, decorating, and editing an animation collection to play on the hanging bed sheet, William cooked, too.

Here comes the night!

Here come more guests! Paul and William were pirate bros.

Here's George Adin Washington!

This. Carol, these were a big hit! Not just adorable, but people were talking about how tasty they were, too. If you cannot tell, those little brooms are cheese on pretzels, tied with a chive.

And aren't these the cutiest pumpkins ever? Carol and Mim favored us with these treats!

George and Liz getting a shot of those brooms. If they post their pictures, I may have to add even more to this post.

Have I mentioned how much I love potluck? Yes, I probably have... everyone brings such good stuff. We had a feast, for sure.

Okay... well, I was sort of relieved that Mrs. Lovett left her pies at home. Sharon, you look mahvelous, dahling!

Sun Wukong knows how to make an entrance. Grant is The Monkey King.

Okay... I hope I can get this right... we have a Pokeman(?) Help me out here, Corey! Alex is Yu Gi Oh. (Right?) I recognize Stacy Ninja Turtle... her smile is a sure giveaway!

Goat! Oh my gosh, Suki, just melts my heart.

All the fun... every new guest brought more smiles and laughter. The house was full of smiles and laughter.

I spy Hermione Granger.

Maria and Suki, my girls.

Maria, you are tireless and sweet. For all your help, support, encouragement, and enthusiasm before, during, and after, I offer you my deepest, warmest thanks and love. You bless us.

Here's another one I had to steal from Carol's FB page.... here's my sweet friend with her baby boy, Leo. Okay, he's not a baby, but she and I know how quickly it all goes, and we can't help hanging on for as long as possible!

Here's my baby, making a salad for us.

And Corina, and Patricia came, and Michael, and Chris. It's nice seeing friends wherever you look.

It was a small hassle keeping 45 sugar skulls safe, but totally worth the effort. Decorating them was a big hit.

Stacy is cutting the foil for eyes.

Suki was ready to try this for weeks. Of course, she was a natural sugar skull artist. Everyone was... we have lots of proof.

Sarah, Alex-the quick change artist, and Jacob

Wait... is that Amy Farrah Fowler? Okay, I admit, I had to Google that one, but I know this great couple as Mim and Chaz.

I spy Audrey II, Amy Farrah Fowler, a Centurion, Seymour, and Yu-Gi-Oh.

Okay, George... everyone keeps asking me, "Who was Stimson dressed as?" The consensus is you were Stimson, and all agree that is pretty awesome.

And James and Celine. This picture makes me feel all warm and wamesy inside.

We shared a feeling about this party... we wanted it to include the thrill of the candy quest, trick-or-treating, and we wanted it to be an unapologetic, all ages-sizes-entities welcome, candy and treats extravaganza. So we took candy and treat donations, set up Mim at the cottage, Paul in the barn, and Grant down in the shed, then distributed bags to anyone eager to trick-or-teat!

What a triumph! Huge shout out to the distributors who took charge of their stations, and gave all the revelers thrills, chills, challenges, and fun.

There were plenty of treats and laughs to go around. Some screams, too!

Good stuff.

I want to do this every. year. forever. Grant, you had standing ovations, and rave reviews.

Looks like Lucas passed his test.

Still Maria. I see she sort of morphed throughout the night. And, yes, we do get the best weather for Halloween.

The collection of animated shorts William put together played on the side of the shed. It was a happy attraction that played all night.

We know the sweetest people.

Grant, James, Suki, Sarah, John, Alex, Bambi, Celine, Jacob, and William. These people. Oh. My. It's the greatest feeling to know such good people, and to share their company.

We are lucky. We have great friends. We have room to share, to spread out, to play.

William's cemetery, always a highlight.

Lucas, Alexi, and Max... magic is gathering.

Decorating the sugar skulls was so fun, we had two rounds.

It was inspiring, contagious fun.

Carol got this great shot of Marla, aka Audrey II.

We were up 'til midnight! It was grand!

Amira-Hermione trying on the Audrey hat. Sharon, you have to come over when we are in sewing moods, again... you make great stuff!

Gathering in the living room, a Magic viewing.

They even managed to squeeze in a game.

Janece, Mim, Natalie, and Carol. {If I have one regret it's not taking even more pictures of everyone! Otherwise, Halloween was awesome.}

{this moment} - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 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.

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.