Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Camera broken, chicken TV, update

That's about it.  My camera is broken.  For reals.  I'm not decided what to do about it yet.

Liam and I spend a huge amount of time looking out the windows at the chickens scratching and pecking in the yard.  We call it chicken TV.  I can't figure out why it is so fascinating (also calming), but I can easily spend 15-20 minutes just watching them, preferably while drinking a strong cup of coffee.  (I recently got some coffee from here -- wonderful.) 

When we're not watching the chickens out the window, we're busy with work and school.  With Spring starting to show signs, we're also busy getting seeds started (I finally bought one of these, my gosh, why have I waited so long, it is awesome), going to our local native plant sale, and planting the plants (and then re-planting the plants after the chickens scratch them up). 

The vegan's neighbors have some tiny goats and one of the goats had a baby and, oh my gosh again, the babies of tiny goats are very tiny and yet, still, very goat.  It can maybe walk about two and a half steps before it leaps into the air and has to caper about.  Liam is entranced by it -- just entranced.  He wants to visit it each weekend.  He and Shane run around the pasture playing with the goats and I stand around watching not taking pictures and getting cold and colder.  I need to become better friends with Shane's neighbors so I can watch from inside the house.  Preferably while drinking coffee.  (Liam has told everyone at school that he taught the baby goat to climb on rocks, and while I'm not sure this is exactly accurate, they do chase each other up over all the rocks in the pasture.  The baby goat just knows Liam wants to play with him and is all for it.)

Our maple tree tapping experiment using whatever we could find around that looked like it might work has not worked.  The "real" maple tree tapping equipment arrived by mail today.  More later on that, assuming we haven't missed the season here out west.

Liam is going through a puzzle phase and can now churn out 100-piece puzzles pretty much all by himself with minimal frustration.  He prefers a solar system theme -- still. 

I have some friends on the interwebs that are going through hard times.  One just lost her mother.   Another is going through a very scary, scary early pregnancy with a much wanted child and fearing miscarriage.  If you're reading, I'm thinking of you.  Sending love.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pantry Inventory - The Sugar Edition

I'm participating in an on-line workshop about setting up a whole foods kitchen and cooking with whole foods.  This is the end of the second week, and this week and next are devoted to pantry and kitchen set up.  So today I inventoried and tidied the pantry a little.  It was actually in okay shape; the surprising thing was that for a person who thinks of herself as already cooking with (mostly) whole foods I seem to have no fewer than five kinds of refined sugar (white bakers, dark brown, confectioneries, raw, and a bottle of light corn syrup) and at least three "natural" sugars (honey, sucant, maple syrup).  Plus a very sticky jar of Lyle's Golden Syrup (how I love that stuff), which I tossed because I think it had been open for at least five years and it was sort of nasty looking.  And that doesn't count the variety of sanding, dusting, and sprinkling sugars for cake and cookie decorating.  Or the candy sprinkles (for same).

Why do I have all this sugar on hand!?  It's crazy.  What's crazier is that I really can't see eliminating any of them.  I bake a number of birthday cakes each year, they generally take white sugar.  I make frosting and it takes confectioneries sugar.  I make chocolate ganache filling for thumb print cookies at Christmas and just a teaspoon of light corn syrup makes all the difference in how it sets up and works.  Still.  That is A LOT of sugar.  Something to think about.

Speaking of sugar, sugar and more sugar: tomorrow I hope to post an update on tapping maple trees.  We are convinced that we can make our own west coast maple syrup from the big leaf maples. We're going to tap some practice trees out at the vegan's house in the woods tomorrow, and if those work we'll tap the tree at Liam's little school.  Fingers crossed.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sunny and Starry

This is the smile of a person who wonders if her shoes will ever be the same, and has found that somehow she actually is going through with getting two (Two!) chickens.  And these are the arms of a person who has wanted chickens ever since he realized they existed and (might) be a possibility.

Sunny and Starry came from a lovely little farm (Four and a half acres that must be right up against the city limits, not 5 minutes from town; made me want to sell something and start house looking right away.) which also had about 50 blueberry bushes, a big lavender patch, a huge vegetable garden, the kind you till with a tractor, goats, pigs, and, of course, chickens.  The chicken people used to live on our street, and come to the neighborhood after-Christmas party as alumni.  When we saw them this year they let slip about the availability of the chickens, and we've been speeding towards them ever since.

Chickens, it turns out, do not really want to stay in a cardboard box, and if you don't hold it tightly closed they will jump out.

Once home the chickens were installed in the lovely coop and hen house (Mollie's re-purposed dog house) that Auntie Chris made for them.  This deserves its own post and photos; if it ever stops raining.

So far Sunny and Starry have yet to learn to use the chicken ramp to get back into their hen house, but I'm sure they'll get it pretty soon.  We're still waiting on eggs, but in the meantime we have enjoyed lots and lots of "chicken TV" staring at them out the dining room window --- grooming, pecking, scratching, resting, hopping, grooming some more. 

Liam was totally, entirely beside himself.  Last night he was actually in tears; he told me he loves the chickens so much.  "Oh thank you Mommy. . .thank you. . .thank you for the chickens."  Well, you're welcome small one, I read on the inter-webs that pet chickens can live 8-10 years, luckily they're already starting to grow on me too.

Pizza Friday: Chicken Edition

The chickens came home last night and were installed in their coop.  They are doing well this morning and have been named "Sunny" and "Starry."  More and photos later. 

The pizza Friday when we got the chickens may be Liam's favorite of all time yet.  I have never seen a small person jump up and down so much and for so long.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Hmmm.   I put this picture set together back in December, but it got lost.  Yesterday's post reminded me.

At glass beach to get to the beach you can jump/scramble down from a fairly low spot or clamber down these rocks.  We got on to the beach from the low spot, but Liam wanted to take the rock route out.  He was very serious about doing it all by himself.  Here is Auntie Chris spotting him and Liam directing here (loudly) "I can do it."  He knows where her foot is and he is not taking any of it.


So, up, up he went; it's maybe 30 feet?  I don't know, I'm pretty bad at these estimates.  Like a lot of little kids I see climbing on stuff, Liam tends to want to hold on with his hands over keeping his weight on his feet.  We work on it: "Stand up!" I say, "Stand on your feet."  This is the only rock climbing advice I've ever been given in my (very) short climbing career.  Good advice under almost any circumstance though, I guess.

Not steep, but there is a little, tiny bit of exposure once you come out near the top; and he did great with it all and was so, so proud when he popped over the rim.   


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Glass beach & New Shoe Shelf

When we drove from California to Seattle with Auntie Chris in late December we made it just past Mendocino for the first night and then first thing the next morning (when you travel with a 4 year old, all mornings are early mornings, which is fine with me) we went down the road to glass beach.

The beach is the site of the former Ft. Bragg city landfill.  The landfill closed in the late 1960s and since then it's contents has been weathered and worn by the waves and tide.  The beach really is covered in weathered, beautiful sea glass.  When you first look, it seems like it is pebbles but then you get a little closer or pick up a hand full and it is probably a 40/60 glass to rocks ratio.  Amazing.  

There are more and better photos here.

We, of course, picked up a little glass.  We could not restrain ourselves.  Over the past few weeks Auntie Chris has been re-vamping our entry hall catch all table and shoe shelf (we are a shoes off in the house kind of family).  She cleaned it up, put in some extra shelves so it will hold more shoes, and painted it the most wonderful, cheerful yellow.  The first thing I put on it when we got it back in the house was those little bits of glass from glass beach.

The top of the entry shelf historically has been home to Liam's nature table.  I envisioned the nature table as a lovely, serene place were he and I would compose simple and attractive little vignettes out of beautiful things he gathered in the natural world.  Liam sees it as a place to dump hand fulls of rocks, shells, acorns, dead leaves, and, I kid you not, the dirt and dead ladybugs that always seem to find a way into his pockets.  (Mommy! Look!  It's Nature!)  So, for now, I am holding off on recreating the nature table and just enjoying our beautiful  yellow shelf. . .and our little bits of sea glass from glass beach.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Sigh.  I thought I was doing pretty good keeping up with this place, but I seem to have fallen off the wagon.  So, here is a workman-like update: since Auntie Chris has been staying with us, we've been going on adventures over the weekends.

First, the Aquarium.  We saw fur seals, harbor seals, two kinds of otter (sea and river).  Octopus.  Touch tank.  It's much spiffed up since 20 years ago when I was volunteering and working there summers, thinking I was going to be a marine biologist for reals.  Liam loved it and proclaimed it almost as good as "Auntie Chris' aquarium in Monterey."

Next, we went to Mt Rainier to see the snow.  All our lowland snow had melted.  Of the three people who currently live in this house, one missed it.  Acutely.

We mostly saw the snow out the car windows as we drove up, up, up the icy road to Paradise.  Once there, one run down the designated sledding hill was enough to help us decide that this type of sledding was too ambitious.  So, we played in the snow and then drove down, down, down the icy road to a lower part of the mountain (not as cold, not as windy) were we played in the snow some more, and a very nice man let Liam help him chop snow off a pic-nic table and carry the snow blocks to build a snow/ice wall.  Liam thought this was beyond fun.

Can I just say that it is so much easier to face the idea of an outing of any sort, but especially a long-ish one, with another adult on board.  Auntie Chris leaves on Monday and I'm already missing her.

And, lately we've been working on the side-yard fence and the. . .wait for it. . .chicken coop.  I think we're on track for chickens by next weekend.  That's right.  It appears I have well and truly said yes to chickens.  Stay tuned.