Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Duchess of Devonshire

When I first began my adventure of having backyard chickens, I printed off a few black and white photos of "fancy" women with their chickens. I displayed these photos by my desk area just for fun and for some "chicken lady inspiration"(or some would say, "crazy chicken lady"). One of the photos I came across was a duchess feeding her chickens in her ball gown and draped in diamonds. I loved this picture (see below). It turned out that that photo was of the eccentric Duchess of Devonshire who is well-known for, amongst other things, her chicken keeping.

Duchess of Devonshire, Deborah Cavendish 1920-2014. This is the photo that I printed and displayed in my desk area.
Well, the duchess died this last Wednesday at age 94. Yesterday,  the older girls went to preschool and Kate went to a mom's day out program. So I had a few hours in the morning by myself. I am really fortunate and get a babysitter regularly to go grocery shopping and run errands. That is of course wonderful and such a nice treat for me. However, what is really rare for me is to be in my own house without kids! It's pretty much never happened since I had Loretta four years ago. Therefore, on Friday mornings when all three girls are out of the house at their little programs, I have the goal to make myself come home...rather than be tempted to run around town! So that brings me to yesterday and the Duchess of Devonshire.....

I came home, made some tea, got out my new yarn, and turned on an interview with the Duchess of Devonshire I found on YouTube.

For the length of the video, I sat in my quiet house, drank tea out of my late grandma's tea cup and saucer with my english silver tea spoons (that I got in England at an antique market when visiting my in-laws many years ago!), crocheted, and listened to the interview.

I am determined to make every moment of these Friday mornings count! I try to think of the things that are difficult to do around the house when the girls are home. I can tell you that this first activity I just described to you DOES NOT happen with three little girls in the house. I might try but it doesn't last long without a lot of interruptions. I might ignore them (which I have done many times) but the ignoring usually results in several disasters (injuries, something breaking, crayons on the wall, etc).

When the interview was over, my sitting and crocheting time was over. I then got out some vegetables out of the refrigerator that I wanted to use in some way. First up, pickling cucumbers that I wanted to, well, pickle! I had made some dill cucumber spears a few weeks ago but after realizing I had no fresh dill, I decided to try out bread-n-butter pickles. I found a recipe with great reviews on .

Pickling cucumbers, beets, and some eggplants (I think the white ones are eggplants too, anyway)

My finished bread-n-butter pickles after canning them. I just love, love, love hearing the popping sounds of the seals after canning. I think that is why I do it. I literally sit (or stand) next to my batch of just canned food items to listen for the popping sounds as they form a seal. I'm weird. 
I roasted the beets in the oven while I did the pickles to use later. I had never roasted beets before last year and never realized how easy it is! Here's what you do - Take the beet out of the fridge, wrap it in foil (just like it peeling), and put it in the oven set at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (I just spelled out fahrenheit to see if I could spell it correctly). Check them after about 45 minutes by poking them with a fork to see if they are tender. It usually takes about a full hour for my beets to be done. Then, peel them when you get around to it and use them as you please. The peels slide off very easily after they are roasted.

Right when I was deciding what to do with the "supposed" eggplants, I got a phone call from the preschool (the reason I'm not sure about them is because I get a box of vegetables each week from the farm share we belong to. I never know what I am getting; so many times, I am not exactly sure of the identity of many of the vegetables.). When she said every so sweetly and calmly, "Hi Stephanie, this is Ms. Kay from the preschool, no one is hurt but.....", I knew right then that my special "me" time was about to be cut short. A certain curly haired brunette had messy pants and they needed me to come to the pants changing rescue. (It's a licensing thing. Our wonderful preschool can change wet pants but not the secondary #2 kind of messy pants.....that's why they are supposed to be potty-trained. Which she is but accidents happen.) Anyway, I rushed out the door an hour early. Oh, well, the time I did have was very, very nice :)

Eleanor eating lunch at school. 
Well, I've been doing the ignoring-kind-of-mothering for quite a while now as I write this blog post, therefore, I need to wrap this up. I'll now post just a bunch of random photos from the last few weeks:

There are a lot of pictures of Kate lately. That is because she gets cuter and cuter every day and I must show her off! She has entered into the phase of babyhood where she is not just a sitting blob anymore. She is so funny and keeps us entertained as she explores the world, becomes her own little person, and keeps up with her sisters.

One day while Loretta was trying to wash dishes, Kate kept trying to climb on the stool with her. This bothered Loretta and was also a recipe for a great falling disaster. I was trying to do some things around the house and so I put Kate on my back in my carrier. Yes, my back hurt but it kept her out of Loretta's way and it was pretty sweet to feel her right next to me. As you can see, she got pretty relaxed.

Putting Kate on the potty to see what she would do. Nothing happened but she loved it and looked so cute!

Oh my goodness, I love those lips!

Last weekend, J made an erupting baking soda volcano with the girls -

Here's some more canning bragging. I picked over 60 green tomatoes from my garden. Since autumn is coming, I notice that the chance of my tomatoes ripening (or getting red and juicy), is declining. So I decided to experiment and make green tomato sweet relish. It turned out great and it's delicious. However, I'm now trying to figure out what to do with all this relish (I made 14 pint size jars of relish!). My southern girlfriends have reminded me that I could use it to make tuna salad, potato salad, and deviled eggs. Please, please, please give me more ideas if you have them! Comment on this blog or just contact me directly. Seriously, I want more ideas. Seriously.

Eleanor at her doctor check-up. She was telling me NOT to take her picture and to stop singing in this photo. We were waiting for the doctor to come in. 

Eleanor at the library.

Loretta posing while her sisters take a bath

Loretta made a friend at the library. They were putting on a puppet show together.
That's all I have for now. I need to get up and pick up the house. The girls have destroyed it while I have been sitting here (in my newly upholstered ORANGE chair...more on these later.)

Here are some blog posts I have planned over the next few weeks:
1) Winterizing my chicken coop and getting it ready for the Denver Urban Homesteading Coop Tour!
2) Room reveals of the two rooms I've been working on for a very long time (our family room and Joel's office).

Have a good Saturday!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"That's what sisters do"

Just had to share this quick story from this morning:

As usual the older girls got up a bit before Baby Kate. When Kate started fussing, the big girls beat us into her room and we could here them all playing happily so we just continued our Saturday morning laziness of staying in our beds and looking at our phones. A few minutes later when I heard some commotion I looked down the hall and saw that all three of them were headed downstairs with smirks on their little faces. I quickly sat up and asked Loretta, "How did Kate get out of her crib?" (Remember that Kate's crib is at the setting that is meant to keep her little 15 month old self INSIDE her crib with no escaping. It is at its lowest setting which is quite a few feet deep.) Loretta answered, "We made a pillow landing and I got into her crib and just bounced her out." Oh, oy. Then Loretta said, "That's just what sisters do." 

Friday, September 12, 2014

There was snow today....

We woke up this morning to a slight dusting of snow. I like the cozy feel of it being cold outside but since I am a new gardener, I didn't think to go out and harvest as many vegetables as possible yesterday before the frost. You'll laugh but I have not even went out to check yet. Mostly due to the fact that I don't want to face a bunch of ruined zucchini and tomatoes. Ugh. I'll let you know. (By the way, it's supposed to be in the 80's again in just a few days. Oh Colorado.)

Today was Kate's first day of Parent's Day Out at a local church where she will go one day a week for a few hours to have "school". It is so cute. While I was looking forward to the quiet house with no kids for a few hours, I wished I could be a fly on the wall and just watch her play.

Kate's first day of school!

Our little Kate is growing up so fast. She is really into getting up on the kitchen chairs lately and eating like the rest of us do. (She doesn't like being in her high chair anymore)

Well, I received the coolest gift EVER the other day - - - a restored original Nintendo with Mario Brothers!!! WHAAAAAT?!? Ok, here's the story. Joel's friend stayed the night with us a few weeks ago when he was in town. In conversation over dinner, I mentioned that it would be so fun to play this game in it's original form again. I have never been into video games but I did happen to have the original Nintendo and was really good at Mario Bros. So guess what? He found it online and had it sent to me! Thanks Ajay! Our big Friday night consisted of putting the girls to bed and then J and I playing Nintendo. It was pretty awesome. Then when the girls got up on Saturday morning, J tried to teach them how to play. We've been practicing and it is like we are two teenagers again in the 90's. I need to get some Mountain Dew and we'd be all set!

Well, in between trying to remember where the Warp zones are and yelling at the mean cloud lady that drops little spinie creatures to kill Mario, I have continued on my canning craze:

I feel like canned goods all bunched together is like food art. I often stop in at my pantry just to look at my collection :) I'm very proud and happy to admit it.

Here's a picture of Loretta making cookies the other day after school.

Isn't this a great picture of Loretta?

I'll end with these cute pictures of Eleanor and Loretta cuddling in our bed on Saturday morning. I cherish these special times with our girls :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day of Preschool!

Night-Before-First-Day-of-School PARTY!

Loretta is in the "Starfish" class and Eleanor is in the "Zebra" class so I made these crowns for them to wear at our party

This is my favorite picture from the evening because of Eleanor's smile

I had these balloons decorating the wall around the kitchen table. They lasted on the wall for about 60 seconds. Oh well.

I used a few of my peaches to make this peach galette (like a pie). I was trying to be festive and creative. Do you see the ABC and 123? I was quite proud but I'm not sure if the girls were that impressed. I am posting this and some of the other food that I made for out little family party in hopes that some of you out there will appreciate the effort I put into it :) 

While I made my pie, Loretta made a little "daughter pie", as she called it.

The meal.

The ABC meatloaf. Again, please "ooh" and "ahh" for my creativity. By the way, J did act excited about my culinary creativity. Thanks J!

J showing Eleanor the ABCs on the food. 

Party aftermath
This picture captures Baby Kate perfectly. These days, she pretty much spends every single waking moment climbing onto anything and everything!

Daddy reading books to the girls before bed. He read them books about "going to school". I got a whole stack of them at the library last week. 
On our way to school this morning! Kate was just as excited as the girls were. She kept yelling, "YAAAAY!" Maybe she was just happy for them OR she thought she was going to school too OR she was just excited to have me all to herself for a few hours. Or maybe she is just excited about life! 

Waiting outside of school for Ms. Kay to open up the doors!!!

Eleanor in her new classroom.

Other happenings from the last few days

Peach preserves that I canned the other day.
Loretta helping me with the peach preserving.
We went to the park after church on Sunday and had a picnic and played.

Can you spot the girls on the hill in the background?

Well, the girls are at school and Kate and I are at home. It sure is quiet around here! It's nice. Really nice. While I know that Kate loves having her big sisters to entertain her, I can imagine that it is pretty great to have all the toys and me to herself for a few hours. Okay, well before long it will be time to go pick up Loretta and Eleanor so I better get a few things done around the house!