Monday, May 26, 2008

Chicken Salad Recipe

By popular demand, here's the latest on the chick(ens).

The girls are enjoying their new waterer - don't they remind you of co-workers visiting around the water cooler?

I haven't suspended it yet because I can never sneak up on them while they are upstairs. They love the run so much they always seem to be down below.

Dandelion looks longingly at the nearly by field:

Marigold is making a perimeter check:

We introduced the chickens to grapes this afternoon. The chickens introduced us to their new game - steal the grape. See the grape in Petunia's mouth?

So funny to watch. They look like little clowns with bulb noses. I am so not telling them how good grapes are in chicken salad!


Saturday, May 24, 2008

It Started with a Baked Potato

Fun Friday lived up to its name this week. My son was invited to attend the unveiling of the winners of a design competition at the Library of Virginia.

To accompany the exhibit "Never Built Virginia" featuring models and plans of buildings that were never completed, the Library hosted a youth competition to design a building to fill a narrow, vacant city lot.

Here's my son with his design of a "Sky Lab":

And here's why we came - he placed second and his design will be a part of the Library of Virginia's archives!

One of the highlights of the event was to spend time with Mr. Haigh Jamgochian. He was the architect that had several models in the exhibit. His design for "Tree House" inspired the youth competition.

Here my son posed for a picture of Mr. Jamgochian with a Cub Scout denmate who also happened to be a contest winner:

Mr. Jamgochian discussed how he got started with architecture. He talked of how quickly time goes by, making it important to engage the opportunities that come by each of us. He also talked about how inspiration can come from all around you. One example he gave was seeing a baked potato wrapped in foil. He thought it would make a good siding material for a building. His resulting design is the Markel Building and is now a historical landmark in Richmond, Virginia:

Even the entrance speaks of Mr. Jamgochian's design: groovy circles, curves upon curves, an almost lunar quality.

And since things are lighter on the moon, my son could easily support the Markel building:

And to think it all started with a baked potato.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I can't believe that this is post #200 for TenTen. All these words and I still haven't said anything!!

But it is a good time to reassess. Internet issues plague me and my posting abilities, making blogging more work and less fun. My knitting is on the side line in an attempt to repair a lingering case of tennis elbow. So I am moving toward using this as a glimpse of our whole family life. As is the case in my real life, my private endeavors seldom stay that way. They are inseparable from my family.

Case in point: strawberry picking. The kids are finally old enough to pick more than they eat and they really helped in the kitchen making the jam. So this wasn't my venture to the fields and the ensuing canning activities - it was OUR story.

Having kids gives me a different perspective of life. I wouldn't have noticed this toad, let alone spent 20 minutes hunting and losing and re-hunting him:

Child labor (yes, my children are really that pale!):

My son hunts for strawberries with the same gusto as he searches for archeology finds:

It's good to pick with friends. Lots of friends.

Evidence of a hard morning's work:

And quick - one more family portrait (with a bigger me!):

And what was the end result?

Luscious strawberry jam!

My absolute favorite part is when you have to skim off the hot jam foam before ladling it into jars. We made 3 batches, so we had a nice little bowl full of strawberry fluff. Delightful!

We packed this jar with State Fair intentions, so I'll keep you posted.

I'm one step along on my resolution to can more this year. It is awfully fun in May when the weather is gorgeous. I'll let you know how August goes!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Mother's Day

We had a cool Mother's Day weekend - literally! I packed for our weekend at the River as if it were July and discovered it was more like March. (Don't ask why it has taken so long to get these up.)

The kids were entirely nonplussed with the temperature and spent hours playing on the "beach":

Daddy found time to sharpen the lawn mower blades he thought to bring from home:

I lazed around as much as possible (with children close to water and insufficiently dressed!). Mother's Day morning was a bit of deja vu. As a toddler, my son liked to wake early and I'd quickly shuffle out the door with him to allow everyone else a bit more sleep. We explored our old haunts like the crab pots on the dock:

Mud puddles are still a big draw:

And just when I thought that we'd run out of adventures, we spied the cavalry coming after us:

Special delivery of Mother's Day loot:

My favorite - coupons! They are for "Lunch", "Dirty Dishes" (unloading the dishwasher), "Wash the Car", "Day Off" (woohoo!), "Whateveryouwant" (double woohoo!), "For One Week: Feed Tubby and Feed Chickens" (complete with "buck, buck"). These are the reasons for Mother's Day!

And there was more:

My son's card has three plain circles and then a fancy Spirograph creation with the caption "You are Unique!" (SO sweet!). The kids gave me a copy of Martha's Cookies book and my daughter crafted a sleeping bed for Tiny (who I need to introduce you to) and a sewing "kit" for me:

I'm supposed to sew on the hearts myself to make a pillow. I think I might frame them instead!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I'm in My Cups

I laughed when I saw my coffee cup the other morning. Is it telling that this was taken around 1 p.m.? Each time I got interrupted or paused to get something, I noticed that a little ring was left behind. Can you see how many rings this day had? Kind of like a tree, telling about its life by the story it leaves behind. This story is all about learning to read, figuring out math problems, internet research, catching up with friends, getting bills paid - just a regular life, but with lots of "rings".

Chickens Grow FAST

Just a little trip down memory lane.

We brought home Petunia and Marigold on April 10th:

Here they are 8 days later with their new sisters Dandelion and Chick Pea:

And here they were this weekend (28 days after arriving home):

That's some potent chick feed they're eating!


Welcome Home

We have been spending. every. single. minute. for the past week getting the chicken coop built. I would never have imagined the sweat and the toil for a "chook shack". But we finished today and moved the girls into their new digs.

Here the kids are performing their forced labor for the day - coop transport. The idea was that this coop would be mobile, but it is SO heavy that mobile will mean moving only a few feet to fresh grass. Americans call it a chicken tractor, but I like the British name of chicken ark.

We ran into a bit of a speed bump coming across the bridge:

The kids added the bedding to the roost area (my daughter even patted in all out as if making a bed):

And tended to the laying boxes (which I tied to explain wouldn't get much traffic 'til later):

The did SO much of the work and thinking about the project. They found sticks for the roosts, helped figure out how to make the doors and latches work, and did a great job with painting. SO their last decision was how to get the chickens into their new home. They wound up with two going below and two up top.

Here are Petunia and Marigold enjoying the grass:

and Dandelion and Chick Pea wondering what the nesting box is all about:

I'm a little worried about releasing my little girls into the big bad world, but I've tried everything I could to create a home that's safe and comfortable for them. Not having any idea about what I am doing is probably not helping. Rain is forecast tomorrow, so that will be the real test of the ark. And did you notice how Tubby is in most of the pictures? He is very interested in these little fluffs that keep changing and growing and getting more and more animated. He's slowly creeping over to the predator list at this point. I'm sure that the hawks and foxes are already into what's been in the works. Let's hope they stay safe long enough to enjoy their new home!

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