Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just Playing Around

I haven't posted in a while, and there's not really any big reason for that.  We've been busy, but not terribly so.  The boys have been really absorbed in Legos:
And Lydia has been playing with my old gymnastics mat.  It has many uses, including a mat for roll balls (summersaults) and a way to drag all her stuff down the hall:

Lastly, I've been doing some sewing, and I recently made my favorite sundress ever:

Unfortunately, it's a little small for me, but just looking at it makes me smile.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rooster and Rome

Our Rooster "Green Taily", or "Smarty", depending on the boys' mood

I figured that it's been a while since I've shown you a picture of the rooster, so here he is.  He has some really pretty feathers.  We still don't know what kind of chicken he is. 
Our hens are laying way better than expected.  The Ameruacanas are said to lay 3+ eggs a week, and the rest were all supposed to lay 5+ eggs a week.  Well, we get 7 to 9 eggs a day from 9 hens, so they are really taking this laying job seriously.  Yesterday I collected 9, today 8.  That's pretty typical over the last week.  As you can imagine, we have lots of eggs, so it was good to hear that Nathaniel's friend/coworker wants to buy a dozen a week.

Also, I think all of you know that my wonderful husband traded his airline points to get us tickets to Rome for our 10th anniversary this year.  As it's getting closer, I've been getting more and more excited.  I've been trying to learn Italian and brushing up on my Latin.  (Yes, I'm that nerd.)  Anyway, I now can say things like Vorrei un po'di formaggio per favore.  (I'd like a little cheese please.)  Many years ago, Mamaw and Papaw got me a learn Italian set (because I've always wanted to learn a lot of languages) but now I've actually got some motivation and am currently on lesson 22.  I can't say a whole lot, but I am learning, so that's nice.  As for the Latin, I'm actually remembering more than I thought I would, and I'd like to be able to read the monuments myself, so I'm brushing up on that, too.  Maybe someday I'll actually be fluent in a couple of languages.  That would be so cool. 
As I study the Italian, Spanish filters through my head.  I remember that when I first studied Spanish, I filtered it through the Latin I knew, so this is not new, just kind of odd.  Now I often think in Spanish while I'm reviewing Latin, too, since my Spanish is better than my Latin now.  I've found myself trying to talk in Italian and ending up in Spanish.  Oh, well, it may work out in the end.  My Columbian friend Gloria assures me that Italian is pretty much "like Spanish with a bad accent".  (Her words)  Of course, she doesn't actually speak Italian, either.  I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever heard any "real" person speak Italian, just some bits on the Godfather movies or other tv (and now my learn Italian tapes).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Homemade Cream of Celery Soup

Missy, this is for you.  :)

I've been making cream of mushroom for a while, but I never tried cream of celery.  I played around today, and came up with a recipe for a good cream of celery.  It's lighter and uses little salt.  It makes about 3 cups.
You need:
1 bunch of celery, diced (even the leafy bits)
4T olive oil, divided
1 1/2 c chicken stock (or veggie stock, if you wanna go vegetarian)
about 3/4 c milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 tsp celery salt
generous sprinkle of pepper (1/2 tsp?)
1/4 c white whole wheat flour

In a skillet, saute celery in 2 T oil for a few minutes.  It will still be fairly crisp, but somewhat cooked.  Add rest of oil and flour and spices, making a roux.  Add chicken stock and scrape bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add milk.  Turn off heat.  Use an immersible blender to puree.  (Mine still has some small pieces of celery; it's not totally pureed.)  That's it!  Here's a picture, but keep in mind that cream of celery has never looked too appetizing:
I used mine in some chicken tetrazini.  Yum.  I don't know if it will freeze well or not. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Kitchen Cabinets

Finally, I painted all of the kitchen cabinets.  This is the before picture:
 (And aren't you surprised that I remembered to take a "before" picture!)
I painted all of the cabinets, and Nathaniel spray painted the hinges and drawer pulls.  We bought new knobs, and Nathaniel has been busy hanging cabinets.  In fact, he's still hanging them right now, with Elijah's help.  But I wanted to show you how nice the ones that are hung look:

I think it's a pretty impressive makeover for very little money.  It took longer than I'd wanted, but there has been a lot going on, and this was definately worth the wait! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Random Thoughts on Twelfth Night, Bean Sprouts, and Egg Production

I had every intention of making a yummy chocolate trifle for Twelfth Night and having a little celebration with my family.  No, we've never actually celebrated Twelfth Night before, but you all should know what a history buff I am, and traditionally, the Christmas season was capped with a big last hurrah party on Twelfth Night, or January 5.  (Epiphany is Jan 6, and traditionally the day the wise men's arrival was commemorated.  And techinically, Jan 6 is twelfth day, but that's another discussion.)  Anyway, I had thoughts of having a little dessert party here, but alas, it just didn't happen.  I still plan to make the chocolate trifle sometime, though.  Maybe for Valentine's Day or something.  Aunt Bess always made a trifle for Christmas and special gatherings.  Hers was made with pound cake (or angel food cake, but I remember the pound cake being used more often), vanilla pudding, and cherry pie filling.  It is absolutely fabulous, but since we're pretty big choco-holics around here, I started making a chocolate one that's been a huge hit with everyone except Malachi.  (Well, he eats the chocolate pudding and chocolate cake, but not the cherry pie filling.)

Another thing I've been doing, besides dreaming of chocolate desserts, is sprouting beans:
My friend Karen gave me a jar and seeds for growing bean sprouts.  Nathaniel and I actually love bean sprouts on sandwiches and in salads, so I did the first package, and it's already been eaten.  They grew really well, and I was thrilled at how easy it was, especially since bean sprouts are very nutritious, and I'm always trying to get more green things into Nathaniel's diet.  We have a second bag of seeds that says they are sprouts for stir-fry, so I plan to grow in the next week or two and add them to a stir fry.  Then the kids might accidentally eat some, too!

Lydia has been a big helper in the kitchen lately.  Here she is cutting up mushrooms:

She actually cut up the entire container for me.  Usually she tires of helping earlier, but lately she's really been sticking with me more. 

Lastly, our chickens have been producing like crazy.  Here's the number of eggs this week:
Tuesday -6
Wednesday -9
Thursday -5
Friday - 7
Saturday - 9
Sunday - 8 so far
Obviously, all 9 of our hens are laying quite productively.  They come running whenever any of us goes outside now, even Nathaniel.  (Apparently, they've forgiven/forgotten his role in Zebra 4's demise.)  They are also mostly staying in the yard.  We did have one time they "escaped" to the side of our yard, but the boys quickly rounded them up.  The rooster has been accepted by the hens, but he is still quite timid around us, which is not a bad thing. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Eggs and Friends

The kids enjoyed playing at our friends' house.  How many kids can fit on a bean bag?  Apparently, 7 can!
 The chickens are really laying now.  Yesterday, we got 6 eggs.  Today, we got 8!  We had scrambled eggs for dinner last night, and Lydia and I baked pumpkin muffins and banana bread today, but there is no shortage of eggs in our fridge.  Two of the eggs I cracked for scrambled eggs yesterday had double yolks (one was a brown egg, the other green).  I also hardboiled some for snacks and salad topping. 

The chickens don't seem bothered by the cold.  It was only 18 degrees this morning when I went to let them out, but they were all outside in their tiny yard already, and eagerly came running to the door for me to let them into the main yard.