Friday, December 26, 2008

Ice Skating

We decided to spend the day after Christmas at the local ice skating rink. This was the first time Lindsay used single-blade skates. She got used to balancing on them while we walked to the rink. It's amazing how much better her coordination has gotten since last year. While she didn't really want to let go of our hands completely, she did a few times. And she did well. So laps were skated, hot cocoa was drunk and a good time was had by all.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Little Ballerina

On thursday, Lindsay had her first ballet recital. The whole thing was so sweet, it made your teeth hurt. Little girls in pink, bunchy tights with tutus tucked into the waistband, squirmy girls at quiet moments, super-earnest girls trying to do the Tea Dance from the Nutcracker, Lindsay running over to give me a hug in the middle of the performance, etc. I mean, aren't we just programmed as parents to eat this stuff up??? I sure am.

What made me the most proud of my little girl was, when receiving a bouquet of flowers from us, Lindsay asking if she could divide the bouquet up between all of the girls in her class. I was about to explode with pride.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

This is Lindsay's account of Thanksgiving. I think it's a pretty good one. I mean, who doesn't like dessert best? We had gingerbread cake with whipped cream that I made and we had brownies and ginger molasses cookies that Graham's father made.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Travel

For Thanksgiving we drove up to Neil's parent's house. You can see us all in our minivan in Lindsay's drawing. It was a nice visit with good food, early morning babysitting by nana and papa, and a small hike. We decided to go back Saturday to give ourselves a day to re-group. It was a good thing as Neil's back went out and he was in excruciating pain all day yesterday.

Here's my illustration of the drive home.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Say Cheese

Whenever I travel I like to explore not only the various towns, but also the food. I find it fascinating to wander through village markets and check out the new tastes and smells. My dad lives in Provence, which is home to some of the most delicious food in the world. In any tiny town that has a market day, you will find the loveliest local cheeses, produce and charcutrie.

These gorgeous veggies were in his local supermarket in Lorgues.

Every time I visit my dad, I love to sample the cheese. Last time I came I barely fit into my pants by the end of the trip. I find my father's illness stressful, so who could deny oneself a little comfort in the way of tangy, stinky or creamy cheese? My sister came along on this trip and is as eager as I am to taste as many different kinds of cheese as I am.

Here is a sampling of cheeses we bought today.

The plate on the left:
The bright orange cheese is a mimolette extra vieille. The extra vielle means that it was aged an extra long amount of time. 18 months in this case. I think this cheese was the hardest for us to describe. It looks like a cheddar, but doesn't taste like one at all. It was a hard cheese, but wasn't crumbly or hard. I said elastic and Lisa said waxy. Neither description sounds particularly appealing though. Here's a more professional description. The next photo is a close-up of the rind of this cheese.
The creamy white cheese is a Tomme de chevre, which is a goat cheese. It was the most creamy decadent cheese we bought. And when I say creamy, it wasn't bland. Absolutely delicious! I searched for a good description from the pros on this cheese and didn't find any that resembled this little circle of heaven.

The plate on the right:
The large cheese on the bottom is a brie according to my stepmother. It is a perfectly good cheese. Seems a little sweeter and milder than bries I've had in the states.
The cheese to the left and above is a Ecorce de sapin, which is a triple cream cheese from the Franch-Comté region. It is wrapped in spruce bark, which imparts a subtle piney flavor to it. Sounds weird, but is delicious!
The cheese on the top is a Saint-Félicien Moulé å la louche. It's a stinky cow's milk cheese. It is very soft and drips off your knife when you bring it up to your bread. Yum.

My friend just sent me the funniest quote about the French and cheese:
"France is a country that understands…the range of smells that makes life interesting includes some rather severe ones…When they smell [Soumantrain, a particularly pungent cheese], Americans think 'Good God!' The Japanese think, 'I must now commit suicide.' The French think 'Where's the bread?'" - Luca Turin

Oh, and did I mention that they have zillions of olives here. Growing in my dad's yard, in fields, and on random trees along the street. Don't try and eat one from the tree unless you want your mouth to be stuck in a permanent pucker. It's a joke the locals play on olive-loving tourists. These guys need to be cured or pressed to be edible.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cautiously Optimistic

I am so hopeful listening to various reports that Obama will win the election. I keep thinking about the world series a bunch of years ago when the Yankees were losing to the Red Sox. At a certain point the Red Sox started to paint their field (the game was at Yankee stadium) with the words World Champions. They lost. Oops. I can wait to do my victory dance.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Who looks the part?

Is there any question of who looks more presidential? An elegant man who refuses to get pulled down into the muck? Or a pathetic man grasping at anything to get attention?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama Roasts McCain

A couple of nights ago John McCain and Barack Obama made speeches at the Alfred E. Smith dinner. It's a Catholic charity that has always brought in presidential candidates and other high-powered politicians. Alfred E. Smith was mayor of NYC and the first Catholic to run for president. So every 4 years they have the presidential hopefuls make speeches, and they are required to be funny and roast one another.

Here's Obama's speech.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bearded Ladies

When we got back from visiting my father in France (photos to come), the girls were 2 weeks older. They weren't appreciably bigger, however two of them grew beards. I think these ladies might be of Eastern European descent with all that facial hair! But, in their case it looks awfully cute.

This is Edie.

Here they all are in their coop.

Lou Lou and Edie on top of their coop run.

We didn't get a photo of Andie that really shows off her nutty hair doo, but I think you get the idea.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chick Magnet

The coop arrived a few weeks ago and the girls are now used to living outdoors. The first photo shows Andie with her increasingly crazy hair-doo outside of the coop for a little free-ranging. Chickens are omnivores and love a varied diet. By eating grass and plants (along with all kinds of bugs), they get a lot of beta-carotene in their diet. Much more than the mostly corn-fed factory chickens get. The yolks of the chickens who eat their greens are a much deeper, richer yellow than we are used to getting from the grocery stores here. In Europe, the yolks are still quite orange. My girls haven't started producing eggs yet. That should happen sometime around Christmas/The New Year.

The second photo shows my friend Ruth the chick magnet. She came to visit right before we left to visit my dad in France. The girls absolutely adored Ruth and kept trying to eat her shirt. They are 6 weeks old in this photo. At this point they were still making cheep cheep noises.

Monday, September 1, 2008

So Many Expressions

Okay, so I know this blog was originally about knitting, and now it seems to be about all things chicken. I'm assuming the novelty will wear off a bit, and I will start knitting again...

In the meantime...Neil and I were talking about how many expressions are derived from our poultry friends. Here a list of a bunch. Please add to the list.

-chicken/ chicken hearted (acting cowardly)
-strutting like a rooster (showing off)
-cocky (I guess pretty much the same as above)
-hen party (a party for women only, especially one that is organized for a woman who is soon going to get married)
-hen pecked (a husband who suffers from a nagging or domineering wife)
-laid an egg (to fail to make people enjoy or be interested in something) Anyone know why this has negative connotations?
-egg head (again, anyone know the origin of this one?)
-crowing (announcing something great)
-cock-eyed (this is to do with how a rooster sizes up a potential threat. They won't look directly at the foe, preferring to try and seem nonchalant and look straight ahead. All the time they are trying desperately to see via their peripheral vision.
-chicken feed/scratch (a very small amount of money, especially money that is paid for doing a job)
-coming home to roost (if you say that chickens are coming home to roost, you mean that bad or silly things done in the past are beginning to cause problems)
-a bad egg (someone who behaves in a bad or dishonest way)
-a good egg (a person with good qualities such as kindness)
-egg someone on
-a chicken and egg situation (a situation in which it is impossible to say which of two things existed first and which caused the other)
-have egg on your face (to seem stupid because of something you have done)
-a nest egg (an amount of money that you have saved)
- put all of your eggs in one basket (to risk losing everything by putting all your efforts or all your money into one plan or one course of action)
-as scarce as hen's teeth (to be very difficult or impossible to find)
-be no spring chicken (to not be young any more)


I got my voter info card in the mail the other day.

It looks as though they are trying something new and you need to pull out your 3-D glasses to get the information.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

3 weeks old

Here are some photos of the girls at 3 weeks. Andie is sporting a very sophisticated hairdoo. They enjoyed munching on the grass and eating mosquitoes that I smacked on my legs and then handed to them. Gotta give them a taste for those buggers!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Peaceful vacation

Well we loaded up the girls in the car and drove up to the Berkshires. The drive was relaxing and comfortable.

Ha ha. Actually Lindsay is nicely showing you how roomy the new brooder cage is for the little ones. Our friend Courtenay loaned us her dog's cage and it is great. I was getting sick of having no real solid floor on the bottom of the first cage. I had to lay down a towel and then put paper towels on top of it. The girls learned how to scratch the ground a week ago, so the paper towels went everywhere, and subsequently their poop went everywhere as well. This new cage has a solid bottom so I can lay down pine shavings. Chickens get sick with cedar shavings, so they should never be used. I put cardboard around the bottom of the cage to keep the pine shavings from being kicked out of the cage. It's working perfectly. Plus the chicks have gotten so huge! Their heads are about the size their entire bodies were when they first arrived.

The first day we were here, Lindsay and I went out to hunt for good perching sticks. We put in two perches and already the girls have discovered them and love hanging out on them. They sleep on them at night, which is something adult chickens do.

This picture just makes my teeth hurt it's so cute. They look like owls or some other kind of wild bird to me. Andie's hairdo is getting funny. Her feathers are really coming in and standing straight up on her head. She has a kind of ratty mohwak. At the end of their second week, they have gotten feathers on their chest and around their necks. They still have fluff down their midlines (heads, backs, tushes, and lower bellies)

They LOVE grapes and make us laugh hysterically as they run around their cage cheeping like lunatics and trying to keep their prized grape pieces away from the others. They are so frantic that they don't realize that all of them have grape pieces. So that means that 3 chicks are running around the cage like pinballs trying to avoid the others. Lindsay was practically crying, she was laughing so hard.

Of course we let them go outside and taste all of the delicious Berkshire grass. We have to keep a close watch on them because the yard is big and there are usually hawks flying overhead. I think they are enjoying their vacation as much as we are.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Going on Holiday

We're leaving tonight to go to the Berkshires. Neil's sister Dani is turning 40 and his parents are flying out to celebrate. We will stay at their house while they are gone. And, yes, we're bringing the chicks with us! Their area is one of the last holdouts for high speed internet, so I won't post while we're up there. They have dial-up! Remember that? Good news is that their town is planning on getting dsl this winter!

So, I'll leave you with some beautiful pen and ink drawings of Kip Mieke Roth's. Kip made drawings of chicks growing up. Lisa and Robb have both directed me to them and they are lovely.

I brought the chicks into Lindsay's pre-school today and they were a bit hit. Lindsay was in heaven being the teacher with her friends. I brought our inflatable kiddie pool and put them in it. That kept them protected from 18 sets of very excited hands. What cracks me up about NYC is that you can walk down the street with a cage of chickens and a kiddie pool and nobody blinks an eye!
The chicks survived the visit and even showed off for the kids by flying up onto the side of the pool and strutting around. I think I am definitely securing my crazy chicken lady title!

Monday, August 4, 2008

10 Days old

It's been fascinating to watch the changes these chicks have gone through already. In their second week they have tripled in size, started to scratch the ground and learned to fly about 2' off the ground. They have quite a lot of feathers on their wings and they have gotten silly little tail feathers. They start to look really mangy when the feathers start to push through the baby fluff. It will be pretty hilarious to see how scruffy they look when the feathers on their necks and faces start to come in.

In these photos you can see the girls (mostly Andie) getting feathers along their shoulders at the top of their wings. Andie's feathers are developing faster than the others, although she's now the smallest of the group. Pushy Louise (who we may start calling LuLu) has overtaken Andie in size and is my bet for the dominant hen. I keep saying I hope she doesn't turn into a rooster! Someone on the chicken forum I read had a saying that holds true for me. "If it lays it stays, if it crows it goes" Let's not talk about the fact that I just admitted to reading a chicken forum.

Now I will attempt to distract you from my nerdiness with some cute chick photos...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ahoy Matey

This silly chicken thinks it's a parrot. I was sitting at my desk and the chicks were practicing flying. Louise was able to flap up to my lap and then up to my shoulder. Of course my camera was downstairs and I wasn't about to walk downstairs past the cat with a chicken on my shoulder to get a photo. So this is w/ my cell phone and makes me look about as bad as possible, but I had to capture her triumph. I'm not sold on the sensation of weird reptilian claws walking around on my shoulders and neck.

I took more photos this afternoon, and will post them shortly to make up for the awfulness of this one.

This afternoon Stephanie, who I met through her blog and who works in this neighborhood, came by to meet the chicks. We were talking about crazy chicken owners (of whom I am one), and I mentioned people who keep their chickens in their house and put diapers on them to avoid the poop problem. There are even patterns for these chicken diapers online. I swore I would never turn into one of those crazy chicken people. I still do, although I think this parrot/chicken thing is loosening my footing on the slippery slope to crazy town.

And in case you have never heard of chicken diapers, let alone laid eyes on them. Here's a visual. The straps get lost in the feathers (so I've read).

Oh, I figured out that I can take a photo w/ my computer, so here's another grainy one.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 4 of chicks

For the chicks 4th day of amazing growth, Neil and I took them outside for a photo shoot. We put a little photo sweep backdrop down and then tried to have a picnic table and the cage to corral them in a bit. At first they were totally freaked out with me bumping their cage down our spiral staircase to the back yard. They kept very close to me, which made me feel like mama hen. Yes, these odd things really matter to me.

You can get a pretty good idea of their size here. Louise on the right is crouched down a bit, but she is definitely the smallest of the group. She's the pushy one though, so don't feel sorry for her. You can also see that their wing feathers are starting to come in through the chick fluff.

Once they got used to their surroundings, they had a blast pecking at the grass and scratching around on the ground. I'm going to take them out every nice day to let them have a little spa treatment.

We went away to Abington, PA for the weekend to visit friends who moved out of Brooklyn. Their daughter Quinlan was in daycare with Lindsay, so she is one of Lindsay's oldest friends. It was a lovely weekend of hanging out in their new house. They were crammed into a typical NYC apartment, and now their house feels like an absolute mansion. We're so happy for them, although we're going to miss having them here in Brooklyn. My upstairs neighbor watched the chicks while we were away.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hey Chicky

Okay, I can come up with a whole bunch of stupid headings w/ the word chick in them. Try doing a Google search with "chick" in it and a whole lot of questionable content comes up.

So the girls are 4 days old today and have already doubled in size. They make the sweetest little cheep cheep noises. It seems unbelievable that their cheep will eventually change to bowk. What I also learned is that the colors of their adult feathers may have nothing to do with the color they are now.

A lot of people have asked how I got chickens in NYC and are amazed when I tell them that they came through the mail. I thought I was going to have to pick them up at the post office, but they were delivered to my door. I am lucky that they came so quickly because the chicks were healthy and very perky.

Here's a photo of the inside of the shipping box. The green goo is a nutritional gel that kept them fed and hydrated during their journey. Chicks actually don't need to eat or drink the first few days after they hatch, which is why hatcheries are able to mail them. The sooner they arrive the better, because these guys are remarkable eaters and growers.

This little one is Edie (Sedgwick). She's the sweetest of the group. On the first day when she was held for a few seconds, she would drift off to sleep on your hand. Her markings make her look a little like a chipmunk. And there are few things cuter than a little chipmunk. She is called an Easter Egger chick, which is kind of a mutt that is derived from the Araucana chicken. It isn't a purebred, but it does lay the same blue/green eggs of the Araucana chickens. If you look at these photos of Araucanas, you will see the wacky ear-tufts on their faces. I hope my girls will have such distinguished features.

This little pee-wee is Louise (Lou Reed) and she's an Easter Egger also. What she lacks in size, she makes up for in brattiness. She has the bratty little sister in her (and I'm speaking from experience). When her sisters fall asleep, she chirps her head off and deliberately wakes them up. I don't know if her motivation stems from loneliness or sadism, but she's got quite a personality. I'm putting my money on her to be the top of the pecking order.

This is Andie (Andy Warhol). This photo was taken today, so she looks bigger and older than the others. She's the middle sized chick, w/ Edie being the biggest. She looks like a cross between an ostrich and an alpaca. Her long, gangly neck looks positively broken when she's sleeping. Enough to make a new mommy freak out. She is a silver laced polish chick. Here is a photo of what she will look like as an adult.

They eat mostly their chick crumbles and drink their chick gatorade (water w/ electrolytes and vitamins in it). I gave them some uncooked steel cut oatmeal and they LOVE it. They will race out of their brooder cage to peck it off my floor. I put it on my hands, which makes them hop up and eat out of them. I want to get them used to me. Already they associate me with food.

The names are based on Andy Warhol and members of his factory. I think that Polish chickens look like Andy Warhol with their wacky hairdos. And I will have "factory" eggs, although these gals will be the farthest from factory hens you could imagine.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Here chick chick chick chick

Awwww........they are so insanely cute!! Here are quick cell phone photos of the 3 girls. The mail delivery person brought them to my door about 30 minutes ago. They are healthy, perky and are eating, drinking and pooping without any problems. I can't stop gazing into their little brooder and making clucky new-mommy noises.

Friday, July 18, 2008

10 Years Ago Today...

Neil and I exchanged vows in the garden of his parent's Berkshire home. It doesn't seem like 10 years have passed, although it doesn't seem like yesterday. Our lives have changed so much with the addition of Lindsay.

We are having a lovely, low-key NYC day (brunch, a movie and dinner out) and Lindsay is having her first sleep over. The big question is, will we actually be able to sleep late tomorrow morning? It would be the best anniversary present ever!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I'm Voting Republican-Ha!

Here's a very funny video that touches on a lot of campaign issues.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hungry for Change

Move On is a wonderful organization. I heard that they amassed their fortune originally by inventing the flying toaster screen saver, but I'm not sure if that is true or not. Anyway, they believe that individuals are able to make a difference in politics. I find this refreshing in a time when most people feel so disenfranchised.

They send emails with different "actions" that you can add your voice to. They also make things very easy for the armchair activist. You can just add your name to a pre-written letter and hit send and they send it to your correct political representative. It doesn't get much easier than that.

They also organize house parties, where someone volunteers to host a bunch of strangers and people attend the party to make phone calls encouraging swing state citizens to go out and vote. I've attended these parties in the past, but I have to admit that I really hate cold calling people. Makes me feel like a telemarketer. I've done date entry for them when the option came up last election.

I was so happy to see their latest action, which was called "Hungry For Change". They brought people from all over the country together (they organize that part) to have bake sales to raise money for Obama's campaign. Isn't that fabulous? Last weekend I baked cookies for Obama. There were about 6 different bake sales in my immediate area and the one for which I baked cookies raised over $700!! Over 12,000 MoveOn members across the country held bake sales and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. What a simple and effective idea. You can click here to see photos from the different sales. I didn't make these cupcakes, but thought they were adorable.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Martha vs. the Mulberry tree

My garden is bursting with greenery as we're having a nice and wet spring/summer so far. The red dahlias in the pot are from my friend Simone who is growing her own in Germany. We can think of each other when we look at the pretty red blooms.

On another note, I'm starting to battle the mulberry tree that hangs over the back of my garden. This tree drops mulberries in my garden, which not only attracts flies and bees, but it also smothers the grass. Each year I try and pick up the berries as they come down, and each year I lose the battle. This has been going on for over 10 years. I plant new grass each spring only to lose it to the blasted berries. I can't even eat the berries because by the time they drop they are overripe. There are so many that they actually mold in lumps in the yard (and stick to the bottom of our shoes). That with the cloying smell of the rotting berries drives me nuts.

This year I tried to get smarter to win the war against this tree. (We aren't going to chop it down because it blocks out the neighbors and for most of the year is a lovely tree) I bought a miracle gardening fabric that allows 70% of light through. It is water permeable and lightweight, so the grass doesn't get smothered. I laid it down in the back of the garden and Neil helps me gather the corners to dump the berries into the compost bin. We collect the berries about every other day. Today I think we had about 15 pounds of berries in the fabric. The amazing thing is that after 2 weeks, there are still loads of berries on the tree. I think this year I will win the battle of the berries!! Here are some photos: