The chickens are here!!  After all the planning, worrying and excitement, it was actually kind of anticlimactic.  The guy came with our chickens in a box.  We put them in the coop.  We looked at them.  We went inside and had waffles.



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We have 4 chickens: two americaunas and two black australorps.  Both breeds are supposed to be great egg layers, friendly and cold hardy.  The kids are so excited and I am too.  We should have eggs in less than two months!



We went treasure hunting in the crawl space last night.  Actually, my husband did, and actually, he was inspecting the foundation (because I was being paranoid and he loves me).  The foundation is (still) fine, and he brought up treasures when he emerged for the deep!




In the back left is an original mason jar.  There are two more canning jars labeled “Reid, Murdoch & Co., Chicago “.  There are two cold cream jars, one still containing cold cream!  Other items include a squirt gun, a glass, and a metal jug that was originally painted red with lettering (maybe a gas can?)


Violet Dulce cold cream.  I found an ad online for this dating 1915.

Probably the most valuable pieces we found were two tins.  One used to hold 1916 Lucky Strike cigarettes, and one still holds “regal rose talcum power” (it’s pink!)



Both would sell for around $40 on eBay, from what I can tell.

But to us, the most crazy awesome discovery was that of the original crown molding and picture rail!!!!  Woot!!!  




I knew knew there had to have been a picture rail originally, given the era of the house, but also because you can still see a faint line all the way around the living room, right where the picture rail would have been.ImageThe cornice, or crown molding.  Such a treasure.  We are so pumped to be able to have the original pieces of the architecture of our home.  We can’t wait to use these artifacts in restoration efforts yet to come.


My kitchen wall is taunting me. Also, we give up on the yard.

After many back breaking hours spent on the pile of yard debris, branches, concrete, an old cat collar and ancient cell phone, we decided to give up on moving the pile ourselves before the chickens arrive in two weeks. Since my husband owns a landscape company, and since they ran out of work one day, and since paying them would be cheaper than back surgery, we hired it done. What luxury! I felt pretty spoiled going about my business inside while 3 guys cleaned up our yard. 5 hours later, here’s the result.



Before and after!

Also, my kitchen wall is taunting me. The plan with the kitchen is to live with it until we can remodel everything in a few years. No sense spending any money until we can do it all, right? The problem is that the paint is so thick that it is peeling itself away from the wall. While inspecting it, I accidentally chipped a piece of the paint off.

Look how many layers of paint that is!


So now, I have to stare at this big hole in the paint and somehow refrain from just ripping it all down. Not sure how I’m going to wait three more years to do that….. What would you do?


Weekend Planning

This weekend we made a little more headway on clearing out for the coop.  At the bottom of all of the leaves and branches, we found a 5’x7′ cement pad.  Not sure what we are going to do about this- probably not ideal for chickens.  Busting up all of that concrete just added another dimension to the work we have to do.

And the chickens are coming in 2 weeks!!!!  I ordered 4 ameraucanas (blue eggs) and 4 black australorpes (brown eggs).  Both breeds are supposed to be very hearty, good egg layers, gentle and friendly.

A trip to the library provided some very applicable reading material for us:


Oh!  I also made a VERY exciting (to me) discovery:


I do believe this is a rhubarb plant making an appearance!  I have always wanted  a rhubarb plant!  Things like this make me so happy.

Overflowing toilets, making room for chickens, and something pretty for my kitchen

Kind of a lot going on this week here.  Yesterday started off with much promise.  I didn’t have to work, it was going to be 80 degrees, and I had plans to take Holland on a park picnic via bike for the first time this year.  Then I heard it… drip… drip… drip.  Water was dripping down from the ceiling near the dishwasher.  I knew that upstairs was a broken toilet.  Panic.  I raced upstairs to find about an inch of water in the bathroom with more coming out of the toilet.  With only a moments hesitation (it was toilet water, after all), I raced across the room and turned off the water.  I threw every towel we owned, clean and dirty, onto the floor- and it was still a swimming pool.  I even threw my terry cloth bathrobe in the water!  I ran to the basement to get a bucket… more water.  Make that two buckets.  To make a long story short, from then on my day was consumed with bleach, laundry, and more bleach.  I am praising God that I was home.  The water was probably flowing for 10-15 minutes by the time I caught it.  I cannot bear to imagine what would have happened if I had been gone, as I often am.  We aren’t sure what we are going to do, but it will involve a new toilet, repositioning of pipes in the floor, and maybe tearing out some of the ceiling.  Fun times.  Holland and I did take a break and went on the park picnic by bike, and it was lovely.


After everything was sorted out in the waste-water department, we did a ton of yard work to make room for the flock of chickens we hope to soon add to our backyard.  In our backyard, there is a perfect little “nook” for chickens.  Unfortunately, the previous owners used this space to dump their yard waste… so we have 5+ years of leaves and branches to clear first.  I’m sure it was very handy for them, but we have other plans for the space, and so have our work cut out for us.  I told the kids they needed to help us clear branches.  Fisher began to do so with his usual enthusiasm for work (subdued, to be sure).  I then told him why we were clearing this area (for the chickens).  “WAIT.”  he said, “Do you mean that the sooner we get this cleared out, the sooner we get CHICKENS???”  With my affirmative, what happened next was a burst of work ethic like I’ve never seen before.  He was an animal!  It looks like livestock is the secret to unlocking my son’s initiative.  Hmmm.









After.  Can you tell a difference?  We still have much work to do.


Amid all of the messes in my life this week, I have enjoyed gazing at my new wall-art.  For years now, I have been storing 6 vintage French cruise menus, wondering what to do with them and how to do so cheaply, as they were a very non-standard frame size (9.5″ x13.5″).  After a little Internet searching, I found some great frames from  With a coupon code, I got 6 frames for ~$90.  They took about 10 minutes each to assemble.  Here is the result!

Each one features a watercolor of a La Fontaine fairy tale.




Good Neighbors

This morning, we had THINGS TO DO. My dad was visiting, he had his chainsaw, and we needed to cut down some trees so grass will grow in our yard. Since we are usually up before 7, we waited till a reasonable hour (8:30) to get started. In our old neighborhood, getting a jump on Saturday morning yard work would earn major brownie points with our elderly neighbors. It would have absolutely thrilled our socially awkward, OCD neighbor across the street.




Well, we don’t live on Woodlawn Drive any more. Fifteen minutes into our work, just after felling a large Aspen, up went the ground-floor apartment window next door and out popped the head of a Very Angry Lady who just got home from her night shift. She wasn’t really in the mood for give and take. She was pretty ticked off and I don’t think she wanted to be calmed down. Lance and my dad were a little annoyed, but tried to be friendly to her.  My people-pleasing trait went into over-drive and I started thinking about what kind of cookies I should bake and bring over later. We took an hour break.  


A small part of me wanted to be indignant. It is MY yard and MY time.


However, if I put myself in her shoes, it was pretty easy to understand how she felt. After all we WERE running a CHAINSAW right outside her window on Saturday morning, and she had probably just drifted off to sleep after working all night. We don’t live in a neighborhood filled with retirees and 40-hour a week white-collar workers any more. Our neighbors are plentiful and diverse. They are minorities, refugees, Jesse Pinkman-types, single moms, young professionals, and who knows what else. We are a college educated, stable white-collar family who moved in right next door with big plans and a savings account.


We know how to be good neighbors, and that is something we can offer to them. What can they offer us? I am not sure, because we haven’t met most of them (except Angry Night Shift Lady).


I think they are going to teach us a lot about how to be a good neighbor. How to show grace. How to understand lifestyles other than our own. To be considerate and conscientious. Hopefully, someone offers us some delicious ethnic food.


After my run today, I turned back onto our block. The streets are lined with beautiful houses, all over a century old. So many stories have been lived on this street. Some of the houses have always been cared for, others have been horribly abused and some have been restored. Up the street, I could see Lance and Fisher hauling branches into the bed of the truck. Next door, Jesse Pinkman came out for a smoke. And even though it must seem crazy to most, my heart warmed at this site. The story of this street goes on and our chapter here is just beginning. I am so glad.