Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review: Chicken Scratch by Kelly Chripczuk

Chicken Scratch: Stories of Love, Risk & Poultry by Kelly Chripczuk is a delightful and humorous short memoir of a woman who decides to buy herself a flock of chickens for her thirty-ninth birthday. In the pages that follow the momentous purchase Chripczuk writes of the practical realities of taking on chickens, of a rooster gone rogue, of rescuing chickens from the neighbor's yard, and how chicken care intersected with daily family life.

In the introduction Chripczuk shares how it was her blossoming discovery and love of the Psalms that opened her eyes to see that God is present in the mundane and ordinary moments of life. Raising chickens came at a crossroad in her own life and provided the perfect opportunity for Chripczuk to pick up her waiting pen and record the remarkable in the seemingly unremarkable.

This is a great book for someone like me who loves to photograph chickens and "thinks" they might be fun to raise. After visiting my friend in Michigan last fall, and now reading this book, it appears that chickens are a lot of work! I suppose most things worthwhile in life are like that! And you know what, I think that if you aren't learning life lessons raising chickens then God will use whatever other activity you are doing to bring the lessons to your door! This book is a great way to vicariously "live the chicken dream" and it would also be a fun and sympathetic read for those who are actually in the "chicken business."

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Spring Just Might Be Here

Spring break is here and as of yesterday it seems that spring might just be on her way too! I've decided I really like this "balanced calendar" for school -- two weeks off every nine weeks helps to break up the year and give me a rest of sorts. Of course what are breaks for but to get those things done that you couldn't do during school, right? 

So what have we been up to this past school term?

Laura started a little ballet class at a local church in January. She loves it!!! It's fun to think that Rachel attended the same class 7 years ago when I was pregnant with Laura!

 We have to put in a large amount of volunteer hours at the kids' high school each year. One of the ways I do that is to do volunteer sewing for the theatre production. This year it was "Pride and Prejudice" and the costumes were pretty and fun. I sewed a couple of gowns and two lined jackets. This occupied many January and February evenings.

 And provided good opportunities to improve my sewing skills! :)

We had our annual Church Bowling Outing in January. The kids love it!

And Valentine's Day always seems to roll around before we know it!

Yay for sweet little valentines.

Every week at piano lessons I visit this little mouse (well, he's a rat). He's so cute and in 30 seconds I get my "pet fix."

Speaking of cute things, have you seen this adorable book??!!!

And while we are on the subject of cute books, you have to check out The Mouse Mansion -- so much fun!!!

The third week in February was the production of the "Pride and Prejudice Musical". I got to go opening night and see Rachel in her scenes (see below underneath the hanging picture first person on the left). It was so much fun!!!!! And everyone was terrific! The drama director is such a wonderful mentor for these kids to have!

Our annual church women's retreat was the last weekend in February. We all met at a home and spent the night there, enjoying food, fellowship, and hearing one another's testimonies.

Two sisters: they are so cute! And they are both growing up far too fast!!!

A few weeks ago we paid a visit to a friend to welcome the newest member of her family! She had lost a beloved pet in the fall and when Fiona was found and brought home we needed to meet her! Fiona is part Turkish Van which means she LOVES water! Believe me, it is so fun to see a cat who truly loves water.

It's that time of year when Prom is approaching. That means prom dress shopping!!! I can't post the final one here until later in April but we had a great evening with the aunts and found a lovely dress! In just a little over a week we are having an exchange student arrive from Spain for a month! We are all going to have fun with this international guest! She's also very excited to be introduced to an American Prom!

Laura had the special chance to go with my mom and me to see the repertory theatre's rendition of Stuart Little. It was terrific! We followed this with lunch at our favorite place: Wildwood Market.

Decaf coffee and a little chocolate? Yum yum yum.

Once Rachel finished theatre it was time to jump into "Spring Spec" with her choir. Yikes! These poor kids and the amount of time it takes to rehears for these things! But, it was all good fun and lots of learning too. Rachel is on the far right below.

We had the strangest weather in February -- very warm. So warm the daffodils came up and bloomed right at the beginning of March. Then winter decided to come back which gave me the guilt-free opportunity to pick every.single.daffodil.there.was.

Wow these flowers brought so much happiness for those few days!

I almost thought peony season was here the way I kept grabbing my camera and taking pictures.

The color yellow is so essential for the month of March.

I felt like a millionaire having these flowers to look at:

Three weeks later and the daffodils that were still in their buds are just now blooming again.

Reading and hot drinks (and a little chocolate) still seem to be the best way for me to re-charge. This winter has been harder health-wise for me than I've dealt with in a number of years. I'm glad the warmer weather is here and hope that perhaps my energy will pick up a bit.

 At the beginning of March I headed with a few kids to my mom's church for their annual THINK conference. This year we heard from Erwin Lutzer, pastor emeritus of Moody Church in Chicago. He spoke about the reformation. It was such a great weekend and so fun to go with others from our church as well as my mom!

It's also tradition to go to my mom's place for lunch on the Saturday of the conference!

The kids tried a new tradition for St. Patrick's Day this year -- Shamrock Shakes from McDonald's. Very festive!

Of course you've heard ALL about our trip to Vermont in February. Mom thought she'd miss out on her trip to Maine this spring but circumstances arose that had her on a plane to Lily Brook Farm before we knew it. She's knee deep in snow, the unpredictable joys of lambing season, and navigating the hardships of real life with her cousin.

Check out these beautiful orange beets! The colors of food are so inspiring to me!!! Sometimes it's hard to eat the food -- I just want to stare at it!

Last Sunday we had a traditional St. Patrick's Day feast. Delicious!

And afterward we had a cake-eating tea time. Fortunately there was a Dundee Cake left in the freezer from Christmas.

And now that it is spring break I'm working on this, and a ton of other projects. I've had to sort through and cull my felted wool collection (anyone nearby need any felted wool for projects? I have lots and lots of red and dark colors). I've managed to get my closet back into control and half of it looks awesome. The other half will be tackled this week.

The first day of spring snuck up on me. We have a family tradition of tea on the spring equinox. Somehow these traditions were so much easier when the kids were little and life was SLOW!!! I should have thought about how life would speed up and become more impossible before beginning all these "traditions."

Sometimes it's good to just let things go un-done and sometimes it's good to just put in the effort and do it and remember that little-by-little these memories are building up emotional energy that will feed these kids for years to come.

I did manage to tidy up my linen shelf (middle shelf is to-be-ironed and is normally stuffed to the gills). I have yet to clean the laundry room it resides in.

James has been working on chain mail for his raccoon. Each link has to be made individually! Good thing he has lots of patience!

Often my house feels like a wreck -- at least in many places, and I am too quick to notice the ten-year-old paint on the walls that is chipping or dirty, or this or that (or the disgusting white cushion covers on the couch below) but if I close my eyes to the dirt this little snapshot of the living room makes me happy for all the bright colors and flowers.

Here is Laura having a tea party with her little friends. David is so kind to create these parties whenever I ask him.

And now it is time to get out the vacuum and cleaning supplies and try to bring some order to the downstairs. It will be nice to have the windows open to do this and maybe there are a handful of daffodils I could bring in for the table. Have a good weekend!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mondays are for Grace

"One's task is not to turn the world upside down, 
but to do what is necessary at the given place 
and with a due consideration of reality."

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Parting Gift -- Part Four

The final part of the gift that our trip to Vermont became was the chance to spend time with my mom and sister! We've always talked about taking trips over the years but of course it is never practical to do so! Vermont threw us together on an unplanned adventure full of both old and new memories.

How do you like our matching sheepie hats? Thanks to Christina for those!
We had our own car to ride around in which proved very convenient! Mom was the designated picture taker.

Another thing we've always talked about but only done once before (15 years ago in Scotland) is stay at a bed and breakfast together. Nye's Green Vally B&B was so welcoming and so hospitable to us. Built in 1811 as a stagecoach tavern, this home is still welcoming travelers!

Mom and Christina had a room with the cutest Beatrix Potter border!

I had this room!

Laura would have enjoyed these cute little bunnies tucked in the bathroom:

Antiques abounded in this cozy place:

There were plenty of teas to choose from too!

Everywhere in Vermont this style of door latch is used. Whenever I come across this it reminds me of my childhood!

The bedroom doors were hung with antique children's dresses:

Outside it still looked like Christmas thanks to all the snow!

Check out the long icicles! We rarely see those here in Indiana!

And there were goats, a Shetland pony and a donkey. They were so cute!! (And they appeared to like Christina!)

Isn't this little donkey so sweet?!

Enjoying a cup of tea before the next adventure:

Breakfast was served in the kitchen/dining room along with any other guests (think skiers from International backgrounds!!!). 

Mom got to have blueberry pancakes -- just what Grandma made for us whenever we went back to Vermont as kids. Of course they are always served with real maple syrup!

One morning we drove through our old hometown of Jeffersonville and stopped here to see the old Windridge Inn where Amanda's mom would buy us cinnamon bread topped with a thick slathering of maple cream anytime we came into town.

Visiting our old house that my dad built was also on the list. Here's where it all started for me.

And the house dad built for Grandma next door:

Christina flew home Monday and after our airport run mom and I headed into the countryside to visit old friends.

Here's Courtney and I sitting at the same table we sat at when we were the ages of her boys! 

And our moms got to have tea together just like old times.

We even went out to the barn just like we did whenever I visited:

Only now it's Courtney's boys feeding the horse instead of me. :)

What lovely scenery they enjoy from their house!

Our last morning we headed over to Stowe because I had one more pilgrimage to make.

The Austrian Tea House at the Trapp Family Lodge (think Sound of Music Trapp Family):

Our extended family has a long history of coming here and one of my very earliest memories is attached to this place. Lunch seemed appropriate!

So did pictures of the lovely tea treats!!! Mostly we came in the summer and it seems pretty certain in my mind that the Black Forest Cake was what all wise family members ordered.

I convinced mom and Aunt Karen to split some Linzer Torte so I could vicariously partake:

And here's the main Trapp Family Lodge!

With a view out from the parking lot.

Affectionately known as "Bertha's House", this was another place I had to take a photo of. As a very young child my mom brought me here to visit her elderly friend Bertha. The smells and tastes of her kitchen pantry have lived on in infamy.

Cambridge Village Market was on the list for the times we crossed the street with Amanda and Ben to go inside or popped in with Grandma or my mom to buy something we needed.

Yes, our trip to Vermont was about as full as we could possibly make it. It was a precious gift that I will always treasure.

And, as we always did growing up, our last stop on the way out of town was back at Amanda's house to say goodbye. It seemed fitting it was our last stop this time too.

Chapters in life often open and close without much warning. I suppose that's why it's always best to savor the moments that come along today and not take them for granted.