Happy Autumn!!! and other things…..

Today is the Autumn Equinox!

We are all very excited for fall here at Merry Magpie.  Too bad it’s 95 degrees outside today!

Our school lessons today revolved around learning about the various harvest and equinox celebrations around the world and throughout history followed by crafts.  All three girls knew that papier mache was on the agenda and they could barely contain themselves to sit through the lessons first.

Martha Stewart came through in a big way for us today.  I have, like many of you, a love/hate relationship with the eminent Ms. Stewart.  I won’t get into that right now except to say that all of the ideas I took from her books and magazines today went off without a hitch, beginning with the aforementioned papier mache.

We glued black and orange crepe paper onto balloons and hung them to dry.  Once they are done, we can pop the balloons inside them and they will hold their shapes.  The black ones are destined to become cat faces with open mouths to hold candy.  The orange will become a pumpkin.

It was extremely messy,but remarkably easy.

Next we assembled crowns of leaves made from rubber stamps, black tempera paint and colored construction paper.

Oona hasn’t taken hers off.

After our school day ended we celebrated by watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and eating Ghost Toast with Boo-nilla milk.

When you get right down to it, none of us will be the least bit sorry to bid summer 2010 adieu.  It’s been brutally hot and dry this year.  The only sadness is closing the pool for the year and saying goodbye to fresh summer food.

Luckily, I really enjoy cold weather foods as well.

Fresh pumpernickel anyone?  Or how about the delectable Pirate Peaches I made the other night?  Next year I will be certain to make at least 100 jars of it once peaches are in season again.

We mustn’t leave out Martha’s puff pastry pumpkins I tried out as well.  I didn’t have a pumpkin cookie cutter (go figure) so I had to use an acorn shape.  They are filled with gruyere and dijon.  So good!!!

Emily especially liked these.

The coming of autumn means the animals should be more comfortable, as well.  They’re definitely more playful when it’s cooler.

You can see Milkshakes is getting a bit shaggy.  She’s part Cashmere – I don’t know what else she might be, and for all I know she could be ALL Cashmere.  Either way I am going to try and comb her and see if I can get some of that shagginess taken care of.  She is beginning to put on some weight as well, which will help if we breed her.

Jerry’s wool is growing in very nice as well.  I am going to try and do a better job of shearing him in the spring so I can spin the fleece.   Or at least sell it to someone else who’ll want to spin it. I have more than enough knitting and yarn projects to keep me going through the next millenium. And really I do need the cooler weather for those.  Sitting with a huge pile of wool in your lap is not the most comfortable summer activity.

At least it looks like fall out there.

Clams and Mussels, Oh My!

You can’t say my kids aren’t adventurous.  Neve upped the ante this past weekend by attempting to expand her culinary experience.

My aunt Leisa was in town so we all headed over to my parents’ for raw clams and steamed mussels (and pizza for the kids) .

Emily declared herself unable to eat something that was rather alive at the time of purchase (she’s a vegetarian but will eat fish…..as long as it comes frozen in a box).  Neve was fascinated by the shells and the whole process of cleaning them.  As the adults started scarfing them down (with a dollop of dad’s fabulous cocktail sauce) we could all tell Neve was trying to summon up the courage to try one.

She liked the sauce and really wanted to see what raw clam tasted like, but she was also a bit nervous about the whole thing.

So we did what any other good family would do.

We bribed her.  A bag of M&M’s would head her way if she’d try a clam.

It took her all her courage and quite a few starts and stops…….

She did it!

She got it part way down her throat and then…..

Back it came.

At least she tried.

The amazing thing is, we got her to try a steamed mussel a little while later.

It came back, too.

Maybe when she’s older.

Paddy Goes Swimming

When we brought Paddington Duck home from Susie’s we brought a small plastic child’s pool as well.  Unfortunately, the first night Paddy was with us she suffered an injury on her neck ( possibly a peck from a certain hen) that required some bandaging and antibiotic so she wasn’t able to use her pool for awhile.

Happily she is now fully recovered and it was rather warm today so we dug out the pool, filled it with water and let her have at it.  She took right to it like….well, like a duck to water.

It was obvious right away that this is where she is meant to be.  You could feel the happy.

I still can’t get over how stinkin’ cute she is.  Even Paul is smitten with her- and how can you not dig a man who loves a duckling????

Oh hai !!!!!

Something tells me there are more ducks in my future……………..

A House Peeg

Y’all, brace yourselves.  My friend Susan got a pig peeg.  An adorable, plump, tiny little oinking bundle of cuddly cuteness that I think just killed me.

I took the girls in to meet him the day we picked up Paddy the duck.

He’s a mini pot – bellied peeg.  He’ll get to be about 30 compact pounds.  He’s litter trained.  LITTER TRAINED!!!!

Susie named him Charley.  My kids loooooooooove him.  They keep asking every day to go over to see him.  You know what this means.

I need my own house peeg.

Incidentally…..anyone who hasn’t been over to Susie’s site to see the cuteness that is Charley should check out her video of him.  Just make sure you’re careful – this kind of cuteness kills.

School Days

We’ve had a busy week! A mommy- daughter book club meeting Monday afternoon followed by our first day of school (at home!) on Tuesday and my birthday yesterday.

For our book club we were supposed to read Ann of Green Gables. Despite the fact that we had most of the summer (we skipped a meeting in July) we never got around to it.  I blame too much summer fun and pool time.  Instead the girls and I stayed up Saturday night and watched the movie.  It’s always been one of my favorites so I was very happy to finally share it with them.  They’re even asking for me to get the sequel!!!

On Tuesday we finally started home school!  I have been anxious about this all summer so I was ready to jump in and see how it was going to go.  You know what??  WHY on earth did we not do this sooner?  It’s been great.  I know it’s only been two days, but.  The girls are excited about their lessons (we’ll see how long that lasts!), the text books are set up so incredibly well that even I can teach math – and understand it!!!!  Oona tends to float in and out of our classroom space, but when she’s “in” she has been enjoying coloring and tracing shapes and playing with flashcards with me.

I am glad I chose such a well – structured curriculum; I never feel at a loss for what to do next or how to instruct, and we have a definite sense of accomplishment at the end of each lesson.  We’ve even been finishing up right around lunch time each day; sometimes later depending on how much reading I have them do.  We get to sleep in a bit later than if we had to catch a bus, and we can make after – lunch trips to the library anytime we want.  Plus Emily is home all day to help out with any animal – related issues.  I even taught her how to make pumpkin waffles on the waffle iron so she could make my birthday dinner.  Let’s hope it keeps  being great!

Re-Duck-ulously Cute

We ummm……….got a duck!

Meet Paddington. “Paddy” for short.  She’s just a wee thing still.

We got her from Susan’s farm after her little duckling brother died and she was too lonely to stay on her own.

She is the cutest stinkin’ thing, and it’s hilarious how she stands straight up to walk, quite unlike chickens.  We’ve put her in with Muriel the hen and her newest little chicken hatchling  hoping they’ll make a nice little blended family.


Wooly Brother

My brother and his beautiful girlfriend came to visit us this past weekend and meet all of the animals for the first time.  It seems crazy saying that, but that’s how long it’s been since I have seen him.  He lives up in Connecticut and the few times I’ve been up north we’ve missed connecting.

We had a fun visit – the kids just shy of driving us all nuts while piling on KB and Eleanor and demanding their full attention.

I made a yummy Lime Chiffon Cake for dessert Saturday night to set off the black beans and rice and homemade guacamole I made for dinner.  Now I am salivating again.

We also made lots of watermelon margaritas and fed all the leftover watermelon to the animals.  I love how the goats’ little beards get all stained red from it.

The boys are getting nice and fat and I think they are letting Milkshakes have some peace and she looks like she is finally putting some weight back on.   With luck I’ll be able to breed her to Susie’s Angora buck in the fall.  Speaking of Susie……..we donated our lovely Clem the rooster to Juniper Moon Farm.  Susan mentioned wanting a rooster and I have an over abundance of them.  Poor Clem was the low man on the totem pole so I am sure he is much happier now.

We’ll miss him, but he’s got his own harem now!

After dropping him off on Sunday we stuck around the farm a bit to see the baby goats get sheared.

Feenat got sheared, too, not long after this picture was taken.  She’s going to be bred this fall for the first time.  I can’t wait to see her babies next spring!

I love this spot at JMF.  Just lovely.

Watching the shearing.

Oona was happy to sit quietly and watch the goats as long as she was with Eleanor.

It was lovely, and now I really can’t wait for the fall shearing festival.   I was glad I finally got my brother out to see Susan’s farm, since I respect and admire her so much, and he and Eleanor got to see the kind of life I am working towards.  He is hands down the most supportive man in my life.  He’s also great with my kids. What other uncle would enjoy a nice facial with his nieces?

They had an absolute blast and were very sad to see their uncle and auntie go.  So was I!  I can’t wait for our next visit!


I am so happy to be able to say that!  This marks the first day of my favorite time of the year.  It’s when I am always at my happiest and the weather at my most favorite.  Before long we’ll see the leaves turning and the air will be crisp and there will be soup and bread and cookies going non – stop in my kitchen.  It also means Halloween is around the corner – and we looooove Halloween here.  If I can get my act together and get organized enough I may try and throw a Halloween party.

There are lots of projects going on here right now as I make my final push before home school starts next Tuesday (any my birthday on Wednesday, woohoo!).  There are dresses and shirts and sweaters started for all the girls.  I am actually even running out of fabric!  Imagine that!!!!  I’ll need to start buying more!

Among the finished projects are these:

I  made each of the girls a shirt with one of our animals on it.  Oona got Finnigan as a newborn.  Neve got one with Jasper cat and Emily’s has Big Jim the rooster.

Each girl also got a pair of these baggy black linen capris with lace trim, from the book Carefree Clothes for Girls by Junko Okawa.

I also finished another yoga suit for Oona.  I am really thinking I am going to work out a way to make this pattern for adults as well, since it looks so incredibly comfortable and flattering!

Unfortunately it has been way too hot to do much work outside.  We’ve gotten some good swim time in since there’s been no rain, but I am hoping to get some yardwork done before too long.  My raised garden beds need some weeding.  The good news is my acorn squash is doing well…….AND the arugula I planted in the spring has re-sprouted and is growing in again!  Hooray for September!