More Backyard Birds, More Crochet, and a Bit of Spring

Posted by mrssmythe on April 14, 2019 in Chickens, Cooking, CPT's Lens, Crafting, Critters, Toys, Week in Review |


Here I am, yesterday, sitting in the sun in the backyard – the first time I was out and about in just about two weeks.

Otherwise, I’ve been bedridden, overcoming a bout with the flu that slid into a case of pneumonia.

It’s definitely good to be feeling better.

And here, you see the cats – my constant companions while I was bed-bound. Cats can be very good for morale…especially when you’re sick.

Whilst I was on the mend, the family stayed plenty busy…especially CPT A, who took time off from work to keep things going smoothly around the house.

The biggest happening, was the addition of several birds to our backyard flock.

Here you see the old birds (outside the barn) peering in at the new birds (inside the barn) on their first day home. CPT A and Pepper adopted the birds from an assortment at an animal rescue organization near Boston. I believe the ones we brought home ended up at the shelter because they were presumed too old to lay eggs. This has since proven false…at least for one of the birds – a pleasant surprise!

Here are the new birds – as photographed by CPT A.



And Sedgewick.

Yes, I realize these are all female birds and two have been given male names, but the girls like to name the chickens after characters in The Great Escape. (Though “Clementina is not from The Great Escape – she’s from an episode of Jeeves and Wooster – it’s complicated). Anyway, I wish the girls would not name the birds after Great Escape characters. I think it gives the birds ideas. Roger is already a prodigious digger and Sedgewick manages to pop over the fence regularly to visit the neighbor’s bird feeder.

Here are another couple of photos – this time of the turkey and the guinea hen.

They’re a very amusing pair and two of our best egg-layers at present. In fact, we’ve got more eggs than we know what to do with these days. The turkey lays an egg a day, and we’ve collected three from the guinea hen just this week.

Here you see their eggs in relation to a chicken’s egg (center). The guinea hen egg is at left, the turkey egg at right.

Another shot of the guinea hen egg:

All are excellent for eating, with the turkey and guinea hen eggs being considered the most healthful because those birds are “foragers”.

And what have we been doing with all of these eggs?

CPT A has been cooking and baking with them. Here’s his skillet lasagna, which he made using a turkey egg. (Probably the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten!)

CPT A is enamored with skillets right now and has been using the two we own to make all sorts of things.

Things like pizzas…

and pies…

He and the girls even baked a pineapple upside down cake in the skillet. It’ll be fun to see what they come up with next.

Meanwhile, Ginger has been busily producing more crocheted creations. To her collection of cats, she’s added a dinosaur – something she put together without a pattern, a feat that always amazes me since I’m so pattern dependent, myself.


And, finally, a weather report…

Spring must be here since my giant allium have finally emerged. Also, the lilac and the apple trees are budding, but those are about the only signs of spring in our yard. We’re still far behind many of you, as I only saw one tree blooming on the way to church this morning while photos my sister shared from Idaho showed her prom-going daughter standing beneath a blooming cherry tree. One of the rough things about living in New England is that regardless of what the calendar says, Spring comes late.

BUT – it will get here eventually. And, hopefully, something in the yard will be blooming by the next time I post.

From the dining room table, with the windows wide open and a bit of rain pattering down,

Mrs. Smythe




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Ballroom Dance and an Escaped Turkey…Plus Crochet

Posted by mrssmythe on March 27, 2019 in Chickens, Crafting, Critters, Museums, Week in Review |

Sorry for the delay in posts – it’s been a busy couple of weeks!

Last week’s craziness was a ballroom dance competition in Connecticut…Pepper’s first.

Here you see her fresh from hair and makeup the morning of the competition.

She went in looking barely awake and very low key and left with false eyelashes, bright pink lipstick, and gravity-defying hair. It was very entertaining to see.

Also entertaining was watching the train of normal, everyday looking women troop in, spend thirty minutes with the hair/makeup ladies, then leave looking glamorous and sparkly. The transformations were amazing. Everyone was very heavily made up, but once on the dance floor, they all looked about thirty and very glamorous. I can see why people get caught up in the ballroom world.

Pepper had a lot of fun and did pretty well. She would certainly like to compete again.

Less glamorous, but certainly fun was a trip to the American Museum of Natural History for CPT A and the girls.

This was in honor of Pepper’s 17th birthday. We’d planned the trip for January, but had to put it on hold when the government shut down occurred. Pepper was a good sport about the whole delay. I’m glad they had such a good time.

It’s been an exciting few weeks on the pet front as well. While we were at Pepper’s ballroom competition, the wind blew our barn door open and the turkey escaped. As soon as we realized what had happened, we searched the neighborhood and called animal control. Meanwhile, we wondered if she’d joined one of the wild turkey flocks in the woods behind our house. Two days later, animal control called saying someone about a mile away from us had reported seeing a gray turkey on their back patio – sure enough, it was ours. CPT A and the girls drove over and brought her home.

There was a bit of scuffling as the flock got readjusted, but everyone is back to normal now, and hopefully the turkey will remain in the yard from here on out …although as I write this I remember that she was next door peering through our neighbor’s basement window today, so maybe that’s not a very realistic hope.

Meanwhile, our chicken, Cassie, has decided the compost pile is a wonderful place to nest. She’s even laid eggs there.

Such a ridiculous bird!

On the crafting front, Ginger recently learned to crochet and has been busy making all sorts of little creatures for her collection.

(Mr. Wa finds the whole process very interesting.)

GInger’s first project was an Amineko (the little pink cat on the left).

Then, she altered the Amineko pattern to create a duck based on a drawing she’d done.

Another Amineko followed the duck – this one out of sock yarn and about half the size of the first one.

I think these are so cute and love that she’s now so interested in crochet. I’ve derived so much enjoyment over the years with my own knitting and crochet, and it’s nice to think Ginger will have similar memories and experiences with her own handcrafts.

From the upstairs bedroom, ready to turn in for the evening and grateful that our lives have returned to a more normal, less-exciting pace,

Mrs. Smythe


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More Snow…and a bit of Crochet

Posted by mrssmythe on March 10, 2019 in Crafting, Critters, Seasons, Week in Review |

I don’t mean to harp on snow, but that seems to have been the theme of our week here.

This photo was taken on Monday:

And this photo was taken this morning, as we drove to church.

Fresh snow plus Daylight Savings Time made for a very sparse crowd in the pews.

But, back to the beginning of the week.

The snow was heavy enough on Monday for CPT A’s office to close. He took care of our driveway and then headed to the backyard with his plow to clear some ground for the chickens.

He blew the snow at a single area, and now Ginger has a nice sledding hill in the backyard – very clever, I thought

Ursa is thrilled that the snow is lasting so long.

And, I must confess, weve had some pretty moments…

But, Spring will be very welcome when it finally arrives.

In the meantime, I have tulips.

Aren’t these lovely?

Another bright spot – I’ve been crocheting again. I’m at work on another afghan. This one is a gift, or I’d show you a photo, but it will have to stay under wraps until it goes off to the recipient. In the meantime, I’ll show you a photo of someone else’s afghan – a blanket someone in my mother’s crochet group put together for Project Linus.

love the colors this woman chose! I think they are so pretty and so cheerful. Whoever gets this blanket will get a treasure.

And, finally, I’ll leave you with a photo of Mr. Wa and Opal. The girls were watching Thor in the living room last night and brought Opal down for some hang-out time. Mr. Wa arrived and didn’t want to be left out.

Opal loves Mr. Wa and was thrilled he spent so much time snuggled up with her. Mr. Wa is definitely getting more social as he ages. (He’s now 13).

From the upstairs bedroom, wondering if people get more social as they age…or, if it’s just the opposite. What do you think?

Mrs. Smythe

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Waiting for Spring

Posted by mrssmythe on March 3, 2019 in Baking, Chickens, Crafting, Critters, libraries, Seasons, Week in Review |

A pretty slow week here. All of our attention seems to be on either waiting for the snow to leave or dealing with the new drifts that arrive. Most everyone is thoroughly tired of snow and chomping at the bit for Spring.

Here, Ginger shows that coop-cleaning must go on, regardless of the weather.

On cold days, the half melted snow freezes solid and the yard becomes an ice rink. On warmer days, like today, it starts to melt and the yard becomes a bog. This is always the most challenging season for keeping the floors clean.

Someone who will be sad to see the snow go – Ursa.

If I manage to get the dogs out for a walk (which isn’t as frequently as I’d like), she cavorts in the drifts along the road, flopping over and making snow angels or slowing down to sniff what lies beneath. What does she smell? Rodents? I wonder.

Since opportunities for outdoor play are low this time of year, we focus on what we can do indoors. Craft classes are offered frequently at the local library, and Ginger and Pepper stopped in this past week to make DIY “bath bombs”. Here’s one Ginger put together:

She used it in her bath last night, and all of the little shrunken sponge animals she hid inside popped to life in the warm water.

It made for a very entertaining bath.

And, finally, I chased away some cold weather blahs with a round of bread making this afternoon. Here you see the results of the “Light Rye Bread” recipe I found in my KitchenAid recipe book (the book that comes with the machine).

I love rye bread, but haven’t had a lot of success making it. This was my best batch yet. If you’re interested in trying the recipe (a simple one), you can find it HERE. Happy baking!

From the dining room table, anticipating another round of snow tomorrow,

Mrs. Smythe

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Latest Knitting, a Recipe for Cheese Pie, and some Tidying

Posted by mrssmythe on February 24, 2019 in Cooking, Crafting, Housekeeping, Old Books, Toys, Week in Review |

This week, we’ll start with the cooking. Have you ever had the toasted ravioli at Olive Garden? We’re huge fans and were hoping to recreate the dish at home. Pepper found a wonderful copycat recipe. You can access it HERE.

It’s not very difficult, but I find (after making these twice) that the whole process goes smoother if there are two people working – one to bread the ravioli and the other to man the deep fryer. Today, CPT A was on deep fryer duty.

We like these as much as the ones we’ve had at Olive Garden and recommend them highly!

Another cooking adventure – “Lemon Cheese Pie” from a recipe in my 1960’s Toll House Cook Book.

This was pretty tasty, too, but I’ll probably tweak the recipe some if I make it again. It’s like a light, fluffy cheesecake that you make with cottage cheese instead of cream cheese. If I make it again, I’ll substitute ricotta for the cottage cheese to get a creamier texture, and I might try a different graham cracker crust. Otherwise, it’s a winner and was very popular with the family.

Lemon Cheese Pie (Cheesecake)

Prepare 1 Graham Cracker Crust. 
Mix 1/2 pound cottage cheese and 3 tablespoons sugar. 
Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time, and beat thoroughly. 
Stir in 3 Tbs. flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, 3 TBs. lemon juice, 2 tsp. grated lemon rind. Mix well.
Add 1 cup light cream or rich milk.
Beat 3 egg whites until stiff. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar.

Fold egg whites into cheese mixture. Turn into lined pie plate. Sprinkle with additional graham cracker crumbs, and bake in 325 degree oven for 55 minutes. Serves 6.

* From Ruth Wakefield's Toll House Cook Book


On the knitting front, I completed a couple of smaller projects this week. The first was a pair of bird mittens I found in Knitting in the Nordic Tradition.

I’m really pleased with how they turned out – especially considering they were the most challenging thing I’ve done to date. I wouldn’t hesitate to make another pair of Nordic-style mittens like these, though. They were a lot of fun.

Much easier was this Head Sock hat that Ginger is modeling. She saw I’d finished it and threw it on one morning while making her toast.

My favorite part was the decreasing process. It was fascinating to see the ribs magically disappear into the “spokes” of crown.

A very pleasant knit, and a good gift option, as the hat can be made in two sizes and is stretchy enough to fit just about any head.

And, finally, the girls put in some time this week going through their belongings a la Marie Kondo’s decluttering method. Have you heard of her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or seen her Netflix series? Very inspiring stuff!

Here, you see Ginger sorting through a pile of her toys.

And, here is one of Ginger’s dresser after she did a clothing purge. So tidy!

Will it stay that way? I’m not sure. Ginger’s pretty organized by nature and loves to see things in order, so she may be able to keep it up. But, I took a picture just in case.

From the dining room table, thinking my own dresser drawers could use some attention – time to get tidying!

Mrs. Smythe

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