Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Spring upswing

The weather is so beautiful right now. We've had day after day of sunshine and unusually warm temperatures. I don't know how long it will last (it is only March, after all), but I'm enjoying it very much while it does. Everything is starting to bloom now, including the plum trees and the volunteer lilac that popped up in our front yard a couple of years ago. It seems to be putting on a lot of new growth this year, which makes me happy because I loooove lilacs. I hope there will finally be enough to bring a small bouquet inside. The chicks are growing like crazy. They're still very sweet and adorable, but I'll admit that I'm looking forward to their new life in the coop just a little bit...

I'm feeling better now, for the most part. The past few weeks have been really hard around here. I'm still coughing a little and feeling slightly run-down, but I'm trying to get extra rest when I can and I think I'll be fine soon. This illness really knocked me out, though; I feel like I dropped out of society for a week and a half.

The Bear continued the exterior painting we started in early February and he's now finished with it all! We're really happy with the way it turned out. The cream trim looks fresh and clean. I'm especially excited about the courtyard, since we refinished the double front doors last fall. I can hardly believe this is my house. It's been good to make some improvements over the past few months. We needed to do them and it's just nice to have things spruced up, you know? The last step will be a new storm door for our bedroom, where we have a door leading out to the backyard. We had an older wooden screen door that really needs replacing. We're going with a better aluminum door with full-view glass and a retractable screen. It will be sturdier and will better protect the wood-and-glass door underneath. I'd been wanting to do this for years, but you know how that goes. I'm just glad we're finally doing it.

I've baked twice in the past few days. On Sunday, I made two loaves of Irish soda bread (you can see my recipe here), to eat with our customary St. Patrick's Day dinner (a bit early). I roast a chicken and potatoes and boil wedges of green cabbage. I used to make corned beef but nobody really likes it. One time, a person from Ireland told me people would be more likely to eat roast chicken there anyway, so I switched. I don't know if that's true, or if she was just trying to help me feel better about disliking corned beef, but it made my life a lot easier. This morning, I baked an apple pie in honor of Pi Day. I try to make something pie-like every year. When I'm feeling ambitious, I make a chicken pot pie or a quiche, as well as dessert. Today, I only felt up to dessert. There are pi-related math problems planned for this afternoon's homeschool. We try to keep things nerdily fun around here, oh, yes we do.

Thank you for joining in with my Winter Project Link Parties these past few months. I'm so glad people are interested in playing along. I hope it helped you feel motivated as the winter progressed and that you had the chance to give and receive some encouragement. I'm happy to know that there is already interest for next year! I would be happy to host the parties again. I will try to gauge interest again at the end of this summer, probably.

While I was sick, I came across a couple of things on the internet that I wanted to share, just because I liked them. One is a sound recording, from YouTube, of the Beach Boys performing "God Only Knows," which I've listened to over and over again. The title calls it "a capella," but it isn't, really. The local recording-science enthusiast tells me it's actually an isolated vocal track, meaning it's what the singers are hearing in their headphones as they perform. Either way, it's beautiful, and in my experience, spine-tingling.

Also, I love to browse a blog called Vintage Everyday, which features old photos of all different kinds of subjects, from period fashion to urban scenes to advertising art. They had a post with old-time ice cream vendors a few weeks ago, including a donkey-driven cart from New Mexico which really captured my imagination. It might not even be all that old; there's a phone number on the cart awning. But how did they keep ice cream cold in a cart like this? They must have carried blocks of ice inside the compartment on the cart. I wonder if it was lined with cork. I really need to research this. For me, ice cream - including historical ice cream - is serious business.


  1. so nice to read a new post from you! oh that is neat about the ice cream!!! I am so glad you are feeling better, but I hope you will be 100% better soon! I know it is so hard to be sick, it really does make one feel isolated! Lovely pictures! painting and such things do take a lot of time, I know all about having to wait for this sort of thing! how exciting that you are able to have this done at long last!

  2. Hey Jennifer,
    Still patiently awaiting the Spring sunshine here. We have had tantalising glimpses, and even whole afternoons of watery sun. But mostly it is grey and damp, with the most rolling in from the Atlantic by 4pm. I was sorry to read that you have been poorly. Sometimes a certain bug can really knock one sideways. Your new chicks are quite lovelythey make me feel very wistful for more chickens.....
    Leanne xx

  3. Glad you're feeling a bit better, I hope you're fully recovered very soon. The gorgeous weather should help I think. Gorgeous photos of that pink blossom. Things are starting to bloom around here as well. I sowed radishes today, it's suddenly mild and sunny. CJ xx

  4. Glad you're feeling a bit better, Jennifer. Hopefully, you'll be back up to full strength really soon. We're having some lovely spring-like weather here too. I don't suppose it'll last for long - it is Scotland, after all! LOL

  5. Glad to hear you are feeling much better and hope the spring sunshine helps to restore your energy. The deep blue sky behind the beautiful blossom is enough to make your heart sing. It is lovely to see how quickly the chickens are developing.

  6. Good to hear you're feeling better, still,waiting for it to warm up here xx

  7. Those chicks really are growing like crazy!

  8. Those chicks are really growing!
    I love lilacs too, but it will be some time before they bloom here.
    Glad you are feeling better!

  9. What fun to see your post beginning with the animal skull, because just today I did my first tour of the Georgia O'Keeffe paintings which have come from Santa Fe to visit our gallery. The signature painting for the publicity is 'Ram's Skull with Blue Petunia'. Everyone is very interested and I showed a map of New Mexico so they could see exactly where it is.
    I love that you do Pi day, and St Patrick's dinner too. Here I am, named after the great saint, and the best I can do is shamrock cookies sometimes. Chicks and kids look adorable, and I bet that ice-cream man did have blocks of 'dry ice' (as we used to call it, back in the old days. Me being 150 years old of course, and I remember the Beach Boys when they first appeared - love them :) Have a great week Jennifer.

  10. I am glad you are feeling a little better Jennifer. The chicks are turning into chickens, already I can see some adult feathers. Keeping my fingers crossed that they are all girls.
    Sometimes, it takes a while for house related dreams to become reality. You'll enjoy your new bedroom doors all the more. How fantastic to have a view of the backyard from your bedroom.

    Take it easy for a wee while longer so you can gain full strength again. xx

  11. Adolescent chickens have never looked so good as they do here!

    I'm glad you are feeling stronger - I had a doozy of a flu that left me with a cough that hangs on. I hope yours leaves faster.

  12. Hi Jennifer! Beautiful photos today! Spring!

  13. Good Morning Jennifer! Such a happy and upbeat post this morning. All of your house projects sound wonderful. We have a screen door with a retractable screen that I'm longing to change for a wooden screen door! How funny is that? The screen is torn in several places from where it became brittle or something from the sun. When it retracts on itself, it gets cut inside the door somehow. Anyway, it didn't turn out to be all it was cracked up to be! :-) Your little chicks, (or teenage chicks), look so sweet. I'm glad your household is feeling better and hope you are 100% very soon. I came down with some sort of weird headcold thing last week and it's stubbornly hanging on too. However, our snow is almost completely gone from our yard. There are still massive piles around the neighborhood, but we can see our brown grass now! I hope you have a lovely day and enjoy your sunshine. :-)

  14. Enjoyed this post! I listened to the Beach Boys video. Very nice! We don't have a bloom one out there yet so it was nice to see some of yours. I'm hoping the lilacs we transplanted from the side of the highway to our yard come back in spring. I'm interested to see if they do. I'll still have the one big white one outside my office window even if the others don't come back. Have you smelled the white ones? I've heard they are more strongly scented than the lavender. I'll have to compare them if the purple ones come back this year. I remember your Irish dinner last year. The chicken looked fabulous and inspired me to make my own Irish dinner of corned beef and cabbage. We both liked it a lot. I'll be joining your link party. Love the chick pics. So sweet!

  15. It amazes me that even though you live so many miles away, we often experience the same weather changes. Our summer is not quite so hot and our winter is not quite so cold but when you talk of the weather, we have the same changes. Funny. That is the jet stream for you! Jo x

  16. You are so lucky that you're experiencing the beautiful spring weather now. Here in northern IL, it's still very much winter. In the 20's, some snow on the ground.
    Doesn't it feel good to get stuff done around the house? Seems there's always something to do though. I know our to-do and wish list is always a mile long.
    We don't like corned beef either - at least not in roast form. We only like the kosher stuff - piled high on rye bread with mustard! We only eat it once in awhile though, as the Jewish deli is an hour's drive away - not to mention, it's not exactly good for us. ;-)
    I'm sorry to hear you're still feeling run-down. That is quite an illness you've had! Maybe you can build up your immune system once you're completely healed.
    I can't believe how big your chicks have gotten already! I had no idea they grew and changed that quickly.
    Loved that Beach Boy's recording. Gave me goosebumps! Will have to show it to my husband - he's a big BB's fan. And that vintage blog is so interesting! I bookmarked it so I can browse it at my leisure.

  17. Look at how big your baby chicks are! Wow, they look like difficult teens already. Sounds like your house is really getting fixed up nicely. Is that cow skull really on your house? Cool. I have two moose jaw bones, but they just don't evoke that same ghostliness as a skull. We've been hit with cold temps the past couple of weeks, but I think we're at the corner now with bright sunshine today. A walk in the woods is on the agenda ... along with four cabin-fevered kids ;)

  18. Your skull reminds me of a Georgia O'Keeffe painting - I'm sure you know the one II'm thinking of. Your pink plum blossom looks very promising - and very beautiful. There is nothing like a spring spruce- up and all the inspiration on Blogland has persuaded me that it is time to paint our front door, so it is goodbye to the mahogany stained wood and hello to Farrow and Ball's Blue Gray. Good to hear you are felling better Jennifer so you can make the most of your spring. It has been very beautiful here with wild primroses blooming and the blackthorn in the prettiest white blossom which will form sloes in the autumn. Like CJ I sowed a row of radishes at the plot, but everything else is safely tucked up my growhouse.

  19. There is a lot more chicken eaten in Ireland than corned beef nowadays. I think it was eaten in the past because it was cheaper and kept easily nowadays people are wealthier and have fridges and supermarkets. Spring looks lovely in your part of the world.

    1. Hi again, I was rather confused by all of the references to corned beef in U.S.A blogs so I did a bit more research and discovered that this is an American invention based on swapping corned beef for bacon as bacon couldn't be found. This is why I have never come across it in Ireland. Corned beef is available but it is not the same as American's eat on St. Patrick's day. So this tradition isn't an Irish tradition but one from the USA.


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