Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I've just finished cooking and devouring the last meal of 2011. Alderwood salmon with potlatch pilaf, sauteed spinach and rosemary roasted sweet potatoes. It was amazing, which is indicative of how wonderful 2011 has treated us.

We're saying goodbye to this year quietly. Just my husband and I, Casa Crustante, and a few bottles of Belgian beer:

Leffe brune, the one we drank with every meal while we were in Belgium, La Trappe Quad (my personal favorite), Delirium Tremens, La Fin du Monde, La Chouffe (the traditional style along with a holiday bottle), Duchesse de Bourgogne, Ommegang, and various friends.

I get pretty emotional anthropomorphizing our little house. Last year it sat here, all alone, gutted, holes in the walls, no insulation or electricity. And this year, we're living in it, and it has been such an amazing home to us that we hate to leave it for a single night. The simplest chores have become acts of love, little tokens of our affection for our tiny domicile. It makes us so happy. It is limited in space, sure, but it is completely full of love.

Happy New Year from those of us at Casa Crustante! Rest assured that we will raise a glass in your honor.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It's a blissfully quiet night at our house. I'm trying to choke down some eggnog (I hate the stuff- but each year I attempt to drink it to try to be festive), and I'm basking in the joy of giving and receiving.

This year I've particularly have so much to be thankful for. A new car, a new house, my beautiful chickens and my productive garden. I have my family and my health- I've just been given the go-ahead to stop my medications. After several years of beta-blockers to treat hypertension, and surviving the resulting depression and fog-brain that those types of medication cause, I finally feel awake. Alive, even. Here's to hoping it stays that way!

*raises a glass of eggnog*

Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Day Has Come..

...The chickens are outside.

And now they have names. Daisy, Hyacinth, and Violet. Yes, they're named after the ladies on Keeping Up Appearances.

And it's quiet in the house. And I'm worried about them. But the last I checked (about 15 minutes ago) they were sleeping soundly and NOT huddled together in the throes of extreme cold. As much as it pains me to think they could be chilly, I know that I built that coop well enough and these little birds have a very impressive down coat. And super lush beards. And incredibly feathery feet. It's like they're rocking scarves and boots! Stop worrying, Julie. It's going to be alright...


I wouldn't leave you guys without photos of the Henitentiary!

Check it out, I found decorations for it, too! Tomorrow I plan to build a chicken swing, hang up their food, and give their new home a little swagger. Solar lanterns and a giant rooster? Lucky hens, indeed!

Friday, December 9, 2011


Thanks to my father-in-law, we have a roof!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011 changes!

Chickens are almost all grown up! Kinda. We're at 6 weeks now, and we've got most of our feathers (photos are about a week old now). The boys went to a great new home on the 26th, which was a relief.. So much more space now for these little ladies!

The run isn't done yet. We're hoping that it'll happen this weekend, as we'll have an extra set of hands around. The ladies seem pretty happy with the setup, I haven't had a lot of fighting and they're pretty easy keepers, so I'll definitely be a bit sad to see them leave the house. It's comforting to hear their trills and chatter. Such expressive little creatures!

We survived Thanksgiving on our own. I baked my first full turkey. It turned out well, and we were able to devour all of the leftovers, miraculously. I'm amazed that my little tiny fridge could handle a full turkey dinner and the leftovers that resulted from it.

And in other news, I have embarked on a juice fast. I did visit the doctor beforehand to make sure I was healthy enough to do it. So far it has been a really positive experience. I'm on day 6, and so far I've learned that kale + lemons taste like burnt rubber, kiwis + sweet potatoes are surprisingly delicious, and that spinach + cucumber make an incredibly refreshing drink. It's a learning process, for sure.

Monday, November 14, 2011

They Grow Up... So Fast.

One day they're barely able to stand up.

And before you know it they're ready to fly.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Counting Down.

My husband is somewhere over the East China Sea at this very moment, heading home from Taipei.

I'm so grateful for technology. There's something wonderful about being able to see the person you love on the other side of the world.

It's especially wonderful for those of us who are woefully codependent. No names, of course.

It stands to be said that I'm in awe of those people who are serving or have served in the military. To be so far away from the people closest to you for such extended periods of time must be very, very difficult.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

House Love.

As I was raking the leaves yesterday a woman in an SUV was driving very slowly by... As someone who is naturally suspicious and paranoid, I noticed her right away. Her vehicle was getting slower and slower as she crept closer... the passenger window started to roll down. I expected the worst.


And then she sped up and drove off.

Casa Crustante, I love you. I love you for being little and efficient. For giving me space to grow my own food. For having neighbors that are both friendly and kind. For being the type of house that people drive by and yell compliments. And I love you for looking especially adorable in the fall.

And for giving me plenty of exercise in the form of yard work.

You're my domicile soul mate, Casa Crustante.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicks - 18 Days Old!

6 chicks, 18 days old. 3 boys, 3 girls, all adorable. I think they're quickly entering the shabby chic-k days of their lives.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Some of the houses on our block are REALLY dedicated to Halloween. This leaves poor little Casa Crustante feeling left out.

I wasn't keen on going out and buying decorations, but I did want to do something that would hopefully attract one or two trick or treaters. So I scoured the internet, discovered something called a House-O-Lantern, and was thus inspired.

5 brown paper bags + 1/4 roll of duct tape = sort of halloweenish!

Street view:

Need a close up? Here you go:

I love our creepy little window. :D

Oh, speaking of Halloween...

Abby's costume showed up yesterday! It's a little large, but it's easy enough to make fit. The good news - it's a perfect fit for the cat.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Holiday Cheer.

You too can have a cl-Assy Christmas in one of two ways.

1. You could always get food poisoning from your Aunt Suzy's bread pudding.
2. You could buy one of the following items:

a) Santa Toilet Seat cover:
Or b) The inflatable Santa popping out of an outhouse.

Both seen at Lowe's.


Halloween costumes have been ordered!

This will probably be the best $25 I've ever spent.

Spectacular, no?

Friday, October 21, 2011


Six eggs. Six chicks.

I'm in love!

Here, look at some chicks.

You guys didn't think you could escape the inevitable chick photos, did you??

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hello World!

It's hard to sleep when there's so much life happening the other room. :) Welcome to the world, baby chickie!


This is happening RIGHT NOW. :D

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


So the eggs are in lockdown! 6 eggs survived out of 16. Not fantastic odds, but it's what I expected from shipped eggs. I'm sitting here hovering, making sure that the humidity finally reaches the sacred 60-70% that is required for these little guys.

Another exhausting day working outside. It was perfect. Such beautiful weather, too- we've been so lucky.

The coop looks almost like a coop now.

The nest box entrance will hinge open so I can clean everything in one step. I decided to use a tunnel approach to encourage them to use the corner closest to the front of the coop- it'll make it easier for me to collect eggs.

Looks like another gorgeous day is in the forecast for tomorrow, a balmy 58F is predicted! Keep your fingers crossed for me that I'll be able to finish this thing.

Scroll Saw Fun

Behold, my first attempt at a circle with a scroll saw.

And, incidentally, the entrance to my nest box.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Last Year..

One year ago today we were wandering Notre Dame.

Today, I hung chicken coop doors.





Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

It's October 16th... which means another year with my tolerant husband. Seriously, that guy is unbreakable!

Seven years ago we met, fell in love at first glance. 2 years ago we married. 1 year ago we were wandering the streets of Paris and Belgium. And this year.... we made beer. Belgian beer. Of course.Romance IS alive and well!

5 GALLONS of beer. Yes, happy anniversary indeed!