Friday, November 26, 2010

Jam Winner!

Old fashioned hat draw :) Number 9 wins!

Out of the possible 10 entrants (not counting the deleted comments, of course), the winner of the jam giveaway was.... comment # 9, Cecelia D.! I will gladly deliver these in person, since Mrs. D and family live in Soldotna :) Congratulations!!

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend everyone :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Our Mouse

Now that Thanksgiving dinner has been picked over and our children are settling into their beds, watching a movie on their ceiling (thanks to this cool little gift from Auntie Barb), I can turn my attention to the coming holidays and fun winter activities.

The boys and I will be going to the Nutcracker play in Homer again this year. If you can't make it to the Nutcracker Ballet in Anchorage, the Nutcracker in Homer is an altogether wonderful, different experience, and is far cheaper to attend. The boys favorite scene in the Nutcracker story is, of course, the battle between the toy soldiers and the mice. Swords clanging, a mutated mouse who has made himself the king, a violent, bloody death. Whats not to love? Its too bad they weren't around for my encounter with a mouse in our house!

Late one night, last month, I woke to make a bottle for our baby. I shuffled into the kitchen, following the light from the lamp on the piano. The kitchen was completely dark, but I navigated my way to the range and turned on the burner under the kettle. I flipped on the range hood light just after lighting the burner and as my eyes adjusted to the light, something moved off to the left on the counter! I stepped back and just then a little mouse darted out from behind the bottles of oil and vinegar on the counter. He ran to the edge of the counter, noticed me standing there and ran around for a moment, searching for another escape route. And then... he ran INTO the flame under the kettle! I wasn't sure if he had survived and I smelled singed fur. I was shocked! He had wanted to escape so badly that diving into the fire was better than facing me!

I can skin a caribou and swing a hammer, but mice bother me. They're sneaky and I worry about stepping on one in the dark! I made my husband get up to check that the mouse wasn't dead and laying under my cook top, and after he set some rodent poison behind the stove, we went back to bed. We know that the mouse was making his trips to the kitchen via the holes left (presumably for plumbing repairs) that are still unfixed behind the stove. He didn't go for the poison. A week or so later, my husband wakes me up by shushing me while I was sleeping (do I snore?) and tells me to listen.... the mouse is in our bedroom, nibbling on what is probably a chip or nut dropped by one of us during our bedtime snacking (guilty). Since then, we have heard the mouse in the walls, the dining room ceiling, and most frequently - our bedroom (we have GOT to stop snacking!) It seems like our mouse is now a permanent resident. For now, I'm okay with that. He's a hearty little sucker.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Its Jam week!

A couple times a year, I make jam. A whole lotta jam! I typically don't have time to make jam when I pick our raspberries in August and September so I freeze my berries and make seedless jam later. November is a good time for this. In the spring, I do strawberry and mango.

This year, I helped pick a friend's raspberries because she had a broken leg. Her raspberries added to mine (from the old house), the ones my mom picks and brings to me and the ones I pick from my dad's house, makes for a long week of making jam!

I haven't purchased jam in... 6 years? Its easy to make and almost free if you can find enough berries in your yard or the woods (or bum them off relatives). In return for all the donated berries, I make jam for my parents and this year, my friends too! When all that is done, I suspect I will still have an abundance of jam, so I am trying some new combinations with raspberries. Raspberry and currant. Raspberry and lingonberry sauce (low bush cranberries). Maybe even a raspberry and cherry. Best of all, I make my jams with Pomona's, so you're not eating mostly sugar. There is only about an ounce of sugar per 8 oz jar (2 tbsp). Sounds good, right?

Well, I am feeling so generous that I am doing a "Jam Giveaway"!

Over the next week, post something on our blog and you will be entered to win a 4 pack of assorted Raspberry jams! Leave a comment on this posting about your favorite change so far on our house, leave a suggestion for us, tell us what you are most thankful for this year, anything! I'll announce the winner the day after Thanksgiving (and post it on Facebook) and your jams will be in the mail shortly thereafter. I don't make money from this blog, this is just a fun way for me to share some of "Ireland Manor" with my readers, and since I can't afford to send you all a jam, then it has to be a contest :)

Good luck! - Mrs. Ireland

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Winter slow down

Winter can sneak up on me, even though I am a life long Alaskan! I plan and plan for so many projects in the summer and fall and inevitably, a few go unfinished or worse, unstarted! I guess if we didn't set the bar so high, we would never accomplish half of what we do, though it still feels like I should have done more (I can't speak for Mr. Ireland, who works harder than anyone I know) !

Progress on the house has come almost to a complete stop now that we are moved in, but as I gathered pictures for this posting, and started listing off the changes, it adds up to quite a list!
I am really impressed that between the birthday parties (little Liam, Mr. Ireland and Callen, all in a 2 week time frame) and my trip to California to see my grandparents, we managed to do so much during October and early November! Read on for our list :

Two of our birthday boys, Callen and Liam

Installed a new furnace!
Finally moved my piano over from the old house!
Reorganized Mr. Ireland's studio
Cleared all the boxes from the dining room!
Reorganized the nursery
Unpacked and organized all the children's toys

Hung coat racks in the older boys room
Had a load of dirt delivered and filled holes on the property!
Moved all the homeschool materials from the boys second closet to the school nook

Sewed curtains and installed drapery rods
Installed a hand towel ring in the upstairs bath

Attached Ice Breaker Mats to the front steps! (Just today!)
Moved a desk from the porch to the dining room (sorry mom, it will have to stay till spring!)
Moved a cupboard from my studio to the living room, to serve as the upstairs linen cabinet

You can see by the exclamation points that some of these projects I was very excited to have finished. We are at a point in the renovation process that we can function fairly well in the current conditions and things are not quite as overwhelming, spatially. With the busy season at work for Mr. Ireland and the holiday season approaching, we are taking a break from any large projects until January. I have grand plans for the spring and summer seasons, making now a good time to rest. The pile of dirt intended for my garden can wait. The old furnace sitting in the yard can be buried by snow. For the most part, it will be me working on small projects around the house like trim and molding, building furniture, sewing, unpacking books and keeping up with the children's school lessons. If I do anything special, I will post :)

I am thankful to have a house that is mine and that I still love, despite all its flaws. I am thankful for a family that works along side me to make our home better for us. I am most thankful for a husband that goes to work every day, in cold, dark, cramped or filthy conditions and then comes home to work on our house. Thats some love :)

Happy Early Thanksgiving!