Hatton House Diaries

One day, we decided to buy a 125 year old Victorian House in Des Moines, Iowa…….

Real Friends Bring a Saws-All to Dinner (UPDATE: Or Sawzall) August 31, 2012

Filed under: Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 12:35 am

back stairsWe were wrapping up summer projects at the house when my friend Steve Wilke-Shapiro, who is a designer with Silent Rivers Design Build¬†came over for dinner with our families. We were talking about my next round of projects, and I was showing him my plans to change the direction of my staircase so that I could move my refrigerator into the prep area of the kitchen. I was saying that I was familiar with demo work with lath and plaster from my work at the Greek Lady, but I really didn’t know what I was doing when it came to demolishing drywall.

I should preface this by saying that Steve is a very funny, smart, Jewish man, who knows his stuff about historic preservation. He’s a talented architect, and he’s worked restoration from a paperwork and a hands on perspective. But I wasn’t quite ready for him to say “Hey, you know, I have a saws-all in the back of my car.” I mean, there’s ready to help with a construction project, and then there’s driving around with tools at the ready! So while my husband was picking up the kids from swim lessons, Steve showed me how to cut a stair access through a wall, and by the time the family was back, the fridge was in the kitchen proper (well, it was in the kitchen, it took another few months to drywall everything back to proper).

And then we sat down for family dinner. Best contribution to a potluck dinner ever….until someone brings me a router. (Nah…you really can’t top a saws-all).

UPDATE: Apparently, it’s called Sawzall. Excuse my proper/improper spelling.


#BlogElul – Counting, the Peach Brandy Results Are In August 23, 2012

Filed under: In the Kitchen,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 3:49 pm
Tags: , ,

Countless Bottles of Brandy (OK, there were 6)

I bottled the Peach Brandy I made a few weeks ago, and I’m sure I’d have something really eloquent to say about how I didn’t count the bottles well, and thought I’d run out, but had barely enough with the help of my husband digging through my basement stash of bottles I SWEAR I will turn into some awesome Pinterest project. But you should have asked before I bottled all that booze, tasting as I went. It’s good….really, really good.

UPDATE: Mighty Nest is doing a Weck Jars giveaway here (http://mightynest.com/blog/food-in-jars-cookbook-giveaway) Wish me luck winning some proper jars and bottles! ūüôā


#BlogElul Day 3 – Intentions, And How We Harvested Our Rooster August 22, 2012

Filed under: Family Stuff,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 6:12 am

Yes….I’m starting on Day 3. Maybe I’ll go back and do Day 1 and 2, but I found this project on Day 3, so here we go.

@ImaBima posted about Elul, the Hebrew month before the Jewish High Holidays, where we, as Jews, are supposed to be introspective and reflect on our past year as we prepare for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. My friend, Adam Schaffer¬†posted his contribution to #BlogElul, and I was intrigued, given our last few days here at the Hatton House. So I thought I’d party crash day 3, and see how this goes. The blog is in desperate need of post-vacation updating, so at the very least, we’ll have that.

I’ve been thinking about “Intentions” quite a bit in the last 2 days. Two days ago, I awoke to the sound of a rooster crowing at 9:40 AM and I thought, “That has to be one of my chickens. Only I would have a rooster that thinks dawn is at 9:40 AM.” Our chickens are about 4 months old, and there was always one that was a little bigger, but I was advised to wait for the telltale crowing or egg. I went outside and of course, the crowing stopped. I didn’t want to falsely accuse anyone, so I went inside and googled “Buff Orpington Rooster” and found a post on determining chicken sex¬†(stop snickering…this is serious). Armed with this new information, I went back outside, and to my great dismay, one of my chickens had larger feet and sickle tail feathers. I waited until the crowing the next morning (this time at 6:30 AM) and confirmed, that yes, we had a rooster, which is illegal within the city of Des Moines. He had to go. I looked on Craigslist, but there were so many roosters already posted for $1-2, and there was no way I was going to sell him for that after raising him from a chick, to have someone else slaughter him or use him to fight. He was my responsibility.

Talking about killing aging hens after they stop laying in a few years is not the same as needing to dispatch a rooster right now. In a few years, we’ll be experienced urban farmers, and we’d be able to handle it. Yesterday, we hadn’t even had an egg yet. And things were about to get real. I posted on the Iowa Urban Chicken Farmers page¬†and got connected with someone who pointed me to a YouTube video¬†¬†produced by Permies.com. In it, she not only describes in detail how to harvest a chicken, but has the most beautiful manner of putting you at ease with it. And she got me thinking….

How much intention do we put into what we eat? This isn’t just about keeping kosher or not (I don’t) but about thinking about where our food comes from, who benefits from what we eat, and what happens to the animals that we pretend don’t have lives before they get to the butcher counter. I hadn’t thought about the life the chicken that was already in my fridge lived, and yet, you have to face it when you butcher your own food. It’s a pretty intense experience, but I’m glad to have done it (OK, I sat next to my husband and watched, but I was there). It’s like the tomatoes from your garden are so much more satisfying than store bought ones, but on the whole other level of connectivity and¬†consciousness¬†about food. So, as you move through Elul, whether you are Jewish or not, observant or not (this is my first awareness that I was supposed to be doing something prior to Rosh Hashana) I invite you to harvest your food (it can be from a local farmer, if you don’t have your own backyard rooster) and eat with intention.


Fence Lust August 1, 2012

Filed under: In the Garden,Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 7:53 am

imageWhile on our road trip this Summer, I got to catch up with my childhood friend, Scott Nadelson. He’s an author who writes amazing short stories that you should read, but more important to this blog is this beautiful fence he had built in his backyard. It’s so lovely and perfectly suited for our lot, it has ruined me for big box basic fences from here on out. Another project to add to the Spring/Summer list.