Thursday, April 28, 2011

Feelin' Kinda Sappy

I made mention that I was going to try and make birch syrup this year.  This is the first 2 bottles that were made.  I learned a lot in the week that I was boiling sap.  (and boiling sap, and boiling sap)  I now understand why a small bottle costs more than $7 at the grocery store.  It isn't because it is hard, but because of how little time you have to harvest, how much you have to harvest, and how long it takes to turn it into syrup. 

We tapped 10 trees to collect from each day.  We ended up getting between 4-6 gallons of sap per day.  That isn't much but it's a lot when you don't have a pot big enough to hold 6 gallons.
As you can see we didn't have actual taps, or fancy buckets...some tubing and some milk jugs.  I researched online as much as I could find on making birch syrup...and there isn't a lot on there on the how to's.  I did learn that it is a better syrup for diabetics, because it's frutcose not glucose so it doesn't spike the sugar.  I also learned why you have such a short amount of time to collect the sap.  The reason being that the sugar lays in the trunk for the winter until time for the trees to be "fed" in order to bloom.  You want to get that first run of "sugar" because after it is through the sap becomes bitter.  Back to the how to part we bought a new drill bit and tubing so that it would be clean....drilled a 3/8 in hole at an upward angle, inserted the tubing from the tree to the milk jug and then let it flow.  For next year one thing I will do differently is to drill a matching hole in top of the lids of the containers so that bugs and debris is limited even moreso. 

We then would bring the gallons back and run them thru a sieve/strainer into my pressure cooker...the only pot I had big enough to boil as much down in a day.  (oh and sap is only good for about 24 hours after goes can be put in the fridge to keep it a bit longer)   We could put about 4- 4 1/2 gals at one time into this one and then we started to boil.  As it boiled down I added the rest of the sap until it was all emptied.  This literally took all day.  I want to get an actual wood fired evaporator for next season....add it to my wish list.  I would let it boil down enough that I could put it into smaller pots and bring it inside on the stove and watch it the rest of the way.  The tricky part is knowing when it is actually done.  It isn't as thick as maple, it's got a carmely (if that is a word) flavor and gets darker as the week goes on. 

You would think that the best part of this experience would be getting the syrup and having the I did it feeling of accomplishment.  I'm very thankful for those, but the best is when I had a group of friends here who wanted to know how to do it, and I was the teacher so to speak.  They all left with their own gallon of sap to boil down that day.  I was excited when one of them went out and tapped her own trees the next day.  I'm so blessed to have friends who aren't afraid to try new things, that don't look at me like I'm crazy for trying, and get just as excited as I do over the small stuff.  I couldn't ask for better ladies in my life right now. 

So that is my syrup making experience.  I have a new appreciation for syrup of any kind because the process is all the same.  So another thing marked off on my try it list...gotta find more stuff to keep adding.  With that my newest news is my baby lamb is here (not home yet though) so handspinning wool is a definite have to learn this year.  Will be putting up pics of her soon....going to take the kids to see her on Saturday.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Attempt at Americana

I'm slowly in the process of decorating my home in Americana and primitives.  So this week when we were asked to design a project for home decor my mind started whirling.  This was so simple and so basic, but it is the one thing I've done lately that I like the most.  So here we American nesting boxes....

I laid out all of the sizes on my gypsy.  I only used George and Basic shapes for this entire project.  I'm thankful for Jen "teaching" me how to use the unlink part so I could make the rectangles the size I needed.
Then I all I had to do was pick the paper and start cutting.
After they were cut I inked the edges of my paper and also the sides of the boxes to give it an aged look.

Then I put the boxes together, added the star, some twine and thread (floss) and it was done.

I used very little in this project...
I had nesting boxes that have been here for a while waiting for me to do something with them.
DCWV Nantucket stack and Basics (navy blue for lids and stars)
Brown Ink
Twine and floss

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Card

This week we were asked to make something either including Easter or Earth day.   I chose Easter.  Since I had seen Jen's easel card I wanted to try and make this is my attempt at easel cards.

I laid out the pieces I wanted on my gypsy, and then picked out my colors. (I always tend to start with one thing and end up somewhere else.)

I then cut out the paper according to the's one reason why I love it so much I waste so much less paper.

After cutting all of the pieces and parts.  I started arranging and rearranging pieces to make the Easter basket.
After having a little bit of sparkle for the grass I attached the eggs, some self stick dots and ribbon to dress it up a bit.
I had cut out Happy Easter but it looked a bit plain.  So I glitzed (is that a word) it up a bit with my embosser and some shiny blue embossng powder.

Then all that was left was to make the "stand" for the easel, which was more sparkly grass (ribbon) and another Easter egg set up on pop dots.....I really like the colors and how they came together with this card.  It's brigh and cheery and I hope that the one that I send it to enjoys it....until next week!
Oh the recipe (almost forgot)
DCWV textured cardstock pastel
DCWV neutrals
DCWV citrus
Blue embossing powder, heat gun
Cricut cartridges...Doodlecharms,  Caligraphy
Self stick gems
Pop Dots

Friday, April 15, 2011

Going Backwards

So I hear that I need saved....that I'm going backwards...and not even in a religious context.  I'm going backwards....should be suiting since I am a hillbilly.  I know that most people think I have lost my mind somewhere along the way.  I have a big family (6 beautiful children), yes that is backwards today.  I have a farm in the making and I'm super excited about having chickens for fresh eggs and meat....or sheep for wool, pigs for meat, turkeys for Thansgiving and Christmas, goats to mow my yard, horses to entertain the kids, and heck I would even like a cow at some point....yep guess that's backwards as well.  I've been married to the same guy for 19 years...unheard of these days isn't it?  I go to church most Sundays....another rarity these days.  My thoughts run on how to build a garden and to actually get produce from it in the frozen north, or where to put the animals, or how to tap a birch tree for sap to make syrup.  Then there is the how do I make do with what I have on hand....can I make it myself instead of buying it?  Yep I guess I'm backwards all the way.  Oh did I mention that I homeschool my kids as well?  If I wasn't considered backwards before that should have just nailed it.  Don't worry, obviously they have internet, we also have cable tv, running water and electricity.  So I will continue to bake bread from bread machine.  I will continue to add animals, and plants to our farm...and I can continue on my backwards journey.  Maybe if I go far enough back I will find my mind that everyone thinks I have lost!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lovely Lavender

I love lavender, so much that it's the color I've used in the majority of my decorating in my little girls room. It's time I started to add things into the room for Bailey we are starting with her own picture frame.

I gathered up what I thought I would use for this project and got started with my gypsy.

I covered the frame with lavender (pastel purple) from the DCWV pastel stack and then trimmed the inside with ribbon. (Next to cardstock ribbon is my addiction) Then to make the flowers. I picked a pattern from the DCWV blossom song stack and added a touch of sparkle. While they dried I started my cutting and glittering.

After glueing and glueing some more all the pieces were put into place and now I have an adorable frame to put a picture in. It has to be adorable when you are putting baby pictures in them!
*my recipe*
cricut cartridges: caligraphy, george and basic shapes,tags bags boxes
papers DCWV pastel and blossom song stacks
glitter glue
self stick gems

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tri-Fold Card

My first project and I'm so excited.  I've never made a card like this one and it took me a few times scoring and cutting to get it how I wanted it.  For me I have to have some one or something in mind for my crafting to actually get it finished.  This card is for my brother who is going thru some difficult times and I wanted to send him a pick me up.  So  I gathered up my supplies and got started.....

I laid it out on my gypsy....I feel lost without my gypsy....I don't know how I ever used a cricut without it. Then I picked out my papers, and frilly stuff......
I cut and folded my card. (This took more than one try, but I got it!)
Then the fun part started, decorating it.  I used my favorite rounded corner punch, my paper cutter, and my cricut...

Then all that was left was to piece it together.  Granted I changed things around and didn't use things I cut, but that is normal for me.  Planning something for me is the hardest part.  I love to dive into something and then pull this and that out and go from here to there.  So needless to say my card isn't what I had pictured it to be in the beginning, but I really like how it turned out.

*my recipe*
cricut cartridges:  wildlife, caligraphy, sugar and spice
DCWV cardstock....misc.
corner rounder punch
self stick gems
glitter glue
small letter stencil
Isaiah 40:31

Friday, April 8, 2011

Getting There

I'm so excited I'm getting there!!!  I've got chickens, ducks, rabbits, and horses on my farm.  Ty is picing up my gate for my sheep that will be here this summer.  I have veggies started in the kitchen, as well as flowers to plant this year.  My plans for my farm/homestead is moving along and it makes me so thankful.  We have plans still for goats, pigs, and turkeys.  We also are wanting to plant some fruit trees and expand our garden over the next few years.  I've found a class so that I can learn handspinning.  I'm reading everything that I can get my hands on that has to do with homesteading, farming, back to basics, and so on.  I'm getting a little craftier in how to make things on my own instead of running to a store to buy it.  I'm excited about how things are turning out and I keep looking forward to each day and what may occur during the day.