First Day of Spring!

Today is the first day of spring here in the Great White North and its a lovely sunny day. I ate my lunch on my back deck with just a super warm fleece on. Our house faces North/South more or less, so we can make good use of passive solar sunlight.

Today in the kitchen I tried two new recipes for home cleaning: a powdered laundry detergent instead of the whipped one I usually make, and a liquid dish-washing gel. Both took me less than 1/2 hr to make, and in the case of the dish-washing gel, gave me more than enough to last upwards of several months ( so I hope it works well!!!).

We didn’t get a chance to do a syrup boil off since the weather hasn’t really been good for it so far this year in our area. So I will have to be sure to stock up on maple syrup and maple sugar this year as we won’t likely be able to earn any.  Bummer 😦

Finally I am writing again, and it feels good.!Words are flowing, more or less, and I’ve had a few times where I’ve chuckled over something I’ve written, not believing that I wrote something that funny. Mind you, I have a very british type of humour and what I find funny, some do not, so you’ll have to take that with a grain of salt. Still, it feels good to be able to put fingers to keyboard and create again.

This is birthday alley for our family, with 5 ( or 6?) birthdays in the next few weeks. My daughter is the last of the run of birthdays and is still young enough to qualify for a ‘birthday party’. Yesterday, we spent many hours looking through pintrest to come up with a theme and how we could make it work. I managed to get totally frustrated by the computer because I am not very computer literate and can’t get it to do what I want it to do. A very nice employee spent the better part of a hour with me this morning trying to figure it out, but all we managed were invitations and cardboard Eiffel towers. Anyhoo, it is what it is and I will just have to accept defeat and hope I can figure out some other way of accomplishing the goal.

Here’s the menu for this week:

Saturday: curry chicken, riced cauliflower and salad ( it was very yummy)

Sunday: Sausages, baked potatoes ( or roasted) and salad

Monday: Lentil stew (woops, need to make broth for that!)

Tuesday: Salmon, salad and steamed broccoli

Wednesday: Pork Casserole and Salad

Thursday: Pasta

Friday: Homemade pizza

This week, make sure you get out and enjoy the fresh air and what sunshine can be found, even if its only for 5 minutes at a lunch hour. Be sure to love on your family, if you don’t have any, love on your ‘family by choice’; those people whom you choose to call family. HUGS!

Fresh Air and Sunshine

So today we had the opportunity to go and help tap maple trees out at Arc Acres. Although some reluctance was met by some of my teenagers, we ALL went. We got a quick lesson in how to tap the trees and were told to do this part of the grove ( insert farmer Amber waving her arms in a general area). No problem, says I. Well, ok, one small problem, I know how to tell most trees apart while their leaves are on, but what about when they’re off? Is the bark different?

Well the short answer is yes, sometimes people can tell by the bark, but more the age of the tree as it differs depending on the age ( crap my hands and forearms are tired just writing this!). However, if you look up at the branches, most- like high 90’s percent, have branches that grow across from each other, in a t-like pattern. But, she says, this whole grove is mostly maple, so you don’t have to worry too much.

It took the better part of 3 hrs and, before you ask, I have no idea how many trees we tapped. While it felt like thousands, it was probably less than 100. The kids all worked together and changed up the jobs as there were several. First one must pick a spot on the south side of the tree ( best time for doing this is in the morning as the sun should be shining on the south side ) then you have to drill at an upwards angle and in about 2 ” approximately. Next someone sticks in a spigot  and taps it in with a hammer ( or the back of an axe) then someone else hangs a bucket from the hooky bit, and someone else affixes the lid with its wires to keep it sort of tied down. Voila! Some of the trees started dripping the minute they were drilled which was exciting! Sap was tasted and we were invited back in a week when we could help with the big boil to see how it goes from sap to finished product.

The sunshine and warmth and yoohoo( I don’t know what they’re called, but their call is a yoohoo sound) birds chirping back and forth in the trees above us was wonderful, and although I’m tired, I feel renewed 🙂

On the home-front, I tried hot process soap making. This is the process you want to use if you need your soap quicker than 6 weeks. Hot process soap takes about 1 week to be ready to use. I’m also going to remind people again, that safety is vital when working with lye as I lazily didn’t go put on safety glasses ( since they weren’t with my soaping supplies where I’d left them) and ended up getting some lye splashed in my eye – stung for a few,seconds, but washed out my eye with fresh water and it was better quickly. It could have been much worse, and I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll also remember to put on long sleeves as I had a bunch of little burn marks on my arms from where it splashed up. I don’t know which method I prefer at this time, but I must say, I prefer the look of the cold processed soaps better- a bit smoother.

I also make liquid hand soap out of some leftover bits of soap I had kicking around and a bar of the hot process soap I had made. Very simple to do and much cheaper than store-bought liquid hand-soap.

Menu:

Sunday: chilli

Monday: Wild boar sausages, baked potatoes and salad

Tuesday: Tuna and cauliflower casserole

Wednesday: Onion and apple pork chops, mashed potatoes and broccoli

Thursday: Pasta

Friday: the usual 🙂

Enjoy the change of seasons as we move from winter into spring. I doubt we’ll go straight into spring without another snow storm, but we can always hope! Get outside and enjoy!Go feed the birds, or go out at lunch and put your face in the sun and dream for a few minutes !