Wednesday, March 27, 2013

maple sugaring

"In the sweetness of friendship, let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures."
Khalil Gilbran

 Skiing last weekend was brutally cold.
Lovely to have 26 inches of fresh snow but some sun and blue skies would have been welcome too...
Even the kids were asking, "where's Spring?"

We left the mountain early for Maple Maine Sunday.   An annual event where maple syrup producers open up their doors to show how maple syrup is made, offer tours of their sap houses aka sugar shacks, and sell their wares direct to visitors.

Even with modern technology it's such a labour intensive craft and the method hasn't greatly changed over the years. We stopped at Day Mountain Farm and the owner, Collin Neil, a twinkly blue-eyed old Mainer explained the process of tapping (boring a hole through the bark) into a tree once it's about 40 years old and extracting the clear sap. This is then boiled up to yield the sticky sweet goodness that most of us pour over breakfast pancakes! In days gone by he'd have used a simple metal spout and bucket. These have been replaced with plastic tubing and industrial looking evaporator/distiller pans.  The boys hung on to every word he said (actually, so did lovely hubby and I!).  We missed the cooking bit as they started early that morning and had already boiled up 600 gallons of sap. We did peek at the last bit of syrup in the evaporator pan. It smelt and looked yummy.  It takes 30 - 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!  Tapping season starts in the Spring and lasts 4 - 6 weeks. There are all sorts of interesting facts about the whole process, including the role syrup played in history, on wikipedia or here and here.  One bit to share with you:  sweetness depends on the weather, so this year's crop should be good - something positive about the long, cold winter!

Before buying some syrup - half a gallon each of dark and of light, we finished up our tour with a tractor ride around the sugar bush.  Kept our eyes peeled for bear, deer or moose who apparently like to nibble on the pipes, but we just saw lots of maple and birch and the pipes weaving through the trees! 

Driving home, the boys munched their maple candy and we all agreed it was a fun couple of hours and that next year we'll try to make it in time to watch the boiling process.

Down the path and nestled in among the trees we found the sugar shack 
(the vented roof  lets the steam escape - it gets hot and sticky once the sap is boiling)
The modern equipment...
(had to resist dipping my finger in the last bit of syrup!)

Don't tell the boys, but am quite relieved we didn't come to eye to eye with the wildlife!
Have a lovely Easter.
Have a funny feeling we'll be making pancakes Sunday morning...

X Tanya

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

white tulips ... where to put them ...?

... here by this window ...
... or here ...

... or on the mantelpiece ? 
11 days until 'bunny day' - boys are counting!

love, love, love these!
Thank you

We had another big snow storm!
24 hours of muted light and a certain quietness that snow fall brings.
No school - so we all stayed home.  
The boys played. Lovely hubby worked upstairs. I pottered about.

Still working on tags, links, labels and how to do some other blog things... 
I love the idea of scavenger hunts and swaps!  
I'm probably trying to run before I can walk 
but I'm going to join greenthumb at made with love and share photos from around town.

I also need to stitch, paint and do my things for etsy!
The new cards arrived and what a welcome burst of colour.

x Tanya

Saturday, March 16, 2013

late, late, later

“I spend a lot of time saving time. I have a filing cabinet full of clocks and watches.”  - Jarod Kintz

I wanted to share a favorite recipe this week but plans didn't quite work out! 
I rushed around in a blur of domestic activity and not much creativity.

I feel like this logo on my hall clock: running from one activity to the next 
(slightly lopsided too!)   
Lovely hubby is again away for work;
 boys each had a day off school with throaty viral things; 
the cat and dog used up a day with check-ups at the vets
 or as they say here veterinarians. 
(The former implies soldiers who have 'done' battle - bit how I felt this week!)

Beauty but a terror. Those paws dip into the fish tank. No casualties - yet!

It's now the weekend: time to wind down and recharge.
Perhaps a bit of sewing and making that recipe.  
I look forward to that!

a clue for next week... (photo courtesy of amazon) 

x Tanya

Sunday, March 10, 2013

spring forward

"Yes, one of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of it.  There is only one thing certain about it, you are certain there is going to be plenty of weather." - Mark Twain

Thank you for all the lovely words of encouragement here and by email.
Still working on fonts + layouts + links + widgets + blogs I follow...lots of things to sort out.
Stay with me and I’ll get there.

Thursday and Friday it snowed.  Really snowed.  Big wet flakes.  Deep, deep snow banks and drifts.
There was a lot of snow whether you think in centimetres or inches!
I’m a funny hybrid - inches for measurement but centigrade for temperature.  Hearing it’s 10 fahrenheit doesn’t chill my bones quite the same way that -12 celsius does!  Yes, that’s a minus!

looking at our road from the front door

Lovely hubby was away so the boys and I shovelled the path,
 dug the car out and organized ourselves for the weekend.

all hands and paws to dig our way out

Saturday the sun shone.It felt so good to be on the mountain skiing.
The boys and I soaked up the sunshine and its warmth.
50 fahrenheit worked for me! (that’s 10 celsius!)

Maine skiing: fearless 4-year old in the lead, 8-year old fast behind

Sunday the clocks moved forward an hour. 
6am became 7am which is so much better for a non-morning person. 
Lovely hubby arrived back and made pancakes and bacon.
Just the thing little people home from skiing needed.

buttermilk pancakes and canadian maple bacon = happy tummies

Happy Weekend to you!  Stay warm and cozy wherever you may be.

x Tanya

Happy Mother's Day to those of you celebrating!
(In the USA it's on May 12th)

Friday, March 1, 2013

first steps / new beginnings

The first day of a new month, the snow is melting,

 the promise of spring is in the air.  

Lots of things to plan and look forward to in the coming months.

I commented for the first time on a blog by Tracey English and what a happy surprise:  I won a beautiful print!  

My name was the first one out of the pot - how lucky is that ?

Love knowing that from across the Atlantic something nice will be on its way.

It’s a good beginning for my first foray into the world of blogging.  

Hope spring inspires you to try something new.  Let me know how you get on.

x Tanya