Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's syrup season!

Today marks the official beginning of Spring for our family, a day that has been eagerly awaited and much anticipated throughout the chill of Winter. Spring might not be here for you, but it begins for us when we tap the Maple trees. Daytime temperatures above freezing and nighttime temperatures dipping below freezing mean that the sap has begun to rise in the trees, before you know it they will be budding! We put in around 55 taps which is a far cry from the 550 that my Dad helped with when he was a boy! We drill ours the same way that they did though, with a bit and brace. After the hole is drilled the younger children race to plaster their mouths to the hole to drink the sap. It is only slightly sweet and not really that tasty, but they think it's great. After Mr. G pries them off the hole, he puts the taps in and hangs the buckets. The musical plink plink plink of the sap hitting the bucket begins.
They put the lids on to keep out the rain and squirrel "presents" and then off to the next tree. Last year some of our buckets didn't have lids and every morning we would find corn in the bottom of the bucket. They finally discovered that a squirrel was nesting above the bucket in the tree and would come down to drink the sap and leave corn behind. Payment maybe? ;-)

Every year previously we would boil it down in the house, but this year Aleks wanted to do it differently. He wants to boil it in the woods instead of walking all the sap the half mile back home. I can't blame him, hauling 20 5-gallon buckets full of sap every day for a month must get tiresome. A sugar house with an evaporator would have been great, but they're so expensive. So, we bought a 20-gallon cast iron kettle and they are going to hang it from a sturdy branch in the woods. We found this wonderful couple from South Carolina who specialize in antique cast iron and we bought it from them. Aleks has been chopping wood for weeks in anticipation, all the boys are excited about it and they've made a lovely, primitive sugar camp. We will still finish it off in the house, but the lion's share of boiling will be outside of the kitchen. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup so that's a lot of evaporation!
All of which brings me to my next point. I'm having my first blogger give-away and the prize is a pint of Maple syrup! All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog and mention it on your blog. I'm not going to check up on you, we'll just use the honor system. I'll draw a winner toward the end of March, good luck!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

...and walk therein

A few times a year I get the "book of stuff" out and update it; that's a pretty mundane name for something that I value highly, isn't it? I should really think of a more suitable title for it, but so far nothing has come to mind. I began my journey with this book almost 8 years ago and I'm so glad I did. Whenever something is given to me or is purchased, it is recorded in the book. Mind you, only things that will be heirlooms and passed down, not things like bath towels. ;-) I record who gave it to me and why, or if purchased then I will write where I got it and how much I paid. When my parents have given me things I will ask them to tell me again the story behind it and I take careful notes, which then become part of the legacy of the book. So everytime I get it out it allows us to look at what riches we've been given and be thankful all over again. It also assures that we don't forget. The particular book I chose is full of beautiful watercolors and has appropriate "thankful" verses, many of them scripture.

We have strayed from being an oral culture and we tend not to tell and retell the stories of our heritage, unfortunately this helps us to forget who we are. God understood this human tendency and gave His children the admonition not to forget; remember it, talk about it, tell it again and again! The book helps me do this.

The cute little butter crock above was my Valentine's Day gift from Mr. G. We don't normally celebrate Valentine's but this year he bought me cheesecake (2 different kinds), Hershey's Kisses, Peanut Butter cups, and a yellow rose. I don't know what came over him, he must be twitterpated. ;-)

This lovely treasure was also purchased this past weekend, it is a "Krusty Korn Kobs" cornbread pan. I normally find corny spellings really obnoxious, but for whatever reason I'm completely charmed with this pan. It was patented in 1920 so maybe the era it came from makes it less corny (pun intended, haha) than a modern thing would, I don't know.

In other news, I got my carpet back from the cleaners today!!! I'm so glad, there's no carpet here just wood and *cold* tiles. The carpet is a HUGE 100%wool rug, it weighs a few hundred pounds so we don't move it much. It makes the livingroom so much more cozy, a perfect place to curl up with a book.
I need to get cracking on supper and bathe little people afterwards but I want to leave you with this thought.......
"Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein."
Jeremiah 6:16

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my Mother's birthday; she was born on Saturday February 7, 1931. Since I've already written some things about her childhood, I thought I'd tell you about mine.
Here she is on the right with some friends in 1948
My Mom would make cookies for my entire grade school class with each child's name written on their cookie in frosting, the teacher too! She always made elaborate homemade Halloween costumes, I was Betsy Ross in 1976, a pumpkin in a great big crepe paper pumpkin suit, and a lady-in-waiting with a blue gown and lace overlay along with a tall pointy hat with ribbons flowing from it.

My Mom was the yard sale/rummage sale queen, we spent entire summers looking through sales and buying treasures. I think that must be where I came to love antiques and all things with a "past". She was very indulgent about this passion of mine. When I decided that I wanted to twirl baton she threw herself into that by making some of my outfits,taking me to practice, parades, and competitions. And when that wore off.......well, you get the idea. She was behind me 100% and always believed in me; I suppose that's where the self confidence springs from. She always said "even if you're a failure at everything else in your life, you can still be a good parent" and so I learned what the most important things really were, and one of my much quoted favorites "there's always money for what you want" and so I learned about the importance of priorities and goal setting. There's a lot of wisdom there from a lifetime of experience. I couldn't have asked for better. I love you Mom.