Thursday, March 7, 2013

Winter road trip

It would seem that Mother Nature has a sense of humor.  First she toyed with us throughout this sugaring season, throwing in one good day of warmth followed by seven frigid ones.  Now she sends another snowstorm at us, on the day that I scheduled to drive north.  So I will be packing an extra bag with boots and warm clothing in the car's trunk....just in case I need it.  (Always better than shivering because your sneakers are wet ;)

When I return I will probably post some very white photos :)

Have a great end-of-the-week, and I'll catch up with you soon!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Old denim is so good!

When my boys were small I made a denim quilt for each of them.  Having young boys in the house meant that there were times when I'd have a pile of jeans beyond repair.  And each summer they would want to turn their current favorite pairs into cutoffs, leaving the legs as scraps.  The only monetary outlay would be for a backing and batting so these projects were economical, saving coin then....and now, when they're still being used!  Batting is optional for a denim quilt since the fabric is inherently warm.  Did you ever sit in the summer sun wearing heavy denim jeans?   ;)

Each of their denim quilts are styled differently.  Two of them are blends of patterns, and one is a "Trip Around the World" using various shades of denim, although it has softened to a more subtle variation with years of washing.  That's one of the benefits of denim...it ages beautifully.  New is nice, but denim that has history is a soft and cozy friend.

A short while back I was inspired to work with denim again in a quilt block pattern that I had been admiring.  Something elegant in its simplicity, a disappearing nine patch.  It actually took longer to get all the jeans from friends and family than it did to stitch the blocks :)

But soooo worth the time....



 
Nine blocks, sewn into three strips
 
 
 

 
Three strips, now sewn together
 
 
 
I picked up some 100% cotton on sale for the backing and my plan is to have it quilted and bound for my trip north in early April.  It's a surprise for my youngest son.  Don't tell!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Learning and an unexpected surprise

I can't convey, through typing, just how happy I was yesterday as we stood around a pot of boiling sap from maple trees.  I felt like a kid again, watching the bubbling action and knowing that this was how it's been for ages.  Well, not exactly, because our ancestors didn't use a propane turkey fryer.  But any open flame produces heat and if it's hot enough to boil sap, syrup is the result :)


 
10 gallons of sap  (We had just added the liquid from another bucket, so the boiling stopped until the temperature rose again.)


It was cold yesterday so the sap wasn't running.  I tried to catch a droplet in this photo but my camera finger timing was off.


 
 
 
These are the terrific buckets, lids, and spouts from TapMyTrees.com.  Everyone was pleased with them.  Thank you again to Wendy, Deus Ex Machina, and TapMyTrees.com for this terrific giveaway!
 
In past years, my nephew has made sap beer from the maples in his yard with just a bucket or two, treating this as a small hobby.  But I think I can talk him into expanding just a little by asking neighbors about their trees ;)   Now for the unexpected surprise.....
 
 
 
 
 
As the sap starts to boil but before it turns to syrup, there's a clear liquid that tastes wonderful!  According to the information in this booklet, Native Americans and other cultures would drink spring sap to cleanse the body and gain nutrients lost over a long, hard winter.  I'm glad to have learned this sweet secret.  And I've added a few maple trees onto the requirements for my next homestead.
 
Have a sweet Sunday!