Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Maple Sugaring

Last week Pam shared lovely posts - here and here - after her visit to Kings Landing Historic Settlement.  As you will see in Pam's post there was a maple sugaring taking place.


I found it fascinating to see Pam's pictures.  It was so fascinating for three reasons, I have long been interested in this activity, because I love to eat maple syrup, and because the picture on my calendar this month is a depiction of a maple sugaring event.


You can see that the sap has been gathered in buckets from the trees, and is then boiled over the fire in a very big pot until the sap turns into syrup.  Then you can take the syrup and pour it in pretty shapes into a barrel of snow and that gives you maple candy to eat.


My fascination with maple sugaring started may years ago when I first read Little House in the Big Woods.


Fans of the book will recognise these images.  Below you can see Laura and Mary making their own candy in pans of snow.  They were not using maple syrup for this, but a mixture of boiled molasses and sugar.  This candy was to be kept for Christmas.


A little later in the book you read about how Laura's Grandpa has been preparing all winter to collect the maple syrup by making troughs and buckets to collect the syrup in.  There is a wonderful description of how the troughs are put into the tree and then left to allow the sap to pour into the buckets as the weather gets warmer and the sap starts to rise in the tree.


Pa then explains to Laura how the sap is boiled to make the syrup.  There had been great excitement in the story because there had been a sugar snow.  This meant that it had snowed and therefore the weather cooled down.  Because of this the sap would run for longer, meaning more maple syrup!


There was then a great dance to celebrate the sugar snow and the syrup and sugar that could be made.  At the end of the dance Laura and Mary got to make some maple candy of their own in pans of snow.

I don't know when I first read this book, but I remember the story so well all these years later.

So when I saw Pam's posts I found them so interesting and they bought back good memories of reading Laura's story.

It is funny when things combine like that isn't it - the posts from Pam, my calendar picture and my memories!

Amy

Monday, 30 March 2015

Gardening in the front garden?

The title of this post has been changed.  It was F  r  o  l  i  c  k  i  n  g in the front garden, but seemed to be attracting the attention of some internet robots so I changed it!

The title of this post, ahem, might lead you to wonder what this is about, but it isn't anything worrying - promise!  Thinking of post titles just defeats me sometimes and I thought this might make you laugh! 

The front garden has of course not been left out of the spring gardening.  I have seen buds coming out on the clematis - no pics! - and it will soon be full of growth and buds.

I like to have some pots of flowers by the door - especially in the spring - to welcome visitors.  The bay tree is doing well and so are the polyanthus.  I added some daffodils in two pots.


The bucket was full of crocuses that I showed you and now these miniature daffodils have come through to take the place of the crocuses.



One of the best things about spring is that the hornbeam hedge sheds its leaves - somewhat messily! - as the buds of the new leaves push the old leaves off.  That is a definite sign of spring.


We have always had these wild violets growing in the grass, but the seem to have increased in number this year.



They are so pretty.  I thought about picking a tiny posy, but the stems are so short that I left them in the grass.  It seems that they are very happy there!


It has been so good to get outside again and enjoy the garden.  I am hoping to do some more this weekend and we will probably spend Easter doing lots more too!

How is your garden growing?

Amy

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Sunlit Sunday - final week this year!

Today is the last Sunlit Sunday link up for this year.  Thank you Karen so much for hosting for the last three months.  I do so enjoy reading your posts, and others too as well as joining in myself when I can.

The instructions from Karen are to be as literal or figurative as we like in our posts.  So this year mine have varied from either end of that instruction. 

This week seemed like a good time to reflect back on the last three months worth of posts.  If you want a read you can find all of my posts here.  Here is a quick recap of some of the highlights from 2015! 

I took pictures of the blue sky and clouds.



Noticed the way the sun shone through things on the windowsill.


I spent a lot of time in January looking at the sky.



 See how it looked different on different days.

 
 
I also spent time watching the raindrops on the windows.



 I also played around making sparkles.

 
 
Then I turned to looking at the sunsets.


 
More looking at things with the sun shining through them.
 
 
Then my posts became a little more figurative, thinking about my jar of happy and gratitude.



Of course I could not stop looking at the blue sky though!



And watching to see what was coming up in the garden.


 




 The snowdrops were so beautiful.  I shared them several times.




 My skywatching wasn't all about sunsets or blue skies though.  I saw these amazing contrails one day.



 

 More crocuses came out all over the garden and made a beautiful sight.

 
 
 
 

Then two weeks ago I returned to the figurative with these words (not mine I should say!).

Exercising Gratitude
 
Like many of us, I have emerged from winter battered and exhausted, unable to raise the emotional thermostat from the low settings it had precipitated.
 
Like many of us, I have started to go back to exercising the "almost inevitable" pause of the Christmas period.  Except that this time I have added a simple routine which does not involve getting sweaty or breathless, but it does have a similar beneficial effect on my wellbeing and, if you agree with the butterfly effect, on the world's wellbeing too.
 
Once a day I find a quiet spot, I get comfortable and I bring to my mind ten things which I am grateful for, counting them on my fingers.  Professor Mark Williams, a clinical psychologist at the University of Oxford, states that it is important to get to ten things, even when it becomes increasingly harder after three our four!  This is what the exercise is for - intentionally bringing into awareness the tiny, previous unnoticed elements of the day.
 
Modern neuroscience has proved what ancient spiritual wisdom had recommended for centuries  and followers of Jesus are invited to do: saying thanks works.

This seems like a good place to leave Sunlit Sunday for this year.  I hope that you have enjoyed my posts.  I have certainly enjoyed taking part and I thank you Karen for hosting Sunlit Sunday again this year.

I wish you all a great year ahead with lots of sunlit moments and things to be grateful for.  I am grateful for you all stopping by here and being such wonderful people!
 
Happy Sunday and Happy Sunshine!
 
Amy

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Thank you!

You know that I love blogging!  You know that I love bloggers!  All of you!  Today though I want to say a big Thank You to two bloggers in particular. 

First of all is and lovely lady and blogger called Jo from Through The Keyhole - she also blogs at The Good Life.  Jo recently had a giveaway for a book called Sewing Machine Basics by Jane Bolsover.  Jo had bought herself a copy of this book and it was so good that she offered another copy to another blogger.


I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the book.  It was very exciting as I would love to sew more, but I don't really know anything about the technical aspects of sewing.  Having never made any clothes, put in a zip or done lots of other things this book seemed like a great way to learn more.  I can sew straight lines, make an envelope backed cushion cover and even (sort of) make curtains, but anything more is beyond me.



There are also patterns in the back which you can pull out, I think they are for the clothes items that the book shows you how to make.  Fortunately there are simpler - oh gosh I hope they are simpler! - projects too like this lovely bag!!


So hopefully this book will be the helping hand I need.  It looks fantastic with so much information as well as more advanced things as I (hopefully!) progress.

Thank you Jo for the book.  I am very excited about it and just need to find some time now to get down to some sewing, with the book firmly at my side to help me along!

The equally lovely Carrie at Northwoods Scrapbook also held a giveaway this month for some lovely Eastery items and other things.  I was lucky enough to also receive a gift from Carrie.

Carrie's giveaway included a variety of lovely things.  Some chocolate - which I am saving until next weekend! - and a very cute bunny, a handmade card - Carrie is a papercrafter and makes such pretty things! - a notepad and some other things.  The fabric you can see is a tea towel, but I think that I might make it into something else, so it has gone to my crafting box, not to the kitchen! 



I have also kept the pretty bumblebee - or honeybee - tissue as that is so pretty!


The main and most lovely thing I received though was this pretty album which Carrie had decorated specially for the giveaway - I told you she was a great papercrafter!  There are several pages that are decorated and others left plain for me to decorate. 



I love these two pages in the picture below especially.  I don't yet know how I will use this, but use it I will, and I will treasure it.


Thank you Carrie for your kindness and generosity and for sharing the things that you have made!

You are of course all wonderful, but special thanks must go today to Jo and Carrie!  Thank you both!

I hope that you will go and visit them both because they re lovely ladies and I think that you will enjoy their blogs.

Amy

Friday, 27 March 2015

Five On Friday

Welcome to Five On Friday!  Thank you so much to everyone who took part last week, you are more than welcome to take part again - and I hope that you will!



If you want to grab a Five On Friday Button or get more information about how to join in the All About Five On Friday page will tell you all that you need to know.

To visit other bloggers taking part, just click on the links at the end of the post.  Please do go and visit their lovely posts!

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This week's five are total randoms!  All different things that don't fit into posts of their own, which was, for me, how Five On Friday started.  Right now I think that I need to be a bit more random, so this week I am running with it!

1.  Like many people I cut recipes out of magazines, the newspaper and gather them from different places.  Then of course I have no where to keep them.  Last year I received a wonderful recipe box in a giveaway, and I have filled it with a collection of recipe cards that I kept from the years that I read Martha Stewart Living.  Trouble is that I don't actually have anywhere to put it in the kitchen so it is in a cupboard and I never use it.  So I didn't want to put all of my other scraps of recipes in there never to see them again.  Instead I decided that I would start my own recipe book!  I have simply taken a ring bound notebook and glued the different scraps of paper in. 


They are all jumbled up, sweet with savoury, soups mixed with cake.  It doesn't matter though, I am very happy with it.  I can keep this on my recipe book stand in the kitchen, along with my diary and meal list and shopping list and then I can easily refer to it.  I have noticed though that I have a lot of soup recipes for some reason....  As for the recipe box, I think that I will take all of those MSL cards out and glue the ones I really like into my book and toss the rest, then I will find a much nicer - crafting! - use for the pretty recipe box.

This book will never be as beautiful as the one that Carrie from Northwoods Scrapbook is making for her daughter, but it will at least be a practical way of keeping things together in one place!


Of course any recipe with a picture of crochet next to it has to be included.


I am planning to make these muffins on Monday - I will let you know how they go!


2.  Any idea what these are????


They are glass fishing floats.  They are supposed to be suspended in a sort of macramé string net thingy.  When I went to visit Lady recently she asked me if I could make some new nets because after several decades of hanging up in her home the string had perished.  Apparently I am someone who can do crafting things so she hopes that I can effect a repair.  I am now on the lookout for some hairy string - it needs to be hairy to give an authentic look - and have been stalking pictures of fishing floats online!!  I will let you know how it goes.  I need to find some string first!


I am glad to take on this challenge for Lady, especially now that she is home and is missing having these hanging up!



3.  If you follow me on Pinterest you might know that I have a board dedicated to brass pineapples.  I am the only person I have found that has such a board!  Lots of other people pin brass pineapples, I am very particular about the pineapples that I pin though!  They cannot be just any old pineapple.  So when hubby saw these new brass pineapple candlesticks for sale he bought them for me.  How kind is he!!  I love them so much.


They look just like the ones that I pin and without a candle in the top you would not know the difference between these and the very expensive vintage ones that I admire so much.  Mine are just brass plated though.


The best thing is they are narrow enough to fit on the mantel, so in May, once my Easter decorations are put away, I can stand them on the mantel and enjoy looking at them!!  You can find my brass pineapple board here if you are interested.  It doesn't get many followers or repins.  I can't imagine why..........

4.  Once again I have built up a large collection of crafting "kits" from various magazines.  It is time to pull them out and get working on them I think.  So be prepared for a few posts of quick makes - well, quick if I actually get on and make them!


I did have a quick go at this little owl from Simply Crochet.  He didn't turn out quite like the picture because I didn't have a smaller hook to hand to make the eyes with.  So he is a little staring! 


5.  My quilt continues in a rather unsatisfactory fashion.  I swither between carrying on as I am and taking all of the "ties" out and just sewing round the edges in a desultory fashion and calling it done!  To tell the truth I am rather sick of the sight of this project and I imagine that you are too!  I don't think that I am going to be a quilter any time soon.  Or perhaps I just need to try something smaller.  Considerably smaller.  A pot holder perhaps!


You can see the tying below.  Not very good is it!


Thank you all for your comments, for reading my blog and welcome to new followers.  It isn't something that I get to say often enough, but I want you all to know that I am thankful for you!

As next Friday will be Good Friday I am taking a break from Five On Friday posting as I am sure that we will all be busy.  Five On Friday will resume on Friday 10th April.

I hope that you all have a good weekend.

Amy