What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Breakfast, Start to Finish








 


 
 



It has been several years since we made maple syrup and the spot on our shelf where it sat waiting for pancake day has sat gathering dust for too long.  
This year I was determined to get some sap boiled down and syrup into jars.

Unfortunately, my former set up (place pans on extremely inefficient woodstove to boil the whole day away- awesome.  easy.  free.  no extra work.  no extra wood.) would be impossible since we replaced the woodstove down cellar with one that is insulated and not hot on the surface (and so wouldn't boil a thing.)  The only alternative for us this year was to boil the sap outside with slab wood.  

We started out way in the woods (near the trees) and had a good boiling on a weekend when Matt could tend the fire.  We ate a supper of baked sweet potatoes and slow cooked pork around the sweet smelling fire and hauled the hot syrup in the dark back to the house to be finished off.  

After that, boiling had to be done during the week which meant- it was up to me!  I moved a fire pit closer to home so I could boil and tend the fire while doing school and taking care of babies, etc.  But if you've never boiled sap down with wood- you can't just leave the fire, you have to add wood every ten minutes or so to keep the heat up.  

Along with every thing else I was doing- it was ex.haust.ing.  The end of the day I was sore from bending over a gazillion times.  I was muddy from slipping back and forth from porch to pit.  And I smelled like the inside of a chimney.  

 I could have done another boil or two on a few sunny days but I was too tired/sick of smelling like fire, and with the crazy busyness of that particular week I sheepishly and guiltily made the decision to dump those buckets of sap and wait until the next week.  I could make more then, right?!

Well, the sap dripped and the buckets filled but then the sky started to drip too- and you can't exactly evaporate the water from sap with the rain pouring back in as you boil. 

And then it snowed.

All in all, I boiled a measly gallon of syrup.  

Clearly the boiling outside thing has created many new challenges for me that I will have to overcome.  This will help.  And doing the month membership to the YMCA for swimming would be better timed in January, say, rather than smack dab in the middle of syrup season.  And NO PARTIES to prepare for in March either!  More sun and less rain/snow would be a welcome help as well.

Matt, of course, is thinking "Saphouse!"  

I'm very thankful for that gallon of syrup and for the deliciousness of some long-awaited, much anticipated, triple the recipe PANCAKES!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

4(0) Times The Fun











The Mister turned 40 this year and though he deserves a lot of fanfare, he didn't want any extravagant party to mark the day.  Just a dinner at home, corned beef cabbage for supper and his traditional white cake with peanut butter frosting.  His parents came for supper and so did his twin brother and his family.  I did buy some fresh flowers (the first time all winter) to make things more feasty and special.  And the red Pioneer Woman christmas goblets I got at 75% off after Christmas elevated the meal too...though it did give off a certain Valentine vibe.  (The day after was Valentine's Day, so it wasn't totally inappropriate.)  Matt's twin brother John favors a chocolate with peanut butter frosting cake so I made one of those as well so that he wouldn't feel left out.  I never got a picture of the cakes  in the daylight because of the haste of getting ready for company but they were perdy (in a grown up sort of way).  No hard plastic animalstractors or pudgy pigs for him.  No sirree.  Not now that he is all growed up.

I wanted to mark Matt's 40th year with a gift more meaningful than most.  Coincidentally, this also happens to be the 150th anniversary of Newmans owning this land so it seemed fitting to honor both somehow.  Matt is very much a person who values heritage and takes great pride in his roots so I thought a sign of some sort would be special.  My brother in law Bob made the wooden sign in secret for me and I spent several days woodburning it.  The smoke burned my eyes and nostrils and I was overcome by fear of ruining the whole thing at every turn- but in the end it came out nicely and I think Matt appreciated it.  I knit him a hat too (and an inverted one for his brother that was never finished in time, and so will be a gift for another time) using yarn that he had bought me at Christmas.  

He is the one who knows all my dark secrets and loves me anyway.  He is the one who can make me laugh with just a look and knows all my tickle places.  He is the one who gets the children all riled up in the living room just by getting down on the floor.  He is the one who leaves in the dark of morning and comes  home in the dark of night and gives his family those precious few minutes of his day that he could snatch away for himself.  He is the creator of the baby rocketship and ear tugging as a form of affection.  We outnumber him 6 to 1 and yet he stretches to meet our needs and fill us up.  He gives up 'stuff' for things much more important.  And 40 looks pretty good on him  ;-)

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Mossy Wood



that's a porcupine quill, by the way

 

 


we wound up in the lair of some panthers

wild and ferocious

but becoming Bagheera pretty quickly

Ineke's first experiences with moss. 


 






You'd never believe it from the pictures, but before the crazy snow dump of last week, we had some glorious mild, spring-like ditch the dining room "school" table and get your notebooks and rears outside and enjoy the day sort of weather.  And, ooooooh, was it nice.

I strapped Ineke on my belly (I really need a backpack-trust me, the girl doesn't quite fit her Moby like once upon a time) and the kids grabbed their science journals and we headed out.  Last year Ineke was so small, she spent her woods walks strapped onto Mama.  But THIS year, I set her down to explore.

FREEDOM!!!!!!!!

She was ecstatic.  She was overjoyed.  She was awed.  She screamed when she was put back in for the hike home.

Also, there was a giant leap from last year to this year in her comprehension.  I saw immediately that she had discovered, in a moment, that there was a world outside of the house.  That there was an "outside".  It was written all over her face.  Her eyes shone a new sort of glimmer.  It sounds like I am making this up- that I am being overly dramatic.  And maybe it seems that way but it also happens to be true.

After that woods walk, she began climbing up to windows to peer out and racing through a door as soon as it was opened.

Children give you many things, but the thing I am always struck by is the great joy that *I* get by living vicariously through their first moments, their first experiences and the amazement and the awe and the joy and the hilarity of such a world.  The crunch of the leaves.  The moss that ripped off of stones when she tugged.  She softness of a carpet of green.  The wind in her face.  I've experiences these things thousands of times, hundreds of thousands of times.  And I delight in them and sometimes, they even stagger me.  But it is different with children.  When children experience those things all you must do is sit back and watch.  And it literally fills you up.  Bubbles out.  Runneth over.  What a gift children bring to this world.

I hope to keep these posts coming; I have some incentive for the next few days at least.  We'll see how long it lasts!