Monday, March 29, 2010

The Making of Maple Syrup

This spring, for the first time Keith tried his hand at making maple syrup. We were all excited at the prospect of having homemade maple syrup but had no idea how labor-intensive and costly it would be to produce. Keith tapped about 20 trees on the property, using spiles and various types of collection equipment. He used buckets, milk cartons, and cups.We even had our friends save their empty gallon milk jugs.
 The syrup started flowing the end of February and there was a lot of it. Too much for us to keep up with. Keith had a 50 gallon barrel that he stored the collected syrup in until he was ready to boil it. He collected 160 gallons of sap and could of collected more but we couldn't keep up with the boiling.

He used a propane burner setup outside to boil the sap which ended up to be a costly and inefficient way of boiling it down. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Boiling time varied but it usually took over 24 hours to boil one pot of sap into syrup. He used a warming pot on the grill burner to keep the sap warm so it would be ready to add to the boiling pot. When the boiling pot was almost finished we usually brought it into the house to cook where we could keep a closer eye on the temperature. We lost part of our first batch that scorched a little on the bottom of the pan, and the second batch was also overcooked but made into maple candy so not a complete lost there.When all was said and done we ended up with a little over 2 gallons of delicious syrup! Not bad for first-timers!
We learned a lot about the process of making maple syrup and hope to improve our operation next year to be even  more productive!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fun at the Cabin

Today we spent the day hanging out at the cabin. The kids have been outside enjoying the sunny and warm weather. It's hard to believe that there is so much snow on the ground up here, especially since the temps have been in the 60's. We wish we would have brought some shorts along. It was so warm today that we could have all used some cooler clothes.
The boys had fun pulling Madelyn around in the sled. 

We've played lots of games too. Ethan has been attached to the pool table, challenging everyone to a game of eight ball. The boys have also had fun playing Grandpa's (homemade) shut box game. Grandma brought her coins and Mac made a few dollars.
We brought so much food that we ran out of refrigerator space. The snowbank on the back deck made  an excellent cooler for the drinks. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grand Canyon

We spent the day at the Grand Canyon. It was the first time for Ethan and Uncle Chris to visit. Mac was there once before but was too little to remember. Seeing the look on the kids' faces when they saw the canyon for the fist time was priceless! They were all smiles. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, and we were so glad to be there.

Here are some of the day's pictures.

Spring Break!

We're in sunny Arizona staying in Munds Park at a cabin (if you can call it that, it's more like a luxury home) with my family. The boys are enjoying the warm weather (60's) while playing in the snow! Yesterday the boys went to Out of Africa Wildlife Park with Keith's parents. Today we're heading up to the Grand Canyon.

Here are a few pictures. There will be more to come.....

Friday, March 5, 2010

Baby Shower Cupcakes

I recently made these cupcakes for a baby shower. Since the baby shower was for a baby boy, I wanted to use blue and yellow for the colors. I made rubber duckies out of fondant for a 3rd of the cupcakes. The other third had white and yellow fondant flowers, and for the last set I made cookies with the letter "J" cutout of the center.

Number Six Birthday Cupcakes

The past week has kept me busy with cake orders. One order was birthday cupcakes for a six-year old. The six is a cookie on a stick, and the blue and orange (the birthday boy's favorite colors) stars were cut from fondant.