Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jello Drink April Fool's Joke

Here is a quick and fun April Fool's Day joke. I meant to post this earlier this week-story of my life!

Anyway, quick-find some jello!
Make it, pour it into glasses, and add a straw.
Set it out tomorrow and say, "Here are some drinks kids!"
Ha! Ha! Ha!
This one is even better if your kids are in on it. We have invited friends over for the past couple of years and the kids have served them these jello drinks. It is a good one!

Happy last day of March and soon to come April Fool's Day!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Peeps Easter Wreath Tutorial

Here's the scoop on this super fun and easy Easter Peeps Wreath! First things first, buy extra Peeps to eat, especially if the little ones are around and helping! Also, read the whole tutorial first, as you may want to tie your ribbon on first, which I did not do.

I have been checking out all the great Easter project links at Tatertots and Jello. They are all so pretty! I saw this really sweet Easter Topiary linked from A Pumpkin and A Princess. I love it, and figured that it is the perfect easy festive Easter wreath.

What you need;

1. Peeps ( I used 4 packs of 5 for a 8 1/2 inch diameter wreath.)
2. Glue Gun
3. Exacto knife or scissors
4. Cardboard
5. Yellow paper (or yellow paint)
6. Ribbon for hanging
7. Embellishments if desired

What to do;

1. Cut a cardboard wreath form. I used 2 different sized pots and made a wreath form approximately 1 inch wide, 8.5 inches total diameter. I cut mine with an exacto knife, on top of another cardboard box. I don't love to use the cutting knives on my self healing mats, because I don't think the mats really 'heal' from exacto knife cuts!

 2. Trace the wreath shape onto yellow paper, and cut out the yellow paper. Or, if you are patient, paint your cardboard form yellow. Actually, Peeps come in many colors, so you could use any color you want! (Not that you can't anyway-you are the artist!)

3. Glue your yellow paper onto the cardboard form and smooth wrinkles.

4. Keep your hands OFF the Peeps!

5. Fire up your glue gun with it's fancy tray for drips.

6. DO NOT take apart the Peeps. Glue onto your wreath form and gently bend your Peeps to fit onto the form. Don't be shy with your glue.

7. Repeat until your wreath is filled. As mentioned, I used 4 packs of 5 Peeps to make this wreath. I did however, have to cut a deal with Squirrel & Dozer to give them each a Peep. So, 20 Peeps minus 2 Peeps=18 Peeps total for this. I got the Peeps at our local Hannford. A steal at $1.19 for 10 Peeps!

8. Tie a ribbon on for hanging. Not sure if it would be better to tie the ribbon on first, and then glue Peeps over it. I don't love how the ribbon pulls up on some of the Peeps. Let me know if you try it with the ribbon first.

Have fun! Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Springtime in Maine

The thing I love the most about Maple Sugaring is that I totally appreciate the cold weather, rather than being annoyed that Spring is not really warm yet! I wake up and check the temperature-it is 24 degrees-Woo Hoo! When it gets up to 39 degrees during the day, I don't get upset and wish it was 55 degrees-I say Yes! Perfect Maple Syrup weather! I check the temps before bed and say Yes! 19 degrees! It really is a perfect activity for appreciating the season that you are in, rather than wishing for the next one.

So, this morning when we woke up to Winter Wonderland once again, it was OK!

We went right out to play and have a breakfast picnic of maple syrup on freshly fallen snow!

Hope you are enjoying whatever moments that you are in!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Making Magnets

For today, let's talk about upcycled magnets. These are so crazy easy and fun! I am kind of addicted to them right now.

1. Start by gathering a collection of old toys, doo dads (what are these? I do not know!), game pieces, etc.
2. Get some of the pretty toxic glue (I think E-600 is the best for this kind of stuff. I hate the smell and the thought of the yuckiness that it probably is, but it works awesome. I get it at the local craft store. Don't use with kids around, and be sure you have some great ventilation. Outside is perfect if you can!)
3. Get some good magnets. This is where I got mine. They are so awesome, I can't even believe it. I keep wanting to buy more to make everything into magnets!
4. Glue your magnet to your cool doo dad. Let it dry for a while. (I think the glue states 24 hours is best.)
5. Use anywhere & everywhere. (Except where little ones can grab & put in their mouths! See impt disclaimer below!)

This is a good use for random toys and pieces that have no home and may otherwise be destined to become trash. BUT these really aren't toys and should not be used anywhere where a little one can grab it and put it in her mouth! Magnets can be super dangerous for little ones! Even though my kids are a bit older, I still keep our magnets on the top half of the fridge where visiting little ones can not reach them.

Have fun & glue!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tapping Maple Trees for Sap

We decided to tap a few maple trees this weekend to collect maple sap and boil it down to maple syrup. In Maine we call it maple sugaring-not sure if this is an official term or not! OK, it was really two weekends ago now-it was 'last weekend' when I started this post! My family did this when I was younger and I remember the sticky sweet smell of the sap boiling down in our kitchen. And, of course, the delicious maple syrup that was the end result! Yum!

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has a great file which includes lots of the information about the basics of tapping trees and making maple syrup. Since I wasn't involved in the details of this as a child (except the taste testing, of course!), we have asked my dad lots of questions and done research. The basics are pretty darn easy, but we are just amateurs who don't know the intricacies of the process.

We started with 3 taps (spiles) on Sunday afternoon. This is what we got for sap that afternoon. We were jumping for joy about this, which is pretty funny, when you see what we are getting now. PS-See the jar on the right? The sap is darker-the sap from that tree has been darker than all the other trees for the whole season. I wonder why? Pretty neat, huh?

The next day, this is what we got for sap... Much more than double!

We were having so much fun, we decided to put in three more taps. (Pretty darn easy-more good resources here at Tap My Trees.)

The sap was really flowing now! (This is a tap/spile running into our recycled jug bucket.) In Maine, you can pick up maple sugaring supplies at many hardware stores or farm & feed stores. The spiles are approximately a couple of dollars each. You can use recycled jugs or pails as collection buckets.

There are a few different types of taps, some using a tubing system to lead the sap right into your collection bucket. We did these types of taps as well. I love the nostalgic look of the stainless steel taps, but I think I prefer the ease of the plastic taps and tubing. Here is one of our systems for these. You just run the tubing into your collection container. We used recycled orange juice containers and drilled a hole in the top for the tubing. Easy to uncap and dump. Everything you read about maple sugaring states that the sap & the syrup will very easily take on other flavors, so be careful about washing carefully, cleaning, rinsing, etc. your materials.

PS Best weather for maple sap flowing is freezing at night and above freezing during days (Approx 20 degrees F at night and 40 degrees F during day is great). In Maine, the last couple of weeks of March are generally great maple sugaring days. Once the temps stop freezing at night and consistently stay about 50 during the day, the sap stops flowing. (boo!) But then, it is so nice out and you can move on to more Spring projects!

So, I am realizing that I still need more pictures. I have to show you what we are getting for sap each day now! (OK, OK, It's about one gallon per tap each day!) Yeah!

And, I have to show you what we have for syrup so far.

And, I have to add in a bit about what NOT to do. (We have learned a bit.)

But, those will have to wait for another day...

This is the syrup we processed during our first week of maple sugaring. It doesn't look like much, but keep in mind that it takes approximately 40 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup!

When we started this year, we said that we would be happy if we got enough syrup for one pancake dinner. We already made our goal, and now we want to keep going and make more!

More info to come about the boiling down process, if you are interested. Also, if you are in Maine, Maine Maple Sunday is coming up this weekend. It is a great time! Get info about it at Maine Maple Producers here!

PS-Edited Weds am. I originally spelled spile wrong! I was blog browsing, saw Soule Mama's post (on maple sugaring-we both do live in Maine, after all!), and she spelled it spile. So, I looked it up and I was totally wrong. Rest assured, I have corrected it. Now I know spile is not spyle! Tap is way easier anyway!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's hard to keep up with this blogging gig!

I feel like we have been crafting a lot lately. But, I rarely note it here in Blogsville, and then so much time goes by that it is often too late. So many projects like this.

So, here is a quick round up of some recent projects & happenings...

Green eggs and ham in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday last week.

Another official etsy sale-the package ready to be mailed.  (The sales are racking up. Soon I may need two hands to count them on! Hey, I am having fun!)

A weekend away full of Winter adventures. I have next to no pictures of this one. It was rainy and snowy all weekend and I don't like to take my camera out in weather like that. I am always afraid it will get wet and not work. What do you do?

Some book totes and goodies for a Family Reading Box for a fundraiser recently. This was a recent project I was working on noted here. I decoupaged a box with newspaper first, then with pages from a vintage Little Bear book. I filled the box with books and book totes for a preschool fundraiser. But, big surprise here... I forgot to take pix of the completed project. I really loved it too! You can trust me when I say, It was totally cute! (PS This fabric-total bargain yard sale remnant-isn't it cute?!)

And, today we made vinyl bowls from our recent party decorations. More pix of these to come, I swear. This is the easiest and most fun project! You have to get some records and try it. Google vintage album bowls and you will find lots of links. I used this how to here for pointers. (Don't you love the Mardi Gras beads?!)

We also made masks for Fat Tuesday today! (Full disclosure-these masks are not the ones we made. Ours don't look quite so professional. And, the glue is still drying on ours!)

Have fun!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Easy Popover Recipe

"Ummmm. This tastes so good I feel like I am in a dream." 

True story! Real quote from Squirrel after eating one of these popovers. I loved it!

The popover recipe is straight from Pretend Soup, by Mollie Katzen.  I love this book! We take it out from the library all the time, and keep it way longer than we are supposed to. (Don't tell anyone!) I also love her book Honest Pretzels. She has another, Salad People, that we have not used, but I bet it is just as good. These books are great because they have easy, pretty healthy recipes (that taste good!). They are written, and then they are 'written' using pictures (kind of like a blog tutorial), so kids can follow the recipe on their own. Really fun!

Anyway, here are our popovers. Most fell immediately before I took the picture. They looked better before, I swear. Either way, they tasted great. We had them with potato cheddar with bacon soup. Comfort foods at their finest!

Easy Popovers, from Pretend Soup, by Mollie Katzen

2 T. butter, melted
2  eggs
1 c. milk
1 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 375, and melt butter.
2. Brush the insides of 12 muffin tins with melted butter.
3. Break eggs into mixing bowl.
4. Add milk and beat well.
5. Add flour & salt and whisk until reasonably blended-it doesn't have to be perfect.
6. Use a 1/4 cup measure to pour batter into each muffin tin. They should be 1/2-2/3 full each.
7. Bake 30 minutes without opening the oven.
8. Remove muffins from pan and prick with a fork to let steam escape.

Mollie suggests butter &/or jam on top, or dipped into maple syrup. That sounds totally delicious, but they were really great as is!