Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Hike

Over the weekend I took my March hike.

This time around I had some company.

Company that hates to have his picture taken.  (How did I manage to marry the most photo-phobic person in the world?)

Last month I had to wear snowshoes, snowpants and there was a snowbank 4 ft. high along the edge of the pond.  This time I just wore boots and along the edge of the pond was bare grass.  There was still snow on the ground in the woods, but not nearly as much as last month.

In February everything was frozen.  Now shallow areas of the pond are thawing and coming alive.  It's amazing how quickly things can change. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Maple Memory Lane

These are all from 5 or 6 years ago or so.  They are all from my first digital camera, so the quality leaves much to be desired, but the memories were captured and that is the most important thing.  Though the quality is the worst, I love the last one, with it's warm, cozy glow, the best.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mud and Maple

It is rightfully said that here in Vermont we have six seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Stick, Winter, and Mud.  We are currently smack dab in the middle of mud season here and in our family mud means maple sugaring.  I spent all afternoon Saturday up at my Uncle Peter's sugarhouse while he boiled off Friday's run of sap. 

His sugarhouse is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world.  When you walk in the door you are hit by the most amazing smell, its a steamy, slightly wood smokey, thick, sweet mapley smell.  We all gather around the pan, sharing stories and memories and a few tall tales.  The door is constantly opening and closing, bringing old friends and family members.  Meanwhile my Uncle Peter steadily works, watching the clear, clean sap become thick amber syrup, while my other uncle stokes the fire. 

Between the stories, Uncle Peter teaches whoever is there about what he is doing, how to draw the syrup off at just the right speed so you don't ruin the perfect density, what to look for when its sheeting off the scoop, how to measure how much sap you have left in the tank so you don't scorch the pan.  He shares it all because he loves what he does, but through it he has also fostered a love of it for everyone that steps through that steamy door.

Someday I hope to use what he has taught me and create my own little sugaring operation for our little family or be a bigger part of his.  Either way, when March rolls around and the sap starts trickling in the buckets, you will find me up at the sugarhouse.

(This year I didn't take any pictures inside the sugarhouse...this year it felt like it was more important to just be there, but I'm planning on going back through some pictures from past years and sharing them here.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Earth Hour

Tonight is Earth Hour 2011.  At 8:30 local time, all across the world, people will be turning off their lights to take a stand against climate change.  In 2009 it became the world's largest climate change initiative. 

In our house we do our best to live as green as possible, but we still have a long ways to go.  We will be turning our lights off tonight to show our support and to make a conscious effort to do just a little bit more for the environment each day.  Learn more here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In My Workbasket

My garter yoke cardigan.  This is my first time knitting with Peace Fleece and I'm how it's coming together.  It's strong and durable, and the color is gorgeous.

Buttons, buttons, buttons...I have so many projects that are finished, but are waiting on buttons, so Tuesday I went button shopping and came home with some I just need to sit down and sew them on.

Over a year ago I wanted to try English Paper Piecing, so I made the front of a Dresden Plate Pillow and since then it has sat.  It is still waiting on it's other half, but lately I've had the urge to finish it so hopefully that will happen before too long.

Sunday I was casually talking to my mom about how I was planning to make a sweater for my cousins baby girl, to give at their baby shower on April mom loved the idea, only, the shower was not April 22nd, but the 2nd....ummm, what???  I went back to check my invitation and apparently the person writing the invitation forgot to put the comma between the 2 and 2011, so between that and my complete lack of attention to detail, I thought it was the 22nd and I thought had all the time in the world to knit them a little sweater. 

So Sunday night I c/o for this adorable little sweater and I have been knitting feverishly in my few spare hours a day ever since.  I took this picture last night and since then it has grown by another 2-3 inches.  I'm hoping by tomorrow I will be ready to cast off and then get the sleeves done this weekend (I'm planning on making a long sleeved version to fit her this fall/winter).  That will give me enough time to sew on buttons and block it early next week and have it wrapped by Saturday. Phew.

What are you working on?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We're Getting There

Last Friday it hit the low 60's.  After work I shed all of my layers (socks and shoes included) and sat out in the sun, doing nothing else but soaking up its warmth.  I had forgotten how wonderful the warmth of the sun is.

Between a few warm days and more than a few rainy days, our snow is quickly receeding.  We had so much this year and banks were piled so high (touching the roof high) that I was sure that we'd have snow on the ground through July.  I'm happy to say that doesn't look to be true.  In Vermont you can never be certain that spring is on it's way, even when we get days like Friday.  We have had some of our worst winter storms in March, and even April, but we're most certainly getting there.  That seems to be the mantra that I have been repeating to myself these last few weeks "We're not there yet, but we're getting there..."  Knowing that it's enough for me.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I have been taking an amazing class once a month on Tuesday nights about local food, sustainability, and how that all works into our school systems.  One of the highlights of the class has been cooking an entirely local meal each class.  In our last class we made our meal, but then we also made saurkraut. 

Now I have never made or even had saurkraut before that night (my German grandmother would be so disappointed...), but for some reason I had it in my mind that vinegar was involved, that it was a pickling process.  Turns out the only ingredients are cabbage and sea salt.  We chopped a head of cabbage up into small pieces, added a couple tablespoons of sea salt and then pounded the cabbage until we could no longer feel our arms (roughly 10 minutes), then packed it into canning jars, set them on our countertops and waited for 3 days.  Friday night I took it off the countertop and plopped it in the fridge (room temperature fermented foods just don't do anything for me it turns out...), and there it has sat. 

I have to admit it's a little bit scary.  Kind of the feeling I had the first time I made yogurt.  I'm thinking, I just spent days growing eat...what if I did it wrong?  What if the wrong bacteria grew?  What if I make myself sick?  Oh boy.  I'm sure it's fine, really, I'm sure it is.  However, our instructor told us that saurkraut can be kept for years in the fridge and that it gets better with age.  In fact, we tried some kim chi from her fridge that had sat for over a year and it was pretty good...So, this week I am going to be working up the nerve to taste my saurkraut, wish me luck! :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sugaring Season

It's that time of year again.  We are officially in sugaring season down here in Southern Vermont.  My uncle has been boiling for longer than I can remember and it has become one of my absolute favorite yearly traditions.  I love the steamy sweetness of the sugar house and checking the sap lines and buckets. 

I can remember when I was in elementary school a friend and I would always get together in March on a good run day and walk up and down her road full of sap buckets and catch the icy, cold sap that was overflowing from the buckets in our hands and slurp it up.  We'd go home with sticky hands and a sugar buzz.

I haven't made it up to the sugar house yet this year, though to be fair I think my uncle has only boiled once, maybe twice.  I plan on this problem being quickly remedied.

Monday, March 14, 2011

List Mini Book

A few weekends ago I was feeling the itch to make something, but wanted instant gratification instead of working on one of my many long term projects.  Inspired by Elise's mini books and heavily inspired by Jamaica Make's Book of Lists, I created my own little list mini book.

I am a list writer by nature, and thought it was a neat, quick way to document thoughts, ideas, and goals.  I'm so happy how this has come together and will be adding more lists as time goes by.  Ideally I'd like to say that I'm going to add a list a week, but that's not how life goes and I kind of like not having any pre-planned idea of when to add to it, its there if I want to add to it, and if I don't that's ok.

The details: This little book measures 3 1/2" x 7", both the front and back covers are lined with coordinating patterned paper, everything is made of leftovers from my "serious" scrapbooker phase (I don't have a clue anymore who made most of the papers, but I do know the little typewriter is Hambly and the spring squares paper is S.E.I.).  I used two metal book rings to hold it all together.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Please excuse my absence from this space for the next day or two, I am currently deep in the thick of report card writing...Today however, you can find me as a guest over at Winterness. Have a wonderful rest of the week! :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Fever

Today we are having another snow day.  I am currently suffering from a quite serious case of cabin fever and spring fever.  Remember color? Remember warmth? Remember vibrancy? Gah, what I wouldn't give to be able to jump into that top picture today.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Outtakes

A forgotten haybale and cows in the woods.  Neither photo came out quite how I intended (they were taken from a moving car, so really what did I expect?), but despite the blur and fuzziness, I love them.  I think they might be two of my favorite photos from this winter.