Saturday, March 31, 2012

Maple Sugaring

I'm down in Maryland this weekend for a girls' weekend, but last weekend our family went to the Maple Syrup Festival at the Cayuga Nature Center.  My very favorite thing about living in the northeast has to be fresh apple cider in the autumn, but running a close second is local Maple Syrup.

After a grueling morning bleachers workout, we headed to the Maple Syrup Festival where they had a pancake breakfast.  They didn't have any gf pancakes, so WD just filled up on Maple Sausage, but SB chowed down.

They have animals to look at both inside

and outside,

as well as some cool Look & Touch stations.

By far, though, the coolest thing was the 6 story tree house.

It was built by high school students(supervised of course,)

and featured stairs, ladders, 

secret spots, 

and chain webs.

You could feel the building sway in the wind at the top.  The Nature Center has multiple hiking trails where you can find their bee colonies,

fun little surprises like this bird's nest,

and signs of maple syrup production.

One of the trails had Maple Sugaring demonstrations, both the old school method over a fire, and the modern method with a giant evaporator.

After hours of hiking and exploring,

SB was wiped out, and took the easy way out of the woods.  He's tipping the scales at 55lbs, so this is probably the last year you'll be seeing pics like this.

Thanks for popping in and enjoying the Maple Sugar Festival with us.

Friday, March 30, 2012

To Do or Not To Do

I have the luxury of 6 hours during the day when my boys are away at school.  This is my main crafting time, as well as the time to get all of my other mom work done(volunteering & planning for school parties & functions, etc.)  The problem is that with 6 hours at my disposal, it's easy to get pulled into an internet vortex.  Whether it's falling down the rabbit hole of one click leads to another beautiful image or my own personal weakness - shoes.  To keep on track, I write lists.  Lots of lists.  They don't always work.  Here's yesterday's list.

I create laminated roster cards of WD's lacrosse team every season.  It makes it easy for fans to cheer the kids on when they have a card with names and jersey numbers.  I print out the game schedule on the back side.  A local reader loved my Spring Wreath, and wanted to buy one, so I needed to make another, and I have a big furniture building project in the works.  I've drawn it up, but need to make a cut sheet for buying wood.

Here's what actually got done during the 6 hours of freedom.

So, it wasn't an entirely successful day, but I did make that wreath this morning.

Thanks for popping in and wasting time with me.  For printable versions of the super cute To Do list, visit Mom and Wife.

Fridays Unfolded

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Java Junction Cookies

I love coffee.

Don't get me wrong, I love tea, too.  I drink tea throughout the day, but there's nothing better than sitting with a cup of coffee by myself for the first half hour of the day.  I actually like the taste of a good coffee, and drink it black most of the time to get the full on flavor.  I often joke that CG takes a little bit of coffee in his cream & sugar, because he likes it so super sweet.  In the spirit of coffee love, I created these Java Junction Cookies.

I started by whisking together 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup millet flour, 2/3 cup white rice flour, 1 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup arrowroot starch, 1 1/2 tsps baking powder, 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp salt.

In my stand mixer, I creamed 1 cup softened butter with 2 cups brown sugar.

I used instant espresso crystals for the coffee flavor.  I keep these in my pantry specifically to use in baking.

Heat 3 tbsps milk for 40 seconds in the microwave, and stir in 1 1/2 tbsps instant espresso.

Mix the coffee mixture, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp spiced rum, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar.

Add the dry ingredients slowly with your mixer on low.  Beat until well combined.

I rolled half of the dough into a log, and rolled the log in some chocolate sprinkles.  Refrigerate for a couple hours or toss the log in the freezer for 30 minutes.  

Slice the log into 1/4 inch slices and bake for 11 minutes at 350.

And because CG likes his coffee sweeter, I took the other half of the dough and mixed in some butterscotch chips.  I dropped spoonfuls of these onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and baked for 10 minutes at 350.

Thanks for popping in and baking with me.  I'm linking up to Debbiedoos' Newbie Graduate Party.  Oh, how I miss being able to participate in her always fun Newbie parties.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sausage & Asparagus Frittata

It may appear like I always have everything pulled together, but that isn't really the case.  Sometimes, I'll arrive home after WD's lacrosse practice with a narrow window to cook and serve dinner, before we need to head back out, without having remembered to defrost any meat or put anything in the crockpot.  A frittata can come to the rescue, by using anything I might have in the fridge.  Spinach & feta?  Great!  Tomatoes & olives?  Why not?  The other night I made a Sausage & Asparagus Frittata.

I don't have any in process pictures, because I hadn't originally been planning to share this, but SB did have 3 helpings, so here we go.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Peel & chop 4-5 potatoes, and toss them in an oven safe skillet with some olive oil on medium high heat.  I love my cast iron skillets, but any oven safe skillet is fine.  Meanwhile I chopped an onion and 1 lb of  polish sausage.  I turned the potatoes and added the onion and sausage to the pan.  Give the pan a couple of turns of the pepper grinder and a dash of garlic salt.  I washed and chopped a big handful of asparagus into 2 inch pieces and added them to the skillet after a stir.  I whisked together 8 eggs, about 1 cup milk, and 2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese and poured them in the pan.  Move the pan to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

The frittata will be puffed up with some gold spots.  Frittatas are easy because you can put anything at all in them, and the whole cooking process only took 5 minutes, with each item being added as it was chopped.  The skillet actually went into the oven before it had finished preheating.  No big deal, I just adjusted the time in the oven a little.

Thanks for popping in and cooking with me.  I'm linking this up with Gluten-Free Homemaker's Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Yarn Ball Eggs

It always surprises me which posts continue to be looked at way after they've posted.  One of my more popular posts from last year was these Twine Ball Yarn Eggs.  So I figured I'd repost them for all my new readers.

 I wanted a twist on the classic twine ball and came up with these yarn eggs.  I started by grabbing some water balloons from the boredom drawer.  Water balloons are perfect for this project because they're small and egg shaped.

Blow up your balloons and tie them off.  Ever have a tough time tying a balloon?  Here's a tip: if you wrap the end around 2 of your fingers, you can pass the tail between them and pull it through.

Mix up white glue & water in a 1:1 ratio.

Cut off several yards of yarn(I used some fun Easter-y colors.)

Dunk the yarn in the glue, and squeezing out the excess, start wrapping your balloons.  You may want to tape the one end of the yarn to the balloon if you have very small helpers.  I didn't, but SB is a fairly experienced crafter.

Continue wrapping the balloon until you're happy with the amount of yarn you've used.

When all the balloons have been wrapped, lay them out to dry.  You can set them on top of plastic cups or just lay them on a glass or plastic surface.  I had an extra sheet of glass.  Make sure to turn them every now and again.  The glue will pool on the one side of the yarn egg.

When the yarn is completely dry, prick the balloons with a pin.

The balloons will deflate and you can remove them through the side of the egg.

I actually need to make more of them this year, because I could only find 2 of them in my packed away Easter stuff.

Thanks for popping in and crafting with us.

Keeping It SimpleVisit thecsiproject.comspring week