March 30, 2014

Just Stuff

Kili was not sure about the prickly grass on his toes but a ball can cure all that ails us.  

 Pippin wasn't thrilled with our breakfast one morning and said, "I'm going to war, I don't have time to eat breakfast."

 Half of this calf belongs to us.  I think I'd prefer the back half, since it's likely to be tastier.

 Very bad pictures of what at first we thought was a wolf in our field but upon a bit of a zoom we think it is probably just a coyote.

 I won this awesome juicer at one of my favorite blogs.  I had always wanted to try a juicer but just not something we'd spend the money on just trying out.

 I've made several rounds of juice so far and like it. Excuse the bottle of lime juice... I didn't have a lime... but you can juice juice and get juice.... I know! I'm ingenious!

 So far my favorite has been strawberry, lime and apple mix.  It's sort of like a strawberry margarita.

 We had a flop batch of cheese which ended up a fabulous cheese dip.  We've been making lots of cheese curds to perfect it to sell at the farmers' market but this one didn't quite work out.. the way it was suppose to but sometimes I guess that is alright! Everyone thought this tasted like velveeta (minus the extra salty taste).

 I also tried out the ice cream recipes at Randazzo Inc This one is the strawberry ice cream.  It was very good.

 We also tried out the St. Patrick's Day ice cream, I forgot to take a picture and it was eaten within about 30 seconds.  It actually uses juiced spinach but with the mint and maple syrup added to the frozen cream.. it's good!
Playing weeping angels version of "statues".

March 22, 2014

Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition

 Sam hosted the 2014 Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition for our homeschooling group. These are just some of the participants.
 Sam built this scale to do the bridge breaking.
 There were 2 categories, Junior (beginners) and Open which have their set of rules in how many stick can be used with Elmer's glue.  The bridge is weighed and then put into the scale.
 Clamping the blocks that held the bridge in place
 The bridge is then strapped in place and weights added to the balance.
 *Crack* The bridge supports only up to a certain weight. The point system is the weight of the bridge/weight held.  That gives the point value.
Sam's captivated audience. He did a great job building the contraption for weights and bridge breaking. Sam's bridge held the most weight per bridge pound but of course didn't count in the competition.  And, stupidly I forgot to take a picture of the winners with their medals.  Everyone received a certificate with their weights and points. All did a great job!

Birthdays and Feast Days

 Aragorn and Pippin celebrated their "twin" birthday nearly setting the house on fire. Pippin is now 8.  And continues to keep us on our toes and chuckling.
If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me.
St. Patrick

The Feast of St. Patrick always reminds me of my grandma who passed way on his feast day back in 1981. She was well-devoted to St. Patrick as every Irishman is... or should be!  

 To celelbrate we had some green shamrock pancakes.
 And a bit o' the green in the fresh bread.  We even had Frodo make some green butter, but it is not pictured here.
 Marigold... I'm not sure what she's doing but she was happy to do it.
 Kili helping churn the butter. He really enjoyed it... no kidding... but he kept sticking the other hand into the gears with unhappy results. But it wasn't as bad as getting bitten by one of his little friends this week. :D
 St. Joseph was so reserved and careful in his speech that not one word ever issued from his mouth that was not good and holy, nor did he ever indulge in unnecessary or less than charitable conversation. He was most patient and diligent in bearing fatigue; he practiced extreme poverty; he was most meek in bearing injuries; he was strong and constant against my enemies; he was the faithful witness of the wonders of Heaven, being dead to the flesh and the world, living only for God and for Heavenly goods, which were the only things he desired. He was perfectly conformed to the Divine Will and so resigned to the dispositions of Heaven that he ever repeated" May the Will of God ever be done in me!" He rarely spoke with men, but continually with God, whose Will he desired to perform. Wherefore, he now enjoys great glory in Heaven.
St. Bridget of Sweden

Of course I couldn't find an actual quote from St. Joseph as he didn't say a word. He just acted upon the Will of God. Something to learn from there...

 We made a St. Joseph Altar Cake.  My wonderful sugar-free-maple-syrup-and-honey-only friend might be interested to know that I very carefully chose what sugar-ful sweets we would partake of. For example we made a marvelous homemade white cake which did have sugar but the frosting was just butter, honey and vanilla.  The little flowers I just couldn't resist as they seemed like a nice addition to the "altar" but  the cream jel jubes or something like that did have coconut oil in them so I think that gave them some redeeming value.

  And the apple cinnamon newtons were simply for making some fancy "breads" and have absolutely no redeeming value outside of carving out religious symbols. They not only are full of all sorts of fructoses and syrups but they didn't even taste good.  Due to our careful consideration of our sugar intake... I'm happy to report that no one was hyper or sick as a result.  And if you look, you will see that we still have no skill at frosting but this was a wonderful tasting frosting!
I have always loved St. Benedict.  So I cannot resist a few lovely quotes from his Rule:

† Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading.

† And let them first pray together, that so they may associate in peace.

† He should first show them in deeds rather than words all that is good and holy.

† The sleepy like to make excuses.

† For at all times we must so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that he may not, as an angry Father, disinherit his children, nor as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil deeds, deliver us to everlasting punishment as wicked servants who refuse to follow Him to glory.

I mean what is not to love about this man of great wisdom?

 We had a couple of adolescent (juvenile) bald eagles in our field.
  And in case you are wondering why they aren't bald, they don't earn their baldness until they are 3 years old.
Here one is unfolding his feathers to try and gain the territory.
2-1/2 more gallons of syrup out of 75 gallons of sap. :D

March 15, 2014

Maple Syrup

In our first batch of maple syrup we got 6-1/2 quarts of syrup from 34 gallons of sap.  That is about a ratio of 20 to 1. Another 15 gallons of sap is now boiling down.
 The boiler was a home made gizmo found on Craigslist. We built the little "teepee" to keep out the elements.
 Lots and lots and lots of steam.
It runs on a little wood and is really fast!

The finishing is done on the potbellied stove on the porch.  It's a nice rich full-flavored maple syrup.

March 14, 2014

Happy Pie Day

This picture was snitched from I don't know where... isn't it cute?

March 14th is Pie Day... get it?  3.14... Pi...  My question is, does that give us a dispensation to eat pie on this day during Lent... particularly if you like Math? 

March 10, 2014

2 Down 1 To Go

Merry is officially seizure free for 2 years and will be entirely off the medication within a month. Deo Gratias! 

March 9, 2014

Tapping and Sapping

 As soon as the days get over freezing and the nights are below freezing, the sap parade is on the march.
 This year we are tapping in our wonderful neighbors' woods. They have a plethora of maples.
 Over the river and through the woods to the maple trees we go.

 Just a little drill into the side of the tree some plastic tubing and food grade pails with a hole in the top.
 The small trees have a couple taps, the largest has 6 taps.

We did pick up a sap boiler that holds 40 gallons...and runs on wood... this isn't it... this is just the potbellied stove on our porch.  We're boiling the first couple gallons right on top while it warms the porch. But hopefully the sap will get running this week as we have some warm-to-us days. It takes about 5-86 gallons of sap to get 1 gallon of syrup depending on who you ask!


 After a wonderful recommendation for a local Martial Arts studio we took a trial Karate lesson.  The first thing when you see the building it's a "No bully zone" and then inside the words "Respect, Self-Control, Self Discipline".  (and I might add, no eastern mysticism/spirituality)
 The children really enjoy it and so do I.... enjoy watching it.
 The oldest 8 are in training and the 4 littles play or do some school work in the outer room.  it's a nice set up
They all enjoy it so we'll see. We might have to put a "Beware of the Karate Kids" sign at the bottom of the driveway.