About Me

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Within the confines of this blog, you will find bits and pieces of the life and times of myself, my family and friend dear and near., far and wide, few and far between. You will find bits and pieces of my world, tho small to some, but huge to me. You will find everything from 'soup to nuts',; recipes, hobbies,crafts, gardenings,loves of my life, GrandLoves-a-Plenty, and even my pets... Sooo, if you can handle family life, enjoy the tour of my 'Stuffings'.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

From High-Stepping to Puddle Jumping

Just look at the hope.  Finally our snows are beginning to melt.                   The temperatures are beginning to rise and the water is sinking in slowly.   Let the little boys be boys.  They had a blast at Grandma and Grandpa's this weekend.  There were so many puddles, so much warmth in the air.
By noon, they were in tee-shirts, shorts and of course, rubber boots.  Just a few days ago, there was still a foot of snow on the ground, and still is that much in the woods, if not more.   
 I kid you not, this poor high-stepping  Ms. Robin Redbreast
was all flustered to have to come home to this snow, ice and slush just 
four days ago.  
 And folks wonder just why does Dar leave her last Christmas Wreath 
up until June?  Well, now you know.
The truth is out.  I will even light the wreath in the evening
if it stays warm enough to visit on the deck before then.
But, you never know.  I have seen snow on my birthday at the end
of the month of June...cannot be too quick to put winter away.
 As short as 3 months, is our growing season for our gardens, so
we savor every warm second.  Just like the little guys in the family...
we let the children play in the mud, the water, whatever Mother Nature 
provides, because, at a blink of an eye, it could be another 
white-out and cabin fever starts all over again.
I hope you are having a warming trend if you have been cold,
and a cooling trend if you are already tired of the heat.
Either way, 
find some joy in it all.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Joyful Survivors

Even with 6 months of winter, and still being under so much snow and ice, my succulents and semps along the south end of the garage are already showing that~
 They ARE Survivors.  They give me Hope.
 Even being covered with water...
the most bitter winter has not deterred these hardy souls.
As the snow and ice are finally receding,  there 
is even hope for the Daylilies, insisting on saying, 
" Bring it on."  
I had to laugh at the way these tulips just refuse to die.
Another " bring it on " moment.
The way the moss spirals around the dead maple surprised me,
But, I Like It! ~ A burst of green in a woods full of knee-deep snow.
The Purple Phlox as well as the Red Semps are always
a first spring welcomed sight.  It won't be long and they 
will put on quite the show.
We had temperatures as bitter cold as minus -40's this winter, 
but even in the shallow planters, the succulents are 
true survivors.
If you haven't ever grown succulents, semps, sedum, ~ and
you live in unforgiving temperatures, try them.
They will not only take the cold but the heat as well.
The varieties are unbelievable.  
Maybe because I have one of my own, or 
just because I love these survivors, I had to include my
" Sweet Williams," pushing themselves through the ice.
But, Most Miraculous to me, of all,
was what I found in these tiny 1 1/2 inch baskets on
the burro's side, holding less than 1/2 inch of soil, ~
were these miniature sedums.  What a surprise,
for this has been our most bitter and long snow winter
since 1905.  
I said to the Lord, " You are my Master!  All
the good things I have are from you. "
Psalm 16:2
And I thank Him for bringing me joy today.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

On Phoebe's Return

The Phoebe that nests in our barn each spring, is home for the summer.  The only problem is, she is wondering what to do next!
 Good grief.  There is still so much snow,
the barn door is frozen shut. And....
 it looks more and more like she has to decide 
whether or not to stay.  She has been flitting from the
garage roof, to the sawhorses by the garage door,
 to the planter hanger in-between the garage doors,
thinking, ' she might just have to nest in the garage,
this time.'  
 While trying to decide on this gloomy day,
Mrs. Rabbit decides that maybe she should 
nest in the garage.
Mrs. Phoebe was having none of that.  Immediately,
she put the run on her, dive-bombing and chasing
her right out of her new domain. 
Phoebe has staked her claim.  Now, only to keep
Mr. Bill from closing that door the rest of the summer.
That will be her next challenge.  
 Apparently we will be having at least another
week of  ' iffy ' weather and YES,
these Are Snowball Hydrangeas.
 As for that sunshine trellis below, I have only one thing to say,
"  What do you think you're smilin' about?"
All's fair in the war of winter.
Come to Wisconsin, one and all.
If you should want to see the weather change,
wait just a few minutes.
I promise, you will love it.

Have a great week
From we northerners.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Our Family Plan - Maple Syrupin'

It is That time of year again when the Maple trees are being tapped and the crystal clear sap is turned into Pure Maple Syrup at the Creekside Cabin.
The hygrometer measures, not only when the syrup is syrup, 
but also whether or not it is done to perfection, hot or cold. 
 More about that later.
It's a ' timing ' thing, making syrup.
The weather has to be cool to cold at night,
warming steadily during the day to afford a drip,
drip, drip in the buckets until they are full of that
crystal clear sap.
The sap is collected in 5 gal. buckets that are carried from tree to tree, sap bucket to sap bucket, emptied and strained into 15 gal. barrels.
oops, forgot to downsize this pic.
anyway, from the 15 gal. barrels the sap is pumped into the large tank that has a drip system assembled at the receiving end, dripping the sap into the cooking pan.
The sap runs through copper tubing from the large storage tank and into the cooker which you can barely see due to all the steam off the top of the pan.  The pails in the background are sap warming also.
All of this primitive way of making maple syrup, family style, is done over extremely hot coals under that cooking pan which is about 3 ft. wide by 6 ft. long. and 7 inches deep.
As you can see, there is still a lot of snow, mud and melting going on here, so it gets to be a pretty messy job done outside.  I heard the boys talking about making a cook shack for this part of our operation.  If they are going through all this trouble to cook syrup, then I say, " Heck, Ya! "
Since we do not have the new-fangled, high tech reverse osmosis system of doing this, it takes many hrs. of watching the sap boil~~~
and boil~~~
and boil and roll and skim!~~~
until, finally, it's ready to~~~~
pull the pan off that hot, hot fire, then
place it on another table, lining the pour spout over the 
straining can.  It's an intense moment.
Finally, open the spout and let it pour!
Let the liquid gold strain through the orlon bag and into the clean milk can. 
The syrup is at it's ' near finished ' stage.
The sun is setting on our day, a very long one, 
so the next day,
the syrup was reheated to the ' hygrometer ' point
and canned.  The first batch was that golden glow, 
the second much deeper colored but they both taste
Fantastic of Maple Goodness!
The Ping test to assure the jars have all sealed, and 
we are done with batch #2.
It's a very s l o w process but we do this at the
CABIN, so it's a wonderful thing.
Even in the snow.
Thanks for following our ' family plan.'

Saturday, April 13, 2013


He wants IN...
 Six a.m. this morning and who's sitting at my door?...
I think Cottontail wants to come inside.
 The snow is still so high up to the bottom of the deck, 
that Mr. Cottontail hopped on top of the snowbank and right onto the deck.  He's done this before.  I've seen his tracks.
but now..........' how do I get off of here?,  he's wondering.'
As we patiently await spring greens,
we will  ' watch wabbits.'

A note on the maple syrup operation:
Mr. Dedication Bill was up and out of the house by
5 a.m. to restart the fire to continue cooking off
the syrup.  There is so much snow out there and wet and mud,
I must admit, I'm not missing the sap gathering time.
However, I don't mind being the ' driver.'

Have a great weekend, my friends.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Enough Already :-/

Enough Already.  The entire state is suffering snow and ice once again.  You can see the many layers that have attempted to melt on the cabin deck, but ' again ' it is snowing, blowing, wet, miserable, depressing.
 I want to see my flowers where the snow is piled high.
They are under there somewhere.  And green grass would be nice.
 Stay ' tight,' apple buds, our winter is not over yet.
The guys are out in this unforgiving weather,
collecting maple sap from the trees,
under a tented sap cooking pan, boiling off
what syrup they can before nightfall.
Then they will shut the operation down for the night,
only to fire it up again in the morning.
By tomorrow evening, we should have another
batch of pure maple syrup ready to be jarred and sealed.

Maybe, just maybe, with all this extra snow, 
the grandsons will get to finish that snow tunnel,

Have a smiling weekend.
If I don't get completely snowed in,
I may just be back.