Archive for ‘How To’s’

April 15, 2012

Maple Sugaring

by Jillian Douglas

It was not my intention to neglect you, oh blog! Life has the uncanny habit of swallowing me whole at times.Don’t worry though, it spat me back out. It’s good to be back! I have many posts floating through my head, ready to land in the crisp screen of a blog post.

First up is fun with maple syrup making!

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Mid-March I went to my dear friend’s house and had a great time with her family and another friend, watching the maple syrup process and making maple cream candies with them. They only have 3 sugar maple trees, each tapped twice, but this apparently creates a substantial amount of sap, which is then boiled down to syrup.

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This process interests me a lot! I love handgrown and homemade things. Collecting sap for syrup-making is on my list of Dreamy To-Do’s, along with beekeeping, canning homemade salsa, and sewing my own clothes.

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera when I went over (sigh), so I only have photos of the delicious syrup they gave me. Which we consumed it in a week. (hah!)

We also made chocolate-covered maple cream candies! They were so easy but delicious (and I discovered a new chocolate pair that I adore… Nate didn’t like it especially, but I loved it. Even more than chocolate + bacon…).

Simply melt chocolate chips in the microwave, then dollop a bit into paper candy wrappers. This makes a bottom for the candy (it will appear similar to a Reese’s peanut butter cup later). Then place that in the freezer until the chocolate is stiff while you mold your maple cream into little balls (my friend’s dad had made the maple cream by simply heating maple syrup. I didn’t catch how to do that, but here’s a recipe elsewhere. He apparently did it a little longer than usual to make the consistency thicker and moldable, and placed that in the freezer to stiffen a bit as well). Place the maple cream balls in the cups with the chocolate bottoms and pour more chocolate on top to seal the deal. Place them once more in the freezer for a bit. Enjoy!

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So here’s a quick list of

Things I Learned on This Adventure:

1. It takes 32 gallons of sap to create… (get this)… 1 gallon of syrup.

Is that not crazy? I am surprised people still even do this; it requires so much patience. But then again, I can understand how they fall in love with the process.

2. Maple cream is really just maple syrup (with a tiny bit of butter) boiled more to create the thicker consistency. I thought for sure there was some dairy yum in it… but nope!

3. This year, because of the unusual weather, the maple sugaring season was much more successful and earlier than usual. When tappers would normally begin in February, they started in January (remember when we had those crazy summer days when it should’ve been frigid? Those triggered the sap).

4. I have awesome friends who I need to hang out with much more.

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February 10, 2012

Sweethearts

by Jillian Douglas

I’m so, so excited to share this with you! One of my favorite musicians, Priscilla Ahn, has put together a collaboration with Charlie Wadhams for Valentine’s Day called the Sweethearts EP. And it’s free! I’m listening to it right now and it’s so soft, pretty, and full of lovely ideas and harmonies.

If you don’t check it out I will probably be found in a corner crying on your behalf.

They even put one of the songs, Dear Sweetheart, to retro home videos of Charlie Wadham’s own grandparents.

There’s just something about old-school recordings that makes me sentimental.

Sigh.

…Wasn’t that just gorgeous?

So seriously, download this and be happy for the rest of your life.

In other news, here’s some more fun clicks:

the Anthropologist (brought to you by Anthropologie) showcases Jim Deneven’s unique art form and his experience.

Amaze someone with a handmade Scratch-Off Photo Valentine! Learn how over at Photojojo.

A simple way to spruce up your space: a super-cute Valentine’s Day garland DIY project via HelloBee!

October 24, 2011

Photo Editinggggg!

by Jillian Douglas

So you took that snapshot 5 months ago and you still can’t stop thinking about. It’s beautiful! It’s charming! It evokes just the right emotions deep within my soul! And yet the picture itself is pleading with you, Please, please… edit me. I have curves! I have layers!  Edit me!

Photos can be a little needy.

Anyways, with a handy little (FREE) tool called GIMP, you too can answer the wild call of photos and set their hearts on fire! Apparently GIMP is a tad harder to learn than Photoshop, but with online tutorials, learning a few editing skillz is a breeze!

So here’s the first tutorial; it’s really good for portraits, but adaptable to a lot of different kinds of photography. Don’t worry, it’s really easy! You can get the original free tutorial from Jonathan Enn’s blog, Photo Excursions. It’s a tad different. Here’s a photo I edited using this:

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October 11, 2011

Rainy Day Guide No. 1

by adandelionchild

I have been thoroughly enjoying (even if through a window during class!) the lovely indian summer/early fall weather that we’ve been having in Western New York these last couple days but I hear that we are in for some rainy days soon. Here are some things to help you get the most out of these, err…refreshing couple of days:

READ: Bossypants by Tina Fey
I realized Fey’s allegedly hilarious memoir has been out all summer, but I haven’t gotten around to buying it yet, and it seems like the perfect rainy day book. You can read an excerpt here.

LISTEN:  a little 10 Things I Hate About You throwback

FOR INSIDE: make chocolate chip cookie sweet rolls by the incredibly funny and talented Pioneer Woman. If you have time, that is. If not, stop by Wegmans and pick up some of their french toast mini-muffins. They will change your life.

FOR OUTSIDE:

Take this sweet umbrella out for a spin and maybe do a little singing and dancing.

Enjoy the rain, my friends!