Thursday, 5 May 2016

Maple tapping. Priceless.

This morning, I watched a discussion on one of my favourite (knitting) podcasts about the cost-effectiveness of growing your own vegetables. This inspired me to financially evaluate my first foray into maple tree tapping this winter.
Step 1: Autumn. Incredibly enthusiastic about the process. Crocheted maple leaves to tie around our two trees while they still had leaves, as once those drop I won’t have a clue which is which and run the risk of birch-syrup or somesuch. Cost: negligible. Scraps of red acrylic yarn from deep deep stash.
Maple Tree markers

Step 2. Wait. This past winter was relatively short for Quebec, however 5-6 months between stages of a project does rather put a dampener on the enthusiasm!
Forget about project. On drive to town in late March, notice buckets on trees. Passion for project is reignited. Go on epic-hobbit-style-quest round Ottawa’s hardware stores to find the last remaining sap spiles and buckets in the city. Notice there are now displays of BBQ equipment and sunloungers in the stores. Yup. Left this a little late!
Cost: 2 x buckets, lids and spiles = $24. Gas cost: I dread to think! Damage to pride at screwing this up: negligible, pride went missing way back in the late 90s. I’m happier without it.

Step 3 Drill hole in tree (with Mason drill bit because you forgot to buy wood-bits in the many hardware stores you visited, and you aren’t going back.) Tap in spile, hang bucket. Wait.
action stations.jpg

Step 4 After a week we collected 16oz of sap. The next stage is to boil it down, the ratio of sap to syrup is 40:1. Not enough to share with friends, but hopefully a pancakes worth. Boil sap down, after half an hour bladder becomes unignorable, nip to bathroom. The unwatched pot boils. Syrup stage bypassed and we have maple toffee. 1 teaspoon of maple toffee.
Cost: One tub of local artisan vanilla ice-cream to serve with toffee = $9.
maple treats.jpg
1 teaspoon of maple toffee = $33.
Today’s market price for gold? 1 gram = $52.
Best maple toffee I ever tasted!
Hours of entertainment from that $33 investment - countless! Same again next year!

(This post started as a forum post responding to the aforementioned conversation. I copied and pasted it here as I haven't felt the urge to write in so long, I thought I would preserve my ramblings. )

Sunday, 22 June 2014


Last month I felt so sorry for the hummingbirds sat in the rain, and wanted to make little hummingbird sized umbrellas to keep their tiny feathery noggins dry.

Yesterday one pooped on my eyebrow.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Cardigans and Canoes...

We moved house this week, and I have lots of news and reports, but for now the sun is shining and the breeze is in the trees so I'll save the rambling for a stormy evening.

This is the view from this mornings coffee spot....suffice to say that all is well!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Star struck.

Today I met the star of one of my favourite books. He was crossing the bike path. I'm not usually an autograph hunter, but excitement got the best of me and he very kindly posed for some pictures with me before continuing on his way....

But not before he kindly allowed me to recreate a page from the text, although I had to adlib a little on the fruit selection.

Internet research leads me to believe this fine fellow is a Polyphemus Moth caterpillar, and will grow up into a 6 inch beauty if he avoids ending up as a blackbird's breakfast. 
And if there was any doubt as to his credentials as The Very Hungry Caterpillar? This lumpy fellow can eat up to 86,000 times his own body weight in his 2 month life - impressive stuff!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013


I should be packing, but instead I spent the morning sewing giraffe buttons onto my new blouse, and then attempting to take a half decent self portrait.

The buttons were a success. The portraits less so.

Sadly I only noticed that the button band was slightly off centre when I had complete the blouse....but then I feel slightly off-centre most of the time, so it works on some level.

Our evening stroll was post rain-storm last night, which enabled some rainbow spotting.....I tried in earnest to take a shot resembling a famous album cover, anyone get it?

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Feats of engineering.

Sunday mornings as a child often involved curling up on the sofa watching TV. Of course, for the most part this consisted of cartoons, but despite never been much of a regular sports fan, I remember loving Transworld Sport. This show somehow held my interest with its mix of weird and wacky events and brief clips of sporting madness. And today's event definitely fit that bill. After work I nipped over the river to watch the first few flights of the Redbull Ottawa Flugtag 2013. Of those I witnessed, the Gameboy was definitely the most successful flier - although it also nearly blew off the staging area when a sneaky gust of wind caught it side on. 

As usual at these events, for me it was the efforts put into the costumes and the aesthetics of the machines which were the most impressive. I was particularly fond of the Yoshi and Sock-monkey models, and despite a slightly menacing cyclist the ET effort was great too. (I should have taken a video of it in action, the guy wrapped up in the blanket had E.T waving and blowing kisses at the crowd). Much like Comicon earlier in the year, Costume-wise it seems like all these events serve as good excuses for people to get into something skimpy and/or cross-dress. The Eagle-fliers (top left) were very keen to show off their bows and arrows!

I didn't stay long as it was ridiculously busy and shade was hard to come by, but it was nice to see the event in action. And the crowd were definitely very supportive as flight after flight nose-dived into the water. Apparently the winning flight made it 129 feet smashing the Canadian record, there are photos and more details on the Flugtag website.

So, did I return home inspired to build my own flying machine and take to the air? Well despite my prior experience (well, that one flying lesson last year), I didn't immediately reach for hammer and nails. Nope, it was boiled egg and sausage meat engineering for me this evening....far safer, and the results are yummy!

I miss Scotch Eggs, Sausage Rolls and Cornish Pasties almost as much as I miss Fish and Chips, so I was very pleased with how these came out.

The recipe is from A Perfect Day for a Picnic , and most of these are for the Cookbook book club at work tomorrow.....if I don't scoff them before bed tonight that is.

Night all. x

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Commoon misconception.

It is a common misconception....

....that there is a man on the moon... fact there is a giant song sparrow, who perches and serenades the stars with his slightly flat rendition of David Bowie's Space Oddity.

So now you know.