Monthly Archives: March 2015

Emoji Easter eggs

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Emoji Easter eggs

Every year, I try out a new idea for Easter eggs, 😄 and I came across this one on Pinterest, (I think) and I couldn’t resist! My daughter Sam, is all over any excuse to use emojis… 😜😣😫😬😖😲😤😇 look, I even have them installed on my iPad keyboard.



Here is the original post….Link to Egg tutorial

Sam had a friend over, so when I showed them the above picture,they instantly jumped at the idea. 😛

So, we started with some paper, I had them look online to find some Emojis, and sketch out a few ideas.





Luckily, every year starting in February, I start saving eggs. Instead of cracking them, Using a skewer, I poke a hole in the top and bottom, and blow out the yolks, 😮 so i had a few eggs on hand. I figure if we are going to go to the trouble of decorating the eggs,we might as well keep them. 

The original post said to pain the eggs with acrylic paint, 😴  but we decided to simplify the idea a little, and we used food colouring to colour the eggs. The simplest way I have seen to dye eggs is to pop them into a sandwich bag, and add a few drops of food colouring, and rub around. It worked pretty well, much less mess than paint, I am sure!  😥



We had to let the eggs dry for a little bit until the food colouring was dry. 😴Then, the girls sketched their designs in pencil and traced over them in Sharpie markers…man, what can’t you do with sharpies? 👍

Anyways, here are the end results….really cute! 👏😄😋😆😊

I almost forgot to mention that they are double sided! We drew two different faces on each egg. The girls just picked the side they liked the best for the photos. 😉

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Chocolate dipped stuff!

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Chocolate dipped stuff!

We were having a potluck lunch at work, and I signed up for dessert thinking that I would spend some time on Pinterest, and find an impressive and delicious, yet surprisingly easy home baked dessert to make. But by the night before the potluck, on my way driving home, I realized that I had no idea what to make. So, in order to avoid having to make an additional trip out to the grocery store, I decided to stop on the way home. After a quick trip down the baking aisle, I decided that I was going to find some stuff to dip in chocolate. Quick, easy, and delicious… How can you go wrong dipping stuff in chocolate?

So, I picked up some two bite brownies, Oreo cookies, pretzels, and twizzlers.

I melted some chocolate in my double broiler (or my Pyrex bowl that fits over my sauce pan, but double broiler sounds better) I have tried numerous times to melt chocolate right in the sauce pan, but every time I try, it cooks too fast, and goes clumpy, or seizes. So, I filled a saucepan 3/4 the way full with hot water then put a bowl on top, and melted the chocolate in there.

I did the dipping, and Sam was my sprinkles girl. 



We dipped a bunch of twizzlers , pretzel sticks, and I still had a lot of leftover chocolate, so I dug up some more pretzels, and kept on dipping until I scraped the bowl clean.


I almost forgot to mention that you should use parchment paper on a cookie sheet to make sure the chocolate doesn’t stick. The chocolate comes right off, and I even can reuse the paper a couple times for stuff like chocolate dipping. 

When I finally used up all of that chocolate, I melted some white chocolate chips, and dipped the brownies and Oreo cookies. It actually was pretty easy to do when you are only dipping half of the cookie and you have something to hold on to. I let each cookie sheet cool in the fridge for about an hour before trying to move them. 

I put them all on a fancy tray, and voila, instant dessert. Considering by the end of lunch, there were no leftovers, I think they went over pretty well.



Plus, I had some extra pretzels that I just couldn’t fit on the platter, that we had to eat.





Easy peasy! The neat part about these are that you can change the sprinkles according to the season. Red and green sprinkles for Christmas, orange for Halloween, etc. 

yummy. 



Sappy to Sweet… The Maple Syrup experiment-step 2

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Sappy to Sweet… The Maple Syrup experiment-step 2

So if you read my last post, this weekend we tapped into two maple trees on our property, and started collecting sap, one drip at a time.

Link to collecting sap from our Maple trees

When I woke up yesterday morning, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t run right outside (yes, in my PJ’s) to check my sap buckets. The one in the backyard was about halfway full! But, the one in the front only had about an inch. Overall, I would say there was about 5-6 litres. Here was the overnight haul, it’s hard to see, because the sap looks as clear as water, but the smaller pot was from the tree in our front yard.



I used a coffee filter to pour the sap through.



As you can see, there were a lot of little bits of sediment at the bottom of the pot.



I poured in about 6-8 cups of sap, then I turned on the stove at a medium heat and let it boil and boil….

And boil some more. And more. Note: I kept the stove/range fan on for most of the day as I have heard that the amount of moisture produced can do some damage to your house!

Kind of ironic, but I was thinking about going to a local sugar bush to see maple syrup being made with friends yesterday, but I couldn’t because I had to watch the pot boil. Watching a pot boil all day is actually not as much fun as you might think. Lol



I kept adding more sap as it reduced. I used a spoon to roughly measure, and everytime it reduced by half, I poured it a little more sap. I never let it get lower than about an inch. You can see in the below picture how it started changing colour and getting a little darker as it reduced. The smaller pot on the right was my boiling pot. 



It only took about 6 hours to reduce it…here is what it looked like towards the end.



You are supposed to use a thermometer to determine when the syrup is ready, but to be totally honest, by the time there was only about a centimeter left in the pot, I just couldn’t let any more boil away. I figured if it reduced any more, there wouldn’t even be enough for all of us to have on our pancakes. I thought it was better to have more syrup, even if it was runny syrup. Better runny than none!

At the bottom of the pot, there was some more sediment, so I strained it again through a coffee filter…



So, this is what 5 litres of sap turned into:



Liquid gold! I have to say, that I have a whole new appreciation for Maple Syrup now. God help anyone in my house who wastes a drop of maple syrup from now on! 

My friend dropped by late afternoon, and picked us up some syrup from the sugar bush, and we laughed at the tiny bottle, but in comparison, it doesn’t look so tiny!

Just to give you some perspective, the pot was 3/4 full with sap, and this is the bottle of syrup it produced.

So, let me give you a quick summary….

– About $40 in supplies, including the spigots, buckets, tubes, and drill bit

-About 10 hours to collect the sap

-About six hours of boiling time to reduce the sap to syrup

So, $40 plus 16 hours to make 1/2 a cup. Wow! 

But, the experience of now being able to say that I tapped our trees and made maple syrup from scratch….. Priceless! 

We did a taste test this morning with our signature chocolate chip pancakes…

Ms. Butterworts vs. The real maple syrup vs. Our maple syrup! 



It was pretty hard not to be a little biased here… But our syrup go four out of four votes (or at least no one dared to vote otherwise)



As you can see, it was a success. We still have quite a bit left after our morning pancakes … We could try making taffy, but I don’t know if I can bring myself to boil it down any more! 

So, I can check this off my bucket list. The problem is that my bucket list keeps getting longer… Isn’t it supposed to get shorter as you get older? I need to retire soon! 

Maple syrup…Step One! Don’t be Sappy! 

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Maple syrup…Step One! Don’t be Sappy! 

OK, I know I am never going to hear the end of this, but I’m going to try it anyways… We have four big beautiful maple trees on our property, and I have always wanted to try, so we’re gonna make our own Maple syrup! That being said, to make one litre of syrup, you need 40 litres of sap. So, I’m thinking we might end up with about a cup of maple syrup…. If we are lucky! Lol

I have been waiting for the weather to warm up, because you can’t tap the trees until the day time temperatures are above freezing. But, now finally, we have had a few days in a row where the temperature is above freezing! 

So, you can order maple syrup making supplies online, but I found a hardware store right around the corner that sells the taps. I bought two taps, two buckets with lids, and about 5-6 feet of plastic tubing. the buckets were less than five dollars each, and the spigots were three dollars, and the tubing was only a few dollars, so it’s pretty cheap to try. It will probably only cost about four times as much as a regular bottle of maple syrup, plus the countless hours it will take me to make! (Btw -john says I shouldn’t count my time because my time costs us nothing! Lol) 

As you can see in the above photo, I also bought a plastic tube, thinking that I might be able to use that as a tap as well, but I didn’t end up using the plastic ones.

We have two sugar maple trees in the front of our house, and two silver maple trees in the back. I did actually (surprisingly) do a bit of research on tree identification before I started. My plan was to collect sap from one tree in the front, and one in the back. Here is a picture sam took of the trees in our backyard.



The process is actually pretty easy to collect the sap. About three feet up, drill a hole 2-3 inches deep. I used a 7/16 drill bit.



If you wait about a minute after you drill, you should see the sap start to flow. On our first try, we got nothing. Pretty disappointing. But we tried the next tree, and within a minute, we had sap! So, we quickly hammered the spigot into the hole. (didn’t want to lose a drop!)



Look, sap! 

Then we connected the plastic tubing to the spigot, so the sap would flow directly into the bucket. Sam was my assistant and photographer today.

And of course, i had to drill a hole in the top of the bucket to accomodate the tubing.

Here’s what the set up looks like in the backyard!And in the front of our house:



I hope no one comes along and steals our sap! I think all of our neighbours already think I am crazy, so I’m not worried about that, but I’m thinking I might put a Please Do Not Touch sign on it…. 

Anyways, we went to the mall to pick up a present for a birthday party Sam had this afternoon, and by the time we got back, we had a couple inches of sap at the bottom of the bucket! It’s pretty cool, it looks just like water. The kids and I decided we want to try a little bit of the sap to see what it tastes like. I read online that you should boil it for about a minute before you drink it.



I also read online, that the sap should be boiled within a day, and spoils easily, so tomorrow morning, I’m going to try boiling it down into syrup. Apparently it takes quite a while, and creates a lot of moisture in the house, so I’ll have to keep a close eye on it and keep the fan on the stove on. Boy, is it lucky I don’t have anything else to do this weekend! Did I mention already that we are off work and school this week for March Break? I love being a teacher (in the middle of March, and July and August especially!) 

I’ll give you a syrup update as soon as I can to let you know how the next part of our syrup making journey goes!

Cheap and easy way to clean silver

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Cheap and easy way to clean silver

So I have been busy lately, but not so much making stuff in the past week…I have been working on clearing out the basement and dining room, and front room and closets… I have been donating and selling lots of online on Kijiji, and the local Facebook buy and sell pages.
In my quest to clean out the dining room, I came across a bunch of silver spoons. They were pretty tarnished, so whether I keep them or not, they need a clean. Here’s what they looked like before.

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So I guess you can’t see from the picture, but a few of them are solid silver, and a few are nickel plated and electro plated. I didn’t want to use a silver cleaner because I didn’t want to take off the plating.
So I did a little research and found that if you use a few cups of hot water, a couple tablespoons of water softener (I used Calgon), and a piece of tin foil, it was supposed to safety clean silver.
So I filled the sink with hot, hot water. Then, lined the bottom with tinfoil, and added a couple tablespoons of Calgon.

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I let them sit for a few minutes, and here is what happened…

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Can you see the half that was submerged?

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Just to remind you…here was less than 10 minutes before…

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So, of course, I dug through some of my jewelery, and found a few things that needed a little polishing….

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And gave them a little soak…

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The results were not quite as dramatic as the silverware, but they did shine up nicely.
But, the great thing was that it required very little polishing. I did wipe them down with a cotton cloth, after soaking, but I didn’t have to scrub at all. There were a couple of the pieces that I had to put into soak for a few extra minutes, but they cleaned up pretty well.
The thing is that I now have a whole box of Calgon water softener leftover! What do I do with all of that water softener? If anyone close to me wants to clean some silver I would be happy to share!