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Maple Syrup – The Sweetest Season

It’s a special time of year in the North East. All over the place people are bringing out their drills, taps, buckets or lines and boiling equipment to get ready for the earliest harvest of the year. Billions of  gallons of watery sap will be collected from maple trees by large companies, small farms and even some adventurous home owners to be boiled, and boiled, and boiled to yield sweet amber syrup.

100% maple syrup is an amazing treat. It’s the best topping for pancakes (obviously), baked apples,  roasted sweet potatoes and chicken; I could go on forever. My favorite syrup is grade B or simply put, the dark stuff. It’s thicker and has a much stronger flavor. I’ve never been able to stomach the fake stuff, truth be told, I don’t understand why any one would want it! I remember checking sap buckets on my grandparents farm when I was little (I always felt sad for the ants that fell in the buckets and drown) and for the last 8 years I’ve (somewhat) helped my mother-in-law with her sap collection and boiling.

Of all the farming ventures I’ve been a part of maple syrup has a special place in my heart. There is no way to control the maple season. It comes when it wants, it lasts as long (or short) as it wants and you only get one shot. All the technology in the world can’t make it come earlier or last longer. It’s a truly wild industry. In a world where it seems like every one is obsessing over the next new iphone it’s incredibly refreshing to know that there is something we can’t control with the click of a button. Advancements in the boiling process have shortened the trip from sap to syrup but the basic process remains the same.

In The Sugarbush

In honor of the short and sweet sugaring season here is some maple syrup trivia:

  • It takes 30-40 years for a tree to grow large enough to be tapped
  • Sap ‘runs’ during the warm early spring days when the temperature is above freezing and the night temperatures drop back below 32 degrees
  • It takes 40-45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup
  • Vermont makes 7% of the worlds supply of maple syrup
  • There is a “Maple Syrup Cartel” in Canada and it was robbed of $18 million worth of syrup in 2011-12
  • The syrup season is over when the buds break (open)
  • Maple syrup can be boiled further to make maple candy, maple sugar, maple cream, maple butter and other sugary treats
  • Maple syrup was used as a sweetener by abolitionists before the Civil War because molasses and cane sugar were made by slaves
  • A stand of maple trees tapped for syrup are called a “sugar bush”, the building where the sap is boiled is called a “sugar shack” or “sugar house”

 

 

Simple Tip for Professional Photos

Let me start by saying I am by no means a photography master. But between shooting for my blog and my job I’ve picked up a few tips here and there. Any photographer will tell you that lighting is key to a good picture. Unwanted shadows can ruin a great shot. When I’m shooting objects (like my un-twistable necklaces) I like to set up shot next to a window with indirect sunlight. Natural light will always give you the best pictures BUT you don’t want direct sun. Direct sunlight will bleach out your photos and eliminate the subtle details that make things interesting. This is my basic set up:

Make shift photo studio

Indirect light isn’t as bright as direct light (yes, you can call me Captain Obvious) so very often half of your subjects will be shadowed. BUT have hope my friends! I can help you eliminate those shadows without spending a dime. All you need is something white, I use the white cardboard lid to a file box, it’s deep enough to stand up on it’s own so 9 times out of 10 I can plop it where I need it and start shooting.

Here is an example:

cardboard reflector

I took both of these pictures from the same exact place (on a tripod) with the same exact camera settings (Aperture priority, F6.3). Can you see the differences? Look again:

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Distressed Sign Song Art

DIY Sign Tutorial

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Fonts on the First: Super Sweet Fonts

Welcome to your monthly dose of font love! Whether you’re whipping up a batch of valentines, some sweet subway art or just happen to love typography.

Some super sweet heart fonts:

  Heart Fonts part 1

4 My LoverAlphaShapes Hearts*, Heartland*, Hearts BRK*, I Love What You DoJellyka Love and Passion

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