Spring Photography

Hello, my friends!

I have lots of springy photos for today’s post! Spring has taken its time arriving here, we got some snow in April, and then it’s been cold and rainy most days. But it’s finally starting to warm up and starting to feel actually like spring.

Anyway, enough of an intro. 😀 Enjoy a bit of spring!!

Aww, I love the little water droplets on these little green plant. They look almost like little crystals. 🙂

Hehe, I was asking Mom about ideas to describe this plant and she put it as “A budding weed”. . . Anyhow, for some odd reason, its shape vaguely reminds me of a rose. 😅

Chewy, one of our dogs, came with me while I took a lot of these pictures. She did not agree with pausing for me to take a picture of her, she just kept running in circles. Finally, Mercy came to the rescue and got her to sit still. These all make me laugh, especially the third picture. :’D

The trees are always beautiful to watch bloom; especially this cherry blossom tree! 💛 😊

A friend of my Mom gave her all of these solar light bulbs, and for some reason, I love taking pictures of them. They are just so clear and still which is one reason I love them and then add in the tree with all of its tiny green buds. It’s perfect in my opinion. 😁

My mom’s friend also gave her these lovely lanterns; I love the woods and trees behind them. 😊

I love the lighting in this picture!! Along with the moss on the rock next to it. The actual plant isn’t very pretty but I love the rest of the picture.

This is more of the moss I showed above. For some reason, this reminds me of some sort of fairy village or something like that. :’D

The leaves on this plant are really neat in my opinion.

This is just another really pretty leaf picture that I too! I love all of the little “designs” on this leaf. It’s so interesting to see how different yet how similar all of the leaves are.

Because of our very slow start to spring, most of the flowers haven’t bloomed yet. But, we have plenty of these daffodils! I already shared pictures of them in my last post–And I may have almost reached the point where I’ve taken too many pictures of them. . .

A few days ago, we got a lot of rain and thunderstorms. After it rained, we went out to the creek and played since it was running really fast and hard. That was a lot of fun! I love all of these rocks making little waterfalls in the water.

I took this picture a few days later when it was bright and sunny! Look at how much clearer it is. It’s fun to see how the water changes during the different seasons and weather.

Ahh, some little waterfalls. This is part of the creek dam that my younger siblings built a while ago.

The bridge with all the green and the creek reminds me of something from a movie–Last time I walked across this bridge I almost fell off but thankfully, Mercy rescued me. (Apparently, Mercy is very heroic in this post :D)

Oooh, I love all the green and the rocks in this picture, and the creek of course. It’s so peaceful and quiet over there. (Except for yesterday, when there were all of these birds down there picking worms from under the leaves. That was really fun to watch but I didn’t have my camera so no pictures. 😦 )

Mmm, this mushroom is actually pretty in my opinion! I never really thought that fungi could be pretty but I love the gold mushroom against the rustic-looking wood. ❤

My younger siblings found a caterpillar a few days ago when we were walking. It’s so tiny and fluffy.

What was your favorite picture from this post? What’s your favorite thing about spring? What do you think about the description of “A budding weed”?

Thank you so much for reading and have a lovely day, friends!!

9 tips to be more productive

Hello, friends! 

I have a different post today than my usual posts — It’s a bit more practical. Today, I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips for being productive. Along with some pretty flower photos because why not?

Do a brain dump

This is something that really helps me if I have a lot to do but can’t focus. — Writing down a tumble of things I need to do helps me remember exactly what I need to do and how much I have that needs done.

Make a list 

I usually do this once I do my brain dump — It helps me get a more organized plan of what I need to do and start doing it. One of my favorite ways to organize lists is by these three categories “Want to do”, “Should do”, and “Must do” It makes me get my priorities straight and get done what I need to do. 

Tidy up your space 

Cleaning up your space and organizing is always helpful to get you going and be productive. You won’t have to stop to look for things if your space is clean and you can see where everything is. 

Go for a walk

Getting fresh air, even when it’s cold out, is so important and it will help you be a lot more productive if you get some fresh air, it will definitely give you a nice break. Stretching your legs is always helpful. Plus, if you’re working on a computer, it’s good to get a quick break from that screen. There are a ton of benefits from going outside and moving. 

Open a window 

As long as it’s warm enough, opening a window is always a great choice — especially if you’re on crunch time and don’t have time to go take a break for a walk. You can still get some fresh air right from your workspace. 

Drink Water 

I’m sure you knew this one  — But staying hydrated will boost your productivity and get you moving. :’D 

Listen to music (Or an audiobook) 

Listening to music can be really helpful to get you going and get moving! Listening to audiobooks are also fun too. My personal favorite is audiobook because I love reading and you can do it at the same time, but music can definitely help boost your motivation more. 

Give yourself a goal

If you have something to work towards, it will make you want to work and get you to be more productive. This is also helpful if you make a list, give yourself the goal of finishing your list. For extra points, give yourself a reward once you finish it. Maybe it’s chocolate or something else completely. But give yourself something to work towards!  

Just do it 

Honestly, this is the best tip I have. Just jumping in and getting started is the best thing you can do. Just using one or two of these ideas 

I hope all of these tips can be helpful to you, friends! ❤ 

What are some of your favorite productivity tips? How do you get stuff done? Let’s talk in the comments! 

Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for reading! 

How to make a spring wreath {+ Giveaway winners}

Hello, my friends!

I am super excited for today’s post (How unusual!), my mom and I had a lot of fun making a spring wreath for our house, and I thought it would be fun to teach you guys how to too.

I spent some time on Pinterest looking for inspiration. I was amazed at how expensive wreaths can be to buy premade! Wreaths are really simple, and not very expensive, plus they are just so pretty and fun to look at. But before we get onto that, I want to announce my giveaway’s winner. . .

rose q addams

Congratulations, Rose!! I’ll email you as soon as possible. 😀

Thank you all so much for entering! I really enjoyed hosting this giveaway and hopefully, I’ll do another one again sometime soon.

How to make your own SPRING

For those who didn’t win, hopefully seeing a beautiful spring wreath and even making one of your own will cheer you up. ❤ =D

**Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you buy something off of my link, the price won’t change for you but I get a small commission for advertising and you get to support this blog for free.**

tHE SUPPLIES

Here’s what you need to make a wreath of your own:

Peonies

We bought these exact flowers off of Amazon and we were able to use just the leaves that were already on the flowers instead of buying new greenery. They are really pretty too!

(I forgot to get a picture before we pulled the leaves off — That’s why there aren’t any leaves on them)
An 18-inch grape-vine wreath

I linked one from Amazon, but I’d recommend buying from some place like Hobby Lobby or Joanne’s or any other craft store because they will be much cheaper – We bought one from Joanne’s on sale for about 4 dollars per wreath, so you can definitely find one cheaper.

A GLUE GUN + Glue Sticks

Just any simple glue gun will do for gluing the leaves onto the wreath.

wIRE Cutter

You’ll probably need this for cutting down the stems on the flowers because as I’ve found, scissors do not usually work.

That’s it for supplies! See what I meant about it being simple?

HOW TO MAKE the wreath

Step 1: Gather all your materials together and lay them out

This will make it easier when you are making the wreath so you don’t have to go and grab things as you work.

I once again didn’t get a picture of this step. I need to get more pictures apparently. :’D

Step two: Remove the leaves // greenery off the peonies & Cut the flower stems down

I removed the leaves by sliding them off the stems. I left about 4 inches of stem on each flower to allow enough room for tucking into the wreath.

Step three: Start gluing the leaves to the wreath.

I glued the leaves down. I mostly glued them to the outside. I just put a dot of hot glue right on the back of each individual leaf and stuck it down the way I wanted it. There are some little leafy sprigs that I put glue on the bottom of the stem and then I tucked into the wreath.

sTEP Four: Tuck in the Flowers

Once you have finished gluing all of the leaves around the wreath, go on and start sticking the flowers in.

Step six: find a place to hang up your wreath

You can basically hang your wreath wherever you want it — The most common place is a door of course, but we already have wreaths on our doors, so I hung it up in my room. You can also put it on a mirror or over a mantel. Just put it somewhere where you will enjoy seeing it!

Have you ever made your own wreath? Does it feel like spring where you’re at? What is your favorite spring flower?

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial and have a chance to make your own wreath! Thanks so much for reading, friends, and have a wonderful day!

Sapping {Part three} + the Giveaway

Hello, friends!

Can you believe it? We made it to the last post in my Sapping series – In case you missed the other posts, you can check them out here {Part One}, and here {Part Two}.

The last post in this series is going to be about the boiling process and a bit about finishing and filtering it. With the giveaway sign-ups and rules at the end, so hang on until we get there. ☺︎

The finishing process

We’re going to start with finishing it off at home! This is while it’s on the turkey cooker, and my mother and I were checking the BRIX reading. It needs to be up to 59 BRIX before we pull it off. We finished syrup both on our evaporator (larger batches) and some on our propane burner (Also known as a turkey cooker).

Once it reaches 59, we pull it off the heat as quickly as possible and put it back into a bucket, and get the lid on it right away. Once the season was almost finished, we loaded all of the syrup that we had boiled (We’ve done multiple rounds of boiling to finish all of the syrup.) into the car to bring it to our friends who have filtering and bottling equipment.

They taught my dad how to do it and then he filtered and bottled 9 gallons. We also had 2 more gallons that we didn’t filter. Some of it had so much sugar sand that it would clog the filter and once the batch was finished after my dad went and bottled it. Mom finished that herself and filtered it at home the best she could.

Filtering and Bottling

I don’t have many pictures from here because we did this at a friend’s house and I didn’t go because I was babysitting for my cousins, but I asked my dad to get pictures and he did. The first step of filtering and bottling is to heat the syrup up to 185 degrees. There are three reasons for this:

1. Heating thins the syrup so that it will go through the filter.

2. Heating kills all the bacteria so the bottled syrup stays fresh and delicious.

3. Heating makes the foil inside the cap seal with the bottle.

This is the filter that it goes through. It removes any impurities that develop during the boiling process. Sugar sand is the main impurity which is build-up minerals that clump together during the boiling process. There is also a small number of other things like dirt and bark that may end up in the sap.

Now that we use our reverse osmosis filtering system the amount of other impurities is very limited but we are boiling outside so there is definitely some debris that needs to be filtered.

This is the bottler! It has its own heating system and it is set to 190 degrees. The bottle lids come with a foil seal attached. The temperature causes the foil seal to be pulled down and sealed tightly to the top of the glass bottle.

Once it’s finished getting filtered, the final product. Ahh, it looks so good all finished and bottled! It’s crazy to think that just a bit ago, that was all clear and watery looking.

To end the season, we drove around on the Ranger (Well I drove and my mom and Mercy rode!) and pulled out taps. We ended up with about 11 gallons — (if we hadn’t burned our first boil we would have had a huge season but that is the cost of learning!)

We didn’t make the most maple syrup this season but we learned how to do it all on our own and that is priceless! We all really enjoyed being part of the boiling and finishing process. It is really exciting when you see the end of gallons and gallons of sap finally and almost magically become maple syrup.

And now the part you’ve all been waiting for . . .

The Giveaway!

What the winner will receive:

  • A half-pint of this year’s syrup
  • Homemade Maple candy.
  • A custom magnet with my favorite picture from this year’s season on it!

The rules and instructions before you enter:

  • The giveaway is only open to U.S. residents – I’m so sorry, guys! Shipping in the U.S. is already expensive enough as it is. ☹️
  • If you’re under 18, please get a parent’s permission before entering since I’ll need your address if you win to send you your prize.
  • The Giveaway starts today, the 22nd, and ends at midnight on the 27th. I will announce the winner in my next post, and I will email them. If the winner doesn’t respond by May 6th, I will have to pick a different winner. =D
  • Once you enter, there are plenty of ways to earn bonus entries — There is a list on the giveaway page once you enter. ☺︎

Now, go for it! Click the button below to enter!

What was your favorite post in this series? Have you ever made maple candy?

Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day!

Lots of tags! {Catching up on blog tags}

Hello, my friends!

I’ve got a lot of blog tags to catch up on, and since I don’t want all of my posts to be tags, I thought I’d make a post combining all of them together. Along with some mossy-creek photos I took a few days ago.

Enjoy!

The Bookworm Tag!

I’ve actually been tagged twice for this, once by Joelle and then again by Anna. Thank you so much, girls!

The Rules:

  1. Thank and link the blogger who nominated you.  ✓
  2. Include the tag graphic in your post ✓
  3. Answer the ten questions the blogger asked ✓
  4. Nominate between five and ten bloggers ✓
  5. Ask your nominees ten book-related questions! ✓
  6. Don’t feel bound to these rules ✓
  7. (Most importantly) Have fun! ✓

**Note: I’m going to skip a few questions because I have so many other ones to answer, as well as just tag everyone at once at the end of the post.**

Paperback, hardback, audiobook, or ebook?

I love audiobooks, but hardback wins.

What is the ideal length of a series for you?

Mm, at least 12 books, maybe 15. But if it’s a series I love, there could never be enough.

What is a series you want to read that is high on your to-be-read list?

I really want to finish The Women of the West series by Janette Oke – I read the first book, but I haven’t read any of the other books in the series.

If you could choose five characters to put in a book together, who would they be and why?

Ooh, I love this question! Holly from Holly’s Heart, Jane from The Penderwicks, Emily from The Calling of Emily Evans, Claudia from From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and I’m not sure who else. That would be a very interesting, and chaotic book.

My Questions:

  • Has a book ever changed your life?
  • What’s your favorite genre to read?
  • What’s the first book you remember reading?
  • What’s your least favorite book?
  • Are there any books that are really popular but you dislike?
  • Are there any books that are considered terrible but are your secret pleasure?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • Do you have an all-time favorite book character?
  • How do you pick books to read?
  • How many books do read a month?

THe Never Have I ever Tag

Once again, Joelle tagged me again for this one – Thanks, Joelle!

To begin, the rules!

  • Link and thank the blogger who tagged you. ✓
  • Include the graphic somewhere in the post (or make your own!) ✓
  • Answer the questions truthfully and honestly. ✓
  • Tag 3 bloggers. ✓

Never have I ever. . .

STARTED A NOVEL THAT I DIDN’T FINISH.

Nope! Strange, but I have never done this. I always complete my projects for some reason – I can’t not finish them.

WRITTEN A STORY COMPLETELY BY HAND

Yes! I’ve done it multiple times actually, not a whole novel, but short stories. I used to draft a lot of my blog posts by hand too, but I’ve stopped doing that.

NOT RESEARCHED ANYTHING BEFORE STARTING A STORY.

*shakes head* I mainly write historical fiction. . . And bad things happen if you don’t research before you write a historical fiction story, so the answer is no. :’D

CHANGED MY PROTAGONIST’S NAME HALFWAY THROUGH A DRAFT

I’ve changed my whole cast of characters one time. 😛

WRITTEN A STORY IN A MONTH OR LESS.

I’ve done this! A lot of my stories I write in less than a month.

What writer doesn’t do that? So yes, I’ve done it a lot.

USED “I’M WRITING” AS AN EXCUSE.

So many times. 😜

PROCRASTINATED HOMEWORK BECAUSE I WANTED TO WRITE

Well, I’m homeschooled so I don’t really have homework, but I have written instead of doing school a few times.

Finished A Novel

Kind of? I mainly write middle-grade, so I have finished a novel for my standards, but an actual 50k novel, no. The closest I’ve come is 35K, but I’ve never actually aimed for 50K on a story.

The Sunshine Blogger Tag

This is the last one, I promise! Tasha nominated me for this, so thank you so much, Tasha. ❤

The rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog ✓
  • Answer the questions ✓
  • Nominate eleven bloggers and ask them eleven questions ✓

The Questions:

If you could spend a day with one author, who would it be?

Ooh, let’s go with Beverly Lewis. I love her writing.

You can go to any college or university all expenses paid, where are you going?

I don’t really want to go to college, I’m hoping to do the Author Conservatory instead, so I guess that if that counts.

What three books would you take to an abandoned island?

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke, and Holly’s Heart by Beverly Cleary.

Love triangles, yes or no?

No, When Calls the Heart taught me to hate love triangles.

Do you need sleep to function?

Yes, very much so. I have terrible days if I don’t get enough sleep.

The qUESTions

  • What website or app do you spend the most time on? 
  • Do you like car rides?
  • Can you drive/are you learning to drive/do you like driving?
  • Have you ever been unconscious before?
  • Favorite flower?
  • Do you like listening to music while studying or doing other things? If so, what kind?
  • What are your favorite girl or boy names?
  • What does your morning/evening routine look like?
  • What’s something you’re oddly passionate about?
  • Do you have any hidden talents?
  • Do you like listening to music while studying or doing other things? If so, what kind?

My Tags

We’ve made it to the end! Feel free to pick one of these tags to do, because I don’t expect you to do all of them, but you can if you want to, of course.

Thank you for reading, friends, and have a wonderful day!

Monthly Review: March 2022

Hello, friends!

**Please note that this post contains affiliate links — If you buy something from my link, the price won’t change for you but I’ll get a small commission and you get to support this blog for free!**

Happy April! Today, I bring you my Monthly Review for March. I hope you enjoy reading!

Writing

As writing goes, my friend Anna and I finished the project we’ve been working on for months now called Love Times Two – It’s a little over 10K, which was about the word count we were aiming for. As of right now, we’re working on editing. We may indie-publish it later down the road, but we’ll see. This project has been so much fun to write, and I am blessed to have such an amazing co-author. ❤

I’ve finally made some progress in my main work in progress (WIP), The Bensons – I’ve been trying to get the motivation to just sit down and write on this project, and I finally did that. I wrote almost 5K on it the past two weeks. (Which is a low word count for me, but I’m getting somewhere I think!)

I finished my article for The Young Writer Blog and submitted it! Right now, I’m just waiting for it to be published, I’m hoping it will be sometime this month, but we’ll see. That’s been a lot of fun and hard work to write, but I’ve really enjoyed the process.

That wraps up writing for this month!

Reading

I’ve done a lot of reading this month again; I just got some books from the Library too when my younger siblings went to get their library cards. A few of my favorite books from this month:

The Line Tender by Kate Allen

This book was amazing! A friend recommended it to me a few months ago, and I finally got around to reading it.

The wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

I had to read this for school; I was kind of dreading reading it because I haven’t enjoyed a lot of the books I’ve had to read this year, but wow. I was wrong! This book might be one of my new favorites, at least one of my favorite middle-grade mysteries. If you’re looking for another historical fiction, middle-grade mystery, this book is for you. I also really enjoyed the audiobook version of it too.

the teacher’s funeral by Richard Peck

This book was really hilarious in a lot of different ways, but with a good plot too. Like The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, I was not expecting to enjoy this, but once again, I surprised myself and I did! Apparently, I need to slow down in my judging books by their covers, yes?

Annie’s war by Jacqueline Levering Sullivan

I’m not yet finished with this one but I’ve really enjoyed it so far. It has a really interesting plot, and it carries an intriguing message. I’m really excited to finish it and see how it ends.

Doing

Goodness, a lot happened in March! A few highlights:

Our trip to Lutsen! This was a super fun trip, and it was such a blessing to be able to go and ski there again. You can check out my blog post on it if you want to hear about it more.

We also had our last ski trip of the season too! We snuck in one more trip the week after we went to Lutsen, it was so slushy; there were puddles at the end of a lot of the runs, but I guess that’s what it’s like when you ski in the Midwest in March. :p By the end of the day, we were skiing with no gloves – And Malachi and Tyler, our cousin, skied in short-sleeved shirts the whole day. It was so warm!

We made pretzels one afternoon which was quite fun! I’d been wanting to bake them again for a while, and I finally got my chance.

All the younger kids enjoyed helping roll them out and getting them into pretzel shapes.

Ahh, they turned out amazing! Some of them lost shape in the baking soda bath, but other than that, they were great. We used this recipe in case anyone is looking for a good pretzel recipe.

I’ve also helped a lot with tapping trees for making syrup! I’ve already done two posts on this, so I’m not going to go into detail. You can read Part One here, and Part Two here. (Keep an eye out for the third and final post coming up along with signs ups for the syrup give-away.)

It’s been awfully cold the past few days, we’ve gotten a lot of rain, snow, and hail, with few sunny days. One time we had all four of them together! The weather here can be so weird at times. But the cold weather hasn’t discouraged my younger siblings from getting out their bikes. I even have had to face the cold because I was so tired of being in the house all the time. So Mercy and I have taken a lot of walks, and there has been multiple soccer games and capture the flag too.

I wrote a lot of letters this month too, around 10 I think. I also got a second penpal too which is super fun.

I got a new set of watercolors too which have been a lot of fun to try out too. :’D

That’s about it! I ended up having a very busy March, hopefully, April will be slower, but I doubt that with Track starting up for my older siblings. 😜

How did your March go? Have you ever baked soft pretzels? What’s the weather like where you are, do you have Spring or are you still waiting?

Thanks so much for reading, friends! ❤

Photography Challenge: collab with Alicia

Hello, my friends!

For today’s post, I have a collab I am super excited about! A few weeks ago, I asked Alicia @ Alicia Marentette if she wanted to do a collab, and she agreed – We decided on doing a photography challenge where come up with a list of things to photograph, and share the photos! So that’s what I will be sharing today.

To get started, here’s a list of all the things we took photos of.

Time for the real photos now.

1. Spring

To be honest, I had a really hard time finding a photo in this category. Spring is not here yet; it’s been in the 30s all week, and it was hard finding something springy. But then, one of my younger siblings found this little bird’s nest on the ground. I definitely think of seeing birds building their nests as part of spring.

2. fLOWERs

Ooh, I love these flowers! It’s actually an old photo because as I mentioned above, we do not have any flowers blooming yet. It’s so pretty though!


3. Sunset

Mmm, this sunset is gorgeous. Sunsets are some of my favorite things as you have probably already figured out by now – I love the clouds in this one.

4. morning SKY

This is honestly one of my absolute favorite photos ever. ❤ It was such a beautiful (And early) morning to be out on the beach to see the sunrise. And the trees too.

5. Animal

This is from one of trips to Lutsen a few years ago. It was really neat being able to go that close to this seagull so we could get a picture. He was just sitting there on the railing while we were up looking at the view, and I just snapped a photo.

6. Colorful

I wasn’t sure what to use for this one; then my Mom had the idea to take the kids out to our monkey line that we all got our birthdays last summer and get a picture there. I love how it turned out, and it is definitely very colorful.

7. Clouds

I always love looking at clouds – One of my favorite things to do is just to lay down in the grass and stare up at the clouds. (When the grass is dry, and there are no siblings with soccer balls nearby that is.)

8. Books

I just got some new books from the library, and they were perfect to grab a picture of! Have you read any of these books?

9. RAIN

I’m not sure if this one counts. . .I realized too late that I didn’t have any photos of rain, so this was the closest I could come. It’s a mud puddle from when all of the snow melted and it rained, so I think it counts?

10. Roads

Ahh, I love this one! These two roads are glorious in the morning when the sun’s shining, and that morning was no different. I love the shadows especially.

12. Peaceful

Kook at water droplets coming off the wave. And even though I’ve said this multiple times about the photos in this post, I love this – Especially the icy/crystal look to the wave.

13. Artsy

I had a really hard time deciding what to use for this – Finally, after coming up with a bunch of ideas, but none of them seeming like they would fit, I decided to look up some inspiration. I found this photo of the ice on our creek melting, and it seemed to the fit the “artsy” look. What do you think? Is it artsy?

14. Water

I have so many favorite pictures of water that it took me a while to decide. But I picked this one because I love the lighthouse and the bridge.

15. Indoor

I LOVE the shadows and the light here.. One afternoon I noticed the hydrangeas shadows from the outside shining through the window, it was so pretty! This is probably my favorite indoor photo I’ve taken.

And that’s it for the day! Did you enjoy seeing all of these different photos? Which one was your favorite?

Before you go, make sure to check out Alicia’s post here.

Have a beautiful day, friends!

Sapping {Part Two}

Hello, friends!

I hope you are all having a lovely week! Today, I bring you the next part in my tapping trees series. If you missed part one, you can check it out right here.

(This post is shorter than usual to due to some internet problems. That is also why this post is out on Monday instead of Friday. )

Once we tap the trees, we have to do multiple rounds of collecting each week. We usually go up two-three times a week and bring buckets of sap down.

We first run around checking buckets in our main grove and seeing which ones have sap in them. Zekey is over heading over to check buckets in this picture.

Once we check the buckets, we bring new (empty) buckets over and pull the full buckets off the trees.

Then, we pour the sap into an empty bucket.

Once it’s in, we put a lid on it and carry it over to the Ranger. (Before we had our Ranger, we would carry all the buckets down the hill.)

From there, we load up the buckets and repeat with each of the trees.

One evening, we went collecting right as the sun was setting, it was so pretty! I love how the sun is shining through the trees here.

And also, this one! All the pine-trees make it even more beautiful. ❤

Once we’re done with the collecting, we drive all the buckets down in the Ranger and bring them into the mudroom, where we have our Reverse Osmosis (RO) set up. And for this part, we have a video! It’s not the greatest, but you get the picture from watching it. So here it is!

Did you enjoy the video? I hope it was interesting and made sense. =D The reverse osmosis process removes about half of the water from the sap. Typically in reverse osmosis one would want to keep the clear freshwater, but in our case, we want to keep the sweet more concentrated sap instead.

After we run it through the RO, we bring it back outside to the boiler. The sap sits in a large pan (about 3 feet by 3 feet and 12 inches deep) on top of the stove. We boil the sap so it lets out steam for the sugar content to increase and the water content to decrease. It takes about 35-40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.

It takes a LOT of wood, so dad and the twins were splitting it while we were boiling.

We keep adding sap to the boiler as it boils to continue the process of removing water. We boiled for about 13 hours to boil around 80 gallons of sap into about 4 gallons of syrup. (The RO removed the first 80 gallons of water for us.)

And we’re going to stop there! In the next post in this series, I’ll share the bottling and finishing process, as well as the sign-up for the giveaway. Expect that in the next two or three weeks!

What’s your favorite thing to put syrup on? Do you have any questions about the process?

Thank you so much for reading, friends, and have a wonderful day!

A Family Vacation at Lutsen

Hello, my friends!

Last week, my family and I went on a vacation to Lutsen, Minnesota to ski, enjoy God’s wonderful creation, and have a bit of an escape from everyday life. We had a lovely time and it was wonderful to ski up there again. Today, I’m going to be posting some of the photos I took, as well as a few of the adventures we had. It’s going to be quite a long post, so get ready!

We started the 7-8 hour trip off at 6 o’clock in the morning. We drove for about 15 minutes, and then we came across this sign and had to turn back around, because of water on the road. It had rained the night before and the rivers had escaped it’s banks.

After that little adventure, we were back on the road–backtracking our original route and going in the opposite direction and then finally getting headed on a road in the right direction that wasn’t flooded.

I loaned Zekey my pens, and notebook and he thoroughly enjoyed coloring, while all of the other kids slept.

After about 3 hours of driving, we stopped at a Kwik Trip to get gas, and grab some donuts for breakfast.

It was so foggy out! ^^

While we drove, I amused myself by finishing up a letter to one of my pen pals. A great way to make the time pass!

Once I finished my letter, I just sat and watched the scenery go by. Look at how tall this tree is.

We took our second stop at Olive Garden for lunch. We decided to get carry out to get back on the road faster. Eating in a car with 9 other people is a bit chaotic, but it was delicious.

Once we had finished lunch, we got right back to driving again. I’ve always loved driving through this city because of how much there is to look at it and you can see Lake Superior almost everywhere. We’ve only driven through a few times, so it’s always interesting and you are always seeing something new. We drove over this huge bridge which I thought was really cool!

There were all of these cute little cottages along the edge of the Lake.

Ooh, these factories are always something to see–Look at all cranes and that huge boat!

We always pass through this really neat tunnel called Silver Creek Cliff. (Wait, is that the name of the tunnel or the cliff? Maybe both. :’D)

The view from inside the tunnel

Once we were out of the city, and tunnel, the view isn’t as interesting. It’s wooded and you can see the lake occasionally through the trees. So, I got a turn with the iPad and read some of my friends’ blog posts that I’ve been meaning to catch up on.

After a bit, we could see the lake more! I love this picture! It’s a bit blurry, as a lot of the other ones are because I took these out the car window, but I do like it a lot still. It was so cloudy out!

Then, I worked on writing my blog post for that week!

Sorry for the terrible photo. 😦

At long last, we reached out destination, Lutsen Mountains!

Once we had checked in, we went to our condo and started unpacking. I took this random photo of lights, I LOVED the shadows//reflection it was making on the ceiling. Look at the trees!

After that, we ate supper, and then went ice skating! The rink was really nice, and it was really fun to skate since our town doesn’t have an ice rink anymore, and we haven’t tried skating on our pond yet.

It was so pretty down there! Look at all the lights!

There was also a fire going which was really nice since it was quite cold out.

Once we got on our skates, we all had to remember how to ice skate. Luke and Levi took a few spills before they caught on since they hadn’t skated every before.

I love this one of Jewel! She looks so happy. At first, she was very nervous, but the more we skated, she got a lot more confident.

We skated three times that trip! Everyone was too tired and it was too cold the last two nights we were there, so we didn’t skate those nights. Having the rink there was really fun since the other times we had come, it was a puddle!

We skied the next morning, and here is when the photos are in chronological order anymore. Mom wanted to get a picture like we do at the lake each year (Check out my “About” to see it!) I love how this one turned out.

Ahh, look at the view. It was glorious up there, God created a very beautiful world. ❤

The whole trip is quite exciting, but then there’s the gondola which adds to the excitement. It’s the only one in the Midwest too and it is the only way to get across from one mountain to the other, so we rode it at least once a day. It’s such a beautiful ride, but a bit terrifying at the beginning because it feels like you are about to drop down this cliff, but then you just coast along.

This one of Mal is probably one of my favorite photos out of this whole post. Dad wanted to try to get it with Malachi bending his skies, and I’d as he was successful. He thought it would be really fun to have the lake in the background.

Photo credit to Dad ^^

Aww, these shadows are so pretty! I believe I took them from on the gondola. They are a lot like the ones the light made on the ceiling.

One day in the late afternoon, Dad, Mercy, and I went out to get ice cream, and hopefully get some close-up photos of the lake. Getting the ice cream went fine, we stopped at this cute little general store that sold practically everything, from postcards to groceries, but getting the photos of the lake didn’t.

^^The ice cream

We wanted to go to the park we had been to the year before, but when we drove by, it wasn’t plowed at all and Dad didn’t want to risk getting stuck in there. So for about fifteen minutes, we drove looking for a place, and then once we found none, we decided to turn around. Well, apparently Minnesota doesn’t have many good side roads to turn around in, at least Hightway 61 North didn’t. We drive for a while longer and thought we were going to hit the Canadian Border before we were able to turn around.

Thankfully, we found a road to turn into, but that caused a bit more chaos. There was no dead end sign, but after about 10 minutes of just driving along, we started to wonder if it was a lane which mean it was a dead end. And of course, we didn’t have service so there was no way to look on Dad’s phone. But finally, the road ended, and we were able to get back onto the highway, and head toward the condo.

That was definitely a chaotic (and fun) adventure. Except I am a bit disappointed that we never got any pictures of the lake. Oh well, there was a pretty sunset to make up for it.

I also got post cards to send to my friends and penpals! I had a lot of fun writing them out.

Ooh, I love this sign! Moose Mountain is what one of the four mountains here is called.

The afternoon before we left, we drove up to the top of the mountain, and got a family picture. I also snapped these ones while we are there. The view was beautiful, and the ski was so blue. It almost blends in with the lake.

Ooh, you can see the gondala right there!

I love this one of the whole mountain.

This honestly doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the other photos, but there were these really pretty flowers in the snow by the top. I wonder what they look like in the summer when they are blooming and not brown and dry from winter.

We loaded up and headed home one morning at the end of the week after skiing in the morning. We were supposed to stop partway through the trip, and stay overnight so we could have more time to ski that day, but it was SO cold out that we decided not too, and just drive home. I don’t have a lot of pictures from the way home, but I do have a few.

We stopped at Olive Garden again and this time, went inside for lunch. It was really a nice way to end the trip. It was the first time we had really eaten inside a restaurant since the beginning of COVID and me and mom were wondering if any of the younger kids would remember how to eat in a a restaurant. But they did for the most part and they meal past uneventfully.

It was so sunny out and the lake was so pretty!

We drove by this really cool clock tower//building on the way home.

We had a beautiful sunset as the end of our trip set in. The last few hours of the trip seemed to go on forever, but we survived. We got a new audiobook(The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall. for anyone who’s wondering.) and listened to that. Eventually, all the younger kids fell asleep, and I tried to do some writing, but we had no service, so my document wouldn’t load. Then I just sat. We got home around 8:30-9ish, and went straight to bed.

It was a lovely trip, but I was ready to come home at the end. I am very thankful to God that we are able to go and ski. A nice break from what we usually do!

Have you ever been to Lutsen? Or rode a gondola? Or taken a long road trip? Have you read any of the Penderwick books? What did you think?

Thank you SO much for reading, friends, and have a wonderful day!

P.S. I’m getting very close to hitting 100 followers on my Newsletter! If you aren’t already subscribed, or just following through WordPress, I’d love to have you on board. You can join by signing up right here: https://thehomeschooledgirl.ck.page/0217c0cd50

Monthly Review: February 2022

**Note: My newsletter once again decided to send while I was still working on sending it and I didn’t want the email to be sending you all to a broken link which is why this is out so early. I’ll get back to my normal schedule next week. Thanks for putting up with me and my tech problems. =D**

Hello, friends!

Happy March! I thought it might be fun if I did a post to recap February so that’s what we will be doing today. 😀

Writing

We are going to start with a update on my writing and how it’s going this year.

Well, I am almost finished with my outline for one of my projects The Bensons (Title subject to change) and I am super excited to start writing that.

I’ve also been working on a project I am co-authoring with my friend, Anna, which we are almost done with which is super exciting! It’s a novelette that we’ve been working on for a few months now, and we’re both really excited to be finished it. It’s one of my favorites out of all the stories I’ve written.

I’ve also been working on writing an article for The Young Writer Blog which has been fun, and a lot of work too. But I’m excited to get published on there.

That’s about it for what I’ve been writing. =D

READING

I’ve read a lot this month! More than I thought I would. Overall this year, I’ve read 18 books which makes me happy. I’ve enjoyed having more time to read and reading more.

A few of my favorites from this month. . .

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

I’ve actually read this one twice this year, once right at the beginning, and then I read it again a few days ago. Don’t ask me why I like rereading things so much, but I do. 😆

The Giver by Lois Lowry


I finished this one in a day. 😅 I really enjoyed the story, which suprised me because I don’t usually like books that are dystopian or sci-fi. The ideas it suggested were definitely uncomftarble, but overall, I loved it.

Needle and Thread by Ann M. Martin (Book #2 in the Main Street series)

Ahh, I love this series and book so much. The characters and everything about it. . .it’s such a sweet story, yet it’s so sad.

The Holly’s Heart Collection by Beverly Lewis

This is one of my favorite series of all time. I’ve read it at least 5 times. Anyway, I loved reading it again this month.

That wraps up what I’ve been reading this month.

Doing

And I have done a lot this month, some of which I posted about it, and some of it I haven’t. A few random photos from this month, and what I have done. . .

We went skiing six times in February which was super fun. Once we were able to go night skiing and that was awesome.

We’ve had so many gorgeous sunsets this month. :’D I love watching the sun set. ❤

My brother got a drone for Christmas! He enjoyed flying it around (and trying to fly it at us. 😂).

My younger brothers, Luke, and Levi, had the brilliant idea to go play in the mud behind our house. And they convinced me to come along. . .Let me just say my boots were nearly spotless before we started. But that was definitely a highlight from this month.

While we were playing in the mud, they also decided that it would be a good idea to try to go sledding in it. And they picked me as the first contestant. Lucky me. :’D

Ooh, there’s a rainbow in this puddle! Getting all muddy was definitely worth all the fun we had that afternoon.

There’s been a lot of different weather this month, from the weather in the 50s to below zero some days. We got two snowstorms and have had a lot of sunshine. I’ve enjoyed having the nicer weather after so much winter.

This is my science. =D

I’ve done so much school the past few weeks. I know I am going to appreciate getting done early but it seems like a lot right now.

We decorated cupcakes twice this month. Once for a family celebration, and then again for an activity at Church.

I’ve also been working on my bullet journal, and I finished my 2022 spreads (I’m hoping to do a post sharing them soon!) and my March spreads. I’ve really enjoyed bullet journaling so far.

I put together an art binder (I need to come up with a better name) for all my art supplies. (I’m also planning a post about that soon but here’s a sneak peek.)

How did your February go? Did you do anything special?

Sapping {Part One}

Hello, my friends!

My family taps our maple trees every year for syrup, we’ve been tapping for 8 years now. It’s always an adventure. Anyhow, this year, I thought I’d share our maple syrup-making adventures.

To start, we had to clear all the snow off to make room for all the buckets. I think this is the most snow we’ve ever had when tapping. Here’s Zekey with his little shovel. He’s too cute in my opinion. =D

Then, we had to move the buckets from the garage to the house so we could wash them.

The Buckets in the garage

Look at how much snow we have!

The buckets were quite dirty and all needed a good scrubbing after sitting in the garage for a year. Levi found a mouse in one of them. Eek! That bucket definitely got some extra washing. 😅

While we were carrying them in, Mom started washing. Most years we would use the hose to clean the buckets, but it was too cold and snowy for that so we brought them into the mudroom and used the sink in there.

Once we got all the buckets moved to the house, I went and sat in a tree until it was my turn to help wash.

Sorry for the terrible photo. 😅

Partway through my break of sitting in the tree, I was called to help load all the buckets into the Ranger so we could move them up to the trees easier.

Once we loaded all the clean buckets, Malachi drove them up to our Maple Grove (Where most of our trees are at), and I was called to finish cleaning the last few buckets.

I finished the last buckets and we loaded them up for a second trip up. (Just so you know, the garbage bag has lids, not garbage in it.).

Then, we drove up to the Maple Grove and unloaded all the buckets.

Now onto the real tapping! We started by finding a tree, and then Dad used the drill to make a hole in the tree for the tap to go into.

Once we had a hole, Luke held the woodblock for Mercy while she pounded the tap in. (The tap is hiding behind the woodblock in this photo.)

A photo where you the tap is not invisible.

And then the finished product!

Wait, this is actually the finished product. The Maple Grove full of trees with buckets on them, and extra buckets for collecting the sap later.

Have you ever tapped trees before? What’s your favorite photo from this post?

Thanks for reading, friends!

P.S. I’m planning to give away a bottle of our syrup (and maybe some maple candy!) at the end of this series. What do you think about that? More details + how to enter will be in my next post in the series. =D

A Winter Day in the Woods

Hello, my friends!

On Saturday, my siblings, and I ventured into the woods and played hide and go seek, had a log rolling contest (not the normal log rolling contest – Something a bit different!), wandered around in the woods, enjoyed the spring-like weather in February (although Winter has now returned.) and generally had a blast.

Here are a few photos. Not the prettiest because the woods are dead and brown right now but there are a few fun ones in there.

We’ll start with while we’re walking there. . .

Walking in the woods

I love this one of my youngest brother, Zekey. And the black and white version makes it even cooler in my opinion.

Here is one of the trails, we call Maple Grove because it’s where a lot of our maple trees are at. It all looks kind of dead right now though, in the spring, summer, and fall it’s pretty.

I made Mercy pause and let me get this one of her. . .she wasn’t supposed to stop walking all together though, just stop running, but we’ll go with it. 😂

The Log Rolling Contest

Alright, so we had two stacks of wood, one on the top of the hill, and the other at the bottom. Mom had the brilliant idea to have a contest to see which of the kids could get the most to the stack at the bottom. . .

They were trying to get the wood down this path. Note I said they. . .I opted out and just stood at the bottom grabbing random photos of them and dodging pieces of wood and younger siblings.

Onto the actual photos. . .

I’m not exactly sure what happened in this photo. . . I think Jewel slipped but I’m not 100 percent sure. . .anyway, I thought it was kinda cool how her boots stirred up the snow.

I can’t tell and I don’t remember if he fell or if he was crawling on purpose, after all, it was a decently steep hill (despite how the photo made it look) and it was snowy and icy. So he might have fallen or found the sliding was faster but I have no idea.

A random floating chunk of wood. I think one of the kids dropped it on the way down. . .

And the fruit of their labors. . .a neat stack of wood at the bottom of the hill. Overall I think the log rolling went pretty well! :’D

Hide and Go Seek

Next activity! Hide and go seek! Luke started out as the finder so all of scurried to find our hiding spots.

I hid in this mess of tangled vines and such. . .it was poky but thankfully I came out unscathed.

Can you find Mercy? 😂

My hiding place for the second round which Jewel and Levi were the seekers for. This spot was better and just hit myself between the trees. Much more comfortable and less poky.

One of Luke hiding by the creek! He was actually better hidden than the photo shows.

Random Tidbits

Just a few random photos I caught from that day.

I love this one so much! The tiny pine cones and the trees in the background, despite the saggy winter evergreen branches it is pretty.

Here’s Luke (Wow, I took a lot of him. . .) climbing up into the tree house up there that they’ve been working on fixing up.

And we’ll end with this one of Mercy swinging! (There was one of me that Mercy took but I can’t find it now. 😅) I love the shadow on the ground.

Overall, it was a really fun day! I enjoyed having a bit of spring in the middle of February. (And now winter’s back–it’s snowing and cold outside right now.)

Did you enjoy seeing all the photos? What was your favorite? Do you like spending time in the woods?

P.S. As you probably noticed, I’ve been playing with my blog design again because I didn’t like how it looked before. So please bear with me as I change it around and find a style I like. 😅 I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you think it looks too. :’D

Beauty from the Ashes: A Guest Post by Rebekah

Hello, my friends!

Today, one of my dear friends and fellow writers, Rebekah, is guest posting. I am thrilled to have her posting today, and I am sure you all will enjoy her post too. ❤

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. 

Romans 8:28

       Do you know how diamonds are formed? Deep in the earth, diamonds are created under conditions of extreme heat and pressure. How about gold? Gold is refined and purified by fire. In both cases, diamonds and gold have to endure difficult processes before their true beauty is revealed. In life, we all go through these same painful processes.

      We’ve all gone through hard times. We’ve all felt pain. We’ve all had experiences we wish we could forget or wish had never happened in the first place. 

      And we often wonder, why did we have to experience all of that pain? We can’t see why those things happened to us; why we lost our loved one, or why our dreams never really worked out the way we wanted them to. But there is a purpose for your pain. God has a purpose for your pain. 

      Yes, I already know what some of you might argue. God doesn’t care; if He did, He wouldn’t have let me go through this. If God was really good, He wouldn’t allow suffering. How can this be a part of God’s plan for me? How can any good come from this?

      I know exactly how you feel. But God does have a plan. There is a purpose for your pain. Goodwill comes from what you’ve experienced. 

      You know how I know? God promises in His Word that He’ll work all things out for the good of His children. And our Heavenly Father never breaks His promises to us. When He says something, we know for sure that it’s true. So when He tells you He has a plan for your life and He’s going to bring beauty from the pain, listen because what He says is always true.

      In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to give you hope and a future.” God can see the whole picture. He knows your past and He knows your future. He knows what’s best for you in the long run. And because your Heavenly Father loves you with an unimaginable, unconditional love, He will always do what’s best for you, even though, to you, it might not seem like it at the time. 

      Like a good father, God will stop you before you unknowingly do something that may bring harm to yourself or others. To you, this might feel unfair, seem unpleasant, or even painful when God does what’s best for you. But God, in His infinite wisdom, knows what is best for His children and will always do what’s best for you, because He loves you.

     It will be difficult, even painful at times. But you can trust your Heavenly Father because He always has your best interests in mind. Whatever you’re going through right now, God is with you (Joshua 1:9). He’s standing next to you, ready to take your hand, or even pick you up and carry you. He’s right by your side, helping you every step of the way. 

     God also allows us to experience trials to grow us into who we’re meant to be so that we can better glorify Him. Our purpose in life is to bring honor and glory to our Heavenly Father. The hardships we go through help us become more like Jesus and allow us to be able to bring glory to God through our stories. 

     God uses hard times to shape us into who we are meant to be (James 1:2-4). So when it feels like the flames are too hot and you’ll never be able to escape, remember that these hard times are refining you into who God has called you to be. And when the pressure seems to be more than you can bear, remember that this isn’t the end; you’ll endure these trials and you’ll come out on the other side, strong and beautiful. 

     God will bring good from the trials, gold from the fire, diamonds from the pressure, and beauty from the ashes.

I hope you all enjoyed this week’s post! Thank you so much for reading!

       

About the Author

Rebekah has always enjoyed reading and, now, she has a passion for writing. When she isn’t writing, she can be found reading, spending time with her family, and playing music. As a writer, she spends hours exploring her own fantasy worlds, befriending her characters, and most importantly, aims to glorify God and encourage others with her work.

Scripture on Sunday: Three of my favorite Bible Verses about loving your neighbors

Hello, my friends!

Since Valentine’s day is tomorrow, I thought I’d share 3 of my favorite Bible Verses loving your neighbors.

 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

This verse is the one that is heard most in my house when my siblings and I are squabbling. I love this verse as it reminds us not only to be kind and love our neighbors but to forgive them just like Jesus forgave us.

A friend loveth at all times.

Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times. Not just when the other person is being kind, but at all times. This verse is one I am really trying to live by, as I have a few friends that are harder to love all the time. 😅

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.

`1 Corinthians 13:4

This verse is an excellent reminder of what love is and what it isn’t. Love is patient, and love is kind. As mentioned above in Proverbs 17:17 we need to love at all times and be patient.

Let’s chat in the comments – What are your favorite Bible verses on love?

Thank you so much for reading and have a lovely Sunday!

Just for fun: Five Blogs I follow – Part One

Hello, my friends!

I follow a lot of blogs. I mean a lot and I am constantly finding more through blog buttons. Anyway today, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites and why I like them. There are so many that this is going to be a two-part blog series!

The Grazy Daisy

I’ve been following Briar since the beginning of her blog. I love reading her posts, they’re all so informative and are constantly giving me new things to try. Briar has so much interesting content, and whenever I read her posts, I am always learning something new. =D

Favorite Post from the Grazing Daisy: My Homemade Chai Tea Recipe

Sword of the Penmaiden

Writing stories to inspire”

I love reading Joelle’s stories, as well as her reviews! She is an amazing writer, and if you haven’t already read her blog or stories, go read them now. They are amazing.

Favorite Post from Sword of the Pen Maiden: Story Day: Gratitude: Part One

This Messy Thing Called Life

A blog about faith, passion, and experiences.”

Rue’s posts on This Messy Thing Called Life are some of my favorite posts I’ve ever read. She’s definitely one of my favorite bloggers. She offers so much encouragement and has some really good thoughts. Make sure to go read a few of her posts!

Favorite Post from This Messy Thing Called Life: When You’re Struggling to Bloom Where You’re Planted

Alicia Marentette

“Just a girl with a blog about her life.”

Alright, I love Alicia’s posts! Her posts are so interesting, and her photography is so fun to see.

Favorite Post from Alicia Marentette: The New Year’s Book Tag

Pen and Ink

SHARING FICTION, POETRY, AND WRITING TUTORIALS

Annabelle is one of my favorite bloggers – She offers some amazing writing tips and on top of that her stories and poetry are awesome!!

Favorite Post from Pen and Ink: 4 Things You need To Know When Starting a Blog

Do you have any favorite blogs? Let me know in the comments!