Monday, August 24, 2015

YETI 20 oz. Rambler - Kevins Review

With Fall and Winter right around the corner I have been on the search for the perfect mug to keep my coffee warm when working outside or in the garage but more importantly while snow blowing.  The reason for this post is that I am quite certain I found one that suits my needs:  

Yeti rambler mug in freezer
Yeti Rambler 20 ounces

Let me first start with the back story.  I have a friend that swears by these Yeti mugs.  He owns both the 20 ounce Rambler (pictured here) and the 32 ounce mug.  Last night he was telling me how I need to get one and I won't be disappointed.  "Man, I don't know.  Its like $30 for a coffee mug." I told him  .  So I began to search online for a sale in hopes of filling my now obsession with this Yeti Rambler.  The stores that had it on sale were naturally out of stock.  I took that as a sign.  The next morning I get a text message that a local sporting goods store had them in stock and selling for $28.  Still steep but ok, I will indulge.  

Yeti rambler mug in freezer
Yeti Rambler in the freezer

Now home I need to justify this $30 (after taxes) purchase so into the freezing the Yeti Rambler goes.  For 20 minutes at a beginning piping hot 139.8 degrees F.  No way this mug is going to retain the temperature of my joe.

Yeti rambler mug in freezer
Yeti Rambler in the freezer after 15 minutes.  Lost 5 degrees but still piping hot.

Fifteen minutes in (which was my originally intended amount of time) we lost 5.4a degrees F.  Yet still piping hot.  I decided to go another 5 for good measure.

Yeti Rambler after 20 minutes in the freezer.  Absolutely a winner in my book!
Yeti Rambler after 20 minutes in the freezer.  Absolutely a winner in my book!

After twenty minutes in, it was time for coffee.  Overall I lost 7.4 degrees F in twenty minutes leaving my coffee still piping hot.  

Yeti Rambler Lid with gasket.
Yeti Rambler Lid with gasket.  

What is difficult to understand is this mug, unlike others, does not have an annoying lid that closes over the sip hole nor is that opening small.  Being that heat rises, I figured all if not most of the heat would have been lost through the hole in the lid.  

Everyday folks indulge on coffee and tea.  Why not indulge on the capsule we utilize to deliver it?  Yeti makes no claims in the marketing on this mug that it will keep your beverage hot.  Only that it will keep it cold.  I am impressed and would recommend it to anyone in the market.  And Yeti if you are reading this, we would love to do a thorough review on one of your chest coolers. *Hint  haha

Cheers! ~ Kevin

 Visit the Yeti website

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Our Homeschool Station

We have learned a lot throughout this homeschooling journey and one thing I most definitely am confident about is that a designated school room is just not for us. We had a beautiful room designated for schooling and I quickly realized that being in one spot wasn't working with two elementary kids.  They wanted to move around and sit in different areas and I started to get tired of shleping it all around the house.  Things quickly became scattered and disorganized and had me feeling pretty discouraged.  I tried a few other ideas that werent ideal but recently stumbled across this cart at our Sams Club.  I paid under 40.00 for it and it truly has been the solution to our needs.  I can roll it from room to room, even up to my desk so I can flip through my instructors guides and do my planning on the computer, and it holds everything we need for the day!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tree Tapping with Tap My Trees

It has been very busy around here as it usually is this time of year.  But as I promised before, I am going to give you a quick run down of the "how" to tap your maple trees using the Tap My Trees starter kit. I have been using this kit for a few weeks now and it has been working out great.  Once I get my pictures together off of my phone I will share with you how some of my friends have been doing this season and my boiling setup at home.

Drill bit included in the Tap My Trees starter kit.
Drill bit included in the Tap My Trees starter kit. 

Slowly drill on a slight downward angle about 2" deep into the tree.  I prefer to tap on the south facing side.
Slowly drill on a slight downward angle about 2" deep into the tree.  I prefer to tap on the south facing side.

Tap My Trees maple syrup spile and bucket hook
The relief cut or separation in the spile creates a seal around the hole you drilled.  Before you push it in, make sure to slip the bucket hook over the tapered end FIRST.

Tap My Trees maple syrup spile and bucket hook at downward angle
At this point your tap/ spile should look like this and aimed at a downward angle.

Tap my Trees maple sap spile and bucket
Hang the bucket over the hangar.

Tap my Trees maple sap spile and bucket Tap my Trees maple sap spile and bucket

tap my tree maple tree sap bucket lid how to
To attach the bucket cover you need to slide back the metal rod that goes through it enough to line it up with the holes on the spile.  Slide the rod back through to ensure your lid doesn't blow off into the wind. 

This is what the finished product should look like and let the sap collecting begin!  Make sure as the season progresses you check the level of sap collected in your buckets daily and either store in a cool place inside of a food safe container or go right at boiling it into your very own Maple syrup. Enjoy!

I would like to once again thank Jon McHale of Tap My Trees for providing us with the starter kit to review for our readers.  Already the friends of ours that have had the opportunity to see this in action have decided to purchase kits of their own after seeing the simplicity of the setting up.
Cheers!~ Kevin

To Contact Tap My Trees:

Jon McHale
Mail: Tap My Trees LLC, 268 Simpaug Turnpike Suite 125, Redding, CT 06896
Toll Free Telephone: (888) 990-9948 
Fax: (888) 666-9120

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fancy Ladies!

About two weeks ago we hit the fancy chicken jackpot!  I have been wanting bearded silkies since before owning our very first chickens and despite going as far as hatching out our own "show quality bearded silkie" eggs, we were never able to find any (or hatch any) with a beard or one even close to resembling one....until now!  Let me introduce to you my new silkie girls as well as three other fancy pants that we picked up!

Bearded Silkie 

Bearded Silkie

Show Girl 

Millie Fleur D'Uccle

Gold laced polish 
They even got their own new house! 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pressed Flower Ornaments

Last fall during the first few weeks of using Oak Meadow's First Grade Curriculum, we pressed what very little flowers were left in our garden and have kept them tucked away in a book not really knowing what to do with them. Recently I came across the most beautiful tutorial found at Twig and Toadstool for pressed flower ornaments as well as a wonderful recipe for white clay (which I'll be using more of in the future) and despite being nowhere near Christmas, I needed to make these pretties STAT! 
Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of corn starch 
  • 3/4 cup of warm water
  • Rolling pin
  • Pressed flowers
  • Mod Podge
  • Paint brush
  • String or Twine
First you need to start off by making your white clay following the directions below.
In a medium sauce pan, combine the baking soda and corn starch, then add the warm water. Over medium heat mix all of the ingredients.  
Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir constantly.
The clay will begin to bind and pull away from the sides of the pan.  When the clay begins to resemble play dough, remove the pan from the heat and allow the clay to cool.  
Next you will shape and bake your ornaments.  
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. 
Once the clay has cooled, kneed the clay, form it into a ball and roll the clay out on a flat surface using your rolling pin, about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in thickness.  

Once the clay is rolled flat, cut out your circles by using a round cookie cutter or the top of a mason jar (which is what we used).  
Place the cut-outs on a lined baking sheet and create a hole in the top using a straw (we used a skewer).
Bake your ornaments for about 1 hour at 200 degrees and allow to cool before decorating.  
Lets Decorate! 
After your ornaments have fully cooled, brush a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top. 
Before the Mod Podge has a chance to dry, carefully place the dried flowers on top. It helps to have a set of tweezers for this. Once the flowers are in place, carefully brush a second layer of Mod Podge over the top of the ornament and set aside to dry. Once the Mod Podge has dried you can string your ornaments.  We used twine, but fishing wire or a thin string would work as well! 

We are days away from spring and have no tree to hang these beauties from at the moment, so the kids and I found a nice branch outside and strung it up in the front window to hang our ornaments from.  

Don't forget to press your flowers this fall, come Christmas they will be ready to be turned into beautiful ornaments and will make such a wonderful gift for those that you love!  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pumpkin Bird Feeders

We had one itty bitty pumpkin left from last years garden and we finally decided to gut it so that we could save the seeds to plant next year.  Instead of throwing out the shell, we made these simple little pumpkin bird feeders! Here's what you will need to make them.
  • A pumpkin, orange, grapefruit, et. cut in half and cleaned out. 
  • Two wooden skewers 
  • Twine 
  • Bird seed

  1. Pierce the skewer through one side of the pumpkin into the other, one on top of the other. 
  2. Tie the twine on one of the skewers, opposite sides of each other. 
  3. Fill with bird seed and hang! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Handwriting Practice with "Storage Bottles"

Handwriting can be a bit tedious so today we switched it up, went outside and used these super cheap bottles that I found at Harbor Freight filled with water to practice writing letters.  Simple and a great way to involve multiple senses for better memory retention.  

Reuben Omelette

  • 3 eggs, beaten  
  • 3 slices of turkey or corned beef, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut 
  • 3 tablespoons french dressing
  • 3 sliced of swiss cheese 

So, this is pretty simple.... 
  1. Turn the broiler on in your oven (or toaster oven if you have one).
  2. In a medium pan over medium heat, sauté the turkey/corned beef and sauerkraut until browned. 
  3. Depending on how you like your omelettes, you can either pour the eggs over the top of the sauerkraut and turkey/corned beef or in a separate pan you can cook the eggs and add the fillings later.  
  4. Cook the eggs and flip.  Alternatively you can cook the eggs on one side, and add the pan to the over to cook the top.  I prefer this method because it makes for a perfect omelette but is a little more time consuming. 
  5. Once the omelette has cooked on both sides, spoon the french dressing onto the eggs (and add the turkey/corned beef and sauerkraut mixture if you cooked them in a separate pan).  Fold the omelette in half and arrange the slices of swiss cheese over the top.  
  6. Place the pan inside of your oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted on top.  
  7. Enjoy! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mother Nature News Article

Mother Earth News just named Our Little Coop as one of 11 Fascinating Farm Blogs!  We feel pretty honored.  Thank you MNN!

You can find the entire article HERE.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring Starter Kit GIVEAWAY

The giveaway for the Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring Starter Kit has begun!

The Prize:
One lucky winner will receive a Maple Sugaring Starter Kit compliments of Tap My Trees.  This starter kit includes everything you will need to tap up to three maple trees.  You will receive:
  • 3 Aluminum Buckets 
  • 3 Metal Lids
  • 3 Stainless Steel Spiles
  • 3 Hooks
  • Maple Sugaring at Home book
  • Drill Bit 
  • Cheesecloth 

For more information detailed information about this kit, please click here.  

The giveaway begins NOW and will end 3/6/2015 at 12:00 am central time.  

 Enter below for your chance to win! Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 26, 2015

March 2015: Click-a-Day Photo Challenge

Welcome to the Click-a-Day Photo Challenge! 
 For those that have never done a photo challenge, it is simple! 

The Unofficial Rules:
  • Each month there will be a list.  
  • Every day you will take a photo using the list to inspire you.
  • After you have taken your photo,  post your photo to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #clickadaychallenge
  • Happy clicking! 

To see other participants photos, simply click or search using the hashtag #clickadaychallenge 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tap My Trees "Maple Sugaring Starter Kit" - Kevin's review

If you only read one article on making maple syrup, read this one.  I promise everything you need to know is contained in the included content.  

I am very excited to be sharing "Tap My Trees" with our readers!

If you are not already making your own maple syrup at home or with your classroom you are really, really missing out.

A few years ago I stumbled onto the whole maple syrup making at home thing and gave it a shot.  Like any other endeavor, I spent hours upon hours researching products, looking for one that I could afford from a reputable site.  I quickly found myself overwhelmed but before giving up, I grabbed my cordless drill, a short length of 1/2" pvc, a utility hook, and a plastic bucket. As luck would have it, I struck gold (well not exactly... but I had collected a lot of maple sap in a very short amount of time).  I will never forget running in to the house to grab Emily and the kids and dragging them outside to witness the very first sign of Spring!  We were going to be making the most delicious PURE maple syrup ever.

Here is what I quickly learned:

  • Collecting sap and making maple syrup is addicting.
  • Collecting sap and making maple syrup is contagious.
  • You will find yourself spotting out potential maple trees to tap at your family, neighbors and friends house all year.
  • "Sugaring" is the proper terminology.
  • The sugaring season is WAY TOO SHORT!
  • Everything in one site
But most importantly:


Every single drop of sap counts. What is lost to overflow or not making it into the bucket, does not result in syrup.  

Everything you need to know about making maple syrup is included in this simple to understand book,  included in the kits available only from
*Remember Joe put together this kit with educating children in mind.

Tap My Trees LLC. is not only a company providing amazing and affordable kits at a reasonable cost, they are very dedicated in educating those who are interesting in the maple syrup making process.  Their owner Joe McHale was kind enough to send us one of the Maple Sugaring Starter Kits to review and will also be donating a Maple Sugaring Starter Kit for a Give-away in the VERY near future.  

Here is what is included in the "Starter Kit"

Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring Kit

Unboxing the Maple Sugaring Starter Kit.

Everything comes conveniently packaged in one box and is individually wrapped.

Everything needed to collect sap is included,  except for a cordless drill and a tree!

3 - Aluminum (2 gallon) buckets are included in this kit.

3 - Metal lids are included, which help to prevent rain, snow, and debris from falling in to the buckets while collecting sap.

Everything is excellent quality, or as I like to call it, "heirloom quality."

The beautiful stainless steel spiles included in this kit will outlast my kids, kids.

The quality of this kit is truly amazing and much better than I had expected.  This kit is it.  Im done.  No more messing around with plastic buckets, pvc pipe, or utility hooks.  At the end of the season I will wash these components out and put them up in the rafters of the garage anxiously awaiting the next sugaring season.  

Lets face the facts.  If something is difficult to do, we are quickly robbed of a potentially great experience.  Children have short attention spans and are not going to wait while you figure out how to efficiently collect sap.  Trust me.  The maple sugaring season doesn't last forever unfortunately but the experience surely will.  My family is greatly appreciative to now be able to throw on our coats, grab this kit, go outside and start collecting sap.  While the buckets begin to fill with the sugary goodness, we will sit down and again read Joe's book about sugaring in anticipation for what should be the most enjoyable maple syrup season yet!

A couple of noteworthy mentions:

Tap My Trees stainless steel maple sugaring funnel
I was unable to find this through the website and will update this as it becomes available.  This is not a "needed" item due to the fact the kit includes cheesecloth.  I was fortunate enough to find this at our local Farm and Fleet store in the "Tap My Trees section" and can tell you for the $8.00 it cost me, it will be well worth it.  This funnel or the cheesecloth is used to filter out any bark or debris that makes its way past the lid and into your sap before you boil it.  

Tap My Trees syrup bottles or small canning jars.
Don't forget a few glass jars (or more) to store your maple syrup in.  Jars of pure maple syrup your family has made also make great gifts for friends and family.

Photo Credit: Tap My Trees site.  The Teachers Kit

Classroom teachers or homeschool parents:  Our kids get really excited about this lesson every year!  Joe offers a kit just for you which will include a lesson plan that is adaptable all the way up to high school.  


  • Identify your maple trees
  • Obtain the equipment needed to tap trees

Tapping Trees:

  • When to tap maple trees
  • Select maple trees to tap
  • Clean equipment
  • Gather equipment
  • Tap the tree
  • Hang the bucket and attach lid

Collect Sap and
Make Syrup:

  • Transfer sap from buckets to storage containers
  • Storing your sap
  • Process sap into maple syrup and other uses
  • When to stop collecting saps


  • Remove spiles (taps), buckets, and lids from trees
  • Clean equipment
  • Store equipment for next year
Photo Credit:

I found this handy little time line on the Tap My Trees website.

I'm out of space for now, but Im going to call this my part one of this article.  At the current time of this writing, we are almost but not quite into maple sugaring season as the daytime temperatures are still way below freezing.  In part two I am going to show you how simple the sap collecting process is.  I think you will be amazed.

But DO NOT WAIT FOR ME!  The maple sugaring season varies from state to state and only lasts for a short period of time as I have previously mentioned.  Here is the information so you can order your own kit and supplies:
All orders include a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for one full year from date of purchase.
Mail: Tap My Trees LLC, 268 Simpaug Turnpike Suite 125, Redding, CT 06896
Toll Free Telephone: (888) 990-9948 
Fax: (888) 666-9120
Cheers! ~ Kevin

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