Month: April 2014

Little life updates

Not much is happening around here. No bees yet, bad weather, lots of work, and walks with Hank. I cleaned out the garage!

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I built the shelves on the far left out of pallets and scrap wood. Definitely not the sturdiest option but absolutely the free-est.

We went wine tasting at a vineyard that just opened up (pretty) close to us. You can check out the yelp review I left them here.

I can’t wait to go back when they offer their own wine (and beer and cider. I might move in.). So three cheers for Wilderness Run Vineyards for getting a great thing started!

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We also bought a car that day. We are SUPER happy with our decision to go with a Toyota Camry Hybrid as hub’s primary car. We said good bye to his college Civic (doesn’t every other college student seem to drive a civic?) and upgraded him and downgraded the gas bill for his long commute. I sent this to a friend earlier and because I’m lazy and it explains the day perfectly here ya go:

· Got up, went to hot yoga, went home and got ready for the day
· Went to the VW dealership with Luis so he could buy the Passat
· After spending OVER TWO HOURS there, the manager was super rude and didn’t match the Woodbridge VW’s price for the car (like the sales agent promised) so we walked out. (I stomped/stormed because I was hangry.)
· Went to Wegmans, inhaled a slice of pizza, bought $70 worth of cheese, fruit, wine food, etc.
· RACED to the vineyard
· Our friends were late bc their puppy barfed all over the car
· Cleaned up puppy barf
· Had a great time wine tasting/eating/not moving
· On the way home Luis looks at me with sad eyes and says can we pleeeeease stop by the Toyota dealership on the way home?
· Started paperwork to buy a camry hybrid, but then found out that specific car had literally JUST been sold
· Find a duplicate car only to realize it has a massive dent in it
· Find a better car with all the bells/whistles he wants and nothing extra (no sunroof)
· Buy car. Finally head home after 3 hours at the Toyota dealership

The end. And eff that VW dealership.

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Most painful honeybee stings

So this crazy man decided to scientifically study what (to him) where the most painful places to be stung by a honeybee are. And yes. He went there.  (Any guy reading this just crossed his legs and made a face.)

Surprisingly the most painful locations are the lip and nostril.  This was OFFICIAL too – his name is Michael Smith and he studies honeybees at Cornell University.  He stung himself once on the forearm, categorized that sting as a 5 on a pain scale of 0-10, and the rated the next three stings based that initial forearm pain.   Then he stung himself on the forearm AGAIN to make sure he still knew what a 5 was.

 

The things people do for science

 

As you can read in the report, fingers are in the upper half of the list.  I find this really encouraging because that’s the only place I’ve been stung by a honeybee (that I can remember) and it honestly wasn’t that bad.  It likely would have hurt considerably less if I had actually removed the stinger in a timely manner.  My finger swelled, but it was pretty much contained to just my finger and a little bit into my hand.

Most people who are afraid of honeybees or think apiaries are dangerous don’t realize that their sting experience was actually a wasp or hornet which sting aggressively and multiple times.  Honeybees only sting once and it does kill them.  You can see why in this picture:

Photograph by Kathy Keatley Garvey. Click for link.

 

That yellow line linking the bee and its stinger is actually the bee’s abdominal tissue.  It basically rips the bowels from the bee and kills it soon after.  The stinger has a nerve/muscle still attached to it that continues to pump venom into you until there’s nothing left.   (Venom and poison are different!  Thanks Science Camp!)   Moral of the story: honeybee stings aren’t that painful and if you do get stung, get that stinger out of there!

There are other important things to mention about bee sting safety:

  • Bee stings usually result in a good sized welt, tenderness, swelling, and maybe some bruising.  When I got stung it felt like being snapped with a rubber band or being hit with one of those rolled paper bullets that boys in middle school used to shoot at each other.  It hurts but you won’t cry or need more than a minute to compose yourself.  THERE’S NO CRYING IN BEEKEEPING.
  • You can have an allergic reaction even if you’ve never had one before.  Allergies change with age, medication, and location of the sting.
  • You can have a serious localized reaction which means you have a serious reaction, but it’s limited.  For example: a finger sting leads to a swollen arm.  Watch your breathing, the location, and always be prepared to head to the hospital.
  • Some beekeepers get a prescription for an epipen.  It’s definitely something to consider for safety’s sake!
  • Baking soda, benadryl, etc. can all help with a sting.  Throw them in you beekeeper tackle box, just in case.
  • Don’t assume still bees are dead.  Check the pockets of your suit before throwing it in your car – you don’t want them to come crawling out to get you while you drive!

***I’m not a doctor.  Do your own research, talk to your physician, and decide what is best/safest for you in regards to working with honeybees.  Do everything and anything at your own risk.***

 

On a lighter note, I had a cold medicine fueled dream that I got stung on the cheek and finger and it didn’t hurt or swell at all.  It’s a sign y’all.

 

SPRING IS HERE

I celebrate all things by updating the chalkboard wall. And videoing it. (I always say videotape but I guess that’s probably not cool anymore? Or even accurate?)

End result:

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I don’t LOVE it like the hot air balloon but it’s much better than the crappy bee.

Speaking of our bees, we are still waiting to pick them up. A lot of people are only just now picking up packages so I’m trying to be patient. I do have a cold/allergies/plague so I’ve been taking mad amounts of sudafed and cold medicine and my dreams have been pretty crazy. Last night I dreamt that bees kept flying in and under my veil. But thankfully I’m on a reduced meds dosage so it didn’t turn into a nightmare and I kept calmly removing them and trying again. This differs greatly from the night before where my nightmares would have made Stephen King jealous.

It was my birthday last week and my awesome parents got me:

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The suit is full body with an attached hood which is WAY nicer than what I planned on getting myself. This is great because it also frees up our helmets and veils for others to watch or help.

The goatskin gloves are going to be amazing! Again, this will free up our current gloves to be used by others and used as back ups. The goatskin gloves are very thin and soft so you don’t feel like you’re constantly going to accidentally squish anyone.

Our instructor at the last class was very nonchalant about moving bees, shaking them off frames, waving them away, etc. My mom thought that was a bit… impolite I guess? So she got a bee brush to carefully encourage bees to move.

The company’s distribution/shipping facility is apparently severely overwhelmed. Because shipping was so delayed, nothing arrived before my birthday… Or when we celebrated a week later. My mom was obviously upset (she’d ordered everything WEEKS earlier) but she made the best of the situation with the insanely cute mini versions! Plus I had NO idea what they had gotten me and this packaging totally threw me off.

Mommy & Me Beekeeping Class

Yesterday we took a full day beekeeping course!  It was amazingly informative – not as textbook/formal as my last class (but that was SIX WEEKS LONG) – more in terms of great anecdotes and very area specific (NoVa) information.

 

Here are a few basics:

Honeybees are either female (queen or worker) or male (drone.)  They all have extremely specific functions and look totally different.  As you can see below honeybees are NOT bumblebees.  (They are also not wasps, hornets, carpenter bees, etc.)

Click for source

 

Honeybees need attention.  Some beekeepers choose not to feed their hives.  We will.  Because we don’t want to risk them dying.  They need to be medicated for the plethora of diseases they can get.  Some can be fixed or treated (small hive beetles, nosema) other mean certain death (American foulbrood – you have to burn the entire hive.)\

Click for source

 

 

In a few weeks my mom and I will pick up our nucs at the same location (also called a nucleus) which will be just like mini hives.  Instead on 10 frames per super (the boxes) there will only be five.  A nuc has a laying queen, tons of workers, drones, and eggs (called brood.)  Basically it’s like a really awesome starter kit.  We will transfer them into the new hives boxes we purchased from Mann Lake.

 

Anyways, the best part of the class was getting to play with the bees!  Identifying queens (big butted fatties), checking for eggs, praying you don’t get stung.  Here’s some photos!

 

 

Note my lack of bee suit. Oops! No stings though!

four frames of a nuc – these will be used for queen rearing

 

Queen hunting

Look at them building out the comb!

Mommy and Me!

Dangerous biscotti

*i cannot find the original recipe that I used. It was a random blog but if some one recognizes this please let me know so I can credit them!

I’m not a gluten free girl. I eat two pieces of peanut butter toast EVERYDAY. Hank the Tank and I have a morning ritual: after getting ready we head downstairs. I pop my toast (super awesome ancient grains organic wheat bread from Costco) in the toaster and then Hank and I practice commands. I put all natural Jiff (I swear this is the best tasting PB on the planet. This is pretty much the only item I buy full price at the grocery store. Ever.) and then Hank gets to lick the knife. So if you’ve used a knife at my house then sorry I’m not sorry.

Anyways. Back to gluten free. We have a few family members and friends with diet restrictions – most commonly gluten free, diary free, and the vegetarian spectrum. So I’ve been playing around with the flour alternatives, especially knowing that almond flour > white flour. More protein, keeps you full etc. I also have been trying to replace sugar with raw honey. Because that’s way better for you than white sugar. I just don’t want my ingredients to say “bleached” on them, ya know?

I picked biscotti because it’s fancy. And supposed to be hard and a bit crunchy. (Common complaints I’ve heard about GF cookies is that they are flat and hard so that just works in your favor with biscotti.) I found almond flour at Wegmans (and at Shoppers) and went to town.

**there was a serious medical mishap that occurred while baking these. I put it at the bottom so if you’re squeamish you can easily avoid it. This is also the reason I don’t have any photos of the process.

Ingredients
1 1/4 almond flour
1 tbs rice flour (the original recipe called for some weird ingredient. I substituted rice flour because that’s what I had on hand. No idea if it helped.)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup honey
Add ins of your choosing. I put in about 1/3 cup of mixed pistachios and cranberries.

Step 1: preheat oven to 350
Step 2: combine all dry ingredients except of add ins in a food processor
Step 3: add the honey. Pulse until you have a little dough ball. WATCH YOUR FINGERS.
Step 4: take your dough ball out and mix it with your add ins.
Step 5: make it into and awkward log, throw it on some parchment paper (not the same thing as wax paper as I found out)
Step 6: bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Step 7: take the log out if the oven and let it sit for an hour.
Step 8: cut the log with a sharp knife on the diagonal to get biscotti shaped slices. Place the slices flat side down on new parchment paper
Step 9: bake at 300 for 10-15 minutes
Step 10: allow to cool completely. They’ll still be pretty soft at first so just let them be.
Step 11: dip in chocolate, drizzle icing, add chopped nuts, etc. So many options! Or do nothing and just enjoy how tasty they are

This recipe makes a very small amount. Maybe 13-16 pieces. I took two pieces to work everyday and they were amazing with an afternoon cup if tea. Plus, because they’re a little but sweet and salty (oops, I used salted pistachios) they killed any end of day cravings. Maybe the almond flour gave them extra staying power? Or the fact that you drink a big cup of tea while eating them does? Either way less hunger at the end of the day is always a good thing.

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Ok so terrifying story: I don’t have a food processor so my dumb ass thought: hey! Let’s use the immersion blender. So I did. And all the batter got stuck in it. So I got off as much as I could took the blender over near the sink, STUCK MY THUMB IN IT to try and clear some of the batter AND THEN ACCIDENTALLY HIT THE BUTTON. I’ve never been so terrified. My adrenaline went crazy, I pulled the blade out of my finger/thumbnail, rinsed my finger, stuck things back together (BARF) and wrapped it in a paper towel. Then I poured a large glass of wine and sat on the couch until my husband got home. He looked at it, said it was staying together well enough that I didn’t need stitches, and drive me to pick up hydrogen peroxide, neosporin, Hello Kitty band aids, pizza, and more wine. <- HUSBAND OF THE YEAR YALL. It looks like my thumb and I will survive but *gulp* my thumbnail may not. Thanks in advance for your prayers… For my thumb or stupidity. It's up to you.

#WifeTestedHusbandApproved: Lazy Chicken Pot Pie

It’s raining.  It’s been going on for days that feel like weeks.  *just started hailing actually. fun times.*  And Hank and I are both over it in the worst way.  I felt so bad for him that I ordered two new toys from Amazon in order to give him a treat – literally.  The toys, when played with and manipulated properly, dispense treats.  To make my husband feel better, I made him his fave: lazy chicken pot pie.

 

NOMNOMNOM This is delicious but not really pretty.

NOMNOMNOM This is delicious but not really pretty.*

One of my best go-to meals is a lazy chicken pot pie.  And I meany lllllaaaazzyyyyyyy.  It takes awhile to cook, but the prep is so fast you won’t care.  My husband asks for this meal all the time and will eat the whole pan if I let him.

 

*Disclaimer:  Going through the photos (all iPhone, so fancy) I realized that this is not a pretty meal.  I don’t know why I never noticed this before… maybe because it smells so good?  Do not serve this to anyone fancy.  Just enjoy the tastiness.  And the amount of happy exclamation points your husband uses in texts when you tell him this is for dinner.  End disclaimer.

 

Step One: Assemble ingredients and preheat oven to 375 degrees

– Bag of frozen stew veggies (shallots, potatoes, celery, carrots)

– Bag of mixed veggies (carrots, green beans, peas, no lima beans because they’re disgusting.)

– Protein: use what you’ve got.  Left over chicken, ground turkey, stew beef, etc.  I really can’t give you a proper measurement, but usually two large chicken breasts or 2-3lbs of ground turkey is usually enough.  This is supposed to be easy so don’t over think it.

– “Sauce”  I don’t know what else to call this. I make chicken and beef broth all the time so there’s always some frozen in my freezer.  If you are throwing away the bones from your Costco roasted chicken, you are throwing away money.  But them in the crock pot with water, left over veggies, and a dash of vinegar on low over night or 12-18 hours.  You’ll thank me later.   Or use half broth and half cream of whatever: chicken, mushroom, etc.

– Biscuit topping of choice:  Make your own (easy) or use a mix (bisquick, jiffy’s, etc)

I toss everything into a 9×13 brownie pan or two of those pans you use for making banana bread.  What are they called?

Pot Pie Ingredients

Pot Pie Ingredients

Step Two: Brown/mostly cook the meat of your choice.  Easy.

 

ground turkey.  does any one else think it smells weird?

ground turkey. does any one else think it smells weird?

Step Three: Fill your pan(s) about 3/4 of the way full with the protein and frozen veggies and mix them up.  I usually put the whole bag of stew veggies in and then fill it out with the mixed veggies.  (I keep a HUGE bag of the mixed veggies in the freezer and just pull them out to use what I need.  They’re good for fulling up soups and things.)  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper if you want to.

Veggies.  I forgot to add the meat for the photo

Veggies. I forgot to add the meat for the photo

 

Step Four:  Add your sauce.  Either use a can of broth and a can of creamed whatever or make your own.  Take out the premade broth from the freezer and heat it in a sauce pan until it’s simmering then add a pat of butter (2ish tbs) and whisk in tablespoons of flour one by one until it seems almost thick enough.  Sometimes I sprinkle in cornstarch it isn’t thickening like I want it to.  Again, not rocket science.  Just pour it over the veggies and protein so they’re covered.

 

This looks good.  maybe.  BUT IT IS I PROMISE

This looks good. maybe. BUT IT IS I PROMISE

Step Five: Biscuit topping.  Mix according to box, pour over top.  Use a spoon or spatula to help evenly distribute it.  If you forgot to get this at the store, use this one.  It doesn’t call for shortening so you should have most of the ingredients.

ready for the oven.

ready for the oven.

 

Step Six: Put the pan in the over until the biscuit topping is done, usually about 45 minutes.  It should be golden brown on top and pass the toothpick test.

 

It looks a little better in the oven.

It looks a little better in the oven.

Step Seven: Serve this stuff hot and delicious.  If you made two pans, freeze the second one.  Just defrost and reheat it in the oven with tin foil over the top until the last few minutes.  That way you maintain a crisp “crust” without burning anything.