Month: May 2014

Whole30: Week 1

The idea that I can’t do something usually immediately results in my desire to do that thing. I’m not sure why I wasn’t a more rebellious child/teenager. I looked at the Whole30 and assumed it would be too hard, too restrictive, too lonely. If you’re not familiar with the program it’s based eating three healthy meals, limiting snacks, and eliminating soy, sugar, grains, dairy, and alcohol. I read everything they offer on their website, including the very helpful “But can I have…” FAQ page. I decided what I agreed with and what I wanted to amend (yes to the occasional glass of wine and fresh corn, no to strictly keeping to three meals) and declared the pizza I was eating while reading to be my last for THIRTY WHOLE DAYS.

I’m not going to lie, it’s not really fun or easy. I got the “carb flu” – look it up it’s a real thing. I had to BYO snacks and drink to the movies (the new Xmen was SUPER good) and my coffee has coconut milk or nothing in it. My delicious ice cream is just chilling in the freezer and cinnamon toast crunch boxes sit unopened in the pantry. BUT I am glad that I’m doing it. It’s only been a week but I can see positive changes in my body and sleep. (You’re not supposed to weigh yourself but I needed the extra motivation.) It’s not a diet – it’s a challenge that will hopefully create healthy habits. Here’s a few tips and tricks I’ve learned so far:

1. Get a buddy. Either have your spouse commit to eating compliantly when with you or convince a friend that they should do it with you. I’m the primary when it comes to making dinner (he’s the primary for dishes ūüėČ) so that part wasn’t hard. He can eat whatever he wants at work, but when we’re together he’s eating what I eat. Notable exception was the movies, but he made sure I was happy with what I had to eat too! I also have a good friend who just started and my sister starts in June. This also helps you to discuss the program in a constructive manner instead of complaining all. The. Time. Which you will probably do anyways because you want carbs and sugar and milk in your coffee.

2. Follow Whole30 and Whole30Recipes and other healthy food bloggers/bakers/cooks on Instagram. The added motivation and inspiration is so helpful. So many of them post the recipes right there and you’ll quickly find yourself saying “I have all those ingredients!” Also get a Pinterest board up and running. Here’s mine!

3. Prep your kitchen. DON’T throw non-compliant food away. Give it away, put it in a box, do whatever, just don’t throw it away. I HATE how many paleo/Whole30/healthy eating blogs said STEP ONE GET OUT THE GARBAGE CAN. What I mean is stock your fridge with fresh fruits and veggies, tons of avocados, interesting proteins, coconut milk, and almond butter. LARABARS ARE ON SALE AT TARGET RIGHT NOW

4. Figure out how to handle social situations with food. Check menus before making plans, call and ask what the ingredients are, suggest Whole30 friendly restaurants. Be prepared to eat a lot of eggs and salads and to take the buns and cheese off everything. I brought a can of seltzer and apple and plantain chips with me to the movies. Technically that’s compliant, but not in the true spirit of Whole30. ¬†But I’m a spirited person so it’s fine.

5. When cooking and prepping double recipes/amounts so you’ll have extra food and ingredients for tomorrow’s lunch or to be frozen and used later. This makes everything easier and you’re less likely to give up because you don’t have time to pack a lunch or cook dinner. Whenever I adopted an “eff this, it’s too hard” attitude, I was a mean combination of hungry, tired, and lazy. Making a PBJ is easier than making a whole compliant meal, but more difficult than just heating up leftovers. MAKE IT EASY.

And here’s some photos of what I’ve been eating:







Second anniversaries aren’t exciting like the first but they are pretty darn validating. You are solidly out of the “newlywed” phase which was actually a great phase – even though people like to smugly say stuff like “Oooooh, they’re neeeewlyywedddssss.” Ugh, gross. Get over yourself.

Anyway, we had a limited amount if time to celebrate our second anniversary so I decided we should try something new and fun. My 2014 goals include developing a couple decent hobbies and being engaged in life down in Stafford – but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. We’re pretty active, like to be outdoors, and won’t drive too far unless it’s for an amazing hike or vineyard. I was googling around as one does, literally browsing the internet, looking for something that would maybe meet my goals and those three requirements. My search history looked like this:

Fredericksburg hikes
Fredericksburg fun things to do
Fredericksburg festivals
Fredericksburg vineyard
Fredericksburg swimming
Fredericksburg kayaking
Fredericksburg paddle boarding

BOOM. JACKPOT. The cool way to abbreviate Fredericksburg is FXBG. It’s like a little bid between businesses where they acknowledge their up-and-coming-ness. So when I found FXBG SUP I knew I was on to something. They offer lessons, board rentals, tours, and more. I loved their website – easy to navigate, tons of great information, and a great online booking system. (I hate our online store at work so I ALWAYS make note of awesome sites that could be an alternative.)

We ended up being able to schedule a 12:30 lesson at Curtis Park just 25 minutes from our house. Shawn had emailed me a confirmation and reassured me that my very tall, athletic husband would be totally fine on their boards. It was SO easy to figure out where we were going because all I did was open up their website on my phone and click on “Directions to Curtis Lake” which then popped open my google maps app with the location. It couldn’t be more idiot proof.

The weather was amazing – a warm with a cool breeze and beautifully mostly-sunny. I wore hot yoga capris and just a work out tee, but Luis decided to wear a bathing suit. (I was NOT going to fall into the water but my clothes would’ve quickly dried if needed.) We threw some apples and water bottles in the car as well some towels, just in case. When we got to the lake Shawn was already all set up and had a little paperwork for us to sign. It asked about injuries and joint issues so Shawn and I had a quick discussion about my shoulder problems. Then we got down to business.

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Shawn showed us how to properly size and hold the paddle, explained the basics, and was just so so encouraging. ¬†We headed down to the water and easily pushed off the boat landing, kneeling and paddling away from the shore. ¬†We spent some ¬†practicing, finding our balance, and just generally learning the basics of control. ¬†Luis and I are both experienced with boats (kayaks, sailing, speed boats) so we understood how momentum and steering works out on the water – this definitely helped. ¬†(Or we’re fast learners… or Shawn is just a super good teacher.) ¬†Eventually Shawn demonstrated how to move from kneeling to standing and kneeling again. ¬†Some where soon after Luis was “testing the board” and ended falling in. ¬†I never did ūüôā

I wish I had more photos – when we go next time I’ll borrow a life proof case for my iPhone. ¬†Shawn brings a GoPro Camera that is attached to his paddle board and towards the end we paddled up to take a photo. ¬†The photo was the NICEST touch to the lesson – a sweet little souvenir for such a fun day.


I really can’t say enough about how wonderful Shawn was. ¬†I’ve already recommended FXBG SUP to everyone who will sit still long enough for me to get all the praise out and now I’m recommending them to you.<

True Love Chalkboard Update

This should have been much taller so the heart looks a liiiiiittle squat.  But it is what it is.  


Click through for (p)inspiration link

And obviously I took a time lapse video because I have an addiction to that nonsense.  And I know people like Hank the best in videos and I try hard not to take in personally.  


Nuc pick up!

WE’RE OFFICIALLY BEEKEEPERS! ¬† I’ve been dying to pick up our nucs so that I could officially say this. ¬†We’ve got our ladies safely at home and in their new hives. ¬†(I have more photos of the pick up and install on my big kid camera, so here’s a quick iPhone dump.)

After dealing with some really crappy weather, we got the go ahead from Jerry from¬†Rock Hill Honey Bee Farms to come and pick up our nucs Sunday evening. ¬†My dad and brother were brave enough to come with us (though I don’t think that my brother really thought through the fact that there would be bees with him in the car. )

All the nuc’s at Jerry’s farm were buzzing and growing and beautiful! ¬†We went through a few so we could pick out our favorites, mark the queen (our preference), and strap them closed for transfer. ¬†He also stapled mesh over the openings before helping us load them into our car. ¬†I ended up with the nuc we checked out during our class in April which I took to be a good omen.

We had an uneventful ride home. ¬†Thankfully. ¬†I’m sure there are horror stories about improperly secured nucs creating chaos in the car. ¬†We left our suits and veils on, just in case. ¬†The boys had to risk it ūüėČ

We got the ladies into the backyard, got the smoker up and running, and moved the fresh frames into their new homes!

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The front hive is my mom’s “Connecticut” and her queen is Wethersfield. ¬†Mine is in the back of the photo above, called “Florida” with a “Gainesville” queen. ¬†We’ve been pretty transient my whole life so this is a fun way to pay homage to our favorite homes!

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Clearly we were REALLY excited. ¬†I don’t think either of us stopped beaming the entire time. ¬†It was such a proud moment and so cool to share it with my mom. ¬†This has been a goal of ours for a long time – surprising totally unrelated and independently established.

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The scariest part was when we realized the my bees had built a pretty good chunk of wonky comb in a the small extra space in their nuc box. ¬†I just cut it out and rubber banded it into a frame without foundation. ¬†It didn’t stay nice and pretty, but I trust my girls to clean it up and get it up and running again. ¬†It was FULL of honey already!

We put 1:1 sugar water in the top supers using the plastic bag method – just a little slit in the bags to give the bees easy access without drowning. ¬†They’ve been eating it up, but we’ve also seen so many bees come and go with full pollen packets that we’re not too worried about it at this point.

Once I download photos from my camera, I’ll be sure to get them up here right away with an update after we check the hive this weekend, hopefully with some great close ups of our girls.


DIY Beekeeper’s Toolbox

For Mother’s Day I built my mom a pretty cool gift (if I do say so myself!) ¬†I took the basic plans for a nuc box (which can be found with a simple google search but also HERE) and this toolbox from Williams-Sonoma (no longer available or on their website unfortunately.)

Williams Sonoma Toolbox

no longer available ūüė¶ but it was insanely overpriced anyways

I could have purchased one but the cost + shipping was pretty prohibitive, plus mom’s like homemade stuff right? ¬†Even when their kid is 26?

The benefit of the nuc-turn-toolbox is that it can safely hold all your tools, AND be used to transport frames, a swarm, or a sandwich. ¬†So multipurpose. ¬†It’s a little heavier than a regular tackle box style container, but the added benefits are worth the few extra pounds.

I headed to home depot and purchased a nice, straight pine board that was 1″x10″x10′, a set of hinges, a hook closure, a cheap ratchet tie down, liquid nails, and some 1″ wood screws, and a can of spray paint (primer/paint all in one, exterior.) ¬† The nice gentlemen at Home Depot cut down my wood for me so that saved me the majority of the heavy duty work! ¬†Then I headed over to Michael’s for a few bottles of craft paint and a 2′ balsa wood stick thing. ¬†(It’s like a rectangular dowel.) ¬† This only cost about $35 FOR THE ENTIRE PROJECT. ¬†MUCH better than the cheapest versions I found which cost about $75 with shipping.

I followed the directions to build the nuc, gluing the body together first before drilling pilot holes and then carefully screwing it all together.

Nuc Box

Then I added in the bottom board in the same way and painted the whole thing (not the inside of the box, but I did do the entire lid.)

Nuc box bottom

I put hinges on the top and attached it to the body of the nuc and then had to notch out the opposite ledge a bit to accommodate the latch I purchased. ¬†I don’t have any fancy tools so I just drilling a few holes to remove the small section of wood, sanding down the edges to create a finished look. ¬†Then I realized I’d put the latch on backwards, effectively locking the box shut permanently, and had to switch everything around.

Nuc box hinge

Finally, I cut the tie-down strap down and made handles and a strap across the front for the smoker. ¬†(The smoker’s bellow goes under the strap and it sits on what would be the landing area if this was a real nuc box. ¬†I used washers and screws to attach the strap and handles and then secured the handles with a bit of liquid nails and tacks. ¬†I also cut and added the balsa wood with the liquid nails as a place for the edges of frames to rest, effectively creating two small ledges that would prevent the frames from just sitting in the box. ¬†I’ve read a few posts where beeks have complained about queen cells at the bottom of frames being crushed in transport, but the ledges, plus the fact that this comes out to be a little taller than all standard nucs/frames, will prevent that from being an issue.

Nuc box straps

I personalized it with a fun little design, just quickly sketched lightly with a pencil.  I used a magic eraser to wipe away the pencil bit by bit after I was satisfied with how everything looked.

Nuc box design 1Nuc Box design 2

BOOM. You’re done! ¬†I MIGHT end up finishing the box with a clear coat of acrylic? laquer? something? to help protect it from the elements, but I’d rather leave it plain as I’m not sure what might negatively affect the bees.







I love Doritos.

I can literally polish off a family sized bag of Doritos on my own. In one sitting. This is why I never buy them. Way too dangerous.

I was so so excited to see tubs of baby kale at the farmer’s market this weekend. Kale may be so “last year” but I love it. And baby kale > regular kale because it has a more delicate flavor and, most importantly, is easier to use. You just wash it, throw it on a cookie sheet, use your fancy misto to add a bit of olive oil, and throw it in the oven at 415 degrees for 10-15 minutes. I add a bit of salt and pepper or garlic or vinegar after the olive oil depending on my mood and maybe a sprinkle of Parmesan after they’re done. I’ve also found that flipping the kale once during their cook time helps keep everything even. It’s also important to dry kale thoroughly and not to crowd the kale (nothing should over lap) or else the moisture that bakes out of the kale will just end up steaming the leaves.

And yes, you are cooking (a little) of the nutrients out of them, but you’ll still be getting TONS of vitamin A, K, and C with almost no fat or carbs, no sugar, no nasty preservatives. A cup of kale chips will be MAYBE 50 calories while a cup of Doritos is at least 150 plus 8g of fat plus carbs plus tons of ingredients I can’t say or spell – and NO good vitamins.


2nd Anniversary

This wall will probably be gone before our second anniversary rolls around on the 18th, but I thought I’d go ahead and update early. ¬†The next few weeks are JAM PACKED which either means I definitely won’t have time to change it up OR I definitely will change it up because it’s such good stress relief. ¬†I loved the spring wall, but I don’t consider May spring. ¬†It’s more “pre-summer.”

Any good ideas for a second anniversary gift? I’m still ironing out the details of my mother’s day gift so we’ll see how this goes. ¬†¬†


I’d also like to mention that this is really the first full hand lettering I’ve done without borrowing anything from something on Pinterest. ¬†I feel preeeeetty proud of myself for that, even though it didn’t come out as well as I’d like. ¬†I would LOVE to find a class on hand lettering and typography but I don’t even know where to start. ¬†