Wednesday, July 23, 2014


We're visiting my sister in southwest Washington--checking on the job market, among other things--and we are once again enjoying blueberry season with her family.

The season is just ramping up with lot's of unripe berries covering her bushes.

Along with plenty of ripe ones as well.

It's a part of our daily rhythm here to spend a few minutes every day walking down her row of bushes scanning for the pops of blue.

Even Rory.

Yep, he can spot the berries, and if we don't pick them fast enough for him he lunges out of our arms to get them himself!

He wolfs them down so quickly I doubt he's chewing them.  And he makes sounds that make me think of the tremendous mouthful little bear eats in Blueberries for Sal.

I also feel strange security knowing that If I was to loose little Rory in the woods he could feed himself to stay alive until he was rescued!

Just kidding.

But some days we pick colanders full of berries and make all the delicious blueberry things we can think of: blueberry muffins and pancakes, blueberry pie and cobbler, plenty of blueberry jam.  And a new one this year--blueberry cream cheese!

Sometimes I forget that anything I've eaten as a processed food from the grocery store will invariably taste more delicious than imaginable when recreated with fresh ingredients at home.

(Move over little silver plastic tub--here comes the real deal!)

The homemade blueberry cream cheese my brother-in-law made was a delicious hit, and a perfect match for Jeremy's homemade bagels.  (It's true my sister and I both scored in the husband department!)

Blueberries every day.

Can you blame us for wanting to move here?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Try Again

Obviously there was a hiccup in the video as originally posted in the last blog.  The soundtrack took over the video!!!

Here's the fixed version:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Moving the Bee Colony --Video Blog

Like a love-crazed fool I dreamed we might just be able to move the colony of bees across the country with us somehow. 

Commercial colonies get moved all the time.  --We even saw a bee-transport truck when we were on our road-trip for spring break.

(Buzz Buzz)

But of course while I was trying to convince myself of the legitimacy of my plan national news broke with the story of a bee transport fiasco!

So I had to downsize my plan and come up with "plan B".

I lay out my plan here in video blog #3:

Here's the link to the source of the plans I consulted.
*   *   *   *   *

In the end we went with "plan C".  We sold the entire colony to some friends.  I didn't want to weaken the colony by removing a nucleus colony, and then have the remaining colony die on our friends.  It was a really strong colony and probably would have been fine.  But I didn't want to lessen the chances of our friends being successful in beekeeping. 

It was a really difficult thing to do emotionally.  Just feeling like I was giving up something really important in my life, and--most significantly--that I don't know when I will be able to get started with again.

In the end "plan C" was just about as crazy as plan A--it still involved moving a full colony of bees.  

They sell all kinds of fancy equipment for moving bees.  We didn't buy any of it.  We did it our own crazy, cheap way.  

 We waited until night after dark, when the bees were all hopefully in from foraging.  Luckily it wasn't too warm and the bees were not bearding much.

So we stuffed the entrance with a cloth.

Then we separated the super from the brood boxes and wrapped the bottom of the super and top of the brood boxes with packing paper.

(Very quickly trying to not let out all the bees!)

Then we loaded them into our van, and drove them away.  The top super was full of honey, so it weighed as much as the two brood boxes together.  

We got to our friends' house.  Unloaded it, set it up, added the second super.  Instant honey-factory!

It was way more complicated than that!

I had a wardrobe malfunction (user-error) and ended up running around with bees in my hair!  I was swatting at my ponytail with my hive tool trying to remove the rubber band without using my fingers and getting stung.  Also, trying to not scream and freak out the friends who were going to be taking over bee-duty! (We had told them "It's sooo easy!")

And then it was over.  Our bees were no longer ours.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Pizza Plant

A great laugh-out-loud moment in a favorite movie of ours, WALL-E, is when the captain, who has spent his whole life on a space ship learns about earth.

He exclaims, "AUTO! Earth is amazing! These are called 'farms'. Humans would put seeds in the ground, pour water on them, and they grow food - like, pizza!"

Well apparently he wasn't too far from the truth.  We planted a few "pizza plants" when we got to our summer home.

OK, actually just basil.  But we've called basil "pizza plant" in our little family for quite a few years, and apparently we're not the only ones that consider it such.

The smell of fresh basil just makes us imagine a chewy crust, bright tomato sauce, and gooey mozzarella cheese along with it.

This is where we planted our pizza plants, in an overgrown herb garden on the property.  It has square tiles that make us think that it was originally planted in one of those cute checkerboard plantings, but the perennial herbs have grown unchecked throughout the entire plot.

The tall herbs in the back (and everywhere) is oregano--which is great in our pizza sauce.  The lower herb to the middle right, that looks pretty brown, is thyme--also good in the pizza sauce.  Rosemary would also be good in it, but there was just a bunch of dead rosemary where the bare dirt is.

The grey dead leaves in the middle are sage, but just down from them are a decent patch of still-living sage.  Most of our recipes for sage are to accompany sweet potatoes, but apparently it's a good match with turkey as well.

We've cleaned out quite a bit of this bed already, but we have a bit more work to get it looking really nice.  We're just super excited to have a space to grow some herbs this summer.  And definitely excited to make lot's of homemade pizza.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When Life Gives You Lemons

We've taken to an extreme level the old adage about "when life gives you lemons".

Things were starting to taste really bitter in our little home on the prairie.  Six months of earnest job searching.  Dozens (and dozens) of rejection letters.   Jeremy and I each trying to support the other, taking it in turn to pull each other up out of despair.

We finally decided we simply needed a little more of the sweet things in our life--some sugar with our lemons, so we could make some lemonade.

So we moved.

And it is sweet.

And though we pray we will some day soon be making something as purely sweet as fresh apple cider, for now we're content with the sweetness we've found to accompany the bitter we can't currently escape.


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