Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We've Gone To the Bees, Part 2

It was here. Bee Day 2010. The day dawned warm and sunny. Just as we wanted.

The boxes, containing full frames of honey, were in the garage and ready to go. Now all we had to do was get started.

We actually waited until the afternoon because my dad wanted to do the extracting at the warmest point in the day. And we did not have to do the big job on our own! For a couple hours at the beginning we had a guy from church come over. He is wanting to get into beekeeping, so helping us out was a great chance for him to learn, and sure made things easier for us! After he left, a friend of my dad's came over and helped out.

This is a full frame of honey. It is capped off and ready to go.

We thought we had enough jars. . .but ended up getting so much honey that we needed more jars! We had to quickly round up more.

The cappings are melted off with this heated knife. It melts the wax and they slide right off. Leaving them looking like this:

My dad scrapped the cappings off while the guy from church spun the extractor. 
I made sure the jars of honey did not overflow. :)

This is a close-up of a frame of honey. See the white "ashy" stuff on top? that's the cappings. Under that is the honey.

See how it peels off?

The honey comes out the bottom of the extractor like this. All the waxy bits you see in the jar, and all those bubbles, float to the top and are skimmed off, later, leaving pure, clear honey.

These are pans full of cappings. We drained about 2 gallons of honey out of those pans and then the wax can be chewed for those who want to have the fun of chewing wax to get honey.

This is about half of the final honey. We ended up with about 20 gallons this year. And we found out that the bees are still producing, so we might do the extraction process again this year and get more honey.

I think we are going to be well supplied with honey for quite some time!

We've Gone To the Bees, Part 1

There aren't a whole lot of hot days left this summer. Truth is, it is now the end of August and before we know it, it will be sweater and hot apple cider weather. And in all actuality, it is already starting to feel like fall, especially in the mornings.

Knowing that our days of warm afternoons were quickly drawing to an end, and knowing that we needed to get honey out of our beehives before the cold weather set in, we dubbed last Wednesday "Bee Day."

But before Bee Day, there were preparations that had to take place.

The week before Bee Day, my dad went into his beehives to check things out and remove a couple full frames of honey.

The day before Bee Day, my dad went into the hives again and moved all the full frames out of the hive and into the garage (leaving behind as many bees as possible).

My job was to open the side door on the garage when my dad would bring the frames in (we kept it closed to keep more bees out) and lift the lid on the box that the frames were going in.

Bees really are amazing. Well, I guess I should say that God is amazing in that he created these little tiny insects that can do some amazing things.

For example. . .

When my dad went in and took out frames the week before Bee Day, this left more room in the boxes for the bees. But they did not want to waste precious space. So they created free-standing honeycomb. Perfect little hexagons that they started filling with more honey. I was quite amazed.

Anyway, here's some more pictures from the day before Bee Day. . .

Our "Honey Farm"

The garage, ready for the big day.

Buzzy Bees.

The stuff on top is comb the bees created themselves.

Lots of honeycomb. . .and lots of bees!

Fair 2010: Snickerdoodles

1st Place, Snickerdoodles Category
North Idaho Fair & Rodeo 2010

1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

(1) Heat oven to 400-degrees. In large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups sugar and butter; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs; blend well. Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; mix well.

(2) In small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

(3) Bake at 400-degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheets.
I found that baking the cookies for 9 minutes was just about perfect. At least in our oven. :)

Fair 2010: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2nd Place, Oatmeal Cookie Category
North Idaho Fair & Rodeo 2010

1-1/2 cups raisins
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup butter
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/3 cups brown sugar, packed
2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/8 teaspoon baking powder
3-3/4 cups oatmeal

(1) Cover raisins with warm water and soak for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly and set aside.

(2) Combine eggs, water, vanilla, butter and sugars in mixing bowl. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add to egg mixture and beat at low speed 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Add oatmeal and raisins, and mix until blended. Chill. (I chilled overnight, but probably did not need to leave it that long)

(3) Roll into balls about 1" diameter and place on baking pan. Flatten to about 1/4".

(4) Bake at 375-degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Fair 2010: Uncle Tom's Peanut Butter Cookies

2nd Place, Peanut Butter Cookie Category
North Idaho Fair & Rodeo 2010

2-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

(1) Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat shortening and butter for 30 seconds. Add peanut butter and sugars. Beat until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add dry ingredients and beat until well blended.

(2) Shape dough into 1" balls. Place 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Crisscross with the tines of a fork.

(3) Bake about 10 minutes in a 375-degree oven. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Prepare For The Fair!

One of my very favorite parts of summer is the fair. Of course, with the fair means the dawning of the end of summer/fall, but it is still one of my favorite parts of the season we call Summer.

My mom and I both love to enter things in the fair. At least one of us usually enters baked goods, and I have entered photography once or twice. I did not have my act together to get any photography entered this year, but I did go on a baking spree last weekend so I would have some baked goods to enter.

I will share pictures from the fair later, but for now let me share what I entered. 

Yep, that is three batches of tasty cookies. We still have some, because, well, it takes a bit of time to eat through 3 batches of cookies when you don't eat very many at a time. I made three different kinds of cookies: Peanut Butter, Oatmeal and Snickerdoodles.

I will post the recipes in three separate posts, along with their results. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Things I Love: Thrift Stores & Skirts

As most of you who know me probably know, I am a big fan of thrift store shopping. In fact, I would venture so far as to say that 90% of my wardrobe has come from thrift stores, or has been given to me secondhand. I don't know, I just usually find that you can get good quality clothes at a good price at thrift stores, so my mom and I enjoy going almost every weekend.

This weekend I took some friends thrift store shopping to introduce them to the fun. My friend Sarah is also a big thrift store shopper, so she and I had fun watching our friends Kristy & Michelle discover how much fun it is. We all found something fun.

While out, we decided to have lunch at Sonic because it is kind of a treat when we venture to the next town over. While we were enjoying our 99-cent hamburgers (which totally trump hamburgers off of other fast food value menus, at a much better price), tots with cheese (I never had tater tots as a kid but love them now!) and cherry limeade (a Sonic favorite), the friendly carhops rolled around on their roller skates to offer customers samples of a limeaid creme slushy. We, of course, accepted a sample and had fun drinking our little slushy out of the miniature plastic cup. And it was quite tasty.

I mentioned that we all found some treasures on our outing. I only found two things this time, but I am quite pleased with what I found.

First up. . .a mint green knee-length corduroy skirt by Bass. I have no idea what this would cost new at the store, but I can almost guarantee it is more than the $2.99 I paid at Goodwill.

This is me wearing the skirt. I couldn't take a full-length picture since the flash would look funny in my mirror, so you just get the skirt and my shoes. :) These shoes work but what I would really like to find to make this outfit more winter friendly (as well as more stylish and more fun) is a pair of tall black leather boots. Like, almost knee-high boots. I saw some at a thrift store this weekend and should've looked at them more closely. What do you think? I also think that some cream colored ribbed tights could be cute with this outfit. I'm trying to think of ways to make it winter friendly, because corduroy is pretty fall/winterish. And I find skirts awfully not-so-fun in the winter because my legs get cold.

My other find. A purple Columbia fleece. I did not have a fleece jacket for winter, and had been wanting one, so when I saw this one I knew it would be perfect. On the Columbia website, they have similar fleece jackets anywhere from $35 to $60-something. I paid only $3.75. Yes!

Yep, I'm pretty pleased with my finds. :)

As a side note, I think I need to stop looking in the skirt section at thrift stores. The green corduroy skirt brings me to a grand total of 22 skirts in my closet. Not including my floor-length formal skirt, and not including any of my dresses. Plus not including any skirts in my winter clothes boxes (I can think of at least one). I already knew I had a shoe fetish. I think I have a skirt fetish, too. :)

EDIT (08/23/10) - When I woke up this morning and realized I needed to take the dogs on their walk and it was only 51-degrees outside, I decided to wear my new purple fleece. I am pleased to report that it kept me quite warm.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ode to the Golden State (warning, picture heavy post!!!)

I was told that I needed to update my blog (which is totally true!), so here is an update about my California trip. Rather than writing full on paragraphs about the trip with exquisite detail, I decided to share pictures with brief captions. Enjoy!

Leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again.

Dinner the first night, at My Brother's BBQ.

Getty Center, overlooking Los Angeles. Amazing.

American Girl Place. Totally amazing.

Pat Sajak's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Totally exciting, because I am a huge Wheel of Fortune fan. :)

Hollywood & Vine. Pretty much all of my knowledge of Hollywood street names and intersections comes from the Jan & Dean song, Dead Man's Curve, and I don't remember any mention of Hollywood and Vine, but my mom assures me it is, in fact, one of the most famous intersections in Hollywood. :)

Can't go to CA without having at least one In-N-Out burger. Or three. Or four.

Mrs. G. and Kobe. She was my Awana leader in Chums.

The House That Built Me.

I thought if I could touch this place, or feel it, this brokenness inside me might start healing. Out here it's like I'm someone else, I thought that maybe I could find myself. If I could just come in I swear I'll leave. Won't take nothing but a memory from the house that built me. Thanks, Miranda Lambert, for putting it so well.

Guide dog puppies!

Alisa (my puppy raising friend)

Aley - my childhood best friend, and still such a dear, dear friend of mine.

Joni & Friends.

Family photos.

Old memories revisited.

Birthday girls!

My wonderful grandparents, who I love very much. :)

Happy 90th Birthday, Grama!

More friends!


The Pacific Ocean.

Several visits with my Uncle Tom.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California

Air Force One

The President's final resting place.

Berlin Wall

A building from my old hometown that is featured in Weird Al's Amish Paradise music video

Good Morning, Burbank! Must I really go home???

New shoes and great memories. Waiting in the SeaTac airport, still not wanting to go home.

As we descend into Spokane, I realize reality awaits, but I have some amazing memories to last me a lifetime.

What a fun trip. Can't wait to go back, and it was the highlight of my summer. For sure. :)