The Buzz of Rainy Days: What Can You Do?

Do you have little ones in your life? It could be your kids, grand kids, nieces, or nephews. It could be your friend’s kids, the kids you babysit, or the ones you teach. I bet they’re getting restless right about now. Snow and rain and cold, Cold, COLD! Just when many of us though that winter was going to be mild this year, it slammed into us. That means lately, kids have been kept in a lot more than they would like. They’re getting bored, irritable, and antsy. They’re probably starting to bicker, and drive you crazy. So what can you do?

Here are a few activities that will occupy them, alleviate some boredom.

 

Edible Peanut Butter Play Dough

Here’s a fun, edible clay that will keep many kids occupied for hours. You will need to mix together:

  • 1 C creamy peanut butter
  • 1 ½ C dried milk
  • ¼ C honey

Mix until the mixture forms a ball. Knead until smooth. Add more dried milk as needed while mixing/kneading to make a smooth, pliable ball that doesn’t stick to the hands, bowl, or the surface it is kneaded on.

Hand out chunks to the kids. Encourage the kids to form the dough into animals and other shapes. Or, break out the cookie cutters. The really cool thing about this clay is that the kids can eat their masterpieces, if you’re OK with that. If the kids will be eating their creations, consider making available dried fruit, candies, baking chips, nuts, seeds, pretzel sticks, and/or shredded coconut to decorate their project. Before letting the kids eat their sculptures, or putting the clay back into the storage container, consider immortalizing their creations with a quick photo. Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator. If the dough develops an off odor, throw it out.

Things to consider:

  • Make sure any kids involved do not have nut or milk allergies.
  • This activity is not recommended over shag carpeting. Consider covering the carpet if you will be doing this activity in a carpeted area..
  • Have kids wear an older shirt, since the oils from the peanut butter can transfer from the clay, to their hands, and onto their cloths.
  • If you want to occupy the kids, let them play for awhile before cleaning up.
  • Make sure kids wash their hands before and after playing with the clay.
  • Clean the play surface before handing out the play dough.
  • Even the best behaved kids are going to be tempted to nibble on the clay (which is ok, if you’re OK with it). Keep this in mind when handing out chunks of clay to play with.
  • Refrigerate unused portions for another day.

 

Sensory Play Box

Let your child play with a homemade sensory box. In a box or bin, place dries pasta, dried beans, beads, small toys, buttons, small smooth pieces of glass, washers, small pom poms, etc. Pebbles, sand, fake paper grass, toilet paper tubes, and fake flower tops and leaves can be fun too. Make sure to use a variety of textures, colors, and sizes.

Allow the kids to free play. Some will make up little games, others will play pretend, or they will explore differences between the items in the box. For extra fun, include a spoon, a measuring cup, and a magnifying glass. A pair of chopsticks, tweezers and/or tongs can also be very fun when added to the box.

To get a bigger bang from your box, you can change things up. You can turn your sensory bin into more than one activity. For example, give your child an ice cube tray or egg carton and encourage them to sort by different textures, colors, shapes, types of item, etc. Or challenge them to see which items they can pick up with chopsticks. Regardless of how the kids choose to play, many kids will play quietly with a sensory box as long as you let them.

Things to consider:

  • Small items pose a choking hazard.
  • If the child will be sitting on the floor to do this activity, consider putting down a small blanket or sheet. When the child is finished playing, simply pick up the floor covering, and pour the items back into the box.
  • Shorter, flatter boxes/bins work better than really deep ones.
  • If you want to occupy the kids, let them play for awhile.

 

 

Movie Day

Recreate the magic of a movie theater right in your home. Our top picks are: Epic, A Bug’s Life, James and the Giant Peach, and Antz . A single movie, or a marathon –  your choice. All it takes is a good movie(s), a few treats, a drink, some popcorn, and a very dark room, and you’re ready to go. Besides candy and popcorn, consider cheese chunks, dried fruit, nuts and small pieces of fresh fruits and veggies. Don’t forget to have intermissions as needed, for bathroom breaks, to stretch, and to refresh treats and drinks.

 

I was asked over my shoulder a few moments ago “But what does this have to do with honey bees?” My answer to all of you is, as much or as little as you want it to. The Play dough can just be play dough, or it can turn into a discussion on bees, how they make honey, and why. The sensory boxes can be bee themed if you like. Or not. If they are, you can ask “What/why”  type questions to get your kids minds going. Questions like “Why do you think bees like flowers?” The movies can be any type of movies. They can just be a movie if you want. Or they can be the starting point for many discussions on insects, pollinators, or bee. That’s the beauty of these activities. They can be whatever you want or need them to be.

The Sweet Secrets of Honey: A More Bees Q and A

Honey: Asked & Answered

Customers at markets and even everyday friends always come up to us with bee or honey related questions. Things like: “What is honey made of?”, “Why does various honeys taste different?”, “Why does honey crystallize?” “Can I stop or slow the crystallization?”, and “Can honey freeze?”. Well, we are here to answer these questions of yours. Just keep reading and if your question wasn’t answered here, leave a comment and we will get to it next time.

 

What is honey made out of?

For some people, the answer is simply as follows:The bee drinks up the nectar, takes it back to the hive, and spits it back up. This is what becomes the honey we are so fond of.

 

But that’s not enough for others. They want to know what honey looks like chemically? Is it all one compound, or is it a mixture?

 

Honey is a little bit of water (averages ~18%)  with lots of other stuff dissolved into it. Mostly, different types of sugar. Fructose (~30% – 44%) and glucose(averages ~25% – 40%), are the two most abundant sugars in honey; these are both monosaccharides. Monosaccharides are  the simplest form of sugar that when broken down become energy. Several different disaccharides (a double sugar made of two sugar molecules bound to each other, like sucrose) are next, with a combined average percentage of ~9%. Then oligosaccharides (sugar molecules made up of chain of several single sugars attached to each other) are next with a combined average percentage of ~4%. These are all followed by the minute amounts of enzymes, amino acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, organic acids, pollen, and other substances that make honey more than just a mixture of sugars in water.

 

Why does various honeys taste different?

The exact percentages of the different substances in honey determine how a honey tastes. These percentages are highly dependent upon the types of flowers that provided nectar to the bees. This is why honey from one plant source tastes different than honey from a different plant source. The relative concentrations of the different sugars affect how sweet the honey tastes. Honey’s with higher fructose concentration taste sweeter. On the other hand, differing relative ratios of the trace aliphatic acids (amino, and organic) in honey are what impart the characteristic flavors to different types of honey.

 

Why does honey crystallized?

The sugars cause a phenomenon called crystallization because honey is a very concentrated sugar solution. When it first forms, there is more sugar dissolved in the water than the water should be able to hold. That means when it forms, honey is a supersaturated sugar solution. If a seed crystal forms in the honey, or is introduced into the honey, sugars can come crashing out of the solution.

 

Differences in water content of the honey, storage temperature, and glucose content all affect weather or not a honey will crystallize, and the texture of the crystals that will form. Honeys with higher glucose content, as well as those with lower water content are more likely to crystallize. Any given honey is most likely to crystallize fastest between 55℉ (13℃) and 63℉ (17℃). Seed crystals occur at the greatest rate between 41℉ (5℃) and 46℉ (8℃).

 

Below 41℉ (5℃), crystallization will not occur at all.

 

Because different honeys have differing ratios of sugar to water, and fructose to glucose, different honey varieties are more or less likely to crystalline.

 

Can honey freeze?

Water freezes, so does honey? The short answer is no, at least, not like you might think. And here’s why. Honey is more than just water. It is a little bit of water (14%-20%), with a mixture of mostly sugars dissolved into that small amount of water. This solution is very viscous, and It doesn’t behave like pure water at all. As water cools, the water molecules become regularly arranged, it becomes a crystalline solid (ice) at 32℉ (0℃). The process of going from a liquid to a crystalline solid is called freezing.

 

As honey is cooled, it becomes increasingly viscous and slow moving. At 32℉, where water freezes to ice, honey is still a free flowing liquid. Once honey gets down to -4℉ (-20℃) it appears to be a solid, but it is actually still an extremely slow moving liquid. When it reaches -44℉ it begins to change into a glass.  By the time it reaches -60℉, the honey is now in a glassy state. A glassy state is a semi amorphous state. An amorphous state is made up of a disordered jumble of molecules bound together. Since honey does not turn into a crystalline solid, it technically does not “freeze.”

 

Can I keep my honey from crystallizing?

The best option for long term to store the honey is to keep the honey below 41℉. While your fridge should be set down around this temperature, the temperature can fluctuate allowing the honey to reach the 41℉ to 46℉ the danger zone for seed formation. The freezer is a safer bet because it is not likely to reach the danger zone even with opening and closing and causing the temperature to fluctuate. As was said before when the temperature is below 41℉, all crystallization stops. So, if you have the freezer space, this is an option but make sure that there is a 1 inch head space, to allow for any expansion of the honey as it cools.

 

You basically have two choices. Between 70℉ (21℃) and 104℉(40℃), or below 41℉(5℃).

 

If you want to slow down the whole crystallization process, store your honey above 70℉. So, not your unfinished basement in the winter. If your cupboards are on an exterior wall, check their temperature to make sure they stay warm enough. Also make sure your storage area doesn’t get too hot. Storing honey above 104℉ degrees will cause a loss in quality. And remember, given enough time, raw honey stored above 70℉ may develop crystals, but storing at this higher temperature will greatly slow it down.

Closer look at the crystallization of  honey

Any More Questions?

So, with that we hope covered some questions you all may have had about honey. However, if we haven’t, feel free to leave us some more and we will answer them in due time as well. If you have other questions regarding our products then click this link if you have a question like: “My dog just ate my lip balm, will he be okay?”. As crazy as it sounds, we have even answered that. Stay tuned and we will see you all again!

All about honey

Composition of honey

Honey and temperature

Is Glass Liquid or Solid

Queen Bee for a Day

5 ways to leave mom feeling like the queen of the hive

 

Mom’s are loving, selfless, fierce cornerstones of support at their best, and crazed, tyrannical  groughes at their worst moments. But most of them rarely feel like a queen. They’re too busy alternating between working to support their families, and cleaning up messes, kissing owies, breaking up fights, cooking, cleaning, and doing all the other things mothers do.

 

So basically, they’re too busy taking care of the needs of others.

 

 

For Mother’s day this year, why not make your special mom feel like a queen? Try one of these ideas for a day that will leave her feeling like royalty:

 

  • Clean up without being asked. Pick up all the laundry and wash it. Tidy the flat surfaces. Dump the garbage. Do the dishes and wipe down the counters. Vacuum. Talk to your kids, if they are big enough to participate. Let them know what you are doing, and why. Then, do it all with a smile. Do it all without expecting praise. Do it as a gift. Make it about that special mom, and not you.

 

  • Detail mom’s car. Wash and wax it. Clean the windows. Armorall the tires and Dash. Vacuum the carpets. Add an air freshener for good measure. You could even go all out and hang a charm to her rearview mirror.  It will remind her of your thoughtful act every time she drives anywhere.

 

  • Plan a small family outing, and make it something she has been wanting to do. Watch and listen. Mothers drop hints and clues all the time about their wants and dreams. Make one come true. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be genuine. Maybe it’s a new garden store she wants to visit, a movie she really wants to see, or a hiking trail she wants to try. Coach the kids in advance, so they know that they shouldn’t complain. Explain that being selfless is something people sometimes do for those they care about, and remind them that mom usually picks activities that need to get done, or that others want to do, not what she really wants to do. If that doesn’t work, explain that the activity is a present. Remind them that mothers are selfless all the time.

  • Call a friend or relative of hers, and send them to lunch or dinner on you.  Sometimes, moms are so busy taking care of others, they don’t always get the chance to really connect with their friends or family. Remember to make sure that the kids get fed, and the mess from it is cleaned up before mom gets back.

  • Pamper her like a queen for the day. Have her sit down and relax. Let her have total control of the TV remote, or offer up a few of her favorite books. Make sure the kids know you are the go-to person if they need anything. Bring her drinks and food so that she doesn’t have to get them for herself. Finally, make sure you clean up any messes you make, so your special mother isn’t faced with a disaster after she gets up from her time spent relaxing.

 

Remember, you don’t have to wait for mothers day to come around to make the mothers in your life to feel truly royal. And your gestures don’t have to be grand or expensive.They just have to be thoughtful and genuine. So what will you do this Mother’s for your mom?

Goodwill Toward Trees (and Bees)

The 27th of this month will mark the passing of a day that is often ignored,

National Arbor day.

 

You’ve likely heard of it when you were a kid in grade school. They probably told you that trees were important. You probably did a craft project. You may have even helped plant a tree at your school.

Odds are, many of you haven’t given Arbor Day much thought since then.  So, I’m really glad you’re taking a look at this post.

 

For those of you who don’t remember, Arbor Day is a day to reflect, and act…by considering the importance of trees, and by planting them. Arbor Day in America has its roots in 1872 Nebraska, where a million trees were planted in the largely treeless prairie state in a single day, April 10th. The founder of Arbor Day was Julius Sterling Morton, a Nebraska newspaper editor. It was globalized largely through the efforts of a Connecticut man named Birdsey Northrop, and the newly formed American Forestry Association. Today, Arbor Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. The name varies, but the ideas are the same and, the actual date of celebration varies, just as the climates and growing seasons varies in each country. Click on this link to see when and how other countries celebrate.

So why are trees so important? It’s more than just because of their aesthetic value. They also pack a very big environmental punch. From acting as carbon sinks and producing oxygen, providing habitat, and stabilizing land, to moderating ground temperature, and storing water, trees are immensely important to the world as we know it. They can even be more than that. they can, and do provide, building materials, fuel, food, and even medicines and with proper management, they can do so indefinitely.

We’ll be planting a Bee Bee tree in our yard this year for Arbor Day. We ordered it from Bowman Farm and Nursery out of Hillsboro, OR. Do you plan on celebrating Arbor Day this year by planting a tree in your yard? Or will you participate in an organized celebration &/or tree planting through your town, scouting troop, or gardening club? Many cities and organizations sponsor Arbor Day activities. The City of Portland has a fabulous Arbor Day celebration scheduled for April 21st. It will be held in Mt. Scott Park from 10am-3pm. Check out this link for more information.

 

The bees will absolutely love the Bee Bee tree. It will feed lots of them, and they will in turn help feed the world. Some people probably think that one tree, cut down or planted, will make little difference in this world, but each tree matters. Taken together, they mark the movement towards a world that is a little better or a little worse, depending on which is greater, the rate of cutting or the rate of planting. The benefits and resources they will provide can either be plentiful or scarce, so we definitely need to be weary of what we do with this wonderful gift of nature. So plant a tree for a better life and a better future for yourself, your family, your world.

 

Additional stuff:

 

Would you like to receive 10 free trees to plant in your yard? By signing up with the National Arbor Day Foundation, you can receive 10 free trees. They even offer different options for the type of trees.  10 Free trees from Arbor Day Foundation

 

Time article on the history of Arbor Day in America

Thank the Bees for Pysanky

When I was a small child, my class went to visit a museum devoted to many different cultures. It was made up of a cluster of small cottages, with each dedicated to a different culture; such as Denmark, China, and Hungary. Yet, the House of Ukraine stuck out to me the most when I looked upon a basket of ornate and fantastically decorated eggs on display. I was so ecstatic about these pretty little eggs throughout the rest of the day and until we all went home. I remember when I tried to tell my mom about these eggs with unique lines and brilliant colors that my younger self couldn’t properly explain, and there was no computer to look up proof of these Easter wonders as the internet did not exist – it was the early 1970’s. So, that fantastical image of the decorated eggs sat in the back of my mind for years and years, until one day when I was home from college.

It was spring break; as I recall, I had left college and returned home to visit my family. My high school friends came over to hang out and ended up taking me to some sort of bazaar or fair that I can’t quite recall the name or proper title of. Several booths of artisans, crafters, and self established little businesses filled the gym of this local college where I encountered a wonderful ghost from my past. This lady there was decorating eggs, just like the  ones from when I was a kid.I was so happy to see them took it upon myself to learn of these neat little wonders. One of the coolest things I remember she was using beeswax to write designs on an egg. “It has to be beeswax. No other wax will work.” She told those of us watching. What I know now is that other waxes paraffin or soy do not have the properties that beeswax has and they won’t seal the egg or come off the egg cleanly at the end. Beeswax has very unique properties that are gentle enough to not harm the egg shell.

My bored friends drug me away before I could learn more. It was the late 1980’s and information still was’t at your fingertips like it is now. When I went back to school, I was so busy with classes and work, that I quickly forgot about the eggs again.

Later on in life, I popped into the bookstore, looking for a recommended title on parenting, and saw a book on decorated eggs. From the sublimely simple to the gloriously intricate, the book was dedicated to Eastern European egg art. Ukrainian pysanky, Polish pisanki, Croatian pisanici, Sorbian pisaci. The book called to me, but my time and funds were limited, so I put it back, and got the book I had come looking for. With three small children and a full time job there was not time for such a luxury. I was so busy keeping up with day to day life, and my thoughts of eggs were put aside again.

Since then, computers have brought the world to our fingertips. I’ve learned that most countries in Eastern and Central Europe have egg decorating traditions, and these traditions have a few things in common. The eggs are prized possessions, and often given as gifts, meant to bring luck or protection to the owner. Many of the motifs, patterns, and colors have traditional meanings; such as green meaning spring, hope, and growth and purple meaning fasting, faith, patience, and trust., ect. Many of the cultures that make the Pysanky eggs happen to keep similar traditions. The craft is passed from one generation to the next, with many families having their own recognizable style. Almost all of them are made using a wax-resist method, and all of the wax-resist methods rely upon beeswax.

Beeswax is necessary for the wax-resist methods because it adheres well to to egg shells; doesn’t crack, rub, or scrape off; and fills in even the fine pores of the egg shell. Other waxes either don’t stick well or don’t fill the pores of the eggshell. This means that only beeswax keeps the colored dyes used in the wax-resist method exactly where you want them to be. Only beeswax can give fine crisp lines and; when done, the beeswax melts off, without causing discoloration to the egg.

The kids are much older now, but life isn’t any simpler. Now, we keep bees and make and sell beeswax and honey body products. There still isn’t much spare time. But I do get to make my own colorful creations using beeswax. They are not eggs they are our soaps and without it, our products just wouldn’t be the same.

Neither would the decorated eggs of Central and Eastern Europe.

 

So, You Wanna Be A Beekeeper?

Every market season, all the way into the fall, people tell us how they are going to get bees.  Many think that they can just go out at any time and buy some. Many people don’t realize that by the time they see us in the markets, it may just be too late to get bees for the year. You see; most of the sales of bees occur in spring, and orders often have to be made in March or April. So, by the time you see us in a farmers’ market in June or July, it’s likely too late for you to go buy bees for the year. So, if you are going to have bees this year, now is the time to get the ball rolling

 

What should you do and when should you do it? Before anything; you should get your money together to start keeping bees can cost as little as $400 and up to $2000 depending on what equipment you get.

 

First, you need to see what your local laws and regulations, zoning codes, and CC&R’s have to say about it. Bees may or may not be in your future.So take a few moments to find out if you are allowed to own bees where you live, and if there are any restrictions

For example, most Oregon cities in the Portland Metro have regulations covering the owning of bees, Clark county doesn’t.

 

Second, get online and see when bees will be available for your area, and when orders can be placed. Keep in mind that demand outpaces availability in some area, and make your order as soon as you are sure you are ready. Ready means you have figured out what you want, and you have bought and set up a hive so it is ready to house the bees (or will be buying an assembled hive with your bees). See links below for some suppliers.

 

Before ordering your bees, jump online, go to the library, or go to a bee supply store, and research, research, research. Find a mentor and check out local resources: clubs, associations, and the likes. Because there are lots of things to consider when making your choices.

What will be your main goal in keeping bees? Providing local pollinators, creating survivor stock, or harvesting honey? Each goal can affect the type of bees you buy and the type of hive you house them in.

 

What kind of bees should you buy? Russian, Italian, or Carniolan? What is the difference between each type? What are their pros and cons? Which is best suited to your goals? And what is the availability of each? All of these questions should be considered when making your choice. Here’s a great discussion about bee types that covers some of these questions.

 

How should you get your bees? Should you order a package, which is a wire mesh box full of bees with a mated queen included, but no frames? The packages are sold by the pound usually, and a pound of bees is usually between 3,000 – 4,000 bees or should you buy a nuc (nucleus colony), which is a mini hive (usually 3-5 frames of drawn wax with honey, worker bees, and a mated queen bee). So which is better? Nucs cost a bit more, but because they contain frames of drawn wax, they are ready to go. Package bees need to expend time and resources to draw out wax but the bees will feel like they are a swarm and will draw out wax more quickly then the queen can start laying eggs bees can start storing honey and pollen. Because of this, it can take a little longer for a package to take off, and you will likely have to supplement feed a package if it is early in the season, and there aren’t sufficient resources available yet in terms of open flowers in your area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, consider What kind of hive you should get. Where will you get it? How much will it cost? Will you buy it pre-assembled, will you buy one you need to assemble yourself, or will you look up plans and make your own? You might even decide to buy a kit that includes a basic hive along with some tools &/or bees. This article has a nice discussion of the three main types of hives you are likely to encounter: the Langstroth, the Warre, and the Top-Bar Hive.

Langsworth
Warre
Top-bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you go with Langswroth you will need to pick if you are going with 10 frame or 8 frame. I recommenced you go with 8 frame,  a box full of honey can weigh a lot and the two extra frames push the weight further from your body pulling on your more. It is what commercial beekeepers use and it is lighter than the 10 frame boxes. The other choice is to deeps or mediums boxes for you hives. I suggest mediums because they are lighter, a box full of honey can weigh a lot and the the shorter boxes will cut the weight down. An eight frame medium box full of honey will weigh about ½ what a 10 frame deep box will weight.

 

You also need some basic tools, A hive tool, frame grip, smoker (something you should try to use infrequently), Vail, protective clothing, marking tools, queen catcher, feeders, and queen excluders. There is a big list of options for the beekeeper..

 

What to do if you miss this year’s bee boat? You make sure you have thoroughly considered all the questions above, and you get everything ready for early next spring to place your order. Continue to educate yourself. Cultivate your new friendship with mentor(s), neighbors with bees, and local bee club and association members. Take a class or see if you can spend time this spring, summer, and fall shadowing a few established beekeeper, to learn the ropes.

 

By the way, that last paragraph applies to those of you who have already gotten bees. Further your knowledge. Help others further theirs. Remember, knowledge is power. And if the bees are going to flourish under our hands, we need to educate ourselves.

Here are some links to explore.

Examples of regulations covering the ownership of bees. This is not an exhaustive list. Please look for laws for your specific housing community (if it has CC&R’s), city, county, and state.

City of Portland, Oregon

Hillsboro, Oregon

State of Oregon – Oregon Bee Law

Clark County, WA

 

Local places to buy bees and bee supplies:

Ruhl Bee/Brushy Mountain Bee Supply

TSC

 

Local bee resources:

Beeline (Portland Area)

Clark County Beekeepers Association

WSU Extension

Seattle/Puget Sound

 

Been There, Done That- Portlanders, Why Not Liven Up Your St. Paddy’s Day?

Parades, festivals, corned beef and cabbage, green beer, pinches for those who don’t wear green, and don’t for get the parties. These can all be great fun!

But what if you feel like ‘Been there, done all that.’

Are you tired of the Same old, same old on St. Paddy’s Day?

 

How about something new this year.

 

Imagine a place where you can go that has fun and excitement all day long on St. Paddy’s day.  We’re talking samples galore, including food and drink, ‘How to’ demos, activities that you can participate in, lots of goodies that you can peruse, and take home with you- if the fancy strikes you. There will even be St. Paddy’s Day prizes.

 

What am I talking about, you ask?

 

Why; it’s The Woman’s Expo -right here in Portland- at the Oregon Convention Center, Saturday, March 17th – AKA St. Patrick’s Day.

Don’t let the name fool you- it’s isn’t just for those of the female persuasion. Fun can be had here by everyone -even kids! So, why not try something new? We’re going to; maybe we’ll see you there.

 

Still not sure? Check out their Facebook page, Groupon page, and website for more info. If you were wondering, The Woman’s Expo is one of two yearly fundraisers for The Portland Women’s Resource Initiative, which is an Oregon 501C3 organization.

 

Oh!  And before I forget – Mentioning this blog post at our booth will get you a free gift.

So; throw on some green this Saturday, and come check out the Woman’s Expo!

Seize the Magic

Depending on whether you go by the  meteorological definition or astronomical definition, you have anywhere from one week to three weeks, but either way, the official end to winter is in sight.  Right now, you’re probably sick of it if you live in an area still in the grips of winter. But in a few month, you may just miss it. So, take some time over the next week or two to get all those winter activities out of your system.

And no, I’m not talking about shoveling the driveway.  

 

I’m not even talking about the big, fun stuff. Things like skiing up on Mt Hood, which can actually be done well into the spring most years. (Downhill skiing goes into April or even May, and cross country goes into March). Even tubing/sledding can be done on Mount Hood well into March or April. Then there is ice skating, which can be done at several area rinks year around. These are fun, but they’re not the things I’m talking about.

 

I’m talking about the fun stuff you do at home, or in your neighborhood. The fun stuff that takes very little money to enjoy. What that fun stuff is, depends on who you are. It’s different for different people, but most of us have things we love to do that they can only be done in the winter. Like making a snowman, having a snowball fight, or building a snow fort with your kids or friends. And, yes, adults CAN do these things. We’re ALLOWED to, and they’re FUN.

Yet, there are more subtle things you could miss like an invigorating walk amidst the cool air and crisp snow. Perhaps even a stroll through the hushed falling snow, the soft sound enveloping you as the world around you seems frozen and peaceful.  Maybe looking out a window or staring up from a the field of snow around you to enjoying the bright yet  delicate blue that can only be found in a clear winter sky.

One of our favorites is taking outdoor winter pictures. Snow and ice can turn even the most mundane things magical. They can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. And with smart phones, we can all take part in this activity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lest forget all those things that can be done year round, but seem to be best when done in the cold of the winter. Like having a steaming hot mug of spiced cider, or rich hot chocolate stirred with the last of the candy canes. Snuggling deep down in the blankets on the couch while watching a movie with that special someone. We especially can’t leave out  basking in front of the fireplace, while you read your favorite book. All these things seem to be even better with the pervasive chill that goes while winter is still in the air.

Remember; there is less than a month -either way you look at it- to enjoy the wonders of winter and the chance it has to make memories with those you love. Time ticks away and the snow is melting; so what are you waiting for. Carpe diem, carpe vitam. Seize the day, seize life. Go out there and explore the magic of winter before the dawn of spring comes.

The Countdown to 2018

Are you gonna stay up this Sunday for the countdown to new year 2018? Yes you are!!! And we hope you have an epic time! Live it up enjoy 2017 to the last and final minutes. It will not come again and for lots of us it was a great year. But when you wake up on Monday morning or afternoon you may want to consider the meaning of a new beginning, or water and aspirin to calm that throbbing headache. I know that is not all of us but saying goodbye to the year is a reason to celebrate and it is also a reason to look forward to the new year. On Monday morning as the sun shines on a new year and a new day most of us will will be ready to make a resolve to become a new and better version of ourselves. Perhaps you have fitness goals to lose some weight or gain some muscle. Maybe it is to be a better friend, coworker, neighbor, or family member? Whatever it is, we hope you conquer your challenge. That you climb your mountain and defeat your doubts.

 

Yet; before you try to sculpt a new you in the gym or read up on self-improvement techniques – how about you hear us out and consider our little challenge for this year. They are simple at first; but can lead to incredible positive changes later on. Maybe if it seems too easy, then just take these as an extra hurdle in your race.

 

  1. The “Lemonade” resolution

 

The first challenge is for you to consciously decide right now that when life gives you lemons ( the unexpected, the unwanted, of the truly upsetting) you will, whenever possible, make the best of it – you’ll make lemonade from life’s lemons.

 

That’s not to say that you should blindly accept all the bad with a smile.  Only that you will look for the positive where you can, and salvage what you can.

 

No money to go to the movies this week (average cost for a family of 4 is a whopping $60)?  You can worry about money and can be mad, or you can make a pan of brownies, pop a few bags of popcorn, turn out the lights, and have a Netflix movie marathon.

 

Your wife couldn’t get the week off like you did? You can be mad at the world, yell at your wife, rant about her pig of a boss, brood the whole week you’re off while she works…OR you can view it as an opportunity to build the playhouse you keep saying you’ll make for your daughter.

  1. The “Golden Rule” resolution

 

The second challenge is for you to think before you act or speak. Not about how your actions might make you feel, but about others. Think about how your words or actions impact people and situations around you. Think how you would react if somebody said or did certain things to you.

 

If you wouldn’t like it, maybe don’t do it.

 

Conversely, if you wished somebody had done something when you needed it most, but least expected it, maybe you can do that for somebody else.

Two simple little resolutions that can have a big effect. Try them and see what happens. Not only can you positively impact you and your own life, but you can do the same for those around you. These are small gestures that can make or break a situation, a day, a person.

 

So smile, wave, say hi, say please and thank you. Not just to friends and families, but also to strangers and to workers doing their jobs. Help someone pick up when they drop what they are carrying, instead of heckling them, or acting like they are invisible. Or any of the other little things you have ever wished others had done for you.

Happy New Years from us here at More Bees and we hope you succeed in all your endeavors and challenges.

Christmas Cookies

Stir, roll, press, and create. Bring the family to the kitchen and ready your baking utensils. Whether holiday or ordinary shaped cookies; the versatile recipe is perfect for any season or occasion. This German honey cookie; Lebkuchen, is our gift to you for the holidays. We love them and hope after you try this recipe you will love them too.

 

As a matter of fact we will be making these tasty cookies this weekend. Some with nuts pressed on top, others candies, or fruits and you can finish them with sweet glaze, frosting, or a dusting of powdered sugar. These cookies are yummy.

Lebkuchen (German Christmas Honey Cookies)

1⁄2 cup honey

1⁄2 cup molasses

3⁄4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated

2 3⁄4 cups flour, sifted

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon clove

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1⁄3 cup citron (or other dried fruit), chopped

1⁄3 cup nuts, chopped

whole blanched almonds (optional)

Glaze:

1 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup water

1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease cookie sheet, and set aside.
  3. Bring honey and molasses to a boil. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  4. Stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and lemon rind.
  5. Sift together dry ingredients, then stir into the honey-molasses mix.
  6. Mix in the citron and chopped nuts, chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
  7. Remove a small portion from the refrigerator, and roll into 1” balls.  Using the bottom of a glass dipped in flour, press the dough into ¼ inch thick circles.  -OR- Roll a portion of dough ¼” thick and cut into desired shapes.
  8. Place 1″ apart on greased cookie sheet .
  9. Press 3 almonds on top of each cookie in a decorative pattern.
  10. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 min.
  11. Decorated as desired, with powder sugar, glaze, or icing.

How to make the glaze:

  1. Make the glaze by boiling the water and sugar to 230 degrees – until it just barely begins to thread.
  2. Remove the glaze from the heat and stir in the confectioners sugar.
  3. Brush the hot glaze lightly over the cookies (if it gets grainy reheat slightly with a little water to thin again).

 

These cookies are a great tradition, especially if you have small children.  Bake the dough all at once, or here and there as you go (the dough keeps well).  Then, with a little icing, some craisins and nuts, and some small candies, you can keep your kids occupied. Hungry?  Decorate cookies for each other for a snack. Bored? Make a tin of cookies for the neighbors.  Visiting relatives? Bring a plate of cookies as a present from the kids. Christmas Eve? We all know it’s time for bed, once the plate of cookies are put out for Santa.

However and whenever you decide to do it, don’t miss out on these tasty cookies.