Yay! A tree finally is in our house, lit up and decorated! Amen for the nearby Optimist Club tree lot and the three leftover Noble Firs we had to choose from in our height range 🙂 We also did a quick drive to see a few houses in the neighborhood known for their annual light displays before my back got too stressed from the sitting. Hey, it wasn’t chopping down our own but it was still fun and the proceeds went to a good cause. And the next day? Snow greeted us for the second week in a row 🙂
Yay for another new snowfall – also on my husband’s days off! The weather’s timing is impeccable 🙂 Our pup has really slowed down at the age of 12, but we managed to get down to the park and, because the snowflakes bothered her, she thought she could get rid of them by rubbing her nose in the…snow. Heh. Pretty funny to watch. She doesn’t go berserk in snow like most dogs but she’s a li’l trooper and wears her smart red fleece coat with flair…
With a “real” winter happening, we’ve got all kinds of foodie stuff going on in our household. I was busy making everything from homemade swedish meatballs, to grilled chicken with prosciutto, yams and plantains, to espresso fudge, to (GF) pancakes with my canned marionberry/blueberry jam, and the final awesome stage of this year’s batch of ginger liqueur. We also tried our hand at making rosemary olive oil crackers from scratch (easier than we thought – and GF!), thanks to one of my favorite Karen Solomon cookbooks – and it went beautifully with our first delivery of a charcuterie subscription I got for my husband by the sustainably-minded folks at Carnivore Club. The first box was prosciutto, speck and chorizo from La Quercia – pretty tasty! It was also a great way for my meat-obsessed husband to get to know other charcuterie makers around the country who are not only doing it well but maintaining a strong focus on humane and sustainable practices. While my system can’t take too much cured meat at any given time, it, like the apple cider toddies we’ve been sipping on (made with Burnside Bourbon which I’d tossed some cinnamon sticks into a while back to soak…I highly recommend this if you haven’t tried it before, really adds a nice spicy notes), it’s a special treat.
And a new lesson for us as first year beekeepers! After last week’s snow, it warmed up into the upper 40’s and we cheered to see a bunch of our bees doing their “cleansing” flights (basically it’s their version of rushing out to take a pee and get some fresh air before going back in and cuddling up inside the hive), but then today we came out and saw a bunch lying in the snow as per the photo above. We pretty much stopped breathing for a second, then I ran in and googled it and found Lesson 97: Dead Bees in the Snow, which came as a huge relief to learn that this is just part of the circle of life, basically. Undertaker bees clean out the hive (bees only live about 30 days, did you know that? so they actually die all the time, we just don’t see their little bodies most of the year) and in the snow, it’s just a lot more obvious because of the contrast. What I thought was amazing is that these undertaker bees aren’t just skooching out the bees but actually picking them up and dumping them up to 4′ away from the entrance! So very interesting. We’ve been working really hard to keep our bees fed during the winter months, starting out with sugar water and now that it’s super cold, dry sugar and natural candycanes for them to snack on. Since we can’t open up the hive to see how they’re doing, we’re just hoping they battle it out bravely this winter and stay healthy enough to get even bigger this spring so that we can finally harvest honey for the first time. Woo hoo!