Archive | July, 2013

Honeysuckle Buzz – a Champagne Cocktail from the Garden

29 Jul

So one of my besties’ bridal showers was this weekend:

IMG_6367Observe – I clean up well, and enjoy wearing dresses (not just my bee suit).  Also, my dress is Rhode Island themed.  Not really.  I have always loved nautical things.

Regardless – I was in charge of games and favors (the former, I was not so excited about – the latter gave me an excuse to get crafty)…and then I put myself in charge of creating a signature cocktail for the event.  I walked out into my garden for inspiration and decided to use the last of the honeysuckle blossoms!

I remember as a little girl, walking in the woods with my mother and pulling the stamens out of honeysuckle blossoms and “drinking” the nectar, it is such a fond memory that although the vine is wildly invasive, it’s hard to think of removing it.

IMG_0021

The first step is creating honeysuckle simple syrup, which of course necessitates gathering up some blossoms -erring on the side of whiter rather than more yellow/orange.

IMG_0045

Add hot, but not boiling water to the jar (I sized up – so this is a pint jar), cover it, and let it sit for 12-24 hours.   You should *just* cover the blossoms.

IMG_0048After it’s set – strain it into a measuring cup – for every cup of water, I add 2/3 cup of honey.  You can go 1:1 and for more strongly “scented” syrups  – but I find that the honeysuckle gets lost easily with too much honey – unlike mint which can stand up to it a bit better.  Whisk the honey in until it’s dissolved – on a warm day, you shouldn’t need to add any heat to it – but if you do, you can feel free to transfer it to a pan – just DON’T LET IT BOIL!

IMG_0049

Et voila.  Once it’s done, transfer it to a storage container and move it to the fridge.  Cool & then shake before using!

IMG_6347

The Honeysuckle Buzz

Tablespoon of Honeysuckle Simple Syrup

4 ounces of Champagne

Stir with a bar spoon

Garnish with an edible flower or a honeysuckle blossom (I picked Borage for some color, but the honeysuckle adds a lovely scent)

 

Raised Rain Garden + Rain Barrels

23 Jul

My bosses let me do crazy things (and sometimes encourage me and/or help)…and I’m dragging 10 teenagers with me.  I love designing water systems – so I designed this (somewhat) and my boss constructed it over our break.

20130723-173553.jpg

20130723-173545.jpg

It gathers rain from two downspouts that originally hadn’t been attached to anything into a single catchment and then into a pair of rain barrels that my kids painted.

20130723-173920.jpg

 

The water from the barrels flows down a hose that irrigates the split bed (i’d designed it a single height, but my boss got creative when he built it).   There’s an overflow in the side for drainage and two standing drains in case water pools up too much.   My kids studied rain gardens and chose the plants (and we went to Weston Nurseries in MA to get a tour and pick them out).

20130723-173958.jpg

Obviously – we have some kinks to work out – WHOA – and the hose doesn’t appear to be flowing into the low bed – I thought the pressure would be enough, but it’s not pushing up and over….but that’s it so far!

Warre, Baby! – Downward Motion! – Nadiring!

17 Jul

The watched warre never goes downward?  After a 2 week vacation and a week and a half where I couldn’t get out to Queen Juju Bee’s hive, I returned to find her in pretty immediate need of nadir – after not having anything in the bottom box at last check.

IMG_0018

 

Upstairs and downstairs full!

 

IMG_0019

 

Lots of hot bees – even in the late, late afternoon!

 

IMG_6283

So nadiring happened!!!  

The top box was SO HEAVY!  I love that.  

I never wear the full suit except when it’s so hot that I’m wearing shorts…which is maybe paradoxical.  Also, I feel like a ghost buster.  I really like the traditional face mask better than the fencing style, but either way.  Who ya gonna call?

IMG_6284

 

IMG_6285

 

Three high and about to get the roof put back on!

And, I don’t have honey yet – but I have another sweet reward in the interim – there’s a black raspberry bush about 4 feet from the hive.  I’m up to 6 pints of jam (and counting).

IMG_0020

Pickles are best made at midnight.

14 Jul

Pickles are best made at midnight after the thunder has rushed out the heat of the day. You can sneak into the yard barefoot to pick the grape leaves you’ll need, feel the grass between your toes cold with rain, the night air still breathing the conversations of far away strangers. Everything else you’ll need is inside wrapped in the quiet of the house where soon the rumble of the jars in their water bath will sound like an approaching storm.

20130714-013306.jpg

Herbal Sunburn Relief – Skin Cooler

6 Jul

So it’s the 5th of July, and everyone in the house has managed to get at least a spot of sunburn.

I forgot the correct order of operations and put on sunscreen after I had my swimsuit already on, so there’s a funny burn band along my décolletage where it must have shifted. L has a red back. D has red shoulders. Summer has officially begun.

Between us, there are 3 aloe plants in the house, but it’s hard for me to commit an entire plant to this project, so I decided to make something a little broader spectrum.

Herbal Skin Cooler
6 Plantain Leaves
2 Bags of Green Tea (organic preferred)
6 Healthy Sized Branches of Peppermint (not spearmint!) or 5-6 Bags of Peppermint Tea
4-6 Meaty Aloe Leaves

Do this:
* Put the kettle on!

*Gently wash the plantain leaves (more of a rinse, really) and crumple/mush them into the bottom of a quart sized mason jar.

*Gut the green tea bags (and peppermint if you’re using tea bags) and empty the tea into the jar.

*Smush the peppermint branches (stems and all) into the jar (if using branches).

*Fill the jar about halfway (should cover at least most of your plant material) with hot but not boiling water.

20130706-101246.jpg

*Set the jar on the counter to cool for 2 hours, shaking occasionally once it becomes cool enough to handle.

*Get the goo out of your aloe leaves. After some trial and error, I decided on slitting the leaf up the middle, cutting off about a 2-3 inch section at a time, flattening the section out, and then using the side of the jar to scrape the goo into the cooled tea. For good measure, I threw the aloe leaf husk parts into the tea as well.

*Cool/steep that in the fridge for at least an hour, shaking occasionally.

*Strain the cooler into a separate jar (or spray bottle) and then store in the fridge for up to 10 days.

20130706-101349.jpg

You can dab or spritz this refreshing cooler on any part of your body, but definitely hit up the sunburn spots first.

Plantain has amazing healing properties, peppermint has a cooling kick, green tea is soothing and antioxidant, and aloe does what aloe does…

I was just out watering the garden and when I came back, I spritzed it on my face, neck, and pulse points and felt instantly cooler.

Enjoy!

A Bee Being Born

1 Jul

More from THE PAST.  Today (read back to June 19th) when I took the nuc apart that I’d been trying to situate, the frame that I tossed out for robbing that was mostly nectar had some brood in it, and while I was watching…it HATCHED!

20130619-192110.jpgSee the chewed capping in the middle of that cluster?

20130619-192100.jpgMaybe hard to see, but the whitish thing in the middle is a new bee crawling out of her cell.

SO COOL!

The Vermont Sail Freight Project

A Sailing Cargo Initiative Connecting the Farms and Forests of Vermont with the Lower Hudson Valley

Borrowed Stilts

Let's not fail everything, shall we?

Sweet Honey in the Rox

Home in the City, Heart in Vermont - trying to find a wild medium.

mistress beek

Urban beekeeping

The Curious Quilter

Curiosity breeds creativity. What are you curious about?

EverydayOrdinary

Afterthoughts...