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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

The Buzzzzz

So most of you already know that I recently took up the hobby of apiary this past year.  And with no prior experience and little teaching on the subject it has been quite an adventure with a rather steep learning curve to say the least. My hive swarmed, I was stung several times, and to top it off, I didn’t collect any honey.

This hobby of mine however, has turned into quite the obsession for me, recently perpetuated by the documentary, Vanishing of the Bees (watch it!).  I’m sure most of you have heard of Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD for short, that is, the unexplained vanishing bee populations that have occurred throughout the US for the past several years. But there might be a few things you didn’t know so I’m going to climb on up to my soapbox and preach a little:

– That other countries have experienced a similar phenomenon?

– That the likely culprit stems from systemic pesticides typically used on large-scale commercial moncultures and produced by the company Bayer CropScience?  (Systematic pesticides are contained in the plants tissue and therefore cannot be washed off or removed by peeling the skin off a fruit of vegetable.)

– That little research has been done on the effect systematic pesticides have on multi-generational bee populations and the the EPA accepts research on the subject from the very company that manufactures the chemicals?

– That to begin with pesticides originated from leftover chemicals used in chemical warfare of WWII and re-engineered for use on crops? (The very substances we used to wage war on other humans, was now being ingested through our food. Brilliant. You got to do something with it, right?)

– That one out of every three bites we take is dependent on the pollination of a honeybee. 1 IN 3!!!

I don’t know about you, but this is all very disturbing to me.  The good news is, is that everyone can help in their own way.  Here are some things you can do:

– Watch the movie, Vanishing of the Bees, and educate others by spreading the news.

– Create bee-friendly habitat in your own backyard by planting bee-friendly flowers and providing a source of water for bees.

– Take up apiary

– Minimize the use of pesticides around your home and seek out natural and organic alternatives for dealing with pests.

– Buy local honey. A lot of honey in the US is supplied by China and contains filler ingredients.

– Eat organic fruits and vegetables when possible. People often argue the host cost of organic foods or that they aren’t concerned about the affect of pesticides on their health (ah, a little bit won’t kill me!) but it is important to have a more holistic and global viewpoint. Cheaper, inorganic foods come at a high cost to the overall health of humans and the planet. When you spend your cash, you cast a vote. If you buy at least some organic produce, your purchases, along with those of others, will send a signal to retailers, which will ultimately send a signal to farmers.

– Write to your local representatives and politicians, urging them to help save our bees.

– Sign the PAN (Pesticide Action Network) petition to the EPA.

To help out and do my part, not only will I continue apiary, but I plan on adding some bee-friendly plants to my garden next year and I’ve also decided to donate a portion of the sales from my hand-dyed scarves to various efforts geared at saving the bees. After all, I have them to thank for many of the wonderful plants that I get beautiful colors from!

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BBQ

Suki love green grass (top), WJ the cook (bottom left), grilled asparagus (bottom right)

Spring time is grilling time!  We got our bbq late last year but now we are ready and going at it this spring, making the most of outdoor cooking!  We’ve been enjoying mediterranean grilled chicken, bbq tofu, mushroom and rice burgers, black bean burgers and lots of grilled veggies.  We’ll keep on experimenting with all kinds of things!

Above, Suki is enjoying springtime too, marked by an increase in green grass grazing!

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Mama Musky

Daffodils (top left), Horsetail (top right), Musk Ox Mamas (bottom)

In celebration of Mother’s Day we headed to the Musk Ox farm for their free day celebrating all the new moms and baby musk ox.  There were 11 this year, all named after state capitols…Tallahassee, Madison, Augustus.  They were all huddled up in the corner so we didn’t get a real close look but could tell they were cute.  Enjoyed live music and yummy bbq too!  (Oh, and take note of the mountain in the foreground, that is Lazy which I mentioned in my previous post.  The picnic table must be the first peak on the right.)

Also pictures of the daffodils in our front yard and some horsetail plants sprouting!  Spring is here!

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Birch Tree Tapping and Sap Extraction

It isn’t really the beginning of April but how time sure has flown by!  We’ve had rain, sun, snow, wind, sun and more sun this month and it is beginning to feel and look like spring, oh glorious spring!  You can feel an incredible energy in the air, a vibration of activity and growth as people, animals and plants awaken.  I guess this is why we have winter, it makes us really appreciate the spring.

April 1st, while indeed Fool’s Day, also marked a few anniversaries for Wayne and I.  It marked our sixth year of dating and also the day in which we set off from Boston in 2010 amid a torrential downpour headed South to Philly.  In fact, at this time last year we would have been visiting Wayne’s mom in Cloquet, Minnesota with nearly five weeks to go on the road trip.  I was hoping to get some more road trip blogs done but can’t seem to find memory card; Wayne must have packed it with him.  It is hard to believe it has been a year since we left our old life, our friends, our sunny second-storey flat.  How time does fly!

I think it has been going extra fast because I have been extra busy!  Work has been crazy but good.  (I’ll post more on that later.)  And, quite frankly, I have been a workshop junkie lately.  In the past month I’ve learned about goats, bees, and net zero energy buildings, I’ve tapped birch trees for sap (above photos), and embarked on an 8-week meditation class.  I have also planted two flats of seedlings (with 2+ to go), submitted a project to a design competition, felt firsthand the amazing healing powers of acupuncture, and am just wrapping up a four-week soul-searching session via an amazing book titled “Soul Coaching: 28 days to Discover you Authentic Self“.  What a whirlwind of activity.

There is plenty more on the horizon too!  I’ll keep you posted.

Wayne is off in Venezuela until the 28th having an amazing backpacking adventure in celebration of 30 years on earth and I’m sure he’ll have lots to share upon his return.  I, in the meantime am enjoying some alone time, doing some spring cleaning (inside and out), and feeling alive!

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Updates…

Apple Snacks at the Neighbor's House

Since I haven’t stayed abreast on blogging lately, here a few bullet points of what’s been happening up north:

Most of the leaves were forcibly blown off the trees and a sunny, short-lived fall seems to be coming to an end as evident by frosty mornings with temperatures hovering around freezing.

More moose sightings as the weather gets chillier and they migrate down to town from the mountains.  This little guy was munching the neighbors apples the other afternoon.  Notice how he has to kneel down on his front legs to reach the ground.

I started a job this week at a little herb store with locations in both Palmer and Wasilla.  I am working three days a week with the title “wellness consultant” but definitely have a lot to learn!  Unbeknownst upon my hiring,  I am required to wear an apron/smock thing along with a name tag which is definitely adding a challenge to my fashion forward persona.

I’ve been embracing the homesteading lifestyle I’ve been wanting to achieve by canning two batches of apple butter and making over a gallon of applesauce with my shiny new chinois sieve (all from local apples given to us by kind neighbors).

Wayne and I did a fall clean up this past weekend….pruning the raspberry bushes, trimming trees, raking, bringing plant indoors, and mulching the garden.  While it is kind of fun to work outdoors I am also reminded how great it is to rent and not have the all the responsibilities of owning a house if I don’t want to.  Also I am reminded how much I want to be an awesome gardener but how very much I have yet to learn!

I voted in my first city/borough election.  Coincidently my neighbor is now the Mayor of Palmer.

I registered for a community education class at the Matanuska College (a satellite campus of the University of Alaska) called The Art of Animal Skin Sewing: Hats.  I’m crossing my fingers that enough people register because I am excited to learn some hand sewing techniques for leather and skins (which could really help with my jewelry making) and make a really cool hat to boot!

I had my first taste of moose burger this week in a potluck chilli Wayne made.  I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between beef.

We celebrated my niece Emma’s sweet sixteen on October 4th complete with a pink princess sash, princess tiara, and pink and silver sparkly wrist corsage  to complete her birthday outfit, courtesy of mine and Wayne’s awesome crafting abilities.  She also passed her driving test (Wayne was practicing with her in the weeks leading up to) and is now a licensed Alaskan driver!

Suki will celebrate her first full month at our little red house this Thursday; I can’t believe it’s already been that long!

And that is about all I can think of.  Whew!

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Blueberries!

Kathy doing her blueberry thing

Last month during Kathy and Soni’s visit they were able to get out to Hatcher’s Pass for some berry picking and came home with some yummy wild Alaskan blueberries.  As a method of cleaning them (i.e. separating the berries from the leaves, twig and other detritus) Kathy set up a fan and passed the blueberries between two bowls, allowing the berries to fall into the bowl and the other matter to blow away.  Quite ingenious! 

Also take note of our new BBQ in the background courtesy of Kathy!  (That’s what happens when you feed your guests tofu, they come back the next day with a BBQ and lots of red meat 😉 )  Even though I’m not a huge meat-eater I do enjoy a nice juicy steak once in a while and it will always come in handy for grilling some tofu!

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Archangel Fall Outing

Wayne with a view (top left), Fireweed (top right), Mel exploring (bottom)

A couple of weekends ago Wayne and I jumped in the car and headed for Hatcher’s Pass to do a little hike down Archangel Trail.  For the first time  it was actually warm and even, dare I say hot up at Hatcher’s, which in my experience is usually 20 degrees cooler than in the valley and accompanied by a fiercely cold wind.  I was pleasantly surprised and even had to take off a few layers!  We enjoyed a leisurely time taking in the fall colors (notice the color of the fireweed in the top right photo) and doing a little berry picking.  In total we probably tasted at least four different varieties of blueberries, all slightly different in appearance and flavor, and gathered enough to make a batch of scones when we got home.

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