Saturday, July 20, 2013

relax

"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."  ~Hans Christian Andersen

And sometimes, one must have a moment of quiet to relax...
 or a cup of hot steaming tea.... 
 or the beautiful soothing scent of lavender....
 
or all of the above!

A friend requested one of my lavender-filled sleep masks that I made for my local markets, and this is the mask I made for her. I think she's going to love it. This is my wish for her, and for you reading this today: 
 
May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing

 xoxo
Karen

Saturday, July 13, 2013

roses are everywhere

It seems to me that this spring and summer the roses have come a bit later than usual. It was a cold spring and summer temperatures have been like a roller-coaster.
But now they are here, and they are making a spectacular appearance. They are everywhere. I see them in private gardens when I take a walk or bike ride. While driving the car I spot them in traffic islands proudly blooming among hideous and dirty street signs. Sturdy but delicate, roses are climbing rock walls, clinging to arches along the river promenade, blooming profusely in shades of sunset, blush, scarlet and lemon. Pure and fresh and simply spreading joy.
This beautiful pale pink rose bush in our garden was a gift to our daughter a few years ago and it seems to be very happy to be growing here! 
 
 Take time to smell the roses today. 
xoxo 
Karen





Thursday, July 4, 2013

fresh from the garden

These are the days when we can add something fresh from the garden to every meal.
 
I love sprinkling fresh chives onto soup or salad. We have so many chives I have chopped them and put them in the freezer to use all year round.And there are still more growing! My son loves to fry himself an egg and he will go out to the garden and grab some parsley and chives to sprinkle on top. My other son goes crazy for the berries and is a great picker. Gardening is definitely a family affair. Without every one pitching in I would be overwhelmed by the work! 
 
This year I planted two rocket /arugula plants next to the lettuce and I've been adding a handful of chopped rocket greens to our salads. It adds an amazing spicy nutty flavor. Wow!

My zucchinis are coming along and the other day I was so absent-minded that out of habit I bought several at the supermarket when here they are, right in my garden! The blooms are beautiful, aren't they.

Kitty likes to follow me through the veggie patch and tickle his nose with all these fresh, lovely scents.
There must be thousands of little currants - red and white - they look so pretty in the morning dew.
Every day brings more abundance. I love it! We are blessed.
Happy garden days to you! 
xoxo
Karen

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

honey is sweet

We have embarked on a sweet new adventure in this family - and have expanded our "household" by several thousand tiny, busy bees! 
Yes - we have become beekeepers!
This has been a dream for years. Our family consumes much more honey than sugar and we have often thought having our own honey would be amazing. Joined by our kids, we attended a local beekeeping class this past May and June. There certainly is a lot to learn, but at moments of information overload our experienced teachers claimed that once you understand the basics it is an easy, fun hobby, with sweet rewards not only for the beekeeper but for the environment as well. Bees are experiencing difficult times these days. I have not yet seen the documentary film "More than Honey" but it is on my to-do list for sure. (It was actually playing in our local cinema the same evening we had our beekeeping class).

We were fortunate to inherit a few colonies in the nearby woods from our mentor beekeeper. Once a week we check through the hives wearing our protective clothing. The bees are much more docile than we expected. However, we have learned not to go on a rainy, cold day, because all the bees are at home! The smoker is a great help  - but I have also discovered that my new Saturday scent is "Eau de Smoke!"
 
The past two weekends we had our first go at harvesting honey with quite good results. Here my son is removing the top layer of wax to prepare the honey comb.
 
Next the combs are placed in a centrifuge so the honey can be spun out. The boys in my house (big and small) love anything with motors. 
Very quickly honey starts dripping out of the honey spinner. 
 
All this work makes a small bear hungry for a bread roll with fresh honey. Delicious!
 “Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.”   -A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Our mentor gave us these adorable beeswax candles. Perhaps someday we'll be making these too! Right now we just hope we can keep our bees healthy over the winter.

 
Sue Monk Kidd's books "Traveling with Pomegranates" and  "The Secret Life of Bees" really helped me to see bees in a new light (though that is just a sub-theme  - or perhaps more a metaphor - in the "The Secret Life..."). Another book that has been inspiring me is  "Die Honigfrau" by German author Agnes Fluegel.  I don't think it's in English, but I will mention it here for all of my German-speaking readers :) The author entertains with her witty tale of how she exchanges her fast-paced Hamburg life for a country home near the ocean, and recounts her adventures on becoming a beekeeper and making her hobby a business.

Do you know any good bee stories, books, films? I'd love to hear!
Now if your mouth is watering, then please go get a jar of honey
from your local beekeeper and enjoy! 
xoxo
Karen