Saturday, June 22, 2013

Our Princess Week is Coming to a Close

Camp Kreitzer Princess Week is nearing it's end. Today is wrap it up today. Mom and Dad return this evening and the princesses will return to their kingdom of Zelienople tomorrow. But we've had a great time including a cousin sleepover:

And a trip out to dinner at a Thai restaurant and to see Les Miserables with the oldest princess:

We enjoyed a fish and chip dinner prepared by our culinary chef :

And we went to a festival in town with dancing in the street, a moon bounce and bounce slide, and a visit to the local museum which was open for the event. The girls also got their picture with town hero Peter Muhlenberg of Revolutionary War fame. What a busy, fun week!

It will be hard to say good-bye to our girls when tomorrow comes, but, hey!, there's still today and more fun in store before the final kisses and hugs.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Six Pretty Princesses and a Victorian Tea Party

Did you ever meet a little girl who didn't like to dress up as a princess and feel special? Even little wild things like tea parties after the tree climbing, tumbling, and bug collecting. So today at Camp Kreitzer we planned and hosted a fancy tea party. We filled most of the morning planning and implementing. It started with pulling out all Gramma's pretty plates and silver (most of which belonged to my own grandmother) and setting an elegant table. As we were working I remembered a book on my cookbook shelf with instructions on folding fancy napkins. We chose an easy patter, the fan, for our tea.

To complete our table we needed flowers, so we all took scissors and baskets and went out to collect flowers, leaves, and grasses for our arrangements. Some ended up on the table, one in front of the Blessed Mother and two decorating side tables. What a display of beautiful summer elegance!

The only thing left to put on the table? Goodies -- and there were plenty of those: deviled eggs, marscapone and jelly tea sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, cookies, raisin and blueberry scones, lime and cherry jello, and three choices of "tea": real tea (not popular except with Gramma), hot chocolate, and apple juice. Several of the princesses (especially the 22 month old) enjoyed clinking tea cups and saying "Cheers!"

Of course, the most important part of a princess tea party is the guest list -- the princesses! And we had a gaggle of gorgeous girls to fill the bill.

We were especially blessed to have an elegant waitress (princess herself) to serve us and she did a masterful job. She also did double duty as scone chef.

What do you think? Do the princesses look like they are having a good time? Mmmmm.....

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When Camp Kreitzer is in Session even Rainy Days are Fun!

Camp Kreitzer is in session and it's hard to blog at Les Femmes with five pretty princesses calling for attention. So I haven't been  Instead, we've been doing all sorts of things. Yesterday morning we went to Mass, then the Cracker Barrel for breakfast. After we got home it was clean up time, then into the pool about the time the two little cousins arrived.

After swimming and cousins left we decided to do a secret something related to their mom's birthday which is next week. (I'm not telling her age, but I'll just say it's a prime number which means it's REALLY SPECIAL!) Everybody contributed, but you'll have to wait until Saturday to see what it was in case mom is watching. Shhhhh!

But other things aren't a secret -- like going to the potato chip factory and the  library on Tuesday which was a rainy day and required some inside activities. The parking lot was jammed because the River Bandits Baseball Team was reading to kids in the library lecture room and giving away free tickets. I don't know if we'll make one of their games, but the girls enjoyed the cozy kids' room and almost everybody came home with a few books for quiet time. Even Gramma found a some craft books to give her some good ideas for Camp Kreitzer activities.

Route 11 Potato Chips are the best! (Try the Dill flavored.)

Just ask the potato who makes the best chips. He never lies!

The library was lots of fun too.

It's always great to make a new friend!

Free books? All right!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Celebrating Grandkids

We began a week with our oldest daughter's five girls by going to Mass together this morning. For more about our day go here.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Collecting Recipes for Lip Balm

We've already begun to collect wax from our hives. Today the bees were starting to draw comb straight up out of the frames. Oops...they obviously needed more room so we added another super. But we are happy to be collecting the wax to use in making lip balm. Here are a few recipes I've collected and I look forward to my first experiment in making my own. Here's a recipe I found followed by one I did myself:
Beeswax Lip Balm Recipe 
1⁄2 ounce beeswax
1 teaspoon honey
4 ounces olive oil
Mint extract to taste (about 20 drops), optional
Weigh beeswax and measure remaining ingredients. In small double boiler, add beeswax and melt. Once melted, add honey and oil, and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Add extract and stir well. (Be aware that the honey will not fully mix with the oil because of the water content, but it’s a good healing agent for the skin.)
Pour heated mixture into a small glass container or beaker, then distribute into lip balm tins or tubes.

NOTE: Adding more or less beeswax will make the lip balm harder or softer depending on your preference; the harder it is, the longer it stays on your lips. You also can add vitamin E oil or grapefruit seed oil as a preservative. You also can mix oils, such as almond oil, sunflower seed oil and others, depending on the availability and the product you wish to make. Other oils and butters alter the texture and healing properties of the final product.
My Altered Recipe  
1/2 ounce beeswax
1/2 teaspoon honey
4 ounces coconut oil
3 or 4 drops of clove oil
Follow directions as in the previous recipe. It has a nice spicy smell.

Friday, June 14, 2013

More Than Honey: A Bee Movie!

This documentary attempts to explain the disappearance of honey bees. Certainly pesticides are part of the problem and a class called neonicotinoids are believed to be a major source of honeybee death. In an attempt to aid the comeback of the bees, the European Union will enforce a two-year ban on three neonicotinoids come December. The disappearance of honeybees has gained the attention of the world in recent years. Will we care enough to save these amazing little creatures? This film is all about raising awareness.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bee Keeping Resources: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Honey Bees!

Bees bearding on the front porch
I think I need a resource page so I can find answers to all my beekeeping questions easily. Obviously, our mentors will be the primary sources since they are local and know the problems and challenges specific to us here in Virginia. But I've found so much good stuff on the internet (despite our classroom teacher telling us not to go to the internet -- Sorry, Brenda) especially videos, that I will continue to google my questions and read a variety of what comes up. My question last evening was why are all these bees congregating on the "front porch?" The answer: They were probably out to cool off because the hive was warm. One way to cool it off -- give them a little more space, so I added a bee shim which provides extra ventilation. We'll see if that sends them back into the hive.

Here are some good sources I've found with lots of great information some of which keeps me from "bothering" our mentor.

The Practical Beekeeper - Lots of great information on just about everything related to bees. - A forum for beekeepers to share/exchange information. I've already had answers to questions. Great site!

American Beekeeping Federation  I found a great article here for beginners that gives the feel of excitement and enthusiasm beekeepers seem to have.

Health Benefits of Honey - Here's a honey of a site (couldn't resist!). It has lots of fascinating information about honey including the method "honey hunters" use to find a wild bee colony.

Well, I guess that's enough for starters. I have several books about bees that I'm working on and look forward to learning as much as possible about these fascinating little insects.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hiking and Praying the Rosary on North Mountain

After several days of rain and more expected this week, we decided we'd better grab today's good weather and head out for a short hike. Since we've haven't really hiked or even walked much this season we decided to do a one-hour hike into the woods and a one-hour backtrack along the Tuscarora Trail beginning at Route 55 on the Virginia/West Virginia border. On this particular trail that's about 3.5 - 4 miles. (We estimate about half an hour per mile on a medium difficulty trail.)

Since the mountain laurel are in bloom we hoped to get a great show, but except for some bushes at the beginning of the hike they were few and far between and mostly well into the woods. But it was a great two hour walk with some lovely wildflowers that always make me think of Matthew 6. "Solomon in all his glory is not arrayed as one of these!" If you need a lift, go hiking in God's beautiful world. Even before we reached the trail my heart was singing. And once we got started, it was a delight from start to finish.

The Tuscarora trail is blue-blazed and the blazes are helpful. In some places the path was completely overgrown, although it would be hard to get lost because, at this point, Tuscarora runs along the ridge of North Mountain which isn't very wide in many places. We could see down into the valleyoccasionally through the trees.

We were out on the trail about six weeks ago for a short walk without our hiking gear, but these blue and white ties were new. They indicate that there was some kind of event up there on the trail. There was a 100 mile run going from the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds a few weekends ago and we wondered if this was part of their route. Seemed too far but 100 miles is quite a distance so I guess it was possible. There were about half a dozen on the two mile stretch we covered. A butterfly must have thought one was a flower. I tried to get a photo of it flitting around but couldn't get my camera out of my pocket fast enough.

So many beautiful wildflowers. These had lovely yellow stamens hanging down. They weren't abundant, but were like little ruby jewels popping up here and there along the path.

Some of the insects are as decorative as flowers. This fellow was agreeably still. There were some little blue butterflies flitting around like flying flowers, but they did not cooperate as well.

This fellow resembles a caterpillar, but instead of being fuzzy he seems to be wearing armor! Must be a warrior centipede. I can think of a few of our grandkids who would happily have collected him in a pocket.

I only saw this tiny golden star in one place along the path. What a little treasure!

I think this is a wild rose, another rarity as we walked along. It caught my attention on the way back. Hiking on a path where you have to retrace your steps is interesting, because the path looks totally different from the opposite direction. You notice different things about the trail and you see different flowers. You also have a different walk. We started from a gap so the trail was up, up, up until we reached the ridge where it was fairly level. On the way back it was down, down, down. The up is hard on your back; the down is hard on your knees. I was very grateful for my hiking polls!

If you come visit us at Camp Kreitzer, we will happily take you for a walk in the woods and a rosary of thanksgiving for the green cathedral. You can choose the difficulty of the trail from a handicapped accessible paved short hike to the Luray Valley overlook, to a five mile round trip to Kennedy Peak and back, to a walk along a stream, to one of the ridge trails on Massanutten or North Mountain. And if you are very good, we may take you to one of the  frozen custard/ice cream stands. Talk about a guilt-free reward at the end of the trail! Life is best when you take it slow and stop to smell (and photograph) the roses.