Monday, December 18, 2017

A Christmas Play to Delight the Heart!

"Do not fear, Joseph, to take Mary
your wife into your home. That
which is conceived in her is
by the Holy Spirit."
We spent the weekend visiting our daughter and her family in the Pittsburgh area so we could attend the Christmas play in which her children were performing, The Promise: A Christmas Musical written and directed by Bernadette Calvino

My expectations were low. I've been to a lot of children's productions and, well, usually the best I can say is that you just gotta love your children and grandchildren. This production was different. There were some rough edges, especially with the stage crew, but the performance was splendid! The play, an original piece written by the DRE of All Saints, one of the area churches, told the Christmas story through the eyes of a maggid, an itinerant Jewish preacher and storyteller played by one of our granddaughters. She sang beautifully as she linked the different events of the Christmas story often setting the scene and then being a silent watcher. The play was a musical with short scenes of dialogue connecting the various songs most of which were written by Michael Card.

The youngsters playing Mary and Joseph projected a tender respect and affection for each other that was touching. Joseph was much taller than Mary so there was always a sense of his gentle protection over her and later Jesus. Joseph's Song expressing his trepidation about rearing the Son of God was tone-perfect. Joseph didn't have a strong voice, but he so captured Joseph's strength and humility that it diminished his performance very little. Mary on the other hand had a beautiful, almost ethereal, soprano that made every song she sang a delight.

Friday, December 15, 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Camp Kreitzer

Our first Christmas with the new front porch gave us extra opportunities for welcoming visitors!
For some reason, I'm not sure why, I have been going all out this year with the decorations. Perhaps it's because I was feeling down in the dumps and grinchy after Thanksgiving and needed to "light"en things up. So every day I've been adding to the decorations.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Serendipity and Follow the Star Cookies

My life is filled with serendipity (the art of happy accidents)! It makes every day an adventure. Here's just one example.

A few of we ladies were planning a cookie swap and one of my favorite cookies is molasses crinkles. Usually I frost them by drizzling a thin confectioner's icing (sugar and water) on them in a swirly pattern. But this time I remembered I had a lot of unwrapped Hershey kisses left over from making peanut butter blossoms with my grandchildren. Hmm...a spice cookie with a chocolate kiss on top? Can't go wrong with that -- spice and chocolate?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Healthy Mind, Healthy Spirit, Healthy Body

My favorite workout because it's easy and I don't have to remember anything. (I used to mess up aerobic dancing all the time! Don't think I could ever have been a Rockette!) So stand up at your computer and take a "walk with Leslie" break.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Advent Traditions: The Jesse Tree and the First week of Advent

 The older I get the faster time flies. We used to put our Christmas tree up on Christmas Eve and felt scandalous if we broke down and put it up a few days earlier. But now, Advent seems over almost before it starts and I've decided that to have the decorations up long enough to fill my cup to the brim, I need to start a lot earlier.

So I've embraced the Jesse Tree tradition with gusto. Putting up the tree in time for the first Sunday of Advent makes perfect sense if you are going to slowly journey through the generations before Christ's birth culminating with the coming of Christ on Christmas.

So the tree is up and during this first week of Advent we are reading the first chapter in Christ's family tree book -- Genesis. We started a few days early because we had visiting grandchildren on Friday. So we put up the tree and the oldest plugged it in as we read the creation story -- "...and God said, 'Let there be light.'" After that we read about the creation of the plants and animals: the birds of the air, the creatures of the sea, and all the land animals including the creepy crawlies. (Of course, we have a bee on the tree in honor of our apiary.) And God gave man dominion over them, the responsibility of being a good steward and caring for them with care.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Crockpot Lasagna for the Busy Mom (or Grandmom)

Leftovers going fast! Glad I made a lot.
I haven't made lasagna in years. Too much trouble. So when I came across a recipe in Slow Cooker Creations, I decided to try it. I tend to fiddle with recipes which I did. I never have tomato paste so I nixed that ingredient and went for spaghetti sauce instead. Even with that, the recipe got too dry as it cooked, so I added more sauce about four hours into the cooking time when the noodles on top appeared to be drying out. I decided the cooking time needed to be seriously reduced and the liquid increased. I mean, really, everything is already cooked before you start so does it really need SEVEN HOURS to finish? I also fiddled with the herbs since I like more oregano. I also added cumin.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Making Memories: A House-Warming Party

We love visiting our children and grandchildren. One of the things I like best is thinking about making memories for the children. On our latest visit to our son in Texas and his family we decided to celebrate their new home, (They moved in July.), with a housewarming party.

Tonight was the big night. I made my son's favorite dinner, also a favorite of the kids, parmesan chicken made with a white wine sauce instead of the traditional tomato-based sauce and served with alfredo noodles. Salad, warm bread, apple sauce, and cottage cheese accompanied the dinner.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Necessity is the Mother of Invention...and also Recipes!

After dinner last night we were looking for a little sweetish something. We had a half gallon of vanilla ice cream in the freezer but no toppings. Since we are both chocolate fans I decided to see about making my own hot fudge and here's what I came up with:
Combine one stick of butter in a saucepan with 1 cup chocolate chips, a quarter cup honey, and 1 cup half and half or cream. Heat gently until hot and pour over ice cream or pound cake.

Friday, September 29, 2017

When a Thrifty Cook Gets Started, Results Can Be Interesting!

Well the apples just keep coming and coming and I'm determined to use them. Since one shelf in the freezer is already over half full with frozen apple sauce, I've been trying make (or bake) some different kinds of goodies.

Since I also had a blender full of bread bits and several biscuits (from Cracker Barrel) and some cinnamon bread in the freezer (a delicious yeast bread from a friend), I decided to make Apple Brown Betty. As I broke up the bread and read the recipe, I decided some of my bread was too hard for a good result.

Glorifying God in the Finger Lakes Region

No matter where we travel in this great country I find myself bursting into song. I call those my "How Great Thou Art" moments. Look at the photos below and ask yourself how you could possibly not glorify God in His creation. And these are just a few of the waterfalls we've seen on our trip. There has been much, much more. When you look around remember that everything you see was created by our great God for our pleasure. He loves us so much He surrounded us with beauty. In our gratitude we must, absolutely must praise and thank Him. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Recipes: Apple Crisp Anyone?

 I've been harvesting the early producer in our little apple orchard.

What an abundance!

I've already made about twenty jars of apple sauce for the freezer and several pies and apple crisps.

My husband says the crisps are his favorite and I'm having fun adjusting recipes to reduce the sugar and increase the nutrition. So here are two recipes that started with cookbook recipes but took a turn.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Camp Kreitzer's Bee Enterprise Hits the News

The Mountain Courier ran an article on beekeeping and featured our apiary. Wow! What fun. Check it out here.

July 14 Bee Inspection: All's well!

A frame of capped honey ready to harvest
What a hot day for an inspection. We went out right after 8:30 Mass and it was already 90 degrees and humid. Whew! Those canvas suits are hot!

We were hoping for a bumper crop of honey this year, but it is not looking too promising. All the hives were calm and we saw no ants or evidence of wax moth. We always look closely at the bees and we've never seen any varroa mites but we probably have them because everyone does. But the girls all look good. No evidence of malformed wings or any other health problems. They were all flying and pollen was coming in. The queens are laying like crazy -- lots of brood and larvae. We took out some honey frames and hope to get more on the next inspection but I doubt we will do as well as last year. Here's the rundown:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

This Brought Back Memories of Our Circus Dog!

We had a border collie for sixteen years. We got her from the animal shelter but she looked like a pure bred and she was smart as a whip. We taught her lots of tricks including jumping through a hula hoop and over a broom handle. She could beg, fetch, roll over, sit still with a biscuit on her nose when we said "Army grub" and toss the treat and catch it when we said "Navy chow." (My dad was a naval officer. Even the dog appreciated it.)

So when I watched this video I remembered Shaley and all the joy she brought our family. Thank you, Lord, for giving us precious pets to bring joy to our lives!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The New Look at Camp Kreitzer

Have you noticed the new photo on the Camp Kreitzer home page? This Spring we decided to put a front porch on the house. After going around the county taking photos of different styles we chose a plantation style porch that could also serve as a second story fire escape. The kids have already practiced climbing out the window and when we said we might put in an upstairs door they begged us not to.
Getting ready for the footers.

Watching the Work Progress and Looking forward to the Honey Harvest!

 From my garden:
There will be primrose nectar in the honey harvest!
We went into the hives on June 21st and again today, July 1st (sweaty work on this hot day!). We examined all six hives both inspections, but not all the boxes in each hive.

We used the smoker for two hives on June 21st, but not at all today, since all the girls were calm today! It's hot, bright and sunny with a breeze and every hive had lots of activity. The purple thistle is blooming up the road and the Golden Raintree isn't quite finished down on Water Street so there is plenty of nectar available for harvesting. We saw no ants in any of the hives today and no signs of swarming. Here's the breakdown on both inspections.

Hive #1 Queen Rachel - four boxes (original split from Madeleine - attacked by bear):

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hoping for a Great Honey Season!

a medium frame with wax foundation
We did a hive inspection a few days ago and five of our six hives are going gangbusters. We added a honey super (the name for the box where you want the bees to collect nectar) to five hives. The only drawn comb we have is full of capped honey from last season and in the refrigerator, but we're sure it's mostly sugar water from feeding last fall so we'll save that for winter food. All the new boxes we added have undrawn wax foundation which means the bees have to draw it all out into little cells before they can start to fill it. The foundation is like the blueprint so the bees do what you want them to do.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beginning Our 5th Year of Beekeeping and Just Collected Our First Swarm!

Five years ago this May we acquired two nucleus hives from a beekeeper in Fort Valley who has since retired. We can never thank Frank enough for helping us get a good start with this fascinating hobby. He and our square dancing buddy, Gordon, a professional beekeeper who once had 500 hives taught us what to do, rescued us when we had queen problems, and were always there with a wise word to the ignorant.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Well...that was interesting! Was that a Queen?

I went out to feed two of the nuke hives which are weak and don't have enough foragers. They probably have queens at this point, but they won't be laying for another five or six days.

But what really struck me as I examined the hives was that there was a bee on the side of one of the boxes that appeared to be a queen. I'm guessing she was either returning or getting ready to head out for her maiden flight. Later in the week we'll check all the hives to see whether they are queen right. And then we'll see where this wonderful 2017 bee season goes.

The early nectar flow has been great. We've had bees on our apple blossoms and on the red bud. I've also seen them on the dandelions and on some trees with white blossoms that I don't recognize.

The bee yard is still somewhat stirred up after the bear attack, but it's not a very nice day -- overcast and raining earlier. They don't like that either. So next visit I'll stoke up the smoker and use it. Several bees buzzed me all the way back to the house. They generally don't do that when it's bright and sunny.

But the bear situation seems to be resolved with the electric fence.

Easter Sunday Celebration

What a fun day with one of our daughters and her family and a friend with her sister and their children. The weather was beautiful. The food was abundant and delicious. The children enjoyed biking, swinging, see-sawing, and the egg hunt. And the conversations were interesting. No one wanted to go home.

I call that a perfect day! Praised be to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Holy Saturday preparations and the Easter celebration:

The lamb cake was a little droopy headed -- a straw fixed that.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bears: The Weapon of Mass Destruction to a Beekeeper!

Not a pretty sight, eh? Botox lips for free.
On Wednesday we were doing some work with two of our behives -- moving a frame of brood from a
queen-right hive to a queenless hive. After we finished that in our satellite bee yard, I went down to check out the four hives in the lower yard. Unfortunately I took my veil off since I wasn't going to be working with the bees, but something attracted one of the girls to my face and she stung me on the lip. My whole face started to swell and we decided I better go to the emergency room. So I spent several hours being pumped full of steroids, anti-histamines, and anti-itch meds along with some anti-nausea medicine since I was feeling sick to my stomach.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Queen Cells Galore! Making Nukes!

What a difference two weeks make. We decided to divide Rachel's hive today and when we opened
up the box we found lots of queen cells, loads of bees, some capped and uncapped brood, but no eggs and no sign of a queen. We wondered if we "rolled the queen" when we checked, but there was one capped swarm cell and those are made when the hive is getting ready to swarm. The workers build an egg cup, and the queen lays an egg in it. We didn't see that when we checked the hive two weeks ago so she was likely in the hive then.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Lesson Learned! Check the Bees Before You Go to buy More Equipment!

So frustrating. We thought we had three active hives and would have to divide all three which would give us six hives. All three hives had bees carrying in pollen, a sign of brood feeding, but when we checked the middle box today there was no brood -- not a bit. So the bees we've seen coming and going must be robber bees. Darn! There were no dead bees so apparently this hive absconded late in the fall. There was lots of capped honey but most likely it's sugar water from feeding so we took the hive down and brought it inside after dark. We'll freeze those full frames and use them for feeding next fall. But what a disappointment!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are the Girls Thinking of Swarming?

Building comb on the inner lid cover
Two of our three hives have been so active we decided we'd take the first good warm day (today) and check them out and divide. Well, we went in today and Queen Madeleine's kingdom was booming but no signs of imminent swarming except for the fact she's laying many, many drones. No backfilling, no queen cells.

Since there were lots of fresh eggs we decided to divide anyway and let the bees in the queenless box raise a new queen.

We split up the bees and moved Madeleine (She's a pretty gal!) and company to the back of the yard where we are starting a satellite bee yard. We closed the hive to keep the bees in and gave that hive about two quarts of sugar syrup. We'll give them a few days to get acclimated to their new location and then open up the door. We'll call the new Queen Lauren when she appears.

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20 -- Is It Really Winter?

The bees don't think so.

It's over 70 degrees and we went out to check our three hives. Everybody is busy and plenty of pollen is coming in. We planned to put in some sugar cakes, but the top boxes on all three hives were still so heavy with honey we decided to leave them alone. They obviously have stores enough for now. And since the weather is expected to be in the upper 50s to 70s during the day for the next two weeks all is looking good. The strongest hive (Madeleine) has the newest queen from last Summer. The second strongest is Bianca with a queen from 2015.

Friday, February 10, 2017

On Recycling and Making Valentines!

I'm a saver. I save old Christmas cards, all old cards as a matter of fact. I deflate old Mylar balloons and use them for crafts and wrapping paper. I save buttons when I turn worn out clothes into rags. And today is the reason I do it.

Three little grandkids came for a sleepover last night and here's what we've been doing. Other valentines are already in envelopes to mail. Now we just have to decide who the lucky recipients are for these treasures.