Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Honey Lovers


Here's a quick science lesson, honey lovers. If you have inquired about my beekeeping hobby you more than likely have heard me say, "There is a true science behind those little insects." One of the reasons I say that is their ability to pollinate. With the fear of our honey bee population dying off, I am sure you've heard the phrase, "We need honey bees to pollinate." Maybe you've even said it yourself, but do you actually know what pollination means?

Let's get right to the point: Flowers have male and lady reproductive parts. Did you remember that from your 6th grade science class? I must have been more concerned with my changing body parts to remember that a flower could operate the same way. Who knew? Anyway, those said flowering plants produce seeds and those seeds can be shared internally with the "lady part" of the plant to reproduce new plants on their own. That process is called pollination, and similar to what we humans call incest. However, same as with humans, that isn't necessarily the best (or preferred) way to reproduce. To produce real hardy plants, the flowering plant needs honey bees. These tiny little bees cross-pollinate, which is when pollen from one plant is "carried" to the "lady part" of another plant. Think of it in the same way humans share diseases, but in a much more positive way.

While honey bees spend a lot of their daylight hours digging around in flowers, looking for nectar, they are really walking all over the lady part of the plant, dropping some of their collected pollen, and collecting new pollen along the way. Bees can carry a little over a third of their body weight in nectar and can't retrieve that amount in one single plant, so they visit multiple plants in one trip to get their fill. Which means, when they leave one plant and land on another, they have carried the pollen from the previous plant to the new plant. And that my friends, is Cross Pollination. AKA, reproduction of a plant, the hardy way.

Still with me?
Taken by Mr. B (See the orange pollen on the 2nd bee's arm?)

There is a reason for my lesson and it's because you needed that background information to understand the answer to my friend Alyssa's question, "How does honey help with allergies?" If you google that question and refer to WebMD, you may get some conflicting answers. In fact, I am learning that there is no real scientific study that has proven that honey reduces allergies, but there are enough people that have proven otherwise that it makes for a really good argument. If you are one that suffers from seasonal allergies, eating a spoonful of honey may offer you some relief.

Here's why: The theory is that honey works like a vaccine. We are all aware (according to UNICEF) that vaccines introduce dummy versions of a particular virus or germ into the body and effectively trick it to believing it's been invaded, triggering an immune system response. This then produces antibodies designated to fight off the foreign invaders. So that when we are exposed to the germ or virus, the antibodies move into action.

When I explained that the bees carry pollen on their bodies, that doesn't mean they leave it all on the next plant. Often times, much of it remains on them as they fly through the front door of their hive (see picture). So while they spend time filling their comb with the nectar they've collected, the pollen on their bodies has also found its way into the mix.

The reasoning for eating honey to treat allergies, is because it's similar to a vaccine. It's a way of gradually introducing local pollen spore allergens to your body. The SAME pollen spores that make you sneeze and give you a scratchy throat when flowers are in bloom. Consuming this small amount of pollen found in your honey jar, decreases the chance that your body will have an immune system response to pollen spores in the air. Yet, we're still waiting on scientific studies to prove it.

Keep in mind, if you you want to experiment with a spoonful of honey to see if it reduces your allergy symptoms, BUY and EAT local. Local honey will have local pollen in it. Meaning the variety of pollen found in that honey, is from the same flowering plants that are causing your sinus issues. And the closer the better, since bees usually only travel up to a six mile radius from their hive. If you're allergic to plants in Pennsylvania, a Colorado honey isn't going to contain the pollen spores from the Pennsylvania plant that you're allergic too. Make sense?

In closing, I am giving you another reason to BUY LOCAL. Now have fun looking for the male and lady parts on a plant - I know you're curious! :)

**I am not a scientist, just a beekeeper offering some education. Don't use this information against me or as your only source. Please do your own research and speak to your doctor before relying solely on honey to treat your allergy symptoms. Also, please do not feed your under-12-month-old-baby any kind of honey. Why? Read here.**

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sliver of Life: Sibling Winter

My brother left this morning at 8AM to begin his cross country drive back to Pennsylvania and I've had absolutely no composure since the moment my alarm went off this morning. Mr. B rolled over, wrapped his arm around me and said, "Are you okay? Did you get any sleep?" And that's when the flood gates started. After watching the tears fall in my bathroom sink, I grabbed some tissues and barged into the guest room my brothers room and said, "Do you really have to leave?" He said with a giant smile on his face, "Yes! And don't be sad, kid!"

With my brother, there is no such thing as "misery loves company." In fact, he doesn't have patience for it. If someone is sad, he simply wants them to be happy. He considers it a mindset and I suppose that's a good quality to have. Unfortunately, today, I was too sad to be happy and he was too happy to be sad. Although, dreading his drive, today was the day he'd been looking forward to since the day he arrived in Colorado: the day he moved back home. He loved Fort Collins and loved us, but knew his heart was in Pennsylvania. #jerk

He initially moved half way across the country (in December) with a girl and planned to spend the winter in the Rockies: working a seasonal job for a ski resort, learning to snowboard, and soaking in some real mountain living. What really happened is he and his girlfriend broke up in a matter of days, he started sleeping in his car on the days he worked, and moved into our house on his days off.

We spent nearly 3 days a week together. While I worked, he would make me breakfast, mess up my kitchen, wrestle with Monty, listen to vinyl, watch trashy television (Party Down South), make the guestroom a true disaster, take long walks in the afternoon, drink whiskey in the evening, encourage bad habits with my husband, and fall asleep on the couch while watching the Voice.

So much of this winter with my brother was spent in a routine. We had so many ideas when he arrived, and honestly didn't do any of them. His days off were at the start of our work week, which made it hard to even make plans. To make matters worse, when the sun set before 6PM, none of us wanted to leave the house. So we vegged out a lot. We told stories. We shared funny experiences. We did yoga. The boys ganged up on me a lot - mostly to do with my cooking. And I judged them for their lack of cleanliness. In reality, it was the same kind of household dynamic that it was when we were growing up, it was just a little more grown up.  We talked bills, and budgets, and responsibilities - all things that we didn't do as kids. But we still fought, teased, and laughed, just as we did when we lived with our parents.

My brother is scheduled to arrive back on the east coast at some point tomorrow. He is anxious to hug our mom, toast beers with his buddies, meet up with a lady pen pal, golf with our sister, and put his helmet on for the first raft guide trip of the season. And I will still be here, watching Monty stare out the window, waiting for "Unc" Chad to come back.

I really wanted to twist his arm and make him stay, but his excitement about going home made me smile. At least he knows where he wants to be and that's nothing to be sad about.

While reading a blog post today from one of my favorite bloggers, there was a quote I read that struck me. She said, "The way you love where you live (both in terms of geologic place as well as figuratively, this "place" in your life) has so inspired me to appreciate where I live and this sliver of life."

I am so thankful for this sliver of life that I was able to share with my brother. As he goes back to the place he loves to live, and I continue to live in the place I love, we'll settle into new routines for this next sliver of life.

I love you brother and I can't wait for our next breakfast together! Safe travels and visit soon.

Some memories from this winter:

Arrival to Colorado
Beers after applying for a new SS card
Thrifting Fun
Breakfast Feast
"Holiday Nuts"
Work Uniform
Christmas in Colorado
Afternoon walks.
Ray Bans for the Eric Church Concert
The kid hard at work, while we ski
Beers and Yahtzee
Celebrating 303 = Colorado Pride Day
Garth Brooks Concert PreGame
Garth Brooks Concert
Beermosas with Seany
Soccer with Monty
Snuggles with Monty
Baseball Addict
Hiding me behind the pitchers cage
Coloring Easter Eggs
One of the only photos of the three of us

"Buckwheat" and "Unc"

Cheers to his last day in Colorado
Colorado Souvenir 
He's leaving the B's

Donuts and chocolate milk before hitting the road

After going through endless folders of "iPhone Dumps" I realized we maybe did more than I thought. It may not have been snowshoeing around a lake or skiing down mountains, but treasured memories, nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Liebster Blog Award

I was nominated by my very fit and gorgeous friend Meghan Counsman, for the Liebster blog award. This award was created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers and welcome them to the blogosphere. I really am not "new" to the blog space, but I was SO honored she nominated me, that I had to continue the string and play along.

 She asked me the following questions:
  • Why did you start your blog? To keep my family in the loop of my Colorado adventures when I moved from Pennsylvania, nearly six years ago - time goes fast. My first post is laughable.
  • What can you not go a day without doing? Sleeping. I really, really love to sleep. And every person I have ever watched a movie with or traveled with would say the same.
  • If you could take a vacation right now, where would you go? A trip to PA to visit my mom, my sister, my grandma, and my best friend.
  • What is one thing you really like about yourself? This is a toss up: Either the fact that I enjoy trying new things or my love of antlers. :)
  • What outdoor activities do you like to do? Walk my giant labradoodle. Camp with Mr. B. Have picnics. Stroll a farmers market. Bike for a beer. And sometimes hike, when my husband makes me.
  • What is your favorite meal to cook? I asked my husband what he thought and he said spaghetti. I can't say it's my favorite, but it's my go-to, because it's easy and I always have beef, pasta and sauce on hand.
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla, always. Preferably with sprinkles.
  • If you could have dinner with any person in the world today, who would that be? Someone sentimental: my dad. Someone famous: Ellen DeGeneres.
  • What is your favorite movie? To be honest, I would prefer a TV series over a movie, but if I had to pick: The Sandlot, The Notebook, or The Other Sister. Oh wait, and Juno too. My movie choices are a dead giveaway that I am NOT a movie person.
  • Which person in your life do you most admire? Why? There are SO many people that have had a strong impact in my life, but if I had to pick one person that I admire it would have to be my mom. She is the most selfless person I have EVER met in my entire life. She feels emotions to the core of her being, whether it's happy or sad. She hasn't been dealt the best hand in life, but has always been strong enough to get through whatever God lays out in front of her. I love you mama. You'll always be my rock in life.
  • What would you do in life if you knew you couldn’t fail? Quit my job on a whim and be a full time blogger or decorator.
Bloggers I nominate:
Questions for the bloggers I have nominated:
1. Are you a morning or night person?
2. What is your guilty pleasure?
3. What is your favorite holiday? Why?
4. What is the first thing on your life bucket list (today)?
5. What is your favorite season and something you love to do that time of year?
6. If you had a day all alone with no plans, what would you do?
7. What is your favorite song currently?
8. Upload a favorite picture of your self and tell us where it was taken.
9. Would you rather scuba dive or sky dive?
10. What is your greatest fear?
11. If you had the time for a new hobby, what would you like to do?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Honey Lovers


Thought I would start a new blog series. Why? Because I am infamous for starting series and then stopping. Nonetheless, it is always a way for me to "stay committed" to this little web space. At least for a week, maybe a month if you're lucky.

I call this new series: Honey Lovers

On a fairly regular basis, a friend or acquaintance reaches out to me with something bee or honey related. With "bee season" just around the corner, I decided my honey lover posts would be dedicated to all my inquisitive pals. If you have a question, leave it in the comments, and I will add it to the "series" list. First, I must give a special shout out to those of you who have reached out. I am pretty sure this article was posted on my facebook wall by ten different people. I feel honored that you think of me when you see or hear anything bee or honey related. Who would have thought, his crazy beek adventure would have created honey bee awareness in MY circle. Take a class, buy a bee suit, and become a beek with me!! 

I had a long time friend reach out to me this past weekend with a photo of his upside down honey bear asking why his honey looked the way it did. Then mentioned, how much of a pain it is to squeeze or scoop the honey out when it solidifies. #thatswhatshesaid 

I've been there, spending too much time unscrewing the lid of a sticky honey jar, to be left with a near solid lump of goo, then getting frustrated and tossing it in the trash. 

When your honey looks similar to the photo above, don't get frustrated and more importantly, DO NOT THROW IT AWAY. Your honey has crystallized and means a few different things:
  • Quality: It is actually a sign of high quality honey. In most cases, it means it's raw and hasn't been filtered to remove the pollen (the part that's good for you). I promise to dedicate a post to pollen and elaborate on this one. 
  • Temperature: Honey should be stored at room temperature or greater. If kept in a pantry, lazy susan or cabinet, where it gets a little cooler in the winter, your honey is more likely to crystallize. Store it on your counter, instead. If you chose to purchase honey in a bear (make sure it's local), switch it to a jar or honey pot so it's easier to scoop out when it does crystallize.  It will prevent your frustration later. 
  • Natural Process: Honey is made up of two sugars - glucose and fructose. The proportions vary with each type of honey and is dependent upon what plants the bees fed on that year. The point is science, guys. I can tell you that it's the glucose portion that crystallizes and some honey flavors are more prone, due to their high glucose percentage. For instance, I just learned that Alfalfa and Clover honey crystallize at a faster rate than some of the other honey flavors. My bees lived on an alfalfa farm, which is probably why most of my left over honey looks like the photo above. And maybe because I stored it on the bottom shelf of my pantry during the coldest months of the year. #rookiemistake
Don't get frustrated. Don't think it's honey-gone-bad. Just scoop it out. Put it in a cup of warm tea and it will dissolve. Spread it on a piece of toast, just like you do with butter. Or eat it by the spoonful. And enjoy it. 

Monty Monday

He waits. If one of us is upstairs and one downstairs, he waits between the two. Often it's here, at the top of our stairs, until we're together in the same place. He is always worried he is going to miss something, otherwise. 

Look at that pose. Doesn't he make you just want to kiss his curly locks. #partialmom
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