Sunday, December 24, 2017

Family Santa Photos: The Next Generation


This is me with what use to pass for a Santa back before Santa school, real beards, and Kris Kringles who could make a tidy year's salary between Thanksgiving and Christmas at the mall.  You've got to love the Buddy Holly glasses on him and the red cowgirl boots on me.

Okay, and that Santa is in a trailer with bad wood paneling in the parking lot of a K-Mart. I was a pretty gullible kid seeing as how I didn't wonder why he'd be hanging out there.

I think it helps to focus on the boots...

Is it just me or does time fly faster than Santa's reindeer? When I had my daughter I decided instead of a random pic here or there I was going to have her picture made every year with Santa.


It became an annual tradition and I was nearly obsessive about it. I was determined for my kids to have their pictures made with Santa EVERY year (did I mention that?) until they were 18 or so. It sounded so easy in the beginning. You take the baby, and eventually babies, stand in line, plop them on Santa's lap while some teenage girl in an elf costume tries to get them to smile, snap! Pay here.

Here's your photo...



She really wasn't sure about this at all but by the following year she had made up her mind.




She was terrified of Santa.

Well, the costume is a really bad one, I'll admit. I finally had to tell the photo elf to just take the picture screams and all.


A year later she had discovered HE BRINGS PRESENTS! Well, NOW we are talking.

I'm thinking this was a My Pretty Pony, Cherry Merry Muffin, Care Bear discussion...


Around this time she realized the whole Santa visit was also a photo op.



Now she's just working us...and Santa.

She is still VERY good at this.



Oh.

Sharing the spotlight.

Bummer.

He can't ask for much, right?




This was the year we discovered a nearly authentic version of Santa. He even had me fooled.

This is my all time favorite.

So precious.

Pigtails. Pigtails, people!

I miss that.




The haughty Mr. Snarky made his first holiday appearance in '93.

His expression sums up his whole attitude.

You gotta problem with that?



 While waiting in a long line for our chance to visit with Mr. Claus Mr. Snarky disappeared. Two parents and two grandparents were looking frantically for him when we heard a man yell "HEY! That's not my kid!" My husband and I exchanged glances that said "No. He would be ours." There he was, sitting on SC's lap with another boy. When we asked him why he cut in line he just said "He's right there, why are we standing around?"










This was the year the malls discovered if they took real photos instead of Polaroids they could charge fifteen dollars instead of two.



Clearly, in '97 we were just at the mall and I thought "Let's get this over with while we're here." Mr. Snarky is wearing a hand-me-down from his sister with flowers on the lining. The princess is in the braces years, and he is in the full throes of Legomania (symptoms include a crazed facial expression whenever the toy is discussed).




Time just kept marching on...




and on...




The kids got older, the lists got longer, the Santas got better and the photos got more expensive.



We had just returned from London, where I had wanted to have the Santa photo made but was informed that the kids would have to STAND next to Father Christmas as sitting on his lap was considered...sort of suggestive.

Oh heaven help me, are they kidding?



We all especially love this one of Mr. Snarky. I recall him putting up a fight about what he was going to wear. He won but he still pays for it every time this picture is viewed. Revenge might be a long time coming but it is sweet.


He recovered nicely the next year from whatever was wrong with him, part of which was probably my decision to let him wear whatever he wanted. Clearly, in this picture his sister and I had laid down the fashion law.

The photo above was the last year I insisted they get the photo made.


The next two years they missed doing it so much that the following year they went and secretly had it made, framed it and gave it to me for Christmas. There was almost a tear.

Almost.

Did you read last year's post about Dan Money? Because grown up Christmas miracles are a thing. 

Want to see the cutest Santa photo ever? .


My husband with The Big Guy circa 1960. How cute is that bow tie? My kids are going to relish the difference between their dad looking spiffy at a fine local department store and their mom in cowboy boots in a trailer beside KMart. Let the snarky commentary begin!

Update: If you've been playing along all year on this crazy beekeeping, gardening, traveling journey then you know we have the best Christmas present of all this year and Santa didn't even bring it! Here is my grandson meeting Santa for the very first time.



Clearly he's beside himself with excitement. But isn't this fun? 3 Generations of Santa photos! What's the theme of every single thing this year? Cash's first Christmas! 

What's your favorite Christmas photo? Share it in the comments. I want to see! 

Merry Christmas, y'all! 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Winter Reading and Gift Ideas for the Beekeeper


Winter is the off season for beekeepers in most of the world. It makes a book the perfect gift for the beekeeper. Here are some of my favorites if you still need a little something for your beekeeping friend or family member.

1. The Beekeeper's Bible. This is a gorgeous book that is packed full of useful information and photographs. Any beekeeper would be thrilled to open this on Christmas morning!


2. The Backyard Beekeeper.   A great book for the beginner beekeeper or a gardener who is thinking about adding beehives to their garden space.



3. The Bee Book. An excellent addition to the gardener's library as well as the beekeeper's.




4. Bees: A Honeyed History. A fascinating look at how bees have impacted history and interesting facts and trivia along with fun illustrations. If you want a book with a BIG impact this over sized child and adult friendly volume will be a hit!

Product Details

5. The Hive and the Honeybee. A classic. This is a hefty tome for the serious beekeeper and anyone else who is interested in an in-depth discussion of the keeping of bees.


The book at the top of the page would be fun for your favorite beekeeper who loves all things vintage. Full of classic diagrams and old school charm it's a favorite of mine for reading by the fire on cold winter nights. By renowned scholar and apiculturist, E.F. Phillips, it can be difficult to find but is worth the hunt. 

Anyone who is interested in bees would love to find any of these books under the tree. Happy Holidays and merry beekeeping! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tipsy Honeybee Cocktail Recipe

jim beam

I'm always looking around for ways to use honey and one of the classics is to mix it with bourbon and lemon. Even your teetotalling gramdmother likely mixed up the classic hot toddy when someone around the house was under the weather.

And while I was getting over a cold I had last week, I thought I'd share this little gem for soothing whatever ails you. I used sage because I created it for a Thanksgiving dinner a couple of years ago but you could also use thyme or rosemary which are both still to be found in southern winter gardens. 

I had some simple syrup I'd purchased last year and hadn't used. It found its way to the back of the pantry where it had the nerve to grow something icky in the bottom of the bottle. Which led me to searching online for how to make a simple syrup. You know how it goes...I ended up finding 7,280,000 results and about half of them were infused with something. Anything really. Herbs, flowers, spices, more alcohol. You get the picture.

jim beam bourbon

I mixed water and sugar and boiled it together then added the sage and let it cook for a while. Did you want exact measurements and times?

You're new here, aren't you?

jim beam bourbon

Okay, since you asked:

2 parts sugar to one part water. Make whatever amount you want.

Bring water to a boil and add sugar slowly stirring until sugar is dissolved. Don't boil too long just until sugar is dissolved. Add a tablespoon or so of vodka to prolong shelf life but if you are using it immediately like I did there's no need. Add whatever you want in the way of flavor or nothing at all. If you have added something to make an infusion, strain it out. Let cool. Store any leftovers in the fridge.


raw honeycomb in a jar

Some recipes called for cooking the honey (if you are using it) with the sugar, water, and herbs. As a beekeeper I just don't like heating the honey. My rule of thumb is that if you can avoid it never heat your honey. It destroys some of the magical properties. (I assume you are not here for the science.) Add the honey at the last possible moment when things have cooled down. Then pour the bourbon and (no longer simple) syrup over ice straining out any bits of herbs or beeswax.

 Muddle.

Isn't that a great word?

Garnish.

I like that world too. 

Make up a fun name for your concoction.

Now, seriously, concoction is a truly fabulous word.

bourbon and honey

This is a first cousin to an Old Fashioned or a Mint Julep. The differences are slight but mighty.

Don't be afraid to try something new if you want a signature cocktail for a gathering you are throwing together.

Cheers! 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Honey and Turmeric: Cold Remedy in a Cup


Honey and turmeric coconut milk is my favorite first line cold remedy.  In 2011 I wrote about using turmeric and honey to ward off a cold when taken at the first sign of feeling run down. Suddenly 6 years later everyone seems to be "discovering" this so I thought my version was due for a repost and an update.

Here's the background story:  Right before my daughter's wedding she came down with a dreadful cold. My friend, and fellow blogger The Food Maven sent me a recipe for a cure. It seems her mother was traveling in Ireland and was in a pub with a cold (her, not the pub). The owner, a man from India, suggested a spoonful of turmeric and honey. Mommy Maven followed the advice and was all better the next day!

Western medicine sends us off to the cold/flu aisle at the drugstore for something full of ingredients we can't pronounce when we don't feel well. Eastern tradition tells us we might be better off in the spice aisle at the grocery. 


I decided the remedy might be more palatable in some kind of drink instead of just choking down the spice and honey mixture from a spoon. A little online research proved me right and I came upon a few recipes (6 years later there are a gazillion of them!) for a version of this golden milk.

I came across many variations on several websites, they all seem to differ slightly. I liked one posted by blogger Arun Shanbhag, who remembers his grandmother making this for him.

I really need to update this post with better pics! 


Here is the link to his blog post: Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir, in which he explains the history and science behind this potion.

I changed a couple of things. I'm a firm believer in the power of green tea (Read about the health benefits here) so I made power packed infusion (1 family size tea bag to 1/4 C. water) to mix the turmeric in instead of water. I didn't have fresh ginger on hand but I did have some of the dried/candied sort, and I used coconut milk because dairy products are known to increase mucus production, something we are trying to lessen, and have other negative side effects for many.

In an update on his site Arun added this comment: "Scientists have demonstrated that when curcumin is ingested along with a peppercorn extract, the ability of our body to absorb and utilize curcumin increases dramatically, up to 2000%. "


I made a cup complete with peppercorns and took it at bedtime. I woke up feeling much better, and yes--energized! So I'm a convert. The dried ingredients premixed would make a great gift for a friend who's suffering from a cold. The fact that it's home made and wasn't concocted by a pharmaceutical company is comforting in its own way. Here's my version but the internet is full of ways to tweak it; find one that you like. Six years after my online search you can even buy premixed powders!

Pen & Hive's Recipe: This is where I pretend like I measure...


Power it up with peppercorns! Delicious!








1/4 C of very strong green tea (optional)
1/2  ts turmeric
1 ts ginger (use fresh if possible)
1 ts honey
a few peppercorns, whole or ground
a mug of coconut milk

Dissolve turmeric in hot green tea, add to milk with ginger, honey, and peppercorns and stir over medium heat until hot. Let sit for 5 minutes before drinking.

There is something magical about drinking this before bedtime. I do it not only when I feel a scratchy throat but also just anytime I feel exhausted and overly tired. There is something exotic and comforting about it that lifts my spirits as well. 

Cheers to your health!

*Of course if you have a fever or cough that doesn't go away you should see a doctor.