Bee-Day 2016

After months of planning, reading, and You-Tubing, the day has finally come. As of 4pm today, my husband and I are officially beekeepers.


I’m a city girl at heart, so never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I’d live in an area where I’d have a garden, much less a beehive. But it turns out that Colorado is pretty liberal when it comes to zoning regulations, and despite having only a quarter-acre of land, according to county law, we’re allowed to have ducks, chickens, goats, and bees chilling in our backyard. Discussion on whether we’re going to become duck and goat owners is ongoing, but we now have a hive of honeybees to call our own.

Although I’d like to pretend we’re doing this for purely altruistic reasons (the state of the world’s bee population is getting pretty dire), I’m most excited about the beauty products I can make, and Adam is most excited about having access to fresh honey and being able to eat honeycomb whenever he wants.

We had to drive about an hour away to the middle of a muddy field to pick up our sealed crate of bees (officially known as a “nucleus”) and then drive home with them in the back of our SUV. Every time we hit a bump, I had visions of 30,000 bees escaping their temporary prison and swarming us to take retribution. But we made it home without incident and suited up to transfer our new pets from their box to their permanent home.

Step #1: smoke the hell out of the bees. The smoke dulls their communication channels, which keeps them from swarming.


Step 2: pry the frames apart and carefully move the frame from the temporary box to the hive.



Eventually, you’ll have all the bees transferred. If you managed to do this without completely freaking out, you did much better than us!


Over the next few weeks, we’ll feed the bees sugar water and “pollen patties” we purchased from our local bee store (that’s a thing – who knew?) so they can focus on “brooding” (making babies). Once the population has grown by about 50%, we’ll add more frames (the black things) so they can continue to expand. In two months or so, the hive population will be large enough to be self-sufficient and we can stop feeding them. Then they’ll be making HONEY!!

Provided, of course, that we don’t somehow kill them in the meantime. Wish us luck!

Rapt awe

Yesterday, in my (much needed) yoga class, our instructor read a quote from Albert Einstein that I hadn’t heard before:

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.


Although I’m sure Albert meant for his quote to inspire others to explore the heavens and take on grandiose projects to better mankind (i.e. something for geniuses to worry about – mark that N/A for me), our yoga instructor issued a challenge for each of us.

She said, “Every day, find something, anything, and take a moment to stand in rapt awe.”

Um, excuse me?

How could that be possible on a daily basis? Everyday life, for me anyway, consists of early-morning alarms, coffee, dishes, work, trips to the grocery store, maybe some exercise if I’m lucky, cooking dinner, wine, and more dishes.

Is it just me, or does none of that sound particularly glamorous, much less rapturous?

Just as I was about to dismiss the instructor as delusional, she went on. I’m paraphrasing, because we were in Warrior 3 and I was mostly concentrated on not falling over, but she said something like this:

If you’re like most of us, whose daily lives are not what we would think of as profound or rapture-worthy, remember the miracle that is your body. Consider the thousands of tiny miracles happening in your body right now, at this moment, to hold you in this pose. Stand in rapt awe of your body’s ability, of your body’s strength.

And then she let us go into child’s pose and I was so happy I could cry, but I also couldn’t believe how much I needed to hear that. Life is rapture-worthy. Getting out of bed in the morning is extraordinary. All these things we think of as mundane and tedious and tiresome are actually remarkable.

I get caught up in the daily grind, the minutiae of moving from one day to the next, without stopping to appreciate that each day is special and precious and profound in its own way. So now I have a new goal – to find something incredible about each and every day.


A beautiful sunrise is a pretty good place to start.

Here comes the sun

After Tuesday’s doom and gloom post, I’m back with some great news. We’re still waiting on all the test results to come back, but the doctor was very optimistic about the tests that have come back, and it seems like Tuesday’s health scare was just that – very scary, but nothing to worry about.


That coupled with the fact that I was able to get several work projects out the door and off my plate, plus knowing that my boss was boarding a red-eye flight to Hawaii last night made yesterday a pretty great day for me.

Hubby and I celebrated the good news by starting to plant vegetables in our garden boxes.


Rosemary in the back, plus 6 different hot pepper plants. Hubby can’t get enough hot peppers.

Because there’s no better way to celebrate good health than by planting new life.

(Sorry. Sometimes my repressed inner hippie likes to come out.)

We also celebrated by opening a bottle of very nice wine my grandfather gave us when we got engaged. For almost four years now we’ve been saving it “for a special occasion”. But then we realized, life is short, drink the good wine. We spent Wednesday night cooking dinner, dancing around to Jimmy Buffett, and drinking an $80 bottle of French wine in our gym clothes. It was absolutely perfect, and while not exactly the “special occasion” we’d been envisioning, it felt pretty damn special to us.


In which I complain about trivial things in order to avoid actual problems

I’m burned out. On work, on travel, on even routine interactions with clients. Where usually I’m a Type A perfectionist, now I’m taking shortcuts and crossing my fingers no one will notice. Some of the best professional advice I’ve received has been something my grandmother used to say, which never made sense until one of my counselors gave it a 21st century update. “A stitch in time saves nine.” Or, doing shit right the first time is actually much faster than rushing through and having to go back and re-do it.

I was supposed to be in Hawaii this week, for work. It was an all-expenses paid trip, with first class travel there and back, and when plans changed and the company sent someone else instead of me, I did a happy dance around my hotel room. My husband said I was crazy, but working in Hawaii is still work, and I’m too overwhelmed to even think about adding something else onto my plate at this point.

One of my clients, to whom I’ve sent hundreds of emails, plus met in person or spoken to on the phone upwards of 50 times, has started responding to my emails “Hi Gary”. It’s so bizarrely infuriating, because in addition to my name being part of my email address, it’s right there in my signature. One email with the wrong name I could chalk up to a simple mistake, but when we’ve gone back and forth all day and they’ve all had the incorrect name? That ish is on purpose. Rather than realizing her antics come from a place of extreme insecurity (my firm has been recommending for several months that her bosses fire her or take away the promotion – and HUGE pay raise – she received last year), I’m letting it get to me. So far I’ve managed to respond to all her emails politely, but it’s only a matter of time before I snap and respond with “Hi Joseph”.

Opening my email has become a terrifying game of “who’s crying the loudest roulette”. I’m so far behind on the work I owe to so many people, my only strategy for dealing with it has been to turn in whatever project is being demanded that day. While easiest in the extremely short run, it prevents me from actually doing the work I’m actually assigned to do, and results in me barely treading water. I had to turn off email notifications on my cell phone, because every time my email beeped I was getting heart palpitations.

And of course I typed all of that because those are the things in my life that are going wrong that I can deal with. I can handle work pressure. I can deal with being overwhelmed at the office. I can tell my overflowing inbox to fuck off.

My husband had a pretty serious health scare this morning, and that I can’t deal with. He’s with me in DC this week, thank God. I can’t type what’s actually going wrong, because that would make it too real. We can’t do anything or know anything until we get him an appointment with the doctor, back in Denver. So I’m going to continue to do what I do best. Act on what is actionable (making the doctor’s appointment) while denying (despite pretty obvious facts) that anything serious is going on.

Apologies for the super gloomy Tuesday morning post, but I needed to clear my head before I phone dive into work and count down the minutes until the doctor’s office opens in a few hours.

Currently. April 16, 2016

This morning, when all weather reports indicate we’ll be snowed-in for the day, I’m poking my head out from under my mountain of work to catch up on the blogs I’ve missed over the past few months. Inspiration for this post comes from the Currently series I recently saw on Iowa Girl Eats.

Time and place: 7:36am, Saturday morning, in bed with a cup of coffee, watching the snow fall through my bedroom window. Since January 11th, I have spent precisely 16 nights in my own bed. Traveling for work is fun and exciting, at first, but it gets old in a hurry. I absolutely cherish mornings like these, when I can relax in my own space.


Experiencing: the beginnings of hunger pains. I am ready for breakfast (and coffee) the second I open my eyes in the morning. It doesn’t help that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day or that my husband hates when I disturb him before 8am on weekends. I don’t blame him, but when do we get to eat?!

Craving: aside from this breakfast, a vacation. I have been working and traveling what feels like non-stop since mid-January, and I’m finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My to-do list is now simply overwhelming, rather than absolutely paralyzing. My husband says I say this every year, but this has been the worst busy season yet. My firm fired a manager, and another one quit, leaving the rest of us to pick up the slack. Thank the heavens above that I’m getting paid hourly. I know all this work I’m doing is good for our family (we funded my retirement account for the entire year after only 3 months of work), but at some point, enough is enough, ya know?

Awaiting: my first shipment from Trunk Club. After reading a review on one of my favorite blogs, I decided to give Trunk Club a try. At face value, it’s just another personalized shopping service (which seem to be a dime-a-dozen these days), but it’s different in that it’s not a subscription service, i.e. you request clothes (“trunks) only when you want. I also spoke to my stylist directly over the phone, which I liked. I hate shopping in person, but frequently feel overwhelmed and indecisive when shopping online. I was able to preview my trunk before it shipped, and it looks like my stylist made good selections, so I have high hopes.

Reading: Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall. I read Born to Run by the same author last year, and it inspired me to sign up for my first half-marathon. I’m only a few chapters in to Natural Born Heroes, but already I love it. It’s vaguely centered around the heroic Crete resistance forces during World War II, but also ties in other stories of unlikely heroes. It’s inspiring and helps me focus on the big picture.

I leave tomorrow for Pittsburg (weather permitting), followed by two weeks in Washington, D.C, followed by a week in Chicago. I’m not out of the woods yet by any means, but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.


I saw this series on a food blog I love, Iowa Girl Eats, and thought this would be a fun prompt for a Friday when my brain is mostly mush.

Time and place. 6:16AM, curled up with a blanket and coffee on our new living room chair, waiting for the sun to rise.

[EDIT: as I was typing this, my husband (who usually does not wake up until 7AM or later), stumbled out of the bedroom and demanded that I cuddle him on the couch. So now I’m sitting on the couch in our living room, scratching his back with one hand while I try to type the rest of this post with my other. Is this what it’s like to have children?!]


Barcelona (photo source)

Reading. Spain guidebooks. Although we originally planned to visit Spain and Portugal this fall, I finally looked at a map and realized that Spain is a freaking big country. In order to spend more time in each destination, we’re focusing just on Spain and will save Portugal for another trip (although I am trying to sneak in a few days in Paris at the beginning of the trip).

Cooking. At the moment, nothing. Usually, I cook eggs and some sort of leafy green for breakfast, but recently I’ve been turning to smoothies instead. We are having homemade pizza for dinner, though, which reminds me – I need to take the dough out of the freezer to defrost.

Awaiting. News of the winter storm that’s supposed to hit the East Coast this weekend. I originally planned to fly to Washington, DC for work on Sunday, but at the “strong recommendation” of the airline, I moved my flight to Monday. Here’s hoping they have everything sorted out by then and I can make it across the country without being stranded in any airports.

Experiencing. Warmth! After learning (the hard way – i.e. sky-high electric bills) that our house (built in the 60s) had minimal (as in, 1 – 3 inches, we’re supposed to have 18) insulation in the attic, we bit the bullet and paid over $2,000 to have the proper amount installed. That’s a lot of money, but I can already see a huge difference in the way our house holds temperature, and I know it’ll pay off in the long run. Owning a house is expensive, y’all.


Isn’t he the cutest? (photo source)

Listening. To a “Hive Management” seminar from our local garden and agricultural club. That’s right, folks, we’re getting bees in our backyard this spring! Even though we’re in a neighborhood, our county has very relaxed rules on which animals you can raise in your backyard. We eventually plan to add ducks and maybe even a goat, but bees are the first step. In addition to feeling good about helping offset the declining bee population, we are thrilled to have fresh honey at our fingertips.

Craving. May. My work schedule is extremely hectic from February – April, and normal to slow the rest of the year. I’ll be traveling for work every week from now until the end of April, flying out on Sunday and back on Friday, with only 1 full day at home. Since I’m an independent contractor paid hourly, I make the bulk of my salary during the next few months, but that doesn’t make it much easier come March when I’ve seen too many airports to count and just want to sleep in my own bed.

Hating. The state of American politics. I’m just going to leave that there.

Loving. Agriturismo Cretaiole. As soon as we returned from our honeymoon, I informed Adam that, for our 5th anniversary, we would be renewing our vows in Italy. Since we’re about to celebrate our 2nd anniversary, obviously the time has come to make concrete plans (kidding). I recently stumbled upon this magnificent agriturismo in the middle of two of the most famous Tuscan wine regions, and it looks like a dream come true.

Anticipating. My next cup of coffee! (And maybe some leftover fried rice for breakfast, because there’s nothing better than cold leftovers in the morning, am I right?)

Hello, it’s me

Since I deleted the Facebook app from my phone as part of my goals for 2016, I’ve become so out of touch with popular culture. We don’t have cable (nor do we miss it), so I’m pretty oblivious as far as celebrities are concerned. But every once in a while, my husband, who is much cooler than I am, shows me an internet video that makes me smile.

I’m no Adele superfan, but I do enjoy her music and think she has an amazing voice. On top of that, she seems to actually be a nice person. (How rare.) If you haven’t seen her Carpool Karaoke with The Late Late Show host James Corden, I seriously recommend you take 15 minutes out of your day to watch. It. is. HILARIOUS. If you do nothing else, skip to minute 10:15. You won’t regret it.

Yesterday, (Saturday) I received 7 work emails from my boss. After working long hours every day last week, I needed one day to recharge, so I ignored his emails, and Adam and I, rather than being responsible adults and doing things like laundry or dishes, went downtown and accidentally got drunk at 5pm. I can take down a bottle of wine with the best of them, but give me a whiskey cocktail (ok, two), and I’m done for. The advantage of afternoon drinking is that I was in bed by 9 and awake by 6, without any traces of a hangover. That’s a victory in my book.

Saturday was my “play day” and today will be strictly business. I have a mountain of laundry to tackle, a suitcase to unpack, and a house to clean. I’d also like to get a jump-start on food prep for the upcoming week.

Lately, I’ve been really trying to convert some of our favorite dishes to vegan. I’m not a strict vegetarian, but I do feel better when I eat a mostly plant-based diet, and truly don’t miss the meat all that often. When I feel like having a steak or some chicken wings, I go for it, but I also actually like vegetarian protein staples like tofu, beans, lentils, etc.. Although Adam protests whenever I use the term, if I don’t tell him something is vegan, he dives right in. Basically, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

A few weeks ago, I made a huge pot of Red Lentil Soup with Lemon and froze it in batches for easy reheat meals when there’s nothing in the fridge or I don’t feel like cooking. I tweaked it slightly (adding smoked paprika and cayenne for some spice, decreasing the amount of lemon, and throwing in kale that needed to be used up), and Adam hasn’t stopped raving about it since.

Other vegan successes have included cashew cream sauce (which freezes well) served over regular (vegan) pasta noodles for Adam and sweet potato noodles (à la this recipe) for me, and vegan parmesan cheese (which I told Adam was a “cashew topping” and he devoured).

Up on the vegan menu this week is more soup (can’t stop, won’t stop) and Coconut Curried Kale and Sweet Potato. This will be my last week at home before I start traveling for work again, and I want to take advantage of being able to cook my own meals as much as possible. If you have any favorite soup recipes, please send them my way! I can’t seem to get enough.