Bzzzzzz. What Have I Gotten Myself Into?!!????

Long story short: We have 2 beehives now.

Long story long:

In late October about 18 months ago we got some screaming deals on some trees. That moved us to look for some more and before April of 2013 we had planted 10 new trees 8 of which were fruit trees with more to come. For a while now I have been noticing blossoms on things that end up not producing anything. I mentioned that if we were going to have this many fruit trees maybe we should find a way to get some bees to pollinate them. Now, I had in mind figuring out a way to attract some native Mason bees, but my wife who didn’t work with the USU Bee Lab only knows about honey bees. She went all about getting honey bees. However, by the time we finally decided that bees were going to happen it was too late to get bees. So that started the planning stages.
I didn’t want the normal white boxes you normally think of when you see beehive. So I build some cement block stands. To save some cost, and because I like doing that stuff, the boxes came milled, but unassembled. I got to glue them and set them with 2 inch finishing nails two in each joint; these boxes are solid! A little sanding and on to the next step. Then I stained the pine boxes with a beautiful golden pecan stain and then used a fiberglass resin to seal the outside against the weather.

Using cement screws I mounted a piece of 3/4 plywood that I had finished the outside edge the same as the boxes to the cinder blocks. I pre drilled some holes though the plywood into the bottom board and screwed the bottom board to the mount. Everything was ready for the girls to show up.

Well April 12th was the big day. While the rest of the family was at an Easter activity at church. I drove to Toole and picked up 2 four pound packages of Italy’s finest honey bees. At 4-5000 bees per pound that means I had upwards of 40000 bees in the car with me on the ride home. I’ll be honest I was waiting for the disaster to happen.  Especially after the guy at the bee place said he had tripped and dropped the packages so the bees were a little angry. Rut-Row ;| However, I made it home just fine and then started the prep work for the next potential disaster.  Moving the bees from the box they came in to their new home.

Installing the packages…. I’ll let the video tell that story. It’s about 12 and a half minutes long and well worth the time just for Chey’s commentary.

And yes Cheyenne and Christy were crazy brave.  Neither had any protection at all. But still no stings at all. PS don’t I rock the pants tucked into my socks look. :)

Almost a week into it and things are looking great.  Really the girls haven’t been a hassle at all. We “know” that they are there mostly because we all are fascinated by the hives and are hanging out there quite a bit.  The bees could care less that we are there and just go about their business.  In fact we have even gotten a little “honey” I had to remove some honey comb that had be put in the wrong place. It had some honey in it and we had some of it for dinner the other night. :)

More pictures and videos on my Google + profile. HERE

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Spring Break 2014 aka Adventure Sphere aka Rick

So yeah, it’s been long time. No apologies no promises, just a (long) post. ;)

Breakdown

Last time we went to Goblin Valley for Spring break it cost a fortune because of an broken alternator that had to be repaired in a little town along the way.  This time I was prepared and brought every hand tool I own, well not everything but close.  About an hour and a half into the trip I heard a strange sound, and of course it just kept getting worse and worse.  We pulled off the exit in Nephi and my eagle eyed wife spotted the serpentine belt was coming apart.  So a trip to the auto parts store and we parked in front of Grandma and Grandpa’s house and started the repairs.  Remember how I didn’t bring all my tools, well who would have thought that I was going to need a 1/2 inch socket breaker bar.  Lucky, for me Grandpa had a 1/2 socket set and a wrench that I could use as leverage, and in under an hour we were ready to head out on the road again.

Snow

After the break-down and repair we figured that we wouldn’t be able to get too far down the road so we went up Nephi canyon and found a little place to put down stakes for the night; the cold, frigid, night. I’m not sure how cold it got but we were all wrapped up in blankets and watching a movie. Nobody wanted to move or do anything. I finally broke down and fired up the generator so I could turn on the heater. I had hoped to live fully on solar for this trip. Which except for that night we were able to do including the heater.

After a successful experiment of popping corn in the dutch oven we finished the movie in relative comfort and went to bed.  When we woke up in the morning I turned on the heater again and it started to “rain” in the trailer.  Apparently, all the breathing and water in the air had frozen to places on the ceiling, and as it warmed up the ice melted and started dripping down on us, not a big deal but a little surprising.  After a breakfast of waffles thanks to a surprise find at DI, a cast-iron waffle press.  We opened the door to the trailer to find snow on the ground.  Not a great big surprise considering the night before.

Surprise

However, the big surprise of the trip did come later that day. While in Green River, Utah picked up one of those free travel guides. They had a little blurb for the John Wesley Powell Museum <LINK>. This was the coolest little place with tons of interactive displays model dinosaurs just a fascinating way to spend a hour or so. We really recommend this if you happen to be in the area.

Little Horse Trader

Earlier on, before we left Nephi I pulled out the guns and we all tried to kill a soda can or two. Once again my daughter, whoa she can shoot. 3 direct hits on a 3 inch target from about 30 yards away. Anyway as we were policing the brass my youngest wanted to keep all the cases that we found. Little did I know how much mileage he would get out of those.

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Here he is with his hard earned treasure. His fabulous sister even made him a boondoggle necklace to hold it for him..

They were his toys for the entire trip. And along the way when we stopped at a rest stop on the way he was able to trade one of them for a arrowhead from some people there selling jewelry.  From then on every store/shop we went into he was trying to make some sort of trade.

Perfect Camp spot

Rolling into Goblin Valley late into the evening. I was tempted to stay at the campground, but since thankfully it was full. Christy asked ranger for his thoughts and he directed us down Little Wild Horse Road. We did just that and found ourselves in the most secluded camping spot ever. Right up inside a slot canyon away from everyone and everything. The weather was perfect and the kids were in climbing/exploring heaven.
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Night Shots

So those clear Winter(ish) nights made for some amazing stars.  I had to try to capture them again, even though every time I try I fail.  I don’t think this time is any different, but hey I tried which is a step in the right direction. :)  I even came up with a little trick.  To frame your camera shine a flashlight through the viewfinder it will bounce off the mirror (in your DSLR) go through the lens and light up what is in the frame.  Sweet! right?!?  Make sure your camera is off at that point as I understand the mirror is semi-transparent and it might mess the sensor.
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In the Valley

Finally! We have arrived at our destination. While I think Goblin Valley is an amazing location and is a must see for everyone within a days drive of it; this time I just wasn’t into it. The kids, however, went nuts. Climbing and getting a little crazy. I ended up taking a nap in the trailer and then a couple mile walk to the visitor center and back. Which was really enjoyable. Once I got back it was back on the road again.  Luke apparently was on a quest for “nine-tine power crystals”.  There are nine of them in the world and one of them just happened to be in Goblin Valley. It also just happened to be clear up the side of one of the cliffs. He got in a little over his head, but lucky for him Mom was there to bail him out.

Capital Reef

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Chey was trying to figure out how to use the camera in Manual and took both this and the picture of the deer. A little dark but she is learning.

Back into the Waterpocket fold. We have wanted to stay in the campground at Capital Reef for quite some time now and finally took the time to do it. We got there a little late. After getting all settled in we went to watch the special program that we were told was starting soon. We waited and waited and finally went and checked the schedule only to find out that the presentation is only on Thursday and Saturday not Friday night.  I completely get that <not>.

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Wildlife right in the campsite.  These are the managiest sickly looking deer I have ever seen, the rangers said that is because they only eat fruit and what ever the humans feed them; soooooo Doritos and peaches no wonder they look awful.

Smile Kids :)

I didn’t get to do much hiking, but a little one with all the kids.  Then the two oldest continued on up the trail to the end and along with 900 selfies that she took on my phone Chey took some really fun panoramas.
Capital Reef Overlook
Capital Reef Overlook

Fillmore

So the final leg of the trip included a stop at Fillmore. We are kindly invited to dinner at my sister’s house. It was a whole bunch of fun as the kids ran screaming around and we ate hot dogs. One last night in the trailer and we closed it up and left it at its new temporary home. (stupid Salt Lake County ordinances not letting us park it at our house). Too little time for everything and we were back on the road north.

Home

A great trip always ends at home. We got home exhausted and ready for bed. I made a dinner of some Elk Steaks that my brother-in-law gave me marinated in some honey-vinegar that my sister-in-law gave me with some roasted potatoes. It was a delicious end to a fun trip.

 

Adventure Sphere AKA Rick????

One of the funniest scenes from one of the funniest games of all time: Portal 2. It was also heavily quoted for the whole trip. “Man I wish I had a waist …” And since literally nothing was planned in detail everything was an “adventure” We had no idea where we would be staying the nights etc. So when anyone asked about plans I was very likely to reply “Adventure sphere Rick” followed by a quote.

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A Look Back at a Very Busy Holiday

This is going to be a long post. Sorry in advance.

We started “December” the weekend before Thanksgiving. One of the only things I like about living in Salt Lake is that it is virtually free to do fun things. Like go to the Christmas tree lighting at the Gateway and get a free Kurt Bestor concert under our belt.

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This year we planned it so that our entire family was able to be at my Dad’s for Thanksgiving annual feast.

We woke up early and so that we would have the time to squeeze in another of my favorite traditions the “Christmas Trees hunt.”  It was not as fun as the ones of my childhood, but I think my kids will be able to look back on this as a really fun time.  Even if there was a fight about who had picked out the best tree. : Someday we will need to schedule a hunt with all of the aunts uncles and cousins so that the chaos factor is even greater, chaos=fun for kids.

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After the tradition of stuffing our selves with great food.  We went to the Fillmore Rifle Range for a “turkey shoot.” It was a lot of fun I think that the little ones really enjoyed sending quite a bit of lead downrange.  We even got to break in my new toy that I bought a couple of weeks before.  My daughter placed second to her Uncle Wayne and walked away with a Chocolate pie for her efforts. :)

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Adding even more complications to the holidays was a school play that my daughter had the lead part.  It was a comedy murder mystery with all the classic characters  She play the Miss Marple/Murder She Wrote styled character.  It was pretty good as far as a Middle School play can be she did really well remembering her parts and delivering them in a passing English accent.  However, there were late night practices a-plenty and it really pressed us for free time.

Another bit of great planning and we were able to arrange for all of my family parties to be held on the same weekend. It made for a very busy, but super fun time. Belinda, Craig and I were able to go trespassing onto Grandpa Ropers farm to take lots of picture on at my old playground. I was so nice to see my families and as an additional bonus we were able to see my niece be baptized as well.

Photowalk/Trespassing
During the kid portion of the Roper party we (Belinda, Craig and I) figured that we would go and do some wanton “trespassing” on Grandpa farm. I was great fun wandering through my old “playground” And NO I did not start any fires. One of the most interesting and meaningful things we were able to do was take some time and visit Mom’s grave while we were in Oak City. It was actually fun being there with my sister and brother with kids in tow. :) We even took a little time to sing a butchered, but funny, rendition of “Sleigh Ride.” You ever tried to remember the lyrics to that one.

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Scary

Driving back from the Roper Family party I glanced down to adjust the heater. Seriously that was it less than a second when I looked back up we were off the road and heading for a fence. I was able to correct and get back on the road, but is was a very close thing.  I could feel a “roll” coming on and it really could have been worse. The picture shows where the tires started to dig into the dirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photowalking Utah and Family

I was able to go out on a couple of different “Photowalks” once with the Photowalking Utah group and once with the Olsen group. Both were quite enjoyable and cold. Unfortunately the end of the Family trip as we were driving home suddenly the entire car fogged up and stank of rotten antifreeze. A blown heater core I had suspected that was happening for a while, but now there was no doubt. :)
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As the people rush home with their treasures…As the shopper rush home

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Christmas was a really fun one for me. Starting with Christmas eve I started a new tradition in adapting my old tradition. I have always tried to have a very nice dinner. This year I decided to have lasagna now one of my children is a real brat about eating my good Italian food, something about tomatoes. :P So I made lasagna rolls alternating between white noodles with tomato sauce and green noodles with Alfredo chicken. See what I did there, Christmas colors! It was neat and I think I will be doing that from now on.

Christmas morning was the nice exciting times that we always get to have. I love my kids they are so nice and gracious for what ever they get. They haven’t ever complained about what they find under the tree. This Christmas was even better in the fact that Aunt Belinda and Uncle Craig showed up for breakfast Waffles and Buttermilk syrup.
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Because of heater problems we ended up splitting the family up for the drive to Fillmore. Christy, Luke and I in the COLD Expedition and the other kids in the car with their Aunt and Uncle. It had snowed the night before and the roads were fabulous. We made it all the way to Nephi before the cold became unbearable. There I stopped at a truck stop and bought a 12V heater, wired it into the battery there in the parking lot. It helped but I think it was still low 30’s in the car for the whole trip down.

Heater Core
Stupid blasted heater core!! I just paid almost $1000 two years ago to have it replaced, and it has a stupid hole again. This time I was more ambitious and figured I would keep the $950 and do it my self. I spent a minimum of 20 hours out in the garage removing the most obnoxious things to change out the heater core, including the radio antenna?!? REALLY. But I finally got it and the heater works like a complete dream. :)
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IMG_20121223_182715Mostly I am glad that we have a season that is set aside to honor the memory and life of our Savior and Shepard.  Until next year Merry Christmas (even in February)
 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pizzaiolo

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2013: The Year of the Pizza

I decided at the beginning of the year that this year I would finally overcome my pizza block. I have never been able to make a pizza that I have been happy with. I have always just blamed the oven. You see the temperature in a “real” pizza oven runs between 800 to 1200 degrees. This heat allows for the crust to cook and everything to be done before things start to dry out. However, I recently learned a method that works around the problem of your “low-temp” oven.

Using a huge slab of plate steel!! I read about the process and I knew I had to try it. It’s similar concept to searing a steak on a cast iron skillet.

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The dough: adapted from @seriouseats

Ingredients serves makes enough dough for three 12-inch pies, active time 30 minutes, total time 24 hours
22.5 ounces 638g (about 4 1/2 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
.5 ounces (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) sugar
.35 ounces kosher salt (about 1 tablespoon)
.35 ounces (about 2 teaspoons) instant yeast
2 ounces Extra Virgin olive oil (about 3 tablespoons)
15 ounces lukewarm water
Mix the dry. Add the wet (water and oil in this case)

Mix until everything comes together. The dough is still a little lose when it is done. Put on a well floured board and knead until it doesn’t stick to your hands.

Put in a plastic container (bag) and move to the fridge overnight or up to 5 days.

Changes:

Round 1
6.5 oz/184g fresh ground whole white wheat flour 16 oz bread flour + 1/4 to tighten the dough
1/4 cup semolina flour.
Round 2
18 oz/510g bread flour
4.5oz/128g fine ground whole-wheat flour
2 Tbls sugar
3tsp yeast.
1 Tbls butter
Round 3
3tbls sugar
No butter
1 Tbls powdered milk
1 tsp citric acid

The method:

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Pre-heat the oven at 500 for 1 hour with the steel on the top shelf. When it is time for cook switch the oven to the broiler. Yes this makes it screaming hot. The idea is that you are hitting your pizza with two super hot sources.

Once the heat is ready build your pizza on a “peel” dusted liberaly with cornmeal and slide it directly onto the steel surface. Let it cook until everything is bubbles and brown. :). Using the peel slip it to a heat resistant plate (read not plastic) let it sit for a couple of minutes then dig in.

The results:

This was a copy of one of my favorite pizzas. Sliced proscuitto, Artichoke hearts, green and klamata olives, with feta and mozzarella cheese.
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Cinnadoodles

There is an incredible food blogger here in Salt Lake City. I lifted my recipe for my cinnadodles from them. Here is the link for their recipe from Two Peas and their Pod (link). Now I’m a little thick and didn’t understand what cinnamon chips were. Therefore, I used about 1/2 cup of red hots and a 1/2 cup of chopped dark chocolate. They are yummy!! I also recommend the pumpkin Nutella bread AWESOME!!

Cinnadoodles modified from Two Peas and their Pod

1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder

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Cheddar Cornbread Waffles and Tri-Chile

We got 20 inches of snow over the weekend.  Perfect weather to just stare out the window with a warm bowl of chili in your hands.


I know this is weak food photography. But I wanted to get the post up while it was fresh.

Tri-Chile

I have been working on my chili recipe for quite a while. There are two things that I think are critical to my chili: 1. Diversity of favors and textures, 2. Simplicity of those same flavors and textures.

I call it Tri-Chile because I use three different types of each main ingredients.

3 lbs Chuck Roast cubed
1 lb Ground Beef
1 lb Bacon diced and rendered
1 cup dried red beans
1 cup dried black beans
2 cups pinto beans
1 dried New Mexico Green chili chopped
2 dried chiptole chilies chopped
1 dried hanbanero chili chopped
2 large can of tomatoes
1 large can tomato sauce
1/2 small can tomato paste
1/2 cup dark Karo Syrup
3 tablespoons hot chili powder
2 tablespoons oregano
2 cups diced onions
2 bell diced bell peppers
3 bay leaves

This will fill an 8 quart crock pot to the top.
Wow looking at this list suddenly it doesn’t feel so simple, but really it is.

Soak the beans over-night in warm water (no salt)

Saute the bacon over medium heat until crispy, drain all but 2 tbls of the fat. Add onion, garlic and bell peppers cook until soft then move to the crock pot. Add roast meat and the ground beef and brown everything add to the crock pot. Drain beans and into the pot, then guess what happens to the tomatoes. Add the spices, stir. and put the lid on.

Turn heat to high until it starts to “boil” then turn to low for the next 6 hours. Enjoy the smells; they are amazing.

Cheddar Cornbread Waffles

1 3/4 cups corn meal
1 1/4 cup AP Flour
1 tbls Sugar
1 tbls baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cup milk
3 tbls vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese

Mix corn meal, flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a mixing bowl. In a separate mixer add milk, sugar, eggs and oil. Add dry ingredient to the wet ingredients mix while adding the cheese.

Cook according to your waffle irons instructions.

I also added some Peach-Habenero Syrup from a failed attempt to make Jelly. I would recomend some sort of sweet to the meal for the waffle. It will just add an additional layer of flavor.

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A Trip and Fall


So after attending the wonderful Brigham City Temple sessions @mrsangrygardner wanted, well she begged and plead, to go see the changing leaves.  I choose to go up American Fork Canyon. I have admit the reason was two fold

1. It is a beautiful canyon and a fun drive that starts along the river bed and the maple trees transitions to quakies and ends in Heber City.
2. There is a Cabelas on the way and I wanted to look at a gun. (Z day is coming :| )

So most of my pictures where done on @instagram and Chey used my Nikon.

I love Aspen trees. If it were possible I would plant a forest of them in my yard.  Maybe someday I will :)

Here are my shots from my “real” camera.

Maybe it was the change in altitude, but the next day I started a migraine that took me down for the next couple of days. Here I am laying in the dark with my sunglasses on to help me survive the experience. :(

 

As a bonus feature here are some of Chey’s pictures.

And here’s the fam :)

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Watermelon-Lime Jelly


I don’t know where this came from but one day I just started obsessing about making this jelly. A run up to Logan and down Fruit Highway and I started the process.

Day 1:
I found out that I didn’t use a big enough pan.

Watermelon-Lime Jelly

Honestly this is a work in process. This year I ended up with some very great tasting syrup :| I think I need to add more sugar to the mixture. Maybe next year I will have better luck.

6 cups of Juiced watermelon
zest and juice from 2 limes
1/2 bunch of mint leaves.
6 cups of sugar
1 pouch of liquid pectin
1 tbls salt

Follow the directions on the package of pectin for the cooking and processing time.

Here is a great site for basic canning processes and some basic recipes Food in Jars.

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Ensalada Caprese

It’s the end of summer that means two of the greatest things are happening. Tomatoes are starting to ripen and the temperatures are starting to drop. Both fabulous thing on my book.

I found fresh hand pulled mozzarella cheese at Harmon’s grocery here in Salt Lake. This was some amazingly great cheese. I decided that to complement such am outstanding cheese I needed to make sure that the other ingredients matched the quality.

So I put a call out onto the Twitterverse for heirloom tomatoes. Bought some incredible fresh olive oil, bottled in California of all places. I do not do reveiws well, but this is literally the best olive oil I have tasted since returning from Italy. California Olive Ranch

Caprese Salad

1 lb garden fresh tomatoes
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella cheese. I was always taught in the “old country” to always hand tear the cheese so that you get the strands that Mozzarella is famous.
Several leaves of fresh basil
A drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Sprinkle with sea salt

Enjoy!

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