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June 29, 2015

Homemade Tabouli

Summer time brings warm weather and that means eating plenty of cool foods in our household. One of my favorites is tabouli (or taboulli or taboulleh- depends who you talk to). This is a simple easy salad that is always a crowd pleaser and I'm here to tell you that it is SO simple to make. It's also super delicious! Try eating it plain or scooping it up with pita chips.

1 cup uncooked bulgar (cracked wheat)
2 cups boiling water
1 medium tomato- diced
1 cup of chopped parsley (can also add some fresh cilantro or mint as well.)
1/2 diced red onion
Olive Oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon All Spice


In a heat safe lidded dish, add the boiling water to the bulgar. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, red onion, and parley. Once the bulgar has absorbed all the water and cooled, add it to the mix.

Add the all spice, lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil until lightly coated. Stir well.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled.

Keep refrigerated.

June 24, 2015

New Girls

Somehow it happened. I went to the feed store and saw the baby chicks. Today Australorps along with other favorite breeds arrived. After the passing of Tilly and Dolly in May and April, somehow a little piece of my heart whispered to me, "Get one."

I scooped up a sweet little girl- a Barred Rock. Our eyes locked and I could feel her imprinting on me. I spoke to her and she seemed to "speak" back with her quiet eyes staring back at me.  The young, twenty-something, sales gal looked at me and said, "I love watching how you folks all pick out your chicks!". I didn't know if she thought I was crazy or just plain in love.

Soon enough, a tiny cardboard box was filled with a layer of fresh pine shavings and topped off with an Australorp, Barred Rock and an Araucana. Their peeping was music to my ears.

Today I felt as though a piece of my broken heart was healed by these three curious new friends. I sat and watched them in the brooder quietly before the kids got home from school. I knew they would be just as excited as I was to meet Molly, Olive and Petula. As in the circle of life, our flock is beginning to grow again. Somehow adding these three, our flock feels right again.

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

June 22, 2015

Giveaway: Americana Fabric Coil Basket and Soap

I'm excited to share with you that Nicole from Windy Willow Homestead has another fabulous giveaway for you all! This giveaway is perfect for the Fourth of July!  As we get ready to celebrate with all the red, white and blue, take a peek at what Nicole has dreamed up. She is one talented lady.

One coiled fabric basket: This beautiful basket is made with 100% cotton cording, fabric and thread. It measures 11 ½ inches across the top, 5 ¾ inches tall and a 3 ½ inch across the base and comes with cute red, white and blue star buttons on the curly q. Don’t forget that you can use this basket in so many ways. If you don't collect eggs, you can use this basket to bring in the veggies from the garden. Imagine putting hot rolls on the dinner table or better yet put a hot bowl of your favorite food on the dinner table. Glass or Pyrex bowls will fit down inside of this basket. The basket will help keep your food warm or cold.

“Americana” Cold Process Soap: This soap scent is an energetic blend of tamarind, crushed lychee berries, Tahitian Noni juice, and fresh cranberries; followed by the herbal freshness of sun-ripened figs; with base notes of basil and palm leaves. Very tropical and refreshing! It also comes in a beautiful red, white and blue gift bag.

Soap ingredients: Olive oil, Organic Coconut oil, Sustainably harvested Palm oil, Saponified Lye, Water, Fragrance, Castor oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, Kokum Butter, Kaolin Clay, and fine ground oatmeal.Also contains: Mica colorants, Titanium Dioxide and Glitter.

June 19, 2015

A Gift from The Hair Potter

When I lost Tilly a few weeks ago, I was feeling such a profound loss. I shared it with you all and the outpouring of love and support was nothing short of amazing. Thank you!  I received a special message from a woman named Shannon asking me if I happened to have a few of Tilly's feathers. She wanted to create something just for me. I did in fact have a few collected feathers from Tilly. I picked two of the loveliest ones and shipped them to Oregon.

Shannon takes feathers, fur, and hair from animals that we love and creates one of a kind pottery called raku. During the process, Shannon incorporates the feathers into the pottery to create a one-of-a-kind, personalized work of art.

I am so thrilled to have connected with Shannon and be able to have a piece of Tilly and her here at my desk. I am so deeping touched by her generosity, talent and skill as an artisan.

To learn more about Shannon and her creations you can visit her at The Hair Potter. I know she'd love to make something for you.

Photo Credits: Tilly's Nest

June 16, 2015

How to Catch A Honeybee Swarm

I keep two beehives across town at my Mom's house. Her father was a beekeeper so when I asked about keeping a couple of hives at her place, she and my step-dad were quite supportive of the idea. It reminded her of growing up as a little girl. For the past 3 years, two of my hives have lived at my Mom's.

This past winter, I lost one hive on the property but the other one came through strong. This hive has Italian bees that are known to lay and grow like gangbusters. I knew that this hive would swarm in the spring, so I did all that I could to curtail it. I split the hive in May. I also had been increasing their living space over the past couple of months. The hive was now comprised of three deeps and two honey supers. I thought it was fine.

For a non-beekeeper, my Mom has become a pretty good observer of the hives and always alerts me to hive activity whether it be normal or abnormal. Last Friday, I was completely exhausted after a very long, hot, and sticky humid morning spent at my daughter's school's field day. It also happened to be perfect swarming weather. My Mom called me and reported a huge cloud of bees in front of the hive with a very loud buzz. My gut told me they were swarming and knowing that the queen would not fly far from the hive for the initial swarm period, I gathered my gear and my wilted body.

We took a peek around and found the bees in the tree immediately behind the hive. It was a pitch pine. The bees were about 20 feet in the tree all clustered on one branch. Although exhausted, this was a doable swarm retrieval. I called up a fellow beekeeper and classmate of mine for help. We got to work.

The swarm took up temporary residence in a pitch pine.

Swarm Catching Equipment:

It's always a good idea to have these handy just in case. 
  • Ladders
  • Saw/ Telescoping Saw
  • Garden Loppers
  • Container with a Cover
  • Empty set-up hive
  • Extra set of hands
  • Bee suits 
When honeybees swarm they are docile. This is because have just gorged themselves with honey and they have no hive to protect. Although many folks are scared of swarming honeybees, they are in fact harmless. So if you see a honeybee swarm, call a local beekeeper. They will come and pick it up. Please, don't kill them.  

In the center of the swarm is the queen. All the bees will cluster around her to keep her safe. If you can catch the queen the rest of the bees will follow. 

Up the tree we went with a couple of ladders and the telescoping saw. Gently we sawed the branch almost entirely through. My friend eased the branch with the swarm down to the top of the ladders. Bees were flying everywhere but the cluster was now low down on the branch. Clumps of bees were on my friend's bee suit. We put them in a covered cardboard box. We then returned to the ladders. With the branch now in reach,  I used a garden lopper to cut through the branch right above where the bees were. My friend held it tight. Once the branch with the bees were free we could bring them to their new home.

We walked the bees over to the hive. Since this was a large swarm, we began with 2 deeps. If the receiving hive is off location, use this technique to transport the bees. Take a large cardboard box (a lidded 5 gallon bucket with ventilation works well too). With a few forceful shakes, shake the bees into the cardboard box and then covered it with a piece of fabric. Leave a small crack for the flying bees to find the queen prior to leaving the site. If the bees do not recluster in the box than you do not have the queen. Look around for her in nearby trees. The bees that are free will recluster around her.

With the lid of the hive opened, we removed a few frames from the center of the hive and shook the bees from the branch into the hive. Then we closed the inner cover, placed the almost empty box in front of the hive, and waited a few minutes. Then we opened up the hive and saw that most of the bees had found a place on the frames. Carefully we replaced the frames that we had removed when we transferred the bees to the hive.

Bees rush to get inside the hive with their queen.

We sat and watched as all the bees in the area from the swarm began to flow into the hive with their queen. Some bees on the outside of the deep began to emit pheromones from their hind ends to signal to the other bees where the queen was located. After about 5 minutes the hive was calm. It seemed as though everyone was inside.

We placed an entrance reducer on the outside to help curtail the bees from swarming after being placed in the hive. In a few days, I will go and check on them and see how they are adjusting to their new home.

Because of this swarm's location, the entire retrieval process took about 2 hours.

For my tips on swarm prevention, please visit my post on Keeping Backyard Bees.

Honeybees guide the way for their fellow hive mates by spreading pheromones into the air.

June 12, 2015

The Beekman Boys and Tilly's Nest

I have had the pleasure of knowing the Beekman Boys for the past couple of years. If you don't know who the Beekman Boys are, you are missing out. I first discovered Josh and Brent when they were struggling to earn a living and keep their farm. They had a television show called The Fabulous Beekman Boys. It was on for a few seasons and it truly was fabulous!

After the show ended, they participated in CBS's The Amazing Race. For weeks, they traveled the world, competing against other teams with puzzles, challenges, and physical tasks. I watched each week cheering them on, loving the fact that they were kind, helpful, and generous throughout the entire competition. They were refreshing to watch on reality t.v. In the end, they won the million dollars, paid off the mortgage on the farm, and vowed to pay it forward, which they continue to do in many ways. You can learn more about their efforts and become inspired on their website.

I always have a chance to connect at Country Living Magazine Fairs with Josh and Brent. I was thrilled when we met again in Atlanta last year and they were excited for me and my book. Of course, it wasn't out yet back then but they were excited to share my book on their website.

This past week, they shared my book with their readers and followers. I am so grateful for their support and encouragement and I wanted to write this post as a thank you to them for all the encouragement and words of wisdom they have shared with me over the years.

Me at the Country Living Fair in Nashville this past April signing the first copies of my printed book.

June 10, 2015

Scenes from the Country Living Fair, Rhinebeck, NY

This past weekend, I spent four beautiful days in the Hudson Valley of New York state. Each June the town of Rhinebeck hosts the Country Living Fair. This fair is absolutely amazing. It is as if all the things you love about Country Living Magazine have sprung to life! I was invited to speak at the fairs again this year. I presented all three days and sold out of my book on the first day! That was so exciting and I loved getting to meet all of you. Thank you for coming.

On the last day, I cooked breakfast for fair goers. Here's how everything looked prepped in the kitchen ready to go. I shared two easy egg-centric breakfast recipes from the book.

I also had plenty of time to shop! These fairs are so unique in that I always discover treasures that I only see at these fairs, especially the handmade one-of-a-kinds.

I love all things for the garden.

These topiaries were amazing!

Lovely vintage linens are abundant.

And delightful little finds like these are times when your heart skips a beat!

If you have been part of my blog, you know that I have a thing for air plants. Look how darling these tillandsia on driftwood look pinned to an old mattress frame.

Here the air plants were popped into the letter E. They are so versatile.

Airstreams and campers are a plenty. There was even a section all about glamping and fun presentations sponsored by Go RVing.

I indeed found chickens everywhere, even on the signage.

The local 4-H also shared goats, bunnies and horses. Kids were even allowed to ride the gorgeous horses.

Sarah Hudock the artist and creative force from was a vendor. I was thrilled to see her at the fair.

This couch spoke me!

What a darling way to do place settings outdoors. Pop them in a mason jar with a cloth napkin.

Finally I caught up with my dear friend, Cari Cucksey from HGTV. She brought the airstream, lots of kitch and amazing RE-Purposed furniture. Check her out here.

The next two Country Living Fairs are in Columbus, OH and Atlanta, GA. 
I hope to see you there!