Yesterday our new top bar hive with established honeybee colony was finally delivered (after a delay due to the extremely hot conditions earlier in the week.)  We’ve had a great time watching them through the glass viewing windows on the side of the hive, as well as seeing them pollinating flowers in the yard.  When they return to the hive, their route is over the top of the house, down into the yard, make a hard right past the bird feeder pole, and back into the hive entrance.  It’s very interesting to see them all follow this same flightpath.



Birthday Dinner Crab Claw Soup

Katherine and I had a joint celebration for our 15th and 29th birthdays (respectively) on her birthday, April 21, since mine was a week prior and Easter was the week before that… that would have been a busy 3 weekends of driving to my parents’ house.

Typically we have a pasta dish with alfredo sauce, scallops, and shrimp as our family’s “traditional” birthday dinner, but I had gotten it into my head that I wanted to make a variation on Maryland crab soup and thought this would be a great time to try it out.

“SOUP?!,” Katherine responded when she heard about my plans.  “Soup is just a bunch of stuff mixed in water.”  So my mom also made crab cakes, a salad, and cornbread.  The entire dinner was delicious, but, along with everyone else, both Katherine and my brother who refuses to eat any vegetables ever loved my soup.  They didn’t even pick through it.  Since that is in and of itself a pretty incredible accomplishment, I decided I should share the recipe in case anyone else was interested… and mostly, so I remember it for next time.

Rachel’s Crab Claw Soup

  • 8 c water
  • 1 bunch celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 large russet potatoes, cubed
  • 7 carrots, chopped
  • 1 smallish bag frozen corn
  • 1 smallish bag frozen green beans
  • 1/8 c – 1/4 c J.O. Crab (or Shrimp) Spice… NOT Old Bay
  • 2 cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 lb crab meat (I used claw meat, since it’s the most inexpensive, has the least shell in it for the money, and is really flavorful)

Combine water and all fresh and frozen vegetables in a large pot on medium-high heat.  Add J.O. Spice, stir, and replace the lid.  When all vegetables are cooked through, stir in stewed tomatoes and crab meat.  Serve and enjoy.

*You could make an even easier variation on this soup by using a big bag of mixed vegetables, plus the potatoes, celery, and onion, but my husband is highly allergic to peas.  Also, I may add some cabbage to this recipe when I make it next.  My mom also thought she saw some okra in it at first glance, which is something else that would be delicious.

Chocolate Quint Cake


Last night I made a birthday cake for a friend from work.  I didn’t want to go to the grocery store for only one or two items, so I searched Google for a recipe using the ingredients I had on hand- namely a Betty Crocker dark chocolate cake mix and Jello chocolate instant pudding.  I settled for a recipe that looked good but I lacked several of the ingredients that the recipe required and otherwise wanted to make it a bit less calorie-heavy; what I came up with turned out *really* well.  It has chocolate x 5, if you include the 3 kinds of chips, the cake mix, and the pudding, hence the name.  Since I got some requests for the recipe I used that doesn’t really exist, here’s what I did:

  • 1 box cake mix
  • 1 box instant pudding
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 1-2 c chocolate chips (I used milk, dark, and semisweet)


  • caramel ice cream topping
  • powdered sugar
  • sea salt
Preheat oven to 350° F.  Generously spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips) until smooth.  Add chips, stir until evenly distributed.  Pour batter into prepared pan, bake for 50-55 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick.  Allow to cool at least 1 hour in the pan.  Turn out onto cake plate, dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with caramel, and sprinkle a little sea salt on top.

It’s been how long?!

To tell you the truth, I have no idea how long it’s been since my last post.  I don’t even have a clue what it was about.  The format for creating a new post on WordPress has completely changed since I was last here. But I’m back, and have a new favorite recipe to share. A big reason I’ve been gone from the WordPress world for so long is because I’m pregnant (expecting a boy, due July 29) and haven’t been able to stay up much past 8 most days for quite a long while.  This has severely cut into my cherished knitting time, and most of the free time I have after work has been spent coming up with something appetizing to have for dinner, actually making dinner, then trying to stay awake long enough to watch some TV show and knitting while lying on the couch (and failing.)  It’s starting to get better, and with this being Presidents’ Weekend, I’ve had some time to catch up on getting some things done that had needed doing for a while.  I’ve become pretty active on Pinterest, which has really helped with my dinner dilemmas among other things.  I got most of my handmade fine silver jewelry listed on Etsy before my Ravelry ads go live on March 1.  I got my pre-plantable vegetable seeds started for eventual transplanting into the raised bed.  I did a lot of entertaining, and even got some knitting in.  Now it’s time for blogging.

Lately I’ve been craving Pho, the Vietnamese rice noodle soup made with beef broth (or, in the case of Pho Ga, chicken broth) and topped with various meats, mung bean sprouts, and basil that is known for being tedious to make yourself.  I went out to get some for the first time in about a year with my husband, and loved it.  (I did have to stick to Pho Ga though, as all the other soups on the menu had an asterisk indicating that the meats might be undercooked.)  I wanted more within a week, but he said that for him, Pho was something he only needed to eat once in a long while.  So I went out with another pregnant friend the next week, and a different friend the following week.  After that, a colleague posted on Facebook that she had made her own Pho and it was delicious.  After inquiring, I found out that Pho bouillon cubes could be purchased from Asian supermarkets to emulate the taste without all the work.  I went to my local Great Wall Supermarket, but they had no such cubes.  They did have a product packaged in a container that looked similar to  ones I had purchased containing chicken and beef stock paste / concentrate that was labeled as Beef Pho and Chicken Pho, respectively.  I bought both, and it turns out they’re more of a cake of dried ingredients than a paste.  The Beef Pho comes with filter bags full of the necessary spices, and are meant to be thrown into a pot with the whole Pho cake and 2 gallons of water.  Since I only make a couple of bowls at a time, I just scoop out what I think I’ll need and adjust it to taste.  Below is my “recipe.”

  • Water
  • Pho Flavoring (see picture above, or do some searching at your local Asian supermarket)
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Bok Choy
  • Beech Mushrooms
  • Basil
  • Sriracha
  • Meat of choice (or not)
  • Fresh Rice Noodles (in the refrigerated section near the tofu)

Add water for desired amount of soup, Pho seasoning to taste (and a sprinkle of included spices, if applicable) veggies, and Sriracha to pot.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until Bok Choy is softened and soup is heated to your liking.  Add meat, if using, and rice noodles (cut them up first to prevent messes while eating) and cook an additional 5 minutes or until noodles are desired softness.  Serve in big bowls with those Asian ladle-type spoons and chop sticks.

Note- I added all of my veggies at the beginning because I’m pregnant and not really supposed to eat sprouts.  If you would rather your sprouts stay crunchy, add them and basil just before serving.

September in Pictures

I haven’t post on here in over a month, so I thought I’d do a quick update of some of the things that took place during September that I remembered to photograph:



There’s more from the last week or so, but my camera is dead at the moment.

Honeycomb Cardigan

I just finished a test knit for a designer last night, and I thought I’d share the final product with you.  I’m looking forward to wearing it, but it’s so warm that I think I will have to wait several months yet.  I still need to block it one more time to even out the button band, but overall I’m pretty pleased with it.  The buttons are my own; you can find more of my  handmade buttons at Knitterings and Things on Etsy.

Deck Herb and Vegetable Gardens and Orchard

This summer my deck gardening has gone kind of crazy.  I have 9 over-the-rail planters filled with herbs, nice pots with the dwarf blueberries and citrus plants from last year, and cheap pots with seasonal vegetable plants.  Between all of these, the deck is pretty lush.  I kept forgetting to post about this all summer when the deck was looking nice, but today I found that my passionflower had rebloomed for the first time since I bought it 2 or 3 years ago, so I went ahead and took pics of everything else while I was at it.  Of course, a recent thunderstorm left leaves and dead branches all over the place, but I’m sure you’ll be kind enough to look past that.

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