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Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

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March 20, 2017

Airbnb for Bees!

We had the pleasure of hosting guests all winter long here on the dairy farm this season.  Approximately 10 million Honey Bees vacationed here for the winter season.  Yep, 10 million!



Two hundred bee boxes (hives) were placed at two separate locations on the ranch.  Each box contained 50,000 bees and one queen bee.  They are taken away from their area of work to rest and take care of the queen bees through the winter months.



Bees have one priority in the winter...to take care of the queen bee.  What this means is they need to keep her warm and safe.

In order to keep warm, the bees form a cluster or huddle in the hive.  They flutter their wings and "shiver" in order to create heat.   The continuous motion and use of energy is how the bees keep the inside of the hive warm.  The bees are free to fly outside of the hive, if desired as well.

To create enough body heat and to stay alive, the bees need enough honey to keep them going, which the bee keeper provides.

Fun Facts:

  • To make one pound of honey, bees must visit 2 million flowers.
  • Honey does not spoil
  • Honey Bees are the only insect that produces food that humans consume.
  • Worker Honey Bees are female. (Duh)
  • A worker bee lives about 6 weeks and a queen bee can live up to five years
It was a fun experience to have the bees on the farm.  Everyone seemed to cohabitate nicely.  They didn't bother the cows or my horse, Joey.  They are now located back in the Central Valley of California to work the many acres of almond and walnut orchards.





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January 13, 2017

Warm Up Your Winter With Kale Soup

It's been storming non-stop here in Northern California lately and its got my kids climbing the walls but all I want to do is stay indoors as much as I possibly can where it's warm and cozy.  The day before my Dad's 90th birthday, yesterday, I decided to make one of his favorite soups and venture out to deliver it to their house so they could stay warm and cozy too.  


This soup is SO good and hearty and super easy to make.  I grew up on it as it was one of my Mom's go-to, feed a family of five meals.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.



Easy Portuguese Kale and Linguica Soup
Ingredients:

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 15 oz cans of chicken broth
4 cups of kale, chopped, thick stems removed
3 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans of white Cannellini beans
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 link of Linguica, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup of your favorite dried pasta


Directions:

In a large soup pot, cook onions and garlic in olive oil...careful not to burn the garlic, until onions are translucent.

Add the potatoes.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the linguica, beans, kale, diced tomatoes, dried pasta and broth and bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking stirring every so often, until the potatoes are tender.  About 20 minutes.

Salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to cook a little longer and add water if needed for a thinner broth.


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December 21, 2016

Easy Last Minute Cookie Recipes

It's the week of Christmas, every night of the week is booked, the kids are ready to be done with school for holiday break and I have cookies to bake for the annual cookie exchange that I am invited to and not a whole lot of time to do so.

I need something easy and quick to bake that will look fabulous and  fancy.  Both of these recipes are super easy and quick.....one from scratch and one I cheated a bit.

If you're in a bind as to what to bring as a last minute treat, keep these in mind...


Raspberry Ribbon Pistachio Bars

Ingredients:
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salted pistachios, chopped
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine softened butter, sugar and egg.  Beat until blended.  Stir in flour.  Spread half the dough into a 9 x 9 pan.  Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

Spread jam to within 1/2 inch of edge.  Add pistachios to remaining dough and blend.  Drop by spoonfuls over jam to cover.

Bake 35 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes and cut into squares.

(Thank you, Jonni D. from Novato for the recipe)



Peppermint Oreos

Ingredients:
1 package of Oreo Cookies
1 package of Peppermint Kisses
Edible Decorations

Unwrap and melt peppermint kisses and place in a microwave safe container.  Melt the kisses at 30 second intervals, stirring at each 30 seconds until melted.

Dip each individual Oreo Cookie in melted chocolate and place on waxed lined baking sheet.  Add edible decoration to the top.  Allow to cool.

Kids LOVE these!






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December 19, 2016

Surviving the Holidays ~ Caregivers

With Christmas fast approaching, we are all busy with last minute details and errands that need to be done.  Having elderly family members in your family might mean it's time to modify the holiday schedule that you have become accustomed to.  If you are a family caregiver for an ill or cognitively impaired individual, you may not be looking forward to the holidays; more work, more company (including those who may not realize how their presence and demands impacts on your schedule and work load), and additional stress on you and the person you care for.  First and foremost, the comfort of our impaired loved one should be taken in to consideration, even if that means reluctantly modifying past holiday traditions that may add more confusion or stress to your loved one.




Holiday gatherings easily show off an individual’s deficits. Imagine how confusing it is to be impaired and surrounded by people who know you, but you have no recall. Think about the constant noise (music, bells, etc.), bright lights and decorations that distort your sense of who and where you are. Imagine going to a family party with foods that no longer may be recognizable to you or that you are unsure how to eat.

So some good advice is to learn to set realistic expectations—for you and your family member.

For your loved one:

  • Attempt to maintain a regular schedule whenever possible.
  • Simplify: shorten visits and events. You do not have to accept all invitations. Determine which ones might be the most important or provide the most joy to your loved one.
  • Watch your family member’s reactions. Pay attention to their stress levels and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Attempt to limit visitors to smaller, sporadic groups. This might be a perfect time to let other family members “visit” while you (caregiver) take a nap, Christmas shop or quietly read a book. If you must attend a large gathering, locate a quiet spot to leave the crowd for a “time out.”
  • Make introductions with explanations. Act like you are introducing the visitor to your Mom or Dad.
  • Maintain the familiar. Old traditions, familiar music, reading/signing holiday cards or other simple customs can be enjoyable and feel comfortable to the impaired individual.
  • Pay attention: unthinking guests may offer your 90 pound mom on heavy medication the “spiked” eggnog, or mom might forget she is lactose intolerant and make herself a cheese plate.
  • Keep physical conditions in mind. A person in pain or with special medical needs should be asked how much and when they want to participate. Don’t insist that they do. Give them an “out” if it becomes too exhausting. Needless to say, ask family who are sick to visit at another time.
  • Where possible, solicit your loved one’s involvement in simple preparations—cooking, cleaning, sorting, etc. Most importantly, thank them for their help. Everyone likes to be appreciated.
  • Get involved and do something (anything): a short walk to look at Christmas decorations, an animated holiday musical that encourages simulated dancing or swaying, decorating a tree - these are all possible activities.
  • Reminisce about past gatherings, traditions or people. It’s time to bring out those old photo albums!
  • Be prepared! Make sure you have a supply of medication, incontinence products, quick snacks, some baby wipes and an extra sweater when going out.

As a caregiver:

  • Set reasonable expectations for yourself. You cannot do everything, and, most importantly, you don’t have to. Do you really need to make 5 kinds of cookies when you can go to Costco?
  • Maintaining the same schedule and simplifying the season will go a long way in easing your stress.
  • Ask for assistance! Ask family members to come sit with mom and dad while you do errands. Better yet, ask them to bake the holiday cookies or come help you clean the day before Thanksgiving. Learning to ask for help will make for better caregiving. After dinner coffee when mom is taking her nap is a great time to bring up whatever ongoing help you need.
  • Self preservation: remember to take care of yourself first. Airlines advise you to put on your oxygen mask before your child’s so you can clearly and safely care for another. Self care helps you maintain your health, your patience and your sanity.
  • Forget about perfection! A lopsided tree, gift cards instead of an actual boxed presents or a bakery pie will not detract from what’s important about the season. Spending time with family, keeping mom or dad comfortable with the gathering, and sharing the love will create a much longer lasting memory.



Thank you to Igor Lebovic, the CEO of Kindly Care, who emailed these helpful tips to me to share with you all.

Follow Igor Lebovic on Twitter: twitter.com/kindlyhomecare
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November 9, 2016

Napa Valley Santa Train!

I have yet to experience the Napa Valley Wine Train, but it is on my bucket list....especially with it only being 40 minutes away.  I was just notified that the Napa Valley Wine Train will be treating over 900 underserved children to the Santa Train Experience for this holiday season....how COOL is that!?!  If you're vacationing in the Napa Valley, this might be something you want to look into!



The Napa Valley Wine Train to Treat Over 900 Underserved Children to Santa Train Experience November 19 through December 29


Holiday Train Featuring Santa and Friends Partners with Sleep Train’s Ticket to Dream Foundation and Multiple Bay Area Charities

NAPA, Calif. (November 9, 2016– The Napa Valley Wine Train, an engaging and memorable experience that echoes the glory days of train travel, is excited to announce a partnership with Sleep Train’s Ticket to Dream Foundation providing the opportunity for foster children from around the area to experience the all new Santa Train free of charge on Saturday, November 19.  Additionally, the community is encouraged to donate an unwrapped toy at any Bay Area Sleep Train location. In turn, everyone who donates a toy at designated store locations, will receive a discount voucher for tickets to ride the all new Santa Train.  On the 19th, The Napa Valley Wine Train is also extending the Santa Train experience complimentary to the children of All Stars Helping Kids, Sonoma Mentor Alliance, Northern Lights School, Ricky Watter Kids, Cope Family Center, Boys & Girls Club of Napa, Aim High, United Playaz and Family Service of Napa Valley.  The festive Santa Train will run twice a day, seven days a week from November 19 to December 29.

“This year’s Santa Train is a whole new experience and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Sleep Train’s Ticket to Dream Foundations as well as the Bay Area’s most deserving children’s charitable organizations,” said Pat Colee, Chairman and Founder of Noble House Hotels & Resorts.  “It makes us very happy to share this magical adventure with kids that might not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience it.”

The Santa Train experience allows guests to embark on an all-new musical and interactive journey to Santa’s Workshop accompanied by some of Santa’s best friends. Magical wristbands will light up the train while guests enjoy hot chocolate, cookies, and holiday treats while they await Santa’s arrival. 

The Santa Train will run twice a day, seven days a week from November 19 - December 29 and will be closed on November 24December 24, and December 25.  The first train departs to Santa’s Workshop at 5:00 p.m. and returns to the train station at 7 p.m.  The second ride departs at 8 p.m. and returns to the train station at 10 p.m.


Train fare for the Santa Train starts at $55 per person and guests will have the chance to take a photo with Santa Claus before departing the station.  Free Parking is available in the Napa Valley Wine Train’s parking lot and space is limited.  For reservations, please call (800) 427-4124.  For more information about the Napa Valley Wine Train, please visit www.winetrain.com

About the Napa Valley Wine Train
One of the few active historic passenger railroads in the United States, the Napa Valley Wine Train offers an engaging and memorable experience that echoes the glory days of train travel, with fine dining service, multi-course meals cooked to order, Napa Valley scenery and ultimate relaxation aboard exquisitely restored antique rail cars.  The Napa Valley Wine Train features vintage Pullman rail cars faithfully restored with Honduran mahogany paneling, brass accents, etched glass partitions and luxurious armchairs that evoke the spirit of luxury rail travel at the beginning of the 20th century.  Conveniently located in downtown Napa and easily accessible, the Napa Valley Wine Train offers a car-free transportation option that bring guests from San Francisco to Napa Valley via the San Francisco Bay Ferry.

About Sleep Train
Sleep Train, an award-winning company, is ranked the #1 bedding specialist in the West. Sleep Train offers customers superior service by professional and knowledgeable sleep consultants and the best selection of famous brands, such as Beautyrest®, Sealy®, Posturepedic®, Tempur-Pedic®, Stearns & Foster®, and Serta iComfort®, as well as premium adjustable beds, futons, and wood and metal accent beds at the guaranteed lowest prices. Sleep Train’s award-winning Foster Kids Program actively contributes to its community through ongoing donation drives that benefit the West Coast’s more than 80,000 foster children. Sleep Train boasts nearly 300 locations in the West. Sleep Train is Your Ticket to a Better Night’s Sleep®. For more information, please visit www.sleeptrain.comor call 1-800-378-BEDS.

About Ticket to Dream Foundation
The Ticket to Dream Foundation is dedicated to providing hope and opportunity to foster children across the nation, so they can just be kids. Ticket to Dream raises funds, spreads awareness, hold in-kind donations drive and find new experiences for foster children to create happy memories. Working with corporate partners and community supporters they believe foster children can have a childhood filled with opportunity. For more information visit www.tickettodream.org.

About Noble House Hotels & Resorts
A privately held company for more than 30 years, Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Ltd. was founded in 1979 by owner Patrick R. Colee as a commercial property development group, transitioning in 1994 to a hotel ownership management company. Headquartered in Seattle, Wash., the corporation owns and manages an upscale portfolio of 18 distinct and visually captivating properties spanning the U.S.  From luxury resorts in Seattle, Wash. to Jackson Hole, Wyo. and the Florida Keys, each property maximizes and showcases its physical setting. Noble House is continuously growing, operating 45 hotel restaurants, bars and lounges, showcasing local culture and inspiration from local surroundings.  With a philosophy that emphasizes “location, distinction and soul,” Noble House Hotels & Resorts exemplifies individuality, dedicating itself to creating and managing exceptional properties that contribute to their communities, staying true to local history, culture and ambiance. 
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September 13, 2016

Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

Fall is in the air here in Northern California.  Fall is my favorite season because of the crisp mornings, the leaves thinking about changing colors, football and last but certainly not least.....everything PUMPKIN.

I'm a pumpkin fan.  From pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin muffins, I can't get enough.  I even stocked up on pumpkin scented candles.

To celebrate Fall, here are some of my favorite, from scratch, pumpkin recipes.....

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (click to see recipe)




Healthy Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies....you can eat these for breakfast!



Dreamy Pumpkin Ice Cream from Scratch.....oh so good.



I hope you're enjoying your ease in to fall as much as I am.  ~Nancy

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August 17, 2016

If You Mess With The Bull.....

Out of  the couple of hundred dairy cows that we have on the ranch, we have just a couple of Holstein bulls that stay with the herd.  While different breeds of bulls vary in aggressiveness, Holstein bulls are considered to be one of the most aggressive.  The bulls we have are young, two or three years old and pretty tame, given their age..... Although not tame enough for me to find myself on the same side of the fence as them. Tame or not, I'm terrified of these large, muscular creatures.

Just the other day, while our kids were being filmed for a California Milk Advisory Board video, I amused myself by filming one of our bulls, Rocky, while he was vocalizing his protest to my close proximity......two fences in between us.

A good reminder to all to always stay on the other side of the fence from a Holstein bull.

CMAB Filming



Rocky, the Bull
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