Weekend Reading (aka Bee Update and Swarm Info)

I promise more of a proper Weekend Reading post next week. This is really just a “here are some photos I took of today’s hive inspection” – in which we (my mentor J and I) split two hives and moved around some queen cells. We also fed a lot of drone brood to the featured gals of Great Cluck Egg Farm – side note I am beginning to think some of my gals are more like dogs the way they tug at something like a dog would a bone and then go hide it before devouring it – dog like?

Anyhow, we split the hives to create two new ones in Portland (I will be sharing pics soon as next week I believe) and so J would have some queen eggs to rear queens – he says he likes my queens because they are so calm.

For more on reasons to split hives go here.

This is smack dab in the middle of the season when a beekeeper will split some hives. It is also when folks will report seeing swarms. Note, swarms are when bees are at their calmest. Unless you go sticking your neck in the middle of one or something stupid chances are you can observe them (a swarm is a beautiful thing) safely from several feet away.  **If you do spot a swarm please contact an experienced beekeeper and/or this hotline.  I would imagine The Honey Exchange in Portland might also be interested, but the hotline or a beekeeping friend really should be your first contact.

OK, pics:









What you are seeing:

Pics 1-4 interior hives

Pic 5 split I’ll take into town to install next week

Pic 6 look close and you’ll see brood!! (yup, look like tiny maggots)

Pic 7 J’s truck being loaded with frames he’ll take back home

Pic 8 J’s queen castle or throne – as he says shouldn’t a queen have a home? He had this made for him – it’s so cool with three compartments so he can transport the beginnings of three colonies.


Weekend Reading

Has it really been three weeks since I posted here? Spring SPRUNG here in Maine and time has begun to fly by.

There’s been a coup (followed by futbol), an earthquake, the saga of Deflategate, NFL draft, more riots, dangerously bad reporting of the riots by Fox, and then in my corner of The Shire: chickens, bees, gardening, and stitching. The ice cream stands have all opened up where I am and the out-of-state license plates are here and in Portland in droves.  I polished off a few more books including Alexandra Fuller’s incredible Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. Her writing inspires me to be braver, more accepting, and a generally better/more interesting person. It also brings Africa to my front porch, where I sit and watch the chickens wander about and enjoy an occasionally strong whiff of the lilac bush when the breeze winds up and around my way.

Wishing you and yours a fun long weekend. In honor of our vets and those still in uniform, a couple charities that help military families: Operation Homefront and Wounded Warrior Project.

A few pics from the past month…


I’m repurposing t-shirts into corsets for myself and friends using the Alabama Chanin pattern.





Went to NYC for a few days to visit friends and attend a couple meetings. Hung out in Brooklyn Heights (went to The Long Island Bar, Sahadi’s, and Damascus Bakery), had crazy good pancakes at a Chelsea neighborhood diner, drank really strong gin punch at The Dead Rabbit, wandered around SoHo (went to Rudy’s Music with a musician/artist friend and got to hold a John Monteleone guitar), and spent time at the American Museum of Natural History.  Thanks M & JW!!!




It is swarm season in Maine, so I have been dutifully checking my hives for closed queen cups (top bee pic shows open ones). I will likely go in tomorrow morning and make a couple splits = two new colonies will emerge that I will install in the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious hive bodies a creative associate painted for me. Those hive bodies will be installed in Portland.


One of my favorite gals, “Big Momma” or MFK Fisher, snagged one of her toes on something in the coop and has been hobbling around the yard. She is still eating and able to move around, so not too worried yet. Her favorite spot is usually at my feet. Always has been.



Get Lost: My Hometown: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn


I am super excited to share Jessica Antola’s (adopted) neighborhood of Carroll Gardens in the NYC borough of Brooklyn with you today. Jessica is a talented photographer I met in Maine (she photographed the gals of Great Cluck Egg Farm for a TBD article) who shares a love of Africa. Check out her website here!

How long have you lived in Brooklyn ?

I’ve lived in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn for eight years, since Feb 2007 … and the time has flown!

What does it feel like in spring in Brooklyn?

There is an overall sense of relief and buzzing energy in the air. More people are on the streets, smiling and strolling about. Everyone comes out to thaw and new buds and flowers begin popping up everywhere. The landscape transforms from a grey, lifeless world to one filled with the most saturated, bright palate. The energy of this daily dramatic shift is infectious. Spring and fall are my favorites times of year in NY

What’s your favorite way to get about the area?

On foot or bike.

What do you miss most about your neighborhood when you’re away?

Being walking distance to basically everything I need as well as running into
friends on the streets.

What would surprise a newcomer to your area?

The Italian history and ongoing strength of the Italian community in the neighborhood. Carroll Gardens is full of Catholic churches, funeral parlors, Italian gentlemans’ societies/ clubs, various shrines to saints and the Virgin Mary and groups of older men speaking Italian are found on many corners.

Where are your favorite places to go with friends?

Restaurants/ bars:
Long Island Bar
Prime Meats
The Brooklyn Social Club
Fort Defiance
The Brooklyn Inn
Pok Pok

Book Court
Erie Basin (in Red Hook)
Antique/ vintage stores on Atlantic Ave

Where do you go for weekend getaways?

Shelter Island
Storm King
DIA Beacon

Image by Jessica Antola from The Long Island Bar.

Bee Update

I am happy to report all four of my bee hives made it through the winter. Here are a few pics from a quick inspection we did this past weekend. I will continue to feed them a sugar/water mixture until the dandelions appear – so probably another 7 -10 days. The second pic is of bees festooning or hanging from the inner cover.  Nothing to be concerned about, but definitely a hive to watch closely during the next few weeks leading up to swarming season.  I like to think this festooning I am seeing is akin to NFL players heading to spring training camp. You can never start preparing/working out too early…




Get Lost: My Hometown: Bloomfield, Kentucky


Have you been to Kentucky?  You should!! It is the home of some of the greatest bourbon, horses, home cooking, hospitality, farmland, and college basketball in this country. During my most recent trip to the “Bluegrass State” I visited Lexington, horse country, and Bloomfield (home to my favorite antiques shop).

I met Vicki Robinson years ago during one of my first visits. She graciously agreed to participate in this travel series.

How long have you lived in Kentucky?

64 years

What does it feel like in spring in Bloomfield?

The birds are singing, the grass is green, and the trees are already budding out. Tulip trees, fruit trees, redbud trees, and dogwood trees are just a few that are full in bloom. Lilac bushes and beautiful tulips are in every yard. The temperature has been warm, and after a cold and snowy winter it is welcome relief.

What do you miss most about your hometown when you’re away?

I love the rolling hills. I miss the smallness. Big cities are nice to visit, but the fact I know most people in town takes away any loneliness I might have in my heart.

What would surprise a newcomer to your area?   The friendliness of the people in my town. You won’t be a stranger very long.

Where are your favorite places to go with friends?

Bloomfield has Hometown Pizza in town. Hometown has excellent food in a very friendly atmosphere. If antiquing is your favorite thing to do, shop at Nettie Jarvis Antiques that has 5,000 square feet of high quality American Antiques. The Old Sugar Valley Country Store has the feel of an old country store filled with antiques, KY Proud Products, books from KY authors, artists and potters.

Bardstown 13 miles away has many places to visit. My Old Kentucky Home which is the Rowan House who invited Stephen Foster to visit and it inspired him to write the song, “My Old Kentucky Home,” In the summer there is and outdoor theater that shows “The Stephen Foster Story.” Bardstown has an excellent Civil War Museum of the Western Theater. Nelson County is considered the “Bourbon Capital of the World.” Some of the local distillers are Barton Brands, Heaven Hill, Four Roses, Jim Beam, and Makers Mark.

Some of the restaurants in the Bardstown area are Kurtz Restaurant, Mammy’s Kitchen, Harrison Smith House, RickHouse, The Old Talbot Tavern, and Kreso’s Restaurant.

Where do you go for weekend getaways? (e.g. any favorite places to stay/eat/shop in Lexington and/or Louisville – I loved visiting both those cities during my visits to Bloomfield) Louisville, KY has a spring and fall meet at Churchill Downs. Of course, the Derby is the first weekend in May. Two weeks prior to the Derby is Thunder over Louisville where fireworks are happening on a bridge over the Ohio River. Keenland Race Track meets in the spring and fall in Lexington, KY.


Weekend Reading

Happy almost weekend!!

It’s been a few weeks, but here’s another “Show and Tell” entry,  in which someone tells us about something special to them.  *In case you missed the last one on my friend Samantha of  Gathering of Stitches check it out here.

Here, Allison Carroll Duffy (Master Preserver and author of Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin) writes about the mortar and pestle a family member gifted to her. (Copy and Photos by Allison)


Mortar and Pestle
by Allison Carroll Duffy

Almost twenty years ago, my parents decided to sell their house and live aboard their boat. They brought a handful of things with them, put some items in storage, held massive yard sales to get rid of other things, and gave a lot away. One my most favorite things in my kitchen today is a mortar and pestle that my stepmother Ann gifted to me at that time. I remember it displayed on a shelf in our family’s kitchen when I was growing up, and I recall it being quite special to her. She’d acquired it in her twenties, during the decade that she’d lived in Germany and Greece in the late 1950s and 1960s, earning her Doctorate in philosophy. It’s not a time of her life that she ever talked about very much, at least not with her children, but I’ve always imagined that the mortar and pestle must have held strong memories for her of that time long, long in her past–though I’ve never known what these memories might be. I don’t actually know what the mortar and pestle is made of; it looks like ceramic, but it’s heavy as a rock. It’s probably the heaviest implement in my kitchen. It has a smooth, almost dull, off-white finish, yellowed a bit from age. The handle of the pestle is made of wood, now well-worn and slightly cracked. I’ve used it for so many things over the years–grinding all kinds of spices, cracking dried grains, crushing nuts, crushing ice, grinding coffee beans when my coffee grinder was broken, and attempting to break up blocks of beeswax (the last one of which, admittedly, was only marginally successful, and gummed up the pestle a bit). I’ve always kept the mortar and pestle in a place where I can enjoy looking at it as well as using it–it’s currently displayed on an old pine hutch in my dining room. To me, it is truly as beautiful as it is useful, and in my mind, that’s about the best kind of kitchen tool there is.

Better Late Than Never

Soooo excited for this new series from Netflix on some of the world’s great chefs. Here’s the description: Chef’s Table goes inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world’s most renowned international chefs. Each episode focuses on a single chef, featuring Ben Shewry (Attica Restaurant in Melbourne, Australia), Magnus Nilsson (Fäviken in Järpen Sweden), Francis Mallmann (El Restaurante Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, Argentina), Niki Nakayama (N/Naka Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA, USA), Dan Barber (Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns and in New York City, USA) and Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy) and thier unique look at their lives, talents and passion from their piece of culinary heaven. Chef’s Table premieres exclusively on Netflix, April 26th, wherever Netflix is available. And, a link to the trailer.

Because I’m oddly obsessed with prison culture (gardens, food, drink) – this recent Lucky Peach article by Kevin Pang on the food at Westville Correctional Facility. While a good article, personally I am far more interested in “Spread” – there was a fantastic article in an old issue of Gastronimca on the making of this inmate made food.  Want to go down that rabbit hole with me? Here’s a link to the article.

Have a fantastic weekend!!

Easter Weekend in Vermont


flowers and sweet rolls

bacon and irish sausage

Easter breakfast – sausage from Ireland!!

wink laid an egg

Wink laid another egg (did you know Australian women can lay eggs – me either till this weekend).


Oh, sweet Millie.


Shhh, secrets.

painted eggs

Aren’t these beauties – painted by some seriously talented folks up from NYC.

hunting for eggs

golden egg

Easter Egg Hunt – A found the golden egg (made by the lovely Australian lady who lays eggs) !!



Weekend Reading

The snow is melting and I’m sooo excited. Goodbye winter cold, gray days. Let’s have those spring daffodils. The next week’s forecast makes me want to sit on the porch in a cute outfit blowing bubbles.


Better Late Than Never
This recipe for Homemade Butterbeer, yes just (a lot?) like what Harry Potter drank in the movies.

THIS Michael Bay-Inspired ‪#Girls Parody Features Brian Krause (Video) is SO awesome.

These “Magic Rabbit” images OMG SO CUTE!!!

Seed Libraries Are Sprouting Up Across the Planet, and Corporate Dominated Govts Are Trying to Stop Them

Have a great Friday and a fun weekend!!


Culinary Diplomacy : Cuba


The second post in DM’s culinary diplomacy series focuses on that Caribbean island Americans now frequently refer to as “post-Fidel Cuba” or “a future vacation spot.”

I’d say Cuban cooking, at least as I know it, is one of my favorites cuisines – pile on the fried plantains (more more!!), avocado salads, Adobo Chicken, Frijoles Negros, Yucca Fritters, and for drinks yes please to daiquiris and mojitos. Mmmm.

The idea of walking through Havana’s streets and eating at recommended paladares (privately owned small restaurants – some are in resident’s apartments…) is up there on my dream travel list. That said, all the complications involved in traveling there have prevented me from seriously thinking about going – until a few months ago when President Obama’ made his historic “Charting a New Course on Cuba” speech.

Along with all the goodness insinuated in the U.S. re-establishing diplomatic relations and opening an embassy in Cuba rhetoric, was a bit about the lifting of certain barriers permitting some Americans to travel there.

In bars from Orlando to Manhattan, members of the American tourism industry were likely ordering another round – of Mojitos for everyone. After 50 plus years (some) U.S. citizens could again travel legally to the land of jazz and salsa, classic cars, cigars and brightly colored buildings and no one was wasting any time gearing up the American tourist invasion.

Now, here’s the zinger, travel is still illegal for the average American unless you fall into one of a dozen categories including: have family there, are a journalist, attending a workshop or professional meeting, participating in a competition or humanitarian project, or want to study there (with an institution).

What these categories do is provide a legal loophole for solid (think Smithsonian) and not so on the up and up (depending on your ethics meter) tour companies to take those American citizens who have several thousand dollars to pony up on a ride through Havana on an educational tour.

This brings me to a small troupe of successful Miami chefs, few with Cuban connections, who are promoting food tours to Cuba. At first I thought that’s great, but after reading a few articles from Miami outlets and checking out one chef and the agency he’s partnered with I think it’s a big stunt – a gimmick – certainly nothing I would want anything to do with. When people with no connection to a place (one chef’s grandmother is supposedly from Cuba, but all his training comes from England, Japan, and Wolfgang Puck – seriously??) are suddenly called “culinary ambassadors” that makes me laugh and groan.

Here’s the tour company’s description, check out the words I underlined (more groaning on my part):
“Join our ‘ambassador’ Chef, Jamie DeRosa (of the award winning Tongue and Cheek restaurant in Miami), as we explore Cuba via its cuisine. This trip will allow you to see the sights and enjoy the flavors of all that Havana has to offer. It will feature visits to organic sustainable farms with an authentic, organic farm-to-table meal, and will culminate in a collaborative cooking event between Chef DeRosa and one of Cuba’s top Chefs at the #1 restaurant in Havana! This trip is a first of its kind and will fill quickly!”

Um, seriously?? There is no denying Cuba’s agricultural practices are positively advanced, but I find the agency’s use of the terms “organic” and “sustainable” followed so closely by “authentic” suspicious –  is it  just trendy marketing speak? Groan. Organic farm-to-table – double groan. Who says this is the #1 restaurant and how about letting Cuban chefs do all the cooking/teaching – they’re probably 100% more interesting and “authentic” than a guy who has made his career working for a chef (Wolfgang) best known for his chopped salads and frozen aisle meals. Just saying.

This is where the use of culinary diplomacy as a form of marketing lacks greatly. It becomes a cheap tool in the hands of a creepy salesperson.

Want to create something meaningful and “authentic” dig a big deeper folks. As someone who has participated in a number of culinary education programs what would impress me is involving folks who live in Cuba or have a long history with that country.

Take Smithsonian Journeys Cuba trip – you meet with Cuban scholars, visit a training and advisory center for future Cuban entrepreneurs, visit the National Museum of Fine Arts with one of the country’s historians, meet with farmers and members of the community at a local urban garden, meet a local journalist, attend a local community block party, visit a former sugar mill town and with a historian tour the town and meet inhabitants and so on and so on. No gimmicky terms – this is the real deal. I’m not much for tour groups, so you won’t find me on it – but it sounds cool doesn’t it!?


All the News That’s Fit to Print


As is reasonably well documented in this blog, I have a never-ending list of books that I want to read one day – while always being immersed in at least one or two books. But, I don’t just read books, far from it. At any given time I will have a stack of open magazines in the office, on the dining room table, and even bed. Right now I am reading the April issue of Marie Claire (the one with the beautiful Kerry Washington on the cover) and the article “The Invisible War on the Brain” by Caroline Alexander in the February issue of National Geographic. I just read and greatly enjoyed the article “Pure Hawaiian” by John Lancaster in the same issue of National Geographic.

Sometimes I find books or subjects I want to know more about, while reading articles. Lancaster’s article on surfing, once the sport of island chiefs, as a way for Hawaiians to maintain their cultural identity led me to watch ESPN’s film “Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau” about the legendary waterman. Last night I watched “Storm Surfers,” the documentary following two best friends on their quest to hunt down and ride the biggest and most dangerous waves in Australia. One of the guys, Ross Clarke-Jones, is the first non-Hawaiian to win the prestigious Eddie Aikau Memorial at Waimea Bay. Not a bad way to pass by some of these cold winter days!?

A really well-written article I read recently is “Bring Up the Bodies” by Patrick Radden Keefe in the March 16 issue of the New Yorker. That publication consistently has the best writing hands down and this article was no exception. It is the story behind the real Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president and former I.R.A. member who continues to deny his responsibility in authorizing murders.

On the (much) less serious side I enjoyed the too brief interview with Kate Winslet “Portrait of an Artist” and the beautiful photos of her by Giampaolo Sgurain in the April issue of In Style. I have been a fan of hers since “Heavenly Creatures” and am super excited to see what she does in the Steve Jobs biopic. P.s. all the pics/bits on white jeans – my get into summer purchase – are fun.

As someone who swore off fashion magazines (Vogue, Elle, Harpers Bazaar – so dull, ugly, unrealistic), I have actually found Glamour and Marie Claire to have some substance. Hey, fun no brainer material mostly anyhow. I mean, while waiting for the snow to melt or your manicure to dry what’s better than articles w/ titles like “Find Your Best Hair Color” or “337 Ways to Own Your Own Look” …? ox

about this blog

About Me Sharon Kitchens and Delicious Musings. Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog. I write about all the things I enjoy - Culture, Food, Photography &Travel. Read more on my about page.


Instagram Slider

No images found!
Try some other hashtag or username