Monday, April 13, 2015

Bee Mine

For the past three years we have kept a bee hive at our house for my brother-in-law who is a beekeeper.  I loved having the bees around, it was wonderful, but our involvement was simply to sponsor them; that is, give my brother-in-law a square patch o'land to plop the hive.  In return, the bees worked our gardens and we got a bit of the honey. We never did anything other than respect them. 

Well, this past winter, our bees fled.  Who knows why. 

The rising cost of bee packs hindered my brother-in-law from purchasing new ones for our hive, so we decided to take the plunge and buy our own bees and join the bee keeping community.  

The bees are now our responsibility. Yay!  

We get to keep the hive we've always had and start from there, and believe me, I understand just how fortunate I am. Our bee pack arrived Saturday and my brother-in-law hived them for us and will continue to mentor us as we move ahead on our own.  

We knew there was a bit of honey in the hive, so we waited to attend to it when the bees arrived so we knew what to leave and what to take.  There was more than we thought!  We had three frames full. 

My brother-in-law showed us how to scrape the cappings and wax for the Crush and Strain method, which is fancy talk for gathering honey.  He scraped the frames into a bowl (which I didn't get a photo of because I was in awe). We waited until the next day so the house would warm up and the honey would flow.  I dumped everything into a fine mesh strainer - and waited. 

It took all day for the honey to sink to the bottom and flow out into the bowl. It was worth it!

We got 32 ounces of golden bliss.  I admit to getting a bit teary eyed tasting honey from my backyard. Today I'll try my hand at rendering beeswax.  Giddy! 

Last night, while reading before bed, I enjoyed a cup of herbal tea, my own blend made from many herbs I grew myself, now sweetened with honey from my yard.  I ached with joy! 

That is what it's all about.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Apple Trees and Chicks

Gardening season is in full swing here.  I've got so many little plants started and everything is thriving.  I take my seed-starting very seriously, but also have a lot of fun with it.  Did you know I seed-start by the lunar cycle?  It seems a bit hokey, but it works, and I do love a little mystery and magic in all I do.  It's fun! 

My heirloom apples trees are final here!  They arrived, via UPS in a long box (which was comical) on Friday March, 27, and were in the ground that evening.  We ordered our trees six months in advance so we could pick those we really wanted.  I'm giddy! 

It took a long time to decide which trees to start with, I wanted so many!  I had to narrow my list down to only four trees because I do have a budget I need to respect.  I don't know where my love for apple trees came from or when it began, but I'm smitten.  We purchased our custom grated trees from Trees of Antiquity, who I highly recommend. They have a stellar selection and were extremely helpful. 

My dog is "helping"

Oh, and it's also chick season.  We currently have eleven hens, one recently reaching the happy hunting grounds. We chose 2 Buff Orpingtons and 3 Silver-Laced Wyandottes this time around.  I try to cycle through breeds, it makes it easier to remember which are older than others. Once this batch begins laying, 4-5 hens will meet their maker.  Animal husbandry, it happens.  

Now I'm off to go have a chat with my Kohlrabi, they're pouting. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Two Zip Hipster and a Thread Addiction

Have you ever had a sewing pattern you bought but just stared at for a while only to wonder why you waited?  I've been sitting on this pattern for almost two years, never feeling ready to sew it up. After completing it, I asked myself repeatedly why I waited.  It was fun!  

The Two Zip Hipster is a fantastic pattern with such detailed instructions that it would be pretty difficult to mess it up. I highly recommend it. The pattern can be purchased HERE.

The only negative issue with this bag was of my own doing. Somehow, I managed to tilt the red dot fabric off grain, which I didn't notice until it was too late.  Oh well.  

I really took a long time to cut the fabric.  I changed the fabrics around and added more pockets to the interior, so it took some serious brain power to map it all out. 

There was the ever-present tension issue with my machine. I darn near cried when I finished the top-stitching on the strap.  I unpicked, then had another go. Still rather awful, so I jumped on the laptop and had a nice long conversation with Google about fixing my machine myself.  I found a few adjustment suggestions used by others, and I'm happy to say they are working for the time being.  

Then I switched thread. Wow! Apparently my machine is rather posh and will pout unless fed superior thread. Could my troubles really be as simple as changing thread brand?  

Hello and welcome to my new Aurifil addiction!  

Oh my gosh, thread heaven! I'm in love with Aurifil thread. It is a more expensive thread, but worth every single strand of its gorgeous Italian lineage. Just look at that top-stitching on the pockets.  This thread is just gorgeous.  I know, I already wrote that. 

I did the research and it was worth my time, and now I've used it, I'm sold.

I only have one spool, so tested it out on the lining since the color matched.  Switching back to the red thread for the outer bag fabric, a completely different brand, was like slamming into a wall; the difference was immediate.  

I've ordered more thread in different colors and weights and am excited to test it out on various projects.

Yay for sewing! 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

More Seed Starting

Here in my zone 5b garden, it's 10 weeks before my frost-free date. That means the heat-lovin' seeds need to be tucked into their precious new homes.

Today I started all my peppers, both sweet and hot, as well as my eggplant, those always get started between 8-10 weeks for me.  I always add a bit of time for hardening off and laziness (on my part, not the plant).  

I also started some slow-growing herbs such as thyme and chamomile.  Oh, and some more basil. 

I make a good mess out there in the greenhouse, but it's a fine mess to be in! Around 95 degrees inside the greenhouse this afternoon.  

And here is my gorgeous basil I started back on Valentine's Day. I will give it two more weeks under the grow lights then transplant into some cute pots for the window sill.  This basil will never go outside, I started it solely for using inside.  I succession plant basil for pots indoors until it's hot enough outside. I love herbs!

I also started a new variety of tomato today, an early paste tomato, to plant inside the wall-o-water directly in the garden about month earlier than usual. Every year I try a new variety in the wall-o-water to have tomatoes really early; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Regardless, I have fun doing it.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Crafting Desk Update

There is a funny little space in my house at the end of the hallway which leads to my sewing room. Last year, I turned that awkward dead-space into a home for my crafting desk.  

This past month I updated the space with a few extra things to organize it. I did purchase a new pegboard, but everything else was either thrifted or re-purposed from another spot in the house.  

Turn left for the powder room, turn right for the sewing room.

Here the sewing room entry is visible. There isn't a door anymore, it was a nuisance, so we took it down.

Old IKEA bars holding my craft punches.  
I love having these out and visible! I could never remember what I had, 
now I can glance over and see them all in a pretty row. 

Above the punches is an IKEA magnet board covered with fabric. 
I used a permanent spray adhesive to secure the fabric. 

This is a basement window, and if you look closely, 
you can see the unsightly window well behind my curtains.  
The curtains hide the view while providing a soft diffused light. 

New pegboard!

The pink tape measure was old and warped, 
no longer suitable for use since the sides were so curly.
I simply glued it down the side to hide 
the strip of wood the board is mounted on. 

My mom purchased the sparkly clock years ago for my daughter's room.  
I know, without a doubt, she would approve of my using it elsewhere.  
Mom loved glitter and sparkle, and I love this shiny reminder that she watches over us all. 

I am loving this pretty little space!