25 April 2009

Yes, I'm still around...

Well, it's been a tough couple of years and it's been almost that long since my last post.

I lost my mom to colon cancer last year, and have not been dealing well with life. Yesterday was actually the 1-yr anniversary. Curiously enough, I finally had a burst of creativity this morning and finished painting the 4th wall of "antique red" in my home office (which had been sitting at only 3 walls done for the last 3 months)... and then went on to paint a "french tarragon" green accent wall in the dining room, and then test out "jasmine white" paint in the kitchen on the cabinet doors.

The Etsy storefront has been highly neglected. I haven't made much new stuff lately. Let's hope that changes soon. http://myristica.etsy.com

In October 2007, I bought a "real" (brick-and-mortar) business. That's been using up a lot of my time and energy (and money -- still waiting for it to turn a profit)... but it's also a venue where some of my handmade goods are available (esp. handspun yarns and crocheted Victorian-style toques).

Many of you were following this blog for beekeeping updates. The honey bees made it through the first winter, but after I saw no activity last week with the warmer weather arriving, I opened the hive and found they didn't make it through this winter. It's a shame -- they were a lot of fun to have around. I'm not going to try again this year, though. We'll see what next year brings.

If I get my way, my boys and I may very well be moving to Newfoundland. We'll see.

I'm going to keep this blog for just Etsy stuff. If you want to peek at our regular day-to-day adventures, you are welcome to see the new blog I just started: http://newfoundland-dreams.blogspot.com
Initially, it is focusing on homeschool, as that's our newest drama. I expect it to be about a little bit of everything, though, really.

Sorry it's been so long. Hope to see that you're all still around, too!
Take care! :)

07 July 2007

Beehive news, gardening, and more

Here is a cool QuickTime video I took with my cell phone today out at the hive. Hope you can see it. The bees were trying to get something out of their hive -- looked like chewed up wax paper or something? It was blocking most of the entrance to the hive. They were making slow but steady progress in pulling it apart and getting it out of there.
Looking at it closer, I think it was some remnants from a feed packet I had given them earlier. I ended up putting on a rubberized glove (they don't like too much messing with the front entrance of the hive) and pulled all of it out for them. They were still working very hard to dismantle whatever the foreign object was, though, even after it was laying out in the grass in the yard.

Finally decided on a colour to paint the hive. There is a gorgeous mallow tree plant (similar to a hollyhock) growing in the yard with beautiful bright pink blooms. Took one of the blooms to the paint store and had it matched! :) Painting bits and pieces of new hive pieces to switch out for them so they don't have to deal with drying paint, fumes, etc.

I've also been having fun with gardening lately. Added a bunch of lovely colour plants to my containers on the front steps of the house... petunias, dianthus, geraniums, lobelia, and more. Also have more plants to add to a hanging basket outside the back door.

My latest idea, though, is a pumpkin patch. In reading up on this, it looks like I should have started it 3 weeks ago, but I'm going to try it anyway. If all else fails, I will have learned a few things so I can try again next year. Built an 8'x8' raised garden bed with cherrytone timbers as the edges. Put in 8 cubic feet of organic potting soil (GreenAll brand) -- good stuff, but kinda spendy. Plan to go to a discount store tomorrow (probably WalMart) and get some cheaper soil to add to it.

I've found 5 pumpkin varieties I want to try. May end up being rather cramped, but I'll try it. You plant pumpkin seeds inside hills or mounds of dirt (soil). Going to try one hill in each corner of the 8'x8' box, and then a 5th mound in the middle. The 5 varieties are all heirloom:
1. Small Sugar (7" diameter) from Territorial Seed Company (got it at the local country farm store, Sunny Farms).
2. Small White Striped (3" diameter).
3. Orange Peanut (up to 20 lbs.).
4. Cinderella (up to 20 lbs.).
5. Rouge vif d'Etamps (15 lbs.) - old French heirloom introduced to America in the 1880s.
The last 4 were purchased from eBay, and I hope they'll be here any day. From what I've read, I understand that they will likely be rather cramped in only an 8'x8' space, but I think the vines can spill out around the box OK... and I plan to prune it back to try and train it, too. Even if each plant only produces 1 or 2 pumpkins, I'll be pleased! Going to all put in trellises and utilise as much vertical space as possible.

Reading up on companion planting and natural pest control, I'm going to put in marigolds, nasturtiums, catnip, and radishes in the same area, too.

If all that weren't enough, we pulled up all the carpet out of the living room and dining room last weekend. Underneath, we found the original fir wood floors. Fir is *not* a hardwood, but it is still very nice. There are some dark spots and light spots to be evened out, but no major gashes. The tack strips around the edges are proving a bit difficult to pull up, but it's getting there. They also put down some kind of gummy adhesive that I'm trying to remove with some goo-be-gone kind of solution. For the blemishes, I started with trying to sand it by hand with sandpaper. That became quite tedious (even for me!!), so broke down today and bought a little palm sander with a bag on it to catch the sawdust... we'll see if that helps!! :)

'Til next time!! Enjoy this beautiful summer!! :)

14 June 2007

Beekeeping Update 14 June 2007 (part 3)

Here are some more checking on the bees. The frame that they added the extra thickness of honeycomb to while the 10th frame was removed is shown here. Some books would suggest I scrape this off and make them start over, but I hate to do that to them, especially with us having such a short summer in this climate.
There is a nice pattern of "capped brood" (covered up cells of baby bees incubating). You can also see the "drone" cells that are rather bullet-shaped sticking up a little bit. We purchased a bright green plastic drone frame from the local beekeeping club that we'll put in the hive next time -- hopefully so that the queen lays the majority of her drone eggs on that frame and it can be removed to help discourage varroa mites (kinda like fleas for bees).

The bees have been looking happy and building away inside the hive. Just put a thin/shallow "super" on the hive last week to give them more space to grow. Will try to open the hive tomorrow afternoon, install the drone frame, take photos, etc. :)

Beekeeping Update 14 June 2007 (part 2)

This is us opening the hive for the first time after "installing" them. We had removed one of the 10 frames inside originally to leave room to hang the queen cage in so the bees could get her out. They were "busy little bees", though, and during that time, filled the space where that 10th frame should go with honeycomb.
I did get stung this day... right on the bottom lip!! Someone called to me, and I called back... and it was just as I was pulling out the empty queen cage... and (zap!) I was stung. Not a big problem. I stepped away from the hive for a couple of minutes to compose myself, then went back to putting the hive back together again. Also rather wonder if the leather bracelet I was wearing played into it... was reading later a reminder to not wear wool or leather around the bees. It's a learning curve. :)
We do plan to paint the hive boxes, but just haven't yet. Trying to decide on a colour, too... the standard white? or a dark green to blend with the garden? or a bright pastel colour? There is a beekeeper in Sequim that has all his hives painted in colours like mint green, lilac purple, pink rose, etc. Right now, I only have the one hive body "deep" box, but I do have supplies to build more thin "supers" to put on top. Will decide on the paint and then make sure it dries and airs out before I switch the frames into it.
You can see the bottom board and top outer cover that the kids painted before... that's what I salvaged from the old hive that we attempted 2 years ago. That was some off-white paint, and it dribbled across the metal top, but it worked fine.

Beekeeping Update 14 June 2007

I'm a bit late getting some photos on here about the beekeeping, but better late than never, right? We were going to open up the hive and check on them again today, but the wind was a bit cold and it didn't really die down. Here is a photolog, though, of our progress thus far.

We received the "package" of bees via US Mail on the 28th of April, a Saturday. Got a call from the Post Office around 6:30am, in fact, to let me know I could come down and pick them up!! haha. As you can see here, the bees are clinging to the inside top of the package in a "swarm". You can see the edge of their syrup container they ate from during their trip. The queen is in her own special box in the middle of that clump of bees. You can see there is only a thin layer of dead bees on the bottom of the box. That's normal.

I feel so brilliant... rather than consulting my "Beekeeping for Dummies" book, I thought I could pry the box open... cut the screen... I did everything except lift the little flap to get them out!! Oh well. Both the bees and I survived my insane cutting and prying from every direction to get the blinking box open! :)
The directions for "installing bees" into their new hive that I did use suggested stuffing the opening of the hive with grass. After a day, the grass started to dry out, and the kids had fun watching the bees systematically removing the grass. Bees flying off, holding a blade of shrivelled grass, and dropping it around the yard... the neighbour's yard, etc. They did the same with any dead bees that got dumped into the hive. Kids said they saw a bee fly off, carrying a dead one, and then saw the little spot drop from about 20 feet in the air down into the neighbour's yard. Very interesting.

29 May 2007

Boulder Creek & Bee Hive update

Hello! :)
Yesterday (Memorial Day) was such a gorgeous day for a hike! We started out at Lake Mills near the dam and then hiked through the woods to the other end of the lake at Boulder Creek. Windy day!! Will make a webpage of the events soon and add them to our "Fun Links" at http://www.reimer-reason.com
Today is beautiful, as well... far too nice to be stuck at work! I had the afternoon off, though, and my younger son and I took a walk around the neighbourhood -- talking about the different plants, animals, and residential architecture along the way. When we got home, we saw a whole new cloud of activity around our bee hive in the backyard. The new baby bees have hatched and are out gathering pollen for the hive!! We opened up the hive to take a look, and sure enough, a bunch of the worker cells were now open and empty. We spied the queen, too, with her small spot of yellow paint on her back to help distinguish her from the others. She looked hard at work, so we closed the hive back up for another week. Not yet enough frames filled to put another "story" (super) onto the hive... will check again next week.

28 May 2007

New Blog!

Well, this is my first public blog -- we'll see how it goes. My Etsy storefront is located at:
An eclectic mix of handmade items, varying with inspiration. Check this store for one-of-a-kind (OOAK) fibre arts (including handspun yarn), artwork, photography, divination items, and much more! Where things are down-to-earth and everything makes a little more sense! :)