beekeeping report

It's time for a beekeeping report. I'm glad there's so much interest. When I first decided I wanted to keep bees a couple years ago, I searched all over for beekeeping bloggers, and didn't find much. Now it seems there is a plethora of beekeepers out there. It's so great!

I don't know if I mentioned that my new hive finally arrived, and I've assembled everything that wasn't already assembled, and painted all the exterior surfaces to protect the wood from the weather. The inside doesn't get any paint, because those fastidious little bees would likely chew it all off. They are a very tidy bunch. My hive has some frames with comb tied in with rubberbands. Since they're a new hive, the beekeeper gave them some pieces of comb to get started with, and they break off those bands just as fast as they can, and shove them out the front door. Sometimes they remove the bands faster than they can get the comb firmly attached to the frame as I learned on my second hive inspection, when all that fresh new wax just fell out of a couple frames as I lifted them up. I had to re-band them in place. One fell straight down into the hive, and it was quite nerve-wracking to stick my hand down in there to retrieve it. I did it, though, and they've since started building it out even more.

I'm still cracking myself up every time I think about my hive name, so I blatantly stole this idea from Leigh of Burbs and the Bees, and stenciled my queen's name on the front of the new hive. I'm too lazy to fit the entire "Von Trapp Family Stingers" on the hive, so that will remain my own little joke. I'm quite pleased with the results. I just got the alphabet stencils at Michael's, and made my own crown stencil. I also added the little medallion up top. I think I'll move everyone over this coming weekend. Better to do it now, before the hive gets too big. Excuse my messy shed.

Maria

I've been inspecting my hive most weekends, and it's growing slowly. I just hope they'll be strong enough by the end of the Summer to be able to make it through the Winter. Because we're in the mountains, flowers bloom later, so until there's a good nectar flow, I won't see a lot of growth. I'm also watching what is blooming, and noticing what the bees seem to like. I thought they would be all over the lavender, but so far they've just ignored it. Maybe it needs to open more? They loved the rosemary, but with only two bushes, there wasn't much there for them. I took a bunch of rosemary cuttings this past weekend, and am going to try rooting them and planting them around the yard so there will be more for them next year. They weren't interesting in the lilacs, and I haven't seen them in the honeysuckle, which surprises me. We have mustard all over the place, and I've seen a few bees there, but not many. There are wild flowers blooming around the valley, so maybe they're just foraging elsewhere.

Nectar

There is nectar and pollen in most of the frames, with brood cells in the middle. I've been seeing lots of eggs and larvae, although I haven't actually seen my queen the last couple inspections. It's likely that her attendants have cleaned the green dot off her back, but as long as I see eggs in various stages of development, I know she's there.

Larvae

Neweggs

If you look at the last picture full-sized, you might be able to see the tiny rice-like eggs.

Twice now I've witnessed them doing an orientation flight. The first time it happened I freaked out a little bit, and thought my little colony was going to swarm, but it turns out that it was just a bunch of new bees getting ready to start going out to gather nectar, pollen and water. On a nice afternoon they will go out and hover in front of the hive to get their bearings. It looked like a traffic jam to get in the hive. I went back to check on them a little later, and everything was back to normal. Here's a good video of bees on an orientation flight.

Oh, and I didn't want to forget to share this helpful tip. Be sure to toss your cat in your purse before leaving for work. You never know when you might need to have a cat handy. I personally prefer a calico-tabby mix, but you have to decide what works best for you.

Lucy

brought to you by the color orange (and a little turquoise)

I woke up on day three of my three-day weekend with a killer sore throat. I already had a cold this Winter, so I'm not sure what the purpose of that was, but it was annoying. So I've been laying about, and between naps, did a little knitting. I'm powering my way through that to-do list, and started on my sweater. Originally, this yarn (Berroco Ultra Alpaca) was going to be an Assemblage sweater, which I love and still want to make, but because this yarn is alpaca, and therefore very soft, when I knit the patterned cuff you couldn't see much of a pattern. So I think it will be much better suited for the Diminishing Rib Cardigan in the latest Interweave Knits.

Pumpkinrib1

This is the first time I've knit a top-down sweater, but I think it might be my new favorite thing-no seams, try it on as you go, and easily adjust to fit! I also learned a new cast-on for this, the tubular cast-on. It was a little tricky, and I admit, it took about four attempts to get it right, but it makes sense now, and it does make for a nice edge. If you try it out here are my tips: 1. Use straight needle to cast on, and then transfer to your cable needles if you're using them, the cable created all kinds of problems for me, and 2. It will look like a big mess at first, but just give it a few rows, and it will work itself out.

Also in orange, the shot cotton scarves I mentioned last time:

Scarves

I might be a little obsessed with this fabric, although I don't think I can do it justice in a photograph.

One last bit of orange (and white) for your amusement, someone found the catnip stash and had herself a little party:

Catnip 

Later we found her looking for pop tarts (the last paragraph of that news story cracked me up).

And now on to the turquoise. I painted my picture frame, which will eventually be an inspiration board, but it needs some help.

Frame 

It's a little darker than I hoped, and also a little flat. I'd like it to be more the color of my tray, but I'm not sure what to do to get it there. Maybe a watered down greenish glaze? And a clear, glossy coat of paint? Any ideas?

And thanks for all the little pep talks about my bookcases on Apartment Therapy. I'm not letting the haters get me down, and really, the nice comments you left for me here more than made up for the snarky ones over there!

music and meaning

Frosty

It's a Christmas Miracle! Well, maybe that's a little dramatic, but still, it looks like I'll actually manage to send out Christmas cards this year. This is quite an accomplishment for me. I always start December with the best intentions and plans for handmade, spectacular cards with long, personalized letters for each recipient. And then reality sets in, and not only do no cards get made or letters written, I can't even manage to send out boxed cards with just a signature. So this time I decided to try something a little different. I've been enjoying Christmas music so much this year that I made a nifty mix CD, and that's what I'm sending. Of course I had to make special, festive envelopes, but there won't be any long letters, just a signed CD that I hope will be enjoyed by those who receive them, as much as I have enjoyed listening to lots of great Christmas music while making them.

I want to share the music with all you lovely blog visitors too! I've got a dozen or so extra CDs to share, so the first twelve comments will get one. If there are more people interested, I'll probably be able to draw a few names from the additional commenters to receive CDs too. There some traditional Christmas songs, some original songs, some Winter songs, and maybe some irreverent songs, the common thread is that they are all songs I just love, and they are Christmas-y.

This is one of my favorite hymns from my favorite Christmas album right now:

Excuse the slightly cheesy video. And I know it's not really a Christmas song, but the message still fits the season.

But wait! There's more! Not a lot more, just a little thing. I made a Pandora Christmas radio station, based on some of my current favorites included on the CD, so if you'd like a little taste, click the Christmas link under HeyLucy radio to the left, and listen right now on your computer! Nifty, isn't it?

Here's a new game we've been playing at our house lately. It's called 'Where's Lucy?' If we make it until January without the tree falling over it will be another Christmas Miracle!

Santalucy

warm and cozy

I'm back to normal! I was so disappointed to get a cold last week, it's been about two and a half years since I've had a bad cold or flu. I was going for a new record and instead I got sick twice in a month. That's just dumb.

I feel terribly behind, but I'm not going to worry about it too much. I have e-mail and comments to respond to, and I will get to it soon, promise! I'm not ignoring anyone, just trying to get all caught up. Meanwhile I promised to share quilt tops, so here is a little glimpse:

Quiltpile

It was dark and gloomy this weekend, so this is the best I can do for now, but I think you can see that I've got quite the bonanza here. I think my New Year's resolutions for 2009 will involve finishing a couple quilts, starting with the Double Wedding ring quilt.

Weddingring

I need to do a little research first. I'm somewhat concerned about the stitching. It's all done by hand, and I'm not sure just how sturdy it is. There are a few places where pieces need to be restitched. I think the fabric itself is still in good shape. Also, the rings are actually the edges of the quilt, it's not square, so I think I have to turn the edges under and sew it by hand? Or can I bind it normally? It would be a pain, but it's doable with a bias binding. I'm just not sure if that's how it's traditionally done. Any expert quilters out there? Mom, what do you think? Either way, it's going to be so cute when it's done.

The four-pointed star is fun too. I haven't looked too carefully, but I don't think there are many fabrics repeated. I think it might have been made from the family's old clothes. These quilts have been in the family for a long time, my mother-in-law doesn't sew or do any kind of handicrafts, and she doesn't really know who made what or when it was made. I think the fabrics look like they are mostly from the 1930s and 1940s.

Patchwork

I feel like I hit the lottery with these quilts. There will be periodic updates, I'm sure. I'd really like to finish and use them. That seems like the best tribute I can give their makers.

Despite the gloominess outside, it was warm and cozy inside our little house, and I put up the Christmas tree last night while the fire was roaring in the stove (thanks to Mr. HeyLucy, fire-builder extraordinaire). Between the tree and the fire the cats were in heaven. At one point I found Lucy sitting in the middle of the tree, precariously balanced across several branches. Oi. They especially like it when the lights are on. I still have all my glass ball ornaments to hang, but that should be done sometime over the next couple days. I wire them to the branches with florist wire, so the cats can't easily bat them off, although they will try.

DSC_2583

I also made the most delicious hot chocolate ever, to sip under the Christmas tree lights. Here's the recipe, if you want to try it yourself:

For each serving mix together in a saucepan: a generous teaspoonful of good cocoa powder, an equal (or slightly more if you want it sweeter) amount of sugar, a tiny capful of good vanilla and some finely grated Belgian chocolate (about one square inch). If you're feeling adventurous, add a pinch of cayenne pepper. You won't taste the pepper, but you'll feel the heat when you drink it. It's quite nice. Add a little milk, and stir until all the powdery bits are well incorporated into the milk. Add more milk to make a big mugful. Heat gently, until piping hot, but don't let it boil over! I speak from experience when I say that you will have a big mess that is not fun to clean up if it boils over. And here's my top secret weapon to make it truly the most delicious hot chocolate ever: get yourself one of these little gadgets, and whip up each cup for a minute or so before serving. I found mine at a local Ace Hardware store for $10 or $15 I think, which is a little extravagant for a tool I use for only one thing, but it doesn't take up hardly any space and it really makes all the difference, so I don't regret purchasing it at all. Serving it in a pink café au lait bowl, and sitting down with some knitting and a feline companion will make it just perfect.

DSC_2593

There will be more Christmas-y stuff here this week, and a special Christmas gift for my lovely blog readers, so be sure to come back soon, I don't want you to miss out!   

colorful II

I have some more colorful things to share, which is especially good because it's dark and gloomy out around here today, and that means my drive to work is probably going to be excessively long. We Californians tend to come  a little un-glued when it rains. Once there was a huge, unexpected rainstorm on a Friday afternoon and it took me three hours to get home. Not even kidding. That was like two years ago and I still remember the horror. But that's another story for another day.

Do you have a uniform? You know, not an actual uniform, but a set of clothes you regularly wear with interchangeable components? Mine is jeans, t-shirt, cardigan sweater, flats. I try to keep it from getting boring by doing interesting things to my t-shirts, and buying things like green pants and cute flats. I wonder if I should be embarrassed by the number of cardigans in my closet. It's like I'm channeling Mr. Rogers. Anyway, back to today's colors!

I didn't realize that I needed yellow shoes until I saw these at Target, but I think they are going to turn out to be this Fall's must-have accessory. Thank you Target for now carrying shoes in size 11 for my ski's-for-feet! Stinkin' cute, right? I didn't get the little ankle strap in the pictures, but you can see the little heels below.

Yellowshoes

I am modeling them with my new $15 Old Navy grey cords. I had to give up on the idea of winning that weight-loss competition. That was a stupid idea for me to join a weight-loss competition with a bunch of guys. So, since there was no chance I would be taking home any prize money, I've obviously been pants shopping. And it it nice to be able to walk around without constantly tugging at my waist band to pull my pants up. Plus, you know, you can look pretty cute for not a lot of money, I'm discovering.

Yellowshoes2

Another Target find that I am enjoying:

Birdplate

I generally hesitate to decorate with mass-produced 'art', but I just really love this tray, and the colors were perfect for my living room. Plus it is functional, I can always take it down and actually use it as a tray. Trays are good things to have around.

I'm knitting more socks, pink this time! This is my first time using Knit Picks Essential Sock yarn. I wasn't too sure I would like it, it's so inexpensive and I am partial to Lorna's Laces, but I think it's a nice yarn for the price. Sure, it's not hand-dyed, but I bought a few colors, and they're all pretty nice. Sometimes you just want a good, solid color, you know? And it's washable, and quite soft, so as long as I'm on this sock knitting bender, I'll keep using it. Has anyone knit socks with it? I'm curious how well it wears.

Pinkspring

And I'll leave you with not color, but a black and white cat and a short list:

  1. I watched Lars and the Real Girl this weekend. It was so sweet.
  2. I can't stop playing Zilch. Don't click that link, I'm warning you, you'll start playing and won't be able to stop.
  3. For my fellow Americans, take this quiz and see how much you know about our history and government. I'm embarrassed that the average is so low. We need to know this stuff, people! Politics is beyond the scope of this blog, but I think it's important to know this stuff (I was in the 80% range, if you were wondering, and I think I should have done better). 
  4. You would never know that 10 minutes before the picture below was taken there was a black and white blur flying from one corner of the house to another, bouncing off window sills and jumping on the kitchen counter, which is absolutely NOT ALLOWED in our house. It is against the rules, I tell you!

Bwpetey

fox in socks

No, I'm not trying to imply that I think I am a fox in my socks, that was just my favorite Dr. Suess book that I never owned. I remember checking it out of the elementary school library multiple times, along with a book of jokes and an origami book. It was so popular that you had to get on the waiting list to check it out.

Yarnchef2

I actually forgot that I had this tasty yarn, hand dyed by Yarnchef. I'm trying not to have a yarn stash, so I figured I'd better cast on a new pair of socks, and use it up. I'm knitting the Go with the Flow socks from Favorite Socks, but I think the pattern might be too busy for the yarn. It's a lacy rib, but maybe I should just do a plain ribbed sock to show off the beautiful colors. What do you think?

Yarnchef1

I was playing with my macro filters again.
They are kind of fun, and much less expensive than buying an actual macro lens. Here's the exact one I bought:

Digital Concepts +1 +2 +4 +10 Close-Up Macro Filter Set with Pouch (52mm)

If you happen to order it by using that link, I think I'll get a little kickback. I haven't tried this Amazon Associates thing before, so I'm going to give it a shot and see what happens.

I also did a little Fall decorating this week. Please note Petey perched on the windowsill. He ate my orchids from last week. I'd like to see him try to mess with my pumpkins.

Pumpkins

I got my first ever unfriendly comment today. At least I think it was unfriendly, because it was in ALL CAPS and the commenter seemed to be accusing me of hypocrisy because I have chickens, and I eat chicken, but I only eat chickens I don't know and that are killed by someone else. Interesting. I might delete it, but I might leave it there, just so I can feel like a real blogger, stirring up controversy.

one potato, two potato

I’m sorry about leaving pictures of myself at the top for so long! Let’s replace them with a picture of Lucy, shall we? Is it just me, or is she just one photogenic cat? I think she likes having her picture taken. As soon as I get the camera out, she’s right there, sticking her face in it. Note to self: clean the cat nose prints off the lens before taking any more pictures.

Lucystares

Recently my Tivo recorded an episode of Jamie Oliver, and darn it if I don’t have a new cooking crush. That particular episode was all about strawberries, and I definitely want to make rice pudding with fresh strawberry jam and meringues, but when I was browsing through his latest cookbook, this recipe caught my eye:

Recipe

Potatoes, stuffed with bacon, sage and garlic. Genius! Doesn’t it look delicious? I thought the picture of the raw potatoes was so pretty, but wondered why they chose to show the uncooked version, rather than the finished version. Well, duh. Because as delicious as it was, I don’t know that you could possibly take an attractive picture. This is the best I could do:

Potato

Not exactly appetizing, but I promise, these little gems were tasty. The only criticism I have is that each potato includes an anchovy filet in each little bacon bundle. Jamie says not to let it worry you, it’s just to add a nice richness. Honestly, they tasted a little too fishy for me, and I’m leaving them out next time. Also, what can I do with half a can of anchovies? Suggestions are welcome. I might just give them to the chickens, though.

The Summer of Home Improvement

I hereby officially declare that this is the Summer of home improvement here at chez Lucy. A very long time ago, I ripped down the ugly wallpaper in the living room. And then I did nothing. The wallpaper had been pasted directly onto the dry wall, so that meant it had to be mudded, and to match the rest of the house, it needed a particular sort of plaster texture, and it was just all too much to deal with. So I didn’t, until I finally worked up the courage this week. I went to Lowe’s and bought a box of joint compound and a trowel, and did it all myself. I think I just pulled a muscle in my arm while patting myself of the back. You can sort of get the idea here:
Plaster

Note to the guy at Lowe’s who I asked what I needed to complete this project: Please don’t tell me what I do or don’t want to do, I’m not a complete idiot, and when I say I want plaster, I mean I want plaster, and not orange peel texture. You’ve never been to my house, you don’t know anything about my taste, and most importantly, you don’t know what I am or am not capable of. I find that very irritating. I think I should bring him this picture and be all, "hey idiot, see, this is what I wanted, and this is what I got, because I’m not afraid to try and do it myself." but maybe that would be rude. Anyway, moving on…

I can only give you some previews of a couple corners of the room, because I have a few more projects to complete. Once I got the walls all looking how i wanted them to look, I primed and painted. As usual, the first color I picked wasn’t quite right, so I had to go back to the store with my paint-covered hands in my baggy painting pants and pick out another color, and the paint girl was quite surprised and impressed that I was doing my own painting, but at least she wasn’t all condescending like the Lowe’s guy. The new color was just right, and I happily finished painting and artfully arranging various pieces of art on the walls.
Vignetter

I was lucky enough to get one of Claire’s gocco prints, which I matted in bright turquoise, to go along with my little bird plate and Anthropologie hooks. The clock is from Urban Outfitters, but I don’t think they have it any more. The wall color is from Dunn Edwards, and it’s called Fly a Kite. It’s a nice periwinkle blue.  I especially like how it looks with the yellow in my kitchen and hallway, because you can see the two together in the archways:
Archcorner

Those are my beloved paint-by-numbers pictures that I found, framed, at an antique mall for $18 for the pair! What a bargain! And I also love my big pear. If you look closely, you can see that some ofbthe frames in the hall don’t actually have photos of anyone I know. Classy, no? But at least they’re hanging up, right? I better add finding photos for the frames to my to-do list.

I also got the curtain rods up and the two wall sconces, which are sort of ugly, painted. I’m hoping that my new paint job will make the sconces more bearable. Now I just have to make curtains, paint the door, re-install the sconces and slipcover the chairs. Not much at all. Heh.

I’m pooped and sore all over, I have more to share, but I think I better get some rest first. Thanks for all the nice comments about my skirt and weight. I really think that picture is just at a really good angle, and also, remember that you can’t see my bum, there’s plenty there to lose :o) I am behind on responding to comments, and my stupid e-mail is being stupid again, but I’ll do my best to reply this week!

And because I can’t do a post without a pet picture, here is a rare visit from Petey, who is either sleeping, as you see here, or bouncing around the house, from one windowsill to the next.
Sleepypetey

you can’t handle the cute

First of all, some extreme cuteness, I hope you can handle it:
Beachday_3 
Friday was a Holiday, so I took Winston to the vet for all his shots and then we went to dog beach. Winston was a little overwhelmed by it all, and I think he was probably not 100% after all the vaccinations (I think he had 3, including a rattlesnake vaccine), so he spent most of the time like this:
Beachday2
That’s my knee his head is resting on. Oh well, it was a beautiful day, and it’s always fun to go there and watch all the dogs running around and having fun. Afterward, we went to the dog wash. Winston is not fond of baths, but we made it through and then went to a dog-friendly place for lunch. He got a lot of compliments for his good behavior.

I’ve also been feverishly working on quilts, and I just might make it in time, thanks to my mom who is helping out by doing all the hand-quilting of one quilt, while I do the other. There may even be pictures in a week or so.

I also thought I’d try coloring some Easter eggs. Here’s what you get when you start out with brown and blue eggs:
Eastereggs_2

I like how the speckles came through on the yellow-y egg. Now I just have to figure out what to do with a dozen hard boiled eggs. I love deviled eggs, but there’s only two of us, I don’t think we can eat 24 deviled eggs.

One last bit of cuteness:
Lucyeyes

Lucy always has to get involved when I take the camera out.

I’m pretty sure I’m not going to have much time for writing the rest of the week, but I’ll try and post a few photos here and there. Happy Spring!   

Saturday morning

My sister just wrote about their week here, and I didn’t realize what a great hostess I was, but I guess I did a really good job. Actually, she and Mr. P are very good house guests. They washed a lot of dishes and swept the floor a few times, two jobs I really don’t like. Her pictures are much better than mine, and there’s lots of good commentary, so I highly recommend having a look at her photo album.

It’s been a long week, so I decided to start off the weekend with a bubble bath. My selection of facial masks and pretty Oililiy soap was courtesy of Yvonne. What I should have also gotten a picture of was the cats, who stare endlessly at the bubbles whenever I fill the tub. I’m not sure if they are terrified or fascinated. A combination of both, I suspect.

Saturdaybath1
Saturdaybath2

Later, I took down the Christmas tree, which was as exciting for the cats as the day I put it up. Lucy made herself comfortable in the middle of the floral mesh I used as a garland. Later I found her in the tree box.
Lucygarland
Lucy is a funny girl. Sijbrich thinks that I should train her to do tricks, and I think that is entirely possible. When we first brought the cats home, Petey settled in pretty quickly, and was a little cuddle-bug from the beginning, but Lucy took a little longer. Both cats were about nine months old when we got them, and had spent the previous six months living together in a cage at the shelter where they were being treated for ringworm. I think Lucy must have spent her first three months as a feral cat, because she would do things like steal bones out of the trash, running and hiding with her stash. Apparently she was worried that the feeder dish we keep perpetually filled with cat food Just Might Run Out one day, you never know with those humans, but she would be prepared for that day. She also likes to chew on plastic, any kind will do, plastic bags, plastic wrap, plastic tape. I’ve even caught her swallowing it, so now I try to keep it out of reach as much as possible. She also didn’t like being held. At all. She didn’t mind being petted, and was happy to rub against our legs, and even throw herself on the ground for a tummy rub, but the moment we would pick her up, her ears would flatten and she would squirm to get away. She seems to have realized that we are capable of holding her without dropping her now, so she’ll tolerate being held if we do it exactly the right way: right side up only (no cradling her like a baby), not too tight, and with lots of petting.

More and more she’s settling in and has decided that we humans aren’t so bad after all. She wants to play all the time, with us. Her favorite game is fetch, and she usually lets us know she’s ready to play by jumping on our headboard and dropping her toy on one of our faces and then chirping. She can do this, because her favorite time to play is around 6 a.m. So we throw the toy, she throws herself off the bed and runs after it and then brings it right back. She can do this for hours it seems, and it never gets old. If we’re not available, then Petey will do, and since he can’t throw a toy for her to fetch, they bounce from room to room and fly through the mini-blinds to hide on the window sills. If I ever get new curtains made for my living room, I’ll have to post before pictures of the sad state of the blinds. Then, when she’s tired from the ricocheting off the walls, she’ll curl up in my lap and sleep for as long as I can manage to sit still.

It took us a while to bring home new cats after losing Gigi, and a month later losing Dune, and these two will never replace them, but it’s comforting to know that they have their own specialness, and bring a new kind of joy into our little house.