Happy 4th!

07.04.17a

07.04.17b

07.04.17c

07.04.17d

07.04.17e

07.04.17f

07.04.17g

07.04.17h

07.04.17i

07.04.17j

It’s a pretty relaxed day of lounging around, swimming, and petting sheep today. I’ve spent some time watching the hummingbird moths all over the butterfly bush by the pool. They move so fast they’re hard to catch an image of!

Later we’ll head out to spend the evening with friends grilling food and playing games. The recipe for the flag cobbler can be found HERE.

Have a great holiday, everyone!

Chimney Fire Sweater (Finally) Done!

Okay, okay. It’s been more or less done for weeks, except for weaving in the ends. But, as I hate weaving in loose ends AND it was too hot to wear, it’s been languishing on my desk awaiting completion.

So naturally I picked a 90 degree day to do it. Ha!

07.03.17a

Despite how long it took me, it’s actually a very easy, straightforward knit.

07.03.17b

I’m also still completely in love with the color, despite the fact that there’s a slightly darker band down the middle where I clearly didn’t match up the dye just right.

07.03.17c

07.03.17d

And now brace yourselves. I had Oona take pictures of me wearing it. She didn’t do too badly, but I’m not the most photogenic subject, sooo……LOL.

 

07.03.17e

See the darker band? It actually doesn’t bother me one bit. Adds character.

07.03.17f

And there you go. My resting bitch face. I don’t mean to look so dour, I promise!

07.03.17g

Anyhoo, I’m super pleased with how it came out, and it’ll be perfect once the colder weather hits again.

In the meantime I have started working on some holiday projects to make sure they are done in time. You’ll get to see those after the holidays, of course. They’re a surprise!

Happy Summer!

I can’t believe how long I’ve been going between posts. I have no real excuse, other than my life seems to be an endless stream of appointments for the kids coupled with hours of weeding the gardens (followed by removing dozens of ticks every night).

Thankfully, there’s something else that’s been endless recently: wild blackberries. Every year I’m astonished at how much more there are than the previous year. It’s also a time game, though. You have to pick them just at ripeness or risk losing them all to japanese beetles and birds. Since I don’t always have time to do anything with the bucketloads I’ve been picking, I’ve been letting the kids eat them all in one go. With the solstice, though, I decided something special needed to be done with them. So I made ice cream.

06.22.17a

I started by heating up the berries with some sugar and cinnamon on the stove and lightly mashing them to release some of the juice.

06.22.17b

While that was cooling, I used a Ben & Jerry’s recipe for the base. It basically entails whipping eggs with cream and sugar until fluffy. Super easy and quick.

Then the berries were added, and I poured as much as I could fit into the trusty Cuisinart ice cream maker.

06.22.17c

There was just enough left over to make popsicles.

06.22.17d

06.22.17e

When the machine had finished churning, I froze the ice cream an additional few hours before serving.

06.22.17f

Success!

 

June Already?

Has everyone else been crazy busy and absolutely astounded that it’s already June, or is that just me?

Every ounce of energy has been spent on schoolwork, carting kids to various appointments, gardening, and work.

I DID manage to finish my Chimney Fire Sweater, though! I haven’t taken any pictures yet because it’s a thousand degrees outside, but soon!  That’s the upside to having my kids going to lots of different meetings: lots of knitting time for me!

The garden has been incredibly frustrating and slow, but it’s coming along. I lost a lot of the pepper and tomatoes I started by moving them out too soon. There’s still plenty there, though, and keeping up with the weeds is of course a daily struggle. The worst part is the ticks. Every day I’m pulling about a dozen off of me. And trust me, I’ve tried everything. 

I’ve used every essential oil and bug spray on the market, including the crazy mostly-DEET kind, to no avail. I even went out in the garden in my damn BEE SUIT and still pulled a couple off my back and neck that night. They freaking love me. The harvest this year better be worth it!

I put up deer netting after learning from last year’s total tomato loss, and I’ve got plenty of diatomaceous earth and Neem oil. Once the plants get big enough to withstand them I’ll probably try and keep the ducks in there, at least part-time, to help with the bugs and weeds.

The honeybees are doing very well. I’ve added another box to the hive, since they have mostly filled the two they have already.

06.04.17b

Go bees!

06.04.17c

06.04.17d

06.04.17e

They seem to be happy here. We definitely have plenty of wildflowers, and I just confirmed that we have several wild American Elderberry trees! They’re all in flower right now, and I’m crazy excited to have them.

06.04.17f

What post would be complete without cats? Widget and Poppet are such fat and happy things.

06.04.17a

06.04.17g

And then there’s Pippa, who’s starting to show her age, but certainly not acting it.

Today in (Phone) Pictures

I went out this evening fully intent on taking plenty of good pictures of the flock in this glorious weather, and realized my camera battery was dead. So, I used my phone.

Everyone is doing very well on the plentiful grass, and the new honeybees are thriving. I’m hoping the temperatures stay reliably warm now, because I’ve transplanted my tomatoes and peppers into the garden.

Oona chose watermelons to grow in her garden space, and if we can keep the ducks out, I think she’ll be successful.

IMG_5778

IMG_5787

IMG_5790

IMG_5799

IMG_5807

IMG_5814

IMG_5797

IMG_5820

The Most Bee-tiful Time of The Year

A few days ago I made a honeycomb cake in anticipation of today.

04.20.17a

It didn’t last very long, but it made me happy to think about how close I was to being a beekeeper again. And today was the day!

I drove out to Scottsville this morning to pick up my package of honeybees. It had been postponed a day, which is probably okay considering it rained a bunch yesterday.

04.20.17b

The lovely folks from Scottsville Supply Co  handed me my bee package and queen cage, and off I went, the sound of thousands of buzzing honeybees filling the car. I serenaded them with a bit of Hamilton, but I don’t think they were too into it.

04.20.17c

The queen is in her own separate cage. These bees have not been “bonded” to her yet, so she’s being attached by rubber band to a frame in the hive, which is blocked by sugar.  The rest of the bees are then dumped into the hive with her, and this evening I will make sure the hive is closed securely and “lock” them in with her for now.  In the time it takes for her to eat the sugar and emerge from her cage, the bees will have fallen under the spell of her pheromones, and that will be that. A queened colony!

04.20.17d

The can contains the sugar syrup they were shipped with. There were still quite a bit in there, so I’m leaving it for them to continue to feed from while they acclimate. Since there were still a lot of bees in their plastic bus after shaking most of them out, I decided to leave that in there, as well. After a few days I’ll go out to check on them and I can remove it then, and hopefully remove the entrance reducer and allow them to go forage for pollen on their own.

04.20.17e

Go bees! Draw comb! Feed your queen! And pollinate!