Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to Make Home Made Makeup Remover, Cleanser, and Moisturizer All in One

castor oil makeup remover

Here's the easiest natural makeup remover and moisturizer in one. Okay, not the easiest because that would just be the oils and no beeswax which works perfectly fine. But you know me I can't leave things alone and adding the beeswax gave it a gel like texture that reminded me of royal jelly.

 In this photo you can see the bees building out the honeycomb to store both honey and brood. By the way that big clunky bee in the middle is a drone. This beeswax or comb is what I'm using in my skin care products. Besides adding a thickness and stabilizing qualities it is considered to be antibacterial giving things a longer shelf life and slightly anti-inflammatory which is a nifty quality in anything we are going to put on our skin.


 Here's a picture of pure rendered beeswax from my backyard apiary. Read about how I do that in the post, Rendering Beeswax.

rendered beeswax

The wax is grated and melted then blended with oils to create countless lotions and creams. These are all quite simple to make in your own kitchen. If you don't have your own bee hives it's really easy to find some beeswax online or at your local craft store.

beeswax for use in skin products

 The Bedtime Cleanser is a combination of castor oil, jojoba oil, and beeswax.

Use equal amounts of castor and jojoba oil and melt together with beeswax.

I used: 1/3 C each of the oils to a TBS of melted wax.

It's convenient to melt it all in a glass jar you are going to keep it in. It keeps you from making a mess in cookware and prevents wasting any of the mixture. If you used glass you can melt it right in the microwave or in a waterbath on the stove.

The oils make a lovely cleanser on their own if you want to mix them up in the palm of your hand in the evening but the addition of beeswax makes it thicker and easier to use. Since it's for use at bedtime I added lavender essential oil which makes it perfect as part of an evening ritual. Massage it into skin to remove make up then rest a warm washcloth on your face for a couple of minutes. Pat off excess oil.

castor oil for taking off makeup

What remains on your skin provides enough moisturizer for the night, at least by my standards, and doesn't feel greasy or heavy.

It's all perfectly simple.

If you are interested in trying out some recipes of your own check Pinterest. If you don't feel comfortable playing without rules there are tons of sites for weights and measures as well as a feast of recipes for your skin.

Let me know what you try and how you like it!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How I Cared For My Sick Chick This Week

We had a scare this week. Our chicken, Kitty, a black austrolorpe was exhibiting sick behavior. For poultry that generally means standing still, not eating or drinking, and being lethargic. The only other chicken I've had that was sick was eggbound, which is just about the worst thing that can happen to a hen. So I wasn't going to waste any time finding out the cause of the problem.

I'm no expert but most vets in the city don't know that much about chickens and you may be left to figure things out on your own. With that in mind, here's what I did after doing a bit of emergency online research combined with what seemed like a common sense approach. Again, I'm not an expert but here is what I did that worked in our case. 

Inspect and clean out the nest. We'd put fresh hay a few days before so the fact that the nest was heavily soiled was a clue to what might be making her feel so bad. I added lemon balm and oregano from the herb garden to the nesting material to keep pests away. I mixed up lavender, oregano, tea tree with witch hazel and put it in a small spray bottle. I thoroughly sprayed the inside of the coop and nesting materials and left the doors open to air out the area and allow sunlight in. One thing I learned from this experience in my research is to use litter instead of straw in the coop.

Catch the chicken. If you have a chicken that doesn't want to be picked up this can be quite an endeavor even if the chicken isn't feeling well. It took me about 15 minutes.

Bath the chicken. I did two baths because the first one was just getting off all the actual filth. A clean chicken is easier to look over and you can also see if anything comes off in the water like pests. At this point I could see that her backside was red and raw much like a diaper rash. Since I had checked the nest I knew that she'd been sitting on a soiled nest. Could that be the main problem?

Soak. After I gave her a bath to get her cleaned up I ran another sink full of warm water and added oregano oil, which is thought to have some healing properties, to the bath. Just a couple of drops. I held her in the water for 10-15 minutes. Only the first couple of minutes were a fight. Obviously wear clothes you don't care about for this entire process!

Dry thoroughly. I wrapped her in a towel and took her outdoors to sit in the swing. The sun was strong and it was warming up to be a hot day so when she was relaxed and sleepy I unwrapped her and let the sun shine on her underside. I wanted her to be completely dry but also felt like the sun would act as a good disinfectant.

Spray with essential oils.  I used the same spray I made for the nesting area on her red and inflamed underside. As I aired her out in the sun I lightly sprayed her with the oil mixture every 5 minutes or so. I have no idea if this helped but it didn't hurt and I was hoping to keep flies away from her. Anyway, it seemed to make us both feel better. 

Provide fresh water with a drop or two of oregano oil. I never did really know the exact cause of Kitty's illness. We had recently purchased a new garden hose and there could have been something coating the inside of it. We had noticed foam in the water as we filled the waterers but didn't think much of it until she started feeling ill. The chicken water is now coming from a different source. In addition to changing the water source I added one or two drops of oregano oil to the water which  sites recommended as a natural dewormer and overall immune system booster just in case there were worms or some kind of infection. Again, no idea if this helped but it was a small amount and I thought it was worth a try. 

After an hour or so of holding her in the sun and spritzing her with the soothing oil mixture, I let her down to run around the yard. She didn't seem better right away but did eventually drink a lot of water. By evening she was occasionally scratching around the yard though she still didn't eat any feed. She mostly sat in cool shady spots of cool earth which I'm sure felt good against her raw skin.

We only have two chickens right now so I didn't feel the need to isolate this chick. In a more crowded situation isolating her from the flock would be a must. 

The next morning, she moved a little slow but drank and ate. I also gave them a bit of watermelon rind to get some extra water in her.  By day 3 I had a chicken that was back to her old self and looking radiant again.

Have you ever had a sick chicken? What did you do?

Friday, May 12, 2017

How to Create the Look of 100 Year Old Copper In an Afternoon

modern masters finish

I have this severe personality conflict. I love things for my house that look like they've been around forever. I'm also super impatient as my husband can attest to. But realistically I don't have a hundred years to wait for something to develop a beautiful patina. And I also don't want to drop a small fortune for the real thing.

Dang. What's a girl to do?

Luckily you and I can now achieve this gorgeous oxidized metal finish in an afternoon thanks to Modern Masters Metal Effects. Last month I took a workshop on how to use these products at one of my favorite local shops, Me & Mrs. Jones.

Cue the song. Y'all have got to check out her adorable--I mean A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E-- shop. I should have thought to take some pics to share.

Let me start by showing you the finished product we created in the class. I was thrilled it was an ampersand since it's in the name of my blog and honey.

modern masters paint finish

While I was sitting in the workshop I was picturing these two hammered metal lanterns on my back porch from Pottery Barn.

modern masters paint finish

 They must have been made for indoor use because they were getting really pitted with rust. In some instances I adore the look of rust but on these pieces it wasn't a good look. I snapped up the products I needed after the workshop and couldn't wait to get on these the next day.

metal effects copper

Here's the overview but of course you'll want to read the directions and follow them. You start with a primer coat if you need that and then the base coat of the metal paint. I loved the copper and am going to have to show some restraint so my house doesn't end up looking like I inherited a copper mine. See how the rust wasn't the cool kind? I think it's because the original finish was super shiny and the contrast isn't a good one.

rusty lantern makeover

This basic technique is to apply the paint. which has actual metal in it, so the oxidation process is real and not just a faux finish, then apply the oxidizing solution. In the workshop we learned a few other tricks like dribbling peroxide and adding a powder like Gold Bond. I just used a generic baby powder for this and it worked fine. This process was very forgiving for someone like me who likes to experiment.

copper patina

 Here are the paints you need to work this magic. I'll be going back to pick up the bronze and iron for different projects I have coming up. Need some drool worthy inspiration of how you could use these amazing products? Check out their site here.

metal effects and oxidizing solution

But I wasn't done. The glass on these beauties was clear and I didn't like being able to see the inside of the lantern was still the original finish. I wanted my illusion to be complete! Luckily I had some  Krylon Frosted Glass spray paint on hand from some my Christmas windows. Remember?

It only took a minute to spray the glass and finish this project. I am in love with how they turned out!

painted effects copper patina

frosted glass spray paint

So of course you know what happened. I kept looking around for things that would benefit from this little upgrade. Here are a couple of those for bonus points. DING! DING!

metal effects copper patina

metal effects

Okay, y'all! There you have it. Now go forth and oxidize!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

How To Turn a Chicken Wire Ghost Sculpture into a Garden Dress Form Topiary

One  Saturday morning a couple of years ago while browsing Pinterest I ran across this idea of making sculpture out of chicken wire.  Luckily I had just enough leftover chicken wire behind the Honey House that I thought I'd give it a whirl. My first version had a bow in the back that I later removed.  

ghost sculpture

I rolled the chicken wire into a tube and twisted the ends together using wire cutters. I didn't stop to get my camera to take pics along the way, but it was a matter of simply scrunching it together with my hands (wear gloves!), twisting some loose ends, and cutting off excess. This is one of the most satisfying crafts I've done in a while. I loved being able to walk all the way around a project.

chicken wire sculpture

Start to finish it took about 3 hours and cost nothing since I already had the wire. I love the way she looks in the garden at dusk. It would be fun to make several of these and spray them with glow in the dark paint for the front lawn on Halloween. Right now she's just a fun representation of the very feminine vibe of the bees and hens in the garden.

I loved her just like this but this spring I decided it would be fun to fill her out a bit more. Less ghostlike, more like a topiary in dress form. I had some sheet moss I had purchased on sale and I used floral wire to wrap it onto the form. I planted two pots of ivy, one that sits on the ground and one that sits in a plant stand near where her waist is. I pulled the ivy through the wire and used some bits of moss here and there to help fill in while I'm waiting for the ivy to grow thicker. 

I think she looks very elegant and is cheering up a dreary corner of our patio. But I'm already thinking about more ghostly dress sculptures I can make. So stay tuned for those at some point in the future. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

April Bee Update

April buzzed by. I got through the month with no swarms, lots of healthy bees, and honey supers that are building up beautifully. Here are a few pics from my most recent inspection.

This is what you want to see when you open up a hive. Massive amounts of bees, and frames of honey pollen and most importantly, capped brood.

Sometimes it's fun to just look at an individual bee. I  thought this girl was adorable heading out for her first foraging flight of the day.

 I don't always see the queen but this one is new and marked in a hive with fewer bees so spotting her was super easy.

 Look at this beautiful brood pattern! Each of those cells capped with tan wax contains a baby bee. This is the kind of thing that makes a beekeeper positively giddy.

We've had lots of beautiful weather and the bees are bringing in nectar and pollen like crazy. They have built out comb in the honey supers and are just beginning to cap some gorgeous spring honey. I sneaked a taste after this inspection and it tasted like honeysuckle.  I also took some video of traffic in the front of the hive to share. Turn up the sound so you can enjoy the sound of the birds and the bees on a beautiful April morning.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Spring at Ellenview Cottage

When we moved to this house 26 years ago it was a blank slate even though my in-laws had lived here since 1966. They'd both worked full time their entire lives and so things had been cared for meticulously but no one had dug up the yard in all that time except for a small plot with my father-in-law's roses. I immediately set about replacing grass with gardens in the front and back yards. When my son was small we spent hours reading Beatrix Potter stories and I planted a Peter Rabbit garden with plants from the stories, lettuces and blackberries and camomile. In the front yard I created a walkway and planted azaleas and a lovely cottage garden. Over the years however the Japanese maple I planted along with a very productive Bartlett pear grew to such heights that a shade garden evolved over time. Now the entrance is inviting and cool.

A few years later life got insanely busy and I let the garden go back to lawn while I shuffled people hither thither and yon. It was exhausting. There was too much business and socializing for a garden loving introvert. I missed the quiet surprises of a garden. Slumbering toads that come to life when you are weeding and dragonflies. I missed herbs. I wanted flowers and birds. In the summer of 2008 I reclaimed what I had let go. I treated reclaiming the garden and digging up a larger part of the lawn as a full time job. I would head out in the morning and turn over earth with a shovel until lunch, wash, eat, drink a ton of water and head back out. It took me a couple of months but there is something rejuvenating about soil. I also had my heart set on chickens. Bees would follow.

I built this shed for storing off season beekeeping equipment out of scrap materials I found in other people's trash. It is currently home to a nest of baby Carolina wrens and a curious chipmunk.

Whoever said that a gardener spends eighty percent of his time leaning on a shovel imagining what the garden will look like was right.

Since I created this second version of a garden some years have gone better than others. I mark the successes and failures. I take note of what really delights me. Fruits. Chickens. Bees. Herbs. I don't grow a ton of vegetables, just a few here and there. Vegetables excite me less in the garden than other things.

I am undone however by a brambly blackberry patch or thyme. There isn't any explaining this.

 This year, at least until our first granchild appears this fall, things are quite settled and the small enchanting space out back that includes the potting shed and honey house is where you can find me most of the time. To read about what that means for the inside of the house right now you can read The Dirty Truth About Spring at Our House.

Monday, April 24, 2017

How Gardening Makes Your Brain Happy

It's spring and there seems to be some kind of compulsion to head to the garden center to buy things to plant. Following winter we can't wait to get outside and get our hands dirty. There is a human urge to dig in the soil. It makes us...happy.

As you can tell from the photo, sometimes I can't even wait to get dressed and garden in my pajamas. 

If you are a gardener, or know one, you probably know that they are joyful when they are digging in the dirt. Actually the ones I know just seem to be more upbeat than the general population all the time.  If you thought it was just because gardening was their thing, think again. The real reason might be a little thing called Mycobacterium vaccae. 

Seriously, a REALLY little thing. 

It's a soil microbe that is inhaled when digging or tilling that can also be absorbed through the skin. In can also be released and inhaled while walking in the woods. In my case I'm sure I'm also eating a ton of it when I'm in a rush to scarf down some food and get back outside.

Testing seems to show that exposure to it indirectly increases serotonin. For more about the science  behind how it works see the links I've included at the bottom.

Several years ago tests were even done with cancer patients. It didn't prolong life but the studies found that it did improve the quality of life for people. They reported feeling an increase in vitality, cognition, and a decrease in pain.

Our American culture is increasingly removed from the outdoors. Parents are hyper vigilant about keeping children clean (and supervised which is a whole other discussion). We spend an ever increasing amount of our time in cars, buildings, in front of screens, and disconnected from nature. Then wonder why we feel so anxious and overwhelmed.

Ever had a bad day and just longed to step outside whatever building you were in? 

By the way, studies also show that just being outside can elevate a person's mood and of course it's a must for those with seasonal depression.

It's kind of fun to imagine the TV commercial:

"Ask your doctor about gardening. Side effects include increased muscle tone, increased vitamin D, stronger bones, weight loss, healthier meals, fresh herbs, and a crop of tomatoes."

Is Dirt the New Prozac? 

Soil Bacteria Work in Similar Ways to Antidepressants

Why Gardening is Good for Your Health

Do You Need a Nature Prescription?

Benefits of Ecotherapy

(Do I really need to tell you that I'm not a doctor or that you need to seek professional help for depression that is severe or ongoing?)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to Make the Most of Your Kitchen Scraps Through Composting


I don't know about you but I feel guilty about the amount of food that gets thrown away at my house. Experts say Americans throw away about 40% of our food. One thing that we can all do, besides not over buying at the grocery, is to compost our raw fruits and veggies that somehow wilted in the back of the fridge before we got around to eating them.  

Here's how it works at my house. See those eggshells? They came from my chickens, that I fed lettuce and weeds from my garden (along with the thousands of bugs they forage every day). The lettuce and other extras from the garden or the kitchen that my chickens ate  daily were fertilized with the compost I worked on last year. One of the main ingredients in my compost pile is the manure (along with pine shavings) from the coop. That little cycle thing? That's the beautiful part.

 This is the handy compost bucket I keep under the sink. It has a charcoal filter in the lid which keeps it from smelling. 

make pallets into compost bins

If you keep chickens then composting is the best use of the manure and used shavings. 

Not only food scraps go in but also full vacuum bags, ashes from the fireplace, grass clippings, leaves, weeds, waste from the coop, and coffee grounds. You don't just toss your additions on top of the pile, you need to mix them in so as not to attract unwanted visitors. Occasionally water and turn your pile and you'll be rewarded with beautiful black, nutrient dense compost that your garden will love.

There are some very nice and unobtrusive compost bins on the market; I just made the one at the top of this post out of some pallets and held it all together with strong wire. Since then someone has given me a sleeker black one that can sit inside the garden. The compost pile is a perfect place to empty the contents from your shredder.

There is a little science to it, so here's a link to more about that.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Why You Should Rethink Your Bucket List

When the movie came out the term "Bucket List" immediately made it's way into the American lexicon. Suddenly everyone has a list of things they want to accomplish and mark off before they kick the bucket. I actually had such a list written out about 15 years before the movie was released, but I think most everyone has a list of this sort, at least floating around in the back of their mind. 

Here's the problem: Life isn't about scratching something off a list. In fact, the danger in seeing it that way is that the place, event, or activity may not be experienced to the fullest. Several years ago I took a trip and when I returned a friend asked it I had seen a couple of particular things. I hadn't, but I'd had a wonderful time and seen interesting different things that were enjoyable to me. Life is full of side streets and unexpected joys. It's best to stay open to those while you are on your quest. It's also full of detours and places you have arrived while the doors are locked. That's okay. Life may have unexpected treasures for you, you know nothing of.

Make sure your bucket has a hole in it. We want life to be full of exciting things. We want to sail around the world or write the great American novel. We see movies and read books about what other people are doing and we get a skewed view of our own lives. The better bucket list may include things like making little kids laugh, or volunteering at a local charity, or tutoring a struggling student. Sharing your experience and knowledge is a practical and rewarding thing to put on your list. Standing water stagnates. Keep what is in the bucket flowing in and out. 

Today may have some things worth putting in the bucket. Life isn't actually made up of big moments. It mainly consists of millions of small ordinary moments, thousands of days, strung together to make a life. You don't want to spend so much time making, or dreaming about your list that you miss the simple joy of today.  When was the last time you visited a museum and sat in front of a work of art for half an hour contemplating it? You may want to add something like "See as many sunrises as possible." to your list. Too many people miss today searching for life's few big moments.

Keep filling the bucket. The thing about lists is, that we are eager to get to the end of them and feel a sense of accomplishment. As you learn and grow, the list will both shrink and expand. You may mark things off the list, not because you do them, but because you no longer need to do them. You may need to replace them with other more important or interesting things. Some of them may be released. Some of them may die. It's okay. Keep adding the new things you'd like to accomplish. Life, above everything else is a process. 

Put "Keep moving forward." at the top of the list.  Here are some things that are on friends' lists: Travel to Italy, get a Ph.D., run a marathon, repair a broken relationship, write a book that will challenge status quo thinking. All of those goals have something in common. They cannot be accomplished standing still. Being a life long learner, getting and staying fit, and working on improving relationships are worthy of a spot on your list. The more you focus on forward momentum, the more you can tweak that list into something more meaningful than just a list of places to see and things to do. 

A lot of things show up on these lists because of what everyone else thinks we should want to do. Your list will be unique and personal to you. It doesn't have to include skydiving or visiting the Taj Mahal. Think about what you really want to accomplish in life and let your list reflect that. Work toward making those things happen, but leave yourself lots of freedom to explore, wander, and dump out the bucket and start over. Just don't let it get rusty. You are only going this way once.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Future Beekeeper Arriving This Fall!

I've been keeping a big secret for two months! My daughter is expecting our first grandchild in October and we couldn't be happier!

Expect a lot of exclamation points from now on!

We are a little excited!

Do we want a boy or a girl?


Here is the announcement my daughter used on social media. What the heck? It's like she doesn't even get that I'm finally going to get a mini-beekeeper. They are probably thinking this kid will be an athlete. Whatever. 

Some of you may have figured it out a couple of weeks ago when I posted about losing everything in my computer. Every. Thing. You can read about that and what to do if it happens to you here: Losing it All: How I Dealt with my Worst Computer Mishap Ever

I couldn't say that the treasured pictures I was most upset about were the ones I had taken at the beach when we scattered my mom's ashes You can read about that here:  Scattering Grief: Absence, Cold Sand and the Absence of Emotion   

Anybody else hearing The Circle of Life from the Lion King?

Want to read the wedding posts from the Mother of the Bride Chronicles? Click here! 

I'm just assuming you want to read all the things you missed. 

Now, I know that one of the things you want to know is what is the baby going to call me? Actually this question came up during the wedding planning six years ago and my son-in-law settled it by giving me his own nickname, Kiki. It's all he's ever called me and what my daughter calls me too.

Can't remember the last time I heard "mom."

My husband is taking the bold approach of letting the kid pick what he/she will call him. I find that risky since when our son was a baby he called his sister "Pete" and we all still call her that. I've confused more than one person by announcing that "Pete is pregnant."

Letting the kid pick is a total crapshoot. If Downton Abbey taught us anything it's that a grandchild might come up with something like "Donk." I'll keep you posted on this important topic.

I thought I'd share the rest of those pictures and the announcements that my daughter and I both made to share. Here are some other pictures that we didn't use for the announcement. There was a big disagreement about those sunglasses.

The rule about sunglasses in photos is this: Everyone must be wearing them. These would have been fine if she'd been wearing shades. In the end he had to admit she was right and the picture they liked best was the one where he took them off.

Okay, grandparents! Give me your best advice for being the best KIKI ever! Comment about your favorite part of being a grandparent and best stories.