Thursday, April 30, 2015

Honey Shed Tour

Last week I had visitors to the garden. Small children love outdoor spaces like potting sheds where tools and lawn equipment are stored. I didn't realize until later that the Honey Shed might have been a great kid destination as well. Small spaces with unusual things are kid friendly places.

The out building I use for storing my beekeeping equipment started out as a playhouse for my daughter. My father in law built it for her and it had a ladder leading up to the fenced in top where she used to march around chanting "I'm the leader." For a lesson in just how accurately small children know what they are supposed to be as adults you can visit her website, Organized Charm. Leadership turned out to be her forte along with organizing the entire world if only people would do what she says.

After she outgrew the playhouse parts of it were dismantled and it fell into disrepair as a storage space for a series of lawnmowers. Then a few years ago I dug up a huge part of the backyard to make a garden and decided to reclaim the collapsing building as a garden room.

garden room

I used clear corrugated plastic as the roof and loved that it allowed light inside. I adore how much like a ruin it looked. The problem was that the plastic roofing material was never water tight and having two sides open to the elements meant that things disintegrated over time. Also putting an old door and shutters out in the garden hastens rot. A few years later my son brought home a carload of windows he'd rescued from someone's trash. The trash picking apple didn't fall far from the tree. I decided I'd use them to make this into a more sturdy structure.

storage shed

The door got incorporated into the back wall and I used scrap to make walls and frame in the windows.

garden shed

I finished it out and added a shelf on the back wall. It still wasn't enclosed in the front. Here's how it looked from the outside.

gardden shed

It was still a 3 sided structure though my husband had hired someone to give it a proper roof for me. Last year he hired someone to give it a proper front and a screen door.

garden shed

With the front enclosed and a screen door to keep out the chickens and dogs it was becoming much more usable. Everything around here is a work in progress.

beekeeping equipment

This structure is now serving as what I call the Honey House. I use it to store all my beekeeping equipment. It is finally finished organized and tidy.

beekeeping equipment

The Honey House actually sits inside the chicken run so a cute wooden chicken I picked up years ago at The Hermitage (in Nashville, not St. Petersburg) looks out the window. I see a little more finishing and decorating in its future but for now it's tiny, fun, and useful.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Glass Insulator Lantern Project

My road to minimalism is fraught with peril. Living in a home for 24 years that has been in the same family since 1966 means there is a lot. Of. Stuff. I've been on a mission since day one to either use it or get rid of it. Over the weekend my brain put two items that have been around for years, together. Let me start by showing you a picture of the workshop. Anytime I need anything I check here first. My father in law kept it well stocked and I've organized it several times before, but it needs a thorough rework.

It's next on my list for decluttering and organizing. I can't even talk about the attic. But baby steps, right?

So this light bulb cover has been hanging in the exact same spot since we've lived here. Who knows how long before that.

 I thought the glass insulator would fit inside and I was right, a perfect fit.

Next I cut and attached 3 lengths of wire to the bulb frame. I just twisted them in wild directions. 

I decided once I had it all together that painting the metal black would look nicer than leaving it plain. 

I hung it on a bracket that was already holding a hanging basket and added a votive candle. 

This entire project cost me zero dollars (my favorite amount to spend) and took less than 20 minutes.

Less shopping, more creating! What will you make today?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chicken Wire Ghost Sculpture for Garden

chicken wire sculpture
On Saturday morning while browsing Pinterest I ran across the idea of making sculpture out of chicken wire. I loved the feminine shape for my garden. Luckily I had just enough leftover chicken wire behind the Honey House that I thought I'd give it a whirl.

chicken wire 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. 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.

chicken wire sculpture

ghost sculpture

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Visit to Savannah Bee Company

bottles of honey

Headed east last week to coastal Georgia for the wedding of a friend's daughter. This journey always includes a trip to the Savannah Bee Company. The first time I visited I wasn't a beekeeper yet. Four years of keeping bees has increased my appreciation of the store and what they do there astronomically. I tasted the honey samples and eyed the various colors in the bottles mentally comparing them to my own backyard harvest.

I looked around the store at the various products and listened to people ask questions I now knew the answers to. Though from all the veteran beekeepers I've heard, beekeeping is one of those things you can do your entire life and never perfect. Kind of like marriage or chess.

I stocked up on Winter White and Tupelo Honey, which isn't just a song. And my husband hit up the new meade tasting bar. Five kinds of meade for five bucks is a pretty good deal. The honeycomb is always my favorite from any bees anywhere.



The story of this company is one of a person finding his passion in life and taking the leap of faith to follow his dreams and see what happened.

Read About Savannah Bee Company here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The 15 Minute Daily Jumpstart

You know how your morning gets away from you and by the time you get to school or work or the kids wake up it's just on for the rest of the day? Well, a few years ago I created a solution for that. It's a 15 minute morning routine that helps me feel that no matter what else happens I've done some really good stuff for myself before I even sit down for coffee.

The reason for this little routine is that just as bad things like smoking or drinking diet soda are bad for you over time (the key word is cumulative) good things in small doses over a long period are also going to pay off.

Here's the 15 minute breakdown:

I have dogs so the minute my feet hit the floor I go into the kitchen and feed them.

While they eat I brush my teeth, wash my face, and moisturize. Use a moisturizer with a sunscreen. 30 years from now you'll be so glad you did!

Back to the kitchen to let them out, then I drink 16 oz.of filtered water and take my daily vitamins.

I push the button on the coffee maker (doing it before now or having it ready when I get up means I might skip the next step).

While the coffee is brewing (notice I set myself up to be hanging around waiting for the coffee) I do a 7 minute yoga/stretch routine that I've developed over the years. The point of it is to stretch out all the big muscle groups and flood my body with oxygen which helps me wake up.

While stretching and breathing I do not think about my day. I take deep breaths and think how grateful I am that I can move.

Now the coffee is done. I let the dogs in, pour my coffee and head to a cozy chair to work a quick crossword puzzle to wake up my brain and read something spiritual to get centered for the day.

I don't finish the puzzle or the reading within the 15 minutes but the point is to get there. Once you are there with your coffee or tea and a few quiet minutes to yourself you can spend as much or as little time as you need. You can also use this time to pray, meditate, say your affirmations or whatever makes you feel centered.

By the time you finish your coffee or tea you are hydrated, oxygenated, energized, and ready to face your day!

I do this every single day.  A couple of years ago I got a chance to test it during a difficult time. Because it was a habit I did this routine on autopilot once I got up. Some days hold exciting and fun things you look forward to. You'll be in a better frame of mind to enjoy them if you jump-start your day. Make your routine a habit and all you have to do is put your feet on the floor. Then you find yourself doing the next thing and the next thing and so on.

You may not be able to face your whole day but you can face the first 15 minutes. It's much easier if you have a plan in place. After this you are ready to go about your morning by having breakfast, checking your calendar, and getting ready. And just preparing to be fabulous and amazing for the rest of the day!

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Dirty Truth About Spring at Our House

I am exhausted and sore. Last night I told my son I felt like I'd been hit by a truck which he said might be an exaggeration, not to mention cliche. Clearly I'm too tired to be original!

"Okay, I feel like I got run over by a kid with a bad attitude on a bike."

"That's better." 

This has always been a tough crowd.

beekeeping equipment

It's spring and I have no off switch. Sunrise can't come early enough. My wild, barefoot, 10 year old self is reincarnated every year about this time. It doesn't always mix well with my 50 year old body. The result is that things hurt, but in that good way. Achy muscles feel good when you know you've been super productive. My lazy winter body that lounged on rainy afternoons reading in cozy chairs and napping by the fire is being shown the door. Oh, and the door needs to be cleaned.

How did everything get so dirty? Every spring I can relate to those British housewives who took down all the blackout fabric from their windows after the war. "Have we been living like this the whole time?"
The windows are dirty and everything needs to be wiped down, but I'm too busy tromping around outside in my bee rain boots to care.  I'll think about mopping the floor...someday.

rain boots

 Coming inside for a drink of water makes me feel like a caged animal. "There's no sunlight in here! I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" And that's with all the windows open. On Saturday I was taking advantage of a cold snap to do weed control around the bee hives. After putting down some weed barrier (read old piece of linoleum) and covering it with mulch I thought the garlic chives coming up all over the garden would make a good border to hold the mulch in.

bee hives

I spent 2 hours digging up plants from where I didn't want them and planting them in a row around the hives. In the snow. Okay, that sounds dramatic and they were just flurries, but still.  It's the south, y'all and there was snow! AND PEACH BLOSSOMS! The bees must have cabin fever too because a bunch of them came out and covered the front of the hive. I'll bet they're up to their little bees knees in spring cleaning.  I finished around the hives and hauled a bunch of rotten timbers I'd used for several years as border to the curb. Using a wheel barrow makes me feel like a real human. I don't know why.

I highly suspect there is some latent farmer gene running around in my DNA.

beekeeping equipment

This week I: painted the honey house, chicken coop, potting shed, and stored hives. Set up the rain barrel and painted it. Built a potting bench in the potting shed using old windows my son salvaged for me. Did hive inspections and added honey supers. Cleaned the back porch. (Note: screened in porches are a pain to clean) Organized and cleaned beekeeping supplies. Created a new chicken run so the girls can keep the blackberry patch weeded. Planted spring lettuce and hung my Tibetan prayer flag over the patio where I like to do yoga early in the morning.

May all living things be well and happy. 

Tibetan prayer flags

Except red wasps. I spent one entire afternoon hunting them down and killing them.  Die, red wasps! I can be slightly obsessive about it. Remember Tom Cruise's character in Taps? It's like that.

I finally sat down, driven in by the rain (and sheer exhaustion) to write this. The dogs, chickens, and bees all went in during the thundershower but now everyone is back out busily doing their thing.


Did I mention I love spring?