Saturday, September 30, 2017

Guerilla Decorating: A 5 Step Guide to Decor- Revolution

Guerilla Decorating is what I call it when I've decorated hard and fast while my husband has been at work or out of town. It's a redesign ambush. Generally it means trying do a project start to finish in a short amount of time. It's not for the faint of heart. 


Because When did decorating by committee become a thing? Why do husbands suddenly have opinions about the fabric for the sofa? Was this in the fine print of feminism somewhere? When we said we wanted it all we didn't mean suggestions about how to decorate the mantel for Christmas.

The Mission: To not be one of those couples fighting over paint samples in Lowe's. To solve our own problems and be self reliant. To avoid every husband's favorite question when you bring something new in the house:

                                 Where are you going to put that?

So much rogue decorating is done just to avoid hearing that question. Don't they know we just want them to carry it in the house? Did we say we were taking decorating suggestions today?

 Then there's that reaction when you first mention you might want to paint the dining room or take down wallpaper, I think it looks fine. Of course he does. When you married him he had a recliner perfectly aligned in front of the television and the only thing on the wall was a Fight Club poster.

I know some of you have husbands who like projects and take the honey-do list as a personal challenge.  Some of you have husbands with great style. If this is your situation, stop reading immediately because I'm going to sound like a crazy person.

But if you have ever kept an IKEA shopping bag in the trunk of your car because your husband was home when you pulled in the driveway, keep reading.  

You are my people. 

Here's your tactical guide for a successful decorevolution

1. The propaganda campaign. Depending on your perceived level of resistance from the enemy your spouse, you will want to start days or maybe even weeks before your mission is ready to execute.  Drop comments like "This room is looking dirty. Do you think it's the walls?" You simply can't say "This color is so 2010." or "I'm envisioning a Moroccan dining room." Although sometimes I say things like that just for fun.

2. Preparation and Planning. If you have time and a secret place to stash stuff you need to assemble your ammunition: brushes, paints, drop cloths, etc. Create a plan for what to do when, estimate how long you think it might take (then double it if you have kids or pets), and get supplies in order. Pre-plan dinner (pizza delivery) and stuff to keep the kids occupied (letting them watch Game of thrones  and eat 3 pounds of Twizzlers.) You are decorating in a hurry not trying to win Mother of the Year. Fine. If you are a really good mom you just put on Frozen and sing Let it Go as you paint over a hideous color called "Pebble." 

3. D-Day  This is it. The big day. Eat a high protein breakfast as you prepare for battle. Wait for the attack to begin at daybreak, or whenever he pulls out of the driveway. (And yes, I know I'm mixing military terminology. It's a decorating post y'all, no one's going to study it at West Point.)

4. Attack. The goal here is to finish the mission while you have the house to yourself. Be swift. Be brave. Keep up morale by looking at your Pinterest boards while the paint dries. Imagine the surrender of ugliness and the flag of victory raised high over your freshly redecorated kitchen or painted vintage dresser. Be sure to take before and after photos. That's your medal of honor. Post to Pinterest and Instagram. That's your Global War on Ugly Decor medal.

5. Mission Accomplished. Winning the War for Hearts and Minds is the conclusion of your mission. When he gets home you announce "Surprise!"  Trust me, he's going to love it. It will look great. He'll likely say he didn't realize how bad it looked before or that he couldn't imagine it could ever look so great. Which we already know. My husband has literally thought everything I ever did was amazing and beautiful after it's finished even if he didn't see the point before. It's not their fault they don't share our vivid imaginations and Pinterest obsessions. 

  Need inspiring words to launch your campaign? Here's a DIY battle speech to inspire decorating greatness. Obviously old Winston stole his famous words from his decorator. This was found under a sofa cushion and was written on the back of a piece of toile wallpaper.

We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in Style, we shall fight on the walls and floors, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the antique store, we shall defend our kitchen island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the stairs, we shall fight on the landings, we shall fight in the bedrooms and in the baths, we shall fight in the dens; we shall never surrender,

Or you know, you can just ask him what he wants to do. (insert hysterical laughter)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How to Make a Life Size Ghost Sculpture for Your Garden

chicken wire sculpture

One 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.

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.

chicken wire sculpture

  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.

chicken wire sculpture

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.

ghost sculpture
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. Last fall I decorated her for Halloween inspired by the Dead Bride game in the book the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society I corresponded with the author a couple of years ago and she told me she and her sister really did used to play this game when they were little girls!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Beekeeper's Autumn Chore List

It's that time of year. Time to do those beekeeping chores to wrap up the season and prepare for winter.

The number one thing to get done at the end of the season is to harvest the honey. This is what you have been working toward all summer. Your bees have served your garden and the surrounding environment well and perhaps they have made some extra for you, the beekeeper, to take.

1. Make absolutely sure the bees have plenty of honey for themselves to get through the winter. They didn't make it for us to take but to insure the survival of their colony during cold months. However they don't know when they have enough so they continue to make it in excess as long as the weather permits. Your brood boxes should be very heavy when you try to lift them.

2. A day or two before you want to harvest your honey place a bee escape board (There are other methods besides the escape board such as fume boards or blowing off the bees.) between the brood chambers and the honey super. A bee escape board is basically a maze. The bees will go through it down into the brood box at night but will not be able to navigate it the next day. This leaves the honey super empty when you take it. Much better for you and the bees. Remove the honey super and take to an inside location where bees cannot get to it.

3. Feed any spills or frames with honey residue on them back to the bees. The bees will reclaim every drop of honey and leave you with clean honeycomb ready to be put back on the hive in spring. In the US it is common to leave these frames out in the open, however in other countries there are laws against doing this. Check with other local beekeepers or the apiarist for your region to find out the best practices in your area.

4. Once the honeycomb is cleaned by the bees scrape off all the propolis and burr comb.

5. Store your clean frames of honeycomb in your freezer. You may also store them in an airtight container with moth crystals. (NOT moth balls) You may prefer to stack them in a sunny dry spot as well. Your goal is to protect them from wax moths which will eat all the beautiful honeycomb your bees have worked so hard to build.

6.  Make note of any hives that look like they might run out of honey before spring. Be prepared to feed them on a sunny and warm winter day if they need it. Keeping a log of what happens in the bee yard and when is very helpful.

7. Place an entrance reducer in the opening of the hive to keep out mice as the weather turns cool and small rodents look for a warm place to nest over the winter. Bees can come and go and easily defend the small opening against intruders.

8. Clean all your beekeeping tools and all your extracting equipment and store. Scrape all the propolis from queen excluders, hive bodies that you need to store, and honey supers.

9. Wash your bees suit and store until spring.

10. Sit down and enjoy a cup of tea with the honey from your own beehive!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How to Create a Hanging Two-Sided Wood Sign

I love the look of old wood signs. Farmer's Market. Antiques. Honey for Sale. You can buy them but my favorite projects in the whole wide world are free. My preferred way to create is to make something out of nothing. A few years ago when I cleaned out a shed I found some old boards and made this sign.

I was sick one weekend and sat on the back porch painting this. The goal was something rustic looking and hand made. Possibly by a farmer. Named Fred or Jedidiah. Who lived on a farm and kept bees out behind the barn. And wore overalls everyday until he died, the farm fell into disrepair and this sign went to a junk shop when his distant yankee relatives sold the place.

Am I the only one making up detailed stories for project inspiration? 

 I drilled holes in the bottom and hung another sign. I loved that. The two part sign. A three part sign for this photo booth I made at a honey sale. Sometimes I took them apart and used them separately but sometimes I used them together. I felt really clever especially since the entire thing cost me zero. Zilch. Nada. My favorite price to pay. 

But as I decorated the patio and back porch over the last couple of years the signs started to feel a little rustic for the space. The beautiful thing about paint is that's just paint.

That means you can always paint over it and begin again.

Here's how to paint your own wood sign. 

Drill holes in the wood if you are going to hang it the way I did this one. Otherwise at the end of the project you can attach a picture hanger to the back. 

Prime and paint your piece of wood with the background color you want. 

Print off the words, picture, or logo that you want on your sign.

Center it on your wood piece and tape it down.

Trace the design bearing down hard with a sharp object. I used a ball point pen.

Fill in the outline of your design with paint. I cheated and used a sharpie. Why make it harder than necessary?

Now comes the fun part! 

Now that the basic design is completed it's time to do the best part and work on the finishes. I made a turquoise wash for the bottom section. Turquoise wash = watered down paint. I used painter's tape to get a crisp line. I taped off the top and used a stain to get a cool effect. Then I mixed some furniture wax and dark stain together and wiped on and buffed.

I was pretty happy with it and hung it up. I found this bracket in our tool shed during the great tool shed clean up of 2017. You can read about that here, Reclaiming our Neglected Tool Shed.

 It looks great. Maybe a little too great. Too new.

 The cure for new around here is usually sandpaper. I love sanding the edges of everything to get a worn, loved, treasured, look. Y'all, it literally takes like two minutes! It's the final detail that attains that imperfect perfection I adore.

That's better. This sign got painted on both sides. If I'm hanging out on the patio I see the prettier slightly more sophisticated side with my logo. If I'm hauling firewood or transporting beehives through the gate I see the more rustic side. Anybody coming in that way also sees this fun little reminder of what goes on around here.

This side was free handed which is always fine for anything that you want to look rustic and hand made.

What will your sign say?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Videos from the Bee Yard: Fall Honey Harvest in Progress!

fall honey harvest

This post is for my fall honey lovers. You know who you are. 

The first week in September is definitely the earliest I have ever taken off the fall honey. Usually I leave it on until the middle of October. This year however, our first grandchild is due on October 4th and I am a crazy person trying to get honey extracted and jarred, finishing up projects around the house, and putting the garden to bed. I have a feeling when the baby arrives I am going to be preoccupied for a few weeks.

This week I wanted to bring you into the bee yard as I look in a hive so I made this little video. Which would have been a lot better if I hadn't blocked half the shot with the smoker.

I'll be writing more about why I think I had so many small hive beetles in here in an upcoming post. But the main thing was that every single frame (except the one side of this one I showed you) was filled corner to corner with beautiful capped honey. WOO HOO!

Fall Honey Lovers rejoice!

After I took out all of the frames of honey I made another video to explain more about the process.

When I talk about putting the frames back in to let the bees clean it up I only mean temporarily. After they remove all the honey from the processed frames I'll remove them again for winter storage.

Fun facts: 

1.The board I held up is called a bee escape board. 
2. As soon as I push record I can't remember anything. 
3. My main goal in this video was to cut off the top of my head so you can't see how badly I need to get my roots done.  

How to use the Swiffer "strips" I'm talking about:

Take unscented Swiffer Dust Pads and cut them up into two inch squares.
In the hive place the strips at the corners of the boxes.
Replace as they fill up.

Why it works:  

The bees are meticulous and don't like any foreign objects in the hive. As soon as you put the strip in the bees begin chewing them up in an effort to remove them. This makes them very fluffy and fibrous. As the bees chase the small hive beetles into corners to coral them the beetles run into these chewed up pads and get stuck. Every time I open the hives there are dead SHB in these pads. It's a simple and cheap help for the bees.

Read about my favorite Small Hive Beetle defense here: Review of the Freeman Small Hive Beetle Trap

Next time I'll take you into the guest house and show you how I process the honey. Still probably won't have my roots done though. 


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Are You Buying Authentic Honey? Here's How to Know for Sure


It's honey season. One of my favorite parts of being a beekeeper is getting to introduce people who have never had real honey, to real honey. If you haven't enjoyed all the wild goodness of raw unfiltered honey with the comb included then you haven't lived. Okay, you've lived but life sure could have been sweeter!

honeycomb berries and cheese

Actually I hated honey as a kid. It was disgusting. Yes I'm talking about that little grocery store brand with the bear that most people have eaten assuming it is honey.

It isn't.

Most of the honey at the grocery has been filtered to such a degree that all the pollen has been removed. Did you know that being able to identify the pollen is the only way to tell where the honey is from? Without it the honey could be from China, India, or anywhere. Actually China smuggles honey into the US all the time, so what's a honey loving consumer to do?

local honey for sale

Buy Local. Beekeepers are helping to protect the food supply which giant commercial farms and their practices have put in danger. Support them and your local farmers!

beekeeping woman

Get to know a beekeeper or find a reliable one at your farmers market. If you are in California you want honey from your area especially if you are using it for allergies. Eating lobster in Maine? You want a beekeeper from your neck of the woods! It is a lot of fun to try honey from different locales (who doesn't love Tupelo honey?) but the benefit for allergy sufferers comes from a local pollen source.

honey in cocktails

When the honey is ultra-filtered and/or heated all the good stuff is removed and the flavor changes. Raw honey especially with comb contains an array of vitamins and minerals, pollen, and enzymes that are good for you. Honey is a form of sugar but instead of empty calories you are ingesting nutrients that help your body metabolize it. Plus the honey, comb, and propolis have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. There's a lot of good stuff in there!

jar of honey with comb

Buy from a reputable source.  There are amazing places to buy honey like the Savannah Bee Company. There are lots of great places online but SBC is the only one I've actually purchased from so I feel comfortable directing you to them. Plus the people there are really awesome. You might want to plan a field trip.

savannah bee company

You have figured out by now that beekeepers are cool, right? ;)

Get some bees! If you can't find a reliable source for your local honey, you can always get into beekeeping yourself. I have met so many people lately who have told me they would love to have bees. I'll be writing soon about how to get over your fear of bees if that's your issue but if you are wondering what's involved start with my post 10 Things You'll Need to Get Started in Beekeeping.

bee smoker and honey

So let's review: 

You want raw unfiltered honey.

 You probably won't find it at the grocery store. 

Look for a honey stand at your farmers market. 

Remember to buy local. 

Get to know a beekeeper or get yourself some bees!