Sunday, April 22, 2012

First of the Year

 Is there any combo better than strawberries and rhubarb?
Thank you Sweet P for a brilliant idea for dessert.

But wait - how are the bees doing after a week?

Building comb like crazy.  Go bees, go!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Queen B and the Workers

 I've been taking the classes.  I've been reading the books.  I've been inspired on Pinterest.  So I ordered the bees.
 Yikes!  That means they need somewhere to live when they get here!  Two weeks ago my dad and I made a top bar hive.  To say beekeepers are an opinionated bunch is an understatement.  I decided on the top bar because it is much much cheaper and I like the idea of having natural beeswax made by my bees rather than wax foundation from a supplier.  I didn't decide on it because it is infinitely better (as some websites seem to think!).  Ok, and I did like the idea that it was hit upon by Peace Corps Kenya as a way to keep bees using hives made from local cheap sources (I've seen them made in an oil barrel cut in two - beautiful semi-round comb!)
 We painted it up, bought them a waterer, and were all set.  Hope it is not too cold at night for them!
 There she is!  J calls her Queenie.  Mr. Sycamore named her Beatrice so we can call her Queen Bea.
 They look happy enough!  I'm not supposed to check on them for a week but I can't help going out about 10 feet away to see what they are up to on the outside.  Guess I'm glad I kept those Prosecco corks (they help me regulate how much room they have to get in and how - the better to defend themselves against robber insects.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Gardening

 My mom brought me this Trillium from her garden last year - and it seems to like where we planted it. 
 I'm told by Wikipedia that you must use a reputable garden store if you plan to buy Trillium and that in several states it is illegal to pick the flowers on public land and in parks - because it damages the plant and may kill it.  It is not illegal to have them in your garden, in fact it will help preserve these fascinating plants.
A Virginia blue bell in our back border.  I was told by a neighbor that before our house was flipped (several times) the front yard had a large patch of blue bells that were replaced by sod at some time during the transition.  She sounded still very upset about it.  I would have liked to see a blanket of blue bells - will have to help my few remaining ones along as I can. 
 You can learn all kinds of facts from Wikipedia!  For example, bumblebees can pollinate blue bells, but are not very good at it, as it forces them to hover for longer than they would like (they are too heavy to land on the flowers).  So the best pollinators are butterflies, because they are lighter and have longer tongues.  Poor bumblebees.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

KoolAid Dyed Eggs for Easter

 Saw a post on Pinterest from Hey Jen Renee and decided to try it.  Very frugal, safe, fun, and I may have some budding child mixologists on my hands. 
Really, what a great science experiment with color and art!
If you'd like to try it too, it couldn't be easier.  Koolaid packets are 5 for $1 so very comparable to Paas.  And you don't need vinegar, the citric acid in the koolaid will do the equivalent.  Experiment with the colors and length of time (about 5 min) - we used a full packet + per 3/4 cup and dyed two at a time to make the dye deeper and color more of each egg.  
The only caveats are that for the yellow and pink you need to add a bit of cherry or orange, the lemonade and pink lemonade aren't very strong on their own.  Just a sprinkle of the cherry or orange will do it.  The grape makes a kind of grey/black color.  I added about half a packet of blue to the grape, but it still came out kind of dark.  The lone purple-y egg in the lower right corner was that grape mixture plus the remainder of the cherry after we took the red eggs out.  I think I might add a bit of the blue to the black cherry next time, too - to make more of a difference in the reds.  Could also try for a green by mixing the blue and lemon/orange.  Finally, be careful not to touch them too much when you take them out, as the color doesn't really stick until they are dry - you can see the splotches on the grape eggs.   Oh, and I should have put newspaper down, as my cutting board is a cheery faint light pink even after a vinegar scrub.
In any case, a fun and pleasant way to dye eggs that I'll use again next year.

Happy Easter and Passover, everyone!

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