Friday, February 27, 2009

It's Good to be Queen!

There are definite advantages to being Queen of the hive. Perhaps the biggest advantage is longevity. A queen bee will live several years. On average, the rest of the bees in the hive have a 6 week lifespan.

The queen begins her life as a female different than a worker bee egg. At some point, her egg is singled out by the nurse (worker) bees and upon entering the larval stage is fed a substance that these workers carry in their glands....called royal jelly. This royal jelly causes the larva to develop into a larger bee and a queen is crowned.

Within a couple of weeks, she leaves the hive to mate with several flight. Upon returning to the hive, she spends the rest of her days laying eggs. Meanwhile, worker bees are in attendance...doing all of the necessary household chores to maintain the Queen and her nursery.
In beekeeping, it is beneficial to have the queen marked with a colored dot on her thorax. This makes the job of finding the queen much easier. Although she is larger than the rest of the is often difficult to find her amongst the other 20 or 30 thousand bees in the hive.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Adventures in Beekeeping II

I thought I would share a little beekeeping info with you. I have gotten so many e-mails with questions. It seems there are many of you who have thought of the possibility of having hives.
First of all it is important to know that you DO NOT have to own a farm to have bee hives. You can raise bees in your yard or in the city if there are parks nearby. Bees need to have a nectar supply (flowers) within a two mile range from their hive. And believe me, they will find it. Honeybees are safe and keep to themselves for the most part if you leave them alone. Afterall, they have much work to accomplish in their short life spans, so they pretty much keep on task.

In order to keep bees, you need a hive. Modern hives are wooden structures that contain frames on which the bees store their honey.This is a part of the hive known as a "super". In it you can see several frames. The frame below is filled with honey.It is on several of these frames that the queen bee lays her eggs. Below is a picture of a brood frame with cells of brood food.Amazingly, the queens only job is that of reproduction. She mates with the drones (and she does that only once....midflight....and with many drones in a row). After that she returns to the hive and lays up to 2000 fertilized eggs per day. By the way, upon mating with the queen, the drones die. They serve only one purpose in the hive....stud service. The actual worker bees are all female. It is these bees that are responsible for raising the brood, building the honeycomb, acquiring the nectar and turning it into honey. They also tend to the queen, keep the hive clean, and serve as guards at the entrance.....all these jobs, held by the women!
Imagine all of these little worker bees in their tiny aprons!!
To Bee continued..........

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Adventures in Beekeeping

Besides packing all of our belongings and moving them into storage, I have been busy getting ready for this year's beekeeping.
We have had beehives at our farm for the past 3 years, but I have only sporadically helped with tending them. This Spring, I will take over the position of full time beekeeper. I have ordered 5 more hives and 5 colonies of bees to fill these hives.
So, I thought, since I will not be able to sew this summer, I can do some other outdoor crafts instead. I am going to paint my hives white and then get out the craft paints and do a bit of folk art painting on the hives...just to pretty them up! I am also in search of wooden finials to use as decor on the rooftops of the hives. I have ordered English Garden Hives like pictured below (not my picture). They come in unpainted wood. I love what this person did with theirs......
Beekeeping encompasses many of the hive body and frames, feeding the bees in the spring, adding supers (boxes for honey) as needed, harvesting honey...and then bottling and selling, making beeswax candles and finally getting the beehives winterized. It does not require a lot of time, though. For the most part, the bees take care of themselves.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hearty Breakfasts

It seems that I am never quite settled on Sunday until I have planned for the week to come. I have developed a routine that saves a lot of time and still gives Hubbs a hearty breakfast each morning. You see, he is up by 5 AM and, soon after, ready to leave for the day.

Each Sunday, I place all the ingredients for an organic whole grain loaf of bread in the bread machine. I hard boil a dozen eggs (from our wonderful hens) and make a big pot of organic oat groats (steel-cut oats) for oatmeal.

I ladle individual portions of the oatmeal into glass bowls with lids and place them in the refrigerator. At the same time, I bring a quart of organic milk to a boil, cool it to room temperature, add yogurt starter and pour it into the yogurt maker. After about a half hour's work, we have homemade eggs, bread, yogurt and oatmeal ready to reheat in the microwave for a quick hearty breakfast each morning. One benefit of doing it all at once is....only one clean up.

I have been using pro-biotic yogurt cultures for added health benefits and they make a yogurt that is not quite as sour as regular yogurt cultures. To this we add a spoonful of homemade apricot or blueberry preserves...left from last Summer's bounty.

I guess you could say I am an old fashioned gal, who relies on modern conveniences to make life a bit easier. Guilt sets in if my family doesn't start each morning with a hearty breakfast.

Today I am trying my hand at baking sourdough bread. The sourdough starter has been on my counter all week ...nurtured each day with a feeding of organic flour and purified water preparation for baking. Today is the day. Here are the loaves, just formed. They will have to rise on the counter for 4 to 8 hours before baking. Because the starter has been on the counter all week, no yeast has been added. The starter pulls yeast from the environment...and this "local" yeast should do well to make the bread rise....we shall see!
PS....I must have done something wrong....this is as good as the bread ever looked. From this point it never rose. Ok, back to the drawing board! If at first you don't succeed.......oh my, what a flop!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Many Faces of Romance

I have had a lovely time this week reading your comments regarding what "Romance" means to you. I thought I would take a moment to share what "Romance" means to me.

It seems we all agree that Romance has many faces. It is hearts and flowers and gifts and hugs and kisses. But it is also more subtle. It is a glance, a whisper, a caress. It is the warm glow of a memory, it is the butterflies in your stomach feeling of expectation, it is the exhaustion born of fiery passion.

That is not to say that if you are alone, there is an absence of Romance in your life. Romance is a state of mind. You can live a romantic life of solitude by surrounding yourself with beauty. One dictionary definition of romance involves that which is fanciful or imaginitive. We can have Romance in our lives through our music and our interior design.

Take heart, Romance is all around you!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Apron Honor of Romance

It seems I am running a bit late with everything these days. About 2 weeks ago I welcomed my 10,000th blog visitor and thought I would post a give-away. Then Valentine's Day came and I thought I would post a give-away. Well, today, my Apronology entry apron was returned to me in the mail....and I think I will host a give-away. While there are still a few days left in February, I will host a Romance giveaway and give my apron named "Romance".

Please leave me a comment and tell me what "romance" means to be entered in the giveaway. I will draw a name on February 28th and post the winner. Then this little apron will be on her way to a new home.

Let's keep romance alive! And....thanks so much for visiting my blog. Your visits and your comments mean the world to me.

Using Last Summer's Bounty

This is the time of the year that I start looking ahead to Spring and Summer's harvest. I have thumbed through the seed catalogs until they are limp. I am dreaming of the dirt that will eventually make its' home beneath my fingernails. In order to accommodate the next season's harvest, though, it is time to seriously make some room in the freezer. It is this time of year that I find creative ways to eat what is left from the past year. I still have a few packages of home grown blueberries that were spared from becoming jam.

I found a yummy recipe in "Country Woman" magazine (thanks Gracie for the great magazines!) and thought I would share it with is a winner! It is a wonderful reminder of summer with its' fresh citrus and blueberry flavors. Of course I adapted the recipe for my own use....using organic ingredients and removing "whipped topping" from the frosting ingredients. (I never buy whipped topping as it is not actually a food.....just a chemical impostor.)

Blueberry Citrus Cake
1 package yellow cake mix (I used an organic lemon cake mix)
3 eggs
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use a light olive oil)
1 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon fresh grated orange peel
Mix first four ingredients. Fold in blueberries and grated peels. Bake in two greased and floured 9" round pans at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
3 cups confectioners' sugar (more if needed for stiffness)
2 tbsp. orange juice ( I added a little more....for a more orange taste)
1 tbsp each fresh grated orange and lemon peel
Garnish with fresh blueberries and citrus peel curls or edible flowers, etc.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to you dear friends.
I enjoy your visits each day
And look forward to sharing ideas
with you!
When you leave a comment,
I very often visit your blog
to see who you are.
Blogging has given me a wonderful network
of friends....each with amazing and interesting lives.
Thanks for sharing!
Happy Valentine's Day!

For some wonderful Valentine's ephemera, click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Unfinished projects...

Here is the wall hanging that I am making for Hubbs. This morning I finished the embroidery (of the poem) while using a flashlight. It was before the sun rose and we had a power outage due to a windstorm. So...with flashlight between my ear and my shoulder I finished stitching.
The power returned just in time for me to finish stitching the rest of the quilt. Now to throw it on the quilting machine and do the actual quilting.
I love this has so much meaning for us right now:

We take a tree
Or many trees, as our own,
Respecting the stories they contain
And the lives they have led.
Of them we create a dwelling,
Made beautiful by their presence and strength
And we live within their warm embrace in a place called home.
~Joella DeVillier

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dear Friends....

Oh me, oh my, what's a gal to do? It seems that this past week I have had no time to sew. My unfinished projects are calling to me.....
The good news is this (and the news is mixed)...we have sold our house. You might remember we are building a log home on our farm for a permanent full time relocation to the country. The log home is coming along nicely, but will not be ready until August or September. So now for the bad news....we will be settling our house in April, leaving us no home for about 5 months.
Needless to say, I have been packing, packing, packing in preparation. We will have to store all of our belongings until the log home is finished....and live in our little 20 X 20 A-frame guest cottage for the Spring and Summer (with no room for sewing!)
I will be finishing up the Raggedy Ann and Andy quilt and also my Pine Tree Poem Quilt and then packing up the sewing room. This makes me so very sad.

At some point I will say "See You in September" and take a break from Sew on and Sew Fourth. I will, however, continue to write my farm there will be so much more to tell once I am living full time on the farm.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Whew, has this week flown by! I have had little or no time in my sewing room this week...between cleaning the house to show (to sell....which we successfully did!) and then meeting with contractors at the farm....the days have whizzed by. I did manage to make a trip to a favorite quilting shop to pick up the fabrics for the patchwork quilt into which Raggedy Ann and Andy will become incorporated.

And, I mentally planned my next project and started the stitchery for that. Hubbs had shown me a quote that he liked; and since we are building a log home and the quote is apropos, I will incorporate it into a wall hanging. So, I also bought the fabrics for the wall hanging. Here is the quote:

I am planning to use the embroidered quote and applique a white pine along the side of the quote and then border it in the pinecone fabric.....stay tuned! I should finish the stitchery this weekend.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Decorating Plans.......

When I am not actively creating in my sewing room, then I am mentally working at interior decorating. If you have been following my posting on our farm blog, then you know that we are in the middle of building a log home. The process is enormously fun. There have been so many decisions along the way....down to each and every light fixture, switch plate, dook knob...not to mention the earlier decisions of where to place each and every wall. With the necessities out of the way, it is now time to plan the rooms. We will move all of the furniture in our present home into the farmhouse, but will need to supplement some of it....such as the bedrooms (the kids are taking their bedroom suits with them) and the loft library area (this is a new space for us and we have no furniture to fill it). I thought I would share some of my ideas with you.

The second floor guest room and loft/library area will be decorated in a cabin style. The bed is a rustic wooden bed and will have "Moose" bedding. Here is a picture of the grain of the wood on the headboard. The footboard matches. The moose bedding is actually a much darker green wool bedspread with a plaid flannel dust ruffle.

The loft furniture will be done in the style of this sofa and chair, but I am using the two fabrics on the right. The Indian blanket print will mostly be on the seat cushions and the seat back. The rest of the surfaces will have the distressed leather look.

I found these snowshoes on Ebay (they were a great buy...apparently no one else was on Ebay during the Superbowl to bid against me) and I will hang them on the wall in one of these rooms....along with outdoor themed artwork from a local painter.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Sunday Project

It's not that I don't like football....but to sit still for that many hours is something I just cannot do. So, while the guys were in the family room whooping and hollering (yes, it's Steeler Country here!) I was in the sewing room with this rootin, tootin, cutie. I found just enough leftover scraps of my cowgirl pinup fabric to cut out one complete cowgirl...and here she is appliqued to the front of a kitchen towel. A little handkerchief ruffle completes the look and she is ready to hang on the stove. I think I will save her for our new farmhouse kitchen.
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