Monday, May 30, 2011

In Honor of Those Who Gave Their All...

Photo Credit

We thank you!

May we remember, and never forget your sacrifice.

May we uphold those principles in the Constitution which so many died for.

May we live in such a way as to honor those who have served and gave their very life to defend liberty.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Blessing

“But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from 
everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, 
And His righteousness to children’s children, 
To those who keep His covenant 
And remember His precepts to do them.”
~ Psalm 103: 17-18

Photo Credit
May generation upon generation of your children be blessed!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Preparedness Challenge #10

This week my preparedness has focused a lot more on my daughter's trip to East Asia rather than a lot at home. However, I did get some attachments for my Roma Tomato Strainer to make items from the garden later in the summer. And I picked up 50 pounds of sugar for the bees. After my mishap last week with them, I'll be feeding them longer than I had hoped. My goal for them now is to get them strong enough to make it through next winter. Apparently the pollen here is high, but the nectar flow is low. 

Since my daughter is traveling to a third world country in less than 2 weeks, we needed to finish getting her packed with essentials. Food isn't so much an issue because she'll be at an organic farm most of the time. We did decide to purchase her a Berkey Sport Water Bottle that will filter just about anything and make it clean. That way if she is out and about sight seeing or shopping, she can know that her water is safe to drink. This would be a great item to add to a 72-Hour Kit or to keep in your car.

Because the risks for mosquito borne diseases are so high, we had to get her vaccinated for things like Typhoid and a prescription for Malaria. But there are some things which have no preventative measures other than insect repellent with DEET. Normally, I would not let her use this stuff, but we're talking about bad diseases that must be avoided at all costs. Her immune system isn't that great anyway, due to an illness when she was about 15, so my plan is to super-detox her when she gets home. And in the meantime, we bought a Costco size package of insect repellent.

Another item I'm looking into is a natural repellent for lice and bed bugs. I'm hoping it deters mosquitoes as well! Call me a clean freak, but this girl has long thick hair and getting lice would be a real pain! 

She'll be carrying a lot of first aid items as well as medications and immune support items. Traveling with homemade products... well, we've opted not to go that route this time. The last thing we want is for her to flag her bag as suspicious. Fortunately, we've checked into some items that she can purchase once she's there, such as baking soda, which she can use to make a few items. 

Her experiment with no-poo shampoo (baking soda and an apple cider rinse) has turned out to be excellent. There was a week her scalp and hair were very oily, but it soon passed and now her scalp is no longer itchy and scaly. Since her shower's there will consist of a cup of water poured over herself, the baking soda will be much easier to rinse out than shampoo. I'm really glad we planned for this in advance! Her plan is to use the baking soda to brush her teeth as well. Baking soda is another item that would be great for anyone prepping to have on hand in bulk.!

Thank you to those who contributed to her trip this past month! We're aware that some of you gave and we want you to know how grateful we are for your gifts that will allow her to go and serve overseas. All her expenses have now been met and she'll be on her way soon. To follow along on their adventures, you can read here.

I'd love to hear from everyone, but especially anyone who has traveled in a similar situation that can give us any tips or ideas we might not have considered.  And if you've done something this week to be prepared, be sure to leave a comment or link up!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Reversible Napkin Tutorial

I just love these reversible napkins! It could be because I like coordinating fabrics, but I suspect it's mostly because I adore ric -rac trim and I'm always looking for places to add it.  

How To Sew A Reversible Napkin

Cut two pieces of fabric the same square size. If you want to conserve fabric and use your yardage wisely, you can cut 3 squares from a piece of fabric 42 - 45" wide (standard bolt sizes). Each square will be 13 1/2". However, your napkins will not be very large (perfect for ladies and the younger crowd). Because I only had 3/4 a yard, I opted to do this, but I prefer to cut my napkins 17 1/2" square. Obviously, it costs more to do this, but it's an option all the same.

Next, pin your ric-rac to the edge of the right side of the first fabric. I set my stitch length to baste and moved my needle to the right so that the basting stitch would be hidden in the seam.

Stitch around the napkin edge... 

and tuck the corner in or fold it inward... 

and keep going until you return to the beginning. Trim the excess ric-rac.

Lay the second fabric on top with the first fabric with the right sides facing each other. 

Match the edges and pin all the way around.

Readjust your stitch length to a normal setting (mine is about 2.5) and move your needle back to the center position. Stitch around the edge about 1/4" or so - just inside the basting stitch (you want the basting stitch on the right and the new stitching on the left). 

Be sure to leave an opening to turn the napkin. You can barely see my opening in the picture below, but it's about 5-6 inches wide on the bottom edge. 

Cut the bulk off the corners as shown below (I actually tapered it even more with a second and third cut, but forgot to photograph that)...

Turn the napkin inside out and press the edges so they are completely open and flat. Press the opening as well so that it lies flat like you want it to be when it's sewn shut.

Stitch around the outer edge. I believe I stitched mine at 1/4", but you can do it any width you like. This time you'll stitch all the way around, including the opening.

Press and you're done! I like to do these in an assembly line so that I do all the steps on each napkin at the same time.

I wish I had taken a picture of the stack when I was finished. They looked so fun! A few of these paired with some woven placemats or a cookbook make a lovely wedding gift! (At least I thought so.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beehive Update

Every time I go out to my hive (and I've been there a lot lately), I get a bit depressed. Don't get me wrong... I'm extremely grateful my queen is alive and that each time I go out there it seems there are a few more bees. But I have come to realize I made such a huge mistake that it nearly cost me my entire hive. And I'm still very concerned that they won't be strong enough to make it through next winter.

So, let me tell you what NOT to do in beekeeping. 

Going foundationless was actually a good thing. It only took them a week to build out 75 percent of an eight frame shallow super (I don't have a deep super on this hive, but perhaps I should!). Feeding the bees sugar water to get them started was also a good thing. Adding another super - fine. According to the apiculturist at UC Davis, it was a non-issue. I had a nice chat with him on the phone and learned a few things.

Stopping the sugar water was fatal. 

Yes, I made the wrong assumption that a heavy pollen load meant plenty of nectar. And being inexperienced, I didn't realize that the bees needed lots of honey stores or some sugar water with a cool spell and rain that hit and lasted for about 5 days. 

You see, the little bees fan to keep the warm air moving through the hive and to keep the brood and queen alive. They will actually cluster around the queen to try and save her by keeping her warm. They'll also feed her while they are starving. And starve they did.

They needed more carbs to keep up with the work of keeping the queen and brood warm. And they didn't have it. It's been a week and I still nearly cry each time I open the hive box and look inside to see how they're doing. I took a picture of a frame so you could see what it looks like so you'll recognize it if this happens to you (but I'm sure you'll be smarter than me!). I've knocked off the dead bees that were clinging to it, but you can see the other bees that were digging in the comb looking for food and then died. Pitiful. {teary...}

I hope I haven't made another colossal mistake, but I decided to remove this frame and replace it with a fresh one. Normally bees will clean out dead brood, but there's just so much - and dead worker bees, too! I'm only removing one, but I want to see if they'll start fresh and draw new comb on a frame. They weren't really paying attention to this frame and the queen was a few frames over, so I decided to risk it, because there wasn't much to salvage here except some comb; and only if it was cleaned out. 

Needless to say, I'm feeding them ample sugar water at this point. According to the apiculturist I talked to, I can stop feeding them if there is mucho honey in them there combs! Say a whole super full. 

I've learned my lesson and it won't happen again. I just wished I'd realized sooner. I'm having to teach myself everything because the closest beekeeping class is 2.5 hours away in LA. And that's on a good day without traffic! However, I've found a few good sites:

Sunset One Block Diet: Team Bee
Beekeeping Naturally @ Bush Farms
Mistress Beek
Backwards Beekeepers

I really appreciate all the kind comments I've received. So many have struggled with beekeeping, too. They're certainly a bit more fragile than say... chickens. But I'm already hooked. If this group doesn't make it, I'll be saving pennies to buy more next season, for sure!

P.S. Pip the Cottontail didn't make it. :-( 
Thank you for all your kind words, emails with great advice, and prayers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baby Cottontail

How often do you get to see a baby Cottontail up close? This precious little thing was orphaned and the only surviving bunny due to a little accident. A friend brought it to the girls to try to feed it and help it survive. I suspect it won't make it even though it seems to be doing fine, because all the websites say Cottontails are very difficult to rescue, even with special formulas and such. 

We're praying for it and doing what we can with items we have on hand. 

He seems to be active enough. He has squeezed through the bars of the pet carrier we put him in and went MIA in the house for about 10 hours yesterday. "Pip", as the girls call him, made it across the house and into my bathroom where he was found hiding behind the toilet! Seems like the name Peter Rabbit would be more appropriate.

So cute I had to share. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Modest Wardrobe Solution: Sew Skirts!

How do you clothe a 5'3" twelve year old who is still growing at the speed of light? It's not like you can run down to the department stores and find a suitable modest outfit. I typically can find something if they're a size 16 and under or even a misses size 4 or larger, but there's that "no-man's-land" in between... the time where young girls are neither "little girls" nor ready to call themselves "young ladies" that's always troublesome. 

I should mention at this point that we don't even try to shop the Juniors departments in most stores because the issue of modesty is non-existant unless you're extremely thin and have short legs. I had the same issue when my oldest was in this phase of life and I suspect I'll face it again when the youngest is there as well. Do other mothers have the same difficulty or is it just me? Someone should start a line of clothing called "In Between Tween and Teen". They'd make a fortune. 

So in my frustration, I decided it was time to sew some skirts. While there are still very few patterns out there geared specifically for modest in-betweeners, at least you can make adjustments to meet your needs. I did find one pattern that was just below the knee and if you prefer longer skirts, I'm sure you could extend the yoke at the top or the trim at the bottom. I think it would look really cute with a pair of cowgirl boots or in just a couple of fabrics if the wild pattern of many is too much.

I decided to make the "classic" version (on the left) and use some coordinating fabrics that would look lovely with my tween's blue eyes. Because she's 12 going on 16, I thought it would be best to use some more mature fabrics along with some fun geometrics and use several to keep it a bit funky. The last thing I wanted to do was spend time making a skirt that she wouldn't wear because it looked "old lady" like.

If you're planning on making this skirt, it really is easy but the instructions would not be adequate for a true beginner. She does not clearly state that certain parts need to be gathered (such as the main portion where you've pieced the fabrics which must be attached to the yoke that is not gathered) and neither does she tell you how to gather. This wasn't an issue for me since I've sewn for years, but I could imagine the frustration of someone just starting out! 

Also, I didn't cut it out the way she suggested. I know all the fabrics should be cut the same direction so as to hang correctly, but to do so would take nearly twice the amount of fabric. (Have you priced material lately?!!) Perhaps I shouldn't have done so, but I turned the pieces a quarter turn so as to keep the cost down. With all the top stitching, it did not seem to affect the way it looks in any way.

Fabrics coming together.
Despite several small mistakes, I was pleased with how the skirt came out. And thankfully, my 12 year old was thrilled and anxious to wear it! She paired it with a dressy white t-shirt and a brown 3/4 length sleeve cardigan sweater with a ruffled edge (it's still cool here!). She looked lovely and modest, yet not frumpy. Just what we were aiming for.

The finished skirt!
It wouldn't do to not make something for the 9 year old, too, so I whipped up an easy skirt with left over material and trim without a pattern. It was basically just two strips of fabric cut on the fold, sewn into tubes and a gathered waistband, which works for the more petite little girls, but not so much for those who are starting to develop a more mature figure. You should have seen her Sunday with her skirt and red cowboy boots! So darling!

Since it's been a while since I've sewn, I had to find new pattern companies, websites, etc. Pink Fig has some cute things as does Butterfly Kisses, but most are for the toddler to size 10 crowd. Fairytale Frocks and Lollipops has an entire section on just Tween/Teen patterns, but you'll have to sift through a few to find the gems.

How do you dress a tween or teen modestly? Any ideas for where you like to shop or a great pattern?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Barn Hop #14

Welcome to the Monday Homestead Barn Hop! As hostesses, we look forward to cultivating the homestead community with fellow bloggers who love homesteading and everything related!

and Me!

And we're so blessed to see this community growing! Thank you to everyone who has participated in the past and to those who are doing so today. I only wish I could read and comment on every single post that was linked up!

On Saturday I shared that it had been a really hard homesteading week. First, I had a meat chick doing poorly to the point that it had to be put down. It's one thing to kill a full grown meat bird; it's another to kill a three week old chick. My husband was good to do the job for us as no one else could bear to do so. And it wasn't easy for him either. It just didn't seem right, but it had to be done. 

To make matters worse, it seemed like more of the chicks were having leg issues and that they were going to start going down hill fast. These are Freedom Rangers and I purposefully chose these in order to avoid some of the issues that come with Cornish Cross. I began to think about what I was going on or what I was doing wrong and it finally occurred to me that the small waterers I was using and having to constantly refill weren't allowing them to get enough water. 

I had purchased some chicken nipples earlier, but not installed them so I finally did so and overnight they figured out how to drink from these. Within hours I noticed a difference. Then a friend reminded me that they might eat too much if you allow them to do so; and their crops were very full. Now that they're a bit more feathered out, I'm going to open the door to the run for them if the weather is warm enough tomorrow and allow them to  start foraging a bit although they're isn't much right up by the coop. Hopefully, they'll "harden off" (a bit like new plants), feather out more, and be ready to forage out in the yard soon (in a tractor). So at least this is looking up a bit.

However... Friday, I went to check on my bees after nearly a week of cold and rain. And I noticed a pile of dead bees on the ground outside the hive; and more on the landing board. And ants, flies, and other things on the hive. Not good. 

Although I wasn't suited up, I decided to take off the lid. No bees. No sound. Silence. Very odd. I took off the inner cover. Nothing. My heart was sinking by this point. I took off the new super and frames I had added so as to see down into the bottom super. A few dead bees. I pulled up a frame... with dead bees... and looked down inside, only to see... a huge pile of dead bees.

Despite how it looks, the bees you see on the comb are not alive.
In fact, almost none of the bees in these photos are alive.

There were perhaps five or six flying around, but it looked like a massacre took place. I can't tell you how devastated I was. I closed it up and went to tell my husband. Then we went through it all again and concluded... my hive was dead. 

I spent the next few hours reading, making phone calls, and sending emails. I called everyone from friends and seasoned beekeepers to the county extension agency entomologist, an apiculturist at UC Davis, and so on. A friend even called another 
apiculturist in Michigan on my behalf. 

One said I starved them because I quit feeding them. Others thought something toxic killed them. And a couple felt like the cold snap did it. No consensus, but I had to get to the bottom of it or I wouldn't be able to bring in more bees. Which are now sold out. All I could do was think of was that my little "friends" had died, I had maybe done it to them, no honey this year, I spent $$$ money on them, and had waited two years to get them. And now they were gone and I'd have to wait another year. 

Later in the afternoon, I checked the hive again. This time there was a bit more activity, so I went and suited up and checked the hive again. Still really bad, but a few flying around. I took off the extra super that was empty, added a feeder along with some sugar water and closed it up, hoping that there might be enough to save if at all possible, and perhaps I could re-queen.

Sunday afternoon, my beekeeping friend, Lori and I, went into the hive. This this time there were quite a few bees, enough to save perhaps. Unfortunately, there was a lot of dead brood, too. And then... we saw her! 

The queen... ALIVE!! 

I was too excited to even take a photo. We quickly lifted up the bottom super, swept out a LOT of dead bees, placed everything back, fed them again, and closed it up. I'm so encouraged that this hive may actually make it! I'll keep feeding them every 3-4 days and then check some possible drone cells we saw in a couple of weeks. We hesitated to do too much since the hive is so weak at this point. But if I need to, I'll go in sooner and deal with that issue. 

Dead bees after I cleaned out the bottom of the hive.

I hope your week was better? 

Join The Barn Hop!

1. Write a blog post about what's going on at your homestead or a post on something you're learning or an item of interest that will benefit the homesteading community. Be sure to add the red barn button and link back here so others can join in the fun.

2. Come back here and enter your information in the Linky. Please be sure to link to your actual post (click your title and then copy the URL above) and not your home page so those participating later in the week can find your post easily.

3. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment and tell us what's going on at your homestead!

Please Note: As hostesses of the Homestead Barn Hop, please understand that we reserve the right to remove any links that are not family friendly. While this may be subjective, we will err on the side of caution in order to keep our blogs appropriate for all readers. Thank you for your understanding!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Blessing

Photo Credit

"He sends forth springs in the valleys;
They flow between mountains;
They give drink to every beast of the field...

"Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
He waters the mountains from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.

"The trees of the LORD drink their fill,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted, 
Where the birds build their nests...

"He looks at the earth, and it trembles;
He touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being."

Selected verses from Psalm 104

Enjoy some worship time today! A couple of my favorites...

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Winner: Emergency Food Ration Bars!

Thanks for everyone's comments on the Emergency Food Ration Bars give-away hosted by USA Emergency Supply! Seems like we all learned something new about these bars and I was glad to hear someone had actually tried them and thought they were tasty. Good to know!

The winner of the entire case is...


Congratulations! Please email me with your mailing information and we'll get these on the way to you. 

Don't forget to link up to the Preparedness Challenge this week and share how you're getting ready for the "what if's"!

Preparedness Challenge #9

All of us know that we need to be prepared for life's little emergencies. And now, more of us are realizing that we need to be prepared for some of the big emergencies as well. But getting it done can be overwhelming. That's why this series was born... to encourage one another to do one thing each week to get prepared!

To participate, all you need to do is leave a comment or write a blog post and link up telling us one thing you did this week in order to be prepared (or two or three...). It's our way of holding each other accountable. Be sure to add the canning jar photo to your blog and link back here so others can participate as well. It encourages us all when others are joining in, don't you think?

This week for the Preparedness Challenge, I cleared out a store room, sold the stuff, and bought windows for a cold frame and made plans to buy blocks for retaining walls for my garden so I could extend the terraces for more plants. I really need to do more next week in terms of my pantry and 72 hour kit, but it was a really difficult homesteading week (I'll share more Monday on the Barn Hop - perhaps by then I'll be ready to talk about it.). But getting the garden in tip top shape in terms of hardscape will really make a difference long term. I think it's a good investment. 

How about you? Ready to share how you prepared?


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