Friday, November 21, 2014

The Holidays Are Approaching ... So I've Been Knitting

I'm one of those people who hates the expansion of the holiday season.  I am.  I hate that Halloween - my favorite holiday - is practically ignored, that Thanksgiving is raced past, and that the malls have Christmas music playing in October.  I hate that people and stores put up their decorations earlier every year.  I hate that other holidays, just as important to many people, even more important to some, play second, third, heck 14th fiddle to the winter holidays, mostly Christmas.  I like to enjoy them all.

That said, for those of us who make gifts, we definitely need to start before Thanksgiving.  Especially if you're a knitter but not a speed knitter, which I'm not.  Especially if you've got pre-holiday gift giving events, which I do.

I've got a few gift exchanges this year, so I'm already planning my baking and my gifts.

The first is a good, old fashioned Yankee Swap, in some circles known as a White Elephant exchange.  It'll be all women, so I know I can go feminine, but I have no idea who's getting my gift.

So I went with a scarf.  Who can't use more scarves?  I found this gorgeous wool/acrylic blend yarn in colors that'll go with anything but fire engine red, and got to work on a nice cable knit.


And I did my first-ever fringe, too!


Folded it nicely, wrapped it with ribbon, and now I just need a pretty gift bag & some tissue paper.


Hope it's a hit!

Then there's the gift exchange at work (the day job).  I will be getting a name to gift to in advance of our office party, but waiting for that would slow me down too much.  So I've gone with a neutral fisherman's wool for this one, in the same cableknit pattern.

Catimus felt inclined to assist.  By sleeping.


Still working on this one, and I'll post when it's done.  If it turns out it's for one of the women in the office, I'll add fringe.  If not, it'll be all done.

Then for a third gift exchange, I'm not knitting.  I bought some fun things for my recipient, but I do have one handmade item planned for her also ... not telling what yet, though!  Stay tuned, and you'll see.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Blast from the Past: A Mishap

I follow a lot of blogs.  A lot of blogs.  One of them is called Lindsay Sews, and in yesterday's post, she asked about crafting fails.  Well, that called to mind a major fail I perpetrated back in December of 2012.

A friend of mine was looking for a stuffed animal version of a frog in a cartoon.  It looked like this.


Cute, right?  Her daughter was completely obsessed with that character, so she was trying to be a good mom.

Ever reaching for new heights, I offered to make it for her myself!  I developed an idea, then a pattern, and went to cutting and sewing.

Sigh.

Here was the result.


Um... right.  I obviously couldn't sell my friend that travesty, so we scrapped the idea, and thankfully she was OK with not getting it.  Instead, I decided it was an alien octopus with measles, and kept it for kids to play with at my house when they come over.

Go ahead.  Laugh.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Putting the Bees to Bed

A lot of people ask us where the bees stay during the cold, winter months.  I love that they're so concerned, as so are we!  Some have asked us if we bring them inside, put the hive in the garage, close up the openings, or what actually do we do with our girls?

The answer?  Pretty much nothing.

Crazy, right?

Well, it's not 100% nothing.  We did treat them for varroa mites for a month before it got too cold.  Varroa mites are the bane of a bee's existence.  And a beekeeper's too.  The mites are these horrendous tiny parasites (tinier than bees, obviously), with which all hives in the US are afflicted, but if the population gets too high, they'll kill an entire colony!  So we treated for mites, and then this past weekend went into the hive to remove the strips we used.

While in there, we got to see that our girls had a nice population going, and a bunch of full frames of honey in the top hive box.  We gave them some pollen and fondant to eat anyway, wished them well, and closed 'er back up.

That's it 'til spring, folks!  Now we just keep our fingers crossed that they make it through the winter, which here in NJ promises to be another brutally cold one, and see in the spring how they've fared.

In the meantime, the bees take care of themselves.  They've already kicked out their drones (the males, which are useless to them through the winter months when queens aren't mating and food - honey - is limited).  As it gets colder, the workers huddle in a ball around their queen, moving around the hive in sync to maintain body heat while they eat all the honey they've made throughout the spring and summer.  As long as there's enough honey to sustain them (plus the bit of fondant and pollen we provided), they should be ok when we check on them in the spring.  Through this whole time, they don't leave the hive.  Believe it or not, that also means that they don't go to the bathroom!  Bees are exceptionally clean critters and will not go to the bathroom in the hive.  Imagine all those little crossed legs!

If we do have an unseasonally warm day, one of those weird. sunny, 66 degree February days, the girls may come on out to relieve themselves and forage a bit.  If we can, we'll take the opportunity to get them some more fondant before spring.  If not, they're on their own.

Wish our girls luck!  Fingers crossed that they'll come through well and be all ready for the forsythia and dandelion blooms!

'Cause if they're healthy then?  It means honey for us in July!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The New Kid

There's a new addition to our family!  I haven't been without a dog for more than a couple months at a time since I was 9 years old, and now that Eric has had one, he can't be dogless either.

Enter Jack.

Our new guy is just over four months old, half yellow lab and half either great pyrenees or husky.  No matter what he is, how amazing is that smile?


We got him through the Save A Pet Rescue in Stroudsburg, PA, from their sister organization, Crossing Paths Animal Rescue in Alabama.  I have to say, working with Save A Pet and Crossing Paths has been an absolute pleasure.  They've got an amazing outlook regarding rescue work, and Eric and I would recommend them to anyone, not to mention work with them again ourselves.

They drove all night to transport Jack and his compatriots up from Alabama to Pennsylvania, where we picked him up at 7:30 on Saturday morning, and headed back to Petsmart to get him tags and let him pick out some treats and toys before bringing him home to settle in.

Because he was coming from down south, we couldn't meet him before adopting him, but we already loved him.  In fact, I spent three nights making this dog bed for him.  I made the pillow first, and then the bolster to fit around it.  I left it as two parts, and we brought the pillow to PA for him to lie on during the ride home.



He loved it immediately!  And after being in the truck all night with his puppy compatriots, he sacked out for most of the ride home.


A stop at Petsmart for some toys, a bone, and training stuff, and he was ready for a walk around the block and some fun in the yard.




It's love already!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Part One Hundred and Eight

You've met this artist, Kris, here before, here, here, here, and again here, when I showed you what I myself have gotten from her!

She's still at it, though, using her talent, creating, and making her wares available to all of us for purchase!  Check 'em out...

What you can find in Reflections:


There are paintings now!


And pendants!





What you can find in Lisianblue:





How sweet is that snuggle bunny?

For more, follow her on Twitter or her blog.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Part One Hundred and Seven

I could be wrong, but I don't think you've met Monika of MyEuropeanTouch here before.


You'll note that her banner says "mosaic art," but that may be an understatement.  This woman is an artist with a capital ART.


A mosaic artist for 10 years, she's been working with different mediums quite literally all her life.  Mosaic is natural for her, though.  Growing up in Germany shortly after WWII, she watched her parents reuse, recycle, and reinvent.



She's come a long way since post-WWII Germany; her work has been seen on HGTV!  But on to more mosaics!





Would you believe she's completely self-taught?!  It's not just about the mosaics, though, no matter what her banner says.  This chick's got serious talent.  And she's come a long way since her childhood, knitting, crocheting, and sewing clothing for her dolls.


She still experiments with her diverse talents and the many types of art that have been a constant presence in her life.  Even the fine arts, which I love because it's close to my heart too.


Wanna know where else you can find her?  Try her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and her About Me page.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dealing with loss, to be blunt, sucks.

First, the Winnie the Pooh hive.  We're really glad that we got the second hive started, the undersea one, because the Pooh hive is, in short, defunct.  The second queen is gone, the population is abysmal, and the colony is just not going to make it.  At this point, it's way too late in the season to rebuild, so we're focusing on the undersea hive, which is going gangbusters, and we'll restart the Pooh hive come spring, either with a split from the undersea hive if it's strong enough or with a new nuc.

Then, worse, and more heartbreaking, Meg.  It's been hard for me to talk about this.  I got Megaera when she was a 9-week-old puppy in 1998.  You've met here (with video), here, here, here, and here.  Best dog ever.  Smart, stubborn, fun, active, caring.  If I was upset, she'd run over to kiss me and make me feel better, every time.  She was half sheltie/half eskimo, and we had fun watching her try to herd the cats.  When she was younger and more spry, she loved hiking and was as agile as a mountain goat.

On Thursday, June 26, I came home from work to find Meg wounded and rushed her to the vet, finding out that she had a mast cell tumor.  We got her medication and tried to bring the swelling down so she could have another good couple of months, but it didn't work.  On the morning of Saturday, June 28, we brought her back to the vet and that was that.  She was 16 years, 3 months, and 16 days old.  I know that's a good long time and I know she had a good life, but it's never enough.  Not really.  Eric had only known her since April of 2008, and he was as much a mess as I.

We love her, always will.


We'll get another dog, for sure, and in the not-too-distant future.  I've had dogs since I was 9 and can't be dogless.  And Eric's always wanted a dog, so of course he wants another.  At this point, it's been almost 4 weeks, and I surprised myself that I'm already able to look at adoptable dogs without hysterically crying.  Just a week or two ago, I couldn't.  I'm still torn, feeling partly like a traitor to Meg, but mostly like there are other dogs that need good homes, and honestly?  Eric and I need a dog.

So we'll see.
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