Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TROUBLESHOOTING SOAP DISASTER



I have been making soap for several years now and I thought I'd seen or heard of everything in the soap world but yesterday I uncovered a batch of soap and was surprised at what I saw. The soap had pulled away from the edges of the mold and turned almost rock solid. It reminds me of chocolate bark, the kind with the almonds in it. The soap isnt caustic, I can wash with it and it feels soft on my skin but it is hard hard hard. It can't be cut. I attempted to cut with my circle cutter and the soap split and the edges crumbled. Anyone know what happened?
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Friday, November 26, 2010

DON'T LEAVE HOME NOW!


One of my girls left the hive but didn't make it back. I'm assuming it was recent because she isn't covered in snow. My daughter found her in the driveway, quite far from her hive, so I don't think she left her home to die but maybe came out when the sun was shining but got too cold??? Whatever the reason, it is always sad to see them like this but it's natural nonetheless.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD



Actually, it is soap. I love this iridescent glitter from brambleberry and I am looking forward to buying some of the newbies she is selling. Have you seen the little stars? I have posted the before and after photo in hopes you can see the glitter better. It was added on the second pic.


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Saturday, November 13, 2010

BEES DON'T FREEZE, THEY STARVE!



(picture) The hive at night

Although I took 16 hrs of "Beekeeping in Northern Climates" course back in March I find that I've forgotten most things about honeybees. Like remembering the fact that they don't freeze but instead starve to death in the winter. Why the black cardboard box to warm them up on sunny days then? Well, because, the warmer they are the less honey they consume. Ooooooh, yeah... Oh yeah?? Ok, now I'm lost.

I had to go through it all again in my head, filling in the blanks, so please enlighten me on some of the finer points of beekeeping because I'm totally lost.

1. The colder bees get, the more energy they use to warm their hives.
2. Bees cluster in the hive and shiver to stay warm, heating the center of their cluster up to 80-90 degrees F and the outside of the cluster gets about 40-50 degrees F.
3. The bees rotate from inside to outside, sharing the warm spots, as to avoid freezing.
4. The bees are always surrounding their queen to protect her in the winter from the cold and they feed her throughout as well.

Here is where I believe I'm confused. Do bees eat honey more when it is cold or when it is warm?

4. I've heard that bees do not consume honey if it is too cold because they don't want to break cluster, therefore the colder it is the more likely they are to die.

and

I've also heard the opposite, that they need more honey the colder it is because they use up more energy warming their hive. The more shivering/warming they have to do the more eating they have to do.

If bees do consume more honey when it is warm, risking honey stores the warmer days we have, then why use the black box at all - since the black box will contribute to warming on sunny days. If we don't use the black box and they remain colder then they won't break cluster to eat. See why I'm confused?

5. Bees will die off if there isn't enough honey to get them through the winter.
6. In Minnesota that means a beehive needs at least 80 lbs of honey.
7. The honeybees start their cluster at the bottom of the hive and move up slowly as they consume the honey, ending their journey at the top hive body.
8. I need to check the hive on a warm sunny day (Jan, Feb?) to see if the cluster is moving nicely upwards (not sure what I'm suppose to do once I determine where they are in the hive).
9. Start feeding the bees sugar syrup and pollen sub. in March.

BTW/I had to clean snow away from the lower entrance of the hive today. It is only 33 degrees (warm for a Minnesota winter) but my bees are working diligently to keep their hive toasty. I peeked in the upper entrance to see what they are up to and I saw shivering little bodies doing lots of buzzing. I'm proud of them... doing what nature does best... SURVIVING!

WINTER IS HERE


...and it is beautiful!
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

CUPCAKE BATH FIZZIE HOLDER TUTORIAL


Can you tell I'm feeling paper crafty lately? LOL!

I have my phases and this months phase is paper. I was trying to find a small box pattern when I came across a blog with this box holding a a washcloth cupcake (very cute).

So, this box pattern is not mine, we have PASSIONATELY ARTISTIC to thank for it. The instructions are on her blog or else you can follow along with mine.

You'll need:

cupcake bath fizzie (see ANNE MARIE FROM BRAMBLEBERRIES TUTORIAL ON MAKING BATH FIZZIE CUPCAKES)

Sheet of cellophane
Cardstock
Patterned paper
double sided tape
Scissors
Scor-pal (or other scoring device)
Paper cutter
Measuring stick (if your cutter doesn't have measurements)
Circle & Scallop punches or other circular cutting device

BOX BASE
First: cut a 12x12 piece of cardstock down to 10.5 x 10.5



Second: score at 3 1/4 on all four sides (I hope you can see the score lines)



Third: cut 1.5 inches off of template on all four sides and .5 inch notches angled diagonally on all four sides.



Fourth: assemble and secure your box.



BOX TOP

First: cut a piece of decorative paper down to 6 1/8 x 6 1/8 and then score at 1 inch on all four sides.



Second: cut notches on all four sides. To do this you will measure in 3/16 of an inch from the score line on all four sides and then cut in at an angel like I did in the picture.



Third: You can use circle punches for this step or some other type of circular cutting device. I used a stampin up circle cutter with blade for the plain cirlce that I'm not even sure they carry anymore and a scallop circle punch for the frame. The punches would work much faster and easier. Passionately Artistic suggests using the 3 3/8 scallop circle punch and the 3 1/4 circle punch which would make the opening of the box bigger than what I have shown here.

I cut my scallop and then I cut a circle out of the center. This frame will fit perfectly around the circle window of my box.



Here I punched the hole in the center of box top and attached the scalloped frame.



Fourth: assemble your box top.



BOX INSERT

You'll need an insert so your cupcake doesn't rattle around in the box.

First: cut a square piece of coordinating cardstock at 4 7/8 x 4 7/8.
Second: score at 1 inch on all four sides.

Third: punch a hole in center to hold your cupcake. I used my stampin up cutter which allows for various circle sizes and I used the circle size that matched the size of a standard cupcake base. I'm not sure if a circle punch would be exact to the base of a cupcake, you would have to play with that.



Fourth: cut notches on all four sides of your insert. There was no measuring required here, just do it by site.



Fifth: place insert into the center of box base.



Add your cupcake, put the cover on and ta da... it is all finished. I added a little cellophane window but it could be left open for smelling purposes. I didn't gussy it up with tags or anything but that is a possibility as well, or maybe even some fun accessories around the box top and/or sides :) You could also add shredded paper inside to surround the cupcake or even wrap the cupcake in cellophane with a coordinating bow that would peak through the circle window.





Wednesday, November 3, 2010

LIPBALM HOLDER TUTORIAL

I was walking through the MOA this afternoon when I saw this cute itty bitty bag holding a lip balm tin. I thought the bag was uber cute so I bought it, took it home and disassembled the bag so I could make the template. I'm not a big fan of lipbalm in tins but I do make natural perfume oils that I put into flat tins and therefore, I'm turning these into stocking stuffer gifts.

I wanted to share this idea with others in case you too are in need of some stocking stuffer ideas this Christmas. This bag is really simple. I tried really hard to create a template to share but I'm no expert at this type of thing. The template before folded must measure 5 1/2 x 5 inches in order to fit the .5 oz flat tin perfectly. You will need to adjust the template to get it to the right size because I had no idea how to size it correctly on my computer (it just sorta grew after I scanned my original).

CLICK HERE FOR TEMPLATE

If you have trouble viewing the template let me know. I can email the .pdf

Fits tin size .5 oz


Here is my sample (I have Christmas paper on order so I did this one as a simple "to you from me.") I used the lipbalm that came with the sample I purchased. Sorry about the blurry pictures, photography isn't my forte either :(

Cut out template:



Scor along designated lines (and fold):



Using a 1 3/8 circle punch, punch a hole in the lower front of bag:



I added a scallop border using a scallop punch. You can see that part of the flat covers the circle opening so I just trimmed that bit off (it must have been my measuring skills that I don't have either):



Now that you've trimmed off that extra bit you will adhere the flap on the left side of bag:



Then fold in the bottom:



So it looks like this:



Pinch in the sides:



So it looks like this:



Punch a hole small through the flap and all the layers of cardstock:



Wrap ribbon or raffia through the hole twice and tie:



You need to wrap it twice to make the flap lay flat:



Decorate with a little tag and your done:



One tip: cut a piece of cardboard and slide it in behind your lipbalm tube to keep it pressed snuggly against the window.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LATE POST: HONEY EXTRACTION TIME

Wow! Is this post going to be out of order. I should be blogging about my bees getting ready for winter but I finally found the charger to my camera so I'm able to talk about the honey extraction I was invited to observe this fall.

Unfortunately my bees didn't make enough honey for me to take this year so Cindy and Mark over at Bees In Our Bonnets invited me over to watch them extract honey. It was a great experience. It certainly makes me feel more prepared for honey extraction time next year.

Here is one of Mark and Cindy's two hives with the honey supers on (Four Horseman Apiary)


Mark is lightly brushing the bees off of the frames of honey.



Mark and Cindy's son has placed the frames in the extractor. He cranked quite a bit on the manual extractor and we stood by and watched as the honey came out.


Here is Mark and Cindy's son filtering the honey of bee parts as it poured out of the extractor into the bucket.



Cindy was kind of enough to share one of her honey bears and some handmade jam with my daughter and I before we departed.



Thank you Cindy and Mark for allowing us to come by and watch while you bottled your first years batch of honey!!!