Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I almost forgot to blog "HAPPY NEW YEAR" to all of you in cyberland. I cannot believe it is already New Years Eve. I'm not one for cocktails or clubbing, the hubby and I don't care for alcohol and big crowds, so we are hunkered down at home for the night with the kids. Possibly sitting up til midnight to watch that ball thingy come down in New York City (not sure exactly why we do that).

Most of you who read my blog know that I'm not one to go and make New Years Resolutions but I'll admit, this is probably the first year that I've felt like the turn of the year is going to bring great changes.

NUMBER ONE: more traveling. We are starting with a trip dogsledding. Something I've always wanted to do and I know my family will enjoy.

Soon my little tribe will be headed to Ely, MN for a dogsledding vacation with Wintergreen.

(picture source: minnesota-visitor.com)



NUMBER TWO: More classes, starting with knitting. I know how to crochet a hot pad and that is about it. When I'm 70 I'd like to sit in my rocking chair and knit, besides, I've always wanted to learn how to spin and what good is spinning wool into yarn if you can't knit. So, a friend and I will be hitting the yarnery next month and hopefully we'll emerge master knitters.

(picture source: http://www.theyarneryblog.blogspot.com)



NUMBER THREE: Get back to Buddhism. My girls and I were very involved in meditation and Zen Buddhism for a while and then mom died, I took over my sisters care, yadda yadda yadda, and I let that very important part of myself go. Well, we are headed back.

Clouds in water has great classes for families. Sunday's were always a favorite because the kids enjoy their own time learning to live mindfully while I meditate.
(picture source: Clouds In Water Zen Center)



I am read for 2011! Lots of things to look forward to. I won't even THINK about my oldest learning to drive. Let's just forget that part of 2011 :) For now, I'm off to watch the Little House on the Prairie series with my girls.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SUICIDE AND BEE POOP


I had the luxury today of witnessing some bee suicide or maybe it was bee eviction and a little bit of bee poop. Is that a luxury?? Oh well, for a beekeeper it is.

I tried getting close enough to clear the lower entrance of snow but the girls weren't having it. They did, however, let me sit back and watch as they gathered to toss out several able bodied sisters, at least they were kicking and buzzing so that meant able bodied to me and I also watched as a few flew in and out to do their "business."

Cleansing flights come early for Carniolans because it is only 35 degrees F today and most beeks and books say cleansing flights usually happen above 50. Hmmmm... maybe it wasn't eviction or suicide at all, maybe the girls think they have the strength to cleanse but they don't :(
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

DON'T BANG ON THE BEE BOX



(source for photo: supercoloring.com)

Just in case you are wondering, I don't call it a hive anymore, it is the "bee box" and today I learned that banging on it isn't the wisest thing to do. (Yes, I was thinking maybe some very loud humming not organized military attack).

I was making the new mommy mistake today. Ya know, the one where new moms get up every two hours to make sure their babies are still breathing? If you don't know what I'm talking about then you must belong to the calm mothers club. Personally, I was a wreck. After the birth of my first child I would wake to hear her breathing every few hours and if it sounded like she wasn't I'd give her a little shake. Of course this would wake her up and she'd cry but at least I knew she was ok. Well... the bees have somewhat of a similar reaction.

So I went out to my bee box and it was quiet... too quiet. I noticed the graveyard was plenty full and I started feel a little concerned so I put my ear up to the box and as I thought, I heard nothing. Paranoia, fear, uncertainty, whatever you want to call it, came creeping in so I gave the box a little tap and....... NOTHING. I tapped again and again until I noticed that I was going full speed, banging on it like a complete nutcase and the reaction from the bee box was similar to that of a newborn baby...the bees woke up and boy oh boy were they pissed. Too pissed off to freeze. They came crawling out like it was a 90 degree summer day and I ran for my life...... or at least I ran for the safety of my exposed skin.

Well, at least I know they are still alive right!?! :)

Now that I'm somewhat over that trauma I need to go read up on candy board recipes because I think the girls are going to need it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


I hope everyone out in cyberland has a beautiful Christmas and a joy filled new year!
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THE GRAVEYARD



Our little patch of dead bees has come to be known as the graveyard, which is what it feels like I am seeing everytime I visit the hive lately. At present my hive is half covered in snow which I need to deal with. These cold snowy days are serious cause for concern since long winters tend not to be any survival advantage for bees. I keep reminding myself that this is my first year as a beek and I only have the one hive and all of this is knowlege and experience I didn't have last year at the same time but... it isn't working. I will still feel really sad if they don't survive.

BTW/ those bees clinging to the hive entrance are dead.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

SOAPMAKING JOURNAL

A couple years ago I posted a page from my soap making journal for others in case anyone keeps track of their recipes and experience. I thought I'd resurrect that post in case others are interested in keeping track of their recipes and experiences with soapmaking without the hassle of drawing up your own journal.

Here it is: CLICK HERE

This is what it looks like:



I couldn't fit the entire image on my screen, but there is a section below for extra notes.

The temp for mixing section I still use. It originally was used to keep track of the temps at which I combined lye/oil/water but now I use the heat transfer method so I use it to keep track of the temp I include essential oils (yes, there is a reason for that).

Why do I keep track of the weather. Once upon a time I learned from another soapmaker, with far more experience than I, that the temp outside could effect soap. I had a string of bad batches that had to do with outside temp. LONG STORY!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

UNDER THE WILLOW GIFTS


My dear friend Carrie over at Under the Willow Gifts makes the most awesome products that each year or throughout I always need to get my hands on some. I can't blog about what I purchased too much right now as I've ordered these for Christmas gifts and the recipients read this blog but I couldn't contain my excitement so I wanted to say at least this...

If anyone is looking for high quality handmade body products filled with at heart and soul, wrapped up in the most creative, adorable fashion, then shop at Under the Willow Gifts. Carrie, the owner, has experience and knowledge to create the best products and I am very excited to share her creations again this year.

Thank you Carrie for the extra goodies! My kids immediately noted that there were 3 small lipbalms for little hands and one large one for momma :) Middy wants you to know that she loves how creamy soft your lip balm is.
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BEE DRAMA ON A COLD WINTERS DAY



Last night we ended up with several inches of newly fallen snow and although I could see the white piling up around my hive, it would do no good to get out in the middle of the night to uncover it, so this morning I put on my knee high boots and tredged out to the hive.

Usually this process goes well but today instead of scraping the snow off the top of the hive like usual I decided to lift the box with heavy rock inside that keeps the telescoping cover from blowing away. Well, the box was frozen to the cover so with a loud crack the whole box, rock and cover came off. Do I even need to say that my bees did NOT like this one bit. A few girls came out to see what was going on but then flew off, one bee darted out so quickly that she hit snow instead of air and although I moved quickly to scoop her up it wasn't fast enough to save her life :'(

Of course, I did my best to put things back together and finished cleaning out around the hive. The girls are calm once again, buzzing loudly, working hard to stay warm.

Til next time...
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Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL

Sun in Palm Tree Leaves, Los Angeles/Santa Monica, United States
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Grown Man


After recently sitting through an investment meeting where I acquired a bit more knowledge on green energy and socially conscious investments I've learned something new that doesn't sit well with me. Although I heard the rumors it is only now that I've taken a good look.

The RSPO that so many of us soap makers have come to depend on just isn't what it appears to be. For those of you who may not know, the RSPO is the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative on sustainable palm oil. Members and participants in its activities come from many different backgrounds and include environmental NGOs, banks and investors, growers, processors, manufacturers and retailers of palm oil products and social NGOs. They come from many countries that produce or use palm oil. The principal objective of the RSPO is “to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue between its stakeholders.”


From what most of us have heard and read, buying palm oil from members of the RSPO appeared to be a good thing. For those of us who try and live environmentally conscious lives anyway. I certainly didn't want to have a hand in the destruction of the rainforest, the disappearance of Sumatran tigers and elephants, or the useless slaughter of orangutan. Instead of just focussing on finding a soap recipe I loved that didn't include palm oil I opted for the alternative, which was to buy palm oil supplied by a member of the RSPO. On the surface the RSPO seems great but the truth is always hidden underneath.

What is “sustained destruction”? Is unsustained destruction OK? And who is to determine “the interests of people in the regions”? Human rights NGOs in Indonesia have been swift to note that some companies that have obtained the RSPO seal of approval “are involved in unresolved conflicts with local communities” over land. There will be battles ahead. But nobody said sustainability was an easy concept. And debate about its meaning can, of itself, be part of the solution. CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE


Per the net, I've found these articles to shed some light on this subject for you. I could spend a lot of time typing up what most people will never read so if you are interested in this topic I suggest you not take my word for it but look deeper. Make some calls, you might be surprised at what you learn.

Despite RSPO certification, deforestation, deep peat conversion, land disputes and illegal practices continue to occur in the plantation estates owned by Cargill, Sinar Mas, and Duta Palma – all of whom are RSPO members. The RSPO is failing to enforce its own minimal principles and criteria and is not taking action on grievances filed by communities affected by RSPO members. The RSPO must revise its principles and criteria to adequately protect forests, communities and the climate by implementing a moratorium on forest and peatland conversion and by promoting the rights of smallholders and affected communities.
FULL ARTICLE HERE


As for me. I have one gallon of palm oil left in my cupboard (yup, RSPO) but it will definitely be my last until I learn from sources that I trust that harvest and production of palm oil has truthfully moved in the direction of sustainability. If that is never than I guess I will never buy palm oil again.

Ultimately the best incentive for credible RSPO is consumer demand. If consumers demonstrate with their wallets that they want credible eco-friendly palm oil, the palm oil industry will provide it. The cost of "greener" palm oil is not high — especially for buyers in rich countries. A paper I published in January with Lian Pin Koh found that the average American consumer would need to spend an extra 40 cents per year to cover the cost of switching from his or her annual consumption of palm oil from conventional to certified sources. Thus consumers have the power to change the industry. RSPO FALLING SHORT



THE OTHER OIL SPILL

IS THE RSPO REALLY LOOKING OUT FOR SMALL FARMERS?

FAILURES AND UNANSWERED QUESTIONS AT THE RSPO

RSPO ATTACKED ON MANY FRONTS

DECLARATION AGAINST GREENWASHING SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL

NO SUCH THING AS SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL