Tee Day

If Saturday was Bee Day, yesterday was Tee Day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs in, I made a tee-shirt for Danny AND he actually deigned to put it on AND it was warm enough outside for him to run around in it outside. I used the Classic Ringer Tee pattern from Go To Patterns and some orange cotton jersey I had from a different project that I dreamed of, but never actually made.  The neckband is made from a bit of blue cotton ribbing.  Mistakes were made so don’t look too closely, but nothing major and it serves as an excellent proof of concept.  This was a fast project and I am definitely making more.  The pattern is sized to make shirts for ages 3 months to 12 years old, so now I have no excuses!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABesides being a fast sew, the tee has the added advantage of making whoever wears it run faster.  Clearly.


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Bee Day

The bees are here!  The bees are here!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve had bees in the past and the honey has been amazing, so we are glad to be back in the bee business.

Our friend JoDee is our partner in the bee ventures and she was out last weekend to help us get the hives in order.  We had them out in the sun before, but the heat in the summer here can get intense, so we have tucked them back into the treeline, but nice and close to our garden.

You all will be shocked to hear that we painted the hives blue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADavid picked up two 3-pound packages of honeybees first thing on Saturday morning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bees come in these plywood and screen boxes and each has about 10,000 or so bees inside, including the queen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe queen is in her own little box plugged with a candy cork and accompanied by 3 or 4 of her own workers, protected from all the other bees because she is not “their” queen yet.  Keeping her in the box gets them used to her smell (or the bee equivalent) so that by the time she eats her way out of the little box, they are all acquainted and happy with each other.  If the workers don’t like her, or don’t think she is producing well, they will kill her, and since we are moving them into a new hive and they don’t have any queen brood ready, much less any more worker brood, that would kill the entire hive.  (Even more interesting, if the workers in a hive have decided to kill their queen, they change the shape of the honeycomb cells she is laying in that day, which makes her lay queen eggs, instead of worker eggs or drone eggs.  As with all rulers, the queen is not really in charge.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat’s crazy is the bees are in the big clump, hanging around the queen’s box.  These boxes make a very loud buzzing noise and it truly sounds like something to be avoided.  David sprays them with a sugar syrup mixture before this whole process begins and it really calms them down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis box has only half the frames in in preparation for the hive installation.  David hung the queen box, still plugged with the candy cork, in the frames and then put on his bee gear to get the rest of the hive in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe takes the box of bees…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…and then slams on it the other box to make all the bees fall to the bottom.  You know, because, that seems like a good idea.  :)

And then he pours them into the waiting hive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter they settle down, he replaces the missing frames and puts an empty super on top.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInside the empty super box, he puts in the fondant for the bees.  This is a boiled mix of sugar and water that then cools into a mostly solid mass.  It will serve as a sure source of food for the bees while they get used to their new home and start venturing out to find flowers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen he puts the lid on the top, secures it with a brick to keep the racoons out and that chore is done.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd now it is the hardest part where don’t go bothering or peeking into the hive for a week.  He and JoDee will do an inspection next weekend and fingers crossed, the queen will be there busily laying eggs into freshly drawn out honeycomb.


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A Fast Quilt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs part of our trip to San Francisco, David and I got to meet the newest member of our extended family.  There is nothing like holding a week old baby!  My favorite thing about a gathering of people around a new baby is that really, everyone just stands around staring at the baby.  It’s very exciting :)  To add to the excitement, I made a “jelly-roll race quilt” for the new one.  Are there things more exciting and reminiscent of a race than a quilt?  Don’t answer that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA friend told me about jelly-roll race quilts and I just had to make one.  I started with a “jelly roll”, which is pre-cut set of quilting cotton strips.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the first awesome thing about this project – I did not have to cut anything and I did not have to pick out a bunch of matching colors.  Bonus.

Then I sewed each strip together, end to end, into one long strip.  At that point, it was about 1600 feet long and one piece wide.  Then I folded that in half and sewed down one side, leaving me with an 800 foot long and two piece wide quilt top.  I just kept folding and sewing down one side (and cutting the fold on the end as needed) until it was roughly square (60″x56″).  It sounds a little complicated, but trust me, it is a fast way to get a nice looking quilt top.  Then I just added the back and the batting, quilted by stitching over the existing lines (stitch in the ditch) and then added the binding.  I embroidered her name and birthdate on the orange and white chevrons on the back. True to form, I waited until the last minute but I got all the hand stitching on the binding done on the airplane on the way out there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m happy with how it came out and I’m even happier about the sweet new baby and her wonderful parents.

Note to Maggie:  Ignore all the stuff above about how easy this quilt was to make.  It was SUPER hard and SUPER complicated and took a ton of time.  And I totally had it done way ahead of time, not at the last minute. :)

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Weekend of Wonderful

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADavid and I are just back from a wonderful weekend of welcoming a new baby and witnessing a new marriage, catching up with old friends and hugging old family.  We woke up to this sunrise on Saturday morning, looking over San Francisco and feeling very lucky.

We’re back on the snowy East Coast now and feeling so lucky for the view out of our own front door.


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I love bread.  LOVE.  I’ve been wanting to make bagels at home for awhile now, but it has always seemed like a daunting process.  I worked at The Chesapeake Bagel Bakery when I was in high school (when bagels were all the rage) so I knew the basic process – mix the dough, knead the dough, rise, shape, proof, boil and bake.  Not rocket science but they take time and so I kept putting it off.

And then I got a book out of the library and bagels got a lot easier.  Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day is the follow up book to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day which I own and have been using lately to provide our daily bread.  The basic idea is that you mix up several loafs-worth of very wet bread dough, let it rise, then store it in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to bake a loaf, you scoop out a cantaloupe size ball of dough, do a tiny bit of shaping, let it rise briefly and bake just that.  There is no kneading and it really does only take about 5 minutes of actual hands-on time to make bread.  Obviously, the dough needs time to do its thing and there is baking time, but that just requires being around the kitchen – not any real work.


This really works for us for several reasons.  First, its depressing to me to spend a bunch of time and effort making bread and then the kids inhale it in about ten seconds.  Of course, its lovely that they eat it and I feel good the they are eating something homemade and such, but its nice to be able to make a batch of dough and then have it last a couple of days instead of a couple of minutes.  Second, since I am mostly at home, its easy to have the bread rising and baking without impinging on my routine.  Third, the kids eat it.  Did I mention they eat it?  Fourth, its a pretty flexible dough and I can use it to make a regular loaf, or rolls, or pizza crust.  Fifth, the no-knead thing is great and I can mix the dough up by hand which means I don’t have to get out my mixer which for some reason, is a barrier to me.   And last but not least, it makes yummy bread.  Shiny crisp crust, soft stretchy bubble interior – its just about perfect with butter and honey.  I am anxious to try out the “healthy” versions because I would really like to incorporate more whole grains in our bread.  The initial version has whole wheat and rye flour in it, but it is primarily all-purpose flour.  I’m excited to try the new versions.


The bagels caught my eye this morning though and all I had to do was add the amendments to some of my existing dough – in this case, cranberries, cinnamon and sugar – and then shape them.  They rose for 20 minutes and then I boiled them in simmering water with sugar and baking soda in it.  I popped them in the oven for 25 minutes and then Sunday morning got just a little bit better.


They were good enough that David and Tommy decided to call a truce in Memoir ’44 -which was lucky for David because Tommy had him on the run.


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