Thursday, August 31, 2017

Another DIY-Something

Today I grabbed tape measure, shovel, level and string and headed out to a nice spot in the back yard to start working on... drum roll please... a fire pit!

I stumbled across this tutorial and chewed on the idea for a while, then finally decided that yeah, I think I can make this happen (the temps coming back down into the 80's played a big part in making that decision).

However as any project in my neck of the woods usually goes, there was of course an unforeseen catch- mainly the ridiculous amounts of rocks that lie just under the surface of our sandy soil pretty much anywhere you sink a shovel. Three hours of prying stones, rocks, and small boulders out of my 5' diameter space later and step one was finally completed...

...and tomorrow I think I'll be headed out to hunt and gather what I'll need for step two: the concrete footer!

Aaaaah, the starry-eyed beginning of a new project, where it's still fun and there's no regrets that we've gotten yet another DIY-something under way!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


We have several friends who either live in the Houston area or have family in the Houston area (or both) and like the rest of the nation we've been glued to all things Hurricane Harvey these past few days. When Harvey was gathering momentum at the end of last week, we put out an open invitation to our peeps in harm's way- if you want out, we'll take ya.

On Saturday, as the flood waters rose, one of our friends and her family took us up on our offer and headed our way.

We had a blast hosting them (as much as we could given the underlying reason why they were here), and our house is just a little too quiet now that they've moved on (they have other peeps in the Metroplex to visit).

They still don't feel safe heading back home (and it may be a while yet), but they were such good company that we left our door wide open to them if they need to swing back by while the waters recede (y'all, they cleaned my house before they left... vacuumed and everything... seriously).

It was a fun way to pass a very stressful time... and although they've left us for their next stop, our thoughts are still with them and everyone else faced with the impacts of Harvey.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Fluffy Butt Friday

My girls had a leftover cornbread luncheon today, and enjoyed it most heartily in their true fluffy-but fashion. My Queenie Girl, however, was too embarrassed to be photographed with her tail in the air, so I let her pose instead.

My good girls are slowly starting to perk back up now that it seems like- dare I say it?- the 100-degree temperatures are probably behind us... and that has meant that we're starting to get eggs!

Four today, and two of them almost "normal-"sized! That makes for one happy Fluffy Butt Friday!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Right Now

Right now, I'm...

...struggling to get my fingers to work on this keyboard... I worked all day Sunday on our new rock wall flower bed, and though I'd call it finished (for now), it really did take almost all day. And it was hot. And humid. And I'm getting old.
...feeling excited about today's historic solar eclipse, and wondering what my kiddos will get to do about it in school. Can't wait to hear.
...still in shock over last night's Game of Thrones episode! No spoilers, don't worry... but ugh.
...smiling at my girl, the eternal bookworm, who fell asleep holding a book with her flashlight on last night. She informed me this morning she only has three more pages to go, and that I need to make another library run happen soon please.
...looking at this awesome stuff, thanks to the inspiration in the Spain issue of Food & Wine that I got over the weekend. It's in my cart, I just have to push 'check out.'
...loving the new honeybee sidewalk chalk art I found on the front porch this morning (I think this one is by Audrey). They were sending good juju out to our girls after we had a long chat about the problems I found in the hives this past week. I love their concern and empathy for our creatures.

If I'm being honest, right now I'm a little discombobulated from the past week and weekend, and it's taking me forever to sort out all the chores and errands and projects for the week demanding my attention. A typical Monday, amirite? But we'll work through it, and it'll be the weekend again before we know it! (Self-pep-talk)

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hive Check & Varroa

 I got out into my hives again this week with high hopes- the last time I gave them a peek, it looked like I'd probably get at least a few frames of honey from both North Hive and South Hive, so I had my wheel barrow, clean sheet, and bee brush at the ready! Alas, I came away empty-handed and with significant concern weighing on my mind.

North Hive and Middle Hive were almost empty of stored nectar, and now need to be fed to prevent starvation. South Hive still has a bit of stored surplus nectar, however none of it has ever been capped and there is significantly less than when I took note of it last time.

I removed the honey super (and queen excluder) I had so optimistically placed on North Hive at the beginning of the honey flow, and replaced it with a feeder. Middle Hive retained it's feeder as well, though South Hive gets to keep their honey super... for now. I noticed eggs and brood in all three hives, as well as a decent array of pollen, though honey and nectar was shockingly absent. It's going to be feed feed feed for the rest of the month at least.

I had a sinking feeling that I might know why they were in such bad shape, so I slid my IPM "sticky boards" under all three hives and let them sit for 24 hours. What I found when I retrieved them confirmed everything- North Hive and Middle Hive are being smothered by varroa mites.

Ugh, I should have treated last winter, but I didn't. Now my girls are paying for my rookie mistake.

I pulled my sticky boards out from under my hives last night after just a little over 24 hours. At first glance, it was even easy to see that Middle Hive was the worst. I waited to count them until the morning when all the distractions were out of the house and my eyes were a little fresher.

South Hive

North Hive

Middle Hive

My final counts are a little bit of an estimate, because I'm sure it's possible I missed some, double-counted others, and mistook debris for a mite here and there... but South Hive (the hive with the highest population) had 47 mites on their sticky board after ~24 hours. North Hive had 90. Middle Hive had 209.

The hive with the lowest population had two hundred nine mites after 24 hours.

I can't even begin to explain how crappy it feels to realize you made a bad decision at the expense of thousands and thousands of creatures.

So I've ordered some Mite-Away Quick Strips (formic acid), and I've learned my lesson... I'll always treat at least once a year from now on...

...assuming I still have hives to treat, come spring.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Little Campers :: Wrap-Up Party

Kids these days... you just can't conclude anything without a party marking The End, right? Or is it just me? OK, maybe it is just me... after all, it was the grown-ups who planned this whole thing...


On Tuesday we had our Little Campers conclusion/wrap-up party (sorry about the late share, back-to-school and all that, ya know). They had their last session last week, and it was kinda heartwarming to see how sad they seemed to be that it was all over... maybe we did do a good job pulling off this homemade summer camp, after all!

So to give 'em all just one more Little Campers day, we came together (sporting heavy, loaded sashes) for a little party and closing ceremony (of sorts):

We even awarded them little plaques with their pictures and a 'Little Campers' less-is-more logo, and got one last group photo...

...and thus concluded our homemade summer camp!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

1st and 3rd

 First Grade. Third Grade. They're off, y'all... and I'm back at the house... by myself... in the quiet...

...but I'm feeling OK this morning, because they were so happy to go back. What can I say? My kiddos love school, they love learning, they love their teachers and they love being around their friends. I am so proud of them.

It's  going to be a great year.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


We've gotten the backpacks packed, the first-day "homework" ready, the outfits laid out, and a very special bath (with a big lavender bath bomb) has been taken (fingers and toes were thoroughly prunified, and sister's hair was lovingly done and redone). We've got a good high-protein dinner at the ready, several chapters of our story-time book (Chronicles of Narnia at the moment) on the evening agenda, and early bedtimes planned for all.

First day of school, here we come!

They are so ready.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Two pullet eggs this weekend, y'all! The best belated birthday present a chicken keeper could ask for.

Hoping everyone else is finding something magical in their weekend, too! Happy weekending!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Little Campers :: Photography Lesson

Today marks the last proper "session" of our homemade summer camp, Little Campers (we took last week off to register our babies- all of them- for school). All four of our kiddos have some version or generation of these kid-friendly cameras, and they're all really in to them at the moment, so what better way to conclude all our projects than with a lesson in photography?

We talked about portraits vs. candid shots, making sure someone is OK with their picture being taken before taking their picture, composition, lighting, and thinking about what you want to shoot before snapping the picture. We also took a little walk around Keri's neighborhood to practice looking for interesting things to shoot. We even got to practice sharing, taking turns, and patience (all of us)... again.

While walking, we encountered a neighbor who generously invited us to come visit- and photograph- her pet tortoise "Bolt Tortuga." He won the day.

Some highlights of the kiddos' photo shoots:

At the end of our lesson, each kiddo received a camera pin of their choosing from a variety Keri picked up at one of her crafty haunts, then they posed for a portrait wearing his or her full sash (to be used later in something they'll be receiving at our little closing ceremony).

Last time: Cooking Lesson

Next time: Closing Ceremony!