Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Honey collecting

This post is a little late, but thought it was still worth documenting. Last December our beekeeper gave us the frames of honey from our hive to extract honey from and allowed us to keep it (it's technically hers). Most of the time, beekeepers carve off the caps of the honeycomb with a hot knife and use a centrifugal force machine to get it out. Since this was a very small-scale operation, we just strained the honey and wax through a cheese cloth and a sieve. It was a slow process that took about 2 days to work its way through.

Sweet, sweet licking.
Straining the honey from the wax.

The honey that is from our hive is on the left and the honey from the U of M that we bought is on the right. You can see a distinct difference in the color. Typically honey is heated up and kind of dehydrated so it will last longer, but our honey is raw and, if left for a long time, would ferment. We have gone though it so fast that that will not be a problem for us. We harvested about 2 bigger mason jars of our honey and one of the smaller ones that is on the left here. We are basically all out and it is April. 

Raw honey has some medicinal benefits and we have all been taking it at the first sign of a cold with some cinnamon due to its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and we have essentially been cold free up until last week.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dotted rays shawl

I recently made this new shawl for myself called Dotted rays by Stephen West. It's rare when you are able to quantify your knitting project but this shawl basically took me: Season 3 of House of Cards, the entire first season of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a knitting guild meeting, part of a baby show, a bus ride to and from a St Patricks day parade and some march madness basketball games that I wasn't even remotely watching. In conclusion, it look a long time. I enjoyed it though and love the final result though. 
 Here it is in the beginning.

 Here it is all finished.
Here it is as I would wear it, kind of as more of a cowl, than a shawl. It doesn't look quite as bunchy on me as it does on my sick-looking model here. It is very warm, but too bad I will have to box it up soon until fall.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happy Passover and Easter

A pretty low key Passover/Easter for us this weekend. Eloise has been recovering from croup and something called stridor. We did manage to have a small seder with some neighbors and an egg hunt at a local park. Smiles all around.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Street art of Arizona

One of the days while Eloise was napping Harriet and I went into downtown Phoenix to a kind of food truck lunch thing a park. We happened upon a bunch of cool art.

A cool, albeit weird, sculpture in downtown.

This was by the ASU campus.

Outside at the contemporary art museum.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sunny getaway

Last month we took a break from the cold and went to visit our friends Matt and Amber in Arizona like we did last year. Our daycare provider was taking a vacation so we decided to take one too and it just so happened to be during one of the coldest weeks in February. This year was easier in some ways and harder in others with two kids. Eloise wasn't the best on the plane, but was generally easier to travel with now that she isn't a baby. Harriet was a pretty good traveler.

The first full day we went to visit my mom's friend Linda again and swam in her pool. A lot of fun!

Linda and Eloise snuggling.

The next day we went to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. This part of the museum was very cool. The girls enjoyed running around in it. It reminded me of a very modern Pantheon with the circular opening. 

Steve had done a bit of research and saw that there was a Peach Blossom Celebration outside of Phoenix at a place called the Schnepf family farm. We went on a hayride given by the owner of the farm and it was very informative.
Peach blossoms! They grow a lot of other things besides peaches though -- all kinds of fruits and veggies.

Harriet's favorite part of the day was the short train ride we went on together around the farm. She wasn't too into the petting zoo, but loved the many playgrounds.

After the farm, Amber and I hustled over to Taliesin West for a tour and made it with only one minute to spare. Taliesin West is still a school with about 21 or so students who are working around as you are touring. The spend half the time here and the other half in Wisconsin. This place on the outside isn't aesthetically super pleasing. Kind of just a bunch of found rocks crudely cemented together everywhere. It was still a very interesting tour though and the tour guide was great.

Geometric concrete beams in the movie viewing room.

That little square is the the logo for the place now. Something interesting that we learned is that about 80 of all the Frank Lloyd Wright houses are run by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which is for profit. 

Back at home at Matt and Ambers's house, Eloise was fascinated with the dog door.

Our last day Steve, Amber, Harriet and I went to the Phoenix Botanical Gardens while Eloise napped at home and Matt stayed back to take care of her. The botanical gardens were great --- a LOT of cactus!

The place had a lot of artful shade structures.

Living sun dial!

Twig house!
Chihuly sculptures.
Pretending to be cactus.

So in conclusion we had a wonderful trip and probably could not have packed more in. We loved all the time we were able to spend with Matt and Amber. Not sure if we will be back next year since Harriet will be in school so we were glad we were able to go now.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chloe of Spud and Chloe on the Farm

I made this little Chloe for the girls from this book Spud and Chloe on the farm. I changed the hair color to match their hair though. Not too hard to make, but I had a bit of trouble with the hair and put way too much on there and so she is a bit top heavy!
 Luscious locks!
Happy girl with her new doll.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Holiday card behind the scenes

The concept for this year's card wasn't hard to come up with, but it required a bit more planning ahead than usual. Typically we figure out the idea at the last possible minute and then execute it on, say, Dec. 20. We work best under pressure. This year the bee theme made sense and we knew we would have to think ahead and shoot it when the weather was still nice so we did it on a nice day at the end of September. 

We borrowed the supplies from our beekeeper since shooting this on the roof was not a viable option for many reasons. She lent us the empty hive boxes and the tools so we could just do it in the yard. I contemplated going to the U of M and doing it in front of their hives, but this ended up being way easier logistically and looked just fine. 
It was not without trouble though. It is much harder to get both girls to smile and look at me when I put them in ridiculous and uncomfortable costumes. Eloise was generally uncooperative and basically didn't smile in one picture, thus she is the sacrifice this year.

At one point we thought it was a smart idea to light the smoker..... ummm terrible idea. The pictures all looked foggy awful.
So in the end this was our shot and then I darkened and blurred the background in photoshop and then added in the vector art bees with the text. I liked out it turned out!