It’s been about six weeks since we installed our new hives at our house upstate by the Hudson and we decided it was a good time to see how they were doing. (Though we had peeked in after the first two weeks, just to make sure that the queens had safely gotten out of their little boxes and were busy laying eggs.) From the moment the two boxes of bees arrived, one of them seemed to be a bit more lively than the other, and that still holds true a month and half later. The “pink” hive has not progressed nearly as much as the “blue” hive. Rather than branching out and filling all the files, the pink hive has concentrated their efforts in the middle, between two frames that had a bit more space between then than the rest. We didn’t even pull it out to look at it because it would have broken its structure. The blue hive is totally cranking. They have nearly filled the entire base box and we gave them a second tier so they could expand. The base hive is where the queen remains, any tiers that get filled above it is where you can draw honey from.
In this photo, above, you can see how some of the cells are getting capped off. When all the frames are completely full and capped off, the bees will move to the next level. Because the queen will stay on the first level, there will be no eggs or baby bees on the second level. It’s all honey, honey, honey.
To help give our little honey bees a little boost, we filled a large dog water dispenser with sugar water (2lbs of sugar). We placed sponges in the base container so they wouldn’t drown. They really seem to be enjoying it, swarming around it all day.
We do have two stings to report: Chad got one behind his ear when he was mowing the lawn (that really makes them mad) and poor Cupcake got one on his left thigh. Maybe they thought he was a brown bear coming at them. Perhaps we should get him one of these: A dog beekeeper suit!
Want to know more? See photos and videos of the installation of the hive, here.
When we moved into our house three years ago we considered ourselves lucky to be getting a kitchen that we actually cook in, complete with nice countertops, plenty of storage and a gorgeous fridge. But like many things, once we settled in, we realized a few of its shortcomings. One of the most glaring: No backsplash. For some reason the previous owner just never finished that part of the job. Little by little we began fantasizing about what a bit a tile of could do to the space, while watching the area behind the sink slowly get more and more water damaged. Inspired by a neighbor, who was kind enough to lend us a tile cutter, we (or should I say, my husband, Chad) plotted out our next DIY adventure.
1. Measure the space. Measure square footage. When you go to the store this will help them tell you what you need. Buy a little extra.
2. Gather everything you need. We knew we wanted simple white subway tile, so that decision was an easy one. In addition to the boxes of tile, we also bought a scorer and a tile cutter, tile adhesive, grout, sealant, and caulk. We also borrowed a wet saw. The total cost of all materials was about $450.
3. Plot out where you will put the tile. Make note of where there are curves and where you will need to cut the tiles to make them fit. Remember to use “bull nose” tiles at the ends or on the corners so they have a finished-off look.
4. Cut the tiles that need customization. Chad did this outside, because the wet saw made quite a mess. There is some trial and error, so make sure you have extra tiles on hand and take it slow.
5. Apply the tiles. Luckily our walls were already smooth and drywalled, so they didn’t need much prep work. We simply applied the adhesive on with a trowel, and pressed the tiles into place. Start from the bottom and work your way up, staggering the tiles so the seam of the top is in the middle of the one below. Move tile by tile and be sure you don’t have to much adhesive left behind. Place spacers — little tiles that you wedge between the bottom tile and counter — as it dries.
6. After drying, apply grout. We waited two days, and applied the grout. We used white grout to keep the palette clean, but chose a dark grey or black if you want a more “vintage” looking effect. Mix the grout in big bucket — it is like flour, and you add water. Follow instructions — it should be the consistency of peanut butter. Glob on the stuff on the side of your trow, pushing into the grooves. When you’re done, take a wet sponge and wipe down. Allow to dry to 48 to 78 hours.
7. Finish with sealant and caulk. Spray the sealant over the tiles and wipe down. If needed, add a thin line of caulk between tiles and counter.
For more information on how to install your own backsplash, check out this Home Depot tutorial. Lots of stores offer how-to classes as well.
This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.
We firmly believe in being your own handyman. Whether it’s installing our own back splash tile in the kitchen, renovating our backyard deck or giving a staircase a ombre hue, we regularly roll-up our sleeves and tackle little projects all over our homes. Sometimes things go wrong. Paints drip on the floor. Tiles dry crookedly. Equipment gets rusty. We pull our hair out. No one is happy.
Luckily, there’s a little help to be found via Vine and these handy D.I.Y. videos produced by Lowe’s. The wonderful thing about Vine is that the videos are super short — 6 seconds! — and loop over and over. So if you miss something the first time, don’t sweat it, you can catch the second or third time around. Here are six cool tricks we learned from watching these Vines — though if you start playing around on the social network’s app you’ll find many, many more.
Six Handy Tricks We Learned From Lowe’s Vine Videos:
1. Potatoes aren’t just for dinner — or making crafty stamps! The next time you are dealing with a broken lightbulb in lamp, use a potato to unscrew it without risking a finger cut.
2. Rubber bands have many uses (besides being woven into colorful bracelets for grade-schoolers). You can use them to catch paint drips from a can, or twist out a stripped down screw.
3. For your next colorful paint project, don’t mess with a new paint tray for each color. Simply line your old ones in aluminum foil and reuse.
4. Take the guesswork out of picture hanging. A piece of tape can help measure the distance between holes and get things picture perfect.
5. You don’t need luck to make your tiles line up perfectly. Pennies placed in between the rows of tiles will do the trick until they dry nicely.
6. What could be more dull than a rusty knife? Dip your cutters in some lemon juice for 15 minutes and see how they shine.
Have you discovered any great DIY Vine videos? Let us know and we’ll feature them on Shelterrific!
This is a sponsored post.
Even though our team is no longer in the running, it’s still fun to keep up with what’s going on in the Re-Energized By Design competition. This week, the remaining three teams made over their laundry rooms.
In addition to $500 and energy efficient lighting from GE, the homeowners each received an brand new set of Frigidaire Affinity laundry equipment. These are not your average high-efficiency washers & dryers — this is serious technology in action here. The Affinity dryer will dry a full load in less than 30 minutes, and the washer features allergen reduction and sanitizing features along with having the highest energy star rating. And aesthetically they please, too (though I have to wonder why no one picked the red option).
Love what those scrappy Sayers did in their space with that upcycled laundry drum light fixture. Their creative approach is always surprising, and will be tough to beat in the final round. In the end, the Mendes family’s pastel laundry room didn’t make the cut — that leaves the Sayers and the Reillys to duke it out in the kitchen challenge! who do you think will win?!
This is a sponsored post.
What is Re-Energized by Design, you ask? Well, it is an awesome web series that Shelterrific is excited to be participating in — produced by Puget Sound Energy, it’s all about incorporating energy efficiency into home design. The challenge is this: six teams of homeowners are paired with design coaches and together they compete to re-design 5 rooms with a focus on saving energy with a small budget. Cameras are documenting each leg of the challenge, and with every room one team gets the boot! The prizes are great: a home full of new LED and CFL lightbulbs from GE, a full suite of kitchen and laundry appliances from Frigidaire, and $5000.
I was fortunate to be paired with the Bedford family, who are just delightful. Kristen and her husband Slade have a great contemporary house, fun design aesthetic, and are really willing to completely put themselves into every challenge. This experience for me has literally been re-energizing to me as well, ending a year-long creative rut and getting me back into blogging and crafting and having fun again. I can’t wait to share what we’ve created together.
But as of today, I won’t have to wait much longer, as the first webisode is available at 6am PST at the Re-Energized By Design site — this week’s is an introduction to all the contestants. And stay tuned each week as we reveal another webisode. Also be sure to go to the Re-Energized page on Facebook, where you can enter to win a new Frigidaire appliance like those featured in the challenge!
We’re in love with the idea of having outdoor fires in our backyard, even though we don’t really have the appropriate patio-space that may be required. That doesn’t stop us from dreaming! These new MIX fire bowls from EcoSmart are sure lovely. Highly functional and elegant, MIX Fire Bowls can be easily switched on or off and relocated wherever ambiance, heat and the light of a fire is needed. Graceful bowls made from weather-resistant concrete, these freestanding fires allow you to put a flame where ever and whenever you need it. Fueled with bioethanol, an environmentally friendly, clean burning and renewable energy source fuel, they provide over 8 hours’ usage. With the clean design comes a no-mess factor — no ashes or soot to clean up. But isn’t that part of the fun? The MIX fire bowl is available via ecosmartfire.com, starting around $1000.
There were so many alternate headlines I could have used here: Lettuce — rejoice and be glad! Lettuce eat! Lettuce entertain you! The point is, I’ve learned something already about vegetable gardening: just because you really like a certain vegetable, doesn’t mean you have to plant every last start.
I wanted to start small (ha) so I started just two kinds of lettuce indoors: arugula, which is my favorite, and Batavian Full Heart endive, just because I got the seeds free from a friend. I used Root Riot seed starter cubes and just kept them warm and watered and lit by a standard flourescent tube light. I was so excited at how well the lettuce took off, you could say I went a little overboard with my planting. I didn’t choose only the hardiest looking starts, no sir. I was so itching to put something in those beds, I planted ALL of them.
This, as you may imagine, is not advised. The photo above is of one day’s harvest, and I had at least eight times that much all told. It turns out arugula is a super-fast grower. Ooops. From mid-May on, we have been eating a lot of salads, to be sure, but I also became the local neighborhood lettuce pusher. Stopping by to say hi? Don’t leave without a bag of leaves! Oh, you garden? Let me pull up this entire plant to give you — no wait, how about four?
After a few weeks of this, I pulled out more than half the lettuce to make room for some other plants. Nothing else is ready for harvest yet, but I am experimenting with several varieties of tomato (they have flowers, yay), some scarlet runner beans, broccoli romanesco (why not), and even a couple ears of corn. But I have planted a very, very reasonable amount of two to four each.
P.S. Here’s a photo of our raised beds with the lettuce in mid-grow. The beds are built against a retaining wall in a little-used, oddly shaped lower section of yard. We’re using branches from a neighbor’s fallen tree as plant supports.
We went through an air-plant phase. Then, terrariums. Then, table-top succulents were all the rage. All did wonders to bring a little green to our indoor spaces, and appeal to our modern, kitschy sensibilities. But recently we’ve noticed that trendmakers are starting to turn their well-manicured thumbs towards brightly colored catci arrangements, reminding us of a beloved plant from a long ago. Remember when every office had a little cactus sprouting in a pot? True, in certain spots of the country, cacti never go out of style — but we’re here to declare they’re in again. Because they don’t need much, other than sun and the rare sprinkle of water, they’re perfect to liven up any dreary space. We especially love the ones shown here, discovered via the UnCovet blog (above) and A Beautiful Mess, below.
Here are a a few tips on how to care for your indoor cactus plants, but remember: Those thorns are prickly! Use gloves and proceed with caution.