DIY Chalk Board with Fabulous Vintage Frame

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , , , , ,


I was walking home from the market one evening and spotted this foxy velvet painting on the side of the road with a bunch of trash. I considered it awhile and an elderly gentleman walked by and said something to the effect of "oh, you don't want to pass that one up."  Haha!  He was right - but not for the seductive velvet painting. I wanted it for the frame. 


I brought it to our community workshop and a few lovely girls volunteered to help me transform it. They started by removing the velvet covered chip board.


They carefully ripped off the glued-on painting.


Two girls sanded the excess glue off of the board. They primed it and painted it with a homemade chalk paint. We used this recipe and used a very dark blue paint. We used drywall powder because we had it on hand.


The red velvet ribbon was scrapped off the front, and it was all given a light sanding.


It was then primed and spray painted. We did these separately, but look! You can do it all at once with this Rust-Oleum spray paint. We finished it with a couple coats of clear coat.  Once dry, we secured the chalk painted board back into the frame.


We found some scrap pieces of wood and made an A-frame to secure to the back of the vintage frame with hinges.  I have few photos of this step. We made an "A" with two wider boards, and braced them with top, middle and bottom crossbars. We secured some twine between the middle bottom of the vintage frame and the middle bottom of the A-frame. This made sure our sign wouldn't do the splits.



And, wouldn't you know, it's delightful.


Have you found trash and converted it to glorious treasure? Let me know in the comments.





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The Birds and The Bees Slip On Slippers

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , , , , ,

slip on slippers, summer slippers
First, start with this pattern from Prudent Baby.  I'm a size nine and I could have added a few more millimeters, but it's a pretty decent fit. You can use this pattern as a guideline if you need to make a different size.  Keep in mind at least 1/4 inch seam allowance. 

My fabric choices. These are all bits and pieces I had laying around. I haven't bought fabric in ages. I've promised myself I'd use up much of what I have first! What's funny is that after I made these "Bee Slippers" it dawned on me that the lining fabric has birds on them. Hence, "The Birds and The Bees Slippers." Oh, I'm hopeless.



Sew strips of black fleece onto your yellow fabric (I used corduroy). Make sure your yellow fabric is big enough for the outer slipper (see next photo).

Not shown in the above photo is the insole lining (the one I cut of the birdhouse fabric above). 

Layer your fleece, other optional insole fabric and denim and stitch them together.


Now, stitch the center backs of  all of your horseshoe shaped fabrics together, separately. For some reason I failed to photograph this.  Above, notice I've attached the lining bottom/sole to the upper horseshoe shape, right sides together. 

Do the same for the outer fabrics, right sides together, to make the outer shell. Turn the outer shell right side out and tuck it inside the lining shell so that right sides are together. 


Stitch around the upper edge, leaving a small opening and turn it all right side out.

Press your upper edge for a nice crisp line, and top stitch all the way around, leaving a small opening big enough to easily fit your elastic and safety pin through.

Now, stitch a second line below the first, far enough down that it won't be too snug to slide your elastic and safety pin through (you are making the elastic casing).  No need to leave an opening in this line.
Measure your elastic so it is a comfortable fit around where your slipper opening will rest and snake it through you newly made casing.  Try it on! Secure the ends and stitch up the casing opening.


I added some buttons just because - the best reason to do anything. 

Super comfy and they stay on my feet. You can choose to apply puff paint to the bottoms like I did with these slippers, or just keep as is. 

I know it's summertime, but all of the time is slippertime. 









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Transferring Bees To Our Top Bar Hive

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , ,


We picked up the bees on Sunday night. Evening is best for this because that's when all (or most) of the girls (bees) are home from work.  Silly me, I completely forgot, and did not bring a box with me for transfer. The vendor was kind enough to lend me the one you see in the photo below. Next year they will have boxes they can routinely send with you. I bought a Nuc - 4 frames (2 of brood, 1 of food, and one empty frame), and of course, the queen and a whole mess of bees. 


The challenge was to transfer, as gracefully as possible, the rectangular Langstroth style frame to the rather triangular Top Bar hive. Out there in Googledom I found some great blogs, videos, and forums on how to do just that.  We waited until Wednesday to make the move - weather was weird the days prior and our schedules were crazy. But the bees were patient. 


Here, I'm shaking the bees into the hive - my first time. It was quite the thing.  I was nervous about shaking the queen off, but she did just fine. 


We clipped the wooden ends off with a simple bypass pruner (something like these). We had a small saw on hand just in case we needed it, but it wasn't necessary. 


The center of the frames were plastic so we used tin snips to cut easily through that, using a follower board as a template. We were able to keep most of the brood in tact, but there was some carnage, unfortunately. 




Here, Rosalind, partner in crime, is using a thin wire to fix some of the cut-off bits of the brood to a top bar with no ridge on it.


The Langstroth frames fit perfectly in our top bar hive. See my last post on info about where we got our plans. You can't butt the narrow Langstroth bars together snugly because you need to leave room for the bees to work. So, leave a little space in between each.


It certainly didn't take long for the bees to flock back to their comb. Can bees flock? You get the idea.


We covered the Langstroth frames with a bit of cotton twill and tucked the ends under the side. Eventually we'll be able to transfer the frames right out of the Top Bar hive.  For now, this will keep it dark and secure.


They had no problem adopting the hive. 


And as of this morning, only 4-5ish days after the transfer, you can see how much progress they've made on the first top bar. They are so AMAZING!!! My youngest son said, "there's nothing more beautiful." 


Do we know what we are doing? Not really. We're learning as we go!  
I have to do a bit of research on ants, as I found a few crawling over the top of the top bars when I inspected them this morning.  We also encountered a beetle larva, identified by Rosalind who has a thing for bugs, in one of the combs. We suspect the bees will muscle all the intruders out. I haven't yet checked for varroa - I'm not entirely sure what to look for. Another research project!

Oh, and in Montreal you have to register your bees with the gov't. Don't let me forget to do that, now that it is actually happening! I still can't believe we've done it.  Check with your municipality to see what kind of bylaws are in place.  

In all, this was way less scary (as in an "Oh dear me, I'm going to do it wrong" kind of fear) than I thought. 





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Build a Top Bar Beehive

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Since my childhood I've heard stories of beekeeping. My dad and his brother, when they were young boys, would head over to their neighbour's hives when they needed cleaning. Bare feet, and wearing only cut off's, they would stand next to the hive, put cotton balls in their ears and nostrils and breathe only out of the very corner of their mouths while the beekeeper smoked the hive. The bees came up out of the hive and landed on my dad and his brother. They grinned from ear to ear, standing as still as could be.  When the hives were ready, the beekeeper smoked the boys and the bees lifted up off of them and returned to the hive. Dad said their skin was glistening after. They had been picked (tickled) clean!

This sounds rather fantastical, and I was enamored, imagining this scene as a child. In my mind's eye, I saw trees swooning in the summer breeze, mountains in the distance and lots of farmland.

So, here I am now, a city girl. It's not a practical time in my life to make the move back out to the country, and fortunately, country living is not a prerequisite for beekeeping.  Apparently, bees LOVE the city. It's warmer in the winter, and the plant variety is amazing. I think of the gardens of my neighbours to the left and right of me and it's a veritable bee oasis here in Montreal.

Top Bar Hive

In researching the best hive for my situation (not a lot of storage) I came across the Top Bar Hive. It's heralded as a more natural approach to beekeeping and does not require a lot of equipment.

I found plans to build this particular hive at the Barefoot Beekeeper.  Honestly, it was the first wood project we've ever built from scratch, and it was pretty straight forward, once we got over the feeling of overwhelm at the thought of embarking on the process.  I say we, because everything is better with friends. I had much help from my good friends, also novice wood workers (a special shout out to Rosalind for her can-do attitude) and a whole bunch of school aged children. Seriously, if we can do this, you can do this.

We used one sheet of 3/4" plywood and had the fellas at Home Depot make most of the cuts for us. But you can use other wood - see the plans at the link above for suggestions. All in, I spent less than $100 on the supplies for the hive, and we had a lot of fun, learning as we went.  The kids were so tuned in and thrilled to be sawing, and building and painting.

The plans mention putting in an observation window to provide a view to the busy bees with minimal interruption to them. You can do it in one long panel, or two shorter ones, like we did. I bought the glass and had it cut at my local hardware store (Rona). It was inexpensive.

We  were a little unsure as to where to put the entrance/exit holes. Different sites recommend different things, so we ended up putting three in the center on one side of the hive and one on each end on the other side of the hive (these apparently come in handy if we want to split the hive, should the colony grow large enough for such an action).

I should mention this series of youtube videos that is also worth watching if this is a first time project for you. Very helpful.

Here's a photo tour of an overview of our process:

Measuring out a Top Bar.

Sawing. Kid power!

We took apart an Ikea dish rack to use as part of the Top Bars.

Removing nails from the dish rack ...

... and adhering the dish rack sticks to the top bars.

Hard at work.

We chiseled out the back of the window frame so that the glass would sit flush with the wood.  This was pretty easy with plywood. The layers chipped off without much effort after scoring it with an x-acto knife. 

Sanding down the top bars.

 
It gets a paint job. The kids LOVED this part.

They did a splendid job.

The winter floor (which, I've read some people keep on all summer, too, with good results) is attached with luggage clasps.

Our little roof helper. We cut the end pieces on angles and placed a center bar in there to fix the shingles to. The challenge is to keep the roof weatherproof, but light enough for one person to lift off the hive. This worked well.

Legs on! No wobbling, even. Look at us go!

With roof on and viewing window hatch open. Later we decided to take the hinges off and make the door completely removable. After all, most of us aren't that short.

And here it is, installed in my back yard waiting for its tenants. We were supposed to go and pick up our NUC (a queen, a few frames of brood and some frames of food/honey) yesterday, but we were rained out. We'll try again in a few days. 

This was built with help from our greater homeschooling community. Why not get some friends together and build one, too? There are so many great beekeeping resources on the web. You can find a few on my pinterest board, All About Bees.




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