Monday, February 24, 2014

Beekeeping in winter

The first question anyone asks me about our bees is "what do they do in the winter?"
And the answer to that is - pretty much the same as us. They stay indoors, hunker down and wait patiently for spring. In the meantime, their food source is sadly depleted as there is no pollen or nectar around so we help them along by feeding them. At the moment we are checking the hives every few weeks, quickly lifting off the lid and putting a slab of fondant on the crown board. As it gets warmer we will start feeding with sugar syrup but in cold weather the fondant is better as it won't freeze.

Winter beekeeping

It's too cold to take the frames out, so we can only assess how the hives are doing by the bees who pop up to see us as the lid comes off. We have good numbers of bees in all the hives, and they've been doing a good job of eating the fondant. (It's the same stuff you cover cakes with.) In a couple of hives there wasn't even any sign of the plastic bags, which was most confusing until we realised the girls had obviously tidied them away and out of the front door to be blown away on the wind. 

Feeding the bees

The bees do fly out on sunny days even when it's not very warm. Just like us, they like to make the most of the sunshine and get some fresh air. We've seen them bringing in pollen in and they are enjoying all the flowers that are starting to blossom. It won't be long before spring is here in full force and they can start gathering nectar as well.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Life in line drawings

2013 was the year I made sketching a habit. My book comes with me almost everywhere, and Chris has learnt to amuse himself while I sketch away.
Even after just a year, I can see the development in my work and (though I say so myself) definite improvement. More importantly, I enjoy it. And I enjoy looking back through my sketchbooks to re-visit the memories.

2014 will be my year of sharing artwork - I'm a member of lots of groups on Facebook and Flickr but I rarely post my work there. I'd like that to change. One of my favourite things last year was discovering other artists' blogs and webpages, and I'd like to return the favour. Even with sketches that are wonky and imperfect. It's still fun to share.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Sunnier times

It feels like it hasn't stopped raining since we got back from South Africa. (Spare a thought for the people who have been really suffering). So I've been scrapping a few sunnier photos just to remind me that the sky isn't always grey.

Those bits of blue in the text are an interesting design technique that also conveniently covers up a mistake. Then once I'd done it once, I repeated it a few times to make it look deliberate. Only now I've told you, so that kind of defeats the object of the exercise.

I don't want to think about what the rain is doing to the garden and the allotment. Well, I only have to look outside the door to see that the garden is rapidly turning into a quagmire. Nothing is planted yet and it's too wet to do anything. We can't even inspect the bees when it's raining. When we had a brief sunny moment last weekend; so many bees flew out of the hives in the garden that we thought something was wrong - but they just wanted to enjoy themselves and make the most of it.


And so do we. As soon as the sun comes out again we will be outside digging, planting and growing new things. However wet and miserable things get, there are always sunnier times ahead.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Things I said I'd never do

I know, when Project Life came out I was all "oh, no, I'll never do that."
I should know better really.
I still can't cope with the idea of recording everything on a weekly basis. That's far too much pressure to keep up. But what I have realised I love is the idea of pocket page scrapbooking and using those products to make my albums complete. Why? Because I have barely started my album for last year's summer holiday and now I have our South Africa trip as well. And although I am good at printing my photos, they often end up sitting in a box, but I've run out of space for boxes. I need albums in my life.
So this was the first part of our trip, a visit to Stonehenge. The pockets mean I can put far more photos on a page than usual, and it doesn't look too messy or untidy. I'm using two styles of pocket page - these and the same layout but with vertical pictures. I shall probably use the 6x4 slots for photos and the 3x4 to use up some of the collection of cards I seem to have acquired.


Full size pages are still my favourite, though. So in between the pocket pages there will be 12x12s like this:


The only thing I am not totally thrilled with? The way that the inserts show through to the next side. I just can't get them lined up, and it's especially annoying when the back of a card is brightly coloured (I'm looking at you, red card on the left). Hopefully this is one of those things that has a 'knack' that I can pick up soon.


And there you have it - 12 photos scrapped already. Out of the box and into the album. Feels good!