Sunday, December 7, 2014

Making Wreaths and Adding Greens to the Window Boxes

This last week I assembled a large wreath with pine boughs which I will use in the living room window and a small diamond shape wreath that I made for the small window in the front door.

Both wreaths were basically assembled in the same manner but because I used different types of greens the end result looks very different.  For the large wreath, I used very floppy long needle pine with the still attached small pine cones.  Using this type of pine will give you a more relaxed casual wreath.

The small diamond shape wreath was made with spruce cuttings and this gives a denser thicker more traditional wreath.  I had limited available space around the window on the door so this worked perfect.

Once you buy your wreath frames, the yearly cost for making wreaths will be zero as long as you do not need to buy cuttings.  In addition to the frame, you will need a paddle of floral wire.  I buy green but it also comes in silver.

I cut all my greens to around 8-10 inches before I even start.  This will make your wreath making go faster.  If you cut your clippings to size one day and assemble the next day, make sure you store your clippings in a closed plastic bag stored outside.  Warm, dry air is a no no for wreaths....ask my sister. Our first year of wreath making we made A LOT of wreaths.  She made some beautiful blue spruce wreaths that she hung inside her house.  Within days it was raining needles every where.  So even though they look fabulous inside they are really best to use outside.

You'll need a flat surface at least a little bigger than your frame.  Attach your wire to your frame....anywhere.

In your hand assemble 2 or three cuttings and place it either to the outside edge or the inside edge and wrap the wire around the greens and the frame.  Now repeat the process on the remaining side.  Now place your next greens over the bottoms of the previous cuttings to cover the cut ends.  Repeat this process around the entire frame.

You can work in a clockwise or counterclockwise manner.  Whichever works best for you.  The first couple of rows will be the most difficult and slowest.  Once you get your rhythm it will go faster.  Do not try and be perfect.  If after you are done and you find you have a few 'wild hairs' just clip them.

To hang your wreath I use a large heavy duty plastic suction cup on my windows and a little brass nail for the wreath on the door.  It's also easier to add your bow and decorations before you hang your wreath.  In the past I have added pine cones, bows, and small feathered birds (Michaels).  White bows and white doves or red bows and red cardinals are some of my favs.  There also peacocks which would look great with ribbon that looks like peacock feathers.

I've already hung my big wreath before I finished decorating it because I wasn't done painting the decoration that I am adding.  My leftover greens were added to the window box.  Remember to save your ribbon spools so that you can store your ribbon after you take down your wreaths.  I just unwire the ribbon and roll it back on to the spool.  This saves space and keeps the ribbon from getting crinkled.  I need to reposition the bow on the front door wreath.  The wind was blowing quite briskly and now my bow looks like a wreath hat.
Why are my photos always so crooked?  It has to be the camera.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A New Bee Hive for Gear Acres

Yesterday we received the new bee hive in the mail that I ordered several months ago off of eBay.

This bee hive is slightly different than the one we already have here at The Gear.  This one is a narrower hive that has 5 frames in each box rather than 10 frames making the hive perfect for smaller yards or for the person with lifting limitations.  Each box when filled with honey, should weigh roughly half of what a regular 10 frame box would weigh.

Our intention is to place this hive in the center of a flower bed on the far north side of the yard.  I've seen these hives painted up in fun bright combinations and I want to give that a try.  During the winter I will sand and prime the hive.  I have contemplated on painting it black and then paint white lattice on it with vines and flowers growing on the lattice.  But.....and you know there is always a but....I am just not a very good artist.  So I am still in the planning phase.

Here is what the new hive looks like fully assembled.  Notice how it is narrower than a tradition 10 frame hive.

See the opening or entrance to the hive?  This is how it is normally and the bees can come and go across the entire opening.
This is all well and good in areas where the climate is mild but here in the north where we can have brutal temps during the winter, it helps to reduce the area where cold air can enter the hive.  This is especially important if your hive is located in a windy area.  This hive came with a little gadget that restricts the size of the entrance. You place this piece of wood in the entrance and depending on how you have it oriented, it will vary the amount of air that can enter the hive. See the little square opening on the right?  This would be the winter opening.
And this is the spring and fall position or the winter position if the winter climate is milder than in the north.
This screen piece is called a queen excluder. You place it between the brooder boxes, which are usually your two deep bottom boxes and the upper boxes.  This keeps the queen in the bottom two boxes.  Why keep the queen in the bottom two boxes?  She lays eggs and larva is developing and you do not want that in the boxes where you will be taking the honey. The queen is larger than the rest of the bees and she cannot make it through the screen.  The rest of the honey bees come and go through the screen without any problems.
 This is the inside cover and it goes on the hive before the roof.
If you look at the first photo you can see the queen excluder and the roof.

As soon as the seller starts listing more hives I will let everyone know.  The hive was packaged well and the construction of the hive was very nice.  Of course we will do a little sanding before we prime it but that is to be expected.  If you want to buy a hive for the upcoming summer, make sure you do it early enough so that you can prime and paint it.

Here is an interesting bee fact.  Next time you put a teaspoon of honey in your tea or coffee give this fact a little thought.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Evergreens for the window box and flower pot

The holidays are right around the corner and I am already behind.  I'm not even going to attempt an excuse...LOL

On to what we have accomplished.....even if it was a little late.

My sister always spends most of the month of November in the U.P. (upper peninsula) so when she wasn't cooking she went outside and cut two huge bags of evergreen boughs for me.  I need them for my window box, large flower pot, and to make wreaths.

I first cut the boughs into 8 or 10 inch lengths but left a few longer ones for the large flower pot.  The weather was brutal.  The wind was blowing and the wind chill must have been in the low teens.  I was about halfway through putting greens in the window box when I could no longer feel my fingers.  It was sunny but brutal......brrrrrrrrr.
Photo taken without the flash.
The grey looks too blue.


This photo was taken with a flash.
This is how the grey looks in person.
I added some fake white silk poinsettias which really made the white trim on the house pop.  This has helped me to decide what kind of flowers I am going to plant in the spring.  White geraniums with dark purple Wave Petunias and maybe some Dusty Miller and if there is room, a few of those chartreuse lime green sweet potato vines

Tomorrow I will make the wreaths.  I'm shooting for two large and one small wreath.

We also installed the LED solar lights above the kitchen door.  Installation was a breeze but I'll write more about that later.

Good news!!!! Today they released the December forecast and they are predicting warmer than normal.  Please please be correct.  What do you think????

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Buick Claw Foot Tub and This and That

First the 'this' and 'that'.

I picked up the solar lights but haven't had a chance to install them yet.  Bad weather, errands, and early sunsets are my excuses.

I purchased a small square wreath frame to make an evergreen wreath for my front door.  While I was looking at photos of the front hit me.   I could turn the wreath frame 90 degrees and it would form a diamond shape like the window in the front door.  So I grabbed the frame and ran to the door.  The diamond shape window is slightly elongated so I pulled a little here and there and before I knew it, it was the exact shape of the window.  Sorry, no before photo because I started manipulating the frame without thinking.

R picked up some evergreen cuttings at Kroger.  They are selling trees and wreaths and had a pile of cuttings.  He asked if he could take them and they said "sure."  Worked out perfect.  I've cut them to the correct size and they are waiting for me to assemble the wreath.

We purchased the needed plywood and bead board plywood to finish the kitchen.  But before we start the inside projects for the winter we really need to clean the back room and organize the tools.  What a mess.

While we were working on the front door last month, I noticed that the bronze weatherstripping was not in the best of shape.  I also wanted to strip the paint from the door jamb, prime, and repaint but the weatherstripping was in the way.  So I removed it and oh my gosh it was like a razor blade.  It was so thin and sharp that I had to be extra careful.  Once it was removed, I folded the pieces and added them to the scrap metal pile.

So now that meant that I needed to buy new bronze weatherstripping.  I researched it online......OK not so much 'researched' as I typed 'bronze weatherstripping' into the search bar and up came Kilian Hardware in Philadelphia.  Since I was ordering for one door and paying for shipping I figured I would order for all five exterior doors.  Long story short, weatherstripping arrived in a huge tube, huge tube is heavy, heavy huge tube is still laying on the floor by the front door.

This is the worst time of year to try and get anything accomplished so I'll just say we are prepping for the winter projects and hope like heck it doesn't snow every day.

We live in an area that was the birth place of General Motors and home to Buick or as the old timers here in Flint say "The Buick."  Last year, GM purchased a brick building in downtown Flint that was Dort Carriage. This is where they built carriages and then became part of GM when Durant started General Motors.  GM is in the process of doing a restoration of this building but across the street is an already restored building called the Durant-Dort office building.  It is this building that is getting the Buick bath tub.  Click on the bath tub link and check out the photos. Is that the remnants of adhesive decals on the inside of the tub?
David Dunbar Buick was originally the owner of a large plumbing business in Detroit.  During that time he developed a process to apply porcelain to cast iron.  This revolutionized plumbing fixtures by making fixtures last longer because they no longer rusted. The process also made fixtures more sanitary and easier to clean.  Along with that patent, he also patented a toilet flushing device.  So every time you flush or scrub your toilet say "Thank you, David Dunbar Buick."

Buick sold his plumbing company along with his patents to Standard Sanitary which later became American Standard.  With that money, he came to Flint and started Buick Manufacturing Company which eventually became part of GM with the help of Billy Durant.

I can't wait to see this tub in person.  The photos are confusing but it has a sink in one end of the tub. I wonder why a sink in the tub?  AND can you believe it......they bought it off of eBay!!!!

Here's the eBay listing   I hope they had an Ebates account because they could have received a $156.00 rebate on their purchase.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Unexpected Moola and Solar Lights

Moola, payola, bucks, or cold cash is always good whether expected or not.  But a while back I had to go into the bank (I'm a drive thru gal) and talk with someone about my debit card and also deposit a check from Ebates.

While I was taking care of business with a personal banker, they informed me that I had over $180 in rewards and how did I want them rewarded, cash or deposit?  I asked if I could "let it ride"....LOL Good thing I didn't add "on red 7".  She said "no" because they no longer offer rewards on debit cards.  So I had her deposit the money in my account along with my Ebates check.
Now the Ebates check was free money, too.  I've spoke about Ebates before but with the gift giving holidays fast approaching, now is the time to sign up for Ebates.  It's free and gives you % back when you purchase online as long as you go to the desire website directly from the Ebates site.

Here's an example.  I'm always looking on eBay for vintage items for the house.  The other day I found a black iron thumb latch door handle on eBay.  It was a Buy it Now item so I added it to my watch list.  I then went to Ebates and clicked on the list of stores, then clicked on eBay.  It opened a ticket for me, then transferred me to eBay where I then purchased the door handle.  Not only did I receive 5% back from Ebates but I also accumulated some eBay Bucks through their rewards program.  The percentage is different for each store and sometimes the % changes for eBay.

My bloggy friend mentored me on the art of "playing all the angles".  Yvonne and her husband even order online when they purchase items at Home Depot and then they pick the items up at the store and pay with a credit card that gives them rewards.  So they get double rewards.

So last night I ordered 3 solar lights on the Home Depot website.  First, I went to Ebates and clicked on stores, scrolled down to and clicked on Home Depot which opened a ticket and sent me to the Home Depot site.  I added the 3 solar lights to my cart and checked out after clicking on store pick up.  This will save me shipping cost.

The lights that I chose were quite inexpensive at $9.99 each.  The solar lights clamp onto your eave troughs and shine down which should provide enough to illuminate the kitchen door without costing a dime of electricity.  I'll let you know how they work after I install them.  Fingers crossed because it's a clever idea.
I also order online at Ace Hardware, pick up in store, and use my Ace Rewards card that gives you a $5.00 coupon for every $200 spent.  Recently I used a special coupon that they sent me for 20% off my entire purchase.  I've been wanting a LARGE metal mailbox and by using my coupon I saved $8.00.

With the gift giving season just around the corner, now is the time to sign up at Ebates.  It's free to register and they give you a choice of $10 gift cards.  When you sign up, make sure you download the toolbar widget thingy that prompts you when you happen to go to a website that is on the Ebates list.

Do you buy toys?  Toys R Us is on the list and Toys R Us also has a perk program that gives you 5 bucks for every $125 you spend. Do you travel and use Travelocity?  It's on the list.  Home Depot, Lowe's, Macy's, and Lumber Liquidator's are just a few.  Pretty much all the major stores and even some obscure stores.

When you sign up please use this link, I will get credit and you will get the gift card.  You in turn can get your friends to sign up and you will get credit and they get a free gift card.  Your Ebates Fat Check will be sent out quarterly.

FYI while at the bank they informed me that I should switch from using a debit card and go back to a credit card so that I can get rewards.  I also found out that you have more protection coverage if your card is hacked and used illegally.  A debit card can sometimes only cover up to $500 dollars and the credit card company requires that you contact them within a short amount of time. I forgot what she said because I was thinking about how I was going to spend my free money.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Purchase your Christmas Tree Online and Save $$$$$

Do you use a fresh tree for your Christmas tree but just do not have the time to go and pick one? Thanks to the Internet, you can buy your Fraser Fir tree online and have it delivered to your door step.

But wait.....first you need to sign up for Ebates.  By signing up for Ebates you will receive a $10.00 gift card and save 6% on a Groupon Coupon that will save you even more money on your fresh, home delivered, Christmas tree.

Use this link to sign up for Ebates and I will also get a bonus.  Everyone saves.

Once you have signed up for Ebates go to Groupon from the Ebates site.  That will save you 6% on your Groupon coupon for a Fraser Fir Christmas tree from the Five Star Christmas Tree Co.

Offer expires on November 21st and deliveries will be made the week of December 1st. with delivery information sent to you on November 28th.  Easy peasey.

This is the link to the Detroit area deal.  If you live elsewhere, you will need to search your area Groupon.   

Choose from Three Options

  • $59 for one 5’–6’ Fraser fir Christmas tree (a $139 value)
  • $69 for one 6’–7’ Fraser fir Christmas tree (a $159 value)
  • $79 for one 7’–8’ Fraser fir Christmas tree (a $179 value) are going to save 6% on your Groupon.

You should sign up for Ebates if you order anything online.  A lot of the vintage items that I purchase for our house are purchased off of our vintage mail box.  Right now they are offering 6% off on eBay purchases as long as you to to eBay directly from the Ebates site.  I even downloaded the toolbar app so that it will prompt me when I go to a site that is covered by Ebates.

Why spend more when you can save so easily.  Good luck.  Happy shopping and saving!!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

New Door Bell Button

The polar vortex has arrived.  It was so bitterly cold today that what should have been an hour job took us over three hours to finish.  My fingers were so numb I could hardly hold on the the large square head screws that hold the iron straps in place.

After looking at the long range forecast we decided to just reinstall the iron straps on the door and forget about priming the door this year.  We also installed the door bell button and the door knocker. Now that it gets dark by 530pm I could only get a photo of the front entry because I had to use the flash on my camera.

Tomorrow I need to cut some greens to make wreaths.  My sister suggested adding stag horn fern seed heads to add some color, so I will need to cut those as well.  I was at Michael's last night and purchased a small square wreath frame.  I am hoping that if I rotate it 45 degrees I can make a diamond shape wreath to hang around the diamond shape window on the front door.