Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Beekeeping 101 - Part 2

The following is a guest post from Kate Ferry who writes the blog, The Sacred Bee's Blog. Since early 2010, she and her family began focusing on eating organic, supporting local businesses, removing toxic chemicals from their home and bodies and reducing their waste. She has been chronicling her adventures on her blog. This post is Part 2 of 2 and is geared to those who may not want to keep bees but want to help them out. You can read Part 1 here.

Helping without keeping
The past five years have seen an enormous decline in honeybee colonies. The honeybee population is vanishing at an apocalyptic rate and keepers are opening the hives in spring to find them empty. The fate of the honeybee is particularly worrisome when considering that over one-third of the food on our table is the direct result of honeybee pollination.

So, even if you aren’t interested or can’t keep honeybees, you would doing a world of good to educate yourself on how to help keep them relatively safe and enjoy the benefits of their industrious work ethic.

Keep that garden natural – a bonus for the honeybee, your home, your health and your environment! Avoid pesticides at all costs and work with natural, environmentally friendly products. Or, embrace the weeds.

Try to have a variety of flowers and plants in your yard that are in bloom all year round. Think early spring to harvest time – work with the dandelions in April and finish with some sedum in late fall.

Get those wasps. Wasps are carnivores that feed on honeybees. A hive can be severely incapacitated by a wasp attack and the only evidence for the keeper is the body remnants after wasps have dissected the abdomens of the bees. Wasp queens are all that live over winter and are responsible for starting the entire hive on their own come spring.

So, each wasp you kill in late winter or early spring (you know those sneaky slow movers that come out of the wood pile?) is one wasp hive down. An affordable and effective organic bait for wasps is half orange juice/half water in any sort of trap. If you use a sugar bait – you are going to be killing honeybees, too (a big no-no).

Host a hive. Contact your local beekeeping association and let them know you are interested in hosting a hive. You provide the land and an experienced beekeeper provides and cares for the bees and gives you a portion of the honey harvest for your support and participation. Can you say win-win?!

Keeping bees is a wonderful hobby, but is understandably not for everyone. Even if honeybees are not an integral part of your life, they can find nectar and pollen from organic sources in your yard.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cheap clothes and consumerism

I ran across this blog post, The History of a Cheap Dress, which (obviously) goes into the history of how clothing became so cheap and how we've become a throwaway society when it comes to our clothes, in addition to pretty much every consumer product.

In the course of discussing it on Facebook, I was turned on to The Brown Dress Project and from there I found about The Uniform Project. Essentially, both projects involved different women who wore the same dress for a year. In the first one (the brown dress) the woman wore the same dress every day and, in the case of the second one (the uniform), the writer wore the same black dress - except she had 7 copies of it made.

The point for both projects really had to do with how we, as a society, are always in search of the new and.... look, shiny! We get rid of things long before they are worn out and, when it comes to clothes and the never-ending quest for the latest fashions, it's even more of a problem.

As stated by Alex, the brown dress woman:
I challenged myself to reject the economic system that pushes over-consumption, and the bill of goods that has been sold, especially to women, about what makes a person good, attractive and interesting. Clothes are a big part of this image, and the expectation in time, effort, and financial investment is immense.
The Uniform Project had more to do with sustainable fashion and Sheena (the founder of the project) used a lot of different accessories to spice up the dress. The other items she wore were vintage, handmade, reused, or donated pieces. She's got a pattern up on her site for making the dress and a longer-term project (you can buy a couple different styles with proceeds donated to charity) to encourage others to try it out.

I suspect that most of the readers of this blog aren't exactly clotheshorses and are less apt to follow the latest fashions than the next person. But, that said, would you be willing to wear the exact same dress every day for a month or wear a little black dress (or outfit) as a uniform for a month? And, yes, you may be smelling a challenge coming on...

Illustration by Lena Corwin

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