Thursday, February 18, 2016

Faring and Fairing

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, 
do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. 
The keeping of bees, for instance.
-Henry David Thoreau

It's hive inspection day at the Balm and Honey bee farm. I'm getting ready to climb in my truck, rumble down some county roads, put on my bee suit and crack open a hive. I can't wait. Today I find out how the bees fared this winter... how they're faring headed into the spring honey flow. Today I see how many splits, or new hives, I'll be able to make for the coming year. Today I will taste the sweetness of victory or the bitterness of (temporary) defeat.

I think of beekeepers like I think of firefighters: they're just not normal. No rational person runs into a burning building, and, likewise, no rational person sticks their head into a hive of stinging bees. Both require (at varying levels, sure) a bit of bravery- a deep-seated assurance somewhere inside that you have to be among those who do something about dire situations. Firefighters are more glorious, honorable, and brave, yes. But beekeepers are savers in their own quiet way. I am humbled to join their ranks. 

So today I get bee answers and tomorrow I hit the road for the Mother Earth News (you know that magazine, right?) Texas Fair-- a two day homesteading extravaganza. I'll be taking a cheesemaking class and attending lectures on farming from Joel Salatin (what?!) and diving in to beekeeping and poultry production methods. I think there's a specialty kombucha brewing lesson thrown in there somewhere, too. Pretty sure I won't sleep a wink tonight, I'm that excited.

Will report on bees and the fair next week. Until then, be safe and well, friends. -Brin

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Clover and Creeping

It's actually Oxalis, but we always just called it clover growing up. It's blooming now, here in the piney woods of east Texas. I picked a fist full yesterday from the farthest corner of the third-acre, back where the ivy is creeping over everything, and near where the tiny pink roses are, finally, taking a rest from blooming. 

The clover is actually for a small lookbook I'm putting together for Balm and Honey. I've found the most incredible yarns that sing, softly, of spring, and I'm knitting them now into cloths to sell. I have plans of setting up at the local farmer's market after the spring honey comes in and my herbs and flowers are ready. Looking forward to that, definitely.

When I was working in Colorado and living in that tiny cabin (remember those days?), I would drive into Cortez every week for the farmer's market. It was a glorious one. There was a girl who ran a vegetable booth there who probably came to think of me as a creeper before the summer was over. Oh man. She was the coolest. Her clothes were handmade and colorful and imaginative and messy and perfection. She cut her own hair, I heard her say once, and it was the best, most beautifully styled hair I've seen on a person outside of the theater. In the winter, this girl worked as a ski instructor, but in the summer she was an organic farmer and grew her own food and made her own trail mixes and tea blends. She drove this rusted Jeep and had these two spotted dogs that sat at her feet and only moved at her command. She was impossibly awesome. I think of all the people I've met and would like to have lunch with, she is among the top on my list. See? Creeper. I told you.

Speaking of cool people and creeping, I'm heading to the Mother Earth Fair in Texas on Friday with hopes of meeting up with the likes of Joel Salatin and Wranglerstar and Claudia Lucero. Heck yes. If you'll be there, too, please drop me a line at and let's meet up!

Spring is on its way, friends. It is, it is. Take heart. -Brin

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Calling All Instagrammers!

Tuesday came knocking this morning, dragging a brilliant sun and a biting chill in behind her. I'm happy to see that blue sky, though, and the light in here this morning is perfect.

The latest Valentine's Day cloths from Balm and Honey. Love!
Are you on Instagram? If so, I want to tell you about a giveaway I'm doing over at Balm and Honey. Follow @balmandhoney on Instagram anytime now through Valentine's Day and be automatically entered to win one of the handknit House Helpers above. What? Yes. No purchase required or anything, just pull up Instagram right now, follow @balmandhoney, and your name goes straight into the drawing. The winner will be announced Valentine's Day at 8 PM on Instagram. So... follow @balmandhoney... live your life... then watch Instagram Valentine's night to see if you're the lucky winner!

If you've been wanting a chance to try these cloths, now's your chance to win one. (Have you seen the super fun feedback that's coming in from my Balm and Honey customers? Agh. So fun. I think it's my favorite part of being an Etsy gal... except for the knitting, of course.) The only caveat: domestic US entries only, please. I love you out-of-the-US-gals, too, but our USPS is getting grumpier about shipping outside our lower 48. Thanks for understanding!

See you Instagrammers in a few. And everyone, hope you have a perfectly nice Tuesday. Thanks, as ever, for your support and love. We need each other. -Brin 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Moment: Beautiful God

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: 
and establish thou the work of our hands...
-Psalm 90:17

He is a beautiful, beautiful God Who makes beautiful, beautiful things. Among them: roses and lemons, which I used over the weekend to make some blushed, fragrant rose petal jam.

Soon we will see His beauty face to face! But may you be encouraged by God's beauty today, even as He works around you. -Brin

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next time!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Great Wall of the Front Room

There's something about these winter months that draw me inside and inward, I think, wanting stretches of quiet and solitude and time to think. Space to just... be. I apologize if my winter wantings have left you feeling lonely around here as of late. As way of a proper apology, I have a bit of a Front Room update.

Ah, the odd, long Front Room. Remember this picture from the summer? This room has been such a challenge. It stretches almost the entire width of Hedge House and is a surprising room to step into from off the breezy porch. I felt it the first time the door swung aside and let me into this funnily carved-out house. Whatever you're expecting to find inside, it isn't what greets you. It isn't this room. Everyone who visits experiences it, too. I know this from the startled "ohhh!" or "wow" or "huh" sounds that sneak out of first-time visitor's lips before they're in with both feet. This house is a hodge-podge of oddly proportioned and strangely positioned rooms and corners and doors. I adore it.

But back to the Front Room. It is long but shallow, with an enormous fireplace and mirror on one side (the "Great Wall", as I call it), and a gigantic picture window on the opposite end. In between the imposing mirror and its opposite window sits a room with original parquet wood floors and a looming ceiling. It's impossible to arrange furniture in and harder, still, to decorate. It was also difficult to choose a paint color; my go-to colors looked chalky by the windows but almost violet by the mirror. I finally settled on Sherwin-Williams' Neutral Ground for the walls and Westhighland White for the trim. These, too, I adore. 

This past weekend, my Dad stopped by and helped disconnect and remove the 70+ year old Reznor gas heater from the fireplace. (At some point, the fireplace was outfitted for natural gas and a jet was run into the fire box.) It was a sad-looking relic and I was glad to see its grimy self eased out the door. In its absence, I got my first real look at the fireplace box. It appears as though a 1960s/1970s update saw busted tile cemented to the hearth floor, and faux tile paneling slapped on the front facade. This, obviously, needs updating. Soon.

There has been much discussion, too, about the mirror above the fireplace. Some family and the odd visitor insists it must stay. Others look at me quizzically and (try to) casually comment on how they're surprised the mirror wasn't the first thing I removed. A cousin even refers to it as the Elvis Mirror. Truth: I don't like it at all. But, it does bounce a lot of light around the room. I think I'd have to frame it out... give it some side panels to match the original mantle below and some thick, appropriately beautiful crown molding along the top. I just don't know. Where everyone agrees is that the mirror cannot stay as it is. 

So, an ongoing project for sure. (What I wouldn't give for Chip and Joanna Gaines to break down in front of my house one random afternoon this week. But... wouldn't we all? Ha.) Once I address the mirror and the mantle and the firebox, and once I arrange the shelves as I intend to, I think I'll call this wall done. And then it's back to the kitchen. Oh man. Could I ever use Joanna for the kitchen!

But that's a whole different story for an entirely different day... 

Hope you're well, friend, and staying warm today. It's good to be back. -Brin