Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Countdown - 9 Days!!! (the Pinterest Edition)

There have been two things that have been a catalyst to upping my Hallowe'en game in the past year.

1. SoCal Valley Haunters.
A group of nutty Hallowe'en addicts in Los Angeles valley areas that do random make-n-takes, eat snacks, teach skills and drink more than is probably recommended with all the time spent using power tools. People call my obsession severe. People talk about how crazy my prop building is. They have no idea. Compared to some of these people, I might as well put a 99 cent store pumpkin by the door and be done with it, but everyone is so generous and encouraging that no one feels like a Hallowe'en loser at the events. They're awesome. If you're in the L.A. area, especially in the valley, and you're a Hallowe'enie, come join us.

2. Pinterest. Pinterest. Pinterest.
I'm an early adopter. I like to check out new things. I had two profiles on Ello that I've already deleted, because, what.ever.Ello. (seriously). I actually stood in line for a phone once (it was a Droid X and it was awesome).

I like to check out the new shit.

When I saw Pinterest, there was never a moment when I thought, "What am I going to do with this?" or "I'll never use this site." Oh, no. I pretty much became a full on addict the minute I got started. Yes, they were still in Beta.

I'm cool like that.

Anyway, my Pinterest pages went from 6 or 7 to 15 to 25 to 35 and now, 3 years later, I have 106 boards and 5,400 pins or so. Again, I'm not the worst. I have friends with 31,000 pins (I'm looking at you, Sandie). But granted, I have a little problem.

Of my 106 boards, 19 of them are Hallowe'en related (a couple of them are secret boards).

It's a great way of keeping track of ideas I want to use. I feel as though I have a Hallowe'en catalog on hand at all times. Which can be a tad scary because starting in August (as one fine Mr. Landsman will tell you), the packages start coming, and the UPS guy is kind of a constant presence.

I get inspiration from Pinterest

I learn stuff...
I plan what I'm going to make for parties

 I laugh. (Man, he even got the side curl hanging down. Dave Lowe is awesome.)

I laugh some more.

I think, "I could probably, maybe do that next year..."
Rhyolite Ghost Town

I think, "Have I got time to pull this together in the next 8 days?"

 And I wonder....

Monday, October 20, 2014

11 Days Until Hallowe'en! All Hallow's Read

In October of 2010, Neil Gaiman came up with the idea of All Hallow's Read, mostly because he felt there weren't enough book gifting occasions.

When I was a kid, I read through the entire Nancy Drew library, the V.C. Andrews treasury, and various supernatural "choose your own adventure" books.

I got through a few of Stephen King's less terrifying books ('Salem's Lot, Christine) before I couldn't sleep (see: IT and Cujo). I'm sure there were a bunch of other 1980s, "I was a Teenage Witch/Ghost/Psychic" books that were terrible and less memorable. As I am an avid, voracious, ravenous, insatiable reader, I love the idea of giving scary books for Hallowe'en, I've just never participated. Until this year.

This year I will be gifting my niece and a few other choice friends with spooky books. Her mom and dad are pretty voracious readers too, so I'm not worried about her at all.

Are you participating in All Hallow's Read? If so, what are your spooky book picks?

Friday, October 17, 2014

2 Freaking Weeks Until Hallowe'en - Fence Part 2

So, it's not like I've never built anything in my life. I took shop class in Jr. High. I built my raised beds. I've built stuff, ok?

I was clearly unprepared for this build. 

Oh, how I want to say that I threw this together like a boss. But alas, that was not to be. 

If you're ever interested in copying my fence, which is encouraged, I will highlight the items you should not do, for emphasis. Here's what I actually did.

  1. I marked every 6 inches on the furring strips.
  2. I sorted the 45 strips into 3 sets of 15.
  3. I drilled a 3/4 inch hole at every mark. Every 6 inches. On 15 strips - 180 holes. Just in case you were not aware, math means that a 3/4 inch pipe will not fit into a 3/4 inch hole.
  4. I tested the PVC to make sure it would go through the holes. It didn't.
  5. I went back to Home Depot and got a 7/8th inch drill bit and opened up all of the holes. 
  6. I tested to make sure that the PVC would go through. It did. Tightly. 
  7. I thought, "Perfect!".
  8. I strapped together two of the strips and used the first strip as a jig for the second strip.
  9. I added a third strip, zip tied all of these together and numbered each set. Then, I drilled 7/8th inch holes in every other hole. This would be my top bar.
  10. I started spray painting the PVC, because my wrists were sore from the drill.
  11. My lovely husband (thank you!) cut all of the 10' PVC into 5 1/2 and 4 1/2 foot poles.
  12. I then sanded all of the strips with the help of a friend (Chris, thank you!!!).
  13. A friend (Troy, thank you!!!) heated the finials and added them to the tops of the 5 1/2 foot poles.
  14. We started to put the PVC into the holes. It was too tight. WAY too tight.
  15. A friend (Lydia, thank you!!!) and I dremeled out EVERY SINGLE HOLE. Just in case you're counting, 30 strips with 16 holes each and 15 strips with 8 holes each = 600 holes. Could I have been any less efficient? Don't think so.
  16. Then another friend (Derek, thank you!!!) and I drilled out screw holes on the sides of the strips so that the whole thing would stay together.
  17. I got the wrong screws (hex head) despite spending 20 minutes in the screw aisle and had to send Derek (see above) to the store to get new screws.
  18. Two other friends (Erin and Justin - oddly enough my newest and my oldest friends - Thank you!!!) and one husband (thank you!) started putting them together. Finally.
  19. They were such pretty holes, at first. 2 strips zip tied
  20. I used all of the spray paint in Home Depot to repaint the poles (because they were completely scraped off due to dragging them through the holes) and the strips.

I now have 15 - 8 foot sections of fencing that are going up tomorrow. 

This is the pre-painted photo. You'll have to wait (AGAIN) for the fully painted photos.

This easily could have been a 12 step, rather than an 18 step process. Like a boss.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

16 Days to Hallowe'en - The Harvest Festival

The autumn season is the time for our harvest festivals in the Northern Hemisphere. You will notice that while some festivals celebrate the first harvest, other celebrate the final harvest.

Many of them also have an aspect of fertility ritual embedded in them, which is to be expected as a fertile harvest portended a fertile population, and vice versa.

While festivals can range from early July to late October (or January to March in the Southern Hemisphere) depending on region, most cultures have traditionally feasted following the harvest and before the winter hibernation. Here are some of the many harvest festivals from around the world.

Bagach - end of the grain harvest/birth of the Virgin (Belarus)
BĂ©nichon - blessing of the harvest (Switzerland)
Bhogali Bihu - celebration of the end of the harvest (India - Assam - celebrated in January/February)
Chuseok - thanking the ancestors for the harvest (Korea)
Dozhinki - celebration of the end of the wheat harvest (Belarus, Poland, and Russia)
Dree Festival (India - Apatani)
Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia - celebration of the grape harvest (Argentina - celebrated in February)
Gawai Dayak - celebration of the rice harvest (Sarawak, Malaysia and Indonesia)
Guldize - end of the corn harvest (Cornwall)
Homowo/Sesebumo or "To Hoot at Hunger" - Sesebumo is the last festival of the Homowo festival at the end of the corn harvest - (Ghana) and Iriji (Nigeria)
Incwala - first fruits festival (Swaziland)
Kaamatan - end of the rice harvest (Sabah - Malaysia, Borneo)
Lammas/Lughnasadh - beginning of the harvest (Celtic/Pagan - UK)
Maras Taun - end of the rice harvest (Belitung, Indonesia)
Nabanna (Bengal, India and Bangladesh)
Niiname-sai - "celebration of the first taste" (Japan)
Olivagando - olive harvest festival (Italy)
Onam (Malayali, India)
Oseniny - end of the harvest season (Russia and Slavic countries)
Pongal - celebration of the first fruits (Tamil Nadu)
Samhain - Gaelic/Pagan/Wiccan end of harvest celebration
Sukkot - Feast of the Ingathering (Jewish) Today is actually the last day of Sukkot!
Tet Trung Thu - celebrating the farmer spending more time with the family after harvest season (Vietnam)

Any harvest festivals that I've missed out on?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

17 days till Hallowe'en - Fence Part 1

So, here's how the fencing began, as a big giant pile of wood furring strips and PVC.  That rug on top is not for Hallowe'en, that's for my bedroom so my silly little dog stops sliding around my bedroom like a fuzzy little hockey puck. One of these days, she's going to dislocate a hip.

So, what you see there is 55 - 1" x 3" x 8' furring strips. Generally, they are $1.89 a piece at Home Depot, but because I agreed to take the picked-through ones in the carrel, and not make them bring out a fresh pack of them, the manager discounted them to .99 cents a piece. Woot.

The PVC is 1/2 inch schedule 40. They are in 10 foot lengths and are $1.89 a piece as well, but I got a bulk discount, so take off, $10.80. Woot again. On the bottom of the cart is 4 -10 foot lengths of 1 inch PVC, at $3.64 per piece.

Since that wouldn't fit in my car, I rented a truck at Home Depot for $19.99. Such a deal, you wouldn't believe.

Then, from King Architectural Metals, I ordered these plastic fence finials. They were .33 a piece at a grand total of $40.

I also bought some screws and brackets, they came in at about $20.

I had a bunch of random black spray paint (from whence it all came, I know not) which I completely used up, so I did have to buy a bit more. I will probably buy even more. I'm not going to include that in the price yet, so stay tuned for more pricing.

The pumpkins for the end pieces were $3.00 at Target, so $21 total on those.

Here's the breakdown:

Furring strips - $55
PVC 1/2" - $216
Truck rental - $19.99
Pumpkins - $21
Finials - $40
Screws and brackets - $20
Never having to build Hallowe'en fencing again - $priceless

So the total so far for fencing was $372. Compared to 120 feet of pre-made metal fencing at $1,200, it's quite the bargain, and with this, I can take it down and stack it up in the garage for next year rather than having a cemetery fence around my property year round, which I'm sure my lovely neighbors would just adore.

As I noted before, I've tried cheaper options. They were cheap, they looked cheap, and frankly, they didn't work. So I'm pretty happy with this outcome.

Stay tuned for the build in progress, helpers, and well, that "measure twice, cut once" is a real thing that should probably be followed a little more closely by people like me...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Word Wednesday - Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en, if you hadn't noticed, on this blog, is spelled with an apostrophe. Every time. Because Hallowe'en is spelled with an apostrophe, whether spell check believes me or not.

Hallowe'en, while it has its roots far further back, is associated with the Christian holiday of All Hallows or All Saints Day, which occurs on November 1st. The night before the celebration of All Hallows is All Hallows' Evening, which was frequently contracted to e'en. So, from there we get All Hallows' E'en or Hallowe'en. 

So, let's go back and figure all of this out.

Hallow means to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate, to venerate. So, hallow, as used in Hallowtide or Hallowmas is a synonym of the word saint.  All Hallows = All Saints.

All Hallows/Saints is the Catholic feast day celebrating all of the saints, known or unknown. According to the site Catholic Online
The origin of All Saints' Day cannot be traced with certainty, and it has been observed on various days in different places. However, there are some who maintain the belief that it has origins in the pagan observation of 13 May, the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. Liturgiologists base the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin of that of All Saints based on their identical dates and on the similar theme of "all the dead". 
Pope Gregory III, attempting to disassociate the day from the Roman Lemuria festival moved the date of celebration to November 1st.
This usually fell within a few weeks of the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which had a theme similar to the Roman festival of Lemuria, but which was also a harvest festival."
Today, the Festival of All Saints' is celebrated by both Protestant and Catholic Christians, though Protestants generally consider it a day of remembrance for all Christians or all parishioners at a particular church. While I am very familiar with churches with the name All Saints, I was not aware that there is a village in Kent called All Hallows, quite a few churches throughout the U.S. and Europe called All Hallows and even a few Catholic schools. You can even go hang out at All Hallows Beach in Kent, but it doesn't look very spooky.

So, back to Hallowe'en.

Hallowe'en is the night before All Hallows/Saints. Originally, a vigil and fast was held the night before any Catholic feast day. The Synod of Seligenstadt (1022 CE) mentions vigils on the eves of Christmas, Epiphany, the feast of the Apostles, the Assumption of Mary, St. Laurence and All Saints, and the fast of two weeks before the Nativity of St. John. But as the Catholic Church commemorated more and more feasts, the conclusion of vigils became increasingly disorderly and, according to St. Jerome (347-420 CE), suffused with "improprieties". At midnight, after the fast had ended, people would pour from the churches and end their fasts with food and drink and rather noteworthy carousing.

In response, the church reduced the number of vigils and began holding them in the afternoon rather than the evening. However, it seems that the improprieties of the All Hallows evening vigil sustained for over 1600 years! Sorry St. Jerome!

Next Wednesday, the harvest festivals throughout history!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

24 Days until Hallowe'en - Soapbox Edition


Can we all agree on the outset that not every woman wants to be "sexy _________" for Hallowe'en? Great.

Can we all agree that sexy costumes may be great for some women? Great.

Having said that, WTF is going on here?

Sexy lobster?

Sexy pizza? Really?

What on this green earth is sexy about an ear of corn?


Please, for the love of Maude, no.
By the way, when you hit up the same website for sexy men's costumes, this is what you get....
Really? I'm no expert, but is this supposed to be sexy?

More douchey than sexy, really.

Um. OK.

Now for the piece de resistance - I know we're not exactly going for practical here, but if you were on a SWAT team, which outfit would you be more likely to survive in? I know that garter is really going to protect her in a firefight - also, the armband. Very practical.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Countdown - 29 days!!!


Hallowe'en is 29 days away and I am not ready!

The building I work in is termite tenting this weekend, so I have Friday off, which is a very fortunate thing. I will hopefully be able to get up early to work on the fencing before the heat starts tomorrow. Then I will go on to the monster mud portion of the day. Thankfully, I have an air conditioned craft room to work in through the afternoon heat.

My goal is to have the fencing finished by Sunday night. Check back here Monday morning for news on that front.

You're more than welcome to join me on the farm this weekend for fence building and spray painting and in return, I will provide all the coffee you can drink, fresh from the coop eggs, and Eggo Pumpkin Spice waffles for breakfast all weekend!

Keep it scary!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Countdown to Hallowe'en - 30 DAYS!!!!!!

It has begun!  The big countdown!

Despite working my ass off the last couple of weekends, I am definitely not ready to start setting up the yard yet. Not until the fencing is finished and in order for the fencing to be finished....

I'm gonna need a lot more black paint. A LOT MORE.

I'm doing 120 feet of fencing which is actually going quite quickly. I've set up a little system for running off the holes - not sure if you can see it but each piece of fencing will have 3 cross bars - so I've tied the three together with zip ties so that they are all in line with each other for the vertical posts.

These are nearly finished and it's a matter of painting and then screwing everything together.

I should be able to set up by the 11th of October. That's relatively late for me, but not too late. Of course this weekend is, once again, going to be in the high 90's in the Valley. So I will likely start work early in the morning and get inside before 11 a.m. to work on the other props inside until it's cool enough to work outside again.

Tomorrow I'll share some of the props I've been working on inside the house.

Happy October everyone!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2014

I am amazed!

This is my 4th year participating in the Countdown to Hallowe'en, produced by Shawn Robare and John Rozum, two absolutely astounding artists. I've never quite managed to post every day of October, but we'll see how I do this year. I'm already off to a good start and it's still only September.

What is Countdown to Hallowe'en?  It is a blog festival - 31 days of posting by the ookiest, spookiest, nuttiest, most creative Hallowe'en lovers in the blogosphere. For a fun fix each day of October, find a new blog and check out what they're doing. We'll be starting off next Wednesday!  Sometimes you find a total keeper. I'm sure it's how I found a number of the blogs I follow.

Since I really do have to LOVE a blog to follow it, I'll recommend the following because they are frankly either beautiful, really fun, really useful or truly original (and sometimes all of the above!)

PUMPKINROT (if I only had one to choose, it would be this one)
Dave Lowe Design (or this one)
Haunted Design House
Mr. Macabre
Shellhawk's Nest
AranaMuerta (rare posting but fabulous)
Creepy L.A. (Hallowe'en-freaky stuff going on in L.A.)
Grim Hollow Haunt
Highbury Cemetery
Long-Forgotten (Haunted Mansion fun - longest posts EVER)
Maple Grove Cemetery
Orange and Black
PARA-Abnormal (best geeky cartoon ever)
Scotty Art (the art of Stolloween)
The Skeleton Key (posts during Hallowe'en season only)

Do you know of any blogs I should definitely be following?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

L'shana tova v'metuka

To a good and sweet new year!!!  Happy Rosh Hashanah 5775!

In honor of the sweet new year, on which we eat apples and honey and the upcoming Shavuot, when Jews are actually obligated to eat honey, I want to share a little update on my bees!  I have my suit, my smoker, and my hive tool. I have read every book on beekeeping on Amazon (almost) and I'm ready to not kill a hive of bees!

So, Ceebs, my beekeeping mentor, captured a bunch of swarms this summer and one of them is designated as my own little swarm. In my craft room/office is a completed hive (empty of bees, of course) and two complete hives waiting to be assembled.  It was going to be a project for the summer, but that sort of got away from me, so it's really a post Hallowe'en project.
This is me at the HoneyLove Sanctuary.

Anyway, HoneyLove, an awesome organization that you should check out, has a bee sanctuary out in the fields of Moorpark. My bees will end up there, but as Winter is Coming, the bees are starting to store up honey and plan for the cold season right now, so it is probably unlikely that I'll get my hives out there until Spring. Sad trombone.

Bunches of hives. Many, many bees!

Next year, hopefully, my hives will be up and running and the following year, in 5777, I should have honey to share with my friends and family on Rosh Hashanah!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Prop production

So, this year's theme is coming together. I, of course, decided to completely change up my theme somewhere around the first of August, which gave me about 2 and a half months to prep for Hallowe'en. Since August, I have been madly trying to finish the projects I was going to work on anyway, whether or not I changed the theme - lighting and fencing. In between working on these projects, I've been squirreling away time working on the little props that are going into making the new theme work.

Michael correctly stated that it was a lot of little detail and I wasn't really looking at the bigger picture. The bigger picture is a lot of little detail! I think people will be amused.

Personally, I like to inject some humor into my creepy. I always like to make people laugh at a little joke here and there. This year's theme has it's tongue firmly planted in cheek. I'll be giving away little clues throughout the next couple of weeks and hopefully by the end, it will all make sense (or it will be a giant mess, but who cares, it's not like we're landing on Mars!).

Here are the first steps on one of my props:

 Doesn't look like much yet, but it's coming together!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pumpkiny goodness

Four of the pumpkins grown in my garden last year
I grew 17 pumpkins last year and one of them got nibbled on by a squirrel before I got a chance to get it inside. Rather than letting the furry rodent get more of it, and start to develop a taste for the things, I chopped it up and gave it to the chickens.

I have never heard them so quiet for so long. They LOVED it. While there are actually no controlled studies providing evidence for pumpkin being a natural dewormer in chickens, it certainly doesn't hurt!

In the spirit of pumpkin noms, and my enduring and illogical fantasy that the weather forecast for this weekend (over 100 degrees F.) is wrong, I give you my favorite recipe for pumpkin bread. This recipe is adapted slightly from the one over at Northwest Edible Life (who I just ADORE), but I like my version better - it's spicier.  Try hers though; you might like that one better and she uses chocolate chips!

Spiced Pumpkin Bread


Wet Stuff

  • 15 ounces (1 can) pumpkin puree or 15 ounces of home roasted and pureed pumpkin (home roasted, while more time consuming, is SO much better - you get that slightly caramelized taste of the pumpkin)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp. bourbon or whiskey. I use anything that's in the liquor cabinet  (Optional – substitute water or apple juice if you prefer not to use liquor)
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar

  • Dry Stuff

  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans and line them with parchment paper. If making muffins, grease and flour or use muffin liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet stuff and sugar. Mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, bourbon and sugar until well blended. Sift the dry stuff (minus the sugar which you've already added to the wet stuff) directly into the wet stuff : Mix the dry and wet stuff together until just blended.

    Pour batter evenly between the prepared pans or portion into muffin tins.

    Bake for about 60-70 minutes in the preheated oven for 9×5 loaf pans or about 25-35 minutes for muffins. Because baking time will vary based on your oven calibration, oven size, pan, etc., it’s really best to rely on the the toothpick test to determine when your pumpkin bread is done. Loaves or muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let your bread cool in pan until firmed up, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cake rack and let cool completely before slicing. This is harder than it should be, but the texture of the bread is better if allowed to fully cool before you cut it open.

    This bread freezes well if well wrapped. I wrap in tinfoil and then put in a gallon ziploc bag.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    Hallowe'en is spendy.

    My home-made lighting box!
    So, while I'm not buying pre-made props this year, I am on a bit of a home-built kick.

    You can add $8.38 to my total for the lighting, since I had to go buy more speaker wire. All in all, still not bad at about $123.

    Now I've started swiping the card for our fencing.  In the past I've done various makeshift fencing to keep kids off the props. I've used teeny tiny garden fencing from the 99 cent store (pictured below - nope), I've used broomsticks pounded into the ground in a diagonal to 'suggest' keeping out of the yard (did NOT work at all) and I've used more expensive Home Depot wooden fencing painted black that worked moderately well for 2 years but was a huge pain in the ass and kept falling down/getting kicked/looked like shit/didn't actually keep anyone out. 
    This is the 99 cent store fencing with my home-made columns.

    This is going to be long term fencing and keep-people-out fencing, so I'm kind of making this on the more permanent side of things. I hope to keep these fences for the next 5 to 7 years with some occasional touch-ups, which I think is totally doable.

    The 4th dimension makes this car get 110 mpg!!!
    Since getting my new car (a beautiful and massively fuel efficient Ford C-Max Energi) I have lost a good bit of hauling capacity; therefore, this weekend I'll be renting a Home Depot pickup truck and hauling all of the supplies back to the homestead for work. There is just no way I'm getting 4 bags of sand, 55 furring strips and 120 pvc pipes in my car.

    All of my cars seem to have a 4th dimension, but I think this car's extra dimension is in the gas tank, which I have only filled twice since May, so I'm really OK with the trade-off.

    I'll bring home a total on the fencing and let you in on the costs. I know it's something I'm always curious about. 

    A lot of the little props ingredients are being sourced from recycled materials though. A lot of cardboard, soda bottles, crates/baskets, wire coat hangers, twigs, and some things found at yard sales in the "FREE" bins.

    One of the best things about being in a Haunter's group is how generous everyone is with their skills and knowledge. It's also the thing I've loved so much about Stitch n' Bitch all these years. There isn't a person I've come across that says, "I'm going to keep this knowledge or this skill a secret so no one else can learn." Everyone is willing to help everyone else out. It's pretty awesome. So, this year, I'm going to hopefully be able to post the step by step on my fence building to share with y'all.  Hopefully it won't be a total disaster.

    Friday, September 5, 2014

    Seriously? September?

    Happy September everyone!!!

    You know what that means, of course.  It means funkins and pumpkins in Michael's and Joann's. It means pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks and pumpkin pie Pop Tarts.

    It also means I'm way freaking behind on my Hallowe'en planning.

    This year, of course, I've kicked it up a notch. In the past year or so, I've become involved in a group called So.Cal. Valley Haunters. While I thought I had some skillz, they have taught me about 100% more. I have learned new tombstone carving skills, lighting and all kinds of prop building.

    So, for the last month or so, I have spent nearly all of my free time building my lighting from scratch. In previous years, I have used just about anything I could get my hands on, from flashlights propped up against props to solar lighting, which lasts about an hour. This year I'm doing all LEDs. There are definitely companies that will sell you the set ups, but for what I'm building, I would probably have spent over $1,500. I checked out the set-ups at Scare L.A. this year, just in case I needed to buy something or I just couldn't figure out the workings. I have currently spent about $115 and honestly, I think I overbought a bit, also, I've had a few donations of speaker wire and 12 volt adapters (thanks Derek!) so it probably evens out:

    new soldering unit:  $24 (display model at Fry's - score!)
    project box: $8
    AV connectors: $20
    LEDs: $24
    Jack boards: $25
    Splitters: $14

    I should be nearly finished with the lighting by the end of the week and then I get started on my new fencing. Which, again, could likely be purchased, but for a buttload more money.  So, off I go to the local hardware store. I'll take more photos of the fencing as it's a lot more photogenic than soldering wires, and post them as I go.

    Happy almost we'en, y'all!!!

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    Oh, it's May? Already?

    The last 7 months have been a bit of a whirlwind, but things seem to be calming down a bit and once I'm past June 8th, I'm free and clear for the rest of the year.

    Meanwhile, what's been up?

    • Well, I attended Craftcation in April and loved it.
    • I'm getting bees.
    • I'm almost through with loquat season, which, unfortunately this year has not been nearly as productive (entirely my fault)
    • I've planted, but not nearly the spring garden I was hoping for by this point
    Over the next couple of weeks I'm planning on replanting my cucumbers as SOMETHING (I suspect squirrels) ate the plants right out of the ground, roots and all. When I told the owner at the garden shop, he barked; 


    "All of them?" I asked. 


    OK then.  Apparently, I am to encircle the cucumber plants in these spices, which I have now purchased in bulk to sprinkle throughout my garden. I have to replant 2 artichokes as one just died a miserable quick death and another one stuck around looking runty until one of the chickens scratched it right out of the earth. Damn chickens.

    All the chickens are doing well. Gave their coop a nice, thorough scrubbing this weekend after attending the UC Pathology lecture on backyard chicken diseases. Frankly, I'm used to medical slides but the necropsy slides from the pathologist...well, I needed to clean the coop. Thankfully, I'm not going to post any pictures.

    As for the bees, I'm going to be hosting two hives of my very own at a sanctuary up north a bit near Westlake Village. I'll post photos as I put the boxes and frames together and get them painted up all pretty.