Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kenmore 1701

I rescued this poor thing yesterday. It was located in Everett but the seller delivered to Fircrest which was much closer to home. They had transported it with the machine still in the cabinet. When I arrived I found it hanging precariously inside the cabinet by one screw, with it's top knocked off. I stifled a gasp (forgive them, for they know not what they do) and  handed them their payment. I quickly carried the whole thing to the back of my vehicle, whipped out my handy Cabela's Multitool, and removed the head from the cabinet. The cabinet predates the machine by a good margin and the wiring is questionable. I'll have the husbeast give it a good look before attempting to plug it in. Good thing I have a Kenmore "organ donor" machine with a foot pedal. I'll be able to plug this machine in and see what's what. The reason I have it sitting on that towel for the picture is twofold. To protect the cabinet from scratches and to also protect it from the grease that's all over the bottom of the machine.

Good gravy, what a mess. Apparently some fellow thought, "If a little oil is good, a shitload of grease is better." And proceeded to attack it with a grease gun. Here's hoping the idiot didn't grease the motor or this will end up an organ donor, as well. It looks like it has been plugged in and run recently. Maybe by the same bright bulb? Whoever it was tried to run it in zig zag mode with the straight stitch foot attached (this is the only foot it came with) and broke off the needle.

He then used his manly gorilla strength to over tighten the clutch. So far that is the only glaring problem, but I have yet to plug it in.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

One More Try

I have been trying to figure out a solution to keeping my bees out of the top feeders. A beekeeping friend told me she has these same feeders and hasn't had a problem. Which leaves me to conclude that I am too slow, my bees eat unusually fast, or a combination of the two. I need to make these work for my particular situation. I considered using silicone, the kind they use in aquariums, but it is messy and would be a pain to undo if I decided I didn't like it. I thought about using aquarium gravel but I am not fond of the stuff. It's so tiny and gets everywhere. I want something that's easily removed, easily washed, and something that won't harm the bees. I remembered seeing those flat glass rocks at the Dollar Tree. You know, the kind they use in Betta bowls and clear flower vases. I paid them a visit and yes, they had some of those. But they also had these polished river rocks.

Even better. And I got more weight per package buying the rocks as apposed to the glass. I bought 8 bags, 2 for each side of the feeders. Yes, I paid $8 for some bags full of rocks. They're already cleaned and I didn't have to crawl around on the ground looking for enough rocks of a uniform size. I actually purchased these 2 days ago but the weather has been too cold and windy for me to reopen the hives. If there's a baby queen in there, getting ready to hatch, I don't want to risk chilling her. Today it's finally in the mid-70's. The perfect weather to do some hive manipulation. The feeders have been out in the weather since they were removed. I wiped them down with some Star San solution. Then I rinsed the rocks in some Star San.

And divided them between the feeders.

I heaped them up against the wire. I then opened the hives, removed the jar feeders and inner covers, placed the top feeders, filled them with my prepared syrup, shook the bees off the bottom of the inner covers, placed those on the feeders and and added the lids. Here are the containers of syrup heating up on the porch. 

I had forgotten to take them out of the fridge this morning. I don't want the bees getting a brain freeze. If those bees still get inside the reservoirs, I give up. When I removed the jar feeders, the one on the new hive was empty but the one on the old hive still contained some syrup. That's odd. Maybe they were having trouble drinking from my jar feeder? Not to worry, I know for a fact they have no trouble draining these top feeders. While I was tending the bees I noticed I need to pick some raspberries. I see some delicious wine and jam in my future.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

That's Better.

She cleaned up nicely. Someone loved her once. Her finish is virtually flawless. And look at all that chrome. You can see my cross stitch picture reflected in the face plate.

Kenmore 148.13022

I rescued this poor thing today. A 148.13022 from 1969. About the same time the Beatles released their Yellow Submarine album. Talk about a blast from the past. It is absolutely filthy. I’m feeling itchy just from carrying it in. The case is cracked and I feared the machine had been dropped and wouldn’t work. But I plugged it in and so far all the functions seem to operate OK. It came with the manual and attachments. It’s missing one of the spool pins but that’s no biggie. I met up with the seller in the Dollar Store parking lot. That's a classy place to meet. LOL. When I saw the true condition (I'd only seen pictures through email) I almost turned it down but I swear I heard it whisper…”help me.” I couldn’t leave it. I’m only human. And for $15 it would be a good parts machine if nothing else. I think this is a good candidate for "before" and "after" photos. I'm sure she'll be gorgeous once she has a bath and an oil massage. If you're squeamish, look away now. This isn't pretty.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meanwhile, Back at the Bee Ranch...

...things are not going quite according to plan. This year I decided to go all out and buy my bees a couple of super fancy top feeders. It was promised that these would make feeding my girls practically effortless. The bees are contained inside the wire mesh. This is to prevent them falling into the syrup and drowning. It is also supposed to keep them behind the mesh so you can easily refill the feeder without having to open the hive. This sounded good and in theory it should work. Just one little problem. The bees have no regard for theories or what they are supposed to do. If there is a flaw in the plan they will most certainly find and exploit it. This screen is lightweight and is only anchored at the top. It is then bent into place. But guess what? The crafty bees can push against it and enter the reservoir. Making it necessary to remove the feeder (defeating the purpose of not opening the hive) to remove the bees in order to refill. And of course they can only push the mesh in one direction, meaning they can enter the reservoir and then are trapped until I let them out. I'm sure it is quite uncomfortable for them being stuck in there. Kind of like how I feel wearing my bee suit. You know another word for bee suit? OVEN. These feeders cost $20 each and the design is seriously flawed. While I decide how to anchor the mesh down and keep the bees out, I am having to revert back to the old "inverted jar with holes in the lid" style of feeding. If I wanted to do that I would've kept my $40. Here is what I am complaining about.

Bees on the wrong side of the screen, in both feeders.

The new hives feeder.

And the raging party happening in the old hive's feeder.

Both hives now fitted with a super containing a jar feeder.

I'm waiting for the bees to lose interest in those empty top feeders so I can put them inside the garage and decide how I'm going to fix the problem. I've got a couple of ideas. Just haven't decided which one is best. Tomorrow I'll phone Mann Lake, the seller of this awful product, and see what they suggest.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Everybody Out of the Sugar Pool

I got myself into quite a pickle this morning. Yesterday I added more syrup the top feeders on my hives but I didn't have enough syrup prepared. I knew I'd have to add more this morning. I figured I could forgo donning the entire bee suit and use my bonnet and gloves. There shouldn't be any bees inside the feeders. I opened the new hive's feeder and all was well. I added more syrup, closed it up and went over to the older, stronger, more populated hive. I popped the top and I'll be damned if they hadn't already drained it dry. I could see a few bees on top of the part that divides the 2 reservoirs. No biggie. I'd just fill it back up, scoot those bees off with my bee brush and be done. I dumped in the rest of the syrup and went to grab the brush. As I prepared to oust the bees I peeked into the feeder from a slightly different angle. Oh crap. There were about 40 bees hiding on the other side of the divider. I closed the top and went back to the house to decide the best plan to remove those bees from the feeder. While I was thinking I made up another 4# of sugar syrup. Guess I better make a trip to Costco for more sugar. Hmmmmm....I could remove the feeder super, dump out the syrup and dead bees, replace and refill it. There were 2 problems with that plan. First, there would be a whole lot of bees clinging underneath the feeder and they wouldn't be easy to remove. And second, today is cool and rainy. If I remove that super the hive will be open and the brood could get chilled. I thought it better to use a slotted spoon to remove the dead bees from the syrup and try to brush off any living bees from the feeder. I again donned the bonnet and gloves, removed the covers and was happy to see that most of those 40 bees were still alive and on top of the divider. I started brushing them off which did not make them happy, to say the least. I thought it prudent to close the lid, retreat to the house and put on the full bee suit. Once inside I removed my bonnet and immediately recognized the sound of a very pissed off bee. I ushered her out the door, put on the suit and returned to the hive. I once again lifted the lid. This time there were fewer bees to shoo away. I brushed off the ones I could, and used a slotted spoon to remove those that fell into the syrup. I added even more syrup and closed the lid. Whew! These fancy top feeders are supposed to be easy to use and keep your bees from drowning. Not the way I do it. I'll have to keep a lookout for some glass weights to use to hold the screen down so they can't get in when the syrup is low. Clever little monkeys.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I had been looking forward to seeing this movie, being a huge fan of the original 'Aliens'. It was a long movie, lasting just over 2 hours. You'd think with all that time they could fit together a cohesive plot? Sadly, no. The special effects were OK. A little heavy handed with the holograms. The movie begins with a scene that transitions from serenely beautiful to horrific. I remember thinking, "This will all make sense at the end of the movie." No, it did not. Once aboard the spacecraft you meet the robot, David, who has a penchant for flip flops and bad puns. Charlize Theron is there, in her "evil queen" character, but wearing a sexy unitard. Then Benjamin Button makes an appearance. It was all just weird. I give it 2 stars for crashes, flames, and self surgery.

Chicken Enchiladas

I made some delicious chicken enchiladas yesterday. I am writing the recipe here, mainly so I can remember what I did but also to share it. I apologize that it is vague. I didn't measure or keep track of cooking times.

Chicken, 2 legs & 2 thighs
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 can diced green chilies1 small can sliced black olives, drained
2 cups Mexican 4 cheese blend  
1- 28 oz. can El Pato enchilada sauce (found at Hispanic grocer)
12-15 corn tortillas (or you can use flour)
salt and pepper, to taste
lard or oil for greasing pans, sauteing onions and garlic, and brushing tops of enchiladas

Bake chicken until done. Let cool. Remove skin and bones, shred meat and place in a mixing bowl. Saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add to meat. Add chilies, olives, 1 cup of cheese, 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

Many recipes have you heat the sauce and dip the tortillas in it to soften them. This is time consuming and messy. Instead, I use a plastic blow molded tortilla steamer that works in the microwave. These can be found at most Hispanic grocers. Simply place your tortillas inside and microwave for a minute or 2 until your tortillas are soft. 

Take a warm tortilla and place some of the filling down the center of it. I don't measure. Maybe 2 Tbs.? You don't want to be skimpy but you don't want to over stuff them, either. Roll them up tightly and place them into a greased glass 13" x 9" baking dish, seam side down. Continue until you have used all the filling. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush the tops of the enchiladas with melted lard, or oil, and bake them until they are slightly browned. This step will firm up the tortillas so your enchiladas don't fall apart. Now remove them from the oven and pour the remaining sauce over them. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Lower the heat to 400 degrees and continue baking them until they are bubbly, heated through and the cheese is melted.

I like mine with a dollop of sour cream on top. Serve them with some Spanish rice, refried beans and maybe a green salad. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Strange Bee Behavior

I am hoping my bee mentor can tell me what this means. Today the bees in the new hive are busy coming and going. Except for 5 or 6 bees, lined up like sentries, in front of the entrance. They are standing stock still, like the Queen's Guard. The only movement from them is the fanning of their wings. The other bees are climbing over and between them, but they remain unmoved. Wish I knew what they were doing.

At least they have stopped chucking out brood right and left.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Amber's Apron

I stayed up past midnight last night. That is unusual for me. I turn into a zombie around 10pm. I had cut out my daughter's apron earlier in the day and was determined to get it finished. Her birthday was June 7th. Originally this apron was to be fancier but I didn't buy enough fabric. No clue why. I was also going to monogram her initial onto it. The print is so busy that no one would see it. What I ended up with is a basic bib style apron with 2 pockets. It has casings on either side of the bib and a long tie that goes through the casings and around the neck. I will still owe her a couple of potholders but I want to get this mailed. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Screw You, Screw.

Please pardon the vulgarity. The title seemed appropriate. I am dismayed to report that the Sears dis-Service Center was as unhelpful as I'd anticipated. They do not perform any repairs of sewing machines on site. The machines are sent up to Seattle but they could not, or would not, provide us with a phone number to contact said shop. Meaning we could not speak with any knowledgeable person. My next thought was to contact a local OSMG and see if he could give a part number for the needed tool or maybe even order us one. I found the name and number of a guy but had the husbeast do the actual calling. In my experience men are more likely to cooperate with men as far as divulging useful information. The fellow related that the tool in question is no longer made and next to impossible to locate. However, he did share his method of removing those pesky pentahead screws. He uses a dremel tool to carve a slot in the head so it can be removed with a screw driver. The husbeast had been meaning to buy a dremel tool, anyway. There wasn't much room to maneuver the tool inside the sewing machine and I was nervous as hell, but he managed to cut the slot and now the screw can be removed. He ran out of time before he had to head to work but tomorrow he'll visit Tacoma Screw and get a replacement.

This is the wrench he modified in an earlier attempt to remove the screw. It didn't work because he couldn't get it in close enough. But he gets an "A" for effort.

Tomorrow we'll adjust the timing and replace the screw. Should be back in business in no time.

Nuts! Pentahead Screw is a PITA.

I have run into a rather large road block while tuning up that new-to-me Kenmore 1251. It is incredibly frustrating and a crying shame. This machine is in otherwise pristine condition. But the timing is off. If you attempt to sew anything past the "2" setting, on the stitch width dial, you get skipped stitches. Setting the timing on a Kenmore is a relatively easy task. You loosen the set screw, move the shuttle hook and re-tighten the screw. Easy peasy. Except I am unable to loosen this particular screw. It has a pentagon shaped (5 sided) head. Why? Who the heck knows? I have heard that these model 158 series machines were made by Jaguar. Jag brake calipers have pentahead screws. Connection? Here is the patient on the operating table.

And this is that %$^#*! screw.

This is the shuttle assembly. I have the machine set at the widest zig zag. This is the needle at its lowest point and to the far right of its path. The hook (pointy part) of the shuttle should be almost touching the needle. Note the rather large gap.

I will send the husbeast to the local Sears dis-Service Center to try to locate and purchase that special pentahead socket. I don't hold out much hope as they are generally clueless. I may have to try and butter up an OSMG (old sewing machine guy) and get him to either sell or loan one.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kenmore 1251

I just found this really nice older Kenmore free arm sewing machine. This is a 158.1251. Commonly known as a model 1251. It looks to be in incredibly good condition for its age. Here is a picture with the free arm exposed.

It even came with the carry case. Strangely it only included the zipper foot. No other feet or accessories.

Good thing I had grabbed this "bag o' feet" at a yard sale for $4. 

I am going to see if I can't get this machine cleaned, oiled and ready for adoption. It's rare to find an older Kenmore free arm, especially one in this condition. I can't wait to see what it can do. Might be hard to part with. I have to remind myself that my sewing machine storage space is limited. Catch and release. Get 'em in, give them a bath and an oil massage. Fine tune things. Then send them off to loving homes. That way I still get to play with them but they don't pile up so much.

Friday, June 15, 2012

An Apron For My Eldest

As usual, I am running behind schedule. My eldest daughter's birthday was earlier this month and I am just now starting her gift. She just moved to a new apartment so I want to make her an apron and potholders for her kitchen. If she's anything like her mom, she needs an apron. I make a big mess when I cook. She says her favorite kitchen colors are black, white and Caribbean green. It wasn't an easy task to find cute apron fabric with those colors, but I liked this one with the "girl bugs". Bright and cheerful.

I had the pattern, solid green fabric and lace already in my stash. I'll be making the apron in the bottom right corner on the pattern. The bib section will be solid green and have her initial monogrammed on it. At least that's the plan.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cheap Quilting Fabric

I had heard rumors that Tuesday Morning (the store) sometimes had affordable quilting charm packs, fat quarters and jelly rolls. Today I had to go pick up a sewing machine belt from the local sew & vac shop which just happens to be in the same shopping center as Tuesday Morning. I stopped in and, sure enough, I found some goodies. I got this 12 piece fat quarter pack for $6.99 and these jelly rolls for $4.99 each. Score!

Activity At The New Hive

This was at 4pm yesterday, right before I left for pipe club. I was pleasantly surprised to see the front porch of the new hive buzzing with activity. Monday, after we moved the boxes, there was barely any movement. I think they were in shock. "What the hell just happened?" Tuesday the weather kept them in the hive all day. I checked on them Wednesday morning. Still not much happening, just the infrequent take off or landing. Which is why it took me by surprise when I found the above activity taking place just a few hours later. Here is a shot of both hives during this same time. You can see that the activity level is nearly identical at both hives.

 Hive #1 on the left. Hive #2 (new split) on the right.

Hive #1. It is funny how the bees come out of the hive, run up the front of the boxes, then launch themselves into the air. I think they behave this way to avoid flying into the raspberry bushes that are located not far from the front of the hive.

It's hard to capture with stop action photography but all those little brown blips in the air are bees. At mid-day the air can be thick with them in front of and between the hives. Which is why it gets awkward to try to weed in those areas. They aren't being aggressive but it's hard to avoid having them crash into you. Sometimes they zig when they should zag. We get some interesting "upside down, end up on your back" landings on top of the hive lid.

Today I'll get the top feeders set up on both hives. That should help them get strong. The queen-less hive should be making that determination any time now. They have queen cups already built (they like to be prepared). Fingers crossed that they are able to find a young enough egg or larva to create a queen. These bees are good managers and on the ball, so I have faith they can come through for me. We'll go into both hives in a month and check for brood. If it is present we'll know there are 2 queens.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ta Da! The Dress Fits!!!

I can't believe I actually sewed a garment that fits. My daughter says she loves it. I am over the moon.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Splitting the Hive. Now There Are Two (We Hope).

I now have 2 hives! 
The original one the left and the new one on the right.

I remembered to take pictures this time. Come along with me as I split my bee hive in two. I got started early in the morning, while the bees were still in the hive. Here they are waiting on the "porch" for the sun to warm them up. It's easier to work around the hive when the bees aren't yet out flying. You can see them peeking out.

First I needed to dig up my 2 rhubarb plants. I never liked them much, anyway. I didn't realize there were "ugly" rhubarbs. My variety was pale, not the brilliant red I remembered from my youth. And my plants had flowers. Hideously ugly flowers. I chopped off all the stalks which I'll freeze and perhaps turn into wine at some point.

I set the corms out by the road and put up a Craigslist ad inviting folks to come give them a new home.

This is the spot where the rhubarb used to reside. It will now be an extended addition to my bee yard.

It's kind of awkward to try to grow plants around the hives, or to try to weed around them. My new plan is to put down weed blocks consisting of wood and old carpet. I just happened to have some lying around.

Once I had the area cleared of weeds and relatively level I was ready to put down a piece of plywood (to keep down weeds) and then make a stable base from cinder blocks. This keeps the hive up off the ground. I needed the bottom board to be level across the front but canted slightly forward so the rain will run out instead of pooling inside the hive. By this time the bees were getting more active and heading out for flights.

I placed a box of frames on top of the bottom board, got my telescoping lid and inner cover ready, and waited for my bee buddy, Kristine, to show up. I use what are called 8 frame medium boxes, but these actually hold 9 frames each.

We enjoyed a lunch of chili and cornbread, then it was time to suit up, smoke the bees, and start dismantling their home. The bees were incredibly docile today. They really didn't pay us much attention. We looked into the top 3 boxes but never found the queen.

My queen isn't marked so it is difficult to find her among 50,000 bees. She's making babies so she's got to be in there somewhere. The bees looked to be handling their crowded state very well. We decided to simply move those top 3 boxes to the new hive location. The hive without the queen should realize that very soon and they have the ability to create a new queen. I am going to start feeding both hives to make sure they are getting enough food. We saw brood and pollen in the hive, but not much honey. I want to make sure they make enough honey for them, and mama, this fall. Look at this cool piece of wax comb they built. And below that is a picture of some more wax we scraped from the top of some of the frames. My bees like to put brood in odd places.

Here is a dead drone larva. We always end up with casualties when we go into the hive. Which is why I try not to bother them more than is needed.

After we got the hives set up Kristine and I sat out under the apple tree and watched the bees come and go. This little hummingbird sat in the tree over our heads and hung out with us for quite a while.

I will keep you updated as to the status of the hives. I hope the new one will flourish and I'll have 2 strong hives very soon. I need to get those new top feeders in place. Probably Wednesday. Tomorrow I have to give my eldest son a sewing lesson.