Crocheting Plastic Bags

Like I said, I’ve become addicted to crafting with plastic bags. There is just so much you can do with them and they’re such a nuisance, it just fits.

Let me start by saying, I’m a terrible crocheter. If I had been a mother when crocheting was popular, my kids would have probably been beat in the school yard and then left to freeze. Luckily, plastic bags weren’t around back then, so they’d at least have that going for them. And even luckier, I don’t have kids now to put through that experience. The good news is I am getting better. I tried to learn a few months when I wanted to make a rug out of crocheted bags, I still have that unfinished, but then I was inspired by the bag below, which my grandmother made me for my birthday.

ImageImageImage

It has a pocket and a place to hold your keys.

I’m sure you understand my motivation. It’s amazing. Here is the pattern, if you’d like to make your own. She tried to teach my aunt and I, but I wasn’t catching on very quickly, mostly because the stitches all seem the same and it’s like ‘Make two double stitches. OK, I can do that.’ Fifteen minutes later, “OK, I did two. What, I did all that and I only did one?” That and keeping the tension was difficult. Needless to say I didn’t retain anything I learned that day, so I decided to practice with something else.

I found this video:

Here is Part 2 and Part 3. Watch the video to make sure because what she calls single stitches seem to be something else.

Beautiful, right? This video allowed me to watch the same thing over and over without anyone’s patience being at risk, get the stitches down and practice, practice, practice.

It took me about 8 hours to do what she does in like 20 minutes, but I did finish and that’s what is important.

ImageImageImage

This flower isn’t great, but I will say it looks better than it does in the pictures. I took a million and it still looks like a hot mess, but it does actually have stuff resembling petals. It took me almost two bags to finish.

Now I’ve learned enough to be able to make some of the bubbles for the bag. Slowly, but surely I guess. And I’ve picked up some crocheting magazines for patterns to do later. There is so much inspiration out there. If you’re not a seasoned crocheter, I would suggest you start with yarn first, make the flowers then make the flowers with the bags, then find something slightly harder then work your way to the bag.

Anyway, have fun, don’t be too hard on yourself and be creative! Feel free to let me know what you’re working on!

Advertisements

Natural Bug Repellents

Yesterday I talked about why having your own garden is a good way to go. In a perfect world evil pests would stay away from these gardens and so would weeds, but I think we all know that this is no perfect world. Pesticides are deadly and even in small doses they can cause cancers, neurological problem and reproductive problems even in people thousands of miles away from the source. If they can harm us then you can bet that the lower and more important parts of the food chains are also being harmed. Bees are also hugely impacted by these poisons. Why should we care about bees? Of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. Some 35 per cent of our diet depends on pollination of crops by bee. And thanks to the pesticides that we and the food industry are using, we are now losing them by the thousands. It is suggested that if all the bees disappeared we would have about four years to live.  I don’t know about you, but that concerns me and you can read more about that here. So below I’ll be listing natural solutions for the real pests.

Crazily enough, most herbs and flavoring plants like lemon and such are bug repellents.

  1. Basil– There is hundreds kinds of basil, so take your pick. They all are supposed to keep asparagus beetles, tomato heartworms and thrips away.
  2. Bay leaf– dry and fresh works well.  You can put one bay leaf in fifty pounds of wheat berries or organic white flour, Barley, Oatmeal and similar items and it will keep the weevils out of it. If you don’t happen to buy flour in those quantities you can add a bay leaf to a smaller sized container with similar results. Scatter a few leaves on the pantry shelves to repel moths, roaches, earwigs, and mice.
  3. Mint– ants, aphids, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, imported cabbage worms, squash bugs, white flies and mice.
  4. Pennyroyal- fleas, ants, flies, and mosquitoes. Large amounts of pennyroyal can be toxic to pets and children.
  5. Rosemary– mosquitoes, imported cabbage worms, slugs and cats.

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/herbs-deter-flies-naturally.htm

  1. Sage– cabbage loopers, carrot flies, flea beetles, imported cabbage worms and tomato heart worms.
  2. Thyme- Cabbage loopers and white flies.
  3. Garlic– aphids, cowpea curculio, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, Mexican been leaf  beetles, root maggots, spider mites and squash vine borers.
  4. Catnip– aphids, corn earworms, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, squash bugs and mice.
  5.  Oregano– cabbage butterflies and cucumber beetles.
  6. Cilantro– aphids, Colorado potato beetles and spider mites.
  7.  White Sage– asparagus beetles.
  8.  Fennel– aphids, slugs, snails, and spider mites.
  9. Dill- aphids, cabbage moths and spider mites.
  10. Parsley- Asparagus beetles and carrot flies.

Petunias repel leafhoppers, Mexican bean leaf beetles and squash bugs. Marigolds repel aphids, corn earworms, leaf hoppers, Mexican bean leaf beetles, rabbits, squash bugs, thrips and tomato heartworms. Lavender repels moths, mosquitoes, mice, rabbits, ticks and fleas.

Some vegetables interestingly repel bugs, too.

  1. Green Bean – Colorado potato beetles
  2. Tomato – asparagus beetles
  3.  Lettuce – carrot flies
  4. Borage – cabbage worms and tomato heart worms
  5. Radish – cowpea curculio, cucumber beetles, harlequin bugs, Mexican bean leaf beetles, squash bugs and stink bugs
  6. Onion – bean leaf beetle, cabbage loopers, carrot flies, flea beetles, harlequin bugs, Mexican bean leaf beetles, mice, rabbits, spider mites and squash vine borers
  7. Potato – bean leaf beetles
  8. Turnip – bean leaf beetles and harlequin bugs

If gardening isn’t your thing, but you still want non-toxic pesticides then you could always make your own non-toxic pest repellents or insecticidal soaps.

  • Grind 3 large onions, 1 bunch of garlic and 3 hot peppers. Mix with water and leave overnight in a covered container. In the morning, strain through fine strainer or cheesecloth and add sufficient water to produce approximately one gallon (16 cups) of pesticide.
  • Soak 10-15 diced garlic cloves in a pint (2 cups) of mineral oil for 24 hours. Strain and add to a spray bottle.

Annie B. Bond, Care2 Green Living Executive Producer, offers a recipe for all-natural insecticidal soap spray, which uses 1-2 tablespoons of a natural liquid soap such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile soap in a quart (4 cups) of water. Once this solution is mixed, it can be added to a spray bottle.

Attract Beneficial Predators Such as Ladybugs, Praying Mantises, Dragonflies and Spiders

Another method of natural pest control is attracting ladybugs to your garden. Ladybugs are voracious consumers of aphids and other garden pests. Plants that attract ladybugs include Angelica, Caraway, Cilantro, Coreopsis, Cosmos (particularly white), Dandelions, Dill, Fennel, Geraniums, Tansy and Yarrow. Ladybugs that are purchased at supply stores supposedly carry diseases and parasites that can be released in your yard and disrupt the ecosystem there and also kill the native ladybugs. http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/why-you-shouldnt-buy-ladybugs-natural-pest-control-your-garden.html

There are other insects that can aid in pest control, such as praying mantises and dragonflies. Spiders (which are arachnids rather than insects) are also highly beneficial.

http://jennifercopley.suite101.com/natural-garden-pest-control-a54194#ixzz1vbwpKQvv

Bee Part of the Solution

I have given you the subject, give you the problem, but today I’m going to give you the solution.

I have clarified that without bees there will be no humans, bees are dying still. People have tried to pollinate plants without bees and have been unsuccessful. The good news is there are many actions that can be taken to help and restore the bee population.

http://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/act-today-2/act-today/

Plant a bee-friendly garden. Flowers – especially ones native to your area – help feed bees and other valuable pollinators.  Native plants also oftentimes require less water and fertilizer than non-native plants.  You will be doing a huge favor to native species of bees, who have adapted over thousands of years to feed off these plants. http://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/act-today-2/plant-a-bee-garden/ . This will vary from place to place, but as a general rule bees don’t like red or pink nor do they like double topped flowers such as double impatiens because they produce little nectar and it’s hard to get to.

Plan for blooms season-round. Plant at least three different types of flowers to ensure blooms through as many seasons as possible, thus providing bees with a constant source of food.

Start a honeybee hive. You can directly impact the health of your local ecosystem by starting a honeybee hive.  Plus, you get the added benefits of bee products such as honey, beeswax, as well as the satisfaction and joy derived from working with a hive.  Contact your local beekeeping club for more information.

Sponsor a Hive. If you can’t start your own hive or would like to help increase the number of hives, why not help fund new hive installations? The Honeybee Conservancy is working with Bee Native to install stocked honeybee hives and provide beekeeping training to American Indian communities across the U.S.

Support your local beekeeper. Support local beekeepers who nurture their bees while providing local communities with healthy bee products including honey.

Protect bee habitat. One of the largest threats to bees is the lack of habitat due to urban sprawl.  You can volunteer to plant native vegetation such as wildflowers along roadways and other common areas, and advocate sensible limits to development where you live.

Build homes for native bees. Since many native species of bees build their nests in undisturbed land, why not keep an undisturbed plot of land for them in your garden?  Gaiam has an interesting “bee condo” for non-stinging orchard mason bees to take up residence and pollinate your garden.  The Solitary Bees site has tips on how to create spaces for your native, solitary bees.

Petition and ask the US and other countries who allow freedom of speech, etc.  to stop using the neonicotinoid pesticides: Plant bee-friendly plants such as wild flowers and flowering trees Five or six large trees can provide as much forage for bees as an acre of wild flower meadow. They also provide a single source of nectar that bees find easy to harvest.

Don’t use pesticides and herbicide on your garden plants, if at all possible.

Purchase organic foods whenever possible and ask organic farmers to stop using pesticides. Don’t support farms that do use pesticides.

Join local initiatives dedicated to helping the bee colonies.

The Bees’ Starring Roles

When I first started this project, I didn’t think there would be this much information on bees and their role in the environment. Well, turns out they’re very important and it shows by the massive amounts of information I got. So once again, this subject will be divided into three parts. This post which is about the bees’ role in the environment, why the bees are disappearing and how to help them and make sure that we’re not the next extinct species.

ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/012/i0842e/i0842e04.pdf

Bees are pollinators and as pollinators strongly influence ecological relationships, ecosystem conservation and stability, genetic variation in the plant community, floral diversity, specialization and evolution. Bees play an important, but little recognized role in most terrestrial ecosystems where there is green vegetation cover for at least 3 to 4 months each year.

In tropical forests, savannah woodlands, mangrove, and in temperate deciduous forests, many species of plants and animals would not survive if bees were missing because the production of seeds, nuts, berries and fruits are highly dependent on insect pollination, and among the pollinating insects, bees are the major pollinators.

In rain forests, especially in high mountain forests where it is too cold for most bees, other pollinators like bats and birds play a greater role in plant pollination. In farmed areas, bees are needed for the pollination of many cultivated crops and for maintaining biodiversity in ‘islands’ of non-cultivated areas.

The main role of bees in the different ecosystems is their pollination work. Other animal species are connected with bees: either because they eat the brood or honey, pollen or wax, because they are parasitic to the bees, or simply because they live within the bees nest.

 To understand just how important bees are, we must secondly, understand how exactly they accomplish their role. Pollination is transfer of pollen from the anther (the male part of the flower) to the stigma (the female part of the flower). Some plants can pollinate themselves: in this case, the pollen passes from the anther to the stigma inside the same flower, and this is called self-pollination. Other plants need pollen to be transferred between different flowers or different individuals of the plant. This is cross-pollination. Many plants can be pollinated both ways. Plants can be pollinated by wind or animals. Some plants have only one method for pollination, others use a combination.

Bee pollinated flowers have evolved in such a way that a visiting bee has to brush against the flower’s anthers bearing pollen, or there may be a special mechanism to release the anthers to spring up or down to cover the bee with pollen.

Compared with other insects, bees are extremely hairy. Each hair has a branched structure that makes it highly effective at catching pollen. While flying to the next flower, the honeybee will brush herself and move many of the pollen grains, to arrange them in the pollen baskets made of stiff hairs on her hind legs.

Some pollen grains are so dry that they cannot be formed into a clump. To prevent the pollen falling off during flight, the bee will regurgitate some nectar and mix it with the pollen. This gives the sweet taste when eating pollen balls collected by bees. It also makes the pollen a little darker so that it can be difficult to see from which plants it comes. Some bees do not have pollen baskets – they transport the pollen in the hair on their abdomen (e.g. Osmia bees and leaf cutter bees). When the honeybee with pollen is landing in the next flower, there will be pollen enough left on the bees’ body hairs to pollinate the new flower, by delivering some grains to the flower’s stigma.

To create a seed, the pollen grain has to grow a small tube inside the stigma to the ovary of the flower. Then a male gamete can travel through the tube, fertilize the egg cell and start development of the fertile seed.

Some plants need several successful visits from bees to ensure that all the flower’s eggs are fertilized. For example, some varieties of strawberry need about 20 pollen grains – requiring visits by several bees, an apple flower may need four or five bee visits to receive enough pollen grains for complete fertilization. If the fertilization is inadequate because of lack of bees, not all seeds will develop, and the shape of the fruit will be poor and small. Fertilization is the beginning of a new seed, which perhaps will grow and develop into a new plant. The new plant will bloom, provide the bees with food, be pollinated, and be fertilized, and in this way, the story continues.

Some general rules can be used to detect whether a plant is pollinated by bees, flies, beetles, wasps, butterflies, moths, thrips, birds, bats, marsupials, slugs or rodents. Flowers pollinated by bees most often bloom in daytime, they can have different colors, but seldom red. The scent of daytime bee pollinated flowers tends to be less strong than that of night pollinated flowers, often pollinated by bats or moths. Honeybee pollinated flowers have nectar tubes not more than 2 cm long. They have nectar guides (patterns to direct the bee towards the nectary) and often a landing place for bees. Bees are especially attracted to white, blue and yellow flowers. Plants pollinated by insects are called “entomophilous”, and insects are generally the most important pollinators.

 Bees and most flowering plants have developed a complex interdependence during millions of years. An estimated 80 percent of flowering plants are entomophilous i.e. depending more or less on insect pollination to be able to reproduce, and it is estimated that half of the pollinators of tropical plants are bees.

The efficiency of honeybees is due to their great numbers, their physique and their behavior of foraging on only one plant species at one time. The bees have to find their food in flowers. The food can be nectar or pollen. Nectar is produced to attract the bees. Pollen is also attracting the bees, but it has another function too: it is produced to ensure the next generation of plants.

The forager bee returns to the honeybee colony with her pollen loads, which are placed in the nest in areas of comb close to the brood. Bees have to learn where in a flower the nectar is to be found. To guide the bees, many plants have bee-tracks, which are lines of color leading the bee towards the nectar. These can sometimes be seen by humans, but some are in the ultra-violet part of the spectrum and visible to bees, but not humans.

In this way, the plant also guides the visiting bee to pass the anthers or stigma in the right way. Bees have no problems in finding the nectar in flat, open flowers, but in flowers that are more complex, they have to learn it by trial and error. After some visits in the same type of flower, the bee has learned where the nectar is, and learns this for the next visit.

Pollen is the protein food for bees. Without pollen, the young nurse bees cannot produce bee milk or royal jelly to feed the queen and brood. If no pollen is available to the colony, the queen will stop laying eggs.

Usually a honeybee can visit between 50-1000 flowers in one trip, which takes between 30 minutes to four hours. In Europe, a bee can make between seven and 14 trips a day. A colony with 25,000 forager bees, each making 10 trips a day, is able to pollinate 250 million flowers.

The ability of the honeybee to communicate to other bees in the colony where to go for collecting more pollen and nectar is very important for their efficiency as pollinators. When a scout bee has found a good nectar or pollen source, she will return to the colony and communicate to other bees where they can find the same food. This is done with a special dance indicating the distance, quality, and direction from the nest. Flowers closer than around 200 meters are just announced with the waggle dance without indicating any direction.

When bees begin foraging for pollen and/or nectar, they will visit the same species of flowers and work there as long as plenty of nectar or pollen can be found. For example, if a honeybee starts collecting in an Acacia tree, she will fly from Acacia flower to Acacia flower, and not behave as many other insects do, visiting different species of plants within the same trip without any great pollination effect. This behavior of bees is called foraging constancy.

Some flowers are open and with nectar all day and night, but others are open only for a few hours in the morning, afternoon or night. The single worker bee learns and remembers what time the different flowers are worth visiting. One bee can remember the opening time for up to seven different types of flowers. The honeybees are pollinating a great number of different plant species, and they do it effectively. Some solitary bee species are much more specialized for pollinating specific plant species.

 There are tons of examples out there, showing just how much we rely on bees. The Brazil nut tree grows wild in the Amazon Forest. Brazil nuts are one of the economically most important wild products growing trees in the area, with more than 50,000 tons of the nuts exported from Brazil every year. The Brazil nut trees cannot be grown in plantations, because they need to be pollinated by one special bee species, the small shining Euglossa bee.

This bee is dependent on the presence of an orchid species that is found only in the rain forest. They are also the only pollinators for a number of orchids in the forest. In some species of Euglossa, the male bee collects some scented material from the flower, which they distribute to attract other males – who do the same and multiply the effect with a scented cloud, in the end so strong, that it attracts female bees so that mating can take place. During the collection of the scented material, male bees transfer pollen from orchid to orchid and pollination takes place.

The female Euglossa bees live from nectar from the Brazil nut tree and pollinate it. This means that without the orchids, there would be no Euglossa bees and no Brazil nut trees, and none of the many other plants, insects and animals associated with that tree – including the people whose livelihoods include collection and sale of the Brazil nuts.

Studies in the Amazon forest have shown that many Euglossa bees do not cross open areas. That means that great parts of forest lose its pollinators when the forest is cut, and open parcels of land are created between remaining forest islands. This example is only one of many important specialized interrelations between bees and trees. In spite of this, the bees perhaps play a minor role as pollinators in the rain forest compared to their role in temperate forests, monsoon forests and savannah woodland.

In tropical rain forests, many trees are pollinated by birds, bats and insects other than bees. Animal pollination is of greatest importance, because there is no wind between the trees and because the distance between trees of the same species may often be great. In that way, it is most convenient for the trees to use animals as pollination vectors. In tropical forest, there may be rather few flowering plants on the ground because of the trees’ shade.

In European deciduous forests, the forest floor can be totally covered by flowering plants in springtime, before the trees produce their leaves. These plants often need fast pollination from a great number of honeybees. Not many other insects are present in high numbers in early spring.

In Denmark, the presence of bees in forest areas help to protect the newly planted trees from being eaten or spoiled from gnawing by roe deer, compared to other plantations with no bees. The reason is because bees secure a better pollination and seed production of so many other plants, which the roe dear can forage on instead of the tree seedlings. By pollinating trees, bushes and herbaceous plants, the bees are important for the food production of all the other animals and birds in the forest ecosystem dependent on it for food berries, seeds and fruits.

 Bees and trees belong together. The honeybees and stingless bees have originally developed in forest biotopes. Given the choice, wild honeybees chose nesting places in trees rather than in an open landscape. Most often the honeybees prefer to build their combs or nests high in trees instead of close to the ground, but bees nests can be found everywhere in a tree. In savannah areas with bushfires in the dry season, a high nesting place is an advantage.

http://iecoliving.com/home-and-garden/why-bees-are-so-important-to-the-ecosystem-and-to-humans/

Bees’ pollination efforts are responsible for a wide diversity of wild flowers and many crops depend on them. Without bees’ pollination of flowering crops and flowers, there would be far less food in general and diversity in particular. If bees did not pollinate in the wild, some vegetation would become extinct, leaving space for invasive, problematic species to take over. Animals that eat the extinct vegetation would then die off, followed by the carnivorous animals that eat the herbivores.

Bottle Cap Flowers

I personally love this project. It was an experience for sure to get a complete, satisfactory product, but I’m pretty happy with how the last ones turned out.  There are two ways to do it. The only difference is whether you have a tin can lid.

 For the First Way You Need:

A tin can lid- the one I used was 3 inches wide

16 bottle caps

JB Weld- you can find it in the automotive department of Wal-Mart. There is a picture of what look like below.

Pliers

A fork (optional) and 2 Heineken bottle caps

JB Weld

Step 1

Step 1-With a pair of pliers, pull a side of the bottle cap out, I will refer to this part as the pulled out edge. There will probably be a little bit of bump on the underside, but try to make it as flat as you can. Fold the rest of the sides down as shown in the picture, I will refer to these sides as the folded down sides. Leave an unfolded bottle cap for the middle. This picture is of the front side, but I will make a lot of references to the underside which is just the opposite side.

Step 2

Step 2- For the first row, I needed 9 caps, but I think that I had enough extra room for one more. Mix up the separate JB Weld liquids together with something and in something you don’t mind throwing away. You only can do a layer at a time, so just mix up a little at a time. Squeeze out about a little smaller than a dime should do. Dab a little JB Weld on the backside of the edge that you pulled out and then lay the cap on the edge of the can. The edge of the pulled out part should lay just on the innermost raised edge of the tin can as show in the picture. I had the ends of plastic spoons to put under the bottle caps to keep them from falling down. It takes at least five hours for the Weld to dry.

Step 3

I didn’t take a picture of this next part. Step 3- The middle row has six bottle caps in it. The side that you pulled out flat now needs to be pulled back a little farther towards the underside. Put the Weld on the tip of the pulled out edge and about half way up on the underside and then place it about halfway down the first row. Where you should place them is represent by the picture. Let it dry.

Step 4

Step 4- Dab the liquid weld on the very rim of the unfolded bottle cap and then place it in the middle.

Step 5 (optional)

Step 5 (optional)- put weld on the handle of a fork and place in the middle of the backside of the flower. Fold the two Heineken bottles like the petals and then weld it to the ‘stem’ of the flower. I have the weld bottles there to support the leaves.

Garden Stake

Here is what it looks like after all the steps are complete.

For the Alternative Method You Need:

13 bottle caps

JB Weld- you can find it in the automotive department of Wal-Mart. There is a picture of what look like below.

Pliers

Optional – A fork and 2 Heineken bottle caps

Alternate Step 1

Step 1 (alternative)- With a pair of pliers pull out all sides of one bottle cap. This will be the center of your flower. For the other 12 bottle caps, pull one side of the bottle cap out. There will probably be a little bit of bump on the underside, but try to make it as flat as you can. Fold the rest of the sides down, For the center cap pull out all the sides as shownin the picture.

Alternate Step 2

Alternate Step 2- Dab some JB Weld on the inside edge of six bottle caps that you folded and then glue it to the flattened part of the center bottle cap as shown in the picture. Then let it dry.

Alternate Step 3

Alternate Step 3- Then add six bottle caps onto the outside layer. This was my first project and I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. I only used six bottle caps on the outside layer, but I’m sure you could probably use more. Read the optional step 5 of the first method to see how to put on the stem and leaves.

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page.

Plastic Spoon Flowers

So, this is first spoon project that I mentioned not too long ago. I tried this project again and it still didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted, but I think it’s because I’m using thicker spoons and not just because I’m completely incompetent. I still think it’s a good DIY, so I’m going to post it and when I get some different spoons then I’m going to post my results.

Things You Need:

Plastic Spoons

Pliers

Lighter

Candle

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page.