Our Stories

The Battle of the Bees

It started with a single wasp in the kitchen. I saw it buzzing around the windows while I was working at the table. “That’s strange”, I thought. “I didn’t think I left the door open. Oh well, maybe I let him in somehow.” I opened up the window and ushered him out into the warm outside air.

I didn’t think much of it until I went to go put the diapers into the washing machine in the basement. When I walked over to the machine, I heard a familiar buzzing sound. A wasp in the washer? This can’t be good. Thankfully, he flew over to the light allowing me to quickly and carefully toss the dirty laundry in the machine and escape back upstairs.

I went over to consult my dad, who lives next door. “Any idea why I might a wasp in my basement? I only saw one. I don’t know how he could have gotten down there.” My dad wasn’t sure either, but suggested I look around the foundation of the house to see if there were any nests near the foundation.

I patrolled the premise, but apparently not too well because I didn’t find the nest. But my dad did, a couple days later when he was mowing the lawn. “Beth, come check this out. I found out where they’re getting in.” He gestured toward the wall of the house. A cloud of yellow jackets passed in and out of the wall of our house as they went about their daily chores.

“I’ll take care of them tonight,” my dad promised. And he did. When it was dark, he sprayed their entry way and sealed up the hole so no one could escape. Problem solved.

Or so we thought. The next day, I went downstairs to do the diapers. Again, I heard buzzing by the stairwell. It looked like our raid hadn’t been completely successful and that in order to throw our stinky diapers in the wash, I was going to have to get past the wasp.

Carefully I made my way into the basement and deposited the load in the machine. But the wasp was back in the stairwell, buzzing by the window. “How am I going to get back upstairs? I’m trapped!” I tried waiting it out to see if he would relocate, but he was pretty content by the stairs. Then I realized why he was by the window: he was attracted to the light! So I turned on a nearby light bulb and he made his way over the the light, repeatedly crashing into the lit bulb leaving me free to make my exit. I left the basement, leaving the light on.

Later when I went to get my laundry out, I saw not one, but ten wasps buzzing around the light. Forsaking the laundry, I went to get my dad. “Dad, we’ve got a problem.” He came over to check out the situation. My dad’s deathly allergic to bees, so he really wasn’t happy about this new development. Because of his allergy, the attack on the wasps would have to be stealthy so as not to anger them.

Being an engineer, my dad came up with a creative solution. He rigged up a vacuum with a long PVC pipe attached to the nozzle. With the wasps flocking to the light, we were able to use this extension to suck them one by one into the vacuum. They would make a satisfying little “thump” as they traveled down the tube.

While we were down there, we figured out how they had been getting into the basement. Somehow, they had found their way in through a tiny crack in the foundation and built a large nest up into the wall of the house. My dad sprayed around the crack with Raid and the flow of wasps from the hole ceased.

The basement was secured, but the invasion wasn’t over yet. Ousted from their home, a cloud of wasps surrounded their old entrance, seeking desperately for a new way in. This might not have been an issue if it wasn’t next to our upstairs neighbor’s door! Further action was needed.

In an effort to wipe out the remaining wasps, my dad mixed up a batch of contact pesticide spray, ordinarily used for the garden. He misted the wasps until they started to diminish in number.

It’s been a couple days since then, and it appears that those yellow jackets are a hardy bunch because there’s still a few buzzing around by the door. The battle isn’t over yet, but I think we are on the winning side. At the very least, I can get to my washing machine! And for that I am grateful.

Have you ever had a wasp nest in your house? How did you deal with it?

Cleaning, Homemaking

How to Clean Up Spilled Cooking Oil

“Watch out for the spill,” said my husband as I walked into the kitchen that morning. I looked down at the floor. “No worries,” I thought as I side-stepped the mess on the way to the bathroom. It was a big spill, but nothing an old towel couldn’t handle.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “When I was opening the coconut oil this morning, it slipped out of my hands. I was going to try to clean it before you got up.”

“Oh.” That statement gave the mess new meaning. “Guess it’s not going to be as simple as grabbing an old towel,” I thought to myself. “How are we supposed to clean up all that cooking oil?”

We started with paper towels. They helped a little bit, but were mostly useless because there was just too much oil. Then, I had an idea.

“What about baking soda?” I wondered. From my adventures in laundering, I knew that baking soda could be used to remove cooking oil stains from clothing. To remove an oil stain, all you have to do is some apply baking soda and wait for it to absorb the oil. Then you brush it off, dab on some detergent and rinse out the remaining oil.

I decided to apply this bit of laundry logic to our situation. I sprinkled and waited, fingers crossed. And it worked!

The baking soda absorbed the majority of the oil, leaving nice little clumps which could then be swept away. We finished the job with an alcohol-based degreasing spray. Though it first seemed like an impossible task, we managed to clean several cups of coconut off the floor and counters, all before the baby woke up. Success!

How to Clean Up a Cooking Oil Spill

Hopefully this scenario never happens to you, but in case it does, here’s a four step process for cleaning up spilled cooking oil, whether it be coconut, olive, avocado, canola, or peanut oil.

  1. If you’re cooking and spill the oil near a burner that you’re using, turn it off and wait for the area to cool.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on the oil spill and allow the oil time to be absorbed. Sweep, vacuum, or wipe away the clumps of baking soda or cornstarch.
  3. Break out your heavy duty dish soap or a spray cleaner designed for greasy messes and apply it to the remaining oil. Let it sit for a minute or two and clean it up.
  4. Celebrate, because you did it!

Have you ever had a cooking oil incident? How did you clean it up?