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Archive for the ‘beeswax’ Category

2014 Spring Open House

Guess what? It’s on! Spring is coming – can’t you see it in the wildflowers that are popping up more and more around us? How about these great little rain storms we’ve been getting? It’s great for the flowers, trees, fields and bees. We are excited about the outlook for the honey season. We’re also very excited about sharing our new Honey House with you all so we decided we didn’t want to wait until the Christmas holidays rolled around again. That is waaaaaaay too far away. So please swing by for our Spring Open House and we’ll be happy to show you around the new building and property. While we won’t every single thing in place, we have it functioning and looking and feeling really awesome. We just want to share some of that goodness. As always, honey tastings are going to be available as well as whatever wonderful beeswax products we’ve poured…including the exquisite Bunny ornament that Mark started pouring recently. I love it! Perfect for an Easter basket or a sweet little hostess gift. We hope to see you soon!

Bunny ornament 2014

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Hot tea with Honey Citrus Syrup

So a few weeks ago, after the mad rush of holiday activities, I finally came down with something. It didn’t feel like a flu but it didn’t feel like just allergies. I guess it could have been a combination of really bad allergies and a really bad cold. I was out of it, sleepy all the time, no energy, congested, coughing and freezing all the time (which is really unheard of for me and that’s how Mark knows I must really be ill). My sore throat could only be soothed with hot beverages and the lemon honey tea is always nice for that. I think all the talking during Pearl market really was what pushed me over the sick edge. The soar throat was just killing me from talking for about four hours and inhaling all that cold air and whatever was flying around that day. Anyway, I did have some nice down time and fortunately it happened when things were slow at my other job as well, with so many coworkers on vacation or out ill.

Hot tea with lemon and honey

At market, we often exchange ideas with friends and customers about uses for our products and other vendors’ products. And so I had a chance to talk again about using our honey in a cough syrup and decided I should really do it. So I combed through many blogs and recipe sites to see what was out there for natural honey recipes for coughs. I really liked the sounds of one in particular and I used it as a base model for some syrup to help my and Tang’s coughs. It’s essentially this: fill a jar (any size but I used a pint jar) 3/4 of the way up with lime slices and about 2 teaspoons worth fresh ginger (I just sliced up what looked like the equivalent of that and then added more slices for good measure since ginger is so good for the digestive system anyway). Then I went to work layering things into the jar.

Ingredients for a Honey Lime Syrup

For an extra boost of local allergy relief, I used the wildflower comb honey I had left from Guadalupe County. I liked the bits of wax that came along for the ride. Couldn’t hurt.

Adding raw honey to the syrup concoction

I mashed things up and then poured more honey in so that it was near the top of the jar. Then it went in the fridge over night and the next night we each had a cup of hot tea with one teaspoon of the syrup. Even though Mark doesn’t typically like citrus flavors in this hot tea, he did like this formula and the three of us give this syrup three thumbs up for sure. I am excited to next try a rosemary-lime-honey syrup since we have a potted rosemary by the back door and I love rosemary! You can also try oranges with cloves and honey but I haven’t done that one yet.

Lime Ginger Honey Syrup in the fridge

I sent some of my pictures and information out to family and friends and my brother Tuan sent me his picture of his own version. I like learning from others and in his version, he used five very juicy limes and upped the amount of ginger (as in he used “a ton” of fresh ginger they had in the freezer, he said). He did the 3/4 lime-ginger and 1/4 honey combination and stirred it all up, adjusting sweetness and sourness to his liking. Then he popped it into the refrigerator for a few hours and then proceeded to down five tablespoons straight up. He cracked me up! It does taste very good and I can see myself doing the same if I would allow it, which I won’t. haha Anyway, thank you brother dear for sharing your concoction and picture with us and for letting me use it here. I love how you committed immediately with the quart size jar! By the way, I am so happy to see you guys are burning the candles! We will send more.

Another version of the Honey Lime Syrup

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2013 GBR Holiday Open House

My intentions of posting before the big weekend hit didn’t quite pan out so here we are, post-huge-double-event-weekend and some pictures loaded so I can share with you what and how we’ve been doing. We’re doing great, by the way. Quick run-down of things:

  • Our 4th annual Holiday Open House went smashingly. It was crazy. It was hectic. It was fun. And we are all excited about next year’s event and have made plans to bring in as many Hoang family members as can make it. Talk about fun working together! We couldn’t have survived the weekend as well as we have without the help of our family and friends. Thanks, everyone!
  • The Honey House is moving right along and we are thrilled! The crews worked really hard to help us get in the HH by the time Open House came along and they did it! Walls and roof up and on, then the windows and doors crews got to work and poof, we got some useable space. We made due with a very, very long extension cord and were able to have hot cider and the Christmas tree lit but that was it. 🙂 We were thrilled to have such an open space even with it unfinished. Today we had temporary power hooked up so that the insulation crew could do their thing and they did. Can’t wait to look inside again tomorrow. Mark and Tang picked out paint today while I was at the mill working and the HH gets a coat of paint inside, top to bottom.

Honey House Construction Update

  • Speaking of Tang, that’s my older brother and he is visiting with us for about two months while our dad is traveling. Tang got to stay with us a week last Christmas and we all had a great time so we were thrilled when we found out he’d be here even longer with us. He is a sweet soul and an eager learner and helper. He LOVES Mark and Stan and being around them and he loves to help them do “man work,” as he calls it. I love him and I love that my beekeeper is teaching him how to make candles. Tonight at dinner he told us he enjoyed making the candles and when asked which was his favorite, he responded that the 1-pound block is his fav. He’s not sure why; he just likes it. Made us laugh. I’m sure there will be many beeventures for Tang between now and February so we’ll be sure to share! By the way, his name is not  pronounced like the orange powder drink, but rather sounds like “tong.”

Tang levels out the vintage cookie mold for beeswax ornaments

 

  • We had a record sales day at the Pearl this past weekend and it happened to be the coldest day ever! The vendor turnout was lower than usual and we were in a temporary location due to the Tamales Festival running on the same day and there weren’t nearly as many shoppers as usual but the ones who came out to support the market were amazing! We really weren’t sure what to expect since we were pretty much frozen within an hour of getting there and setting up so imagine our utter surprise when Mark gave us the final numbers. And “us” includes Mark, me, Tang and another brother name Hung and our sis Lan. What a great crew we had and somehow we managed to laugh through some of it but man were we glad to get done and get home! Thank God for great family!

Okay, that’s about it for now. I need to do other stuff before bed. I hope you all have had a great month so far. This is my favorite time of the year!!!! If you want, here are links to two photo sets on our Flickr page. Click on the link to check out more of what we’re doing by viewing my visual memory book. 🙂 Goodnight.

Honey house progress 11/14/13

Well, as of yesterday, this is how the Honey House (HH) is looking and we can’t begin to tell you the emotions and excitment we feel when we are out back there. It’s FINALLY REAL!!! See how happy we are? Smokey’s happy, too, and accompanies us each day to check out all the progress and to climb dirt piles and machinery. We leave the last two activities to him although I do get some height by standing on the tractor occasionally.

Honey house progress 11/14/13

It’s been a crazy busy kind of week but Mark’s made some new candles and I’m totally smitten with them! First we have these sweet round pillars, which we’ll be debuting at the Pearl Farmers Market as well as in the bee class that Mark teaches, both happening tomorrow. These are 3-inch diameter pillars and their heights are 3-, 4-, and 6-inches (priced $14, $18, $22 respectively).

Newest candles to be introduced tomorrow aim class and at the Pearl

He aslo made some sweet little hand-dipped tapers – his first! I will get a good picture of them and share them next post.

Finally, I just want to give a BIG TEXAS THANK YOU to our good friend, Josh, who owns Azulox Photography. I have admired his work and his talent for many years and we are so happy that we had a photo shoot with him finally – we’ve never had portraits made together, even for our wedding, so this was very special to us. I can’t think of anyone I trusted more to capture us and how we are together. We had so much fun and we love the photographs. It’s going to be very, very hard for me to pick the few I will put up on our walls. 🙂 Thank you so much, Josh! We love you and wish you all the best in your life and work. Here is ONE of my favorites:

Photography by Azulox Photography, LLC

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We are so thrilled to finally have all the components ready for the rollout of our first-ever holiday ornaments! We had been working on the packaging as I have mentioned in previous posts and now we’re ready. We did a soft launch this past weekend at market and class but now these lovelies are up for grabs anywhere and anytime. I still have to do an official photo shoot in order to prep them each for the website but here’s the basic information you’ll need to know to decide if you want to buy them for yourself or as a gift for others:

  • Angel with Candle and Santa & Kitty ornaments are each $14.
  • Round Tree of Life ornament is $16.
  • All ornaments are 100% pure beeswax – all natural with no artificial scents added, just the sweet and natural honey in there. All beeswax comes from right here in South Texas.
  • We hand-pour and pull each ornment in our Candle Shop here at the Bee Ranch.
  • Each ornament comes in its own linen bag that includes a pull-twine-tie and a folded, heavy-stock information booklet with a history of beeswax ornaments and care and handling tips.

Surprise!!!! Soft intro of holiday ornaments today at @pearlbrewery farmers market.

Here’s the front of the booklet:

New holiday ornament booklets  arrived!

The inside and back are filled with beeswax ornament history and care information:

Inside the insert

Also, just so you know, I can’t wait to do a beeswax ornament themed tree this year – our first. 🙂 Excited! We’ve been testing the impact of small lights on the ornaments and are happy to report there is no significant impact whatsoever and I’ve had the bulb touching the ornaments for weeks. There’s barely any warmth where it touches the wax so it appears to withstand the lights quite well.

New beeswax ornaments - testing heat factor from Christmas lights

PS – You can click on each picture to view them at a larger size. Just a reminder.
Subscript to the PS – I did some Christmas shopping already and I’m putting a gift under the tree tonight! HEHE

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Financial work sessions

Today’s work is some serious financial reconciliations and planning and strategies for future efficiencies. Even while we took a late lunch break, we continued to discuss business matters, covering everthing from nuc sales forecasting to holiday ornanment pricing structure. We are so blessed to have a sister who loves her financials and loves us. Win, win. 🙂 We’re also blessed because we get to celebrate with her even as we work. Thuy is a breast cancer survivor and it’s a little over a year since she was first diagnosed and underwent her first surgery to remove the cancer. Through it all she has just let her magnificent light shine and it now shines even brighter than I have ever known it to – she’s glowing with life and a pure happiness and joy that comes from learning not to take a day for granted. Last fall, Thuy’s days were often filled with chemo treatments, meaning plenty of not so great side effects that kept her from doing anything except sleeping so her body could heal. We are all so thankful that she has made such a great recovery in so little time. I know it’s been a year but it is just hard to believe it’s been a full year. Seems like yesterday when we had to cancel her trip to the Bee Ranch thanks to the dreaded BC diagnosis. This summer, Thuy told me she wants to enjoy every single day of fall and winter since she missed them both last year. I just really love how she is embracing each day she wakes up and it inspires me even more to do the same myself. So here we are, enjoying even the work we must do while we are on our little mini-vacation. Really, who can complain about work when you get to look up and see the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and shrimping boats and dolphin pods and gentle waves. Not us!

To date, we are entering fall in pretty good shape in almost all bee yards. Last week in our area, we averaged about 5.5 inches of rain on top of the recent weekly rains. This fall rain is great and will hopefully mean the bees will be good and strong come next spring so they can gear up for honey production. The pollen and nectar they continue to bring in this fall all go towards building up their winter honey stores, meaning we leave it for them and they will sustain themselves with little intervention from us. We do have several gallon bags full of pollen should some of the bees need a boost to help them get to spring in good shape. In other bee biz news, mite treatments were all administered. The Honey House building continues to move along even if it is slower than we’d like; at least things are happening now that Mark decided he needed to be his own contractor. More work but more control that way. He’s in the collect-bids stage so we’re getting engineers to finally agree and qoutes from plumbers, electricians, septic system designers and builders and so on and so on. Exciting! One day we are really going to be rocking and rolling in our new building and we probably won’t know what to do. Well, yes we will because we are desperate for more space for working but you know what I mean. 🙂

Also wanted to share that we have enjoyed working with our branding consultant, Maeve of Design Maeven, and we have approved labels and tags to the printers. Woohoo! As much as I enjoy “crafting” the handmade Creamed Honey tags, I just don’t have time to do the print-cut-glue-cut-hole-punch-tag process every week. 🙂 Can’t wait to peel and stick all those jars – people love it so much I can hardly keep up with the 48-55 jars we sell weekly pretty consistently. The other part of the rebranding project is our gift tags for the ornaments we want to introduce this year. Can’t wait to show that to y’all and to have the products available for purchase. People have already started pre-orders for the ornaments as Christmas gifts and they haven’t even seen the final packaging! We are so touched by the trust placed with us to do good things. Thank y’all so much!

Now, I must really take a stretch break. We’ve been working all day and while the view of the ocean is lovely and the sound of the gentle waves is relaxing, my east coast soul yearns to walk in the water. Unfortunately, it is a little on the chilly side for a dip in the ocean today (boo) but I hope to do so before we leave. Meanwhile, I have watched this shrimp boat cruise back and forth about three times today so I’m thinking shrimp might be what’s for dinner. Will let y’all know. Will also let you know if Mark and Thuy ever take a break today from their financial planning and reconciliation activities. I’m happy they are making such great progress on their to-do list, however. Thankful, thankful. Talk to y’all soon.

Update 11:42pm EST: They took a break around 5:45p and we finally got to walk along the beach, collecting shells and taking fun pictures and just being thankful for having this time together. I just love being with these two. 🙂

Thinking we will have shrimp for din tonight...2nd pass this AM.

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New beeswax ornaments - testing heat factor from Christmas lights
This is us testing the impact of Christmas light heat on the beeswax ornaments. So far, no impact. Good.

I never know where the days melt away to from Monday to Thursday night. Isn’t that interesting? Last thing I recalled, it was Sunday evening and I was relishing the relaxed hours after market and before the official work week kicked in the next morning. Anyway, here we are. Time to get tags together for Creamed Honey jars, prep supplies such as spoons and postcards, box up the bottled honey Stan got ready for us during the week…oh yea, and gear up to do a new DOUBLE TENT set up at Saturday’s Pearl Farmers Market. We are thrilled to give it a try and now we’ll have Sunday to rest a bit. We are on Quarry Market sabbatical until further notice. We have got to have a little rest now that the harvest is over and we just really want to be back with our church family for a while. We really miss them. So while we will enjoy sleeping until at least 7am one day out of the week, maybe even 7:30am (!!) and seeing our church family, we will surely miss our Quarry market family for a while. We’ve met some wonderful, wonderful people and feel so blessed.

On the beekeeping front, Mark is doing really well with his requeening project. Down to one yard left to be completely done. Yay! He’s been pushing it and is pretty much tired out by evening time each day but I’m so proud of him. Besides the bee work and candle work and beeswax testing, Honey House construction and some administrative work, Mark found a little time to check out some merchandise at our favorite home goods and gift shop here in town – Gift & Gourmet. They had a big warehouse sale today and boy did we strike it rich! Mark actually was taking some stuff to store there at the warehouse Mary graciously is letting us use and he couldn’t get in. Tough luck. lol BUT in the process, we scored a couple of awesome display shelves – one with lights even! That will show off the products very nicely we think. We also purchased several very lovely display racks and ornament trees. What a gift – we didn’t like what we’d seen last night during our research of ornament display trees and this serendipitous shopping excursion pretty much has us set for a while in terms of product display furniture. Nice. Oh yes, in the picture below, I did a collage of the three cabinets Mark sent pictures of for my input. We didn’t buy all of these but I still couldn’t get over the fact that they were so affordable and better yet, that we’d have many pieces of our favorite shop in our own shop. That’s so special to us. We love Mary and her staff and all the wonderful things they do for us as well as for the community. They are just awesome folks. The bottom left picture is the ONE shot I thought to snap of a display rack and the mini-crockpot is actually for wax melting. Smells lovely and will be going with us to market since our double tent will now have electricity! woohoo – we are moving on up, eh? I was so excited about personal shopping that I totally forgot to shoot anything of all the other super cool pieces we bought for the bee biz. haha, I am bad! By the time I got there and saw the outrageously low prices, I went into Christmas gift shopping mode for family and girlfriends. It was awesome. And fun. Things and people were everywhere. To get out from “behind the scenes” where Mary treated us to some special treasures, we actually climbed through the bottom shelf of a display cabinet. Talk about fun. And even Mark did it. He said it is a good thing he’s dropped 40 pounds recently. hehe Wish you could have seen us.

Shopping for GBR

Late afternoon brought a few customers to the Bee Ranch. This is a fairly new beekeeper who’s enjoyed his two hives so much, he is on the list for several more nucs come next spring. Love to hear that. Today he was picking up two queens so he and Mark discussed the direct introduction method for his new queen installation. Hopefully he will have as much success as we have had with that way of doing the queen intros.

Queen introduction discussion

Later I will share with your our other visitor – a florist from north of Austin. We have partnered with them and are honored and thrilled they want to share our honey and beeswax products with their customers. Can’t wait to post about that when the time is right. 🙂 For now, I bid you a goodnight. Sleep well.

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