Every year I try and come up with a non-candy option for the class Valentine’s Day cards. In the past we’ve made bath bombs and red sparkly play dough. This year, as Valentine’s Day is the beginning of the beekeeping year, I have bees (even more) on the brain.
The other week I also did a presentation about beekeeping to my son’s kindergarten class, which was sweetness itself. After hearing about every single time every child has been stung, or nearly been stung, or thought about being stung, by a bee, wasp, or mosquito, they asked great questions about honey extraction, where the dead bees go, what makes honey taste different, and how I make the smoker work.
So, as the time for planting wildflowers comes up in early March here in the temperate, if damp, west coast, I thought we could tape a little glassine envelope of bee-friendly wildflower seeds inside the valentine. If you’d like to do the same, I think the bees would be thrilled. Below you’ll find a printable in both English and French (my son goes to a French immersion school), to make your own. We’re gluing this image to the front of a blank card after my son does the tough work of printing his classmates’ names on them, and taping the little envelopes inside.
Standing in the As-Is department of IKEA, I came up with the idea for this centrepiece. I am a sucker for fake flowers. Real ones are beautiful, obviously, but I try to stick to things grown close by and in the end of November in Canada, there isn’t much around. So when I spotted branches of less-than-perfect white ones for 59¢, I dug around the garish pink blossoms to come up with three nice stems. If your As-Is department comes up empty, the regular stems run about $1.29 – $2.99 each, I used three here.
The vase is the bigger of the two ENSIDIG vase sizes ($2.99), and I filled the centre of it with two strands of the SÄRDAL LED light strings with the battery pack attached ($3.99/each). Cramming the artificial flower stems inside and pressed along the outside edge disguises the battery packs. Just pull some of the lights around so you’ve got some poking out the top and some illuminating flowers from behind.
I am making my own lip balm this year as part of my homemade gift basket. This sounds much more insane Pinterest-mom than it is – I promise. I spend much more time sourcing appropriate containers than anything else, and that’s my favourite part. I mean, containers!
As a beekeeper, I also have access to a good chunk of beeswax, should I want to do the messy work of rendering it down.
A word about beeswax: know your source. I know you can buy those beeswax pebbles on Amazon and Etsy, but please, go to your local beekeeping association and get your wax through an actual beekeeper, and ask them how they manage their bees. As you probably know, keeping honeybees is a difficult job these days for a number of reasons. Plenty of beekeepers choose to fight off the many diseases by giving their bees medicines and antibiotics every year. These substances build up in the wax, which you are then putting on your lips. You don’t need to ask for organic beeswax, just say you’d like beeswax from someone doing natural beekeeping without medications. Small-scale beekeepers are more likely to work like this. Beekeepers are a funny lot, but most are happy to help you out, especially if you come with cash in hand. This is a good time of year to get it, too. I didn’t know anything about this until I started beekeeping myself.
On to the rest of it!
I bought empty lip balm tubes as I don’t like sticking my dirty fingers into a lip balm pot while out and about, but if you prefer that kind of container, there are lotsoutthere. For decanting into your container, try using a [amazon_link id=”B00MH7SDS0″ target=”_blank” ]children’s medicine syringe[/amazon_link]. You can find them at most pharmacies, and it makes things much less messy, especially for decanting into the tubes.
Basic lip balm recipe ratios Makes about 15-17 lip balms in tubes
40g coconut oil
1-2 tsp honey
Melt the beeswax with the coconut oil. I do this in a mason jar sitting on a jar ring in a pot half-filled with water over medium-low heat. Whatever vessel you melt the wax in will become hopelessly covered in wax, so use something you can dedicate to the purpose. The pot will get a bit of wax scum on it too, fair warning!
Once everything is melted, add the honey and stir to combine. Test the consistency of your lip balm by taking a small amount out on a spoon and letting it cool. Test it out! Too greasy? Add a bit more beeswax. Too stiff? Add a bit more coconut oil. If you add too much honey, it won’t mix in with the wax mixture.
Get some tubes gathered together and standing upright. Whisk your wax mixture vigorously, and then pull some into your syringe and fill tubes madly to the top. Once the first round of tubes are filled, you will need to add a glob of balm to the top of each one. Pop on the lids and label them up.
A note on honey separation: I found that when I added too much honey to my mixture, when I filled the tubes, the honey would sink to the bottom. It’s easy to roll the lip balm out of the tubes and into your melting pot, and then wash the honey out of the tube (or, er, dip your finger in it and then wash it out with hot water…). You can remelt this lip balm as many times as you need to get the ratios right. The whisking before pulling up the melted balm helps distribute the honey as well, but some batches just wouldn’t come together for me.
Whistler is probably not top of mind for a summer holiday destination, but I can tell you from experience, it should be.
Stunningly beautiful lake beaches, paved bike paths, and a great playground surrounded by pedestrianized paths and many coffee shops. And on the 12th and 13th of July, there’s also the Whistler Children’s Festival.
The Children’s Festival is returning to the Whistler Olympic Plaza, right in the heart of Whistler Village, with performances by Will Stroet, Charlotte Diamond, Fresh Groove, and the Vancouver Circus School to name a few. There’s face-painting, a toddler free play tent, Vancouver Aquarium touch tanks, and balloon creatures. Keep an eye out for giveaways from Lovechild Organics and Yumm Brownies, as well popsicles and fruit leathers.
One of my favourite aspects of this festival are their creative workshops. Register online ahead of time, and your little one can make soap-stone carvings, bear-paw t-shirts, birdhouses, cereal box jet-packs, or learn circus skills. The creative workshops are all under $20 each, and many less than $10 – that’s impressive, as supplies are included.
And because I’d love for you to get a chance to go, enter the giveaway below to win this incredible package:
– 2 nights’ stay (nights of July 11 & 12) at Whistler Hilton hotel
– VIP family entrance pass to Whistler Children’s Festival
– $200 gift certificate to The Keg restaurant in Whistler
– Family trip for 4 on the River of Golden Dreams
– 4 hours of babysitting in Whistler for 1 to 2 kids
– $50 gift certificate to 21 Steps restaurant
– Pizza delivered to the Hilton for one meal
The internet is full of homemade bubble mixture recipes, and to be honest, they are all very similar. It irks me to pay for this stuff in a store, and I don’t want to be more annoyed when the container gets knocked over (because it always gets knocked over). So we make it at home.
This recipe is the most reliable I’ve found so far, but still requires some sitting time, so make it the night before you’d like to use it.
2 cups warm tap water
2 tbsp Dawn dishwashing soap
2 tbsp glycerin (available in the pharmacy, look for the shelf by the rubbing alcohol)
1 tbsp sugar
Mix gently, and then leave to sit in an open container overnight. Sugar makes the mixture a bit more robust, but also stickier. Our house is always vaguely sticky due to beekeeping activities, but if yours is cleaner, you might want to stick to outside bubble blowing with this one.