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Monthly Archives: November 2013

  • We're having a VIP Christmas Shopping Night party...

    ... and you're invited!

    VIP Christmas Shopping night

     

     

    If the thought of braving a Westfield car park at this time of year horrifies you, come shopping at Queen B.  There's oodles of parking, Australian made gifts for everyone from the blokiest bloke to the girliest girl AND we'll have lots of one off specials on the night.  We've even got Mitch staying late so that you can watch the candles being made.

    If you're coming from afar, why not come along with a friend (or 3) and have a champagne on us and then dinner in Manly or Dee Why?

    Looking forward to catching up with some of you then.

    Cate xx

    [Readmore]
  • Make Your Own Christmas Gifts - 6 year old style

    Some people think I'm quite tough.  Anyone who has seen me with my niece will know I'm a complete walkover.  Pathetic.  Weak willed. Putty.  Wrapped around a 6 year old finger.  Thankfully the extent of her manipulations at this stage only involves decanting honey (she gets to control the lever, put on the lids... oh, and clean up the drips!), tasting honey, rolling beeswax candles and watching the River Cottage series or Monty Don's My Dream Farm!  Knowing I'm not a fan of TV she suggests that we put on an "educational DVD".  As I say, putty (and, hopefully, a farmer in the making)!

    Today she announced that she'd like to roll christmas trees and write instructions for other kids "so that they can be as lucky as I am, Kookie"!  I kid you not.  While I rolled our big pillars, she rolled Christmas trees.  If you've followed my blog, you know I'm not known for brevity, but in this case I'll let the pictures do the talking.  For the record, wording and spelling are her own!  [Spelling corrections suggested by putty auntie].

    eeswax Christmas Tree candle rolling instructions for 6 year olds Step by step instructions to roll your own Beeswax Christmas Tree candles
    Beeswax Christmas Tree candle rolling instructions for 6 year olds Insert the wick
    Beeswax Christmas Tree candle rolling instructions for 6 year olds Roll towards yourself
    Beeswax Christmas Tree candle rolling instructions for 6 year olds Watch the bottom to make sure it is level
    DIY Beeswax Christmas Tree candle rolling instructions for 6 year olds Ensure the bottom is neatly finished (if you look closely you'll see me wrapped around that little finger)
    Beeswax Christmas Tree candle rolling instructions for 6 year olds Hand written instructions - 6 year old style
    Beeswax Christmas Tree candle rolling instructions for 6 year olds Every artist needs a break just to think

    Being an auntie is surely one of the greatest privileges that life has to offer.

    Cate xx

    [Readmore]
  • Less Toxic Living

    A few months ago I was contacted by Kirsten McCulloch of Sustainable Suburbia fame to see if I would be willing to contribute to a book she was writing about reducing and eliminating the toxins we take in.  That was a complete no brainer.  I said yes!

    Well, Kirsten's dream has come true and Less Toxic Living: How to Reduce Your Everyday Exposure to Toxic Chemicals – An Introduction For Families goes on sale today.  In an extraordinary act of generosity, the eBook is completely free.  Printed copies are also for sale at US$12.99.  There is bonus content available for anyone who buys the book or downloads the free version prior to Tuesday, 3rd December 2013.  Please use the code QUEENB for the special bonuses.  Yes, free and bonuses.  Who's your mamma?!

    Less Toxic Living, Sustainable Suburbia, eliminate chemicals Yep... co-author! Going to have tickets on myself soon!

    As I planned this blog post, I asked Kirsten with two questions.  Following are her responses:

    1. We all lead busy lives, if you had to prioritise 10 things that someone can do for maximum impact to reduce everyday exposure to toxic chemicals, what would they be?

    1. Avoid the most pesticide laden food.

    Get to know the "dirty dozen" and "clean fifteen" and the Australian version released by the Friends of the Earth last year (though it's not based on as much research as the US version, but useful as a guide). For the worst offenders, grow your own or buy organic.

    2. Remember that your skin is your largest organ and think about what you are putting on it.

    Anything you wear daily, or that you use over a large area (like body lotion or sunscreen) those are your first cosmetics to consider. There are lots of safer brands (check out www.safecosmeticsaustralia.com.au for some options), or if you really want to know what you are putting on your skin, you can make your own. If you want to try that, the book contains a few easy products to start you off.

    3. Open the window

    Unless you live in a really polluted area, open your doors and windows. For more Australians, the build-up of toxic chemicals in your house, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde, is much higher than that outdoors. You can also grow houseplants to help reduce VOCS.

    4. Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter.

    Again, the typical build-up of toxic chemicals in the dust, including brominated fire retardants from your mattress, couch and carpet, is fairly scary.

    5. Take off your shoes

    Along those same lines, take of your outdoor shoes when you enter your home. You'll be amazed how much less dust comes in.

    6. Switch to non-toxic cleaning products.

    Start with one: whichever cleaning product you use the most, switch it out for something non-toxic. An all-purpose spray cleaner is really easy to make, for instance. Almost everything in the house can be cleaned with baking soda, washing soda, vinegar and soap, and again there are some easy recipes in the book to start you off.

    But again, if you don't want to make your own, there are some commercial brands that are quite good. I would choose one product and find out what the typical nasties in that one are (I cover this for a selection of products in the book, but The Chemical Maze is great for this - it even has an app now, which I have on my phone), then check your chosen "safe" brand and make sure those ingredients aren't in it.

    7. Stop eating processed “foods”

    Look, I am not a purist and I don’t pretend to do everything “right” even close to all the time. The occasional processed food isn’t going to kill you. But make it occasional, not part of your daily diet. If you eat a lot of processed food right now, then choose one meal a day to cut it out.

    8. Choose plastics with the recycling symbols #4 & #5.

    Avoid phthalates and BPA leaching into your food and skin by avoiding those plastics. There is more detail about this in the book. Some other plastics can be okay, but those are the safest.

    9. Get rid of synthetic fragrances.

    That means in cleaning products, air fresheners, candles and cosmetics. Fragrances are considered “proprietary knowledge” and therefore the individual chemical components don’t need to be listed. But there are thousands of chemicals that can be included, and when the US National Institute of
    Occupational Health and Safety evaluated 2983 fragrance chemicals they found that 884 were toxic.

    10. Switch out your candles!

    Of course, if you use a lot of candles, you must stop using paraffin-based, scented or coloured candles now! Go with 100% pure beeswax for a healthier glow!

    I'm not sure why candle come in 10th given every home has them and most people use them, but that's beside the point (and I may be just a smidgen biased in thinking that this is a BIG issue and we need to be having the conversation loud and fast given the explosion in toxic, scented, paraffin and soy sludge candles that are being sold).

    and, the next most obvious question:

    2. What is your background and what inspired you to write this book?

    I’ve been on a journey to reduce the toxins in my life, and my family’s, for a while now. Part of how that started was when I was trying to get pregnant and had been told I might miscarry a few times. I figured whatever I could do to decrease that risk would be good, and I started to really focus on what I was putting in my body.

    Then having kids of course you start to think about more than just what you are putting in your body. What are they being exposed to through their toys, the water, the air they’re breathing?

    Added to that, a little over 12 months ago, my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I suddenly had another motivation to take this journey a step further. She’s three week’s younger than me, and we’d both recently turned forty, and joked about how it’s all downhill from here. When my sister, and then step-father, were both diagnosed with bowel cancer a matter of months later, it was time to take action.

    Did you know that 75% of the chemicals in everyday use in Australia have never been tested for human or environmental toxicity? Well, of course you do if you have read my book! And it’s just astounding to realise how many of the products on our supermarket shelves contain known and suspected carcinogens. They may be in small doses, but when they are all added together, and combined with other chemicals, how small is the dose then? And how do those chemicals interact in our bodies? The answer is, we just don’t know.

    I was prompted to write this book partly by how overwhelming I found it when I started doing some solid research. I wanted to provide a way for people to start making changes without needing to feel overwhelmed. That’s why I called it Less Toxic Living, not non-toxic. There’s no such thing as non-toxic living in Australia today. But there are plenty of ways to reduce our exposure to nasty chemicals, and some of them are quite simple.

    And at the same time, there’s a mass of information out there, in in-depth books, blogs and magazines. So I wanted to bring some of that together to give people some easy ways to change their lives, and some resources for where to go if they want to get more in-depth."

     

    I hope you  find the book interesting reading... certainly food for thought.

    Cheers

    Cate xx

    [Readmore]
  • Teachers Gifts - Stocking Stuffers - Kris Kringle - "Great to Just have in the Cupboard" Gifts under $25

    Seems we're at the pointy end of the year from a gift giving point of view... and so a little, gentle, oh-so-sweet reminder that we'd love to solve all your gift giving woes for you!  We cater for both the complete control freaks who arrive with lists (with whom I have immediate affinity :-0) and for our many male customers who send us a list of the people they want gifts for (+ essential details) and a budget and we pick, pack & wrap.  Whether you're looking for a gift for a special teacher, a little something meaningful in the stocking, a kris kringle gift or a sustainable, Australian made gift for all of your staff and clients we've got it covered.

    Kris Kringle gift ideas, Australian made sustainable eco gift, corporate gift idea Kris Kringle Sustainable Gift Giving Tree

    As I write this, I'm ponder the words and philosophy of another blog I read, Whole Larder Love.  Rohan speaks a lot about the impact on the planet of consumerism and, on many levels I agree.  I reconcile what I do (selling beeswax candles and other, beautiful, Australian made products) because I know that what we do does actually make a difference to many lives and many businesses.

    When you buy a Queen B candle you are supporting Australian beekeepers and the regional communities they live in as well as our staff and our many Australian suppliers.  Don't let that just wash over you as being marketing spin (it isn't).  Think about it for a moment.  Our beekeepers (and their hard working bees) put food on our plates, flowers in our gardens, herbs and veggies in our patches and the caramelised sunlight that we call honey in just about anything tasty.  They're worth fighting for. They're worth supporting and hopefully we bring you a product that makes it easy and affordable for you to show that support.  The fact that you also get to bathe in the natural wonder that is bee-created light is a bonus.  And, oh, what a bonus.  Even after a decade of making beeswax candles, the flame of a Bee Light candle can still stop me, as it grabs me by the eye-balls and demands that I get into the moment NOW.  Right now.

    Conjoined Bee Lights... a happy production error.  An even more visible halo... Conjoined Bee Lights... a happy production error. An even more visible halo...

    If you've never noticed the aura/halo that that surrounds the flame of a pure beeswax candle (versus the paraffin tealight candle on the right), take a look the next time you light a beeswax candle.  It truly is extraordinary.

    Notice the size of the flame on the beeswax candle and the "halo" around the flame Beeswax flame versus Paraffin flame - Notice the size of the flame on the beeswax candle and the "halo" around the flame

    I'll leave it at that.  The literature says that the answer to getting people to read your blog (or newsletters) is to do short posts!  I find that next to impossible because there is so much thought behind everything that we do... and I just like a good chat.

    As an aside, because it's lovely to share a little of the magic that goes on at Queen B... you may know if you've followed us for a while that our continued survival is due, in some part, to 'angels' who turn up weekly as volunteers to package the candles.  It wasn't something that I dreamed up, but someone, somewhere realised I needed help and it arrived.  Many of the angels who have helped have had terminal cancer and so their numbers have dwindled over the years.  At the same time Queen B has been growing.  We're now very reliant on the couple of remaining angels (and mum and dad are being called in with alarming regularity to get me through a fix)!  About a week ago I said to Sarah (the same Sarah who writes the beautiful notes on your invoices) we desperately need more angels but I have no idea how you go about finding angels!

    Fast forward a week.  A woman (we'll call her Robin) calls yesterday morning.  She's local.  Googled for beeswax candles.  Popped in to the hive.  We had a lovely chat and off she went with bags full of beeswax candles (and some of the DIVINE Dinosaur Designs stuff we've got in store).  A few hours later she was back.  This time I was upstairs and she was looked after by Sarah.  Now it may have had something to do with the fact that I was supposed to be doing MYOB, but I could hear their conversation and I hear  Robin say 'if you're ever looking for a volunteer... a spare set of hands... someone to help out, I'd love to come and just spend time here and help you'.  I seriously almost vaulted off the mezzanine level.  Certainly not many of the stairs were touched as I flew down them.  I could have (and I think I may have) hugged her!  All the while saying a silent word of thanks to the powers that bee.  Amazing... and nothing really to do with kris kringle or stocking stuffers or teachers gifts - but my favourite part of this post!

    If you did make it to the end - thank you!

    Cate xx

    __________________________________________________________________________

    Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holderspersonalised candlesvotive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

    [Readmore]
  • And the winner is...

    Pollen

    What a fabulous exercise that was!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who voted and commented and liked and tweeted and posted... the verdict is in and interestingly, both the official Judging Panel (Louise Olsen from Dinosaur Designs, Deb Bibby from Real Living Magazine and Jodie Warters from ISCD)  and the jury (you guys) came to the same conclusion.  Clearly we have very stylish customers!  Pollen, by Tina Murray-Walker, was the clear winner in both camps.

    hand made, beeswax, candle, Tina Graham, Pollen, honeycomb, ISCD collaboration, Mark Tuckey Pollen design by Tina Murray-Walker for Queen B beeswax candles - shot on location at Mark Tuckey. Artwork by David Bromley

    I trundled off to one of my retailers on Saturday - fabulous, Australian manufacturer, Mark Tuckey* - with my new designs in hand and was tickled yellow to discover that we are 'on trend' with the colour too!  What a happy surprise.  Being 'on trend' has never been a great driver for me as I think that non-toxic, Australian made, beautiful designs, being real and anything to do with bees are more important than being trendy, but what a happy coincidence that in this case we can have it all!  I have to say too that making the candles on Saturday just made me feel happy.

    Just before I delightedly show you "Pollen" in a myriad of ways at Mark Tuckey, a thank you to all the designers for their beautiful designs.  It is testament to the quality of their work that we had our biggest response ever to a call out for your opinions.  Special mention as runners up to Ingrid Bowen for her Fez design (which came second) and to Sandy Cipriotti for Sunburst and Brenda Deguara for Bedelia (which came equal third).

    As promised when I announced the winning comment (the winner was Amanda Ingham for her post on our blog) we're offering 20% off to anyone who posted on the blog, commented on Facebook or 'liked' on Instagram PRIOR to 5th November 2013 when entries closed.  Your order must be in the same name as the name you used to comment, post or like!  The 20% off offer is valid until 5pm this Friday, 15th November 2013.  Simply put your name into the comments field to alert us to your revered status (and that we need to look for your comment/like/post)!

    They are available in 3 different sizes:

    • 10cm medium (10cm H x 8.5cm W) with a 50 hour burn time
    • 15cm medium (15cm H x 8.5cm W) with a 90 hour burn time
    • 20cm fat (20cm H x 10.5cm W) with a 200 hour burn time

    With no further ado, it is with great pleasure that I give you Pollen...

    hand made, beeswax, candle, Tina Graham, Pollen, honeycomb, ISCD collaboration, Mark Tuckey Pollen design by Tina Murray-Walker for Queen B beeswax candles - shot on location at Mark Tuckey
    hand made, beeswax, candle, Tina Graham, Pollen, honeycomb, ISCD collaboration, Mark Tuckey Pollen design by Tina Murray-Walker for Queen B beeswax candles - shot on location at Mark Tuckey
    hand made, beeswax, candle, Tina Graham, Pollen, honeycomb, ISCD collaboration, Mark Tuckey Pollen design by Tina Murray-Walker for Queen B beeswax candles - shot on location at Mark Tuckey
    hand made, beeswax, candle, Tina Graham, Pollen, honeycomb, ISCD collaboration, Mark Tuckey Pollen design by Tina Murray-Walker for Queen B beeswax candles - shot on location at Mark Tuckey
    hand made, beeswax, candle, Tina Graham, Pollen, honeycomb, ISCD collaboration, Mark Tuckey Pollen design by Tina Murray-Walker for Queen B beeswax candles - shot on location at Mark Tuckey
    hand made, beeswax, candle, Tina Graham, Pollen, honeycomb, ISCD collaboration, Mark Tuckey Pollen design by Tina Murray-Walker for Queen B beeswax candles - shot on location at Mark Tuckey
    hand made, beeswax, candle, Tina Graham, Pollen, honeycomb, ISCD collaboration, Mark Tuckey Pollen design by Tina Murray-Walker for Queen B beeswax candles - shot on location at Mark Tuckey
    hand made, beeswax, candle, Tina Graham, Pollen, honeycomb, ISCD collaboration, Mark Tuckey Pollen design by Tina Murray-Walker for Queen B beeswax candles - shot on location at Mark Tuckey

    And just because I couldn't resist showing the full, exquisite artwork by David Bromley and some of the amazing furniture made in Australia by Mark Tuckey and his talented team...

    hand made, beeswax, candle, Tina Graham, Pollen, honeycomb, ISCD collaboration, Mark Tuckey Pollen design by Tina Graham for Queen B beeswax candles - shot on location at Mark Tuckey

    * be careful clicking on the link for Mark Tuckey... I just spent an hour on their website dreaming!

    You can read the profile on Tina Murray-Walker in this month's Real Living Magazine by clicking on the image below:

    Real Living magazine profile on Tina Murray-Walker ISCD Surface Design student and Queen B beeswax candle design winner Profile on Tina Murray-Walker in this month's Real Living magazine
    [Readmore]
  • The perfect little gift - the gift of Sweetness & Light

    One of our greatest challenges has always been to create beautiful gifts for the ≤ $15.00 price point... something that packs a powerful gift punch without putting too much of a strain on your wallet.  It's the perfect sustainable corporate staff or client gift.  And (without wanting to appear to have tickets on our hive), I think we've nailed it!  I am deliriously excited to announce our newest product in the Queen B range... Sweetness & Light.

     

    Sweetness and Light - sustainable australian made corporate gift idea Sweetness & Light - the perfect, sustainable, Australian made little gift

    Each box contains 2 x Jam Jar Tealights + 1 jar of Australian honey (our current batch is yellow box honey).

    rosh hashana, corporate sustainable eco gift idea, queen b pure beeswax candles I know it's not polite to blow one's own trumpet, but seriously, how gorgeous is this packaging? (or do I just need to get our more?)... it's 100% recycled Australian card, printed with soy ink and printed in Australia

    This is the perfect little gift to say:
    thanks
    I'm thinking of you
    happy house warming
    you're a wonderful hostess
    I'm sorry
    I think I'm meant to be sorry
    I love you
    I like you lots
    bomboniere
    I just want to seduce you
    happy barmitzvah / batmitzvah
    you're a great friend
    you're doing a great job
    here, have a little time for you
    we're having an eco wedding
    I've got you what everyone wants for a kris kringle

    queen b beeswax candles and honey for eco gift wedding idea or bombonniere Sweetness and Light - beautiful no matter what angle you look at it from!

    For 24 hours only (ie for our most engaged followers) for every 4 Sweetness & Lights you order, we'll send you a 5th one for free.  Offer expires 12.30pm 6th November 2013. To qualify you must write "Thank goodness for bees" in the comments field!  Not on an email later.  Not when you get your order.  Not over the phone.  You must write it in the comments field when you order!!

    PS If you work in a business, can you also please tell your boss about this amazing little gift!

    Thanks

    Cate xx

    [Readmore]

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