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Monthly Archives: October 2010

  • Now THAT'S a thank you note...

    One of my favourite Queen B clients is Money Warehouse.  Andrew (who owns Money Warehouse) is a VERY straight talking guy... he makes me look moderate.

    Anyway, getting to the point... Money Warehouse are a mortgage broking company.  Dime a dozen, right?  Not really with Andrew.  I can honestly say with hand on heart that Andrew is completely unique in the passion with which he looks after this clients.  Not only does he fight to make the whole process seamless and easy for his clients, but each time Andrew settles a loan for a new client, he sends them a Queen B hamper chock full of beeswax candles, honey and chocolate honeycomb as a thank you.  His clients typically send him a thank you note which he then shares with us so that we can experience the warm glow too!

    Last night, Andrew forwarded me this thank you note from the most recent hamper we sent (on Tuesday):

    "Hello Andrew, Maria and Shane

    We’re at a bit of a loss for words (not a state you’ll find me in often).

    Yesterday evening, when we arrived home, there was a package sitting outside our door. After the bomb squad had left, we were amazed to discovered it was a parcel from you guys wishing us ‘sweetness and light’ in our new home. And, full of great stuff to ensure we had both.

    That was completely lovely of you. Thank you so much - particularly as we rather felt we should be sending you the gifts to say how incredibly grateful we are for all the help and support you’ve given us over the course of buying into the old folks home in Westin Street.

    You have consistently excelled.

    You gave us great advice. And, even when we didn’t take it and realised later how valuable it was, you never said ‘told you’ (I would have) but just let it go with a comment that we should do whatever made us comfortable.

    You  were incredibly well organised and informed.  You went out of your way to explain relevant facts, you steered us through procedures, documentation and decisions, you (gently) checked that we understood what was happening and why, you anticipated and fixed problems before they happened, you caught every mistake that the lawyers and the bank and everyone else made and rectified those too.

    Both Josie and I have had quite a lot of experience with brokers over the years. We have never met any that came within a mile (1.60934 km) of Money Warehouse.  Anyone who asks (and most of those who don’t) are getting our opinion that if they go anywhere else for finance, they’re crazy.

    So, thank you for the lovely gifts and, even more so, for the care, concern, expertise and the sheer weight of effort that you’ve given us.

    Very best regards..."

    How beautiful is that?  The note was so lovely that I thought I'd do a shout out for Andrew and the team at Money Warehouse, and a shout out to all those people who send beautiful notes and heartfelt messages, you really could have no idea how much it means to us in small business land.  Having being in small business for 5 years, I go out of my way to recognise good service far more than I ever used to.  Doing what we do, we are also the extremely grateful recipients of a lot of it too!  To get your day of to a lovely start, you can read some of it here.

    If you do contact Andrew, feel free to tell him you're a friend of mine.

    Have a beautiful day.


    Queen B Hamper





    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 holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

  • Ah, the company we keep...

    These beautiful photographs (by the very talented Fiora Sacco) just arrived from luxury brand consultants, Black Communications.

    The event was a wedding lunch, showcasing Quay Restaurant and Riedel glassware - hence the beautiful food and glassware.  Extraordinary flowers by the talented team at Grandiflora. I'll let the photographs do the rest of the talking.  Suffice it to say that we love being in good company!

    Riedel corporate event pure beeswax candlelight by Queen B


    Flowers by Grandiflora, candlelight with pure beeswax candles by Queen B


    Black Communications see the Queen B beeswax candlelight



    Corporate event candles by Queen B







    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 holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

  • Why the white beeswax Queenie?

    Several days ago I received a call from one of our retailers wondering why our beeswax was so 'white' compared to other beeswax candles?  She had a customer concerned that our candles weren't the "natural yellow beeswax colour" and saying that our wax must be bleached.  After explaining it to our retailer, I realised that I don't really explain it anywhere in detail.  So, here goes...

    Beeswax is secreted from the wax glands on the abdomen of the female worker bees.  When made, it is so white as to be almost translucent.  So, first point to note, beeswax actually starts off white.

    The worker bees use the beeswax to build honeycomb in which to store honey and bee pollen.  This is where the various colours of wax arise.  Natural beeswax can range from creamy white through to bright yellow (dandelion, flatweed, canola, wattle), orange (capeweed - it's a yellow daisy flower with a black centre), pink and even dark brown (melted down comb wax).

    There are other influencers too on the colour of beeswax, such as:

    1. The length of time the wax is left in the hive
    2. Whether the beekeeper melts down old comb and brood comb with their cappings wax (the vast majority of beekeepers do this as it is good beekeeping practice to replace the foundation comb at least once a year in every frame in a hive)
    3. What temperature the beekeeper melts the wax at (the higher the temperature the darker the wax)
    4. How clean the wax is (in terms of filtering out pollen and dust)

    Because different coloured beeswaxes burn differently, I had to make a decision with Queen B as to what 'colour' of beeswax we would use.  [NB As far as I am aware, the fact that different coloured beeswaxes burn differently was not known previously.  It was certainly not written anywhere, and has been news to every beekeeper I have ever spoken to.  I consider our pursuit of perfection, and implementation of lessons learned, to be what makes a Queen B candle different].

    Historically, creamy white beeswax was always reserved for the royalty and commanded a premium price.  Indeed it still commands a higher price than darker waxes.  So, if we were to produce the world's finest beeswax candles, then we required the world's finest beeswax.  For this reason we only use Australian beeswax (it is free from the chemical residues of varroa treatments because Australian is the only country in the world without the varroa mite), we only use 'cappings' wax and we use creamy white beeswax (because it is untainted by pollen and other foreign substances, is not overheated, burns beautifully... and quite frankly, because it is indeed fit for the 'queen' in each of us - yes, boys, that includes you too).

    It is, however, not just as simple of buying creamy, white beeswax on the open market.  When I decided to do Queen B 'seriously', I studied beekeeping so that I could speak their language.  We now buy from 4 beekeepers and I know each of them personally.  I also play a relatively active role in the industry volunteering each year on the Honey Stand at the Royal Easter Show.  And when I needed a 'new' car, I bought a ute so that I could go and pick up our beeswax... (and secretly because I also love driving a ute)!

    We also have our own proprietary method of cleaning beeswax further inhouse - using just water, time and filtration - to remove the dust ever-present in hives sitting in our native eucalypt forests.  We clean our wax twice in a process taking 48 hours.  The photograph below shows how much dust we manage to extract from wax considered 'clean'.  It is fairly safe to assume that unless a company is using chemically bleached beeswax, that their candles would be made with beeswax still containing this dust.

    Whilst I think each of our beekeepers probably considers me a little eccentric (!), I don't think any of them would question whether I know my stuff when it comes to beeswax.  We have specific parameters in which they work in harvesting and cleaning our beeswax (temperature, no chemicals, time to settle etc), and we have specific honey flows from which we purchase all their wax.

    I could go on for hours... but I won't!

    There endeth the lesson.  I hope you enjoyed it.


    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 holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

  • (Blood) Orange Polenta Cake

    This recipe is from my FAVOURITE cookbook (and casual restaurant in London) called Ottolenghi.  They have the most divine salads, vegie dishes and cakes & desserts.

    Quick polenta works better than standard polenta in cakes because it cooks quicker and doesn't have a gritty texture.


    50g plain flour
    1t baking powder
    200g unsalted butter
    200g caster sugar
    3 eggs, lightly beaten
    2 teaspoons orange blossom water
    240g almond meal
    120g quick-cook polenta

    Caramel topping:
    90g caster sugar
    2 tablespoons water
    20g unsalted butter, diced
    3 small oranges (I used blood oranges)

    4 tablespoons orange marmalade (I used blood orange maramalade)
    1 tablespoon water


    Lightly grease a 20cm spring form tin (I used a 24cm springform tin) and line the base and sides with baking paper.

    Make the caramel first. Have ready a small pastry brush and a cup of water.  Put the sugar for the caramel in a heavy-based saucepan and add the water.  Stir gently to wet the sugar through and then place on a low-medium heat.  Slowly bring the sugar to the boil.  While it bubbles away, brush the sides of the pan occasionally with a little of the water in the cup to get rid of any crystals that form close to the bubbling sugar.

    After a few minutes the water should evaporate and the sugar will start to darken.  Keep your eye on it because sugar can easily burn.  As soon as it reaches a nice golden colour, remove the pan from the heat.  With your face at a safe distance, add the chunks of butter.  Stir with a wooden spoon and then pour the caramel over the lined base of the cake tin.  Ensure it is spread evenly across the base of the tin.

    Grate the zest of the oranges and set aside.  Using a small, sharp knife, slice 1cm off from the top and bottom of each orange.  Then cut off the remaining skin and all the white pith.  Cut each orange horizontally into roughly 6 slices.  Remove the pips and lay out the slices tightly over the caramel.

    Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celcius.

    To make the cake batter, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

    In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together lightly.  Make sure they are well combined but do not incorporate too much air into the mixture.  Gradually add the eggs while the machine is on a low speed.  Add the reserved orange zest and the orange blossom water, followed by the almond meal, polenta and sifted dry ingredients.  As soon as they are all mixed in, stop the machine.

    Transfer the batter to the prepared cake tin, making sure that the oranges underneath stay in a single neat layer.  Level the mixture carefully with a palette knife.  Place the cake in the oven and bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out dry.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 5 minutes.

    While the cake is still hot, place a flat plate on top and briskly turn over onto the plate.  Remove the tin and lining paper.  Leave the cake to cool completely.

    For the glaze, bring the marmalade and water to the boil in a small saucepan and then pass through a sieve.  While the glaze is still hot, lightly spoon/brush the top of the cake with it.

    Mine looked like this...

    If you bake this recipe, please pop a comment or post below and send me a photograph which I'll add to the post...

    This cake has probably been everyone's favourite so far (on par with the Torte de Cicciolata).

    Happy baking

    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 holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

  • Torta di Cioccolata

    This is a delightful no-brainer... and ABSOLUTELY delicious.  Voted second only to the Blood Orange Polenta cake which I will post next...

    Prep time is only about 20 mins and then 40 mins in the oven... et voila!  If you try it, please post about it so that other readers get opinions other than my own.


    100g butter
    350g 'good quality chocolate' (I used the Lindt 70%)
    1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (I made a shot of macciato espresso)
    3 tablespoons dutch cocoa
    5 large eggs
    250g caster sugar
    5 tablespoons ground walnuts (I used almond meal because I had it left over from the Orange Polenta Cake)
    100g walnut pieces (I used pecans because I had them in the cupboard)
    1 tablespoon cocoa (I didn't bother)
    1 tablespoon icing sugar (I didn't bother)


    Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Butter a 20cm non-stick springform tin (I used a 24cm springform tin).

    Place butter and chocolate, broken into pieces, in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Stir gently until the chocolate is thoroughly melted and the mixture is smooth.  Whisk in the coffee powder and cocoa and set aside. [NB I didn't put my shot of espresso in at this stage because I thought chocolate and water don't like one another... I put the espresso in right at the end].

    In a separate bowl beat the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale (approx 5 minutes), then fold in the walnut (almond) meal and walnut (pecan) pieces!

    Gently fold together the chocolate mixture and the egg mixture until thoroughly combined, then pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.

    Bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes or until the top of the cake is dry.  Turn off the over (without opening the door) and leave the cake undisturbed in the oven to cool.

    When the cake is cool, remove from the cold oven and gently remove from the tin.

    Dust with a combination of cocoa and icing sugar (I didn't think that it needed it) and service in thin slices (I served thick ones)!


    Theirs first... then mine!  A little messier but I can vouch that it would look messier still in your tummy.

    [Keri - not sure what the Gwinganna nutritionist would say about this one, but with the exception of the caster sugar (which you could exchange for 1/2 the volume in honey) all of the ingredients are pretty wholesome. :-)]

    Please post your thoughts when you're done.


    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 holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

  • Double-layer pumpkin cheesecake

    This was first cab off the rank trying out my (slightly rusty) baking skills.  It is dead easy, tastes divine, looks impressive and with a couple of simple changes could almost be classified as healthy!  Where I made changes in the version I cooked, I've noted it in brackets.

    I found the recipe in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Living on 13th July and they gave credit to Joanne Hallis of East Lindfield, NSW.  Thanks Joanne...


    200g digestive biscuits (I used ginger nuts)
    75g unsalted butter, melted
    500g packages cream cheese (I used low fat cream cheese)
    1/2 cup castor sugar (I used 2 tablespoons of Australian mahogany honey... which is a little like golden syrup, but good for you)
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 eggs (borrowed from neighbours like they used to do in the old days, and exchanged later for 2 slices of pumpkin cheesecake!)
    1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I used organic Kent pumpkin which is soft and beautifully sweet)
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 pinch ground cloves
    1 pinch ground nutmeg


    Preheat the oven to 165 degrees celcius.

    Grease a 23cm springform pan (I used a 20cm one).  Place two layers of alfoil around the outside to prevent seepage (I don't like alfoil, so used two sheets of baking paper on the inside of the tin).

    Crush biscuits in a food processor.  Add melted butter and pulse to distribute evenly.  Pressing into the base of the prepared  pan.

    In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar (honey) and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Blend in eggs one at a time.  Remove one cup of the mixture and spread over biscuit crust.  Set aside.

    Add pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmet and cloves to the remaining mix and stir gently until well blended.  Spread the pumping mixture over the mixture on the crust.

    Bake for 35 - 40 mins or until centre is almost set.  Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.


    If you do make this recipe, please post your comments below so that other readers can have a broader range of opinions than just my own!

    Using the 20cm springform tin made each layer of my cheesecake a little higher... and substituting honey for sugar and low fat cream cheese for full fat made it healthy!

    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 holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.


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