Friday, December 30, 2016

Putting 2016 in the Books


Am I the only one who looks up at the end of the year and wonder there the heck it went? And is it just me or is time speeding up the older I get?

Let's all take a deep breath to stave off our panic attack...

It's that time of year when we look back and hope we accomplished something besides just getting another year older. Does anyone else feel the pressure? It's like WHAT WAS I DOING ALL YEAR?

So get out your calendar, open Instagram on your phone, or grab your journal and let's take stock of a few things. It'll be fun, I promise. Plus we are going to use this exercise to make a plan for a productive 2017 in the next post.

Do you have that feeling that you are supposed to be running your own business or writing a book because the current culture makes you feel inadequate and unproductive? You know, since you haven't invented an app worth a bazillion dollars this year. Don't fall for it. If we look at all the things we did get done it can look pretty good on paper. Here's my end of the year list for non-goal setters.

Here we go:

What did you learn? It's probably more than you think if you give it some thought. If you know me, you know that I LOVE learning to do new things. I do this without definite goals in mind. I'm not looking to learn to garden better to start a farm or to do lettering to open a sign business. For me, there is a vast intrinsic value in gaining new skills. Why kill that excitement with a goal? Here are the 3 biggest things I learned this year:

1. I can make a video and the world will not spin off its axis at the sound of my voice. I was seriously worried that my voice would break the internet. In a bad way.

2. I'm an ambivert. I generally think of myself as an introverted homebody, but in reality, when I'm with people I don't hate them. Usually. Okay, it depends on the people.

3. I'm not as snarky as I used to be. Ignore number 2. I no longer feel like I have to be the funniest person in the room. Now that everyone thinks they are hilarious I'm less interested in making people laugh. Kind of like I lost interest in homeschooling when everyone started doing it. What's the point if you don't think you'll be arrested? I'm a rebel that way.

What did you eat? How self-absorbed can this list be, right? But eating better is on a lot of our lists. You get credit for any progress you made! This was the year I focused on adding protein, drinking the 8 glasses of water a day, and eliminating sugar. Even the sweet coffee creamer I'd been using for 20 years. Can we have a moment of silence, please?

indian yogurt

What did you make? Was it a new resume? Redecorated room? Maybe it was a big decision! I got out the sewing machine and sewed my first stitches in two decades. I learned to knit. I'm terrible at it right now but I know how to do it. I made adorable mailegs. I hand lettered windows and doodled and made home-made skin care products. Yes, I know it sounds like there is something wrong with me.

beeswax hand cream

What goals did you reach? Give yourself credit for absolutely anything that you achieved. Sometimes those are internal things no one will ever know about but you. Write them down. Go YOU! I became a certified Tennessee Master Gardener. Marked Norway and Iceland off my travel list and doubled my number of beehives. But complaining less and practicing gratitude are things I worked hard toward.

Cruise ship

What did you focus on? Our energy follows our focus so this is a big one. If you struggled with what you let get to you, then use this as a catalyst for change in the new year. Changing my thinking was something I worked hard on this year and I started almost every day with a motivation video, positive reading, or meditation.

ship ligh

Now, on to Pen & Hive.

What was the most read post?

You shocked me by making How to Prune Hydrangeas twice as popular as the next most read post!

pruning hydrangeas

It was followed by the Introduction to You: Sustainable. In third place was The Power of Ordinary Days, which may be my personal favorite for the year.

The most like photo on Instagram was this pic of a turquoise filing cabinet my husband bought me for my birthday. It was one of those "Honey, look what you got me!" (as I'm dragging it in the house) scenarios.


It was an outlier because all the most popular IG posts were bee related, like this one of beeswax before and after.


One of my favorite things to do (since I am somewhat goal challenged) is to make an I did list instead of a to-do-list. Take a few minutes over the weekend to go over what you accomplished this year. I'll bet you did more than you think.

Still not satisfied and hope to do better next year? Which is literally next week! Then meet me back here on Monday for the first blog post of the new year.

Meanwhile, have some champagne and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Family History Told in Santa Photos

This is me with what use to pass for a Santa back before Santa school, real beards, and Kris Kringles who could make a tidy year's salary between Thanksgiving and Christmas at the mall.  You've got to love the Buddy Holly glasses on him and the red cowgirl boots on me.

Okay, and that Santa is in a trailer with bad wood paneling in the parking lot of a K-Mart. I was a pretty gullible kid seeing as how I didn't wonder why he'd be hanging out there.

I think it helps to focus on the boots...

Is it just me or does time fly faster than Santa's reindeer? When I had my daughter I decided instead of a random pic here or there I was going to have her picture made every year with Santa.

It became an annual tradition and I was nearly obsessive about it. I was determined for my kids to have their pictures made with Santa EVERY year (did I mention that?) until they were 18 or so. It sounded so easy in the beginning. You take the baby, and eventually babies, stand in line, plop them on Santa's lap while some teenage girl in an elf costume tries to get them to smile, snap! Pay here.

Here's your photo...

She really wasn't sure about this at all but by the following year she had made up her mind.

She was terrified of Santa.

Well, the costume is a really bad one, I'll admit. I finally had to tell the photo elf to just take the picture screams and all.

A year later she had discovered HE BRINGS PRESENTS! Well, NOW we are talking.

I'm thinking this was a My Pretty Pony, Cherry Merry Muffin, Care Bear discussion...

Around this time she realized the whole Santa visit was also a photo op.

Now she's just working us...and Santa.

She is still VERY good at this.


Sharing the spotlight.


He can't ask for much, right?

This was the year we discovered a nearly authentic version of Santa. He even had me fooled.

This is my all time favorite.

So precious.

Pigtails. Pigtails, people!

I miss that.

The haughty Mr. Snarky made his first holiday appearance in '93.

His expression sums up his whole attitude.

You gotta problem with that?

 While waiting in a long line for our chance to visit with Mr. Claus Mr. Snarky disappeared. Two parents and two grandparents were looking frantically for him when we heard a man yell "HEY! That's not my kid!" My husband and I exchanged glances that said "No. He would be ours." There he was, sitting on SC's lap with another boy. When we asked him why he cut in line he just said "He's right there, why are we standing around?"

This was the year the malls discovered if they took real photos instead of Polaroids they could charge fifteen dollars instead of two.

Clearly, in '97 we were just at the mall and I thought "Let's get this over with while we're here." Mr. Snarky is wearing a hand-me-down from his sister with flowers on the lining. The princess is in the braces years, and he is in the full throes of Legomania (symptoms include a crazed facial expression whenever the toy is discussed).

Time just kept marching on...

and on...

The kids got older, the lists got longer, the Santas got better and the photos got more expensive.

We had just returned from London, where I had wanted to have the Santa photo made but was informed that the kids would have to STAND next to Father Christmas as sitting on his lap was considered...sort of suggestive.

Oh heaven help me, are they kidding?

We all especially love this one of Mr. Snarky. I recall him putting up a fight about what he was going to wear. He won but he still pays for it every time this picture is viewed. Revenge might be a long time coming but it is sweet.

He recovered nicely the next year from whatever was wrong with him, part of which was probably my decision to let him wear whatever he wanted. Clearly, in this picture his sister and I had laid down the fashion law.

The photo above was the last year I insisted they get the photo made.

The next two years they missed doing it so much that the following year they went and secretly had it made, framed it and gave it to me for Christmas. There was almost a tear.


Image may contain: 2 people

So now the pictures look more like this with her brother since it's hard to get him to agree to a photo at all.

Did you read the previous post about Dan Money? This photo is from that Christmas a couple of years ago.

Want to see the cutest Santa photo ever? I saved it for the end.

My husband with The Big Guy circa 1960. How cute is that bow tie? My kids are going to relish the difference between their dad looking spiffy at a fine local department store and their mom in cowboy boots in a trailer beside KMart. Let the snarky commentary begin!

What's your favorite Christmas photo?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How a Terrible Experience Birthed a New Christmas Tradition for Our Family

 I apologize in advance for how long this post is, but Christmas makes me squishy on the inside and all those feels make me rambly.

Two years ago I started making the last gift I gave at Christmas, cash. And what makes everyone happier than that? Well, as it turns out the answer to that question is spending money on others.  

Research shows that we obtain more lasting happiness by giving money away than we do by spending it on ourselves. 

My son had an experience at Christmas couple of years ago where a stranger helped him,  I refer to him in the letter I included with the money. You can read it below. Mr. Snarky was taking a bus from Flagstaff to Phoenix to come home for Christmas. The bus broke down in the desert and after waiting 3 hours for help to arrive my son asked the driver to get his bag out for him. He began to walk down the highway pulling his luggage with his thumb out. By his estimate, a hundred or more cars passed him as he grew more and more distraught thinking he'd miss his flight home in time for his sister's graduation from graduate school. 

The poor kid needed a Christmas miracle. 

Finally, a guy in a truck pulled up and honked. It was a Native American man named Dan who was headed to a flea market to set up for the day. Jared was hoping someone could get him as far as Pheonix and then he'd figure out the next part. Nothing doing. This guy took my son all the way to the terminal. Mr. Snarky gave him 35 dollars in gas money, made his flight, and was home in time for his sister's graduation the next day. 

I know if you are a parent all you are getting out of this story is HITCHHIKING! 


I know. I know. 

When I heard this story about

A. my son hitchhiking 

B. Some kind and generous person with very little who helped him

I was

A. terrified 

B. Tearfully grateful   

I should probably explain that my son was working for Americorps at the time and had been camping for 10 days at a time working on trails and when he arrived home he looked...well, like a mountain man. Ok, or a terrorist. 

The real miracle is that anybody stopped for him at all. He had cleaned up a lot by the next day as you can see in my daughter's FB post.

 That experience sparked the idea for "Dan Money."

Now, I should probably tell you that while my husband, daughter, son-in-law, and son really liked the idea of doing this and starting a new tradition, they thought the letter I attached the money to was cheesy. 

So, this is your cheesy warning. Here's the letter: 

 This is Your DAN $$$
 You may remember that Dan is the guy who made it possible for Jared to get home for Christmas. In honor of Dan, I'm instituting a new holiday tradition in which we honor this guy, who did what was probably a small thing to him but was a huge thing for Jared as he stood on the side of the highway wondering how he could get to the airport in Phoenix.

In future years when this story is told about how Dan saved Uncle Jared's, or Dad's Christmas  I'm sure the story will be laughed at and enjoyed, probably embellished to make it even better, as all good stories are. But I hope there will always be something done by our family for strangers at this time of year in honor of Dan. Who knows? one of you may be someone else's Dan before it's all over, and how cool would that be? 

The Rules

You must spend all the Dan money you receive, on someone else. 

The person must be a stranger. 

You have to share the story with each other by New Year's Day. 

The Mission

That's it! You can buy someone a coffee, pick up a soldier's tab in a restaurant, feed a homeless person, or whatever you come across that needs to be done between Christmas and the start of the new year.

The Challenge

To see how much holiday good will can be spread by our little experiment and how creative you can be.

The Payoff

Studies show that giving makes us happier so this gift is about making you happier too! 

Merry Christmas! 

Okay, maybe it is a little cheesy. Everyone seems to be looking for some special opportunity to give so the New Year's Day deadline will probably be revised. And in the future, the amount of money may fluctuate depending on circumstances. I'll let you know what my family does with it. 

Has your family created any new traditions or let old ones go? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Why Legos are Still My Favorite Toy

 I was in Denmark this summer and Legos were everywhere. Entire stores for just one kind of toy?

Yes, please.

Legos kind of defined my son's childhood so they hold a special place in my Christmas heart.

I once sold a bedroom suit that was in our then guestroom (now office) so that it could be completely empty except for thousands of Legos; we spent hours and hours there.

That sounds extreme now that I see it written out like that.

Now that he's 25 my son and I both still drool over the new sets that come out. We are especially fond of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones ones. For some reason, my daughter thinks this makes us extremely nerdy (I don't think a woman who keeps 4 color-coded calendars should be judging anyone).

 Sometimes in Target we wander over to the toy aisle. We both pretend we are lost and then say something clever to hide our true intention like "How did we end up here? Oh, look at that one. I wish they'd had that when...."

At that point, our sadness overwhelms us and we go to electronics.

Electronics is the socially acceptable department for a mother and grown son to be in.

Christmas is especially hard on many toy ads...

I think they are, quite simply, the best toy ever made.

Once when my son was young I heard a mother say "I don't let them have Legos. I don't want to have to pick up all those tiny pieces."

I'm sure this constitutes child abuse. DHS should have an entire department to deal with it. Her child has doubtless suffered irreparable spatial ability damage. I hope she's happy.

A couple of years ago when the Lego Movie came out we went on one of the first nights. The theater was packed and my son's feeling of awkwardness was assuaged when the place was packed with twenty-somethings. Including four guys next to us who looked like the cast of Big Bang Theory.

I looked around but didn't see any other middle-aged women.  Lucky for my son I have a firm attachment to my inner child.

Christmas always makes me think about Legos and reminds me of the fun my son used to have playing with them as well as the quiet hours that meant for me.

Everything was awesome. I am currently storing thousands and thousands of them for future grandchildren.

What was your child's favorite toy? Or yours if you don't have kids!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

How to Get a 4 Week Jumpstart on Your Resolutions

 Define insanity.

You may have heard it defined as "doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results."

That is probably a fairly lame definition of a complex term, but we can all agree that the behavior is illogical and irrational. Yet we all do it. A lot. This time of year there's a pretty universal behavior to illustrate my point.

Most of us start eating whatever we want at Thanksgiving continuing on through New Years and then pull out our resolutions and try to recover. Every year, however, we find ourselves further and further behind in our goals and just can't seem to figure it out.


What if I told you that when everyone else is planning their leaf turning on January first you could already be ahead of the game?

That's right. I'm suggesting you start your New Years resolutions today, December 1st.

I know. I know. You have: the company Christmas party, your kid's class party, baking to do, candy to make, cookie swaps to go to, the neighbor who delivers homemade peanut brittle, brownies in the breakroom, not to mention hot chocolate by the fire and cocktails with friends.

And in my case, a birthday.

That, my darlings, is the point. 

Why add five extra pounds to the number you already need to lose come January 1? Or why add all that sugar and feed an addiction you want to conquer just a month from now?  Why booze it up and then go dry the first 31 days of 2017? Why give yourself a 4 or 5-week pass and then start a new year beating yourself up?

What crazy person starts their resolutions in December? A crazy person who is serious. 

Here's the plan: 

Visualize: The very first thing you have to do is imagine that when all your friends and colleagues are giving up things and complaining about how hard it is after the holidays, you, you genius you, have already spent a month cultivating better habits. I mean literally, lie in bed and night and imagine this scenario. Feel what that would be like. Pretty damn awesome, huh? Make this a nightly practice.

Choose:  If you were waiting until after Christmas to start thinking about making better choices next year, go ahead and do that after Thanksgiving instead. What is it you want to work on in the coming year? More exercise? Reading a book a week? Cutting out an hour of TV a day?

Plan: Think about how you are going to go about this craziness. Are you going to opt for veggies instead of dessert? Are you going to skip the wine and have water? Are you going to walk around your neighborhood looking at Christmas lights each evening? Are you going to start picking out that book list? Are you going to plan to find a yoga class during the holidays or take up meditation?

Here are 3 ways to make it work:

See it. Write it down in your planner or on your calendar. Written goals inspire and remind. You'll see it there and think "Oh, yes. I am crazy serious about this goal."

Speak it. Start telling people you are already getting a jump start on the year. Yeah, so now people are watching and you are accountable. Plus they assume you'll fail and act like you are crazy. Embrace that. Think how much fun it will be to prove them wrong. And just embrace your craziness. Do you really want to be ordinary?

Act it out. For example, eat a healthy meal at home before parties and events. When you arrive and your willpower is highest, ask for water and fill your plate with veggies. Hosts and servers who see your empty glass or plate will offer you tempting things. Keep them full of the things you chose for your jumpstart. Think of other ways you can  take preemptive action depending on your goals.

Reality Check: 

Are we really going to be able to say no to all those tempting goodies or get to yoga when we have extra things to do this month? A book? Who has time to read a book with all the cooking, shopping, and decorating? Well, maybe you, but I'm guessing you have never tried before. We all just keep falling into the same trap of indulging our bad habits in December and then acting as if they'll magically be transformed in January. But habits don't work like that. It takes 66 days to cultivate a new habit. Those two months can be rough. Most people quit. February is the graveyard of resolutions.

What I'm asking you to do, and what I'm planning on doing, is to make some progress between Thanksgiving and New Years. Skip the extra piece of pie you would normally excuse with a joke about dieting next month. Drink a full glass of water between every glass of wine. Read a few pages of your book, turn off the TV 30 minutes early, ask for running shoes or a yoga class for Christmas.

Can we do it perfectly? Nope. Can we do better than we ever have in December before? Yep. Unless you are brand spanking new to this blog then you know that my motto is "Something is better than nothing."

Perfection can be daunting and paralyzing. Let it go.

Embrace small improvements. Join me in this craziness. Let's be weird together and win starting day 1 of the new year.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Recipe for a Tipsy Honeybee Cocktail

jim beam

I'm always looking around for ways to use honey and one of the classics is to mix it with bourbon and lemon. Even your teetotalling gramdmother likely mixed up the classic hot toddy when someone around the house was under the weather.

So on Thanksgiving Day last year when I wasn't exactly interested in bourbon for the medicinal value I thought I'd whip up something new. My entire Thanksgiving this year was a fly by the seat of my pants affair that involved very little planning and a lot of making it up as I went along. This is what happens when you aren't trying to impress anyone.

By the way if you ever are tying to impress someone throw a can of lump crab meat and a small can of diced jalapenos in your mac and cheese along with a healthy dose of the cheese of your choice. You'll look like a genius. I can already see that this will be a go-to dish from this day forward.

Where was I? Oh yes. The booze. I had some simple syrup I'd purchased last year and hadn't used. It found its way to the back of the pantry where it had the nerve to grow something icky in the bottom of the bottle. Which led me to searching online for how to make a simple syrup. You know how it goes...I ended up finding 7,280,000 results and about half of them were infused with something. Anything really. Herbs, flowers, spices, more alcohol. You get the picture.

jim beam bourbon

This time of year there are a few herbs still going strong like sage, thyme, and rosemary in the garden. But what flavor of cocktail do you think would be perfectly paired with turkey?

Yep. Sage. So I mixed water and sugar and boiled it together then added the sage and let it cook for a while. Did you want exact measurements and times?

You're new here, aren't you?

jim beam bourbon

Okay, since you asked:

2 parts sugar to one part water. Make whatever amount you want.

Bring water to a boil and add sugar slowly stirring until sugar is dissolved. Don't boil too long just until sugar is dissolved. Add a tablespoon or so of vodka to prolong shelf life but if you are using it immediately like I did there's no need. Add whatever you want in the way of flavor or nothing at all. If you have added something to make an infusion, strain it out. Let cool. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

raw honeycomb in a jar

Some recipes called for cooking the honey (if you are using it) with the sugar, water, and herbs. As a beekeeper I just don't like heating the honey. My rule of thumb is that if you can avoid it never heat your honey. It destroys some of the magical properties. (I assume you are not here for the science.) Add the honey at the last possible moment when things have cooled down. Then pour the bourbon and (no longer simple) syrup over ice straining out any bits of herbs or beeswax.


Isn't that a great word?


I like that world too. 

Make up a fun name for your concoction.

Now, seriously, concoction is a really fabulous word.

bourbon and honey

This is a first cousin to an Old Fashioned or a Mint Julep. The differences are slight but mighty.

I'll be making this again soon with lavender! I'll let you know how that turns out. Meanwhile my dinner guests raved about the unique flavor of this drink. Don't be afraid to try something new if you want a signature cocktail for a gathering you are throwing together.

Monday, November 21, 2016

15 Rules for Being the Perfect Houseguest

It's a big holiday travel week which may mean you find yourself being a guest in someone's home. Most likely it's going to be family and that can come with all kinds of land mines you may need to walk around.

Being a houseguest can be fun and relaxing or awkward and uncomfortable for the host and guest depending on how it goes. I love you and want you to make a good impression so read on...

The next time you get invited to stay with anyone there are some rules you need to adhere to. First, let's cover the basics of decent behavior:

  1. Bring a gift. I love to take people honey or home-made skin care items.  But any simple thing will do to let you know you thought of them and appreciate their hospitality.
  2. Keep all of your things in whatever space, no matter how big or small, you have been allotted for your stay. Your nail file in the living room isn't appreciated even if they won't tell you.
  3. Whatever you use up you should replace.
  4. Be flexible. When in Rome...Eat what they eat, drink what they drink, adjust your schedule to theirs.
  5. Bring something to do on your own so your gracious host can get a few minutes of privacy to do things they need. No one wants to entertain you constantly. 
  6. Help out! Get yourself in the kitchen and help with the dishes. 
  7. Leave everything the way you found it, or better. I like to clean my guest room if there is one, for the next person. It is one less thing for your host to do. 
  8. Bring everything you think you will need unless you've been otherwise informed. 
  9. Handwritten thank-you notes are in order within a week of your return home. 
Now those are a good start and can be found in one form or another in any etiquette book, but I have a few things to add:

10. Come prepared to be entertaining and interesting. If your hosts are the serious type brush up on your current events. In this polarized post-election environment, you may want to avoid politics altogether. I take it back. I'm just telling you to avoid it unless you know everyone present thinks alike.  If their favorite topic is celebrity gossip then scan the latest magazines at the grocery to catch up. You can be temporarily shallow. It won't kill you. This week Kanye has handed you a gift. If they have children have some kid friendly conversation ready.

11. Do not show up with a list of things you have to eat, drink, or DO while you are there.

12. Have a favorite drink recipe to share. It doesn't have to be alcohol; you can whip up your best hot cocoa or chai to impress everyone. It allows you to pitch in without destroying the kitchen and taking up room in the fridge with the ingredients for an entire meal.

13.You are not at home. No one wants to see you floss your teeth or clip your toenails in the living room. (If you think no one would do that, you are wrong.)

14. Be flexible (again, I know). If you are set in your ways and demanding then STAY HOME.

15. Be nice to pets. If the dog doesn't like you, you will not be invited back.

Follow these rules and not only will you be invited back but they'll actually look forward to your return.

They may even cry at the airport instead of doing a happy dance.

What's something you would add to this list? 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Why Honey Will Make You the Most Memorable Gift Giver of the Season


The holidays are about to kick into high gear and we are all starting to think about gifts. Don't want to show up at your in law's with an obviously last minute Target pick up? Did you get invited to the coolest Christmas party and want to look (and feel) impressive.

I have the sweetest solution for you!

This post is for anyone who wants to trump even the best bottle of wine at the party. Showing up at the door with a jar of local honey will make an impression. It won't just join the multitude of homogeneous bottles on the table. It will end up in a special place in the kitchen. It's what your host will be eating the next morning while nursing a hangover.  It's memorable and you will be too.

"Oh, you remember her. She's the one who brought the honey."

"Yes, of course."


How many times have you agonized over the perfect wine selection to take to your host only to find that it is taken from you and grouped together with cluster of other bottles on a table somewhere? Or worse, have you ever shown up with a fabulous bottle of Cabernet only to find out they don't drink? I have. Or that you brought the one kind they hate. Yep, did that too.

honey straight from the hive

Honey represents your good taste and your commitment to eating local. Your Millenial hipster friends will think you are cooler than you look. If you are like me that doesn't take much. Taking honey as a gift to people older than you like your boss or in laws often means sparking a cherished memory. I can't tell you how many times I've had folks get a far away look and tell me that their grandparents had bee hives or that they haven't tasted honeycomb since they were kids.

You literally cannot go wrong.

There are a myriad of flavors to choose from depending on where the hives are located. Still not good enough? Look for gourmet infused honeys like lavender or thyme. For extra drama and style points bring honeycomb. Lots of people have never tried it and eating it is like an event.

how to eat honeycomb

Combining it with other specialty items like tea or gourmet cheese is bound to make an impression on even the most serious foodie. They'll think of you every time they use it to sweeten tea or lemonade.

cozy reading chair

 Get to know your beekeeper at the local farmers market. Chat with them about what the bees are foraging and where the apiary is located. You'll have an instant conversation starter at the party. People may not know as much about honey as they do about wine but they are fascinated by the bees and beekeepers. Everyone knows the bees are having a hard time but they may not have ever had real honey.

Want to sound like an expert? Then read my 31 Day Introduction to Beekeeping.

paper straw and mason jar

Want to see the honey process?  Then read A Honey Season Start to Finish.

The beekeeper isn't quite as sexy as the vintner. I think it's the bee suit. Okay, it is definitely the suit. But throw around the words apiary and queen bee. An apiary sounds at least as romantic as a vineyard and every hive includes royalty.

hive inspection

Still not convinced that honey can beat out wine as your go-to party gift? Then go for mead. Mead is a fermented honey beer that has been around as long as wine. Again, you'll be the only one bringing it and it will stand out from the pack of wine bottles.