Muffins and Manicures

St. Louis has surpassed the high of 95 degrees today…and we’re quickly about to pass 97.  If you’ve had the opportunity to experience a St. Louis summer, the humidity just doesn’t stop.  The goal today is to stay cool, hydrated, and indoors!

With the weekend cleaning and laundry complete, and the temperature ever rising, I decided to tap into the creative juices and try baking something new.  I’ve had some raspberries in my fridge for a few days that needed to be enjoyed sooner rather than later, so I found a buzz worthy lemon-raspberry muffin recipe on Lauren’s blog, Tastes Better from Scratch.  They were delicious AND healthy!  You can find the recipe here. 

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

I substituted almond milk for the cows milk, Stevia for the sugar, and whole wheat flour for the white flour.  They would even be delicious with local honey drizzled on top!  For the pup, I froze parsely leaves in my ice cube trays – the frozen parsely cubes are a perfect cool treat for the pup after our walks, and as an added benefit, the parsely helps freshen his breath!  He might need a few more…

Parsely Pop for the Pup

Parsely Pop for the Pup

Yes, that is a hexagon shaped ice cube from my “honeycomb” themed ice tray.

With the baking done for the day, the last item on the agenda is a fresh manicure.  Last week on vacation I wore Royal Jelly as I was going for a more “calm” look, but today’s color of choice is Maria’s Rose, named after my first queen bee, Maria.  It’s an energizing hue to help me hit the ground running at the return of the work week.

Maria's Rose

Maria’s Rose

How are you staying cool this weekend?



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Honeyed Fingertips –

Originally posted on ST. Louis magazine‘s website

When her mother died, Ellie Hock found solace in bees and nail polish.

Ellie Hock - Urban Nectar - Photography by Kevin A. Roberts

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts

Something was wrong with Ellie Hock’s mother, Sarah. Her memory didn’t seem to be working right, and she was having trouble writing and speaking. She planned to go to the doctor soon, but on July 4, 2010, she just wanted to celebrate. So her husband took her to get her usual mani-pedi. Later that day, her condition worsened, and she ended up in the hospital, where she was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Despite the aggressive cancer, Hock and her mother continued to indulge in manicures and pedicures together, helping her mother relax and retain a sense of femininity. This past fall, a year after her mother passed away, Hock started her own nail-polish company, Urban Nectar, to honor her mother’s memory. (more…)

Q&A with Ellie Hock of Urban Nectar


At the age of 26, Ellie Hock has done a lot of things—she’s earned a master’s in speech therapy, she’s done the show-dog circuit, and she’s started her own business: Urban Nectar was the result of a journey Hock took after the death of her mother in the fall of 2011 from brain cancer. We talked to her about how it all got started.

Explain how Urban Nectar began.

When my mom was in hospice, we went to the nail salon all the time—that’s how we would get out of the house. Then after she passed away, I started bee-keeping. In April 2012, I got my first set of bees, and I knew that if I made a profit from honey sales, I’d use it to help others.

I wanted to somehow bridge the bee-keeping with nail polish, because it was something that my mom and I did. So I got in touch with a cosmetic company and asked if they would manufacture my product. I design the colors and create the names, and they take care of the manufacturing. Many of the colors are named after the plants that bees pollinate.

And the nail polish is environmentally friendly?

Yes, in cosmetics there are some chemicals that are legally allowed (such as formaldehyde, toluene, dibutylphthalate and camphor), but this company doesn’t use them. If you can have an option that doesn’t use chemicals, it’s safer.

Also, 25 cents of every bottle sold goes to Cancer Support Community. As the business grows, I hope to donate a larger portion of the sales. I also volunteer there, and I send them the donations every month. When my mom got sick, she went there, and their mission is all about quality of life. They provide nutrition information, counseling and support. And it’s not just for the people who have cancer, it’s also for the people taking care of them. They’re fully funded by donations, and when I started Urban Nectar, I felt it was important to give back to something that spoke to that quality-of-life aspect of caring for people with cancer.

What do you like most about the company?

I have learned a lot about business. My masters degree is actually in speech therapy, and that’s what I do with the rest of my time. But I’ve done a lot of things—once I did dog shows with my dog, he’s a lagotto. I like to stay busy, but sometimes I find I’m too busy.

This is all still very new, but everyone has been very supportive; and I’d like to see it become more established. For now, it’s manageable.

What colors would you recommend for spring?

I always go for the Easter-y spring colors like lavender, or another shade I call catmint shadow (a subtle gray with purple undertones). Another good color is manuka, which I named after a plant that grows in New Zealand that has healing properties. The flowers are white, but I took some creative license and the nail polish is actually a feminine pink.

Editor’s Note: Urban Nectar is available at, as well as Sweet Boutique in Clayton and Philip Johnson Salon in the Central West End.