Posted on

Introduction to Beekeeping with The Hive Supply Chicago — 9 Mind-Blowing Facts

Here, at Simply Wood Rings, we strive for eco-consciousness and sustainability; so, naturally we are interested in local initiatives that encourage such practices. The NWI Times.com reported that Mayor Daley began a green roof initiative on Chicago's City Hall in 2000 and three years later added two beehives housing about 10, 000 bees. Today, the number has grown to an estimated 160,000 bees. But that’s just the tip of the proverbial beehive. Last Sunday, I attended a Beekeeping 101 course taught by Naaman Gambill at the ReBuilding exchange (Bucktown). Naaman runs The Hive Supply Chicago (Homan Square) with his partner John Hansen who, Naaman told us, has 40 years of beekeeping experience in Chicago.

The Hive Supply Chicago

Photo: TheHiveSupply.com

The course was a three-hour introduction to the topic of urban beekeeping. It was amazing to learn about bees in a context I had never had the opportunity to do before. Naaman began the lesson with an overview of hives and provided information about basic necessities for urban beekeeping.

Here are a few things I learned :

1. If you're interested in keeping bees in Chicago, you’re easily allowed up to five hives on your property.

The only requirement is that you register with the Illinois Department of Agriculture which consists of filling out a “brief one-page form and mailing it to the IDOA.” This process is free of charge and you will receive access to necessary, yearly inspections from a IDOA Apiary Inspector. Naaman explained that the inspectors are actually there to help you in any way possible — they are there to serve the beekeeping industry.

2. There is such a thing called “bee space.”

Bee-space is the amount of space bees need to move around in the hive—this is typically 3/8” to 1/4”.  The amount of bee-space you allow for in your hives determines the amount of propolis — a type of bee glue — and comb that the bees will produce.

SWR Bee Space

Bee-Space

3. There is one queen per hive — around 20,000 bees in total. 

When a colony starts or an old queen retires, queen bees hatch and then duel it out GoT-style. 

4. ….And she only mates with drones from other colonies.

Drone bees are male (non-worker) bees and take up about 3% of a beehive population. Within a hive, they are virtually useless. These bees are the first to sacrifice themselves in times of bee-hardship (i.e. disease or cold spells) as they live on the flanks of the colony.

5. One hive can produce up to 62 lbs of honey. On average, hives produce around 29 lbs a year.

And they fly pretty far to make it. According to the British Beekeepers Association website "Bees fly about 55,000 miles to make just one pound." 

6. Bees are very type-A.

They remove pests and dead/dying pees as soon as possible. However, when a pest finds its way into the hive — the colony will sting the pest (for example a mouse) to death and then, if they’re unable to carry it out, they completely seal off the pest in propolis, i.e. that bee glue I mentioned in no. 2.

Bee Dance Video by Georgia Tech College of Computing

Screenshot from The Waggle Dance of the Honey Bee video published by Georgia Tech College of Computing

7. Bees are highly skilled communicators. Especially through dances.

Bees are hyper aware of time and space. Bees know where the sun is at all times because they have a polarized lenses and an internal clock. They utilize encoded dance moves (wiggling, figure-eight patterns, orientation, length of dance time, and pheromone expression) to indicate to each other where food and water supplies exist outside of the hive.

8. Also, when bees rub against each other they are communicating through pheromones.

The pheromones act as a sort of telephone-game relaying back to the queen, who makes decisions about how safe and healthy the colony is. If her own pheromones take too long to travel back to her, she knows the hive is getting too large and she must leave with part of the colony and allow the remainder to choose a new queen.

9. Different breeds of bees have different temperaments.

For example, Italian bees are comparatively gentle while Russian bees are more defensive in nature. Naaman suggested that, of the existing breeds, Carniolan bees have the best combination of traits while still maintaining a hardiness that is suited to Chicago’s climate.

Bees are amazing creatures and they’re integral to the health of our ecosystem. There are tons of beekeeping communities in Chicago and resources available on urban beekeeping and I’d encourage you to check them out. Below are a few links to get you started. Have a great week!

The Hive Supply Chicago

Cook Dupage Beekeeping Association

Chicago Honey Co-Op

Garfield Park Conservatory

Windy City Beekeepers Association

Westside Bee Boyz

Belmont Feed and Seed 

Class Materials at The Hive Supply Chicago, photo taken by Madeeha

Class Materials at The Hive Supply Chicago, photo taken by Madeeha Lamoreaux

Posted on

How much to spend on an Engagement ring?

The age old question: How much should you spend on an engagement ring? 

It's been answered with "two months' salary" for years and years.
Do you really need to spend that? Is that what everyone really thinks? How many people believe that?

A study done by GoBankingRates suggests that just isn't the case. They surveyed 5,000 adults and offered them 7 options. The results are shown below...

Image via GoBankingRates

As you can see, there are more people that thought money was no object or spending less than $1000 was appropriate. It seems that the classic advice of two months' salary is out the door.

What does that mean for you? It means looking for an engagement ring your significant other will love!

  •  Know their style.
    Are they super simple? Do they love the outdoors or would they rather shop till they drop? 
  • Know your budget.
    There's no need to get into debt before you're married, this is a new step in your relationship and it should be enjoyed. Meaning isn't determined by price.

Breaking Traditions Wood Wedding

Vintage provided ring capped with walnut and turquoise

Birdseye maple with silver and sapphire inlay

Rosewood with turquoise inlay and bezel set topaz

"Breaking Traditions"
Mahogany, birch with inlayed crushed stones

​As for us, we love using materials that have meaning for our customers. Creating rings with materials that are provided give an extra feature for them. Hearing the stories behind why they're important is what gives their ring value to them as well as to us. While you're out shopping for a ring whether it be together or purchasing a ring for a surprise proposal, think about what makes you happy and what gives value to you and your significant other. 

If you're loving our rings we'll always be here to create something special for you!​

Posted on

How to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving

thanksgiving, dinner, decorations, rings, wooden rings, simply wood rings, local, eco, eco friendly


Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we know that it can be hard to try to stay eco friendly during the holidays when so much is happening at once! We have researched some tips for how to try to stay eco-friendly during Thanksgiving to help you in your efforts!

One way is to get food from a farmers market and support local farmers.

market, farmers market, thanksgiving, meal, local, shopping, healthy, tomatoes, rings, wooden rings, simply wood rings


Commercial canning of vegetables uses 3 billion kWh of energy per annum. That’s enough to run more than 8.5 million refrigerators for an entire year! Also the transportation of food across the world uses so much gas that buying local makes a huge difference.

By avoiding canned goods, you’ll also be cutting down on your exposure to BPA – a hormone disrupting chemical that lines tin cans…which even the FDA has ‘some concerns’ about.

When celebrating with family, try to go with some cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Again, while the paper ones are convenient, they’re incredibly wasteful and most definitely not eco-friendly. Did you know that the average American uses 2,200 two-ply paper napkins per year? That’s 662 billion napkins ending up in American trash cans every twelve months!

Another way to try to be conscious of your eco-footprint this year is to make sure to avoid wasting food. Try to only make enough for everyone and don't have leftovers that you will just end up throwing away. 

Also why not try a candle-lit dinner this year? Using candles instead of electricity the whole night will create ambiance and be romantic while saving the environment.

candles, thanksgiving, dinner, eco, friendly, wooden, rings, wood rings, local, chicago, simply wood rings,


Your green efforts don’t have to end just because the meal has! When it’s time for the clean-up, you can make further green choices.

Conventional cleaners are chock-full of chemicals which are hazardous to both the environment and our health. Overhaul your arsenal of cleaning products with some homemade versions – most of which can be made from items you already have in your kitchen.

We hope this helped you think of some ways to be as eco-friendly as possible this holiday season and that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families! 

Posted on

4 Ways to Give Eco-Friendly Gifts This Season!

Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas

Are you in a crisis because you want to give awesome gifts this holiday season but don't want to contribute to the mass production and consumption that comes along with it? Want to try to stay eco-conscious this season? We have some ideas for how you can give without feeling guilty! 

1) Donate to an Animal Sanctuary or Environmental Charity

Animal sanctuaries are amazing places and exist all across the world and giving a donation to an animal sanctuary is a way to avoid contributing to the big companies selling presents this holiday season. If you know your bestie's favorite animal, you could make a donation in their name and even get them a little photograph or plush toy of the animal. Some sanctuaries that are great are Farm Sanctuary and Bat World. Farm Sanctuary gives a photo and birth certificate with your “adoption” of an animal and Bat World provides a picture, birth certificate, and some other cool perks as well.

Consider donating in your friend's name to the Environmental Defense Fund, National Resources Defense Council, The Sierra Club, or any other foundation they are a fan of. 

EDF Logo Background

2) Gift an Experience

Giving an experience as a present, like a class or a trip to a winery is a great gift idea. It gets people out of their comfort zone to do things they have never done before and could even spawn a new hobby. You may even get asked to join!

Penguin Foot Pottery Chicago

Gift a class at Penguin Foot pottery in Chicago

3) Make a gift from scratch

Giving a gift that you took time out of your life to make is a really great thing to give! It shows how much you care about someone and makes them feel extremely cared for. It is also a great way to cut down on excessive production this holiday season. You could try your hand at candle making or even knitting. It may even spawn a new hobby....

The best resource for DIY crafts is of course Pinterest. I've been obsessing over polymer clay recently and Pinterest has some really beautiful instructables and inspiration. 

Polymer Clay Necklace
Polymer Clay Necklace
Polymer Clay Necklace

4) Growable Gifts

Giving someone a little life to grow is an amazing present. Having plants around increases positivity and growing one can make you feel accomplished as well.

Making a little seed starter kit or a terrarium is a great way to create something small and growable for a loved one. Also, how many other gifts can release oxygen into the atmosphere?

If you're in Chicago, check out the local business Alapash in Ravenswood that offers ready-made terrariums and kits. 

Alapash Home and Terrarium


Don't forget to look through our ring selection for some eco-conscious gifts as well! 

Posted on

Strength Of Souls

We are pleased to introduce a new set of rings to all of you: our Strength of Souls set!  This ring set pairs oak bands with an inlay of malachite and turquoise to create a very significant ring for the wearer. We really love making these rings, and I will explain why below!!

souls, strength, rings, wood, wooden rings, wedding rings, simply wood rings, local, handmade, chicago, malachite, oak, tree, ring set

The Strength of Souls set represents strength.. For a couple it shows how two people who support and love one another can weather any storm, and these rings represent that journey. If you only wear one for yourself, it shows that you are a strong grounded person who knows what they stand for. The Oak tree has a long history of representing strength, as well as malachite and turquoise. 

oak, tree, rings, wood, wooden, wedding, engagement, set, strength, oak tree, simply wood rings

Oak

Oak is a wood native to the northern hemisphere and it represents strength and a noble spirit. The Ancient Celts observed the oak tree’s massive growth and impressive expanse and they realized that this tree can endure most things. They also observed that oak trees attract lightening and they thought this made them even more powerful. Oak trees are known to live for over 200 years which shows how strong and stable they are during all the things they endure. Ancient people also made doors from oak because of the tree’s strength. They believed these doors would keep out evil spirits. This tree is known to represent truth and knowledge.

Turquoise

Turquoise was found in many burial sites of warriors throughout both north and south america because of the strength of the stone. in the Orient, rings and amulets were used to protect against evil spirits. Turkish soldiers would wear turquoise to prevent falls while riding their horses in battle. The apaches believed there would be turquoise at the end of a rainbow for good luck.

Malachite 

Inherent in Malachite is lighter green eye-shaped forms or bands on its surface. These "eye stones," believed to enhance great visionary powers, were used to ward off negative happenings. They were stones of security and protection for children, and their most remarkable association today is the ability to warn of impending danger by breaking into pieces. It is a Stone of Transformation, assisting one in changing situations and providing for spiritual growth. Malachite is a protection stone, absorbing negative energies and pollutants from the atmosphere and from the body. As a stone of transformation, Malachite encourages change and emotional risk-taking.

strength, souls, rings, wedding rings, wedding, engagement, wood, wooden rings, wooden, malachite, turquoise, oak
Posted on

What Makes Willow Wood so Wonderful?

willow, sapphire, september, bark, birthwood, wood,  chicago, wood rings, wedding, wedding rings

Willow is the Birthwood that represents the month os September and is one of our favorite woods! The willow tree has always been one of my favorite trees, but it can be used for many different things and has many different meanings! 

Willow Tree

Willow is a decidedly aromatic tree found most often near waterways throughout temperate regions. It has a history of a long- standing relationship of usefulness- medicinal, magical, and otherwise. The willow tree is most associated with the moon, water, Goddesses, and all that is feminine. It is the tree of dreaming and deep emotions. It is a tree of enchantment and was associated in Celtic folklore with poets and spells of fascination. The energy of the willow wood puts us in touch with our deepest emotions and inspires us to come to an understanding of ourselves. It stimulates our intuituve side and helps us find the right path in life. 

Willow Wood

The North American indigenous tribe called the Seneca, has a long bond with the willow tree. They consider it to be a source of gentile humility, charm, and grace. 

On an herbal level, willow bark has been used for it's pain-relieving qualities for at least 2,000 years. All varieties of the tree can be used as an eyewash, to clear skin, and get rid of dandruff. Willow has also been known to be useful in cases of nervousness and hysteria. It can be used to loosen the chest when someone is sick with a cough or pneumonia as well. 

Now that you know some more about the willow tree, check out our Birthwood ring section to see our Willow Wood ring and the rest of our Birthwood line! 

Posted on

Things to do in Chicago for Labor Day Weekend!

Three day weekends are the best! If you are like me, you like to get out and about on a long three day weekend, but sometimes can't think of anything to do. Here is a list of some cool things going on around Chicago this weekend if you need some help figuring out where to go! 

chicago, navy pier, fireworks, labor day, wooden rings, wood rings, wedding, engagement, simply wood rings, chicago events

Photo courtesy of navypier.com

Fireworks at Navy Pier 

Every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the summer, Navy Pier has a fireworks show that starts around 9 - 10 pm. This Saturday is the last fireworks show of the summer at 10:15 pm! You can also schedule a fireworks cruise if you prefer to see them from a boat in the middle of the lake. Check out times and pictures here: https://navypier.com/fireworks/

polish, poland, taste of polonia, chicago, festival, labor day, things to do, wooden rings, wood rings, wedding rings, engagement rings, simply wood rings, september

Photo Courtesy of seatageek.com

Taste of Polonia 

Starting September 2nd and going until the 5th, you can check out Taste of Polonia at The Copernicus Center in Chicago. The festival celebrates Polish culture and has tons of food  and drinks to choose from. There will be performances, carnival games, and things for people of all ages! You can have access to all the fun for just 10 dollars as well! Get more info from their site: http://topchicago.org/

lobster, lobster fest, chicago, labor day, september, chicago, things to do, wedding, wooden rings, wedding rings, wood rings, bent wood, engagement, engagement rings

Photo courtesy of americanlobserfest.com

Great American Lobster Fest 

The Great American Lobster Fest is the Midwest's biggest seafood festival! It takes place at Navy Pier on September 2nd and September 3rd. They have all the lobster you can ever imagine in one place, plus live music and shopping. There Is also a lobster brunch cruise on the 4th taking off from Navy Pier! Check it out here: http://www.americanlobsterfest.com/​

african festival, african art, african art festival, chicago, labor day, chicago labor day weekend, wood rings, wooden rings, wedding ring, engagement ring, engagement, drums, festival

Photo courtesy of Everfest.com

African Festival of the Arts

The African Festival of the Arts always takes place on Labor Day weekend in Washington Park. The park turns into a simulated African village and is filled with performances and art. They even have an African marketplace so you can shop til your heart desires. Read more here! https://www.everfest.com/e/african-festival-of-the-arts-chicago-il

Jazz festival, Jazz fest, Jazz festival chicago, chicago, festival, millennium park, chicago summer, wood rings, wooden rings, engagement rings, engagement, wood, rings, simply wood rings

Photo Courtesy of cityofchicago.com

Chicago Jazz Festival 

    One of the most infamous music festivals in the country happens right here in our own backyard. The Jazz fest has been around for some time and people come from all over to hear the jazz musicians who grace the stages. If you have a chance to go, you definitely don't want to miss the music! Check out the lineup here:http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_jazz_festival.html/

Posted on

What is a Moissanite?

While browsing our site, you may have noticed that we use what is called a moissanite in almost all of our rings with stones in them. I have realized that most people don't know what exactly a moissanite is, and have never even heard of it before viewing our rings! Well, I am here to let you know just exactly what a moissanite is!

Moissanites are stones that are an eco-friendly alternative to diamonds. Most people want diamonds in their rings because of the sparkle and hardness of them, which is totally understandable! The only thing is that diamonds are not always eco-friendly and most of the time their origins are unknown. This is why a scientist named Henri Moissan created an alternative to diamonds. He discovered moissanite crystals in a crater that was created by a meteorite in 1893. He realized these crystals had more brilliance than a diamond and he found out they were composed of silicon carbonate.  Since the crystals are extremely hard to find in nature being that they come from a meteorite, he decided to start growing them in science labs. Henri Moissan later won the nobel prize for his discoveries. 

The moissanites that we get to use in our wooden rings come from a company called Charles and Colvard. They are one of the top leading moissanite distributors in the world. Moissanites have been proven to have a hardness of 9.25 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes it one of the hardest substances on earth!  This means that it can resist all surface scratching as well as having an incredible brilliance to it. 

Since we are an eco-friendly business and are incredibly conscious of where all our materials come from, we really couldn't find anything better than moissanites to use in our rings. We hope you love them just as much as we do!! 

Posted on

Wood Ring Tales – Adam and Vicki

We haven't posted a Wood Ring Tales in a while for you, so here is our newest story! Adam and Vicki are two of our customers who made some very personalized rings for themselves. We are always happy to create custom orders, especially creating rings that can be paired with engagement rings like Vicki's.  Here is an excerpt from the ceremony that the couple shared with us:

The ring is a symbol of the unbroken circle of love, of family and commitment. These rings are made of Black Walnut, taken from a tree planted by Vicki's grandparents, Tom and Ann Niblock. Black Walnut has also played a significant role in Adams life; it was our grandfather's favorite nut, and several black walnut trees dotted the family homestead. Inlaid in Vicki’s ring are stones that they collected from the beach in Delaware, where they first pledged their commitment to each other through engagement.

Adam and Vicki, your choice of this wood for your rings is fitting. Your marriage, like a tree, is a living, breathing thing. It must be carefully nurtured, to allow its roots to spread and deepen. Over time, it will change, never the same from year to year, but ever growing and increasing in strength. It will witnesses the passing of the seasons, and through every winter, it will keep faith in the hope of spring. It will weather storms and rejoice in the warmth of the sun. May these rings always remind you of the vows you have taken.

We love their story and we are so happy that we were able to create something so special for them! Congrats Adam and Vicki! Below are some pictures from the ceremony. 

Posted on

Hollywood In Chicago


hollywood, chicago, film, movies, pilsen, midland, rings, wood, ring, handmade

Photo via americastours.net

      Here at the shop, we are all big film lovers. Our shop is located inside a building in Chicago called the Midland Building, and we found out that part of the movie Divergent was filmed on our roof! We thought it was so cool that we should share it with you. The Midland Building is an old industrial building, which is a perfect setting for the futuristic, sci-fi, urban dystopia in Divergent. You can see other distinguishable landmarks in the movie, like the Willis Tower, the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, and the Chicago River. 

divergent, chicago, cinespace, hollywood, movies, pilsen, midland, urban, wood, ring, rings, handmade

Divergent was filmed with the company Cinespace, which is a block away from our building. Cinespace is responsible for shows like Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Empire. We even saw Sophia Bush on the street one day while walking to lunch! If you ever want to try to catch a glimpse of a movie or T.V. show being filmed, head on over to Pilsen to check it out! 

Below is a video that shows the characters jumping onto the Midland Building! 

Check out Cinespace by going to their website: http://www.chicagofilmstudios.com

Posted on

Ideas For Showing Your Mother Love On Mother’s Day

Mother's rings

Mother's Day is right around the corner, just five days away!! We are so excited and have thought of different events you can go to in Chicago with your mother or gifts you can send to her! Whether you are able to spend Mother's Day with your mom or not, show her some love this year with an extra special something. 

Places to go in Chicago

Events

1) Magnolia Bakery - http://www.magnoliabakery.com/

Photo via www.chicagodining.com 

Is your mom an avid baker or lover of sweets? Magnolia Bakery is offering a special Mother's Day class where you and your mom can learn how to make and decorate their world famous cupcakes. Your mom will always have a fun dessert to bring to parties after learning these techniques! 

2) Rebuilding Exchange - http://rebuildingexchange.org/

If your mom is the craft type, you could take her to a woodworking workshop at the rebuilding exchange. The Rebuilding Exchange uses all salvaged materials, which is why we love them! They have workshops from wooden planters to frame building just for you and your mom on Mother's Day. She will always have a reminder of what a special day you planned for her with her handmade craft. 

3) Green City Markethttp://www.greencitymarket.org/

Photo via www.gapersblock.com 

The Saturday before Mother's Day the Green City Market has it's first farmer's market of the season! Grab some fresh, local fruits and veggies with your mom so the two of you can cook an amazing brunch together on Sunday! You could even have a picnic in the park after exploring the market. 

4) City Winery -http://www.citywinery.com/chicago/

If you want to relive some memories with your mom over a glass of wine, head over to City Winery for their story sessions brunch. They will be featuring stories about moms all day in honor of Mother's Day. 

Restaurants

1) The Dawson - http://www.the-dawson.com/

Looking for a brunch place with an outdoor patio and fireplace? Look no further than the Dawson. They have one of the best patios in the city with an amazing Mother's Day brunch menu to go with it. 

2) Cindy's - http://www.cindysrooftop.com/

Photo via www.chicagoculturalmag.com

Another restaurant with an amazing outdoor area is Cindy's. They are located on the 13th floor of the Athletic Association building and provide views of Millennium Park from their balcony. You could even walk over to the Art Institute afterwards and see the Van Gogh exhibit before it leaves.

3) Bohemian House - http://www.bohochicago.com/

photo via www.yelp.com

If you are looking for an escape from the city look no further than Bohemian House. Being there will make you feel like you have traveled from Chicago to Eastern Europe. They have a special brunch menu for Mother's Day and a build your own mimosa bar. What more could you ask for? 

Gifts

Not able to spend time with your mom on Mother's Day? We also have some great gift ideas for her!

1) Michelle Starbuck Designs  - https://michellestarbuckdesigns.com

We are always on the lookout for awesome jewelry and we love Michelle Starbuck! Her designs are super sleek and beautiful, perfect for any mother. 

2) Little Seed Farm Soaphttp://littleseedfarm.com/

photo via www.littleseedfarm.com

This soap is made from goat's milk from a farm in Tennessee, what could be cuter? You can even "meet" the goats on their website. They also have awesome wooden soap dishes. A perfect gift for the mother who loves to pamper herself 

3) CAsouls -  https://www.etsy.com/

CAsouls creates morse code bracelets and necklaces, which we think is pretty awesome. Why not get a necklace that says "mom" in morse code so you and your mom can have a special secret together? They are also beautiful pieces of jewelry. 

We hope that you all have an amazing Mother's Day this year and we hope our list helped you with some ideas! 

Posted on

Mother’s Wood Rings

Mother's Day is fast approaching, and we have the perfect ring for a Mother or Mother-to-be. We have taken the concept from Birthwood and came up with the design for a ring that is centered around a mother and her child or multiple children. 

The Mother's Ring is the idea that you would take a mother's birthwood and use it as the base wood for a ring, then inlay the birthstones of however many children she has in the center. You can use this idea for a grandmother, mother, sister, wife, or any woman in your life who has children. This is also a perfect ring for men as Father's Day approaches!

Mother's Ring using Birthwood Willow and inlays of Opal and Black Pearl 

Another way you can make a ring for your mother, grandmother, or wife is by using the concept from our Sitting in a Tree Ring. This ring uses the birthwood that represents the anniversary of the couple as the base wood, then has inlays of the birthwoods that represent the parents sandwiching inlays of the children's birthstones in the center. 

Sitting in a Tree Ring with Cherry as the base wood, with inlays of Walnut, Imperial Topaz, Amethyst, and Pine.

​Both ideas make for a very unique present to give the woman in your life! If you order your Mother's Ring between now and May 8th, you will receive a free container of ring balm and an extra special surprise. If you do want to receive the ring by Mother's Day, make sure to get your order in by March 31st!


Posted on

Wood Ring Tales – Stephanie and Don

In today's edition of Wood Ring Tales, we have featured Stephanie and Don! This couple had a really incredible wedding in the San Juan Islands. They ordered a pair of our Seashore's Muse wedding rings, which you can see in the pictures below. Stephanie is a fellow blogger and she wrote a little piece about their rings and wedding at www.Earthboxinn.com. Here is a snippet of her post below! 

“I’m Steffi. I have been with the Earthbox Inn & Spa for 10 years. I write this blog, respond to you on Trip Advisor, manage group bookings, among other things. A couple of years ago I fell in love. Hard. With a single Dad from Kirkland. For the first year of us dating, we saw each other only every other weekend. Until I moved to Kirkland last year, we had never seen each other on a Wednesday.

Late last year, when visiting our friend Laura, the owner of the Earthbox Inn & Spa, sipping coffee on her patio, watching whales swim by, we decided to get married. On South Beach, on the first full moon of the New Year.

We wanted unique rings with meaning to us and decided on Rosewood rings with a Mother of Pearl inlay. The wild rose is our flower and everything we do is by the sea. Simply Wood Rings, a small company in Chicago, made them and kindly held our hands through the process as we worried that they wouldn’t be ready in time.

Don and the kids went to Southbeach several hours before the wedding to build a bonfire. It was raining hard. When I arrived the rain stopped and our small group of guests was gathered around a raging fire, sipping hot coco and coffee. My stepdaughter led us down a path to the beach, to a driftwood arch, decorated with balloons, seashells and bones, courtesy of Don & the kids. A couple of sea lions swam by, checking us out. It was absolutely still but the sound of little low tide waves lapping onshore. Therese did her magic and lot’s of laughter and some tears later we were husband and wife. We returned to the fire for champagne and toasts and stayed until the sun set dramatically and gorgeously after the rain.”

Stephanie and Don also provided us with some awesome photos from the ceremony, which was photographed by Jon Sinclair. 

Posted on

How to Compost in an Apartment or House

Image from biocycle.net

Here at Simply Wood Rings, we are always looking for ways to be more environmentally conscious. Composting is a wonderful way to help the environment and really doesn't take much effort! In Chicago, most people live in small apartments or condos, and therefore composting outdoors isn't an option. There is another way to compost, which is by using a bucket and some friendly red worms! We  started our own compost bin here at the Simply Wood Rings shop, and it's been a wonderful addition to the shop!

Food Scraps and yard waste make up 30 percent of what we throw away, and are the largest category of municipal waste going into landfills and incinerators. Food scraps in landfills not only take up space but release methane which is a potent greenhouse gas. Composting helps keep these items out of landfills and provides you with rich soil that can help your houseplants grow or you can donate it to a local urban farm. 

Here is a chart from Sustainable America that can help you start your own compost bin! 

Posted on

How To Order Your Simply Wood Ring

wood ring, wedding ring, custom ring, wood ring builder, engagement ring

The thought of buying a wooden ring or a custom wood ring for that matter can be overwhelming to some. The buying process of any ring can be overwhelming if you don't know the specifics or your size or what you are looking for. We want your buying experience with Simply Wood Rings to be super easy! We try to make it as easy as possible no matter what type of ring you want. but if you are hesitant at all to order because you don't know where to begin, we can help! Here are the steps and information you would need to order a ring from us!

The first step when buying a ring is to figure out your size. Most people don't know how to figure out their ring size, and that's totally fine! We have another blog post that can help you figure out your size, which you can read here or you can order a plastic ring sizer from us  by clicking here!

custom ring, inlay, wedding ring, wooden ring, engagement ring, simply wood rings

The next step would be to think about what you want your ring to look like. If you look on our site you can see all the options that we have In-Stock and those are good to order if you need a ring ASAP. Click here to view all our In-Stock rings!  It's also a good way to gain some inspiration for a custom order if you decide to go that route. If you do decide on a custom ring order, the next step would be to either use our Custom Ring Builder tool on the site or email us at craftsman@simplywoodrings.com. The Custom Ring Builder tool can be found here, and it is a fast and easy tool to plan and design your ring. Some people have more complicated custom orders or provide materials for us to use, and in that case you would email us and our master order-taker Sara would help you. She would put together a list of the materials you want to use and the pricing for them and then all you have to do is pay online!

If you do go the route of sending in materials for us to work with, the next step in the buying process would be to send us those materials! Once we get them, we can start your ring. Otherwise, once you place your order online, the turnaround time for us to ship out your ring is 5-6 weeks. You do have the option to expedite your order for $65 and that would get it to you in 2-3 weeks time. Also if you spend over $125 on an order you receive free shipping!

One of the best ways to get an idea of what you want and what types of wood we work with etc is by coming in to visit us in the shop. When you schedule a visit, we will size you, show you around the shop, show you all the different inlays and types of wood we have, and can make a custom order in person with us. Our shop is at 1500 S. Western Ave in Chicago. We love meeting people in person and showing them the process of how we make our rings. Even if you don't want to purchase a ring and just see where we call home, that is fine too. Call us today to schedule your appointment! 

We hope this helps with your purchase and makes the whole process easier! 

Posted on

How To Make Valentine’s Day Cards From Recycled Paper!

Valentine's Day, Cards, Paper, Recyle

We are an eco-friendly business and are always thinking of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything around us. With Valentine's Day coming up, we wanted to offer directions for how to make your own homemade paper from paper scraps lying around! This is a good way to recycle and reuse, and is also going to make your cards unique from all other cards! 

How To Make Paper

Tear scrap paper into small pieces.

Each piece should measure no larger than roughly 1 inch (2.54 cm).

Make a frame.

This step can be done while your paper scraps are soaking.

  • Cut a hole in the bottom of a disposable brownie pan. An aluminum pan is best, as it can be cut using sharp scissors. The hole should be rectangular and 1 inch (2.54 cm) smaller on all sides than the bottom of the pan.
Paper making, recycling, valentine's day
  • Place a piece of screen or wire mesh in the pan. To keep it from falling through the hole, simply cut it the size of the pan bottom.
Make a slurry of paper pulp.
  • Fill a blender with warm water, halfway. Add some of the shredded and soaked paper--about a handful. At medium speed, blend the water and paper until it takes on a soupy consistency.
  • Pour the slurry into a large tub. Fill the tub with warm water. Mix the tub contents until they are evenly incorporated. At this point you can add food coloring if you want to make colored paper!
  • Holding the pan level, shake all the extra water out. Use your hands to press the pulp against the screen to get more water out. 
  • Place the frame on a clean, dry towel and press paper out onto towel.
  • Place another towel on top of paper, and roll over with a rolling pin to get extra water out.
  • Peel paper off towel and set somewhere to dry overnight.

Voila!  You have your own homemade paper for Valentine's Day cards! Cut into whatever shape you want and send to your friends and family!

Posted on

Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day Guide

Valentine's day is just around the corner, and it's never too early to start planning a date or gift for that special someone in your life! There are so many places to go and gifts to choose from in a city as big as Chicago, but we are here to help you be as socially and environmentally conscious as possible as you plan for Valentine's day. As an Eco-Friendly business we know of some great Eco-Friendly date spots in the city for all of our customers! We also have some great ideas for custom Valentine's day rings if you need an Eco-Friendly gift to give.  Keep reading to see our list of date spots and ideas for custom rings!

Date Spots

    One of the nation's premier conservatories with six multi-faceted greenhouses and two grand exhibition halls. Admission is always free! 

                          Located in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, Hamburger Mary's uses all certified humane meat, recycled materials for packaging, and CFL and LED lights. 

    • Lincoln Park Conservatory - 2391 N. Stockton Dr. Chicago, Illinois 60614

                      Placed in Lincoln Park, this conservatory has some of the best plants and flowers around. It is also right next to the zoo if you feel like heading over afterwards!

    • Xoco - 449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

                  Rick Bayless' Restaurant XOCO features some of the best gourmet Mexican food around. XOCO has a massive rooftop garden and uses 40% less water than a standard restaurant of comparable size, making it a great green establishment.

            This restaurant's water is heated by solar panels on the roof, all of the wood products are from fallen trees in Jackson Park, and both its locations feature rooftop gardens.

    • Trattoria 10 - 10 N Dearborn St #1, Chicago, IL 60602

Named one of the first "Guaranteed Green" restaurants in Chicago in 2010, this upscale dining experience features all locally sourced food. 

Ring Ideas

February is the month of the Birthwood Hackberry! Our Hackberry Birthwood ring with its amethyst birthstone inlay is a perfect Valentine's day gift. Maybe there is a different month that is special to you or your partner? You can always go to our birthwood page and customize a ring by combining any Birth Wood with any birthstone inlay.

​Check out our Birthwood Page here!

                                                                                                                                        Amethyst                                                                                                                                                                    

Hackberry Birthwood Ring with Amethyst Inlay

Another ring  combination we offer that may be a good Valentine's day gift is our Saltstone Inlay Ring. You can combine this inlay with any type of wood you want! Head over to our custom orders page to get started making this ring.

View our Custom Ring Builder by clicking here!

Our "Sitting in a Tree" ring is another great idea for a gift. This style is completely customizable and it brings the whole family together with inlays of birthwoods for the parents and the stones inlays that represent the months of the children's birthdays.​ You can get this for a Mother or Father, or even a Grandmother or Grandfather.  If you and your significant other are expecting your first baby this year, it would be the perfect symbolization of your family together! Here is a video below showing the "Sitting in a Tree" style of ring. 

View our "Sitting in a Tree" Page here!

You can also always check out our In-Stock rings page if you want something sent to you immediately! We have lots of great rings just waiting to be given to a special person in your life. 

We hope this helps in your Eco-Friendly Valentine's Day endeavors! 

Posted on

Ideas For Customizing Your Ring

Custom orders are our favorite thing to make here at the shop. We love having a personal story to work with and innovative materials to use. This way, we are able to use your stories, traditions, and memories in a ring that you can wear and show off. Expanding our craft by using  new, creative materials is exciting for us and for the customer! It isn't every day you get to have the chance to make a completely customized ring with materials that are special to you. 

Sometimes it is difficult to figure out where exactly to start when making a custom wood ring. We allow customers to provide us with wood, materials for inlays, and stones. We also appreciate when customers send us sketches like the one pictured above! We have a custom ring builder tool on our website which you can find by clicking here.
 

Here is a list of materials we have used in the past:

  • Chili pepper seeds - A couple planted a chili pepper plant when they first started dating, and we used the chili pepper skin and seeds as an inlay in their rings.
  • Flower from first date - one customer dried and saved a flower from her first date and used the petals as an inlay in her ring and the stem as an inlay for her significant other.
  • Wood from a swing where a couple had their first kiss - we used this wood as a base for the couples' rings.
  • Snakeskin - A customer who has a pet snake sent us some of the skin that it shed to use as an inlay in a ring! 
  • Part of a barrel and vine from a vineyard - A customer who owns a vineyard provided us with the wood for the base and a vine to use as an inlay. 
  • Vintage rings from a family member capped in wood - Many customers have provided family heirloom rings to be capped with wood.
  • custom ring, wood ring, wedding ring, wooden ring, bent wood ring, wooden boxes,
  • Rocks and sand from where couples met
  • Wood from the 1700s passed down from a great uncle 
  • A baseball bat from a grandfather
  • ​Wood from an apple orchard in Wisconsin! 

If you are thinking of making a custom ring, think about the things you have that are special to you and contact us to see if we can use them! We love a challenge! 

Posted on

Size Matters

Ever wonder if size actually matters? When you are buying a ring for someone, it does!!

Wedding season is right around the corner, and if you are planning on getting wedding bands made or surprising someone with a proposal, you want to make sure the ring can actually be worn by that person, right? We have some tips for you so that your loved one can say "I do" and comfortably wear their ring at the same time.

Here is some of our favorite customers ring sizing stories.

  • Make up a story about a friend needing to figure out a ring size for their significant other and say you think yours has the same hand size.
  • One customer tried to use the "string test" while their partner was sleeping (the string test is not a preferred method). 
  • There are many customers who size a ring that their significant other already owns. If you're going to do this, be careful! Make sure the ring is a for their ring finger!
  • You can always ask a family member or friend to have them "try on" a ring. ("Hey, do you like this ring? Do you know your ring size? Oh mine is a 7, what's yours?")

Ring size is measured in millimeters based on the inner circumference of the band. The easiest way to get sized and make sure the size is accurate is to go to a professional jeweler. The jeweler will have a ring mandrel, which is a graduated metal wand with marks on it stating ring sizes.  If  you bring a jeweler a ring that your significant other wears on their ring finger, the jeweler can place it on the mandrel and get an accurate sizing. You can always purchase your own ring mandrel, but this is a more expensive option. 

There are also plastic ring sizers, which we sell here ! This is also one of the most accurate ways to size someone. 

​Another way is to use the string test. You just need a string (or even a strip of paper) and use it to wrap around the ring finger.
Then you can measure that length in millimeters and use the chart we have provided below to match the length up to the ring size.
Don't pull the string or paper too tight! You should be able to slide the string/paper off your finger without a struggle. 

If you can't get your significant other to a jeweler or need to be more secretive in general, we have ideas for that as well. If your significant other takes his or her ring off while they shower, you can grab the ring and place it on your finger and then make a mark on your finger where it falls. You can show a jeweler and have them size that part of your finger. You could also press the ring into a bar of soap and then measure the impression of the ring! Also don't forget, most mothers, sisters, or bestfriends can help by taking the person out and trying on rings together. 

In order to get the most accurate size, you should try to make sure your hands are room temperature! Hands shrink when cold and can swell in heat, which could result in an inaccurate sizing. Also, the wider the ring band, the tighter the ring will be. If you know you're going to purchase a 6mm or 8mm band, be sure to get sized with that width of a ring.Your ring should go on easy and come off hard. The worst thing imaginable is losing a ring because it is a little too big!! 

We're able to resize our wood rings 1/4 to 1/2 of a size. If the ring you order is off by more, we will need to remake the ring.
We hope this helps you in your ring sizing ventures! Remember you can always come into our shop to get sized.
We are located at 1500 South Western in Pilsen! Happy ring sizing!!

Posted on

Wood Ring Tales – Stefan and Linda

We love having a personal relationship with all our customers at Simply Wood Rings. We pride ourselves on making wood rings that are extremely meaningful for our customers, and seeing a happy customer is an experience that is irreplaceable. We do so many types of inlays and custom orders, that it is easy for a customer to make a really personal wood wedding ring that is close to their hearts. Recently we have been collecting customer stories to share with you, and here is the story of Linda and Stefan!

“Our relationship began in February 2010 while we were both attending college at the University of California at Santa Cruz, a campus surrounded by a lush redwood forest. Our mutual friend first introduced us to each other. We instantaneously gravitated towards each other and began to have many adventures together. From the beginning, our relationship was filled with conversations about our faith, family and dreams. Our friendship grew and was tested during several years of having a long-distance relationship. But, adversity has had a way of strengthening us and helping us grow more in love with each other.

Redwood has great significance for us, symbolizing where we met geographically and our strong foundation. We also really like the idea of the chunks of sea glass in our inlay. Sea glass is a thing of beauty despite battling years of struggle in the ocean. In the same way, our specific relationship has faced several years of struggle through a long-distance relationship. But, despite this, our love for one another remains (and will always remain) a thing of beauty throughout any times of hardship.

Lastly, including guitar strings on Stefan's wedding ring was a more personal touch since his passion is performing on the guitar and studying music. However, the two strings Stefan chose are the low and high 'E' strings of the guitar. These two notes are a perfect octave apart also commonly known as the "basic miracle of music". This is a unique relationship: "two and yet one". The sonic quality of the octave allows the projection of the infinity of tones into one octave space. So, then, the octave is considered a representation of the infinite.”

Linda and Stefan have a pair of wood wedding rings that were so fun for us to make and really unique. Hearing the reasons why they picked the wood and inlay that they did makes the ring just that much more special. The inlay they used also includes mother of pearl and sapphire, which we call here the "Stefan Stone Inlay". We know that their wood rings will definitely be a conversation piece whenever they go somewhere! We would like to thank Stefan and Linda for sharing their story with us, and stay tuned to our blog for more customer stories in the future!

Posted on

Simply Wood Rings Featured on PayPal’s Website!

 

The founder of Simply Wood Rings, Gustav Reyes, was recently interviewed by PayPal to discuss his involvement in their program called PayPal Working Capital. This program has already provided over 1 Billion dollars to small companies all over the world to help them finance their dreams. At Simply Wood Rings, we really wanted to upgrade our website and make it more user friendly and accessible for everyone. The only way we could have gained the capital we needed to grow our business was with this initiative! Everyone knows that small businesses have a hard time as it is, but PayPal has made our lives so much easier. We use PayPal here on a daily basis and they have really helped us realize our dreams as an ever-growing business. You can watch Gustav discuss how thankful Simply Wood Rings is to be able to have the opportunity to grow by clicking here!

 

image_32

blog4

blog2