A Safe Haven For Bees

By Fernanda Alvarado

Honey has been a staple in many households for as long as anyone can remember. People have been using it to treat different conditions, sweeten teas, in baking, and even as an agent to repair damaged hair. But! The best way to enjoy honey is where you can eat it as is. It truly is a miracle product!

La Gorra Azul Ranch partners with many different local businesses that use their honey for different plates. Lolita’s Restaurant showcases honey from La Gorra Azul on their menu. There are caterers that only purchase honey from La Gorra Azul because customers only prefer their honey over anyone else’s. Even doctors have been purchasing their honey!

La Gorra Azul Ranch is a safe haven for bees. Owners George and Tracy Mapus keep bees safe and protected and doing what they do best, collecting nectar and making honey. What began as a family tradition quickly became a hobby and now a side business.

La Gorra Azul produces 4 to 5 distinct honeys depending on the different blooms: Chaparro Prieto, Mesquite Honey, Mastranso, Quebradora, and Wildflower Honey

Each of these categories have their own distinct flavor and smell. The most popular one has to be the Mesquite Honey, but if you like something a bit more spicy with an herbal scent that overtakes your palette then a Mastranso honey is right up your alley. The Quebradora honey comes from the white brush that blooms and it is really good. Everyone has their favorites. Whatever the taste may be, nothing beats the benefits of unprocessed, raw honey.

According to George, the bees eat whatever is on the land. They are not given anything that they don’t make. What is sold is what is harvested; 100% pure raw honey.

Come find the perfect gift!

by Fernanda Alvarado

Shop 195 is a boutique dedicated to creating a difference in the world. Owners Susan Nelson, Irma Saldivar, and Mariana Quintanilla have dedicated their time and attention to creating a shop that caters to the quirky and creative side of everyone of their customers as well as helping out causes that make a change.

The three owners each have their different personalities that helped create the shop as it is today. Irma and Susan are both lovers of all things that sparkle and jewelry. Mariana always wanted to open a shoe store. Each of them give a piece of themselves to create Shop 195 and make it a success.

Shop 195 started in November of 2017, and since then, they have offered a different kind of boutique to the city. One where they can improve the world and offers something different for someone.

They carry a slew of brands, from jewelry and candles to purses and personalized items, for those special people in your lives.

Irma, Mariana, and Susan made it their mission to bring to the shop brands and names that would be worthy of the customer.

Shop 195 carries Bridgewater candles. Bridgewater’s mission is to feed an orphaned child for a day. Similar to Tom’s shoe line, with a purchase of a Bridgewater candle, the company will provide three meals to a child.

Bracha is a jewelry line they manage and with every purchase made you help in the fight against human trafficking in Southeast Asia. Shop 195 is very conscious minded and focused on making an impact.

On top of Shop 195 being socially aware, they also carry brands that appeal to the quirkiness in all of us. Loly In The Sky is a shoe line available at the boutique. The shoe line is made from one hundred percent vegan materials and masterfully crafted by master artisans in Mexico. If you’re looking for bigger brands, Pandora, Vera Bradley, and Nomination can be found at their shop.

Mariana, Irma, and Susan have made their boutique a place where people can come together and make a change while purchasing gifts for those that already have everything.

Visit Shop 195 at 3402 E Del Mar Blvd Ste. #195.

Bewitching Legends

by Jorge Santana

In the tours that I host for my historical neighborhood of San Pedro, there is a place that calls my attention in particular. It’s a small, round, a very strangely shaped hut. It is a tour of myths, a tour of terror; not one of historical accuracy, although legends tend to become history for better or for worse. The legend (like many myths), hides a background of “objective” reality far away. I like that contrast, sometimes I think I’ve managed to survive solely because I can live in that middle point of twilight, between legend and reality, between fantasy and the dull truth. Well, when I walk past the house, with megaphone in hand and a line of people behind me, I begin to tell the legend. “In that round house, they say, an African witch lived, in the mid-1800s when the black soldiers called the “Buffalo Soldiers” arrived at Fort McIntosh (now the Laredo Community College) were a cavalry that came to this border to defend the gringos from the Indians. It is said that this woman practiced black magic in that little hut, from draining the blood of goats and chickens, to performing macabre potions with the hair or breeches of the white soldiers, oppressors of the Afro soldiers.” People get excited with the story, except for the owner of the house, who once chased us off her sidewalk with the spray of her hose. It is understandable: the woman rents that little house, and if the tenants knew they were sleeping on an old river of haunted blood, they would want to move from there. The point of all this is that I like to think about what will happen to us when we are dead. What will they say about us, about our lives, what legends are we forming without knowing, and about how many legends are we being part of? I can already imagine: “In that house they say, lived a man who wrote poems and whatnot. They say that he killed himself because he was never able to live off his writing.” Well, that’s what they would say, when in fact I died because they hit me with a car, or due to some disease, or perhaps by spontaneous human combustion, or gods only know what exactly will happen to me. Someday, someone will rent my house and the new owner will run them off with “manguerazos” for walking by saying that under the orchid tree hung the previous owner (me) for ingesting poorly prepared toloache. I do not know if that witch lived there, if it really happened what they say happened, but when I walk down that sidewalk, I do it just a little bit faster, dear reader.


An Interview with Armela Rea Mariano

by Oscar Perez

Armela Rea Mariano, is a local artist from the Philippines who writes, sculpts and paints! Her story will inspire you to take a leap a faith into that dream you have been trying to pursue! I caught up with Armela in late February to talk all about art, inspiration, community, and her experience so far in this world of art.

Oscar: Armela, thanks for taking some time to meet with me today! What are you up to currently?

Armela: Hi! Well right now I have been working on my handmade jewelry business and I’m getting ready for the Hecho-A-Mano Market in March!

Great! Tell me, when did you first know art was something you wanted to do? What’s your first memory?

The first art memory I have is of me being a toddler and walking into my dad’s office to vandalize his table! Ha-ha! I would draw stick-figures of people with white-out.

Ha-ha! Awesome! How about school? Did you study art?

Yes! When I was in the Philippines I started drawing anime characters in elementary school because that was the popular style at the time! I ended up doing that through high school. I then came to Laredo and studied Art here at TAMIU.

So what did you do after you got your degree?

Well this sounds cliché, but it’s true what they say about the “starving artist.” When I graduated, this reality hit me. I was applying for jobs that revolved around art but it wasn’t going anywhere. I got really disheartened so I ended up studying for nursing and stopped creating art.

Oh wow! How did you end up getting back into Art?

When I was working as a nurse I realized it wasn’t really what I wanted. I wasn’t happy. I had to quit nursing and in 2016 I started my business with handmade jewelry. It was then that I started doing art again and this included art for myself as well. I started participating in shows.

What was an obstacle you faced when getting into doing art full-time?

When I graduated school with an art degree, I did not find a job. I had to choose between art and nursing. I stopped creating art. It was a hard transition.

Once you started creating art, did you have a certain style?

You can say that during school I developed an art style. I was told that my art felt organic. My style has changed from then to now. I now use all types of medium and am now sculpting with polymer clay.

That’s great! What helped that style evolve?

Practicing every day. It helped me figure my style out by trying new things. You really don’t know what type of medium you are good at if you never try it.

If you had to choose one medium to use going forward which one would it be?

I can say that it would be clay. It’s more about the logistics of creation. I can carry clay with me anywhere I go and I like that I am creating with my hands. It relaxes me.

What inspires your work? Where does it come from?

My own personal life experiences inspire me. When I’m going through “something,” I channel that energy into art. I get inspired when I’m depressed. Ha-ha! I don’t know if that’s a good thing but I get motivated by it! I channel that energy and it manifests into something real.

What’s one common theme you see in your art?

Most of my art is about the human condition. I’m very fascinated by the idea of decay, death, and heartbreak. Most of the human emotions that we try to suppress have been shared in my art. In this way, the people that look at my art can reflect within themselves. It will connect with people and start a conversation.

Do you have a routine for creating?

Before I make something, I obsess over the process of how I will make the piece. It can be days and days of envisioning the steps. Once I get into a certain emotional state, I create the art. I don’t sketch the pieces, I just start creating.

What’s the biggest obstacle in creating art? How do you get past it?

I can say that it’s myself! Ha-ha! I procrastinate and at times I can be lazy. To get over it, I look through other artists’ work and it inspires me to get going.

What’s the one art piece you created that means the most to you?

It was an art piece I created in 2007. The piece is Untitled and it’s about an individual with a loose rope around his neck. It tells the story of trying to move on but not being able to. I was going through heartbreak.

When did you first start sharing your art publicly? What was the initial reaction?

Back in college I started posting my art on DeviantArt.com. It was nice having people share how they appreciated my art. I like getting people’s feedback on my work. I also had blogs to share some poems.

That’s great! Tell me, what’s the toughest feedback you have received?

A classmate back in college told me that I signed my name too big on my canvases because I was showing off. I have to say that it really got to me! It impacted the way I sign my art.

Do you think artists should change with the feedback they receive?

If you think that the feedback and the ‘change’ will be beneficial well then you may want to open your mind to the feedback. However, if the feedback is criticism for criticism’s sake or just to bring you down, then don’t listen to those people.

On another note, what’s the best feedback you have received?

I remember doing a performance art piece during our Senior show in college when all of a sudden I was overcome with emotion. I remember a classmate of mine shouting, “You can do it,” and later on telling me that I had a beautiful mind. That was really touching.

What’s one piece of advice you would give an artist who just started?

Aside from doing what you love, you should be who you are. It’s not a requirement to have deep meaning for every art piece so just create your art and keep creating.

That’s great advice! Tell me about our local art community and what’s your involvement in it?

I started attending a local event by the name of Art Bazaar. It was there that I met a local artist, Sandra Gonzalez, who introduced me to Hecho-A-Mano market. It all started because I had sold her a piece of jewelry and she suggested to sell my work at this market. This was 2016.

How important has the community been to your work?

I can say that meeting other artists inspires me. I get ideas from them and it lets me know that I’m not alone in this pursuit of art.

What’s your dream with art?

I think the goal is, “do what you love.” It’s cliché, but they say, “if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.” Making art is a form of self-satisfaction and therapy. I want to make sure I continue doing that.

Great! Thanks for sharing that thought with us! Where can we find your art? Do you have any shows coming up?

I have an Etsy shop: ArmelaReaHandmade, where I sell my handmade jewelry as well as my Facebook Page: ArmelaRea.

As far as finding it locally, you can find my work at the Hecho-A-Mano market. For shows, a friend of mine and I want to have an art show but it’s something we are working on so I am working on expanding my portfolio right now.

Armela, thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. Your story will inspire people!

Don’t forget to go follow Armela’s Facebook page to keep up with her work as well as her Instagram @ReiMariano to keep up with her story.


Oscar Perez


Plenty of Fish

By Mariajose Mendiola for @LaredoEats

This month, my foodie tummy was craving something a little bit more towards the Lent season type of foods. As a “Laredoan,” we take lent very seriously, and sometimes we just don’t know where to eat with all that delicious food out there. Don’t worry guys, we’ve got you covered with some scrumptious options.

First, lets start with one of the newest and most trendiest places in Laredo: SHIBU. Shibu is literally the bomb.com; such a cool place to hang at, and they have Sushi Burritos! Like what?!?! Let me just say that i had the “Tsuna” Burrito, and my tastebuds were extremely pleased. Don’t forgot to also try the bowl, it’s just as good! Next we headed to one of our go-to places, Posh! We love our poke bowls and sushi rolls there. Instead of simply getting a tuna bowl or just a salmon bowl, try it mixed! You get the best of both worlds in one bite! The next Friday, we were craving some fresh Ceviche and Fish tacos from La Mariscana. La Sirena Ceviche is probably our favorite, and it’s a must to order each time i go. It is perfectly filling whether you want to share it or just have on your own. We also were craving something a little warm & cheesy (perfect combo) so we got the “El Governardor,” which is also just so scrumptious. Last but not least, we were craving a little bit of sweet, and i mean all this fish is making us lose weight, so why not go for some Krispy Kreme Donuts? Do i even have to explain how yummy these doughnuts are? I mean who doesn’t know that already? All we can say is that our tummies and hearts were very happy. Hope you guys got a little hungrier just reading this. Don’t forgot about Meatless Fridays and all the eating possibilities. NOM NOM.

Fresh flavors with a creamy twist

by Maria Salas

February and March are months of transition. So there’s still a little bit of winter in the atmosphere, but spring is making its way into our clothes, shoes, and definitely FOOD. This month we feature the most delicious pasta you will ever have! Trattoria Mia is presenting one of their most special dishes: lobster raviolis with a celery root puree.

This dish starts off with a delicious egg pasta dough that is prepared in-house. It is stretched and pulled to perfection, rolled out, and prepared for the filling. The filling consists of lobster, a bit of shrimp, and egg whites to hold it together inside the pasta itself. Then each ravioli is carefully fabricated by hand giving each of them a special touch.

Then, the chefs take the lobster shells and cook them down into lobster stock. After blanching the ravioli, they finish cooking in a little bit of that lobster stock so more of the lobster flavor can infuse the dish. They are finished off with some cherry tomatoes, butter, and some basil to add freshness to the dish. Lastly, a light dressing of lemon juice is added at the end to bring forth those seafood flavors.

To pull it all together, a dollop of celery root puree is added. Trattoria Mia went as far as introducing a unique element by adding the puree. It diffuses the flavor of the pasta and the sauce in your mouth and lightens everything up. Finished with a garnish of a slightly brined fresh fennel to add an extra layer of anise flavor. The little bit of bitterness in the fennel balances out the richness of the sauce and adds a bit of kick to the whole dish.

What pasta doesn’t taste better with a crisp drink? Trattoria Mia suggests drinking a hearty, full bodied white wine with an oak finish to give the meal a little bit more structure. Of course, the restaurant will now be serving an array of different drinks to accompany your meals, so you can be sure to enjoy all of the new goodies Trattoria Mia has in store for you!

Personal Trainers Everywhere

by Oscar Saucedo

As the fitness industry in Laredo becomes more mainstream, it creates opportunities for new businesses and jobs.  I’ve been fortunate to be part of that fitness job creation; and I’ve watched as competitors emerge to be part of it too. At the end of the day, all of that growth is good for our city.  The fitness market will expand and bring in more facilities, techniques, modalities, diversity, and personal trainers to serve everyone.

I can confidently say that the number of personal trainers actively training clients in Laredo has never been higher.  When I came here 21 years ago, I knew of only 4 trainers in the entire city. Now, Gold’s Gym Laredo on Del Mar alone has 16 personal trainers.  The market is big enough now to allow consumers to shop around and choose wisely. Here are my recommendations on how to choose a personal trainer:

1)        A trainer should focus on you—the client.  That seems perhaps too basic.  But the type of trainer I will hire will commit to getting to know you, your goals, your obstacles, your injuries, etc…  She/he will NOT spend that time listing his/her competition placings, accomplishments, and certifications.  If during the first session, the trainer asks about only you, that’s a good sign.

2)        A good trainer will have a plan and methodically progress your program.  In this, I compare a client to an incoming college freshman that knows what college degree she/he wants to earn.  I compare the trainer both to a college counselor and a college professor.  The counselor gives the student the program (degree plan) to accomplish the goals. The professor slowly progresses the student through all of the necessary courses. He/she begins with the basics, then to the intermediate, and finally to the advanced; and every level is mastered before moving on.

3)        A good trainer will check your progress periodically and set attainable goals for the next progress check.  However, he/she will also understand that progress isn’t always about weight loss. Many times, progress for the client is about doing things they’ve never been able to do before.  It can be about jogging 1 mile without taking a break, or getting off of medication, or being told that they are an inspiration, or being able to participate in outdoor activities with their family and/or friends, or simply about getting spanked by your significant other just because they couldn’t resist!  A trainer should never underestimate the power of small victories.

4)        A good trainer never stops learning.  I’ve been in fitness for over 30 years now, and there is always something new and exciting to learn.

5)        A good trainer won’t demean another training modality or style.  There’s more than one way to skin a cat.  Bodybuilding isn’t the only way.  Crossfit isn’t the only way.  There are many ways to get fit.  If a trainer is stuck in only one way, that’s a bad sign.  I recommend all trainers try styles they have never tried. More often than not, they are pleasantly surprised.

6)        A good trainer is a good teacher.  Good teachers are able to communicate well, they pinpoint where the improvement is needed, and they teach in several ways/styles until the student learns.  I like to see trainers that tell the client what they are about to do, how they are going to do it, and WHY they are doing it. The kind of trainer that will give all the knowledge that they have is the kind of trainer I like to hire.

7)        A good trainer loves helping people.  You can hear the passion as he or she speaks about fitness.  I believe that this is the quality that truly makes a trainer successful.  All the degrees, certifications, and/or trophies mean nothing if a trainer is not in love with fitness.

These are only some of the important qualities I believe a good trainer should have.  It’s really only an opinion, but I think it can qualify as an expert opinion.       If you do your research and know what you want, it can be a really good thing that there are personal trainers everywhere.

A:Cuts(AminoCuts) is a clean energy boosting drink fortified with amino acids to help recovery. With natural-source caffeine, CLA, taurine, and green coffee extract, it will help you burn some fat, too. Comes in 8 delicious flavors. Put one scoop in a 500mL water bottle and sip during your workout.

Sculpt perfection into your skin

by Oscar Castillo

Laser technology has advanced tremendously over the past decade. Lasers can not only be used for security purposes, but also as valuable tools for everyday life. They can be as strong as to cut through diamond, or gentle enough to treat one’s skin. In Laredo, Skintology prides itself in keeping up with the new and growing demands. Added to the many items on their repertoire, laser skin care can be checked off, coming in the shape of Skin Resurfacing.

Resurfacing is the process of removing imperfections from the skin with the use of laser treatment. Some of these imperfections include, sun damage, acne marks, blotches, wrinkles, scars, and even age lines. This involves an outpatient procedure, meaning it will not require overnight stay or lengthy recovery time. It is a simple, non-invasive surgery that can have almost immediate results. The process works by the laser beams heating the deep layers of the skin. This, accompanied by pulses, touch on any unwanted pigmentation and blood vessels, smoothening or eliminating them altogether.

Regarding results, these usually include smoother, softer, clearer, and more vibrant skin. Although results can be seen soon after the procedure, it is usually best to follow up with a couple more sessions to ensure that the effects are more effective and lasting. Although it is usually implemented on facial skin, it can be applied to other parts of the skin as well.

Due to so many benefits, it is almost too good not to try this procedure. However, for better results, and for more detailed information on the procedure, it is always better to make an appointment with a physician or dermatologist beforehand. At Skintology, they can help guide patrons to ensure that every safety precaution is taken, and that the procedure is right for them. The best part is that this treatment is all offered locally, so there is no need to travel outside the city to get treated like royalty.

Skintology Spa is located at  3402 E. Del Mar Blvd. Suite. #200, (956) 727-0950, www.skintologyspa.com

Owners of Cultura Beer Garden

By Maria Salas

Meet one half of a whole. Chris Contreras and Benny Contreras are two-fourths owners of Cultura Beer Garden. Their favorite past time, out of the many they have, is to have a good beer after a long day of work, which is perfect for their hobby turned business. Chris and Benny, along with their better halves, began their business from an opportunity that presented itself spontaneously. From the beginning, they have focused on bringing something new, different, and good to Laredo.

Cultura Beer Garden is a bar dedicated to offering non-traditional beer options to the community. They work with local Texas breweries to bring something new to the table. One of the things that makes them stand out from the rest is that they do weekly webisodes through their social media. Benny uses his hobby of audio and video technology to piece together videos to connect the community to Cultura Beer Garden. Chris is the one that stands in front of the camera talking about the hobby he knows best: beer.

When they’re not being beer gurus, Chris and Benny spend their time relaxing from their busy schedules. Chris enjoys riding his bike and playing music. Benny likes to drink beer and spend time with good friends eating good food, but as a true audio-video guy, he loves to play video games to unwind.

They’ve learned that working as a team is what makes Cultura Beer Garden such a success. Their most important and resounding advice to others wanting to start an out-of-the-box business is to basically go for it. If you have an idea, do it. They tell others to find like-minded people, set up a plan, and execute. No matter what comes your way, be relentless. They believe that if you want a genuine business, you’ll encounter genuine people.

They plan to grow and expand and keep offering the city things they’ve never tasted before. Here’s to hearing more about Cultura Beer Garden in the future. Cheers!

A match made in heaven!

By Maria Salas

Whether you realize it or not, you spend the majority of your day doing things you’ve already done hundreds of times before. It is rare when you actually try new things for the purpose of engaging in a unique experience. But what if certain places existed to provide you the ease of trying something new?

ShiBu and TreaHouse are unorthodox restaurants that have recently opened up in the city. They’ve brought us two concepts that have been unheard of…until now.

On the one hand, you have sushi burritos and on the other you have tea? But guys, they work! Hear me out.

You might’ve seen videos on the internet talking about sushi burritos and maybe even tagged some of your friends swearing you were going to try them out one day. Well, one day has finally arrived!

ShiBu has combined two of the most glorious and popular foods in Laredo and made it one. They’ve taken the scrumptiousness of sushi and made it handheld and turned the awesomeness of burritos and made it sushi!

They offer fresh ingredients and traditional sushi recipes we all know and love. However, they also allow you the freedom to build your own creation. With over 50 ingredients to choose from, you have the ability to create up to 2,000 different sushi burrito combinations! You can make your sushi burritos as small or as big as you’d like. The experts at ShiBu can definitely fit everything in.

After you’ve ordered at ShiBu, you can head upstairs to the TreaHouse and enjoy a refreshing bubble tea to go hand in hand with your sushi burrito.

TreaHouse is definitely something that hasn’t been done in Laredo and that is what makes it so special. TreaHouse puts a modern twist on a traditional tea shop. They delight your senses with bubble teas, customized brews, and a one of a kind teapot experience.

In addition to the over 50 tea blends available, you can expect a welcoming atmosphere the moment you walk through the door. TreaHouse is a real hangout spot complete with board games, books, art, a foosball table, and the view from the second floor is not to be overlooked! It is a cozy place to hang out with friends or to take your laptop and books and have a study session.

With awesome food, cozy teas, and free wifi, you’re never going to want to leave these places! Trust us! Visit them at 9802 McPherson Ste. 116.