Monday, December 5, 2016

DIY Soy Candle Making


I have been buying and burning candles for years.  I love the ambience they create and the amazing fragrance that fills the room while they're burning and often, even when they're not burning, their beautiful scent lingers on. I probably buy too many candles but I like to light them most nights so I go through quite a few.  I recently attended a fabulous workshop at Clean Slate in Perth where I learnt how to make my own candles and was surprised to learn they are relatively simple to make but equally surprised to learn of a couple of things that can affect the quality of your candle.  According to my workshop, the size and quality of the wick and the way in which you pour the melted wax into your vessel, can make or break your candle. I would've thought it was the wax and wax alone that was the difference between a fabulous candle and a bad one - but it seems not.  

Shortly after my workshop, Crafty Candle Supplies contacted me, 
which was purely coincidental, and asked if I would like to test-drive their DIY Candle Making Kits.  Would I ever?  The timing was impeccable and I grew even more excited when I checked out their beautiful website filled with all things needed to make your own candles, including a variety of gorgeous vessels and top quality Ecosoya Wax (Ecosoya wax is free from pesticides and herbicides, contains no genetically modified material, is manufactured using pure soy beans and contains no harmful additives.  It is manufactured according to sustainability and renewable resource management and it cleans up in hot soapy water eliminating the need for harsh solvents). 

The kit was delivered by courier not long after and I was just as excited by the gorgeous timber box it arrived in as I was about the contents.  I read the very clear instructions (with photos included - they always help!) and got to work.  I had decided to experiment with essential oils, rather than fragrance, because I have read that some fragrances can be toxic in your household and for the past few years, although I still do buy scented soy candles, I have been trying to lessen the toxic load around our house.  During my workshop, I asked about using essential oils instead of fragrance and I was advised to double the wick size and that the scent would be much more subtle - which I am completely okay with.  The wicks that came with my kit were the standard size needed for a normal scented candle but when I contacted Crafty Candle Supplies asking to purchase a couple of larger wicks they immediately posted two out to me without charge. They were so accommodating and eager for me to let them know how I go experimenting with the oils - I was very impressed by their service and their obvious passion for what they do.


So, down to the nitty gritty.  Here's how it went.

The supplies (and the lid of the beautiful box)

Melting the wax

Checking the temperature - needs to be between 70 and 80 degrees celsius

While the wax is melting, prepare your vessels. The wicks are easily attached using the supplied wick stickums.

Wicks are in, centred and held in place with little popstick thingeys
Use the supplied measuring jug to gently and evenly pour the wax into your vessel.  Before pouring it into your vessel, add your oil or fragrance if using - gently stirring it in.  I added roughly 15 drops of essential oil - I may adjust this next time, depending on the strength of the scent.

Poured and ready.
Once poured, pop in a tray and move somewhere safe to set for 24 hours (sorry for the dodgy baking tray - I just grabbed the first thing in the cupboard!).  Once set, trim the wicks to 0.5cm and affix the supplied warning labels to the underneath of your vessel.  And you're done.


And there she is - all comfortable at my parents' house

Look at that flame - all relaxed and perfect. Sometimes an "angry" or "dancing" flame can be due to a bad quality wick or incorrect wick size.

And here's mine - sitting pretty amongst my collection.  How cute are the hammered copper tins?

So, if you are just starting out with candle-making I would highly recommend taking a workshop or ordering a Starter Kit from Crafty Candle Supplies. Their site is full of candle-making wonderfulness and each kit comes fully supplied including comprehensive instructions - way better than mine above.


What are you waiting for? Go get your order in, and let me know how they turn out.  I bet they'll be fabulous!

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Monday, February 15, 2016

DIY Hoop Mobile

My daughter has been asking for a mobile above her bed for about a year now.  Trouble is, she's five years old and most of the mobiles on sale are for babies and not really suitable for a "big girl" room.  So, because I'm a try-hard "Martha", we set about making our own.  I had wanted to use some of her old baby clothes for something creative - instead of giving them away or shoving them in a box never to be looked at again - and at first I thought I would use them in a quilt for her but then I quickly realized that because I'm not a very good hoarder (i.e not very sentimental when it comes to clothes), I didn't have enough for a decent sized quilt.  I did, however, have enough to use in a mobile.  And so the Hoop Mobile was born! 

I started cutting up her clothes (which was surprisingly hard for me to do) before I had checked that my mobile idea would even work.  I was actually very nervous because it could've easily gone a bit pear-shaped and then I'd be left with no clothes, no mobile and bits of baby clothes everywhere!  And I really had no idea what I was doing - I just added fabric to various shaped embroidery hoops (which I bought online from Etsy), strung them together randomly (there was no measuring or accuracy involved at all) using white embroidery floss and then tied the completed lengths to two bits of dowel that I'd painted white and tied together.  It took a bit of jiggling and jaggling (I'm sure that's a word) to get the mobile balanced once hung but because everything was just knotted on, it was easy to slide the string wherever it needed to be to get it sitting right.  

Thankfully, it came to together just how I had imagined it would (this quite often doesn't happen), which delighted both me and my daughter.  Phew.  I didn't take any photos during "construction" (in the back of my mind I must've thought it wasn't going to work!) but here it is - in all its cuteness ...






Ah, embroidery hoops - I love them.  Have you ever used them for something other than embroidering?


Monday, May 4, 2015

Fragrant Clay Hearts


We love playing with clay in our house.  Our clay of choice is air-dried because it's easy to use and doesn't require any baking.  The kids have made many a clay ornament in the past and I've made myself a few pretty little bowls for rings, hair-ties etc.  

This weekend we decided to try something a bit different.  We made little clay hearts (and other shapes) and added a few drops of essential oil to the back so it becomes a scented clay heart - perfect for hanging in the wardrobe, in the car or anywhere you'd like to add a subtle fragrance.  We thought these would be a perfect gift for Mother's Day.

All you need is:

Air-dried Clay (or salt dough but I've never made it so stuck with clay)
Rolling Pin 
Cookie Cutter (or just free-style)
Acrylic Paint & Brushes
Ribbon
Essential Oil

Roll out your clay to the desired thickness (we made a variety of thicknesses so it doesn't really matter - just don't make them too thin otherwise they may break). Use your cookie cutter to cut out a shape (or just free-style a design).  Smooth out any edges if you want to.  Get a toothpick or the end of a thin paint brush and poke a hole in the clay for the ribbon to hang. 


Wait for the clay to dry - we left ours overnight - and then paint the next day.  




Make sure you leave an unpainted patch at the back of the tag for the essential oil to seep in.  


Once the paint is dry add a few drops (or 10!) of essential oil to the back and thread through your ribbon.  



And that's it.  A beautifully scented, home-made, hand-made air freshener for the kids to gift to you, their Nanny, their teacher, a friend, or even just make for themselves.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Crafting with CleverPatch


When I was contacted recently by CleverPatch and asked if I wanted to "have a play" with their crafty products I, of course, jumped at the opportunity and expected to be sent maybe one or two things from them.  Within a couple of weeks a large box arrived by courier and when the kids and I opened it, it was absolutely full of loveliness ... craft loveliness. It just happened to be the weekend and so with time up our sleeve we were eager to begin the "roadtest" journey.

My 4 year old chose to do the Sun Catcher CleverKit - an all-in-one kit to make a pretty, mirrored sun catcher.  Apart from the knots she was able to assemble it herself - she even managed to add the provided sticky dots to the little mirrored pieces and squish them together.  It is now hanging on our dining window to catch the light streaming in while we are eating dinner.  This is a fun, easy project and would make a great gift for a teacher or a grandparent - and one that little kids can make mostly on their own, which is always important to them.






She also made the Foam Flower Frame Magnet CleverKit - this one is super-quick and super-easy and comes together in a few minutes.  All I needed to do was find a photo for her to use and it was done.  A colourful, quirky little photo frame for your fridge.



My son (7) was busting to use the Glass & Porcelain Markers on the Porcelain Mug so I gave him free rein to do whatever he liked (this is very hard for me to do ... I tend to like to "offer" my ideas but he would have none of it and as you can probably tell his ego personality shone through on this one!).  



The markers are water-based so whatever you do can easily be washed off and removed.  If you decide you kinda like your design and want to make it permanent then you just need to bake in the oven for 90 minutes on 160 degrees.  (You know, a bit like those plates from the '80's that you did at school - mine has my friends names plastered all over it and some drawings of the Flintstones!  My Mum still has those plates, bless her.  Now your kids can create something similar, for you!). The markers are also handy for leaving little love notes around the house for certain individuals who don't like to brush their teeth at night ...


My son also put together the little Bead Bookworm Clever Kit.  I asked him to read the instructions and see if he could follow them by himself but he needed my help to understand them.  We worked on the bookworm together and were both really happy with the end result.  A really cute little bookmark for his much loved Geronimo Stilton book.  This was probably my favourite Clever Kit and one that I think all kids would love - boy or girl.




We still have a pile of fabulous marker pens and crayons, and one more Clever Kit (the Dreamcatcher), to roadtest so watch this space - I'm sure you'll see some CleverPatch products making an appearance here again.

If you get a chance, check out CleverPatch's website - they have over 4,000 products (anything and everything craft-related, seriously - it is a one-stop shop), there is a fabulous area for parents where you can access a great Ideas section (I love this - you don't need to come up with craft ideas yourself, just steal theirs!), they have a "Happiness Promise" (c'mon that's reason enough!) and they are an Australian-owned business.  One of my favourite things from CleverPatch, though, has to be their "Naturals" range - they have things like sustainably farmed botanicals (seed pods, pine cones, cinnamon slices etc), a garden section with tools, seeds and planters and lots of different natural textiles to play with.  Their range is amazingly comprehensive, thoughtfully put together and really does inspire "ideas to grow".


I do think their CleverKits are a great little "surprise" to have on hand - for days when boredom strikes and you need to "whip something up" with the kids.  You don't need to hunt around or shop for all your supplies - they are all in the kit, making it an easy, no-fuss project. Everyone wins.

It was a pleasure road-testing their fun products and I know I will be visiting them again soon, after all it won't be long before my son will want to do more mugs - you know, considering he's also a football legend, lacrosse legend, fishing legend ...


Disclaimer:  I was not paid to write this post but was offered craft products by CleverPatch to have some fun with.  Fun was had and in appreciation I am sharing my experience and spreading the crafty word. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Recipe File (including free printable cards)


 One of the lovely things about our recent 6-month stint in Canada was spending a lot of time with family and getting to know them all over again.  We stayed right next door to my in-laws so the "pop in" was a daily occurrence and we all loved it.  My teenage niece spent quite a lot of time with us (my daughter very quickly became her shadow) and she was often around at dinner time or while I was cooking.  She began to ask me for recipes and was showing a real interest in learning how to cook.  I was secretly ecstatic that someone liked my food and wanted my recipes!

When Christmas rolled around I knew exactly what I was going to buy her - a recipe box or file so that she could begin her own recipe collection and at the same time encourage her to experiment with cooking and trying new recipes.  When we first arrived in Canada I saw at least three gorgeous little boxes and files specifically for recipes.  I remember thinking, "I'm definitely going to grab a couple of these for take-home gifts", but I didn't right then and there because I was going to be around for six months so there was no hurry.  Of course, by the time I actually wanted to buy one of them you know what happened, don't you?  There were none.  I went to Chapters, to Walmart, to Michaels and to Target - but, no, there were none to be found.  I had my heart set on a recipe file.  I wanted to give her something meaningful and something that thought had gone into - plus she had asked me for recipes and I didn't want to just jot them down on a bit of paper.  You know where I'm going with this, right?  There wasn't a whole bunch of time - I think it was about a week before Christmas - but I decided I would make one for her.  And so I set to it. (I will apologise in advance for the quality of my photos - it was dark, it was late and my camera just wasn't loving me.  She doesn't take well to being rushed.)

I grabbed a lovely, bright blue Martha Stewart A5 file, some A5 file dividers, A5 plastic sleeves, a Martha Stewart book-plate pack and designed 5 different cards for her.  I went with categories of Meat, Pasta, Vegetarian, Dessert and Treats (because she loves her treats!) - keeping it very simple and choosing categories based around what she would probably cook the most.






In spite of the rush, it turned out better than I expected and was a pleasure to put together.  I bought a few little bits to go with it - measuring cups, wooden spoon etc - and packaged it up with a silver ribbon.

It was a hit with my niece.  She asked me to print out more cards before we left and has since asked for my lasagna recipe. Bless her - she knows how to make this Aunty feel good!  And when she comes to visit in a few years I'll be expecting her to cook for me ... which was secretly the plan all along!

If you'd like to make up your own file or box, feel free to download my cards and corresponding divider labels.


Enjoy. x

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Gift Idea - White Chocolate Rocky Road (with Printable Gift Tag)



This is one of my "go to" Christmas gifts for teachers, friends, family, whoever.  I once made it for my boss and he apparently wouldn't share a single bit of it with his wife! It is delicious, highly "moreish" and super simple to make - like SUPER simple.  Plus it has pistachios and cranberries in it so it's practically a health food!

I use the "Gourmet Rocky Road" recipe from Taste.  You can find it here.




I also put together a little "Tis the Season" gift tag which you can download here.  You can either double-side print it or attach two labels, which is what I did because I didn't have access to a printer which would do double-sided printing. Either way looks good.



If I don't pop back in here before Christmas, I wish you and your family the very best Christmas, full of joy, good health, love, peace and quality time spent with loved ones ... plus lots of Rocky Road - 'tis the season after all! xxx