Candle Maker

I made candles! And it was much easier than I thought it would be. After all was said and done, each candle cost between $3-$5. Pretty darn good, huh?? And, no extra junk went in – just soy wax and essential oils. I am very pleased.

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There are lots and lots of tutorials out there that I read and you should read too to get some good ideas. But, since this is my blog, I’m going to give you my version of how to make your own soy candles.

1. Gather your supplies.

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I found some great containers ($0.99-$3) at thrift stores and will now be keeping my eye out for ones to give as presents! Soy wax ($13 for 5lbs.) and candle wicks ($8 for 50) were purchased on Amazon. My wonderfully intelligent husband suggested I get a cheap bowl ($3, thrift store) to use just for this project, and he was right. I also purchased that measuring cup with spout ($2, thrift store) which I highly suggest, as it makes it easy to pour into the containers. A thermometer which I didn’t end up using is in the picture, as well as chopsticks! And of course, my essential oils which I already had (thanks Jenny!).

Make sure your containers are all clean and set up close to where you will be melting your wax.

2. Place wicks in jars.

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This was the hardest part for me. I’m sure there is an easy way to do it, but since my wicks had wax coating, they weren’t very malleable to tie around the chopsticks, as some blogs suggested. I ended up super gluing them to the bottom of the containers then using the chopstick (and starbucks straws, since I didn’t have enough chopsticks!) to keep them from falling over. I think there was some tape involved, but not sure if it played any important part. Eh, it works.

3. Melt your wax.

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The majority of blogs say to microwave your wax, but, since I’m better than you, I don’t own a microwave and opted for the double boiler option. Either way works. The wax melts to about half of what you measure, i.e. I measured out 8 cups of wax chips and it melted down to 4 cups of liquid. I read about making sure to keep at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time, but I am very impatient in the kitchen so I said screw it and took it off as soon as it all was melted. This is when I added my essential oils, which is step 4 in this series.

4. Add essential oils.

I did this in two sets, so I could try different scents. My first was rosemary and eucalyptus, my second was pure lavendar. Yum. Just stir in 5-10 drops, depending on your nose.

5. Pour into containers.

I poured from the glass bowl into the plastic measuring cup then into the containers. Thank you bloggers for suggesting using a cup with a spout. Oh, and don’t forget to use oven mitts!! Wax is hot when it is melted.

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As you can see there is some wax on the side of this big one. That would be my one stupid decision in this venture. I poured too much in the big one leaving not quite enough for my last jar. So, I tried to pour from the big into the little. Not so good. Very messy. Make sure to have paper towels around! Lesson learned.

6. Let wax harden, trim wick, and light!

I think I let my candles sit for a couple hours. You’ll be able to tell when they are ready. And oh, how satisfying it is to light that first one!

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Guys, I’m in love with candle making.

I will now be researching how to color the candles without ruining the integrity of the soy. Also, collecting containers!

This was so fun, and was a huge money saver! Husband & I have dished out $20 for a candle before. Not so anymore! Thank you DIY nation.

Every Little Bit Counts

Paul & I want to travel. So badly. We’ve been talking and talking and talking about it since before we were married, but we’ve decided enough talking, let’s do something about it! So, we are making slow, baby steps towards it.

Our first move? Getting passports! We got some money for Christmas and decided, no time like the present – and applied for them. It was something very tangible, and affordable (thanks, Father!) that gave us hope we might actually make this travel thing happen someday.

Our next move? Saving money. “This is hard to do when you don’t have a lot to begin with”, my creative-writing-master’s-degree-graduate-student husband pointed out. But my philosophy? Every little bit counts.

I’d love to hear how you all pinch pennies in your budget! Please do share. I read somewhere that you should always keep researching how to save money because people are always coming up with great ways to save the dough. And it’s true! I’ve found great resources on the internet and hope to find more.

Actually, I almost bought a book about money-saving tips but then realized how ridiculous that would be. Spend money to learn how to save money? Silly. So instead, I put ten bucks in the jar. Ten bucks I would’ve spent on the book, now is saved! We’ll see how long we can keep that philosophy up. We wanted to go to a movie downtown but decided we could do Netflix at home instead. So, twenty bucks went in the jar! Every little bit counts.

I’ve also begun asking myself, “Do I really want that new Beyonce cd, or would I rather spend that on an espresso and croissant in Paris?” Duh, easy decision. It’s amazing how perspective can change my spending habits.

A few ‘little bit’ things we’ve done:

Turned our thermostat down 2 degrees.

Unplug our power strip with electric things at night/when we aren’t using it.

Cut down on food waste! I’m embarrassed to say I’m really bad about this.

Condense our errand-running trips in the car. I totally take for granted that I can just pop in the car and run up north to Target without even thinking about it. I’ll go even if I just need one thing. So my new errand best friend? Lists.

Every time we have cash in our wallet, it goes in the jar. Also, any extra non-paycheck money we get goes straight into savings.

There’s many more things I’d like to do, but this is where we are now. Every little bit counts!

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2013

Happy New Year! (It’s still January, so I can say that, right?) 

Clearly it’s been a while since I’ve been here (story of my life), but at least I remembered my password, eh?! Here’s a wee bit of an update since, uh, June: 

I graduated college!

I got a fantastic new job as a massage therapist at an amazing four-star resort spa. I’m in love with my job.

We got a dog…that’s still alive after 4 months! (Have I really not blogged about Griswold? Just check my Instagram for about a gajillion pictures of him. He’s pretty stinking adorable.)

Paul started his last year in his Master’s program at Eastern. He graduates in June, and has some great promise for getting a job teaching in the fall. He was hand-picked for a teaching assistantship for these next 2 quarters, so he’s getting great experience under his belt right now. 

I saw my family more this year than any other (since high school)! We gathered in St. Louis for my Grandpa Bill’s memorial service, were in Phoenix together for my baby brother’s graduation, and we got to be with Jason and my mom for Christmas in Boise. I love my family. 

Paul & I finally made it to Portland together. Paul’s sister’s wedding took place at the incredible McMenamin’s resort in October and we all had a grand ol’ time. I am in love with Portland. 

And that brings us to 2014!

Pasta Salad

You guys! I’ve discovered the best pasta salad ever. It has so much flavor, my mouth is still tasting it. We ate it for dinner, but it could be a good side dish or something to bring to the family bbq. Delish. Here’s the recipe!

Recipe: Curly pasta and veggie salad

Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients

For pasta and vegetables:

Vegetable oil cooking spray

3 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2- inch pieces

1 large orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 large yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

6 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound cavatappi or macaroni pasta

For dressing:

2/3 cup sour cream

2/3 cup safflower oil

2/3 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 lemons, zested

1/3 cup chopped fresh chives

1/3 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

For the vegetables: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread out vegetables in a single layer on the prepared sheet. Roast for 25 minutes, until tender.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.

For the dressing:  In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, safflower oil, buttermilk, lemon juice, lemon zest, chives, mint, parsley, salt and pepper until smooth. Add the roasted vegetables and dressing to the cooked pasta. Toss until all ingredients are coated and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

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Smooth Move

For my birthday I got this wicked smoothie machine – the Ninja! I love it. So, for the past week or so, I’ve been making a yummy smoothie for one of my meals. I’m excited to start getting adventurous with them; right now they are only fruit, greek yogurt, peanut butter, and oats. I did put kale in a couple of them and that was delicious! I have googled a lot of recipes and found some great stuff. I’m curious if any of you are smoothie makers and have any great recipes or additives? Tell me!

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May

Has anyone else’s May been as insane as ours? From Bloomsday to Mother’s Day to concerts to birthdays to student clinics to graduations to engagements to parades to work to homework – it’s been a crazy month! Also, Paul and I are going to Phoenix a week from Monday and there is a lot of (mostly school) stuff that we are trying to get ahead on. So busy! But so good. My favorite month has always been May. So no complaints from this girl!

It is also lilac season in Spokane, and everywhere you go there are lilacs! I love it. 

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Happy May, everyone. 

Articulating Thoughts

I sat down at my computer last week in the hopes of articulating my thoughts on abortion, and a Christian’s role in it – specifically in response to this terrible Gosnell trial. I wrote some thoughts down but it just didn’t seem to come out as I wanted. Then, today, Donald Miller wrote a blog post that exactly expressed the thoughts I had been having. Like, exactly. So, please read it. It is pretty thought-provoking. Thanks God, for great writers like Donald Miller who are much more gifted in writing than I am.

Link: http://storylineblog.com/2013/04/22/talking-points-for-the-pro-life-movement/