Thursday, November 8, 2012

Homemade Soy Candles

A few weeks ago I made some candles for a friend who has everything :)  We are moving and my camera is packed so the above photo is from the web....

I decided to go with soy candles.  I followed the directions here to make the wick.  I recommend the directions for wick number 2.  Leaving the unbleached cotton twine in the borax solution overnight caused crystals to form that I had to remove before dipping the wicks in wax.  Use unbleached cotton twine to keep this a "clean" candle without any harmful chemicals being released into the air as you burn them.  I chose not to add any dyes to my candles for the same reason.

I followed the directions here to make the candles.  I put together some instructions on how to burn a soy candle and attached it to my gift.  Here are some similar instructions.  As you read them note how important it is to do a memory burn, how to center your wick after prolonged burning, and how to extinguish your candle without causing smoke. After making your candles allow them cure for a few days before burning them... I know... it is so hard to wait!

I made a summer scented candle using:

1/2 pound soy wax
1 T. jasmine essential oil
1/4 t. grapefruit essential oil

I think the above fragrance combination makes a nice perfume.  Just use beeswax instead of the soy and add equal parts sweet almond oil to make a solid perfume.  Directions here.

I made an Autumn scented candle using:

1 pound soy wax
2 T clove bud essential oil
1/2 t. vanilla essential oil

I have been burning the Autumn scented candle all week and I love, love, love it.  Some commercial candles smell too sugary sweet for me.  However, I'm very happy with these!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Best (& EASIEST) Pulled Pork

I tried a new recipe and I loved it.  It is SUPER easy- not on my diet- but tasty nonetheless.  At first I freaked out when I realized you used root beer to cook your pork in- but there were so many awesome reviews that I went with it.  Then two days later I made another batch for a friend who had just had a baby.  I just sent over the pulled pork, a mess of coleslaw and a bag of rolls.  This would be wonderful for tailgating parties.

Here is the recipe- photo and recipe from   I used 2 litres of A&W root beer, a half of a pork roast- the inexpensive kind in a tube shaped bag and Sweet Baby Ray's Original BBQ sauce.  You just put the pork in the crock pot- cover it with root beer- cook on low. Turn the roast a time or two during the day.  At dinner time drain off all of the root beer and remove any fat.  Shred meat with a fork (it falls apart) and drench with the BBQ sauce.  You can use the pulled pork on your favorite salad or I like to make sandwiches with it- just put a heaping pile of the pork in the middle of a soft roll and enjoy.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Where to Buy Large, Chunky Beads

I love the fun necklaces with big chunky beads.  I hit my local craft stores trying to find large beads to make a few necklaces of my own.  Our town only has two craft stores.  I didn't find much.  The beads either looked cheap- perfect for a four year old playing dress up- or they didn't have the colors I needed.  I had a "duh" moment and looked for beads at etsy under the supply category.

I found these pretty glass "pearl" beads and purchased them for two different necklaces.  I purchased two different shades of gray and some cream beads and crystals.  I tried to find beads that were at least 14mm.  My local craft store carries the smaller sizes.

For my match everything, all cream colored necklace I purchased a few large glass crystals to add texture and sparkle.  They were a nice addition.  I personally prefer cream pearls to white- but that is just me.

I found some yellow beads here... for some reason a large, pretty yellow bead is nearly impossible to find.  These are 20mm- very nice size!

I did find out that making a necklace with tons of beads can get expensive (my gray pearl necklace-yikes)! You can probably buy one already made for less money.  But if you are trying to match a specific outfit or need some craft therapy go for it.

September 1 we went back onto our modified Dave Ramsey budget so there is less shopping and more saving going on at our house now   ;0)

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

J.R. Watkins Cleaner

Let me preface this by saying that I grew up in a home surrounded by over twenty navel orange trees- can you imagine how great it smelled when the orange blossoms were bursting out all over the place- amazing!!

Then in December/January when oranges were perfect for eating they became the staple of my diet.... delicious... best oranges ever!  Understanding my history may lead you to believe that I am biased, and maybe I am, but I've got to tell you about how delighted I was to try J.R. Watkins Tub & Tile cleaner in orange citrus scent....  this is just me, a mom who grabbed it on sale on an impulse buy (no company endorsement stuff going on).... and I really like it.  It cleaned my yucky toilet exterior and my bathroom smelled heavenly while I worked..... sigh...

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Products I Like

Long time no post- just busy doing other fun stuff.  I did want to share a product review or two- so that I can look back and remember what brand I liked.  Here are some popular items at our house:

Ghirardelli Hazelnut Heaven Intense Dark Chocolate.  The sweetness of the hazelnut tones down the dark chocolate and makes for a very tasty treat.  So, hard to keep it to a nibble and not just consume the entire bar-

Garden of Eatin taco shells.  I found these at the local health food store.  They actually taste like corn tortillas did when I was a kid growing up in Arizona.  By that I mean, you can taste the corn.  Rubbery if zapped in the microwave.  Delightful crunchiness when warmed in the oven. These are the ingredients: Organic stoneground yellow corn masa flour, expeller pressed high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil. Yummy.

Unsweetened Almond Breeze with Coconut milk- I use this with frozen fruit (banana, mango, papaya, and pineapple) to make tropical tasting fruit smoothies.  I want to try a smoothie with chocolate and see if it tastes like a mounds bar...

Do you spend a small fortune on printer ink?  We do.  We tried switching brands of printers and that didn't save us any money.  We switched to a  laser Brother HL-2270 DW.  The ink cartridge costs $45 and is supposed to print 1600 pages. Very nice quality printing.  It only prints in black and white- but that is all we need 85% of the time.  We kept the old printer (for color) and added the new and are hoping for some big savings in the ink department.


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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Service Activity Day

This week for activity day (church group of girls ages 8-11) we focused on service.  First, I had the girls help me make no bake peanut butter bars.  While they were cooling in the refrigerator we discussed the blessings and happiness that come when we do service for others.  I focused on this talk by President Monson and Matthew 25.

We played the game Guesstures (charades).  We discussed how actions speak louder than words.  Many people say that they love God, their family, or their neighbor- but do they show them?

Then I used this fabulous idea that I found via pinterest and gave each girl their own top secret folder so that they could go home with a reminder to perform secret acts of loving service.

Oh, and we sent home the peanut butter bars with the girls (they were delish)!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Activity Day: Ceramic Tiles

This week for activity day (church group of girls ages 8-11) we discussed President Monson's talk from the April 2012 Young Women's conference about how living the gospel and obeying God's commandments makes our lives easier.  I highlighted this quote:

Obey your parents. Obey the laws of God. They are given to us by a loving Heavenly Father. When they are obeyed, our lives will be more fulfilling, less complicated. Our challenges and problems will be easier to bear. We will receive the Lord’s promised blessings...  You have but one life to live. Keep it as free from trouble as you can.
Next, we discussed some specifics. For instance, how would making the correct choice not to steal make their life easier?  They could see how stealing could lead to loss of trust, loss of friends, and even legal consequences, etc.  We also discussed choosing not to use drugs- how would that choice bless them? Etc.

Then we painted ceramic tiles as a reminder to always choose the right.  We used small ceramic tiles from Habitat for Humanity Restore and Folk Art Enamel Paints.  Ahead of time I cleaned the tiles with rubbing alcohol and then traced CTR (choose the right) onto the center of each tile.  The girls wrote their names on the back of each tile in pencil- important since the tiles won't be ready to take home immediately.  Then the girls painted the "CTR" letters and embellished the remaining area.  I baked the tiles to set the paint and then later delivered the finished tile with a little easel to each girl.  I found the easels in a bag of twelve in the fine art section at Michaels... on clearance :o)

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Family History Break

I'm sorry I haven't posted much lately.  I'm still here.  Still happy.  I'm just not feeling much urge to craft... weird, I know.  I look around my house and while it doesn't have the latest trends in decorating, it's comfortable and I like it.  So, I don't feel the need to make stuff to decorate with....

My daughter invited a few friends from school over for tonight.  We are going to make earrings- so, I'll get a little crafting in :o)

What else am I up to?  I know I mentioned it before but I've been bitten by the family history bug.  I love it!  It is so much fun to find a relative on the 1900 census and to realize that the mom had eight children but only five are listed and to search and find those missing three.

Did you know that if you do your research at a LDS family history center (located inside many meeting houses for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) you can have free access to several huge online genealogical websites.  Yes! is free, fold3 is free and several other wonderful resources.  You don't have to be a member of the church to use these family history centers, everything is free, and they even have people there to help you as needed.  Click here to find the family history center closest to you.  I'm telling you it's FUN!

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Healthy Treat

My current healthy obsession- Fage Greek yogurt with honey.  

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Activity Day: Making a Terrarium

I feel Spring in the air.  It feels like it's time to start gardening.  It's still  too early to plant most vegetables outside because of the danger of a late freeze where I live.  However, I thought it would be fun to show the activity day girls (church group of girls ages 8-11) some basic gardening tips like how to transplant a potted plant.  I thought they could practice some of what we talked about by making a terrarium.

I followed the tutorials found here and here.  These can be made in any jar where the jar opening is smaller than the circumference of the jar at its widest point.  The most difficult par of this project is trying to find tiny plants.  The plants I selected seemed small enough- but by the time you covered the root ball with potting soil and added the height of the plant- they were bursting out the top... oops... and the girls were very generous with the potting soil :o)

What type of jar is best?  I'm not sure.... I've seen people use wide mouth canning jars- the jar opening needs to be large enough for a child to put their hands down inside.... or you'll be spending lots of time trying to get things in place using chopsticks!   You can find activated charcoal in the aquarium section of your pet store- this keeps your terrarium smelling fresh.  You can find living moss (don't use the dried dead stuff) in the ground covering section of your local nursery.

We used polka dot plants from Home Depot, they were with the houseplants.  Oh, and don't place your finished terrarium in direct sunlight or your plants will bake and die.

I made the little mushrooms ahead of time using polymer clay.  I painted on the little spots and covered the mushroom tops with triple glaze.  I think they look pretty sweet in their new terrarium homes.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Edit a Photo

I found a blog with wonderful tutorials on how to edit photos- it's called polished pictures.  I want to try it on the above picture.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Make a Small Textured Photography Backdrop

Try to ignore the precious princess above and check out the fantastic textured backdrop used behind her.  I LOVE it!  I'm going to dislocate my shoulder patting myself on the back because I made it and it only cost two dollars!!!  You can make one too- it's super simple!

Here are the easy to follow (I hope) directions:
Purchase a foam board and a package of tissue paper- I found mine at Dollar Tree.  You'll also need matte finished mod podge and a foam brush.

Tear up a single layer of tissue paper into random sized pieces about six inches wide, wad the pieces of tissue up into a tiny ball to make wrinkles and crinkles.

Gently unfold your paper wads.  Smear your foam board with mod podge- painting it onto one small section at a time.  Then press your wrinkled tissue paper onto the board making sure that the edges are glued down well.

Keep layering mod podge and wrinkled paper until you reach the look you are going for.  I wanted something very subtle so I added several layers of tissue paper.  If you want bold lines and edges that clearly show where the tissue paper is overlapping just apply a thin layer of tissue paper.  Place your board on a flat surface and allow to dry.  If the foam board curls up on the corners set weights onto each corner to help flatten it back out.

When it is all dry flip over your foam board and use a second color of tissue paper to make a backdrop on the backside. I want to try again using gold tissue paper, and then a floral print, etc., etc.  If you shop at Dollar Tree you can spend 3$ (add some mod podge) and end up with two delightful backdrops.

Obviously, this will make a very small backdrop suitable for close ups and for photographing babies or toddlers.  However you could join two boards together and make a larger backdrop... so many options : )
Tip Junkie handmade projects

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Activity Day: Tissue Paper Flowers & Eggs

I had to do a bit of last minute shuffling this week for activity day (church group for girls ages 8-11).  I wasn't able to find all of the "ingredients" for what I had planned.... so, instead we made tissue paper flowers and covered paper-mache eggs with torn pieces of tissue paper and mod podge.

A friend had given our family a large basket full of Easter candy.  Rather than keeping it around for temptation I let the girls raid the basket and add some sweets to their little buckets (Dollar Tree currently has adorable tin buckets and nice paper filler).

If I had planned a bit more I would have discussed the true meaning of Easter and shared this video.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sewing a Simple Baby Dress

I used some vintage fabric to make a sweet little baby dress to have on hand for an upcoming photo shoot.  I wanted something very simple.  Something that would look good with vintage props.  I used New Look pattern number 6880.  This pattern is SUPER easy- a wonderful beginner pattern if you are just learning to sew.

Last night we planted sugar snap peas in the garden and are enjoying harvesting and eating the fresh asparagus that is already growing.  Garden fresh asparagus is sweet- it doesn't have the bitter aftertaste that you find in asparagus that has been in the grocery store for awhile. I like to steam it, add real butter and some salt and then fight the kids off to eat as much as I can.... my husband refers to it as "dessert".

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Activity Day: Service at the Park

Our church has adopted a local park to keep clean.  Does your community do that?  An organization "adopts" a park, or a strip of highway, etc. The city puts up a little sign saying who is keeping that piece of real estate looking nice.

Well, anyhow, for activity day (church group for girls ages 8-11) we decided to take advantage of the beautiful Spring weather and head to our park.  For a service project we picked up litter.

We decided to add another little service project to our day by making peanut butter and bird seed feeders (picture from  craft jr. blog- see above link- I forgot to bring my camera).  We gathered at a picnic table and did our little "craft".  After covering the pine cones with peanut butter we rolled them in bird seed that we had spread onto a cookie sheet. The girls took home their birdie goodies to hang up in a tree at home.  That way they can see the birds nibbling on their treat.  Here is a link to another bird treat recipe.

Of course, we couldn't be outside in the sunshine without blowing some bubbles and playing on the swings and slides.  This was a very easy activity with very little prep time and an entertaining way for the girls to give service to the community.

For this activity you'll need:

garbage bags
plastic gloves
hand sanitizer

peanut butter
bird seed
butter knives
paper towels to clean up sticky peanut butter



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Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Lengthen a Skirt by Adding Ruffles

I found a cute gray skirt for my daughter at the thrift store for three dollars.  It was too short. To lengthen it I decided to add two ruffles. I cut a strip of coordinating fabric seven inches wide and long enough to go around the bottom of the skirt almost two times.  I  made a 1/4 inch rolled hem on one side. It is much easier to hem before gathering! On the other side of the strip of fabric I ran a zig zag stitch to reduce fraying and then I ran it through the sewing machine with the ruffler foot on.

I made a second strip of fabric five inches wide and did the same thing.  Then I sewed both ruffles onto the lining of the skirt and topped it with lace, just to add a pretty touch and to hide some of the rough edges.

All done!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Activity Day: Value of Education

For our activity day this week (girl's group ages 8-11) we talked about the value of education.  We used a quote from Pres. Hinckley that was shared in the 2007 General Young Women's Meeting:
Resolve now, while you are young, that you will get all of the education you can. We live in a highly competitive age, and it will only grow worse. Education is the key that will unlock the door of opportunity.
Don’t just drift along, letting the days come and go without improvement in your lives. The Lord will bless you as you make the effort. Your lives will be enriched and your outlook broadened as your minds are opened to new vistas and knowledge.

Once we talked about the value of education then we had some science fun!  We  mixed menthos with diet coke for a huge, gigantic, messy old faithful type eruption.  We made GAK and glow in the dark drinks and we blew up a balloon using a mixture of "chemicals".  We watched raisins dance and we saw how colors break apart using a coffee filter and crayola markers.

The girls giggled with delighted surprise when I got a face full of erupting coke.  They squealed at the icky texture of the GAK and they went back to look at themselves with the black light (used with the glow in the dark drink).  Hopefully, the girls went home with the idea that learning can be fun and with a reminder that education is a privilege and a wonderful opportunity.

Safety Tips:

The menthos & diet coke experiment makes a huge instantaneous explosion- do this project outside on the lawn and make sure that everyone stands back about fifteen feet.

Hint about GAK:  The recipe I used calls for Borax- which is toxic.  Don't eat it.  Don't let your girl's eat it.  Don't let their siblings eat it.  DON'T dispose of it down the sink either- they say this stuff will clog your plumbing.  After playing with the goo throw it away in the trash can!  Now go have some fun!


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