Thursday, September 20, 2012

Make Scented Wax Cubes for a Warmer with your Favorite Candles

I found my absolute favorite candle scent of Yankee Candle in the world! I have not been a fan of the majority of scents out there; I don't like sweet or berry scents, but I do love apple and balsam fir. So when I was in the Yankee Candle outlet over a year ago and found a Macintosh apple scent I literally let out a scream of joy.
I have only burned that candle on special occasions, just so I could keep it for as long as possibly. However, I am sad to say that it no longer burns. I shed a tear the day when the wick would not burn anymore. I was so sad, I kept the jar with an inch and a half of left over was in it. I hated throwing it out because there was still wax in there and I felt it was such a waste.
For those of you who have been following me for a while know that last May I had a little incident with my candle warmer wax being dumped on my white carpet (see here). Well one day when I was waiting for company, I had an Aha moment. You know exactly that I am talking about! When you suddenly think of what seems like the best idea in the world and wonder how you never thought of it before! I would melt my precious 1.5 inches of Macintosh apple candle and use it in my wax warmer!

So I placed my candle in a pot and put approximately 2 inches of water around the base. Be sure not to get water into the candle because wax and water don't mix. I know this because I tried to wash out the empty Yankee candle jar after I was done with this.
I put the pot on the stove and turned my element up to high. I stood by and watched, the entire time the smile on my face grew bigger and bigger as the wax easily melted into a liquid.
It really is that simple! It took only a few minutes of the water boiling for it all to melt. Be sure not to walk away because I am not sure how long the glass will last in the hot water.
Once it was completely melted, I scooped out the metal wick base with a spoon. I had two containers of scented wax cubes so I thought I would use them to create my new scent cubes.
I took out the Better Homes wax and poured in the new Macintosh apple.
My 1.5 inches of left over wax made 12 cubes or two full containers! I let them sit out until they hardened and then put 2 in my wax warmer and the rest in a sealed plastic bag for storage.
So for almost nothing (except the cost of electricity) I was able to convert my favorite candle scent into scented wax cubes that can be heated whenever I want to. I have been using these first 2 cubes for over a week (only a couple hours at a time) and they still are going strong!
I am going to throw this out there...please be careful when doing this. I don't know if these jars are meant to be heated (although they do get really hot when the candles are burning). I had no problems doing this and I loved the result..but be careful just in case.

I am going to make a few sets of these as Christmas gifts for my sister and my mom. I have a few more candles that are almost burned down!

What do you do with the left over wax at the bottom of your candles?

Have a great day,
Stephanie

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall Pumpkin 4x4s - Decorating on a Dime

My husband went away a few weeks ago for a guys fishing weekend and while he was away I decided to spend the weekend doing crafts. Initially it was to be all Christmas crafts but I decided to throw some Fall items in too.  You know the adage, when the cats away, the mice will play....well in this house it is when Daddy's away, mommy will craft!
You might have seen in previous posts, I have a corner sink in my kitchen. I absolutely love the 4 windows that surround it but I have always had some difficulty deciding what to do on the large triangle shaped ledge behind it. How do I decorate the little nook? I have thought it might be nice to make that my seasonal decoration spot. In the summer I had herbs there, at Christmas I put my ornament tree and at Halloween I tend to put gourds.

I had a left over 4x4s from another craft, so I decided I would cut 1.5 inch  slices off the end of the 4x4 on my husband's miter saw. I have only used this a few times since he bought it so I had to work up a little nerve. So I put on the gorgeous safety glasses he left out for me (why can't they make some that actually fit my small head), plugged in the mighty machine and cut 4 slices of the 4x4. I was grinning from ear to ear after I was done. I ran inside and said to the kids "Look what Mommy just did!" They weren't nearly as excited as I was.
I lightly sanded the rough edges and I painted each piece with a mix of pumpkin orange and burnt umber acrylic paint.
I wanted a deep but not bright orange so this mixture worked well.
I had some large branches left over from the other craft involving the 4x4, so I cut them in 2-3 inch sections. I liked the ones cut on an angle the best.
I hammered in a long finishing nail (I think that is what they are called - the ones with no real head on them) appropriately half way.
 I then pulled the nail out of the 4x4.
I flipped the nail over and hammered the head of the nail into the hole I just made. I honestly don't know if this damages the head of the hammer, but I assumed it was ok. My husband hasn't said anything about it yet, so all is good.
I hammer the nail approximately halfway into the pilot hole.
I took the twig and lined the middle up with the nail.
Hammer the top of the twig until the other half of the nail goes into the twig.
Here are the 4 done. Aren't they cute? I like the ones with the knobs on the twig and the one on the angle. I roughly sanded along the edges with a low grit sandpaper to give it a worn weathered look.
I then cut out of vinyl the words Fall and Boo! on my Cricut. So on one side of the pumpkin it says Fall in white and the other side has Boo! in black. I like the idea I can put these somewhere you can see both sides.

I tied some raffia around the stems and made some curly ques with left over paper covered wire from making the wire pumpkins.
I am very please with how they turned out. The wood has started to dry and it has cracked on a couple of the edges making it look a little more rustic, I like that.

So since I had all the materials on hand, this project cost me nothing.

What do you think? Do you do seasonal decorating?

Stephanie

Monday, September 17, 2012

Christmas in September - Free Printable -The Only Thing Better than Having you for a Mom


It is getting harder for me to post Christmas ideas here on Full of Great Ideas because my family has been known to visit my blog to see what I have been up to. Well, I hope my stern warnings a few weeks ago will be listened to, otherwise there will be no surprises on Christmas day.

I recently saw a wood plaque with the saying “The only thing better than having you for a Mom is my children having you for a Grandma.” I pinned it thinking I love the saying and could make something with vinyl cut with my Cricut. After I spent an hour trying to design it I grew more and more frustrated and thought there had to be a better (i.e. easier) way.

So I went back to my favorite program, Microsoft Publisher, to design the quote. Here is what I came up with.

This is a basic 8x10 file and each row of text is in its own text box, so they can be manipulated independently.  In case you are curious the following are the free fonts I used to make this:
  • The only thing  - Alex Brush font
  • Better than – Gabriola font
  • Having you for a -Before the rain font
  • Mom- JT Hidden Vines font
  •  Is out children-Mutlu font
  •  Having you for a- Janda Elegant Handwriting font
  • Grandma- JT Hidden Vines font
I thought I would give you all an early Christmas gift too and offer this as a free download. I have created the file for Grandma, Oma, and Nanna (Update I have added: Nonni, Nonna, GiGi, Yia Yia, Grammy, Gram, Yani, Mimi, Nema, Nanny, Nana, Nonna, Meme, Queenie.....the list is now really long ).  If there is another name your kids call your mother (or if someone wants one for a father), leave me a comment and I will be more than willing to make it and post it on this site for others to appreciate. I am also willing to change the colors…so leave me a recommendation and I can see what I can do.

To download the file, first leave me a comment (not required but I love the feedback),  right click on the image you like and open in a new window. Once open, right click on it again and select ‘Save as’. Save it to a place you will remember. Then send the JPEG to your favorite photo printer! As my kids say...Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. I have uploaded a high resolution image that is large enough to be printed as an 8x10. It might print clearly as a larger image but I have not tested it out.

I hate saying it, but please use this only for personal use. I don’t sell the items I make (this would probably cost $15ish on Etsy) but that doesn’t mean I want someone else to sell it either :)

So here are all the images you can download.Here is the one for Grandmas:
The list of images was getting really long, so I truncated the post. So please Click ' Read more' below to see the rest of the images you can download.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Christmas in September - Corn starch and Baking Soda Ornaments

I have tried salt dough with my kids in the past and although they loved it, I never loved the end result. It seemed to take forever for the dough to dry in the oven, microwave and/or on the counter and I found the color was never really nice. 
I have longed for a pure white ornament that could be used as gift tags. So when I found this recipe online (I got the final version I used on cooks.com) I was really excited. 
I was excited that I had all the ingredients on hand (who doesn't have corn starch and baking soda in their pantry?) and I love that this recipe produced a beautiful pure white dough that seems to have a shimmer. I am not sure which ingredient does it, but when the uncooked dough is in the light it sparkles. I will try this recipe again and add some white glitter to see how it works..I will let you know how that goes.

I tested out two different ways of hardening this recipe, air dry overnight and baking. I have to say I far preferred the results of the air dry. I liked the the kids could have the ornaments within 30 minutes with the baking, but the final result was a a little yellow and the shimmer was lost. So I highly recommend being prepared for an overnight dry time if you want amazing results.
The candy cane was air dried and the bell was baked. It is hard to see, but the candy cane is much whiter.  A funny thing is, I didn't notice until now that we put the hole on the wrong side of the candy cane..so when I went to hang it on the tree to photograph it was a 'J'.

Full batch recipe:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups cool water
I only did 1/4 of this recipe as a test to see how it worked. I had intended to make another batch with fancy ornaments and gift tags to post it here on Full of Great Ideas, but I absolutely loved this craft and wanted to share it with you right away. You never know, some of you might be bored on a Sunday afternoon and wanted to do something with your kids.

Method:

Mix cornstarch and baking soda in a pot.
Add water to the powder mixture. It will seem like the water sits on top, but after a little stirring in mixes all together into a runny mix.
Place the pot on a stove over medium heat. 
Be sure to stir the mixture constantly.
Once it thickens (you will know when it is done..it becomes a ball), turn into a bowl.
Cover with a damp paper towel and let cool. 
This is an important step. Don't be impatient like me and try to kneed it with your hands when it is piping hot! I try to teach my children to wait and be patient, but I can't seem to follow my own advice. If you are like me and decide to burn your hands, add one extra step...run hands under cold water and try to refrain from cursing because your children are watching and waiting to the dough to be done. :)
Knead the cooled mixture until smooth. It is amazing at how nice and smooth the dough becomes. I have never used the Magic Dough from Crayola (too cheap) but this is what I envision it to be like.
Roll out the dough to approximately 1/4 inch thick on a flat surface. If you find the mixture to be a little sticky, add a little cornstarch either on the counter on kneed it into the mixture.
Cut out desired shape with cookie cutters.
I had a few cookie press from when I was younger that the kids wanted to try and to be honest with you they are my favorites!
We used a drinking straw to make the hole a the top of each of the ornaments.

My son decided he was going to decorate a snowman with a straw and a butter knife. It is cute and he is quite proud of his work.
When I left the ornaments out to air dry, they dried nicely overnight. I did flip them over before I went to bed to ensure both sides dried evenly. This produced the nicest ornaments! They remained pure white and still have the shimmer to them.
 
But if you want to bake them, be prepared, they will slightly brown a bit in the process (especially the back). If you plan to paint the ornament, this is a great option for you. I was hoping to make pure white ornaments, so the air dry method was my favorite.
To bake them, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place ornaments on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Be sure to watch closely for the last 10-15 minutes to prevent over browning. 
Here is the back of one of the ornaments I baked. See how the back of the ornament is a light brown?
You can seal any unused dough in plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator until needed. I am not sure how long it will last, so I recommend only making enough for you to use within a few days.

The possibilities are endless for this craft! My kids have always loved making things out of dough, but we have never found a reasonably priced dough that air dries. You can add food coloring along with the water to color the dough and like I said, I think some glitter for Christmas ornaments would be amazing!

My kids have always made ornaments for family members but this year I think the ornaments will double as the labels. Have any of you ever make reusable Christmas gift labels? This will be my first year, but I am excited especially for family members who are just starting out and don't have many ornaments.

Have any of you used this recipe before? What have your results been? 

Anyone else getting ready for Christmas already? What are you working on?

Have a great Sunday!
Stephanie

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